HC Deb 06 July 1978 vol 953 cc747-77

Lords amendment: No. 24, in page 7, line 18, leave out from ("statement") to ("in").

Mr. John Smith

I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

This amendment makes a significant amendment to the provision relating to the protection to be afforded in the Assembly against actions of defamation.

Apparently, from the debate that took place in another place, there was no dispute between the Government and the Opposition about the desirability of having protection for Members of the Assembly against actions of defamation along roughly the same lines as the privilege which is afforded to Members of Parliament.

There were a number of arguments against the way in which the clause was drafted, and because of that this amendment was carried. But the Government are now seeking to persuade this House to disagree with it.

The first point that was made was that written material is not protected at Westminster. The Government believe that it is. Therefore, there is a plain disagreement.

The second point is that there is no prohibition on excessive publication—the protection afforded is not limited to the minimum publication reasonably necessary. If there were anything in this point, Members who have made defama- tory remarks would not regularly be invited to repeat those remarks outside. The simple answer is that what is protected is a statement made in proceedings. If the statement is republished outside the Assembly, the courts would have little difficulty in finding new publication.

The third point is that the Government's clause would protect certain documents which are not now protected—notably, communications passing between Assembly Members and Scottish Secretaries. There is a logical hole in this argument. It is not realistic to suppose that, because a letter to a Scottish Secretary may lead up to or obviate the need for a question in the Assembly, a court would regard correspondence preliminary to setting down such a question as a proceeding of the Assembly. It is a preliminary to it or a substitute for it. This view prevailed in the Commons when considering the case of Strauss v. The London Electricity Board in 1957.

The amendment casts a doubt over whether the term "statement" includes a written statement as well as an oral statement—as it is meant to. Those who moved this amendment argued that it should not, and that written statements could adequately be protected by way of subsection (1)(b) of the clause, which protects the publication of any document under the authority of the Assembly. But this is directed to a different point. It means that before any document is privileged the Assembly must in some manner have authorised publication. Where it does not, one is forced to speculate about the meaning of "statement". The whole point of absolute privilege in this area is that it enables everyone to say what they want, for the ultimate public interest, without having to worry about defamation.

To sum up, the amendment, proceeding on a mistaken view of the effect of the clause, would on its face create an area of doubt and could well subtract from the protection which the Government intend to afford and without which the Assembly could be handicapped in fulfilling its role.

No doubt the hon. and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan) will have something to say about this as he is, I am informed, an outstanding lawyer at the English libel bar. He may even be tempted to create a new set of clients, but I think he will agree it is desirable that we shoud have privilege for Members of the Scottish Assembly, roughly along the lines of that which applies to this Parliament.

Mr. Leon Brittan (Cleveland and Whitby)

In seeking to explain why this House should disagree with the Lords in their amendment, the Minister of State went through a number of the arguments which had been relied on and pointed out their fallacies. I wish to point out that there was a fallacy in the last words that he used, namely, the possibility of creating a new set of clients for me. Although I managed to stumble through the Bar examinations in England, I have never done so in Scotland. Therefore, the prospect, alluring though it may be, of securing such clients does not arise.

On a more serious note, there is agreement between the two Front Benches that proceedings of the Scottish Assembly should receive protection from actions of libel to the same extent as proceedings in this House and in Parliament generally. Unfortunately, that is the beginning of the question rather than the end.

The Minister of State has cut a few corners in dealing with the problems that arise. This Bill in its unamended form, no doubt quite inadvertently, might well give greater protection to what is said and written in the Scottish Assembly than to what is said and written in this House. That is a conclusion that the Government do not want.

The only question between us is not one of principle that what is said or written in proceedings in the Scottish Assembly enjoys protection from the laws of libel, but whether what is said in the Bill itself goes beyond the current practice for this House and the other place.

One of the problems is that the word "privilege" is used in two different senses. It is very easy to confuse the two but very important not to do so. In defamation, when one is talking about absolute privilege, one is talking about an immunity from suit in all circumstances in respect of material to which absolute privilege attaches. When one talks about privilege of Parliament, it is quite another matter. It is the whole set of customs designed to protect this House and the other place in enabling them to carry out their duties in a way in which the people of this country would expect.

One of the privileges that this House asserts on behalf of itself and its Members is freedom of speech to the full. This is privilege in one sense. It is also true that the law of the land—the common law and, to the extent that it is amended by the Defamation Act 1952, the statute law as well—also extends immunity to Members for libel actions on what is said and written in the proceedings of this House. It does not follow that the two are coterminous. It does not follow that the area to which privilege is extended by the law of libel is the same as the area covered by the privileges of the House.

In referring to the Strauss case, the right hon. Gentleman fell into the error of confusing one sort of privilege with the other. The fact that the House of Commons may have decided that a certain sort of document does or does not enjoy the privileges of the House cannot be a precedent for determining what is or is not absolutely privileged as far as the law courts are concerned. I see the Minister of State nodding, but what he said in opposing the Lords amendment seemed to indicate the opposite.

Mr. John Smith

I was bringing to the attention of the House that that was the view taken by the House of Commons when it considered this matter.

Mr. Brittan

I appreciate that it was a view and was no more than that. The real problem that arises on the law of that defamation, as opposed to any kind of Parliamentary privilege, is the precise extent of the operation of privilege for proceedings in Parliament. This has never been conclusively determined. Certainly it has not been determined in any kind of written definition.

Here one sees in the clause relating to defamatory statements in Assembly proceedings an attempt for the first time to put into a written statutory form the exact extent of the privilege of this House relating to the law of defamation. This is not a proposition with which we would disagree.

8.0 p.m.

It is interesting that, because the precise area of privilege is not absolutely clear, the matter was considered by the most authoritative body that looked at the law of libel in recent times, namely, the Faulks Committee. That committee made recommendations and included a draft Bill. The problem was what was meant by "proceedings in Parliament". It is quite clear that something that is said in a debate such as this on the Floor of the House is a proceeding in Parliament.

Furthermore, there is no difficulty about what is said in Committee or about Written Answers to Questions or anything of that kind because they would be covered by clause 15(1)(b)—namely, as being a publication under the authority of the Assembly. There need not be any difficulty about any of the papers in the House in the normal sense of the word, such as amendment sheets and reports of Select Committees, because all of these would be published under the authority of Parliament and mutatis mutandis would be published under the authority of the Assembly and would attract absolute privilege under clause 15(1)(b).

