HC Deb 24 November 1977 vol 939 cc1895-914

Queen's Recommendation having been signified—

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to make provision for and in connection with the election of representatives to the Assembly of the European Communities. it is expedient to authorize—

  1. (a) the payment out of the Consolidated Fund of such reasonable charges as returning officers are by virtue of that Act entitled to in connection with Assembly elections;
  2. (b) any increase attributable to that Act in the sums payable under any other enactment out of that Fund or out of money provided by Parliament; and
  3. (c) the payment into the Consolidated Fund of any sums falling to be so paid by virtue of that Act—[Mr. John.]

10.17 p.m.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe)

We have heard a great deal this evening about the fact that the Bill will in no way enlarge the powers of the European Parliament.

I am deeply concerned about the wording of the Money Resolution, particularly paragraphs (b) and (c). It is perfectly justifiable under existing election rules to allow for expenditure on the proper management of elections, and that is what we have been discussing today. However, it is painfully obvious in these two paragraphs that there is very little control over the sums of money to be expended in relation to the European elections.

I am deeply concerned to ensure that we should have a very clear indication of why such wide and blanket powers should be required, whether the 4 million units of account voted for the European Parliament for publicity for direct elections—and which, we are told, will be spent not on publicising the various aspects of European policies but on trying to persuade the electorate that it is vitally important that it should vote in these pointless elections—is in any way a justifiable amount of money and whether the House of Commons should be asked to give a blank cheque.

It is quite absurd that we should spend a whole evening discussing the powers of the so-called Parliament over which we have astonishingly little control and then at the last minute, as hon. Members are leaving the Chamber en masse, we should be called to vote on a Money Resolution allowing the Executive to enter any sums of money it likes with very little control from the House of Commons. If we are a sovereign House of Commons, we must have control over expenditure.

It is all very well to suggest that the Government will oppose any increase in the powers of the European Parliament, but apparently they are not prepared to spell out the sum of money covered by the resolution. I ask for protection on behalf of Back Bench Members. I am disturbed by the constitutional decision that the House has taken tonight, and I urge protection for the few powers that we are able to reserve for ourselves. I want to see them clearly stated to all hon. Members in this House.

10.20 p.m.

Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)

1 hope that we shall have an explanation of this Money Resolution from the Minister responsible. I hope that he has now had time to collect his thoughts and will explain the significance of the resolution. It is quite clear that the Bill, apart from its merits or demerits, will mean a further increase in Government expenditure.

We have been told that there will he a new structure of government because the Home Secretary said so. We know to our cost that government structures mean a great deal of expenditure. There will be more Members of Parliament. Some of us believe that the Members of the European Assembly will be paid rather more than Members of this Parliament. Therefore, there will be an increase of expenditure there. No doubt there will also be an increase in the bureaucracy.

Before we pass this resolution, we should be given some estimate of the increase in expenditure and be told how it will be paid and what control this House will have over it. All that we know at present is that the Government are asking us to authorise the payment out of the Consolidated Fund of such reasonable charges as returning officers are … entitled to in connection with Assembly elections". I have no idea how large those "reasonable charges" will be, nor can I discover any information from the documents available to us.

We are also told that it will be expedient to authorise any increase attributable to that Act in the sums payable under any other enactment out of that Fund or out of money provided by Parliament". We should like to have an explanation of that passage also, because some hon. Members may not fully understand what it means. However, that is not quite the end of the matter because, lastly, we are told that it will be expedient to authorise the payment into the Consolidated Fund of any sums falling to be so paid by virtue of that Act". I am sure that the Minister of State understands what that is all about, and I see that he has at least two pages of brief with him tonight. I hope that he will take a reasonable time and give us a full explanation of how much all this will cost.

10.22 p.m.

Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)

As nobody on the Conservative Front Bench is as agitated as I am about this expenditure, I wish to add, on behalf of the Conservative Party, my plaint. Since my party is so keen on controlling Government expenditure, I believe that there should be a clear statement from the responsible Minister of what amounts of money will fall to be paid by the taxpayer. I hope that the Minister will now give a full explanation of what is intended by the Government.

10.23 p.m.

