New Clause

Orders of the Day — House of Lords Bill – in the House of Commons at 10:15 pm on 10th November 1999.

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Lords amendment: No. 4, after clause 2, to insert the following new clause—Voting rights of life peers: extension of duration of Parliament— . In respect of any proceedings in the House of Lords on a Bill providing for the maximum duration of Parliament to be extended beyond five years, no peer appointed to the House of Lords under the Life Peerages Act 1958 during the course of that Parliament shall be entitled to vote on such proceedings.

Photo of Paddy Tipping Paddy Tipping Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office 10:30 pm, 10th November 1999

I beg to move, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

This amendment is unnecessary, nasty and will not achieve its objective. It is a mean little amendment that purports to provide an additional safeguard—[Interruption.]

Photo of Michael Lord Michael Lord Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. There is a general buzz of conversation. The House must listen to the Minister.

Photo of Paddy Tipping Paddy Tipping Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office

The amendment purports to provide an additional safeguard against an attempt to extend the life of Parliament. Under the Parliament Act 1911, the House of Lords retains an absolute veto on any legislation to achieve such an effect. The Government made it clear in the White Paper and elsewhere that we think that that veto should be retained. We recognise the importance of that constitutional safeguard and have no intention of undermining it. We made it clear that it should be retained not only in the transitional House, but in the fully reformed House.

The amendment suggests that some Members of the House of Lords should not be allowed to vote on a Bill to extend the life of a Parliament, irrespective of their party, the reason for their nomination as life peers, or the quality of their contribution to debates. The only criterion to be applied is the date of their patent. Some Members of the House of Lords are always potentially to be considered second class and untrustworthy, at least until they survive a general election, when they miraculously become first class and honourable.

When this amendment was debated in the House of Lords, the Conservatives totally failed to explain why they thought that protection against the power of a Government determined to extend their life should be needed now. They tried only two justifications for their approach. First—[Interruption.]

Photo of Michael Lord Michael Lord Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. Will hon. Members who do not want to hear the Minister leave the Chamber and continue their conversations outside?

Photo of Paddy Tipping Paddy Tipping Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office

First, the Conservatives argued that the hereditary peers are uniquely independent of the blandishments of party and the siren calls of short-term expediency. Secondly, they argued that the balance of numbers in the House now means that it is much easier for the Government of the day to pack the House. Neither proposition is true and both are deeply insulting to life peers, especially to those from this party.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Minister (Education)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We all take note of your exhortations, but would not our proceedings be greatly assisted if the Minister addressed the House without muttering into his notes so that his speech is inaudible?

Photo of Michael Lord Michael Lord Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

The House would be better able to hear the Minister if we had fewer contributions from a sedentary position, including those from the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Paddy Tipping Paddy Tipping Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office

It is no easier now for any party to achieve a majority in the House of Lords than it has been for the Conservative party—indeed, it is rather less so. Life peers are just as honourable, just as independent in their views and have just as great a sense of public service as hereditary peers. What is being suggested is an insult to the integrity of life peers and of those who might in the future be honoured with life peerages.

The amendment would not even achieve its desired effect. To a Government really determined on such a course, there are several ways round even this obstacle. For example, a Government reasonably confident of their position could pack the House first, call a general election and then repeal the Septennial Act. There is a strange paradox—

Photo of Paddy Tipping Paddy Tipping Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office

No.

The proposal in the amendment would be effective only in the context of a rational, law-abiding Government, and in that context, it is quite unnecessary.

I urge that this amendment be rejected.

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, Shadow Minister (Constitutional Affairs)

I do not know about insults, but I think that that non-argument was an insult to this House. This is a very simple amendment to which I shall address very few words, and I will make sure that they are audible. It seeks to prevent life peers appointed in the course of a Parliament from voting in any proceedings that provide for the extension of the life of the Parliament beyond five years. That is an extremely simple proposition to which no democratic Member of this House ought to have any objection.

We heard earlier that when the House of Lords meets next week, on 17 November, a quarter of its members will have been appointed in the past two and a half years by the current Prime Minister

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, Shadow Minister (Constitutional Affairs)

That remark makes my case that the House of Lords could be packed and, at the Government's behest, vote to prolong the life of Parliament.

There is a precedent for the amendment being made. The Parliament Acts that are currently in force specifically and deliberately leave untouched the absolute power of the House of Lords to reject any Bill to extend the life of Parliament.

I cast no aspersions on anyone present this evening; nor do I doubt for half a second the integrity of the Parliamentary Secretary, whom I respect. I do not even doubt what the Prime Minister might do. All I say is that the amendment is not one that any democratically elected Government need fear. It is a simple and emphatic statement that ought to command the universal respect and support of this House.

Many dictatorships have begun with elected Governments, and we do not want one ever to be inflicted on this country. I do not suggest that there is one currently in prospect, but we are debating an upper House with an indeterminate life span. All we want is to write in a simple safeguard, which takes nothing away from the Government's proposals, but merely reaffirms something that every democratically elected Government ought to reaffirm. I urge the House to come to a quick decision and to vote emphatically in favour of the amendment.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

The amendment deals with an important matter, because it touches on nothing less than the role of the upper House as a safeguard of our constitution. Few matters can be more important than that and anyone who has given the amendment even the most cursory consideration will fully understand its import.