The problem relates to what one might call ancillary writen documents, such as communications between Members of the Assembly and Ministers. All the Minister has been able to say is that the House, wearing its non-judicial hat, considering the extent of its own privileges and not in any sense purporting or being entitled to act as a court of law determining the extent of absolute privilege, decided that communications of that kind were not governed by the privileges of the House. Whether or not such communications were to be regarded as proceedings of Parliament is another matter.

We say that by writing in the words "whether oral or written" one is giving an indication to the courts which is capable of being interpreted in a wider sense than that which has hitherto been regarded as covering the amendment of absolute privilege in the law of defamation.

Mr. Dalyell

On the issue of absolute privilege, is it not a fact that it depends partly on interpretation and that the key phrase is no wider than is absolutely necessary". This was considered by Donovan and possibly by a number of other bodies. Is this not a matter of some practical concern?

Mr. Brittan

It is a matter of considerable practical importance, and that phrase does not appear in clause 15(1) as unamended. The bald inclusion of written statements in this privilege, without any kind of definition or explanation of what they are or the extent to which they go, is likely to lead to greater privilege in the law of libel being extended to the Assembly than to this House. The Government have said that they do not want that to happen, we do not want it, and indeed nobody appears to want it.

I see no mischief in removing the words "oral or written". What is the purpose for which the Government seek absolute privilege which would be removed if those words were deleted? They surely do not want the privilege to extend to Written Answers and are afraid that it would not so extend if those words were removed because it is plainly covered by clause 15(1)(b). They surely do not want the privilege to extend to the papers of the House of the kind which we are floating in at the moment in this debate, because that is also clearly covered by clause 15(1)(b). Let us remember that in the case of any subsidiary papers where there is any doubt attached, all the Assembly has to do is to publish them under its authority and the privilege automatically attaches.

What are these documents? The Minister says that the Strauss case shows that documents in the form of correspondence between Ministers and Members were not covered. Nobody wants extension to that position. Therefore, what are the documents which should be regarded as proceedings of the Assembly to which absolute privilege should attach which would not attach if this amendment made by the other place were accepted? I would say that there is none, although there are documents to which absolute privilege may extend—I cannot put it higher than that because until the courts have pronounced nobody will know— to which it does not extend at the moment in this House, but to which it may extend if this amendment is not made.

Mr. Leo Abse (Pontypool)

We are all obliged for the lucid account given by the hon. and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan). He said that the Front Benches were bound to agree that absolute privilege should be accorded to the Assembly, if it comes into existence. Why does he make that assumtion? Is it because it is to be a legislative Assembly? Is it, for example, suggested that a non-legislative Assembly, as is intended for Wales, should have privileges which go beyond that which is given to a county council involving qualified privilege?

In short, are the members of the Conservative Front Bench committing themselves to suggesting that there should be not only absolute privilege but perhaps even an extension of the privileges enjoyed by this House as interpreted by the House? Is he so keen and enthusiastic about extending absolute privilege that he would even extend it to a glorified county council such as will come into exstence, if it does come into existence, in a Welsh Assembly?

Mr. Brittan

I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows the answer, but it is nevertheless a fair question and I welcome the opportunity to deal with it.

We are faced with the dilemma in all stages of this Bill, other than Second Reading, of trying to deal with something to which we are fundamentally opposed. We have made it clear from the outset that the creation of an Asesmbly with powers approaching these is something we oppose. Nevertheless, we have to decide whether we contract out of the whole business of considering the matter in detail, or whether we try to make something of it. All Oppositions have always come to the latter conclusion. If we are to create a Scottish Assembly with these powers— and we are totally opposed to that being done—logically it must follow that the genuine proceedings in such an Assembly should enjoy absolute privilege.

The difference pointed out by the hon. Gentleman between a legislative Assembly and a non-legislative one is fundamental. I know of no legislative Assembly to which absolute privilege does not attach in respect of its deliberations. When we are dealing with the Welsh Assembly, we are faced with an Assembly described as "legislative" or "non-legislative", according to which Minister it is and whom he is addressing. The truth is that it is a hybrid. It is a semi-legislative Assembly in so far as it is able to pass subordinate legislation. There is a borderline case, and personally I would be inclined to interpret the matter in dealing with privilege and the law of libel in the sense in which the hon. Gentleman indicates.

Mr. Dewar

The hon. and learned Gentleman suggested that there would be no difficulty about Written Answers, which presumably would be covered by clause 15(1)(b). Will he speculate about Written Questions which were not ultimately tabled? Suppose that I were able to go to the Table Office and table a Question which was then rejected because it was thought to be defamatory or improper in some way. Would it be privileged, or would it be considered part of the proceedings of the House? It is a written statement which perhaps should be part of the proceedings of the House.

Mr. Britton

It is difficult off the cuff to give a view on that matter. However, my own view is that if it is accepted, there is no problem at all because it is then published under the authority of the Assembly. If there is any problem on that score, I believe that there will be no difficulty in solving it. If there is any difficulty, which I very much doubt, all the Assembly would have to do would be to pass a resolution to the effect that a Written Question, once it had been accepted and appeared on the Order Paper, was a publication of the House. There can be no doubt about that, and I think that I sense assent from the Lord Advocate—though I may be claiming too much.

The hon. Gentleman raised an interesting query about Written Questions that were not accepted. I do not claim to give a concluded view on that, but my instinctive answer is that it would not be covered by absolute privilege in this House now. Of course the problem does not arise because we must consider to whom there is publication. A defamatory Written Question may be handed in to the Clerk, but the whole matter is in the realms of unreality because we have sufficient confidence in our Clerks to he sure that if a Question is defamatory and, on that ground, not acceptable, it would end up in the wastepaper basket and would not be handed by the Clerk to the person defamed, who could then bring an action for libel. Technically, there would be a publication, but it would almost certainly enjoy the protection of qualified privilege in any event.

That illustrates that these are not certain matters. If, for the first time, we are to give written legislative force to something which has not had that force, we should do it more carefully than by the casual insertion of the words "whether written or oral".

