HC Deb 18 December 1968 vol 775 cc1476-92

Amendments made: No. 51, in page 46, line 48, column 1 leave out 'and (2)'.

No. 52, in page 46, line 50, column 2, leave out 'subsections (1) and (2)' and insert 'subsection (1)'.

No. 53, in page 47, leave out lines 10 to 14.

No. 54, in page 47, leave out line 33.—[Mr. Callaghan.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

7.48 p.m.

Mr. McNamara

During our consideration of the Bill we have been looking at two major proposals. First, the introduction of the vote at 18, an issue which cut across all parties, and which, on balance, the House thought was a good idea to introduce. I think that this shows a great deal of sense on the part of the House, recognising as it does the maturity and intelligence of young people today.

One issue has created more smoke than light, and in respect of it there have been so many squeals from the party opposite, and from local Tory representatives in my area that it would be wrong not to spell out to my constituents the importance of the abolition of the non-residential franchise in local government elections in our area. The Bill makes the end of a long crusade in the history of this party, associated with the campaign for one man, one vote. Now this has been universally established, by the passage of the Bill, in all elections. We went a long way to achieving it with the abolition of the university vote in 1949 and with the Bill we have come the whole way.

In Hull, there are 194,160 local government electors, of whom 1,161 are identified on the electoral register as nonresidents—

Mr. Hogg

On a point of order. I understood that on the Third Reading of a Bill one was limited to the terms of the Bill.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harry Gourlay)

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is quite right. I will call the hon. Member to order immediately I think he is out of order.

Mr. McNamara

Although this might seem to be an insignificant number—only 0.6 per cent. of the electorate—the way it works shows a tremendous weighing of electoral advantage for a particular party in a particular ward in my area. The majority of these people claim their vote in one ward, Myton Ward. I have here a copy of the electoral register of local government electors. In one street in my area, Albion Street, 31 out of 35 local government voters are non-residential—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Perhaps the hon. Member will tell me which part of the Bill he is talking about.

Mr. McNamara

I am talking about Clause 15, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and commending it to the House and to my constituents.

A register which was in operation until February, 1968, for a whole voting area shows that only 63 out of 243 electors on the register were residential. Nine out of 15 in one street, ten out of 11 in another, in that street of streets in Hull, Land of Green Ginger, 12 out of 18, in Parliament Street, a great name, 52 out of 56 are non-residential voters.

The way that the votes are concentrated in one area creates chaos. It means that the people of Hull who live in the area cannot have the representation that they might want. A considerable number of those who are registered as nonresidential voters claim a postal vote. I should like to give some examples to show why my constituents should welcome the Bill.

In Myton Ward, District 4, there is a place known as Seaton Buildings, Jameson Street. There are 11 nonresidential voters, nine of whom are registered as postal voters with an address in Liverpool. At Festival House, Jameson Street, there are seven non-residential voters, three of whom have postal votes at an address in London, E.C.3, and two have postal votes at addresses in Cardiff. So I could go on, quoting case after case of people with no interest in the city, living in Liverpool, London, Cardiff and elsewhere and claiming the right to vote. One cannot accept this.

I should like to look at the 1968 Election results in Myton Ward. The figure was: Johnson, Labour, 1,523; Williamson, Conservative, 1,748. This was a Conservative majority of 225 in a ward where there were 541 registered nonresidential voters—

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

On a point of order. I should be interested to know where in the Bill is anything detailing the streets of Hull and the content of the voting strength there and what relevance therefore the hon. Member's speech has to the Bill.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Member is relating his remarks to Clause 15, and at the moment he is in order.

Mr. McNamara

I appreciate why the hon. Member does not want the answer to the case that his Party have been trying to make underlined from this side of the House.

What I have been saying shows the evils of plural voting in my constituency. One argument of the party opposite to support their idea is the claim that people who are paying rates should have their interests protected by being allowed the vote. But let us consider a few examples. At this same Seaton Buildings in Jameson Street, the rateable value is £1,300 and there are 11 votes there. At 28 Albion Street, which has a rateable value of £318. there are five votes. At 18 Albian Street, which has a rateable value of £258, there are five votes, but in the same area, at the Co-op in Jameson Street—

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

How long ago was this?

