HC Deb 12 May 1976 vol 911 cc614-35
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

I remind the House that Mr. Speaker has selected the two amendments to the motion.

I will now explain to the House the procedure on the motion and the amendments. It is as follows.

First, I will put the Question on paragraph 1 of the motion.

Secondly, I will put the Question, That the names in paragraph 2, from Miss Betty Boothroyd to Mr. Roy Hattersley, inclusive, be members of the Committee.

Thirdly, I will call the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) to move the first amendment, and it may be convenient for both amendments to be discussed together. I will then put the Question on the first amendment.

Fourthly, I will put the Question, That the names in paragraph 2, from Mr. John Horam to Mr. Neil Kinnock, inclusive, be members of the Committee.

Fifthly, I will call the right hon. Member for Battersea, North to move his second amendment. I will then put the Question on that amendment.

Sixthly, I will put the Question, That the remaining named Members be members of the Committee.

Seventhly, I will put the Questions separately on paragraphs 3 and 4.

Motion made and Question proposed, That a Select Committee be appointed to consider proposals for Direct Elections to the European Assembly and arrangements requiring action by Parliament and by the European Community following the Government's commitment to proceed to such elections: —[Mr. Thomas Cox].

11.34 p.m.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

Briefly, I think that many hon. Members would wish to support this motion. I think that all would agree that the motion and the terms of reference for the Select Committee are excellent. The terms of reference refer to "proposals". The former Foreign Secretary, now the Prime Minister, was good enough to set out, on 10th March in Written Answers in Hansard, certain proposals that have been made. I think that they were probably based on the Official Journal, Volume 18, column 32, of 11th February 1975. No doubt the Select Committee will be concerned with those proposals.

The second point is the reference to "the Government's commitment". I think that everyone in the House knows that the Government have made a commitment here. However, I think that it would be right for me to read an extract from a letter dated 19th November 1975 which was written to me by the then Foreign Secretary, now Prime Minister. He wrote in reply to a question of mine: As to the legal effect of any recommendation the Council may make, I agree with you that, in and of itself, it can have no binding force. Nothing I have said in any way prejudges the right of national Parliaments in the matter; indeed in my speech on 10 November, I went out of my way to stress that I for one would not take Parliament's acquiescence for granted. The letter was signed "Yours sincerely, James Callaghan."

I am sure that everyone in the House wishes this Committee to get down to work as soon as possible. Therefore, I commend the terms of reference to the House and hope that the motion will be approved.

11.37 p.m.

Mr. Roger Moate (Faversham)

I regret that I must disagree with the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing). I am afraid that I cannot welcome the establishment of this Select Committee. I shall put my views fairly briefly.

I do not think that there should be direct elections. Therefore, if there are not to be direct elections, clearly there should not be a Select Committee. If we are to have direct elections, however I would welcome a Select Committee. But if we are to have a Select Committee, it should not be composed in the manner proposed by the Government today.

My reasons for opposing the principle can be stated equally briefly. They are few. First there is the reference to a "commitment". Admittedly the motion refers to "the Government's commitment", but even the question of the Government's commitment is a matter of some doubt. It will be recalled that prior to the referendum the Government quite positively and clearly reserved their posi- tion, so at that time there was clearly no commitment, and at subsequent Council of Europe meetings again the whole question has been left in doubt as to the nature of any commitment. But if the Government feel that they have some moral commitment, the wording itself is quite interesting, because it refers to "the Government's commitment". I should have thought that by that phraseology they are admitting that there is not a treaty commitment. If there was a clear treaty obligation, I should have thought that they would have said so in their motion, or one might argue that the words are unnecessary. Therefore, we should take very careful note of the wording that the Government have used.

My next objection is that I believe that direct elections will do a great disservice to democracy, and certainly a disservice to the United Kingdom and to the true cause of European unity, because I believe that direct elections will be seen ultimately to be a meaningless farce. When it comes to the point of the British electorate having to vote in constituencies of 500,000 each, or 1 million each if other proposals are implemented, to send Members of Parliament —if that is the right phrase; I doubt even that —to an Assembly that will be totally powerless, this will be seen as an exercise in futility and impotence that will do a great disservice to the very name of democracy.

