HC Deb 27 November 1968 vol 774 cc635-53

Again considered in Committee.

Question again proposed.

Mr. Howie

That is the first time that I have been interrupted by the Prime Minister.

I was saying that the candidate when dealing with the return of electoral expenses has to put his name to a bit of paper, and we are putting ourselves into a situation in which we tempt ourselves not to look at what we are signing.

Mr. Hamling

No doubt my hon. Friend has seen the election addresses issued by parties and has seen on election returns the alleged cost of those election addresses. If he knows the printing industry, no doubt he can cost those election addresses.

Mr. Howie

I am happy to say that I know nothing about the costs of the printing industry. I do not intend to be lured into that murky little channel into which my hon. Friend has invited me. I merely repeat that it is time for the Government to reconsider the whole nature of the proposition which they have put before us, not to think of the expenses at the next election or the election after that, but to devise a formula which will be appropriate for the next 10 or 15 years.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Walter Bromley-Davenport (Knutsford)

I shall intervene only for a few moments. I should like to say first how much I admired the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover), who, unfortunately, has left the Chamber. How wise he was to emphasise that the Socialist Party has no trouble about getting money, because it gets it already out of the co-ops, the trade unions and the compulsory political levy. Getting the money is not a problem for Socialists, but it is to the Opposition.

I do not often disagree with my own side, but I did not altogether agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Woking when he said that election addresses were no longer necessary.

Mr. van Straubenzee

My hon. and gallant Friend has left out the "ham"—Wokingham.

Sir W. Bromley-Davenport

I apologise for my temporary lapse. But my hon. Friend said that election addresses were no longer necessary. I agree that they have never been necessary for hon. Members opposite, because in their case they contain only hate and lying promises. I do not say that an election address is necessary in my constituency, but election addresses are necessary in the majority of constituencies, for without them how could the electors know who is their candidate, what he looks like, and what is his policy? From that point of view, election addresses are essential.

Mr. Buchan

I will not follow the argument of the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Sir W. Bromley-Davenport) on the general principle that it is impossible to do so, but I want to take up one or two basic points which have arisen in the debate.

There has been one big omission from the discussions—the simple point that the figures in the Bill arose either out of Mr. Speaker's Conference or out of the local government conference. That must count for something. There appears to have been a general assumption that the figures are totally inadequate, but that assumption has been made without anyone asking what were the considerations which influenced Mr. Speaker's Conference and the local government conference. It has been argued that the figure of £30 in respect of local government expenses would have been altered if the local government conference had known what Mr. Speaker's Conference would recommend. It has been argued that the figures put forward by Mr. Speaker's Conference, too, were too low. It is suggested that the local government conference would have chosen higher figures had they known what Mr. Speaker's Conference would recommend. In fact, they knew what Mr. Speaker's Conference had recommended, as the recommendations were known from the first interim Report of Mr. Speaker's Conference. The case has not been made on that aspect, therefore, although it is an aspect on which I had hoped to hear more views.

Turning to the figures for Parliamentary elections, my hon. Friends the Members for Luton (Mr. Howie) and Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) said that they were not realistic figures. But the Amendment affects only county constituencies and does not affect my hon. Friends' constituencies. Secondly, having picked up the idea from hon. Members opposite, my hon. Friends expressed views about the problems of trying to keep their election expenses within the limits——

Mr. Hamling

I have not studied this problem only in the last half-hour. I have studied it for years. The views which I put forward tonight were views which I put forward to Mr. Speaker's Conference. Unfortunately, the Conference was back in the coach-and-buggy stage.

Mr. Buchan

That was not the point which I was making, and I will deal with that later. The argument is that in election after election the imposition of this figure has led to strains upon election agents who have to keep their expenses within these limits. It is said that more money would get rid of the strains, tensions and contrivances.

But it would do nothing of the sort; it would raise the level at which those tensions and contrivances would begin again. If the amount were raised, those who could would still spend to the limit, and would still have the same kind of problem to face. I do not believe that there is any hon. Member who could not spend treble or 10 times as much as any figure that was set, and would want to do so. He must be confined to a stated amount. I could spend 10 times what I am allowed. I would write election addresses every day if I could. The purpose of the limitation on expenditure is to bring equity into the situation. If we raised the figure there would still be the same kind of tensions and problems at that figure, but with the difference that those who could more easily afford it could spend it, and those who had less could not.

