HC Deb 20 January 1981 vol 997 cc163-201 4.22 pm
Dr. Edmund Marshall (Goole)

I beg to move amendment. No. 3, in page 3, line 7, at end insert (5) In paragraph 5(2)(b) of that Schedule, the words 'one month' shall be omitted and replaced by the words 'two months'. The amendment relates to the period within which representations may be made to a Boundary Commission in relation to any recommendations published by the commission on European Assembly constituencies. At present, the law requires the commission to consider any representations within one month of the publication of proposals whether those proposals consist of provisional or revised recommendations, or whether they relate to parliamentary or European Assembly constituencies.

Before 1979, the Boundary Commissions interpreted this requirement very strictly and it was rarely, if ever, that they allowed more than one month for the submission of representations. That situation often caused great difficulties for prospective objectors and other interested parties, especially if the vital month overlapped the holiday period in midsummer or at Christmas.

Boundary Commission recommendations often appear with little warning and their contents may be unexpected. Although such recommendations are usually reported in the press, it can take a little time for interested persons to see all the details at the places at which the recommendations are made available for public inspection. Members of political parties are naturally very interested in proposals that may greatly affect them, and the publication of constituency boundary recommendations usually necessitates discussion at branch, constituency and even regional level within those parties. Local authorities within the areas affected by recommendations need to hold meetings of the relevant committees and, possibly, of their full councils in order to formulate and submit representations to the Commission.

It is virtually impossible for such consultations to be completed satisfactorily within one calendar month of the publication of recommendations. In the past two years the Boundary Commissions have recognised those difficulties. In practice, they have generally allowed periods of more than one month for the submission of representations. Although the law limits the period within which a Boundary Commission is obliged to consider representations to one month, a commission may, at its discretion, extend that period. At present, it usually does so.

During the past two years, the periods allowed for representations by the English Boundary Commission, for example, have varied from one month eight days, in relation to its revised recommendations for Cheshire in May and June 1980, to two months six days, in relation to its provisional recommendations for Bedfordshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in July, August and September 1980. That period covered the main holiday weeks.

The amendment inserts into the legal requirements relating to European Assembly constituencies the practice applied in respect of Westminster constituency boundary reviews. Although no provision in the Bill can affect the procedures for reviewing Westminster constituencies the amendment would almost certainly lead to a corresponding change, at the first suitable opportunity, in the law relating to reviews of parliamentary constituencies.

An argument can be made for allowing more time for the submission of representations in relation to proposals for European Assembly constituencies because of their geographical extent and because European Assembly constituencies are composed of six, seven or eight parliamentary constituencies. The processes of consultation on Boundary Commission proposals are necessarily longer and involve wider areas in the case of European Assembly constituencies.

If changes were made in European Assembly constituencies and if, for example, an area were taken out of one constituency and put into another, there would be a knock-on effect. That knock-on effect might in turn necessitate discussion within political parties at a national level before representations could be formulated for submission to the commission. In short, it is plainly unsatisfactory to restrict to one month the period in which representations can be made about the proposals for European Assembly constituencies.

In law, the limit stands at one month because the procedure for European Assembly constituencies replicates the procedure for Westminster constituencies. In practice, the procedure for Westminster has become more flexible in past two years. It seems sensible and reasonable to use this opportunity to amend the procedure in relation to European constituencies and to extend from one month to two months the obligatory period for making representations to the Boundary Commissions. I commend the amendment to the House.

Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury)

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall) on succeeding in raising an issue of wide significance in a debate on such a fantastically narrow Bill. As my hon. Friend said, it is of significance to the work of the Boundary Commissions in relation not only to the House but to the European Assembly. I am sure that you will tell me at once, Mr. Weatherill, if I stray out of order, but, although we are not entitled here to discuss the arrangements of the Boundary Commission in respect of the Westminster constituencies, the considerations that my hon. Friend the Member for Goole has adduced in relation to the European Assembly apply—most of them, at least—to the work of the Boundary Commission on British constituencies.

I agree with my hon. Friend that, if we were to succeed in persuading the House that it was desirable to make that change, it would make no sense to make it only for European constituencies, but it would be desirable, at least at some convenient later stage, to go on to make it in respect of the British constituencies as well. However, it is good that we have this opportunity to raise the on this Bill, because there would not normally be an opportunity to raise this subject except by means of a Ten-minute Bill.

When the Boundary Commission brings up proposals, should it be obligatory for it to give two months' notice—at any rate, longer than one month's notice—whether we are talking about European or Westminster constituencies? Anyone can see, simply in the abstract, that notice of one month is short. There are very few instances where we provide for notice in law where the doer, having given notice, is permitted act after as little as one month. There is normally a longer period.

The difficulty created by a minimum period of one month is particularly so if not an individual but an organisation, particularly a political party organisation, is responding to the notice. Political parties are amongst the few organisations which regularly make representations about the boundaries of parliamentary and European Assembly constituencies. Such organisations generally meet every month, at most.

Thus, if the provisional recommendation comes out at a certain time, and if the organisation is not due to meet until about three weeks later, there is a problem. It is an especial problem, as has been said, if the recommendation comes out, for example, in July or August, because the organisation probably is not due to have a meeting in August. That applies not only to political party organisations but to other organisations, perhaps amenity organisations which feel that there is good ground, on the basis of community interest, why a boundary should not be placed in a certain position.

The same difficulty applies to local authorities. They do not all operate even on a monthly cycle. Some of them operate on a six-week cycle and some, I should think, on a three-monthly cycle. Accordingly, short of calling special meetings—why should we impose that on them?—they have difficulty in responding to a period of notice as short as one month.

It is true that the Boundary Commissions can in practice give a longer period, but my experience—we all have experience in different parts of the country—is that, while they stretch the rule in particular cases, they often make the demand for a response within one month, even if they are prepared to tolerate comments coming in after that time. That is not a desirable situation. Local authorities are especially well placed to comment—I shall not say always, but sometimes, on an impartial basis—upon proposals for boundaries. My local authority, if I remember correctly, was not able to get through its decision-taking process in time, simply because of the schedule for meetings, to make comments upon the provisional recommendations of the Boundary Commission in Islington. That is highly undesirable.

If we were starting afresh and making schedule 2 to the 1949 Act now, we would not say one month. We would say something longer than a month. Since we are presented accidentally with this opportunity to review our wisdom or unwisdom on that occasion, we should take that opportunity and take a decision in principle if the period of one month is too little.

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

On what did the hon. Gentleman base his assertion—en passant admittedly—that local authorities, which are almost always politically controlled, are able to make representations on what he described as an impartial basis?

Mr. Cunningham

I was basing myself on the experience of Islington borough council. In the redistribution of boundaries in that area it so happens that no political point arises. But there are other relevant points which are of a non-political nature. Should one have a railway line as a boundary? Has a certain ward more connection with ward A or ward B? Do people tend to cross such and such a main road? Those and other considerations, even if one has a 100 per cent. domination of a council for one party—I regret that we do not quite have that in Islington, where our considerations are of an impartial nature—are peculiarly appropriate to be made by local authorities, which play a major active role in the drawing of boundaries for local authority elections.

Thus, the local authorities have the difficulty, the political parties have the difficulty, other organisations have the difficulty and even individuals have the difficulty. We were wrong in 1949 to lay down the period of one month. We would not lay down one month if we were starting afresh now. Let us therefore make the modest change to two months proposed by my hon. Friend in the expectation that we shall make a similar change in the procedures for Westminster constituencies at some later stage. I commend the amendment to the serious consideration of the Minister and of the Committee.

Mr. Russell Johnston

I wish to do no more than express the view that the arguments adduced by the hon. Members for Goole (Dr. Marshall) and for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) seem to be worth the support of the Committee.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Patrick Mayhew)

I do not think that I shall be able to match the admirable brevity of the speech of the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston), but I shall do my best.

I am grateful to the hon. Members for Goole (Dr. Marshall) and for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) for the way in which they have moved and spoken to this amendment. The effect of the amendment is to extend from one month to two months the period during which representations may be made with respect to the proposed recommendations of the Boundary Commissions regarding any European Assembly constituency.

I take the point made by the hon. Member for Goole—I acknowledge his great expertise, experience and learning in these matters—that there are occasions when difficulty is experienced by those who have an interest in those matters in taking account of representations made by the Boundary Commission and in getting round the formulation of representations in respect of them. It is right to say that at holiday times, for example, that problem is most notable.

The hon. Gentleman rightly referred to the occasional complexity of Boundary Commission proposals, although I should have thought that that would be of less application to proposals for the European Parliament where constituencies have to be made from complete Westminster constituencies. It is a question of how one arranges the blocks rather than how one shapes this or that corner of a constituency.

The hon. Member for Goole was of course right to say that European Parliament constituencies are larger, but, his case was not substantiated when he said that there is therefore a case for a longer period for representations to be made. Perhaps it is, on the contrary, easier to formulate representations because the constituencies have to be made up as I have described.

Schedule 2(5) to the European Assembly Elections Act 1978 prescribes that, where a Boundary Commission has provisionally determined to make recommendations with respect to any European Assembly constituency, the commission should publish a notice to inform those concerned. That notice is required to state, among other things, that representations about the proposed recommendations may be made to the commission within a month after the first publication of the notice. The commission is required to take into consideration any representations duly made in accordance with any such notice. The amendment would double the period to two months.

That procedure is analogous to what is prescribed in respect of provisional recommendations by Boundary Commissions relating to parliamentary constituencies at Westminster. Indeed, the hon. Member for Goole has fairly said that it would be his hope and intention, if the amendment were carried, that the same change should be made in respect of parliamentary Boundary Commission recommendations in due course.

The House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949 imposes an obligation on a parliamentary Boundary Commission to take into account any considerations duly made within a month of the publication of the notice of the proposed recommendations. However—both hon. Members acknowledge this point—in its guide entitled "The review of parliamentary constituencies", which was published in 1978, the English Boundary Commission said that, while the law prescribed a minimum period for representations of one month, wherever possible, the Commission grant a reasonable extension of that period to assist local authorities or others who wish to make representations to do so. That is a sensible and wise approach.

Mr. George Cunningham

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman confirm that, although the commission can make that statement in the document from which he has quoted, it cannot include it in the notice whose contents are prescribed in detail by the schedule, and that there it has to say that it will take into account considerations brought to its notice within one month? It has to say that in the public notice in the newspaper, whatever it says in the book, and the public see the newspaper, not the book.

Mr. Mayhew

If the hon. Member tells me that, I of course accept it. I am afraid that I have not confirmed it myself, but I accept that that is the case and I have no doubt that it is in the schedule. However, I wonder whether that is a great handicap, since the class of objector or person who is sufficiently interested to make representations in this regard will, I should have thought, in most cases be active in politics and therefore aware of the practice of the Boundary Commission.

However, I take the point. Perhaps we should consider enabling the Boundary Commission to vary the terms of its notice, but the real question is, whether we are to double the length of time within which representations may be lodged. It is always difficult to strike the proper balance between allowing interested parties sufficient time to lodge any representations and ensuring that that period does not extend so much that it makes for an unwarranted delay in the review and implementation of the recommendations. A month seems, in the normal course of events, an adequate time, although I accept that there may be instances in which it has been found to cause difficulties. However, where that deadline has not been met, there has to be the latitude of which the hon. Member for Goole speaks.

I do not agree with the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury that we made a mistake in 1949 and had no opportunity to put it right. He said that if we were sitting down now to write schedule 2 of that Act we would not provide only for one month. But these matters were reviewed in the 1958 Act and evidently at that stage Parliament did not think a change was warranted. Many matters were reviewed in 1958, but this did not feature among them.

