HC Deb 16 November 1977 vol 939 cc655-726

7.2 p.m.

The Minister of State, Privy Council Office (Mr. John Smith)

I beg to move, That the following provisions shall apply to the remaining Proceedings on the Wales Bill:—

Allotted days for Committee, Report and Third Reading

1.—(1) The Proceedings in Committee on the Bill and the Proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading of the Bill shall be completed in eleven allotted days and shall be brought to a conclusion at Eleven o'clock on the last of those days.

(2) For the purposes of Standing Order No. 43 (Business Committee) this Order shall be taken to allot to the Proceedings in Committee on the Bill and to the Proceedings on Consideration of the Bill such parts of those days as the resolutions of the Business Committee may determine.

Report of Business Committee

2.—(1) The Business Committee shall report to the House their resolution—

  1. (a) as to the Proceedings in Committee on the Bill and as to the allocation of time between those Proceedings and the Proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading of the Bill not later than the 28th day of November 1977; and
  2. (b) as to the Proceedings on Consideration of the Bill and as to the allocation of time between those Proceedings and Proceedings on Third Reading not later than the seventh day on which the House sits after the day on which the Proceedings in Committee on the Bill are concluded.

(2) The resolutions in any report made under Standing Order No. 43 (Business Committee) may be varied by a further report so made, whether or not within the time specified in sub-paragraph (1) above and whether or not the resolutions have been agreed to by the House.

Proceedings on going into Committee

3. When the Order of the Day is read for the House to resolve itself into Committee on the Bill, Mr. Speaker shall leave the chair without putting any Question, notwithstanding that notice of an Instruction has been given.

Conclusion of Proceedings in Committee

4. On the conclusion of the Proceedings in Committee on the Bill the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without putting any Question.

Order of Consideration

5. No Motion shall be made to change the order in which the Bill is to be considered in Committee or on Consideration but the resolutions of the Business Committee may include alterations in that order.

Dilatory motions

6. No dilatory Motion with respect to, or in the course of, Proceedings on the Bill shall be made on an allotted day except by a Member of the Government, and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.

Extra time on allotted days

7.—(1) On an allotted day paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted business) shall apply to the Proceedings on the Bill for one hour after Ten o'clock.

(2) Any period during which Proceedings on the Bill may be proceeded with after Ten o'clock under paragraph (7) of Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on specific and miportant matter that should have urgent consideration) shall be in addition to the period under this paragraph.

(3) If an allotted day is one to which a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 stands over from an earlier day, a period of time equal to the duration of the Proceedings upon that Motion shall be added to the period during which Proceedings on the Bill may be proceeded with after Ten o'clock under this paragraph and the bringing to a conclusion of any Proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion on that day shall also be postponed for a period equal to the duration of the Proceedings on the Motion.

Private Business

8. Any private business which has been set down for consideration at Seven o'clock on an allotted day shall, instead of being considered as provided by the Standing Orders, be considered at the conclusion of the Proceedings on the Bill on that day, and paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted business) shall apply to the private business for a period of three hours from the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill or, if those proceedings are concluded before Ten o'clock, for a period equal to the time elapsing between Seven o'clock and the completion of those Proceedings.

Conclusion of Proceedings

9.—(1) For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any Proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed by this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee and which have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall forthwith proceed to put the following Questions (but no others), that is to say—

  1. (a) the Question or Questions already proposed from the Chair, or necessary to bring to a decision a Question so proposed (including, in the case of a new Clause or new Schedule which has been read a Second time, the Question that 657 the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill);
  2. (b) the Question on any amendment or Motion standing on the Order Paper in the name of any Member, if that amendment or Motion is moved by a Member of the Government;
  3. (c) any other Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded;
and on a Motion so moved for a new Clause or a new Schedule, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall put only the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.

(2) Proceedings under sub-paragraph (1) of this paragraph shah not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.

(3) If, at Seven o'clock on an allotted day, any Proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion at or before that time have not been concluded, any Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) which, apart from this Order, would stand over to that time shall stand over until those Proceedings have been concluded.

(4) If a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 stands over to Seven o'clock on an allotted day, or to any later time under sub-paragraph (3) above, the bringing to a conclusion of any Proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion on that day at any hour falling after the beginning of the Proceedings on that Motion shall be postponed for a period equal to the duration of the Proceedings on that Motion.

Supplemental Orders

10.—(1) The Proceedings on any Motion moved in the House by a Member of the Government for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order (including anything which might have been the subject of a report of the Business Committee) shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion one hour after they have been commenced, and paragraph 9 above shall apply as if the Proceedings were Proceedings on the Bill on an allotted day.

(2) If on an allotted day on which any Proceedings on the Bill are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed by this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee the House is adjourned, or the sitting is suspended, before that time no notice shall be required of a Motion moved at the next sitting by a Member of the Government for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order.


11. Nothing in this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee shall—

  1. (a) prevent any Proceedings to which the Order or Resolution applies from being taken or completed earlier than is required by the Order or Resolution, or
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  3. (b) prevent any business (whether on the Bill or not) from being proceeded with on any day after the completion of all such Proceedings on the Bill as are to be taken on that day.


12.—(1) References in this Order to Proceedings on Consideration or Proceedings on Third Reading include references to Proceedings, at those stages respectively, for, on or in consequence of, re-committal.

(2) On an allotted day no debate shall be permitted on any Motion to re-commit the Bill (whether as a whole or otherwise), and Mr. Speaker shall put forthwith any Question necessary to dispose of the Motion, including the Question on any amendment moved to the Question.


13. In this Order— 'allotted day' means any day (other than a Friday) on which the Bill is put down as first Government Order of the Day, provided that a Motion for allotting time to the Proceedings on the Bill to be taken on that day either has been agreed on a previous day, or is set down for consideration on that day; 'Resolution of the Business Committee' means a Resolution of the Business Committee as agreed to by the House.

There is bound to be a certain sense of anticlimax after the very important vote which the House has reached on the first motion that we were discussing tonight. None the less, it is the obligation of this House to give very careful attention to the timetable motion in relation to the Wales Bill. It may be that in the course of the debate hon. Members will want to concentrate more upon the number of days to be allocated, on whether it is a fair amount having regard to the provisions of the Wales Bill, or to go back to some of the principles on which the House tends to treat timetable motions, although to a certain extent we have rehearsed these during the earlier motion.

In the previous legislation Scotland and Wales were taken together. At that time it was the proposal of the Government, as stated during the Second Reading debate on the Scotland and Wales Bill, that roughly 30 days in all should be allowed for the passage of the Bill. In the motion which we now propose, with 17 days for Scotland for the Committee stage, Report and Third Reading, and 11 days for Wales for the Committee Stage, Report and Third Reading, amounting in total to 28 days, and taking the two days that we have had on Second Reading already, we arrive at 30 days. I think that in the circumstances that is a reasonable amount of time for the House in which to consider the matter carefully.

During the previous debate the only hon. Gentleman who raised the question of a reasonable allocation of time for the Scotland Bill was the hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner), who asked rhetorically how many days would be suitable. Many hon. Members invited him to reply to that question and he was unable to give a reply to it. Having regard to the obligation of the House both to argue and to act, I do not think that it is possible to say that there is any way of achieving a perfect number of days for a discussion of all the stages, apart from such amendments as there may be to the Bill.

No doubt it will be pointed out in the course of the debate that the Wales Bill has in it the same number of provisions as the Scotland Bill. I think there is one more clause, indeed, in the Wales Bill than in the Scotland Bill. It will also, no doubt, be pointed out to the Government side that, as is the case, the Government have given as full and important a commitment to the proposals for devolution for Wales as we have for Scotland.

Why, then, do we not put forward the same amount of time for both the Scotland Bill and the Wales Bill? I think it is realistic to say that some of the important principles underlying the legislation will already have been discussed during the Committee stage of the Scotland Bill. Perhaps I should make it clear that the general intention of the Government is that we should first proceed with the Scotland Bill in Committee and then on at a later stage to consider the Committee stage of the Wales Bill, most likely bringing forward the Wales Bill for consideration in Committee before the Scotland Bill has completed its consideration.

But we are not in favour of a rigid arrangement with one day on Scotland and one day on Wales. I think that would lead to a certain amount of confusion in the minds of hon. Members as we were considering these matters. I am glad to note that Opposition Members are nodding in agreement, I hope, with at least that part of what I am saying tonight.

I think it would be much more sensible, since we have split the Bills—and obliged the Opposition, in a sense by doing so—to consider them quite separately, because there are different proposals contained in each Bill.

Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)

Will the Minister give us any indication of when the Committee stage of the Wales Bill is likely to commence? He and his hon. Friends must have thought about this.

Mr. Smith

We have, and I assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that we are continuing to think about it. There are other Bills which the House will no doubt wish to consider and, as I say, we are determined to make sure that the Wales Bill reaches the statute book. We shall have to look at these matters from week to week in the usual way. I am sorry that I cannot help the hon. and learned Gentleman by giving a firm commitment as to the day.

Mr. Angus Maude (Stratford-on-Avon)

Is the Minister suggesting that the Committee stage of the Wales Bill should not be started until the Scotland Bill has completed all its stages in this House, or that it may be started as soon as the Scotland Bill is out of Committee?

Mr. Smith

I am not in a position to say precisely what will happen. It will depend to a large extent on the decicisions the House takes on this and other Bills. But the present view of the Government is that it will be possible to move to consideration of the Wales Bill in Committee before we have completed the Scotland Bill in Committee. We have to take account of the time that it will take to get it through with an eye to getting the Bill on the statute book in this Session, but we shall begin with the Scotland Bill.

I think it is reasonable to say that some of the matters at which we shall be looking in Committee on the Wales Bill, if the motion is passed, are similar to some of the provisions in the Scotland Bill—electoral matters, matters of disqualification, and so on. These are roughly the same in the Scotland Bill and in the Wales Bill, and the House, having given careful consideration to them in the Scotland Bill, may feel that it can deal with them in perhaps a shorter time when we come to consider the Wales Bill.

I would argue, therefore, that when the Wales Bill goes into Committee it would be reasonable to expect that it may take a little less time to deal with than the Scotland Bill took in Committee, having regard to the way in which the House of Commons tends to approach these matters. We tend usually to spend much more time on the beginning of a Bill than on the end of it, and whether Bills are timetable d or not, there is sometimes a rather undignified scramble at the end to get a Bill completed. Many of the later clauses and the schedules sometimes go through much more quickly than the earlier parts of a Bill. So I argue that the provision of 11 days is reasonable having regard to the content of the Wales Bill and bearing in mind not only the need for adequate discussion but the obligation of the House to come to firm decisions in these matters.

I shall not take up much more time. I do not think it necessary to go over the arguments again on the justification or otherwise of a timetable motion. We all know perfectly well that every Government who aim to govern purposefully have to bring in such motions to secure essential Bills. We also know, since we respect the conventions, that constitutional Bills must be taken on the Floor of the House. It is extremely difficult to get them through having regard to that provision without a timetable motion.

There is no need for me to go into an examination of whether there was filibustering. The fact of the matter is that the House sitting as a Committee of the whole House does take sometimes a very long time to consider in detail the provisions of a Bill such as constitutional Bills. The House will, no doubt, when giving consideration to its view of this aspect bear in mind the decision just taken on the Scotland Bill. In these circumstances I repeat that I do not think it necessary for to rehearse all the arguments we have just had for three hours, except to say that I believe that Parliament must in the case of this Bill also move towards a decision.

Hon. Members in all parties, including many on this side of the House, have raised the question of the referendum as a very important part of the provisions for Wales. There seems to be a disposition among some of them to say that the people of Wales do not want these provisions. My judgment, for what it is worth, is that the people of Wales will approve them in the referendum, but the matter is up to them. I am glad that some hon. Members are now quite happy to see the referendum left to the decision of the people of Wales.

It is dangerous to anticipate the attitude of the public about anything, but we are prepared for the provisions to go forward to the people of Scotland and Wales for their decision. Those who have argued in the past that we should not be bringing forward proposals at all because they were not asked for, were not required, or were not demanded by Wales must surely be confident of a referendum if their judgment is correct. But I do not believe it to be correct. However, the proper way for the matter to be settled is by referendum, which will answer the question whether these proposals are wanted by the people of Scotland and Wales.

Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East)

My hon. Friend has put forward his judgment as to the outcome of the referendum in Wales. It might help to show the quality of that judgment if he were to indicate what he bases it on.

Mr. Smith

I base my judgment on studies, no doubt imperfect, that I have made of the situation. I do not represent a Welsh constituency, but my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales does, and he has long advocated these proposals and he has as much knowledge and experience as my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) has of the attitude of the people of Wales. We will find out who is right in the referendum result.

One of the most important things that the House will have to consider carefully is the constitutional mechanisms in the Bill. I accept that in our Second Reading debates this week we have tended to concentrate on general principles of whether people want devolution, whether devolution will stabilise unity, and other constitutional issues. I hope that in Committee we can get down to a workmanlike approach to dealing closely and carefully with the details of the Bill.

With the unfortunate exception of the European Communities Bill, which we were not allowed to amend in any way, the House is usually extremely thorough in its examination of such legislation. The time allowed in this case is reasonable and I believe that we can have a constructive Committee stage.

7.16 p.m.

Mr. Angus Maude (Stratford-on-Avon)

When I listened to my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) on the timetable motion for the Scotland Bill, I felt rather like Mr. Cruger who, when called to the hustings to follow one of Edmund Burke's tirades, replied simply but earnestly "I say ditto to Mr. Burke". I should perhaps say "I say ditto to Mr. Pym", but there is a word or two more to be said. The Wales Bill is not the Scotland Bill. It is not a worse Bill, because that would be impossible, but it is certainly a Bill which has been less demanded, is more irrelevant and is less necessary, if possible, than the Scotland Bill.

The Minister of State said that he and his colleagues were confident that the Bill was demanded and wanted and would be welcomed by the people of Wales. That is contrary to all our information and all the experience of our Welsh Members and, evidently, of many Welsh Labour Members, in going round their constituencies.

