§ Mr. Speaker
I have to announce to the House that I have not selected any of the amendments on the Order Paper—[HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."]—nor have I selected the manuscript amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourhridge (Sir J. Stokes).
§ The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)
I beg to move,That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows:Most Gracious Sovereign,We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, having in mind the acceptance by Their Majesties King William and Queen Mary of the Declaration of Rights presented to them on 13th February 1689, and recalling also the Bill of Rights passed by the Parliament of England and the Claim of Right made by the Estates of Scotland for vindicating and asserting the ancient rights and liberties of the people of the two Kingdoms, beg leave to express to Your Majesty our great pleasure in celebrating the tercentenary of these historic events of 1688 and 1689 that established those constitutional freedoms under the law which Your Majesty's Parliament and people have continued to enjoy for three hundred years.The address commemorates the 300th anniversary of one of the great events in the history of these islands: the glorious revolution of 1688. It is an anniversary with particular meaning for this House because, uniquely in the annals of European history, this was a revolution carried through by the action of Parliament itself.
The main events are well known: the defiance of the orders of King James II by the bishops and the judges; the invitation to William of Orange and Mary to defend our ancient rights and liberties; the landing at Torbay and the peaceful transfer of power which gave rise to the title of the bloodless revolution in England—although it was not like that in Scotland, and it was a very different story in Ireland; the summoning of the Convention Parliament; and the passage of legislation starting with the Bill of Rights and in Scotland the Claim of Right, which set us firmly upon a course of political stability and peace at home.
Those who invited William and Mary and who drew up the constitutional settlement wanted to secure our liberties and safeguard our institutions—Parliament, the common law, the jury system, local government by justices and corporations.
There are many important conclusions to be drawn from those momentous events 300 years ago. First, the glorious revolution established qualities in our political life which have been a tremendous source of strength: tolerance, respect for the law and for the impartial administration of justice, and respect for private property. It also established the tradition that political change should be sought and achieved through Parliament. It was this which saved us from the violent revolutions which shook our continental neighbours and made the revolution of 1688 the first step on the road which, through the successive Reform Acts, led to the establishment of universal suffrage and full parliamentary democracy.
Secondly, the events of 1688 were important in establishing Britain's nationhood and they opened the way to that renewal of energy and resourcefulness which built 1234 Britain's industrial and financial strength and gave her a world role. They demonstrated that a free society will always be more durable and successful than any tyranny.
Thirdly, we also celebrate the forging of the alliance between Britain and the Netherlands, which has endured for more than three centuries and which is active today in NATO and the European Community. Her Majesty's visit to the Netherlands this week further strengthened our friendship.
Even great events are subject to constantly shifting judgments and interpretations. Not every legacy of 1688 is a happy one—above all in Ireland. But the principal achievements of our forebears in 1688 remain and ensure that the will of the people be exercised through Parliament rather than by intimidation or pressure practised by any one group or faction. That is the legacy of 1688—a legacy not only to this country, but to parliamentary democracies everywhere.
§ 6 pm
§ Mr. Neil Kinnock (Islwyn)
This motion to express to Her Majesty our pleasure at the tercentenary of the revolution is a worthy act, not only because it celebrates a significant advance, as the Prime Minister just said, but because it requires us all to consider the character of our democracy and the ways in which, arduously and slowly, it has been brought thus far to our own time. Reflecting on that journey of democracy is a rewarding activity in itself. For me, it is fascinating, for instance, to see some who are usually scornful of fudges and compromise give such respect to the settlement of 1689, for if the coup d'etat itself was dramatic, the contemporary explanations of what occurred—and why—were somewhat pragmatic.
The Whigs, as we all recall, claimed a little disingenuously that James had been deposed merely because he had broken the contract of monarchy with the people. The Tories disagreed with that, holding that there was no such contract. Phlegmatically, however, they preferred what had happened peacefully to the alternative, which would certainly have been the second revolutionary civil war inside 50 years, with all its incalculable consequences. Once again, the world would have been turned upside down.
Meanwhile, the Prince of Orange knew a good thing when he saw one. With a Dutch opportunism not now seen outside the realms of the European Nations Cup, he asserted that he had brought an army with him to Torbay, not for reasons of invasion or insurrection, but merely for personal security. Then he went on to accept Parliament's rather dexterous definition that the throne had simply been vacated by James II, apparently in between having nose bleeds and disposing of the great seal in a rather original manner.
To the actors in the revolution and to many subsequent politicians, constitutionalists and historians, the interpretations of the revolution have been a matter of "pick your preference". As Christopher Hill said, history is written by the winners, and that is certainly true of revolutions. It was ever thus.
However, some of the most redoubtable roots of our democracy and some of the most intractable causes of our divisions, as the Prime Minister implied, run back to those years of 1688 and 1689, which is what makes the events so significant. It is important, therefore, even at this distance of centuries both to avoid the overblown romanticism of 1235 those who say that the revolution meant everything to liberty and democracy, and to eschew the cynical affectation of those who hold that the revolution meant nothing for liberty and democracy. Both schools of thought, if that is what they qualify to be called, are wrong.
The coup d'etat and settlement of 1688 and 1689 produced an important advance in the process of constructing rights and suppressing tyrany, which has progressed gradually and fitfully in our country over the centuries. No final date has been set for that process, and if we are truly a democracy of vigilance and vitality, no date for the completion of the body of liberties will ever be set:Each freedom— as Aneurin Bevan said—is only made secure by adding another to it".The real assessment of 1688 and its consequences must, like all historic events, be made according to the two criteria of what they meant when they happened and what they convey to our age. That is especially true when the events concerned are held to be the very foundry of our liberties.
As for what happened, let us commend the undoubted fact that the revolution effectively asserted Parliament's power to dislodge the executive. Let us commend the fact that it did so without bloodshed in England. Let us celebrate the fact that it began to dispose of the dictatorship of divine right and to replace it with the civilised and durable strength of democratic right. Let us welcome the fact that, by further developing the conditions for liberty, the revolution notably assisted the advance of freedom of speech, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.