Members of that Assembly, who are, we understand, to be very highly paid persons, will do so little that they will be seen to be the most impotent political eunuchs in democratic history. This will be such a disservice that this House should have none of it.

I feel the House should not proceed to having a Select Committee on the basis that we should not contemplate moving to direct elections. With regard to the make-up of the Committee, there are two points which, I think, are relevant at this stage. I cannot see why there should be a Minister on the Committee, as such. That seems to suggest that the Committee, if it does not have a Minister, is incapable of obtaining the views of the Government from either civil servants or Ministers who are summoned before it.

Another suggestion might be that somehow one ought to have a Minister on the Committee because only he knows the nature of the commitment which the Government have made with regard to some of the details on direct elections.

Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)

What would happen if the Minister sitting on the Front Bench was on the Committee and the Foreign Secretary was called in front of us? Would the Minister of State at the Foreign Office really cross-examine his own Foreign Secretary in a public Select Committee?

Mr. Moate

I think my hon. Friend has a valid point, because the task of a House of Commons Committee is to scrutinise the proposals of the Executive. It therefore seems a dubious proposition to have a member of the Executive sitting on the Committee. It must inhibit the activities of that Committee. The only argument I can think of is that the Minister knows more than the members of the Committee. If, however, the Government entered into a private commitment, that information ought to be made available to the full House.

The last point I want to make relates simply to the balance of the Committee. We have had a lengthy argument that the balance of Committee should reflect the political balance of the House. Yet this Committee does not. There are seven members of the Government party and six members from all the Opposition parties combined. I thought we were to have equal representation. I hope my hon. Friend on the Front Bench, and hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House, will not tolerate a situation in which only four members of the Conservative Party are represented on this Committee. For these general reasons, and one or two specific reasons, I do not feel inclined to accept this proposition.

Question put and agreed to.

Question, That Miss Betty Boothroyd, Mr. John Cartwright, Mr. William Clark, Mr. Alexander Fletcher, Mr. Bryan Gould, Mr. Roy Hattersley, be members of the Committee, put and agreed to.

11.42 p.m.

Mr. Douglas Jay

(Battersea, North): I beg to move, Mr Eric S. Heifer be a member of the Committee.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this amendment we may also discuss the amendment, that Mr. Neil Marten be a member of the Committee.

Mr. Jay

I am glad to see the amendment has received wide support, including the support of the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) who is not present but who has put his name to it. Recently this House has rightly emphasised the principle that membership of Select Committees is decided by this House and not by the Government. I hope that we shall adhere to that principle tonight.

I welcome the fact that the Government have recently improved the terms of reference of the suggested Select Committee. The Committee, in my view, should certainly be required to consider the proposal for direct elections as such and not just the machinery for carrying out such elections. Indeed, this follows from the fact that Article 138 of the Treaty of Rome emphatically does not impose an obligation on member States of the EEC to introduce direct elections. It merely requires the Council or the Commissioner of the EEC to prepare arrangements for such direct elections and recommend them to member States.

The Parliaments of member States, including our own, are perfectly free to take what decision they choose in the interests of their own countries. I also welcome the fact that the Government's motion makes clear that it is the Government, and not Parliament, who have entered into a commitment to introduce such direct elections. It is not for the Government to attempt to commit Parliament without consulting it about direct elections or, indeed, anything else.

Since, therefore, this Select Committee will have the extremely important job of considering the whole proposal for direct elections to the Community Assembly, we must ensure that it is properly balanced, just as the House has rightly ensured in the past week that the Committee of Selection is properly balanced.

There are in the House devotees of the Community who think that it can do no wrong; there are devotees who do not go quite so far and stop short at the prospect of direct elections; there are the sceptics who are not enthusiastic for one or the other. The aim of these modest and reasonable amendments. which I am sure the Government will have the good sense to accept, is to ensure that all these points of view are fairly represented —that is to say, that moderates as well as militants are on the Select Committee. I speak as a moderate.