If we were to extend the period to two months, a similar latitude would come to be expected. No individual or body corporate likes to insist upon a strict adherence to a time limit. In a proper case, one always prefers to say "You are a week or a fortnight or a month out of time, but we shall overlook it." I think that, in time, the same latitude would come to be expected—perhaps greater latitude—to reflect the doubling of the period within which the representations come to be made. Therefore, despite the thoughtful and helpful way in which the amendment has been moved and supported, I must advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to reject it.

4.45 pm
Dr. Edmund Marshall

I am very disappointed by the Minister's reply. He is still very new in his present position and we had hoped for a "new broom" approach from him, that he might be more willing to impose his wishes over the advice of his Department and to accept a reasonable amendment. Alas, that does not appear to be the case.

As the Minister said, because the European constituencies have to be built up out of blocks of Westminster constituencies, it is easier to see what amendments there may be. However, the difficulties of organising meetings of bodies which may be interested in proposals for European constituencies are much greater. Because the European constituencies are much larger, it is more difficult to call meetings of people representing the different parts of those larger constituencies. In some parts of the country such meetings can be held only at specific times of the week—perhaps on a Saturday, or even a Sunday, afternoon. Meetings on weekday evenings are not possible if people are to be able to return home from them the same night.

Any amendment proposed to recommendations for European Assemblies constituencies must involve more than one European constituency, since a recommendation will involve taking a Westminster constituency from European constituency A and putting it into European constituency B. Therefore, any discussions of possible changes must involve the whole of at least two proposed European constituencies.

That leads on to what I described earlier as the knock-on effect. Many forms of amendment to European constituency proposals can involve a large number of European constituencies, so it is important to give wide opportunity for discussion throughout the affected area.

In his reply the Minister referred to the flexibility now being pursued by the Boundary Commissions in allowing time for objections. It is certainly true that during the past two years the approach has been more flexible. However, that flexible approach has not applied uniformly throughout the country. Greater flexibility has been allowed for some counties than for others. Curiously enough, the Boundary Commission for England, for example, seems inclined to make the deadline for receiving submissions the last day of the calendar month—not always, but often. Thus, the exact length of the interval before the end of the calendar month specified for the deadline depends largely on the time of the month when proposals are made.

It seems unfair that different amounts of time are being allowed in different parts of the country. In order to have a uniform basis throughout the country so that everyone is treated fairly and alike, we should tidy up what has become the practice in this respect by establishing in law an obligation on the Boundary Commissions to receive and consider representations made within a full two-month period.

The Minister, while sympathising with our case, tried to find vague reasons for doing nothing. That case has not been properly answered. Therefore, I hope that my hon. Friends and others will support the amendment.

Mr. George Cunningham

The Minister made clear that he will advise his 300 colleagues—who have all listened intently to the debate, along with the hundreds on the Opposition Benches—to vote against the amendment. Since we know what the outcome will be, may I leave this thought with him? It cannot be right that a statutory body should issue a booklet which says that it will exercise latitude and that items can be put in after the due date, but is required by law to put a notice in the paper which implies the contrary.

The words in the schedule are clear. They say that a Boundary Commission shall publish in at least one newspaper a notice stating that representations with respect to the proposed recommendations may be made to the Commission within one month after the first publication of the notice", and that those must be taken into account. That cannot be right. Whatever arguments we may have about the period of four weeks, six weeks or eight weeks, it cannot be right that a body should be required by law to put a misleading advertisement in a newspaper. Whatever the result of the vote, I hope that the Home Office will take the point on board and consider the matter more seriously. In the light of the arguments we have adduced, I recommend my colleagues to support the amendment.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 233, Noes 298.

Division No. 45] [4.54 pm
Abse, Leo Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)
Adams, Allen Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)
Allaun, Frank Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S)
Alton, David Buchan, Norman
Anderson, Donald Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Campbell, Ian
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ernest Campbell-Savours, Dale
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Canavan, Dennis
Ashton, Joe Cant, R. B.
Atkinson, N. (H'gey,) Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Bagier, Gordon A.T. Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Cohen, Stanley
Benn, Rt Hon A. Wedgwood Coleman, Donald
Bennett, Andrew (St'kp't N) Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Conlan, Bernard
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Cook, Robin F.
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Cowans, Harry
Bradley, Tom Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Craigen, J. M.
Crowther, J. S. Lamborn, Harry
Cryer, Bob Lamond, James
Cunliffe, Lawrence Leighton, Ronald
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Lewis, Arthur (N'ham NW)
Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Dalyell, Tam Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Davidson, Arthur Lyon, Alexander (York)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'Ili) Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) McCartney, Hugh
Davis, T. (B'ham, Stechf'd) McCusker, H.
Deakins, Eric McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Dewar, Donald McElhone, Frank
Dixon, Donald McGuire, Michael (Ince)
Dobson, Frank McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Dormand, Jack McKelvey, William
Douglas, Dick MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Maclennan, Robert
Dubs, Alfred McNally, Thomas
Dunn, James A. McNamara, Kevin
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. McTaggart, Robert
Eadie, Alex McWilliam, John
Eastham, Ken Magee, Bryan
Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E) Marks, Kenneth
Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're) Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
English, Michael Martin, M (G'gow S'burn)
Ennals, Rt Hon David Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Evans, John (Newton) Maxton, John
Ewing, Harry Maynard, Miss Joan
Faulds, Andrew Meacher, Michael
Field, Frank Mellish, Rt Hon Robert
Flannery, Martin Mikardo, Ian
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Ford, Ben Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)
Forrester, John Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Foster, Derek Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)
Foulkes, George Morton, George
Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd) Moyle, Rt Hon Roland
Freud, Clement Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Newens, Stanley
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
George, Bruce O'Halloran, Michael
Ginsburg, David O'Neill, Martin
Golding, John Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Gourlay, Harry Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Graham, Ted Palmer, Arthur
Grant, George (Morpeth) Park, George
Grant, John (Islington C) Parker, John
Grimond, Rt Hon J. Pavitt, Laurie
Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife) Pendry, Tom
Hardy, Peter Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Prescott, John
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Race, Reg
Haynes, Frank Radice, Giles
Heffer, Eric S. Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)
Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire) Richardson, Jo
Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Home Robertson, John Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Homewood, William Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Hooley, Frank Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Horam, John Robertson, George
Howells, Geraint Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Rooker, J. W.
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Roper, John
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
John, Brynmor Rowlands, Ted
Johnson, James (Hull West) Sandelson, Neville
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Sever, John
Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda) Sheerman, Barry
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Silkin, Rt Hon S.C. (Dulwich)
Kerr, Russell Silverman, Julius
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Kinnock, Neil Snape, Peter
Lambie, David Soley, Clive
Spearing, Nigel Weetch, Ken
Spriggs, Leslie Welsh, Michael
Steel, Rt Hon David White, Frank R.
Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles) Whitehead, Phillip
Stoddart, David Whitlock, William
Stott, Roger Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Strang, Gavin Williams, Rt Hon A. (S'sea W)
Straw, Jack Williams, Sir T. (W'ton)
Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W) Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H. (H'ton)
Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen) Wilson, William (C'try S E)
Thorne, Stan (Preston South) Winnick, David
Tinn, James Woodall, Alec
Torney, Tom Woolmer, Kenneth
Urwin, Rt Hon Tom Wrigglesworth, Ian
Varley, Rt Hon Eric G. Young, David (Bolton E)
Wainwright, E. (Dearne V) Tellers for the Ayes:
Wainwright, R. (Colne V) Mr. James Hamilton and
Walker, Rt Hon H. (D'caster) Mr. Austin Mitchell.
Adley, Robert Cranborne, Viscount
Aitken, Jonathan Critchley, Julian
Alexander, Richard Crouch, David
Alison, Michael Dean, Paul (North Somerset)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Dickens, Geoffrey
Ancram, Michael Dorrell, Stephen
Arnold, Tom Dover, Denshore
Atkins, Robert (Preston N) du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Atkinson, David (B'm'th, E) Dunn, Robert (Dartford)
Baker, Kenneth (St. M'bone) Durant, Tony
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Dykes, Hugh
Banks, Robert Eden, Rt Hon Sir John
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Bell, Sir Ronald Eggar, Tim
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay) Elliott, Sir William
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Emery, Peter
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Eyre, Reginald
Bevan, David Gilroy Fairbairn, Nicholas
Biggs-Davison, John Fairgrieve, Russell
Blackburn, John Faith, Mrs Sheila
Blaker, Peter Farr, John
Body, Richard Fell, Anthony
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Finsberg, Geoffrey
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fisher, Sir Nigel
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)
Bowden, Andrew Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Braine, Sir Bernard Fox, Marcus
Bright, Graham Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh
Brinton, Tim Fraser, Peter (South Angus)
Brittan, Leon Fry, Peter
Brooke, Hon Peter Galbraith, Hon T. G. D.
Brotherton, Michael Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Brown, M. (Brigg and Scun) Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)
Browne, John (Winchester) Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bruce-Gardyne, John Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Buchanan-Smith, Hon Alick Glyn, Dr Alan
Buck, Antony Goodhart, Philip
Budgen, Nick Goodhew, Victor
Bulmer, Esmond Goodlad, Alastair
Burden, Sir Frederick Gorst, John
Butcher, John Gow, Ian
Butler, Hon Adam Gower, Sir Raymond
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Gray, Hamish
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Greenway, Harry
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n) Grieve, Percy
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Griffiths, E. (B'y St. Edm'ds)
Chapman, Sydney Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N)
Churchill, W. S. Grist, Ian
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Grylls, Michael
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Gummer, John Selwyn
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hamilton, Hon A.
Clegg, Sir Walter Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Cockeram, Eric Hampson, Dr Keith
Colvin, Michael Hannam, John
Cope, John Haselhurst, Alan
Cormack, Patrick Hastings, Stephen
Corrie, John Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Costain, Sir Albert Hawkins, Paul
Hawksley, Warren Neubert, Michael
Hayhoe, Barney Newton, Tony
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Onslow, Cranley
Heddle, John Osborn, John
Henderson, Barry Page, John (Harrow, West)
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Page, Rt Hon Sir G. (Crosby)
Hicks, Robert Page, Richard (SW Herts)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Parkinson, Cecil
Hill, James Parris, Matthew
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Holland, Philip (Carlton) Pattie, Geoffrey
Hooson, Tom Pawsey, James
Hordern, Peter Percival, Sir Ian
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Peyton, Rt Hon John
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'Idf'd) Pink, R. Bonner
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Pollock, Alexander
Hunt, David (Wirral) Porter, Barry
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Hurd, Hon Douglas Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)
Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Prior, Rt Hon James
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Proctor, K. Harvey
Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Raison, Timothy
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Rathbone, Tim
Kershaw, Anthony Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
Kimball, Marcus Rees-Davies, W. R.
King, Rt Hon Tom Renton, Tim
Kitson, Sir Timothy Rhodes James, Robert
Knight, Mrs Jill Ridsdale, Julian
Knox, David Rifkind, Malcolm
Lamont, Norman Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)
Lang, Ian Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Langford-Holt, Sir John Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)
Latham, Michael Rossi, Hugh
Lawson, Nigel Rost, Peter
Lee, John Royle, Sir Anthony
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lester Jim (Beeston) Scott, Nicholas
Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Loveridge, John Shelton, William (Streatham)
Luce, Richard Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lyell, Nicholas Shepherd, Richard
McCrindle, Robert Shersby, Michael
Macfarlane, Neil Silvester, Fred
MacGregor, John Sims, Roger
MacKay, John (Argyll) Skeet, T. H. H.
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. Smith, Dudley
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Speed, Keith
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Speller, Tony
McQuarrie, Albert Spence, John
Madel, David Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Major, John Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Marland, Paul Sproat, Ian
Marlow, Tony Stainton, Keith
Marshall Michael (Arundel) Stanbrook, Ivor
Mates, Michael Stanley, John
Mather, Carol Steen, Anthony
Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus Stevens, Martin
Mawby, Ray Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Stewart, J. (E Renfrewshire)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stokes, John
Mayhew, Patrick Stradling Thomas, J.
Meyer, Sir Anthony Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Tebbit, Norman
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Temple-Morris, Peter
Mills, Peter (West Devon) Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Miscampbell, Norman Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Moate, Roger Thompson, Donald
Monro, Hector Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Montgomery, Fergus Thornton, Malcolm
Moore, John Townend, John (Bridlington)
Morris, M. (N'hampton S) Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Trippier, David
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Trotter, Neville
Mudd, David van Straubenzee, W. R.
Murphy, Christopher Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Myles, David Viggers, Peter
Neale, Gerrard Waddington, David
Needham, Richard Wakeham, John
Waldegrave, Hon William Wickenden, Keith
Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester) Wiggin, Jerry
Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D. Wilkinson, John
Waller, Gary Williams, D. (Montgomery)
Ward, John Winterton, Nicholas
Warren, Kenneth Wolfson, Mark
Watson, John Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wells, John (Maidstone) Younger, Rt Hon George
Wells, Bowen
Wheeler, John Tellers for the Noes:
Whitelaw, Rt Hon William Mr. Spencer Le Marchant
Whitney, Raymond and Mr. Anthony Berry.