It is clear that this matter has been considered and that therefore the Government have had the benefit of authoritative consideration of what the ambit of parliamentary privilege should be in relation to the law of libel. The matter was considered by the Faulks Committee, the report of which has not yet been enacted, but at least gives us an indication of what might be a reasonable way of giving certainty to what has been an uncertain matter. The draft Bill that the Committee produced gives as a definition of absolute privilege: All things said, done or written between Membersand Officers of either House of Parliament, between Members and Ministers of the Crown, for the purpose of enabling any Member or any such Officer to carry out his function as such providing that the publication is not wider than is absolutely necessary". I am not saying that that ought to be the definition, but that was the Committee's view of what should be the definition. A single reading of it shows that the question of what ought to be absolutely privileged is full of pitfalls and is not as simple as the Minister would have us believe. If we are to resort for the first time to a statutory definition, it is wrong and dangerous to attempt to give guidance to the courts by merely inserting the words "whether oral or written".

I revert to the fundamental question that the Government must answer before we can approve the motion to disagree with the amendment. Granted that Written Questions are covered, that papers of the House are covered, that the Assembly can extend that if necessary by making further authorisations under its authority and that the Minister accepts that, at least as he understands it, communications between Ministers and Members ought not to be covered, what documents does he think ought to be covered by absolute privilege, which would be covered by such privilege if the Bill stood unamended, but would not be covered if the Lords amendment is approved?

Until the Minister is able to satisfy the House that there is a genuine class of document to which privilege would be denied if the amendment were passed and that there is not a class of document to which privilege might be extended where it does not exist for this House, I am inclined to support the Lords amendment.

8.15 p.m.

Mr. Dewar

I approach the debate with a good deal of diffidence. This is an arcane and abstruse subject and I am not a junior, a senior or anything else at any libel Bar. Nor do I aspire to such giddy heights. Such matters do not normally turn up in the day-to-day business of the Glasgow sheriff court. I recognise that I am blundering into uncharted territory.

Their Lordships want to remove the phrase "whether oral or written". I am one of the few hon. Members in the Chamber without a special interest in this matter who has tried to follow the almost incomprehensible thread of argument in another place through Committee stage, Report stage Third Reading and back again several times—a genuine labyrinthal maze.

There were times when I thought that the arguments were quite comic. We had Opposition and Government spokesmen rushing, as they have tonight, to reassure each other that their aims and objectives were the same and that there was no disagreement in principle. In order to reach the same goal, they produced two different verbal formulae. It became clear that neither knew what the other's formula exactly meant or what their own formula exactly meant. There seemed to be a large measure of agreement that definition would have to wait until it had been interpreted by the courts.

On that basis, battle was joined and their Lordships divided. To the semi-layman, the debate had an almost Alicein-Wonderland atmosphere, but the matter was taken very seriously. Precedents, innumerable reports, article 9 of the Bill of Rights, and the works of Plato, were all quoted to bolster arguments.

I understand that, in a sense, it is quite a simple matter, when reduced. Everyone is agreed that absolute privilege is a serious matter and that it should not leak. It is important that the genuine activities and proceedings of the House and of Members and officials should be protected, but that absolute privilege should no be allowed to spill over carelessly to protect activities, documents and statements which are not the essence of the Houses' activities.

As I read the debate, I got a little confused about what the supporters of the amendment were saying and I am still confused after the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan). Their Lordships seemed to be saying at times that what they found objectionable was the word "written". If that word went, and there was no point in keeping "oral", we might just as well leave "statement" on its own. Distinguished former Clerks of the House and "Erskine May" were called to testify in their past writings. There were quotes from the report of a committee chaired by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster which said that only things said and done in the Chamber were entitled to privilege.

I get confused because at other times in the argument hon. Members opposite produced formulae suggesting that they are quite happy to have the word "written" included. The draft Bill produced by the Faulks Committee, which has been in limbo awaiting our consideration for some time, says that: All things said, done or written should be entitled to absolute privilege. That is commended by the hon. and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby, the Earl of Selkirk and those who supported him. Their only objection is then not to the word "written", but to the failure to include as a qualification words that seem very difficult to define, namely: providing that the publication is not wider than is absolutely necessary". We might have an interesting and lengthy debate on what that qualification means. However, if we are arguing about whether the word "written" should be attached to statements in connection with absolute privilege in the House—that is what the Government are doing in the original clause—it seems that by saying that the Faulks's formula is a good one it is accepted that "written" should he included.

Mr. Brittan

I am sorry, but not surprised, to learn that I should have failed to make myself clear. The issue is not whether the word "written" should be in the Bill, although we are opposed to it in the present form. The real question is whether privilege should be attached to a written statement; and we are not objecting to that providing that it is written statements only to the extent that they already enjoy privilege—namely, such things as Written Answers and the genuine proceedings of Parliament. However, we are saying that by including the words "or written" without any further definition we are risking the extension of privilege over and above the extent to which it already exists.

In talking about the Faulks Committee I was careful not to say that I was in any sense committed to that formulation I said that it illustrated that there were matters to be considered that render the mere inclusion of the word "written" as a definition a snare and delusion that it would be unwise for the House to include.

Mr. Dewar

I have some sympathy with what the hon. and learned Gentleman says. I think that I understand it. I may be wrong, but I think that I have an understanding. The difficulty was referred to fairly clearly by Lord McCluskey when speaking in another place. The noble Lord said that the other place was trying to draw a model from a blurred original. If we are dealing with a blurred original, it is unlikely that we shall end up with a precise model. We are all agreed on what we are trying to do, but we start from a difficult base with the present confused state of the law on privilege.

It seems that we have a choice. The hon. and learned Gentleman says that if we insert "written" there is a danger that we shall extend privilege to certain written documents that he cannot define and perhaps I cannot define. There are certain written documents that he thinks should not be accorded that privilege. On the other hand, if we remove the phrase "oral or written" there is a danger that we shall be excluding things that should be included in exactly the same way.

I make what is very much a layman's point. What the statement means on the face of it is that included is any statement, whether oral or written, made in proceedings of the Assembly. It may be that the argument is about what is in the proceedings of the Assembly. That draws us into the complicated area of Strauss v. The Electricity Board, to which I plead guilty to being unable to plunge into. Indeed, I do not wish to plunge into those matters.