In all those ways the revolution deserves to be marked, as today's motion puts it, with "pleasure", just as it earned the accolades offered by Liberal historians such as Macaulay and G. M. Trevelyan and the applause of Socialist historians such as A. J. P. Taylor, who hailed the revolution asthe foundation of our liberty".They were all prepared to praise the revolution, despite being conscious, as we are, that in its immediate wake there was bloodshed in Scotland, and in Ireland there was dreadful slaughter, since when there has been a long and dreadful history and inheritance of conflict. All these commentators were conscious, too, that, although they were prepared to praise the revolution as a genesis of liberty, issues such as the royal prerogative, exercised not by the monarch but by a political executive, were bound to remain vexed—as they do in our time.
This brings me back to the second criterion for judging these events—what do they convey to us now? For the most incisive assessment of that, we are indebted to the most distinguished of our contemporary historians of the 17th century Christopher Hill, former master of Balliol. In a perfect illustration of the fact that the historian's art is confined not merely to analysing the past, Hill wrote to The Independent as recently as February of this year to say that the revolution of 1688was not a popular Revolution like that of 1640–60. But … it overthrew a Government which … had alienated the whole electorate, including its Tory supporters, by an arrogant and insensitive disregard for public opinion, by its arbitrary interference with the independence of local government and1236the universities, by its bullying of the press and the judiciary and by the subordination of British foreign policy to the wishes of the greatest World power.Christopher Hill continued:James alienated Scotland and even the House of Lords; opposition to him started among the bishops".The revolution, Hill concluded,re-established effective parliamentary control over the executive, the rule of law and the political independence of judges, restored traditional local government and greater freedom of the press. It ended rule by royal favourites and ideological sycophants, most of whom were recent converts to the rulers' religion.It is clear that the former master of Balliol was writing only of 1688 and 1689.
The liberties and democracy which the events of those years began to establish in our country must never be taken for granted. Parliamentary democracy above all systems of government must respond to and stimulate change. In three centuries democracy has slowly been extended in our country. Parliamentary democratic government has adapted to each new age. It must continue to do so: by getting rid of residual injustices and abuses from previous ages, ancient and modern; by advancing to new ground in the achievement of rights; and most of all by using the best of all collective instruments—democracy itself—for its highest purpose of enlarging the political, social and economic liberty of the individual.
We in this generation recognise that which the generation in 1688 did not, that that obligation must apply to all individuals—women as well as men, poor people as well as those who are not poor—and that it must apply without prejudice or preference to everyone regardless of race, colour and creed. The object of that obligation is freedom. It is freedom that is not merely formal and conditional upon the accidents of fortune, but freedom that is real and usable because people have the political rights, the economic power, the personal confidence in security and the sense of social responsibility that make them truly emancipated. Now, as always, it is our parliamentary obligation to further those freedoms. As we endorse this celebratory motion, we regard it as our democratic mission.
§ Sir Bernard Braine (Castle Point)
May I, as one who has had the privilege of sitting in 12 successive Parliaments under six of your illustrious predecessors, Mr. Speaker, and having seen nine Prime Ministers at the Dispatch Box, offer a few reflections on the motion that is before the House?
As the Leader of the Opposition has said, we may have our differences in this place, but there is surely one consideration that unites us all. It is the knowledge that the parliamentary system which we jointly serve is greater than the sum total of all who are here at any one time. We are here, of course, to make the laws, to control taxation, to check the abuse of power and to seek redress of grievance, but only for a brief tenure. Therefore, we are no more than custodians of the best inherited from the past and trustees for generations yet unborn. That is why being a Member of this House is the greatest privilege that any British citizen can have.
Yet it might have turned out differently. If the arbitrary rule of a Stuart king had not been checked, as it was by the events of 1688–89, upheaval might have been delayed but 1237 it would have been as inevitable and probably as violent as it was to be in France a century later or as it was in 1917 in Tsarist Russia.
Looking hack, we can see that those events were a major watershed in our history. It was certainly a revolution but more in the sense of the turning of a wheel back to normality, away from arbitrary rule back to the ancient contract between king, Parliament and people which had obtained at least from the middle ages. As one of our most distinguished historians has written:Stuart England, like so many continental countries, found kingship and liberty incompatible. The revolution of 1688 gave us a constitution in which the two are inseparable.Henceforward, not even the king would be above the law and the actions of his Ministers would require the assent of a freely elected Parliament. That is the nub of it.
Of course, the glorious revolution did nothing to change the social order. It did nothing immediate for the lot of the common man, it did not widen the franchise, but what it did was provide a strong framework of law within which later far-reaching changes were to prove possible and a stability ensured which became the envy of the nations of the world.
What is more, no year since 1689 has passed without a meeting of Parliament. The way was at last open for the expansion of commerce, the extension of influence overseas, the building of empire and later that truly remarkable and peaceful transition from empire to a free Commonwealth of nations. Of course, it did not all proceed smoothly. Only 76 years after the revolution, an unthinking British Government sought to tax 2.5 million Britons on the other side of the Atlantic without consulting the colonial assemblies or representation here. When that happened there were some Members of this House who took the view that the Government of the day were in breach of what had been settled in 1689.
The great Edmund Burke, writing to his constituents in Bristol in 1777, rejected the charge that those who, like him, opposed the Government's American policy were guilty of encouraging rebellion. [Interruption.] I hope that hon. Members will agree with what Edmund Burke went on to say:revolts of a whole people never were encouraged, now or at any time. They are always provoked.Ironically, one of the greatest compliments that could have been paid to our revolution was that the American founding fathers drew their inspiration from our Bill of Rights, even to the extent of using some of its phraseology in the framing of their own constitution.
Happily, we learned from the experience, beginning with the Durham reforms, the extension of self-government to Canada and to the Australasian colonies, and eventually sovereign independence to India and to nearly all our remaining dependencies. In the end, we kept faith with all who had been subject to the British Crown, and we did so in the spirit of what was begun here 300 years ago.
It was not given to those who participated in the glorious revolution to know where it would lead. What they did not know was that only 40 years before their fathers had engaged in cruel civil war, had executed a king, had suspended Parliament and had installed a military dictatorship. It is true that king and Parliament came back in 1660, yet the lesson had not been learnt, so that once again the realm was in grave danger. Those who sought a new settlement saw clearly the need for constitutional 1238 stability and freedom, and they acted. Their instinct was sound, and we can justifiably say now that they built better than they knew.