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. George Cunningham

I beg to move amendment No. 4, in page 3, line 7, at end insert: (5) After paragraph 10 of that Schedule there shall be inserted a new paragraph— '10A. In making recommendations for any Assembly constituency, a Boundary Commission shall have regard to the community of interest within that constituency and to county boundaries so far as is compatible with the provisions of the last foregoing paragraph.'.

The Chairman

With this we may discuss amendment No. 5, in page 3, line 7, at end insert: (5) In paragraph 10 of that Schedule after the word 'considerations' there shall be added the words 'including, in particular, the size, shape and accessibility of an Assembly constituency'.

Mr. Cunningham

These two amendments relate to the criteria which are to be taken into account by a Boundary Commission in grouping British constituencies in order to make of them European constituencies. The present criteria are brief. They are much briefer than those laid upon a Boundary Commission for British constituencies. The criteria in relation to European constituencies are set out in paragraphs 9 and 10 of schedule 2 to the 1978 Act.

Leaving aside the rule that a commission is not to split up any British constituency so that it falls in part in one Euro-constituency and in part in another, the two criteria are only that a Boundary Commission is to try to make the electoral numbers in a Euro-constituency as near to the electoral quota—that is, the average—as is reasonably practicable and, secondly, that it must have regard to special geographic considerations.

Our amendments add to those two criteria that a commission is to have regard to the "size, shape and accessibility" of a constituency. That is done by amendment No. 5. Amendment No. 4 adds two further considerations—that a Boundary Commission shall have regard to the community of interest … and to county boundaries". The words "size, shape and accessibility" already exist in the provisions relating to British constituencies. The criteria for British constituencies are set out in schedule 2 to the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949. Schedule 2 to the 1949 Act is a complete dog's breakfast. There is no logical order to it at all. It must have been drafted either after many amendments in the House so that it ended as a dog's breakfast, or by someone with a mind like a ball of wool after the cat has got at it.

If one picks out the criteria and ignores for the moment the relationship enjoined between the criteria, the criteria are; first, there is to be no crossing of county boundaries; secondly, there is to be no crossing of borough boundaries, although not quite in those words; thirdly, commissions are to have regard to the quota; fourthly, they are to have regard to special geographical conditions. That is qualified in this case by the words: including, in particular, the size, shape and accessibility of an Assembly constituency". The difficulty arises because each of those is made subject to either which goes before or comes after, or to both. In effect, the Boundary Commissions are really told, "Take all those things into account and weigh one against the other in whatever way you think is appropriate to the situation." The only thing which is enjoined on them as an absolute rule, apart from having a certain number of seats in England, a certain number of seats in Scotland, and so on, is that the name of the City of London must be preserved in the title of the constituency. Why on earth that consideration should be raised to that elevation in the criteria, I do not know. I say this as a Member whose constituency abuts the City of London. We always pay the City of London far too high regard in these matters.

The other considerations need to be tremendously tidied up. For the moment, however, we cannot do that. But the question arises whether the criteria that we have laid down in the 1978 Act for the European constituencies are really too brief and bald by comparison with those that we have laid down for British constituencies and in the light of the considerations that ought to be taken into account.

My hon. Friend the Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall) on Second Reading gave examples of the odd situation that exists in some parts of the country—his own, in particular—where a European constituency spreads over local authority boundaries and, indeed, county boundaries and takes in parts of the country which have no natural connection with each other. We all understand that, if one is trying to divide Great Britain into 78 constituencies, there are bound to be oddities. There are bound to be undesirable features of whatever boundaries one finds. But let us try to reduce them to a minimum by giving to the Boundary Commissions in relation to this work a rather better indication of what factors they should take into account.

We therefore propose that the reference to geographical considerations should have added after it the words stated in the amendment, namely: including, in particular, the size, shape and accessibility of an Assembly constituency". We also recommend that they should have a fresh criterion laid upon them so that they are required to take into account: shall have regard to the community of interest within that constituency and to county boundaries so far as is compatible with the provisions of the last foregoing paragraph. The wording and content of both those amendments are absolutely in line with what we have enjoined upon the Boundary Commissions in relation to British constituencies.

Mr. Keith Stainton (Sudbury and Woodbridge)

Would the hon. Gentleman care to reflect upon the adequacy of what he is now urging upon the Committee in terms of the situation of the Suffolk MEP, where the constituency is nominated as Suffolk and Harwich and thereby goes into an entirely different county and takes away a part of a parliamentary constituency?

Mr. Cunningham

I did not quite understand the hon. Gentleman's last remark, when he said that it takes away a part of a parliamentary constituency.

Mr. Stainton

In so far as the remainder of the MEP's constituency embraces the totalities of various Westminster constituencies, so be it. But it also includes a snippet only of another Westminster constituency.

5.15 pm
Mr. Cunningham

I think that the hon. Gentleman must be making a mistake on that. The present European constituencies are made up entirely of whole Westminster constituencies. One is always 99.9 per cent. certain that one is right, so I am, as it were, looking around in various directions, but I understand that that is right. I think that the hon. Gentleman must be mistaken in thinking that a British constituency has been put partly into one Euro-constituency and partly into another. Indeed, schedule 2, part II, paragraph 9 of the Act that we are here amending says quite categorically: In Great Britain … (b) no parliamentary constituency shall be included partly in one Assembly constituency and partly in another. So I think that his second complaint cannot be right.

The hon. Gentleman's first complaint, however, is well founded, in that many European constituencies spill over local authority boundaries and there are certainly some which spill over county boundaries. That was the objection raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Goole on Second Reading.

We are not saying that it should be impossible for a European constituency to cross a county boundary. One could not possibly have such a rule and do the 78-constituency job in Great Britain. We are just saying that in doing that job the Boundary Commissions ought to take the existence of county boundaries into account, which implies that, if they can avoid crossing them, they ought to. That is all. At the moment, they are certainly not permitted to allow that consideration to have any moderating effect on the considerations as set down in Schedule 2(10) to the 1978 Act.

I think that the case is made out for adding these considerations. It would make the Boundary Commissions' job slightly easier, I think. They are considerations to which, frankly, they will in practice have regard, because the commissions consist of people with common sense who know that it would be a pity to cross county boundaries. In practice, they will take account of those considerations, but they cannot allow them to outweigh the considerations explicitly forced upon the commissions by the Act as it stands.

I hope that the Minister will agree that both amendments are sensible, that, far from creating difficulties for the Boundary Commissions, they would actually make their task easier, and that he will therefore look upon them kindly. It is important for the working of democracy that people should be able to identify with the area where they have a representative. The more unreal the area, the less they can do so. With these provisions it might be easier for the Boundary Commissions to give us European constituencies that have a certain cohesion and realness in the minds of the public.

Mr. Russell Johnston

I have a considerable problem with the amendments. Both are designed, as I understand from the remarks of the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham), to improve the so-called Euro-constituencies. I do not believe that they can be improved: I believe that they should be abolished. I still hope that good sense and fairness will prevail and that agreement will be reached in the Council of Ministers next year on a uniform system—not the system on which we fought the 1979 elections but one that will lead to the repeal of the legal requirements laid upon the Boundary Commissions to fashion Euro-constituencies on the present model. I therefore oppose the legislation as being unnecessary at this stage and as having the effect of appearing to confirm what was generally regarded as a temporary expedient—that is, the Euro-constituencies for the 1979 election.

From that it follows that I see no merit at all in amendments that are designed to improve legislation which I regard as superfluous in practice and objectionable in implication. I should like to vote against both the Bill and the amendments. Indeed, if I had the co-operation of the Minister, I might be able to do just that. But the Minister would have to accept the amendments and I could then call a Division against the Bill as amended by agreement. That appears to me to be the only way in which I could achieve what I would really like to do.

In the event, I shall advise my hon. Friends to vote for the amendments as a negative act, because it is the only thing that I can think of doing. Sometimes there is no device in this place for people to express views which are quite clear and distinct, and in this case neither the proposition nor the amendments allow for that view in any way to be expressed through the Division Lobbies.

I wish to say one or two things not about PR, much as I should like to do so, but about the amendments as they stand. The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury, whose remarks are normally replete with good sense, made an extraordinary remark in his peroration. He said, with the heavy resonance that is thought appropriate for Front Bench speakers, that it was important for the workings of democracy that people should have an opportunity of identifying themselves with the areas in which they elect representatives. What absolute and utter drivel!

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will consider an area which he knows but which I perhaps know a little better, to wit, the Euro-constituency of the Highlands and Islands. Perhaps he will tell me the identification which exists between Banffshire and Argyll or Orkney and Shetland or Moray and Nairn. If he did that, I should be much wiser. However, there is no such identification. There are large tracts of land in this country where one cannot create Euro-constituencies with the kind of identification which the hon. Gentleman and the amendments seek. He is pursuing an illusion in suggesting that it is possible.

Mr. George Cunningham

I think that the hon. Gentleman is over-egging the pudding. Of course the Highlands of Scotland—that enormous Euro-constituency—will not feel that kind of geographical identity. However, I look at this matter by contrasting my own constituency, for example—which is a slice of inner London with no natural boundaries—with a town such as Rugby, where we have one town and one Member. I am quite sure that it is highly desirable for people walking about in the streets of an area to know who their Member of Parliament is. That is possible when we have a cohesive town such as Rugby. It is not so possible when we have a constituency composed of a slice of a large city. In so far as we can make constituencies, whether British or European, more like the Rugby situation and less like the Islington, South and Finsbury situation, the better.

Mr. Johnston

If one were debating Westminster constituencies by themselves, that would be a perfectly fair riposte. We could then compare the town of Rugby, which is a clearly definable unit and recognised as such by those who live there, with a slice of a large urban concentration. That is true with regard not only to London, but to Manchester, Liverpool and other places. However, when we consider constituencies which will have electorates of up to 500,000 people I just do not believe that the hon. Gentleman's argument, which has validity within the example that he quoted, is relevant. I have made the point, and, to use the hon. Gentleman's phrase, I shall not seek to over-egg it. It is a point which stands in its own right.

Secondly, I am not clear about the intention of amendment No. 4, which states: a Boundary Commission shall have regard to the community of interest within that constituency and to county boundaries". I do not know what the legal position is. Would that apply to regional boundaries in Scotland? Will the word "county" as used in the amendment have that effect in law if the amendment is passed?

