§ Mr. George Reid (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
I beg to move Amendment No. 16, in page 1, line 12. leave out '81' and insert '89'.
§ No. 17, in page 1, line 12, leave out '81' and insert '91'.
§ No. 124, in page 1, line 12, leave out '81' and insert '112'.
§ No. 94, in page 1, line 14, leave out '66' and insert '67'.
§ No. 125, in page 1, line 14, leave out '66' and insert '93'.
§ No. 20, in page 1, line 15, leave out '8' and insert '16'.
§ No. 126, in page 1, line 15, leave out '8' and insert '10'.
§ No. 21, in page 1, line 16, leave out '4' and insert '14'.756
§ No. 127, in page 1. line 16, leave out '4' and insert '6'.
§ No. 95, in page 1, line 17, leave out '3' and insert '2'.
§ No. 46, in Schedule 1, page 11, line 15, leave out '79' and insert '87'.
§ No. 47, in page 11, line 15, leave out '79' and insert '89'.
§ No. 128, in page 11, line 15, leave out '79' and insert '110'.
§ No. 129, in page 11, line 17, leave out '66' and insert '93'.
§ No. 50, in page 11, line 18, leave out '8' and insert '16'.
§ No. 130, in page 11, line 18, leave out '8' and insert '10'.
§ No. 51, in page 11, line 19, leave out '4' and insert '14'.
§ No. 131, in page 11, line 19, leave out '4' and insert '6'.
§ Mr. Reid
It would be very foolish to pretend that the block of amendments in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mrs. Ewing) is any more than a mere marker for the future. It gives an indication of the size and scope of the representation that Scotland could reasonably expect in the European Parliament if it had full self-government. It is 757 a clear commitment to equality of treatment between countries of comparable size.
And it is recognition that Scotland is in a real political dilemma. Scotland and Denmark have roughly the same population, yet Denmark gets 16 European seats and Scotland gets only half that number.
The House of Commons has been playing the numbers game this afternoon From all quarters come proposals to increase the numbers of British MPs going en bloc to Strasbourg or Luxembourg. That may be good gamesmanship, but it is no practical good in international politics.
In proposing 16 seats for Scotland I am not suggesting that England should be robbed of eight seats to make up the difference. I am simply putting down a marker for the future. So long as the United Kingdom is stuck with 81 seats, we are in a stymied situation. Scotland can get parity of representation only through independence.
The situation is profoundly unsatisfactory. Scotland and Denmark have populations of the same size, yet Denmark has double the representation. Southern Ireland has half the population of Scotland, yet it gets 15 seats. Luxembourg, with half the population of our capital city of Edinburgh, gets six seats. One Scots Member in the European Parliament will be representing 600,000 people, while an MP from Luxembourg will be representing 60,000—one-tenth of that number. The Irish and Danish MPs will each represent 205,000 and 315,000 respectively. Against these figures, it is not surprising that many Scots people feel disadvantaged, dismayed and annoyed.
Scotland is an old nation, as old as Denmark or Ireland, yet one Scotsman is now apparently worth only one-third of an Irishman or one-half of a Dane. When major matters come before the European Parliament, such as the fishing question, which involves the Scots and the Danes, the Danes will have double the number of votes, double the representation in committee and double the number of speeches. That is just not on.
As a member of the Select Committee on Direct Elections, I was very impressed by the consensus of Scottish evidence on this point. This suggested that Scotland should be closer to parity with 758 Denmark. The Labour Committee for Europe said in evidence:The gross disparity can only lead to a strong bias against the Community in areas such as Scotland.The organisation Scotland in Europe, which is certainly not a front for the SNP, said:The view is very strongly held in all sections of the Scottish electorate that some way must be found of giving Scotland sufficient seats to bring it into some sort of balance with Denmark.It then warned that, if this did not happen,The question of Scottish seats will rumble on as a political issue for years and years.I believe that that is true.
Politicians of such diverse views as the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) and the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher) have given similar views in Committee and on the Floor of the House. In the debate in April last year, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North gave a plain warning when he said:I do not see how Scotland can be represented in the European Assembly with those numbers."—[Official Report, 20th April, 1977; Vol. 930, c. 300.]For once I am in agreement with him.
In the period between April last year and now we had hoped to see some movement towards a compromise by the Government. We had hoped that the Government would accept the proposal of the right hon. Member for Devon, North of 10 seats for Scotland or that of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North of 12 seats. These figures could have been kept within the total British number of 81 seats. However, there has been precious little movement from either the Government or the official Opposition.
As in the debate on the Scotland Bill, the logic of the position seen from Scotland is clear. Either we Scots continue as a British province—and there is a perfectly legitimate case for that—or we go it alone and find that the next General Election will take us further down the road of seeking Scottish representation at the top table of Europe as of right and ending the second division status that our eight European Members would have.
In its evidence to the Select Committee on Direct Elections, the SNP faced up squarely to the problem of ensuring the 759 balance between the large States and the small communities. We proposed then that every State should have six seats, plus one for every 700,000 voters. Had this proposal been adopted, Scotland and Denmark would have been reasonably in balance, and the comparable English regions would have had roughly the same representation. But that was not to be. Europe has been carved up in a most arbitrary manner with small States being catered for most generously. The nations that are buried in a multinational State. however, have not.
I have five reasons for wanting to increase our representation. We are not a region; we are a nation. Those who compare the English regions with Scotland are not comparing like with like. We are one of the oldest nations in Europe, and we have 1,000 years of history behind us. Secondly, we are unique in having our own distinctive legal and administrative system based on Continental models. I know of no other unitary EEC State which has separate and distinct systems of law.
Thirdly, we are placed on the northernmost periphery of the EEC. Our strategic importance is out of all proportion to our size and of the utmost importance to the Western world, especially with the Soviet fleet at Murmansk. Fourthly, we have major marine and energy resources which are vital not only to the British Isles but to the European Community at large and which will become increasingly so.
Fifthly, in Scotland we have our own regional diversity. That is why we need a Highland scat. We have a scattered population which occupies one-third of the land mass of the British Isles. That is the reason for always having a slight weighting of 12 or 13 per cent. in the number of Scots who come here.
We should also look at the Community in terms of the specialisation of Members. I understand that a representative in the European Parliament requires a greater degree of specialised knowledge than does a Member of the House of Commons. That specialisation will not be possible if Scotland is given only eight seats. One or two of the Members would have to be lawyers. I wonder whether the 760 other six or seven would be able to spread their interests across such diverse issues as oil and fish, our large electronics industry and the treaty industries of coal and steel. I doubt that they will.
I am sure that, with the Danes and the Irish having double the representation of the Scots, however, the issue will not go away. The arrival of the Scottish Assembly—though I have my doubts whether it will come during this Parliament—certainly will increase the feeling of distinctiveness and Scottishness north of the border. Much of the money devolved by the House of Commons to the Assembly will fall within the general competence of the EEC. Lord Kilbrandon was right when he said that Edinburgh will talk increasingly—and directly—to Brussels and that the London link will wither away.
With no seat as of right at the top table and with only half the representation of Denmark, the sense of being poor relations will grow. In that sense, comparisons with English regions are invalid.
As I have said, we are in a stymied situation because the representation for the British Isles cannot be changed. The only way to square the cricle is for Scotland to go it alone and seek separate membership of the EEC. We shall have to say bluntly to the Europeans No deal on fish, no deal on oil. "Our interests will be better served on our own than as part of an increasingly bankrupt British State. Only then will Scotland get the parity that it merits.