Mr. Tom Litterick (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

I shall try not to repeat what my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) said, but I wish to underline the point that this Money Resolution appears to be a blank cheque. That should be enough to scandalise the House in view of the way in which an avalanche of money was spent in brainwashing, bamboozling and generally confusing the British people in the referendum,

It is obvious that since the constituencies that will be involved in the elections for this so-called European Parliament, Assembly or form of government—or whatever term the Home Secretary finally settles on when he realises what he is talking about—will be so large, nobody will know what he or she is voting for. Therefore, another avalanche of money will have to be unloaded to convince the British public that something meaningful is happening. If one is a Member for a constituency with 350,000 constituents, in effect one is not a member for a "constituency" at all. Therefore, a great deal of spurious and mendacious propaganda will have to be manufactured to persuade people that something important is taking place in the elections for this so-called Assembly, Parliament or form of government.

It is most important that somebody from the Government should put figures to these items in the resolution. It is no good the Government saying "The elections do not mean anything because they will not change the power of the European Assembly" while at the same time asking for unlimited sums of money to persuade the British people that something important is happening and to persuade the British Labour movement that the squalid act of betrayal enacted tonight by the senior Members of this Government is meaningful and in the interests of the British people.

10.25 p.m.

Mr. Roger Moate (Faversham)

I should like to support the words of our Front Bench spokesman and of my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) and their efforts to persuade the Government to come clean on the public expenditure effects of the measure. I am sure that we are of one accord in urging the Government to explain fully the implications of the resolution and to say exactly how much money will be involved and how it will be expended. I urge the Government to cut this item of public expenditure.

My right hon. and hon. Friends have been diligent in recent months and years in urging cuts in public expenditure, but we now have an opportunity to make a substantial cut in public spending. We do not know the precise figure because, as is the case with so many Money Resolutions, the amount is not stated in the resolution. It is, in effect, a blank cheque. However, we can find a degree of evidence about the money involved in the Bill because it says that the financial effects of the measure and its effects upon public service manpower could result in costs of £10 million every five years. The sum of £10 million for an election that is probably unwanted by the British public is a great deal.

I shall not stray from the subject before the House, but it so happens that there is something of a crisis in the social services in my constituency and in the health district which includes my constituency. We are in desperate need of new hospital services. If we could save £10 million here and direct it into my constituency, that would go a long way towards building a new hospital. It is just possible that a large number of my constituents would, in principle, say "Yes" to the Bill, but if they were told that it would cost £10 million it is just possible that many of them would turn round and say "No".

Can the Minister give us an explanation of how the money will be spent—if, indeed, it is to be £10 million? Perhaps many hon. Members will now see the practical results of their earlier decision and will decide to reject the Money Resolution.

Leaving aside the argument about elections, £10 million is a great deal of money—far greater than I should have expected—and I wonder whether it is truly necessary. In passing this resolution we shall be signing a blank cheque, and that is unjustifiable. I hope that the Minister will give us a clear and frank explanation of the total cost so that the House can decide whether to accept the resolution.

10.28 p.m.

Mr. J. W. Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr)

My comments will be brief and I shall not reiterate those which have already been made. I shall add flesh to the bones of the argument. I want the Minister to give an estimate of the money involved and to say how much will be spent on the Press, advertising and media side of direct elections.

I have here a copy of a letter on the notepaper of the League for European Economic Co-operation, dated 27th July 1977, which itemises details of a seminar held in Manchester on 24th November. It was sent by the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) to the right hon. Member for Farnworth (Mr. Roper). It has been reprinted elsewhere and appeared in the Tribune on 14th October. It says that the seminar would be held for representatives of local media. Our aim will be to reach and attract local media representatives in an effort to persuade them that from their point of view direct elections can be attractive. What can that mean other than a sop for all the public expenditure involved by way of advertising—whether placed by election agents, returning officers or parties, and some paid for out of public funds? Therefore, whatever may appear in the Press relating to direct elections, it is clearly the intention of this organisation that material shall appear because it is profitable to the Press. That has nothing whatsoever to do with direct elections or the principles of democracy.

I therefore ask the Minister to make abundantly clear how much public money will be set aside to fund the media, to argue the case for direct elections—because that is what it will be used for in the end. The Minister should answer clearly. Letters are being passed between hon. Members on both sides—letters written on the notepaper of organisations outside the House which clearly wish to use public money to subvert the media on the issue of direct elections.

