HC Deb 25 January 1978 vol 942 cc1424-553
Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, Central)

I beg to move Amendment No. 229, in page 37, line 37, after "a", insert "United Kingdom".

The First Deputy Chairman

With this we may discuss the following Amendments:

No. 231, in Schedule 17, page 88, line 14, leave out "Scotland" and insert "United Kingdom".

No. 232, in Schedule 17, page 88, line 17, leave out "Scotland" and insert "United Kingdom".

Mr. Hamilton

The amendments are designed to make the referendum a United Kingdom referendum rather than purely Scottish. I shall try to anticipate what might be the arguments against this proposition.

No doubt it will be said that a United Kingdom referendum would be more costly and take longer to arrange, that the legislation does not involve the rest of the United Kingdom anyhow and, more importantly, from the Government's view, that to extend the referendum in this way would ensure the defeat of the legislation. There is no doubt that English votes would be overwhelmingly against any such fundamental upheaval in the constitutional machinery of the United Kingdom. My belief is that the majority of working people in England would be opposed to this legislation. Indeed, if there were a free vote in the House of Commons the majority of Members would be against it.

The argument about cost is trivial. One does not niggle about costs when basic principles are involved. The fact that the Government see fit to conduct an exclusive referendum emphasises the suspicion of the English regions that the Government feel that there is something peculiarly and exclusively Scottish about the problem of devolution and that it does not concern the English regions. To make matters worse, the Government are ensuring that United Kingdom taxpayers will foot the bill for an exclusively Scottish measure.

The time factor argument is equally weak, if it is an argument at all. Both the arguments about time and cost, if there is any strength in them at all, could be answered by a decision to hold the referendum on the same day as a General Election, perhaps some time in the spring of 1979 or after the April 1979 Budget. In those circumstances, there would be a minimum of additional cost and delay.

The third argument is the most untenable of all. It is that these matters do not involve the United Kingdom as a whole. At best it is patently absurd and at worst it is blatant dishonesty. It is a facetious argument.

There is a great deal of concern about this in England. There is violent opposition to it in Labour circles, particularly in North-East and North-West England. In the North-East the Government have sought to bribe support from hon. Members and from outside, although North-East Members are fundamentally opposed to it. The same applies to the North-West. Whatever statistics one uses for unemployment or social deprivation, there is evidence to suggest that the English regions are at least in as bad a plight as certain areas north of the border. Even in London the streets are not paved with gold, although the impression is created north of the border that everything in London is marvellous. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) knows that in his city there is a deprivation which is at least as great in pockets as the worst deprivation in Scotland.

Big and small companies with headquarters in London and elsewhere are intimately affected by what happens to this legislation. Whether we like it or not, they provide the jobs and few of these firms want this legislation. I have seen a letter signed by an SNP official in Fife which says to an oil company which has engaged in a £200 million investment on the Firth of Forth " We warn you that whatever you do, an independent Scottish Assembly will not accept international commitments entered into by a United Kingdom Government." The SNP is saying that it will renounce all of those. That is why no one in England or Scotland can pretend that that kind of consideration does not affect people in England as much as it affects people in Scotland.

I will quote at length on some other occasion from the great correspondence there has been on that matter. It was raised by one of my hon. Friends at the Scottish Office. Immediately there was a denunciation or withdrawal of it by a member of the SNP. The letter was quoted and it stated that there would be civil disobedience and, presumably, the blowing-up of pipelines by the SNP. That was implied in that letter, and it is no good saying after that that its contents are withdrawn or renounced. By then the damage is done.

The author of that letter wrote it on official SNP paper with the official approval of the party. It was subsequently withdrawn, but we know that that kind of action cannot and does not go unnoticed south of the border. Therefore, whatever happens in the Scottish context must affect—I believe adversely—people south of the border.

I believe that the case for having a United Kingdom referendum, in spite of the minor difficulties which might be put in its way, is overwhelming. I ask the Committee to support the amendment. If necessary, I shall force it to a vote.

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

On a point of order, Sir Myer. I wish to raise this point now before the debate develops in order not to interrupt the flow of the debate. I have written to the Chairman of Ways and Means concerning Amendments Nos. 633, 634, 635 and 636—

The First Deputy Chairman (Sir Myer Galpern)

Order. I have seen the letter that the hon. Member has written. The Chairman of Ways and Means has said that he will be looking into the suggestions made in it. I think, therefore, that we should wait until he has had an opportunity to decide what to do about it.

Mr. Johnston

I am grateful to you, Sir Myer, for saying that and to the Chairman of the Ways and Means for considering the matter. Presumably, if any change is contemplated it will have to be made before the conclusion of the debate on this amendment. Is that the case?

The First Deputy Chairman

I am sure that the Chairman of Ways and Means is fully aware of the limitations and the urgency with which his consideration must take place.

Mr. John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)

I wish to support the amendment. Having differed from the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) on profound matters in the past, I am happy to agree with him on this. The point which the Committee must stand by is that the Bill affects the whole of the United Kingdom. We have seen that day by day in our debates in this Committee.

Just to hold a referendum in Scotland on this vital new constitutional change—the first affecting the constitution of the Untied Kingdom since the Act of Union in 1707—would be an outrage and a most dangerous precedent. Certainly it would cause the utmost bitterness in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For those reasons, I wholeheartedly support the amendment.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

The English have some constitutional rights to be consulted. One reason is that the Bill undoubtedly affects the government of England and the interests of English taxpayers almost as much as it affects those of Scotland. However, it also affects those Scots of either the first generation or of subsequent generations who have come to work and live in England. I am under no illusions about how difficult—perhaps impossible—it is for those Scots who have come south of the border to earn their bread and butter to be consulted. However, there should at least be some Government passing reference to the large number of letters some of us have received from Scots in England asking to be consulted. I know of no other opportunity on which to ask this question.

All this underlines once again the unsatisfactory nature of the whole ethnic argument—the idea that we talk about Scots and English when more and more as never before people are becoming intermingled. I reckon that I now represent thousands of English people in West Lothian. My hon. Friends, in their various constituencies, find the same.

5.15 p.m.

Mr. David Price (Eastleigh)

I should like to support the amendment. The hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) is right to keep reminding us that this is a United Kingdom matter. If there is any doubt about it let us consider Clause 1. It states very clearly that the provisions of the Bill would not affect the unity of the United Kingdom or the supreme authority of Parliament to make laws for the United Kingdom or any part of it. Therefore the referendum must be taken for the Kingdom as a whole. I understand that the referendum is a new departure in our affairs, and this will be only the second we have had, but Clause 1 makes it clear that the Bill specifically covers the whole Kingdom.

Mr. John Smith

The hon. Member might reflect that relying too much on Clause 1 to assist his argument would be unwise since he voted against it.

Mr. Price

I am speaking of the Government's intentions, which, irrespective of what Parliament has done, are reflected in the Bill. It is a United Kingdom Bill. In the debate on Clause 1 we all agreed that this was a United Kingdom matter. Therefore any referendum which is held on the subsequent Act, the Bill having passed through both Houses of Parliament must be a matter for all the people of the United Kingdom.

The Minister of State might argue that that is not the case because his proposals are so minor that they come in the same category as the local drinking hours options in Wales. There was a case there for restricting the rise on the Welsh option to the Welsh. None of us argued that that was a United Kingdom matter and, therefore, should have been the subject of a United Kingdom referendum. I am sure that the Minister of State will not argue that his proposals come into that class.

Mr. John Smith

Does the hon. Member think that the Northern Ireland border poll should have been carried out on the basis of the whole of the United Kingdom, and that it was wrong to confine it to the electors of Northern Ireland?

Mr. Price

I am sure that the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) could deploy a strong argument to show that it was wrong to do it that way. Of course, the Ulster border poll was not simply an internal United Kingdom referendum. It was more in the nature of a plebiscite about whether a particular piece of land and its people belong to one country or another. Therefore plebiscites are limited to those in the border areas concerned. That is why the Northern Ireland poll was of a different nature from that of the referendum in this Bill.

There is no suggestion in the Bill that this issue concerns the separation of Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom. It is an internal arrangement of development for Scotland which affects the whole of the United Kingdom.

Another reason is that the United Kingdom taxpayer is involved throughout. If at an earlier stage of the Bill the Government had followed the argument that the devolution of law making should be followed by the devolution of taxation there might have been an argument for restricting the referendum only to the people of Scotland who would come under the new régime. But that argument did not appeal to the Government. They say that this Parliament and the central Government of the United Kingdom must retain the taxing powers, and, therefore, all of us are involved in the New Scottish proposals.

There can be no question, therefore, but that all United Kingdom voters are involved in these decisions. As we all know, for many years the Scottish people have received, per head of population, a higher amount of public expenditure than the people in England. Secretaries of State over a long period have quoted figures to this effect in answer to Questions. As of now, the Scottish voter is getting more out of the Imperial Exchequer than the English voter is getting. Under the proposals it is very likely that the English voters will have to pay even more in the future. That takes a good deal of explaining away, but no one can deny that English voters have a vested interest in these decisions about Scotland.

There is also the question of parliamentary representation. It will be within the knowledge of everyone here that on a purely statistical basis Scotland is overrepresented in the House. If the Bill be- comes an Act we shall face all the problems of different classes of Member about which the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) is continually reminding us. The position of Scottish Members here will become very difficult and ambivalent. Scotland will then be even more grossly over-represented than it is today. This also must be a matter of deep concern to the English electorate.

I believe that these are very convicing reasons for arguing that it is right that the referendum should be held over the whole of the United Kingdom. I hope that, on all sides, we shall support the hon. Member for Fife, Central.

Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith (Glasgow, Hillhead)

It is not very often that I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton). When we are in agreement it must mean that what we agree about should commend itself to the Committee.

It is clear that the creation of an Assembly will affect not only people in Scotland but people in the rest of the United Kingdom. There are several aspects to be considered. First, there is the special advantage that people in industry in Scotland will have as a result of the Assembly being able to exert pressure on the Government, and perhaps in that way getting industry directed to Scotland. These fears have already been expressed by people coming from the remoter parts of England, particularly Northumberland. That is the first reason why people in the rest of the United Kingdom are affected.

Then there is the curious position that will arise, if the Bill becomes law—I hope it will not—in regard to the Scottish Members of Parliament. This is a matter which is bound to affect people in England, and therefore they ought to be able to express a view on it through a referendum.

Next, there is the fact that there are many people who live in England purely for business reasons, and therefore have a temporary home here but whose spiritual home is in Scotland. We have the curious position of the Secretary of State for Scotland, who will not be able to express an opinion in the referendum because, purely for temporary reasons, he does not have a home in Scotland. No one could be more Scottish than the right hon. Gentleman. This seems to be a further reason why people in the rest of the United Kingdom should be allowed to vote.

There is also the point which has been made about the terrible tendency to pretend that Britain is two countries. It is as though we were playing a perpetual football match between the English and the Scots. It makes me utterly sick. [Interruption.] I may say that each time Scotland gets beaten I am almost jolly pleased. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I say that because in my opinion these endless international football matches do not do any good at all for international relations. They stir things up. No one would like to be living in an area anywhere near a football match taking place between England and Scotland. Anyone who does not admit that is a hypocrite. [Interruption.]

Mr. Dalyell


The First Deputy Chairman

Order. Just a moment, or the referee will have to bring out the yellow card. It is not in order to discuss rugby or football.

Mr. Dalyell

I am sure that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) can shout for Scotland with the best of us.

Mr. Galbraith

When I made my last remark I was beginning to get a little worked up. I am a Scotsman through and through, without an ounce of foreign blood in my veins, and with nothing except Scottish blood in my family for 800 years. I naturally wish my own country to win, but I dislike very much the tendency to pretend that Britain is not one country. It is a united country, and the great constitutional change which the Bill proposes is one that should be determined on a British basis and not on an isolated Scottish basis.

Mr. Terence Higgins (Worthing)

We have already, as the result of the despicable action taken by the Leader of the House, lost a great deal of time, and therefore I shall speak only briefly on the amendment.

I find myself in some difficulty because I am totally opposed to the idea of a referendum, and I hope to express that view later in the debate on the clause, but I may have no opportunity to do so because of the very severe restriction of time.

Being totally opposed to the whole idea of a referendum, I find difficulty in deciding whether I ought to support an amendment which would seek to make the position slightly less objectionable. On balance, I have come to the view that I should support it. It is really quite bizarre to suggest that a referendum should be held, which clearly affects very significantly my own constituents and people in other English constituencies, and at the same time to tell them that they are to express no view on whether they support the Government's proposal. It seems to me that that must be totally wrong.

I cannot be sure of defeating the Government on the main issue of the referendum, although I hope that, in voting on the Question, "That the clause stand part of the Bill", I shall be joined by others who also feel that we have not had proper time for the discussion of these matters.

In all the circumstances, I think that my right course of action is to support the amendment if it is pressed to a Division, although that will take further time.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

Coming from Merseyside, as I do, I can say that we are very happy to have Kenny Dalglish playing football for Liverpool. We were also very happy to have Bill Shankly as the manager of the Liverpool football team. They are fine men and good Scotsmen, but they are also very good Merseysiders, and I feel that this sums up the whole question facing our country.

I do not particularly like referendums, but I think that there is a very good argument for this one, and I shall certainly support the amendment.

Mr. Peter Emery (Honiton)

I have not taken much part in the debates on the Bill, but the views that I expressed on the Scotland and Wales Bill were fairly strong. Indeed, I put down an amendment to that Bill which was more or less the same as the one moved today by the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton). I shall be brief, because we are naturally trying to make progress.

If the Minister is arguing, as he does strongly, that the Bill will not cause the break-up of the United Kingdom, he must surely accept that that is a subjective judgment on his part. It happens to be my judgment that it will cause the break-up of the United Kingdom. That being so, should not everyone in the United Kingdom have the right to vote on the matter?

The Bill sets out to be one affecting the United Kingdom, and it seems to me to be entirely incorrect that the Government should limit the decision to Scotland and not allow all the people within the United Kingdom to vote on it. One could go on expanding this argument. The feeling in the South-West that they should have a right on this decision is very considerable. I shall not expand. My point is made quite clearly in what I said. I urge the Government, if they speak as the Government of the United Kingdom, to ensure that the amendment is allowed to go through.

5.30 p.m.

Mrs. Margaret Bain (Dunbartonshire, East)

Unlike the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith), I have not tried to measure the amount of Scottish blood in my veins. So I hope that the Committee will not object to my speaking on the amendment.

It is amazing that we in the Committee should find ourselves suddenly accepting the principle of referendums when it is a principle against which many hon. Members have spoken previously. Beyond that, we are trying to define the extent of any referendum which should be held within any area of the United Kingdom. Moreover, when Conservative Members say that they will make lengthy speeches on the amendments and that they wish to make rapid progress, this is thought of very ill by Members such as myself, who have to listen to them virtually filibustering their way through—[HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."]—and preventing our talking on very important amendments. Last night we spent an hour and a half during which only four members of the Conservative Party were present, two of them being Front Bench Members, with three Scottish National Party Members, two Liberal Members and seven Government Members.

At the end of that debate the Conservative Party had the effrontery to withdraw the amendment and not push it to a vote perhaps because the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition was addressing a meeting of the NFU and many of the Conservative Party Back-Bench Members were guests. This showed the kind of interest that the Conservative Party has in the Bill.

Turning to some of the points raised by other hon. Members, the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) tried to say that in asking for a referendum to be held only in Scotland on the Scotland Bill and only in Wales presumably on the Wales Bill, we were somehow trying to put forward an ethnic argument. He pointed out that in his constituency of West Lothian many people were not Scots. He is not alone in having people who are not Scottish in his constituency. Many people in my constituency are not of Scottish origin.

On a question affecting Scotland the SNP is asking for a process of identification of the people with the problems of the country in which they live. For us in the SNP the definition of a Scotsman is an individual who lives and works in Scotland, who recognises the problems of Scotland and is prepared to alter that situation. This is why many people who have come to live in Scotland from South of the border are supporters of the SNP.

Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Kinross and West Perthshire)

Does that mean that, as the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) said, if the SNP had its own way people such as Kenny Dalglish would not be allowed to play in Scotland?

Mrs. Bain

It is a process of democracy that one can favour whichever football team one wants. I am sure that Kenny Dalglish, rather like Ally MacLeod, would be taken aback by what the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) said earlier. Another point which arose in the discussion was that English taxpayers would be asked to finance a Scottish Assembly. Why is it that the protests are loudest from the people who wholeheartedly voted against logical amendments to give the Scottish Assembly the right to run its own affairs and to look after its own problems?

The Conservative Party and many Back-Bench Labour Members are being intellectually dishonest in the stance they are taking. Nowhere was this more true in earlier points raised by the hon. Member for Hillhead, who said that he hoped the Scotland Bill would not be passed. I refer also to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), who said that he did not believe in referendums but thought that there was a good case for—

Mr. Heffer

I wish that the hon. Lady would listen to what was said by hon. Members. I said that I did not particularly agree with referendums but thought that we ought to support this. I have supported referendums in the past and will continue to do so in future, but I do not make it a matter of principle.

Mrs. Bain

The hon. Member for Walton, being a close friend of the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan), endorsed the view put forward by the letter in The Times of 4th November 1975 on the basis that he felt that the inclusion of a referendum in the debate on the Scotland Bill would mean that the SNP would be dished. I am sure that this would cause a great deal of glee to the hon. Member for Walton if that were the case.

Mr. Heffer


Mrs. Bain

Another Conservative Member complained about the overrepresentation of Scots Members at Westminster.

Looking at it on a proportional basis, it is a view with which I agree. Statistically, no one can argue with it. That is why it is more logical in discussing the principle of referendums to include the possibility of having an independence option made available to the Scottish people. In an independence situation, there would be no Scottish Members at Westminster. There would be a tier of government at local level, Scottish level and at European level. That would be a much more logical system of government than that proposed in the Bill.

None the less, it is the Conservative Party which most steadfastly sets its face against the possibility of extending the principle of devolution. We in the Scottish National Party accept devolution merely as a step towards independence.

Mr. Fairbairn

That is why the SNP is dishonest.

Mrs. Bain

There is nothing dishonest in holding a view to which we have adhered throughout our existence as a party. The Conservative Party has turned somersault so frequently that Conservative Members must all be suffering from slipped discs.

The hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) said that he tried to anticipate the arguments which would be used against the amendments by presumably members of the SNP and those members of the Government who firmly believe in devolution. First, he said that there was a great deal of interest in England in the question of devolution for Scotland. I am afraid that the hon. Member has not paid a great deal of attention to much of what has been said in the House of Commons during the various debates over the last three years on this important principle.

During the progress of the Scotland and Wales Bill, the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) said: as far as I am aware, my constituents could not care less about the Bill … there is no interest on Merseyside in the contents of the Bill and no demand that the people there should have a voice in the referendums … people have said to me if that is what the Scots and the Welsh want, let them get on with it'".—[Official Report, 16th February 1977; Vol. 926, c. 602.] If the hon. Member for Fife, Central is trying to tell us that there is a great deal of extended interest in England since the demise of the Scotland and Wales Bill and since the presentation of this one, he will have to come forward with more positive arguments than those that he has produced today.

The only particularly relevant argument we have had in the past—I understand, though I have not had any verification—is that the Leader of the House is being sued under the Race Relations Act by someone south of the border who feels that she is being neglected by the present Parliament because of the preoccupation of the Leader of the House with Scotland and Wales.

Mr. Heffer

Has it never crossed the hon. Lady's mind that it might well be that the English people are not interested because they do not understand the whole concept of the splitting off of Scotland and Wales? Is she also aware that if this goes on they may well want a referendum to decide to split away themselves from Scotland and Wales? That might be a turn-up for the book. They might decide that we do not want anything to do with Scotland.

Mrs. Bain

If this were to be the case, I should have no objection to it, as someone believing in the concept of democracy. If the English people want to change the constitution within which they live, that is their business. The SNP is saying that the people of Scotland—and Wales, for that matter—have already expressed a desire to change the constitution of the United Kingdom and, through the natural processes of democracy—they did at the last election—support parties which were committed to one degree of devolution after the other, including the party of the hon. Member for Walton, which had this as part of its election manifesto as the Labour Party fought on it north of the border.

It is not my job to try to solve the internal problems of the Labour Party as they were outlined by the hon. Member for Fife, Central when he spoke about the difficulties within Labour circles of coming to a conclusion on the matter.

I suggest that the concept of the referendum as it is being put forward by the hon. Member for Fife, Central, and, presumably, by the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham), is a wrecking attitude towards the concept of devolution because those hon. Members felt that they were not adequately consulted by their own party.

Mr. Galbraith

The hon. Lady made an interesting statement about her belief in democracy. She said that if the people of England want to decide, let them decide; if the people of Scotland want to decide, let them decide; and if the people of Wales want to decide, let them decide. What are her party's views about the people of the Shetland Islands?

Mrs. Bain

It is always interesting that people try to introduce the question of the Shetland Islands as a disrupting influ- ence in the debate. On the question of devolution, the people of the Shetland Islands and, indeed, of the Orkney Islands, are very flattered by the sudden interest expressed in this place in their future. The SNP attitude has been clear for over 10 years, namely, that we do not wish to see a Westminster system of centralised government transferred to Edinburgh, and that there should be a degree of autonomy awarded to the people of the Shetlands and Orkneys should they wish for that. Perhaps if we had had that kind of consideration from Westminster and the political parties who have presided at Westminster over the centuries, we should not have the present situation.

Mr. Galbraith

That is not an answer to my question.

Mrs. Bain

The hon. Member for Fife, Central referred to the problems of the regions of England. I have every sympathy with those who suffer from unemployment, bad housing and so on, wherever they exist within the United Kingdom and throughout Europe, and, indeed, throughout the world. As a nationalist, I am fundamentally an internatonalist. I believe that to be an internationalist one must have respect for one's own country and its institutions before one can believe in the concept of internationalism.

It is all very well for the hon. Member for Fife, Central to try to make out that we have some kind of racist attitude towards people south of the border who have problems. It is the type of inverted racialism which is likely to cause the problems which he claims he wishes to solve.

The hon. Member says that the people of Scotland have a misguided idea that the pavements of London are paved with gold. I say categorically that the people of Scotland are under no such illusion, because they are aware of the problems elsewhere. They are also acutely aware of the statistics published by the hon. Member's own Government, which indicate that, although there are Dockets of deprivation everywhere throughout the United Kingdom, there is a higher concentration of them in West Central Scotland than in any other part of the United Kingdom, in that 97½ per cent. of the worst areas of urban deprivation lie in West Central Scotland, which the hon. Member's party has dominated for a century in Glasgow and for which it must bear a certain amount of responsibility—

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. The hon. Lady is straying wide of the subject matter under discussion.

Mrs. Bain

I am merely answering points put by the hon. Member for Fife, Central in moving the amendment, Sir Myer. I am just correcting the hon. Member on the statistical evidence on deprivation and poverty.

I oppose the amendment not because I do not have any wish for the people who are Scots south of the border to have any say in what is happening in Scotland. However, I should like to point out that the matters being devolved to Scotland under the Bill, at the stage at which it now stands, do not affect people south of the border. Education and health are already matters which have been administratively devolved to Scotland for a long time, so why should there suddenly be a need to consult people south of the border?

Beyond that, many people south of the border are neither acquainted with nor interested in many of the issues. They can hardly be relied upon to give a balanced judgment. Some of the speeches from hon. Members who represent constituencies south of the border show a distinct lack of knowledge of Scottish institutions and the Scottish way of life. [HON. MEMBERS: "So does the hon. Lady."] They would hardly give a balanced view to their constituents on the matter.

Beyond that, no one has asked that the English or the British should have the right to vote in a referendum on whether any of the other colonies of Britain should be given independence.

5.45 p.m.

Finally, I say that the people who wish the referendum to be extended to Scots living south of the border will be causing acrimony. If the English say "No" and the Scots and the Welsh say "Yes", we shall have acrimony. We of the SNP wish to avoid that because we wish to see the constituent nations of the United Kingdom working together as neighbours in harmony and not being forced into a situation that is being deliberately sought by Labour and Conservative Members of false division within the United Kingdom which need never exist in the first place.

Reducing this argument to the absurd level, we should have to extend the referendum to the whole of the Commonwealth, because there are people from England, from Scotland and from Wales living in every corner of the world.

I hope that all hon. Members who claim to have any kind of intelligence or logic will reject the amendment and say that the decision on the kind of devolution and the extent of the devolution that is made available to Scotland must be taken by the Scots themselves. We should prefer it to be taken at a General Election, but we are quite willing to have it taken in a referendum. I hope that the Minister will take on board the possibility of including the independence option in the referendum.

Mr. Fairbairn

I shall be very brief. It is important that, of two of the amendments we are discussing, one is from an hon. Member who is an Englishman sitting for a Scottish seat, and who used to be my Member of Parliament before the boundary change, and one is from a Scotsman sitting for an English seat. The argument is made.