Mr. Speed

The hon. Gentleman should realise, even if his advisers do not, that we must raise the money in our constituency before we spend it. In my party, and I am sure in his, there is a fixed limit on what a candidate can give towards his party for expenses. It is therefore nonsense to talk about 10 times as much. Most constituencies cannot raise that sort of money.

Mr. Buchan

The hon. Gentleman has not taken the point. I recognise how much the individual candidate is restricted. I appreciate that it is said that parties must strain to raise running expenses. But hon. Members must not strain my imagination too much. I could compare what would come in in some constituencies in Scotland with the amount that could be raised in a political campaign in better-off areas, or where there are better-off parties. I make no distinction between the two parties here. Hon. Members Opposite seem very sensitive on this point, but I make no suggestion as to which party might be the wealthier. This principle is introduced in order to bring in equity in political propaganda, publicity and expenditure. If we set too high a ceiling it would benefit the wealthier candidate, who would no doubt be representative of the wealthier party.

We should look at the figure with more care. It came forward from Mr. Speaker's Conference. So far as I know, no one has argued against it, except to say that he would like more money. No one has stated the case against the figure.

My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West spoke about the censorious nature of this, as regards local candidates. I accept that. It is designed to be censorius precisely in order to bring equity into the situation. My hon. Friend was correct to say that the really serious thing may be large expenditure on national advertising. Perhaps we should think about that, but we cannot do it under the Clause.

The Amendment affects only county constituencies; it would change the basis of calculating the permitted maximum of candidates' expenses in the county constituency. Let us take an electorate of 40,000. Under the 1949 Act, candidates can at present spend £783 in a constituency of 40,000. With the permitted maximum under the Bill they could spend £1,083. The permitted maximum under the Amendment would be £1,000. So for an electorate of 40,000 the figure would have dropped by £83. For a constituency of 60,000 the figure would be the same under the Bill as under the Amendment. At 80,000 the respective figures would be £1,416 under the Bill and £1,500 under the Amendment. So that is an increase of £84.

10.15 p.m.

What is the conclusion? The proposal is to allow a little less expenditure under the Bill in county constituencies with small electorates and a little more in county constituencies with large electorates. But none of this is related to the needs of the constituency. The hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Alasdair Mackenzie) would drop considerably under this concept, but his area covers many thousands of square miles. Similarly, the production costs of so much material balances out in every constituency no matter the size. Rents for rooms are the same, and costs of blocks for photographs are the same. It averages out. One of the effects would be that a county constituency with a small electorate but a large area might find itself with much the same expenses but a smaller amount than another constituency So the Amendment will not do. It does not solve the problem which it sets out to deal with.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Is it the hon. Gentleman's argument that there ought to be no differentiation between different types of constituencies?

Mr. Buchan

Indeed, not. I agree that the best concept is a flat rate with amounts added on. We accept that there should be a flat amount first. That is accepted in the Bill and the Amendment. I accept that it should be related to the number of people in the constituency. The point is that when one alters the balance in this way one may then begin to bring in strange results, like the one I gave. That is why it might be better to keep to the first proportion.

Mr. Allason

The hon. Gentleman has given figures up to an 80,000 constituency. Does he realise that many constituencies are far in excess of that figure? What we object to is the fact that £1,000 is given for a 30,000 constituency, but for a 150,000 constituency—five times as big—only twice as much is given, £2,000.

Mr. Buchan

If the Amendment had been a little more scientific and had tried to work out a balance between the flat amount and the multiplied amount, there might have been something in it, but the Amendment will not do it, and so I must ask the Committee to reject it.

I am a little confused about Amendment No. 14, which has not been discussed. I wonder whether I am right in thinking that it is to be moved separately.

Mr. Hogg

I think the hon. Gentleman is mistaken. It was discussed, and I believe it is to be separately divided upon.

Mr. Buchan

While we have a good conceit of ourselves north of the Border, I think it might be more appropriate if I left it to a colleague of mine from the Home Office to discuss that point.

Mr. Hogg

I hope the Committee will forgive me if I say that I am not happy about the speech to which we have just listened. I do not wish to put this forward from any party point of view.