I said that I was putting down a marker for the future. I do not expect any movement on the number of Scots seats today, nor would I suggest disadvantaging the English. But anyone who seriously thinks that we shall be content with eight seats is wrong. Anyone who thinks that this issue will go away is wrong. It will rumble on for years.
§ Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East)
The hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid) has given us a variation on his normal theme of separation. He has set out five reasons why Scotland should have increased representation. His first reason was the nub of it all. He has a vision of Scotland as a separate unit. On that basis he compared Scotland with other nation States. He happened to choose the 761 analogy of Denmark, but had he chosen Luxembourg he might have had four or more times the number of seats that he proposes. Therein lies the basic difference—whether the United Kingdom is to be represented at Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg as a united unit or whether there should be separate units for Scotland, Wales and England.
§ Mrs. Winifred Ewing (Moray and Nairn)
The reason why Luxembourg has six seats, which is disproportionate to its population, is that the member States recognise that it is not possible to function with fewer than six seats. Six is recognised as a minimum to provide any kind of presence for a member State.
It is unworthy to argue that we should claim twice as many seats. We are not asking for that. We do not grudge Luxembourg its seats, because six is the minimum. We say that when the number is above six the population should be taken into account.
§ Mr. Anderson
The SNP's argument is based on a difference in concept. Are we a United Kingdom, or should there be separate sovereign units within the United Kingdom? The hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire said that there was a separate legal and administrative system in Scotland. I cannot see how a separate legal system has any relevance to the number of representatives that there should be in a Parliament.
The hon. Member's second argument for increased representation rested on Scotland's decisive role in the defence of the West. He probably knows that the EEC has no defence responsibilities, although some people allege that it is a political arm of NATO. There are no defence responsibilities within the competence of the EEC. Therefore, that argument also is irrelevant.
The third argument concerned energy resources. That argument could also apply to the coal and natural gas resources in England. Is the hon. Member saying that, if one part of the United Kingdom has a resource, that entitles it to more representation than another part of the United Kingdom?
The hon. Member also argued that Scotland comprised about one-third of our total land mass. He is on firmer ground there, because it has been accepted 762 that larger rural areas should be entitled to a greater proportion of seats. Indeed, Scotland already has, or will have on these figures, a proportion of seats to population which is larger than a mathematical ratio would justify. This argument has some validity and could be pursued.
The hon. Member argued that eight Scottish Assemblymen could not cover the diversity of the relatively limited functions that are within the competence of the Community. That is odd when one considers that 100 American senators cover the whole diversity of responsibilities in the United States.
When faced with a choice of seeking an attainable and realistic goal or something which is wholly unrealistic and is simply put forward for publicity or to be in accordance with separatist views, the nationalists invariably choose the latter and leave out the more realistic matters. There might have been some validity if the suggestion involved a limited increase in the number of seats.
I stray to the Welsh nationalists. They are not quite as modest as the Scottish nationalists, who suggest only that their numbers should be doubled from eight to 16. The Welsh nationalists want an increase from four to 14. One wonders on what basis and by what comparison they make that suggestion. Why should they not be a little more grandiose in their aspirations and suggest a proportion equal to that of Luxembourg, which would provide eight times the number of seats allocated?
If it is in order on this amendment, I shall deal with the Scottish and the Welsh suggestions since they cover some of the same general points. For Wales I would accept that there is a strong case for a modest increase, more modest than that suggested by the Welsh nationalists, from the present figure of four to five. That is suggested not on the basis of a concept of Wales as an independent sovereign unit but rather on the normal criteria applied in this country of population, distance, size of constituencies, geographical factors and the sort of problems that will face any Member of the European Parliament in endeavouring to carry out his tasks on behalf of a widely-spread area.
§ Mr. Gwynfor Evans (Carmarthen)
The hon. Member is ignoring what for 763 us is a basic fact—that is, the nationhood of Scotland and Wales. We want to see that nationhood recognised. It is not just on grounds of democracy or justice that we in Wales object to the fact that we have only four Members while Luxembourg, with the population of Gwent, has six. That is an affront to our nationhood.
§ Mr. Anderson
I rest my argument on the basis of justice. The hon. Gentleman repeats his claim of nationhood up and down Wales, and he has had a consistent and rather negative response—
§ Mr. Anderson
Yes, claim. The claim is that Wales is or should be a separate nation, and it is on the merits or otherwise of that claim that we shall be regaling our respective electorates at the next General Election.
On the present allocation of four seats, Wales, compared with Scotland which has eight, is doing less well. Whereas Northern Ireland and Scotland have their proportion of seats to their ratio of population rounded up, in the case of Wales the figure is rounded down. Let me give the figures. Scotland has 7.5 per cent. of the total electorate, and yet it is proposed that it has eight Assemblymen. Northern Ireland, with a mere 2.1 per cent. of the total United Kingdom electorate, is allocated three seats. The allocation for Wales, which has 4.1 per cent. of the total electorate, is rounded down to four.
There is also a problem which is likely to face the Boundary Commissioners in drawing boundaries in Wales on the basis of four seats. Wales is comprised of roughly two areas. There is the major part, the highly-populated industrial valleys of Wales, there are the counties—the three Glamorgans and Gwent, which comprise 63.6 per cent. of the total population—and there is the rest of Wales, which is mainly rural in composition. That compromises 36.3 per cent. of the electorate. If the seats are to be drawn on the basis of community of interest, contiguity and so on, it will be difficult to give two seats to the industrial areas and two to the rural areas, or to decide which parts of the industrial areas should be detached to link with rural areas. Even if that were so, the size of the constituencies would be very large and would 764 hardly make for effective or easy representation.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Brynmor John)
I am following my hon. Friend's argument, and I accept that there are some rural problems which are not shared everywhere in Wales. But is it not one of the features of Welsh parliamentary constituencies even now that, whereas a seat may be industrial in one part, it is rural in another? I think of my own constituency, which has a very industrial north but a large farming population in the south. The same is true of both my neighbours.
§ Mr. Anderson
But even where there are groupings of seven or eight seats the rural element, which is a portion of a constituency such as that of my hon. Friend, is tiny. I hope that my hon. Friend will accept the broad distinction between the great land mass of rural Wales, representing approximately one-third of the population and including the whole of North and Mid-Wales and a substantial part of West Wales, and the counties of Glamorgan and Gwent, which are in their ethos a heavily industrial structure, although clearly with rural parts.
§ Sir Anthony Meyer (Flint, West)
Will the hon. Gentleman entertain the further consideration that with four seats it will be virtually impossible to provide a result which will in any way reflect the balance of political forces in Wales? With five seats it would become easier to envisage a result which would reflect the political balance of the parties.
§ Mr. Anderson
I have not followed through the political results; perhaps that is evidence of naivety and an indication of my objectivity in trying to deal with the allocation of seats. If the hon. Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) speaks in the debate, I hope he will expand that point as yet a further reason for increasing from four to five the allocation of seats to Wales.
I think that this allocation could be achieved within the total of 81 seats which is, because of our international obligations, an immutable number. It is unrealistic to suggest that that number should be increased from 81 to 91, but reducing the English total from 66 to 765 65, which would not be noticed in the totality of English seats, would have considerable advantages for Wales.