The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain) has just used the argument falsely on the concept that Scotland contains the Scots and England contains the English, and that that is what we are talking about. That is not what we are talking about. We are talking about an absolutely artificial and historic division of the land of Britain, which now, above that line, has more Englishmen and Irishmen than Scots, and below the line has more Scots than are above the line. Therefore, it is an utterly absurd argument. [Interruption.] Am I a racist? I do not know whether that is a parliamentary term. I am a proud patriot and a proud Scotsman. I do not pretend to make that the interest of those north of the line who are British subjects as compared with those who live south of it. Those who live south of it are just as entitled to a vote as to how the decision on arrangements that affect both should be decided.

If we were deciding on the independence of Fife, it might be that if we had a Bangla-Fife party, it would wish to secede. I doubt whether the hon. Lady's party would grant that to whatever race happened to live in the county of Fife. But it is not a decision between races who live in different countries. It is an arbitrary decision on a historical line about people who happen to live on one side of it or the other and who happen to belong to all the races or ethnic groups who have ever made up the population. It is wrong that some of them who think that they may benefit should be allowed to vote and that some who think that they may lose should not be allowed to vote. It would be equally wrong if only those who thought that they may lose on one side of the line could vote, and those who thought that they may lose or gain on the other side should not be entitled to vote.

I am entirely in sympathy with and behind the amendment.

Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith (North Angus and Mearns)

If I had been called to speak before the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain), perhaps I would have said that this has been one of the most brisk and relevant debates that we have had in the whole Committee stage. I include in that comment my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn).

Frankly, I am glad to have been called to speak after the hon. Lady. It is precisely the kind of carping speech that we have heard from her that reduces what might otherwise be a much more constructive element in these debates. I say just two things to the hon. Lady. It makes it very difficult for many of the rest of us that she and her party should arrogate to themselves the belief that they speak for the people of Scotland as a whole.

Many hon. Members representing Scotland and Scottish constituents have lived, worked and spent all their lives in Scotland. They intend to go on doing so. We do not arrogate to ourselves the right to speak for every person in Scotland. We seek to represent the views of the people whom we represent and amongst whom we work and live. It is that kind of arrogant attitude which inspires in other parts of the United Kingdom some of those feelings which we would rather not have in Scotland in the first place.

I would also say to the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East that we would have a more constructive debate—that is what she was calling for—if she and her party adopted a more constructive attitude towards the subject before the Committee. What inspires some of the things that she does not like is the fact that she and her party approach the Bill as a stepping-stone towards separation and independence. If she and her party—as I and others do—regarded the Bill as a genuine measure of devolution, she would find a quite different attitude on the part of many people in many different parts of the United Kingdom.

Mrs. Bain

I recognise that the hon. Gentleman has made a constructive approach to this subject which is totally different from the approach of the Conservative Party as a whole. Does he accept that the SNP has tabled several interesting and constructive amendments which have been debated and that we have put forward only one speaker per amendment in order to facilitate the Bill through this guillotined stage? That is in amazing contradiction to what the Conservative Party has done. The Conservative Party has put in the usual Back Bench backwoodsmen who are in no way interested in the concept of devolution for Scotland.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The only thing I would say to the hon. Lady is that people in glasshouses should not throw stones. If that were the case, we might have a more constructive debate.

Mr. Dalyell

It is not often that I come to the aid of the SNP. However, is not the hon. Gentleman being a little woolly? After all, the SNP is about independence. It is very unreal to think that somehow or another the SNP will fall in line with the views of the hon. Gentleman—

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. I think that we are going a little wide of the subject under discussion—namely, the question of extending the referendum to the United Kingdom, and not the politics of the SNP.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I am simply commenting, Sir Myer, on the previous speech which you allowed to be in order. However, I intend to leave that matter and return strictly to the amendment.

If it were simply a question of cost or length of time, I might have considerable sympathy with the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton). But while I appreciate what motivates the amendment, I appreciated it even more after I had listened to the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East. I know that some of my hon. Friends will support the amendment because their purpose is to keep the United Kingdom united. That is a purpose which I fully support and one in which I fully believe.

However, I want to pose a question to hon. Members who wish to support the amendment. Even if we were to have a referendum which covered the whole of the United Kingdom and a majority of the people in Scotland wanted independence, would the effect of holding a referendum in the United Kingdom as a whole make separation or independence any less likely as a result? It is in those terms that I should like to debate this matter, and it is in those terms that I feel that the amendment might be wrong.

I put this question in purely practical terms, and I hope that the hon. Member for Fife, Central will answer it. In principle, I am against referendums because I believe that they usurp our parliamentary democracy. If, however, we were to have a referendum covering the whole of the United Kingdom, what would be the situation if there were a "Yes" vote in Scotland and a "No" vote in England? In such a situation, would we go ahead with setting up the Assembly in accordance with the Bill, or would we allow the majority of the rest of the United Kingdom to prevent the Assembly coming into effect?

If those circumstances were to arise, as is quite possible, I believe that we should be contributing more to the break-up of the United Kingdom than by having a referendum, as in the Bill, which applies to Scotland alone.

For those reasons, I believe that the amendment is wrong. First, because of the purely practical consequences of what is being proposed, we should get into a very untenable situation, which by itself would contribute more to the break-up of the United Kingdom than would the Bill as it stands. Quite apart from that, I believe that the Bill is a measure of devolution rather than one of independence and separation. I believe that those who vote in a referendum of this nature should be those who have chosen to work and live in Scotland. I believe that that is correct.

Mr. Robert Boscawen (Wells)

As an English Member who has not over-detained the Committee, the debates have brought home to me the absurdity and deplorable nature of the divisiveness of the Bill which the Government are trying to pass.

With regard to the amendment, if we were to have a referendum—I do not like referendums—it would make it slightly less divisive and less resented by my constituents if they had some say in what was happening. I represent a Scottish company in which a lot of Scottish-born people work who are dependent on the Scottish economy for their jobs and livelihoods. So, too, do other people in my constituency who work in that company. If they are not to be allowed any say in what happens under this Bill that will add to the divisiveness and resentment, and the feeling that we in this Committee do not represent their views properly.

The absurdity is added to many times over by the fact that my own daughter, born in England, will have a vote in the Scottish referendum if she is still at a Scottish university. That seems to be utterly absurd. I therefore feel that the amendment should be supported, because it goes some way towards reducing the divisive nature of the whole Bill.

Mr. Iain Sproat (Aberdeen, South)

The Committee is profoundly obliged to the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain) because she has allowed it to see two things very clearly. First, she spelt out once again that her party sees opposition to the amendment, and to the Bill as a whole, as a stepping stone to the total separation of Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom.

I wish the Minister of State well during the referendum campaign when he shares a television screen with the hon. Lady. The hon. Lady's companions will be arguing for a total break-up of the United Kingdom on the one hand while on the other the Minister of State will be saying "I am asking for a 'Yes' vote, too, but I disagree totally with those who are supporting me". That is another reason why the referendum will be chucked out of Scotland as a whole.

I am also obliged to the hon. Lady for again emphasising the real motives that lie behind her party's support of the Bill. The hon. Lady regards anyone who lives in Scotland as being a Scot but also said that there are Scots in England as well. If I were an English Member, I might ask her whether a Scot who lives in England is not also an Englishman by the same argument. Logically, the hon. Lady contradicted herself, but we cannot expect logic, because the hon. Lady's argument is founded not on logic but on emotion. By talking of Englishmen, Scotsmen and Welshmen, as though they were totally separate peoples and not British citizens, members of this United Kingdom, one country, with one Parliament, the SNP indulges in reprehensible emotions which are founded on the sort of racialist rubbish that divides the United Kingdom. We are grateful to the hon. Lady for making that situation quite clear.

6.0 p.m.

I wish to support the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) totally on this matter. My hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) said that it would be awkward if the English decided that they did not like devolution. It might be awkward, but they are entitled to tell us their view, and it is up to this Committee to take that view into account.

There are two incontrovertible reasons why we should support the amendment. Indisputably, this is a United Kingdom affair, because the whole of the United Kingdom will pay for this Bill. One cannot logically say that somebody who pays for the Scottish Assembly should have nothing to do with it. If a citizen of this country is to be asked to pay for the Scottish Assembly he has the right to cast his vote whether he wants that Assembly.

Secondly, it is incontrovertible that this referendum should be conducted on a United Kingdom-wide basis, because there are more people who consider themselves British Scots living in that part of the United Kingdom called England than there are British Scots living in that part of the United Kingdom called Scotland. It is intolerable that people who are British and Scottish, living in England, should not have the right to decide the future of their own part of the United Kingdom. If people from other parts of the United Kingdom, such as the daughter of my hon. Friend the Member for Wells (Mr. Boscawen), are living in Scotland and entitled to decide my future, I do not see why British Scots living here should not have an equal right to decide such matters. Therefore, Scots living north and south of the border must be consulted. I hope that the Committee will support the amendment.

Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)

Many strong views have been expressed on Amendment No. 234 tabled by the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton). He put forward his genuine feelings in recognising that this is a United Kingdom affair and, therefore, should be referred to the United Kingdom people as a whole.

I am glad that we in this United Kingdom Parliament have this opportunity to debate the Scotland Bill. I should not like to see any retraction of that principle. I am glad that I as an Englishman, living in an English constituency, have had the opportunity on a number of occasions in this Committee to express my views.

However, it is wrong for Members of this Committee or for the people of this country to assume that this Bill will produce a distinct economic advantage for the Scottish people. That is not what the Bill is about, but there are many people in England and a great many hon. Members who seem to think that that is what it is about.

It has been said that there are many people who take the view that Scotland might gain considerably from this Bill and that envious eyes are being turned on Scotland. The hon. Member for Fife, Central is seeking through his amendment to refer this matter outside this democratic Parliament to a referendum among the whole United Kingdom electorate. He will say to those people "You will have a chance to exercise your decision in your envy of what you think the Scots will obtain through the passage of the Bill." In effect, he is saying "You English men and women will give this Bill the thumbs down because you believe that there is some advantage in the Bill to the Scottish people".

That is not how I see the Bill. I have never thought that it would give economic advantage to the Scottish people. It might produce economic advantage if the Scottish people were gaining a little political freedom, of which I am in favour, because by giving a little political freedom one gives strength to people not to separate but to gain strength in greater unity—and by producing that greater unity within the United Kingdom. The Committee knows that I have expressed these views on many occasions, perhaps to the dismay of many hon. Members—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—I believe these things profoundly and sincerely as other hon. Members put forward their views. I wish to allow the Scottish people to have an opportunity to express their opinions.

I am not against a referendum in this case on such a major constitutional measure when views are held so strongly both in Parliament and outside, but we say to the Scottish people "You must decide whether you like what the United Kingdom Parliament has decided is good for you." In other words, we must let the Scottish people decide. Do not let us make the mistake of casting envious eyes on the so-called benefits in this Bill to Scotland.

Mr. Tim Renton (Mid-Sussex)

In November 1974 the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) spoke in support of a motion that I moved and that deplored the holding of national referendums, which I considered were in opposition to the principles of parliamentary democracy. My views have not changed—nor, I think, have the hon. Gentleman's. The purpose of his amendment, I take it, is to see that the referendum, if it is ever held, should be as effective as possible. That means that its result should be accepted by the British people as a whole. My hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) thought that the referendum would be a disaster, if ever it were held, if its result were not followed by the people of Scotland or by the people of England.

I wish to make two points in this debate. I believe that the referendum would be that much more effective if those voting in it were not only those who live in Scotland but those who are native-born Scots and who still have a family home in, and therefore a living connection with, Scotland. I asked the Minister of State on 16th January whether this was practicable, and he told me that he felt that it would be extremely difficult to identify such Scots and to make arrangements for them to vote. The Minister put forward that obstacle, but it is noticeable that Spain in its 1976 general election gave the vote to expatriate Spaniards. A total of 5 million Spaniards were identified and given a chance to register at their nearest consulate and to vote. None the less, the Minister of State said that it would be impossible to identify Scottish expatriates.

Mrs. Bain


Mr. Renton

The hon. Lady spoke for long enough, and it is time to get on with the debate. I intend to be brief.

Although the Minister dismissed my suggestion on 16th January, I wish to point out that his job was to some extent carried out for him because his hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond) produced a calculation showing that about 2 million Scots work among the general population of England. Assuming that that is something like the right figure, are the Government suggesting that 2 million Scots who are now working in England should be disenfranchised from the greatest decision that affects the future of their homeland? That surely would be an intolerable situation for those Scots.

If, then, they cannot be identified and if native-born Scots cannot be recognised and given the vote, I believe that there is no question but that the vote must be given to the whole of the United Kingdom in this referendum.

If there is one thing at stake in the referendum it is the Act of Union. The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain) has made that abundantly plain time and again. I am reminded of the opening remarks of a recent speaker on devolution, who said that he and his wife had always found the act of union perfectly satisfactory. Is it not typical of the SNP that it wishes to change that situation? Members of the SNP are determined to do so, and such a change would involve every person in the United Kingdom.

There have been benefits to England flowing from economic union with Scotland since 1707. There have been ever greater benefits flowing to Scotland. We can all agree th[...] great benefits have flowed to both countries in free trade and in the stability of the currency. We have had a stable exchange rate between the two countries since the middle of the eighteenth century. That situation would be put at risk following the independence of Scotland that would happen if the SNP MPs have their way following a "Yes" vote in the referendum.

It is for that reason, and not through any love of referendums, that I shall vote for the amendment. The Minister of State has said that a vote cannot be given to expatriate Scots in addition to the Scots living in Scotland, so I believe that the hon. Member for Fife, Central was totally right to bring forward his amendment. I hope that it will be widely supported.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Hon. Members should remember that while unity cannot be enforced, disunity can certainly be fomented. I believe in the desirability of retaining the unity of the United Kingdom and, with many other hon. Members, I believe that it is not incompatible with, but is rather necessary to, the continued acceptability of that Union that there should be effective devolution, which, in this case, means self-government for Scotland within the Union. I am not going to argue whether that is adequate or not, but it is the object of the exercise.

If hon. Members wish to try to pretend that feelings of Scottishness or Englishness do not exist they are being foolish. Such feelings do exist. If they did not, we would have no Bill before us. The emotion exists, and the Bill is about channelling it in a constructive way.

I do not particularly like referendums. That feeling is shared by a number of hon. Members, including the hon. Members for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) and Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton), but they are, nevertheless, driven to the view that, because of the nature of the whole history of this matter, we must have a referendum. If the objective of a referendum is to emphasise the unity of the United Kingdom, nothing is more likely to encourage feelings of separatism than a referendu[...] [...]ich produces a "Yes" in Scotland and a "No" in England. We must be politically practical.

The Bill is called the Scotland Bill. It has been introduced because of the political pressure in Scotland. Let us not argue about the rights and wrongs of that. It is a political fact. It has not been introduced because of political pressure in England, and indeed, the bulk of people in England, as has been demonstrated many times in Committee, are fairly uninterested in this matter. I do not blame them for that since it is not a matter that directly concerns them.

Mr. Sproat

They will have to pay for it.

Mr. Johnston

I do not intend to get involved in detailed arguments about payment. There are many sides to that argument and we have been over it many times. I am sure that hon. Members want to complete this part of the Bill.

People living in Scotland have produced the political steam which has led to the introduction of the Bill. If we extend the referendum outside Scotland, there is a possibility, not because of strongly held beliefs, but because of a certain degree of indifference and ignorance—for which I do not blame people in England—that we shall get different results in Scotland and England.

The hon. Member for Fife, Central is a practical politician and he should recognise that the Bill could have extremely damaging political consequences. I am sorry I meant to say that the amendment could have those consequences.

Mr. Sproat

A Freudian slip.

Mr. Johnston

The hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat) is quick off the mark.

The amendment could have extremely damaging political consequences for the unity which it seeks to preserve.

Sir John Gilmour (Fife, East)

The referendum cannot take place unless the Bill receives Royal Assent. There are only 71 Scottish Members and, therefore it can only be by the will of English Members that the Bill will receive Royal Assent. If a majority of English Members decide to set up an Assembly, it would be entirely stupid for us to refer the matter back to English voters in a referendum.

Scots Members are prisoners of this House. On our own, we cannot say that we shall have devolution. We are entirely dependent on English Members. In the interests of the unity of the United Kingdom, I cannot support the amendment that my parliamentary neighbour has moved.

I do not believe in referendums at all, and I do not intend to vote for the amendment or for the clause that provides for a referendum to be held. The Scottish people are prisoners of English Members and it would be wrong to put this matter back to a referendum.

Mr. Emery

Will my hon. answer this question—

Sir John Gilmour

No. I have sat down.

Mr. Emery

This is a Committee.

The Chairman (Mr. Oscar Murton)

Order. The hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour) has resumed his seat.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. Charles Morrison (Devizes)

I shall be brief, not least because what I have to say may make me unpopular. I shall not support the amendment. I do not like referendums, and if we had a House that had been elected by proportional representation, we would have had better government for a long time and this Bill would not be before us now, but in present circumstances a referendum is necessary.

If Amendment No. 586 had not been tabled I should be more inclined to vote for the proposal of the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton), but that later amendment will provide a tough test of Scottish opinion.

What worries me is what would happen in Scotland if we had a "Yes" vote there and a "No" vote in England, when one of the origins of the Bill has been the view, right or wrong, among some people in Scotland that they have suffered for too long from what they consider to be English rule. The reaction in Scotland to such a vote could be very strong.

Finally, we should not presume too much about the outcome of the refer- endum if the amendment is carried and the Bill is passed. There is more than one possible result. What would happen if England said "Yes" to devolution and Scotland said "No"?

Mr. Pym

In the interests of time, I shall be brief. I have reservations about the amendment. To some extent, they tended to be removed by what the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) said, because he alarmed me too much the other way.

Of course, the Bill affects everyone in the United Kingdom, and to that extent there is a right for all the people to vote, but equally the Bill upsets the balance within the United Kingdom to some extent. It is called the Scotland Bill, and it undoubtedly will have a more direct impact on Scotland than on the rest of the United Kingdom.

We are all involved, but the impact on Scotland is greater. That is why I share the reservations that were expressed better than I could express them by my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith). I hope that this indicates to the Committee my feeling that, while everyone in the United Kingdom has a real interest in this matter, the interest of the people of Scotland is infinitely greater.

In making a judgment on who should vote, we must bear in mind what will be the reality of the continuing, unity of the United Kingdom. For that reason, I cannot support the amendment. My hon. Friends the Members for North Angus and Mearns and for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour) have indicated positions with which I have great sympathy.

Mr. John Smith

I shall also seek to be brief in replying, although a large number of hon. Members from all parts of the United Kingdom have taken part in the debate.

I admire the courage of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith). Any hon. Member sitting for a Scottish constituency who is prepared to say that he does not wish to see Scotland win in Argentina must take full marks for credit.

Mr. Galbraith

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. William Hamilton

He is going to withdraw.

Mr. Galbraith

I am not. I mentioned one word in my speech which may not have been heard. That word was "almost". I said that I almost wished Scotland would lose, because I get so fed up with the synthetic feelings of animosity that are created so often.

Mr. Smith

I do not want the hon. Gentleman to be misunderstood on what might be an electorally sensitive topic. I am sure that his addition of the qualifying word "almost" will bring great relief to his agent.

As usual, the hon. Member was one of the most amusing speakers in the debate. I understand his deep opposition to devolution. He has always taken that position. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton), in anticipating the arguments which would be used against him, referred to the cost of his proposal. I agree with the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns about that. If my hon. Friend's proposal is considered desirable from the point of view of our democracy and of getting a decision, I do not think that the cost matters very much. If my hon. Friend was seeking to anticipate the arguments likely to be used against him, he could more easily have referred to the report of our debate on the Scotland and Wales Bill when all these arguments were advanced. In that way, he would not have needed to anticipate the Government's view.

I agree with what my hon. Friend said about the antics of the Scottish National Party in Fife. One could not visualise a more irresponsible and stupid course of action in relation to a very important oil development.

Mr. William Hamilton

May I ask my hon. Friend what progress the police have made in investigating the matter?

Mr. Smith

I am afraid that I do not have ministerial responsibility for the police. The matter was reported by some of the citizens in the area.

I agree, however, with what my hon. Friend said about the antics of the SNP on that occasion, and I tend to agree with the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns about the effect of some of the contributions of SNP Members to our de- bates on devolution. Merely because they take a view about independence, they create unnecessary alarm amongst some English Members who do not understand clearly enough that what the Government are proposing is devolution and is in no way connected with any proposition for independence. The hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns and I both support the concept of devolution, but we equally support the concept of a united kingdom—a United Kingdom which, we believe, will be strengthened by the reform in the constitution proposed in the Bill.

The hon. Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) talked about the "despicable manoeuvrings" of my right hon. Friend the Lord President. I thought that that was a most unfortunate tone to bring into the debate. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) will understand that, even with the "chopper" coming down at 7 o'clock, he will get his debate and, if necessary, a vote immediately after we have dealt with this amendment. I hope that he will take the opportunity at some stage to withdraw some of his remarks about skulduggery, which were disgraceful and which lowered the tone of the debate.

Mr. Higgins

My point was a very simple one. It was that, as a result of the extraordinary proceedings yesterday afternoon and again today in which the Lord President participated, a great deal of time was wasted, yet we came back to the precise position from which we had started. I do not withdraw my remarks at all. As a result, the Committee lost a great deal of debating time which it could have put to good use.

Mr. Smith

It is not to the hon. Gentleman's credit that he does not withdraw his remarks. Very little time was wasted today. There were a few points of order, but the matter did not take very long. In view of the unfounded accusations that were being made, my right hon. Friend the Lord President decided to not to move his motion. In any event, the proposal to make the change was made to the Business Committee before the Amendment even appeared on the Amendment Paper. That must be the final answer to that absurd accusation.

Mr. George Cunningham

This is not the time to pursue these matters. I keep telling my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench that they have 51 out of the 52 cards in the pack and both jokers, and that they must not object when hon. Members use what little—

The Chairman

Order. I agreed with the first sentence uttered by the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) when he said that this was not the time to discuss these matters. I have no views on the remainder of his comments. I appeal to the Committee to concentrate upon the amendment under discussion.

Mr. Cunningham

I did not start it.

The Chairman

I make a general appeal.

Mr. Smith

I shall not refer to these matters further, because I accept your ruling, Mr. Murton. But may I remind my hon. Friend that I did not raise the subject in this debate? It was the hon. Member for Worthing who did so, and I thought that his despicable attack on the Government needed to be answered. I am glad to return to the more healthy atmosphere of the debate, which was for a short period made unhealthy by the hon. Gentleman's comments.

The main argument against the amendment is the one made by the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns, who asked what would happen and what Parliament would do in a situation in which there was one vote in England and another vote in Scotland. An even more ingenious example came from the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Morrison), who asked what would happen if England said "Yes" and Scotland said "No".

Mr. Emery

Let us suppose that in the referendum there is a very close decision. Everyone suggests that it will be very close. Let us say that the result is 49 per cent. to 51 per cent. either way in Scotland. If there were then a strong view in the rest of the United Kingdom, since the referendum is only consultative, how would it help the House in coming to the right decision?

Mr. Smith

I thought that right hon. and hon. Members reflected the views of their constituents and it is the Parliament of the United Kingdom which will pass this legislation.

The difference is that the proposals in the Bill will affect more directly the people living in Scotland. As it is they who will be most directly affected, we thought it wise to consult them before the Bill, which Parliament has to pass on behalf of the whole United Kingdom, is put into effect.

It has been said constantly in these debates that the people of Scotland do not want devolution. I am advised of that by hon. Members with varying states of knowledge of Scottish opinion on these matters. But no one has a perfect knowledge. We shall not know ultimately until the question is put. I am assured by my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central that his constituents do not want the Bill, yet he seems to want a referendum for the whole United Kingdom rather than one just for Scotland.

A real difficulty arises when we consider the possibility of getting different answers from different parts of the United Kingdom. It is fair to remind the Committee that the Northern Ireland border poll, taken under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973, was one which dealt with a constitutional matter where the Northern Ireland voters were consulted since they were far more directly affected by the proposals than were voters in other parts of the United Kingdom. The necessary legislation was passed by the United Kingdom Parliament, and, so far as I know, there was little objection from voters in other parts of the United Kingdom to the fact that it was left to those citizens of the United Kingdom who lived in and were electors in Northern Ireland.

For practical reasons, there is little merit in this amendment. That is the reason which led the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) to advise the Committee in the way that he did. An almost identical amendment was discussed in Committee on the Scotland and Wales Bill. It was rejected overwhelmingly, and I hope that that will be the view taken by the Committee of this amendment.

Mr. William Hamilton

The most important comment that I should put on the record in reply to the debate is that I hope Scotland wins the World Cup in Argentina.

Question put, That the amendment be made: —

The Committee divided: Ayes 122, Noes 184.