It is wholly fitting, therefore, that, as we celebrate the tercentenery of this great milestone in our history, we should pay tribute to what was done then and should thank God that as a consequence we live in a free country. We should support the motion with full and grateful hearts.
§ Mr. David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale)
On behalf of my hon. Friends I warmly and readily support the motion which the Prime Minister has moved which says thatan humble Address be presented to Her Majesty,to mark the celebration of significant and historical events which led to 300 years of stable constitutional monarchy.
For once the motion correctly refers to the Parliament of England. I hope hon. Members will not mind if I remind them that we are the successors not just of the Parliament of England but also of the Parliament of Scotland. We all have our favourite historians and I should like to quote the words of Professor Robert Rait who reminded us that the Claim of Right of the Scottish Convention of Estates was different from the declaration in England. He said:But the Scottish declaration, as a whole, was not expressed in the general terms which satisfied the English Parliament; it was less philosophical and more indignant, and it specified a large number of detailed offences.He went on to say:In 'offering' the Crown to William and Mary, the Convention asserted, more explicitly than the English Parliament, the dependence of the royal authority upon the will of the legislative assembly, and, in making the offer, the rights defined in the list of grievances were claimed, demanded, and insisted upon.It is right to remember that the revolution of 1688–39 established the rights of a democratic Parliament against the usurpation of power by the Crown, but that it did not, nor did it purport to, establish the rights of individuals against the abuse of power by the Executive. As we celebrate these events of 300 years ago, it is wholly right that we should use the occasion to deliberate on our present constitution and the abuses of power within it. In that constructive spirit, I support the motion.
§ Mr. Ian Gow (Eastbourne)
Last month, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury came to the House of Commons and told us that, following a decision of the European Court, the Government were proposing to introduce legislation to give effect to the judgment of that court. My hon. Friend was asked what would be the consequence if the House of Commons failed to agree to that change in taxation which he had announced the Government were to seek to secure. My hon. Friend told the House that, if we were to make that decision to reject the Government's proposal to give effect to the judgment of the European Court, that would lead to a serious constitutional situation.
Earlier this week, the President of the European Commission was reported as having said that, in a few years' time, 80 per cent. of the powers now enjoyed by the House would have been transferred to the European Commission or the European Parliament. It is against that 1239 background that I want to underline some of the words that appear in the Humble Address moved by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. Those words refer to theconstitutional freedoms under the law which Your Majesty's Parliament and people have continued to enjoy for three hundred years.It is appropriate, when we are debating this motion, that the House should reflect that that which occurred 300 years ago is in the nature of a trust conferred upon us. It is timely that we should reflect whether those freedoms granted to this Parliament and to our people can long be maintained, if we are to continue in the direction proposed by my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary and which was envisaged by the President of the European Commission.
The great movement—in a way, it was a great movement—towards what some people regard as European unity started 42 years ago with the famous speech at Zurich of Winston Churchill. He said in those telling sentences:We must recreate the European family—or as much of it as we can—and provide it with a structure under which it can dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom.The next sentence, which I believe has been widely misinterpreted, stated:We must build a kind of United States of Europe.We do not know what Churchill would have said about the prospect of a continuing erosion of the powers of this place over our people, but it is legitimate for those who, like myself, share his European ideal to say that it is possible to believe that the European nations must co-operate as closely as possible, one with another, where it is in their common interest to do so.
It is possible to believe, as I do, in the free movement of people, goods and capital in Europe without also believing that we need to go on surrendering the powers of this place, either to the Commission or to the European Parliament.
§ Mr. Gow
Following the Single European Act, it is so called.
It is appropriate on this occasion that the House should reflect on the liberties that were conferred specifically upon us as a result of the glorious revolution and say—I believe that we have my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's sympathy in this—that we shall seek to preserve and uphold the rights of this House and the rights of our people to be taxed and their rules to be made only as we, the House of Commons, decide.
§ Mr. Tony Benn (Chesterfield)
This is the first time in my 38 years in the House that we have had a debate on parliamentary democracy, on what was meant to be a formal motion. But it cannot possibly be a formal motion because of the speech made in support of it by the Prime Minister and by other hon. Members who have participated.
One thing has become quite clear to me, and I have thought it for some time. If one blows on the embers of any old controversy, the flames come up quite quickly. I recommend the House not to pass the Humble Address that has been moved by the Prime Minister today. What 1240 happened in 1688 was not a glorious revolution. It was a plot by some people. By chance, they conspired in Chesterfield. The Earl of Devonshire got a dukedom for his pains and it would have cost him his head if it had gone the other way. That plot sought to replace a Catholic king with another king more acceptable to those who organised the plot. It was not bloodless. I do not know how the House can discuss the arrival of William of Orange without referring to the hideous repression for which he was responsible in Ireland. He was not alone in the long history of British repression in Ireland, but he was responsible for very much of it. Historians have said, and I have read, that the rights of the Irish Catholics under William III were fewer than those of the American negroes at the time of slavery.
Nor, indeed, was 1688 the establishment of our liberties. How many hon. Members have read the Bill of Rights? I shall quote just one passage from it. It referred to:An Act for the more effectual preserving of the King's person and government by disabling papists from sitting in either House of Parliament.That is in the Bill of Rights. Are we to say today that we welcome a Bill of Rights that says that papists could not sit in either House of Parliament? I know that that was changed later, but we should not attribute our rights to the Bill of Rights.
Let me turn to the oath required of magistrates and Ministers, which states:I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual within this realm. So help me god.However, the Prime Minister allowed the airfields of Britain to be used by an American President to bomb Libya. The standing army of James II consisted of 30,000 troops, exactly the same number that President Reagan has at his command in our islands.
The hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) touched on another aspect of the matter—the fact that this Parliament is about to be destroyed by the European Act. It is all very well making a speech, saying that he thinks that the Prime Minister really sympathises with him. Whatever the sympathies of the Prime Minister, one has only to read what Mr. Delors said as quoted in The Times today. It states:M. Jack Delors, the president of the European Commission, yesterday stunned Euro-MPs by declaring that the existing system of national parliaments would have to give way to the 'embryo' of a European government within seven years, and the Single European Market after 1992.What capacity for self-deception does this House have when it celebrates such a motion? The Father of the House and I were elected in the same year, although he was elected a few months before me. The one difference between us was that I followed Edmund Burke in Bristol. Edmund Burke was the paid agent of the state of New York. That is why he supported the American colonies. He was the Member for Bristol for six years. He visited the constituency four times and he is now treated as one of the great architects of parliamentary democracy. He used to take his holidays in Bath, 10 miles away, but he did not bother to visit Bristol. For God's sake, the capacity for self-deception in this House never ceases to amaze me.
Then we are told that 1688 was the birth of our democratic rights. Only 2 per cent. of the population, all of them rich men, were represented in this House in 1688. No working people or middle-class people and no women 1241 were represented. That had nothing to do with democracy and that is no doubt why the National Front joined the Prime Minister in welcoming the glorious revolution. It has endorsed it and, when Exeter celebrates the landing of William III at Torbay, the National Front will be there because it knows what it was about.
This is all to justify a celebration in Westminster Hall on 20 July. The contractors have not waited. They are already building the structures in Westminster Hall to allow the Queen to reply to a Humble Address that we have not even passed. If we want to have a celebration, have a celebration, but do not ask the House of Commons to falsify history to justify a party in Westminster Hall. Do not ask us to do it. Do not ask us to confuse the electors about democracy.
Let me give a parallel. If this was the birth of democracy, will the Prime Minister tell us whether, if the Russians adopted the principles of 1688, she would welcome it? If Gorbachev said that he intended to be a hereditary monarch, would that be a great advance towards democracy? If the Supreme Soviet were to be hereditary and the prerogatives of the General Secretary of the Communist party were to be the same as the royal prerogative, would that he a great gain? Who is the House trying to deceive by passing the motion? There is also the American standing army here to which I have referred; and the power of the European Commission over our Parliament.
I do not mean to he controversial. The House knows that it is not my practice ever to be controversial on constitutional matters. But I would not be human if I did not express my deep resentment at having to listen to a speech on democracy from the butcher of the GLC—the person who tried to destroy the civil liberties of our people, the Prime Minister who has pursued Peter Wright around the world at enormous cost to prevent him telling the truth about the crimes committed by MI5 against an elected Government. I will not listen to a lecture from her on democracy.
If we were to celebrate parliamentary democracy, we could perhaps celebrate Wat Tyler's campaign against the poll tax. We could celebrate the Levellers. We could celebrate Tom Paine, whose books are still not allowed to be read by the prisoners in the Maze. We could celebrate Tolpuddle, or the Chartists, or the Suffragettes.
I must tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I am going to put a plaque in the House. I shall have it made myself and screwed on the door of the broom cupboard in the Crypt because in that broom cupboard on the night of the census in 1910 a suffragette hid herself so that when she filled in the census she could say that she lived in the House of Commons on the night of the census. Those are the people who gave us parliamentary democracy. Indeed, the Prime Minister would not be Prime Minister if the suffragette had not broken the law.
§ Mr. Gow
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that part of his speech, will he reflect on the fact that there are many Conservative Members, and vast numbers outside, who think that for him to lecture this place about freedom and liberty in the light of his conduct during the miners' strike is a disgrace?
§ Mr. Benn
All that the hon. Gentleman has done is to show that this is not an all-party motion; it is an occasion to argue about the meaning of democracy. The day that 1242 the Labour party and the Tory party agree about democracy, I shall apply for the Chiltern Hundreds, so I hope that we never end that sort of argument. Of course, this is about controversy. But if we have an opportunity 300 years later to discuss what democracy is about, let us discuss it properly.
My amendment is of inordinate length, Mr. Speaker, but you allowed me to table it. I think that that must have been on the clear understanding that I did not mope it, but that is another matter. I have tabled in my amendment, first, that Crown prerogatives should be replaced by statute law. There is no justification whatever for powers to be exercised in this country that have not been endorsed by Parliament. Let me list the powers of the Sovereign today, most of them exercised by the Prime Minister—to make Orders in Council, to declare war, to make peace, to recognise foreign Governments, to sign or ratify treaties, to grant pardons, to grant charters, to confer honours, to make appointments, to establish commissions, to grant commissions, and to issue orders. Those are prerogative powers and sitting on the Government Front Bench is the person who exercises them.
I asked the Library to tell me a bit about the Prime Minister. Since she has held office, she has made 170 peers—170 of them sitting in the other place, not by virtue of democratic right but because of patronage. The Prime Minister's predecessors all did the same. She has made four hereditary peers, 11 Lords of Appeal, and 56 bishops. Those appointments were made under prerogative powers. They were never discussed in Cabinet or in Parliament. How long shall we pretend that a system of law that rests on feudal prerogatives, even if exercised by the monarch sitting on the Government Front Bench, has anything to do with democracy?
Then we come to the House of Lords itself, a subject in which I have some interest. But when I saw those old peers who were given a map of London, their rail fare and £100 to support the poll tax, I must confess that I understood why the House of Lords is so beloved by the Conservative party. The poll tax is the best thing that has ever happened to the stately homes of England.
Then we come to the third point in my amendment, that people be allowed to know and understand the decisions taken in their name by the Government. We are now told that anyone who ever serves the public must swear confidentiality for life—except Bernard Ingham, who leaks state secrets at 11 o'clock every morning. That includes members of the Cabinet who publish their memoirs. We are Crown servants too. This is an attempt to suppress information about what happens in Whitehall and the Government so that the public do not know, and if they do not know, they cannot exercise their vote in order to change the society in which they live.
Then we come to the powers of the European Commission, the right to equality of treatment and the right to be granted free speech in assembly and free trade unions, the right to have elected local and national authorities to meet the needs of the community and that the armed forces of foreign powers should be subject to the annual Army Act. What is wrong with the House of Commons deciding every year whether it wishes American troops to remain here'? Every year we go through the farce—it is a farce—of re-endorsing the disciplinary code for our Army. Why cannot we say about the American army 1243 what we can say about the British Army—whether we want it to continue in order to ensure that it does not threaten our liberty?