Despite that, the debate was given only the most superficial introduction by the Minister. I do not know whether he was ashamed of his argument, whether he did not fully understand his argument, or whether he was patronising the House in a manner with which we have become all too familiar. Whatever the reason, we have been given little to work on, so we shall have to use our imagination when trying to understand the issues. Therefore, the process might take a little longer than it might have taken had the Minister given us a proper explanation. A little detailed consideration will be required as a result of the Minister being unhelpful to the House, but I shall attempt to set the scene as best I can, so that the debate can run its proper course.

We are considering how the upper House is properly to fulfil its important role of safeguarding the constitution against any possibility of an extension to the term of a Parliament. Throughout history, that issue has arisen from time to time, often in extremely dramatic circumstances. Although it has not arisen in the recent past, the size of the current Government's majority in the House of Commons gives cause for anxiety about the possibility of an attempt being made to extend Parliament's term.

The irony is that the size of the Government's majority in this place brings the issue to the surface. We are entitled to be somewhat suspicious of the possible consequences. In a bicameral system, if one House comprises an overwhelming number of Members from the same party, we will rely more on the other House—in this case, the upper House—to provide vital safeguards against prolonging the life of a Parliament.

That is the background to this issue, and I turn to the details of the amendment. Paradoxically, the Minister gave us a clue—I do not think he intended to do so—when he used the phrase "pack the House". He obviously thinks that a future Government or Prime Minister could seek to— I use the Minister's words—pack the upper House with Members who would then influence votes in that place. If that is on the Minister's mind, it should certainly be on hon. Members' minds as we consider this amendment.

I may have come to this debate innocent of such matters; it may be that that point did not occur to me. However, even a cursory hearing of the Minister's comments would have alerted me to the fact that he thinks that the House of Lords could be packed by this or a future Prime Minister. That is why we must consider this amendment very seriously.

I thought it rather odd when the Minister went on to say that it would be an insult to life peers—he used those words—if we agreed to the amendment. A common theme has run through the debates tonight that I will characterise as, "Trust me, I'm from the Government; leave it all to me and don't worry". That is what the Minister implied in the previous debate when he resisted an attempt to put what amounted to his own proposals into the Bill to act as a perfectly natural, simple safeguard. When dealing with constitutional matters, what could be more natural than having on the face of legislation as important as this details of the mechanisms upon which we shall rely to settle future arrangements? That is a perfectly reasonable expectation. Yet in the previous debate, the Minister tried to persuade us that we need not—

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I do not want the right hon. Gentleman to dwell on the previous debate because we have moved on.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

Indeed, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I was trying to set the scene before exploring the details of my argument.

The Minister's comments in opening this debate were a reverberation of his previous remarks. He said that we do not need the natural safeguards and reassurances proposed by the amendment. He urged hon. Members to trust him, the Government and the Prime Minister because they would not dream of doing the sorts of things that the Minister himself suggested—that is, packing the upper House. This amendment seeks to guard against that eventuality.

In a sense, it is a simple proposition. We have reached a crucial stage in our consideration of this Bill, which introduces important constitutional arrangements. Those arrangements are even more significant because we have no idea how long the so-called temporary measures will be in place. If the Minister had given us a time scale or a point of reference, that might have provided the sort of reassurance that we seek. However, the absence of any commitments from the Government as to how long the temporary arrangements will last strengthens the argument that the Bill should include the reassurances that this amendment would provide. That argument applied beforehand, and it is even more applicable now.

10.45 pm

The Minister might even now be regretting the fact that he and the Leader of the House have persistently failed to give us any guidance, comfort or reassurance about whether the so-called temporary arrangement may be very brief. Instead, we have been led to believe that it could last for some considerable time. There is talk of the commission, which is at present considering the matter, and joint Committees of the House, and intriguing and tantalising references to the need for consensus and widespread agreement if we are to move forward. It seems to me that the possibilities for resolving the matter in the foreseeable future will be far fewer if the Government are seeking consensus or widespread agreement.

When one puts together all the factors, including the fact that we have been given no time scale and that the Government say that they are seeking a consensual approach to the next stage, that suggests that the time frame is likely to be much longer than we would have otherwise expected. That must surely strengthen the argument for the amendment.

I am afraid that I am not, on this occasion, prepared simply to trust the Minister, the Government and the Prime Minister. I believe that these matters transcend the simple act of faith that is being asked of us. It is our duty to provide the people of this country with a degree of reassurance and comfort and a safeguard of the kind that the amendment would give them, rather than expect them naively to trust the Government. I do not feel able to trust the Government, and I cannot do so on behalf of anyone else. I fear that unless the Minister is prepared, at the end of the debate, to give us much more information and reassurance, we must insist that the amendment is adhered to. We support it very strongly, and we send that strong message to the Government.

Photo of Michael Fallon Michael Fallon Conservative, Sevenoaks

Of the three debates that we have had today, this is the most important. It is, therefore, all the more disgraceful that the Minister put up no serious argument against the amendment. An argument was made against it in another place to the effect that it would not bite on section 2 of the Parliament Act 1911. That argument is wrong. The amendment would address a central weakness of that section, and I shall explain why.