The interesting question about this Bill —and it is even more relevant to the Wales Bill than to the Scotland Bill—is exactly what is the reason why the Leader of the House has felt it necessary to take what is the not unprecedented but the very rare step of guillotining a Bill before it has even got into Standing Committee. He said that he made no accusations of filibustering or of waste of time, but it must be perfectly clear to the House that it is not the Conservative Opposition of whom he is afraid and for fear of whose interventions he needs to curtail the amount of time given for debate. It is his own Friends behind him whom he is seeking to curtail. It is from his hon. Friends that he is expecting the trouble and who he would expect to drag out the proceedings on the Bill so that it came to the same ignominious end as last time.

It is the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) of whom the right hon. Gentleman is afraid. The hon. Member for Pontypool said that the Wales Bill was the final ignominy and called it a Bill conceived out of opportunism and reared in expediency. That is a fair enough description. So it is the hon. Members for Pontypool, for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) and for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson), and perhaps even for Caerphilly (Mr. Evans) whom this timetable is designed to muzzle, not the Conservative Opposition.

The Leader of the House's hon. Friends criticised this Bill both when it was part of the Scotland and Wales Bill in the last Session and in our Second Reading debate yesterday. They have criticised it bitterly as being not only unnecessary but one which is liable to lead to problems not just for the United Kingdom but for Wales itself. Clearly, the attempt to curtail debate is an attempt to curtail their criticism. But this time the Leader of the House has managed to drag them into the Lobby on the Scotland Bill in respect of the guillotine motion, with everyone falling rapidly into line last night, with certain honourable exceptions, on the Second Reading of the Wales Bill.

But to those hon. Members who have made the strange defence of their actions that they do not like the Bill but that they will vote for the Second Reading and for a guillotine motion and then campaign against it when it goes to a referendum of the people of Wales, I would point out that they are deploying a very strange argument. Presumably they will go to their constitutents in the referendum campaign and say "The Wales Bill is a bad Bill. I do not like it. I think that it is unsatisfactory in many respects and that it ought to have been changed if not withdrawn altogether." When their constituents say, "Why did not you fight it line by line and clause by clause and get it amended?", they will then have to say to them "Because I had already allowed the Government to stop me from doing just that". That is what they will be doing if they vote for this timetable motion.

This is not only not a very heroic posture. It is not even a very logical one. There can be no possible reason for any hon. Member, whether he be Welsh or English—and there are many English Members among the Government's supporters who have doubts about this devolution measure—to vote tonight to curtail the time in which they will be allowed to criticise and to try to amend the Bill. It is capable of being improved, though in our view it is not capable of being made into a good Bill, for the reasons that my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Edwards) deployed so powerfully last night.

We are not at the moment questioning the allocation of time on this Bill, though I believe that, on the record and experience of the Scotland and Wales Bill, 11 days may prove too short a time for all the arguments to be deployed fully and for all the amendments to be dealt with properly. But we shall see how the Business Committee works.

I find one argument deployed from the Treasury Bench rather peculiar. The Lord President advanced it and the Minister of State echoed it. It was that the arguments had been deployed so fully and had gone on for so long during our debates on the Scotland and Wales Bill last Session that there was no need to repeat them now. However, the Ministers introducing these Bills have both argued that the Bills are significantly different from the Bill which was introduced last Session and that they have improved it. Certainly they have said that they have made significant changes. One significant change is that the two measures of devolution have been separated into two Bills.

Nor can I accept the argument of the Minister of State that, because the Wales Bill contains certain proposals and provisions which are similar to those in the Scotland Bill, Welsh hon. Members may feel it reasonable to devote less time to considering them on the Wales Bill because the Scots have considered them already on the Scotland Bill. That seems to be a most extradordinary argument which I do not think that any Welsh hon. Member can possibly accept.

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

The hon. Gentleman is leaving out of account the fact that both these matters will be considered by the whole House in Committee.

Mr. Maude

I am not in the least leaving that out of account. I am saying that because there is a similarity between one provision in the Scotland Bill and a provision in the Wales Bill, that does not mean that what goes for Scotland has to be passed on the nod for Wales because the Scots have considered it already. If the Lord President is trying to say that on the timetable that he has provided there will be time for Welsh hon. Members to debate the Scotland Bill, he has underestimated the loquacity of Scottish hon. Members. The argument cannot possibly make any sense unless the right hon. Gentleman is saying that Welsh hon. Members do not need the time to debate on the Welsh Bill because they have debated on the Scotland Bill.

Mr. Foot

Without appearing to interfere with the calling of speakers by the Chairman, I cannot agree—and no one with any experience of this House will agree—with the proposition that on the Scotland Bill only Scottish Members should be called and that on the Wales Bill only Welsh Members should be called. The hon. Gentleman said that because of the loquacity of the Scots that was likely to happen. I repudiate any such attack upon the Scots.

Mr. Maude

The Lord President knows that that was not what I said. He knows that the argument advanced by the Minister of State was that, because there were certain similarities between the two Bills once the course had been cantered over by the Scots, the Welsh ought to be content to take it in a shorter time and need not go over the same ground again. That cannot be sustained for a moment.

Nor can I accept the argument produced previously by the Lord President and the Minister of State that, because all this ground was gone over during the Scotland and Wales Bill debates last Session it need not be gone over again. These are different Bills. It does not in the least follow that amendments which were thought desirable to the Scotland and Wales Bill will be appropriate to these Bills. It may be that hon. Members on both sides will wish to react to these new measures with completely different types of amendment.

In our view, there can be no excuse on a major constitutional measure such as this, for introducing a timetable motion before the Government have even had time to test the temperature of debate and the mood of right hon. and hon. Members by letting the Bill get into Committee. This is the real mischief of these timetable motions. After all, the Government believe—and the results in the Divisions last night and the night before suggest—that they have managed to convert a great many of their supporters to the merits of the new Scotland Bill and the new Wales Bill.

Mr. Francis Pym (Cambridgeshire)

They have only managed to persuade them to vote for it.

Mr. Maude

That is almost certainly true, I agree. Nevertheless, the Government are trying to persuade us that many of their supporters have seen the light and that the great improvements in this Bill have made it unnecessary for the legislation to be considered as closely and at such length as the previous Bill was.

The Opposition do not accept that. I ask Government supporters with Welsh constituencies—and even those English Members who are deeply concerned, as we are, about the possible effects of the Bill on England and on the United Kingdom as a whole—to reflect that if they let it go through half-debated, ill-digested, ill-amended and in a state which may prove to be unworkable, as Bills which are cobbled together hastily and half-debated often prove to be, they will be doing the United Kingdom and their constituents no service. What is more, they will find themselves in an impossible position when, having voluntarily curtailed their own rights to debate and amend the Bill, they go to campaign in a referendum on the grounds that the Bill is a bad Bill and that the people should throw it out.

This is an impossible position for them to take up, and I urge them, as I urge my right hon. and hon. Friends, to vote solidly against this timetable motion.

7.28 p.m.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes (Anglesey)

I intervene very briefly to deal specifically with the questions which were raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson). He and others have said from time to time—and the claim has been reinforced by the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Edwards) and other Opposition Members—that public opinion in Wales is against the Bill.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards (Pembroke)

Hear, hear.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

They have said this time and time again, and the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) echoed it. Obviously he knows very little about it. He has to take the word of his hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke. I want to put forward the contrary case. But before I do so—

Mr. Ian Grist (Cardiff, North)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hughes

I cannot give way before I have finished a sentence.

Before I do so I wish to make clear that I do not pretend to predict the result of a referendum at this time. I would not be so bold as to prophesy the outcome. Very tentatively I would venture that if it were held tomorrow it would probably be a very tight finish. Things have been said on television and reported in the Press that have frightened people in Wales, and inaccuracies have been perpetrated. Some misleading statements have been made which have confused people about the kind of a Welsh Assembly which is proposed in the Bill. I hope that in the run-up to the referendum both sides of the case will be fairly put, and all the arguments deployed from one end of Wales to the other so that people are able to make a reasoned judgment.

But what we do know is that the Labour Party in Wales favours the Bill. There is no argument about that. Like others here, I have attended several party conferences on this issue over a number of years and resolutions have been passed in favour of devolution to an elected Assembly. Also, the Liberal Party is in favour of devolution to an elected Assembly in Wales, and, as we all know, Plaid Cymru is in favour of "separation".

Mr. Maude

When the right hon. Member says that the Labour Party in Wales is solidly in favour of the measure, is he saying that those hon. Members who have spoken passionately against it are out of line with the Labour Party in Wales and also with the views of their own constituents?,

Mr. Hughes

Yes, I am saying that. The hon. Member has summarised my point exactly. The fact is that these proposals for devolution to an elected Assembly were in the Labour Party's Manifesto in the two elections of 1974.

Mr. Anderson

My right hon. Friend knows how difficult it is to find unanimity in our party on anything. If he goes to my local party he will find unanimity on this at least.

Mr. Hughes

Yes, I appreciate that my hon. Friend may be in difficulty with his party on this. But I think that it is right to rise above these parochial considerations and take a broad view, and no doubt in due course he will come round to this point of view.

The Wales Trade Union Council, a substantial and important body of opinion in Wales, is in favour of devolution. So is the Farmers' Union of Wales, which represents a large number of farmers in the Principality. Most of the Welsh Churches are also in favour—

Mr. Leon Brittan (Cleveland and Whitby)

What has this got to do with the guillotine?

Mr. Hughes

The hon Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan) knows nothing of the Welsh Churches. He made a long speech last night and now he should allow me to make my own speech in my own way.

Mr. Brittan

I was not seeking to bandy words about any of the institutions to which the right hon. Member has referred. I am simply asking him to contain himself for a moment, and tell us whether any of their views have anything to do with the guillotine?

Mr. Hughes

They have as much to do with the guillotine as the remarks of his hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon, who made similar points when he opened on that side. I will not pursue this at any great length. The fact is that it is impossible to prophesy the result of the referendum. Those who believe that a majority in a referendum will support this measure have as much evidence behind them as those who say otherwise.

I think that the timetable motion is sensible and that it will give a generous amount of time for debate in Committee. It gives much greater certainty of full debate on all parts of the Bill than would be the case without the timetable.

I have seen Governments of both major parties reacting in circumstances where there is no timetable on a major Bill. Government Whips tend to encourage their Members not to speak on the Committee stage. The Government Whips come around and tell Members that the Opposition are taking up all the time, and unless one has something very important to say they ask one to be good enough not to speak or otherwise the Government will not get their business through. The fact is that without a timetable the only hon. Members on this side of the House who would speak on this case would be my hon. Friends the Members for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) and Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock). These are facts of life.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

I wonder whether the right hon. Member could help the House. He has just told us that there is ample time to debate the Bill. I have been trying to work out a reasonable allocation of time for the different parts of the Bill, and I find it increasingly difficult to see how one can get through 72 clauses and many schedules and give adequate time for debating vital points. It is quite clear that the right hon. Member has done this exercise and worked out how much time can be given to each clause. I hope that he will give us guidance about the way in which such an exercise may be carried out.

Mr. Hughes

That is probably the most reasonable point the hon. Member has made in his speeches on this subject. I am not a party manager on this matter. The fact is—and this is within the experience of everyone in this House—that where Bills have gone through without a timetable the major part of the time has been given to three-quarters of the Bill. In many cases the last quarter has gone through without adequate discussion. I may not go all the way with my right hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish), who suggests that we have a timetable on every occasion. I would prefer to see each one argued on its merits.

After all the discussions we have had on devolution, and taking account of the fact that the House has just agreed to the timetable motion for the Scotland Bill, it is not unreasonable to argue that the Wales Bill should be given similar treatment. I ask the House to support the motion because it is the reasonable course.

7.39 p.m.

Mr. John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)

I take part in this debate not only as an English Member but as one who has a great many Welsh people living in my constituency, as they do throughout the West Midlands. This Bill touches not just on Wales but on the whole of the United Kingdom and, above all, on the 45 million people in England, very few of whose representatives—and this is not a criticism of the Chair—have spoken either today or in the previous two debates.

I believe that in all my time in the House today has been of utmost significance. As so often happens in this place, although the motion we are debating may be procedural, the subjects raised have been fundamental and touch vital issues.

I sat through many of the debates on the Scotland and Wales Bill, and it was only when we came to consider the clauses and their full implications—implications not only for Wales, but for England, Northern Ireland and the whole of the United Kingdom—that we realised how fundamental the measure was. We all know that when the Government attempted to impose a guillotine they lost.

Since I have been in the House I have learnt greatly to respect this place and most of its Members, quite apart from any party consideration. I have also learned to trust the instinct of this House. I believe that today, in spite of the vote earlier, the instinct of the House is against both Bills. I hope that tonight we shall have the courage of our convictions at least to vote down this timetable motion.

The House has heard enough already even in two short one-day debates—debates in which very few English Members have spoken, although they represent about four-fifths of the United Kingdom —to realise that the Bills contain the gravest defects. Nobody has remotely suggested how those defects may be cured. If these measures are to be passed, we are saddling our ancient constitution, which has developed almost miraculously over the centuries, with something that will be unworkable and that will cause endless confusion, sorrow and ultimately, I fear, disaster.

I do not believe that the vast majority of the people in English constituencies realise the implications of these Bills. We have not had enough time—nor shall we have enough time—to bring out the most important factor that, under these arrangements, the English will have no Parliament of their own, and no say whatever on matters devolved to the new Assemblies in Wales and Scotland. But Wales and Scotland will continue to be fully represented—or even over-represented—here in Westminster as they have been up to the present.

Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarvon)

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that on all matters devolved to the Welsh Assembly the power to legislate will remain in this Chamber? That surely justifies the same number of Members from Wales remaining here to look after that aspect.

Mr. Stokes

I do not think it will work out in that way. We shall find that the Welsh and Scottish Members here will be in a ridiculous and anomalous position and will be a threat and a menace to English Members. They will comprise a large number of this House. Labour Members may laugh, because they may think that it suits their party best. The situation might arise where there is a majority of English Members who are in favour of a Conservative Government but they will be voted down by Welsh and Scottish Members who, although having no say on Wales and Scotland, will have the ultimate say on the government of England. That is a monstrous proposition.