Then we have the Church of England. We are part of a Parliament that believes in equal rights for women, but the Synod is still discussing whether women priests are to be permitted. The House of Commons, which does not have to be Chrisitian, let alone Anglican, and a Prime Minister, who does not have to be Christian, let alone Anglican, have the power to endorse or reject the Synod's decisions, appoint bishops, and so forth.
Then we come to the oath. I have been looking at the oaths and my next Bill will seek to amend the Promissory Oaths Act 1868. When one looks at the oaths of a Privy Councillor, a Member of Parliament and the Sovereign at the coronation, they throw an interesting light on the obligations by which we are bound. The reality is that nobody takes an oath to uphold democracy in Britain. The Queen takes an oath to govern the country and uphold the rights of the bishops. We take an oath to the Queen. Nobody in the House takes an oath to uphold democracy in Britain, and one does not need to have watched "A very British coup" to realise that that might have some relevance at some future date.
We must now terminate the jurisdiction of Britain in Ireland. I asked the Ministry of Defence to give me the figures. The war in Ireland costs £722 million a year—£13 million a week on repressing Ireland, and that must stop.
Finally, I come to the last point in my amendment about common land belonging to the people of Britain. It took me some time to realise that the privatisation of British Telecom was not an intention of the Prime Minister. The Enclosure Acts were medieval privatisation. They took the common land and gave it to the great landowners who have benefited greatly by it.
I finish with the words of my amendment:and humbly pray that proposals that would give effect to these demands be brought forward for an early decision by the House of Commons, in line with the manifest need for a genuine restructuring"—a rough translation of a word that is becoming familiar—of the institutions of the state to replace its present feudal nature and introduce a new sense of openness"—another rough translation—which is necessary if democracy is to be entrenched in the hearts and minds of the people, and to meet their needs and satisfy their aspirations, which are the only ultimate safeguards of its maintenance and development in this, or any other, country.I beg hon. Members not to make the House of Commons look a fool by endorsing this Humble Address, and to vote against it, or, if they cannot do that, to abstain, so that at least we do not have to tell children that democracy had nothing to do with the franchise; it was all because William of Orange had to give an assurance to justify the fact that he landed an army in Torbay and took over, in order to repress the Catholics and the Irish. I recommend that course to the House.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)
When I came to the House this afternoon, it was not my intention to intervene in this debate, which I thought was likely to be a formality. However, the speech of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) has moved me to seek to catch 1244 your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The right hon. Gentleman is himself the finest product of the glorious revolution. His speech was possible only because of the political evolution that we have enjoyed since those days. Had he made it in some other assembly, and had we not had the glorious revolution, his head might well have rolled.
§ Mr. Amery
The right hon. Gentleman says, "It may yet," but I do not wish to anticipate the Labour party conference.
The difficulty is one of definition. The right hon. Gentleman has told the House what he considers to be undemocratic about the last three centuries and about today, but he has not given a clear definition of what is democracy. When I first looked out of my political cradle and submitted my draft speeches, as a candidate in 1945, to the scrutiny of my father's eagle eye, he always crossed out the word "democracy" and substituted "constitutional government".
§ Mr. Amery
I believe that my father was profoundly right and that the freedoms we enjoy and the progress that has been made results from having a constitutional Government. We learnt three centuries ago what the Soviets are learning now—that there is no progress without freedom. However, freedom represents a threat to authority and a balance must be struck. I believe that we can claim, over those three centuries, to have struck that balance fairly well.
I am not sure what the right hon. Gentleman means by the word "freedom". The essence of the motion is our faith in parliamentary democracy—not direct democracy or trying to discover from day to day, through public opinion polls or by any similar method, what people think at any given time, on any given issue. The old phrase has it that a politician with his ear to the ground must inevitably have his bottom in the air, and he must not be surprised if it gets kicked. The essence of our system is that we deliberate in this House on what we think is right and vote according to our conscience. That was the doctrine of Burke, but I believe it is also the philosophy of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield on issues such as capital punishment, where public opinion would almost certainly be against that of the House. We need rather more definition before opposing the motion, which I wholeheartedly support.
I turn to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow), who warned us of the dangers of a European federal government. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has spoken on that issue in relation to a central bank and a monetary union. I confess to being surprised at the way in which we so easily accept that the choice is only between a federation and national sovereignty. M. Delors and others have spoken about a monetary union; but we are the experts on that subject. Nobody ever ran a monetary union without gold, until we started doing so in 1931, when we operated the sterling area with enormous success until the 1960s.
It was a monetary union of sovereign states using central banks. In its early days, before exchange control was imposed with the onset of war, it was a monetary union of sovereign countries, sometimes having varying parities. Its members merely banked their reserves with the Bank of England, without losing control of them. That 1245 was an enormous success, and all those in the sterling area came out of the pre-war recession long before the rest of the world. When the gold standard was stopped, everybody thought that the heavens would fall in, but, because of sterling, they did not.
That system was a miraculous success, and it continued through the war with the pooling of the gold and dollar reserves—and the situation which was even more difficult financially after the end of the war. We can teach others more about monetary union than they can teach us. Instead of saying no to the different proposals, we should say, "You ought to listen to us, because we know much more than the German or French banks and can teach them lessons."
To take it further, up until the mid-1950s, the Commonwealth was a remarkably successful economic, political and military association of sovereign nations working together on a basis of joint consultation, yet with nothing like the apparatus that Europe already has. In those days, there was no Commonwealth secretariat, and nothing like the European Commission and the regular European meetings which there are now. We can set the pace in the way in which a monetary union should develop. It may be that the old Commonwealth system—and I do not mean the hotchpotch we have today—could also provide a pattern more suitable to mature and historical nations than a federation of the kind now being proposed.
It is in that spirit that I say that our country, as the author of so many contributions to democracy—sorry, constitutional government—in the past, should set the pattern again in the future, in both the monetary and political fields.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
I am not surprised that the father of the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) crossed out from his speeches the word "democracy" and substituted "constitutional government". The fight for democracy had to be wrung out of the class of which the right hon. Gentleman's party has been representative since the days of the 1640 revolution; democratic rights have not been handed to the people of this country.