It is in that Act that the Lords retain their absolute power of veto over any proposal to extend the life of a Parliament. That is sometimes referred to as their reserve power. Indeed, it is probably on everybody's wish list of residual, nuclear powers for the reformed upper House. However, it is important to understand—my hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack) put this point exactly—that the power to veto any attempt to extend the life of a Parliament is not an exception to the 1911 Act, but it is the rest of that Act that is itself the exception.

In the rest of the Act, the House of Lords delegates to this House its normal right to assent to public Bills. It does so in the particular prescribed circumstances in which the Parliament Acts are applied to insist on legislation, first within two years, and then within one year. However, it was always a gap in the 1911 Act that the reserve power was restricted only to the life of a Parliament and not to the composition of a Parliament. That is what the amendment seeks to redress.

There is a reason for that gap in the 1911 Act, which is that the Act was always designed to be temporary. The composition of Parliament was then subject to a separate report, and it was always envisaged that the 1911 Act would be rapidly replaced, so it did not occur to the draftsmen to state in the 1911 Act, or the 1949 Act, that any Bill affecting the composition as well as the duration of Parliament should also be exempted from the operation of the Act. The amendment would restore that protection. I assume that, when the Government finally make their stage 2 proposals, they will include a measure such that both Houses would in future have to assent to any Bill that affected Parliament itself; otherwise, we should reform the second House, but retain the right for this place to change it all again if we did not like it. It must be right to address that lacuna in the 1911 Act.

More than 20 years ago, when the Home committee examined these matters, it gave some thought to entrenchment. I was delighted to see that the amendment was moved in the other place by Lord Mancroft, whose father was a distinguished vice-chairman of the Home committee and played his part in its deliberations. Whatever criticism we might make of the amendment, we cannot claim that it is meaningless. It prevents the House of Lords from being packed for a purpose, and that purpose would be to extend the duration of Parliament. The amendment insists that new life peers cannot vote until a new election has taken place

In the other place, two arguments were made against the amendment by Lord Williams of Mostyn who, amazingly, is now the Attorney-General. He put two of the weakest arguments that I have ever heard. First, he said that the amendment could not of itself amend the 1911 Act. However, if it forms part of this Bill, there is a strong argument for including it in the major Bill that is to follow this one. We would thus be able to restore the gap in the 1911 Act.

Secondly, he said that the Government could still pack the House just before an election. That concedes the danger that we are trying to guard against. The Government are already considering circumstances in which a House could be packed. However, at least in those circumstances, there would be an election.

The Minister's rather garbled defence of his case rests on trust. He says, "We would not do it", and that the House can trust this Government and this Prime Minister not to monkey about with our constitution. For two and a half years, our constitution has been vandalised; the powers of this House have been given away to unelected bodies in Europe and to a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly. Later tonight, perhaps we shall see two thirds of one of our Houses of Parliament expelled, but the Government ask us to trust them on the constitution. If the amendment were accepted, we would strengthen the House of Lords and we put down a marker for the final reform to which the Government are committed.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery Conservative, East Devon

I had no intention of speaking in these debates until I heard the unbelievably weak case put by the Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office. Why oppose the measure? If the Government want to carry out reform and they want to be trusted, why not put the measure into law?

I apologise to Members of the other place because we may be preventing them from dealing with the Bill when they had hoped to do so. However, the matter is one of great importance and they must realise that. They voted for the measure so we have a right to ensure that trust is best put in the law. If matters are part of legislation, they cannot be thrown away and there is no need to trust anybody—it would be the law. I need to hear better arguments than I have read in the reports of the House of Lords proceedings, or have heard from Members on the Treasury Bench. Why are Labour Members not willing to table measures in which they believe? If they believe that the Government should not be able to prolong their own life, they must surely have nothing against the amendment. It is only when one doubts or does not believe that what is being said is absolute that one can be against the amendment. We are asking that the provision be included in the Bill. I believe that their lordships would want us to do exactly that, however long we must debate the point.

Photo of Andrew Robathan Andrew Robathan Conservative, Blaby

I support the arguments of my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front and Back Benches, but in doing so invoke the spirit of history. I remind hon. Members on both sides of the House that the reason why we have Acts that determine how long a Parliament should run dates backs to the mid-17th century and the Long Parliament. Since then, the length of a Parliament and whether a discredited Government could extend their time in office have been critical.

I tried to intervene on the Minister, but, unfortunately, his nose was so deeply buried in his speech that he would not accept any interventions. I ask him in his brief winding-up speech—I am sure that it will be brief—to answer this question: are there any circumstances in which he would support an extension of a Parliament? If there are no such circumstances, why is he opposing the amendment? The amendment is solely to stop the upper House being packed. I hope that he will withdraw his opposition to the amendment.

Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Conservative, Reigate

When one sees a Minister put his nose in his notes, gabble his speech and ignore any interventions, one knows that he probably has a pretty weak argument and is somewhat ashamed of it. It was presented to us as though it was somehow an impertinence that we should be questioning the Government's good intentions. The provision is the most important democratic safeguard that our Parliament will have. It is extremely important that we spend time not only debating the point but making it clear to the Government and people outside the House.

The Minister's arguments turned on the role of the hereditary peers in preventing the Government from extending their term in office beyond that of a Parliament. Those arguments are largely irrelevant. This House has just agreed the Weatherill amendment to leave only 92 hereditary peers. The vast majority of peers with whom we shall entrust the task will be life peers, so the only arguments in the Minister's speech were bogus.