The two Amendments upon which it is proposed to divide relate to local government and not Parliamentary elections, although the Amendments for discussion have properly included, because of the selection of the Chair, Parliamentary elections and the discussion has very largely centred upon Parliamentary expenses rather than local government expenses. I think that this has been a convenient arrangement, but the debate came as something of a surprise to me. I think that it came also as something of a surprise to the hon. Gentleman. I think that the House has shown unmistakably greater wisdom about this than either of the two party machines, and for this reason I am unhappy about his reply.

The view of the Conservative Party machine was, in the main—and I say this frankly in the presence of my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Sharples), who is a vice chairman of the party—that the Parliamentary election expenses were adequately allowed for by Mr. Speaker's Conference. I think that it has emerged quite unmistakably in the debate that, in that respect, the machine was probably making a mistake. It happened to coincide with the view of the Labour Party machine and with Mr. Speaker's Conference, but one cannot disregard the speeches in this debate, which have come from both sides of the Committee. They have come from the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) and others, including some of my hon. Friends who have these vast swollen constituencies which, however, we hope will, in common decency, be reduced by redistribution before we go to the polls. We hope so, although we have some suspicion of the Government's intentions.

But the speeches have not been confined to hon. Members representing swollen constituencies. There was, if I may say so, a very wise speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Clover) which supported what the hon. Member for Woolwich, West said. I have always been concerned about this aspect of the matter. The Under-Secretary of Sate, it seems to me, wholly misunderstood the purpose of our election law and its effect. It is not designed to save candidates or parties money. That is not its purpose. It is not its purpose to stop people from spending legitimate a mounts of money on communication.

The purpose of the election law is twofold, and it is vital to the cleanliness of our elections. It is a law in favour of the purity and integrity of elections and not against extravagance. Two reasons underlie the law. Before it was passed in one form at the beginning of the century, for the first time, two evils occurred. The first was escalation of unnecessary expense and the other was cheating and bribery under cover of legitimate election expense.

It is not so very long ago. I remember that when I was Member for Oxford a very old man came to me. He was in extreme old age. He said to me, "I am the man in the moon". I said, "What do you mean?" It turned out that he was the man who in the last part of the nineteenth century paid the bribes which caused Oxford to be disfranchised for seven years as a result of corruption in that constituency. All this was carried on under cover of the election expenses. We must stick to our control of expenditure because we want to prevent corrupt practices and cheating under cover of legitimate expenses and to prevent escalation with that end in view.

Mr. Buchan rose——

Mr. Hogg

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will allow me to get on for the moment. I must try to apprehend him of this matter because I hope to get him to take back to the Government a little of the wisdom which the House has shown.

There is an equal and opposite danger. If we put the level too low we lead to twisted accounts. I got into great trouble in the House about a year ago because I suggested that this could be said of American presidential elections. There was trouble on points of order about whether I was attacking the head of a friendly country. Nevertheless, this is the trouble the Americans have fallen into. They have put the level so low that everyone knows that, except in the case of the Head of the American State, every other election expense is twisted from top to bottom. This cannot lead to an uncorrupt political life.

The hon. Member for Woolwich, West said quite plainly that the figures for the maximum allowable expenses in Parliamentary elections, if they have not already reached that level, will before there is another Speaker's Conference. That is a very serious statement, and I think that the Under-Secretary has made too light of it.

Mr. Hamling

I would be prepared to say now that an awful lot of expenses filed in the last five years have been "fiddled".

Mr. Hogg

I am not disputing that. I am fortunate in representing a constituency with the relatively small electorate of about 50,000. Therefore, I am probably affected by it less than other hon. Members.

We face this situation. When my father first went into public life, which is the best part of 50 years ago, fighting a Parliamentary election cost something more or less than £1,000 That is about what it costs to this day as a maximum. That must indicate either that there has been a fundamental change in the needs of communication or that something is being hidden about the expenses incurred. That must follow, because we know that in my father's day the £ was worth two or three times what it is today. As the hon. Gentleman says, if it has not already happened, it is the case that it is about to become the truth. That is very serious, and I am glad that it has been said so frankly. But I think that the Under-Secretary has failed to cope with the seriousness of the case which has been made.