Mr. George Cunningham

Regretfully, I must tell the hon. Gentleman that I do not know. Probably, in order to be entirely correct, one would need to make the same modification as is made in the schedule to the 1949 Act, where I believe the reference to county boundaries in England is matched by a reference to local authority boundaries in the case of Scotland. If the amendment has been drafted without taking account of the situation in Scotland, one will have to fall back on the constant defence of Back Benchers and Oppositions, namely, that the Government will no doubt put us right on a small, technical point such as that.

Mr. Johnston

I am sure that the Minister is pleased to learn that, whatever their shortcomings, the Government are capable of putting us right on small technical points. That is a great encouragement. However, as the hon. Gentleman probably knows, the Scottish Boundary Commission, in creating Westminster constituencies, is instructed not to cross regional boundaries. Consequently, even if one made the amendment applicable to Scotland, it would be superflous because it is already taken care of. In other words, one's building blocks are already within regional boundaries by definition, because one's constituencies are now allowed to overlap regional boundaries. The hon. Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall) looks doubtful.

Dr. Edmund Marshall

Is not the hon. Gentleman forgetting that in building up a European constituency in Scotland one can take blocks from different regions, so one could have a Scottish European constituency overlapping a regional boundary?

Mr. Johnston

I take that point. It is perfectly fair. In fact, it has been done. However, I do not wish to prolong this discussion. I do not know whether it is appropriate for the Minister to give any indication of the Government's position regarding a uniform system of elections, if and when agreement is reached in the Council of Ministers. However, if he were to take this opportunity to say something about that, I am sure that it would be welcomed not only by me but by other hon. Members.

Dr. Edmund Marshall

I am happy to have this opportunity to support the amendments, which add to the criteria which must govern the Boundary Commissions in drawing up proposals for European Assembly constituencies. As my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) said, the present criteria are brief and relate simply to the use of parliamentary constituencies as the building blocks for European constituencies and to the need for European constituency electorates to be as close as possible to the electoral quota having regard, where appropriate, to special geographical considerations. It is curious that in that quotation, which comes from Schedule 2(10) to the 1978 Act, "special geographical considerations" are not defined, whereas they are in the parent Act of 1949. That is precisely what amendment No. 5 does. It specifies the special geographical considerations to be taken into account, namely, the size, shape and accessibility of an Assembly constituency". 5.30 pm

There are one or two European Assembly constituencies that cause some difficulty in that respect. For example, the Yorkshire North constituency, to which the Goole parliamentary division belongs, is an enormous geographical expanse stretching almost right across England, from the port of Goole on the tidal river Ouse, which flows into the North Sea through the Humber, to within 10 miles of Morecambe Bay. It comprises all the Westminster parliamentary constituencies linking Goole through North Yorkshire to Skipton, taking in the Bowland area of Lancashire and the Sedbergh area of Cumbria.

In fact, the Yorkshire North Assembly constituency overlaps six English counties. It does not represent any area having any sense of community of interest. That is the point of amendment No. 4, which would add to the criteria governing the commissions in drawing up proposals for European constituencies and require that they should take into account the question of community of interest within the constituencies suggested.

That did not happen with the constituencies drawn up for the 1979 election. That is not surprising, because the Boundary Commissions were not required to ensure that there should be a close sense of community of interest in the proposed European constituencies. Thus we have some rather strange European constituencies. For example, Lancashire Central covers a diverse set of towns stretching from Blackpool on the coast to Wigan in Greater Manchester. As far as I know, the only thing that Blackpool and Wigan have in common is that both have a pier, but they are different communities and it must be difficult for the representative of that constituency adequately to represent those different communities.

Wight and Hampshire East stretches from the Isle of Wight, taking in the whole island, inland as far as Farnham in Surrey in the commuter belt surrounding Greater London. London South-West stretches from Vauxhall, just across the river, from this building, to Surbiton on the Greater London boundary—a very diffuse area.

In trying to inject some community of interest into the criteria for European constituencies it is necessary that we should mention the need to follow county boundaries wherever possible. I readily acknowledge that in many parts of the country it will not be possible for county boundaries to be fully observed in the drawing up of European constituency boundaries. But if it is possible to achieve a configuration of European constituencies in which some account is taken of county boundaries, that will be an improvement on the present situation.

The county of Humberside is at present divided among three European constituencies—Humberside, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire North. An even more dramatic example is that the county of Wiltshire, which has only five Westminster constituencies, is divided among four European constituencies—Thames Valley, Bristol, Wessex and Hampshire West. The county town of Salisbury—an historic place at the heart or Wiltshire—finds itself in the Hampshire West European constituency. It seems that there the idea of community of interest has gone sadly awry in relation to European constituency boundaries.

The amendments attempt to improve the criteria for European constituencies. They also attempt to put some flesh on the skeleton in schedule 2(9) and (10) to the 1978 Act.

Mr. Mayhew

We have had an interesting debate. I have sympathy with what was said by the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham). To my surprise, it brought down on his head the wrath of the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) from the Highlands and Islands. But it is right that people should be able to identify themselves with the area forming the constituency in which they are represented in any assembly.

Much of what has lain behind the arguments in support of the amendments can be met only by having smaller and more numerous constituencies in the European Assembly. That is a different matter from anything with which the Bill can concern itself.

I shall follow the example of the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury and deal first with amendment No. 5. He was critical of schedule 2 to the 1949 Act. Its drafting may leave something to be desired, but I think that names are important. I have suffered terribly as a result of Boundary Commission changes that made desperate inroads into my constituency of Royal Tunbridge Wells. As a result of the latest recommendations, the word "Royal" has been removed, but that is not quite as bad as the fate that has befallen my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan), whose constituency has been decimated.

The view that I take of the amendments and that I urge on my right hon. and hon. Friends is that, although the proposed considerations that the Boundary Commissions shall take into account are all desirable, the commissions do not need the additional guidance contained in the amendments. Amendment No. 5, requiring them to take into account the "size, shape and accessibility" of an Assembly constituency, is an amplification of what is contained in schedule 2(10) and (11) to the 1978 Act. It is clearly important that special geographical considerations should be taken into account by the Boundary Commissions when they draw up their recommendaions covering the grouping of Westiminster constituencies into European Assembly constituencies, but it would not be appropriate for the constituencies to be grouped according to an arithmetical formula.

As far as parliamentary redistribution is concerned, schedule 2 to the 1949 Act provides that the electorate of a Westminster constituency should be as near to the electoral quota as practicable, having regard to the other requirements. The schedule states that the strict application of the other criteria contained in those rules be departed from if special geographical considerations appear to render that desirable.

There is a definition in the 1949 Act of "special geographical considerations", which includes the "size, shape and accessibility" of a constituency. The 1949 Act, together with the 1958 Act which amended it, constituted the parliamentary Boundary Commissions as presently established. When that legislation was drafted, it was probably thought appropriate to set out as fully as possible the factors to which particular attention should be given by the commissions when considering whether "special geographical considerations" were sufficient to warrant a departure from the other guide lines. But in drafting the European Assembly Elections Act 1978 the previous Government presumably came to the view that the words the size, shape and accessibility were not meaningful in describing the likely construction of European Assembly constituencies, which have to be constructed from the building blocks represented by whole Westminster constituencies. I have not heard any specific evidence to indicate why Labour Members should have changed their minds.

Mr. George Cunningham

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman not feel slightly embarrassed in making that point? The whole point of the Bill is that the Government have changed their minds on the very essence of the Bill, namely, whether the Boundary Commissions should bring forward reports on British and Westminster constituencies together.

Mr. Mayhew

Those are separate considerations. The reason why we believe it wrong that the Boundary Commissions should continue to bring forward European recommendations together with Westminster recommendations is simple: it would delay the production and implementation of Westminster recommendations by probably as much as 15 months.

Mr. George Cunningham

And it would cost the Conservatives 20 seats.

Mr. Mayhew

The important point is whether by changing the criteria that we require a Boundary Commission to implement and to be governed by we should be helping or be likely to confuse a commission.

Representations were made about the final outcome of the commissions' deliberations in constructing European constituencies in 1978, especially from areas where recommendations could not be implemented, but no substantial criticism was made about the way in which the commissions interpreted the statutory requirements and no representations have been made which suggest that the inclusion of the words "size, shape and accessibility" would help commissions or alter the substance of their recommendations.

The hon. Member for Inverness suggested that nothing would improve the arrangements for the formulation of European constituencies until a uniform European system of elections was agreed by the Council of Ministers. We understand his position on that matter and we shall have to see how things develop in Europe and what the European Parliament, and, eventually, the Council of Ministers make of the representations of the political affairs committee.

The hon. Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall) pointed out that many European constituencies embrace a large number of parliamentary constituencies. For example, the North Yorkshire European constituency covers six Westminster constituencies. However, it will be difficult for the suggested considerations to be put into effect if we are to continue with the number of European constituencies prescribed by legislation.

The purpose of amendment No. 4 is to include among the criteria that a boundary commission must consider "community of interest" and county boundaries: so far as is compatible with other provisions.

I have already said most of what I want to say on that amendment. The expression "community of interest" will not help commissions. It is not a phrase used in legislation related to parliamentary boundaries. In some senses, it is obviously appropriate that the boundaries of a constituency to any representative body should be drawn so that, as far as possible, neighbouring areas with common demographic characteristics are grouped together, so that a representative may represent a constituency with defined and limited interests. However, without definition, "community of interest" might be construed very narrowly.

5.45 pm

The hon. Member for Inverness, who sits in Europe, will know that in the European Parliament there are those who speak more or less solely for particular sections of the population, such as French fanners or the wine growers. We do not have a list system to which that type of representation, according to community of interest, is perhaps more appropriate.

Taking a broader view, more applicable to the British situation, the Boundary Commission for England, in its initial report on the division of England into European Assembly constituencies, submitted in 1978, commented on the criteria for grouping parliamentary constituencies into European constituencies: It seemed that it would not always be possible to propose constituencies of the appropriate electorate which would entirely commend themselves to people with widely different outlooks in contiguous areas which had little in common except their geographical position. We therefore endeavoured, so far as possible, to reflect the broad common interests and local loyalties of an area as a whole and to take account of the patterns of communications which served the various parts in the constituencies finally selected for our provisional recommendations". In the light of that evidence of the practical approach of the Commission, the imposition of a statutory requirement on commissions to have regard to community of interest would not add anything of value. On the contrary, in the context of constituencies averaging half a million electors, we should be adding a requirement which could be troublesomely imprecise.

Mr. Russell Johnston

I should start by correcting his comment that I sit in Europe now. I do not. I did, but no Liberal now sits in the European Parliament.

I hope that in the comparisons that the Minister made between representatives in the British context and those in the European Parliament context he was not anticipating the attitude that the Government might take towards a recommendation, possibly in the direction of a proportional representation system, following discussions that will take place this year.

Mr. Mayhew

I have made clear that we shall have to wait and see what emerges from the Council of Ministers.

As for the accommodation of European Assembly constituencies within county boundaries, the English commission said: The Commission felt that it would be desirable on broad as well as practical grounds to try and base European Assembly constituencies as far as possible on the administrative counties. But the electorates of most of the counties were too small or too large to provide single member European Assembly constituencies of the right size and, where they were, it would sometimes have been necessary to divide them to accommodate a parliamentary constituency boundary or a neighbouring county of smaller or larger electorate. The large counties would of course be able to accommodate more than one constituency, subject to the above considerations". It pointed out that 52 of the existing parliamentary constituencies fell across county boundaries. None of the metropolitan county boundaries coincides with parliamentary constituency boundaries, but the 92 parliamentary constituencies in Greater London offered an opportunity to recommend European Assembly constituencies of the right size, judged by electorates within that administrative area.