The Minister asked us to believe that any rational, law-abiding Government would in no way wish to extend their own life by packing the House of Lords. At what point does a rational, law-abiding Government become a criminal, irrational Government? There is a continuum between those judgments. I believe that it is thoroughly irrational to ban beef on the bone, but the governing party thinks that such a policy is rational. I believe that bombing Kosovo was of highly dubious legality, as do a number of Labour Members. So one man's rational and law-abiding Government is another man's irrational and possibly criminal Government.

Amazingly, as a result, the only institution that is left to defend democracy against a Government who wish to sustain themselves in office by such means is the sovereign—what an extraordinary position. We are debating a Bill to remove the main hereditary element from our constitution, but managing at the same time to leave the defence of democracy in the only remaining hereditary part of it. That is the absurdity of the Government's position.

11 pm

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Minister (Scotland)

If anything characterises the extraordinary approach that the Government have taken to the whole Bill, it is the way in which they have reacted to Lords amendment No. 4. 1 tell the Minister, who got so worked up in presenting, at gabbling speed, the Government's position, that I believe that if the proposal had been suggested as an amendment to the Parliament Act 1949, without there being any reform of the House of Lords, it would have commended itself to the House, at least for serious consideration. Anything that strengthens our liberties, anything that ensures that this country could not, under certain circumstances, sink into dictatorship, is worth that consideration. I am amazed by the reception that it has received from the Minister and the complete absence of comment on it by Labour Members.

The amendment is perfectly straightforward and sensible. It must be judged against a situation, which I appreciate that the Minister will say is justified, in which the Government have been creating peers on an unprecedented scale. With that sort of instability introduced into our system, it is doubly necessary that we should consider such an amendment.

In the debate in the other place, the Baroness Park, not normally noted for her partisanship, had this to say on the matter: I greatly respect many of my friends on the Opposition Benches. I feel sure that if they think about it they will accept that we are thinking about the future of the country. It is all very well saying that the people would rebel. If there is one thing about the British, it is that they never notice anything that is happening to them until it has happened. That is why we always win wars at the last moment. We cannot afford to put this particular liberty at risk."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 30 June 1999; Vol. 603, c. 296.] I hope that the Minister, in closing the debate, will rise to the occasion as he has signally failed to do so far. The amendment is clear cut and sensible. It would stand the test even if the Bill were not being passed. With the changes that are being brought about, it is doubly necessary.

Photo of Paddy Tipping Paddy Tipping Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office

With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

This important debate has focused on the historic safeguards that the House of Lords has given us for many years. This is an important and historic day. Many of our friends and colleagues in the upper House will be leaving us shortly. From the Treasury Bench, I want to thank them for their years of service. I wish them well for the future. I want it to be clear to them that my colleagues and friends on the Labour Benches acknowledge the years of service that they have been given. [Interruption.]

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I will not tolerate this noise. The Minister is addressing the House.

Photo of Paddy Tipping Paddy Tipping Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office

I am addressing those colleagues and friends in the House of Lords who have given us years of service. I place on record our thanks to them and wish them well. I wish the new life peers who will now dominate the upper House the same rights, the same traditions and the same responsibilities. Undoubtedly, the new life peers will continue to safeguard our constitution, and the amendment is unnecessary. [Interruption.]

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I am about to put the Question. The right hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King) should not be shouting across the Floor.

Question put, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 355, Noes 130.