I too wish to quote Christopher Hill, because my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition referred to him. In his book on "The English Revolution 1640",Christopher Hill quotes the Leveller Rainborowe in 1647,and then makes a point that is vital in understanding and debating our democratic rights and freedom. He wrote:It is struggle that wins reforms, just as it is struggle that will retain the liberties which our ancestors won for us. And if the people find the legal system 'not suitable to freedom as it is', then it can be changed by united action. That is the lesson of the seventeenth century for to-day. It was of us that Winstanley was thinking when he wrote at the head of one of his most impassioned pamphlets:When these clay bodies are in grave, and children stand in place,'This shews we stood for truth and peace, and freedom in our days'.".I hope that the House will take note of that for which our forefathers fought.
I return to the "glorious revolution". It was neither glorious nor a revolution. It was not a revolution because the real revolution had already taken place when, the day after the king's head was cut off in 1649, the House of Lords was abolished. It was restored, incidentally, in 1660, 1246 when James came back to the throne—[HON. MEMBERS: "Charles."] I am sorry, Charles II. I am not well up on kings. To be honest, I do not think much of them.
When the monarchy was restored, the House of Lords was brought back. That is the important thing to remember: the real revolution was that revolution. But, in the process, those who were fighting for real democracy were suppressed by the Cromwellians, who put down the Levellers and others in the part of the world where I was born. The people of property asserted their power. That is what the English revolution was about. A group who had property—the landed aristocracy—were superseded by a new class that had arisen, with new kinds of property.
But they made a mistake. When the monarchy was restored, they discovered that this guy unfortunately still had ideas of the past. That was not entirely acceptable to them, because he was going to restore to some extent the right of the kings over those of the property owners who were the real rulers. So William and Mary were brought in and used. [Interruption.] Hon. Members may laugh, but there are other interpretations. For instance, we heard about the Whigs. Although they claimed that they supported William and Mary, the real people who brought them in and supported them were the high Tories of the day. Some hon. Members would do well to read a little about the history of the period and to think about where we are today.
There are some mythologies about 1688. If we examine the Declaration of Rights of 1689, we see that the Catholics were put in their place, both here and in Ireland. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) made that clear in what he read out to us. But one of the myths is that William, the great Protestant leader, got into such a position on his own.
I do not know whether hon. Members have read the very interesting "A Concise History of Ireland" by Maire and Conor Cruise O'Brien. I hope that Conservative Members will not suggest that Conor Cruise O'Brien is not a capable historian and a man of great ability—he does not necessarily endorse everything that I believe in. In that book, he says:This internal simplification had been effected by an external complication: the Pope was not, this time, on the Catholic side as far as the civil war in James's dominions was concerned. The quarrel between the Holy See and the French monarchy, over the question of the liberties of the Gallican Church, rendered impossible any Vatican support for Louis's protégé, James. In Ireland, the contending parties felt themselves to be fighting 'for' and 'against' the Pope, but the Pope was not in reality where he was expected to be. The fact remains an embarrassment to those on both sides who cherish simple historical pieties. In our time, the Parliament of Northern Ireland"—this was written when Stormont was still in existence—which venerates the memory of the victory of Protestant William over Papist James, once acquired and displayed a portrait of their deliverer. The portrait was hurriedly withdrawn when one of the figures shown as hailing—and perhaps even blessing—the Protestant hero was identified as Pope Alexander VIII. Louis, at war with the Emperor and the Dutch as well as with England, could spree little for war in Ireland.The mythology is that it was just a question of the suppression of the Catholics. The truth is that it was power politics and class politics. It has been class politics ever since. It is most unfortunate that the conflict tends to be viewed as Catholics versus Protestants, when in reality the Catholic and Protestant workers of Northern Ireland and in Ireland as a whole—and in this country—have more in 1247 common with each other with which to fight the class that the Conservative party represents. I am informed that the day that Rome learnt of the battle of the Boyne, the Pope had all the bells rung and a special mass was celebrated in St. Peter's.
Another part of the mythology is that democracy came through the Tory party. The Tory party is in favour of democracy only for as long as it can use it for its own people and its own interests. The day that democracy is used properly and effectively against them, the Tories will be no different from many other people in the world in overturning democracy and using other methods to suppress the real democrats.
I would like to say much more, but let me finish by talking about the place at the other end of the Corridor. I am sorry that the amendment was not selected. It is a modern Declaration of Rights, and one that is vital. At this juncture, we have a Government who are upsetting, undermining and slowly but surely destroying all the real freedoms that have been achieved by the British people over the years.
The hon. Gentleman's great-grandfather was one of those tough men who fought for the freedoms of the working man. He would be ashamed of the hon. Gentleman. The real rights that we have in this country have come because of the struggle of the mass of ordinary people over the centuries. Such rights have never been achieved by people looking down from on high and handing them to us on a plate; we have had to fight for everything that we have. Our trade union movement is now being tied up with worse anti-union legislation than in any other European country. It is not much different from what is happening in Jaruzelski's Poland—indeed, it is perhaps slightly worse.
I know that some people were relying on the other place to stop the abolition of the GLC. They thought that if a number of amendments were passed it would be a setback. But the other place is an instrument used by the Conservative party against the interests of the British people. That anti-democratic organisation has existed for too long; the wisest thing that the Cromwellian Parliament did was abolish it. It is time that we returned to the real revolutionary attitudes and got rid of it as quickly as possible, rather than allowing it to be used againt real democracy and the people of this country.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)
Order. I remind the House that we have a good deal of business to get through.
§ Mr. James Kilfedder (North Down)
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) has referred in disparaging terms to the Ulster Unionists and to the Stormont Parliament which existed for many years, and identified the class system with the Unionist people of Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland, apart from a few, know nothing at all about the class structure. They find it ridiculous. I was born in a little whitewashed 1248 thatched cottage on a tiny farm, and my family know more of hardship than does any other hon. Member in the House. The time has come for people in this country to do away with talk about class structure and get people working together.