It therefore seems impracticable to require the commissions to have regard to county boundaries in formulating their proposals. It is generally impossible for a commission to comply with both that requirement and the more important requirement of electoral equality. It seems to us that, in practical terms, the concerns expressed by the supporters of the amendment were, as far as was practicable, taken into account by the Boundary Commissions in their initial reports. For the reasons I have indicated, it would be impracticable to impose statutory duties on the commissions in respect of these matters.

It is important to note that no representations have been received from the commissions themselves to the effect that they should be given fresh or more specific criteria on which to act. They do not seem to have found difficulty here. It seems unwise, therefore, to make these further provisions which add little to the existing practice of the commissions. I understand and appreciate what has been said. It is difficult to believe, however, that if these words had been included, they would have made very much difference, if any, to the way in which the commissions have drawn up the different boundaries. I must advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to resist the amendments.

Mr. George Cunningham

I reckon that the Minister has made four points against the amendments. First, he said that "community of interest" is a consideration that does not feature in the legislation at the moment for Westminster constituencies. Although that is true, every political party agent up and down the country who appears before local inquiries and such like would assure him that the one thing told to everyone who makes representations to the inquiries is that "community of interest" is the consideration that is most compelling to most assistant boundary commissioners and to the Boundary Commissions when they come to consider their recommendations. It has to be recognised that this is a feature of our system whether or not it is included in the legislation. In practice, people know that it is an important consideration for the reasons that the hon. and learned Gentlemen supported me in adducing against the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston).

Secondly, the Minister said that "community of interest" was too vague a phrase to be put into the legislation. What about "special geographical considerations"? I can just about see what geographical considerations are—a river, a mountain or, perhaps, a motorway. What is the difference between a geographical consideration and a special geographical consideration? If one is looking for something vague, we have got it already not only in the practice of the matter but in the legislation. Presumably, someone thought that the word "special" did something different to the term "geographical considerations."

Thirdly, the Minister said that the Boundary Commissions would take all these things into account anyway. I make the point that I have made previously. They cannot, or should not properly, at the moment allow any of those considerations to override the mere two considerations laid on them by present legislation—the quota and the special geographical considerations. We are saying that some of these other factors should be allowed not to override the quota but to override and to have an influence upon the geographical considerations.

Fourthly, if the Minister is troubled about overriding the quota, there is no problem. One simply provides, as is provided in the legislation about British constituencies, that the other considerations are to be taken into account on the basis of the quota. I have forgotten the precise words. One gives the quota a heavier weighting than the others. It is right for the Opposition to have tabled the amendments and to press them to a Division.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 239, Noes 300.

Division No. 46] [5.54 pm
Abse, Leo Coleman, Donald
Adams, Allen Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.
Allaun, Frank Conlan, Bernard
Alton, David Cook, Robin F.
Anderson, Donald Cowans, Harry
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ernest Craigen, J. M.
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Crowther, J. S.
Ashton, Joe Cryer, Bob
Atkinson, N. (H'gey,) Cunliffe, Lawrence
Bagier, Gordon A.T. Cunningham, G. (Islington S)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n)
Benn, Rt Hon A. Wedgwood Dalyell, Tam
Bennett, Andrew (St'kp't N) Davies, Ifor (Gower)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Davis, T. (B'ham, Stechf'd)
Bottomley, Rt Hon A. (M'b'ro) Deakins, Eric
Bradley, Tom Dewar, Donald
Bray, Dr Jeremy Dixon, Donald
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Dobson, Frank
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Dormand, Jack
Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S) Douglas, Dick
Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P) Douglas-Mann, Bruce
Campbell, Ian Dubs, Alfred
Campbell-Savours, Dale Dunn, James A.
Cant, R. B. Dunnett, Jack
Carmichael, Neil Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Carter-Jones, Lewis Eadie, Alex
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Eastham, Ken
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E)
Cohen, Stanley Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
English, Michael Martin, M (G'gow S'burn)
Ennals, Rt Hon David Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Evans, John (Newton) Maxton, John
Ewing, Harry Maynard, Miss Joan
Faulds, Andrew Meacher, Michael
Field, Frank Mellish, Rt Hon Robert
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mikardo, Ian
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Ford, Ben Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Forrester, John Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)
Foster, Derek Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)
Foulkes, George Morris, Rt Hon A. (W' shawe)
Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd) Moyle, Rt Hon Roland
Freud, Clement Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Newens, Stanley
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
George, Bruce Ogden, Eric
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John O'Halloran, Michael
Ginsburg, David O'Neill, Martin
Golding, John Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Gourlay, Harry Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Graham, Ted Palmer, Arthur
Grant, George (Morpeth) Park, George
Grant, John (Islington C) Parker, John
Grimond, Rt Hon J. Parry, Robert
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Pavitt, Laurie
Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife) Pendry, Tom
Hardy, Peter Penhaligon, David
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Prescott, John
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Haynes, Frank Race, Reg
Heffer, Eric S. Radice, Giles
Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire) Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)
Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll) Richardson, Jo
Home Robertson, John Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Homewood, William Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Hooley, Frank Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Horam, John Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Howell, Rt Hon D. Robertson, George
Howells, Geraint Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Rooker, J. W.
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Roper, John
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
John, Brynmor Rowlands, Ted
Johnson, James (Hull West) Ryman, John
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Sandelson, Neville
Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda) Sever, John
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Sheerman, Barry
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)
Kinnock, Neil Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Lambie, David Silverman, Julius
Lamborn, Harry Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Lamond, James Snape, Peter
Leadbitter, Ted Soley, Clive
Leighton, Ronald Spearing, Nigel
Lewis, Arthur (N'ham NW) Spriggs, Leslie
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Stallard, A. W.
Litherland, Robert Steel, Rt Hon David
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Lyon, Alexander (York) Stoddart, David
Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W) Stott, Roger
Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Strang, Gavin
McCusker, H. Straw, Jack
McElhone, Frank Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
McGuire, Michael (Ince) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
McKelvey, William Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
McNally, Thomas Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
McNamara, Kevin Tinn, James
McTaggart, Robert Torney, Tom
McWilliam, John Urwin, Rt Hon Tom
Magee, Bryan Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Marks, Kenneth Wainwright, E. (Dearne V)
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Wainwright, R. (Colne V)
Walker, Rt Hon H. (D'caster) Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H. (H'ton)
Watkins, David Wilson, William (C'try S E)
Weetch, Ken Winnick, David
Welsh, Michael Woodall, Alec
White, Frank R. Woolmer, Kenneth
Whitehead, Phillip Wrigglesworth, Ian
Whitlock, William Young, David (Bolton E)
Willey, Rt Hon Frederick Tellers for the Ayes:
Williams, Rt Hon A. (S'sea W) Mr. Hugh McCartney and
Williams, Sir T. (W'ton) Mr. George Morton.
Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Adley, Robert Durant, Tony
Aitken, Jonathan Dykes, Hugh
Alexander, Richard Eden, Rt Hon Sir John
Alison, Michael Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Elliott, Sir William
Ancram, Michael Emery, Peter
Arnold, Tom Eyre, Reginald
Atkins, Robert (Preston N) Fairbairn, Nicholas
Atkinson, David (B'm'th, E) Fairgrieve, Russell
Baker, Kenneth (St. M'bone) Faith, Mrs Sheila
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Farr, John
Banks, Robert Fell, Anthony
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Bell, Sir Ronald Finsberg, Geoffrey
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay) Fisher, Sir Nigel
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Bevan, David Gilroy Fookes, Miss Janet
Biggs-Davison, John Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Blackburn, John Fox, Marcus
Blaker, Peter Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh
Body, Richard Fraser, Peter (South Angus)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fry, Peter
Boscawen, Hon Robert Galbraith, Hon T. G. D.
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Bowden, Andrew Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Garel-Jones, Tristan
Braine, Sir Bernard Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Bright, Graham Glyn, Dr Alan
Brinton, Tim Goodhart, Philip
Brittan, Leon Goodhew, Victor
Brooke, Hon Peter Goodlad, Alastair
Brotherton, Michael Gorst, John
Brown, M. (Brigg and Scun) Gow, Ian
Browne, John (Winchester) Gower, Sir Raymond
Bruce-Gardyne, John Gray, Hamish
Buchanan-Smith, Hon Alick Greenway, Harry
Buck, Antony Grieve, Percy
Budgen, Nick Griffiths, E. (B'y St. Edm'ds)
Bulmer, Esmond Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N)
Burden, Sir Frederick Grist, Ian
Butcher, John Grylls, Michael
Butler, Hon Adam Gummer, John Selwyn
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Hamilton, Hon A.
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n) Hampson, Dr Keith
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Hannam, John
Chapman, Sydney Haselhurst, Alan
Churchill, W. S. Hastings, Stephen
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hawkins, Paul
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hawksley, Warren
Clegg, Sir Walter Hayhoe, Barney
Cockeram, Eric Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Colvin, Michael Heddle, John
Cope, John Henderson, Barry
Cormack, Patrick Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Corrie, John Hicks, Robert
Costain, Sir Albert Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Cranborne, Viscount Hill, James
Crouch, David Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Dickens, Geoffrey Hooson, Tom
Dorrell, Stephen Hordern, Peter
Dover, Denshore Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Hunt, David (Wirral) Pink, R. Bonner
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Pollock, Alexander
Hurd, Hon Douglas Porter, Barry
Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)
Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Prior, Rt Hon James
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Proctor, K. Harvey
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Kaberry, Sir Donald Raison, Timothy
Kershaw, Anthony Rathbone, Tim
Kimball, Marcus Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
King, Rt Hon Tom Rees-Davies, W. R.
Kitson, Sir Timothy Renton, Tim
Knight, Mrs Jill Rhodes James, Robert
Knox, David Ridsdale, Julian
Lamont, Norman Rifkind, Malcolm
Lang, Ian Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)
Langford-Holt, Sir John Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Latham, Michael Ross, Wm (Londonderry)
Lawson, Nigel Rost, Peter
Lee, John Royle, Sir Anthony
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lester Jim (Beeston) Scott, Nicholas
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo) Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Loveridge, John Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Luce, Richard Shepherd, Richard
Lyell, Nicholas Shersby, Michael
McCrindle, Robert Silvester, Fred
Macfarlane, Neil Sims, Roger
MacGregor, John Skeet, T. H. H.
MacKay, John (Argyll) Smith, Dudley
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. Speed, Keith
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Speller, Tony
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Spence, John
McQuarrie, Albert Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Madel, David Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Major, John Sproat, Ian
Marland, Paul Stainton, Keith
Marlow, Tony Stanbrook, Ivor
Marshall Michael (Arundel) Stanley, John
Mates, Michael Steen, Anthony
Mather, Carol Stevens, Martin
Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Mawby, Ray Stewart, J. (E Renfrewshire)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Stokes, John
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stradling Thomas, J.
Mayhew, Patrick Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Tebbit, Norman
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Temple-Morris, Peter
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Mills, Peter (West Devon) Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Miscampbell, Norman Thompson, Donald
Moate, Roger Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Monro, Hector Thornton, Malcolm
Montgomery, Fergus Townsend, John (Bridlington)
Moore, John Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Morris, M. (N'hampton S) Trippier, David
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Trotter, Neville
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Mudd, David Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Murphy, Christopher Waddington, David
Myles, David Wakeham, John
Neale, Gerrard Waldegrave, Hon William
Needham, Richard Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Nelson, Anthony Walker, B. (Perth)
Neubert, Michael Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
Newton, Tony Waller, Gary
Onslow, Cranley Walters, Dennis
Osborn, John Ward, John
Page, John (Harrow, West) Warren, Kenneth
Page, Rt Hon Sir G. (Crosby) Watson, John
Page, Richard (SW Herts) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Parkinson, Cecil Wells, Bowen
Parris, Matthew Wheeler, John
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Pawsey, James Whitney, Raymond
Percival, Sir Ian Wickenden, Keith
Peyton, Rt Hon John Wiggin, Jerry
Wilkinson, John Younger, Rt Hon George
Williams, D. (Montgomery)
Winterton, Nicholas Tellers for the Noes:
Wolfson, Mark Mr. Spencer Le Marchant
Young, Sir George (Acton) and Mr. Anthony Berry

Question accordingly negatived.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, without amendment.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time—[Mr. Mayhew.]