I hope that on the grounds of both justice and effectiveness of representation my hon. Friend the Minister will examine very seriously the arguments in favour of this modest increase in Welsh representation and will bring the matter back to the House at a later stage.
§ Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)
The hon. Member has not made the case for taking one seat away from England, a suggestion which he made rather casually. Surely his case should logically be to increase the overall number of seats from 81 to 82.
§ Mr. Anderson
No. I have to accept, because of our international obligations, that the overall total for the United Kingdom has been established in conjunction with the seats allocated to our partners in the Community. That is the startting point. We have 81 seats, and the argument is about their allocation between different parts of the United Kingdom. Given the much larger number of English seats, there could be a reduction of one without a grave loss to England but with considerable advantage to Wales.
§ Mr. D. E. Thomas (Merioneth)
I wish to refer to Amendments Nos. 17, 21 and 51. First, however I should like to take up the point by the hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) concerning our international obligations and the sacrosanct figure of 81.
I would stress that in pressing the demand for parity with Northern Ireland, which is in our amendment in terms of representation in the European Parliament, we are not seeking to take seats away from other parts of the United Kingdom. I want to put it quite strongly to the Government that, in view of the developments towards Welsh and Scottish Assemblies, if that is still the Government's intention, they ought seriously to renegotiate—and this is a word which is not unfamiliar to the Labour Government in the context of the European Community—their commitment to a figure of 81, in view of the impending move towards greater democracy in Wales and, perhaps, to put it in those terms, possibly even faster towards a national democracy in Scotland. So I am 766 not pressing acceptance on behalf of Plaid Cymru of the argument that we must take this 81 as an immutable figure. I would put it to the Minister that this is, or at least should be, a negotiable figure.
My general position on direct elections is well known inside and outside this Committee and I do not want to rehearse arguments I have put in other debates here and outside. I have been and am still totally opposed to the whole principle of direct elections. In my view they represent a drift towards pseudo-continental democracy, which means we shall create a system of false democracy that will raise false expectations and will be out of touch with the political realities that members of the European Parliament will be seeking to represent. Direct elections represent a drift towards a supranational European State to which, again, I am firmly opposed.
If, however, we are to have direct elections, then, obviously, as a political party, Plaid Cymru will participate actively, and will hope to be represented within those direct elections and as a result of them.
A crucial point for us, and the whole point of the amendment, is the basis of representation. As the hon. Member for Swansea, East has pointed out, the basic point is whether Wales is to have national representation within the Community. We have already heard some comparative figures about the numbers to be represented in various European States under the present system. I would remind the Committee of some of them. Denmark has 16 seats, which means that each European member in Denmark will represent 315,000 people. Earlier an hon. Member explained the special position of Luxembourg, each of whose members represents 60,000 people. In Ireland, one member represents 205,000. Under the present arrangement England, with 66 seats, will have one member per 514,000. Scotland is doing slightly better with one member for 470,000, and Northern Ireland is doing considerably better with one member per 344,000. These are quotations from the First Report of the Select Committee, in which the figures were given.
§ Mr. Thomas
I am grateful to the Minister for those figures. I have computed mine from the 1977 register, where the figure is 511,000 for Wales. It is now 514,000, a difference of about 2,000 either way.
Therefore, the position is that Wales is, within the context of this present situation, in a very unfavourable position compared with other full nation-States members of the Community, and this is an argument which, as the hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid) has said, is not going to go away. It is going to be a developing argument in Wales in the next 10 years, as we have now become full members of the Community, a decision we still regret and bitterly opposed at the time, but one taken by a majority of the Welsh people; but, as we become members of the Community, the argument about what kind of members we are to be will be one of the major international arguments in Wales, linked closely as it is to the whole devolution argument and to the status of government in Wales. I will not advance that tonight.
I do not expect the Government will agree to full, nation status for Wales in terms of Community representation, but the Government should take a second look at the regional status on a head count basis, which they are now giving to Wales and Scotland. The head count concept is at variance both with what the Select Committee said, in its First Report on Direct Elections to the European Assembly, in paragraph 13, on page 72, where the Committee foundthat any formulation should be such as to make it possible for the United Kingdom's allocation of seats to be large enough to provide representation for its component parts not significantly out of proportion to those of the smaller Member States (with the proviso that Luxembourg should be treated as a special case).Thus, in the review discussions in the Select Committee there was the concept that component parts, which I take to mean component nations of a kingdom, should be represented in some degree in a 768 national as opposed to a regional head count. That has happened partly in the case of Northern Ireland but certainly not in the case of Wales.
In evidence to the Select Committee this point was made by Plaid Cymru and also by the Farmers' Union of Wales which, as an agricultural union, is now very actively developing a European dimension, because the common agricultural policy is still the only common policy that the Community has which functions, and affects member States and individuals and industries directly. In its representations to the Select Committee the Farmers' Union of Wales said:In so far as Wales is concerned, its identity as a nation in its own right should be borne in mind when drawing up plans for the number of constituencies necessary.Wales should have an allocation of seats on the same basis as other nations in the European Community. If Luxembourg is taken as an example… Wales should have 13 seats.The point being made by the Farmers' Union of Wales—which is not a front organisation for Plaid Cymru on any basis—as an organisation practically involved in European policy making and in the effect and impact of European policy on Wales, is that it feels strongly that the identity of Wales should be recognised. In the early days, back in 1974, the report of the study group of the European Movement, of which I was then a member, on direct elections to the European Parliament dealt with the whole question of what should be the basis of European representation, and this stated:Were European political union already achieved and were it possible to ignore separate nations of Member States it would be logical to allocate Parliamentary seats strictly according to population".There is there a calculation of how this could be done, given an Assembly of the size of 505.
It went on:There are a number of reasons for believing that such an outcome would be politically unacceptable. First, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the Community is not—and may never be—a unitary state, but is rather a group of national sovereign states, bound together by treaty. From this point of view, the smaller states have a strict legal equality with the larger. This fact is recognised within the Community's institutions in the composition of the Council of Ministers; and it might be argued that there is therefore no need to take it into account again in the composition of the Parliament. There are, however, limits. The present 769 Parliamentary seats are allocated so as to reflect, but not to reflect exactly, the relative populations of the Member States, giving a weighting in favour of the smaller members.7.0 p.m.
I want to argue that what is a principle in respect of the existing member States which originally signed the Treaty is also a principle that we should extend to nations which, within the Community already, are achieving the force of political status. Here, we should not take too structured a view of the Community; we should not take too stratified a view of the Community as it exists. Rather, we should see the Community not just as a community of the existing nation-States which signed the Treaty, but as a flexible community, not only in its external relations in the annexation of new members, but also within itself. In other words, when part of the Community itself opts for national status, whether it is a limited status, as in the case of the Welsh Assembly proposals, or a more substantial one, as in the case of the policy of Plaid Cymru—that of having full national status for Wales—the Community should recognise that there are at Community level alternative ways of representation which should be allowed.
That means having forms of direct access from emergent national groupings to the Community itself, and not merely working through the existing apparatus of the nation-Sate. That is a very important basic principle in relation to how the Community is to develop, whether it is to be solely a conglomerate of existing nation-States, or whether it can be flexible enough to accommodate the rights of other emerging national communities.
We clearly see that the Government will not accept the increased number of seats that we and the Scottish National Party propose, but I put it to the Government that they should tell their Community partners that there must be a new look at the allocation of seats to the United Kingdom in view of the changes that are taking place here.