Mr. Buchan

The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that there were two basic reasons for it. One was unnecessary extravagance and the other was corruption. Unnecessary extravagance, I think, can be put on one side. In fighting an election, it may not be good for a candidate to spend too much money, but it is nothing to worry about too much. I accept his second reason about corruption. But is there not a third element in that an extension of democracy is involved, where a sum is laid down to provide equity of treatment for the poorer and the better-off sections of the community? If the figure is too high, it benefits the richer group. If it is within the means of all sections, there will be straining and tensions at that new level, whatever it is.

Mr. Hogg

That is precisely the case that I am seeking to controvert. I do not misunderstand him. I do not agree with him. It is wrong historically. Historically, the expense of an election was greater than it has been in recent years. The Under-Secretary has wholly misunderstood the nature of contemporary elections in putting it forward now.

I did not say that unnecessary extravagance was bad. I said that escalation was inevitable. The law is designed to prevent popular expenditures on items such as bands, where a situation may develop in which each candidate has to indulge in what is fundamentally a valueless expenditure from the point of view of communication. However, from the point of view of democracy, to which the Under-Secretary appealed, I would come to the opposite conclusion to him.

The great political parties—and in terms of what I am about to say the Liberal Party can also be described as a great political party in that it has considerable funds—we have access to radio, television and to various other means of mass communication. But a party or an individual who has not got these resources may wish, for that very reason, to spend money on communication. We have to cater for people of all kinds—new parties, new individuals. The hon. Member for Woolwich, West seemed to say, with great force, that even with all the advantages which a great national political party has, the agent is put in a position where he has to grapple with his conscience to put forward an adequate election expense.

I think that the Under-Secretary's answer has been totally inadequate. He need not think that I am trying to take it out of him. I am trying to make him see what the Committee has been saying to him and to take it back to the Secretary of State and the Cabinet. We are not reproaching the Government for making a mistake. The two party machines have been agreed about it up to this point. The Cabinet only took over the recommendation of Mr. Speaker's Conference. We are not trying to lambaste them for doing it. We should only make ourselves ridiculous if we did. But when Parliament has said something significant in the course of a debate, it is up to the Government to recognise that something has happened, and I am not happy that the Under-Secretary has recognised what has happened.

I will not go on with the subjects on which we will be dividing, which are to do with local elections, but I hope that this debate will serve a purpose much wider than the Amendments. I hope that by the time we get to Report Stage the Government will have looked into this and will give us their considered view on what has been said.

Mr. Hamling

I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has been temperate—for him. But does he agree that in fact the votes we have tonight are purely academic in the context of the debate?

Mr. Hogg

I do not think that they are purely academic. As I said on Second Reading, we take the view that the maxima allowed for local government are disproportionately small, even for parliamentary elections. But I accept from the hon. Gentleman, who has said that I am temperate, for me—he is complimentary, for him—that the issues raised in

the debate are far more important than the questions we are about to divide upon, and I hope that the Government will take them seriously.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 122, Noes 163.