6.5 pm

Mr. George Cunningham

The issue on which I want to press the Minister to make some remarks when he replies is that mentioned by the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) on Second Reading, namely, the Government's attitude to the proposals and preparatory work going on in the European Parliament about adopting a common system for the next European elections. The hon. and learned Gentleman indicated a few minutes ago in Committee that the Government's attitude to that was that they would wait for something to emerge from the European institutions, or rather from the European Parliament since the Government form part of the European Council of Ministers.

May I put it to the Minister that that really is not good enough? My personal attitude is that that is how we got stuck with direct elections in the first place, and many who favoured them a year or two ago are beginning to think that they were premature. I do not expect the hon. Member for Inverness to agree with me on that, and probably the Minister will not agree with me. However, there is another reason why the Minister should take a more positive and leading role. If we allow a political committee of the European Parliament to cook something up, the likelihood is that some enthusiastic Member in the European Parliament will pick the ball up and run with it, which is exactly what has happened with direct elections. We shall then get it going through the European Parliament and becoming an accepted part of European Parliament policy, supported by a majority, and probably quite a large majority, of the European Assembly.

At that stage it will be more difficult to try to change or to defeat that than it is to steer it away and fend it off at an earlier stage. I commend to the Government a more positive role than they seem inclined to adopt at present. We need to know what is in the Government's mind. They cannot simply say that they have not thought about the issue and, especially in the context of the Bill, that they have not thought about the issue.

The only utterly respectable reason that there could be for the Bill would be if the Government said "We intend to go along with a system for the next European election that is not based on single-member constituencies"—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Richard Crawshaw)

Order. I do not wish to interrupt the hon. Gentleman unduly, but the debate is limited to what is contained in the Bill. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will turn his remarks to what is in the Bill rather than what is not in it.

Mr. Cunningham

I thought that my last sentence sought to do precisely that. I am arguing that the one really respectable ground for the Bill would be if the Government said that the next European elections would not be on the basis of single-member constituencies, and that they therefore did not want to waste the time of the Boundary Commission—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman is still not discussing what is contained in the Bill. His remarks have nothing to do with the Bill. I hope that he will turn his attention to the subject of the Boundary Commission and the matters contained in the Bill, not the modes of election.

Mr. Cunningham

With great respect, I submit that my remarks are relevant for the reason that if the Government have decided to go along with some sort of proportional representation system for the next European elections, the Bill is necessary. That would be an absolutely respectable ground for bringing forward the Bill, or rather, the Bill with some changes. I have made my point on that matter and I shall not continue on that subject. But I submit that it is relevant to the Bill because the motivations that have led the Government to introduce it—

Mr. Russell Johnston

The hon. Gentleman is right in what he says, but is it not equally true to say that the Government do not need to introduce the Bill now? It need not be introduced until the 1982 Session.

Mr. Cunningham

I do not think that there are any reasons why the Government must introduce the Bill now—whether for the reason that I have indicated or for the nefarious reason that has been suggested and that I shall suggest later. Whatever the reason, the Boundary Commission does not need to be relieved of its obligation at this time. However, if it is relieved of the obligation to bring in both reports together, it is as well to tell it so quickly, so that it knows where it stands. So it makes sense for the Government to do it this Session rather than next Session. Unless the Government are prepared in the debate to say that they have given up their attachment—and especially that the Prime Minister has given up her attachment—to a single-member constituency system, the only thoroughly respectable ground for the Bill disappears.

The only purpose of the Bill is to relieve the Boundary Commission of its obligation to produce its recommendations in respect of the European groupings at the same time as it produces its report on the Westminster boundaries. The probable effect on the Boundary Commission's work, as the Minister acknowledged in Committee, will be to shorten the time before the report goes to the Home Office by about 12 to 15 months. More relevant, the effect will be to give the Conservative Party between 15 and 30 seats that it might not have won at the next election. If the Boundary Commission has to produce its report on both issues at the same time, it probably cannot complete its work in time for it to be implemented by the next election. Accordingly, there is a Conservative Party interest in the Bill of a not insignificant size.

As some hon. Members said on Second Reading, motives are always difficult. But when we perceive a Government bringing forward a Bill that is expected to benefit their party interests we should all be on our guard. They may be doing it for absolutely proper and respectable reasons, and the party interest may follow only as an additional, uncovenanted boost for their morale—or it may be the other way round. In trying to decide whether the Government are introducing the Bill for respectable reasons—and there are some—or for political self-interest, certain facts are relevant. First, if the Government thought that putting the obligation on the Boundary Commission to produce reports on both issues together was a bad idea, why did they not say a single word about it when the main Act was passed in 1978? There were no considerations relevant then that are not relevant today. Indeed, this issue was irrelevant in 1978, because the commission's first work on European constituencies was not being undertaken at the same time as any work on British constituencies. There is no reason that is relevant today that was not equally, and indeed more, relevant when the House passed the original provisions in 1978.

Secondly, the provision in the 1978 Act was not simply a drafting error; it was an explicit part of schedule 2. It was not the result of a slip in drafting. It was included for some reason. Although I must speculate on that reason, I do not have any difficulty in finding good reasons why it was included. If the European constituencies are being made out of the building blocks of British constituencies, there is a case for saying that the decisions on the boundaries of the British constituencies should not be finalised until they have been provisionally put together in Euro-constituencies. If we take the building blocks as given and as unchangeable, we may find that there are limitations on the sensible things that we can do with them.

I shall not repeat the arguments that we canvassed half an hour ago on the desirability of having Euro-constituencies and British constituencies that, so far as possible, are natural areas with some degree of community interest as far as that can be done within the limitations of an electorate of 500,000. That is a valid consideration. It must have been a consideration in the minds of those who prepared the 1978 Act. There was therefore a respectable reason for including it in 1978. The then Conservative Opposition raised no objection to it. There was no vote against it. No word was expressed against it. One is bound to conclude, therefore, that there are other, hidden reasons why the Government wish to raise the difficulties now.

When the Government took office they assumed that the Boundary Commission would couple together the new British constituencies with the new Euro-constituencies in a few months. They did not believe that the commission would take anything like 15 months to do that job. However, the commission thought otherwise. Brief though the criteria laid upon the commission for drawing up European constituencies are, they are there in the statute and the commission intended to do a thorough job. It felt that there would need to be inquiries and that there would need to be the possibility of objections to be taken. It wanted to do as thorough a job on the European grouping as it normally does on the British boundaries.

The Government discovered, to their surprise, that they would not be able necessarily to get the present redistribution job done in time for it to take effect before the next election. They knew that most people believed that that would cost them around 20 seats and decided that they would do everything possible to benefit their own party.

The Minister should clear up one specific point that was not cleared up at the end of the Second Reading debate. The Government were then specifically asked whether it was true that we could not expect the commission work on the European groupings to be completed in time to be used in the 1984 European election. My understanding is that there is virtually no possibility of the 1984 European election being conducted on redistributed European constituencies. The Minister should tell the House now whether that is the case.

If it is, after 1984 we shall have a situation in which the British constituencies are on the reconstructed basis and the European constituencies are on the unreconstructed basis. The European constituencies will be made up of eight or nine of the old British constituencies, when the old British constituencies have for the most part ceased to exist for the House. That will be an almighty muddle, equivalent to the muddle that exists at present through the previous British redistribution taking place before the rearrangement of local authority boundaries.

If people are not only to identify with their constituency but are to recognise roughly what its boundaries are, there has to be some alignment between the boundaries that apply for Europe and those that apply for this place. The change that is being made in the Bill makes that always more difficult to secure, and in our present situation it makes it almost impossible.

Therefore, the case for the Bill on merit does not exist, unless the Government have been converted to proportional representation for European elections. The case that has persuaded the Government is the political case. To be fair to them, they have never tried very hard to conceal that fact. After all, the first indication that they gave that they would speed up the redistribution of British constituencies, in so far as it lay in their power to do so, was not given in reply to a question in the House, in a statement in the House, or in a speech to an electoral society; it was given in a speech by the former Minister of State at the Home Office to the Conservative Party conference at Blackpool in 1979.

These were some of his words: The Parliamentary boundary commissions are at work once again and we shall do everything within our power to help their work. There is nothing wrong with that, on the face of it, but let us look at some of his other words and the context in which they were spoken. He also said: At one stage potential staffing problems threatened the work of the commission. We took immediate action to deal with that. DHSS offices throughout the country may be slow because of lack of staff. There may be severe limits on the possibility of recruiting more staff for all sorts of offices doing valuable work throughout the country. However, let the Boundary Commission need more staff in order to get its work done in time for the Conservative Party to gain 20 more seats at the next election, and the Government take immediate action.

Then the Minister said: I can therefore promise this conference"— an assurance to the Conservative Party conference about electoral distribution matters— that the Government is absolutely determined to do everything within its power to ensure that when we come to vote at the next General Election the country will be voting on new boundaries. The context in which those remarks and other remarks by other Ministers were made—a very political one—makes clear what the Bill is all about.

Only two or three months ago the previous Minister of State visited Whitehaven at present a Labour-held seat in respect of which the Boundary Commission has produced severely controversial recommendations, which were due only a week or so after his visit to go before a public inquiry. He spoke, as he was perfectly entitled to do, to a Conservative meeting. He said: I am very confident in our future. The idea that this constituency is a Socialist possession is going to be knocked sky-high. We have all visited constituencies held almost impregnably by the other party and told our supporters "You can win this seat in time if you work for it." That is all right. However, when the Minister of State, Home Office, responsible for the Boundary Commission work visits a seat where there have been controversial recommendations by the commission—and where an inquiry is to be held the next week and where those recommendations would have split up the constituency and have been of great benefit to the Conservative Party—and makes such remarks, first, it is entirely improper and, secondly, it indicates the state of mind of Ministers in approaching the whole problem.

When I mentioned that on Second Reading the Secretary of State told me to look at what was happening to his constituency. His local party had made recommendations that his seat should be abolished—shot from under him—in contrast to a Boundary Commission recommendation that the opposite should happen. My point does not concern Ministers having an influence on their local parties; it concerns Ministers endeavouring to have an influence on the commission. I would not remotely suggest that the Secretary of State has endeavoured to have an influence on the commission in relation to his seat or any other. Nor do I suggest that the previous Minister of State, Home Office, endeavoured to have an influence on the commission in relation to an individual seat. What I do say is that the Government have acted in a way to try to push matters through in their own party interest. In so far as what has happened in the Secretary of State's area is relevant to the point that I raise, the situation backs up my point rather than the defence that he raised.

The fact is that the Conservative Party has brought the Bill forward to endeavour to secure about 20 more seats at the next election than it would otherwise win. That is a disreputable purpose and one to be condemned by the whole House.

6.30 pm
Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)

The Bill should not be allowed to go through the House without a few remarks to back up those of my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham). What he has said, with his research and knowledge of the subject, is demonstrably true. It has also been demonstrably true to the House. Some hon. Members opposed the original European Assembly elections legislation in 1978. At that stage, Ministers were first told that they could vote for the European Assembly Elections Bill and were then told that they would have to abstain or be sacked. That was the controversy then, but the Bill was duly passed. The only people who were opposed to that legislation were people who supported Labour Party policy. The vast majority of the Conservative Party did not raise a single critical murmur. It was consensus legislation. It was the one-party State operating—the usual area that operates in Northern Ireland, Home Office and defence matters. But, fortunately, that is beginning to change.