Mr. Hugh Fraser

Could the hon. Gentleman elaborate on the use of the word "attractive" in that letter? It sounds almost as though perhaps pornographic attractions are being organised by the Government. Could the hon. Gentleman read that passage again? It sounds most alarming. Perhaps it is not just a matter of corrupt practices but something even more serious.

Mr. Rooker

I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman approaches his hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Oxon who wrote the letter on 27th July.

10.30 p.m.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

I did not seek to intervene in the main debate when 22 Back Bench Members, in addition to the long-winded Front Bench spokesmen on both sides at the beginning and end of the debate, succeeded in catching Mr. Speaker's eye.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) has done a service to the Tory Party. It seems extraordinary that no Front Bench spokesmen on either side of the House should seek to get up and speak on such a Money Resolution. The onus has been on Back Benchers. Public accountability for large sums of public money has been left to Back Benchers. Some of my Front Bench colleagues publicly make a lot of play over public expenditure. It is extraordinary that they apparently show no concern over this resolution.

There are some on our Front Benches who display a phobia and a form of blindness in relation to the Common Market. To them, anything to do with the Common Market is good; there is nothing bad in the EEC. Their attitude seems to be that, irrespective of the cost, the elections and everything that go with them must be approved.

I have grave concerns about direct elections. Hon. Members who have spoken in this debate, particularly my Cheshire neighbour, the hon. Member for Crewe (Mrs. Dunwoody), have made some important points. I am concerned that the people of this country should not be misled, as they were misled, to an extent during the EEC referendum campaign—and I speak as one who voted and campaigned in favour of our continued membership and who remains in favour of the Community from the economic point of view. I hope that the Minister will give us the full details. I am not happy with the Money Resolution. It is no more than a blank cheque.

I am pro-European economically, but I am not a federalist. I do not like direct elections because I think that they will undermine the authority of our Westminster Parliament. I believe that the Front Bench of my party, which is a truly national party, should have the courage to put the full facts to the people.

10.34 p.m.

Mr. Neil Kinnock (Bedwellty)

This is the second time today that I have, in a sense, followed the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton). He said that he was an economic pro-Marketeer and a political anti-Marketeer. I am an anti-Marketeer on both counts because I see the logical development of one from the other. In this as in other matters, the hon. Gentleman will start to see the dawn of truth and follow us.

I realise that the resolution follows the formalities of drafting, but the words "such reasonable charges" have more menace in this resolution, since it is concerned with Common Market affairs, than most other resolutions.

We have been convinced in the whole discussion of the Common Market since its earliest days, certainly since we have been members of that unfortunate organisation, that all charges are reasonable. The vocabulary of the Common Market is studded with words such as "reasonable", "sharing" and "partnership". Having footed bills, we have come to realise that they are anything but reasonable. Indeed, they are impositions, incubuses of various kinds on the British people.

What we are asked to contemplate is the election through the ballot box of people without a function but with the most enormous resources at their command and power over nothing but their own egos. No one can pretend that there can be any accountability within the constituencies proposed under any system of election. No one taking on the job could offer the prospect of truly representing the interests of any constitutents—which is just as well, because that is not the intention. Therefore, we have an Assembly in which nobody intends to represent and which was never intended to represent. Allowing "reasonable charges" of any description in these circumstances will be very difficult in a country accustomed at least to some extent to democratic representation.

If the elections go ahead, the Government and the British taxpayer need not help to pay, because such funds exist in the coffers of the European Movement as to permit it to pay twice or three times over, without the merest dent in its funds, for the elections, the advertising and so on.

We have heard that the Money Resolution gives a blank cheque. It is indeed a blank cheque for a blankety-blank organisation. I am not permitted to give a brief and more colourful description of my real view of the European Assembly.

We were told that the whole process could be attractive to the people. The idea that electing Members on salaries of £27,000 a year in the middle of a wages policy, and against the background of public expenditure constraints, can be attractive is the most preposterous distortion of how the people will regard the Assembly. I will bet my hon. Friend the Minister of State my salary for a month against any reasonable expenditure he proposes to make that there will not be more than a 45 per cent. poll in the direct elections. I speak from the epi-centre of what is on any estimation the only safe Labour seat in the Assembly elections. We already have a queue of candidates stretching from the Heads of the Valleys Road down to Newport Docks, consisting of assorted pensioners and failed parliamentarians of various kinds. The only relief is that under the "reasonable charges" we shall not have to pay their redundancy payments. If we were burdened with that kind of charge, we should be in trouble. The public sector borrowing requirement would be dwarfed by its demands on national resources.