Looking, perhaps, to the membership of Spain, this argument will be taken much further when the emerging Governments of the Basque country and Catalonia demand access to the Community. This problem of how we get new nations within the structure of the 770 Community will be with us throughout the development of the Community.
Why do we believe that national representation for Wales is essential? It is because we have seen what national representation can mean for the Irish Republic. I hope that I will not be out of order in mentioning this, Mr. Murton, but I do represent 650,000 sheep. Recently, the Irish Republic Government negotiated effectively with the French Government a deal whereby Irish lamb was exported to France. Wales, as a major lamb producer, exports 15 per cent. of its lamb production to the Community; yet, because Wales is not a full member of the Community, and, therefore, unable to press, along with Ireland, for a Community sheep regime and access for Welsh lamb to Continental markets, we have been discriminated against. This is why organisations such as the Farmers' Union of Wales want direct representation in the Community at all levels so that we can press for adequate safeguards for our industries.
We shall not press this issue to a Division tonight, as the Government will, no doubt, be relieved to hear, but we reserve the right to renegotiate this figure as soon as we have a mandate from the Welsh people to do so.
§ Mr. Jay
I was surprised to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) say that it was no good proposing any alteration in the figure of 81 seats for the United Kingdom because it had been decided already. It has not been decided already. All that has happened is that the British Government have entered into an international agreement and are recommending to the House of Commons that the agreement should be carried out. It is perfectly within the competence of the House to disagree with that recommendation. Perhaps my hon. Friend agrees with me about that.
§ Mr. Anderson
It is within our competence to suggest 200, 300, 400 or 500 seats. My right hon. Friend may be legally correct, but I am talking about practicality. We have entered into a commitment. Any suggestion from us that our own numbers should be increased would have consequential effects on our partners. Therefore, the realistic position must be to assume that 81 is the overall 771 number and that we can debate the allocation within that.
§ Mr. Jay
So, according to my hon. Friend, it is quite legal for us to discuss the figure but not realistic and practical to do anything about it. But I propose to do something about it by recommending this amendment myself. If the Committee were not competent to discuss this proposition, I am sure that you, Mr. Murton, would not permit us to discuss it. But, as we have already discussed the matter for the last hour or so, do not let us have any suggestion that my hon. Friend can lay down rules of order and, as it were, guillotine this discussion. If anyone is going to do that, I hope that it will be you, Mr. Murton. Quite clearly, you have not done so.
The position is that the British Government have reached an agreement and referred it to the House of Commons, and the Committee is free to agree or not to agree as it pleases. If the Committee agreed to amendments which would raise the total number of United Kingdom seats from 81 to 89, the Government would simply have to go back to the Community and say "We have no authority now to reach an agreement on the basis of 81 seats. Either we reach it on the basis of 89, or for the moment no agreement can be reached." It is clear that that is the legal principle.
That being so, it is with much pleasure as well as surprise, after all the debates on the Scotland Bill, that I find myself in almost total agreement with those who have spoken today for the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru. I hardly discovered any statement of theirs with which I was not in agreement, except perhaps a few sentences which included the words "nationhood" or "nation States". However, I shall not argue about that. To do so would take the debate much too wide, and no doubt we should not persuade one another.
If we look not at these rather vague general concepts but at the figures, we find that Scotland and Wales on an arithmetical basis have a genuine grievance as against Denmark, Ireland and, even more, Luxembourg. No doubt it is not necessary in a democratic society to establish an absolute arithmetical identity between the number of persons represented by each Member in different parts 772 of the whole area, but the present disparities between the representation of Luxembourg, Denmark and Ireland on the one hand and Scotland and Wales on the other are too extreme to be defensible.
There is another consideration. The EEC is a changing unit. We know that there are three more applicant nations—I think that we can call Greece, Spain and Portugal nations without causing too much controversy—which will be joining the Community in a few years, if not within a few months.
All the figures—81, 89, 112 or whatever—are ephemeral and provisional. They are bound to be altered when three other nations of moderate size and population join the Community. Incidentally, that fact exposes the absurdity of our rushing through the Bill as though there were a desperate hurry to reach a target date on the basis of the precise numbers that we are discussing. We know that if the Bill goes through the whole constitution and all the numbers will have to be altered shortly anyway.
My hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East looks as though he dissents from what I have said, but he cannot deny that there are three nations waiting to join.
§ Mr. Anderson
But I can deny that the accession of those three nations need have any consequential effect on the total number of our seats and how their allocation is to be determined. The allocation of seats to those nations can be made on the same basis as the allocation to the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Jay
My hon. Friend takes a simple view of negotiations of this sort if he thinks that the problem can be solved merely by the addition of 50 seats to the size of the Assembly. It is clear that all the figures we are discussing are provisional. That being so, and as there are strong grounds for saying that Scotland and Wales will be under-represented, nationalist Members have made a strong case for serious amendment of the figures.
§ Mr. Powell
Like the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), I find myself in unwonted and strictly temporary alliance with nationalist Members.
§ Mr. Powell
Perhaps my alliance and its limitations may sufficiently appear as 773 what I have to say proceeds. There is no harm in taking note of an occasional overlap, even if it is accidental or paradoxical.
The clause and the figures in it bring out the central and intolerable contradiction in the Bill and in the purpose to which it is directed. I entirely agree with the right hon. Member for Battersea, North that it is no mere legalism to say that we are entitled in this Committee to decide upon these figures. At the commencement of our proceedings in Committee, we established that we are not bound, in the case of this Bill, by the details of the decision of 20th September 1976—indeed, the Bill was deliberately drawn by the Government so that we would not be so bound.
If the House decides that the figures, relative to one another or in total, were unsatisfactory, it is entitled to change them them as it was entitled to vote a week ago last Monday for a 7½ per cent. devaluation of the green pound. As on that occasion, the other Community countries would have to take account of the decision of this Committee and arrive at agreed adjustments among themselves in consequence.
Let me come straight to the inherent contradiction to which I have referred. The whole assumption underlying the proposal for the direct election of representatives is that the electorate of the European Economic Community is being treated as a whole and that the people, directly and not through the medium of their respective national Governments, are to be represented in the Assembly or the Parliament of the EEC.
If that were not so, there would be no point in direct elections. If it were still to be representation of constituent nations, it could be left to the decision of each member State how it arrived at the composition of its delegation or representation. Any move from delegations appointed by nations to representatives individually elected by popular constituencies on a popular vote, which, if the Treaty of Rome is ever to be obeyed, will sooner or later have to be based on the same electoral principles, is a wholly different notion of what is represented in the Assembly.
The Assembly thereby becomes the representation of the total population and 774 the total electorate, as one, of the EEC—a potent expression of the will towards political union which lies behind the fact that Article 138 is in the Treaty of Rome.
I turn to the terminology of the decision of 20th September 1976. Article 1 reads:The representatives in the Assembly of the peoples of the States brought together in the Community shall be elected by direct universal suffrage.That is interesting terminology on which it is worth spending a few moments of reflection. The "representatives in the Assembly" are not representatives of the States. That concept is being left behind. They are "representatives of the peoples of the States brought together in the Community." From the point of view of those who framed the decision, the peoples of the respective States are collectively to elect their representatives and thus produce an Assembly which bears the same relationship to the total electorate of the Community as, for example, this Assembly bears to the total electorate of the United Kingdom.