Mr. Gwynfor Evans (Carmarthen)

Is the hon. Gentleman aware how often Welsh Members have been voted down by English Members in this House?

Mr. Stokes

But Wales is nowhere near the size of England. Wales cannot say that it has had bad treatment. Many people in England, particularly those in the West Midlands, have seen work taken away from their areas and industrial development certificates denied them so that jobs may go instead to people in Wales and Scotland. It is wrong to say that Wales and Scotland have been treated unfairly compared with the treatment accorded to England. The favouritism has been in the direction of Wales, for example, because that is where the bark of Labour Members is most heard, and that is what this Bill is all about. I do not wish to be party political tonight and I would not have ventured on that path if I had not been interrupted.

The House knows that my first care is for the whole nation—Conservative, Labour and Liberal. It is because I fear that the nation is in danger from these measures that I am speaking in this debate, having sat through many hours of discussion. We have the situation that the Welsh and Scottish Members who remain here will be able to make or unmake Governments for the United Kingdom, of which England is by far the greatest part. England will be downgraded as a result of these arrangements and placed in a decidedly inferior position compared with the rest of the United Kingdom, with the possible exception of Northern Ireland.

We are told that we are to have a strict timetable to consider these most important matters, and there is the new, or fairly novel, suggestion that our decision in this House will be dependent on a referendum. We do not know how that referendum will be conducted. We have seen a suggestion as to how the questions will be phrased. Everybody knows that in a referendum the essence of the matter lies in how to phrase the questions.

The implication here is that if one wishes to vote for the Scotland Bill or the Wales Bill, it will automatically mean that Scotland or Wales will remain within the United Kingdom. That begs the whole question. We have not yet heard the views of the nationalist Members from Wales, but we heard earlier from Members of the SNP. They made it abundantly clear that they look upon this measure as the first step towards complete separation and independence.

We all know that once those Assemblies are created they will demand more power and money and will not be satisfied until they have achieved separation. That will grieve and distress most people in England, but it will also affect the people in Scotland and Wales, whose hopes have been unduly raised by the advent of these Bills. These Bills will not help unemployment and nor will they reduce inflation or increase production, which is now so low. People will not go to work and say "We shall all be able to work harder today because we now have devolution legislation". What nonsense to expect people to take such a view, because people do not think in that way! I have not had one letter from a constituent in favour of these Bills, but I have received a great many letters against them.

My experience as an English Member in an industrial city in the West Midlands must mirror the experience of many Members throughout the United Kngdom. We all know that there is not a demand for this measure in Wales, and there is probably not even the bare majority for the similar measure in Scotland. We all know the reasons for these Bills, but I believe that the possible political gain which the Labour Party hopes to obtain from tampering with the constitution has virtually vanished now that the nationalist tide appears to be on the ebb.

I face the future with the utmost foreboding. I am sorry that there are now so few Members in the Chamber, because I believe that tonight is an occasion on which, if we love our country, we must vote according to our individual consciences. I hope that at least every hon. Member present now will do that.

The fact that the House unfortunately made a wrong decision on the earlier vote tonight is no reason why it should make a wrong decision on the next one. After all, this is primarily a House of Commons matter, a matter of how we conduct our own affairs and whether we wish to give ourselves "fair do" on these gravest of grave matters—and that should transcend purely political considerations.

Ever since I have been in the House I have believed as a cardinal principle that the safety of the State and cohesion of society were the twin pillars upon which we ought to base our actions. Both these principles are now threatened. I fear endless conflict and confusion. False hopes will be raised that cannot possibly be satisfied. We know that people are really concerned about such things as inflation, unemployment, housing and education and not devolution.

Ever since the end of the war there has been an almost catastrophic fall in the national spirit, certainly compared with France, for example, which we have seen rise from the ashes. We all know, alas, that we in the United Kingdom are no longer the sort of nation that we were at the end of the war. We know, of course, that the spirit is there and we saw how the Jubilee pulled it out, but it lies dormant and must be reawakened. Can any hon. Member honestly say to himself that as a result of these Bills more than a handful of people in the United Kingdom will feel more cheered or encouraged? The Bills will only weaken and harm our constitution.

We should be tremendously concerned because we propose, on the one hand—if we agree to this measure tonight and if the Bills are passed—to hand over certain of our powers to Assemblies in Scotland and Wales. At the same time, if we agree to the proposals for direct elections to the European Assembly—and I remain a convinced European but not a convinced Assemblyman—that will also have an effect, in time and inevitably, of taking power away from this ancient House.

Between the two, the local Assemblies here and the Assembly on the Continent, our power and prestige will lessen. It seems extremely sad that for the sake of a short-term political advantage the Government should think fit to bring such irrelevant measures before us that will have grave consequences for our nation. If we vote in favour of this motion tonight, we shall all live to regret it. I appeal to the consciences of hon. Members to safeguard our future and not to imperil it.

7.54 p.m.

Dr. Colin Phipps (Dudley, West)

I cannot pretend that I rise to address the House now with the same amount of adrenalin in my blood that I might have had an hour and a half ago. That is difficult when one is in the position of backing a horse that one has already seen come fourth—or perhaps I should say second since there were only two horses in this particular race.

I had hoped, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to catch your eye during the previous debate and it was something of a blow to me to hear my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Fowler), in a spritely but somewhat disjointed speech, complain that I had not spoken at length during the Scotland and Wales No. 1 Bill, as it is now being called. It was also particularly disappointing, because I shared the experience of the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes) as an English Member who sat in the Chamber for hours, jumping up and down, unable to catch the eye of the Chair, while the Scottish and Welsh hordes swept over us.

I now find it only too easy to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because the result of this debate is a foregone conclusion. It is perhaps worth examining why that will be so and why the result of the last debate turned out in the way that it did.

I am not in any sense opposed to the principle of the guillotine; nor would the precedent set by having an immediate guillotine after Second Reading be necessarily bad. The House determines its precedents. If it is to be a precedent that the House is prepared to accept, so be it.

I also accept that voting against the guillotine is a perfectly legitimate way to oppose the Bill. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) and my hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) suggested that opponents of the Bill were perhaps being less than honest in not saying that in voting against the guillotine they intended to defeat the Bill. I have never made a secret of that and anyone who reads the debate that took place on the previous occasion will find that I and other hon. Members made that point strongly. We knew that by voting against the guillotine we would defeat the Bill, and that was our objective. That again seems to be a perfectly legitimate thing for the House to do. If a Government seek approval from the House for a measure and obtain that approval, they will naturally get the guillotine. If not, the Government have no business in getting the guillotine.

Tonight we have just seen a guillotine motion passed by 26 votes, and I want to examine why that happened and why the second motion will also be carried. I am absolutely convinced that it will not be because opponents of the Bills on all sides of the House have suddenly been persuaded of their merits for either Scotland or Wales. The Whips have been extremely active, as everybody knows, in recent weeks attempting to persuade hon. Members on this side who are opposed to devolution to support the guillotine. Have the Whips been extolling the virtues of the Bill in attempting to persuade hon. Members to go into the Lobbies? Far from it, and I can tell the House the sort of arguments that the Whips have been using.

I was most privileged to have no fewer than two interviews with the Chief Whip on this very matter—on the second occasion even over a glass of whisky. Far from discussing with me the merits of the proposals before the House, the Chief Whip put forward arguments that were entirely concerned with the Government's credibility.

I am glad to see the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) coming into the Chamber, because he said earlier tonight that the passage of a guillotine motion should reflect the will of the majority. That is a sentiment that most of us would find acceptable, but the vote that has just taken place reflected not the will of the majority but the will of the Executive.

Of all the things that I have found appalling during the four years I have been in the House the worst is the power that the Executive holds over its own Back Benchers when those Back Benchers do not want certain measures to be put before them at all. There is no question of there being a majority in the House today for either of these Bills or the proposals before us. It is important to say to the Government that the guillotine will not mean that the opponents of the Bill on this or the other side will stop fighting.

I know that more than 13 of my hon. Friends who voted with the Government are as opposed as ever to this measure and that is quite enough to give the majority of 26 that we have just seen. In fact, I believe the number to be larger than 13, and I think that what they did was wrong.

Mr. Tom Ellis (Wrexham)

My hon. Friend talks about the will of the majority, but can he not see that one of the purposes of the Bill is that in a House that, in a national sense, is not homogeneous the rights of national minorities should count for something?

Dr. Phipps

I agree that the rights ok national and regional minorities should be accepted in the House, but one point that has been reiterated time and again in our discussion of this matter is that only specific regions of the United Kingdom are to be given these powers.

I believe that my hon. Friends who voted with the Government earlier were mistaken. I do not believe that the Government's credibility was at stake or that they would have fallen. They would have continued doing what we are delighted to see them doing, namely, improving the economy. That improvement will lead to electoral victory later next year quite independent of whether these Bills go through.

Despite their absolute convictions in opposition to the Bills, some of my hon. Friends voted with the Government. I say to them that the fight is not over. We shall be looking for ways of improving the Bill, and I appeal to them to support those of us who have remained firm in everything we do in Committee.

I do not believe in referendums. I did not support the referendum on the Common Market, although I am pro the Market and I was confident that the referendum would support my view. It is the duty of this House to decide what we do about devolution. It is our duty to make sure in the days allotted to us that the final shape of the Bills can be supported by us all. It will be difficult. My hon. Friends who, through their commitment and loyalty to the Government, felt unable to go into the Lobby against the Bill should appreciate that their commitment and their loyalty have been paid and it is essential that all opponents of the Bills must consider them closely and, while not putting down hundreds of amendments, must press for changes that will make the Bills measures that we can live with.

8.3 p.m.

Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarvon)

In approaching the principle of the timetable motion, I have great sympathy with the attitude of the former Government Chief Whip, the right hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish), who spoke of the need for a structured debate on major measures before the House. There are overwhelming reasons in favour of such a move, and I say that against a background of having served on Standing Committees such as that which spent 40 sittings considering the Industry Bill, when the same arguments were reiterated time and again. The time of the House and of hon. Members could be better utilised and a better end product could be delivered if there were a structured approach to our debate, allowing adequate time for discussion of major subjects.

It was clear in our discussions on the Scotland and Wales Bill between the beginning of January and the end of February that progress was very slow. If the guillotine had been carried, there would not have been the same amount of time given to later stages as was devoted to the earlier stages, when many points were being reiterated time after time. This is a matter that could be considered by any Committee that looks into the procedures of the House. It could consider developments in this direction in order to safeguard the quality of the Bills that we pass.

As a comparatively young hon. Member who has been here for only three years I hesitate to say this, but it seems that Governments have a great belief in guillotines while Oppositions have a great disbelief, and a party's attitude reverses as the colour of the Government changes. It is bad for the credibility of Parliament if people see somersaults of these sorts too frequently. A movement towards structured debates would be useful in avoiding that.

Although the Bill is constitutional in many aspects, I should have thought that certain clauses could be considered in Standing Committee. Major matters would be taken in the Chamber, but the detailed work could be done upstairs. As it is, the Government are not going for that and have provided for 11 days' discussion on the Floor of the House.

Sir Raymond Gower (Barry)

There is great objection to considering such a big constitutional change in Standing Committee. Many hon. Members would not be able to be present and that would be objectionable. Will the hon. Gentleman not reconsider what he has said?

Mr. Wigley

No. Perhaps the hon. Member for Barry (Sir R. Gower) misheard me. Some aspects of the Bill are of major constitutional significance, but there are others that are detailed, nitty-gritty questions of operational work. They could be taken upstairs.

The Wales Bill does not include provision for setting up a separate legislature and it is therefore more analagous to local government structures and, just as certain aspects of local government are considered upstairs, so parts of this Bill could be considered by a small Committee.

Even though the Scotland and Wales Bill failed, many issues were brought to the attention of the House and the Government in those debates. Much of the work, the discussion and the constructive criticism of that Bill will have helped in producing the current Bills.

The informal discussions that took place in the summer after the failure of the Scotland and Wales Bill have helped to overcome certain problems. For example, my hon. Friends and I and hon. Members from all parties will be proposing an amendment concerning proportional representation. It will be a better amendment than the one that we tabled last time, because of the experience that we have gained. The time spent on the Scotland and Wales Bill has not been totally wasted. It has brought certain aspects to light and has led to some changes, including changes in attitude.

We regard the new Bill as inadequate. We have made no secret of the fact that we should like to go further, but even in its present form the Bill is worth having. It introduces a level of democracy that does not exist at present and provides for supervision of nominated bodies in Wales and for democratic control of the existing government in Wales.

Before the Scotland and Wales Bill was considered in the House, the Tories were the most vociferous in calling for a referendum. If the timetable motion fails, the possibility of a referendum through the Wales Bill will be lost—yet the Tories will be voting against the guillotine. Why are they so afraid of the referendum? If they believe that there is no majority in Wales in favour of the Bill, they should be happy that the referendum will give the Welsh people the opportunity to decide for themselves. In addition, there will be the opportunity for a structured debate before the referendum to give Conservative Members the chance to make the Bill into the best possible measure to present to the people of Wales for their decision in a referendum.

Mr. Maude

The argument that the hon. Gentleman is deploying makes no sense. Certainly we thought that it was better to have a referendum if we had to have devolution, but we do not believe that devolution to Wales in the form presented in the Bill is necessary or desirable. What we want is not a referendum but no Bill.

Mr. Wigley

The argument put forward by Conservative Members last year was that the people of Wales did not want the Bill. They saw the referendum as the appropriate mechanism to determine that issue. The referendum is provided by this Bill, and there will be an opportunity for the people of Wales to decide on the basis of a detailed and specific Bill rather than on an open-ended package.

Mr. Norman T'ebbit (Chingford)

We can take it as fairly common ground that a referendum on the abolition of the monarchy in England would probably decide the issue that the people of England still want the monarchy. However, that does not make a case for the House passing an Act to abolish the monarchy and then subjecting it to a referendum.