The hon. Member for Walton spoke about the Pope as if the Unionist people of Northern Ireland were trying to hide the fact that the Pope was instrumental in getting William III to fight against James II. When I was Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, I brought into my office at Stormont the very portrait to which the hon. Gentleman has referred, the portrait believed to be of the then Pope blessing King William on his way to the Battle of the Boyne. It is not a portrait of King William. Certainly it is a figure of the Pope. I was proud to show that painting to everyone who came to Stormont, including some hon. Members of the House. I did not try to hide it. Irrespective of whether we disagree about incidents that happened over the decades and the centuries, we should look upon history as something on which we can build for the future.
The right hon.Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), who has left the Chamber, attacked Edmund Burke. I am sorry that he made that vicious attack.
§ Mr. Norman Buchan (Paisley, South)
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves the subject of the precious painting in his office in Stormont, is it not the case that the popular belief in Northern Ireland, as expressed through their songs, is exactly the opposite? The presence of the Pope in violent language, and the support of the Pope at the battle of the Boyne, when they weresteeped to the knees in Fenian blood, knee-deep in slaughter",was rejoicing at the defeat of the Pope. That is the popular image that was presented, no matter what the portrait shows.
§ Mr. Kilfedder
There is no doubt that at a time of controversy when people feel at risk, and when their existence is at peril, they adopt black and white attitudes to history.
The Ulster people were a greater thorn in the flesh of the British Government over the centuries than what would now be termed the nationalist people of Ireland. The Ulster people were always complaining, fighting and arguing. At one time, because of the religious persecution, whole congregations of Presbyterians moved to America and helped to form the United States of America.
Many leading Roman Catholic clergy supported Ireland as part of the British Isles. We must never forget the distinguished Unionists who represented in the House constituencies in what is now the Irish Republic, and who were Roman Catholics.
The right hon. Member for Chesterfield launched a vicious attack on Edmund Burke. Every time the right hon. Gentleman enters the House by the main entrance at St. Stephen's, he passes Edmund Burke on one side and Henry Grattan on the other. Everyone who enters this Parliament through the main entrance must pass those two distinguished Irishmen. I defend Edmund Burke, as I am the vice-president of the Dublin College historial society which was founded by Edmund Burke. Professor Laski went to Dublin to deliver the bicentenial address in praise of Edmund Burke. It was wrong for the right hon. Gentleman to launch a vicious attack upon that distinguished Irishman of the past.
1249 Following the Prime Minister's eloquent speech in support of this motion, she and the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic should meet next year on the site of the battle of the Boyne. Perhaps that would demonstrate the closeness between the two countries.
I resent the attitude of some hon. Members. The right hon. Member for Chesterfield criticised the cost of maintaining the Army in Northern Ireland. The basic right to life is worth preserving, no matter what the cost. During the past six months three IRA atrocities have received national and international attention. A number of innocent people were slaughtered on Remembrance Day at Enniskillen, and it was only by a miracle that hundreds were not killed. More recently, there was the murder by the IRA of three soldiers at Lisburn. They were taking part in a charity marathon. It was only by a miracle that hundreds of innocent men, women and children were not slaughtered by that IRA bomb, as it was a family reunion and many families were out and about in Lisburn that night. Last week there was the IRA bomb attack on the school bus. I believe that that little girl is still fighting for her life. It is only by a miracle that all those children were not murdered by that IRA bomb.
I do not think that one can put a price on protecting human life. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman did his cause any good by saying that it was too costly to maintain the Army in Northern Ireland.
In conclusion, although William III by his success in the battle of the Boyne ensured that we have parliamentary democracy today, there is not much democracy in Northern Ireland. As a result of the Anglo-Eire Agreement, which I believe was sponsored by Sir Robert Armstrong, the then Secretary to the Cabinet, the people of Northern Ireland are now in a worse position than they were before the agreement was signed. More people have died in Northern Ireland since that agreement was signed than in the same period before. We in Northern Ireland feel that we are being ruled as if we were some far off colony in the last century and there is great basis for that feeling. In addition, a foreign Government now have a say in the government of Northern Ireland.
I hope that we can more forward with good will. Perhaps when people recollect the battles of the past and the need for people to come together, the people of Northern Ireland will come together and make progress. Perhaps there will be a devolved Parliament at Stormont which will be fully representative of all the constitutional parties in Northern Ireland.
§ 7.8 pm
§ Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)
I am pleased that the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow), who is not in his place—I am in no way criticising him for that—took the view, which I strongly share, that much of our sovereignty in the House is constantly undermined and eroded as a result of the treaty of Rome. We are now debating the event of 1688, but it may well be that in a few years time, certainly before the end of this century, we will end up having less economic power in this Parliament than do many of the individual states within the United States. That should cause all of us deep concern.
Unlike my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), I do not want to go over the background to the events of 1688. However, it is interesting to note that few hon. Members would have 1250 been allowed to be in the Parliament of that period, either because they did not have sufficient property or wealth, or because of their religion or race. Therefore, it is nonsense to believe that 1688 created a democracy which we should be celebrating.
I tabled my amendment—I realise that it was not selected—because while the Prime Minister's motion refers to theconstitutional freedoms under the law",one or two aspects cause anxiety. The Prime Minister takes the complacent view that all our rights and freedoms are perfectly intact and there is no need to worry, but so long as the security services are not accountable to Parliament, the officials employed in them will remain largely a law unto themselves.
Unlike Conservative Members, I believe that Cathy Massiter performed a useful public service in telling us of the abuses that occurred when she was employed by MI5. We learned from her that, before my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Ms. Harman) was a Member of Parliament, she was the subject of an investigation by the security authorities—the Government have not denied it—because she was the full-time legal officer for the National Council for Civil Liberties. Cathy Massiter, who should understand these matters because she was employed by MI5, said that anyone employed by the NCCL, anyone on its executive and any local activist was the subject of an inquiry and that a file was kept on him or her by MI5. Much the same occurred with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, yet Ministers have repeatedly said that campaigning for nuclear disarmament is perfectly legitimate.
It may be said that this is an obsession of the Left, that no one should take these allegations seriously and that there is no foundation for these claims. Yet the right hon.Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath), who was in charge of the security services from 1970 to the beginning of 1974 so should know about them, said in his speech on the Protection of Official Information Bill:However, I also met people in the security services who talked the most ridiculous nonsense and whose whole philosophy was ridiculous nonsense. If some of them were on a tube and saw someone reading the Daily Mirror, they would say, 'Get after him, that is dangerous. We must find out where he bought it.'"—[Official Report, 15 January 1988; Vol. 125, c. 612.]A Prime Minister should have a good insight.