Division No. 13.] AYES [10.33 p.m.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Page, Graham (Crosby)
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Pardoe, John
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Hawkins, Paul Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Cos. & Fhm) Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Percival, Ian
Biggs-Davison, John Hiley, Joseph Pounder, Rafton
Black, Sir Cyril Hill, J. E. B. Powell, Rt. Hn. Enoch
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Hogg Rt. Hn. Quintin Pym, Francis
Body, Richard Holland, Philip Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Hooson, Emlyn Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Braine, Bernard Hornby, Richard Royle, Anthony
Brewis, John Hunt, John Russell, Sir Ronald
Bromley-Davenport, Lt-Col. Sir Walter Hutchison Michael Clark Scott, Nicholas
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Iremonger, T. L. Scott-Hopkins, James
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Sharples, Richard
Bullus, Sir Eric Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.) Kaberry, Sir Donald Silvester, Frederick
Chichester-Clark, R. Kitson, Timothy Sinclair, Sir George
Clegg, Walter Knight, Mrs. Jill Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Costain, A. P. Lane David Speed, Keith
Crouch, David Loveys, W. H. Stainton, Keith
Currie, G. B. H. Lubbock, Eric Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Dalkeith, Earl of Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty) Stodart, Anthony
Dance, James McMaster, Stanley Summers, Sir Spencer
Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.) McNair-Wilson, Patrick Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Maddan, Martin Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Marten, Neil Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Drayson, G. B. Maude, Angus van Straubenzee, W. R.
Eden, Sir John Mawby, Ray Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Mills, Peter (Torrington) Waddington, David
Errington, Sir Eric Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Walters, Dennis
Eyre, Reginald Miscampbell, Norman Ward, Dame Irene
Farr, John Monro, Hector Weatherill, Bernard
Gibson-Watt, David Montgomery, Fergus Webster, David
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) More, Jasper Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Glover, Sir Douglas Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Goodhart, Philip Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Gower, Raymond Murton, Oscar Wright, Esmond
Grant-Ferris, R. Nabarro, Sir Gerald Wylie, N. R.
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Neave, Airey
Gurden, Harold Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hamling, William Onslow, Cranley Mr. R. W. Elliott and
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Osborn, John (Hallam) Mr. Anthony Grant.
Albu, Austen Bradley, Tom Dunnett, Jack
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Bray, Dr. Jeremy Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)
Alldritt, Walter Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Eadie, Alex
Allen, Scholefield Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Edwards, William (Merioneth)
Anderson, Donald Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Ellis, John
Armstrong, Ernest Buchan, Norman Ennals, David
Ashton, J. W. Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Carmichael, Neil Fernyhough, E.
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Chapman, Donald Finch, Harold
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Coe, Denis Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Barnett, Joel Coleman, Donald Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)
Baxter, William Conlan, Bernard Ford, Ben
Beaney, Alan Cullen, Mrs. Alice Forrester, John
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Davies, C. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Fowler, Gerry
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Freeson, Reginald
Binns, John Davies, Ifor (Gower) Galpern, Sir Myer
Bishop, E. S. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Garrett, W. E.
Blackburn, F. Delargy, Hugh Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Dempsey, James Gregory, Arnold
Boardman H. (Leigh) Dewar, Donald Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)
Booth, Albert Dobson, Ray Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Doig, Peter Hannan, William
Harper, Joseph Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Richard, Ivor
Haseldine, Norman Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Hattersley, Roy Mapp, Charles Rose, Paul
Heffer, Eric S. Marks, Kenneth Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Homer, John Marquand, David Sheldon, Robert
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Short, Mrs. Renee (W'hampton, N.E.)
Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Mendelson, John Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Mikardo, Ian Silverman, Julius
Howie, W. Miller, Dr. M. S. Small, William
Huckfield, Leslie Milne, Edward (Blyth) Snow, Julian
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Spriggs, Leslie
Hunter, Adam Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Hynd, John Neal, Harold Swingler, Stephen
Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Newens, Stan Thornton, Ernest
Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Noel-Baker, Rt.Hn. Philip (Derby, S.) Tinn, James
Johnson, James (Kiston-on-Hull, W.) Oakes, Gordon Urwin, T. W.
Jones, Dan (Burnley) O'Malley, Brian Varley, Eric G.
Jones Rt.Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Oram, Albert E. Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Orbach, Maurice Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Kenyon Clifford Orme, Stanley Watkins, David (Consett)
Lawson, George Oswald, Thomas Watkins, Tudor (Brecon and Radnor)
Leadbitter, Ted Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Wellbeloved, James
Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Palmer, Arthur Wilkins, W. A.
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Williams, Alan Lee (Homchurch)
Lomas, Kenneth Park, Trevor Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
McCann, John Parker, John (Dagenham) Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Mackenzie Gregor (Rutherglen) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford) Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Mackintosh, John P. Pentland, Norman Woof, Robert
Maclennan, Robert Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
McNamara, J. Kevin Price, Thomas (Westhoughton) Mr. Walter Harrison and
MacPherson, Malcolm Probert, Arthur Mr. J. D. Concannon.
Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Rees, Merlyn

Amendment proposed: No. 14, in page 6, line 37, at end insert:

(3) Notwithstanding the provision made in Clause 8(1)(b), for the Greater London Council elections held subsequent to the coming into force of the one member electoral areas the maximum amount of election expenses shall be £200 together with an additional Is. Od. for every four entries in the register of electors

to be used in the election and for any less number of entries above a multiple of four.—[Mr. Sharples.]

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 122, Noes 161.

