HC Deb 04 July 1983 vol 45 cc104-25 10.11 pm
Mr. Donald Dewar (Glasgow, Garscadden)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Rating (Timetable and Procedures) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1983 (S.I., 1983, No. 862), dated 17th June 1983, a copy of which was laid before this House on 23rd June, be annulled.

Mr. Speaker

With this, I understand that it will be. convenient to discuss the next motion, That the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 (Section 111) Amendment Order 1983, a copy of which was laid before this House on 23rd June be approved.

Mr. Dewar

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Before I plunge into the intricacies of the issue, I must first welcome the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram) to the Dispatch Box, as I think that he is making his debut as a Minister. We should welcome him because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) will realise, some of us have been anxiously watching the hon. Gentleman for some time. His friends must have felt that he had served his time on the Back Benches and, indeed, that he had served rather a long time. Most of us are relieved, for his sake, that he is now safely home, if somewhat breathless.

The hon. Gentleman has one considerable advantage in starting his ministerial career, because he is certainly not one of those whose Back-Bench careers give many hostages to fortune. He has not got any of those little indiscretions, flashes of imagination or impulsive moments of honesty in speaking from the Back Benches—

Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I cannot hear a word that my hon. Friend is saying, because some Tory hooligans are disturbing the peace.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

I, too, am anxious to hear the debate and am having some difficulty in hearing the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar).

Mr. Dewar

I am grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for your protection but not for that of my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West, although his intervention was no doubt well meant.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South comes to the Dispatch Box with a clean sheet. He is not the sort of Back Bencher to have caused Ministers to sit up, disconcerted and embarrassed, at the prospect of him rising behind them. We shall have to hope that he is a little more imaginative and a little braver now that he is at the Dispatch Box.

The hon. Gentleman has made a very bad start to his ministerial career with these two measures. I take no great pleasure in saying that. On the face of it, the two measures are simple, but I do not think that I am being in any way mock modest when I say that they were almost incomprehensible to me when I began to look at them. They are a jungle of cross-references, amendments and legislative complications. At the end of the day it is almost impossible, with only the order in front of one, to discover exactly what the Government are about.

The regulations start with a reference to regulation 3A of the Rating (Timetable and Procedures) (Scotland) (No. 2) Regulations 1975. One goes eagerly to the 1975 regulations, but finds that regulation 3A is not there. Undeterred, we go on to the Rating (Timetable and Procedures) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1981 and, fortunately, find that they add regulation 3A to the 1975 regulations.

However, we must also have regard to the Local Government (Rate Product) and Rating (Timetable and Procedures) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1979, which amended the 1975 regulations before regulation 3A was added by the amendments embodied in the 1981 regulations.

All that is done under the authority of section 111(1) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. The House will be relieved to know that that Act exists. One finds section 111(1) in that Act, but it does not refer to the subject of the regulations before us. To get the reference for them, we have to go to schedule 3 to the Local Government and Planning (Scotland) Act 1982. That adds the vital reference to section 5(4) and (5) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1966.

If one goes to the 1966 Act as I, encouraged by my Whip, eagerly did, one finds that section 5(4) does not exist. To find that subsection, which is the crux of the argument on the regulations before us, one has to go to section 1 of the 1982 Act, which added it. To understand what it is about, one must go back to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1981 and what it did to the 1966 Act.

I know that the Minister will tell me that the regulations are simple. I think that someone has told him so, but to understand these "simple" regulations one has to examine three sets of regulations and four Acts.

I understand that there is a Scottish Office "crib" which is pieced together with the aid of photostat machines, scissors, paste and much ingenuity. It would help us if that were made available, as a consolidation measure, so that we could read in a coherent form exactly what this sort of legislative nonsense is all about. I make that complicated and rather lengthy point because I feel strongly about it after having suffered over the past few days while trying to understand what we are debating.

The inevitable result of that jungle of legislative provision is confusion. The regulations and the order are the product of that confusion. They are consequential amendments following the "excessive and unreasonable" expenditure provisions that were finally grafted on to section 5 of the 1966 Act.

The Government took power to mace regulations, but then discovered that they did not covet section 5(4)(b) of the 1966 Act. Similarly, when looking at the dates for the determination and notification of rates, they found that there was no provision for rate poundages to be reduced under the amended section 5 of the 1966 Act. It is to put right that mess and those omissions that these consequential amendments have been brought forward.

No doubt the Government will say that these are minor, consequential matters, that they merely tidy up what has gone before and that it would, therefore, be reasonable for the Opposition, if we wanted to be constructive and helpful, to nod through the regulations and the order so that we can all get home early and perhaps save a few ministerial blushes. There is no chance of that. However simple the statutory instruments may be in essence, when one has cut through all the complications and amendments, they are part of a consistent and determined attack launched by the Government over the past three years on the basis of local government democracy in Scotland. They are part of the section 5 "excessive and unreasonable" machinery, which we regard as obnoxious, unnecessary and based on fallacious arguments.

The House will know that, under the section 5 procedure, the Secretary of State, largely on his own whim and based on his own prejudices — it is almost impossible to discover any other rational basis for the decisions that have been taken — may decide that an authority's expenditure is "excessive and unreasonable" and he can either provide for the rate support grant to be reduced by order during the current financial year or, which is even more startling—and this is what section 5(4) of the 1966 Act embodies — say that the rate poundage should be reduced, in defiance of the decision taken by democratically elected councillors who will probably have a much more impressive and effective mandate from their electors than the Secretary of State is likely to have from his.

In the next three or four weeks — I do not know exactly when—we are threatened with four orders which will penalise four Scottish local authorities. No doubt, we shall be invited to rubber-stamp them. On behalf of the Opposition, may I say that we shall not do that, but no doubt they will be steam-rollered through the House. Tonight we are putting through some necessary preliminaries, clearing the deck for that parliamentary bullying, and because we are doing that, we regard these measures as objectionable, equally objectionable as the main legislation which they buttress and support.

I accept that tonight I cannot debate the measures that will come up affecting Glasgow, Kirkcaldy, Stirling and the Lothian region. I shall not try to go into the details, but I am entitled to ask why we need this oppressive legislation at all, and to ask why this great engine has been constructed by Ministers in a series of statutes over the past three or four years. If we do not need the whole machinery, clearly we do not need the consequential amendments that are embodied in these measures.