Division No. 77] AYES [6.28 p.m.
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Heffer, Eric S. Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Hodgson, Robin Price, David (Eastleigh)
Benyon, W. Holland, Philip Prior, Rt Hon James
Berry, Hon Anthony Hordern, Peter Raison, Timothy
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hunt, David (Wirral) Rathbone, Tim
Bottomley, Peter Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Hutchison, Michael Clark Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Braine, Sir Bernard James, David Rhodes James, R.
Brotherton, Michael Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Buck, Antony Jopling, Michael Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Budgen, Nick Kaberry, Sir Donald Sainsbury, Tim
Chalker, Mrs Lynda King, Evelyn (South Dorset) St. John-Stevas, Norman
Churchill, W. S. Langford-Holt, Sir John Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Clegg, Walter Latham, Michael (Melton) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Lawrence, Ivan Shepherd, Colin
Cope, John Lawson, Nigel Sims, Roger
Costain, A. P. Lester, Jim (Beeston) Sinclair, Sir George
Dalyell, Tam Loveridge, John Skeet, T. H. H.
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Luce, Richard Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield)
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Macfarlane, Neil Speed, Keith
Durant, Tony MacGregor, John Sproat, Iain
Emery, Peter MacKay, Andrew (Stechford) Stainton, Keith
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Stanbrook, Ivor
Fairbairn, Nicholas Madel, David Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Fisher, Sir Nigel Mather, Carol Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Fookes, Miss Janet Mawby, Ray Stokes, John
Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Tapsell, Peter
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Mayhew, Patrick Tebbit, Norman
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Torney, Tom
Glyn, Dr Alan Mills, Peter Vaughan, Dr Gerald
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Miscampbell, Norman Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Griffiths, Eldon Moate, Roger Walters, Dennis
Grist, Ian Molyneaux, James Weatherill, Bernard
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Moonman, Eric Wiggin, Jerry
Hampson, Dr Keith More, Jasper (Ludlow) Winterton, Nicholas
Hannam, John Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Neubert, Michael TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Haselhurst, Alan Oppenheim, Mrs Sally Mr. William Hamilton and
Hayhoe, Barney Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Mr. Terence Higgins.
Allaun, Frank Corbett, Robin Ginsburg, David
Anderson, Donald Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Golding, John
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Crawford, Douglas Graham, Ted
Armstrong, Ernest Crouch, David Grant, John (Islington C)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Davidson, Arthur Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Bain, Mrs Margaret Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Deakins, Eric Hart, Rt Hon Judith
Bates, Alf Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Bean, R. E. Dempsey, James Henderson, Douglas
Bidwell, Sydney Doig, Peter Hicks, Robert
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Dormand, J. D. Hooley, Frank
Blenkinsop, Arthur Douglas-Mann, Bruce Hooson, Emlyn
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Dykes, Hugh Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Eadie, Alex Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)
Bradley, Tom Edge, Geoff Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)
Buchan, Norman English, Michael Janner, Greville
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray) Jeger, Mrs Lena
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Campbell, Ian Flannery, Martin Johnson, James (Hull West)
Canavan, Dennis Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Johnson, Walter (Derby S)
Carmichael, Neil Foot, Rt Hon Michael Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Ford, Ben Jones, Alec (Rhondda)
Cartwright, John Forrester, John Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Clemitson, Ivor Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Kaufman, Gerald
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Kerr, Russell
Coleman, Donald Freud, Clement Kilfedder, James
Colquhoun, Ms Maureen George, Bruce Knox, David
Concannon, Rt Hon John Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Lambie, David
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Park, George Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Penhaligon, David Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Luard, Evan Perry, Ernest Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S) Thompson, George
McCartney, Hugh Richardson, Miss Jo Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
MacCormick, Iain Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Tinn, James
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Robinson, Geoffrey Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
McElhone, Frank Rodgers, George (Chorley) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
MacFarquhar, Roderick Rooker, J. W. Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Rose, Paul B. Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Madden, Max Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock) Ward, Michael
Magee, Bryan Rowlands, Ted Watkins, David
Marks, Kenneth Sandelson, Neville Watt, Hamish
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Sedgemore, Brian Weetch, Ken
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Sever, John Welsh, Andrew
Maynard, Miss Joan Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South) White, James (Pollok)
Meacher, Michael Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Whitlock, William
Mikardo, Ian Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE) Wigley, Dafydd
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Sillars, James Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Mitchell, Austin Skinner, Dennis Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Morris, Rt Hon Charles R. Smith, John (N Lanarkshire) Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Snape, Peter Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Spence, John Wise, Mrs Audrey
Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Spriggs, Leslie Woodall, Alec
Newens, Stanley Stallard, A. W. Woof, Robert
Noble, Mike Steel, Rt Hon David Young, David (Bolton E)
Oakes, Gordon Stewart, Rt Hon Donald
O'Halloran, Michael Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Orbach, Maurice Stott, Roger Mr. Joseph Harper and
Palmer, Arthur Strang, Gavin Mr. Jim Marshall.
Pardoe, John Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Russell Johnston

On a point of order, Mr. Murton. It will doubtless have been drawn to your attention by the First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means that I raised a point of order regarding Amendment No. 633 and consequential amendments. I asked whether there was any possibility of your giving further consideration to your decision that those amendments be not called, since what they seek to do is to add to the referendum question the consideration of electoral reform, which, while it has certainly been debated, has not been the subject of any consideration in a referendum and is, I would have thought, a new matter.

The Chairman

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) for writing to me today to put his point of view. He will know that I have been as helpful as I could be on the question of amendments which were out of order and have tried to suggest where they might be placed later in the Bill. As regards those amendments which have not been selected, the Chair must reserve to itself the right not to give reasons for this. I can assure the hon. Member that I thought deeply about the amendments tabled in his name and in the names of his right hon. and hon. Friends. It is a question of non-selection, and the Chair must abide by the usual practice that no reason is given.

Mr. Bruce Douglas-Mann (Mitcham and Morden)

I beg to move Amendment No. 586, in page 37, line 40, leave out subsection (2) and insert— '(2) If it appears to the Secretary of State that less than one-third of the persons entitled to vote on the referendum has voted "Yes" in reply to the question posed in the Appendix to Schedule 17 to this Act he shall lay before Parliament the draft of an Order in Council for the repeal of this Act.'

The Chairman

With this we can discuss Amendment (a) to Amendment No. 586, leave out one-third ' and insert 40 per cent.', and the following amendments:

No. 234, in page 37, line 40, leave out subsection (2) and insert— 'If less than 60 per cent. of the total electorate vote or if any overall majority voting "yes" is less than two-thirds of all votes cast, the Secretary of State shall deem the legislation null and void, such decision to be laid before Parliament by draft Order in Council.' No. 632, in page 37, line 40, leave out from beginning to end of line 3 on page 38 and insert— '(2) If at the conclusion of the referendum it appears to the Secretary of State that less than one-third of those on the electoral register have voted "Yes" in reply to the question in the Appendix to Schedule 17 to this Act he shall lay before Parliament the draft of an Order in Council for the repeal of this Act.'.

6.45 p.m.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

The effect of this amendment is to require the Secretary of State, in the event that less than one-third of the persons entitled to vote in the referendum vote "Yes", to lay before Parliament the draft of an Order in Council for the repeal of this measure. It would still be a matter for the House to decide whether to repeal the Act. My hon. Friend the Minister of State will no doubt point out that it would be open to the Secretary of State in any circumstances to take account of what had happened in the referendum and to propose the repeal of the Act if there were a derisory vote. It would be extremely difficult for the Secretary of State to do that if there had been a majority in the referendum in favour of the measure, even if it was only 10 per cent., or 15 per cent. of the Scots electorate.

It is absolutely vital to write into the Bill some minimum provision, whether one-third or 40 per cent. as suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham). The matter is one for the Committee to decide. It would be ludicrous to imagine that we should implement this measure if, when it comes to the referendum, we find that only a small proportion of the electorate has taken the trouble to vote, even though there may be a small majority in favour.

Mr. James Sillars (South Ayrshire)

Could my hon. Friend refresh my memory of the debates on our entry to the European Community and the subject of the referendum? Can he say whether at that time he moved a similar amendment, using similar arguments, or does he reserve this kind of argument for the Scots?

Mr. Douglas-Mann

As my hon. Friend knows, political sophistication may come late in one's period in Parliament. Whether my hon. Friend has become more sophisticated or less is a matter for judgment. I did not move such an amendment but I did support the EEC referendum, which at that time was a matter of controversy. On reflection, I think that it would have been desirable to have had a similar minimum requirement provision affecting that referendum. Even if that provision had been included, we should still be in Europe.

What I propose is a measure which will ensure that we do not have a totally derisory vote in the referendum which nevertheless results in our going ahead with the Act. I regard this amendment as absolutely central to the support I give to the Bill. I abstained on Second Reading of the Scotland and Wales Bill and I voted against the timetable motion for that Bill. By the end of the summer, I had come to the conclusion that if—it is a large "if"—a substantial majority of the people of Scotland were determined on this measure, it was not for English Members to defeat it. I have consistently voted in accordance with that principle and I have consequently supported this Bill until now.

I was horrified to learn of the business motion which was being put forward this afternoon. At the time we were debating the timetable motion on the Bill, I asked my right hon. Friend the Lord President: May we have an assurance that, after we have had the referendum, when deciding whether to table a motion for the implementation of the Bill or for its repeal he will take into account the size of the vote in the referendum? That would ensure that the Bill did not come into effect after a derisory vote in the referendum. My right hon. Friend replied: This matter has already been discussed and will no doubt be discussed afresh in Committee. As I said in yesterday's discussion, of course I believe that it is right and proper that, when deciding how a referendum is to operate, the House should consider carefully how it is to be done and all the circumstances that surround it. That is of great importance, because the referendum, as a new institution introduced into our constitution, has great dangers. I do not deny that. Those dangers must be guarded against carefully. I am sure that when we discuss the allocation of time in the Business Committee that is one of the subjects to which attention must be given. To answer my hon. Friend's particular point, I say that this will be debated when we come to it. We shall see what amendments are proposed and the House will consider the matter then."—[Official Report, 16th November 1977; Vol. 938, c. 590.] I am glad that we are to have that discussion, but we should not have had it if the business motion had been carried.

I have always believed that this measure was likely to be disadvantageous to the people of Scotland and England and Wales and would almost inevitably lead, at the least, to a federal State. For the reasons I have given, I accept that, if there is a strong determination in Scotland that this drastic change must go through English and Welsh MPs should not prevent it. My amendment is designed to ensure that it will go through only if there is at least a significant number voting in favour of it. I propose one-third of the electorate. I take into account, in suggesting that figure, that in the February 1974 General Election 79 per cent. of the Scottish electorate voted. In October 1974 74.8 per cent. voted.

It may be reasonable, as suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury, that we should lay down a minimum requirement that 40 per cent. of the electorate should vote in favour of the Bill before we accept it, or before the House decides that it is not to be repealed. However, having taken soundings among my colleagues, I find that it may be that more people would be willing to support a requirement that one-third of the electorate should vote in favour.

If we had a referendum in which two-thirds of the electorate voted and slightly over one-third voted in favour, the amendment provides that the Bill would have to come into effect. However, whether we provide for 40 per cent. or one-third, or whatever is laid down in any other amendment relating to the minimum vote in the referendum, we must put into the Bill a requirement that we shall not have this measure forced upon the people of Scotland when only a small proportion of the electorate has taken the trouble to vote in the referendum.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I shall be brief. I understand the motivation behind the amendments, and I do not intend to go into great detail. I shall deal with this issue as a matter of principle and describe where I stand and why.

As I have said, I am totally against the holding of a referendum in the first place. I say that on the ground of principle. I believe that the introduction of a referendum into our system of government, whether for the EEC, the Scotland Bill or the Wales Bill, is an erosion of the power of Parliament and the supremacy of Parliament. For those who are opposed to a referendum on the ground of principle, to write into a Bill containing provision for a referendum the percentages one way or the other is not compatible with being opposed to the referendum in the first place. The moment we write into a referendum certain percentages, we strengthen the power of the referendum and move it into the area in which a referendum might become mandatory.

I am against a referendum in the first place. For that one reason I believe that it is wrong in principle to write in percentages as the hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mr. Douglas-Mann) suggests. It follows on from that simple point of principle that in any case the referendum in the Bill is consultative. Where we have a consultative referendum, it is meaningless to write in one percentage or another. That is because the issue must return to the House of Commons at the end of the day. On those two grounds—one of principle and one of practice—I believe that the amendment should be rejected.

I introduce one final ground that is entirely practical. Though I reject the amendment on the ground of principle, I deal with one matter that would be the effect of it that is worth consideration. In the one referendum that we have had—on the European Economic Community—the turn-out in Scotland was 61.7 per cent. as against 65 per cent. in the United Kingdom as a whole. Of those who voted, 58.4 per cent. voted "Yes" and 41.6 per cent. voted "No". The percentage of the total electorate who voted "Yes" was 35¾ per cent. The proportion proposed by the hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden is close to the proportion who voted in favour in the European Economic Community referendum. The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) would require from the Scottish electorate a larger percentage voting "Yes" than was required in the EEC referendum.

Even if we accept the amendment on the basis that it is asking for a percentage turn-out, although I believe that it is unreasonable, it is surely unreasonable to ask for a higher standard for the Scottish Assembly when a 35 per cent. vote in the EEC referendum was regarded as acceptable. I do not intend to support either amendment, but if one or the other is to be supported I believe that the Committee should support the amendment of the hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden.

Mr. George Cunningham

I beg to move my Amendment (a).

The hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) declared his opposition to the whole idea of holding referendums, and he questioned whether this was a desirable practice or one which took away from the powers of Parliament. Surely, the criteria appropriate to deciding whether one should have a referendum on any subject are pretty clear. It is desirable to hold a referendum on any major constitutional matter on which the opinion of the electorate cannot be gathered from the way in which the electorate voted in a General Election. That will normally be the situation where there is a division of opinion or a major division of opinion within the main political parties.

There is no way in which one could have decided what the people of Britain wanted on membership of the Community, for example, by reference to how they voted in a General Election. Some Labour candidates were for membership of the Community and some were against. The same was the case within the Conservative Party.

Precisely the same situation exists with regard to devolution, on which there is a division of opinion within the parties. Therefore the only way in which we can tell what the electorate wants on this issue, as on membership of the European Economic Community, is to test it directly, otherwise one is forced to realign the parties in accordance with the division of opinion on the issue one wants to test, and that, of course, is not a practical possibility.

Mr. Higgins

I find what the hon. Gentleman is saying extremely worrying. His remarks seem to imply that on any issue he would vote in accordance with the view expressed by the majority of his constituents. It must be remembered that his constituents will not have had the opportunity that we have had of hearing debates in this place and going into the matter deeply. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman is not in this place as a sort of calculating machine to vote in the way that coincides with the view of the majority of his constituents. It is up to the hon. Gentleman to weigh the arguments and to act as a representative and not a delegate.

Mr. Cunningham

I did not, with respect, say anything of the sort. But before deciding how I should vote, on which it may have been observed that I am not in the habit of taking orders from anyone, I wish to know what my bosses, the electorate, want. Whether I then follow that is for me, the Member, to decide, taking into account that they are acting as the major factor. But there are also other considerations as well, including the Member's own conscience, that being one of the factors involved, but only one of the factors involved.

The other point made by the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns was to compare a referendum on devolution with the referendum on the EEC held within Scotland. I think that this can be a misleading comparison, for two reasons. First of all, the referendum on membership of the Community was a referendum put to the United Kingdom as a whole. There was no question that Scotland would have a separate right to remain in the Community or not.

With regard to the referendum on membership of the Community for Britain as a whole, the referendum result passed the test imposed by the amendment of my hon. Friend and also the tougher test proposed by my sub-amendment, and passed it comfortably. It is true that, had the question been put separately for Scotland, the Scottish figure would not have passed the test. But the question was not put separately with respect to Scotland.

7.0 p.m.

The second matter which was different in nature in that referendum was that we were deciding not whether we should enter the Community but whether we should come out. I think that the imposition of a minimum level to make a referendum effective can be different in those circumstances. If we had had a referendum with regard to going in in the first place, it would have been different. But when we start in the middle of the game and do not have a referendum on whether to go in and we say that we shall have a referendum to decide whether we stay in, it is a different test.

This is only the second referendum that we have had, or are to have, on a major constitutional issue. Therefore, it is reasonable to learn from our own experience and not necessarily to follow the precedent that we adopted before.

Mr. John Smith

My hon. Friend indicated that his amendment might not have been applicable to the EEC referendum because it was a matter of coming out rather than going in. Surely, one would require a minimum to upset an existing constitutional arrangement approved by Parliament and embodied in the Treaty.

Mr. Cunningham

I only say that it is a complication in that case which does not exist with regard to the present one.

The reasons why, in my opinion, it is right to have a referendum on this issue can be quickly stated. First, it is a major constitutional change. Second, it is one on which the parties are divided within themselves. The division of opinion on the subject is not congruent with the division between the political parties. Third, it is in practice an irrevocable step. No one knows that more than the SNP. The SNP knows that, though this Parliament could tear up the devolution Bill after it had been brought into force, that is not a matter of practical politics.

Then we have the fact that we all know that, if devolution goes ahead, we shall all, to put it at its most modest, have to cross our fingers and hope (a) that it does not lead to constant haggles between Edinburgh and London, as many of us think it will, and (b) that those haggles will not lead to a progression towards independence without the people of Scotland wanting independence but always feeling that they can achieve a more logical arrangement by taking one further step and then one further step. Those are the considerations that make me feel that there should be a referendum on this issue.

Then there is the question of what kind of minimum test we need to impose. There is, of course, a minimum test implicit in having a referendum at all—namely, that more people should vote "Yes" than should vote "No". The only question is whether we impose a minimum majority.

There are two ways in which to do that. First, we could require a minimum percentage of the electorate to vote, however they voted, and, secondly, we could require a minimum majority of those who vote "Yes" over those who vote "No".

The formula adopted by my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mr. Douglas-Mann) combines elegantly those two requirements, because, as he pointed out, if the poll is twice the percentage stated in the threshold, a majority of one vote will be sufficient for the referendum to count as a "Yes", as it were. If, however, the poll is lower than twice the proportion stated in the threshold, a larger majority is required in order to make the referendum count as a "Yes". That surely is as it should be. The more people who stay at home and do not vote at all, the larger the majority of the "Yeses" over the "Noes" amongst the rest of the population that we ought to require. So it is a question of what figure we should put in.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden suggests 33⅓ per cent.; I suggest 40 per cent. We should all recognise that there is nothing magic or sacred about any figure in this context. If there were any very natural figure to be found, it would be 50 per cent. One might say that, on a matter of this importance and of this irrevocable nature, we should require that 50 per cent. of the electorate should vote for it or we do not go ahead. But no one is proposing that. We could have gone for a more modest proposal—that .45 per cent. of the electorate should vote for it. We are not going for that. I am suggesting a very modest figure—that 40 per cent. of the electorate in Scotland should declare positive support for the proposal, or the referendum does not bind us morally to go ahead with devolution.

I do not think that that can be called a wrecking amendment for devolution, first because it is not a figure which was not met in the EEC referendum. The EEC figure for the whole of the United Kingdom was that just under 43 per cent. voted "Yes". That is, 43 per cent. of the electorate in the United Kingdom as a whole voted "Yes". Therefore, my test, if imposed in the referendum, would have been very comfortably met.

Secondly, if the Government are right, if the SNP is right and if the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) for the SLP is right—that the people of Scotland overwhelmingly want devolution—there is no problem. If they overwhelmingly want devolution, far more than 40 per cent. will presumably vote for it. I am not asking that the overwhelming majority, or even that the majority, should vote for it, but only that 40 per cent. should be prepared to go out and vote for it.

Mr. Sillars

My hon. Friend mentioned the Common Market referendum several times and said that, even on his threshold, it would quite comfortably have made it in United Kingdom terms. Will he give the facts to support that contention on his part? I understand that it would just have made over 40 per cent. in the United Kingdom and 36 per cent. in Scotland. Everyone accepted that that was a pretty overwhelming vote on the count, but on my hon. Friend's test it is far from an overwhelming vote.

Mr. Cunningham

With respect, if one takes the figures one finds that a very large number of votes result in a not very large increase in the percentage. I confirm the figure given by my hon. Friend. My figure for Scotland shows that just a shade under 36 per cent. of the electorate voted "Yes". For the United Kingdom as a whole I make it 42.9 per cent. In England it was 44.2 per cent. I regard the figure for the United Kingdom—that is what matters, because it was a United Kingdom referendum—as a comfortable majority over the threshold that I am suggesting. It is certainly over the threshold that I am suggesting. Whether one chooses to call it "comfortable" or not is a matter of semantic judgment.

Mr. John Smith

There was a widely expressed opinion, when the result of the EEC referendum was announced, that it was a decisive, almost overwhelming, decision in favour of staying within the Common Market. But, according to my hon. Friend's reasoning, it just scraped by on his test. Has there to be such a decisive result in this referendum as there was in the Common Market referendum before devolution is brought into effect?

Mr. Cunningham

No. Instead of the 42.9 per cent. outcome on that threshold, there needs to be a 40 per cent. outcome. I invite the Minister to recollect how many times since the EEC referendum people have invoked the fact not only that the country voted to stay in but that it overwhelmingly voted to stay in. The people have not simply relied on the fact that the "Yeses" were more than the "Noes"; they have relied on the strength of the majority. The validity of that decision has always been based on a provable assertion that it did not just scrape through but was a significant majority. What I am saying is that a similarly significant majority, or something within 3 per cent. of it, ought to be required before going ahead on this issue.

Mr. Sillars

I think that all who took part in the referendum campaign in Scotland, irrespective of the side on which they took part, would concede that the Scottish results was overwhelmingly in favour of the Common Market. Therefore, those in favour of devolution could score exactly the same overwhelming vote for devolution as the "Yes" campaign for staying in the Common Market but on this occasion would lose.

Mr. Cunningham

With great respect, the vote in Scotland on the EEC referendum was nothing like an overwhelming vote when compared with the vote in England or with the United Kingdom as a whole.

Let us look at the kind of polls which are achieved in Scotland. Let us not take just the last year or two but look back over a prolonged period of time and take the figures for the last quarter of the century, omitting 1945 because that was unusual at the end of the war and there was an out-of-date register. Over the nine General Elections, the average poll in Scotland was 77.4 per cent. If that were the poll in the devolution referendum, my test would require that the "Yeses" should get 51 per cent. of those who actually vote. Only 51.7 per cent. is a very, very modest margin above a fair majority.

The lower the poll, the larger the majority needs to be. That is in the nature of things. If the poll were 70 per cent., the "Yeses" would need to obtain 57 per cent. of the votes cast. If the poll were 65 per cent.—and surely it cannot be as low as that if the overwhelming majority of the Scottish people want devolution—the "Yeses" would have to get 57.5 per cent. of the votes cast. I hope that no one is proposing to impose devolution if the poll is actually less than 65 per cent.

If the poll were only 60 per cent. and 40 per cent. of the Scottish people cared so much about devolution that they stayed at home, it would be necessary to obtain two-thirds of the votes cast. Some would believe that that was perfectly natural for a constitutional change such as this.

I quote these statistics to show that if there is anything like a reasonable poll, if there is anything like a normal poll in Scotland, even my test is one which requires the "Yeses" to exceed the "Noes" by a tiny margin, by not much more than 50 per cent., which any threshold would require.

The SNP has been telling us for a long time that the people of Scotland over the last quarter of a century have not really had the full range of choice before them. After all, in most of the elections most electors have had what the SNP would regard as a poor choice—between the Labour, Liberal and Conservative Parties. They have not had the SNP. Nevertheless, they have voted on average to the tune of 77.4 per cent. If they did that with their restricted choice, we must assume that, faced with devolution—which we are told they are dying to have—they will surely come out in these numbers at least.

7.15 p.m.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

The hon. Member has said that we say that the Scottish people are dying to have devolution. I do not know where he has been. Perhaps he has been in Islington all his life. What the SNP has been saying is that the Scottish people should have control over their own affairs. They are being offered devolution by the Government, but not the choice that we want.

Mr. Cunningham

We all know that the SNP will try to get its supporters to vote for devolution, not because it believes in devolution—the SNP at least is perfectly honest about this—but because it wants its supporters to vote " Yes " in the referendum because it knows—it is honest enough to admit it—that getting devolution is not only the easiest way of getting independence but is the only way in which they stand a cat in hell's chance of getting independence.

Those who want independence will be voting "Yes" and those who genuinely want devolution—although they are limited in number—will also vote "Yes". They are faced with that choice—not a choice of individuals but a choice of a system of government which, we are told, they want either in its own right or as a paving stone to independence. If the people do not come out at least in their normal proportions, that will tell us something and we are entitled to take that into account and say that a majority is required of the "Yeses" over the "Noes".

This referendum will not be mandatory. Nothing will be legally binding upon the House of Commons. Whatever comes before the House in the way of an order from the Government will be passed or not passed according to the discretion of the House. Anyone who feels that a referendum is all right if it is not binding should not be worried about my amendment, because these changes would have no effect upon that point.