To be serious, here we are with an insupportable proposition in any democratic terms, an obligation that has been imposed on us simply by our membership of the EEC. Any charges which stem from that under the pretence of democratic representation and accountability to the people, of the articulation of the people's needs or of the monitoring of their interests as represented in the Community, are preposterous and we should not spend a halfpenny, let alone "reasonable charges", on them.

10.40 p.m.

Mr. John Biffen (Oswestry)

As the House begins to consider the Bill, it will develop a very keen interest in all the potential clashes there might be between the legislative ambitions and competence of this House and what might develop in Strasbourg, and to that end public opinion will be a vital component. This Money Resolution is a most appropriate occasion on which to inquire into just what will be the use that will be made of such "reasonable charges" as are thought expedient. The point has been well made by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker), the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Litterick) and hon. Members on this side of the House that there will be great anxiety to know to what ends public funds are to be devoted.

If it is a question of Tories campaigning in their Euro-constituencies, either single-Member or by regional list, no doubt they will be dilating on the dangers of Euro-Communism, referred to by the Foreign Secretary. They will need no public funds to proclaim that faith. The world of the City and big business will be there to reinforce their funds if short of money they are.

I suppose that there will be those who see the Community as the ultimate objective of social democracy and will be standing for the Labour Party. They, too, will back their voices with their pockets and will not require the conscript finance of the British taxpayer.

So we come back to what really will be the "reasonable charge". I suspect that "reasonable charge", notwithstanding what the Home Secretary said about the Assembly having no powers additional to what it now possesses, will be used to convince the British people that this is a real occasion which requires their support because we are electing a Parliament at Strasbourg to give them a voice in Europe. One suspects that the whole public relations machinery of the Establishment and the Government will be devoted to the end of inspiring in the British public a belief that this is not a standstill Assembly but a step forward, and that can only be viewed in this House in the relationship which we believe is appropriate between the House of Commons and a Strasbourg Assembly.

We fool ourselves if we suppose that a massive public relations exercise at the time of the elections to persuade the public that they should turn out and vote can be conducted other than in underlining the supposed importance and constitutional significance of that Assembly. Let us not fool ourselves here as we start on what I trust and hope will be a long and constructive detailed examination of this legislation.

Mr. Nick Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)

Positive and ongoing.

Mr. Biffen

This examination, from its outset and through its continuation, will be a constructive debate, because it is not merely about the character of the Community to which we belong; it will also be about the nature of our national Government.

I come back to the question I want to address to the Minister of State, who I am sure is anxious to help the House in this as in all other matters. Can we please be told what kind of public information services—I use the most neutral language I can select—it is expected to make available over the coming months, and what will be the cost? It is a reasonable request whether one voted in one Lobby or the other an hour ago. It is a reasonable request whether one believes that Britain should remain in the Community or should leave. It is a reasonable request whether one believes, as I do, that there is much virtue in extending the Community to become one encompassing 12 nations or whether one wishes to stand pat.

On any count, what has been requested under the guise of the Money Resolution goes to the very heart of what this debate will be all about. Nothing could be more insulting to Continental Europeans than that publicity should be given to the general assumption that what we are really arguing about in the whole of this legislation is whether there should be a regional list or first past the post. Nothing could be more demeaning to the sensibilities of Continental Europeans, for to them it seems a barely credible—I will not say irrational—side issue. The real central issue is what will be the relationship between this House and the Assembly. If we suppose that that relationship will be unaffected by the way that money in this Money Resolution is spent, we deceive ourselves. It is no good course for this House to set out at this stage with a sense of deception.

Mrs. Dunwoody

Before the hon. Gentleman sits down, will he address himself to the point that before we get to these elections, and before there is expenditure by Her Majesty's Government, there will be a great amount spent by the Community itself in advertising the entire electoral machinery?