One of the troubles, as I think the Minister will accept, is that it is extremely difficult to get information out of the Scottish Office. I asked some questions the other day which he answered on 30 June. I asked him, for example, to update the various appendices that were attached to the letters dated 5 May that were sent to the so-called hit-list authorities. I asked him to recalculate the figures because, in almost every case, in circumstances that were sometimes a little mysterious, there has been a change in the rather unpleasant bargains that were offered to those authorities. Glasgow, for example, was told that the 5p rate reduction is now only 3p. We are reduced to a threepenny threat, if I may put it in that way. Of course, one reason for doing it that way is that the Government now accept that the £4 million that was included in the so-called excessive and unreasonable expenditure was incorrectly included, because it referred to housing improvement grants, which should never have been taken into account. That was conceded in the letter of 29 June that was sent to Glasgow, saying that it would affect all the calculations and appendices that were attached to the original intimation of action against that local authority.

When I asked the Secretary of State in a written question whether he would recalculate the appendices to take account not only of that £4 million but of other controversial categories that we argue should be omitted from the excessive and unreasonable calculations — although it is clearly said in the correspondence that all the appendices, which form a report which by statute must be laid before Parliament, are now inaccurate and do not add up to the deductions that he wishes to make—he said in his answer that he would not recalculate those appendices. That type of dog in a manger attitude is a bad start to the career of the new local government Minister in Scotland, and although it may be a short and giddy career, at this stage we must dignify it with the word "career".

If we recalculate in the case of Glasgow and some of the other authorities—we shall do our best with these calculations, but it would be much better if the Secretary of State had given them the imprimatur of his civil servants' calculations — we shall probably find, for example, that Glasgow's excess over guidelines is back in the ruck, and that the case for using the section 5 machinery against Glasgow and the other authorities has been totally undermined and invalidated. I hope that the Minister will think a little more about providing the information that I seek.

Mr. Jim Craigen (Glasgow, Maryhill)

My hon. Friend is too kind to the Scottish Office. Does he not recollect the £8 million contingency fund that was originally put down in error, which the Scottish Office subsequently admitted should not have been included in the figures that were given to my hon. Friend the Member for Cunninghame, South (Mr. Lambie)?

Mr. Dewar

Indeed, there was the £8 million contingency fund, there was the £4 million that we know was an error relating to housing improvement grants, there is the matter of the area budget funds of £5 million, and there is a borough collection of £1 million. I promise the House that these matters will be properly aired when we come to consider those measures.

Having asked for that further information, may I briefly ask whether we need such machinery at all or whether the exercise is not based upon a fallacy and misconception? As I understand it, we are finally completing the present machinery in section 5 of the Local Government Planning (Scotland) Act 1966 by these orders because the Government believe that over the past few years local authorities in Scotland have been spendthrift and irresponsible and must be brought to heel even at the expense of attacking the basis of democracy as we know it in local government.

For the benefit of Conservative Members, I want to take one example — Glasgow. That is a concession to the Government because, after all, Glasgow has been put on the hit list. It has been picked out as one of the sinners which is to be the subject of sanctions and penalised. The decissions as to whether it is irresponsible and spendthrift will no doubt be apparent to anyone who looks at the figures.

Let me draw the attention of the House to a parliamentary answer on Thursday 30 June. The Government, very helpfully on this occasion, gave the expenditure on services in Glasgow in constant terms at November 1982 prices from the years 1979–80 through to 1983–84. In constant prices they show what has been spent by this spendthrift and irresponsible authority which has been brought to heel by the Secretary of State by the use of penal sanctions. No doubt we shall see exactly why.

In 1979–80 the amount spent by Glasgow on services was £82.27 million. In 1983–84 it was £82.92 million. In other words, in that period there was an increase on a budget of over £80 million in real terms of only £700,000. We know from the Secretary of State's admission, leaving aside all the matters of argument between the authority and the Secretary of State, that £4 million should not have been included in 1983–84. A special one-off housing figure was put in for housing improvement grants because of Government incompetence which had not been included in previous years. Leaving aside all the controversy and taking out that £4 million which it is agreed should not be there, the irresponsible and spendthrift Glasgow authority, which has been attacked root and branch in the four years between 1979–80 and 1983–84, reduced expenditure on services in real terms from £82 million to £78 million.

I put that to the House as an example of the hypocrisy — I believe that that is the right word to use — or vindictiveness of the attack that has been launched on local councils in Scotland. On the Government's answers and concessions the figures show that Glasgow is spending significantly less on servicew than four years ago. I do not know whether we should be proud of that, but, to be fair, it has been done under enormous Government pressure. Despite that, Glasgow is the target for attack by the Government.

Ministers say that they are doing this because they are the champions of the ratepayers. There is no doubt that Glasgow's rates in that four-year period have increased by almost 130 per cent. Why? Is it because it has spent wildly more on services? No, because we know from the Government's figures that it has spent less. It is because the Government have been cutting their contribution to local government ruthlessly year after year and then blaming local government when, inevitably, that has forced substantial increases in the rates.

If one takes the percentage of the Glasgow budget which is met by Exchequer grants, between 1979–80 and 1983–84 at a time when the services provision has remained static or fallen as I have submitted, the Government's percentage has fallen from 41 per cent. to 31 per cent. of the total. That is why the Glasgow ratepayer has had to face substantial increases. It is not because of an irresponsible and spendthrift council but because we have a parsimonious, cheeseparing, and, it its presentation, an essentially dishonest Secretary of State for Scotland.

A broadening of the argument to include the COSLA figures across the whole of Scotland — I mention the figures only in passing — from 1975–76 to 1981–82 shows that local government expenditure has fallen over that period by 16 per cent. while central Government expenditure has increased by 10 per cent. The overall figures for Glasgow—the authority that the Secretary of State has picked out for punishment—show the same position. The exercise of which these orders are a small but dishonourable part is vindictive and, worse still, totally unnecessary.

The orders are part of the mechanism of oppression. We object to that in principle. It is not an argument about the decision of individual councillors over certain budgets. It is not a matter of whether we think the people who run Glasgow, Stirling or Kirkcaldy or, indeed, the Lothian region, are men of wisdom whose activities we entirely support. Even if we did not think that, even if we disagreed with them, there is a principle involved about the right of local democracy, and the right of local councillors to assess their local needs and to be answerable at the end of the day at the ballot box. If Glasgow, Kirkcaldy, Stirling or Lothian are making a mess of affairs, if they are wrong, the people who should judge them are their own electorates, who will have that chance in May 1984. It is not right that the electorate should be pre-empted in this way by a dictatorial action of the Secretary of State.