Equally, the failing of the test does not mean that devolution does not go ahead. I want to stress that strongly. Let us assume that only 37 per cent. or whatever the figure is, votes "Yes" in the referendum. That does not mean that devolution necessarily stops. All it means is that the Minister has to produce an order which has the form of repealing the Act and to put that order before the House. It would then be entirely up to the House whether to pass it. I can certainly foresee circumstances in which, because the test had not been met but had nearly been met and the number of "Noes" was particularly low, the House would decide that in all the circumstances it would not repeal, although the matter had been brought to the House to consider repeal.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

The hon. Member proposes to lay down certain minima for the votes in the referendum and then says that, if the vote falls just short of the standard he has set, the House would still have a discretion and would be acting on an order which had an impact. Does the hon. Member accept that those who can best gauge the opinion of the Scottish people are the Scottish Members of Parliament and that only they should have the right to vote on such a motion?

Mr. Cunningham

I take the view that only the Scottish people, in the way defined by the SNP, are entitled to decide whether Scotland becomes independent. The question is whether Scotland should become independent. Only the Scottish people, as defined by the SNP, are entitled to take that decision, and not English Members or English Members with Scottish accents.

But that does not apply to devolution, because devolution does not affect only Scotland. It affects the whole of the United Kingdom. If it is a half-and-half thing which messes up our system, we are entitled to have a say in it. If we did not, the cry would soon go up "You have got votes in our Parliament and we have not got votes in yours." That entitles the English to have a say in the matter.

The only effect of this threshold is that, if the threshold is not met, the House has to reconsider the matter the Government would have to bring in an order which required the House of Commons to reconsider the matter. It does not seek to terminate devolution automatically, and in practice it would not necessarily do so. It simply imposes a level and provides that if that level is not reached the House of Commons will want to look at the matter again. In my view, it would not be fair to hold a referendum without giving any indication to the Scottish people that we propose to take account of the size of the poll and of the size of the majority, both of which are involved in this type of amendment.

The test is a reasonable one for such a fundamental and irrevocable change as is being proposed. The figure is even perhaps a shade too modest. If the SNP and the Government are even remotely right in saying that a significant majority of Scottish people want this change, they have nothing to worry about. Yet we are observing that they are worried. The Scottish Labour Party is to vote against my amendment, and the hon. Member for South Ayrshire will no doubt make his own points.

The SNP, which says that Scotland wants this change, is against the amendment, and so are the Government. The only people who should be against it are those who, whether they say so or not, suspect that there is not a majority of people in Scotland positively in favour of the amendment but who are determined to impose it whether that majority exists or not. If they believe in what they have been told about opinion in Scotland, they have absolutely nothing to fear from my amendment.

Mr. Sproat

Like the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham), I have been truly amazed by the reaction his amendment has drawn from the SNP Bench. I thought that the SNP's reaction would be to say that the amendment would not matter either way because, it believed, the people of Scotland were so overwhelmingly in favour of the change. But we can see nervousness creeping in. The SNP Members know that their support is falling away in Scotland. They know, too, that support for the Bill is falling away. This evening they will put their feet where their mouths are by voting against the amendment. They will prove that they are nervous. We shall be grateful to hon. Members for these amendments, if for no other reason, because they enable us to see the fears that are beginning to surface in the SNP.

I support the amendments in principle, although I do not agree with the figures. I believe that the greatest peril of all the perils that this Bill could bring to this country is the break-up of the United Kingdom. That is something we should never lightly put at risk. We may dispute how great the risk is, but it certainly exists. I believe it is a great risk and, therefore, it is totally reasonable to write in figures of this nature.

As the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury showed in his comprehensive mathematics, these are not unreasonable figures. They were met in the only other referendum we have experienced, so it is not unreasonable to seek either the lower percentage or the 40 per cent. figure. That is a reasonable safeguard to protect us from the great danger of break-up. It is only right that we should ask for a substantial vote from the people of Scotland if they want to make this substantial change.

There are many elections that return very low polls. I am sure no one in this Committee thinks that in local elections the polls are ever high enough. Ultimately, however, they relate only to a term of four or five years, after which matters can be changed. This referendum relates to an irrevocable issue, and there is no way in which, once the people of Scotland have been given their own Assembly, any Government in this Committee will take it away.

With such an irrevocable decision in the balance it is not unreasonable to ask the people of Scotland to come out in substantial numbers. If I had a complaint to make it would be that the figure of 40 per cent. is too low.

Mr. John Smith

Surely the hon. Member would accept that the decision to stay in the EEC was of considerable constitutional importance. Did he advocate such a proposition as he is now supporting at the time that the Bill on the EEC referendum was debated by the House?

Mr. Sproat

I give the Minister the answer that was given to the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) by one of his hon. Friends. He said, candidly, that length of days in the House brings maturity. No doubt if I had thought of that matter then I should have been happy to have supported a minimum vote requirement, but that minimum vote was achieved anyway, and so the argument does not arise.

Two interesting points arise. The first is the fear shown by the SNP. The second is the fact that the Minister of State is relying on what must be one of the feeblest of debating points. He has been reduced to asking a question on something that happened five years ago.

Mr. Sillars

May I advance the hon. Member's maturity into the policy area mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition in respect of certain difficult industrial disputes in the future, in which cases she would seek to resolve the matter by the introduction of a referendum? In those circumstances would the hon. Gentleman argue the 40 per cent. threshold, or would he roll himself back to be a juvenile again?

Mr. Sproat

It is not necessary to be offensive in order to be irrelevant. For me to answer that question would be totally irrelevant.

I support both hon. Members and whichever amendment goes to the vote. If the people of Scotland support devolution, I believe that they must do so in numbers. I do not believe that they will, and therefore I am happy to support the amendments.

Mr. William Hamilton

I prefer to confine my remarks to my amendment, but it covers the same point as the other proposals except that the mathematics are slightly different. I was disturbed to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) say that when there was a division within a party we should have a referendum. If one accepted that principle, one would be taken on to extremely dangerous ground. If that position pertains to anything which might be raised in this place, the obvious solution would be not a referendum but a free vote—

Mr. George Cunningham

They are all free votes.

Mr. Hamilton

So far as I am concerned, they are all free votes, but many hon. Members appear to be frightened of the Whips. I do not know why, but that kind of animal appears to be about.

Before I move on to the substance of my speech, may I seek clarification from you, Mr. Murton, on whether we might have separate votes on these amendments if we so wish?

The Chairman

After consideration, I think that the best thing I can do is to reserve my position on that matter. We are in fact debating Amendment No. 586 plus Amendment (a). The hon. Member is speaking to his own amendment. I must leave for the time being the question about Divisions on other amendments.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Hamilton

I am much obiged, Mr. Murton. That clarifies the position. We shall have to wait to see how far it has been clarified. In general terms the reason for the amendment, and, I suspect, the reason for the amendments proposed by my hon. Friends—I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury had some reservations—is that a referendum is an undesirable innovation in our constitution. But, having been landed with it, any question put to the people is an indication that we are throwing the ball of sovereignty into their court. We are saying that we cannot in this Committee decide, and we are asking the people to tell us what they want. If that is so, it must be seen to have massive support in Parliament and outside.

No such claim can be made for the guillotine. There has been far too much arm-twisting, bullying and threatening for that argument to be sustained. It might be argued against any attempt to put percentages in as to who supports the legislation and who does not that we do not do such a thing in a General Election. It might be asked why it should be done in a referendum. The answer is that a referendum is very different from a General Election. In a General Election, although a Government might be elected with a majority of members in the House of Commons, that result can he overturned in five years or less. Whatever injustices there are usually balance out over a period. But this legislation, if passed, would produce a state of affairs which would be irrevocable. It is quite true that Parliament, being sovereign, could overturn it. But it is a bit like falling off a cliff. One cannot change one's mind and go back.

That is precisely what we are doing here. For good or ill, Scotland will be stuck with its Assembly for ever. This is where the difference of opinion comes in. The SNP takes the view that it wants the Assembly because it is on the road along which it wants to go. The Government take the opposite view. They say that it is precisely to stop that legislation that they are insisting on this guillotine and getting the legislation through, despite the fact that the majority of the House of Commons is against it.

That being the state of play now, it seems that it is vital to get decisive and irrefutable evidence that there is the wholehearted consent, to coin a phrase, of the Scottish people. That wholehearted consent must mean more than 50 per cent. It cannot be defined as less than 50 per cent. So that will not do. We cannot regard silence as being consent. It might be boredom or just solemn, helpless hostility.

Despite what everybody from the SNP says, there is a lot of boredom in Scotland with the Bill. In Scotland the people are much more concerned with bread and butter issues than with the machinery of Government. That has always been so. There is no enthusiastic support for the legislation. That is why a considerable amount of worry is being expressed lest these fairly reasonable precautions are put into the Bill. To thrust this medicine down the throats of obviously reluctant patients would be the action of the worst kind of witchdoctor.

Let me pose some possible results from this referendum. There might be a poor turn-out of, say, 25 per cent. The SNP would say that that was impossible—far too many people are just raring to go. Let us assume that it is 25 per cent. and 13 per cent. of the people are for and 12 per cent. against. The Secretary of State has to come to the House of Commons, according to subsection (2) of Clause 82, If it appears to the Secretary of State… a very generalised term, the meaning of which I do not know and neither, I suspect, do the Government— —having regard to the answers given in the referendum and all other circumstances". So it is a consultative referendum in any case.

But supposing the Secretary of State got that result of 13 per cent. for and 12 per cent. against. Does anybody seriously believe that the Secretary of State could say "This is overwhelming evidence that the Scottish people are just wanting nothing more than an Assembly in Edinburgh"? I do not believe that the Government could do that. Even if the result was 25 per cent. against nothing—if 75 per cent. of the people said that they were so bored with it because it was so irrelevant and they wanted nothing to do with it—the Secretary of State would be hard pressed to justify any action designed to get the legislation on the statute book.

Let us take the other extreme. Supposing there is an 80 per cent. turn-out and it is narrowly divided 40–40 or 41–39. What then? What would the Secretary of State recommend to the House of Commons? I suppose that the most sensible course in that event would be to say "All right, there has been divided opinion in Scotland. The ball is passed to the sovereign Parliament of the United Kingdom and there shall be a free vote here." Maybe only Scottish Members should vote. I would be in favour of that, so long as it was a free vote. There would be no doubt about the result then. Therefore, I would accept the argument that we should let only the Scottish Members vote and let the Whips mind their own business. Then we should see what the result would be.

Supposing we had the other alternative of a high turn-out, a clear majority for or against. I ask my hon. Friends how they define a clear-cut majority. They have not stated figures, but they clearly must have something in mind when the result is known. The Secretary of State who comes back to the House of Commons with the result will have it in mind whether he has a clear mandate to continue and ask that the legislation be pursued. He must have some figures in mind. The Government cannot pretend to push on regardless of the figures.

I come specifically to my amendment. It is very reasonable. There are important differences between my amendment and those of other Labour Members. My amendment says three things. If there is less than a 60 per cent. vote, or if less than two-thirds of those voting have voted "Yes", the Secretary of State will recommend to the House of Commons, which will take the final decision whatever the result, that the legislation he null and void. But I take account of the possibility—I put it no higher—of there being a turn-out of less than 50 per cent. If there were, I require only 34 per cent. to vote "Yes"—two-thirds of that 50 per cent.—which is not overwhelming enthusiasm for the legislation. If there is only a 30 per cent. vote, 20 per cent. or 20 per cent. plus would carry the day. That does not seem to me to be an extravagant proposition.

Hon. Members ask me where the 60 per cent. figure came from. It did not just come out of my head. I think I am right in saying that my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury has been in Transport House. He knows that we cannot get anything in our manifesto unless it has been passed by a two-thirds majority at our conference. Therefore, what applies to our party should not be unacceptable to the Government who are in office because of that conference. That is a fairly good reason why the amendment should be considered.

We must have some explanation from the Government of their thinking on this matter. If by moving these amendments we get some clarification of the vague phrase in subsection (2), the debate may have served a useful purpose.

Mr. George Gardiner (Reigate)

I should like to speak very briefly in support of Amendment No. 586 and, indeed, of Amendment (a). I would marginally prefer the figure suggested in the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham), but in the absence of that being agreeable to the Committee I would happily settle for that which is suggested in Amendment No. 586.

As an amendment in the name of one of my right hon. Friends and in my name is included in this group, I should like to make a very similar point to that made by the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton), namely, to ask whether in certain circumstances, Mr. Murton, you would consider a request from us for a separate vote on Amendment No. 632. I would expect that those circumstances are most unlikely to arise. It will not have passed the observation of hon. Members that the terms of Amendment No. 632 are very similar to those of Amendment No. 586. However, in the event of the Committee not having a clear opportunity to vote on Amendment No. 586 as it stands now, we would wish, Mr. Murton, to ask you for a separate vote on Amendment No. 632.

On the general point, we are dealing here with proposals for yet another referendum. It is obvious from the debate that uppermost in the minds of us all are the arguments and discussions that we all went through not long ago over whether there should be a national referendum on the question of our membership of the European Community. We recall the very strong opposition that was then expressed by myself and many of my hon. Friends to the introduction of the concept of the referendum into our British constitutional practice.

The argument made at the time was as follows: "These are most exceptional circumstances. This is a once-for-all exercise, so this referendum proposition is being brought forward solely in this context and we could not expect it to arise again." However, sure enough, in a couple of years, as a result of a rather different set of political circumstances, party convenience and all the rest of it, the proposition was made again, and it is before us tonight.

Sir Bernard Braine (Essex, South-East)

My hon. Friend is referring, as so many speakers in the debate have done, to the two referendums. Would he allow that there is no real comparison between them? The European referendum was to seek confirmation of a step that we had already taken and a step that Parliament had taken. The referendum being sought here is something which, if by one means or another a majority is given, will be not merely irrevocable but could lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom. That is something that touches upon the interests of every man, woman and child in the country. I hope that my hon. Friend will not pursue the argument that so many others have pursued, quite irrelevantly, of drawing a comparison between the two referendums. We are faced here with a proposition that could mean the destruction of our country.

7.45 p.m.

Mr. Gardiner

I accept that point. I was not seeking to draw a comparison between the two referendums. The point I was seeking to make is that a practice that was introduced only two or three years ago, under cover of the argument that it was a once-for-all exercise, has arisen again. Clearly we must take cognisance of the fact that calls for referendums will probably be made in the future, in different combinations of political circumstances. I am arguing that, it we are to embark upon this course, we should fairly soon begin thinking of some of the ground rules that should apply in referendums.

Mr. Buchan

A great deal of the burden of the hon. Member's speech, and of the speeches of other hon. Members, has been about the necessity or otherwise, or the desirability or otherwise, of a referendum, qua referendum. To deal with that and with the hon. Member's fear of a pattern developing because there was a referendum two or three years ago and one is proposed now, let me say that the point, surely, is that in those situations in which the sovereignty of the House of Commons and of the State is in question the matter can only be passed to the people for them to decide. It is only proper that they should decide, because we have not been elected to this place to supervise the break-up of the United Kingdom, nor to pass sovereignty from this place to the Common Market headquarters. Therefore, it was proper, and seriously proper, to put the matter to the people.

Having said that, in relation to the independence question it was because of the case for both the necessity and the constitutional propriety of a referendum on the independence question—that is, sovereignty—that the campaign for a referendum was ever raised.

Mr. Gardiner

I understand that point. I do not wish to develop now an argument for or against referendums as such, or to talk about the situations in which they should rightly or not rightly be held. I am only saying that now that we see the idea of the referendum recurring in political arguments of this kind it would be as well for us to start working out some ground rules for their application.

Related to that is my second point. I again refer back to the arguments of two or three years ago. We remember all the warnings about the uses to which referendums have been put in the past in other countries by Governments and régimes with which we in this place would have no sympathy. It seems to me that we must not walk into this situation with our eyes closed. We must at least allow for the fact that it is quite possible for a Government to misuse the idea of the referendum.

A hedge against that, at least, is to build in the concept that a certain proportion of the electorate must vote positively for what is suggested if the referendum is to have validity. That is my general point.

I come to my more specific point, which echoes what has been said from the Government Benches. We have been told time and again that there is a great head of steam in Scotland for this and that popular enthusiasm is bubbling over for some kind of Assembly. However, my Scottish colleagues bring back very different evidence to me. It is very interesting, and I find it plausible.

Looking at public opinion polls that have been conducted, polls of the kind that invite people to place issues before them in order of importance, we see that the issue of devolution tends to rate very low in Scotland. That is for understandable reasons. Many other issues come ahead of it. Therefore, it seems that there is a serious prospect or danger of a referendum of the kind proposed in Scotland producing a very low turn-out.

In these circumstances, it seems to me inconceivable that we should accept a verdict from a referendum which was based on a very low turn-out, and consequently, whatever its result, a very low majority verdict in relation to the total size of the electorate.

The point has been made that by putting figures into the referendum provisions we undermine the consultative nature of the referendum. I just cannot understand that argument. Amendment No. 586 provides specifically that if less than one-third of the persons entitled to vote have voted "Yes" in reply to the question posed the Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament the draft of an Order in Council for the repeal of this Act. It says nothing whatsoever about what Parliament should do, and it will be entirely up to us to decide, just as it would be if the Bill went through as at present drafted.

Obviously, all Members, in the event of the amendment being passed, or in the event of the Bill going through as at present drafted, would take into consideration, in casting their votes in those circumstances, such matters as the degree of turn-out in the referendum and the proportion of the electorate voting "Yes". I for one would have no hesitation in voting against an order of the kind suggested under the Bill if the proportion of the electorate in Scotland voting "Yes" were less than 40 per cent. or, even worse, less than one-third of the total electorate.

If that is my position—and I fancy it would be the position of a great number of Members—then surely the elec- torate, in joining in a referendum, should have some idea of the criteria which have to be met if that referendum verdict is to be taken seriously.

I submit that amending the Bill in the way proposed would at least ensure that we are dealing honestly with the electorate. We would be telling them that it is no use having a 1 per cent. or 2 per cent. lead in a 40 per cent. turn-out. We would be telling them what, in the eyes of Parliament, is likely to constitute a valid referendum verdict. In all these matters, the more honest we can be with the electorate, the better.

Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

When the referendum takes place, as I am sure it will, I shall be campaigning vigorously for a "No" vote. I shall also be campaigning vigorously for a high turn-out, because I think that both are mutually acceptable and mutually necessary.

I am astonished at the sudden cold wind which has been blowing through this Chamber as people have suddenly thought that there might be a low turnout. I echo the words of many other hon. Members who say that we are always told that there is tremendous enthusiasm, and anticipation of an Assembly coming into being—that the Scots are champing at the bit outside, in Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square and everywhere else, to bring the Assembly into being.

One or two hon. Members have questioned the need for a referendum and, indeed, the reason for having some kind of proportion of votes. It has been said that one reason why we must have a referendum is that there are differences among the main parties with regard to the possibility of devolution, but it is not simply that. There is a curious amalgam taking place. On the Government side, there is a division of opinion for and against devolution. The same applies to the Opposition Benches. But there is a curious consensus view between the two Front Benches in that they are in favour of something called devolution. Although they cannot quite agree what it is, they are all in favour of something called devolution.

The right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym), for example, made it perfectly clear on Second Reading that he and his party officially were in favour of devolution. In the winding-up speech on that occasion we heard from the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor). We all know him, and it is tempting to think that even he sometimes does not believe a word of what he says. Nevertheless, we must take him at face value when he is speaking from the Dispatch Box, and he said specifically that a vote against the Second Reading of the Bill was not a vote against devolution.

There is a consensus view, therefore, between my hon. Friend the Minister of State and the hon. Member for Cathcart on the principle of devolution, although they have their quarrels about the details. It is this almost contradistinction of ideas which makes it necessary to have a referendum, and necessary that, once we have the referendum, we obtain a decisive result.

Even if perchance the Bill were to fall on Third Reading because of lack of time, or through being overtaken by another event, or otherwise, I believe that my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench are so wedded to the idea of devolution that they would bring it back either in the next Session of this Parliament or in the first Session of a new Parliament.

Similarly, I believe that if the Conservative Party were unhappily to become the Government, it would, having made so many wonderful promises about some kind of devolution, feel bound to try to do something.

The only way in which we can properly decide the issue of devolution, therefore, is away from the House of Commons in Scotland as a whole. That is the only place in which it can be done.

What worries me most about the devolution debate—which has taken place not since the report of the Kilbrandon Commission but since a certain by-election in Hamilton—is that it has distorted the whole spectrum of Scottish politics. We have never been arguing about the real questions. We may disagree about the solutions, but all of us know that unemployment is unacceptably high. That is what we ought to be debating here day after day after day.

Why are not questions such as the economic future that Scotland faces, and the issues affecting shipbuilding and steel, available to us for discussion? It is not just because the Bill is before us. It is because so many people have posed devolution as being the primary concern of the Scottish people. I do not believe that it is, and we never really get to grips with the basic political arguments about politics, which are concerned with economics and class. At least my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) and I agree about that.

As to the basic question of independence posed by the Scottish National Party, I notice that it never at any time campaigns on the issue of independence, for good or ill. From its point of view, only good can come from it. I have always said and accepted, on the basic question of independence, as posed by the SNP, or devolution, that if the majority of the Scottish people want it and vote for it I shall accept that result.

Mr. Timothy Raison (Aylesbury)

What makes the hon. Gentleman think that a referendum would settle the question? If we had a referendum and devolution or separation were rejected, the campaign would go on just as hard as it had ever done.

Mr. Hughes

The campaign, either for devolution or for independence, of course, will not go away. I do not pretend for one moment that it will go away. There will be arguments about it, but they will not be in this Chamber all the time, nor will they be in Scotland all the time, because people will be forced to turn their attention back to the basic issues which I have tried to explain. What I am certain about it that unless we have a decisive result in the country as a whole for or against it will not go away from here. We must, therefore, have a decisive result.

Why are we saying that we should in these circumstances provide some kind of threshold? I think it is necessary to have a threshold because, despite all the fine words said about it, and whatever the legislation may say. I am satisfied in my own mind that there is no such thing as a purely theoretical consultative referendum. Legally it is not mandatory. But if it could not be argued that a majority of those who voted—irrespective of the size of the poll—were in favour of devolution it would be difficult to deny that result by bringing the Assembly into being

8.0 p.m.

It is essential to have this threshold so that we can say two things to the Scottish people who will vote in the referendum. First, we are saying "If you want this Assembly, you must positively demonstrate that you want it. You must not just grumble about the kind of Government you have". Goodness knows, it is easy to grumble about that. It has always been the case that whatever Government we have had there have been grumbles. We must ask the people to show positively that they want devolution and they must be prepared to take the trouble to go out and vote for it.

Secondly, we are saying that this is a really important issue. It will possibly decide for a decade at least the future of Scotland as well as the future of the United Kingdom and, much more importantly, the future of politics in this country.

We are saying to those people, whichever side they are on, that there can be no excuses afterwards and that there is no point coming back the day after the referendum is over and stating "If I had known it would be like this I would have gone out and voted". People must positively decide, show their enthusiasm and recognise that what is at stake in the referendum is make or break with regard to devolution.

In a sense, the referendum campaign has already started. I am concerned about the kind of letters appearing in the Scottish Press—both the daily Press and the weekly journals—referring to anti-devolutionists and asking "What kind of friends have you got?". I hope we can at least hold the referendum on a basis of policy and not snide remarks. I hope that snide remarks such as "Whose bed were you in last night?" will be ended after tomorrow when, I understand, a great umbrella organisation will be set up comprising SNP, SLP, Labour Party members, Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all.

Mr. John Smith

I agree with my hon. Friend that the argument should be conducted on the merits of the case on either side. But surely he is already departing from his own stricture, because although he hoped there would be no criticism, he has made such a criticism already of my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) and myself.

Mr. Hughes

I did not know that my hon. Friend was joining some umbrella organisation. The trouble with my hon. Friend is that he wants the argument all his way and the slightest breath of what he regards as criticism prompts him to his feet. I shall defend myself by saying that I hope these trivialities which have emerged over the last two or three weeks, such as "What kind of friends have you got'?", will end, especially since if accusations are to be made they can be made on both sides. I want nothing more to do with that, but if people want to play this dirty then by God they will get it.

Mr. Sillars

I hope my hon. Friend will be the first to admit that neither myself nor any of the people mentioned as being potentially involved in that umbrella campaign have attacked unfairly. My hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) will be campaigning for a "No" vote for different reasons. I hope they will not think that because Scottish people may reject that view there is something about that which is not strictly politically clean. I hope that my hon. Friend will acquit me of accusations of that kind, because I would not expect them from him.

Mr. Hughes

I shall look with great interest to see who appears tomorrow, I shall also see whether any have been involved in this sort of thing. I agree entirely that we ought to stick to the politics of the argument. I hope this will be the end of remarks like "Whose bed were you in last night?", or variations of that.

I end as I began by saying that I shall campaign for a "No" vote in the referendum. I shall also campaign for a high turn-out. I believe that is consistent with supporting the amendment tonight in order to have a threshold clause.

Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)

The amendments that we are considering go to the very heart of what the Bill is about. Why has the Bill been brought before the House at all? Why are the Government, so far as I can see, resisting the amendments? It happens sometimes in constitutional government—indeed, quite often—that a Government decide that something is right in itself and that even though it is unpopular the House of Commons should be asked to support a measure which is believed to be in the public interest. All of us have had experience of Governments bringing forward measures which to our certain knowledge would be defeated in a referendum, yet we support them because we think they are right in themselves.

The Government have never claimed that this grotesque Bill is the brainchild of some philosophy which ought to be enforced and put into practice regardless of the view of public opinion, whether in Scotland or in the United Kingdom as a whole. It has never been the view that some disciple of Plato sat round the Cabinet table dreaming up this wonderful scheme and that it ought to be introduced and supported by the House of Commons on its own perfectionist merits.

The argument all the way through has been that it was necessary to produce the Bill in response to Scottish opinion. There has been a division in the House about whether Scottish opinion wants the Bill. But the basis of the Government's case in the beginning has been that unless we introduced a measure of devolution—and this particular measure of devolution—the unity of the Kingdom would be at risk.

Many of us have taken the opposite view—that the unity of the Kingdom would be at risk if the Bill went through. But the Government's case has been that, unless the Bill goes forward, the unity of the kingdom will be at risk, because they believe that the feeling in Scotland is strongly in favour of a measure such as this.

If that is their view, I simply cannot see how they can in honesty oppose the amendments that we are now debating. If it is not a philosophy brainchild argument, if Ministers are telling us that the Bill should go through, even if it is unpopular, if what they are doing is responding to genuine substantial feeling in Scotland, surely there is no reason why they should be in any way afraid of putting it to the test.

Personally, I think it wrong to put it to the test of purely Scottish opinion. I think that this is a United Kingdom matter. I do not think we can separate Scotland from England, nor do I think it right to separate the 5 million or more people who live in Scotland from the almost equal number of people of Scottish descent who live south of the border. That is why I voted in support of the last amendment, but that is now water over the dam.

We are now discussing what is to be the test of Scottish opinion. I simply fail to see how the Government can in honesty reject these amendments, which seem to be very modest. On an issue of this magnitude, I would have thought that at least 50 per cent. of the total electorate should be required to express a view in favour of the change. After all, most countries which have written constitutions expects a two-thirds majority of Members of Parliament for amendments to the constitution. That is done in the United States, Switzerland and elsewhere—and that is a two-thirds majority not of the fairly uninformed general public but of their legislators who are supposed to know what they are talking and thinking about.

Yet here it is being suggested—even if these amendments were accepted—that devolution could go through on a minority vote. It is perfectly true that such a situation occurs again and again in our General Elections. As several hon. Members have pointed out, however, there is a very big difference. We can correct the mistakes of one General Election at the next one. But if we change the constitution, we cannot.

Mr. John Smith

The right hon. Gentleman is putting the argument for constitutional change as an argument of a quite different character from any other political change. Would he concede that the EEC referendum was of such a character, and does he think that it was mistaken in the EEC referendum not to have a minimum voting requirement? I should be interested to have his view of that matter.

Mr. Amery

We must stick to this debate. The Minister is making a purely debating point. We are talking about whether the Government are justified in rejecting amendments which offer the only clear way of deciding whether Scottish opinion wants this legislation. The argument on the EEC referendum was dealt with on the merits of the proposition rather than in response to what the Government are asking. In this case, the Government take the view "If we do not pass this Bill, Scottish opinion will revolt against the Government."

Mr. John Smith

The right hon. Gentleman seeks to introduce a special class of issue in which there was constitutional change. Perhaps he was not in favour of a referendum on the Common Market. Since, however, the House of Commons gave that legislation a Second Reading, why did he not table an amendment that would have required a minimum turnout in that legislation on the Common Market, because it involved a constitutional change of much the same kind as this?

Mr. Amery

The Minister is entitled to say that that might have been a more consistent step to take, but I am addressing myself to this Bill and how we are to ascertain whether Scottish opinion wants the Bill. Many of us believe that Scottish opinion does not want it, but such a proposition would give us the opportunity to find out how strong are the views in Scotland.

I do not see why the Government are so frightened of accepting these amendments. I believe that the amendments are quite moderate when one compares them with the requirements in most countries with written constitutions.

It is often argued that if we do not pass the Bill we shall endanger the unity of the United Kingdom. Many of us feel that the Bill will put that unity in danger, but this argument will turn on the strength of Scottish feeling. Therefore, is it unreasonable to ask the Government to accept these amendments, which would have the effect of testing Scottish opinion.

If the Government are not prepared to accept these amendments, one cannot avoid coming to the conclusion that the only reason why the Bill is before us is that it will keep the Lib-Lab pact going, will gain a little support in the SNP and will enable Ministers to go on drawing their salaries for a little longer than they would otherwise be able to do.

8.15 p.m.

Mr. Ioan Evans (Aberdare)

I hope that in these discussions about a referendum in Scotland we shall forget about the Common Market referendum.

Mr. Amery

We cannot.

Mr. Evans

Yes, we can. I do not see any relevance between the Common Market and a constitutional measure related to Scotland. In the EEC referendum, we all had in mind the fact that the Common Market countries had already had referendums. France held a referendum to decide whether the United Kingdom should enter the EEC, and we had our referendum because we realised that the British people had never had an opportunity to give their views.

If amendments of this kind had been put forward at that time, I believe that there would have been a good case for supporting them. But it is surely not relevant to this discussion to argue what occurred at the time of the EEC referendum. We are now addressing ourselves to the referendum in Scotland, and, presumably, to the later referendum on Wales.

I was delighted by the contribution made to this discussion by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes). I am delighted that my hon. Friend and his colleagues, my hon. Friends the Members for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook), Dundee, West (Mr. Doig), Glasgow, and West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), Springburn (Mr. Buchanan), Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Selby), are arguing the campaign for a "No" vote in the referendum. That will rightly stimulate interest in the subject.

The purpose of the amendments tabled by my hon. Friends the Members for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton), Mitcham and Morden (Mr. Douglas-Mann) and Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) is that, if we are to have a referendum which makes sense, it must involve the majority of the people in Scotland and Wales. A Question was recently put to the Secretary of State for Wales to the effect "How many letters have you had in support of devolution?" The Secretary of State's reply was that he had received two letters in support and two in opposition. That makes me feel even more certain that the people of Wales have no interest in a devolution measure. I believe that, if one were to ask the people of Scotland and Wales to list their priorities, they would put at the top of the list living standards, unemployment, education and health and that devolution would come last.

We are not arguing whether we are to have a referendum, because the Government have conceded that that will happen. Therefore, I do not see why the Government cannot agree to these proposals. I favour Amendment No. 586 tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden and also Amendment (a) tabled by my hon. Friend for Islington, South and Finsbury. Indeed, I believe that a figure of 40 per cent. is too low and that we could go to a figure of 50 per cent.

The Government have taken the view—at least, this applies to some members of the Government—"We are not in favour of devolution, but there is a demand that should be met." Many of them speak with great eloquence about maintaining the unity of the people of these islands, and they suggest that this will be brought about by devolution. Paradoxically, the only wholehearted support for these proposals has come from the Scottish and Welsh nationalists, whose whole purpose is to destroy the unity of the people of this land. What a strange situation that has produced. However, if we are to have a referendum, we must write something into it. If there is to be a low turn-out in the referendum, that situation should be taken into account. I suppose that a figure of 40 per cent. would be reasonable, but if 40 per cent. of those on the electoral register are not prepared to go out to register their view on this major fundamental change in the constitution, we must take a different view of the situation.

I hope that Amendment No. 586 and the others associated with it will be put to the vote. I hope that the Government will accept these proposals. We must remember that they have come not from the Opposition but from the Government's own Labour colleagues. We are in Committee, and I hope that the Government will take cognisance of the views which have been expressed in this debate.

Not one Member on the Government side has opposed these amendment. I hope that the Government will take account of that fact. I hope that they will make clear that they intend to accept one of these amendments, because it will stimulate interest in the referendum. We do not want a meaningless referendum. We want a referendum in which as near as possible to 100 per cent. of the populations of Scotland and Wales will participate. I regret that people in England will not be able to participate, but many of those people have relatives and friends in Scotland and Wales and I hope that they will write to them—more than they have written to the Secretary of State for Wales—stating, their feelings about these measures and stimulating interest.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan (Farnham)

The Minister of State has mentioned the Common Market referendum. I think that he got it quite wrong, because if there had been a threshold on that referendum it would have been put on the "No" vote and not on the "Yes" vote. The "No" vote would have repealed the Treaty and changed the status quo while the "Yes" vote maintained the situation that we were in. This referendum is different. The "Yes" vote would lead to a fundamental constitutional change and could lead to the breach of the treaties and a change in the relationship between Scotland and other nations in the United Kingdom.

The amendments are all the more important following the result of the last Division. Having denied the rest of the United Kingdom the chance to take part in a referendum which affects the whole of the United Kingdom, the least that we can do is to try to make sure that the referendum result represents a positive view of a significant majority of the people of Scotland.

None of the amendments puts any constraints on the electors of Scotland or on Parliament. The only constraint is on the Secretary of State to lay before Parliament a draft Order in Council for the repeal of the Act. We may debate that and, if necessary, alter it before it is laid before us in its final form in the light of our debate.

The arguments that are being put against the amendments, including the fact that they are not needed because the referendum is only consultative, are not valid. Consultation is not valuable in itself unless it shows a definite and positive wish for devolution, and shows it beyond all doubt.

As the debate has shown, there is grave doubt about whether the people of Scotland are remotely interested in, let alone wildly enthusiastic about, the prospect of devolution. Some hon. Members believe that they are enthusiastic and that they would turn in wrath against Parliament if they were denied devolution. What have those Members to fear from an amendment writing into the Act that the demonstration of that enthusiasm has to be part of the advice put before Parliament in the Order in Council?

Mr. Dalyell

If they had been so enthusiastic, would there not have been reverberations after 22nd February 1977? In the three months after that date I had more complaints about the price of pigeon seed than about my attitude on devolution.

Mr. Macmillan

I am merely trying to be kind to the people who say that there is a seething hidden enthusiasm for devolution. The hon. Gentleman and I have not seen it. Indeed, no one has seen it, but if it is there the supporters of devolution have nothing to fear and the Government have nothing to fear. I can see no objection to accepting at least one of the amendments.

I support the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) in his proposal for a higher figure. I would rather go to 50 per cent., because it is important to be sure beyond all possible doubt that such an irrevocable step is taken only if people want it to be taken.

One of the disadvantages of simple majority votes is that they do not judge the intensity of the views of voters—whether they really believe in what they are voting for or whether they are voting to please someone else or because someone has tossed a coin and told them to vote that way. There will be taking part in the referendum people who will not realise the consequences of their votes. There will be apathy and a degree of disinterest which may lead to people voting for frivolous reasons or for reasons that are not sufficiently valid, given the importance of the vote. No doubt this happens in General Elections, but the result of that can be put right later. This is an irrevocable step and we do not want silly votes enabling devolution to go ahead when it is not really wanted.

I have been fascinated by the fears shown by opponents of the amendments that the will of the people may prevail, that the con trick that the Government are trying to pull on the Scottish people will be seen through and that the Scottish nationalists will not be able to use devolution as a means of achieving the destruction of the United Kingdom.

I do not believe that anyone who thinks seriously about the future of this country would wish to benefit from doubtful votes or to achieve their objectives by using people who do not know what they want and are voting for something because they think that it might make things better, without knowing how or why and without seeing the dangers.

There will be those who really want the Bill, even knowing the risks entailed, including the risk that the SNP might lead Scotland to independence and that it might lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom. They will support it knowing that they are setting up an organisation in Scotland which cannot be got rid of and which inevitably will be a source of conflict with Parliament at Westminster and knowing that they are affecting permanently relationships between Scotland and the United Kingdom.

There are those people who will realise that the rest of the United Kingdom will have no part in the referendum and may resent it. Those people may still want to go ahead and vote "Yes" in the referendum. If they are a big enough majority, so be it. But, if they are not and if they are only a minority, the result will lead to what we who oppose devolution fear. The rest of Scotland will never forgive us for rejecting the safeguards which the hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mr. Douglas-Mann) and his hon. Friends propose.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Sillars

I am opposed to the amendments. I think that that makes me about the first hon. Member to say that. I oppose them not because I do not expect the "Yes" campaign to win in Scotland; indeed, what is happening here tonight will assist us enormously to get an even bigger "Yes" vote when the campaign gets under way. My reason for anxiety is the expectation that acceptance of the amendment will simply be another step towards right hon. and hon. Members constructing further obstacles to the implementation of this measure in the future.

Clause 82(2) provides: If it appears to the Secretary of State, having regard to the answers given in a referendum and all other circumstances, that this Act should not be brought into effect he may lay before Parliament the draft of an Order in Council providing for its repeal. Those words "and all other circumstances", given the attitudes which I have seen developing here not just tonight but over the past two or three years, make me extremely anxious.

I anticipate that, when the referendum is over and the Government begin to implement this legislation—because it is based on a series of triggers, the first of them being the referendum—we shall hear the argument that perhaps the result was not quite as one should read it, that on the day it was raining in Grampian or in Strathclyde and that perhaps it was not quite the result which would have happened if this or that had not occurred. I expect a great deal more hassle between now and the implementation of this legislation because of what I have seen happen in this Committee, and one day I expect to hear invoked the principle of unanimity before we proceed to the establishment of a Scottish Assembly.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

I intervene simply on a matter of fact. Unless I have misread both Clause 82 and the amendment, the discretion in the hands of the Secretary of State to which the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) objects, since it will lead to what he describes as "hassle", is removed by the amendment, because the Secretary of State will no longer have the right to bring before Parliament a draft order proposing the repeal of the legislation unless the target figure in the referendum is not reached.

Mr. Sillars

I shall explain as I proceed how the target figure proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) is not quite what it appears to be, and I shall do so based on my experience as a full-time election agent.

This amendment is just another chapter in a very sorry story of obstacles which have been placed in the way of the implementation of the pledge to introduce a Scottish Assembly, and it is worth rehearsing briefly what has happened to this proposition.

Over the years, people in the Home Rule movement—and I was not one of them—were always lectured that the way to get Home Rule was to vote for it and to engage in the normal procedures of democratic pressure. They did so. The result in October 1974 was an election commitment on the part of the Labour Party. Before that election and after it White Papers were published in which there was no reference to a referendum, and in no debate in the Labour Party prior to that do I recall the possibility of a referendum being raised. After leaving the Labour Party, I can remember watching the party conference at Blackpool and seeing the idea of a referendum rejected. However, that is by the way.

The Scotland and Wales Bill contained no reference to a referendum when it was first printed. The referendum was introduced only as a means of getting that Bill a Second Reading. Had there been no referendum commitment, the Bill would not have received a Second Reading, and my right hon. and hon. Friends know that to be the case.

I believe—it is only a value judgment—that each time we appear nearer a "Yes" vote, each time we appear nearer the accomplishment of an Assembly, the rules are changed or new rules are introduced, always on the principle that it must be made harder for the Scots to have the Assembly.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

Will my hon. Friend explain whether his objection to the proposed referendum is that, as the Labour Party conference approved the idea of a Scottish Assembly, we should have one even if a majority of the people of Scotland do not want it?

Mr. Sillars

I am opposed to referendums in principle. One of the greatest mistakes in British constitutional history—this will be proved in the course of time—was the introduction of the Common Market referendum.

If the concept of the referendum is to be introduced into the constitution of any country, it should be removed from the hands of Government or those with a vested interest in the answer and put into the hands of an independent judicial body which will genuinely set up the referendum question. A number of countries that have operated referendums have been those that have tended towards dictatorship—[Interruption.] There is a Left-wing point of view about France from 1968 onwards.

Mr. Buchan

What about Switzerland?

Mr. Sillars

I am not sure about the position there. I am open to correction, but probably in Switzerland there is an independent body that sets the question.

Mr. Buchan

The hon. Gentleman said first that he was opposed to referendums in general. He now says that he is opposed to a referendum run by the politicians, saying that it should be run by an independent body. These are two related but separate matters. Is the hon. Gentleman sticking to the statement that he is opposed to all referendums in general on the grounds that they tend to lead to Right-wing reaction? New Zealand and other places are obvious examples that one can use against that suggestion.

I do not like referendums either, but we should bear in mind the example of Switzerland, where there are frequent referendums or plebiscites right down to the local level of the commune. If people want a new school, they may have it if they are prepared to see another 2p on the rates. Referendums are objectionable when used by dictatorships because they can control the question and the means of producing the answer.

Mr. Sillars

I am stretching my knowledge of Switzerland, but I believe that some of the citizens there can assist in establishing the question, and it is not simply a Government initiative.

I remain opposed to referendums in principle, even with an independent body to set the question, but I say that if we are to have referendums it is better that they should be carried out by an independent body rather than in the way now proposed, though it would appear that I am in a minority in this Committee. It seems to me and to many people in Scotland that on Home Rule the Scots are required to jump a certain democratic fence and then if they jump it, or look like jumping it, the fence is raised even higher.

This brings me to the argument about a 40 per cent. threshold. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury argued that under his formula all that would need to be achieved was a 51 per cent. "Yes" vote of those voting. I cannot square that with what happened in the referendum in Scotland on the Common Market, leaving aside the question whether it should have been held. The voting was 58 per cent. "Yes" to 42 per cent. "No", yet that produced only 36 per cent. of those eligible to vote.

Mr. George Cunningham

This figure is a key one in the argument. The answer is that the poll in the EEC referendum in Scotland was much lower than a normal Scottish poll in a General Election. Over nine General Elections since and including 1950, the average poll in a General Election in Scotland has been 77.4 per cent. If one is required to achieve 40 per cent. out of 77.4 per cent. voting, all that one has to achieve is 51.7 per cent. of the votes actually cast. I shall lend the hon. Gentleman my calculator if he wishes so that he may check that. It means only 51.7 per cent. if there is merely an average General Election poll at this referendum on a matter that we are told is of great interest to all the people of Scotland.

Mr. Sillars

We have had experience of only one referendum. I believe my hon. Friend would accept that the referendum showed a tendency for the figures to be below the normal turn-out for a General Election. I found that quite a lot of people who were in favour of the idea of a referendum felt, when it came around, that they did not like to take the responsibility on their own shoulders.

I was an election agent. I know how to impose depressant pressures upon an electorate. I can recall, during my days as an agent, watching candidates arguing that everyone should turn out to vote and then hear them saying sotto voce "I hope that that does not happen in the Tory area". I have run election campaigns, having been taught how to raise the temperature in one area and how to lower it in another, with the clear intention of affecting the turn-out. While I accept that my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) will go impartially into every area stirring everyone into voting, my experience of many other people is that that is not a tactic likely to be followed.

Mr. George Cunningham

Despite those efforts, if they took place, the average over nine General Elections has been 77.4 per cent. Why should fewer people vote on an issue on which we are told they are more interested than they are in choosing between the traditional parties in a General Election?

Mr. Dalyell


Mr. Sillars

I see that my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) wishes to intervene. I will give way to him and reply to both my hon Friends at once.

Mr. Dalyell

I worked in 1963 with my hon. Friend as an election agent at Limonds Wynd in Ayr. Of course one can raise or lower temperatures. Is my hon. Friend saying in these circumstances that we are supposed to believe that there is an overwhelming demand for devolution and that people lowering the temperature will make a difference such that the qualifications of my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) are not met?

Mr. Sillars

I am arguing that it is possible so to engage in a referendum or an election campaign as to affect the turn-out. I argue that circumstances can affect the turn-out. If this threshold were introduced, some people working for the "No" campaign would engineer their tactics accordingly and seek to depress the turn-out. That would give them a substantial advantage.

Mr. Robin F. Cook (Edinburgh Central)

I am optimistically hoping that my hon. Friend will give me some useful information that I can use in the "No" campaign. Can he tell me how, if I wished to do so, I could discourage people who wanted to vote "Yes" from going to the polls to record their vote? Nothing in this amendment would affect my desire to get those voting "No" to the polls. The number voting "No" would be irrelevant to the test applied for the "Yes" vote.

Mr. Sillars

My hon. Friend must be off his head if he thinks that I will put into Hansard details of the tactics which would help depress a referendum turn-out. There are people within his own party who can give him all the necessary advice. There are a number of experts at his disposal, and I speak from experience.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Does my hon. Friend recognise the inherent illogicality of what he is saying? On the one hand, he is accusing those of us who want a referendum of not trusting the Scottish people while on the other he is saying that he does not trust them because he thinks they can be easily manipulated.

Mr. Sillars

When it is said that people can be manipulated it does not mean that one does not trust their acumen. Let us assume that a Bill is introduced to abolish control of expenses in parliamentary elections. The reaction among Labour Members would be well worth seeing. It is known that my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North and I were engaged in the "No" campaign in the referendum. We are both well aware of the influence of vast amounts of money that were used on the "Yes" side compared to the minuscule amounts used on the "No" side. Given the way in which our society works, it is possible to manipulate people and to have an effect on them.

8.45 p.m.

I still remain optimistic. I am giving the reasons that lead me to think that some people will support the amendments. However, despite their efforts, I believe that at the end of the day there will be an overwhelming "Yes".

I turn to another part of the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury. I hope to prove to him that it is possible to weigh the case as he has put it against those in the "Yes" campaign. For example, the register on which we are likely to contest the referendum was compiled last October. It is not due to be published until February. It was compiled in October 1977, and the date for checking it was in December. Without disrespect to any citizen in the United Kingdom, we all know that very few bother to check the list to ensure that they have not been inadvertently removed or have not been entered, which sometimes happens.

As an election agent I was always told that the register tends on average to "die" at 1 per cent. a month. In London it tends to "die" far more quickly than that. Of course, the rate is not a constant 1 per cent. a month, but that is the rate that the register tends to show. If we talk about the register in real terms, next October, only 88 per cent. will remain on the electoral roll.

Mr. George Cunningham

My hon. Friend must evaluate the figures. I have quickly read my list, and I pick out two elections of the nine since 1950 that took place late in the year, when this problem was most likely to arise. In 1951 the poll was 81.2 per cent., and in 1974 it was 74.8 per cent.

Mr. Sillars

Yes, but that does not for one moment invalidate the argument that I am putting. A difference of 12 per cent. in terms of the register means, give or take a few, 442,416 people. If we had a 40 per cent. threshold, it seems that my hon. Friend would accept that. That is what he has argued. It is possible for us to get 40 per cent. of the people eligible to vote given the death of the register, and yet register only 35 per cent. of the vote as "Yes". I do not think that my hon. Friend understands. If we took 40 per cent. of the register, that would come to 1,474,720. That would be the full register if no one had moved, and 100 per cent. last October was 100 per cent. next October. If it is 88 per cent. next October of the real register—

Mr. George Cunningham


Mr. Sillars

That is on the basis of a 12 per cent. death rate, 1 per cent. a month. My hon. Friend does not understand. I thought that I had made it clear. I was using the shorthand terms that we used to use within the organising staff of the Labour Party. When the register changed as a result of deaths and removals at 1 per cent. a month, we used to say that it died at 1 per cent. per month. I am arguing that 40 per cent. of the real register amounts to not 1,474,720 people, but 1,297,720. Even on the worst assumption, the most pessimistic assumption of the "Yes" campaign, it is possible to match my hon. Friend's test in reality but to fail it because he did not take into account that the register is a fading factor.

Mr. Ioan Evans

Surely my hon. Friend is making the case that the referendum should be held when we get the new register. That is the only point that he is making. If he is making that case, all the other arguments fall to the ground. If he is doing so, let us have such an amendment before the Committee, and let us have the referendum when we have the new register.

Mr. Sillars

Surely my hon. Friends should have taken these matters into account in their complicated mathematical formulae.

Mr. George Cunningham

I did take it into account. If I had not, there would have been a much stronger justification for going for a figure of 50 per cent. I did not say so in my speech because this matter is complicated enough already, but if I had put in 50 per cent. I should have been asking in reality for more than 50 per cent. of the people entitled to vote. The difference is those who are on the register but who have died. That is just one of the factors explaining why I am going for the very modest figure of 40 per cent. compared with the natural majority of 50 per cent.

Mr. Siliars

If the amendment is passed, it is my intention on Report to table an amendment and talk to the Minister of State without tempting him into the umbrella campaign and hoping for his support. [Interruption.] The Minister of State and I are on reasonable terms. We invite each other all over the place. I should invite him on Report to agree to the publication of a supplementary register. I should hope to carry with me on such a proposal my hon. Friends the Members for Aberdeen, North, Islington, North and Finsbury, Aberdare (Mr. Evans), Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan), West Lothian and others.

Mr. Ioan Evans

If my hon. Friend supports this amendment.