Mr. Biffen

The hon. Lady has made a perfectly valid point, and in so doing she has ruined my peroration. But such will be the generosity that will be inspired by these debates as we proceed that I bear her no ill whatsoever.

10.47 p.m.

Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)

I do not want to impinge on the time of the Front Bench in replying to the debate, but I must intervene at this late hour because I really am in need of guidance from the Government Front Bench. I have been a Minister, and I thought that I understood most legislative mysteries, but the more I read this Money Resolution the more I feel that we are engaged in an insoluble circular argument.

I should like to have some elucidation, please, because we are being asked to agree That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session"— that is, this Session— it is expedient to authorise— (a) the payment out of the Consolidated Fund of such reasonable charges as returning officers are by virtue of that Act entitled to in connection with Assembly elections". When I turn to the European Assembly Election Bill, I find in Clause 14, under the heading "Expenses", the words There shall be charged on, and paid out of, the Consolidated Fund— (a) such reasonable charges as returning officers are by virtue of this Act entitled to and so on.

Where do we end up? In absolute nothingness. I say advisedly to the House that this phraseology reflects the casualness about money which is the hallmark of this Community. It is a casualness about other people's money, about taxpayers' money in this country. I say that it is time that we put a stop to it. I hope that the Front Bench will answer this insoluble mystery about the Money Resolution, but I say advisedly that I find it an outrage that money can always be found in the Community for such measures as the common agricultural policy. There is one law for the hard-up in our national society and a free-for-all on expenditure in the European Community.

I find it absolutely nauseating that we are lectured in this country, mainly by Conservative Members—although I am glad to see some allies here tonight—about the need for working men and women to face the cold winds of competition when this happens. Do we get that in the Community? Do we get competition through the common agricultural policy? Does anyone there have to tighten his belt and live up to standards of productivity? Not a bit. Money can always be found, on this circular argument, for excesses of expenditure by people who are very likely feathering their own nests. This is why I believe that the Bill is an outrage. I want an answer to this circular argument.

10.50 p.m.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Brynmor John)

An answer my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) will certainly get. I regret that it will be facts to be put against the rather colourful language which has been used in this most interesting extension of the earlier debate. The Money Resolution is for administrative purposes in connection with the holding of the elections. It has absolutely nothing to do with advertisements for those elections. Those who talk about 4 million and 5 million units of account and so on are talking about matters which are not within the purview of the resolution. The resolution has no connection with that issue.

Let me try to explain what it is that the Money Resolution does and exemplify how it will be used. The argument is not as circular as my right hon. Friend suggests. Returning officers, whose task is authorised by earlier clauses of the Bill, conduct the elections and they and their staffs are paid for the conduct of the elections. It is not possible to predict at this stage with certainty what the exact fees will be, but they will be of the order of £4 million to £5 million.

Mrs. Castle

How do you know?

Mr. John

I wish that when right hon. and hon. Members ask for answers they would listen to those answers. I find it difficult to believe that they can talk and listen at the same time.

Mr. Kinnock

Sit back and fold your arms.

Mr. John

My hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock), whose tenderness on the subject of the media we are all aware of, is one of those who ought to listen to this. I do not say that it will influence his vote in any way, but if questions are asked it is courteous to listen to the reply.


Mr. Kinnock


Mr. John

I cannot give way at this stage. I have a limited amount of time.

Mr. Kinnock

Then do not lecture me on courtesy.

Mr. John

I do not think that I shall take my hon. Friend's strictures on courtesy very easily.

After each parliamentary election, returning officers submit to the Treasury an account which is supported by receipts and other documentation. This is carefully checked by the Treasury before a final settlement is reached with individual returning officers. It is intended to use the same system for these elections to the European Assembly. There is to be careful scrutiny on an administrative basis in quite the same way as in other elections.

Complaint has been made on the score that there will be a blank cheque. But the maximum sums will be prescribed by Statutory Instruments which will be brought into force nearer the time.

Mr. Jay


Mr. John

I shall give way, but may I complete my answers to all the points first? It is easy to become stuck on point A and have people complain that points B and C have not been dealt with.

