HC Deb 23 November 1977 vol 939 cc1592-607

6. Each Assembly constituency shall be wholly comprised in one region or island area.

7. The number of Assembly members for each region or islands area shall be determined by the number of Assembly quotas to the next whole number above contained in the electorate of the region or islands area.

8. Where the number of Assembly members for a region or islands area is seven or fewer, that region or islands area shall be an Assembly constituency.

9. Where the number of Assembly members for a region or islands area is eight or more, that region or islands area shall be divided into two or more Assembly constituencies, provided that—

  1. (a) no such Assembly constituency shall have fewer than four members or more than eight members, and
  2. (b) as far as practicable each such Assembly constituency shall have five, six, or seven members, and
  3. (c) as far as practicable the ratio of Assembly members to electors shall be the same in each such Assembly constituency.

10. In dividing a region into Assembly constituencies, no district shall be included partly in one district and partly in another, except in so far as may be necessary to meet paragraph 9(a) above.

11. A Boundary Commission may depart from the strict application of paragraph 9 Or 10 of this Schedule—

  1. (a) if special geographical considerations, including in particular the size, shape and accessibility of an Assembly constituency, appear to them to render the departure reasonable; or
  2. (b) if, taking account, so far as they reasonably can, of the inconvenience resulting from alterations of Assembly constituencies, and of any local ties which would be broken by such alterations, a departure appears to them desirable.'.

No. 157, in page 40, leave out lines 30 to 36.

No. 158, in page 40, line 40, leave out from beginning to end of line 2 on page 41 and insert: assembly quota" means the number obtained by dividing the electorate by 145.'.

No. 159, page 41, leave out lines 14 to 25.

No. 228, New Schedule—Initial Constituencies and Members

Initial constituencies formed from existing Parliamentary constituencies: number of members to be returned:
Orkney 1
Shetland 1
Western Isles 2
Caithness and Sutherland 2
Ross and Cromarty 2
Inverness 3
Moray and Nairn 3
East Aberdeenshire 5
West Aberdeenshire
North Angus and Mearns 4
South Angus
Kinross and West Perthshire 4
Perth and East Perthshire
Central Fife 5
East Fife
Dunfermline 5
Greenock and Port Glasgow 6
West Renfrewshire
East Renfrewshire 5
Central Dunbartonshire 7
East Dunbartonshire
West Dunbartonshire
Bute and North Ayrshire 5
Central Ayrshire
Ayr 7
South Ayrshire
Midlothian 7
West Lothian
Berwick and East Lothian 5
Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles
Dumfries 5
Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire 8
Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth
West Stirlingshire
Argyll 2
Bothwell 7
Coatbridge and Airdrie
North Lanarkshire
Hamilton 6
Motherwell and Wishaw
East Kilbride 5
Aberdeen North 5
Aberdeen South
Dundee East 5
Dundee West
Edinburgh Central 7
Edinburgh Leith
Edinburgh North
Edinburgh West
Edinburgh East 7
Edinburgh Pentlands
Edinburgh South
Glasgow Garscadden 7
Glasgow Hillhead
Glasgow Kelvingrove
Glasgow Maryhill
Glasgow Provan 5
Glasgow Shettleston
Glasgow Springburn

Initial constituencies formed from existing Parliamentary constituencies: Number of members to be returned:
Glasgow Cathcart 4
Glasgow Central
Glasgow Queen's Park
Glasgow Govan 5
Glasgow Craigton
Glasgow Pollok
Mr. Pym

On a point of order, Mr. Murton. May I ask you, please, at the conclusion of the debate on this group of amendments, to call for a separate Division on Amendment No. 25?

The Chairman

In principle, yes.

Mr. George Cunningham

Further to the point of order, Mr. Murton. Will you enlighten us on the way this is to work? As I understand the position, somebody is about to move Amendment No. 19. Let us assume that the debate on that amendment proceeds until 7 p.m. Am I reading the guillotine motion wrongly in thinking that if that happens you will be required to put the Question on Amendment No. 19, which will by then have been moved, and that you will then be required, also by the terms of the guillotine, to put the Question on Clause 2 stand part, on Schedule 1, and on Clause 3 stand part, as being part of this group?

You have just indicated that in principle you are willing for Amendment No. 25 to have a separate vote, but if the discussion on Amendment No. 19 goes on until 7 p.m. no one will have moved Amendment No. 25, so how are you to have a separate vote?