Mr. Sillars

I should not have thought that a democratic principle was contingent upon a tactical vote, but it would appear to be for some of my hon. Friends who have sought to enter a caveat. We shall have the basic democratic argument later. It would appear that half a million people in Scotland are to be disfranchised. Why cannot they give an unequivocal "Yes"? If it is to be unequivocal and there are no problems, I shall be quite happy about it. My main concern is that this is yet another tactic to hold back Scottish devolution. It is possible that people will regard it as an argument for saying that we can still win the referendum campaign, but, at the end of the day, lose the Assembly. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury has not taken account of some of the reaction inside Scotland.

Mr. George Cunningham

My hon. Friend said that in February.

Mr. Sillars

I did not say that in February. The Scots are not very demonstrative, but the main demonstration came in November 1975. I think that we shall probably demonstrate again in a manner that will not please my hon. Friend. For example, the position of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North will probably be misinterpreted north of the border. If the amendment is passed, I believe that it will be regarded in Scotland as a tactic and that it will invite contempt and anger directed towards the normal democratic processes.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

My reaction to these amendments is one of anger, because the Committee is endeavouring to prevent the Scots from obtaining self-determination.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Wilson

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to develop my remarks beyond the first sentence.

As events have developed over the last 10 years, we have seen that it has taken tremendous effort and pressure to gain even the Scotland Bill. If amendments similar to those which have been presented to the Committee were introduced by the pro-devolutionists to affect the "No" position in the referendum, one can imagine the anger that would have broken out in the Committee.

During the last two hours, I have made a note of some of the stages that Parliaments and Governments have gone through to reach this stage on the Bill.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Will the hon. Gentleman explain why he is objecting to a proposition that the majority of Scots should demonstrate that they want an Assembly? What is wrong with that proposition?

Mr. Wilson

I have nothing against the majority of Scots voting and demonstrating what they want. That is the normal mechanism under which matters of this sort should be decided, and it is set out in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. I regard this as a matter more of principle than of practice because I am sure that there will be a substantial "Yes" vote. I have no doubt about that, nor have I any doubt about the turn-out. This amendment, coming as it does from those who are in opposition to any form of Assembly, is equivalent to ballot-rigging.

It has taken many and various stages to reach the situation that we are now in. First, a Royal Commission was set up in 1968 or 1969. Then we had two General Elections following not long after the Royal Commission reported. We have had a number of White Papers and statements since March 1974. It is difficult to calculate the number of statements and White Papers, but taken together they probably number seven or eight.

Then we had the Scotland and Wales Bill. It was not even given a vote on the guillotine. It was grudgingly given a Second Reading after a promise that there would be a referendum. When one considers the time that it has taken to get this Bill before the House and the pressure that there has been over many years, it is no wonder that people such as myself greet amendments such as this with great suspicion.

The Labour Party came out of the October election with a pledge to set up an Assembly. After many travails, the Government are still trying to do that. They have been forced by their own supporters, who sometimes have a great influence on the Government, rather than by the official Opposition to change the rules. We shall see more of that tomorrow. The first rule was changed by the Leader of the House, who said that the Government had conceded the referendum. Many Labour Members will admit that this was what persuaded them to vote for the Second Reading of the Scotland and Wales Bill. When it was first promised, the referendum was to be capable of automatic implementation; no further trigger was required, and the Act would come into force.

That was opposed, mainly by the official Opposition but also by Labour Members, because it was said that that would deprive the House of Commons of its right to make up its own mind. In other words, it was an assertion of the rights of the House of Commons over the rights of the Scottish people.

The next stage was the present Bill, in which the referendum is an essential part of the mechanism for setting up the Assembly. It also has a trigger in the form of an order to be presented to the House, to be discussed and decided by the House in its discretion, taking into account all the factors before it. My party does not accept the right of hon. Members who do not represent Scottish constituencies to engage in Scottish affairs.

It was that situation which the Government were proposing. Yet from there we have moved on to the point where the vote might have to be assessed and analysed, not within the general discretion of the House of Commons but as part of an inhibition which it is hoped to implant in the Bill under the propositions before us. One of those propositions seeks to require 33 per cent. of the electorate to vote for the Assembly. The other requires a 40 per cent. vote in favour.

9.0 p.m.

During the debate, hon. Members have suggested that the figure should be higher, perhaps 45 or 50 per cent. I echo the remarks by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) that, given half a chance, the House would probably prefer to give way only to a 100 per cent. vote of the Scottish people demanding an Assembly. The plain truth is that this proposition is supported by and comes from those who are wholly against the Assembly in principle. I believe that the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) was anxious to put a point to me earlier.

Mr. Buchan

Both the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) and the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) appear to complain that the referendum was brought in simply to help secure a Second Reading for the Bill. I deny that that was the case, but, even if it was, how can the hon. Member then object to it? Surely, he was in favour of the Bill getting a Second Reading.

Mr. Wilson

I do not follow the hon. Member's point. Perhaps he was not following my remarks sufficiently closely.

The most interesting comment in the debate came from the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) when, in response to a question from me, he indicated that devolution would affect England too and that, therefore, all hon. Members had an interest in the outcome of the referendum. That was why he wanted the threshold.

Mr. George Cunningham

That was not why I put forward the idea of the threshold. The hon. Member was suggesting that only hon. Members representing Scottish seats should decide whether devolution went through. I say that that is wrong because devolution affects England, and, therefore, all United Kingdom Members should decide the issue. But that is not related in any way to whether there should be a threshold in the referendum.

Mr. Wilson

The hon. Member appears now to be adding to what he said. Perhaps he is trying to clarify it.

Initially the referendum was unnecessary. It will cost £2 million. It is now becoming an instrument by which the anti-devolutionists are seeking to change the plans. I am perfectly sure that the vote and the turn-out will be quite satisfactory from our point of view, but we are not prepared to accept the rules of the game being changed as we go along. The rules are being changed, because this proposition was not introduced in either the EEC referendum or the Northern Ireland referendum. The Committee is obviously prepared to take a far tougher stance in opposing self-government for Scotland, even in the form of this Scottish Assembly, than it is prepared to take on important matters such as the future government of Northern Ireland and the EEC.

Mr. Raison

I have listened with a great deal of sympathy to the attack by the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) on the idea of a referendum, which I am against. There will not be time for a debate on the clause, but there will be a vote on it. Can we take it that the hon. Member will not be voting for the clause?

Mr. Wilson

This is an interesting proposition. I am prepared to say immediately to the hon. Member that we shall be voting against these amendments that are before us. But I would draw to his attention the fact that my hon. Friends and I have lodged a very important amendment to the clause which, unfortunately, due to the lack of courage, I suppose, of the Leader of the House in relation to the business, will not be reached. I hope that the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West will share my sense of loss that we are not to have that important debate. I was delighted to see that the third-question discussion was to be included in the list.

Mr. Buchan

In that case, why did not the hon. Member sign the simple proposition "Do you wish Scotland to become an independent State?" That is dispassionate, accurate and precise. It is not the devious camouflage that he proposes to put into the Bill.

Mr. Wilson

The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West, I take it, was inviting us to sign an amendment which was not properly drawn. Could you, Mr. Murton, draw his attention to the fact that the amendment standing in the names of my hon. Friends and me very clearly and fairly expresses the position? I hope that the hon. Gentleman will go away and look at it, and perhaps we shall have a chance to discuss it on Report.

The amendment and the amendment to it are intended to place barriers in the way of the Bill. It does not really matter to some Labour Members by what measure they can trip up the Scotland Bill in order to prevent the existence of the Scottish Assembly. It is all part of the context. If we read the participation of Labour Members in debates, if we hear the views which have been expressed and if we follow the struggling steps of the Bill and the Ministers presenting it in order to get where we are now, I am sure that the Scots electors will share my view that this is a bit of gerrymandering and nothing else.

Mr. Robin F. Cook

I begin by apologising to my hon. Friends the Members for Mitcham and Mordern (Mr. Douglas-Mann) and for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) for not being present to hear their speeches at the opening of the debate as I was on my way back from Strasbourg to take part in the debate. I am happy to tell the hon, Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor), who is making disapproving noises from a sedentary position, that I am only in the second eleven of the Council of Europe.

I have, however, listened to the rest of the debate which has taken place since my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury sat down. I am struck that the Government have failed to find a Pack Bencher of their own party who is prepared to support them in resisting these amendments. They have to rely on the support of the SLP and the SNP. I hope that the Government find that company congenial, because I suspect that the situation which has developed over the last three hours of this afternoon and over the last few weeks during which the Bill has been debated will be very much the situation that we shall see on the referendum, in which the Government will find themselves relying on both those wings for their support.

There have just been two speeches during which both speakers have assured us that they are confident that there will be a high and convincing—indeed, crushing—turnout for a "Yes" vote in the forthcoming referendum. If I heard my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) correctly, he said that at the most pessimistic expectation of the "Yes" vote they would expect delivery of 35 per cent. of the registered electors. Thirty-five per cent. is substantially more than the figure of 33 per cent. to which my hon. Friend and myself have put our names on the Notice Paper. Yet we have been told by both speakers that, despite their confidence that there will be this overwhelming, convincing and crushing result in favour of a "Yes" vote, the modest amendments on the Amendment Paper tonight would be looked on with anger and dismay in Scotland tomorrow were they unfortunate enough to succeed in getting into the Bill.

The Committee might have some difficulty in reconciling those two statements. One of the reasons why it is difficult to reconcile them is that there are objective grounds for doubting whether there will be that kind of turn-out in the forthcoming referendum. First, we have very little evidence of what happens in turn-out in Scotland when there is an election that is confined to Scotland and Wales and is not happening in England, when we have, in effect, an election being conducted in a small part of the State. The only precedents that we have are precedents from local government. As far as turn-out goes, those are not particularly encouraging precedents.

Secondly, anyone who has been around meetings in Scotland or has gone around doorsteps in Scotland and sought to detain people in conversation on devolution must be doubtful as to the turn-out in any referendum on the issue. One can find no end of people who, when asked "Do you want more power for Scotland and do you want the decisions taken here?", will say "Yes". However, if one seeks to detain them in conversation on the matter for a period, say, as long as the time it would take them to walk to the ballot box and back again, one is liable to be regarded as the prize bore of the political scene in Scotland.

Mr. Dalyell


Mr. Cook

I give way to my hon. Friend. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] There is no significance in that.

Mr. Dalyell

When I have attempted to engage people on the subject of devolution, I have first been shown a dumbfounded look and then they have said something like "By the by, while you are here, what about my tax?" or "What about my drains?"

Mr. Cook

My hon. Friend's experience is perfectly correct, and it chimes in with that of myself and many of my hon. Friends. It may be that my hon. Friend and I are wrong. It may be that there will be this convincing turn-out and that we have misread the political mood in Scotland. If that is so, no harm will have been done by the amendments.

On the other hand, it would be only prudent for the House of Commons to protect itself from having to take an invidious decision after the referendum had occurred, as quite clearly it would not be representative of the bulk of opinion in Scotland. It is also only fair to warn now the electorate in Scotland that we shall have regard to turn-out when we come to consider the legislation.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (West Stirlingshire)

During these discussions with his constituents and other people in Scotland, has my hon. Friend detected any great enthusiasm for the talking shop in Europe to which he disappears now and again?

Mr. Cook

I perfectly share my hon. Friend's viewpoint that, if I were to seek to detain my electors for 15 minutes to talk about the work of the Council of Europe, there would be considerable misapprehension as to the sanity and the political nous of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central—myself. I am not entirely sure, having been there for only two sessions, that I could succeed in detaining anyone for 15 minutes to talk about the Council of Europe. At least the Council of Europe is an institution of which we have been a member for, I think, 30 years. It is not a live political issue. When it becomes one, I shall certainly be happy to examine the matter with my hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan).

Mr. George Cunningham

It does no harm.

Mr. Cook

That is the kindest interpretation.

What is before us could make a threat to the State of Britain. The claim was made, initially by my hon. Friend the Minister of State and subsequently by the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) and the hon. Member for South Ayrshire, that we are changing the rules. The trouble is that there are no rules for referendums in Britain. That is the basis of our difficulty. We have blundered into having referendums on Northern Ireland, on the Common Market and now on devolution without ever setting down and saying what should be the rules under which they are conducted.

It would appear that my hon. Friend the Minister of State will maintain, when he replies to the debate, that the rules set out in the Act concerning the referendum on our membership of the Common Market were rules for all time on referendums in Great Britain. Anyone who sat through the debates on the referendum on our membership of the Common Market will be able to recall countless occasions on which we were assured time and again from the Dispatch Box that it was not a precedent, that it could not be built on in future and that it was not setting down a procedure which would bind Parliament for the future. Indeed, at the time, I and my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan)—he even more—were seeking to get the Government to accept a commitment to a referendum on devolution. We were very much aware of how difficult it was to build on the Common Market referendum as a precedent for the devolution referendum. We were then given no end of reasons by the Government why the precedent of the Common Market referendum should not be a precedent for anything which might be done over devolution.

9.15 p.m.

Mr. Buchan

Especially from the Leader of the House.

Mr. Cook

Indeed. Yet now we are told that what the House approved in the case of the Common Market must apply in the case of devolution.

Mr. John Smith

I wonder whether my hon. Friend will say why he thinks that the rules should be different for this referendum.

Mr. Cook

I shall seek to answer my hon. Friend in three ways. First, fortuitously it turned out that the vote in the Common Market referendum was convincing. Indeed, it would have passed with flying colours the test put in the amendment. Had we been faced with a low turn-out and an unconvincing result, many hon. Members would have wished that they had thought about the matter before.

Mr. Sillars

Is my hon. Friend aware that it was, in fact, a low turnout of only 64.5 per cent. in the United Kingdom and 62 per cent. in Scotland? Is he also aware that, whereas in Scotland 58 per cent. said "Yes" and 42 per cent. "No"—which would normally be taken as an overwhelming result in Scotland—the people who voted "Yes" were not more than 36 per cent. of the total number of those registered to vote?

Mr. Cook

The amendment to which I am speaking refers to the figure of 33 per cent., and that is less than 36 per cent. Even in Scotland, where the vote for "Yes" was lower than in the United Kingdom—and it was a United Kingdom referendum—there was a turn-out which would have been sufficient to pass the test.

I agree that the poll was less than one would expect in a General Election. Here I differ from my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury, because I think it is unfair to take the figures from a General Election and say that these are normal. At a General Election people are faced with a multitude of choices. We know from experience in Scotland that the more candidates there are—particularly where the SNP intervenes—the higher the turn-out will be. In a referendum the voters have only two choices, and it is not realistic to apply the same test to a referendum as one would apply to a General Election. Without doubt, the result in the Common Market referendum would have passed the test laid down in the amendment. That is the first reason why I do not think that we should be unduly impressed by the Common Market argument.

The second reason is that, quite clearly, the side that was seeking to change the status quo was that which was voting "No". I campaigned at the time for a "No" vote. I am certainly prepared to agree that, taking a rigorous, logical and impartial judgment on the matter, in equity some such provision as this should have been put into the Bill dealing with the Common Market referendum. Indeed, it was fortuitous that we were saved by the high turn-out from the consequence of not having put it in. Had it been put in, it would have had to be tabled by those who were supporters of the "Yes" case. To expect me, as supporting the "No" case, to come forward with an amendment laying a barrier against my own claim would be to expect of me an impartiality approaching sainthood.

Thirdly, I come to the nub of the matter. We are discussing this question in the context of a particular case, a devolution referendum, and parallels have been drawn with what was done in the Common Market referendum, which was designed for a particular case. We really ought to be stepping back and taking a more detached view of the matter. If we were to get down to thinking about it when there was no referendum imminent, and if we were able to take a detached view, I believe that without doubt we should come to the conclusion that when there is a proposal to change the constitution there ought to be some minimum qualification which must be fulfilled by those seeking that change.

Every other country which conducts referendums has rules as part of the system. We are the only people who do not have them. In most cases those rules stipulate a figure which has to be reached by those who wish to change the status quo. That is a reasonable precaution to take, and I submit to my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire that it is a democratic principle and one to which we ought to be able to subscribe.

With regard to the two competing amendments, I myself favour 33 per cent. I do so because there are parallels with other countries which use referendums and also because it is a matter of fact that the Governments of 1974 were elected by less than 40 per cent. of the total register. I agree that in logical terms that is perhaps irrelevant and does not strictly apply to referendums, but in terms of the impact of popular perception it will be a powerful argument indeed.

It is important not only that we should have a fair and reasonable test but that that test should be perceived by the electorate as fair and reasonable. I believe that 33 per cent. will be accepted by most reasonable members of the electorate.

However, the important question is not what precise percentage we hit upon tonight. Having heard the rather intricate and convoluted arguments advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire and those who constantly interrupted him, I do not think that this Committee is the proper place to go into the details about which percentage we should hit upon. The important question is whether we have any such bar at all or whether we let the Bill go through unamended in any way.

That would be a grave error. One of the reasons is that this might well not be the last referendum to be put through the House. Here I come back to my hon. Friends who laid such store on not changing the rules. Let us gaze at the crystal ball and look at what might happen after the next General Election. It is just possible that the SNP might succeed in its target of getting a majority of seats in Scotland.

Mr. Canavan

Nae chance.

Mr. Cook

I am inclined to agree with my hon. Friend's view rather than the hypothetical case I am putting forward. But, after all, it would require a smaller swing between 1974 and the next election to give the SNP that target than it actually succeeded in achieving between 1970 and 1974. What will happen in that event? If I am still au fait with the SNP programme. I believe that SNP Members will retire to Edinburgh and instal themselves as the independent Government of Scotland—not a Government in exile, but a Government in residence. They will then enter negotiations on independence with the Government elected at Westminster.

Of course, it has to be said that SNP Members of Parliament seem to enjoy the atmosphere in the House of Commons and make full use of its facilities. According to their party programme, however, that is what they will do.

What will the Government Front Bench think when that happens? What will they do then? They will do what they have done with every awkward problem with which they have been faced over the past five years and reach for a referendum on independence. Then it will dawn on them that in all previous referendums they rejected a bar on the percentage of the turn-out and voted for the status quo. If it was unsatisfactory to create a devolved Assembly on a turn-out of less than 33 per cent., it would be outrageous if we were to break up the United Kingdom and give independence to Scotland on such a percentage.

We shall therefore find that the Government will bring forward the suggestion that there should be a minimum percentage vote for independence before we consider whether it is the preponderant wish of the Scottish people. What a storm will break about their ears when they are seen to change the very rules which applied in the referendum on devolution in the very near past.

Had the SNP Bench been writing the script by which independence might some day fall into its laps, it could not have done better than write the brief supplied to the Minister. At least, the Committee tonight has an opportunity to save the Government from one of their own follies. I hope that the Committee will take that opportunity.

Mr. David Knox (Leek)

I am against these amendments. I found a great deal to agree with in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith). I am totally opposed to referendums on anything. I was opposed to a referendum on the Common Market, and I am opposed to a referendum on devolution. I believe that the referendum is a dangerous development in our constitution. It undermines the authority of the House of Commons and it was an ill day when the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir. H. Wilson) landed us with this concept. But if we are to have referendums we should do all we can to avoid their being mandatory. If the detail contained in these amendments is passed tonight, I believe that it would inevitably tend to make this referendum more mandatory than it would otherwise be.

Comparisons have been made with the referendum on the EEC. Only my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) and the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) fully grasped the point in this respect. The constitutional change proposed at the time of the EEC referendum was connected with our coming out—in other words, it was related to a "No" vote. Are the proposers of these amendments saying that to have come out of the EEC over 40 per cent. of the whole electorate, which would mean over 60 per cent. of those voting, would have had to vote "No". I suspect that this is not what they were saying. If 50.1 per cent. of those who voted in the EEC referendum had voted "No", it would have been concluded that the electorate had voted to come out of the Common Market. Therefore, a different set of rules is to apply to the Scotland referendum from those that were applied to the EEC referendum.

In Scotland, the size of the majority who voted "Yes" in the EEC referendum amounted to 16 per cent. It Amendment (a) were passed, it would have meant that even though 16 per cent. more of the people in Scotland had voted to stay in the Common Market than had voted to come out, we would have to conclude that the answer in Scotland was "No". Most people would find that situation difficult to explain. In other words, under these proposals it would have been assumed that the majority had voted "No". That would not be acceptable in Britain as a whole or in Scotland.

Mr. Douglas Crawford (Perth and East Perthshire)

I hope that I shall not take words out of the hon. Gentleman's mouth, but what has been proposed by the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) is a wrecking amendment. It is as simple as that.

Mr. George Cunningham

Not at all.

Mr. Knox

I shall leave that matter for the moment.

Let me turn to General Election results. I consider those to be important because such results are mandatory and referendum results are not. If we go through all the General Elections held in this country since 1918, we find that the winning party on every occasion except 1931, would not have met the conditions laid down in Amendment (a). General Election results are rather important. Certain actions can be taken by incoming Governments and those actions are irrevocable.

The present Government obtained 29 per cent. of the votes of the people at the last General Election. Rightly or wrongly—I happen to think wrongly—they have taken certain steps which are irrevocable. They have nationalised the aircraft and shipbuilding industries, and I consider that both these steps are irrevocable. But at that time the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury did not suggest that because the Labour Party received only 29 per cent. of the potential vote those measures should not have been introduced or passed.

Mr. George Cunningham

It is a good debating point, but in a General Election there is a choice between more than two possibilities. No one candidate is likely to get more than 40 per cent. of the vote. I happened to do so, but not many candidates are in that situation. I claim no credit for that, but I wish to point out that in a referendum one merely has a choice between two possibilities.

9.30 p.m

Mr. Knox

The hon. Gentleman is entitled to his view on that matter. He said that few hon. Members were elected with more than 40 per cent. of the vote of their total electorate. I do not see why we should not retain for referendums the same consistent rules as we have in other elections.

Both amendments involve fiddling with figures. Some countries may use percentages of above 50 in particular referendums or elections. We have never done so and it seems dangerous that we should set a precedent in this case.

The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury said that the referendum would not be mandatory. In theory, that is true, but, in practice, it probably will be mandatory. It would cause immense resentment among Scottish opinion if a majority of Scots voted in favour of devolution and, by the device of one of these amendments, they were deprived of it. I can think of nothing that would drive people to support the separatist cause more than if different rules were applied to the Scots than to anyone else—almost as though it was considered that they were less able to decide for themselves.

Mr. Teddy Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)

On a tiny point of detail, is my hon. Friend aware that in two aspects of Scottish legislation—religious instruction and licensing arrangements—we have provisions for referendums with a minimum percentage of the electorate written into the legislation and that the minimum level must be reached before the arrangements can be changed? For example, in my constituency, in Mount Florida ward a substantial proportion of the electorate voted by about two to one for a dry licensing area but their view did not prevail because of the percentage.

The Chairman

Order. Will the hon. Gentleman be kind enough to face the Chair? I am missing some of the most valuable contribution that he is making.

Mr. Knox

I do not think that you missed very much, Mr. Murton. My hon. Friend was talking about rather trivial points such as licensing laws.

The hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) and my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner) suggested that devolution might be stuffed down the unwilling throats of Scottish people because of a large number of abstentions. I doubt very much whether large numbers will abstain in the referendum, but I find it difficult to see why there should suddenly be this excessive respect shown for abstainers. The Labour Party did not show such respect when it was elected at the 1974 General Election, and my own party did not give excessive weight to the views of abstainers when it won the 1970 General Election. I do not complain about that. I believe that both parties were right. If people do not use their vote, they have no right to demand that they should be taken into consideration. It is dangerous to elevate abstainers into a position of great importance.

I shall vote against both amendments because they are a nonsense. They are yet another attempt to make it more difficult for the principle of devolution to be established. I do not believe that the "No" vote will win under any rules—even the rules of the amendments. At the same time, it is ridiculous to seem to make it more difficult to get devolution than would otherwise be the case.

Some of my hon. Friends have made much of the argument that the supporters of devolution oppose the amendments because they are afraid of the outcome. Surely it is the supporters of the amendments who are afraid. They will be happy to impose their will on the basis of a minority of votes cast.

Mr. Dalyell

If the hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Knox) thinks that licensing laws are a trivial matter, he is coming dangerously near the category of hon. Members such as the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith), who said that he was not going to support the Scottish football team.

Mr. Sproat

My hon. Friend withdrew that.

Mr. Dalyell

The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) asked, in a sense reasonably, why we had to create these new rules. I stick on one point. We are deciding, on the basis of wafer thin parliamentary majorities and great divisions in public opinion, lasting matters in a way in which few other countries decide their constitutional arrangements.

In the United States, for example, it requires a two-thirds majority of both Congress and Senate to amend the constitution, or alternatively a convention may be called to propose amendments if two-thirds of the State legislatures request it. In either case, amendments so decided upon become valid only upon ratification by the legislatures of three-quarters of the States or by conventions held in three-quarters of the States. It is for Congress to decide which method of ratification shall be used. Compared with that, the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) is asking very little.

In New Zealand, it is a two-thirds majority of the votes cast. In Norway, it is two-thirds of all the Members of the Storting sitting together after the first general election following publication of the proposed amendments. In Austria, it is a two-thirds majority of the votes cast. In Belgium, it is a two-thirds majority of the votes cast in both newly-elected Chambers. In Germany, it is two-thirds of all the Members of the Bundestag and two-thirds of the votes cast in the Bundesrat.