Under the set-up proposed by the Government, the devotees in the Committee would have outnumbered the sceptics by about seven to one. That would not have produced balanced or reasonable or happy Select Committee. I am sure that everyone here agrees that the addition of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) and the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) to almost any Committee be an improvement. I also feel that when these two hon. Members agree, they must be right. In that spirit, I commend the amendments to the House.

11.47 p.m.

Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)

I support the amendment because I think that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) should be a member of the Select Committee. He has a fine record, an inquisitive mind, and would be a searching member. Although I am on the opposite side to him politically, I have the greatest confidence that, as a true democrat, he would go into the whole question —perhaps rather more thoroughly than some other members representing any party.

I do not rise to speak in my own support, which would be embarrassing, but the whole of the Common Market issue has been across parties, in various degrees of balance. Therefore, we cannot set up a Select Committee on the basis of party. What other guide do we have than across the parties? It is the referendum, in which the voting was two to one in favour of remaining in the EEC. Should not the Select Committee be based on that fair apportionment of two pro-Marketeers and one anti-Marketeer, to use the old expression? That is the best and most sensible guide. The Select Committee is proposed to have 11 memers who are pro-Marketeer as compared with two "antis". That would be a travesty of democracy. The referendum was the classic example of democracy.

All the Conservatives proposed to be members of the Committee voted for the Common Market. Not one Conservative is proposed as a member who was opposed to the Common Market or was a sceptic about it. I believe that the House of Commons should express a view and that these matters should not be left entirely to the Whips.

The Leader of the House has expressed the view that there should be equality on Select Committees. On that basis alone, rather than on the basis of the referendum, there should be one more Member of the Opposition on the Select Committee. With all modesty, I propose that the person named in the second amendment might possibly be that person.

Perhaps I may also ask when the Select Committee is likely to begin its deliberations. Indeed, how can it start until we know the number of people whom it is proposed should sit in the European Parliament? Unless we know whether the number is to be 198 or 325, or whatever the proposal may be, it does not make sense to consider these matters.

I hope that the Select Committee will not begin its work until the Council of Ministers has come forward with its proposals. I hope that it will speak with one voice and decide upon a figure. That is the linchpin of the work of the Select Committee.

So far, we have had no proposals in respect of the European Parliament. We do not know whether the membership of the European Parliament will involve 197, 300, or 500 Members. We have not had any idea what will happen whether, for example, Greece, Turkey, or Portugal join the EEC. If all those countries join, we may eventually have a European Parliament with a membership of as many as 1,500 Members, most of whom may be fogbound in Ankara or Lisbon.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

Order. At the moment I would remind the hon. Member that we are debating whether "Mr. Eric S. Heffer" should be inserted after "Mr. Roy Hattersley".

Mr. Marten

Perhaps I should bring the discussion back to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton. What happens if the hon. Gentleman seeks to call for persons and papers? Could we send for persons from the Commission to come to give evidence here? What persons and papers would the Select Committee be able to send for? I hope that the Minister will be able to answer these questions.

Furthermore, the hon. Member for Walton might ask for papers from the Commission. Could he ask for the minutes of the meeting at which the Council of Ministers discussed the subject of direct elections? Would we not be setting a great precedent if we got inside the secret meetings of the Council of Ministers? If we pass this provision, shall we be allowed to examine such matters?

There are a number of matters on which we should be given ministerial answers. Let me say in conclusion that the selection of the hon. Member for Walton to serve on the Select Committee will mean that the hon. Gentleman will carry out a splendid job in getting to the truth of things.

11.55 p.m.