The Chairman

I think I should make it clear to the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) that I used the words "in principle" advisedly, because we must see how we proceed. Everything else that the hon. Gentleman has said is absolutely correct, provided always that I have proposed the Question on Amendment No. 19 at the time of the guillotine.

Mr. George Cunningham

I am most grateful for that explanation. Since I have created this time, I should like to use 30 seconds of it so that we may be completely clear. Am I right in thinking that if anybody wants an amendment to be taken, it will be necesary to persuade everyone else to conclude the discussion on the previous amendments, or on the head amendment of the group, and get any voting on it through in time to allow it to be formally moved? I think the answer to that is "Yes".

My second question concerns the guillotine motion, which says that among the protected Questions which will go to a vote—whether they are among the group I have already mentioned or not—there is also to be included the Question on any amendment or motion standing on the Order Paper in the name of any hon. Member if that amendment or motion is moved by a member of the Government. Assuming that in this group there were an amendment—which there is not—in the Government's name, would the Question on that amendment have to be put even though the amendment had not been moved? It does not say that. It says: … if that amendment or Motion is moved …". Is that to be taken to mean moved after the guillotine?

The Chairman

Yes. It will have to be moved formally by a member of the Government.

Mr. Cunningham

After the guillotine time, not before?

The Chairman

After the guillotine time.

Mr. Cunningham

It is a funny way to express it, I must say.

The Chairman

The Chair will not comment on the way in which anything is expressed.

Mr. Sproat

I beg to move Amendment No. 19, in page 1, leave out lines 16 to 23, and insert 'The members of the Assembly shall be those Members of Parliament sitting for those constituencies in Scotland over which the Assembly is granted control'. I can perhaps paraphrase what is meant by the amendment. The idea is that Scottish Members of Parliament should meet in Edinburgh from time to time to discuss those matters affecting Scotland that are currently discussed in the Scottish Grand Committee upstairs. It is not my wish to press the amendment to a Division because I do not regard it as an ideal situation, but I believe that it is a situation that ought to be aired in the general context of the debate on devolution. I am sorry that only about 19 minutes are to be given to debate this important subject together with about a dozen perhaps more important amendments.

I believe that the matter ought to be aired because it is an idea that has been widely put forward in Scotland and in newspapers down south. The second reason for airing it is that the advantages are so striking by comparison with the disadvantages of the Scottish Assembly that the Bill seeks to set up. I accept that there are disadvantages in the idea of the Scottish Grand Committee sitting in Edinburgh from time to time, but they are as nothing compared to the idea of a permanent Scottish Assembly sitting in Edinburgh all the time.

Perhaps I should, at the outset, say what I think is the major disadvantage of the Scottish Grand Committee meeting in Edinburgh. It is worth making this point because it was made at different times by many people even before we became involved in this devolution debate. If Members of Parliament for Scottish seats are required, however infrequently, to sit in Edinburgh it will mean that, by definition, they will not at the same time be able to take part in the affairs of the House in London. I think that that ultimately would be a severe disadvantage, because if the sittings in Edinburgh were on Fridays, as some have suggested, or every fourth Monday, Scottish Members would not be able to be present at Question Time on Monday or at important debates on Friday afternoon—on Private Members' Bills, and so on. I am aware that the situation is far from ideal.

The situation is also far from ideal because there is a certain principle that should overlie all our debates on the way in which we govern the country and the way in which we make changes. We all believe that changes are necessary—administrative, legislative and constitutional—but such changes must affect all parts of the United Kingdom equally. That is the key principle, but the Bill affects Scotland in a different way from that in which it affects other parts of the United Kingdom. That is why it is a fundamentally objectionable Bill. The reasons for saying that were gone into yesterday by myself and many others.

The suggestion that Scotland should be treated differently by having a Scottish Grand Committee sitting in Edinburgh violates the principle to which I have referred, but it does so to a lesser degree. Even if we do not have a Scottish Grand Committee sitting in Edinburgh, Committees of the House should sit in the morning to deal with regional affairs. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher) and I were the only members of the Conservative Party who, some years ago, voted in favour of setting up regional committees. We did so because we thought that they would increase democracy, so long as that was done within the context and control of the House of Commons.

6.45 p.m.