Division No. 320][11.4 pm
AYES
Abbott, Ms DianeCorston, Jean
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)Cotter, Brian
Ainger, NickCousins, Jim
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Cranston, Ross
Alexander, DouglasCryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Allan, RichardCryer, John (Hornchurch)
Allen, GrahamCummings, John
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms HilaryDarling, Rt Hon Alistair
Ashton, JoeDarvill, Keith
Atherton, Ms CandyDavey, Edward (Kingston)
Atkins, CharlotteDavey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Ballard, JackieDavies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Barnes, HarryDavis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Barron, KevinDawson, Hilton
Bayley, HughDean, Mrs Janet
Beard, NigelDenham, John
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs MargaretDismore, Andrew
Berth, Rt Hon A JDobbin, Jim
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)Donohoe, Brian H
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)Doran, Frank
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)Dowd, Jim
Bennett, Andrew FDrew, David
Benton, JoeEagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Bermingham, GeraldEdwards, Huw
Berry, RogerEfford, Clive
Best, HaroldEllman, Mrs Louise
Betts, CliveFearn, Ronnie
Blackman, LizReid, Rt Hon Frank
Blears, Ms HazelFisher, Mark
Blizzard, BobFitzpatrick, Jim
Boateng, Rt Hon PaulFitzsimons, Lorna
Borrow, DavidFlint, Caroline
Bradley, Keith (Withington)Flynn, Paul
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)Follett, Barbara
Bradshaw, BenFoster, Rt Hon Derek
Brinton, Mrs HelenFoster, Don (Bath)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Browne, DesmondFoster, Michael J (Worcester)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)Fyfe, Maria
Burden, RichardGapes, Mike
Burgon, ColinGardiner, Barry
Butler, Mrs ChristineGeorge, Bruce (Walsall S)
Byers, Rt Hon StephenGerrard, Neil
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)Gibson, Dr Ian
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies (NE Fife)Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)Goggins, Paul
Campbell-Savours, DaleGolding, Mrs Llin
Caplin, IvorGordon, Mrs Eileen
Casale, RogerGriffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Caton, MartinGriffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Chaytor, DavidGrocott, Bruce
Chidgey, DavidGrogan, John
Clapham, MichaelHain, Peter
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)Hanson, David
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)Harris, Dr Evan
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)Healey, John
Clelland, DavidHenderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Clwyd, AnnHepburn, Stephen
Coaker, VernonHeppell, John
Coffey, Ms AnnHesford, Stephen
Cohen, HarryHewitt, Ms Patricia
Coleman, IainHill, Keith
Connarty, MichaelHinchliffe, David
Cooper, YvetteHodge, Ms Margaret
Corbett, RobinHoey, Kate
Hood, JimmyMaxton, John
Hoon, Rt Hon GeoffreyMeacher, Rt Hon Michael
Hope, PhilMeale, Alan
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)Merron, Gillian
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Howells, Dr KimMilburn, Rt Hon Alan
Hoyle, LindsayMiller, Andrew
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)Mitchell, Austin
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)Moffatt, Laura
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)Moonie, Dr Lewis
Humble, Mrs JoanMoore, Michael
Hurst, AlanMoran, Ms Margaret
Hutton, JohnMorgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Iddon, Dr BrianMorley, Elliot
Illsley, EricMorris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, DavidMountford, Kali
Jenkins, BrianMudie, George
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)O'Hara, Eddie
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms TessaOlner, Bill
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldO'Neill, Martin
Keeble, Ms SallyÖpik, Lembit
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)Organ, Mrs Diana
Keetch, PaulOsborne, Ms Sandra
Kelly, Ms RuthPalmer, Dr Nick
Kemp, FraserPearson, Ian
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)Pendry, Tom
Khabra, Piara SPerham, Ms Linda
Kidney, DavidPickthall, Colin
Kilfoyle, PeterPike, Peter L
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)Plaskitt, James
Kumar, Dr AshokPollard, Kerry
Ladyman, Dr StephenPond, Chris
Lawrence, Ms JackiePope, Greg
Laxton, BobPound, Stephen
Lepper, DavidPowell, Sir Raymond
Leslie, ChristopherPrentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Levitt, TomPrentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)Prescott, Rt Hon John
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)Primarolo, Dawn
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs HelenProsser, Gwyn
Linton, MartinPurchase, Ken
Livsey, RichardQuinn, Lawrie
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Lock, DavidRammell, Bill
Love, AndrewRapson, Syd
McAvoy, ThomasRaynsford, Nick
McCabe, SteveReed, Andrew (Loughborough)
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian (Makerfield)Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Rendel, David
Macdonald, CalumRoche, Mrs Barbara
McDonnell, JohnRooker, Jeff
McGuire, Mrs AnneRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
McIsaac, ShonaRowlands, Ted
McKenna, Mrs RosemaryRoy, Frank
Mackinlay, AndrewRuane, Chris
Maclennan, Rt Hon RobertRuddock, Joan
MacShane, DenisRussell, Bob (Colchester)
Mactaggart, FionaRussell, Ms Christine (Chester)
McWalter, TonyRyan, Ms Joan
Marion, Mrs AliceSalter, Martin
Mallaber, JudySanders, Adrian
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)Sarwar, Mohammad
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)Savidge, Malcolm
Marshall, David (Shettleston)Sedgemore, Brian
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Sheerman, Barry
Marshall-Andrews, RobertShipley, Ms Debra
Martlew, EricSimpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, MarshaTodd, Mark
Skinner, DennisTouhig, Don
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)Trickett, Jon
Smith, Angela (Basildon)Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)Tyler, Paul
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)Tynan, Bill
Snape, PeterVis, Dr Rudi
Soley, CliveWalley, Ms Joan
Southworth, Ms HelenWard, Ms Claire
Spellar, JohnWareing, Robert N
Squire, Ms RachelWatts, David
Starkey, Dr PhyllisWhite, Brian
Steinberg, GerryWhitehead, Dr Alan
Stevenson, GeorgeWicks, Malcolm
Stewart, David (Inverness E)Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, PaulWilliams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Stoate, Dr HowardWills, Michael
Strang, Rt Hon Dr GavinWilson, Brian
Stringer, GrahamWinnick, David
Stuart, Ms GiselaWinterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Stunell, AndrewWise, Audrey
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)Worthington, Tony
Taylor, David (NW Leics)Wray, James
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)Tellers for the Ayes:
Timms, StephenMr. Gerry Sutcliffe and
Tipping, PaddyMr. Tony McNulty.
NOES
Ancram, Rt Hon MichaelFallon, Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon JamesFlight, Howard
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Beggs, RoyFowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Bercow, JohnFox, Dr Liam
Beresford, Sir PaulFraser, Christopher
Blunt, CrispinGale, Roger
Body, Sir RichardGarnier, Edward
Boswell, TimGibb, Nick
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)Gill, Christopher
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs VirginiaGorman, Mrs Teresa
Brady, GrahamGray, James
Brazier, JulianGreen, Damian
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterGreenway, John
Browning, Mrs AngelaGrieve, Dominic
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)Gummer, Rt Hon John
Burns, SimonHamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Cash, WilliamHammond, Philip
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)Hawkins, Nick
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Clappison, JamesHogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Horam, John
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Clifton-Brown, GeoffreyJackson, Robert (Wantage)
Collins, TimJenkin, Bernard
Colvin, MichaelKing, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Cormack, Sir PatrickKirkbride, Miss Julie
Cran, JamesLait, Mrs Jacqui
Curry, Rt Hon DavidLansley, Andrew
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)Letwin, Oliver
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice & Howden)Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Donaldson, JeffreyLilley, Rt Hon Peter
Dorrell, Rt Hon StephenLloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Duncan, AlanLoughton, Tim
Emery, Rt Hon Sir PeterLuff, Peter
Evans, NigelMacGregor, Rt Hon John
Faber, DavidMcIntosh, Miss Anne
Fabricant, MichaelMacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon DavidSpicer, Sir Michael
McLoughlin, PatrickSpring, Richard
Malins, HumfreyStanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Maples, JohnStreeter, Gary
Mates, MichaelSwayne, Desmond
Maude, Rt Hon FrancisSyms, Robert
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir BrianTapsell, Sir Peter
May, Mrs TheresaTaylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Moss, MalcolmTownend, John
Nicholls, PatrickTredinnick, David
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)Trend, Michael
Ottaway, RichardTyrie, Andrew
Paice, JamesViggers, Peter
Paterson, OwenWalter, Robert
Pickles, EricWaterson, Nigel
Prior, DavidWells, Bowen
Randall, JohnWhitney, Sir Raymond
Redwood, Rt Hon Johnwhittingdale, John
Robathan, AndrewWiddecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Robertson, LaurenceWilkinson, John
Ross, William (E Lond'y)Willetts, David
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Ruffley, DavidWinterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
St Aubyn, NickWoodward, Shaun
Sayeed, JonathanYeo, Tim
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs GillianYoung, Rt Hon Sir George
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)Tellers for the Noes:
Soames, NicholasMrs. Eleanor Laing and
Spelman, Mrs CarolineMr. John M. Taylor.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords amendment disagreed to.