Mr. Wigley

The hon. Gentleman does not appreciate that four of the five parties fighting elections in Wales have stood for some form of elected Welsh Assembly —some stronger than others—over a number of years. It has been an issue of long debate. I am not aware that the issue of doing away with the monarchy in England has been an issue of debate. For many years the Welsh people have been expecting to see some progress towards devolution. The Welsh TUC, the Labour Party in Wales, the Liberal Party, the Communist Party and my own party have been pressing for that for some years. The Labour Party in Wales has been pressing for an elected Assem- bly in Wales for longer than the Labour Party in Scotland has been pressing for a Scottish Assembly.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

The argument that the hon. Gentleman has been advancing would have been relevant to last night's debate. I sought to deal with it at a time when I think that the hon. Gentleman was not in the Chamber. We are now concerned with the way in which the Bill is handled and with the adequacy of the arrangements allowed by the Government. Will the hon. Gentleman address himself to the time that is being made available? Does he think that it will be possible to analyse and debate the important clauses of the huge range of legislation that is referred to in the Bill in a satisfactory manner in the time that the Government seek to give us?

Mr. Wigley

The hon. Gentleman knows full well that he is voting against the timetable motion so as to kill the Bill. He will not then be rushing forward with a proposal to have a referendum to resurrect some other model of devolution in Wales. As his hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) has said, he does not believe in any sort of devolution in Wales. That was made clear. It was made clear earlier tonight and in the previous debate, when it was said that there was no reason for Wales to have a Bill at all.

Last year during the passage of the Scotland and Wales Bill the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues were arguing the case for two Bills. Having been given two Bills we hear that it is not that that they want but one Bill. In other words, they call for a referendum and when they get it they try to stop it. They call for two Bills and when they get them they try to do away with one of them. They try to stop progress in any direction. That should be seen by everyone in Wales who has an interest in the subject. I have not yet determined the principles of the Opposition when it comes to devolution. They seem to have nothing other than to maintain the status quo, nothing more and nothing less.

There are some federalists among the ranks of the Conservative Party in the House. I direct my next comment to the hon. Member for Barry and the hon. and learned Member for Denbigh (Mr. Morgan). Following the vote at the end of the previous debate, it seems that we are likely to see the establishment of a Scottish Assembly, given the climate of opinion in Scotland. Those who believe in the federal model must realise that there is likely to be a more logical federal model if there is devolution to a Welsh Assembly than if there is devolution to Scotland and a Scottish Assembly and nothing in Wales. I appreciate the sincere view that is held by the hon. Member for Barry, the hon. and learned Member for Denbigh and others on the federal model, but they should now support a Welsh Assembly.

In his intervention the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Edwards) referred to the time that the Government have allowed. Less time will be given to the Wales Bill than the Scottish Bill. The Government will give 11 days to Wales and 17 days to Scotland. There are certain aspects that lead one to think that that is not totally unreasonable. The main question is one to which others have referred—namely, the West Lothian dimension, if I may be so rash as to say so.

We are talking about having a non-legislative Assembly in Wales. We have no problem of Welsh Members legislating on English affairs and English Members not legislating on Welsh affairs. In the Bill's present form legislating on Welsh affairs will remain in this Chamber. Certainly there will be executive and administrative decisions being taken in Wales. To that extent there will be a difference in the powers of Members at Westminster with Welsh constituencies and English constituencies, but to some extent that exists already. For example, if I want to ask Questions about housing in my constituency, I cannot direct them once a month to the Minister for Housing and Construction, I have to direct them once every six weeks to the Secretary of State for Wales. That difference in respect of the Executive already exists in the Chamber. There are two classes of Members.

The differential may not be so great as it will be when the Assembly is set up. But it does not have the legislative dimension—the problem to which the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) has referred so often—that of having compatibility between a major legislature and a sub-legislature within a unitary State. To that extent I do not believe that so much time will be necessary on the Wales Bill.

The question of devolution to a Welsh Assembly or an elected Welsh Council, as the case may be, has been discussed in Wales in great depth for 12 years. The debate has gone on for longer in Wales than in Scotland—I refer to the recent past—and certainly the Labour Party in Wales has been debating it for longer than the Tories. The Tories in Wales seem to have started thinking about it only recently. That is their own fault. It is not the fault of the debate that has been taking place in Wales.

As for English Members, they had an opportunity to give evidence to the Kilbrandon Commission on the regional dimension of government in England. There has been the opportunity since the middle and late 1960s for Members from all parts of the United Kingdom to direct their minds to these problems. To say now that it is too early to take a decision would be seen in Wales as nothing more than a cynical exercise.

Mr. Tam Dalyell West Lothian)

Not so long ago I was asked a question by Harlech Television that I could not answer. It was to the effect that if the Welsh see the Scots having a great deal more than the Welsh, which is now true, how long would it be before the Welsh wanted the same as the Scots. I shall be interested to hear the hon. Gentlman's reply to that question. I did not presume to answer it.

Mr. Wigley

It is a fair question and it was reasonable that the hon. Gentleman did not answer it when he was asked it by HTV. The answer is "Yes", we shall want more. That is how we stand as a party. That is how the Liberals stand. In the Second Reading debate yesterday the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Ellis) saw similar evolution from this Bill. But we are now discussing a Bill to set up an executive and an administrative Assembly only. The arguments pertaining to that are those that are under consideration in this guillotine debate.

The point I am making is that the dimension on which the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) has concentrated a great deal of energy is to that extent less in the Welsh context than in the Scottish context when we consider these two Bills.

Sir Raymond Gower

Does the hon. Gentleman go as far as that? If he had evidence that the proposals contained in the Bill were regarded as obnoxious and extremely divisive to a majority in the most thickly populated parts of the Principality, such as Glamorgan, Gwent, North-East Wales and Flintshire, would he still pursue the policy of dividing Wales in this way?

Mr. Wigley

We believe that the Assembly can help in the government of Wales, but we can go no further and no quicker than the support of the people of Wales will allow. I hope that in having a referendum on the issue of Wales—assuming that we get that far—we shall not leave deep scars in the Welsh community. Of course, there will be fierce arguments. I imagine that the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse), myself and other Members will be clashing on a number of occasions. However, I hope that that does not leave scars that will last for years irrespective of whether the Assembly comes or does not come in the wake of the referendum.

What is important is that we have, if possible, a clear-cut decision and a fair debate. However, until we have the referendum I do not think that we should take it for granted that there is deep-held opposition in any part of Wales. The referendum will give us the answer to that question.

Another difference when comparing Wales with Scotland is that historically the Welsh political spectrum has tended to be more condensed than the Scottish. At the turn of the century, in the Liberal heyday, every seat but one was held by the Liberal Party, and that one seat was held by Keir Hardie. In 1966 only three Tories and one Liberal Member were elected. The other 32 were Labour. To that extent there has been more cohesiveness in the Welsh political spectrum. When our minds are put to building the Assembly into a worthwhile political body, we can achieve a consensus on this question.

The last reason why I find it easier to live with fewer days for the Wales Bill is that there are fewer Welsh Members to take part in the debate, although certain Members can take a considerable time—I am not looking in any particular direction. It would also appear from the attendance at this debate, compared with the earlier debate tonight, that fewer English Members take an interest in the Welsh Bill than in the Scottish Bill.

I also believe that the Bill is better than the previous Bill in one respect: it clearly defines the Bill's attitude towards local government. It shows that the question of local government is to be dealt with by the Assembly when it is set up and is not a matter to be built into the Bill—in other words, that the Bill will not provide for changes in local government. If the position had been otherwise, there would have been a need for more time.

We have heard from the Tories tonight that Wales cannot expect to have more time and attention at Westminster than it has because of the population ratios. To the extent that there is a Welsh dimension, to the extent that we have in Wales circumstances that are different and need different policies, we should have the appropriate time to discuss those policies. If, understandably and fairly, that cannot be provided here, where we are only one-twentieth in population terms, let us have our own forum to discuss matters of particular concern to Wales and make decisions affecting our own lives. There is already a host of bodies in Wales—private-sector bodies, voluntary bodies and so on—organised on an all-Wales level. It is incredible that we should not have one political forum directly elected by the people of Wales to take decisions on matters of all-Wales importance.

I regret that we are unlikely to have the support of the Ulster Unionists in the vote tonight. I understand that they would like to see a model of devolution for Northern Ireland. It might be similar to our model or more similar to the Scottish. It is sad that if that is indeed their wish they should take a dog-in-the-manger attitude. I hope that they secure the Assembly that they want. Whatever their attitude tonight to our Bill, I shall support them when their attempt at securing a devolved Assembly for Northern Ireland comes up.

We are talking about democracy, about allowing people of Wales to decide in a limited area on matters of primary concern to them. Secondly, we are talking about allowing them to decide through a referendum whether they want to have the model that is proposed.

I hope that the vote tonight will not be a backdoor way of killing the Bill. I have every respect for people such as the hon. Member for Pontypool, who expressed his attitude to the Bill on Second Reading. I hope that hon. Members who were not as forthright as he was then will not try to use the backdoor way to kill the Bill and thereby the referendum and a chance for the people of Wales to take a decision on their future.

8.24 p.m.

Sir Raymond Gower (Barry)

Hon. Members should not conclude that because the last vote was so heavily against any variation of the Government's plan for a guillotined timetable the same result must necessarily follow. That appeared to be the conclusion of the hon. Member for Dudley, West (Dr. Phipps). I hope that others will take a different view.

There is another difference between the Wales Bill and the Scotland Bill to which the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) did not refer. There is far more support for a devolved Assembly in Scotland than there is for one in Wales. The hon. Gentleman compared the two solutions proposed by the Government. Just as the Government's plan for Scotland is different from that for Wales, the desire in Scotland for devolution appears to be far stronger. I shall not say how strong it is, because I am not an expert, but there is a great deal of evidence that it is stronger, and this seems to be the basis for hon. Members possibly taking a different course at the end of this debate than that which they took at the end of the first debate.

I do not subscribe to the view that the oppostion to the timetable is solely a means of killing the Bill. A great constitutonal change of this kind merits not merely the fullest examination of each clause but a generous examination of the alternatives which will be put forward in the form of amendments.

If the Lord President divides the number of clauses by the number of days, after deducting time for Report and Third Reading, he will find that we are left with a few clauses each day. That may not seem a great deal, but we can reasonably expect a large number of amendments. I am not talking about an excessive number, but if there are merely the kind of number that is generally tabled on important measures of this kind there will be a great deal to discuss at each sitting. There is not likely to be enough time for the consideration that this kind of change demands.

The hon. Gentleman said that he was in favour of a timetable of this kind because it would ensure fuller discussion and a more sensible examination of the whole Bill. That is not so. The guillotine will drop on a certain day whether or not adequate progress has been made.

Mr. Hooson

In the debates on the Scotland and Wales Bill, points were repeated ad nauseam on each clause. The debate on the clause was used as a means of repeated attacks on the Bill. Unless there is a timetable, that is what will happen again.

Sir R. Gower

I have much respect for the hon. and learned Gentleman's views, but I cannot entirely subscribe to what he has just said. I have re-read the debates, and I can say that the amount of repetition was not so much because hon. Members were seeking to repeat arguments but simply because all hon. Members representing Scottish and Welsh constituencies wanted to have a say, when perhaps they would not have wanted to do so on another Bill.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)

Whenever we considered any part of the Scotland and Wales Bill, we found that the consideration took us back to the underlying unsolved dilemmas. That was the reason for the repetition, and that was in the nature of the Bill.

Sir R. Gower

What was repeated was what has been described as the West Lothian question. The right hon Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) referred obliquely to that. We returned to it again and again. It reminded us that the Bill was drawn in such a way that it produced an incredible state of affairs that could not be defended.

The hon. Member for Caernarvon suggested that the defeat of the timetable motion would inevitably mean the abandonment of the Bill. Is that so? I cannot recall many Sessions in which, apart from this legislation and the European Assembly Elections Bill, we have had more important legislation. Looking at the debate on the Address, one realises that there is nothing of vital importance in this Session, apart from the usual budgetary debates which are annual events. This, by any definition, is an extremely thin programme, apart from devolution and European legislation.

Mr. Hooson

Is the hon. Gentleman regretting the absence of nationalisation measures in the Queen's Speech?

Sir R. Gower

No. I have made no reference to any particular legislation. There is no legislation of any kind of great importance, apart from that which is before us. I did not define what legislation was missing.

For example, we could have had an excellent Bill to implement the acknowledged need for reforms in company law. We could have valuable legislation in this Session to deal with the introduction of profit-sharing and co-ownership in much of our industry—matters praised by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) and his colleagues. But none of these matters is in the programme.

Mr. Wigley

The hon. Gentleman suggested that he would like to see time allotted to those matters. If we have more time for the Wales Bill by not having the guillotine, surely there will be less opportunity for discussing those matters.

Sir R. Gower

The point is that we have a programme which contains none of those matters. Therefore, there is ample time to extend the time that has been proposed by the Government. There is no argument for suggesting that if the House rejects this inadequate timetable we cannot debate those matters. In the generous time available in this Session we can debate those matters with the aid of devices other than the timetable. For example, use can be made of the closure. If a majority of Members feel that a matter has been adequately debated, the closure can be moved. There is also the Chairman's selection of amendments. These devices can be used to curtail debate. It is inaccurate to suggest that the defeat of this inadequate guillotine would be fatal to progress on the Bill.

The hon. Member for Caernarvon seemed to suggest that it was wrong for an Opposition to be critical of the proposals of any Administration and to want to discuss them in detail. It is reasonable at any time to be critical of Government proposals, but particularly in this instance.

I object strongly to the suggestion that any considerable part of this legislation should be referred to a Committee upstairs. Legislative proposals of this kind should be taken on the Floor of the House so that Members from all parts of the United Kingdom can participate in the debates.