The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Roy Hattersley)

I have three brief comments on the amendment moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay). I thank my right hon. Friend for acknowledging that the Government have been anxious to accommodate hon. Members by making three specific and substantial alterations to the terms of reference of the Committee. It is a matter of dispute whether accommodation of critics in this area stops them from being critics or encourages them. We have accommodated hon. Members in three ways. I again accommodate my right hon. Friend by acknowledging, as I have done many times, that these are matters for Parliament to decide, on which the Government cannot commit the House and would not attempt to do so.

For that reason we are gladly prepared to write the nature of the Government's commitment into the terms of reference. The only issue that divides us, with the exception of one hon. Gentleman, is the composition of the Committee. I have only two things to say about that. The first is that I accept that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer) and the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) would make admirable members of the Committee. The House is packed with right hon. and hon. Members who would make admirable members of the Committee but who cannot be appointed to it.

I can give three examples. My hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Roper), whose knowledge of the Community is unequalled anywhere in the House, would be an admirable member. The right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) has some experience of the Community, in negotiating our membership, but he has not achieved a place on the Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh), whose academic qualifications as well as his political experience might be thought to make him an ideal candidate, is not a member of the Committee.

This is simply because the House cannot, by its nature, appoint to a Committee of this size all those who are qualified to serve upon it. The Government are not quarreling for a moment with those contentions made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North, or with the contention made by the hon. Member for Banbury, about my hon. Friend the Member for Walton —and by inference, about himself —that they would both be good members of the Committee. What we believe is that the Committee has to be of a size which will enable it to work speedily, just as soon as some of my hon. Friends allow it to begin, so that it can move in parallel with the Government, who must make some speed. I am surprised to hear the hon. Member for Banbury ask about the starting date. The terms of reference enable the Committee to start when it wishes and enable it to consider the numbers of any possible European Parliament.

Mr. Max Madden (Sowerby)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is my right hon. Friend replying to the points which have been made or is the Leader of the House to speak at some stage? Many of us are under the impression that, since this is a matter dealing with the selection of the Committee, it is clearly a matter for the Leader of the House rather than any other member of the Government.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that whether the Leader of the House speaks is not a matter for the Chair.

Mr. Hattersley

I will make my final point, which is that we have passed the time when we can or ought to make assessments of these matters according to whether we are pro- or anti-Common Market or even according to the sophistications of the principle raised by my right hon. Friend, which makes the same point as the pro- or anti-arguments. If we accept the verdict of the British people, we are all to a greater or lesser degree now pro-Common Market. I certainly accept the verdict of the British people.

What the Government have tried to do is to give support to the Committee whose membership will result in its doing the job we agree is necessary, which is to provide the House of Commons with guidance on how the Government should behave when they turn their mind to these important matters.

Mr. Marten

The right hon. Gentleman said that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) was not on the Committee, despite his experience. I wonder whether my right hon. and learned Friend applied to be a member of the Committee, as I did. I made a specific request to my Chief Whip to be on the Committee in my first speech on the subject. I doubt very much whether my right hon. and learned Friend did so.

Second, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that 13 was about right. What is the difference between 13 and 15? Can he explain that?

Mr. Hattersley

What goes on between Opposition Members and their Chief Whip is hardly a matter for me. What is a matter for me is the simple demonstration, which I hope to make as a compliment to the hon. Gentleman and to my hon. Friend, that no one is suggesting that they would not be admirable members of the Committee. I am simply saying that the House is full of people who are potentially admirable members of the Committee, but that all cannot be accommodated because we genuinely want the House of Commons to move with the speed which enables it to give constant advice to the Government on how they should proceed with these matters.

Therefore. although this is essentially a matter for the House, obviously it is the Government's view that a Committee of this present size is most likely to serve the purposes we understand the House to want. For that reason, we hope that the amendments will be defeated.

12.1 a.m.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)

The Minister of State has certainly acquainted the House with a most remarkable event. He said that, in compiling the names proposed for this Committee, the assumption had been made that all Members of the House were on the same footing in respect of British membership of the EEC. In that case, it is a remarkable statistical outturn that 11 of them should formerly have been in favour and only two should formerly have been opposed to that proposition. Surely it cannot quite have happened that way. The House should take note of the remarkable mathematical result of the intended neutrality of the selection of names —that the attempt to select the names of hon. Members who would work speedily and efficiently turned out this remarkable result.