Paragraph (b) of the resolution authorises any increase attributable to the Act in sums payable under other enactments out of the Consolidated Fund or money provided by Parliament. The main subject of these sums is the postal charges in respect of candidates' election addresses. They would be of the order, we believe, of £5 million. Provision is also made for charging on the Consolidated Fund any increase in the superannuation contribution required to be paid by a local authority because of a returning officer's charges at a parliamentary election. This relates to Section 20 of the Representation of the People Act 1949.

The other example which comes to mind under this head is any additional expenses attributable to the Boundary Commissions dealing with work under this legislation. There will obviously be some additional effort and expense involved there.

Finally, paragraph (c) refers to the payment into the Consolidated Fund of any moneys falling to be paid by virtue of the Bill. The provision is intended to cover the payment of forfeited deposits.

Mr. Jay

Will my hon. Friend make a little more clear the figures which he mentioned? He referred to a figure of £4 million to £5 million, or perhaps it was £45 million. Later on, he appeared to mention another £4 million. Are those to be added together to form some total? Does this mean £4 million to £5 million through the validity of the legislation, is it that amount per year, or is it that amount per election?

Mr. John

I mentioned two sums under paragraphs (a) and (b). Under paragraph (a) I mentioned a sum of between £4 million and £5 million. Under paragraph (b), which is the candidates' election addresses, I mentioned a further sum of £5 million. Clearly, therefore, they have to be added in order to arrive at the £10 million which is mentioned, roughly at any rate, in the financial effects of the Bill in the Explanatory Memorandum. My right hon. Friend is quite right in saying that they would be incurred at every election—that is, every five years.

Those are my explanations of the matters about which I was asked. They give examples of how that expenditure is to be incurred. But I make the point once more and with the utmost vehemence that these are administrative arrangements under this Act of Parliament, as the Bill will become. They have nothing to do with the propaganda based on either side of the argument which will be waged during these elections.

Mr. Max Madden (Sowerby)

My hon. Friend has now said twice that there will not be any expenditure incurred on advertising or media information to the public to familiarise them with what is a new form of election and what may involve a new method of election. Will he confirm that there will be no expenditure by the Government to inform the public of that fact?

Mr. John

I am speaking to a Money Resolution, and the scope of the debate is rather restricted. I have said that under this Money Resolution none of that money will be devoted to the purposes that my hon. Friend mentioned. The 4 million units of account to which reference has been made is a quite sep- arate matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] That appears to come as a great surprise. I do not know why it should, and I do not think that anything I have said has misled the House, either in-advertently or deliberately. We are making provision for the administrative arrangements under the Bill. Therefore, I commend it to the House.

Mr. Biffen

Before the hon. Gentleman finally sits down, may I put this to him? He has just reiterated figures in relation to election arrangements. Presumably these would be conditional on whether the election proceeded under the regional list or some other system. What assumptions were undertaken by his Dept when compiling these sums?

Mr. John

Obviously, we took into account the normal ways in which returning officers count the votes, and it is intended to be a sum which will cover either event. But I think that this is the best estimate that we can give at the moment.

The hon. Gentleman cannot expect me to specify every calculation that was taken into account, but, for example, the reasonable costs of returning officers and their staffs are based on our experience of past elections.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Will the hon. Gentleman indicate what reasonable costs he thinks are associated with the Boundary Commission? He has given two separate figures—namely, £4 million to £5 million and million. Under paragraph (c) he talked about the payment into the Consolidated Fund of sums relating to the work of the Boundary Commission. Will he indicate what sum he has in mind?

Mr. John

I have said that it is difficult to say at this stage what extra effort is attributable solely to the Assembly elections, but provision has to be made for such sums. We do not imagine that they will be huge.

Mr. Clement Freud (Isle of Ely)

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the considerable expense of the Boundary Commission would be saved by PR?

Mr. John

I dealt with the sums mentioned by the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) by saying that they would not be very large. On the best estimate that we have, they will be about £10,000 to £12,000.

Mr. Tim Renton (Mid-Sussex)

I return to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen). Have the Government been able to make any real distinction between the costs of the election if it is held on the regional list system or on the normal firstpast-the-post system?

Mr. John

I think that the hon. Gentleman heard my answer. The estimate that has been made has been intended to cover both eventualities. That is the best advice that I can give to the House.

It being three-quarters of an hour after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted Business).

The House divided Ayes 156, Noes 64.