Unfortunately, there are very few Members in the Chamber at the moment. However, I hope that hon. Members generally will reflect that, although a certain decision has been arrived at on the Scotland Bill, a quite separate decision has to be made on this Bill. I hope that those who have expressed their anxieties and objections to the Bill—the hon. Member for Dudley, West (Dr. Phipps) suggested that there had been duress or persuasion by unofficial and official emissaries of the Government—will not repeat the decision that they took on the Scotland Bill but will stick to the decision that they made on the Scotland and Wales Bill a year ago and will vote against these proposals tonight.

8.35 p.m.

Mr. Caerwyn E. Roderick (Brecon and Radnor)

The hon. Member for Barry (Sir R. Gower) regretted the absence of so many hon. Members. It may be an illustration of the lack of opposition to the guillotine.

Many hon. Members have been arguing for weeks that the referendum should be brought forward so that it takes place before we consider the Bill in Committee. Many of us have tried to make it clear that this would be a nonsense. We would be presenting to the people of Wales a Bill that had not been changed. What would happen if the result of the referendum were "Yes" and we were asked to proceed? We should not then be able to amend the Bill because the people would have accepted the original Bill. If we did amend it, should we not have to ask the people whether they wished to accept the new Bill? We can hold a referendum only on a definite question. We cannot put a vague proposition before the people.

I raise that situation to compare it with tonight's situation. One argument is that we should not introduce a guillotine at this early stage and that we should have more time for debate. I contend that we had the opportunity for plenty of debate in the last Session on a similar measure. The present proposals for Wales are almost identical. The days spent in the last Session discussing devolution should be included in the calculation of how much time we have spent discussing the proposals. To pretend that we have debated them for only one day is nonsense. If hon. Members consider that seriously they will realise that we have adequately debated the measure.

It may surprise some hon. Members to know that I did not agree with the Lord President about everything. Certainly, I did not agree with him about timetables. I agreed more with the line that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) took.

I have served on many Committees upstairs and I know the sort of exercises that go on. When in Opposition one speaks at length in an attempt at delay. In Government one dare not look at a Whip if one tries to speak. When in Government one is debarred from taking part in debates at the Committee stage. In that sense we do not have proper debates in Committee. One side is debarred and inhibited and the other is completely liberated. When in Opposition one can do as one pleases. A case can be made out for generously time-tabling every important measure.

Mr. Ioan Evans (Aberdare)

The Lord President said there had not been any filibustering during the Second Reading of the earlier Bill. Is not there a danger, if discussion time on a clause is limited, that some hon. Members will speak at length to avoid others making valid arguments? That is the danger of the timetable.

Mr. Roderick

I contend that there was filibustering on the previous measure. I had to sit here night after night watching the hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner) going round the Chamber as an unofficial Whip with a rota of speakers in order to continue the debate. It would be appropriate if he were prepared at some stage to deny that he had a list in his hand and that he was going round the House canvassing people to come in and speak so that the debate could be continued.

Mr. Tebbit

The hon. Member has got it wrong. My hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner) was actually trying to help the Government. He was going round urging people not to come in here, so that the Government could get their Bill more quickly. If the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Roderick) did not speak to my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate, he will not know whether my version or his is the correct one.

Mr. Roderick

That speaks volumes for the credibility of the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit). We now know how much to trust him in anything he says in the Chamber. We know what was taking place that night—and on every night. We saw it in the corridors. The hon. Member for Reigate was speaking to people, and he was not the only one. It was useful for the Opposition to use an unofficial Whip to do that. [Interruption.] My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House is a modest man and he would not speak in these matters as I do. He is such a tolerant man that he would not be prepared to be as bold as I am in declaring that this activity went on. Is any Conservative Member here prepared to deny that this activity took place?

Sir Raymond Gower

The hon. Member is sidestepping the very valid point made by his hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. Evans). The meat of the issue is that when there is an element of filibustering without a guillotine it may be unpleasant or objectionable. But if there is filibustering or lengthy speaking in order to prevent discussion of certain amendments when the guillotine is on, that is considerably worse. How can the hon. Member deal with that?

Mr. Roderick

I invite the hon. Member for Barry (Sir R. Gowers) to witness what will happen after the guillotine has been imposed. Certain right hon. and hon. Members will lose interest in the debate and we shall have a much smaller group of participants, consisting of those who are deeply interested in the matters in hand. We shall have a concentrated debate in that we shall not waste time in the way that we wasted it previously. We shall ensure that we get a two-sided debate instead of the one-sided debate that we witnessed on the earlier Bill.

Last night we had a Second Reading debate on the Bill. I had not intended to speak, but when, after sitting through the entire debate, I witnessed the latecomers entering the Chamber intent on continuing the discussion, I felt it just as well to join in. Eventually we had to try to keep the debate going. Such was the extent of enthusiasm and interest that there were insufficient speakers for the time allotted. Anyone who wanted to speak was able to do so, and I noticed no one who had been getting up to speak being prevented from making his contribution.

There was little enthusiasm last night for a long debate. Once the guillotine is in operation, there will be little enthusiasm for long debates in the future. I hope that we shall have an adequate supply of speakers to keep the discussion going for the time that has been allocated. I am sure that that allocation will be more than adequate for the matters in hand, and I hope that the House will see the need to carry the motion tonight.

8.44 p.m.

Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)

The reason for opposition to a guillotine motion is the relative helplessness of the House. It is difficult to control the Executive, and in many ways time is the only effective weapon in the hands of the Opposition. The argument, hypocrisy and double talk which are used to justify opposition to a guillotine are advanced to hide the fact that the motion is depriving an Opposition of its most effective method of opposing a Bill. If we acknowledge that fact, we shall have a much more realistic debate on the subject.

I favour devolution but I take a different view of it from most people. I regard devolution as one aspect, and one aspect only, of a major underlying debate which is taking place in this country which will lead slowly but surely to a new constitutional settlement. Our adherence to the European Community is another aspect of this. The very matter upon which I have already touched, the helplessness of Members of this House in relation to the Executive and the dictatorship of the Executive within this parliamentary system of ours, is yet another aspect of it. We have heard all these views articulated in one way or another this evening.

I was quite struck by the speech of the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes). At times I felt like saying "Lift up your heart. Doomsday is not quite around the corner." Nevertheless, he articulated the feeling that constitutional things in this country are changing, and he was uncertain whether there was sufficient control of this.

It seems to me that this debate, therefore, is an early aspect of the major debate which will end in some kind of settlement in the way I have suggested. In fact, Lord Hailsham, in a number of lectures, and Lord Scarman have dwelt upon the same matters in a different connection, in relation, for example, to the necessity for a written constitution, a Bill of Rights, and so on. I think that we shall be driven inexorably in the direction of a federal system of government in this country, because it is the only way to make sure that we have both the unity of the United Kingdom preserved and a fair balance among the English regions, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

But the matter that we are debating tonight is a simple issue. It is whether there should be a timetable motion for this Bill. I would entirely agree with the Government that the appropriate time to introduce a timetable motion is at the commencement of a Bill, immediately after the Second Reading. I have so often been in the House when a timetable motion is introduced late on. I remember one night when hon. Members trooped to the Lobbies all night voting on very important aspects of a most important Bill on industrial relations which had not been debated at all. That was because a timetable was introduced at a very late stage in the proceedings on the Bill.

Therefore, I think that if any Government have a serious intention with regard to their legislation, and if that legislation is controversial—as this Bill undoubtedly is—they must bring in a timetable motion. In many legislatures, for example the Canadian, these timetables are automatic with every Bill. There is a great deal to be said for that. They lead to much more structured debates.

I entirely agree with the point that the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) made. He was right in his suggestion that there would be considerable merit in having debates on the Floor of the House on those clauses which really contain the underlying principles to which the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) referred. But debates on matters of detail, on how the Welsh Assembly would be run, and so on, are of particular interest, perhaps, to Welsh Members, and they could be debated more in Standing Committee. This would in no way deprive the House of Commons as a whole of the ability to consider the basic principles of the Bill.

Mr. Wyn Roberts (Conway)

Will the hon. and learned Member explain why his party voted against the timetable motion on the Scotland and Wales Bill?

Mr. Hooson

As the hon. Member knows, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardigan (Mr. Howells) and myself voted for that timetable motion.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

What about the rest?

Mr. Hooson

The hon. Gentleman had better ask them. I make no bones about it. I am in favour of a timetable motion on this Bill.

The second reason for a timetable motion is that we would be doing untold damage in Wales if the Bill were to be defeated by means of procedural devices. There are many good aspects of this Bill. On the other hand, there are bad aspects of it. There are certainly very strong arguments to be made both for and against the Bill. The people of Wales could accept the Bill be defeated on its merits, but I do not think that they would stand for a moment for this Bill being defeated by means of procedural devices. We would be making a great mistake. What we would be doing would be adding to the mythology of Wales if this Bill was not given a proper hearing by the House of Commons.

The third reason why I am in favour of the timetable motion is that I have always believed, contrary perhaps to most members of my party, in referendums on important constitutional issues. There is a world of difference between the constitutional issue and every other issue that comes before this House. It is right that people as a whole in a democracy should be allowed to pronounce on important constitutional changes.

It is an idle exercise in this House to debate what the results of the referendum campaign in Wales will be. At this stage in our proceedings on the European Communities Bill, if people had asked how Wales would have been likely to vote most would have suggested—indeed, they did—that Wales would vote largely against the Bill. In the event, the vote in Wales went the other way.

Most people in Wales have not thought very much about devolution hitherto. This is where I disagree with the hon. Member for Caernarvon. Certainly, articulate politicians and keen party supporters have debated the matter. But it is my view that most of the people of Wales have vague ideas about what devolution involves. In part we are engaging in an education programme.

I hope that we shall have devolution eventually, in a much more acceptable form than the present proposals envisage. I regard these proposals as being merely the first step towards a settlement that will be much more enduring and more acceptable for the people of the United Kingdom as a whole. The referendum provision is a tremendously important safeguard. I believe that the people of Wales should be allowed to pronounce on the issue.

8.52 p.m.

Mr. Norman Tebbit (Chingford)

There has been a great deal of discussion this evening of the merits of the Wales Bill, whereas I understood that we were discussing the merits of the timetable motion. From that it seems clear that even those who believe that the time allocated is generous still want to debate at great length, some of them at very great length, the merits of the Bill—even on occasions when that is not the business before the House. That would suggest that we need a great deal more time to discuss the Bill in a great deal more detail.

We have had a Second Reading speech from the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley). We have had it several times before but he obviously enjoys it every time he makes it and I see no reason why he should not make that speech many more times if he wants to do so. But he will not have sufficient time to do so in future. We heard earlier today the view of the right hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish), one that he has expressed before and one that is shared by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson), who speaks for some of the Liberal Party some of the time. The right hon. Gentleman's view was that all Bills ought to be guillotined from Second Reading.

Let us consider this for a moment. The Lord President would do well to consider it, too. It is the type of view towards which he may have become more attracted as time has gone on, if I have correctly detected the progress in his views towards Parliament over the past few years. If I remember rightly, it is about 330-odd years since the Monarch walked into this place and sat in Mr. Speaker's Chair—

Mr. Hooson

The hon. Member has seen too many films.

Mr. Tebbit

I suggest the hon. and learned Gentleman goes and looks at a copy of the official record.

Mr. Powell

I believe that the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) will find that the Monarch on that occasion sat on the dais on which the Speaker's chair stands but that he did not actually sit in the Speaker's Chair.

Mr. Tebbit

It is an erudite point, but let me add that the House eventually got the Monarch out. Of course, it replaced him by that very bad and evil man Cromwell, who behaved in a much worse way. I know that he is the Lord President's hero but if the Lord President will forgive my saying so, Cromwell behaved in a manner which showed a growing contempt towards the Parliament that he had once so much admired and which he had once defended.

Bit by bit over recent years the collective monarch has been coming back into this House, and the collective monarch now occupies some 100 or more seats on the Government side of the House. I think that when we consider the use of the guillotine we should remember just how powerful the modern collective monarch is in this House.

The House has given up much too much power, and one of the powers which the Opposition do not have to match that of the Government is the power of propaganda. The Government have a whole machinery of propaganda which they wheel out when they wish to make their case. The Opposition have very few places in which to make their case except here, and if the guillotine is to be used in the manner in which the Lord President is proposing to use it now, that power to argue the case here will be more and more abridged.

These Bills are a classic case of that. It is common ground, I think, between most of us now that during the debates on the Scotland and Wales Bill opinion was changed not only in this House but in the country as a whole. Had there been a truncated debate right from the word go—the Lord President's 28, 30 or perhaps 40 days—I doubt whether the change of opinion could have taken place. Fortunately, the Whips cannot make people outside this House change their opinions. Indeed, they cannot make people in this House change their opinions, although they can make them change their votes, unless the hon. Members concerned have the courage which that small minority of Labour Members have shown in these past few days.

The Lord President should remember, when he makes his case about this matter, that one day in this House the boot will be on the other foot—indeed, the "Foot" is going to be on the other Bench —and I imagine that he would not want the precedents which he is setting now to be used against him.

I understood the Lord President to be referring today to the Representation of the People Bill of 1931. It was, of course, to the No. 2 Bill that he was referring, and he might like to know what happened to that Bill. It had its Second Reading early in 1931. The guillotine motion was introduced on 3rd March 1931, and the Government got their guillotine. The Bill went through the Committee stage and it received its Third Reading, but then it suffered what I might most delicately describe as a trifling electoral accident in October 1931. Those who oppose the Bill that we are debating tonight can take some comfort, I think, from that precedent, and perhaps, even though the Government get their guillotine motion—

Mr. Foot

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will also withdraw and apologise for the slur which he cast on me earlier in the day. He suggested that I had referred improperly to the use of the guillotine in that Bill. I had not in fact done so.