If that were so, the principle of direct, universal suffrage would have an inevitaable, clear and direct implication, namely, that there should be approximate equality in the constituencies and that the electoral quotas should be—I do not say, pednatically equal—but broadly similar throughout the Community of peoples, so that one vote should have one value. That is the only possible implication and the only logically acceptable implication of the proposal that members of the Assembly shall be directly elected by universal franchise.
However, if we look at the allocation of seats in the next article, we discover all the old skulduggery and log-rolling that has gone on among the respective member nations. The big four have 81 seats each—jacked up from an original 80 in order that one of the nations might fit in a special arrangement for a remote province of that nation.
The rest have deliberate weightings on the ground that the fact that they are nation States has to be recognised and they are not to be treated in this allocation as provinces of commensurate size in a Community—and this is where there is no shame in my agreeing with the views of the Scottish and Welsh nationalists.
775 Those countries are treated as nations in their own right. They are given their own individual, apportioned allocation and weighting. Of course, the extreme case is Luxembourg, which would rate only a fraction of a Member in an Assembly of this size if the allocation were on the basis of population. I am reminded of the days when the proposal was eagerly canvassed that Gibraltar might be represented in the House. I remember the Gibraltarian representatives coming to a Conservative Party committee and putting forward their plea that the desire of Gibraltar to be permanently associated with the United Kingdom should be expressed by Gibraltar being represented in the United Kingdom Parliament.
I remember that I was naughty enough to intervene by saying that, as Member at that time for Wolverhampton, South-West, I supported the proposal, and that as Wolverhampton, South-West was a few thousand electors short of the average quota I would be quite willing to accept the addition of Gibraltar, thus making a single constituency of Wolverhampton, South-West and Gibraltar. That would have been the position of Luxembourg if the Community were being consistent about what it is doing, if this were to be a genuine representation of the peoples of the Community, of the single electorate which has been brought into one mass by the combination of these nation States.
§ Mr. John
—approximately, between the nations? Does that not fall down upon the very point that in the nations represented within this Parliament there is an inequality, which lasts, between 100,000 electors in some places and 22,000 in the Western Isles, so that even within a national Parliament there can be great disparities in representation?
§ Mr. Powell
Yes, and if we were to have the allocation of seats to the different provinces of the Community, to the different slabs of the Community, determined on the kind of criteria on which we justify the higher representation in this 776 place and the lower electoral quota of Wales and Scotland, my argument would fall to the ground. But that is not what has happened. What has happened is that we have set out from block figures which represent the claim of nations, as nations, the respective weight of these nations inside the Community. Having been given their respective quotas, they are told that their electorates can scrabble for them internally as they please. That is what we are concerned with.
Therefore, the whole structure is illogical. It is in fact transitional. It is a sign that the Community has not yet wholly outgrown the nation States but that it is deliberately moving, by the alteration in the nature of its representative Assembly, to a form and a concept which supersedes the nation States. The cause of the complaint of the national parties arises from that incompatibility between the two views of what the Community is about which is dramatically represented by the inconsistency between direct election under Article 1 and the numbers allocated under Article 2.
Therefore, in the concluding section of my remarks I proceed to consider which way the transition is going. If I thought that it was moving in the direction of representation of the nation States—to use the words of the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the first day, as yet innocent of guillotine, of this Committee stage, the "independent and sovereign" nation States—I would not be taking the trouble to take part in any Division or any proceedings whatever which might contribute to securing the defeat of the Bill.
But manifestly that is not so. Manifestly we are going in the opposite direction. We take an Assembly, which at present is composed of those whom the respective nations and their representative bodies have sent as delegates, so to speak, to a conference, to the Assembly of the Community, and we convert it into a semi-Parliament, a simulacrum or pretence of being a directly elected Assembly representing the peoples of the Community.
There is no doubt about the direction in which we are going. We are going away from the nation States, independent and sovereign, and towards an amalgam, a single State or super-State with its 777 characteristic Parliament directly elected by universal suffrage. We have not got there yet. But those who approve this measure are approving that direction in which they want to go. Some hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have been candid enough to admit that.
Therefore, in considering the amendments, we are taking note of the fact that the caravan of the Community is on the move. It is moving away from independent and sovereign nation States towards a single super-State with the appurtenances of a super-State. The tractive power by which it is proceeding—I see a smile on the face of the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes). He is wondering what sort of tractive power a caravan ought to have. Camel power, I suppose—the tractive power for this movement is precisely direct election.
Once we accept the principle of direct election as the means of composing the Assembly of the EEC, we thereby logically commit ourselves to the movement from the independent and sovereign nation State to the West European super-State. At each subsequent step—we shall be considering some of those steps later this evening, when we look at the new clause that the Government have obligingly cobbled up and so fortunately obtained a space for inside the guillotine programme—we shall be told "But, of course, this was implicit in what you did. Why were you voting for direct elections if you did not want a direct representation of the electorate?"
It will be no good for us then to recur to the proceedings on 2nd February 1978. It will be futile for us to say "Ah, yes, but you should consult Hansard. There, at about 7.30 of the clock in the evening, you will find the right hon. Member for Down, South pointing out that there was an inconsistency and a contradiction, and that while the method of election was that appropriate to a super-State, the numbers being elected were those appropriate to a collocation of the existing sovereign nations."
It will not be as easy as that. It will be the principle of direct election, which is all that the Bill is really about, which will take us on from stage to stage until we arrive at the destination towards which the Bill is pointing and at which perhaps not many people in the House of Com 778 mons or the country consciously intend to arrive. But, then, they have not, most of them, consciously wanted to get where we are at present. They have not consciously thought that in 1977–78 they would have a Bill for direct elections. Only two or three years ago they were told that that was in the remote future.
There is a great deal connected with the Common Market which has suddenly come, like a zooming camera, from the remote and theoretical future into a close-up. We had better take precautions while we still can—that is, while this Bill, guillotine or no guillotine, is still within our control. We had better be stirred to do so by the considerations put before us by the representatives of the national parties and the tell-tale contradiction and absurdity in the conflict between the method of election and the irrelevant numbers which are to be elected.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Henderson (Aberdeenshire, East)
You have this week, and now tonight, Mr. Murton, had to listen to the whole question of the Scottish relationship both with this Parliament and with the Parliament in the EEC. I dare say that by now you are something of an expert on Scotland's rights and justifications. I believe it unhappily to be the case that you are not to return to the House of Commons after the next election. If that is so, I have no doubt that a great deal of consultancy work will be available to you in explaining to people the exact nature of the problem and the exact nature of the problem and the arguments which are deployed.
The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), who is, as he said, in an unusual position of agreement with those of us on the Scottish National Party Bench on this issue, made a crucial and fundamental point about the clause. If it were true that we were talking of a one-Europe situation, where national boundaries had no meaning, no purpose and no significance in any political sense, it would indeed be quite easy to have seats such as South-West Pyrenees, North-West this, and so on—seats which had no relevance to the national communities in which they were placed but which followed some rationale of electoral control and electoral procedure laid down in a fair and objective way from the 779 centre, so that everyone within the Community had a vote of equal strength and significance. But that is not so.