It may be said that, by voting against what are at the end of the day merely trimming measures to bolster up and put in order the edifice of oppression that legislation has placed on the statute book, we are conducting a vendetta against Government policy. Perhaps we are. I am prepared to concede that there is a vendetta against this legislation, but I say to the House that the vendetta is justified and it is one that we will mark by voting in the Lobby tonight and by continuing this operation, this argument, throughout the months ahead until we get from Scottish public opinion a resounding vote of no confidence in the activities of the Secretary of State in the district council elections next May.

10.32 pm
The Under-Secretary of State far Scotland (Mr. Michael Ancram)

I start by thanking the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) for what I took to be kind remarks at the beginning of his oration. They bore all the hallmarks of his usual trend for understatement. I am not sure that I have ever before been called "short", although there may have been occasions when I have been called "crazy", "giddy", and "unimaginative". I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not misunderstand me if I wish him over the coming months many such debates and I look forward to debating against him.

Although the debate is about two orders, which make minor technical changes in connection with selective action, it is perhaps not surprising, knowing the hon. Gentleman's interest in Glasgow, that the general principle of selective action has been raised. It might be helpful if I remind the House why the Government felt it necessary to take and use the powers of selective action.

First, it is important to stress that these powers are not taken out of a desire to centralise or to undermine local democracy. There is no question about our belief in the importance of local government. However, we also believe that central and local government are not two separate organisations working in isolation, one from the other. They are designed to work in co-operation and central Government has a responsibility for national objectives, including national economic objectives. Local government is responsible for pursuing local objectives within the framework of national objectives. With local government accounting for a quarter of public expenditure, there cannot be any question—indeed, there was not when the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Millan) were in Government before 1979 — of its being left out of account in the Government's public expenditure policy.

The central Government are entitled to expect cooperation in their pursuit of public expenditure policies. When the argument of local democracy is used, it is sometimes overlooked, and was overlooked by the hon. Gentleman, that central Government are also democratically elected to pursue national policies.

The basis of our policy is the need to control local authority expenditure—an aim which has been common to all Governments. Selective action sets out to do that in an effective and fair way by concentrating on high spending authorities and ensuring that the savings go back to the ratepayers in the form of reduced rates.

The instrument which is the subject of the first motion received comparatively scant attention from the hon. Member for Garscadden. I can understand why, but if right hon. and hon. Members will bear with me, I shall say a few words about the Rating (Timetable and Procedures) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1983. I hope that I may bring light upon the darkness which obviously enveloped the hon. Gentleman's mind when he was considering these issues.

As is apparent from the amendment regulations, they will amend the Rating (Timetable Procedures) (Scotland) (No. 2) Regulations 1975. These regulations prescribe dates for determination and intimation of requisitions and rates and certain other matters in respect of rating transactions between local authorities. The provisions with which the 1983 amendment regulations are concerned involve the last date prescribed for determining rates and the last date prescribed for district councils to intimate the district rate to regional councils. These dates are 5 and 7 March respectively and are appropriate to the normal rates which local authorities levy each year in terms of section 108 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.

The 1975 regulations were amended in 1981 by amendment regulations of that year. That amendment was required because of the enactment by section 15 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1981 of a new section 108A of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. This measure allows a local authority which is subject to action for excessive and unreasonable planned expenditure or which has reason to believe that such action might be taken, to re-assess its total estimated expenses for the year and to determine a new, lower rate. The dates of 5 and 7 March are obviously inappropriate to such a rate and the regulations were amended in 1981 to disapply these dates for these new rates. The 1981 amendment regulations also added a new provision —paragraph 3A — which provided that where a district council determines a lower rate under section 108A the last date for intimation of that rate to the rating authority is the second day after the day on which the new rate was determined by the district council concerned. The amendment ensured prompt notification of rates determined under section 108A and in turn that the process of levying and collecting the new rate could be initiated timeously.

The current amendment regulations make a similar disapplication in respect of 5 and 7 March and amend the revisions relating to notification of a new rate determined under section 108A to the rating authority, to take account of lower rates determined by a local authority in terms of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1966. Section 5(4)(b) as inserted last year by the Local Government and Planning (Scotland) Act 1982 [HON. MEMBERS: "Boring."] As the hon. Member for Garscadden found the matter so difficult and complicated I thought that hon. Members would welcome the chance to be led gently through this apparently complicated, matter so that they can see how simple it really is.

As right hon. and hon. Members are well aware, action is currently being taken by the Secretary of State which could result in some local authorities being required to reduce their rates as provided in section 5(4)(b) All the amendment regulations do is to insert a necessary reference to statute so that the regulations will make the necessary provision in respect of any local authority required to determine a reduced rate in terms of section 5(4)(b).

Mr. Craigen

Why were the Shetlands dropped in relation to action? Is it true that the Secretary of State—who is not here tonight, although other Ministers are present—said that if an oilfield has been discovered in the Glasgow area, that might have made a difference to the Glasgow case?

Mr. Ancram

As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, matters of this sort are usually spoken to by my hon. Friends and Ministers like myself; the Secretary of State does not normally speak on such instruments. As we may —and I say "may"—have to be debating these orders in the future, I do not think that this is an appropriate moment to look at particular cases.

In regard to Shetland, as hon. Members will be aware, following the intimation given by the Secretary of State to the five councils, he was obliged to consult those councils and receive submissions from them. That procedure was followed; the cases presented by those councils were listened to with care and attention by my right hon. Friend and in the case of Shetland it was decided, in the light of the submissions made, that no further action would be taken.

The powers under which these amendment regulations are made require prior consultation with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. This has been done. The convention conveyed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State when he met it on 17 June that it had no observations on the amendment regulations, but in fairness I should record that it signified that it was not in favour of the overall action being taken by the Secretary of State.

These amendment regulations are required so that the provisions relating to reduction of rates following action by the Secretary of State for excessive and unreasonable planned expenditure can be put into effect. They follow on from measures already enacted. Accordingly, I ask the House to reject the Prayer.

As the title of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 (Section 111) Amendment Order 1983 indicates, its purpose is to amend section 111 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. Section 111 enables the Secretary of State to make regulations with respect to rates. The order itself is made under powers conferred on the Secretary of State by section 5(6) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1966. The House might find it helpful if I spoke about these powers.