Lords amendments Nos 5 to 12 agreed to.

Lords amendment No. 13 disagreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed,That a Committee be appointed to draw up Reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to certain of their amendments to the Bill; that Mrs. Margaret Beckett, Mr. Ivor Caplin, Sir Patrick Cormack, Mrs. Eleanor Laing and Mrs. Anne McGuire be members of the Committee; that Mrs. Margaret Beckett be the Chairman of the Committee; that three be the quorum of the Committee; and that the Committee do withdraw immediately.—[Mr. Clelland.]

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst 11:19 pm, 10th November 1999

This is a particularly important Committee, at this of all times. The matters that we have been considering this evening are of the greatest historical and constitutional importance. We should therefore pay particular attention to the motion, in a number of respects.

The first question that I raise is whether it is appropriate for the Committee to meet immediately. I should have thought that it would be more productive if there were a period of reflection between the completion of debate and the Committee's establishment. Many complicated matters have been dealt with during the debate. It might add to the quality of the Committee's reflection and deliberations were there to be a delay, perhaps until tomorrow, before it sat to reflect on that debate.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

Given that the Committee is specifically charged with drawing up reasons to be given to their lordships, and that no reasons were evident at all from Labour Members, it clearly needs plenty of time to dwell on the matter.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

I am grateful to my hon. Friend because he has touched on a relevant matter. To the extent to which the Minister has failed to give adequate arguments to the House—

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. The right hon. Gentleman should speak strictly to the motion. If there is any deviation from the motion, I will bring him, and anyone who intervenes, to order.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

I have no doubt of that at all.

My hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne) pointed us in a useful direction. He pointed out the relationship between the responsibilities of the Reasons Committee properly to put together the House's reasons to another place for our conclusions on the amendments, and the Minister's failure, which has been oft repeated, to give adequate reasons for the Government's attitude to the amendments; so there is a double responsibility on the Committee.

This would not normally be the case. If the Minister had properly discharged his responsibilities, the Committee would have had much less to do. As it is—

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I do not want the right hon. Gentleman to revisit the debates that we have had. He should speak to the motion and to nothing else.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

I am grateful.

That brings me to the membership of the Committee. Looking down the list of members that has been proposed, I find that some of them have, indeed, taken part in the debates this evening. Members who have participated in the debate, understand it, have been here throughout and can express its nuances and ambience to the House of Lords, would be particularly appropriate, but I notice that the list of members includes, by my reckoning, at least two who have not participated in the debate. That must raise a question. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name them."' I will not embarrass anyone. I raise the matter because it is relevant. Does the House consider it appropriate for members who have not participated in the debate to be part of the Reasons Committee? Can they fully give the flavour of the debate to another place?

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Minister (Education)

In view of the doubts about the credentials of some of the members of the Reasons Committee, does my right hon. Friend agree that it might be reasonable to suggest that the period of reflection for those members should be no less than that which the Government propose between stage 1 and stage 2?

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

I suspect that, if I were to pursue that matter, the Deputy Speaker would deal with me harshly. However, my hon. Friend's intervention brings another thought to mind.

In the light of what I have just said about the Committee's membership, might it not be more appropriate if Hansard were available to the Committee members, so that they might consider our debate and better express the reasons to the other place? If the House were to agree with me on that proposition, it would lead very naturally to the conclusion that the Committee would do better to convene tomorrow morning, with Hansard available to it, to deal with a long and necessarily complicated debate.