Conservative Members—especially those pro-European fanatics—ran into the Lobbies to get the European Assembly Elections Bill on to the statute book. No question was raised about the reporting of the Boundary Commission. I hope that the Minister will explain why this sudden surge of interest has occurred. Why was it not considered in 1978, when the Conservatives had such an influential position over a minority Labour Government? They could easily have said that they were not prepared to vote for the principle of the Bill unless an alteration was made in the commission system of reporting. They would have been in a crucial position, because without Conservative votes the Labour Government of the day would not have been able to get that legislation through. It was as much their legislation as the legislation of the Labour Government. Their votes were necessary to secure the passage of the European Assembly Elections Bill 1978, which this Bill modifies.

Why the tardiness in bringing forward this amendment? We know why. Those hon. Members who accept that the legislation has been passed but that sooner or later we shall have to withdraw from the Common Market understand that there are Members of the European Assembly. I spoke on behalf of a prospective Member in the European Assembly election campaign. We understand that, if we are to have Members of the European Assembly, it surely makes sense to alter the European election constituencies on the basis of United Kingdom constituencies—on the basis of the Boundary Commission's report on Westminster constituencies. But that will now be pushed to one side.

Even critics—such as myself—of the original legislation cannot see any basis of logic in the Government's action on this legislation. There is no logic. The Government are not interested in democracy. They are interested in Conservative majorities. As my hon. Friend said, by knocking out the requirement of the Boundary Commission to report on European Assembly boundaries before reporting on Westminster boundaries, they save 12 to 15 months. That is the period of time by which they hope to have the new boundaries for Westminster seats sewn up. The phrase "sewn up" suggests some backstairs, clandestine dealing, and that is precisely what is is. When parliamentary seats are fixed so that electoral advantage is gained it is known as gerrymandering.

If the Tories had raised that point in 1978 and had said that the reporting of the Boundary Commission was a matter about which they did not agree, we could have understood it, because there would have been a certain amount of logic. But they did not have that ground. They had no ground whatever, except the desire to get the commission report as quickly as possible in order to gain what they fondly imagine to be is electoral advantage. That is a muddy sort of attitude, and what is worse is the fact that the Government are cloaking that attitude for all sorts of reasons, bar reality. If they told the House that they would gain 15 or 20 seats from the boundary reorganisation, that they wanted to make sure because they were in a hell of a mess, that the economy was dying fast on its feet, that they had a woman in the lead who was trailing them down to an economic and electoral disaster and that they dared not stop her, and that the only way in which the position could be rescued would be to try to get the boundaries altered and recover a few seats, that would be honest and straightforward. After catching our breaths at their honesty, at least we could say that they had given a few honest, straightforward reasons for a change. But they have not even done that. They have tried to cloak their attitude with many reasons, all of which disguise the truth.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury said—this is what is so annoying about the whole position—they are sacking civil servants left, right and centre. They are getting rid of civil servants from all the crucial areas in which people who are least able to fend for themselves have benefited—social security, employment, and so on. Every area of Government activity is under threat, except, apparently, the Boundary Commission. There, the Government are taking people on in their eagerness to get some sort of electoral insurance because of the disastrous policies that they are following. Pressure has been put upon them by Conservative Members representing marginal seats, who have been pressing for changes in order to save their seats. The only way that they can get what they want is by gerrymandering.

Mr. Michael Brotherton (Louth)

It really sticks in the gullet to hear the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) talk in that way when we remember what the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), the then Home Secretary, did in 1969 and 1970. It ill becomes any Labour Member to talk about gerrymandering. If there was any gerrymandering in this country in the whole of the twentieth century it was committed by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East.

Mr. Cryer

I find that surprising, coming from an hon. Member who is critical of what he considers to be gerrymandering but I would say was not. Be that as it may; I was not present in the House at the time. I read the arguments that took place, and I saw the massive press campaign about the decision of the then Home Secretary—a press campaign that we have not noticed at present. No doubt the knighthood for that valiant exponent of photography, Sir Larry Lamb, had nothing to do with the fact that The Sun has not exposed this gerrymandering, or that the Daily Express or Daily Mail have not run a campaign, as they did in 1969 and 1970.

Mr. Brotherton

Tell the truth.

Mr. Cryer

Why is the hon. Gentleman not concerned about his Government? My bet is that he will—I was going to say stagger into the Lobby, but that is a little unfair—go into the Lobby and vote for this legislation. With that background, any criticism that the hon. Gentleman makes of decisions that are made ostensibly for one reason but in reality for another must apply on the basis of the debates that have taken place. I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman does not oppose this legislation since he is so concerned about standards of public life.

Mr. George Cunningham

Should not my hon. Friend point out that it would be a strange situation if we were to believe that what the Government were trying to do in 1970 was to hold up an arrangement—which was in force by 1974, and under which we won the election—in favour of a system in 1970 under which we lost the election? It seems that the thing that we were trying to prevent was actually more in our interest than the thing that we were trying to lead on to.

Mr. Cryer

My hon. Friend is right. One of the complaints that I had when I entered this House was from people who would have benefited had things been allowed to take their course prior to 1970. So it is not true to suggest, as the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Brotherton) does, that the position was to the advantage of the Labour Party. But, as I said, even if that were the case—

Mr. Brotherton

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Cryer

I shall give way when I have finished my sentence. The hon. Gentleman is getting excited but he ought to advance criticisms fairly across the board. If there had been anything wrong then—and I do not accept that there was—the hon. Gentleman must vote against this legislation now.

Mr. Brotherton

What I was saying was that the way in which the then Home Secretary acted was to the advantage of the Labour Party, not to the disadvantage of the electorate.

Mr. Cryer

The point that my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury was making is that that is debatable and that it was not entirely to the advantage of the Labour Party. But I do not want to go down that road. If the hon. Member for Louth is arguing that an executive decision has resulted in legislation being brought before Parliament for political reasons and he thinks that that is wrong and that this legislation has no other conceivable basis, in logic or in anything else, he should vote against it.

The Bill is an example of the warped priorities of the Government. They have increased expenditure on the Boundary Commission apparently in order to further their own cause. They have increased the speed—or so they hope—of the reporting of the Westminster Boundary Commission in order, so they think, to gain electoral advantage.

I must put on record the fact that nothing will save this Tory Government. It is the experience of the people, indelibly written in their lives, that the Tory Party is the party of unemployment. That is the reputation that is hanging round the necks of the Tories. That is all they have been able to achieve in office. They will not be able to improve the economic position before the next election. Things are running too late for them to be able to do that. No matter how much they flutter and flap, they will face electoral defeat.

6.43 pm
Mr. Russell Johnston

One of the basic weaknesses of the first-past-the-post system is that it produces capricious results. I find it difficult to be in sympathy with the harangue to which we have just listened from the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer). It may be terribly unfair of me, but I suspect that had the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) and his colleagues been sitting where the Minister is sitting they would almost certainly be doing exactly the same as the Government have been doing, and justifying it in exactly the same language. All the talk about gerrymandering—apart from the fact that it is a clear product of the system that we have—has a little bit of humbug in it.

The purpose of the Bill, as the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury said, is to relieve the Boundary Commission of the responsibility of producing simultaneously the recommendations on the British constituencies and the Euro-constituencies. If, however, an agreement had been achieved in the European Parliament, and thereafter in the Council of Ministers, the two matters could have been disengaged at about the same time, or only marginally later, and it could have been done against the background of an agreement for fair elections for Europe.

Sadly, I do not see the Bill in the way in which, perhaps, the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury saw it. It seemed to suggest to him that the Government were on the edge of accepting a system of proportional representation. It suggests to me, on the contrary, that the Government have decided to confirm the existing arrangements.

The Bill is erroneously titled the "European Assembly Elections" Bill because it has virtually nothing to do with European Assembly elections; it has to do with Westminster elections. The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury correctly pointed out—as did the hon. Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall) in a very pertinent speech in the Second Reading debate—that the likelihood is that the European elections in 1984 will be held on the basis of the Euro-constituencies of 1979. The Boundary Commission review will not be properly under way until the appeals—which will presumably take place in March, April and May—against the recommendations of Westminster have been heard. The building bricks will not be formed until then; therefore, it will probably mean that the recommendations on the Euro-constituencies will not be completed before 1984.

If we accept the Minister's contention that all this is about democracy, about fair representation, and all that sort of thing, and that it justifies the acceleration of procedure—which the Conservative Party accepted without fuss when it was originally introduced—why is it quite unimportant in regard to Euro-constituencies for 1984, when at the same time it is regarded as vital for Westminster constituencies in 1983, or whenever the next general election is to be held?

I ask my next question simply out of curiosity. I do not understand why the Boundary Commission takes such a terribly long time to do its work. This may sound arrogant, but I have never seen a set of commission recommendations for parliamentary constituencies which I could not have equalled or improved upon by sitting down over a weekend with a group of people who knew something about politics, and a map. I do not mean a group of politicians all of one party; I mean a group from all parties concerned. There is a fair amount of hocus-pocus in the way in which the commission operates. A group of people such as I have suggested could sit down and agree fairly quickly, over a weekend, the sort of thing that the commission takes months and months to produce. It would not be very different at end of the day. If the Minister will relieve me of my deep ignorance about the travails of the commission, I shall be obliged to him.

I do not regard the Bill as a necessary piece of legislation. Its timing implies—for me at least—that the Government are not adopting the view on the system of elections for Europe that I very much hope they will adopt.

Mr. Mayhew

I shall postpone my remarks about the speech made by the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) until a little later. At present, I could not muster the restraint or dignity displayed by the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston), who described the speech as a harangue.

It might not be amiss to describe what the Bill does. Those who have heard and those who will read what has been said by Labour Members will discover very little about the Bill's true content and purpose. It is short and concise. It is designed to ensure that no unnecessary impediment is placed in the path of the Boundary Commissions for Great Britain when they put forward their recommendations to the Government and to the House for the redistribution of seats for the British Parliament.

I should have thought that such a measure would attract the support of those who purport to have the interests of democracy at heart. The hon. Member for Keighley favoured the House with a slightly longer attendance in the Chamber on Second Reading than occurred during the remaining stages of the Bill. On Third Reading he breezed in, sat for a few moments, and delivered his observations. From his attendance on Second Reading, the hon. Gentleman will know that the House was told that gross disparities existed because shifts in the population had taken place since the last redistribution. Eleven constituencies contain more than 100,000 electors and 14 constituencies contain fewer than 40,000 electors. It is surprising that those who set such store on the principle of equality are prepared to countenance the possibility—I put it no higher than that, because the possibility is bad enough—that the next general election will be fought on boundaries that still produce gross and indefensible disparities. We are anxious to remove an impediment that lies in the path of the Boundary Commission and is unnecessary to retain.

Why did not the Conservative Party vote against this provision in 1978? First, the 1978 Bill was guillotined, and there was no debate on schedule 2. In addition, there was only a short time between proceedings in Parliament and the elections to the European Parliament. Labour Members may say that because a mistake was made in 1978—if that was the case—and because legislation was enacted that embodied an unsatisfactory and dangerous provision, it should be perpetuated in 1981. I would not share their brand of conservatism. There are no more dyed-in-the-wool Conservatives than those who follow the brand of politics represented by the hon. Member for Keighley.

The Boundary Commission might be obliged to put its recommendations—made in pursuance to a duty imposed by the House under the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949—into cold storage for 15 months. That is the best estimate. It would have to do that, because in 1978 Parliament laid down that when the commission made recommendations for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, it would also have to make recommendations for the European constituencies. It is an absurd provision.