Subsection (6) is part of the measures introduced last year into section 5 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1966 by section 1 of the Local Government and Planning (Scotland) Act 1982. The House will recall that section 5(4)(b)—which the hon. Member for Garscadden said he had so much trouble finding—requires a local authority to reduce its rate when the Secretary of State is satisfied that it plans to incur excessive and unreasonable expenditure. This is, of course, subject to the approval of a report laid by the Secretary of State before Parliament.

Mr. Dewar

The Minister is referring to a report which must be laid before Parliament. Will he give some thought to re-calculating the appendices that were sent to local authorities—and which will constitute the report which will be laid before Parliament — so that they take account, for example, of the £4 million that it has been agreed should be left out of the Glasgow calculations and any other adjustments for other authorities? Undoubtedly the appendices as presently calculated will not give Parliament a true picture of the situation.

Mr. Ancram

The hon. Gentleman can take it that if we reach the stage of having to lay an order in relation to any of the four councils that still remain to have action taken against them, the Government will put forward their arguments in the most concise and accurate way possible.

I return to the lesson which I was giving the hon. Member for Garscadden in the matter with which he was finding so much difficulty. The purpose of this order is to amend primary legislation. The provision in question is section 111(1) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, which enables the Secretary of State to make regulations with respect to rates, at that time rates determined under section 108 of the same Act. The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1981 allowed a local authority to determine a lower rate than that determined under section 108 and amended section 111(1) of the 1973 Act to allow the Secretary of State to make regulations as regards a rate determined under section 108A(1) for the repayment of sums paid in respect of a rate determined under section 108; and for the cost of levying and collecting to be borne by the authority. This new provision became section 111(1)(f). No such provision was made by the Local Government and Planning (Scotland) Act 1982 with regard to a rate determined by an authority under section 5(4) of the 1966 Act as amended by the 1982 Act, and the purpose of this order is to make it clear beyond doubt that the Secretary of State may, with regard to a rate determined under section 5(4), make a regulation under the new provision 111(1)(f) with regard to the repayment of sums paid under section 108 and to the cost of levying and collection to be borne by the authority concerned. [Interruption.] I hope that I am proving instructive to the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan).

The Rating (Repayment Procedures Etc.) (Scotland) regulations 1981 were made in 1981 in exercise of the power in section 111(1)(f) of the 1973 Act. These regulations were needed because one district council—Renfrew — exercising good sense and showing consideration for its ratepayers in a constructive way, reduced its planned expenditure and its rate in 1981–82 following intimation to it that my right hon. Friend was satisfied that its planned expenditure was excessive and unreasonable and that he proposed a reduction in rate support grant. This sensible course allowed Renfrew to return to its ratepayers the difference between its first rate and second lower rate and to avoid suffering a reduction in rate support grant which would have benefited mainly the Exchequer. The regulations made in exercise of the power in section 111(1)(f) were necessary to allow certain mechanical operations to be carried out to convey to the ratepayers of Renfrew the cash benefit of the reduction in rate. I know that the right hon. Member for Govan has no interest in returning cash benefits to any ratepayer. These regulations also allowed the sensible decisions taken last year by Lothian regional council and Stirling district council to be translated into reduced rate bills.

This order is a minor part only of the procedures necessary to hold Scottish rates at a reasonable level. The fact that these procedures and so this order are necessary is, stress, regrettable but I make no apology for seeking the approval of the House to the order. It is the circumstances which make it necessary that are to be regretted.

As hon. and right hon. Members will be aware, my right hon. Friend has been obliged to exercise the powers in section 5 of the 1966 Act as extended last year in the 1982 Act. He intimated, accordingly to five Scottish local authorities that, on the basis of the in formation available to him, he was satisfied that each authority's estimated expenses for the year 1983–84 were excessive and unreasonable and in view of this was of the opinion that the rates determined by each council for 1983–84 should be reduced by specified amounts.

Mr. Dewar

The hon. Gentleman will no doubt remember that a few minutes ago I referred to the figures that appeared in a parliamentary answer for which he was responsible. It showed that between 1979–80 and 1983–84 the expenditure on services in real terms in Glasgow remained almost static. If we remove the £4 million that he now accepts should not have been included in the calculation, there has been a considerable reduction in expenditure. How does that square with what he is saying about "excessive and unreasonable" planned expenditure?

Mr. Ancram

The hon. Gentleman heard me say that tonight would not be the appropriate moment to discuss individual cases. I hope that all the councils against which action still remains will act with common sense and that we shall not have to lay the orders against them. That is something that they will have to consider before 6 July. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will agree that in all the circumstances it would not be appropriate to discuss specific issues.

We await replies from the councils, and until they have been received and we know what view they take of my right hon. Friend's intimation last week it will not be proper to discuss individual authorities and the actions.

Mr. Craigen

I understand that Glasgow district council has requested a meeting with the Secretary of State for Scotland. May we take it that that will be agreed to by the right hon. Gentleman?

Mr. Ancram

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Glasgow district council came to see me some time ago. It put all the points that it wished to make at that meeting. In the light of those points my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State reconsidered the amount that he was asking for. There may be other points that the Glasgow district council did not raise with me—there were many —but the ones that it raised have been fully considered by my right hon. Friend, in arriving at the decision that he intimated last week.

Mr. Craigen


Mr. Ancram

I have given way on many occasions. I shall not give way any more.

Mr. Craigen

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Ancram

I am not giving way any more. If he is lucky enough to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the hon. Gentleman will be able to make his own points.

Amendment of the principal regulations relating to repayment of rates and the cost of levying and collecting rates is required so that necessary mechanical operations with respect to rates determined — or deemed to be determined—in terms of section 5(4)(b) of the 1966 Act can be properly prescribed and so that ratepayers in authorities who are the subject of a report to this House seeking approval to a rate reduction can benefit from such a lower rate as may be specified in the approved report. The amendments which it is required to make to the regulations for that purpose are minor, technical and, in themselves, non-controversial. They will comprise simply the insertion in the existing regulations of a reference to a rate determined under section 5(4)(b): an amendment similar in style and nature to the amendments set out in the order now before the House. The necessary amendment of the regulations requires the minor and technical extension of the regulation-making power in section 111(1)(f) of the 1973 Act. As I have already shown this is what the order will do. Subject to approval of the order by Parliament, it is intended to lay before Parliament, as soon as possible, the Instrument required to amend the principal regulations.

The order is a minor technical paving step that will allow to be put into effect measures that the House has already approved and that the House may be asked to approve. I commend the order to the House.