We are deciding long-term arrangements on the basis of very slender majorities, whereas most other countries build in many more qualifications than occur in this country. It is for this kind of reason that I must say to the hon. Members for Dundee, East, Leek and any others who are of the same view that the built-in caution of my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury is a very modest proposal and deserves to be supported.

Mr. Raison

Listening to the debate, the thought has come to me more and more that the referendum is a bad idea in both principle and practice. This debate has exposed the many difficulties. We have had arguments about the size of the majority which should be required, about who the electorate should be, and so on.

I wish to put to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) one very simple matter. The hon. Gentleman said pretty well what I have said. He said that we did not know what were the ground rules for a referendum and that we were making a muddle. His view is that if the amendments are rejected, it will be a very bad referendum.

Mr. Robin F. Cook

indicated assent.

Mr. Raison

I cannot help thinking back to the hon. Gentleman's brilliant speech on Second Reading in the course of which he made one of the best attacks against this devolution Bill that I have heard. It was a superb speech. However, at the end of it he flabbergasted the House by saying that, nevertheless, he would not vote against the Bill but, instead, would leave the matter to the referendum.

Mr. Robin F. Cook

Not "leave".

Mr. Raison

Hand the matter over to the referendum.

Mr. Cook

I did not say that I would leave it to the referendum. I said that I would campaign actively in the referendum, and I have started to fulfil that commitment already by doing some of the preparatory work. The argument that I advanced in that speech was that there was no interest in my constituency or in Scotland in such an Assembly. If I am proved wrong in the referendum, I accept that the House of Commons will have to produce devolution proposals.

Mr. Raison

The hon. Gentleman launched a strong attack against the Bill, and we all thought that he was about to say that he would vote against it, but, instead, he said that he would leave the matter to be decided by the people in the referendum.

Having heard how unsatisfactory the referendum is, especially in the guise that we are likely to see it, will not the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends recognise that we do not have to defeat this proposal in the referendum? We can do it on Third Reading. That is the proper way to defeat the Bill.

Mr. Buchan

I had not wanted to take part in today's debate, because we had hoped to make progress and come on to what is now the only matter with which we should be concerned—the question of the break-up of the United Kingdom. That means of necessity a second question in the referendum sooner or later. Therefore, only one question faces us, whether we decide now to have a second question or decide to have a referendum on the subject at a later date, when our own foolish actions have pushed us into that disaster.

I have sat here impatiently, coming from my own private apocalyptic version of Dante's Inferno to witness something of the playgrounds of Versailles in 1789 all around me. We are playing with the issue. The matter has gone far beyond a joke, and perhaps the time for serious speeches has also passed. I shall deal with the technicalities in a moment.

I wish first to correct some of the arguments about the campaign for a referendum. That campaign was not launched in order to get the Bill through its Second Reading, though that may have been the reason for the acceptance of the referendum. I am astonished when the SNP and the SLP criticise acceptance of the referendum because they claim that that was done to assist, as it did, in achieving the Second Reading. I thought that they were in favour of the Bill, and they should have been pleased about the referendum.

Secondly, the campaign was not launched in order to have a referendum on devolution. There is no absolute constitutional case for a referendum on devolution. The referendum argument was launched over the second question, the question of independence. That which affects the sovereignty of this House and the State and alters the relationship between those who are elected and those who elect us, the contract that we make at each election, provides an absolute case for a referendum.

We were not sent to this place to set in motion on our own part moves leading to the break-up of the United Kingdom. If that is to happen, the decision must be removed from us, because we have no rights on that question. We have rights only to rule and govern as we agree in our contract with the electorate for the United Kingdom. A decision to break up the United Kingdom can be made only by the people. The argument about the supremacy of this place and the sovereignty of the State and the argument about the relationship of "we" the elected and "they" the electors both pointed to the necessity for a referendum.

The referendum was then inevitably linked to the question of devolution. It was almost a year after I launched the campaign for a referendum before I said "I accept that in the public view the question of independence is also linked to the question of devolution. Let us then have a double referendum."

I argued that matter on the ground that, while there was no absolute case for a referendum on devolution. the new kind of constitution that we were setting up could be so flawed that it would of itself precipitate the political crisis that would crack up Britain, and that the only way to deal with such a flaw was to have the general will behind the decision, to make the constitution work. This links with the amendments.

The argument became one of getting the general will and support not just for devolution but for only devolution, for an Assembly, whatever might happen in five or 10 years after the referendum. Otherwise, I now believe, we were open to the accidental breaking up of the United Kingdom. That was the proposition that was advanced, one that I have argued for three years in one form or another. Therefore, it points inexorably to the logic of the amendments tabled by my hon. Friends the Members for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) and Mitcham and Morden (Mr. Douglas-Mann). If there is to be an acceptance of the Assembly so that it will be allowed to work, there must be a clear demonstration by the Scottish people that they want it.

9.45 p.m.

Unfortunately—and this is the difficulty—life is not like that. We do not proceed only by logic. If anything convinced me of the wrongness of these amendments it was the speeches of the hon. Members for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) and Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson). The hon. Member for South Ayrshire—I am sorry that he is not here, but he should have known that I would take him up on this—made a trivial speech. It was an extraordinary speech but an important one from which to draw conclusions. He said that people did not like making decisions and that during the Common Market referendum he had found that people had said to him "You should be making the decisions." I agree with him. That did happen. But it cannot rest there.

We cannot say to people "You have done your duty for the next five years." It is not right that people should reject decision-making. They should have to face up to matters and make decisions. It is an extremely élitist position to adopt this attitude. The hon. Member concluded from that experience that the people of Scotland—and I love Scotland, although people might not think so from what the SNP says about me—could be manipulated by those who could depress election results. The point here is that the hon. Member's speech not only displayed a contempt for our people but was typified by a kind of falseness or deceit.

The hon. Member for South Ayrshire based his view upon his experience and activities as an election agent when he says he deliberately did not go into Tory areas to drum up whatever Labour support there might be there on election day, thus producing a depressing effect. What he is forgetting is that, by the same token, the Tory workers do not go into the Labour areas. Each side tries to stimulate its own supporters. That is not manipulation; it is part of normal political campaigning, and it balances out. To use such an argument is insulting and deceitful.

A further argument the hon. Member used was that we might not have a full register. That argument was properly answered by those speaking to the amendments. The speech of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire was paltry. But it illustrated the point which has emerged during the debate in the speeches of the hon. Member for Dundee, East and from my own side, and from the Tory Benches. In every case those who were against devolution were for the formula while those who were for devolution were against the formula. The argument had ceased to be based on logic. The logic is undoubtedly on the side of my hon. Friends who support the amendment.

The argument became one concerning politics and the politics that emerged from the SNP and the SLP were the politics of cheating. They were saying "We shall cry foul." They know that there is no foul in these amendments. They were also saying that that is the campaign which they will conduct in Scotland. I believe that they will succeed. They already have the centre pages of one newspaper almost in their pockets, divided between the SNP and the SLP. The writer of those pages will also shout foul. I believe that the main popular Press of Scotland will shout foul. Not only will it not listen to the arguments of logic; it will not listen to the arguments. The popular Press has to sell, and to be popular in the sense of selling it has to be populist in its policies. That means following the SNP and SLP line and looking for the easy interpretation. [Interruption.] That is not an argument against the referendum; it is an argument against giving weapons to those who would challenge the validity of the referendum. [Interruption.] if my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) wishes to intervene, I will give way.

Mr. Robert Hughes

I apologise to my hon. Friend for interrupting from a sedentary position. The fact is that my hon. Friend knows and I know that the SNP does not carry out what it claims to be its policy on the referendum. Whatever the conditions and whatever the rules laid clown the SNP will cry "Foul." There is no escaping that.

Mr. Buchan

Of course the SNP will cry "Foul", but that is not the point. The point is that many people, given the situation of a voting formula will believe it to be a foul, whereas very few people will believe it to be so after the event, without that formula. I heard very few people shouting "Foul" after the Common Market decision, including those within the SNP.

Mr. George Cunningham

Or after the guillotine.

Mr. Robin F. Cook

I have followed my hon. Friend's argument carefully. I must put it to him that he does not solve his dilemma by rejecting the formula in the amendment. He may only delay that formula. What will he do should the referendum be held without the amendment being made part of the Bill and should the result be that less than 33 per cent., for example vote "Yes", but that represents a majority? What will he do then? Will he say that that is not sufficient for devolution to take place? If he is minded to take that view come that event, will not the cries of "Foul" be increased tenfold in comparison with what they would be if the amendment were accepted and became part of the Bill?

Mr. Buchan

I am saying that by accepting the amendment we shall create a situation that will be entirely counter-productive from my hon. Friend's point of view. I believe that there would be a great mobilisation of people who would accept that there was cheating. I do not think that there is cheating in the formulae. I think that they are right. However, we have not established these rules in advance.

My second contention is the third pillar on which I pledged my support—the question which must of necessity at some point happen so that the whole argument can be put forward.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East said that his party does not accept the right of English Members to engage in Scottish affairs. However, his party is willing to support the Tory Party in thrusting a food price increase down the throats of the people of England, and to produce an amendment that went three times as far as the Tory Party's amendment. Over 12 months the SNP's amendment would have increased food prices by 6p in the pound. It advocated a 21.5 per cent. increase in the devaluation of the green pound. I note that SNP Members are shaking their heads in dissent, but that was the effect of their amendment.

The SNP is willing to thrust a food price increase down the throats of the people of England, yet it is not willing for the people of England to participate in the referendum. They have every right to do so, but I believe that the people of England are too intelligent, tolerant and understanding to exercise that right. Indeed, they should not exercise it. I wish that the hon. Member for Dundee, East would show the same tolerance that has been shown by those with whom Scotland has worked over the past two and a half centuries.

Mr. Pym

After three hours of debate I hope that it will be thought appropriate for me to make a contribution to the Committee's discussion, especially since at an earlier stage this afternoon I did my best to accelerate the progress of earlier amendments in which I was interested so that the Committee could move on to a range of amendments, including this group, to which it attached great importance. I hope that in the spirit that was shown at the beginning of the day it might be possible for us to reach a conclusion on the amendment.

It has been an extremely interesting and important debate, and I do not think that three hours was too long. I am bound to say that at the end of the discussion we can only reach the conclusion that the referendum does not have very many friends. My hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) described it as a very bad idea. I think that he is right. The referendum has become an unhappy instrument of political convenience. No one has spoken in favour of it today.

The overwhelming majority of speeches, with some exceptions, have been in favour of the amendment and of creating some threshold. Only a minority have been against it.

I agree with the view expressed by many hon. Members that we should not make such a major change as this, with all the possible implications for the future, on the basis of a simple majority, perhaps on a very low poll. There have been powerful arguments for requiring that a question of this kind should have "massive support". I think those were the words used by the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton). Expressions such as "an overwhelming majority" have been used. The reason why hon. Members want that kind of result before agreeing to go ahead with the Bill is that it is, in essence, irreversible. Indeed, the Minister of State referred to the Bill as a constitutional change of quite exceptional scope and importance".—[Official Report, 10th February 1977; Vol. 925, c. 1795.] I do not think that anyone would disagree with that statement.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leek (Mr. Knox), who referred to the practice for General Elections, should take that into account. This referendum will not be like a General Election. My right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) pointed out that essentially the decision will be irrevocable. That is the difference. That is why thought is being given to this matter on a different basis.

The issue before the Committee is not whether there should be a simple majority, possibly on a low poll, but whether we should write precise conditions and exact percentages into the Bill. If we write conditions into the Bill, we shall have to live with them and no doubt take close notice of them. It is no more than a statement of the obvious to say that it would be difficult—even impossible—to alter or to adjust those precise conditions at a later stage.

If the conditions are met, or are nearly met, however closely, will the House of Commons feel that it is difficult not to proceed on the basis of the figures written into the Bill? We shall de facto, if not de jure, have restricted the extent to which the referendum is consultative. We may not have turned the consultative referendum into a mandatory referendum —indeed, we shall not have done so in any legal sense—but we shall have created for ourselves a restrictive covenant to the otherwise wide open nature of the consultative referendum.

I think that we are quite justified in saying that a simple majority will not do. The argument that there should be a minimum provision is justified. Considering experience in other countries, we know that constitutional changes are frequently required to be carried through only after a two-thirds majority has been obtained. Many hon. Members have referred to that matter. In the United States, a majority of individual States and their legislatures is required.

I think that we must be careful about establishing a figure which might be seen as a precedent for future referendums, if such are ever proposed. It is only realistic to suggest that we must consider the possibility of more referendums.

We should not decide a question of such tremendous importance as this in the context of a three-hour debate. There should be plenty of time to debate the issues before us today. After all, four days were allowed to consider the implications of the referendum on whether we should stay in the EEC. The context of this debate should be a referendum Bill in which all the issues and implications underlying such a proposal could be considered, not the constricted space of a guillotine on this particular Bill. I think that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) would agree with me about that. If we want to pick a particular figure, we should have time to consider what that particular figure should be.

10.0 p.m.

Mr. Crouch

I am most concerned that my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) should refer to a particular figure. Is he suggesting that we should, for the first time in this country, begin to put limits on democracy itself, to begin to establish minimum standards of democracy? That is what has worried me for the last three hours, and that is why I want these amendments to be defeated overwhelmingly.

Mr. Pym

Perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) will allow me to develop my argument because it is an important matter. I was referring to the particular circumstances of the Bill and of this referendum. Placed as we are in this difficulty we must consider it in this context, however wrong we think it is. If we are to consider a particular figure, whether it be a majority of the electorate, a majority of those voting or a combination of both, there is no obvious or magic figure.

Let us suppose that we chose the figure of 40 per cent. of the electorate. What would happen if the actual figure was half a per cent. above or below that figure? Would we be prepared to stick strictly to that figure? Hon. Members might feel that their judgment after the referendum would be constrained by such a figure. Even though the amendment says that an order must be laid which the House would be entitled to reject, a limitation on our freedom of judgment might arise by having a set figure.

If we select a figure, it must have some standing, status and meaning. It will tend to be regarded as a minimum figure and as a threshold that must be passed. If it is passed, agreement must be assumed by those who voted. It must be a fair figure and be seen to be so.

We have heard much about the referendum on our entry into the European Community which was, as a matter of fact and history, passed on the basis that would be attained under the amendment on a United Kingdom basis. It is fair to ask whether we should accept as tough a test as that, or a tougher one, for a referendum applying to a possible Assembly for Scotland.

There are strong reasons for thinking that we should argue for a stronger test for an Assembly for Scotland because, unlike the European issue, there is no substantial measure of agreement between the parties. That is perhaps the understatement of the year because there are passionate differences between the parties, although the House of Commons as a whole hates this Bill.

Unlike in the European referendum, the English will have no vote, as we decided rightly or wrongly earlier today, despite the fact that the Bill raises all the issues of the voting rights of Scottish Members on English matters. In any case, is it right that we should be concerned only about the size of the majority? Should we not also consider the spread of the vote? What happens if one part of Scotland votes strongly in favour of an Assembly and the rest votes strongly against? What will the figures mean if we are not to be able to use our judgment after the referendum has taken place? I want to take into account all the circumstances.

We certainly should have an indication that a decisive or overwhelming expression of support is required, but I am not convinced that we should write into the Bill exact percentages or detailed conditions. Whether or not the conditions are written into the Bill, the House of Commons will have to decide whether to accept the order. That, however, will be a fine judgment. I am not against writing into the Bill some indication of what "overwhelming majority" means. But that is not an easy thing to do.

On balance, I feel that the House of Commons should leave itself in the position of being able to exercise its judgment in the light of all the circumstances rather than to write a precise figure into the Bill. But in no way does that alter my view that if the Bill were to be passed by Parliament, to be put into effect after a referendum it would certainly require more than a simple majority of a small percentage of the poll. That would not be acceptable. The amendments, however, deal with exact figures.

The context of this debate should not be in the circumstances of a particular referendum in relation to a particular Bill. To decide an issue such as this, an apparently simple issue—it may well be presented to the public as such—but in fact a complex matter with deep implications which we have been elected here to consider, under the pressure of the guillotine is one good example of how the Government are abusing and neglecting their responsibility for the good and responsible working of this Parliament. I criticise them very much for their whole handling of the matter. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Pavilion in identifying the root cause and the main reason why the Government are pressing ahead with the Bill.

Those are my views on this very important matter. If the people of Scotland decide that this is what they want to do I believe that there must be an overwhelming majority in favour of it. We must take that into account rather than be absolutely limited by a fixed and settled percentage.

The First Deputy Chairman (Sir Myer Galpern)

Mr. Canavan.

Mr. Canavan


Mr. George Cunningham

On a point of order, Sir Myer. You will understand the sensitivity that the Committee might feel in the light of exchanges this afternoon when it clearly indicated that it would wish the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) to have an opportunity to move his Amendment No. 149. My point of order is this. If a further speech is made continuing the debate and the Minister of States does not take the opportunity to speak at this stage, I hope that you would feel able, if the debate was running on, to consider sympathetically a closure motion in order to allow the Committee to express its will.

The First Deputy Chairman

As far as I am aware, from having just entered the Chamber, the Committee is anxious to come to a decision. I have an assurance from the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) that he will speak for only five minutes.

Mr. Canavan

In view of what you have said, Sir Myer, I shall be as brief as possible. I only wish that other hon. Members who are concerned about their own amendments would show the same consideration for amendments tabled by my hon. Friend and myself which, unfortunately, we shall also not have time to discuss.

I am not a new convert to a referendum on this issue. A few months after I entered the House, I mentioned on the Floor of the House the possibility of a referendum to the then Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson).

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. We are discussing not the question of a referendum, but the percentage of those who take part.

Mr. Canavan

Yes, Sir Myer, but other hon. Members have been allowed to make general comments about the referendum. The then Prime Minister was a belated convert to the idea of a referendum on the Common Market, and he became a belated convert to the idea of a referendum on this important issue.

The reason why we should have a referendum is simple. The people of Scotland are entitled to as much Home Rule or independence, as they want; that is not in question. What is in question is how much Home Rule or self-determination is in their own best interests.

But if we are to have a referendum and it is to be a useful, democratic instrument, it must be seen to be fair. The most recent example that we have had—indeed, the only precedent that most of the people who will be qualified to vote on the proposed referendum have had—is the referendum on the Common Market. There was no minimum percentage turn-out or anything like that laid down for the Common Market referendum. If the Government are seen now to be changing the rules in this referendum, many of the people of Scotland will think that this changing of the rules as we go along is blatantly unfair.

On the question of a minimum turn-out or a minimum percentage of people voting for a particular result, as proposed in the amendment, it is sheer cheek, arrogance and hypocrisy. In this House of Commons, I understand that all that is needed is 40 Members to turn up in the Lobbies in order that a vote be valid. My arithmetic makes that, taking into account that there are 635 Members of Parliament, approximately 6 per cent. of the people who are qualified to vote in this place. It needs only 6 per cent. of them for a vote to be valid. Yet some people in this place have the cheek to say to the people of Scotland that, unless a minimum percentage of 33 or 40 per cent. vote "Yes" in the referendum, the result will be invalid.

If these or any of the amendments are passed, it will help to undermine the basis of democracy in this country, because one of the basic tenets of democracy in this country is that it is the people who bother to turn up to vote who should influence decision-making. Yet, if the amendment were passed, the people who do not even bother to turn up to vote, those who lie in their beds through laziness, those who sit at home, those who could not care less, the lethargic and the apathetic, would have virtually as much influence, and possibly more, on the result of the referendum as the people who bother to turn up.

I am disgusted to see that there are some of my hon. Friends on the so-called Left of the Labour movement supporting this, because they are indirectly supporting the idea of the Tories, who are constantly complaining—in the trade union movement, for example—that only a small number of people turn up for branch meetings and, therefore, influence decisions. That is the kind of propaganda that they are swallowing in coming out and proposing and possibly voting for amendments such as this.

I finish by saying that I think that a lot of the debate has been conducted on a purely hypothetical basis. I do not think that the low turn-out which many people suppose will happen will occur. The vast majority of the people of Scotland will, I think, turn out to vote in the referendum. I can think of many cases in which they have turned out en masse before. In my constituency, for example. 80 per cent. turned out to vote at the General Election. At the local elections in May, 67 per cent. turned out in the ward in which I live.

I am quite sure that if hon. Members on whichever side of the campaign they happen to be—conduct the campaign in a fair and democratic manner and try to get their supporters to come out to vote, the need for the amendments will be seen to be non-existent. That is why I say that to pass the amendments would help to destroy democracy in this country. It would help to encourage the lethargic and the apathetic rather than the people who participate in democracy.

Mr. John Smith

The Committee has spent a fair amount of time on the amendments, as I know, having listened to almost all the speeches—every speech, if not every part of every speech made in the course of the debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) will have noticed that the debate started before the time at which it was originally planned.

Mr. George Cunningham

It would not have done if my hon. Friend had not given in.

Mr. John Smith

As my hon. Friend well knows, the time for debates in this Chamber is not dictated by the Government. The time for debates is largely dictated by people who speak from the Back Benches.

Mr. George Cunningham

My hon. Friend has just said the opposite.

Mr. Smith

I have listened to many debates on the Bill, and I regret that we were not able to reach some of the amendments. I wish that we could discuss every amendment.

This clutch of amendments, though, seeks to amend the clause of the Bill which deals with the referendum by inserting minimum figures required to be achieved before a result is effected in practice.

My hon. Friend the Member for Fife Central (Mr. Hamilton) has put forward an amendment of a slightly different character from that of the amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mr. Douglas-Mann). As I read the amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Fife Central, it does not argue that the percentage should be of the electorate entitled to vote. His amendment is related to those who actually cast their vote.

10.15 p.m.

I can understand that a little more than I understand the argument put forward by my hon. Friends the Members for Islington, South and Finsbury and for Edinburgh Central (Mr. Cook), who operate on a different principle. They say that the percentage they wish to insert should be of those entitled to vote.

That is a quite remarkable proposition. Those who know anything about politics can grasp it very quickly. My hon. Friends want to get the abstainers on their side. They want counted on their side in the referendum people who do not cast their vote. Behind the ingenuity of some of the arguments and the juggling with figures and comparisons, one can see that that is what they want.

Mr. Robin F. Cook

That is quite right.

Mr. Smith

My hon. Friend says that, but those who put forward the proposition did not argue or admit that.

Mr. Cook

I did.

Mr. Smith

I beg my hon. Friend's pardon if he did so.

The underlying proposition behind the amendment put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden and my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central is that the percentage should be of those entitled to vote. Therefore, that means that people who do not cast their vote are counted in the analysis. I do not think that my hon. Friends would dispute that.

The difficulty about that—this is relevant—is that we did not have any such principle or any such percentage when we had the referendum on the European Community. When that has been pointed out, some hon. Members have said "Oh, well, it was not necessarily a precedent and we are entitled to change our minds." However, the interesting thing is that in the debates on the Common Market referendum Bill it does not appear to have been discussed. I have checked on this matter. Two new clauses were moved. One of them was withdrawn, and there was a procedural wrangle about that. But the point was not argued in the course of the debates on the referendum Bill.

If it was such an obvious requirement for a referendum, I wonder why the hon. Members who are now urging the point in the case of the referendum on devolution did not have the foresight to do that in the debates on the referendum Bill. It was all the more important to do that on the referendum Bill since it concerned the first referendum that this country had had.

Mr. Heffer

It is a pity that they did not do so.

Mr. Smith

It is interesting that anyone who has argued for this so vigorously —indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central said that the proposition in his amendment was so self-evident that no one could dispute it —should not have had it occur to him as obvious when we were discussing the referendum Bill.

Mr. Robin F. Cook

It did occur.

Mr. Smith

Well, my hon. Friend did not do much about it. We could have seen an amendment if there had been one on the Notice Paper. My hon. Friend has offered an explanation, but I do not think it meets the point that it was open to him as a Member of Parliament and a member of the Committee of the whole House dealing with the referendum Bill to table an amendment, which would have been consistent with that which he has tabled now. [HON. MEMBERS: "Is it important?"] I shall say why it is important. If one changes the rules between one referendum and another, people will ask very searching questions as to why that change has been made. [HON. MEMBERS: "They have already been changed."]

Secondly, if there are people participating in the referendum who say that it is unfair that the rules were changed between the Common Market referendum and the devolution referendum, the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) has a great deal of validity. To have people arguing that a mechanism was operating in the organisation of the referendum count which was unfair to either side would be a most unfortunate thing during the referendum.

There have been many criticisms of many of the things that happened during the Common Market referendum, the most common of which is the disproportionate amount of money which seemed to be available to one side as opposed to the other. But I do not think that anyone quarrelled with the question or with the way in which the vote was counted. That was also a consultative referendum.

I think, therefore, that there will require to be a much more convincing explanation than has been offered by the supporters of the amendment as to why the change has to be made. I do not think that they have made such a case.