It seems that the argument is about that definition and about that phrase. It may be that it will have to be considered in a court of law at another time and place. I do not know about that, but it is clear that we have a choice of amplifying "statement" to include "written" or not to amplify it by including "written". Although the hon. and learned Gentleman is not standing rigidly by the Faulks' formula, it seems that by being able to put forward a plausible alternative, whether with safeguards or without, and including the amplification to embrace "written", and he seems to give considerable force to what the Government have been able to do.

When the time comes and there is a difficult argument of interpretation about the meaning of the words in proceedings of the Assembly", by including "oral or written" we are making it clear—there is the rather difficult example of Written Questions that will crop up—that the law is intended at least possibly to include a written statement and not to exclude it. My worry is that by removing "written" now we may be encouraging the courts to assume that such matters are being deliberately excluded.

There are enough ambiguities, difficulties and lacunae in this area without deliberately excluding "written". At the end of the day both Front Benches, and probably all parts of the House, agree that at least the possibility of covering written statements that are part of the proceedings of the House should be allowable.

On that simple and commonsense basis—I admit that it is a difficult and narrow point—I prefer to play safe by leaving in the words "oral or written" to make it clear that the excluded clause is whether something is in the proceedings of the House or whether it is not. Once we get over that hurdle, it does not matter whether it is a written or an oral statement. The Government's version makes that a little clearer, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will repeal the Lords amendment.

Mr. Powell

The hon. and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan) has drawn attention to an important aspect of what we are trying to do and of the difficulties that are implicit in our attempt to create an Assembly in our own likeness. All these debates make us realise what profound and mature deliberation is necessary for accomplishing such a process as we are attempting under the pressure of limited time.

The attempt that we are making—I hope that I may say this without irreverence—is similar to that of God Almighty in creating man in his own likeness. The difficulties arise from exactly the same cause: it is the omnipotent, creating that which is not omnipotent.

We have said that the Assembly created in our own likeness should have the same privileges, in both senses of the word, as we do. However, as we are creating, we discover that we have to define; and when we define, in a statute, there arises a fundamental difference between the privilege of our creature and our own privilege.

The privilege of our creature will, as it is denned in statute, be interpreted by the courts. It is the courts that will interpret the meaning of made in proceedings of the Assembly". I do not think that whether "written" is there or whether it is not, will matter very much, although I am in favour of keeping the words. The cogent and crucial issue will be the meaning and application of the term made in proceedings of the Assembly". Now, as the hon. and learned Gentleman pointed out, that is not the same as our privilege. It may be wider. I suspect that it may be narrower. Either way, it is different. That is because we ourselves define our own privilege: if any question arises about what our "proceedings" are and what is their ambit, it is the House and no one else which decides. The privileges that we possess are those that we are incapable of conferring upon any other Assembly; for our privileges exist not by virtue of statute but rather like the values to which Antigone refers in Sophocles, where she says: These things are living. Where they come from, no man knoweth. Our privileges are derived from the past. They are implicit in the whole history of this country, let alone of Parliament. They cannot be transmitted, because they can be transmitted only by being defined, and they can be defined only by statute and, being defined by statute, their definition becomes subject to the courts as that of our privileges is not.

Having received that illumination, in this short debate, upon one aspect of what we are doing, I refer to another in the question asked by the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse). He put his question in the context of the Welsh Assembly. Indeed, it is a fascinating and difficult question even in the form in which he put it. He asked: why should we endeavour to confer upon the Welsh Assembly, given the functions with which we are endowing it, the absolute privilege we enjoy in this House?

8.30 p.m.

He might have asked the question, and I think that we should ask ourselves the question, in this context of the Scottish Assembly. The hon. and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby brushed that question aside. He said that this was a legislative Assembly, and he did not think that there was any legislative assembly in the world which did not enjoy absolute provilege for its proceedings. But I proceed to ask: what is there about legislation, compared with the other things that an assembly might do, which specially requires the protection of absolute privilege? If I were making the case for the necessity of such protection, it is not to the legislative functions of an assembly that I would refer but to the critical functions, the debating functions. Those functions in the Welsh Assembly will be equal with those in the Scottish Assembly. So it is not enough to say "The Scottish Assembly is a legislative Assembly, this House is a legislative Assembly and, therefore, the Scottish Assembly should have absolute privilege."

The true answer to the question whether an assembly should or should not have absolute privilege lies in the answer to another question: is it to be sovereign? We have our privilege because we are sovereign. If we did not have it, we would not be sovereign. Thus, we come to an even more important aspect or revelation, namely, that, however much we deny it, we are, by what we are putting into the Bill, creating a sovereign body. It is no use pretending that we can have two sovereign bodies side by side, or that we are going to be a superior sovereign body—"They are sovereign, but we are more sovereign". There is only sovereign or not sovereign. There is no such thing as less sovereign and more sovereign.

I am not sure that these considerations, which arise out of the earlier part of the debate, help us in deciding whether to disagree with the Lords amendment. I have said that I thought the Minister of State made out a case for disagreeing with the Lords in the said amendment. But this debate is none the less relevant, because even an apparently technical amendment such as this illuminates the nature of what we are doing: the portentous and essentially—in a unitary State—inconceivable act which we are attempting by the Scotland Bill.

Mr. Dalyell

This proposal reveals yet again, after all these days, the old manhole theory. We come to something which looks fairly innocent. But what do we find? As soon as we lift up the manhole, we find that it is far more complex.

It is all very well for my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) to say that absolute privilege should not leak. May I gently sugBest to him that, whether he likes it or not, in this instance frankly it is leaking.

I should like to put a question to the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). Is he sure that he is right—I may have got him wrong—in suggesting that in these circumstances the views of the House in this kind of situation should be paramount? Are we not in fact legislating in a situation where matters having a political content could be decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council?

Mr. John Smith

The answer to that is "No".

Mr. Dalyell

It came up in a rather different context in a question—I had better not mention names; I suppose I might refer to him as a former Prime Minister—which was put to Lord Diplock: After all, the procedure of vetting a Bill before it is introduced has been undertaken by the Speaker over all these years with great success and everyone from that moment knew where he was, and amendments which fell outside his ruling were almost automatically dismissed and it was accepted that they should be dismissed because he had ruled them virtually out of order from the start. The senior Law Lord replied: The essential difference is that once an Act has been passed by the Parliament at Westminster, whether it be called a Scottish Act or whatever, it is law, and it is unquestionable. No one can go to the courts and say: 'Please say that this is ultra vires as it is not a Scottish Bill because the Examiners were wrong when they said it was '. However, with an Assembly Act, after it has been enacted anyone who is affected by it can go—I hope it will be to the House of Lords—at any rate to the courts, and say: 'No, this was ultra vires' and it is their word and their decision that matters and not that of any of the Examiners who looked at it before."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 18th April 1978; Vol. 390, c. 1064.] I submit that there is an analogous situation in the matter that we are dealing with here.