Mr. McNamara

This year.

—which has a rateable value of £59,138, there are no votes. At the premises of Edwin Davies of Bond Street, a large multiple firm in the area, which has a rateable value of £7,472, there are no votes. The Party opposite are advocating the continuation of privilege, which we on this side could not possibly accept.

The balance on the council in Hull shows that 14 Tories and 2 Labour members, 16 out of 84, or 19 per cent. of the council, will be affected by this. It is totally unacceptable that 19 per cent. or one-fifth of the council should come from 0.6 per cent. of the electorate, who do not even live in the constituency. The Tories have 36 members on the county council of whom 14, or just over one third, are non-residents. I find it shocking that the Tory party in Hull has to look outside the city boundaries for candidates and that, for that reason, they are opposing Clause 15.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member must relate his remarks to what will happen once the Bill is passed and what the words in the Bill state, and not what might have happened under the old legislation.

Mr. McNamara

When the Bill and Clause 15 come into effect, the Tories in my city will be able to ensure that they are represented by Tory ratepayers resident in the city. This will give them a wonderful opportunity to change the leadership of their party and perhaps become for the first time an effective opposition, which is something we would also like in this Chamber.

Also, I should like to put a point to my hon. Friend, when a person has put forward the qualification in the past that he has owned freehold or leasehold land and we have made a search of the local land registry, we have found no reference to it. It has in the past been very difficult to challenge this, because of the expenses of an electoral court. What I want to know is to what extent a person will be able to challenge the form of consent of candidature to make sure that it does not contain merely an accommodation address. Otherwise, the general effect of this provision could well be lost.

The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), arguing against Clause 15, urged that the person who was a ratepayer should be able to be represented. He drew an analogy with national politics. My hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Mr. Howies) dealt with that argument succinctly. The point is simple: when choosing a candidate for national politics, we are choosing a British subject to decide the affairs of the country, but in local politics we are choosing a local resident who is deciding the affairs of the locality.

8.1 p.m.

Mr. Hogg

I am sure that the whole House heard the end of that speech with considerable relief, and I am sure that in time the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) will regret that he has come to the aid of a thoroughly disreputable position by trying to reopen a debate which was thoroughly thrashed out in earlier stages of the Bill.

There can be no more question of voting against the Bill on Third Reading than there was of voting against the Bill on Second Reading. It contains a number of provisions which are either laudable or at any rate harmless and a number of provisions which are controversial—one of them highly disreputable, by which I refer to Clause 15, which we shall reverse as soon as we get into office, which will be at the earliest possible moment the Government cease to cling to office.

I do not want to renew the debate which has taken place over a wide range of other provisions. We think that on balance a number of the provisions in the Bill are justifiable. I believe that in the end the country will regret the decision of the House about votes at 18, and I am not the only Member of any party who takes that view. A number of other provisions, such as that on Party labels, need reconsideration. I hope that the Government will not close their minds to the reconsideration which even today has been shown to be necessary on Clause 12, and I hope that some of the other criticisms which we have made will be repaired., if possible by the instance of the Government by amendment in another place.

But in the meantime, before the Home Secretary rises, I would, with the greatest possible malice politically, but the greatest possible good will personally, wish him a happy Christmas.

8.3 p.m.

Mr. Callaghan

We come to the end of the Bill, which has taken considerable time in passing through the House—and it is none the worse for that; indeed, it is the better for that. The deliberations have taken seven full days of Parliamentary time, including four days in Committee on the Floor of the House, and I modestly suggest that it has been time well spent.

I should like to express my thanks to the House for the manner in which, in general, the subjects have been approached. I know that I shall be forgiven for expressing my special thanks to my Under-Secretary of State, who came to this Bill completely fresh from his labours in the Ministry of Defence. It was a very useful occasion for him to renew a nodding acquaintance with democracy by leaving defence and coming to our consideration of the Bill. He has shown that he has forgotten none of his initial cunning.

I thank the Opposition—both the official Opposition and the Liberal Party spokesmen—for the way in which they have helped in the consideration of the Bill. They have put forward their views, where they differed from ours, with great force and vigour. Nevertheless, our debates have been characterised by good temper. It would have been difficult for them to have been characterised by anything else with the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) leading the Opposition.