By airing the advantages of this idea one can show the severe disadvantages of the Government's proposals. For example, one of the major disadvantages—and this will come out more and more in the referendum campaign, if he ever get to it—will be more government. This argument has been put forward endlessly in the House in previous debates, and rightly so, because the matter is so important. People in Scotland are fed up with more government and more bureaucracy, and more expenditure and more taxation to back it all up. I hear one of my hon. Friends add "and more inefficiency and more elections". The people of Scotland, and those living in other parts of the United Kingdom, object to all those increases. At least the Scottish Grand Committee sitting in Edinburgh would not let us in for any more of that. There would be no extra bureaucracy and expense, except perhaps for a few tickets. Generally, we would get rid of all the extras.

There are three serious problems, which nobody in the Committee has been able to overcome, and which the Bill elevates. There is the problem of Scottish Members voting on English matters, but English Members not being able to vote on Scottish matters. I shall not go into the endless ramifications of the West Lothian question, as it is called, but the tact that we go on raising this question proves that nobody has been able to demonstrate that there is an answer to it. The fact is that there is not an answer to it within the context of what the Government suggest. There is no way in which the question can be dealt with, but at least within the context of a Scottish Grand Committee sitting in Edinburgh that objection would not apply.

Another strong objection is that in a unitary State one cannot give a permanent advantage to one part of the United Kingdom without, at the same time, necessarily and correspondingly bringing about a disadvantage for other parts of the United Kingdom. It is impossible to avoid that in a unitary State, and the idea that we should give more help to Glasgow because it happens to be in Scotland, rather than helping Liverpool which happens to be in England, although the unemployment rate is higher there than it is in Glasgow, is wrong. I see the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) shaking his head. He shook it yesterday. He is wrong, and he should check the latest figures in the Library.

One could go through other examples, such as East Anglia having 5 per cent. less than the average wage paid in Scotland. It is totally unfair to distribute the benefits of the United Kingdom Treasury on the basis of geopraphy rather than on the basis of need. There is no way in which one can get round this under the Bill.

Mr. James Sillars (South Ayrshire)

Yesterday the hon. Gentleman was involved with the SNP on the question of London weighting and argued that it was distributed on the basis of need. Is he arguing that again this afternoon? I do not think anyone else would agree that London weighting is paid on the basis of need when one takes into account conditions in Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Dundee.

Mr. Sproat

The hon. Gentleman is wrong. It is paid on the basis of need, and it is on that basis that I support it. I hear someone say that it is paid on the basis of the cost of living. That is the answer. If the cost of living is as high in other parts of the United Kingdom as it is in London, people there should be paid the weighting allowance.

Mr. Sillars


Mr. Sproat

I shall not give way again, because the debate has to terminate in a few moments.

Those are just two of the irreducible conundrums that the Bill creates. They cannot be solved within the context of the Bill, but they could be solved in the context of a Scottish Grand Committee sitting in Edinburgh from time to time. I put this idea forward to be aired, to show up once again the fallacies, the stupidities and the anomalies that the Bill raises, and to demonstrate once again that they cannot be solved by setting up a separate Assembly in Scotland.

Mr. Brittan

I wish to speak to Amendment No. 25, which would have the effect of substantially reducing the number of Members of the Assembly, so that instead of the 150 Members proposed by the Government there would be a number equal to the number of Members of Parliament representing Scotland. I should add that if, as seems likely, there is no opportunity for me to move this amendment formally, I shall advise my right hon. and hon. Friends, in protest against that fact and the fact that many questions raised by the other amendments to Clause 2 cannot be debated, to vote against Clause 2 standing part of the Bill.

I turn now to the suggestion put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat) about the Scottish Grand Committee sitting in Edinburgh. That proposal has great attractions. It does not involve the sort of constitutional conflicts which are involved in the Government's proposals. It would mean a kind of directly-elected Assembly sitting in Edinburgh and would involve substantially less cost than the cumbersome proposals put forward by the Government. It would not involve subverting the rôle of Members representing Scottish constituencies, as the present proposals undoubtedly do.

As my hon. Friend very fairly pointed out, there are difficulties in establishing the Scottish Grand Committee as an alternative to the Assembly if it is meant to do the work which the Government seek to allot to an Assembly. In the first place there would be an enormous burden of work on the Members concerned by asking them to undertake that work as well as the normal duties of a Member of this House. Even more important, there are fundamental constitutional implications to the proposal. If Members of Parliament are to go to Edinburgh to sit as an Assembly they would obviously not be able to participate at the same time in the work of the House of Commons. That problem would not be solved by debating only English questions on days when Scottish Members were away in Edinburgh.