I refer now to my hon. Friend the Member for Garscadden and ask: are Written Questions to be protected in any way? An example was given in the House of Lords when a noble Lord said: It might be said that such Written Answers would be quite harmless". But another noble Lord, with experience as a journalist, said: I can quite conceive of a Written Answer in reply to a Question in which perhaps some suspicion was cast on, say, the financial activities of a company in the City of London. That written Answer might say that the Minister was causing an investigation to be made into the financial affairs of that company. Hitherto, and under the present law and procedure the reporter would be protected in taking that Written Answer from the tray and inserting it in his story. If the Amendment were carried, that protection would no longer exist and Written Answers would not be protected in any way." [Official Report, House of Lords, 29th June; Vol. 394, c. 381.] We must know the facts. Not only are the Members of the House of Commons or Members of the Scottish Assembly affected, but the whole code of conduct of what we call the Lobby, and presumably the Lobby in the Scottish Assembly, is affected. It is a matter of some consequence, certainly to ourselves and also to the Scottish press.

I make my next point in question form. There is a draft Bill on the subject of defamation which, no doubt, Parliament will consider in the near future. It has not been considered by Parliament. I refer to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden.

In dealing with absolute privilege, particularly in Parliament, the draft Bill states in Clause 7(6)(b): All things said, done or written between Members and Officers of either House of Parliament, between Members and Ministers of the Crown, for the purpose of enabling any Member or any such Officer to carry out his function as such providing that the publication is not wider than is absolutely necessary. We could argue about what is "absolutely necessary". This Bill puts in 'writing', without that qualification, and I therefore have no hesitation whatever in saying that it is in fact an extension of absolute privilege." [Official Report, House of Lords, 29th June 1978; Vol. 394, c. 380.] The peer who argued this case said that he had the agreement of the Lord Chancellor that it should not take place.

Mr. John Smith

Not for the first time my hon. Friend has made selective quotations from the other place. Fortunately, I happened to read that debate a little while ago. My hon. Friend will know that the Solicitor-General for Scotland on more than one occasion pointed out the inadequacy of the explanation that was given by the Earl of Selkirk. If my hon. Friend wants to quote from the House of Lords it would be fairer if he quoted in full.

Mr. George Robertson

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is presumptuous of me at this early stage in my parliamentary career to raise this matter. But, earlier today Mr. Speaker, in response to a question by the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) advised the House that quotations from speeches in the Lords, other than those from Government spokesmen, were not allowed. Hon. Members who have spoken since have adhered to that rule. I wonder whether my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) will continue to read huge chunks of verbatim record from the House of Lords as though that ruling had never been given.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant God-man Irvine)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson). He is correct.

Mr. Dalyell

My hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) was not been presumptuous. But if the Minister of State had his way I should have to read even the longer chunks.

Mr. John Smith

I made no such suggestion. I would hesitate to suggest any step in that direction. All I was asking was that my hon. Friend should be fair and quote accurately, if he must quote at all.

Mr. Dalyell

I was reading fairly accurately. But we are in a difficult situation. It is all very well for the lawyers, but some of us are non-lawyers and we have a right to be heard on such matters. Alas, through my misfortune, I have a considerable interest in the matter of privilege. Few other Members know better than I do precisely how important privilege can be.

I will not detain the House much longer, other than to quote, as I am entitled to do, from the Government spokesman. He said: One should look at the wording of the Bill…They look not at Hansard, but at the wording of the statute which comes before them for construction. What we are protecting is to be found in Clause 16(1)(a). We are protecting by absolute privilege"— this again was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Garscadden— 'any statement (whether oral or written) made in the proceedings of the Assembly'. Those words are absolutely crucial. The statement must be one which is made in the proceedings of the Assembly."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 29th June 1978; Vol. 394, c. 384.] That was the reply that was made, and I think that we should have a very clear answer, preferably for the layman—it may not be possible to satisfy the layman—as to precisely what is the position, first, of Members of the Assembly and, secondly, of the Scottish press or lobby, or whatever one might like to call it, attached to the Assembly in Edinburgh.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

I am opposed to the creation of something to our own likeness, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) put it. But, having it in front of us in this clause, I wish to see it in the best possible form.

This is not the first time that Parliament has created assemblies with privilege. It has created Parliament after Parliament, from colonies to emerging countries. As far as I recollect, the formula on each occasion has been not to try to define it, as in the Bill, but to say that those Parliaments shall have the same privileges as enjoyed by the Parliament at Westminster. My right hon. Friend would object to that as creating another sovereign body, but that, as I understand, is what the Government are trying to do here. Let them come out with it plainly. As a result of trying to define it, instead of using that extremely useful formula, we find that almost every word in the clause is ambiguous. What is meant by a "statement"? What is meant by "written"? What is meant by in proceedings of the Assembly"? I shall not speculate upon the meaning of a written statement in proceedings of the Assembly Obviously it is extremely difficult to do it in this way.

Suppose that I write out an Early-Day Motion which is hghly libellous and hawk it round the Lobby to get it signed. Suppose that I even hand it to a Lobby correspondent. Suppose that then some of my friends tell me "This is awfully bad, you had better not do it" and I scrap it, without even handing it in. One can speculate endlessly as to what is meant by in proceedings of the Assembly". The difficulty comes from breaking away from that very useful formula that the new Assembly or Parliament shall have the same privileges as are enjoyed by the Parliament at Westminster.

I will take the argument one step further. The main advantage that we have in relation to privilege here is that we create our own privilege. If we vest the privileges of this House in some other Assembly, we are giving it the right to decide upon its own privileges. I see no harm in that, once we have swallowed the idea of a new sovereign Assembly. I object to that idea, but if we are to have an Assembly let us set about it in the tried and well-known form. Let us adopt the formula which has been used for about 50 new Parliaments which have been created by the Parliament at Westminster. As far as I know, there has not been any difficulty about that formula.