But, then, it should not pass without comment that the right hon. Gentleman said that all hon. Members of this House were in a sense equally committed to British membership. It should be recalled that, in the words of the Government themselves, continuing British membership is dependent on the continuing assent of this House. If that means anything, it means that, from time to time, this House, and therefore hon. Members of this House, can revise their view or decide that the view which has been taken ought to be altered or reconsidered. It is not therefore correct to say that, by reason of the referendum, Members even of this House, let alone of any future House, are committed. It is not right that the contrary should be placed upon the record.

12.3 a.m.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)

The Minister's arguments have to be answered. I agree that this is a matter for Parliament. When my right hon. Friend said that, he meant that hon. Members would come here and assess the debate, listen to the arguments and decide whether my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer) had qualities which made him suitable for this Select Committee.

On the basis of the arguments advanced in a democratically-elected assembly of free men, they would decide the composition of the Committee. The fact that 11 of those proposed are pro-Market and only two are anti-Market would, of course, be totally disregarded.

But we know that that is not the case, that it is a facade. For anyone to say that is to present us with a little less than the total picture. We know that the payroll vote, the people who are in the Government —many of them doing an extremely fine job —are here because they have been requested to be here to ensure that this matter is pushed through. That is not a case of an assembly of free men coming to listen to the arguments about whether someone should be a member of the Select Committee.

All that we ask, as Members of Parliament, is that this Committee should perhaps have a little more balance and a little more quality for the purpose of searching out some of the defects which may exist in direct elections. I do not imagine that even the most fervent pro-European would say that direct elections are the simplest proposition ever to come before this Parliament. Therefore, it might be a good idea for people to look at the matter from a distance and to say objectively that these difficulties have to be recognised, examined and reported to Parliament.

All that we ask is that people with critical faculties should be added to the Committee. What is wrong with that, in a free Parliament of people, listening to the arguments and making a decision? Why should people organise themselves tonight in order to stop two hon. Members being added to a Select Committee? These questions have not been answered, and the waffle that we have heard is no substitute for some reasoned, measured arguments to advance the contention that two anti-Marketeers should not be added to the Committee in order to give that degree of authority which, if it came out and said that direct elections were of enormous advantage, the presence of those two hon. Members, being anti-Marketeers, would give its report.

Mr. Marten

I do not think the Government will give the right answer. It is that they are afraid to have people on that Committee who will be too searching.

Mr. Cryer

The hon. Gentleman suggests the conclusion to which one is inevitably driven. There is no argument that we have heard tonight to suggest that the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) and my hon. Friend the Member for Walton should not be added to the Committee, and I regret that very much.

I am one of those who want to see the majority party pushing through legislation. I do not see Parliament as a remote institution. It is a political instrument to be used by the Labour Party. But there are certain matters which can legitimately be argued to be matters for Parliament, and I think that this is one.

Parliament has to see that there is a balance and an element of searching in a Select Committee. If we were discussing any other Select Committee, no hon. Member would say "We want people on it who will go along with this proposal". Hon. Members would say "On every Select Committee, we want intelligent, searching people." Why not for this Committee?

I think that we should vote on this proposal, and I hope that all those right hon. and hon. Members who feel that there should be some strength added to this Committee will vote for the inclusion of these two hon. Members.

12.8 a.m.

Mr. Douglas Hurd (Mid-Oxon)

I am not sure that the basis on which the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) spoke was quite correct. Why do we have to assume that we are fighting again the same battle, with the same balance of forces, that we fought throughout the referendum campaign? Was not the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) right when he said that people changed their minds? Was not one of the notable aspects of our debate on direct elections that two of my distinguished right hon. Friends who were against membership of the EEC spoke strongly in favour of direct elections? Is not it quite reasonable that those responsible, not including myself, for putting forward the names should take account of the tenor of that debate, which was held on this subject of direct elections, and not one of our previous debates on membership of the Community?