The whole concept of the United Kingdom is that Members of this House have the right to vote on all questions, therefore to have Scottish Members effectively disfranchised from voting on English matters would be fundamentally subversive to the United Kingdom, and all of us who believe in the unity of the United Kingdom would take very grave account of such disadvantages as those which this proposal would create. It would amount to the introduction of quasi-federalism by the back door, and as such it would not work.

It might be a different matter if the Parliament here were not sitting when the Assembly was sitting, but to expect this Parliament to impose upon itself a self-denying ordinance which would substantially reduce the amount of time that it was sitting, in order to leave time for Scottish Members to go to Edinburgh and debate the matters allotted to them, is perhaps unrealistic.

Nevertheless I suggest that my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South has done a great service to the House by raising this proposal, because he has underlined the potential of the Scottish Grand Committee as a means of providing scrutiny for the government of Scotland, which has not been adequately realised. It would be possible for the Scottish Grand Committee to have more meetings. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party said yesterday that Scottish Members do not have adequate time to question Ministers compared with the time available to English Members, because Scottish Question Time covers the whole range of subjects, whereas English—no, I mean United Kingdom—Ministers have separate Question Times for different subjects. One way of dealing with that problem would be to provide a Question Time in sittings of the Scottish Grand Committee. Also in terms of providing a focus for Scotland, if the proceedings of the Scottish Grand Committee were broadcast, that, too, could have an impact on the people of Scotland. Therefore, although I do not believe that the proposal put forward by my hon. Friend would enable a solution to be found to the problems resulting from the creation of an Assembly, his proposal highlights alternatives which would be worth considering.

Mr. Dalyell


Mr. Brittan

I must ask the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) to forbear. Because of the guillotine, which is not of his making, there are precisely five minutes left to consider the very important question of the number of Members that the Scottish Assembly should have. There is no rational basis for the Government's suggestion that there should be 150 Members. That merely amounts to an approximate doubling of the number of Members of Parliament representing Scottish constituencies. That is a greater number than almost any Assembly in the world which is not a national or federal Assembly.

Looking at the countries which provide a comparison and which have federal or confederal solutions, we see that in Australia, for example, where the individual constituent parts have powers at least as great as those proposed for the Scottish Assembly, New South Wales, with a population of 4,600,000, has an Assembly with a main chamber of 96 Members. Queensland has 82 Members, South Australia 47, Tasmania 35, Victoria 73, and West Australia 51.

In Canada, Alberta has 75 Members. British Columbia, with a population of 2 million, has 55 seats, Manitoba 57, New Brunswick 58, Newfoundland 42, Nova Scotia 46, and Ontario 117. That is less than the number that the Government have proposed for Scotland, yet Ontario has a population of 7,700,000. Saskatchewan has 60 Members and Quebec 108.

That answers the argument put forward by the Government, when this matter was last debated, that it was necessary to have an Assembly of substantial size, because otherwise we could not have an Executive, Back Bench supporters for the Executive, a Front Bench Opposition to the Executive and Back Bench supporters to the Opposition to the Executive. If it is possible to do all of that in the federal arrangements of Australia and Canada, it is certainly possible to do it in Scotland with an Assembly of far smaller size than that proposed by the Government.

The solution proposed in Amendment No. 25 would have other advantages. A considerable advantage would be that the Assembly would be smaller and less costly—and better for those reasons alone. In addition, it would mean that no further boundary review would be required to establish the limits of constituencies. Unlike the situation in the Government's proposals, there would be no multi-Member constituencies. We have heard in the last day or so about the tremendous advantages of having a close nexus between a Member of Parliament as an individual and his constituents. It would also be easier for links to exist between Members of Parliament and Members of the Assembly, because there would be a one-to-one ratio in which discussion of mutual matters would be much assisted. The Royal Commission suggested an Assembly of 100 Members. That lies somewhere between our proposal and what the Government have put into the Bill.

In the last debate the Government conceded that the figure of 150-odd was not magical and that it was not to be regarded as the last word. We remain of the view that a much smaller Assembly would be able to carry out the rôle allotted to the Scottish Assembly. If New South Wales, in a fully federal structure, can manage with 96 Members for a population of 4,600,000 and i[...] Queensland can manage with 82 Members for a population of 1,827,000 Scotland should be able to do the same

It being Seven o'clock, The CHAIRMAN proceeded pursuant to the Order [16th November] and the Resolution yesterday, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question, That the amendment be made, put and negatived.

