HC Deb 26 November 1968 vol 774 cc430-6

Again considered in Committee

Question again proposed.

Mr. Hogg

I am delighted to think that we are making progress, and I intend to help the Committee with that commendable object. But I must just say this to the Government, if I may be serious for more than a moment: most Governments could manage, without loss of dignity, to put the Whips on a little less often than they do. I should have had the Whips off on all the series of debates we have had on this subject and on similar matters, and I do not think that the Government would have lost a single Division had they done so.

I now turn briefly away from the constitutional issue which ensures the victory of the Government against a divided Opposition by a distorted and swollen majority, to the merits of the case. The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) in rather a bitter speech, I thought more bitter than the circumstances justified, accused my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) who supported the Amendment, which was moved from the benches opposite, of a mistrust of the electorate.

The argument, which was repeated by several hon. Members opposite, was that this was the kind of argumentation which had always been presented against the forty shilling franchise, the enfranchisement of women, and every advance in the franchise which had ever taken place. But that argument proves too much, if it proves anything at all. I do not think that any one of us mistrusts the electorate. We should not be here if we mistrusted it too much. What we are in the presence of is a question of judgment. Everybody knows that it would be insane to offer the vote to children of nine or 10, and everybody knows that it would be unduly restrictive to offer the vote only to those above the age of, say, 25. The question is where one must draw the line, a question which is posed in the knowledge that one must draw the line somewhere, and that it must essentially be a question of degree, and not of principle, not of philosophy, but of practical judgment.

It may be that the 18s have it. But the two points I ventured to put before the Committee had nothing to do with mistrust. They were, first of all, that where, in the nature of things, one has to make an arbitrary decision based not upon some overriding principle but upon a balance of advantages, there was something to be said for the traditional age because it was traditional—not because the traditional age has any magic in it but because it is not manifestly worse than any other and because it carries with it a long tradition of support and authority.

I admit that, left to myself, I would have left the age at 21. But I choose the age of 20 in support of the Amendment because it forms the consensus of a number of universally respected members of this Committee. But I cannot see any other basis upon which a decision can be made. I do not say that this is ideal, but some decision has to be made in one direction or another. Why should 18 be

better than 17 or 16 or 15? I do not know.

I believe that, if one started allowing people to make contracts and then held them to them at the age of 15, there would be a public outcry. I believe that there is a relationship between the other responsible acts which an individual has to make and the right and privilege of voting. I see the argument in favour of making them the same, but I do not see the argument in favour of changing them unless there is an overwhelming case to do so.

You may think, Mr. Irving, that this is unduly conservative. That is what I am about. I am a Conservative and I am not the only conservative in the Committee on either side. But, speaking for myself, and with all these reservations, I shall vote for the Amendment.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 121. Noes 275.