10.52 pm
Mr. Gregor MacKenzie (Glasgow, Rutherglen)

I came along to the debate in the hope that I would be enlightened by our new Under-Secretary of State. I should be less than honest if I now said that I understood anything better than when I came in. Therefore, I shall now make the speech that I had intended to make before I heard his explanation. Though he described the order and regulations as minor and technical in character, they go deeper than that.

The late George Buchanan, when Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, was not sure what an amendment was all about. He would stand up in the Scottish Grand Committee—a long time before I arrived in the House —and say, "This is just a wee drafting amendment, so I would not be bothered too much about it." There is much more to this amendment than being simply a technical paving amendment. It strikes us in the Opposition that over the past few weeks the Secretary of State has been acting in a way which, not to put too fine a point on it, was well beyond the powers given to him by Parliament. Now he has come here in the hope that we shall give him the powers that he has been taking upon himself since 5 May. Those powers were questionable from the beginning, from a legal point of view, but there is one thing about which Opposition Members have no doubt. It is that the right hon. Gentleman was opposed to the action of the Glasgow district council and other district councils. That is the real issue, and is fundamental.

The people of Glasgow have elected their own district council. It is made up of people who understand the problems of Glasgow, and the people's needs. It wants to proceed in the way for which it was given a mandate. The Secretary of State—and presumably the Under-Secretary —does not like the composition of the Glasgow district council. It is made up in the main of Labour councillors who do not bow the knee at the name of the Secretary of State. They sometimes act contrary to his hopes and aspirations for them. We also have a few Conservatives and three Liberals — I know, because they are in my constituency — but the latter can certainly be dismissed from the argument, because when the matter was discussed by the council they did not regard it as important enough to turn up to speak or even to vote.

Mr. Canavan

There are no Liberals here now either.

Mr. MacKenzie

That is not untypical.

Fundamentally, we are questioning the right of the Secretary of State to override the people of Glasgow and their elected representatives on the district council. In an off moment today the Under-Secretary of State said that he had a national mandate. I shall not go into whether the Government have a Scottish mandate. Suffice it to say that the people of Glasgow showed recently, and decisively, that they had no confidence in the Government when not one Conservative member of Parliament was returned for a Glasgow constituency. I hope that the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary of State, who are not known for their knowledge of Glasgow, will therefore pay some attention to the views of those of us who represent Glasgow seats.

The Secretary of State appears to us to be trying to undermine the whole democratic system in Glasgow. Even the Glasgow Herald commented the other day: Mr. Younger's limited concession will make no difference since more is seen to be at stake than the actual amont of the cuts. There is a sense that local democracy itself is under threat". Many of us—on both sides of the House, I imagine—think that when the Conservative party talks so much about local government, democracy, extremism and the rest, it is a bit rich for the Secretary of State to take unto himself powers to dominate over all the district councils. He seems to think that a district council is no more than an executive arm to carry out his bidding whenever he wishes. That is not the view of the people of Glasgow.

The Minister said that the Government took action because the rate poundage was excessive and unreasonable. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar), I found that very difficult to understand. The Secretary of State seems to have got into a great muddle with the figures. I have heard of two mistakes—involving about £8 million in one case and £4 million in the other — in the past few weeks. If he makes mistakes of that magnitude, heaven knows what will happen when the matter is finally examined in depth.

The Secretary of State should be honest enough to admit that he has been under pressure from interest groups in Glasgow to reduce the rates. Having been defeated on every possible political occasion, they now want him to reduce the rates, whatever the cost to the people of Glasgow. We know that the Secretary of State has been under pressure on this, not just because of the rate poundage, but because of the various rating reforms.

If the Minister had said that this measure was a precursor to a genuine change in the rating system some of us might have understood it better, but he did not say that. He talked about unreasonable and excessive rate increases, without having fully examined all the circumstances in Glasgow—decreasing population, high unemployment, serious housing problems, and so on. If the Under-Secretary of State were to spend some time looking at those problems, he would appreciate the degree of real concern and anger about them in the city.

In my view—and, I am sure, in the view of many of my right hon. and hon. Friends—the people of Glasgow and their councillors are the people who know their problems. They had hoped that the Secretary of State would be sympathetic to them and understanding of them. Instead, they have a Secretary of State who has cut their rate support grant and housing support grant and has in every way sought to frustrate the genuine aspirations of the people of Glasgow. I do not think that the Opposition can tolerate that, and that is why I support my hon. Friend the Member for Garscadden.

11 pm

Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)

I take this opportunity of welcoming my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram) to the Government Front Bench. Some of us on the Government Benches think that the move was long overdue.

I was interested in what the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewer) said. I had the impression that he was suggesting that somehow the amendments to the law were a negation of democracy, but the very fact that we are debating them tonight shows that democracy is functioning. I remind the hon. Gentleman that not everyone who is entitled to vote in local government elections is a ratepayer. Therefore, there is always an element of voting but not paying, and that has to be considered.

Why are the amendments to local government law needed? The Opposition spokesmen tell us that they are for the destruction of democracy or, as they would say, of local democracy. Those are serious charges and must be examined very carefully. In the Conservative party we care deeply about local democracy and about the way that councils are managed and administered. The first point to be noted is that this is the legislative part of Government, not local government, and that local government has a statutory duty to manage and administer its regions or districts within the law; but the law is made here.

Secondly, we have to take into account the impact of the decisions made by regions and districts on each other and on other Government bodies, including quasi-Government bodies.

Thirdly, we have to consider the impact of decisions made by regions and districts on wealth and job operation sectors within them.

Fourthly, we have to consider the impact on the individual ratepayers of decisions made by regions and districts.

Mr. Craigen

The hon. Gentleman makes the point that the law is made here, and I agree with him. Our objection is that the goalposts have been moved because the Secretary of State cannot score a goal against the authorities without introducing the orders.

Mr. Walker

That is exactly my point. We make the law here. The law is not made in the regions and the districts. If we here judge that the law requires to be changed, this is the place where it is changed, and the only place where it can be changed.

I wish to draw the attention of the House to the impact of rates in one authority on another authority. If a district council increases its rates by 1p, the impact on the region can be an increase in rates of many tens of thousands of pounds. That can mean a dramatic increase in the running costs of major schools and a pre-empting of education expenditure. It substantially reduces the funds available for classroom expenditure. That is one good reason why the Government must take careful note of what is happening.