There has been a genuine readiness, I hope, to consider other points of view, and a genuine desire to improve our electoral machinery where improvement is needed and to increase participation, if I may use the vogue word, in the processes of selection which are necessary for a representative democracy.

My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) asked me about candidates at local government elections who had an accommodation address. In some of the circumstances which he described—if I understood his illustration exactly—they would be breaking the law. It is the statutory duty of the householder to give to the electoral registration officer the names of those resident at the address on the qualifying date, and only those names, and there is a penalty of £20 for returning false information. As my hon. Friend knows, there is a provision for hearing objections. If a person contesting an election is in the register as a resident, that is conclusive as to his qualifications under that head to be a candidate. But this is a matter which will need to be considered very carefully as we have changed the law.

We have improved the bill by the decision, reached by the House after mature consideration, on party labels. I will not rehearse all the arguments again. There was a general desire that there should be party labels, although some hon. Members did not quite agree. We have reached, I believe, the best possible compromise by allowing persons to show their colours if they wish to do so, but only if they wish to do so.

We also dealt with wife-voters. We got rid of provisions, which were sensible enough when first introduced but which had ceased to make sense and had become a stumbling-block, without extending the field of absent voting. We have made it easier for merchant seamen to get on the register and possible for election agents to have their offices wherever, within reason, it suits their convenience, and we have removed broadcasting from the thorny field of election expenses. The hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers) was particularly interested in the question of wives voting. I would inform her that under Clause 5 (1) a wife who is abroad with her husband or at sea with him if he is a seaman would be entitled to vote by proxy. I hope that that meets the point which she made.

The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone uttered some characteristic words about the non-resident franchise and the property qualification. I note that the Conservative Party intend to reverse this provision if and when they win an election. I note that they intend to return to the system of plural voting. I note that that pledge has been given. I recall that a similar pledge was given in the Parliament of 1945–50 about university representation, and I dare say that this pledge will have exactly the same fate in the annals of Conservative Party history as the pledge concerning university representation and that we shall never hear more about it after today. In any case, whether we do or not, I doubt whether they will be in a position for a very long time to carry out that pledge. The plain truth is that for local government the field of selection should be the local area. For Parliament it should be the United Kingdom. That seems to me a clear and definite distinction which should be made.

There will continue to be differences of view about votes at 18, across the parties and between the parties, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman correctly said. We all have different views on this subject. I do not wish again to rehearse the arguments. Every one of us is conscious that we have made a substantial extension, and I hope that we have made the right decision. I believe that we have and I trust that time will show that we have.

In conclusion, I thank the House for the manner in which this Bill has been considered. I express the thanks of the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself, as we have been jointly in charge of the Bill, for the consideration which has been given and for the temper and tone of the debates.

8.8 p.m.

Mr. Houghton

I am a little puzzled at the course of the debate. When you called the Third Reading, Mr. Deputy Speaker, my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara), quick off the mark, gave us his most interesting analysis of the facts of the existing electoral arrangements in the local elections in his constituency. The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), unable to contain himself any longer, then sprang to the Box and began to make concluding observations about the Bill. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary naturally followed the right hon. and learned Gentleman to the Box. But I hope that that does not indicate that we have necessarily finished with the Bill if hon. Members on both sides of the House wish to say something about Third Reading.

I should, perhaps, apologise for my intervention at this time, but one of my misfortunes in being Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party is that I am required to be on other duties at material times when Bills are under discussion in the House. Therefore, I was not able to take part in the debate on Second Reading and I was not able to speak on several Clauses dealt with in Committee. That, I hope, will be accepted as my apologetic reason for offering a comment or two now.

I think the most important change in the Bill is the granting of votes at the age of 18. Many of us—I can speak for some—who were on Mr. Speaker's Conference were in obvious difficulties when this question came before the House with a Government recommendation to support the Clause to reduce the voting age to 18. Those of us on Mr. Speaker's Conference did what our instructions required us to do—to arrive if possible at agreed solutions on various matters relating to Parliamentary elections. Mr. Speaker, in his final report to the Prime Minister, paid tribute to the co-operative spirit in which the members of the Conference approached their task which he said was a great help in enabling agreement to be reached on a substantial number of matters which were before us.