Division No. 10. AYES [10.8 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Neave, Airey
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Gower, Raymond Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Grant, Anthony Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Grant-Ferris, R. Onelow, Cranley
Batsford, Brian Gresham Cooke, R. Page, Graham (Crosby)
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. EdmundS) Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Bennett, Sir Frederlc (Torquay) Hall, John (Wycombe) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm) Hail-Davis, A. G. F. Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Benv. Hn. Anthony Harrison, Col. Slr Harwood (Eye) Peel, John
Black, sir Cyril Hastings, Stephen Pike, Miss Mervyn
Blaker, Peter Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Pink, R. Bonner
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Pounder, Rafton
Body, Richard Heseltine, Michael Price, David (Eastleigh)
Bossom, Sir Clive Higgins, Terence L. Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Boston, Terence Hill, J. E. B. Prior, J. M. L.
Brewis, John Hirst, Geoffrey Pym, Francis
Brinton, Sir Tatton Hobden, Dennis Quennell, Miss J. M.
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Rees-Davies, W. R.
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Holland, Philip Rhys WiUiams, Sir Brandon
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Holland, Rt. Hn. Douglas Ridsdale. Julian
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nalm) Howell, David (Gulldford) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Carlisle, Mark Hunt, John Russell, Sir Ronald
Clark, Henry Hutchison, Michael Chark Scott-Hopkins, James
Clegg, Walter Irivne, Byant Godman (Rye) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whltby)
Conlan, Bernard Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mingten)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jones, J. ldwal (Wrexham) Spriggs, Leslie
Cordle, John Kenyon, CIifford Stainton, Keim
Corfield, F. V. Kershaw, Anthony Stodart, Anthony
Costain, A. P. Knight, Mrs. Jill Tapsell, Peter
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Langford-Holt, Sir John Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Digby, Simon Wingfield Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Catheart)
Doughty, Charles Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Temple, John M.
Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec MacArthur, Ian Thatcher, Mm. Margaret
Eden, Sir John Maddan, Martin Waddington, David
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Maude, Angus Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Elliott,R. W.(N1c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Mawby, Ray Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Emery, Peter Maxwell-HyslOP, R. J. wright, Esmond
Errimgton, Sir Eric Miscampbell, Norman Wylie, N. R.
Eyre, Reginald Mitchetl, David (Basingstoke)
Farr, John Monro, Hector TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Foster, Sir John More, Jasper Mr. C. R. Strauss and
Galbraith, Hn. T. C. Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charler Sir David Renton.
Glover, Sir Douglas
Allaun, Fran4 (Salford, E.) Faulds, Andrew Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross&Crom'ty)
Alfdritt, Walter Fernyhough, E. Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)
Allen, Scholefield Finch, Harold Mackintosh, John P.
Anderson, Donald Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Maclennan, Robert
Archer, Peter Fletcher-Cooke, Charles McMaster, Stanley
Armstrong, Ernest Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich) MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)
Ashton, J. W. Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Ford, Ben McNamara, J. Kevin
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Forrester, John Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Fortescue, Tim Mahon, Simon (Bootle)
Bagler, Gordon A. T. Fraser, John (Norwood) Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Freeson, Reginald Manuel, Archie
Balniel, Lord Galpern, Sir Myer Mapp, Charles
Barnett, Joel Gardner, Tony Marks, Kenneth
Beaney, Alan Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Bence, Cyril Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Mendelson, John
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Mikardo, Ian
Bidwell, Sydney Gregory, Arnold Millan, Bruce
Biffen, John Grey, Charles (Durham) Miller, Dr. M. S.
Biggs-Davison, John Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Binns, John Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)
Bishop, E. S. Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Molloy, William
Booth, Albert Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)
Boyden, James Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Hamling, William Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Braine, Bernard Hannan, William Morris, John (Aberavon)
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Brooks, Edwin Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Murray, Albert
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Hattersley, Roy Murton, Oscar
Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Hazell, Bert Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Brown, R. W (Shoreditch & F'bury) Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Neal, Harold
Buchan, Norman Heffer, Eric S. Note, John
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'hurn) Henlg, Stanley O'Malley, Brian
Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M) Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Orem, Albert E.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Hilton, W. S. Orbach, Maurice
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Hooley, Frank Orme, Stanley
Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.) Hooson, Emlyn Oswald, Thomas
Carmichael, Neil Homer, John Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'en)
Carter-Jonec, Lewis Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Owen, Will (Morpeth)
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Hoy, James Padley, Walter
Chapman, Donald Huckfield, Leslie Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Coe, Denis Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Palmer, Arthur
Coleman, Donald Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Pardoe, John
Concannon, J. D. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Park, Trevor
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Pavitt, Laurence
Crouch, David Hunter, Adam Pearson, Arthur (Potypridd)
Crowder, F. P. Hynd, John Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Iremonger, T. L. Pentland, Norman
Cunningham, Sir Knox Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Currie, G. B. H. Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Price, William (Rugby)
Dalkeith, Earl of Janner, Sir Barnett Probert, Arthur
Dalyell, Tam Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.) Rankin, John
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Jenkins, Hugh, (Putney) Rees, Merlyn
Davdison,James(Aberdeenshire,W.) Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Reynolds, Rt. Hn. G. W.
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Davies, Harold (Leek) Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Davies, 'lfor (Gower) Jopling, Michael Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy
Davies, S. 0. (Merthyr) Kelley, Richard Robertson, John (Paisley)
Dean, Paul Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Robinson,Rt. Hn. Kenneth(St.P'c'as)
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Rose, Paul
Dell, Edmund Lawson, George Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Dempsey, James Leadbitter, Ted Rowlands, E.
Dickens, James Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Ryan, John
Dobson, Ray Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) St. John-Stevas, Norman
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Lee, John (Reading) Scott, Nicholas
Doig, Peter Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Sharples, Richard
Drayson, C. B. Lestor, Miss Joan Shaw, Arnold (Hford, S.)
Dunn, James A. Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Sheldon, Robert
Dunnett, Jack Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Lomas, Kenneth Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N,c'tle-u-Tyne)
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Loughlin, Charles Short, Mrs. Renée(W'hampton N.E.)
Eadie, Alex Lubbock, Eric Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Edelman, Maurice Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Silverman, Julius
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Slater, Joseph
Edwards, William (Merioneth) McBride, Neil Small, William
Ellis, John McCann, John Snow, Julian
English, Michael MacColl, James Speed, Keith
Ensor, David Macdonald, A. H. Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) McGuire, Michael Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Ewing, Mrs. Winifred Swingler, Stephen
Symonds, J. B. Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Taverne, Dick Walker, Harold (Doncaster) Winnick, David
Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Wall, Patrick Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Teeling, Sir William Wallace, George Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Thomas, Rt. Hn. George Ward, Dame Irene Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Thomson, Rt. Hn. George Watkins, David (Consett) Worsley, Marcus
Thornton, Ernest Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Tilney, John Weitzman, David TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Tinn, James Wellbeloycl, James Mr. Alan Fitch and
Urwin, T. W. Whitlock, William Mr. Joseph Harper.
Valley, Eric G. Wilkins, W. A.

The CHAIRMAN, being of the opinion that the principle of the Clause and any matters arising thereon had been adequately discussed in the course of debate on the Amendment proposed thereto, forthwith put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 47 (Debate on Clause or Schedule standing part), That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Question agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

To report Progress and ask leave to sit again.—[Mr. Fitch.]

Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.