If districts or regions increase their rates the impact on the health boards can be dramatic, to the extent of many hundreds of thousands of pounds. Dundee district rate is a good example. If it was at the same level as Perth and Kinross district, the Tayside health boards would have an additional £1 million to spend. There would then be no threat to hospitals, especially the cottage hospitals that serve my constituents. The rural areas find that they are subsidising the towns and cities—for example, Glasgow or Dundee—through their hospitals. We must not ignore that aspect in this place. It is here that we determine whether we want more hospital or school provision, and not at local authority level where our decisions should be administered.

Opposition Members are vocal about services. But it is only at national Government level that we can predetermine how much money we want spent on which services. If we leave that exclusively to the wishes of local authorities, the profligate authorities will feed off the ratepayers in the surrounding areas. Those areas share the services of schools, hospitals and other government agencies. The high-rate local authorities are like vampires —they get their sustenance from the lifeblood of others.

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

I cannot find any reference to vampires in the rating and valuation order. The hon. Gentleman is straying from the point—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The Chair will decide when a Member is out of order.

Mr. Walker

I repeat for the sake of the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) that high-rate local authorities are like vampires. They gain their sustenance from the lifeblood of others. That is why the Government must act to bring a balance into local government funding and expenditure. That is why I welcome the orders.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I remind the House that the debate ends at 11.30 pm.

11.8 pm

Mr. Gordon Wilson (Dundee, East)

I do not know what is worse—the rigmarole of rubbish that the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) has just produced or the Byzantine meanderings of the Minister. The hon. Member for Tayside, North should note that for the second or third consecutive year Dundee has escaped the privilege of being on the Government's hit list. That has enabled me to approach the debate without having to defend the interests of my local authority.

The Minister got off to a bad start when he sought to take us through the various stages of the regulations, and then to pretend that they were nothing more than paving amendments that would allow the Government to impose their ideas on what expenditure should be within Scottish local authorities. The Minister did not deceive the House about that. We all know what the Government are attempting to do. They are producing a whole set of regulations intended to remove power from democratically elected local authorities to fix their priorities, rates and the level of services to be provided in each local authority area.

We have to go back to the Wheatley report to understand how much that is at variance with the concept of the local government reforms introduced in 1973. One of the Acts which are quoted is the 1973 legislation, and that did not envisage the trend towards centralisation. It was intended to make incidental changes by way of regulation, and some of the matters detailed relate to interest rates and other minor matters. But from 1975–76 onwards, with the onset of the IMF cuts, the cash limits devised for central Government were extended towards the financing of local government and with each successive Act of Parliament the powers of local government were trimmed.

That is not acceptable. It cuts across the tradition in Scotland of local authorities—although they have to pay attention to Government policy—being able to provide services in their areas according to the wishes of their electors. The hon. Member for Tayside, North said that not everyone who paid rates was an elector. That is true. But the Government cannot take refuge in that since they have promised for the past four or five years to abolish rates and reform local government finance.

We have reached the stage where the screw has been turned again and again. But the Government can no longer justify their actions. The Secretary of State for Scotland has become more arbitrary with each step that he has taken over the past three or four years. He finds it difficult to explain why certain areas have been singled out for inclusion on the hit list and why certain other local authorities may be taken off it. We have a jungle from which any logic and common sense has long since departed.

These regulations may be just the first step in the presentation of orders seeking to force Government diktat on certain local authorities against their wishes. But it would be wise and proper for those who are interested in the democracy of local authorities to contest proposed changes. We know that the Government's majority will steam roller them through, but it is worth saying at the outset of this Parliament that the Government do not have a mandate to impose these matters on Scotland and to override the interests of the democratically elected local authorities.

Sooner or later, that argument will hit home, and the Government will realise that they are nothing more than a colonialist administration without any moral foundation for the policies that they intend to impose on the long-suffering people of Scotland.

11.13 pm
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton (Edinburgh, West)

The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) took as his theme the need to safeguard local democracy. I shall return to it later in my remarks.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram) and wish him every success in his new role.

The first of these instruments deals with local authorities which accede to the Government's request on a voluntary basis, and I believe that it introduces an element of flexibility. The second applies when orders are to be made governing the repayment of rates and the cost of levying and collecting the reduced rates in the cases of rates being reduced by selective action, which results in approval of a report to the House of Commons.

It is not clear into which category the Lothian regional council will fall, but the administration there has confirmed its willingness to work with and co-operate with the Government on the basis of 6p reduction. However, the administration does not hold the overall balance of power, and those holding it will have to commit themselves one way or another very soon.

After considering the representations from the Lothian regional council, in the course of the election campaign I told my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that in my view the 8p reduction was going too far and that I hoped he would show some flexibility. Since then my right hon. Friend has met council representatives, and I am glad to say that he has responded to their views and reduced the 8p to 6p. I have received an undertaking from the administration on Lothian regional council that the 6p reduction can be operated without compulsory redundancies, if the council falls in with the Secretary of State's wishes, and that services can be adequately maintained to the satisfaction of the consumers.

Mr. Dewar

Does the hon. Gentleman approve of what happened in Lothian? Two budgets were put forward, one by the Tories and one by Labour. It became clear that neither could command a majority, and ultimately a compromise was worked out. The supporters of three parties came together to carry the budget. The Secretary of State then overruled the decision of that coalition of interests, which represented a wide range of opinion in the region, and enforced upon the council the original Conservative budget, which has been agreed in a back stairs deal. Is that good for local democracy? How does the hon. Gentleman square that with his conscience?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that compromise is the essence of politics. The Secretary of State is fully entitled to take the necessary action to safeguard the ratepayers. I am very much encouraged by the assurances and undertakings that I have been given that there will be no compulsory redundancies and that services can and will be adequately maintained.

One of the reasons for the problem in Lothian region is that over four years the rates escalated by more than 160 per cent. The social work department in Lothian was one of the most grandiose in Scotland. In May 1982 it was over 25 per cent. more expensive per head than the department in Strathclyde. It cost about £61 per head of population, while Strathclyde, with many more deprived areas, cost about £48 per head, and I understand that other Scots authorities operated at under £40 per head of the population.

The social work service in Lothian region escalated much more rapidly than other social work departments in Scotland. Social workers in Lothian are the highest paid in Scotland, and much of the funds go in wages. Substantial reductions have been made, reductions this year in services should, in my view, be minimal, because the social work department needs time to adjust. Furthermore, there is now a shortage of bed space for elderly persons in hospitals in Lothian, and over the next 10 years the number of people aged over 65 will grow by not less than 5 per cent.