Mr. Amery

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. I really cannot follow the grotesque argument that he is putting forward. It is not a question of trying to compare one referendum with another. Will he tell us why he is afraid of submitting the Bill to make sure that there really is a substantial element in Scotland which wants devolution?

Mr. Smith

Certainly I am not afraid, nor are the Government, to submit the Bill to a referendum. That is why we have the referendum clause in the Bill. When I asked the right hon. Gentleman during his speech about the Common Market parallel, he said that he took a quite different approach at the time of the earlier referendum. He took what he described as the "Philosopher King" approach—in other words, "I think I am right and, therefore, I do not need to bother about having a referendum. I am so convinced of the merits that I do not need a referendum". But the fact is that there was a referendum on the Common Market, and the right hon. Gentleman did not take any opportunity to change it.

I know that it was said that there was unlikely to be another referendum, and that many hon. Members were suspicious of this and said at the time that there might well be another. Who is to know? There might be yet another. I do not know. The last suggestion came from the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition, who promised to have referendums on industrial disputes. That would lead us to having many more than were ever contemplated before.

If I do not persuade the supporters of the amendment that there is a great deal of practical importance in there being—[Interruption.] I have listened to all the speeches in the debate, and I am entitled to reply to the points that were made. My hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West made a speech in which I thought he conceded too much, in a sense, to the proposers of the amendment when he referred to their logic. But he also made the point, which is of very great importance, that the electorate participating in the referendum would have to feel that it was fair.

Why is it that the supporters of the amendment want to make a change? After all, it is a consultative referendum. There was mention of the possibility of a very low poll. I do not think that there will be. But if, as was suggested, only 13 per cent. voted for one side and 12 per cent. for the other, that would be a matter of which Parliament would take account. I repeat that it is a consultative referendum. Given that it is a consultative referendum, what is the case for building in any particular proportion of votes?

I think that the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) more or less conceded this point. He approached the matter in his usual critical way, but I did not understand him to commend the amendment to the Committee. He was making some of the same points as I have been seeking to make to the Committee, albeit in a different way. It is not necessary for me to repeat them, and I do not have the capacity to do so. [Interruption.] I have not been speaking very long having regard to the number of speeches that were made and also, if I may say so, to the length of some of them. The right hon. Gentleman may not have been present the whole time, but undoubtedly there have been several fairly lengthy speeches. [Interruption.] It is an important matter, because it goes right to the heart of the conduct of the referendum. I fear that if these amendments were carried there would be controversy.

Mr. Robin F. Cook

The Minister would lose.

Mr. Smith

My hon. Friend says, from a sedentary position, that I would lose. It is the people who are against devolution who are seeking to change the rules on this occasion. Far from its indicating that I am afraid of losing the referendum, I believe it indicates that some of my hon. Friends are afraid of losing it.

Mr. Leo Abse (Pontypool)

On a point of order, Sir Myer. Should not the Minister of State be directed by you to show some sensitivity to the desire of the Committee that it should have a Division—

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. After roughly four years' experience in the Chair, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I could not wish for a better power to be granted to the occupant of the Chair. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Mr. John Smith

I do not know whether my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) showed a great deal of concern for other hon. Members during some of the speeches that he has made during the course of devolution legislation, some of which were at excessive length.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)

rose in his place and claimed to move. That the Question be now put.

The First Deputy Chairman

I am prepared to entertain that request whenever the Minister of State has finished.

Mr. John Smith

I am seeking to bring my speech to a close. If hon. Members did not interrupt me on points of order, I would be able to get to the end of it.

I was asked a number of questions by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central. First, what is involved in the amendment is that we would be changing the rules. Secondly, no convincing reason has been given for such a change in the rules. In those circumstances, it would be unwise if the Committee were to accept the amendment. I hope that the Committee will accept the referendum in the way in which it is provided in the Bill and will vote against the amendment.

Question put, That Amendment (a) to the proposed amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 166. Noes 151.

Division No. 78] AYES [10.27 p.m.
Abse, Leo Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Langford-Holt, Sir John
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Fox, Marcus Latham, Michael (Melton)
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Lawrence, Ivan
Benyon, W. Gardiner, George (Reigate) Lawson, Nigel
Berry, Hon Anthony Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Le Marchant, Spencer
Bidwell, Sydney Garrell W. E.(Wallsend) Lester, Jim (Booster)
Biggs-Davison, John Glyn, Dr Alan Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Gov, Ian (Eastbourne) Loveridge, John
Boscawen, Hon Robert Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Luce, Richard
Bottomley, Peter Grist, Ian Lyon, Alexander (York)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Grylls, Michael MacGregor, John
Bradford, Rev Robert Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) MacKay, Andrew (Stechford)
Braine, Sir Bernard Hampson, Dr Keith Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)
Buck, Antony Hannam, John Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Budgen, Nick Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Marten, Neil
Carter-Jones, Lewis Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Mather, Carol
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Haselhurst, Alan Mawby, Ray
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Clegg, Walter Hayhoe, Barney Mayhew, Patrick
Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Hayman. Mrs Helene Maynard, Miss Joan
Cooke. Robert (Bristol W) Heffer, Eric S. Mendelson, John
Cope, John Higgins, Terence L. Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)
Costain, A. P. Hodgson, Robin Mills, Peter
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Holland, Philip Miscampbell, Norman
Dalyell, Tam Hordern, Peter Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Howell, David (Guildford) Moate, Roger
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Molyneaux, James
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Hunt, David (Wirral) Monro, Hector
Doig, Peter Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Moonman, Eric
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Hunter, Adam More, Jasper (Ludlow)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Hutchison, Michael Clark Morgan, Geraint
Dunlop, John James, David Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral
Durant, Tony Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd&W'df'd) Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)
Emery, Peter Jopling, Michael Neubert, Michael
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Newens, Stanley
Flannery, Martin Kimball, Marcus Newton, Tony
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Nott, John
Fookes, Miss Janet Lamont, Norman Ogden. Eric
Oppenheim, Mrs Sally Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire) Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Sainsbury, Tim Stokes, John
Palmer, Arthur Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Parker, John Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Percival, Ian Shelton, William (Streatham) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch Shepherd, Colin Vaughan, Dr Gerald
Price, David (Eastleigh) Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE) Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Prior, Rt Hon James Sims, Roger Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Raison, Timothy Sinclair, Sir George Weatherill, Bernard
Rathbone, Tim Skeet, T. H. H. Wiggin, Jerry
Rees-Davies, W. R. Skinner, Dennis Winterton, Nicholas
Rhodes James, R. Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Richardson, Miss Jo Speed, Keith Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Ridley, Hon Nicholas Spence, John Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW) Spriggs, Leslie
Robinson, Geoffrey Sproat, Iain TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Rodgers, George (Chorley) Stainton, Keith Mr. William Hamilton and
Ross, William (Londonderry) Stanbrook, Ivor Mr Tim Renton.
Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Allaun, Frank Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Hart, Rt Hon Judith Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Armstrong, Ernest Heath, Rt Hon Edward Rooker, J. W.
Ashton, Joe Henderson, Douglas Rose, Paul B.
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Hooley, Frank Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Bain, Mrs Margaret Hooson, Emlyn Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Rowlands, Ted
Bates, Alf Hunter, Adam Sedgemore, Brian
Beith, A. J. Janner, Greville Sever, John
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Johnson, James (Hull West) Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Johnson, Waller (Derby S) Sillars, James
Buchan Norman Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Snape, Peter
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Jones, Barry (East Flint) Stallard, A. W.
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Kaufman, Gerald Steel, Rt Hon David
Campbell, Ian Kerr, Russell Stewart, Rt Hon Donald
Canavan, Dennis Knox, David Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Carmichael, Neil Lambie, David Stott, Roger
Cartwright, John Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Strang, Gavin
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Luard, Evan Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Concannon, Rt Hon John Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) McCartney, Hugh Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Corbett, Robin MacCormick, Iain Thompson, George
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) McDonald, Dr Oonagh Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Crawford, Douglas McElhone, Frank Torney, Tom
Crouch, David MacFarquhar, Roderick Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Cryer, Bob MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Davidson, Arthur McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Madden, Max Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Deakins. Eric Magee, Bryan Ward, Michael
Dormand, J. D. Mallalieu, J. P. W. Watkins, David
Eadie, Alex Marks, Kenneth Watt, Hamish
Edge, Geoff Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Wellbeloved, James
English, Michael Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Welsh, Andrew
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Mason, Rt Hon Roy White, James (Pollok)
Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray) Meacher, Michael Whitlock, William
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Mikardo, Ian Wigley, Dafydd
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Ford, Ben Mitchell, Austin Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Forrester, John Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekln) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Freud Clement Noble, Mike Woodall, Alec
George, Bruce Oakes, Gordon Woof, Robert
Ginsburg, David Orbach, Maurice Young, David (Bolton E)
Golding, John Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Graham, Ted Pardoe, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Grant, John (Islington C) Park, George
Grimond, Rt Hon J. Pavitt, Laurie Mr. James Hamilton and
Harper, Joseph Penhaligon, David Mr. James Tinn.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put, That the proposed Amendment, as amended, be made:—

The Committee proceeded to a Division.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford) (seated and covered)

On a point of order, Sir Myer. I am told—and I have seen this—that there are hon. Members in the "No" Lobby who are sitting down and not being counted.

The First Deputy Chairman

What happens in the Division Lobbies is not a matter for me. I shall ask the Serjeant at Arms to find out what is happening in the Lobby.

Hon. Members


Mr. George Cunningham (seated and covered)

On a point of order, Sir Myer. Will you give instructions that, if the Tellers are not able to report almost immediately, they should be sent for to report the figures that have so far passed them?

The First Deputy Chairman

I am awaiting the report of the Serjeant at

Arms, and as soon as I am in possession of it I shall inform the Committee.

Mr. William Hamilton (seated and covered)

I inform you, Sir Myer, that I have seen Members in the Lobby—there are at least five of them—flatly refusing to come out.

Hon. Members


The First Deputy Chairman

The Serjeant at Arms has made his report, and I instruct the Tellers for the Noes to bring the figures to the Chair.

Hon. Members


The Committee having divided: Ayes 168, Noes 142.

Division No. 79] AYES [10.40 p.m.
Abse, Leo Hayman, Mrs Helene Oppenheim, Mrs Sally
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Heffer, Eric S. Orbach, Maurice
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Higgins, Terence L. Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Benyon, W. Hodgson, Robin Palmer, Arthur
Berry, Hon Anthony Holland, Philip Parker, John
Bidwell, Sydney Hordern, Peter Percival, Ian
Biggs-Davison, John Howell, David (Guildford) Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hunt, David (Wirral) Prior, Rt Hon James
Bottomley, Peter Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Raison, Timothy
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Hutchison, Michael Clark Rathbone, Tim
Bradford, Rev Robert James, David Rees-Davies, W. R.
Braine, Sir Bernard Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Rhodes James, R.
Buck, Antony Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd&W'df'd) Richardson, Miss Jo
Budgen, Nick Jopling, Michael Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Kimball, Marcus Robinson, Geoffrey
Clegg, Walter King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Lamont, Norman Ross, William (Londonderry)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Langford-Holt, Sir John Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Latham, Michael (Melton) Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Cope, John Lawrence, Ivan Sainsbury, Tim
Costain, A. P. Lawson, Nigel > Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Le Marchant, Spencer Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Dalyell, Tam Lester, Jim (Beeston) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Shepherd, Colin
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Loveridge, John Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Luce, Richard Sims, Roger
Doig, Peter Lyon, Alexander (York) Sinclair, Sir George
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James MacGregor, John Skeet, T. H. H.
Douglas-Mann, Bruce MacKay, Andrew (Stechford) Skinner, Dennis
Dunlop, John Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield)
Durant, Tony Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Speed, Keith
Emery, Peter Marten, Neil Spriggs, Leslie
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Mather, Carol Sproat, Iain
Flannery, Martin Mawby, Ray Stainton, Keith
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stanbrook, Ivor
Fookes, Miss Janet Mayhew, Patrick Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Maynard, Miss Joan Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Fox, Marcus Mendelson, John Stokes, John
Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Mills, Peter Tebbit, Norman
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Miscampbell, Norman Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Garrett, W. E.(Wallsend) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Torney, Tom
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Moate, Roger van Straubenzee, W. R.
Glyn, Dr Alan Molyneaux, James Vaughan, Dr Gerald
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Monro, Hector Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Moonman, Eric Weatherill, Bernard
Grist, Ian More, Jasper (Ludlow) Wiggin, Jerry
Grylls, Michael Morgan, Geraint Winterton, Nicholas
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral Wise, Mrs Audrey
Hampson, Dr Keith Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Hannam, John Neubert, Michael Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Newens, Stanley
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Newton, Tony TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Haselhurst, Alan Nott, John Mr. William Hamilton and
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Ogden, Eric Mr. Tim Renton.
Hayhoe, Barney
Allaun, Frank Hart, Rt Hon Judith Rose, Paul B.
Archer Rt Hon Peter Heath, Rt Hon Edward Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Armstrong, Ernest Henderson, Douglas Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Ashton, Joe Hooley, Frank Rowlands, Ted
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Hooson, Emlyn Sedgemore, Brian
Bain, Mrs Margaret Howelis, Geraint (Cardigan) Sever, John
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Janner, Greville Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Bates, Alf Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Bean, R. E. Johnson, James (Hull West) Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Beith, A. J. Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Sillars, James
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Snape, Peter
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Jones, Barry (East Flint) Spence, John
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Kaufman, Gerald Stallard, A. W.
Buchan, Norman Kerr, Russell Steel, Rt Hon David
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Knox, David Stewart, Rt Hon Donald
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Lambie, David Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Campbell, Ian Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Stott, Roger
Canavan, Dennis Luard, Evan Strang, Gavin
Carmichael, Neil Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Carter-Jones, Lewis McCartney, Hugh Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Cartwright, John McDonald, Dr Oonagh Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) McElhone, Frank Thompson, George
Concannon, Rt Hon John MacFarquhar, Roderick Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Corbett, Robin MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Tinn, James
Crawford, Douglas McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Crouch, David Madden, Max Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Cryer, Bob Magee, Bryan Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Davidson, Arthur Marks, Kenneth Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Ward, Michael
Deakins, Eric Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Watkins, David
Eadie, Alex Mason, Rt Hon Roy Weetch, Ken
Edge, Geoff Meacher, Michael Wellbeloved, James
English, Michael Mikardo, Ian Welsh, Andrew
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce White, James (Pollok)
Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray) Mitchell, Austin Whitlock, William
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Morris, Rt Hon Charles R. Wigley, Dafydd
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Ford, Ben Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Forrester, John Noble, Mike Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Oakes, Gordon Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Freud, Clement Pardoe, John Woodall, Alec
George, Bruce Park, George Woof, Robert
Ginsburg, David Pavitt, Laurie Young, David (Bolton E)
Golding, John Penhaligon, David
Grant, John (Islington C) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Mr. Thomas Cox and
Harper, Joseph Rooker, J. W. Mr. Ted Graham.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Mr. Grimond

I beg to move Amendment No. 149, in page 38, line 3, at end insert— '(2A) If the answers given in the referendum show that the majority of the persons giving valid votes in the Orkney Islands area or the majority of such persons in the Shetland Islands area do not wish effect to be given to this Act the Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament the draft of an Order in Council providing that in respect of that area

or. as the case may require, those areas the Act shall not apply, and providing also for the establishment of a commission to recommend such changes in the government of that area or those areas as may be desirable.'.

A damned close-run thing, if I may say so.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 204, Noes 118.

Division No. 80] AYES [10.59 p.m.
Abse, Leo Bottomley, Peter Carter-Jones, Lewis
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Chalker, Mrs Lynda
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Bradford, Rev Robert Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Braine, Sir Bernard Clegg, Walter
Awdry, Daniel Brittan, Leon Colquhoun, Ms Maureen
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Buchan, Norman Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)
Benyon, W. Buchanan-Smith, Alick Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)
Berry, Hon Anthony Buck, Antony Cope, John
Biggs-Davison, John Budgen, Nick Costain, A. P.
Blenkinsop, Arthur Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Crouch, David
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Canavan, Dennis Cunningham, G. (Islington S)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Carmichael, Neil Dalyell, Tam
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Kimball, Marcus Rathbone, Tim
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Knox, David Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lamont, Norman Rhodes James, R.
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Langford-Holt, Sir John Richardson, Miss Jo
Dunlop, John Latham, Michael (Melton) Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Durant, Tony Lawrence, Ivan Rifkind, Malcolm
Emery, Peter Lawson, Nigel Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
English, Michael Le Marchant, Spencer Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Lester, Jim (Beeston) Robinson, Geoffrey
Flannery, Martin Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Rooker, J. W.
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Loveridge, John Rose, Paul B.
Fookes, Miss Janet Luce, Richard Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Ford, Ben Lyon, Alexander (York) Ross, William (Londonderry)
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) MacGregor, John Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) MacKay, Andrew (Stechford) Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Fox, Marcus Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Sainsbury, Tim
Freud, Clement Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Marten, Neil Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Mather, Carol Shelton, William (Streatham)
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Mawby, Ray Shepherd, Colin
Garrett, W. E.(Wallsend) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Mayhew, Patrick Sims, Roger
Glyn, Dr Alan Maynard, Miss Joan Sinclair, Sir George
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Mendelson, John Skeet, T. H. H.
Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Skinner, Dennis
Grist, Ian Mills, Peter Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield)
Grylls, Michael Miscampbell, Norman Speed, Keith
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Spriggs, Leslie
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Moate, Roger Sproat, Iain
Hampson, Dr Keith Molyneaux, James Stainton, Keith
Hannam, John Monro, Hector Stanbrook, Ivor
Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Moonman, Eric Steel, Rt Hon David
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss More, Jasper (Ludlow) Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Haselhurst, Alan Morgan, Geraint Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral Stokes, John
Hayhoe, Barney Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Stradling Thomas, J.
Hayman, Mrs Helene Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Neubert, Michael Tebbit, Norman
Heffer, Eric S. Newens, Stanley Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Higgins, Terence L. Newton, Tony Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Hodgson, Robin Nott, John van Straubenzee, W. R.
Holland, Philip Ogden, Eric Vaughan, Dr Gerald
Hooson, Emlyn Oppenheim, Mrs Sally Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Hordern, Peter Orbach, Maurice Watkins, David
Howell, David (Guildford) Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Weatherill, Bernard
Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Palmer, Arthur Wiggin, Jerry
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Pardoe, John Winterton, Nicholas
Hunt, David (Wirral) Parker, John Wise, Mrs Audrey
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Penhaligon, David Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Hutchison, Michael Clark Percival, Ian Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
James, David Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch Younger, Hon George
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Price, David (Eastleigh)
Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd&W'df'd) Prior, Rt Hon James TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Jopling, Michael Pym, Rt Hon Francis Mr. J. Grimond and
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Raison, Timothy Mr. A. J. Beith
Kerr, Russell
Allaun, Frank Doig, Peter Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Dormand, J. D. Kaufman, Gerald
Armstrong, Ernest Eadie, Alex Lambie, David
Ashton, Joe Edge, Geoff Luard, Evan
Bain, Mrs Margaret Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray) McCartney, Hugh
Bates, Alf Fitch, Alan (Wigan) MacCormick, Iain
Bean R. E. Foot, Rt Hon Michael McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Bidwell, Sydney Forrester, John McElhone, Frank
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) MacFarquhar, Roderick
Booth, Rt Hon Albert George, Bruce MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Ginsburg, David McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Golding, John Madden, Max
Campbell, Ian Grant, John (Islington C) Magee, Bryan
Cartwright, John Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Harper, Joseph Marks, Kenneth
Concannon, J. D. Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Corbett, Robin Hart, Rt Hon Judith Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Henderson, Douglas Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Crawford Douglas Hooley, Frank Meacher, Michael
Cryer, Bob Janner, Greville Mikardo, Ian
Davidson, Arthur Johnson, James (Hull West) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Mitchell, Austin
Deakins, Eric Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Spence, John Welsh, Andrew
Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Stewart, Rt Hon Donald White, James (Pollok)
Noble, Mike Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham) Whitlock, William
Oakes, Gordon Stott, Roger Wigley, Dafydd
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Strang, Gavin Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Park, George Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W) Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Pavitt, Laurie Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth) Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock) Thompson, George Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Rowlands, Ted Tinn, James Woodall, Alec
Sedgemore, Brian Varley, Rt Hon Eric G. Woof, Robert
Sever, John Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V) Young, David (Bolton E)
Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Walker, Terry (Kingswood) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford) Ward, Michael Mr. Ted Graham and
Smith, John (N Lanarkshire) Weetch, Ken Mr. A. W. Stallard.
Snape, Peter Wellbeloved, James

Question accordingly agreed to.

Mr. Pym

On a point of order, Sir Myer. May I give notice that I wish to raise a point of order with you when you have completed the painful business that the House of Commons has imposed upon you?

It being after Eleven o'clock, THE CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the

Order [16th November] and the Resolution [22nd November], to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the Business to be concluded at Eleven o'clock.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes 242, Noes 18.

Division No. 81] AYES [11.13 p.m.
Abse, Leo Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Janner, Greville
Allaun, Frank Douglas-Mann, Bruce Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Durant, Tony Johnson, James (Hull West)
Armstrong, Ernest Eadie, Alex Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Ashton, Joe Edge, Geoff Jones, Alec (Rhondda)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) English, Michael Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Awdry, Daniel Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Jopling, Michael
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Flannery, Martin Kaufman, Gerald
Bean, R. E. Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Kerr, Russell
Beith, A. J. Fookes, Miss Janet Kimball, Marcus
Benyon, W. Foot, Rt Hon Michael Lamont, Norman
Bidwell, Sydney Ford, Ben Langford-Holt, Sir John
Biggs, Davison, John Forrester, John Latham, Michael (Melton)
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Lawrence, Ivan
Blenkinsop, Arthur Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Freud, Clement Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Loveridge, John
Boscawen, Hon Robert Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Luard, Evan
Bottomley, Peter Garrett, W. E.(Wallsend) Lyon, Alexander (York)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) George, Bruce Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
Buchan, Norman Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) McCartney, Hugh
Buck, Antony Ginsburg, David McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Glyn, Dr Alan McElhone, Frank
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Golding, John MacFarquhar, Roderick
Campbell, Ian Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) MacKay, Andrew (Stechford)
Canavan, Dennis Graham, Ted MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Carmichael, Neil Grant, John (Islington C) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Grimond, Rt Hon J. Madden, Max
Cartwright, John Grist, Ian Magee, Bryan
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Grylls, Michael Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Clegg, Walter Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Marks, Kenneth
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Concannon, J. D. Hannam, John Marten, Neil
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Harper, Joseph Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Cope, John Harrison, Rt Hon Water Mather, Carol
Corbett, Robin Hart, Rt Hon Judith Mawby, Ray
Costain, A. P. Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Haselhurst, Alan Mayhew, Patrick
Cryer, Bob Heffer. Eric S. Maynard, Miss Joan
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Hodgson, Robin Meacher, Michael
Dalyell, Tam Holland, Philip Mendelson, John
Davidson, Arthur Hooley, Frank Mikardo, Ian
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Hordern, Peter Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Deakins, Eric Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Hunt, David (Wirral) Mills, Peter
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Miscampbell, Norman
Doig, Peter Hutchison, Michael Clark Mitchell, Austin
Dormand, J. D. James, David Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Moate, Roger Rodgers, George (Chorley) Stokes, John
More, Jasper (Ludlow) Rooker, J. W. Stott, Roger
Morgan, Geraint Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Strang, Gavin
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Morris, Rt Hon Charles R. Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire) Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Rowlands, Ted Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Sainsbury, Tim Tinn, James
Neubert, Michael Sedgemore, Brian Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Newens, Stanley Sever, John Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Newton, Tony Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South) Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Noble, Mike Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Nott, John Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Oakes, Gordon Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Ward, Michael
Ogden, Eric Shelton, William (Streatham) Watkins, David
Orbach, Maurice Shepherd, Colin Weetch, Ken
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE) Wellbeloved, James
Palmer, Arthur Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford) White, James (Pollok)
Pardoe, John Sims, Roger Whitlock, William
Park, George Sinclair, Sir George Wiggin, Jerry
Parker, John Skeet, T. H. H. Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Pavitt, Laurie Skinner, Dennis Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Penhaligon, David Smith, John (N Lanarkshire) Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Price, David (Eastleigh) Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield) Winterton, Nicholas
Rathbone, Tim Spriggs, Leslie Wise, Mrs Audrey
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S) Sproat, Iain Woodall, Alec
Rees-Davies, W. R. Stainton, Keith Woof, Robert
Rhodes James, R. Stallard, A. W. Young, David (Bolton E)
Richardson, Miss Jo Stanbrook, Ivor Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Ridley, Hon Nicholas Steel, Rt Hon David
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Steen, Anthony (Wavertree) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW) Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Mr. Alf Bates and
Robinson, Geoffrey Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham) Mr. Peter Snape.
Bain, Mrs Margaret Lambie, David Watt, Hamish
Budgen, Nick MacCormick, Iain Wigley, Dafydd
Crawford, Douglas Rose, Paul B. Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Spence, John
Henderson, Douglas Stewart, Rt Hon Donald TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Higgins, Terence L. Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth) Mrs. Winifred Ewing and
Hooson, Emlyn Thompson, George Mr. Andrew Welsh.
Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 82, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 83 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Forward to