I should like to move on quickly to the matter of the quorum. It was suggested that the Committee's quorum be three. Although that may be appropriate in normal circumstances, I really wonder whether, given the matter's complexity and importance, three is adequate. It would be possible, however theoretically, that the quorum could be composed entirely of Labour Members. The Committee could therefore deliberate with only three Labour Members, but no Opposition Members. Would that be acceptable or appropriate?

Photo of Michael Fallon Michael Fallon Conservative, Sevenoaks

If the quorum continues as three, would it not follow that two thirds of it could consist of hon. Members who did not participate in the debate?

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

My hon. Friend is right. If we pursue the matter to its logical conclusion, it would indeed be possible for the Committee properly to deliberate with the proposed quorum, which could be dominated by hon. Members who had not participated in the debate. I should have to question the validity of such deliberations, and ask whether the House would be satisfied with the type of account that such a Committee could give of our deliberations in another place, given the seriousness of the matters that we have been considering.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the composition of the Committee—which includes not only great men, such as my hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack), but new hon. Members who have no experience of constitutional matters and are merely placemen working for the Leader of the House—demonstrates Labour Members' contempt for the other place?

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

I cannot agree with my hon. Friend on that, as I regard the vote and view of all hon. Members as absolutely equal and of equal value. That is not my difference with the Committee's membership—which I explained in a different context—or with the quorum. However, I am worried about the quorum.

Before we approve the Committee, given the constitutional importance and sensitivity of the matters that it will be dealing with, we shall need a much more satisfactory explanation about the quality of its deliberations, and its ability properly to reflect the House's deliberations and conclusions. I should have thought that those were perfectly reasonable subjects of concern.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

I shall, but I do want to draw to a conclusion.

Photo of Michael Fallon Michael Fallon Conservative, Sevenoaks

I know that my right hon. Friend wants to make progress, as do I, but, in view of the deficiencies of the proposed Committee, I wonder whether he has considered putting forth his own name for the Committee.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

My hon. Friend is all too kind—and I would be prepared to volunteer. As he will know, I have sat through most of the debate and, in my modest way, participated once or twice. I think that I could make a contribution to the Committee's deliberations, but I shall leave that for others to decide. Nevertheless, the suggestion raises an interesting procedural point.

Given the reservations that I have expressed about the Committee, I wonder whether it is possible for us to amend its timing, composition or quorum—or whether it is a take it or leave it proposition.

If the House expressed its wish in a Division not to establish the Reasons Committee because it agreed with any of my arguments about the timing, the membership or the quorum, we would need guidance as to where we should go from here, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I hope that you will reassure me that we cannot simply be offered an off-the-cuff proposition on a take-it-or-leave-it basis about a Committee as important as this, without any opportunity to amend it.

I am asking for your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as to how the House can effectively express its opinion about the matter and how it might go about altering anything before deciding whether to approve the establishment of the Committee.

Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Conservative, Reigate

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Further to the points raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), I seek guidance about our ability to amend the resolution of the House if we support him in the Division and wish to change the membership of the Committee.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. The right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) was taking part in a debate and, in any case, every word that he addresses is to the Chair. At this time of night, I am not here to educate hon. Members. It is entirely up to the hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Blunt) whether he wants to vote for or to support the motion that I am about to put to the House.

Question put:—

The House proceeded to a Division.

The House having divided: Ayes 331, Noes 28.