8.45 p.m.

Mr. John Smith

We have had an extremely interesting debate on a narrow but important point.

I take issue straight away with the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) and indeed with the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) on at least one aspect. We are not proposing in the Bill the creation of a sovereign institution in the Assembly. That is not a matter of opinion. It is a matter of fact. What we are devolving is not sovereignty but powers. The Scottish Assembly will be a subordinated institution which is the creature of this Parliament. It is being created by Parliament in this legislation and, like Stormont, can be abolished by this Parliament. Therefore, it is not a sovereign institution. With respect to the right hon. Member for Crosby, that is the important distinction between the creation of the Assembly and the creation of independent States, formerly colonies, that are bequeathed as they are born with a set of institutions devised in this Parliament.

The House owes a great debt to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) for the trouble he has taken in going through what he described as the labyrinthine detail of the records of another place. He simplified and clarified the issue. What is at the heart of this matter is whether it is better to have the words "whether oral or written" included in the definition in the Bill. My hon. Friend put the matter fairly by asking "Which is the better risk to take—having too narrow a scope of privileges or perhaps one that errs if anything on the side of being slightly wider?

What we want to do is to replicate the position that exists here, so that Members of the Assembly will have no more and no less privilege in dealing with their affairs than there is in proceedings in Parliament. As the right hon. Member for Down, South reminded us, that is the key phrase in the definition. That is the intention. It is a shared intention. No one in the debate has disputed that.

We believe that if the amendment is left in the Bill, if the House does not disagree with the Lords, there will be some doubt about written statements. One hon. Member suggested that even without the word "written" a court could interpret the provision as including written statements. It might very well do that, but it seems to us that to leave the word out would be to create an unnecessary ambiguity.

The hon. and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan) asked me what kind of written documents we had in mind, apart from Written Questions, which might be covered by the scope of subsection (1)(b). I have a certain suspicion about his argument, that the Assembly could create its own class of privileged documents merely by extending its authority to certain publications. I think that it would be an abuse of its authority to do that—merely to create a new class of documents and so define them.

Mr. Brittan

The right hon. Gentleman uses the word "abuse". Uncharacteristically, he is less than precise in dealing with it. It may be an abuse in the sense that he would object to it, but the question is one of law, and the extent to which the Assembly can do that is governed, and governed only, by the language of subsection (1)(b): the publication under the authority of the Assembly of any document". Whether the right hon. Gentleman likes it or not, I can see no possible interpretation of those words other than that any publication which is under the authority of the Assembly has that privilege. I cannot see why the Assembly cannot, under its authority, confer that privilege on documents simply by publishing them under its authority.

Mr. Smith

That is precisely the trouble. Is the recommendation that the What we want to do is to replicate the position that exists here, so that Members them with its authority, so that they thereby become privileged, rather than attempt to deal with the matter in the Bill? If so, it seems to me that while the Assembly might not be open to challenge on the way in which it had done it, it would be an abuse of its power to extend the scope of that authority which cloaks a document with privilege just because it wanted to give the document that privilege. We should try to make a better job of definition here.

It is almost impossible to consider what written documents might even be within the scope of proceedings within the Assembly—as difficult a job as it sometimes is to decide what written documents are within the proceedings of Parliament. But it is desirable that written documents should be included on a wider basis than merely Written Answers.

The following example was given in another place by Lord McCluskey. The Assembly might have pre-legislation committees, to which there might be submitted documents describing certain evils which the Assembly by its legislation should put right. It might very well be right to consider those representation as part of the proceedings, to say that they are written and therefore should be included. But it is extremely difficult to foresee what should be incorporated. I think it much wiser for the House to include the word "written" and put the matter beyond doubt. I think it much wiser that the House should incorporate the word "written" and put it beyond doubt. As my hon. Friend the Member for Garscadden said, at least let us not add to the complexities the question whether a written document is included or not.

Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)

While the right hon. Gentleman is dealing with the matter, will he tell us whether it is the intention of the Government that communications between Members of the Assembly and the Executive should or should not be privileged?

Mr. Smith

As we read the Bill as it stands, it is that there should be privilege. That is my understanding of the position. But I think that the right hon. Gentleman has developed his case, and I think it is wiser to let it stand as it is.

Mr. Brittan


Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman will need the leave of the House to speak again.

Mr. Brittan

I seek the leave of the House to answer the points that have been made.

It is understandable that the right hon. Gentleman should particularly welcome the arrival of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) as providing him with some much-needed support. On this occasion he has rather given the game away. What has happened is that the hon. Gentleman has said that the question is whether we take the risk of extending the privilege of the Assembly over and above the privilege of this Parliament or whether we have the risk the other way round—essentially, that is the argument—of not going as far. I hope that I have not done the hon. Member an injustice, and if he does not want to be party to that formulation I happily exonerate him from it. But I was going to compliment him on its being an accurate formulation of the problem that we have to face.

Mr. Dewar

What I was saying was that the vital part of the clause is any statement (whether oral or written) made in proceedings of the Assembly. The difficulties of definition arise in the phrase "proceedings of the Assembly." If one gets something that is over the hurdle and it is accepted as being part of the proceedings of the Assembly, I understood that it was common ground between us that whether it was written or oral it ought to be privileged. It seemed to me that the danger was that if one took out the phrase "whether oral or written", one might, by exception, be encouraging the courts to assume that one meant only an oral statement.

Mr. Brittan

I was not dealing with that point. I was taking a wider view. Certainly, if the hon. Gentleman does not wish to join me in this proposition, which I was gladly receiving at his hand, that is his pleasure. What I was trying to say was that, as I saw it, it really is a question whether one wants to include those words and risk giving to the Assembly a greater privilege than this House has or whether one thinks it is better not to include those words and probably thereby give the Assembly the same privilege as this House, but possibly with a minute risk that it would have less privilege than this House.

As far as I am concerned, although I concede as a matter of general argument that in an Assembly of this kind it is right that there should be an absolute privilege for its genuine proceedings, where the question is blurred at the edges—the blurred original that Lord McCluskey referred to and which the hon. Member for Garscadden quoted—in those cases where there is genuine doubt as to what the privilege of this House is, I would say that it is not unreasonable that, in attempting to reproduce the privileges of this House as far as the law of libel is concerned for the Scottish Assembly, one should err, if it is impossible to reproduce them with 100 per cent. accuracy, on the side of a very marginal diminution rather than on the side of the risk of a very marginal extension. It seems to me that that is the point of principle on which we are divided.