The CHAIRMAN then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at Seven o'clock.

Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill:—

The House Divided: Ayes 208. Noes 180.

Division No. 16] AYES [7.00 p.m.
Allaun, Frank Foot, Rt Hon Michael Newens, Stanley
Anderson, Donald Forrester, John Noble, Mike
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Oakes, Gordon
Armstrong, Ernest Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Ogden, Eric
Ashton. Joe Freud, Clement Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) George, Bruce Pardoe, John
Atkinson, Norman Gilbert, Dr John Park, George
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Ginsburg, David Parker, John
Bain, Mrs. Margaret Golding, John Parry, Robert
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Gourlay, Harry Pavitt, Laurie
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Grimond, Rt Hon J. Penhaligon, David
Bates, Alf Grocott, Bruce Price, William (Rugby)
Beith, A. J. Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Hart, Rt Hon Judith Reid, George
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hatton, Frank Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Boardman, H. Hayman, Mrs Helene Robinson, Geoffrey
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Henderson, Douglas Roderick, Caerwyn
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Hooley, Frank Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Hooson, Emlyn Rooker, J. W.
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Horam, John Roper, John
Bradley, Tom Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Rose, Paul B.
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Hunter, Adam Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Ryman, John
Buchan, Norman Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Sever, J.
Buchanan, Richard Janner, Greville Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Sillars, James
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) John, Brynmor Silverman, Julius
Campbell, Ian Johnson, James (Hull West) Skinner, Dennis
Canavan, Dennis Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Small, William
Carmichael, Neil Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Jones, Barry (East Flint) Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Cartwright, John Kelley, Richard Snape, Peter
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Kerr, Russell Spriggs, Leslie
Clemitson, Ivor Kilfedder, James Stallard, A. W.
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Kilroy-Silk, Robert Steel, Rt Hon David
Coleman, Donald Lambie, David Stewart, Rt Hon Donald
Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Lamborn, Harry Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Lamond, James Stott, Roger
Corbett, Robin Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Strang, Gavin
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Lee, John Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Craigen, Jim (Maryhill) Lipton, Marcus Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Crawford, Douglas Litterick, Tom Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Crawshaw, Richard Loyden, Eddie Thompson, George
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Luard, Evan Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Cryer, Bob Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Tierney, Sydney
Davidson, Arthur McCartney, Hugh Tinn, James
Deakins, Eric MacCormick, lain Tomlinson, John
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) McDonald, Dr Oonagh Torney, Tom
Dempsey, James McElhone, Frank Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Doig, Peter MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Dormand, J. D. McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Watt, Hamish
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Madden, Max Welsh, Andrew
Duffy, A. E. P. Magee, Bryan White, Frank R. (Bury)
Dunn, James A. Marks, Kenneth White, James (Pollok)
Dunnett, Jack Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Whitlock, William
Eadie, Alex Maynard, Miss Joan Wigley, Dafydd
Edge, Geoff Meacher, Michael Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
English, Michael Mikardo, Ian Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Ennals, Rt Hon David Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Mitchell, Austin Wise, Mrs Audrey
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Molloy, William Woof, Robert
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Young, David (Bolton E)
Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Faulds, Andrew Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Moyle, Roland Mr. James Hamilton and
Flannery, Martin Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Mr. Joseph Harper.
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Abse, Leo Baker, Kenneth Biggs-Davison, John
Aitken, Jonathan Bell, Ronald Bradford, Rev Robert
Alison, Michael Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Brittan, Leon
Atkins, Rt Hon H.(Spelthorne) Benyon, W. Brocklebank-Fowler, C.
Brotherton, Michael Hutchison, Michael Clark Pink, R. Bonner
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) James, David Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd&W'df'd) Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Buck, Antony Jessel, Toby Price, David (Eastleigh)
Budgen, Nick Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Bulmer, Esmond Joseph, Rt Hon. Sir Keith Raison, Timothy
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Kaberry, Sir Donald Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Carlisle, Mark King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Carson, John King, Tom (Bridgwater) Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Knight, Mrs Jill Rhodes James, R.
Channon, Paul Knox, David Rifkind, Malcolm
Churchill, W. S. Lamont, Norman Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Langford-Holt, Sir John Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Clark, William (Croydon S) Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Ross, William (Londonderry)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Lawrence, Ivan Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Clegg, Walter Lawson, Nigel Sainsbury, Tim
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Le Marchant, Spencer Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Cope, John Lester, Jim (Beeston) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Costain, A. P. Litterick, Tom Shepherd, Colin
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Loveridge, John Silvester, Fred
Dalyell, Tam Loyden, Eddie Sinclair, Sir George
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Luce, Richard Skeet, T. H. H.
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James McCusker, H. Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Dunlop, John Macfarlane, Neil Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield)
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John MacGregor, John Speed, Keith
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) MacKay, Andrew (Stechford) Spence, John
Emery, Peter Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Fairbairn, Nicholas Marten, Neil Sproat, Iain
Fairgrieve, Russell Mates, Michael Stainton, Keith
Fisher, Sir Nigel Mather, Carol Stanbrook, Ivor
Flannery, Martin Maude, Angus Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Mawby, Ray Stokes, John
Fookes, Miss Janet Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stradling Thomas, J.
Forman, Nigel Mayhew, Patrick Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Maynard, Miss Joan Tebbit, Norman
Fox, Marcus Meyer, Sir Anthony Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Fry, Peter Mikardo, Ian Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Miller. Hal (Bromsgrove) Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Glyn, Dr Alan Mills, Peter Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Gorst, John Miscampbell, Norman Townsend, Cyril D.
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Vaughan, Dr Gerald
Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Moate, Roger Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Molyneaux, James Wakeham, John
Gray, Hamish Monro, Hector Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Grieve, Percy Montgomery, Fergus Wall, Patrick
Griffiths, Eldon More, Jasper (Ludlow) Walters, Dennis
Grist, Ian Morgan, Geraint Weatherill, Bernard
Grylls, Michael Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Wells, John
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Winterton, Nicholas
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Hannam, John Neave, Airey Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Haselhurst, Alan Neubert, Michael Younger, Hon George
Hayhoe, Barney Newton, Tony
Hodgson, Robin Oppenheim, Mrs Sally TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Holland, Philip Ovenden, John Mr. Anthony Berry and
Howell, David (Guildford) Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Sir George Young.
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Pattie, Geoffrey
Hurd, Douglas Percival, Ian