I was party to the majority view on Mr. Speaker's Conference on votes at 18. When it came before the House any member of Mr. Speaker's Conference had to decide whether to uphold the arrangement or agreement to which he was party at the Conference or to obey a Government Whip to vote in a different sense. I thought there was nothing more shameful in my upholding the agreement reached at Mr. Speaker's Conference when the matter came on the Floor of the House than in the Government upholding the arrangement they had come to with the Opposition on reform of the House of Lords.

These things are matters of discussion and as far as possible agreement between the parties on constitutional questions. The whole point of appointing Mr. Speaker's Conference was to try to reach the maximum of agreement on constitutional questions so as to avoid unnecessary party strife on these matters on the Floor of the House. That I offer by way of explanation of what I did because when I read in the newspapers that I had voted against the Government, or defied the Whips I felt a little hurt. The Whips defied me.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The right hon. Gentleman's observations may be interesting, but he must relate his remarks to the Third Reading of the Bill and I do not think that what he has said so far had a great deal to do with that.

Mr. Houghton

I was relating my observations to Clause 1, which deals with voting at the age of 18. I was explaining how things happened concerning me when that Clause was before the House in Committee. I shall leave that now for I think I have explained myself enough. The important point now to which the House has to have regard is how we are to prepare young people for their new responsibilities.

I was much impressed by an observation made by the hon. Member for Peters-field (Miss Quennell) in the discussion in Committee when she reminded us that there would be people aged 13 at the beginning of a parliament who may be qualified to vote at the end of that Parliament, in five years. I doubt whether our educational system at the moment gives adequate preparation in these matters to enable people to approach their new responsibilities with a feeling of understanding and confidence.

So I hope that the Government will give some attention to the educational curricula. I know how difficult these problems are in schools, especially when they border on party controversy, but we have now decided to give the vote to young people who may be called upon to vote before they have left school and in many cases before they have taken a cool look at the world outside and shared in the experiences and responsibilities of adult life. This is very important. It is the main point that I rose to make.

There are other parts of the Bill I do not particularly like, but the House has decided on them and we must accept them and hope that they will work out all right. In scattered constituencies and rural areas there will be an additional trial for those engaged in elections to have the polling stations open until 10 o'clock at night. That again is something on which opinions differ. We shall have to see how it goes, but I very much fear that we shall have polling stations open for the final hour with few, if any, electors coming into many of them to register their votes. My experience in the last election was that polling stations were almost deserted by half-past eight. It may be that they will be deserted for the extended period for which they are open. We shall have to see. I do not think it necessarily helps anyone to go on extending the hours during which people may discharge their civic responsibilities, imposing unnecessary burdens on others without increasing the number of those who register their votes.

This is a Bill which is good in parts. I am hurt by some of the experience which members of Mr. Speaker's Conference had, but we will bear it as best we can.

8.18 p.m.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

I seek the indulgence of the House to participate in this fourth discussion of the Bill. I join with the right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) in thinking that it was an extraordinary situation that when at least one back-bench Member rose you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, called the Front Bench speaker on the Opposition side, which virtually meant that the debate was closed when the Home Secretary followed him. I am in some difficulty because I was about to speak. I wanted to ask a question to which I thought I might get an answer from the Home Secretary, but he has now finished his speech. I hope that by leave of the House he will reply to what I ask.

This concerns the question of votes at 18. The House has passed this, but Parliament as a whole has not passed it for it still has to go to another place. I was not in favour of this change, but I realise that the majority of the House agreed to it. I have always thought that 20 would have been a better age limit. An interesting thing has occurred since we passed that Clause of the Bill. Another place has thrown out a suggestion that young people of 18 should be allowed to marry without permission of their parents. The Lords inisted, I understand, that 20 should remain the age.