The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) raised a wider question still. He asked why it should have absolute privilege at all and whether the distinction between a legislative Assembly and a non-legislative Assembly was an appropriate distinction on which to found a distinction between absolute privilege and qualified privilege.

That does not arise from this Lords amendment, and for that reason I did not go into the matter. But the truth is that there is no scientific touchstone for deciding which publications at large should have qualified privilege and which should have absolute privilege. If one looks at the lists in the textbooks or the statutes, one finds that one cannot see that there is a clear touchstone between the one and the other.

What one can say is that the test is this: how important is it that there should be a completely free expression in a particular body as compared with some restriction on that freedom which the extension of qualified privilege implies? The answer that one gives can only be an approximate and impressionistic one and must inevitably, if one is being quite frank, relate in part to the sheer status and the prestige of the body.

If one is going down the road of having an Assembly of this kind—of which the Opposition have made no secret that we disapprove—it seems to us that one is inevitably creating a body of such a status that it is quite wrong that it should have anything other than absolute privilege.

In relation to the question whether it is sovereign, technically, of course, the Minister is right. A sovereign Assembly is not being created. Whether it seeks to assert sovereignty is quite another matter, but it is not being created by the Bill.

None the less, sufficiently far along the road has been gone for the similarity to a sovereign body to be so great that, if we are to have it at all, it would be inappropriate that anything other than absolute privilege should exist for its genuine proceedings. But, where there is doubt as to what those proceedings are, I do not think that there is any justification in going further and saying that it should have greater privilege than this House has.

Perhaps I may answer some of the points raised by the Minister a few minutes ago. It seems to me to be right that I should have the opportunity of dealing with them. The Minister cited the example quoted by Lord McCluskey of the pre-legislative committee and documents submitted to it. It seems that in arguing for what the Minister calls the greater certainty, he is creating an illusion of certainty, because the inclusion of the words "whether oral or written" will not assist a court in deciding whether documents of that kind are in fact privileged. The court will still have to decide whether documents of that kind are statements made in proceedings of the Assembly. That is a problem that will remain.

The right hon. Gentleman would be deluding himself and—unwittingly, of course—deluding the House in pretending that the Bill, as unamended in their Lordships' House, gives any kind of answer to that kind of problem. In my submission, it most certainly does not do so. Therefore, we should not reject the Lords amendments on the basis that a greater vagueness is created. The truth is that that problem is unresolved. All that it does is to create a slight tendency and a slight presumption in a different direction.

The right hon. Gentleman said, somewhat to my surprise, that he thought that documents between Ministers and Members of the Assembly should be privileged. He said that in answer to the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). Yet when he was opening the debate, as I undertood what he was saying, he was giving the example of the Strauss Committee, which took an opposite view.

Mr. John Smith

I wanted to have the opportunity to clear that matter up. As I understood it, the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) was saying "Does it extend to". Perhaps I ought to make it clear that my view is that it extends to them if they are proceedings of the Assembly.

Mr. Brittan

That is a classical illustration of that well-loved but thoroughly undesirable animal, the question-begging formula. It certainly does not answer the question raised by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, and I detect from his laughter that he gets no satisfaction from that.

The truth of the matter is that the right hon. Gentleman is defending—

It being Nine o'clock, Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to Order [4th July], to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 277, Noes 237.