I do not know the views of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) on direct elections, because I do not think that he spoke in that debate. I remember his strongly pro-European speeches on earlier occasions. So I do not know. However, it seems to me that the balance of that debate is a reasonable basis for the selection before us.

I was surprised to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) make one point about speed. I believe that the chief concern of this House should be to get this Select Committee going quickly. We owe it to the House to get a Select Committee going which will advise the Government in their negotiations in Europe. I remember that we had our debate in the same week as the Summit meeting, when the European Council failed to resolve the matter, handed it to the Foreign Ministers, and said "Come back to us in July." We are now half-way between that Summit meeting and the next and we have not even begun to equip ourselves to advise or contest what the Government are doing in Europe.

Mr. Jay

Would not the acceptance by the Government of the amendments be an excellent way of speeding up procedure?

Mr. Hurd

I am not sure that it would, if time were spent re-arguing the whole question of our membership of the Community and our attitude to it.

We have not considered how fast Europe is moving. The Government are now discussing important proposals from the President of France and we have not yet geared ourselves to get into the act. We need a reasonably compact, quick moving and efficiently organised Select Committee. We have wasted six weeks and we have only another six weeks before the next European Council. My main concern is not about membership but that the timing of the meeting of the Committee should be organised so that we can get work immediately.

Mr. Eric Heffer

(Liverpool, Walton): The hon. Gentleman say that he does not know my views on direct elections because I did not speak during the debate. I was at other meetings at that time. It is extraordinary to argue that he needs to know my feelings and desires about direct elections in advance.

Mr. Hurd

I said that I did not know the hon. Member's views. I was referring to the suggestion that the Select Committee should not start work until July.

Mr. Marten

If I concede that we should start work tomorrow, would my hon. Friend accept that the Committee should increase its membership from 13 to 15? I suspect that he feels that my interrogations might slow up the Committee. Will he deny that?

Mr. Hurd

My hon. Friend made it clear that he would wish to go back into matters.

Mr. Marten


Mr. Hurd

The speeches of my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury and the hon. Member for Walton indicated that they believed the matter related to arguments about our membership and that the balance should be the same. The key issue is that we should be equipped with a reasonably compact Committee to deal with an important range of subjects.

Mr. Spearing

Does the hon. Gentleman not think that it is strange that two Front Benchers who are members of the Committee should argue against the amendments? Should not that flash a yellow warning to the House?

Mr. Hurd

The decision is for the House. I am concentrating on the prime need to get going quickly. That aspect has been neglected. I would prefer a Committee on the lines originally suggested, rather than one which would clearly cover wider aspects.

12.14 a.m.

Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)

I had hoped that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House would make a contribution to this discussion, because he is a distinguished parliamentarian and I believe that he is anxious to maintain the reputation of the House in this kind of matter.

It is very unusual for the House to proceed to a vote on the composition of a Select Committee, though it is not unknown. That reflects the fact that in setting up Select Committees the usual channels and the powers-that-be take considerable care to balance feelings and opinions within the House at large.

There is clearly a minority feeling that the composition of the Committee should be amended slightly. No one is suggesting removing any hon. Member whose name is on the Order Paper. It is simply suggested that two hon. Members with certain views about this profound subject might be added to strengthen the Committee.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will appreciate this feeling of Parliament. I hope that he will appreciate that the Committee will discuss matters which will, within the framework of the Treaty of Rome, concern the relations of Parliament with whatever Assembly may eventually arise, and that therefore if there is a strong feeling in the House perhaps we should have the two additional hon. Members who have been nominated. That would not damage or undermine the work that the Committee must undertake in due course.

I appeal to my right hon. Friend to comment on this point and to reinforce his undoubted stature as a parliamentarian by bowing to the wish of an important minority about the composition of the Committee. It would be a pity if the matter were forced to a vote. I hope that my right hon. Friend will exhibit some Front-Bench generosity on the issue.