Division No. 321][11.32 pm
AYES
Abbott, Ms DianeCummings, John
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Ainger, NickDarting, Rt Hon Alistair
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Darvill, Keith
Alexander, DouglasDavey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Allan, RichardDavies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Allen, GrahamDavis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)Dawson, Hilton
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms HilaryDean, Mrs Janet
Ashton, JoeDenham, John
Atherton, Ms CandyDismore, Andrew
Atkins, CharlotteDobbin, Jim
Ballard, JackieDonohoe, Brian H
Barnes, HarryDoran, Frank
Barron, KevinDowd, Jim
Bayley, HughDrew, David
Beard, NigelEagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs MargaretEdwards, Huw
Beith, Rt Hon A JEfford, Clive
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)Ellman, Mrs Louise
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)Fisher, Mark
Bennett, Andrew FFitzpatrick, Jim
Benton, JoeFitzsimons, Lorna
Berry, RogerFlint, Caroline
Best, HaroldFlynn, Paul
Betts, CliveFollett, Barbara
Blackman, LizFoster, Rt Hon Derek
Blears, Ms HazelFoster, Don (Bath)
Blizzard, BobFoster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Boateng, Rt Hon PaulFoster, Michael J (Worcester)
Borrow, DavidFyfe, Maria
Bradley, Keith (Withington)Gapes, Mike
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)Gardiner, Barry
Bradshaw, BenGeorge, Bruce (Walsall S)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)Gerrard, Neil
Browne, DesmondGibson, Dr Ian
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Burden, RichardGodman, Dr Norman A
Burgon, ColinGodsiff, Roger
Butler, Mrs ChristineGoggins, Paul
Byers, Rt Hon StephenGolding, Mrs Llin
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Campbell-Savours, DaleGriffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Caplin, IvorGrocott, Bruce
Casale, RogerGrogan, John
Caton, MartinHain, Peter
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Chaytor, DavidHall, Patrick (Bedford)
Clapham, MichaelHamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)Hanson, David
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)Hepburn, Stephen
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)Heppell, John
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)Hesford, Stephen
Clelland, DavidHewitt, Ms Patricia
Clwyd, AnnHill, Keith
Coaker, VernonHinchliffe, David
Coffey, Ms AnnHodge, Ms Margaret
Cohen, HarryHood, Jimmy
Coleman, IainHoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Cooper, YvetteHope, Phil
Corston, JeanHowarth, Alan (Newport E)
Cotter, BrianHowarth, George (Knowsley N)
Cousins, JimHowells, Dr Kim
Cranston, RossHoyle, Lindsay
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs JoanMotley, Elliot
Hurst, AlanMorris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr BrianMountford, Kali
Illsley, EricMullin, Chris
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Jamieson, DavidMurphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Jenkins, BrianMurphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)O'Neill, Martin
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)Öpik, Lembit
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)Organ, Mrs Diana
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms TessaOsborne, Ms Sandra
Keeble, Ms SallyPalmer, Dr Nick
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)Pearson, Ian
Kelly, Ms RuthPendry, Tom
Kemp, FraserPerham, Ms Linda
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)Pickthall, Colin
Khabra, Piara SPike, Peter L
Kidney, DavidPlaskitt, James
Kilfoyle, PeterPollard, Kerry
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)Pond, Chris
Kumar, Dr AshokPope, Greg
Ladyman, Dr StephenPound, Stephen
Lawrence, Ms JackiePowell, Sir Raymond
Laxton, BobPrentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Lepper, DavidPrescott, Rt Hon John
Leslie, ChristopherPrimarolo, Dawn
Levitt, TomProsser, Gwyn
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)Purchase, Ken
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)Quinn, Lawrie
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs HelenRammell, Bill
Linton, MartinRapson, Syd
Livsey, RichardRaynsford, Nick
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Lock, DavidReid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Love, AndrewRendel, David
McAvoy, ThomasRoche, Mrs Barbara
McCabe, SteveRooker, Jeff
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian (Makerfield)Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Macdonald, CalumRoy, Frank
McDonnell, JohnRuane, Chris
McGuire, Mrs AnneRuddock, Joan
McIsaac, ShonaRussell, Bob (Colchester)
McKenna, Mrs RosemaryRussell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Mackinlay, AndrewRyan, Ms Joan
Maclennan, Rt Hon RobertSanders, Adrian
MacShane, DenisSarwar, Mohammad
Mactaggart, FionaSavidge, Malcolm
McWalter, TonySedgemore, Brian
Mahon, Mrs AliceSheerman, Barry
Mallaber, JudyShipley, Ms Debra
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)Singh, Marsha
Marshall, David (Shettleston)Skinner, Dennis
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Marshall-Andrews, RobertSmith, Angela (Basildon)
Maxton, JohnSmith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Meacher, Rt Hon MichaelSmith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Meale, Alan
Merron, GillianSmith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Milburn, Rt Hon AlanSnape, Peter
Miller, AndrewSoley, Clive
Mitchell, AustinSouthworth, Ms Helen
Moffatt, LauraSpellar, John
Moonie, Dr LewisSquire, Ms Rachel
Moore, MichaelStarkey, Dr Phyllis
Moran, Ms MargaretSteinberg, Gerry
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)Tyler, Paul
Stinchcombe, PaulTynan, Bill
Stoate, Dr HowardVis, Dr Rudi
Strang, Rt Hon Dr GavinWalley, Ms Joan
Stringer, GrahamWard, Ms Claire
Stuart, Ms GiselaWareing, Robert N
Stunell, AndrewWatts, David
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)Wicks, Malcolm
Taylor, David (NW Leics)Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Temple-Morris, PeterWills, Michael
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)Winnick, David
Timms, StephenWinterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Tipping, PaddyWise, Audrey
Todd, MarkWood, Mike
Touhig, DonWoolas, Phil
Trickett, JonWorthington, Tony
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)Wray, James
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)Tellers for the Ayes:
Turner, Neil (Wigan)Mr. Tony McNulty and
Twigg, Derek (Halton)Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe.
NOES
Amess, DavidJackson, Robert (Wantage)
Beggs, RoyLewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)Loughton, Tim
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs VirginiaLuff, Peter
Brady, GrahamMcIntosh, Miss Anne
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterO'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Paterson, Owen
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice & Howden)Robathan, Andrew
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Donaldson, JeffreySwayne, Desmond
Fabricant, MichaelViggers, Peter
Fallon, MichaelWinterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Forth, Rt Hon EricWinterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Gale, RogerTellers for the Noes:
Gorman, Mrs TeresaMr. Crispin Blunt and
Gray, JamesMr. John Randall.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Reasons for disagreeing to certain Lords amendments reported, and agreed to; to be communicated to the Lords.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Conservative, Worthing West

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If, tomorrow morning—after Treasury questions and after the Official Report for today is available—the Prime Minister asked to make a statement correcting his statement this afternoon that the married persons allowance would be available to someone retiring after April next year, would it be in order for that statement to be taken before Prorogation?

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

That is not a matter for the Chair. It is entirely up to the Prime Minister whether he wishes to make a statement.