Division No. 2491 AYES [9.0 p.m.
Allaun, Frank Cryer, Bob Hayman, Mrs Helene
Anderson, Donald Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Dalyell, Tam Heffer, Eric S.
Armstrong, Ernest Davidson, Arthur Henderson, Douglas
Ashley, Jack Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Hooley, Frank
Ashton, Joe Davies, Rt Hon Denzil Horam, John
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Davies, Ifor (Gower) Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey Tott'ham) Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)
Bain, Mrs Margaret Deakins, Eric Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Huckfield, Les
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)
Bates, Alt Dempsey, James Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Bean, R. E. Dewar, Donald Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Doig, Peter Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Dormand, J. D. Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)
Bidwell, Sydney Douglas-Mann, Bruce Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Duffy, A. E. P. Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Dunn, James A. Janner, Greville
Boardman, H. Dunnett, Jack Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Eadie, Alex Jeger, Mrs Lena
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Edge, Geoff Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) John, Brynmor
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) English, Michael Johnson, James (Hull West)
Bradford, Rev Robert Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Johnson, Walter (Derby S)
Bradley, Tom Evans, loan (Aberdare) Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Evans, John (Newton) Jones, Alec (Rhondda)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray) Judd, Frank
Buchan, Norman Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Flannery, Martin Kelley, Richard
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston) Kerr, Russell
Campbell, Ian Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Kilfedder, James
Canavan, Dennis Foot, Rt Hon Michael Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Cant, R. B. Forrester, John Lambie, David
Carmichael, Neil Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Lamborn, Harry
Carter, Ray Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Lamond, James
Carter-Jones, Lewis Freeson. Rt Hon Reginald Latham, Arthur (Paddington)
Cartwright, John Freud, Clement Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Garrett, John (Norwich S) Litterlck, Tom
Clemitson, Ivor Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Loyden, Eddie
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) George, Bruce Luard, Evan
Cohen, Stanley Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Lyon, Alexander (York)
Coleman, Donald Ginsburg, David Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)
Conlan, Bernard Gould, Bryan Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Gourlay, Harry McCartney, Hugh
Corbett, Robin Grant, John (Islington C) MacCormick, Iain
Cowans, Harry Grimond, Rt Hon J. McCusker, H.
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Grocott, Bruce McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E) Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) McElhone, Frank
Crawshaw, Richard Harrison, Rt Hon Walter MacFarcuhar, Roderick
Cronin, John Hart, Rt Hon Judith MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregot
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Maclennan, Robert
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Madden, Max Reid, George Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Magee, Bryan Richardson, Miss Jo Thempson, George
Mahon, Simon Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Mallalieu, J. P. W. Robertson, George (Hamilton) Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Marks, Kenneth Robertson, John (Paisley) Tierney, Sydney
Marshall, Dr. Edmund (Goole) Robinson, Geoffrey Tilley, John
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Roderick, Caerwyn Tinn, James
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Rodgers, George (Chorley) Tomlinson, John
Maynard, Miss Joan Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton) Torney, Tom
Meacher, Michael Rooker, J. W. Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Mellish, Hon Robert Rose, Paul B. Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Mikardo, Ian Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Ross, William (Londonderry) Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Rowlands, Ted Ward, Michael
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Rlyman, John Watkins, David
Molloy, William Sandelson, Neville Watt, Hamish
Molyneaux, James Sedgemore, Brian Weetch, Ken
Moonman, Eric Sever, John Weitzman, David
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South) Wellbeloved, James
Morris, Rt Hon Charles R. Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Welsh, Andrew
Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE) White, Frank R. (Bury)
Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford) White, James (Pollok)
Newens, Stanley Silverman, Julius Whitlock, William
Noble, Mike Skinner, Dennis Wigley, Dafydd
Oakes, Gordon Smith, Rt. Hon. John (N Lanarkshire) Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Ogden, Eric Snape, Peter Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
O'Haltoran, Michael Spearing, Nigel Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Orbach, Maurice Spriggs, Leslie Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Stallard, A. W. Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Palmer, Arthur Steel, Rt Hon David Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)
Park, George Stewart, Rt Hon Donald Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Parker, John Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Parry, Robert Stoddart, David Woodall, Alec
Pavitt, Laurie Stott, Roger Woof, Robert
Pendry, Tom Strang, Gavin Wrigglesworth, Ian
Penhah'son, David Strauss, Rt Hon G. R. Young, David (Bolton E)
Perry, Ernest Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch Swain, Thomas TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Price, C. (Lewisham W) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W) Mr. James Hamilton and
Price, William (Rugby) Thomas, Datydd (Merioneth) Mr. Ted Graham.
Radice, Giles Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Adley, Robert Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Gorst, John
Aitken, Jonathan Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)
Alison, Michael Cope, John Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)
Arnold, Tom Cormack, Patrick Gray, Hamish
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Costain, A. P. Griffiths. Eldon
Atkinson, David (B'mouth, East) Crouch, David Grist, Ian
Baker, Kenneth Crowder, F. P. Grylls, Michael
Banks, Robert Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Hall-Davis, A. G. F.
Bell, Ronald Dodsworth, Geoffrey Hamilton, Archibald (Epsom & Ewell)
Bendall, Vivian Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Drayson, Burnaby Hampson, Dr Keith
Benyon, W. du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Hannam, John
Berry, Hon Anthony Dunlop, John Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye)
Bitten. John Durant, Tony Haselhurat, Alan
Biggs-Davison, John Dykes, Hugh Hastings, Stephen
Blaker, Peter Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Body, Richard Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Hayhoe, Barney
Boscawen, Hon Robert Emery, Peter Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Bottomley, Peter Eyre, Reginald Heseltine, Michael
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Farr, John Hicks, Robert
Boyson. Dr Rhodes (Brent) Fell, Anthony Higgins, Terence L.
Braine, Sir Bernard Finsberg, Geoffrey Hodgson, Robin
Brittan, Leon Fisher, Sir Nigel Holland, Philip
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Hordern, Peter
Brooke, Hon Peter Fookes, Miss Janet Howell, David (Guildford)
Brotherton, Michael Forman, Nigel Hunt, David (Wirral)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Bryan, Sir Paul Fox, Marcus Hurd, Douglas
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Buck, Antony Fry, Peter James, David
Budgen, Nick Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Jenkln, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd&W'df'.i)
Bulmer, Esmond Gardiner, George (Relgate) Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)
Burden, F. A. Gardiner, Edward (S Fylde) Jones, Arthur (Daventry)
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian (Chesham) Jopling, Michael
Carlisle, Mark Glyn, Dr Alan Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Kaberry, Sir Donald
Churchill, W. S. Goodhart, Philip Kimball, Marcus
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Goodhew, Victor King, Evelyn (South Dorset)
Clark, William (Croydon S) Goodlad, Alastair Kitson, Sir Timothy
Knox, David Nelson, Anthony Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield)
Lamont, Norman Neubert, Michael Speed, Keith
Langford-Holt, Sir John Newton, Tony Spence, John
Latham, Michael (Melton) Nott, John Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Lawrence, Ivan Oppenheim, Mrs Sally Sproat, Iain
Lawson, Nigel Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Stainton, Keith
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Page, Richard (Workington) Stanbrook, Ivor
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Paisley, Rev Ian Stanley, John
Lloyd, Ian Parkinson, Cecil Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Loveridge, John Pattie, Geoffrey Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Luce, Richard Percival, Ian Stokes, John
McAdden, Sir Stephen Pink, R. Bonner Stradling Thomas, J.
McCrindle, Robert Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Tapsell, Peter
MacKay, Andrew (Stechford) Price, David (Eastleigh) Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Pym, Rt Hon Francis Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Raison, Timothy Tebbit, Norman
McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Rathbone, Tim Temple-Morris, Peter
Madel, David Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal) Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Rees-Davies, W. R. Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Marten, Neil Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts) Townsend, Cyril D.
Mates, Michael Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex) Trotter, Neville
Mather, Carol
Maude, Angus Rhodes James, R. van Straubenzee, W. R.
Mawby, Ray Ridley, Hon Nicholas Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Ridsdale, Julian Viggers, Peter
Mayhew, Patrick Rifkind, Malcolm Wakeham, John
Meyer, Sir Anthony Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Mills, Peter Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Wall, Patrick
Miscampbell, Norman Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire) Walters, Dennis
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Royle, Sir Anthony Weatherill, Bernard
Moate, Roger Sainsbury, Tim Wells, John
Montgomery, Fergus St. John-Stevas, Norman Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Moore, John (Croydon C) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Whitney, Raymond
More, Jasper (Ludlow) Shelton, William (Streatham) Wiggin, Jerry
Morgan, Geraint Shepherd, Colin Winterton, Nicholas
Morgan-Giles, Rear Admiral Shersby, Michael Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Silvester, Fred Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Sims, Roger
Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Sinclair, Sir George TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mudd, David Skeet, T. H. H. Mr. Spencer le Marchant and
Neave, Alrey Smith, Dudley (Warwick) Mr. John MacGregor.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the Business to be concluded at Nine o'clock.

Forward to