Division No. 14.] AYES [10.40p.m.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Maddan, Martin
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Glover, Sir Douglas Marten, Neil
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Goodhart, Philip Maude, Angus
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Cos. & Fhm) Gower, Raymond Mawby, Ray
Biggs-Davison, John Grant-Ferris, R. Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Black, Sir Cyril Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Gurden, Harold Miscampbell, Norman
Body, Richard Hamling, William Munro, Hector
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Montgomery, Fergus
Braine, Bernard Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) More, Jasper
Brewis, John Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Hawkins, Paul Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Heald, Rt. Ho. Sir Lionel Murton, Oscar
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Hiley, Joseph Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Bullus, Sir Eric Hill, J. E. B. Neave, Airey
Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.) Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Chichester-Clark, R. Holland, Philip Onslow, Cranley
Clegg, Walter Hooson, Emlyn Osborn, John (Hallam)
Costain, A. P. Hornby, Richard Page, Graham (Crosby)
Crouch, David Hunt, John Pardoe, John
Currie, G. B. H. Hutchison, Michael Clark Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Dalkeith, Earl of Iremonger, T. L. Percival, Ian
Dance, James Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Pounder, Rafton
Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Kaberry, Sir Donald Pym, Francis
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Kitson, Timothy Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Drayson, G. B. Knight, Mrs. Jill Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Eden, Sir John Lane, David Royle, Anthony
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Loveys, W. H. Russell, Sir Ronald
Errington, Sir Eric Lubbock, Eric Scott, Nicholas
Eyre, Reginald McNair-Wilson, Patrick Scott-Hopkins, James
Farr, Jahn Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty) Sharples, Richard
Gibson-Watt, David McMaster, Stanley Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Silvester, Frederick Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Sinclair, Sir George Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Smith, John (London & W'minster) van Straubenzee, W. R. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Speed, Keith Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John Wright, Esmond
Stainton, Keith Waddington, David Wylie, N. R.
Steel, David (Roxburgh) Walters, Dennis
Stodart, Anthony Ward, Dame Irene TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Summers, Sir Spencer Weatherill, Bernard Mr. R. W. Elliott and
Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Webster, David Mr. Anthony Grant.
Albu, Austen Forrester, John Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Fowler, Gerry Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Alldritt, Walter Freeson, Reginald Neal, Harold
Allen, Scholefield Galpern, Sir Myer Newens, Stan
Anderson, Donald Garrett, W. E. Noel-Baker, Rt.Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)
Armstrong, Ernest Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Oakes, Gordon
Ashton, J. W. Gregory, Arnold O'Malley, Brian
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Oram, Albert E.
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Orbach, Maurice
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Hannan, William Orme, Stanley
Barnett Joel Harper, Joseph Oswald, Thomas
Baxter, William Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Beaney, Alan Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Palmer, Arthur
Benn, Rt. FM. Anthony Wedgwood Haseldine, Norman Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Hattersley, Roy Park, Trevor
Binns, John Heffer, Eric S. Parker, John (Dagenham)
Bishop, E. S. Horner, John Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Blackburn, F. Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Pentland, Norman
Blenkinsop, Arthur Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Booth, Albert Howie, W. Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Huckfield, Leslie Probert, Arthur
Bradley, Tom Hughes, Roy (Newport) Rees, Merlyn
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Hunter, Adam Rhodes, Geoffrey
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hynd, John Richard, Ivor
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow. Proven) Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb gh) Rose, Paul
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Buchan, Norman Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Sheldon, Robert
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Short, Mrs. Renée(W'hampton,N.E.)
Jones, Rt.Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)
Carmichael, Neil Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Chapman, Donald Kenyon, Clifford Silverman, Julius
Coe, Denis Lawson, George Small, William
Coleman, Donald Leadbitter, Ted Snow, Julian
Conlan, Bernard Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Spriggs, Leslie
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Steele, Thomas Dunbartonshire, W.)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Lomas, Kenneth Swingler, Stephen
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Thornton, Ernest
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Mackintosh, John P. Tinn, James
Delargy, Hugh Maclennan, Robert Urwin, T. W.
Dempsey, James McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Varley, Eric G.
Dewar, Donald McNamara, J. Kevin Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Dobson, Ray MacPherson, Malcolm Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Doig, Peter Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Watkins, David (Consett)
Dunnett, Jack Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Watkins, Tudor Brecon & Radnor)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Wellbeloved, James
Eadie, Alex Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.) Wilkins, W. A.
Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Mapp, Charles Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Ellis, John Marks, Kenneth Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Ennals, David Marquand, David Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Woof, Robert
Fernyhough, E. Mendelson, John
Finch, Harold Mikardo, Ian TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Miller, Dr. M. S. Mr. John McCann and
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Milne, Edward (Blyth) Mr. J. D. Concannon.
Ford, Ben

Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

10.45 p.m.