12.17 a.m.

Mr. John P. Mackintosh (Berwick and East Lothian)

I shall be grateful if you will clarify for me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, whether there will be two separate Divisions on the amendments.

There may be a case for the House exercising a little jurisdiction over who should be on Committees. I have felt somewhat aggravated recently on other grounds about the way in which Standing Committees and Select Committees have been packed with hon. Members who met with the approval of the Government on different cases. The House should from time to time exercise its view that it is entitled to nominate and perhaps push through—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I made clear at the beginning that there would be a separate vote on each of the two names proposed.

Mr. Mackintosh

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I should be prepared to support the nomination of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) but not of the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten). That is not because I have any lack of respect for the hon. Gentleman, but, having served with him on a Select Committee to do with European affairs, I know that his contribution would be precisely as many hon. Members believe and that he would re-fight the referendum battle on every issue that came up. His contribution would not be on the merits or demerits of direct elections but would be a prolonged rearguard battle of the kind he lost in the referendum and would be only a waste of the Committee's time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. At present we are discussing "Mr. Eric S. Heffer".

Mr. Marten

Before the hon. Gentleman sits down—

Mr. Mackintosh

I have sat down.

Mr. Marten

I was on my feet before the hon. Gentleman sat down.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

If the hon. Gentleman did not give way I call the Leader of the House.

12.19 a.m.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Michael Foot)

My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) asked me to intervene, and I do so briefly because I very much hope that the House will reach a conclusion on this matter tonight, as we want to set up the Committee.

The Government have been forthcoming in the way in which they have dealt with this matter. It was largely as a result of representations by hon. Members that it was decided to have the Committee to look into the whole question of direct elections. That was the response by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in the earlier debate on the matter.

We then put down the terms of reference for the Committee. Representations were made by several of my hon. Friends, and in the light of these representations we altered the terms of reference, because we appreciated the view put to us on these matters.

We have presented to the House the names of hon. Members who, in the Government's view, would be excellent members of the Committee. It would be wrong for anyone to suggest that any members of the Committee would not be able to carry out these functions. There are some of my hon. Friends —it would be invidious to distinguish some from others, but I will name two, the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. Gould) and the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock)—who no one could say were not capable of carrying out the most searching investigations into these matters. We believe that the names suggested—certainly those for which the Government were responsible—would be very good members of the Committee. However, it is for the House to settle the matter, and whatever view we take, I hope that we can settle it this evening, either by vote, or by acceptance —although I suspect that it will be by vote. It would be the wrong response to what the Government have already done to get the Committee set up if there were further hold-ups in the proceedings beyond tonight.

Mr. Heller

Is my right hon. Friend saying that the names put forward from this side of the House were put forward by the Government?

Mr. Foot

Of course they were.

Mr. Heffer

My right hon. Friend says "Of course they were", but if the

names were selected by the Government, what is the point of having debates and discussions in this House? It is not a matter for Parliament. It has been determined by the Government.

Mr. Foot

It is a matter for Parliament. That is why we are having this debate, and that is why we shall have a vote. In setting up the Committee in the first place, the Government sought to take account of views which were different from ours. But the final decision about membership of the Committee will be taken by the House tonight. If we do not come to a decision tonight we shall postpone the moment when the Select Committee can begin to look at the whole question of direct elections. It would be a mistake if the House, having invited us to set up such a Committee, were to frustrate the achievement of that aim.

Mr. Hooky

I accept what my right hon. Friend says about accommodating our wishes over the terms of reference. It is not my view that the House should not set up the Committee, but I feel that it would wrap up the matter in an agreeable manner if the Leader of the House could express a willingness to meet the strong feeling within the House on membership of the Committee.

Mr. Marten

I take up the hon. Gentleman's point—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The right hon. Gentleman had, in fact, resumed his seat.

Question put, That the amendment be made: —

The House divided: Ayes 25, Noes 76.