To ease that burden, the policy of more care in the community should be followed. Over the years this will inevitably result in an adjustment in the funds between the health boards and the social work departments. It should be noted that the increase in the number of sheltered housing projects for the elderly will inevitable have consequences for the social work departments.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) and other Labour Members are concerned about whether the principle of local democracy is being infringed in any way. I believe that the House is fully entitled to approve the regulations and the order. The issues were much more sharply focused some years ago, on 21 July 1981, when the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) summed up the kernel of the issue very well. He said: The House should reflect that Governments, whether Labour, believing in an increase in public expenditure, or Tory, wishing to reduce it, have always accepted that the totality of public expenditure is an essential and legitimate part of the Government's economic strategy … a settled part of the relationship between the Government and local authorities over many years has been that when the Government requested local authorities to moderate their expenditure in the national interest —as the last Labour Government did—local authorities have responded." — [Official Report, 21 July 1981; Vol. 9, c. 254–55.] In view of the undertakings that I have received that there will not be compulsory redundancies and that services will be adequately maintained, I believe that the ratepayers are entitled to be fully protected against unreasonable increases, especially as the employment prospects of many are tied up with keeping the rates under reasonable control.

11.19 pm
Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)

It is quite monstrous that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton) should stand there and talk about services being adequately maintained in Edinburgh and Lothian when the reality is severe cuts in services. In the last couple of weeks thousands of parents have had letters from their children's schools saying that there will be fewer teachers and that there will be no physical education or music. We are witnessing a dramatic cut in the level of provision for our school children in Lothian, and it has been imposed by this Government.

That is what these regulations are about. They are about the imposition of draconian and dictatorial powers.

When we started down this road, we were told by the then Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind), that these powers would be used only when a local authority demonstrated a desire to increase dramatically expenditure above the level that the Government wished, and by an extent that meant implications for the national economy and an intolerable burden on the ratepayers. We have come a long way since then. The policy has been wholly discredited not only because it undermines local democracy but because it is clear that no rational and objective case can be made for the selection of the local authorities on the hit list.

For example, in Lothian, expenditure has been cut by £33 million in response to the Government's powers, and more than 3,000 jobs have been destroyed in Lothian regional council alone as a result of the cuts. We are now asked to make a further cut. The main reason for that request has nothing to do with Lothian region's needs or expenditure. The reason is that the Government have altered the guideline. They have had to reduce the guideline to keep Lothian on their hit Fist. That is why it is so distasteful that these authorities should be singled out for political reasons, or for reasons other than those based on an objective consideration of the needs of the people in those areas.

Mr. Barry Henderson (Fife, North-East)


Mr. Strang

As has been said, we have a budget that has been agreed by all the parties with the exception of the minority Conservative party. Only 22 Out of a total of 49 Lothian regional councillors are Tories. Just 10 days ago a deputation of Labour, Liberal, SDP and Scottish National party councillors appealed to the Secretary of State to respect the democratic decision of that local authority. Instead, we are seeing the imposition of the wishes of the minority Tory party on the people of Lothian.

11.22 pm
Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West)

I listened very carefully to what the Minister had to say, but I was forced to the conclusion that it was the worst ministerial maiden speech that I have ever heard made from that Dispatch Box. Even if the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) or the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton) had got the job at the Scottish Office, they could not have made a worse job of it. Of course, the hon. Member for Tayside, North would not have got the job, because he has not got enough blue blood. Even the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West has not got enough blue blood. He is just the brother of a Duke, whereas we are now lumbered with the son of a Marquess. The mantle has been left with him to clabber the Scottish local authorities. We have reached the ridiculous position that the son of a medieval Marquess of Lothian is contravening the democratically expressed wishes of those elected to represent the people of Lothian region.

Despite what the Minister and his Back-Bench collaborators say, these measures represent a serious threat to local democracy. They set the way for the further orders that will probably be debated in the next few weeks. They will dictate the rate levels to certain Scottish local authorities. Many of us have great sympathy with those who say that rates in general are too high. However, the reason for that is that this Government will not give adequate rate support grant to the local authorities. The Government are to blame for high rates. Now they are denying Scottish local authorities the opportunity to obtain revenue in order to maintain or improve the essential services that the people voted for.

I am a ratepayer in the Stirling district, which gives me something in common with the Secretary of State, who, unfortunately, is not here. However, the right hon. Gentleman and I differ in our approach to the statutory instruments. Presumably he will vote for them to put money in his pocket; he wants a rate rebate. I shall vote against these instruments and any subsequent orders, because I want better services, better housing, better environmental services and better leisure and recreation facilities for our children. That is what local government is all about.

The Under-Secretary and his henchmen are dictating to the elected representatives of Stirling and other local authorities and are virtually saying to local people, "Sorry, but you will not get the services that you voted for in the district council elections." That is a serious threat to local democracy.

The Government were rejected by over 70 per cent. of the Scottish electorate at the general election and have no mandate from the people of Scotland for the statutory instruments or any of the other draconian legislation that they have up their sleeve. Those elected to local authorities have a far better mandate to represent the people of Scotland.

We hear hypocrisy from the Tories about the negation of democracy in Eastern Europe, but the Under-Secretary is destroying what democracy is left to the people of Scotland. Under the present over-centralised, bureaucratic, system, he is the Jaruzelski of Scottish politics, with his jackboot tactics, dictating to local people and negating local democracy. It is a scandal.

Unfortunately, it is not only the blue bloods in this House who are dictating to the people of Scotland. The instruments have to be approved by another place and no doubt "Lord Hamish", who was rejected by the electorate in his constituency, will be in charge of orders over there. It is making a farce of democracy. The sooner that we get a Scottish Parliament or Assembly to deal with these matters, the better it will be.

11.27 pm
Mr. Ancram

By leave of the House, I shall respond to some of the comments made in the debate. Had I not received the normal compliments and invective from the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan), I should have been disappointed. I have heard him pay those compliments to all my predecessors in this office.

My hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) was right to spell out the effects of one authority's high rates on another. Opposition Members would do well to remember those effects.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) seemed to see a black purpose in the instruments. If he had followed my argument he would have understood that they merely allow a procedure that was endorsed by a Parliament of which he was a Member and can be implemented only with the approval of the Parliament of which he is now a Member. If that is not democracy, I do not know what is. After the general election results, perhaps SNP Members should be a little careful about talking about mandates.