Mr. Tebbit

I beg the Lord President's pardon on this matter. I am not quite sure what slur he meant. Earlier in the day I suggested that I could not find what I understood him to have referred to as the 1931 Act. But as for the way in which the guillotine was used on it, I made no comment, and I think that the Lord President will find that that is so. But I am happy if the precedent set in 1931 is followed right the way through to the end, including the events in October of that year.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)

Order. Before I call the next hon. Member in the debate, I remind the House that there are 25 minutes left before the winding-up speeches begin. A considerable number of hon. Members still desire to speak. It is in their own interests if they curtail their speeches to some extent in order to accommodate others.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. Roy Hughes (Newport)

I shall be very brief, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I have great respect for the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) but I was a little amazed by some of his opening remarks. He spoke of the Government muzzling Welsh Members, yet immense tolerance has been shown towards them. I do not know how much he has participated in these debates, but, far from the Government laying down the law on the issue, the request for a pledge in the manifesto came in the first place from Welsh Members.

Mr. Maude

Yes, I am sure that that is so of the pro-devolutionists, but I said that the Government were muzzling Labour Members who disapproved of the Bill, those who were likely to drag the proceedings out. I said that it was those Members rather than a fractious Opposition that the Government were trying to muzzle.

Mr. Hughes

The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. The Government acted on a manifesto promise based on a unanimous decision of Welsh Labour Members.

Mr. Maude


Mr. Hughes

This is factual. I can give the hon. Gentleman chapter and verse. It was done after endless discussion. I have repeated this argument many times and it has never been refuted.

On Monday there was a majority of 44 for the Second Reading of the Scotland Bill. Yesterday we had another convincing majority—33—for the Wales Bill.

Mr. Maude

Not so convincing.

Mr. Hughes

I agree that the guillotine must be used very sparingly, but I conclude that on this issue it has become necessary, particularly since, as I hope it will, when the legislation goes through we can go forward to the people of Scotland and Wales, who will then themselves be able to decide the issue. I am rather dubious about referendums in general, however, particularly after the one on the Common Market issue.

The guillotine motion on the Scotland Bill has gone through by the convincing majority of 26. The greatest gift to nationalism in Wales at this time would be to give this legislation to Scotland but deny it to Wales. I presume that the Conservative Opposition want to curtail nationalism in Wales as much as possible, but if they pursue the attitude that they seem to be taking, it will be a gift to and encourage nationalism in Wales.

Mr. Tebbit

I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman can give an opinion about what the passage of these Bills for Scotland and Wales will do to the people of England.

Mr. Hughes

I am speaking on a very limited guillotine motion. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's question is strictly relevant to our discussion, although I appreciate that he is quite an expert on Welsh affairs.

When we consider the time which has been allocated, I think that 11 days is quite generous. I am concerned as a Welsh Member to learn that Scotland is being given preference. However, we have to face reality. It is a different ball game altogether from that in Scotland.

Nevertheless, I feel that the provisions contained in the Wales Bill meet the needs of the people of Wales and that the Government are sincere in their endeavour to maintain the essential unity of the United Kingdom. In doing that they have my full support.

9.5 p.m.

Mr. Esmond Bulmer (Kidderminster)

I want briefly to return to the English dimension, because in my view it is one of the more important reasons for opposing this guillotine. I do not think that the timetable allows the English dimension to be explored properly, and I shall develop that theme later in my remarks.

Naturally, I have some reservation about entering what appears to be a Welsh debate. However, I am no stranger to Wales. When I get up in the morning, I look across to the Black Mountains and the Radnor Forest. The area can sometimes look bleak and inhospitable. In that it resembles the Government Benches—almost empty, peopled by a few sheep and some hardy souls who are prepared to go their own way.

On our side of the fence for centuries we fought to keep out the Welsh. Until the middle of the fifteenth century, a Welshman found in the city of Hereford was liable to summary execution. However, Owen Tudor changed all that, and his son was able to give away a bit of monastery land to seal the new accord. For hundreds of years now we have accepted the Welsh, and the Welsh settlement has stood. However, because we are such close neighbours, we on the English side understand some of the fragility of the situation that might be created by the Government's proposals, and we understand clearly the need for proper time to consider them.

The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) made another of the most important points. Our constitutional arrangements are very much in the melting pot. With direct elections to the European Parliament and, perhaps, reform of the House of Lords and different regional arrangements likely to be forthcoming, I cannot believe that this measure has the priority that the Government think it has.

If the Welsh Assembly were to be successful, the English regions would want to follow—and why not? They are just as entitled to the same benefits. I do not think that they would want regional offices of the NEB, but there is no doubt that they would want some of the more important powers. However, I do not think that anyone on the English side has the stomach for further reform of local government for the time being, although clearly there is a good case to be made for removing some of the duplication that exists currently between the counties and the districts.

On the other hand, if the Welsh Assembly were to fail, we should be in a very difficult position, and that is one of the most important reasons for ensuring that the Bill is examined properly. There are those on the Welsh side who wish to see Wales as a separate country and will do all that they can to exploit the differences.

The Government have presented to both Scotland and Wales measures which are food and drink to the nationalists in the sense that they can demand this, that, or the other, but do not have to intro- duce the taxation to pay for all their dreams. So we understand that there is the possibility of conflict and no one can say what may follow from that.

To the Welsh nationalists and the Leader of the House I would say that we on the English side of the fence have put up with a great deal on behalf of Wales for some time. I receive my telephone bill in Welsh—

Mr. D. E. Thomas (Merioneth)

It is not just in Welsh; it is in English too. It is bilingual.

Mr. Bulmer

But it is in Welsh, and to me that is double Dutch—not Dutch, but doubled, usually. Certainly when we in England look at the rate support grant in Wales we feel discriminated against. Anybody who has lived on the English side of the border has seen his rates go up dramatically while those on the Welsh side have not. In many other fields as well the Government's gravy train has gone to the Welsh side while we on the English side have seen nothing of it. The Leominster District Council looks across at Brecon and Radnor and feels that the system is weighted in favour of Wales.

Mr. Roderick

Would the hon. Member care to comment on water charges in this context?

Mr. Bulmer

On another occasion, perhaps. There is very real feeling among people in my constituency that the Welsh are getting an extremely good deal at the moment. If they are to be reminded of all the ills besetting them, such as lack of jobs and inflation caused by this Labour Government, they will remember, too, that Labour Governments are always returned by the Scots and the Welsh. No wonder they are not happy to be reminded of the over-representation of the Scots and Welsh.

I warn the Government and the Welsh nationalists not to try the English too hard. They should all understand the English dimension. If the Lord President will not give time to debate the issue properly, no doubt it will be debated more fully in another place. No doubt the Lord President will then wish to go to his constituents and remind them of how the Dukes of Omnium, Gatherum and Dorset have combined to frustrate the will of the Welsh people. No doubt he will enjoy fighting an election discussing any issue other than the one before the House, and he will call for a different set of constitutional arrangements.

I feel that the English dimension has not been explored. Many on the English side of the fence have watched with great concern as this measure has come before the House. They feel that the Welsh people are being taken down a dark stairway by the Leader of the House, without him or us fully understanding where it may lead.

9.13 p.m.

Mr. Leo Abse (Pontypool)

The hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) made the position clear in his rather tetchy contribution this evening. He said that he was not sure whether the people of Wales wanted devolution and that uncertainty existed because of things that had been said on television. These, he made clear, were misleading the people of Wales. That is why, we understand, we are being presented with a guillotine motion tonight—because it is the Government's intention that the Bill shall go through. Although the intention should be that the Welsh people should understand the measure, we are to be gagged. Nevertheless, the opinions we express will find such resonance in Wales that we shall have a situation in which the Welsh people will understand more and more what the issue is about. All this will come about because we have had the opportunity and the time to debate the issues inside the House.

I am not surprised that, fearing the consequences of open debate, and the sanctions of the Bill being properly scrutinised, the Government now insist that we should have a truncated debate —one that is so contained—that it is not possible for every individual issue to be ventilated in a way to ensure that it will be understood and will be in the best interests of the people of Wales.

We are, in effect, debating whether Wales should have the right to understand what is going on and to assess the situation. So fearful are the Government that the people of Wales may understand the situation that Ministers do not even wish to see what criticisms will in due course appear on the Amendment Paper. They are immediately plunging in in an endeavour to contain the situation, because they know that information and understanding will lead to a complete rejection of the Bill by the Welsh people.

No Bill becomes an Act until it has passed through many stages, and no parliamentarian worthy of the name ever believes at any stage that it is impossible to defeat a Bill. Therefore, I say to those many people inside the Labour Party in Wales who have written to me in such encouraging tones from the ends of the Principality, and also to those in the many constituencies of Wales who in the interests of Wales are thoroughly opposed to the Bill, that the Bill will continue to be opposed at each stage so that the people of Wales will be able to see how inimical, retrograde and contrary it is to the needs of Wales.

My right hon. Friend the Lord President said that there was ample time for consideration of the Bill, although he does not yet know which issues are likely to be raised when we proceed. It may be that the eventual issue will be decided as a result of the referendum which we have wrested from the Government—a referendum given reluctantly, under pressure, and because there was sufficient will in the House to achieve it. That referendum, if reached, will contain a question. The people of Wales, whether they live in Ebbw Vale or Pontypool, will want to understand the issue, and the test of the Government's sincerity lies in their readiness genuinely to go into these matters in Committee. That will depend above everything else on the issue of the referendum.

Will the Lord President explain why there should be any preamble to the question? Is it seriously believed that sophisticated, politically mature people such as the Welsh will not know the issue at stake when they vote? Do the Government believe that a long preamble is required before the people of Wales can answer the question? Let the question be put without any attempt being made to deceive. If it goes forward in this form, the people of Wales will be right to believe that there are those who fear debate, because that is being demonstrated by the guillotine motion. Those who fear debate are endeavouring to get their way by cheating. The public will have a right to believe that that is the case. Not only do the Government want to smother the issues, but they do not even want the particular issue to be put squarely to the people of Wales for their own decision.

The hon. Member for Dudley, West (Dr. Phipps) said that this was a triumph for the Executive because 13 Labour Members had been persuaded to go into the Lobbies against their will. As a consequence, further discussion will be gagged. That was his view and he explained and illustrated it through his contact with Wales. The Whips had greater wisdom than to approach me, and I certainly did not have the whisky that my hon. Friend enjoyed.

This is not a triumph for the Executive but, in a sense, a defeat for Parliament because, of course, cynicism spreads abroad when hon. Members who hold and express one view act in another way. If hon. Members are reduced to being Lobby fodder, that does not raise outside opinion of this House. Therefore what has happened today and the fact that it is likely to happen again means that if the Bill goes forward not only the sovereignty of Parliament but also the status of individual hon. Members and the collective status of the House will be undermined.

This is a sad occasion for me, as, indeed, it is for many of my hon. Friends who share my view. Wales can be certain that we shall fight and that if it comes to a referendum we shall continue to fight. We have confidence that we shall have a response from the people of Wales who know that this is an ill-thought-out Bill that is a complete capitulation to the most regressive Chauvinism and a step backwards into the nineteenth century. In some respects, as we have heard, there have been racial overtones in this debate that go back to even more primitive tribalism. We shall continue to fight, and, in the end Wales will make up its mind and repudiate the Bill—or the Act, if it is passed.

9.22 p.m.

Mr. A. P. Costain (Folkestone and Hythe)

Whatever his view, no one can deny that the guillotine makes it much easier for the Government to put a Bill through. I therefore found an extraordinary logic in the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson). He admitted that the Bill was unsatisfactory, but he went on to say that he would vote for the guillotine. Anyone of experience can appreciate that with the guillotine the Government have the power to reject any amendments and there is no way the Opposition can force the Government to accept proposals.

The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Roderick) made accusations against my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner). I do not know whether he advised my hon. Friend that he was going to make those statements.

I have no recollection of having been approached by any hon. Member and asked to keep the debate going. I can assure the House that I tried to speak yesterday and was unsuccessful.

One of the most important features of the Committee stage is that there will be a referendum to follow. I found it quite extraordinary that hon. Members who have been in the House for a great number of years were able to stand up and say that they could not make up their minds and that we should therefore have a referendum to let other people make them up for us. However, if we are to have a referendum we must be sure that the facts are placed before those who will vote. The only opportunity that we should have for putting the facts across in the House would be in Committee where hon. Members campaigning one way or the other can put the evidence before the electors.

I wonder why during the whole of the debate nobody has referred to what will happen in the referendum. We all know the power that the Government have in a referendum. They have the power of propaganda. Will the Leader of the House assure us that there will be equal opportunities and expenses allowed in the referendum for both sides? Otherwise it will be an unfair debate. I shall conclude now because I have been informed that the winding-up speeches are due to start at 9.25 p.m.

9.25 p.m.

Mr. Wyn Roberts (Conway)

Whether the Government like it or not, they are making history because, as far as I am aware, never before in the history of Parliament has there been a Second Reading of a constitutional Bill followed by a timetable motion on the same Bill within 24 hours. I have scoured the past for precedents but can find none.

The Lord President once described the guillotine as the last resort of a Government. In the case of the Wales Bill, it is the first resort of the Government. No time has yet been spent on the Bill in Committee.

The Government dare not open the Bill to argument. They are running away from the argument because they cannot win it. That is why they are introducing a guillotine so peremptorily and with such indecent haste. I do not know whether it is possible to bring the guillotine into worse disrepute than it is in already, but the Government are clearly doing their best to add to the odium that the House rightly feels for such motions, especially in relation to constitutional Bills.

I return to the Lord President's definition of a guillotine. He said: The guillotine is the last resort of a Government who know that they cannot get the full-hearted consent of Parliament but are determined to have their way in any case."— [Official Report, 2nd May 1972; Vol. 836, c. 235.] The motion before us meets that definition in every particular, as the Lord President knows. There is no full-hearted consent for the Bill and the Government are determined to have their way. The Lord President has made clear that what he wants is "My Bill, right or wrong". He does not have to have it. The life of the Government is not at stake and there is no overwhelming demand for the Bill in Wales or the country at large.

Some of the consents and abstentions declared on Second Reading were backed by speeches that revealed nothing but contempt for the Bill. I hope that, for the future peace of their political consciences, those hon. Members, despite the heavy pressures put upon them from within the House and outside, will find their way clear to vote against this motion whatever they may have done on Second Reading. I need hardly remind them that their criticisms have extensive public support in Wales. The last indication that I have had of feeling in Wales is a poll taken as late as March this year that made clear that 53 per cent. of the people interviewed were against the Government's proposals.