Division No. 133.] AYES [12.25 a.m.
Bain, Mrs Margaret Loyden, Eddie Spearing, Nigel
Buchan, Norman Mackintosh, John P. Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Marten, Neil Welsh, Andrew
Cryer,Bob Moate, Roger Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
English, Michael Noble, Mike Winterton, Nicholas
George, Bruce Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Heffer, Eric S. Reid, George TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Henderson, Douglas Robinson, Geoffrey Mr. Frank Hooley and
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Rodgers, George (Chorley) Mr. Max Madden
Lamond, James Ross, William (Londonderry)
Archer, Peter Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Armstrong, Ernest Coleman, Donald Dunn, James A.
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)
Bates, Alf Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Davidson, Arthur Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)
Bishop, E. S. Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Freeson, Reginald
Brown, Hugh D. (Proven) Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Gilbert, Dr John
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Dormand, J. D. Golding, John
Graham, Ted Mackenzie, Gregor Silkin, Rt. Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Gray, Hamish Melialieu, J. P. W. Silvester, Fred
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Marks, Kenneth Snape, Peter
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Millan, Bruce Stallard, A. W.
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Stradling Thomas, J.
Hooson, Emyln Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Strang, Gavin
Howell, Rt Hon Denis Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Hunter, Adam Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Hurd, Douglas Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Tinn, James
Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Urwin, T. W.
John, Brynmor Owen, Dr David Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Pearl, Rt Hon Fred Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Kaufman, Gerald Pendry, Tom Weatherill, Bernard
Le Marchant, Spencer Penhaligon, David White, Frank R. (Bury)
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Price, William (Rugby)
Luard, Evan Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mabon, Dr J. Dickson Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Mr. Joseph Harper and
McElhone, Frank Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Mr. David Stoddart.
McGuire, Michael (Ince) Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment proposed, That Mr. Neil Marten be a member of the Committee."—[Mr. Jay. ]

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The Question is, That Mr. George Reid, Sir Anthony Royle and Mr. David Steel be members of the Committee.

Mr. Marten

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Prime Minister's motion refers to "one hour after it"—the debate — "has been entered upon". The debate having started at 25 minutes to twelve o'clock, we have now passed

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 27, Noes 67.

Division No. 134.1 AYES [12.34 a.m.
Bain, Mrs Margaret Lamond, James Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Buchan, Norman Loyden, Eddie Ross, William (Londonderry)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Marten, Nell Spearing, Nigel
Cryer,Bob Moate, Roger Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
English, Michael Noble, Mike Welsh, Andrew
George, Bruce Penhaligon, David Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Heffer, Eric S. Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch Winterton, Nicholas
Henderson, Douglas Reid, George
Hooson, Emyln Robinson, Geoffrey TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Rodgers, George (Chorley) Mr. Max Madden and
Mr. Frank Hooley.
Archer, Peter Gray, Hamish Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Armstrong, Ernest Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Owen, Dr David
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Harper, Joseph Pearl, Rt Hon Fred
Bishop, E. S. Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Pendry, Tom
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Price, William (Rugby)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Howell, Rt Hon Denis Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Hunter, Adam Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Coleman, Donald Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) John, Brynmor Silkin, Rt. Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Jones, Barry (East Flint) Snape, Peter
Davidson, Arthur Kaufman, Gerald Stallard, A. W.
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Luard, Evan Strang, Gavin
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Mabon, Dr J. Dickson Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Dormand, J. D. McElhone, Frank Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Dunn, James A. McGuire, Michael (Ince) Tinn, James
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Mackenzie, Gregor Urwin, T. W.
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Mackintosh, John P. Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Mallalieu, J. P. W. Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Marks, Kenneth White, Frank R. (Bury)
Freeson, Reginald Millan, Bruce Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Gilbert, Dr John Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Golding, John Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Graham, Ted Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Mr. Alf Bates and
Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Mr. A. W. Stallard.

that hour. Therefore, is there any right to move any further motions?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has not read the whole of the motion. It deals with opposed business. Unopposed business is not covered by it.

Mr. Marten

This is opposed business. Object.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Objection taken. Debate to be resumed this day.