I do not take the right hon. Gentleman's pessimistic view in this matter. I still believe that the underlying forces within Europe are essentially those who believe in, if they accept it at all, a Europe des patries, and that the concept of the nation is still the most crucial concept, even within the EEC as we see it today. For that reason, there is no rationale, no democratice rationale in the pure sense, underlying the allocation of seats. There is, as always, a settlement and negotiation of national interest between the different countries concerned in order to find a formula.
It was rather dense and insensitive of the hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) to keep harping on about the question of Luxembourg, which is of little relevance to what we are discussing in relation to Scottish and Welsh representation. When we look at the question from Scotland or Wales, it is natural for us to consider it in relation to countries of similar size. It cannot be disputed that the country of similar size to Scotland in the Community is Denmark.
We ask ourselves why Denmark has 16 seats and Scotland eight. I hope that it is not the Government's view, or that they will repudiate it if it is, that it is because of a qualitative assessment of the better educational standards or moral character of the Danes as compared with the Scots. The real reason is that Scotland is being considered in this matter not as a nation but as a province of another country.
I put the point with greater force than my hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid) did earlier, when he referred to Scotland's distinctive system of law. There is no other State within the Community with two distinctive systems of law. If we consider the concept of the State as a judicial branch, an executive branch and a legislative branch, we can stay that with one-third of those branches at least—the judicial branch—Scotland is part way to being a State. As we are to have executive and legislative branches, we are well on the way to being a State in those terms as well.
Scotland's special position in the Community because of our separate legal sys 780 tem is recognised. There is a Scottish judge on the European Court. It is appropriate that he should be there, because he is accustomed to European concepts of law, by which I mean the civilised concepts of law. Our identity is already taken for granted in that situation.
The object of the amendment is that the number of United Kingdom seats should be increased from 81 to 89 in order that Scotland may be given parity with Denmark. The Minister will no doubt reply that, as we heard from his hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East, of courses that cannot be, because Scotland does not have the legal persona to justify 16 seats. But even if we cannot have the United Kingdom representation increased to 89, the way in which the United Kingdom treats Scotland in this place and on the number of seats in the European Parliament will be noted by the people of Scotland.
There are right hon. and hon. Members who brag to us about the advantages of union, who tell us what a wonderful thing it is that we are part of the union here. The Government must reflect that one of the prices of that union is that Scotland should be given bigger representation, nearer the Danish model, than eight seats. If the union is of overall importance to right hon. and hon. Members, they should consider the sacrifice that they may have to make in giving up their seats to bring Scotland up to parity with those countries with which it can rightly be compared.
The Minister may well argue that we are not a separate State. But if we are not treated in the light of our existence as a nation, that will tell in Scotland. If the rest of the nations in this kingdom are not prepared to move to recognise us as a nation, in the number of seats given in the European Parliament, more and more people in Scotland will say "The sooner we get independence and have our separate representation, the better".
§ Mrs. Winifred Ewing
Not so long ago, as a member of the European Parliament delegation from the United Kingdom, I found that the much advertised slogan for the year, and a very good slogan, was "A future for our past". That was because it was European Architectural Heritage Year. That slogan perhaps has a message for us in this debate 781 because, whatever we think of the European Community, whether we were for or against entering, it is nothing if it does not recognise all the cultures of all the peoples of Europe, which is one of the bastions of democracy in a world where all too often democracy is not very noticeable.
We in Scotland have a distinctive culture. Much has been said about the law, and as a lawyer I shall not go over that ground. We believe that we have made a contribution to mankind out of all proportion to our size. In Scottish schools we were always told of all the things we had invented or discovered. It was an Englishman, Dr. Johnson, who paid tribute to us when he said that we had made an enormous contribution, out of all proportion to our size, to the thought of mankind. He was not always very kind to the Scots, but he was kind on that one. I suppose that he was kind because he was merely speaking in accordance with the facts.
The European Parliament is not a Parliament of confrontation where we sit at two swords' length, but a hemicycle. It is flexible in many ways. It is 20 years old and, rightly or wrongly, it is seeking more powers. It may get them. At present it has rather strange and limited powers. It can dismiss the whole Commission and dismiss the whole budget, but these powers are never used. In effect, it might as well have no powers, but it is seeking more powers. It is not a Parliament of confrontation, and in a certain sense it is not a Parliament at all, but my party's interests and rights are given a remarkably fair hearing.
I was interested when the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) said that the European Parliament is moving against the independent sovereign State. Personally, I am against economic and monetary union. I should deplore that. I do not see any way of preserving the cultures within Europe if we are to move to such a union.
§ Mrs. Ewing
We are in agreement.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the danger of moving away from the independent sovereign State. However, last Wednesday the House of Commons denied the right of a people—that is the 782 word that has been used—ever to become a sovereign State, ever to have the right to which the United Nations Charter commits the United Kingdom to recognising—namely, self-determination. That was what the House of Commons did last Wednesday.
§ Mrs. Ewing
It changed the rules to make it almost impossible to achieve self-determination. The rules were rigged. The former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson), who was Prime Minister when I first entered the House, said "One will do." The right hon. Gentleman was saying that a majority of one would do—namely, one of the votes cast. I have taken the trouble to read the debates, and that is how Cyprus, Nigeria and other States achieved their self-determination. However, last Wednesday the House of Commons decided that one of the votes cast is not sufficient to enable the people of Scotland to realise their aspiration. It has been decided that 40 per cent. of the total electorate in Scotland will have to vote in favour. Even the dead are to be included.
I agree with the right hon. Member for Down, South about the danger of moving away from an independent sovereign State. If the right hon. Gentleman is criticising the European Parliament for its lack of recognition of cultures, it must be said that there is more recognition of the culture and individual contribution of Scotland in that forum than in the House of Commons. I am sorry to have to say that.
§ Mrs. Ewing
In 1968 my party visited the Commission as an interested body to observe and to ask questions. The members of my party were fortunate to meet a Commissioner. We met senior civil servants engaged in all the various subjects in which we were interested. After a rather unsuccessful meeting, from their point of view, when we were not convinced that it was a good set-up to join, a senior civil servant said "You have to have faith". We asked, "How can we have faith in a body that does not know anything about us and does not even visit Scotland? It is a body that is to make 783 decisions that will affect Scotland without having any understanding of the problems."
It was put to us, "Have you never thought that in this set of institutions there is a glorious new role for Scotland?" The head of the civil service at the time said "Scotland can be the leader of the downtrodden regions of Europe." He was surprised when my delegation burst into laughter. He could not understand what he had said wrong. He thought that he was paying us a compliment. We do not regard that sort of comment as a compliment. We are not a region. We are downtrodden but we are not a region. That is where we have to part company.
The right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) said that the hub of the matter is nationhood, but he said that he would not go into that. The hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) spoke of the claim of Wales to be a nation. I hope that he is not a Welshman. If he is, it is a strange thing to have said. However, that is what he is on record as saying. If I were a Welshman, I would rather not be that sort of Welshman.
The hub of the amendment is nationhood. We have had many definitions of a nation, and I shall not repeat the points that have been well made by my hon. Friends the Members for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Henderson) and Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid).
There is no point in the House of Commons pretending that Scotland is the same as Yorkshire. That will not do. The "Yorkshire" argument is surely buried for ever. It should be stone cold dead in the market place. If it told the fans going to Argentina that they were not members of a nation, the Committee would get an answer that it might not like. The answer might not be in parliamentary language. Tell them that they are not members of a nation, and they will soon say that they are a nation and that they come from all the various "Yorkshires" of Scotland, from the regions of Scotland, which is an interesting and varied nation with all manner of places within it, all with their own cultures. It is a nation that has had a com 784 mon cause for longer than any nation in Western Europe.