The guillotine is the last resort of the Government, but it is also the last resort of hon. Members who oppose the Bill. It is a two-edged guillotine and I hope that hon. Members who are opposed to the contents of the Bill will use their edge of the guillotine. Bearing in mind that if the Bill goes through there will be a referendum. I am surprised that the Government have resorted to a guillotine so quickly. They will have to explain why they have to stifle discussion on the Bill in this place. I hope that the Lord President is not offended by that expression and that he finds it preferable to the word "gagged", to which he referred this afternoon.

The Government will have to explain to the people of Wales why they have to decapitate the opposition with the guillotine when so much of the opposition came from their own Back Benches. I can foresee some embarrassing moments on public platforms. The Government probably think that the public will not understand our procedures and curious jargon, but they cannot fail to understand that the guillotine procedure is alien to the spirit of free discussion and with the words on the ballot paper with which the electorate will be faced and to which reference has been made by the hon. Members for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) and Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock), which are supposed to be the outcome of our parliamentary discussions. In fact, they will be the outcome of a rough parliamentary deal.

The voters will be suspicious of what they are being asked to approve, and rightly so. However, it will never come to that if those who have a genuine distrust of the Bill as it stands have the courage of their convictions and fulfil their duty to ensure that the Wales Bill is acceptable to them before the electorate is asked whether it wants the Bill's provisions to be put into effect. I know that it is easier said than done, but the fact that the Bill provides for a referendum does not absolve Members from the duty to ensure that its provisions are as acceptable as they can make them. Most of us are agreed that it would be a betrayal of public trust to think otherwise.

I believe that it would be a betrayal of trust, too, wilfully to allow the Government to deprive the House of the time that it requires to make the Bill acceptable in every respect. The right hon.

Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) was right to describe the curtailment of debate even before it has begun as the death of this institution.

As we heard on Second Reading, the Government have made major changes in the Bill since it was first presented as part of the Scotland and Wales Bill. As the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Evans) said on Monday, the changes would not have been made had it not been for the debates that we had earlier this year. That is where the arguments of the Leader of the Liberal Party, the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) fell down. The Liberals voted against the guillotine in February and propose—with certain exceptions I understand—to vote for it tonight on the ground that changes have been made in the Bill's provisions. How do they know that more changes might not be made with free debate, changes that are in accord with Liberal wishes? They seem to be giving up the fight too easily.

There is still a great deal of dissatisfaction with the Bill and the principles behind it. I am bound to say that last night I thought that the Lord President was making a little headway in explaining these principles to us in answering the West Lothian question, or at least reconciling the House to the impossibility of solving the conundrum. However, the right hon. Gentleman needs more time than he has allowed himself in the timetable motion. Why is he in such a hurry? It is because he still believes, as he did on 22nd February, that it would be dangerous—that is his word and not mine—to delay the passage of the Wales Bill until it has been fully considered by the House. Is he genuinely fearful of the reaction in Wales if the motion is defeated? I cannot believe it. Thousands of people in Wales would be relieved if it were defeated.

The right hon. Gentleman's basic defence is that he has been generous in his allocation of time. The Bill, which has 84 clauses and 12 schedules, is to be disposed of in 11 days. The Scotland Bill, with 83 clauses and 17 schedules, is to have 17 days. Why this difference when the Bills are nearly the same length? The Scotland Bill has 89 pages and the Welsh Bill 85. Does that four-page difference warrant an extra six days for the Scotland Bill?

The Minister of State's explanation, as supplemented by the Lord President, was not very satisfactory. To anticipate that discussion of underlying principles will have taken place on the Scotland Bill and that further discussion will be unnecessary when it comes to the Wales Bill is presumptuous, to say the least. I do not think that any Welsh hon. Members, be they for or against the Bill or for or against the motion, can approve of this difference in the allocation of time between the two Bills.

The total allocation of time for the two separate Bills is less than we should have had for the Scotland and Wales Bill had the timetable motion for that Bill been carried. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman is not being as generous as he would have us believe. I suppose that he must show the House that rebellion against the Government's will does not pay. Presumably that is why we are having less time this time round.

The Lord President has a great reputation as a parliamentarian. Tribute has been paid to it, but it has been tarnished in his latter days. He has fought too often on both sides when great principles have been at stake. The very word "parliamentarian" is taking on a somewhat sinister meaning the longer the right hon. Gentleman bears the title.

This timetable motion is unprecedented in that it was placed before the House within hours of the Second Reading of a constitutional Bill, a Bill that affects the future of the people of Wales and the unity of the United Kingdom. To say that it does not affect that unity is a matter of opinion, as I think even the Lord President appeared to be conceding this afternoon. It is not a matter of fact.

The motion is also unprecedented in that it relates to a Bill which depends upon a referendum for its provisions to be put into effect. To curtail discussion of the Bill in those circumstances is a dereliction of duty if not a betrayal by the Government of the public's trust in Parliament.

I urge not only my right hon. and hon. Friends but hon. Members in all parts of the House who dislike the Bill and its contents and who distrust the Government's method of proceeding utterly to reject the motion.

9.39 p.m.

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

The hon. Member for Stratford-upon-Avon (Mr. Maude), who spoke first from the Opposition Front Bench, spoke in somewhat peculiar terms, particularly in the opening of a debate on a timetable motion. The hon. Gentleman's wish will not be satisfied. He made a singular attack upon us in making his objections to the motion. The hon. Gentleman said that he was not questioning the time that the Government were making available. My guess is that this must be the first timetable motion in history proposed by any Government to be greeted with such a blistering attack as that by the Opposition—and yet it must be the first timetable motion in history not to be criticised on the ground of time by the spokesman for the official Opposition.

Mr. Maude

I did not say that I was not questioning the total allocation of time I said that we would wait for the Business Committee to see how the time allocated would work out.

Mr. Foot

That is a pretty mild attack, too. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the sense of co-operation with which he will approach the Business Committee. I am sure that we shall make speedy progress. I assure him that we shall do everything in our power to meet the representations that he and others will no doubt make when we have the Business Committee.

I should like to reply at once to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) on the subject of the referendum and the proposed preamble to the referendum which is included in the Bill. I should have thought that, from what I said yesterday and when we had fuller debates on the subject in the last Session, Members on both sides, whatever criticisms they might have of the rest of the Bill—I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool is irreconcilable on that subject—would agree that I have gone out of my way to insist that, as a House of Commons, we should do our best to try to ensure that we get the question or questions in the referendum presented in as fair a way as possible to as large a number of Members as possible. I did not say that we should be able to get unanimity. I thought that that might be somewhat ambitious. But it is my aim and that of the Government to have the question or questions framed and presented in a manner which is regarded as fair by all shades of opinion. I include my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool in those various shades of opinion.

Inevitably, difficulties must arise in any referendum. I agree that we must seek to mitigate those difficulties by getting as widespread an acceptance as possible that the question or questions and the preamble are fair. If there are criticisms of the preamble, we are prepared to look at it afresh to see whether we can overcome them.

In the face of that assurance, which I give again now, although I have given it on previous occasions, I think that it is wrong for my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool to suggest that there is any intention whatsoever on my part or on the Government's part to cheat the people of Wales. We want the question or questions to be put to them in as fair a way as possible. I repudiate any suggestion of cheating. Indeed, in my opinion, the way to cheat the people of Wales would be for the Labour Party to abandon the undertakings that it has given over the years. I shall come back to that point a little later.

Mr. Tebbit


Mr. Foot

The hon. Gentleman has already displayed such a lapse in his historical researches that he must not complain if I refer to some of these previous events.

I think that I should try to reply to the appeal made by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). Even though he made it in the previous debate, it is still apposite to the debate on this second motion. The right hon. Gentleman recalled some of the debates in this House during the passage, or non-passage, of the Parliament (No. 2) Bill in the 1968 Parliament. It is true, as he said, that it was the debates in Committee which killed that Bill. The right hon. Gentleman, recalling those occasions, emphasised that pretty well everybody now would agree how wise it was that that Bill was consigned to oblivion, and asked whether we could revive those happy days and events and apply them to this Bill.

Of course, there are many serious distinctions between those events and the events here today. The right hon. Member for Down, South argues that he wants another three, four or 10 days in which we might renew the open-ended debate that we had on the Scotland and Wales Bill in the last Session. He is hopeful that if that happened the Bill would be killed. I understand his desire, but there is a sharp distinction in my judgment, and in that of the Labour Party, between then and now.

The right hon. Gentleman never minds an hon. Member referring to his party associations. He knows how deep those associations must be. Certainly from the Labour Party's point of view there is a sharp distinction between the measure presented by the Labour Party on so-called House of Lords reform and this measure. That sharp distinction is that the measure for devolution for both Scotland and Wales figured prominently in the manifesto of our party. The measures were firmly part of the programme which we presented to the electorate. If that had not been the case they would never have been presented in this form to the House.

That did not happen about House of Lords reform. That proposal never figured in any manifesto. If anything, it was contrary to the policy of the Labour Party. At that time our policy was the abolition of the House of Lords. I am happy to say that that policy has been restored into our programme. Perhaps that proposition is even more topical than we suppose.

I am not seeking to pin a charge on the right hon. Gentleman in this respect. He would never suggest invoking the power of the House of Lords but there are others who might, such as the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Bulmer), who echoed the sentiments of the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym). He suggested that if we were to have a timetable in this House the powers of the House of Lords might have to be invoked to remedy some of the deficiencies that might arise from the legislation.

The right hon. Gentleman should be more careful about such matters because he was part of the conspiracy—not to use too tame a word—whereby the House of Lords' powers were not invoked to revise two major Bills which he helped to shepherd through the House. In the case of the Industrial Relations Act 1971 the power of the House of Lords was not invoked to ensure that there was proper revision. The European Communities Act went through the Lords without a single comma being changed.

I say to the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire that all those leaders of the Conservative Party who engaged in that operation between 1971 and 1974 have certainly forfeited any claim to say that they have a right to call upon the other place to revise these measures. In the case where there was a true claim for revision they made no efforts to ensure that anything of the sort happened. They did worse. They made every effort they could to ensure that no revision whatsoever should take place.

I say to the right hon. Gentleman that we here in this House must settle these questions. We have a right to settle them and we believe that it is necessary not only to have a right to debate them but to have the right to settle them in this House. We have to combine in this democratic Assembly, if it is to be effective, the right to argue with the power to decide, and we must do these two things together. If we were to say that we shall insist upon the one and abandon the other we would be undermining the true democratic strength of this House.

Mr. Pym

The right hon. Gentleman has reserved unto himself the right to choose which measures the other place should and should not revise. He has criticised it for revising some measures and is denying it the right to revise the measures that may come through this House under the guillotine. It is wrong for him to do that. That is not the way in which he should exercise his parliamentary responsibilities.

Mr. Foot

The Opposition had better be careful about how they use their powers here in association with their colleagues in another place. They should take care in those circumstances about trying to interfere with the decisions of this House, especially when the measures going through This House concern the democratic rights of the British people as a whole.

Mr. Pym

The Leader of the House last week sought to accuse me quite falsely of threatening the use of the House of Lords. Is he not now positively threatening the House of Lords himself?

Mr. Foot

Everybody will be able to see, when the General Election comes, what my party proposes for dealing with the House of Lords. Our proposals will be in the open manifesto just as we proposed the Bills now before us in the manifesto. Our proposals will be there for people to see and for people to argue about. But what is not available for the House and the country to see is the arrangement between the official Conservative Front Bench and the Conservative majority in the House of Lords which goes silent when there are Conservative Administrations, but which invokes its power when a Labour Government comes into office.

Nothing could be more dangerous than for the Conservative Party to try to invoke again those powers of the House of Lords, particularly to deal with a measure which is strengthening democratic rights in Scotland and Wales.

Mr. Pym

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that the contents of his party's manifesto are more important than Parliament? Does he think it right to threaten his hon. Friends with the warning that if a proposal is in the manifesto they must support it and Parliament can go to blazes? That is not the attitude that should be adopted by a parliamentarian such as the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Foot

I did not say anything of the sort. [HON. MEMBERS: "You implied it."] What I certainly implied, and what I underline and repeat, is that when undertakings and obligations have been entered into by a great political party to the people of the country on major questions of constitutional change, when those proposals have been put in the manifesto, it is that party's business to carry them through both this House and the other place.

If the other place, which is not elected by anybody, were to say after we had passed the Bill that it would not accept it because it intended backing the attitude of the Conservative Opposition in the Commons, a highly dangerous constitutional position would be created. I hope that the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, who was the first to issue threats in connection with this matter, will, in the course of the lengthy discussions that we shall have on this Bill in Committee, withdraw what he said a week or two ago.

Mr. Tebbit

The right hon. Gentleman was rather keen on pointing out that the Treaty of Accession had not been amended in any way by the House of Lords. Is he still intent, as he was in those days, on amending the treaty?

Mr. Foot

The hon. Gentleman has got his history wrong again. It was not the Treaty of Accession but the European Communities Act. As I have said before in the House, I believe that it may well be that the only way in which this House can restore the proper control over its affairs that it should have is to seek some amendment of that measure. I have always held that view. I have stated it in the House. It is because I have argued that and held that view that I shall certainly not take instruction from Opposition Members, least of all the hon. Member for Chingford, on the question how we are to retain supremacy in the House of Commons.

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)


Mr. Foot

I must continue, because the debate will be ending in a few minutes.