Division No. 21] AYES [11.02 p.m.
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Fox, Marcus Penhaligon, David
Armstrong, Ernest Freud, Clement Pink, R. Bonner
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) George, Bruce Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Glyn, Dr Alan Radice, Giles
Bain, Mrs Margaret Golding, John Rathbone, Tim
Baker, Kenneth Gourlay, Harry Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)
Bates, Alf Grant, John (Islington C) Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Beith, A. J. Hampson, Dr Keith Rhodes James, R.
Berry, Hon Anthony Harper, Joseph Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Haselhurst, Alan Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Heath, Rt Hon Edward Roper, John
Boscawen, Hon Robert Horam, John Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Howell, David (Guildford) Rowlands, Ted
Bottomley, Peter Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B ham, Sm H) Sandelson, Neville
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Scott-Hopkins, James
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Jessel, Toby Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) John, Brynmor Shepherd, Colin
Buck, Antony Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Shersby, Michael
Bulmer, Esmond Jones, Barry (East Flint) Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Caliaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Kaufman, Gerald Sims, Roger
Carlisle, Mark Kershaw, Anthony Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Carter, Ray Kilfedder, James Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Cartwright, John Knox, David Stainton, Keith
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Lawrence, Ivan Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Channon, Paul Le Marchant, Spencer Stott, Roger
Clark, William (Croydon S) Lester, Jim (Beeston) Stradling Thomas, J.
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Lever, Rt Hon Harold Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Cockroft, John Lomas, Kenneth Temple-Morris, Peter
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Cohen Stanley Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Thompson, George
Corbett, Robin MacFarquhar Roderick Tinn, James
Crawshaw, Richard MacGregor, John Tomlinson, John
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Maclennan, Robert Trotter, Neville
Dalyell, Tam Magee, Bryan van Straubenzee, W. R.
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Mahon, Simon Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
de Freilas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Mallalieu, J. P. W. Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Marks, Kenneth Ward, Michael
Dormand, J. D. Mates, Michael Watkinson, John
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Mather, Carol Watt, Hamish
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Mawby, Ray Weatherill, Bernard
Drayson, Burnaby Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) White, Frank R. (Bury)
Dunn, James A. Montgomery, Fergus Whitehead, Phillip
Dunnett, Jack Morgan, Geraint Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Dykes, Hugh Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Woodall, Alec
English, Michael Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Wrigglesworth, Ian
Fairbairn, Nicholas Newton, Tony Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Faulds, Andrew Normanton, Tom
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Oakes, Gordon TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W) Ogden, Eric Mr. Ted Graham and
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) O'Halloran, Michael Mr. Donald Coleman.
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Pattie, Geoffrey
Allaun, Frank Biffen, John Colquhoun, Ms Maureen
Ashton, Joe Body, Richard Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)
Atkinson, Norman Bradford, Rev Robert Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)
Bean, R. E. Budgen, Nick Cunningham, G. (Islington S)
Bell, Ronald Carson, John Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Dunlop, John
Bidwell, Sydney Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Litterick, Tom Ross, William (Londonderry)
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Loyden, Eddie Skinner, Dennis
Flannery, Martin McCusker, H Spearing, Nigel
Forrester, John Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Stoddart, David
Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) Marten, Neil Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Gould, Bryan Maynard, Miss Joan Thomas, Hon (Bristol NW)
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Mikardo, Ian Torney, Tom
Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Moate, Roger Urwin, T. W.
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Molyneaux, James Winterton, Nicholas
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Newens, Stanley Wise, Mrs Audrey
Jeger, Mrs Lena Ovenden, John Woof, Robert
Kerr, Russell Pavitt, Laurie
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Kinnock, Neil Richardson, Miss Jo Mr. Max Madden and
Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Robinson, Geoffrey Mr. J. W. Rooker.
Lee, John Rodgers, George (Chorley)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to make provision for and in connection with the election of representatives to the Assembly of the European Communities, it is expedient to authorize—

  1. (a) the payment out of the Consolidated Fund of such reasonable charges as return- 1914 ing officers are by virtue of that Act entitled to in connection with Assembly elections;
  2. (b) any increase attributable to that Act in the sums payable under any other enactment out of that Fund or out of money provided by Parliament; and
  3. (c) the payment into the Consolidated Fund of any sums falling to be so paid by virtue of that Act.

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