It was in the Dark Ages that culture was saved by the Celtic West, by Ireland, Wales and Scotland. It was only in the West, in the Celtic nations, that culture survived during the Dark Ages. However, Members from Scotland have to come to the House of Commons to be in some ways constantly insulted by hearing it argued that it is not a fact that Scotland is a nation.
There are not many who are brave enough to say that now, but when I first came to this place it was said daily. In fact, "England" was used as well as "Britain". It was used as if it were the same thing. When I discovered that hon. Members went to Hansard and changed that reference, or that Hansard changed it for them, I had to go to Hansard to say "The hon. Gentleman said 'England'. If he said 'England', it should go in the record as that. That is what he thinks it is, so that is what should go in the record." That is how the nation of Scotland has been treated in the House of Commons, as has the nation of Wales.
As I have said, the European Parliament is about 20 years old. I campaigned vehemently against entering the Common Market. I did so on platforms throughout Scotland and in England. However, rightly or wrongly, the vote in Scotland in favour was 57 per cent. That was the percentage of the votes cast to make an extraordinary constitutional change. That percentage of the votes cast was sufficient. That brings us back to last Wednesday's vote. We had 57 per cent. in favour and, as we are democrats, unlike those who voted against the aspiration of the people of Scotland last Wednesday, we have accepted the fact that we are at present in the Common Market. The European Parliament is a forum where eight Members will not suffice to represent the interests of the distinctive culture of Scotland.
Ireland and Denmark are two of the smaller member States. How do they fare? They have a larger representation than Scotland is proposed to have. I shall not go over the numbers argument but instead will give a practical example. The Irish have had a good deal for their beef. That is fairly satisfactory. The Welsh have obtained a satisfactory deal 785 for their sheepmeat. They had a good deal in respect of the green pound. What about the Danes? The Fisheries Commissioner is a Dane. The Danes are the pirates of the North Sea. They are despoiling one of the largest sources of protein in the world. They are the baddies of fishermen, yet they are getting a good deal for their fishermen. But the Scottish fishermen, whose grounds are part of the largest fishpond in the world, are getting a rotten deal. These are the facts. In the light of the facts, I suggest that Scotland must get a proper deal.
Why is eight immutable? It is silly to suggest that it is. There is no reason for that to be so. Why cannot Britain say "In our case 81 will not do. We have a rather special State comprised of several nations, and that entitles us to greater representation"? If that means that the Germans will say that Bavaria has a special position, that the French will say that the Bretons have a special position or that the Italians will say that the Sicilians have a special position, that matter should be considered. But if it means that Spain, if it enters the Common Market, has to say that the Catalans and the Basques have a special position, that means a bigger rather than a smaller Parliament.
Therefore, I have great pleasure in supporting the amendment.
§ Mr. Hurd
The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) showed that the allocation of seats inside the Community is a compromise between two concepts of Europe. But it is characteristic of him that, the moment he detects a compromise, he denounces it. I think that it is an ingenious compromise that reflects accurately the balance of power and thought within the Community between the nation States and the aspiration of European unity.
The arguments in support of the amendments regarding the distribution of seats inside the Community are logical coming from the nationalists. If one believes that Scotland and Wales are, in essence, independent States and that legal recognition should follow, it is logical to go into the argument about Denmark and Luxembourg.
The right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) wants to destroy the Bill, so he has fun and expresses a certain 786 logic of his own. For the nationalists this is a logical argument, but for anyone who believes that Scotland, Wales and, indeed, Northern Ireland are part of the United Kingdom, comparisons with Denmark and Luxembourg fall. They have no validity of any kind. Therefore, this is strictly a nationalist argument. It is an argument that appeals to those who believe that Scotland and Wales should be independent countries, but it will not have any logical appeal to anyone else, including, I suspect, the majority of those who live in Scotland and Wales.
§ Mr. Hurd
That is precisely why I use the word "destructive" or "wrecking" to describe the amendment, because that would be its impact if it were carried.
The Select Committee discussed this matter in great detail. It is no easy matter to distribute 81 seats. The Select Committee decided that the right approach was the mathematical approach. It rounded the figures in such a way that Scotland markedly, Northern Ireland markedly and Wales only slightly are in a better position than England in the relationship between electors and the number of representatives.
§ Mr. Hurd
According to the latest figures, as the Minister confirmed, Wales is in a slightly more favourable position than England. We have not detected that more favourable position for Wales from some of the speeches to which we have listened. The Select Committee's proposals and the Government's proposals based on the Select Committee's report put all three—Wales, I agree, only by a hair's breadth—in a more favourable position than other component parts of the United Kingdom. That position should be recognised, but it has not been mentioned or recognised so far.
For those reasons, although this is a tortuous and difficult subject, the Conservative Opposition believe that the Select Committee's recommendations are on balance the best way through this labyrinth. We think that the Government were right, on the whole, to accept 787 those recommendations and to incorporate them in this part of the Bill. Therefore we have no sympathy with the amendments.
§ Mr. John
There are three groups of amendments which have in common a change in the number of seats and their distribution. But, that said, there is no agreement between them. There is no agreement on how many seats are wanted for the United Kingdom or on how they should be distributed.
I am sorry that the sponsors of the Scottish National Party's amendment and of Plaid Cymru's amendment are not in their places.
§ Mr. John
I am sorry. But certainly the hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. Thomas) is not present.
The purpose of argument is to obtain a response, in however short a time is left, to the debate.
The Scottish National Party has rightly said that it has taken the Denmark formula as the basis of comparison for representation. It is not, as I indicated earlier, and as the hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid) said, that one Scottish Member represents 600,000 people. I have already dealt with the numbers, but I propose to repeat them for the benefit of those who were not present or who wish to take a note of them.
In Northern Ireland, one seat is elected by 344,000 electors. In Scotland, one seat is elected by 473,000 electors. In Wales, one seat is elected by 514,000 electors. In England, one seat is elected by 516,000 electors.
If we take the Denmark benchmark, we are talking about it not merely for Scotland, but for the whole Community, to be logical and fair. But the amendment does not do that. The upshot of such an amendment, extended throughout the Community, would mean an Assembly of 850 seats.
Plaid Cymru's amendment would give 10 more seats—I see that the hon. Member for Merioneth has now resumed his place—back to the United Kingdom, but would allocate the whole of them to 788 Wales to give 14 seats compared with the four in the Bill.
The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) said that, in law, we could tell the Community that, as a result of the debate, it would have to renegotiate.
There is no agreement between the amendments as to the basis on which that should be done. Therefore, we cannot logically accept either of the amendments. It is odd that these two great allies—the SNP and Plaid Cymru—cannot agree to look after each other's interests in mutual amendments.
The Irish Republic mark, which is the basis of Plaid Cymru's amendment, would create an Assembly, if translated throughout the Community, of more than 1,300 seats. We must consider whether we want 1,300 representatives going to the Assembly.
My hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) asked "Why be satisfied with that? Why not have one Member to every 34,000 electors, as in Luxembourg?". In that event we would have an Assembly of about 5,700 members. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I did not expect that to get quite the approbation that it did. That shows the inherent impossibility of the creations that the nationalists want.