I listened with interest to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton). I hope that he will forgive me if I do not take up the specific case of the Lothian regional council. As I said earlier, this is not the appropriate time to discuss specific actions of local authorities.

The right hon. Member for Glasgow, Rutherglen (Mr. MacKenzie) and the hon. Members for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) and Falkirk, West made the extraordinary accusation that, by seeking a reduction in local authorities' expenditure, we were undermining democracy. That falls ill from the lips of a party which, in 1976, was the first party to reduce rate support grant so as to control expenditure, and which in 1977–78, reduced Ole rate support grant by the largest amount ever. It smacks of hypocrisy for that party to talk about our controlling local authority expenditure as if it were something that had never been done before. Of course, local authority expenditure is relevant to the national economy and the economy policy of the Government at national level. No Government can afford to sit back and watch overspending by councils without trying to do something about it.

Finally, it is worth remembering—

It being half-past Eleven o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 4 (Prayers against statutory instruments, &c. (negative procedure)).

The House divided: Ayes 84, Noes 194.

Division No. 8] [11.30 pm
Alton, David Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Ashdown, Paddy Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Barron, Kevin Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Beckett, Mrs. Margaret Kirkwood, Archibald
Beith, A. J. Lambie, David
Bermingham, Gerald Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Lloyd, Anthony (Stretford)
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) McKelvey, William
Caborn, Richard MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) McNamara, Kevin
Campbell-Savours, Dale McTaggart, Robert
Canavan, Dennis McWilliam, John
Clay, Robert Madden, Max
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Cohen, Harry Michie, William
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Miller, Dr M. S. (E. Kilbride)
Cowans, Harry Nellist, David
Craigen, J. M. O'Brien, William
Crowther, Stan O'Neill, Martin
Cunliffe, Lawrence Patchett, Terry
Dalyell, Tam Pavitt, Laurie
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Penhaligon, David
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'I) Prescott, John
Dewar, Donald Redmond, M.
Dixon, Donald Robertson, George
Dormand, Jack Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Eastham, Ken Skinner, Dennis
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Soley, Clive
Ewing, Harry Spearing, Nigel
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn) Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Fisher, Mark Strang, Gavin
Foulkes, George Tinn, James
Gould, Bryan Wallace, James
Hamilton, James (M'well, N) Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central) Wareing, Robert
Hardy, Peter Wilson, Gordon
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Young, David (Bolton SE)
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Haynes, Frank Tellers for the Ayes:
Heffer, Eric S. Mr. Norman Hogg and
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall) Mr. Hugh McCartney.
Alexander, Richard Cranborne, Viscount
Ancram, Michael Currie, Mrs. Edwina
Aspinwall, Jack Dorrell, Stephen
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Bellingham, Henry Dover, Denshore
Blackburn, John du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Boscawen, Hon Robert Dunn, Robert
Bottomley, Peter Evennett, David
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Eyre, Reginald
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Fairbairn, Nicholas
Bulmer, Esmond Fallon, Michael
Butterfill, John Favell, Anthony
Clark, Michael (Rochford) Fenner, Mrs. Peggy
Clarke Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Finsberg, Geoffrey
Conway, Derek Fletcher, Alexander
Cope, John Forman, Nigel
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Moate, Roger
Fox, Marcus Monro, Sir Hector
Franks, Cecil Montgomery, Fergus
Fraser, Peter (Angus East) Moore, John
Freeman, Roger Morris, M. (N'hampton, S.)
Gale, Roger Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Galley, Roy Moynihan, Hon C.
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Murphy, Christopher
Glyn, Dr. Alan Neale, Gerrard
Good lad, Alastair Needham, Richard
Gower, Sir Raymond Neubert, Michael
Gregory, Conal Newton, Tony
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) Nicholls, Patrick
Ground, Patrick Norris, Steven
Gummer, John Selwyn Oppenheim, Philip
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Osborn, Sir John
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Ottaway, Richard
Hampson, Dr Keith Page, Richard (Herts, SW)
Hanley, Jeremy Pollock, Alexander
Hannam, John Powell, William (Corby)
Hargreaves, Kenneth Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Harvey, Robert Proctor, K. Harvey
Hawkins, C. (High Peak) Raffan, Keith
Hawksley, Warren Rathbone, Tim
Hayward, Robert Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)
Heathcoat-Amery, David Renton, Tim
Henderson, Barry Rifkind, Malcolm
Hickmet, Richard Rossi, Hugh
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Rost, Peter
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Rowe, Andrew
Holt, Richard Ryder, Richard
Hordern, Peter Sackville, Hon Thomas
Howard, Michael Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Sayeed, Jonathan
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk N) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Hunter, Andrew Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Jessel, Toby Silvester, Fred
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Sims, Roger
Jones, Robert (Herts W) Soames, Hon Nicholas
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Speed, Keith
Key, Robert Speller, Tony
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Spencer, D.
Knight, Gregory (Derby N) Spicer, Michael (Worcs, S)
Knowles, Michael Stanbrook, Ivor
Lang, Ian Stern, Michael
Latham, Michael Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Lawler, Geoffrey Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Lee, John (Pendle) Stradling Thomas, J.
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Sumberg, David
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Terlezki, Stefan
Lester, Jim Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Lilley, Peter Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Lord, Michael Thompson, Patrick (N'ich, N)
Luce, Richard Thorne, Neil (Ilford, S)
Lyell, Nicholas Thurnham, Peter
McCurley, Mrs Anna Townend, John (Bridlington)
Macfarlane, Neil Tracey, Richard
MacGregor, John Trotter, Neville
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Twinn, Dr Ian
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Major, John Viggers, Peter
Mallins, Humphrey Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Malone, Gerald Walden, George
Maples, John Walker, William (T'side N)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Wall, Sir Patrick
Mates, Michael Waller, Gary
Mather, Carol Wardle, C. (Boxhill)
Maude, Francis Watts, John
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Wheeler, John
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Whitney, Raymond
Mellor, David Wilkinson, John
Merchant, Piers Winterton, Mrs Ann
Meyer, Sir Anthony Winterton, Nicholas
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Wolfson, Mark
Mills, Ian (Meridan) Wood, Timothy
Mitchell, David (Hants, NW) Woodcock, Michael
Yeo, Tim Tellers for the Noes:
Young, Sir George (Acton) Mr. David Hunt and
Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones.

Question accordingly negatived.