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

7.15 p.m.

Mr. Sproat

On a point of order, Mr. Murton. Perhaps you can help the Committee. We have got ourselves into a totally ridiculous position. We have spent only about five minutes discussing the important matter of the size of the projected Scottish Assembly. This is not a theoretical matter. It is of immense importance to any future Assembly: the functions of the House of Commons depend upon its size, but, because of the way that the guillotine is operated, we have spent only five minutes out of a total of seven or eight hours on that matter of size. Is it not possible that some way could be devised within the guillotine—I am not objecting to the guillotine at present—so that the first group of amendments in a block of amendments does not take up all the time available for that block? Is there a way in which we can ensure that each group of amendments gets a fair crack of the whip and in which we can avoid the situation where a matter of crucial importance to Scotland is debated for only five minutes and is not voted upon?

The CHAIRMAN then proceeded to to the Business Committee's motion and it is, therefore, not a matter for me. On the other hand, what the hon. Member has said will be heard by those who are concerned.

Mr. George Cunningham

Further to that point of order, Mr. Murton. I understood that the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat) was not adressing himself to the grievances that arise automatically from the guillotine, although these are real enough, but to the exercise of your discretion. That was the point to which I was addressing myself in my several interventions earlier in the debate. In this particular block of amendments we are in a worse position in a way, in that we have only three hours 40 minutes and a larger list of groups than we had in the previous block. I suggest that you, Mr. Murton, and other occupants of the Chair, should at leisure—but not too much leisure—without giving any indication at this stage, consider whether you should exercise your discretion in such a way as to maximise the number of amendments which come to a vote. I stress "come to a vote" because that is more important than debate. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It is more important. The House of Commons thinks that talking is what matters, but it is voting that matters. We could come to an amendment that could actually be carried, but we might not have a chance to vote because of the way in which the Chair exercises its discretion.

Therefore, what I am saying is that if it becomes plain to you that there is an amendment, other than the first amendment on the first line of any section, which is a serious amendment in the sense of having a chance of passing, I ask you to exercise your discretion in such a way as to ensure that the Committee has an opportunity either to pass or not to pass that amendment. I ask you not to reply to my point now.

The Chairman

I shall do so to this extent. I shall be quick about it. First, points of order come out of guillotine time. Second, the Chair does exercise its discretion, sometimes in very difficult circumstances. But I take note of what the hon. Gentleman has said and I am sure the Committee does, too.

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