Let me say to the right hon. Member for Down, South that in the debate that we had yesterday I was hoping to quote from the masterly book that he has produced on the subject of Joseph Chamberlain. I certainly commend it to every hon. Member who is concerned with the issues that we shall be debating all through our lengthy Committee stage, because the right hon. Gentleman discusses in great detail in that book the whole question of federalism and the whole question how we may seek to overcome many of the problems and difficulties that we have been discussing in these debates. However, I take a much more optimistic view of these matters than does the right hon. Gentleman, or than did his hero—not that I think that he holds his hero aloft to the end of the book —because at the same time as those discussions were going through, an even greater man than Joseph Chamberlain said, To maintain the supremacy of the Crown…and all the authority of Parliament necessary for the conservation of that unity, is the first duty of every representative of the people. Subject to this governing principle, every grant to portions of the country of enlarged powers for the management of their own affairs is, in my view, not a source of danger, but a means of averting it, and is in the nature of a new guarantee for increased cohesion, happiness and strength. It is in that sense that we introduce these devolution measures. Those were the words of Gladstone then. If they had been heeded, many of the tragedies that occurred could have been averted. I hope that the House of Commons will not make the same mistake about Scotland and Wales as it made about Ireland generations ago. I certainly hope to ensure that the House of Lords will not play the tragically disastrous part that it played on that occasion.

9.58 p.m.

Mr. David Price (Eastleigh)

The Leader of the House cannot get away with that quotation in relation to the two Bills that we have been discussing today. For the Wales Bill, there is no comparability—and the right hon. Gentleman knows it—between what Mr. Gladstone brought forward in his two Government of Ireland Bills and what is being brought forward in the Scotland Bill and the Wales Bill, the guillotine of the latter of which we are now discussing. Surely the right hon. Gentleman is a better historian than to try that on the House. I explained to the House on Monday that the basic question was that of devolving taxing powers from this House. That was the guts of what Mr. Gladstone was putting forward.

It is no good the Government Deputy Chief Whip making faces at me. Having caught Mr. Speaker's eye, I am entitled to speak. It is no good him waving his hand at me.

At an earlier stage today, the Leader of the House took up my motion on the Order Paper criticising the Leader of the House for not giving enough time for Second Reading. The Leader of the House will regret that he has not given enough time for Second Reading on either of the two Bills. The reason why the Government find it necessary to bring forward a guillotine motion on the Scotland Bill and now on the Wales Bill, after only one day's debate on Second Reading—

Mr. Walter Harrison (Treasurer of Her Majesty's Household)


Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker


It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Ordered, That the motion relating to the Wales Bill (Allocation of Time) may be proceeded with at this day's sitting, though opposed, until any hour.—[Mr. Walter Harrison.]

Question again proposed,

Mr. Price

The Leader of the House comes to the Dispatch Box as Leader of the whole House and not just of the Cabinet. Nowadays he puts on his London Palladium performances and not the great parliamentary performances which we used to see when he was sitting on the Bench below the Gangway.

He referred to guillotines earlier today and named some of the great names of the French Revolution. I see Robespierre in the right hon. Gentleman. From being the great tribune of the people, standing for the liberties of all, he is now stifling free expression in this House. Does he take pleasure in a situation when his hon. Friends behind him speak against Bills and then vote for them? That is something he ought to consider. We are not yet fit to handle our own affairs as Members of this House and ought not to consider devolving power until we run those affairs rather better.

The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) has made some trenchant comments during these past two or three days of debate. When I addressed the House on Monday I said that we must consider reforming our own procedures and getting our local government right before we proceeded with guillotine measures on spurious devolution legislation. I believe that that is the general will of the House, although it is not being expressed in the vote.

This is a serious matter. The Government should have given rather longer on Second Reading for the two devolution Bills—and the right hon. Gentleman knows by my name that I have a little claim to speak on Welsh matters although I sit for an English seat. One thing is clear. It is that the people of Wales, when the time comes, will not thank the right hon. Gentleman for forcing this

Division No. 10] AYES [10.03 p.m.
Allaun, Frank de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Hunter, Adam
Anderson, Donald Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Dempsey, James Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)
Armstrong, Ernest Doig, Peter Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)
Ashley, Jack Dormand, J. D. Janner, Greville
Ashton, Joe Douglas-Mann, Bruce Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Duffy, A. E. P. Jeger, Mrs Lena
Atkinson, Norman Dunn, James A. Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Dunnett, Jack John, Brynmor
Bain, Mrs. Margaret Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Johnson, James (Hull West)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Eadie, Alex Johnson, Walter (Derby S)
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Edge, Geoff Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Bates, Alf Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Jones, Alec (Rhondda)
Bean, R. E. Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Beith, A. J. Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood English, Michael Judd, Frank
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Ennals, Rt Hon David Kaufman, Gerald
Bidwell, Sydney Evans,Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Kelley, Richard
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Evans, loan (Aberdare) Kerr, Russell
Blenkinsop, Arthur Evans, John (Newton) Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Boardman, H. Ewing. Harry (Stirling) Kinnock, Neil
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray) Lambie. David
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Faulds, Andrew Lamborn, Harry
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Lamond, James
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Latham, Arthur (Paddington)
Bradley, Tom Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W) Lee, John
Bray, Dr Jeremy Flannery, Martin Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)
Broughton, Sir Alfred Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lever, Rt Hon Harold
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Foot, Rt Hon Michael Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Ford, Ben Lipton, Marcus
Buchan, Norman Forrester, John Litterick, Tom
Buchanan, Richard Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Loyden, Eddie
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Luard, Evan
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Lyon, Alexander (York)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Freud, Clement Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
Campbell, lan Garrett, John (Norwich S) McCartney, Hugh
Canavan, Dennis George, Bruce MacCormick, lain
Cant, R. B. Gilbert, Dr John McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Carmichael, Neil Ginsburg, David McElhone, Frank
Carter, Ray Golding, John MacFarquhar, Roderick
Carter-Jones, Lewis Gould, Bryan McGuire, Michael (Ince)
Cartwright, John Gourlay, Harry MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Graham, Ted Mackintosh, John P.
Clemitson, Ivor Grant, John (Isington C) Maclennan, Robert
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Grimond, Rt Hon J. McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)
Cohen, Stanley Grocott, Bruce McNamara, Kevin
Coleman, Donald Hardy, Peter Madden, Max
Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Magee, Bryan
Concannon, J. D. Hart, Rt Hon Judith Maguire, Frank (Fermanagh)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Mahon, Simon
Corbett, Robin Hatton, Frank Mallalieu, J. P W.
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Hayman, Mrs Helene Marks, Kenneth
Craigen, Jim (Maryhill) Healey, Rt Hon Denis Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Crawford, Douglas Heffer, Eric S. Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Crawshaw, Richard Henderson, Douglas Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Cronin, John Hooley, Frank Maynard, Miss Joan
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Hooson, Emlyn Meacher, Michael
Cryer, Bob Horam, John Mellish, Rt Hon Robert
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Mikardo, Ian
Davidson, Arthur Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli) Huckfield, Les Mitchell, Austin
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Hughes, Mark (Durham) Molloy, William
Deakins, Eric Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)

centrating on the detail when the principle is not yet established.

It being three hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, Mr. Speaker proceeded to put the Question necessary to dispose of them pursuant to Standing Order No. 44 (Allocation of time to Bills).

Question put: —

The House divided: Ayes 314, measure through the House and con- Noes 287.

Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Tomlinson, John
Moyle, Roland Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock) Tomney, Frank
Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Rowlands, Ted Torney, Tom
Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Sandelson, Neville Tuck, Raphael
Newens, Stanley Sedgemore, Brian Urwin, T. W.
Noble, Mike Selby, Harry Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Oakes, Gordon Sever, J. Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Ogden, Eric Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
O'Halloran, Michael Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Orbach, Maurice Shore, Ht Hon Peter Ward, Michael
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford) Watkins, David
Ovenden, John Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich) Watkinson, John
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Sillars, James Watt, Hamish
Padley, Walter Silverman, Julius Weetch, Ken
Palmer, Arthur Skinner, Dennis Weitzman, David
Pardoe, John Small, William Wellbeloved, James
Park, George Smith, Cyril (Rochdale) Welsh, Andrew
Parker, John Smith, John (N Lanarkshire) White, Frank R. (Bury)
Parry, Robert Snape, Peter White, James (Pollok)
Pavitt, Laurie Spriggs, Leslie Whitehead, Phillip
Pendry, Tom Stallard, A. W. Whitlock, William
Penhaligon, David Steel, Rt Hon David Wigley, Dafydd
Perry, Ernest Stewart, Rt Hon Donald Willey, Rt Hon Frederic-
Prescott, John Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Price, C. (Lewisham W) Stoddart, David Williams, Alan Bee (Hornch'ch)
Price, William (Rugby) Stott, Roger Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Radice, Giles Strang, Gavin Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S) Strauss, Rt Hon G. R. Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Reid, George Summerskill, Hon Or Shirley Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Richardson, Miss Jo Swain, Thomas Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W) Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Robertson. John (Paisley) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) Woodall, Alec
Robinson, Geoffrey Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E) Woof, Robert
Roderick, Caerwyn Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Rodgers, George (Chorloy) Thompson, George Young, David (Bolton E)
Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton) Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Rooker, J. W. Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Roper, John Tierney, Sydney Mr. James Hamilton and
Rose, Paul B. Tinn, James Mr. Joseph Harper.
Abse, Leo Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St)
Adley, Robert Clark, William (Croydon S) Fry, Peter
Aitken, Jonathan Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Galbraith, Hon T. G. D.
Alison, Michael Clegg, Walter Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Cockroft, John Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)
Arnold, Tom Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Cope, John Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)
Awdry, Daniel Cormack, Patrick Glyn, Dr Alan
Baker, Kenneth Corrie, John Godber, Rt Hon Joseph
Banks, Robert Costain, A. P. Goodhart, Philip
Bell, Ronald Critchley, Julian Goodhew, Victor
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Crouch, David Goodlad, Alastair
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Crowder, F. P. Gorst, John
Benyon, W. Cunningham, G. (Islington 3) Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)
Berry, Hon Anthony Dalyell, Tam Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)
Biffen, John Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutstord) Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)
Biggs-Davison, John Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Gray, Hamish
Blaker, Peter Dodsworth, Geoffrey Grieve, Percy
Body, Richard Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Griffiths, Eldon
Boscawen, Hon Rooert Drayson, Burnaby Grist, Ian
Bottomley, Peter du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Grylis, Michael
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Dunlop, John Hall, Sir John
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Durant, Tony Hall-Davis, A. G. F.
Bradford, Rev Robert Dykes, Hugh Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Braine, Sir Bernard Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Hampson, Dr Keith
Brittan, Leon Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Hannam, John
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Elliott, Sir William Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye)
Brooke, Peter Emery, Peter Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss
Brotherton, Michael Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Haselhurst, Alan
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Eyre, Reginald Hastings, Stephen
Bryan, Sir Paul Fairbairn, Nicholas Havers, Pt Hon Sir Michael
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Fairgrieve, Russell Hawkins, Paul
Buck, Antony Farr, John Hayhoe, Barney
Budgen, Nick Fell, Anthony Heseltine, Michael
Bulmer, Esmond Finsberg, Geoffrey Hicks, Robert
Burden, F. A. Fisher, Sir Nigel Higgins, Terrence L.
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Hodgson, Robin
Carlisle, Mark Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Holland, Philip
Carson, John Fookes, Miss Janet Hordern, Peter
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Forman, Nigel Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Channon, Paul Fowler, Norman (Sutton C' f' d) Howell, David (Guildford)
Churchill, W. S. Fox, Marcus Howell, Ralph(North Norfolk)
Hunt, David (Wirral) Moate, Roger Scott-Hookins, James
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Molyneaux, James Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Hurd, Douglas Monro, Hector Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Hutchison, Michael Clark Montgomery, Fergus Shelton, William (Streatham)
Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Moore, John (Croydon C) Shepherd, Colin
James, David More, Jasper (Ludlow) Shersby, Michael
Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst' d&W' df' d) Morgan, Geraint Silvester, Fred
Jessel, Toby Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Sims. Roger
Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Sinclair, Sir George
Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Skeet, T. H. H.
Jopling, Michael Mudd, David Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Joseph, Rt Hon. Sir Keith Neave, Airey Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield)
Kaberry, Sir Donald Neubert, Michael Speed, Keith
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Newton, Tony Spence, John
Kershaw, Anthony Normanton, Tom Splcer, Jim (W Dorset)
Kimball, Marcus Nott, John Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Onslow, Cranley Sproat, lain
King, Tom (Bridgwater) Oppenheim, Mrs Sally Stainton, Keith
Knight, Mrs Jill Osborn, John Stanbrook, Ivor
Knox, David Page, John (Harrow West) Stanley, John
Lamont, Norman Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Langford-Holt, Sir John Page, Richard (Workington) Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Latham, Micnael (Melton) Paisley, Rev Ian Stokes, John
Lawrence, Ivan Parkinson, Cecil Stradling Thomas, J.
Lawson, Nigel Pattie, Geoffrey Tapsell, Peter
Leadbitter, Ted Percival, Ian Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Peyton, Rt Hon John Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Phipps, Dr Colin Tebbit, Norman
Lloyd, Ian Pink, R. Bonner Temple-Morris, Peter
Loveridge, John Powell, Rt Hon J Enoch Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Luce, Richard Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
McAdden, Sir Stephen Price, David (Eastleigh) Townsend, Cyril D.
McCrindle, Robert Prior, Rt Hon James Trotter, Neville
McCusker, H. Pym, Rt Hon Francis van Straubenzee, W. R.
Macfarlane, Neil Raison, Timothy Vaughan, Dr Gerard
MacGregor, John Rathbone, Tim Viggers, Peter
MacKay, Andrew (Stechford) Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter Wakeham, John
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Rees-Davies, W. R. Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts) Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Madel, David Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex) Wall, Patrick
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Rhodes James, R. Walters, Dennis
Marten, Neil Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Warren, Kenneth
Mates, Michael Ridley, Hon Nicholas Weatherill, Bernard
Mather, Carol Ridsdale, Julian Wells, John
Maude, Angus Rifkind, Malcolm Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Wiggin, Jerry
Mawby, Ray Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Winterton, Nicholas
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Ross, William (Londonderry) Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Mayhew, Patrick Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Host, Peter (SE Derbyshire) Younger, Hon George
Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Royle, Sir Anthony
Mills, Peter Sainsbury, Tim TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Miscampbell, Norman St. John-Stevas, Norman Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Scotf, Nicholas Mr. Michael Roberts.

Question accordingly agreed to.