Mr. J. E. B. Hill (Norfolk, South)

I am concerned about the method of calculating the total sum permissible as election expenses. Mr. Speaker's Conference recommended in Recommendation No. 33 that it should be made the duty of the returning officer to give public notice in each constituency of the legal maximum of the candidates' election expenses. However, in the Government White Paper that recommendation was rejected.

In asking the Government to reconsider that rejection—or, at any rate, if they adhere to the rejection to meet the practical difficulty involved—I wonder whether it is reasonable to expect each election agent separately to calculate the total maximum sum permitted? Mr. Speaker's Conference recommended that the young voter who comes of voting age during the year should be able to vote on any polling day held on or after his—in this case eighteenth—birthday. It is clear that nobody can know the number of voters and calculate the sum, if it is to be based on those who are able to vote, merely from the names on the register. That sum cannot be calculated until polling day is known. If the matter is left to election agents, each one must plough through the register to discover the names of all the young persons, the Y voters, who will qualify on that day.

There are various ways of getting round this difficulty. I beg the Government not to leave the responsibility for deciding this figure on individual election agents. Difficulty could arise if, having made these various calculations, the agents do not arrive at the same total. Can we have a simple means of finding the figure?

Mr. Lane

I strongly support my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. J. E. B. Hill). This is a matter of great practical importance to agents. At present the wording of Clause 8 is ambiguous and open to either interpretation mentioned by my hon. Friend, whether it is the total on the original register or the necessarily smaller number of voters entitled to vote during the year.

Mr. Hamling

I ask the Under-Secretary to recommend to his right hon. Friend to take the whole Clause back. The explanations we have had about it have been completely inadequate, not only about the expenses but on the failure of the Clause to deal with other forms of expenditure which are not controlled at all and have far less bearing on local democracy than expenses in a constituency. We should give more freedom to expression of democracy in the constituencies and control the large national expenditures which have no relation to the democratic ideas of the country.

Sir Gerald Nabarro (Worcestershire, South)

Before the hon. Member sits down—[Hon. Members: "He has sat down."]—will he explain what he means by other forms of expenditure? Does he allude to expenditure on television broadcasts? If so, how would he propose to regulate that? Does he intend that the television companies should restrict appearances by my hon. Friends and me on television broadcasts?

The Deputy Chairman (Mr. Harry Gourlay)

Mr. Buchan.

Sir G. Nabarro rose——

The Deputy Chairman

Order. I called the Minister, Mr. Buchan. If the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) does not seek to answer the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro), the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South should not put the question again.

Sir G. Nabarro

I wanted to ask the hon. Member to explain his comments because without such explanation they would be quite valueless in such general terms.

Mr. Buchan

I should like to deal with the serious points which have been made. My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) made a valid point, although it does not altogether fall within this Clause, note will be taken of it. It is in fact covered because the calculation is done not on the electors but on the entries.

This will lead to a slight discrepancy between the actual amount entered and the number who vote, but it will create no difficulty for the returning officer. Each entry on the register, even though it may not entitle the person to a vote at the election because he is not yet of voting age, will be considered. The maximum of a candidate's expenses can be determined the moment the register is published. There would be serious disadvantages if the maximum fluctuated according to the number of electors.

I hope that with this assurance we can have the Clause.

Mr. J. E. B. Hill

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that explanation. It is particularly agreeable because it will mean that there will be a slight marginal excess of expenditure permitted, which in a large rural area such as my constituency will be helpful. An American publicist said that he would not even advertise a new type of pet food for Parliamentary expenses.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Hogg

With your indulgence, Mr. Gourlay, and the permission of the Committee, may I ask the Government how far they intend to take our proceedings tonight?

Mr. Merlyn Rees

We have made reasonable progress during the day and there has been a debate in which all parts of the House have participated. I think that what we should aim to do, with the agreement of the Committee, is to consider Clause 9, on broadcasting, which is of great importance. Clause 10 is very small and discusion on Clause 11 would not take long. I suggest, if it is for the convenience of the Committee, that we should see what happens on Clause 9 and then perhaps we could come to a firmer decision.

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