I accept Wales and Scotland as nations. However, I do not accept them as nation States. People can form nations without those nations being nation States. The confusion in this matter has led to a lot of argument with the nationalists over their misconceptions.
My hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East asked, why not have one more seat for Wales? He said that it would mean taking only one more seat for England. But, as has been said, one and half seats have already been taken from England on a strictly numerical proportion to round up in Scotland and Northern Ireland to take account of their special responsibilties. I am an unlikely defender of English nationalism, but I should be unwilling to take from England and further to destroy the basis of justice to make special provision in this instance.
The basis arrived at by the Select Committee may not be pretty or logically symmetrical, but it has the effect of wreaking substantial justice between 789 different parts of the United Kingdom. I do not believe in perpetrating injustice by elevating a part of the country in which I happen to live at the expense of others. I believe that we should try to bring about substantial justice.
Therefore, I believe that the clause as drafted represents the best that can be achieved, and, therefore, I cannot advise the Committee to accept these proposals. I cannot accept the logic of the argument which has been made that if we throw out these provisions we shall have to
§ renegotiate. There is no basis in the three amendments on which we could renegotiate, and there is no common—
§ It being Eight o'clock, THE CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to Order [26th January], to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 47, Noes 132.791
|Division No. 94]||AYES||[[...].0 p.m.|
|Atkinson, Norman||Heffer, Eric S.||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch|
|Bell, Ronald||Henderson, Douglas||Reid, George|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Richardson, Miss Jo|
|Body, Richard||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Ross, William (Londonderry)|
|Bradford, Rev Robert||Kerr, Russell||Short, Mrs Renee (Wolv NE)|
|Budgen, Nick||Latham, Arthur (Paddington)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Carson, John||Lee, John||Spearing, Nigel|
|Castle, Rt Hon Barbara||McCusker, H.||Stoddart, David|
|Colquhoun, Ms Maureen||Madden, Max||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|Crowther Stan (Rotherham)||Marten, Neil||Thompson, George|
|Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)||Maynard, Mist Joan||Torney, Tom|
|Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Mikardo, Ian||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)||Moate, Roger||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Molloy, William|
|Flannery, Martin||Molyneaux, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Ovenden, John||Mrs. Winifred Ewing and|
|Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St)||Paisley, Rev Ian||Mr. D. E. Thomas|
|Anderson, Donald||George, Bruce||Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Glyn, Dr Alan||Nott, John|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Golding, John||Ogden, Eric|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Graham, Ted||Page, John (Harrow West)|
|Bates, Alf||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Parker, John|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Grant, John (Islington C)||Penhaligon, David|
|Boardman, H.||Hamilton, W. W. (Central File)||Perry, Ernest|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Hardy, Peter||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Radice, Giles|
|Boyden, James (Bish Auc[...])||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Rathbone, Tim|
|Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)||Hayhoe, Barney||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Horam, John||Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Howell, David (Guildford)||Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)|
|Carter, Ray||Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)||Roper, John|
|Cartwright, John||Hunter, Adam||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Hurd, Douglas||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Clarke, Kennen (Rushcliffe)||John, Brynmor||Sandelson, Neville|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)||Sever, John|
|Cohen, Stanley||Jones, Arthur (Daventry)||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Coleman, Donald||Judd, Frank||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)||Kaufman, Gerald||Sims, Roger|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Kimball, Marcus||Snape, Peter|
|Crouch, David||Lamborn, Harry||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||Lamond, James||Stallard, A. W.|
|Dell, Rt Hon Edmund||Le Merchant, Spencer||Stanley, John|
|Doig, Peter||Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Dormand, J. D.||Lever, Rt Hon Harold||Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Lipton, Marcus||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Dykes, Hugh||Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)||Strang, Gavin|
|English, Michael||McCartney, Hugh||Surmmerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Ennals, Rt Hon David||Macfarlane, Neil||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)|
|Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||MacFarquhar, Roderick||Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret|
|Eyre, Reginald||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)|
|Fairgrieve, Russell||Mason, Rt Hon Roy||Tinn, James|
|FooKes, Miss Janet||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Forman, Nigel||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral||Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek|
|Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Ward, Michael|
|Freud, Clement||Moyle, Roland||Watkins, David|
|Watkinson, John||Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Whitehead, Phillip||Woodall, Alec||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Willey, Rt Hon Frederick||Woof, Robert||Mr. Joseph Harper.|
|Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ The CHAIRMAN then proceeded to put forthwith the Question necessary for the disposal of the Business to be concluded at Eight o'clock.
§ Question accordingly agreed to.792
§ Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 122, Noes 47.791
|Division No. 951||AYES||[8.11 p.m.|
|Anderson, Donald||Grant, John (Islington C)||Penhaligon, David|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Perry, Ernest|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Radice, Giles|
|Awdry, Daniel||Hardy, Peter||Rathbone, Tim|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Harper, Joseph||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Horam, John||Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Howell, David (Guildford)||Roper, John|
|Boardman, H.||Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Hunter, Adam||Sandelson, Neville|
|Boyden, James (Bish Auck)||Hurd, Douglas||Sever, John|
|Brooke, Peter||John, Brynmor||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Jones, Arthur (Daventry)||Sims, Roger|
|Carlisle, Mark||Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)|
|Carter, Ray||Judd, Frank||Snape, Peter|
|Cartwright, John||Kaufman, Gerald||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)|
|Chalker Mrs Lynoa||Kellott-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Sproat, Iain|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Lamborn, Harry||Stallard, A. W.|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)||Lamont, Norman||Stanley, John|
|Coleman, Donald||Le Marchant, Spencer||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Lever, Rt Hon Harold||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)||Lipton, Marcus||Strang, Gavin|
|Dell, Rt Hon Edmund||Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)||Surmmerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Doig, Peter||McCartney, Hugh||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)|
|Dormand, J. D.||Macfarlane, Neil||Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||MacFarquhar, Roderick||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)|
|Dykes, Hugh||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Tinn, James|
|English, Michael||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.|
|Ennals, Rt Hon David||Mason, Rt Hon Roy||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Ward, Michael|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)||Watkins, David|
|Fairgrieve, Russell||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)||Watkinson, John|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Forman, Nigel||Moyle, Roland||Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)|
|Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)||Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick||Woodall, Alec|
|Freud, Clement||Nott, John|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Ogden, Eric||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Golding, John||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David||Mr Ted Graham and Mr Alf Bates|
|Grant, George (Morpeth)||Parker, John|
|Atkinson, Norman||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Ross, William (Londonderry)|
|Bell, Ronald||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)|
|Body, Richard||Kerr, Russell||Skinner, Dennis|
|Bradford, Rev Robert||Kinnock, Neil||Spearing, Nigel|
|Buchan, Norman||Latham, Arthur (Paddington)||Stoddart, David|
|Budgen, Nick||Lee, John||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Carson, John||McCusker, H.||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|Castle, Rt Hon Barbara||Madden, Max||Thompson, George|
|Colquhoun, Ms Maureen||Marten, Neil||Torney, Tom|
|Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Maynard, Miss Joan||Welsh, Andrew|
|Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)||Mikardo, Ian||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Molyneaux, James||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray)||Ovenden, John||Woof, Robert|
|Flannery, Martin||Paisley, Rev Ian|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Reid, George||Mr John Ellis and Mr Roger Moate|
|Henderson, Douglas||Richardson, Miss Jo|
§ Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.