I ask the Home Secretary whether this would make any difference to the view of the Government on votes at 18. There might be a position in which people could not vote but could marry at age 18. That would be anomalous. On the other hand, if what has been done in the Lords holds good, young people will have to ask their parents' permission to marry at 18, although they will have a vote, they will be able to participate in the election of a government, and they will be able to exercise their full democratic rights. In view of what has happened in the Lords, the Home Secretary should think again. If the decision of the Lords stands, the Government should reconsider their attitude to votes at 18.

Mr. Callaghan

The Government would certainly not think it proper that the House of Lords should determine the age at which people should vote or, indeed, the conditions under which they should vote.

8.21 p.m.

Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)

The question just asked by the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) causes me to intervene for a few minutes. I had thought that the Bill could be accorded a Third Reading without my blessing. I took up the time of the Committee and of the House during earlier stages of the Bill. A report of what happened in the Lords yesterday started me thinking. I think that at least one back-bencher from this side should make some comment on the issue which is raised.

As the House knows, I am a supporter of the Bill. I am glad that it has reached its final stage in this House. I think that it is a good Bill and that, in its major reforms, it will contribute to the development of democracy. I think that it is a good Bill, too, because it pioneers the development of democratic representation; and there is no Parlia- ment better suited to be a pioneer in this field than the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Surely the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford would not advance the wholly anti-democratic theory that, even though the full Parliamentary process in regard to the Bill embodying the important proposals of the Latey Committee has not been gone through, the fact that a certain proposition has been carried on an Amendment in the Lords should cause the House of Commons to abandon legislation which will tonight gets its Third Reading. The hon. Gentleman talked about one House, or Parliament, passing a Bill finally.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

I do not accept the proposition which the hon. Gentleman seems to be advancing, and which was slightly hinted at by the Home Secretary, that the Lords have no right to participate in any legislation. The Lords have a right to take a view. When that view comes to this House, it is right that we should reconsider the matter in the light of what the Lords have done.

Mr. Mendelson

Neither my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary nor I have suggested that the Lords have no right to take part in the legislative process. The hon. Gentleman should not at this late stage in the debate misinterpret what has been said. The Lords have carried a proposition on an Amendment. This is one stage in the progress of legislation. In due course, that proposition will be reported to this House. It will be for the Commons to make its decision. I am confident that it will overturn the proposition carried narrowly in the Lords and will accept the recommendation.

I attach the greatest possible importance to the propositions in the Report of the Latey Committee. I have always believed that the reforms there proposed have a bearing on this Bill. These responsibilities go together. I am certain that they will be passed together.

It ought not to go out from the House that in this final stage of the debate there has been any change of opinion among the majority of the House. There is a clear and big majority in favour of the Bill. It has been debated at great length through its various stages. It brings the law up to date in many important respects on which all parties and people of no party think alike. For many years many of these proposals have been debated in political circles outside the House. The work which has been done on these reforms, both in Mr. Speaker's Conference and in Parliament, is greatly appreciated.

I believe that the most important among them is the encouragement which there will be to members of the younger generation—not, as has been so often, just boys and girls of 18. Only one section of the new electorate will be 18. Others will be 19, 20 and 21. This continuous harping on only one section of the electorate is an implied misrepresentation of this major reform.

It will mean that, instead of merely saying, "You are not taking part in the political democratic process because you are young", we shall say to these young people, "There is a way in which you can fully participate. Although a demonstration may have its place, there is no reason why you should not be fully integrated in the political decision-making of your community". This is the most important of all the decisions in this major reform. I am glad that the House is about to give the Bill a Third Reading.

8.27 p.m.

Mr. Bruce Campbell (Oldham, West)

May I leave one thought in the Secretary of State's mind on the question of keeping polling booths open till 10 p.m. I ask him to picture the count. I am sure that he can picture many counts. I ask him to visualise dozens of people waiting for the ballot boxes to arrive at 10.30 a.m. and with nothing to do until then.

Will he consider allowing ballot boxes to be sent in at 9 p.m., with a supplementary ballot box, as it were, coming in at 10 p.m.? Then those who are specially employed to count would have something to do from 9 p.m. onwards. This would have the further advantage of showing the right hon. Gentleman the number of voters who exercised their right to vote in the extra hour. If he finds after a year or two that a very small proportion of the electorate utilises the extra hour, he might consider reverting to 9 p.m.

8.28 p.m.

Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)

It is said that a man convinced against his will remains of the same opinion still. I can only say again, on the occasion of the Third Reading debate, that I regard the giving of the vote at 18 years of age as a thoroughly retrograde step. For the first time in the history of our Constitution, something has been given away which was not asked for. I am conscious of the value of the vote, and I am conscious of the whole history of the franchise and the struggle to develop it. But the franchise is not something to be given simply as a gambit between the parties concerned about public opinion polls, and I am sure that some element of that kind entered into consideration here. I do not think that it is a good move at all.

Our rules regarding what is in order in a Third Reading debate have been strained this evening, particularly during the last speech, so I hope that I may, in the same spirit, be allowed to make one or two observations. Mr. Speaker's Conference did not ask that the line should stop at 21 years of age. It spoke about votes at 20, which, with the five months, meant 17 months in all, which would have taken care of the "Y" voters about whom we have heard. The opinion which it expressed went right across the Conference.

I assure my right hon. Friend that it was not necessary for me to be a member of Mr. Speaker's Conference to come to the opinion which I have. I am pleading in aid nothing of that sort now. I am only urging what I believe to be right. None of the arguments which I have heard has altered my view, and I can only hope that things will turn out rather better than I fear. Perhaps I may add that, when I have spoken to the West Leeds Labour Party general management committee, one of the most mature political organisations in Britain, it supported me unanimously.

In addition to unwanted votes, an unwanted extension of the franchise we have unwanted hours of polling provided for under the Bill. I have tested this also. I have pointed out already that we cannot get much more than a 90 per cent. vote in some places, on an 85 per cent. register as it usually is. I do not know for whose benefit this change is being made. Some of my colleagues tell me that in more backward constituencies than mine the change is needed. I can only repeat that in West Leeds we do not need it, and it is resented. I put it as strongly as that.

Among all the unnecessary changes made by the Bill, a necessary advance, that is, provision for two registers a year, is not to be found. It would have cost £3 million. In answer to the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Sharples) the other day, the Treasury—or it may have been the Home Office—said that there had been no proper estimate of what all the other changes would cost, the extra polling hours, the extra cost of taking on board 3 million 4 million voters. I say nothing about extra necessary cost in education which will be necessary if people are to exercise the franchise. No costing of that kind has been done, yet all political parties are united in believing that, if one thing is needed more than anything else, it is two registers a year so that people may be able to vote effectively. That advance was cut out by Sir Stafford Cripps in 1949. It is a poor do that we cannot do better in 1968.

In addition, we shall have unwanted party labels at Parliamentary elections. Nobody has proved the case. No one has shown that they are needed, though they are needed at local government elections. It still seems to me that the Opposition put up the best case when they said that we could have done it without fuss by allowing the parties to exhibit special posters in polling booths.

Now, another matter. I did not drag it up, but the Home Secretary did when he rather sneeringly rejected any attempt to deal with betting on the voting results and the public opinion polls. I can only say that I remain unrepentant. If I did not argue the case fully in debate, that was because it never appeared in the Bill. But there is a case to be made. It ought not to be brushed aside. Above all people, my right hon. Friend is a Home Secretary who should understand the evils of gambling and the repercussions of the Butler Act, which went far wider and brought in far more evil than we ever understood at the time. I do not consider that our public processes should be at the mercy of the betters and the punters.

The Home Secretary made something of the point that he had given a great deal of what Mr. Speaker's Conference recommended. So he should. In the main, however, he has just given to Mr. Speaker's Conference what I call the bread and cheese items in our Report, the "Yes-No" items, the things that did not matter an awful lot. He has given us none of the big decisions.

Many people have taken as much interest in this matter as I have, but I claim that no one has taken more. This is one of the causes to which I have been committed. I have been to the political agents and I have spoken to my constituents. I have spoken to all the people who will be concerned. I can claim that no one has given these questions deeper consideration.

I am profoundly dissatisfied with this Bill, and I greatly regret that it has come from a Labour Government in our great democracy. It is a thing largely of rags and tatters. One or two improvements will come out of it, but the sum total does not take us far along the road in the great historical process of the emancipation of our people and the development of the Parliamentary system.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.