Today, the Government have asked Parliament to remove that obstacle. We have sought parliamentary approval openly and honestly. I cannot find any ground for criticism. Those who accept the criticisms that have been levelled at the Government will also wish to compare the open way in which the Government have come to Parliament with what happened in 1969. What happened then is established in the record and is beyond question. The Boundary Commission produced a report and recommendations that were extremely embarrassing to the Labour Government. That Government sought to evade their lawful duty and were corrected by the courts. What did they do? They said that they would fulfil the letter of the law and that they would lay an order, as they were required to do, but that they would bring their members into the Chamber under whip and would require them to vote against the order. Such action gained a high place in the list of unconstitutional disgraces that have blemished parliamentary history.

It ill behoves those who come into the Chamber for a short time to take a high moral tone. It ill behoves such hon. Members to argue that because there may be an electoral advantage to the Government—I do not know whether there is—in seeking to ensure that the next election is fought on boundaries that produce a near-equality of electorate, the whole proceedings are tinted with dishonesty. That is pretty rich. I give way to the hon. Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall). I doubt whether he would say any such thing.

Dr. Edmund Marshall

I do not know whether to take the Minister's remarks as a compliment. Is he suggesting that there is something unconstitutional about hon. Members voting against a Boundary Commission's recommendations if they are laid in the form of an order before the House? Whatever the commission may recommend, it is for the House and the other place to make a decision.

Mr. Mayhew

That is a thoroughly Old Testament view. As such, perhaps it commends itself to the hon. Gentleman. Everyone knows that the Labour Government clung to office by every device. Their attitude cost them their period in office. They were turned out of office in 1970 because they were seen to be cheats.

Mr. George Cunningham


Mr. Mayhew

I shall not give way. I have sat for about an hour and a quarter and listened to things that should never have been said. I shall now say something myself.

The Bill is short and simple. The clause is designed to ensure that the next elections—at least in this country—are fought on a basis that is compatible with democracy. I have been asked whether the Boundary Commission will be able to complete its report by 1984 for the European elections. I have had no information to the contrary. Whether or not the report is completed, it is in the interests of all those interested in democracy and the proper and effective conduct of elections in the United Kingdom that the Boundary Commissions for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland should not be impeded unnecessarily in the course of their duties. That is the purpose of the Bill. It is a purpose that must commend itself to everyone of good will. That is why I have confidence in recommending the Bill to the House.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 295, Noes 240.

Division No. 47] [7.00 pm
Adley, Robert Arnold, Tom
Aitken, Jonathan Atkins, Robert (Preston N)
Alexander, Richard Atkinson, David (B'm'th, E)
Alison, Michael Baker, Kenneth (St. M'bone)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)
Ancram, Michael Banks, Robert
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)
Bell, Sir Ronald Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay) Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Glyn, Dr Alan
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Goodhart, Philip
Bevan, David Gilroy Goodhew, Victor
Biggs-Davison, John Goodlad, Alastair
Blackburn, John Gorst, John
Body, Richard Gow, Ian
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Gower, Sir Raymond
Boscawen, Hon Robert Gray, Hamish
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Greenway, Harry
Bowden, Andrew Grieve, Percy
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N)
Braine, Sir Bernard Grist, Ian
Bright, Graham Grylls, Michael
Brinton, Tim Gummer John Selwyn
Brittan, Leon Hamilton, Hon A.
Brooke, Hon Peter Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Brotherton, Michael Hampson, Dr Keith
Brown, M. (Brigg and Scun) Hannam, John
Browne, John (Winchester) Haselhurst, Alan
Bruce-Gardyne, John Hastings Stephen
Buchanan-Smith, Hon Alick Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Buck, Antony Hawkins, Paul
Budgen, Nick Hawksley, Warren
Bulmer, Esmond Hayhoe, Barney
Burden, Sir Frederick Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Butcher, John Heddle, John
Butler, Hon Adam Henderson, Barry
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hicks, Robert
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n) Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Chapman, Sydney Hill, James
Churchill, W. S. Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hooson, Tom
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hordern, Peter
Clegg, Sir Walter Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)
Cockeram, Eric Howell, Rt Hon D.
Colvin, Michael Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Cope, John Hunt, David (Wirral)
Cormack, Patrick Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Corrie, John Hurd, Hon Douglas
Costain, Sir Albert Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Cranborne, Viscount Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Critchley, Julian Jessel, Toby
Crouch, David Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Dickens, Geoffrey Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Dorrell, Stephen Kaberry, Sir Donald
Dover, Denshore Kershaw, Anthony
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Kimball, Marcus
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) King, Rt Hon Tom
Durant, Tony Kitson, Sir Timothy
Dykes, Hugh Knight, Mrs Jill
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Knox, David
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P broke) Lamont, Norman
Eggar, Tim Lang, Ian
Elliott, Sir William Latham, Michael
Emery, Peter Lee, John
Eyre, Reginald Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fairbairn, Nicholas Lester Jim (Beeston)
Fairgrieve, Russell Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Faith, Mrs Sheila Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)
Farr, John Loveridge, John
Fell, Anthony Luce, Richard
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Lyell, Nicholas
Finsberg, Geoffrey McCrindle, Robert
Fisher, Sir Nigel Macfarlane, Neil
Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N) MacGregor, John
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles MacKay, John (Argyll)
Fookes, Miss Janet Macmillan, Rt Hon M.
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Fox, Marcus McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh McQuarrie, Albert
Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Madel, David
Fry, Peter Major, John
Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Marland, Paul
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Marlow, Tony
Marshall Michael (Arundel) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Mates, Michael Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus Shepherd, Richard
Mawby, Ray Shersby, Michael
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Silvester, Fred
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Sims, Roger
Mayhew, Patrick Skeet, T.H.H.
Meyer, Sir Anthony Smith, Dudley
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Speed, Keith
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Speller, Tony
Mills, Peter (West Devon) Spence, John
Miscampbell, Norman Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Moate, Roger Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Monro, Hector Sproat, Ian
Montgomery, Fergus Stainton, Keith
Moore, John Stanbrook, Ivor
Morris, M. (N'hampton S) Stanley, John
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Steen, Anthony
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Stevens, Martin
Mudd, David Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Murphy, Christopher Stewart, J. (E Renfrewshire)
Myles, David Stokes, John
Neale, Gerrard Stradling Thomas, J.
Needham, Richard Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Nelson, Anthony Tebbit, Norman
Neubert, Michael Temple-Morris, Peter
Newton, Tony Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Nott, Rt Hon John Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Onslow, Cranley Thompson, Donald
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Osborn, John Thornton, Malcolm
Page, John (Harrow, West) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Page, Rt. Hon Sir G. (Crosby) Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Page, Richard (SW Herts) Trippier, David
Parkinson, Cecil Trotter, Neville
Patten, Christopher (Bath) van Straubenzee, W.R.
Pawsey, James Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Peyton, Rt Hon John Viggers, Peter
Pink, R. Bonner Waddington, David
Pollock, Alexander Wakeham, John
Porter, Barry Waldegrave, Hon William
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Walker, B. (Perth)
Price, Sir David (Eastleigh) Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
Prior, Rt Hon James Waller, Gary
Proctor, K. Harvey Walters, Dennis
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Ward, John
Raison, Timothy Warren, Kenneth
Rathbone, Tim Watson, John
Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Rees-Davies, W.R. Wells, Bowen
Renton, Tim Wheeler, John
Rhodes James, Robert Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Whitney, Raymond
Ridsdale, Julian Wickenden, Keith
Rifkind, Malcolm Wiggin, Jerry
Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW) Wilkinson, John
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Williams, D. (Montgomery)
Rost, Peter Winterton, Nicholas
Royle, Sir, Anthony Wolfson, Mark
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Young, Sir George (Acton)
Scott, Nicholas Tellers for the Ayes:
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Mr. Carol Mather and
Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Mr. Anthony Berry
Abse, Leo Boothroyd, Miss Betty
Adams, Allen Bottomley, Rt Hon A. (M'b'ro)
Allaun, Frank Bradley, Tom
Alton, David Bray, Dr Jeremy
Anderson, Donald Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ernest Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S)
Ashley, Rt Hon Ernest Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P)
Ashton, Joe Campbell, Ian
Bagier, Gordon A.T. Campbell-Savours, Dale
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Cant, R.B.
Benn, Rt Hon A. Wedgwood Carmichael, Neil
Bennett, Andrew (St'kp't N) Carter-Jones, Lewis
Bidwell, Sydney Cartwright, John
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Cohen, Stanley Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Conlan, Bernard Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Cook, Robin F. Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cowans, Harry Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g) Kinnock, Neil
Craigen, J. M. Lambie, David
Crowther, J. S. Lamborn, Harry
Cryer, Bob Lamond, James
Cunliffe, Lawrence Leadbitter, Ted
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Lewis, Arthur (N'ham NW)
Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Dalyell, Tam Litherland, Robert
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'Ili) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lyon, Alexander (York)
Davies, Clinton (Hackney C) Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W)
Davis, T. (B'ham, Stechf'd) Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
Deakins, Eric McCartney, Hugh
Dewar, Donald McCusker, H.
Dixon, Donald McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Dobson, Frank McGuire, Michael (Ince)
Dorm and, Jack McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Douglas, Dick McKelvey, William
Douglas-Mann, Bruce MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Dubs, Alfred Maclennan, Robert
Dunn, James A. McNally, Thomas
Dunnett, Jack McNamara, Kevin
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Mc Taggart, Robert
Eadie, Alex Mc William, John
Eastham, Ken Magee, Bryan
Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E) Marks, Kenneth
Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're) Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
English, Michael Martin, M (G'gow S'burn)
Ennals, Rt Hon David Maxton, John
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Maynard, Miss Joan
Evans, John (Newton) Meacher, Michael
Ewing, Harry Mellish, Rt Hon Robert
Field, Frank Mikardo, Ian
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Ford, Ben Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)
Forrester, John Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)
Foster, Derek Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Foulkes, George Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)
Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd) Morton, George
Freud, Clement Moyle, Rt Hon Roland
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Garrett, W.E. (Wallsend) Newens, Stanley
George, Bruce Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Ogden, Eric
Ginsburg, David O'Halloran, Michael
Golding, John O'Neill, Martin
Gourlay, Harry Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Graham, Ted Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Grant, George (Morpeth) Palmer, Arthur
Grant, John (Islington C) Park, George
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Parker, John
Hamilton, W.W. (C'tral Fife) Parry, Robert
Hardy, Peter Pavitt, Laurie
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Pendry, Tom
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Penhaligon, David
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Haynes, Frank Prescott, John
Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire) Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll) Race, Reg
Home Robertson, John Radica, Giles
Homewood, William Ress, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)
Hooley, Frank Richardson, Jo
Horam, John Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Howell, Rt Hon D. Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Howells, Geraint Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Hudson Davies, Gwilym E. Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Robertson, George
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Rooker, J. W.
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Roper, John
John, Brynmor Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Johnson, James (Hull West) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Rowlands, Ted Torney, Tom
Sandelson, Neville Urwin, Rt Hon Tom
Sever, John Wainwright, E. (Dearne V)
Sheerman, Barry Wainwright, R. (Colne V)
Sheldon, Rt Hon R. Walker, Rt Hon H. (D'caster)
Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford) Watkins, David
Silkin, Rt Hon S.C. (Dulwich) Weetch, Ken
Silverman, Julius Welsh, Michael
Smith, Cyril (Rochdale) White, Frank R.
Snape, Peter Whitehead, Phillip
Soley, Clive Whitlock, William
Spearing, Nigel Wigley, Dafydd
Spriggs, Leslie Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Stallard, A. W. Williams, Rt Hon A. (S'sea W)
Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles) Williams, Sir T. (W'ton)
Stoddart, David Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Stott, Roger Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H. (H'ton)
Strang, Gavin Wilson, William (C'try S E)
Straw, Jack Winnick, David
Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley Woodall, Alec
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W) Woolmer, Kenneth
Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) Young, David (Bolton E)
Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E) Tellers for the Noes:
Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen) Mr. Ron Leighton and
Thorne, Stan (Preston South) Mr. Donald Coleman.
Tinn, James

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time and passed.

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