§ Mr. Winnick
I would have thought that the people who were irresponsible were those who allowed inquiries into members of CND and the NCCL. It is irresponsible to have in our parliamentary democracy—I believe that we do live in a parliamentary democracy—the type of abuses which Cathy Massiter exposed. No Conservative Member has raised the matter because Conservative Members are not worried about it. We say that on the Labour Benches we treasure civil liberties far more than Conservative Members and it is illustrated by our concern about these matters.
There are also the allegations made by Wright. For all I know, as I have said previously, he could be a liar. He could have made up the allegations merely to sell his book. Incidentally, he has not done too badly. He has become a 1251 millionaire mainly because of the Government's stupid action in trying to ban a book which everyone in this country can read whenever they choose.
Wright alleged that he and other officers in the security services were involved in trying to destabilise a Labour Government. Those allegations should be the subject of a judicial inquiry. I may be wrong, but I do not know of one Conservative Member who has said that those serious allegations should be investigated. How do we know, for example, whether some of those involved in that conspiracy who worked with Wright do not remain in the security services? Should we not be worried? Is it not part of our constitutional freedom under the law to know that? That is a reason why I am not happy with the motion.
My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer) touched on a further reason. It is a misreading of our history to believe that the freedoms we enjoy and the civil liberties which I certainly appreciate were established in 1688. It is interesting to note that in the present debates in the Soviet Union it has been suggested that the Soviet Union should learn from the experiences of the British Parliament. Clearly, it must be to our advantage, despite our weaknesses and limitations, that important figures in the Soviet Union want a more open society and those who seek it look on us as some sort of guide if not a model. This democracy is one of the best, but I am not complacent about it. If I were, I would not be making this speech. To live in a democracy is a million times better than to live under any form of dictatorship, whether in the Soviet Union, Poland, Romania, Chile or Guatemala. Another difference between Conservative Members and us is that we are not selective; we are opposed to all forms of dictatorship and are in favour of parliamentary democracy.
The important point is that so much of our freedom and democracy was not given by Parliament, but had to be campaigned for outside. When I look at the statues and paintings in the Palace of Westminster I see hardly a reference to those who made it possible for us to be in Parliament. The Prime Minister did not mention the Tolpuddle martyrs. If our constitutional freedoms were established in 1688, why were those men persecuted for belonging to and being active in a trade union, and then deported to Australia? Why is there no memorial to or painting of them here?
What about all the campaigning last century for the right to vote? It is almost impossible to believe that at the beginning of this century and for 18 years afterwards half the population were denied the right to vote in general elections and the right to stand for Parliament, for no other reason than that they happened to be women. One would have expected the Prime Minister to refer to that, but not at all. Before 1918, no women were allowed in Parliament and even after that there were some qualifications. Until 1918 incidentally there were qualifications on the right of men to vote. Those qualifications were being much reduced but did not disappear until 1918, and then not for women.
Those matters are extremely important and relevant. For the motion to ignore all the struggles that took place to establish parliamentary democracy is like Soviet history, which until recently did not mention those murdered by Stalin and his associates during the years of 1252 terror and the purges. I would have been much happier if the motion had dealt with these matters, recognised the fights and campaigns to make us a democratic country, and recognised some of the abuses which undoubtedly continue, mainly in the security services, which should be subject to parliamentary control and accountability.
I hope that I have not been too critical, but I thought it only right and proper to state these reservations about the motion.
§ Mr. Gerald Howarth (Cannock and Burntwood)
I shall speak briefly in support of the motion. This is a very historic occasion. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) was somewhat dismissive of the glorious revolution. I agree that certain refinements have been made since that revolution, but he was ungenerous not to acknowledge that it was a great milestone in our constitutional history.
It is often said that we have no written constitution. The events whose tercentenary we are celebrating give the lie to that. The Bill of Rights is very much a written document. It is not a quaint museum piece, with no relevance to modern times— it is unlike the Labour party in that respect. It is very relevant to our present-day concerns.
I remind the House that when William and Mary were offered the throne, it was essentially a contract between Parliament and the new sovereigns. The declaration of rights set out the conditions under which, effectively, they were offered the throne. On 13 February 1689 it was declared:the execution of laws by regal authority without consent of Parliament is illegal; … That levying money for … the Crown … without grant of Parliament … is illegal; That the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with the consent of Parliament, is against the law; … That election of Members of Parliament ought to be free; That the freedom of speech and debates … in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court … that excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted; … And that for redress of all grievances and for the amending, strengthening and preserving of the laws, Parliaments ought to be held frequently.Those words are as relevant today as they were in 1689.
We are about to move on to other business—voting money for the Defence Estimates. It is an inheritance of 1689 that no standing army may be kept in this country without the full authority of the House. That is why such matters are debated in the House annually. If the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) thinks that the stationing of American troops in Britain flies in the face of the rights and liberties of the people, which were guaranteed in 1689, it is open to him to submit a motion to the House and to seek its endorsement. The sad fact for him is that the House would not accept such a motion, nor would the people of Britain. However, he is free to submit such a motion.
§ Mr. Benn
The merits of having such an army here are not the significant factor. What is significant is that the House was never told about that army; the prerogative was used, as on several other occasions. It cannot be argued that Parliament endorsed the army. The army came here and if we were to vote against it it might be asked to leave—whether it would leave is another matter. Parliament was never told. The prerogative overrides parliamentary control of central matters.
§ Mr. Howarth
I accept that, but it is open to the right hon. Gentleman to submit a motion to the House because the House is sovereign in these matters and the House will decide.
Freedom of speech and debate in the House is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, which states that theyought not to be impeached or questioned in any court".If it were not for the declaration of rights of 1689, the right hon. Member for Chesterfield and the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) would be in grave difficulty with the courts over libel. Freedom of speech is enjoyed in the House today as a direct result of 1689.
The events that we celebrate today are of great constitutional importance because the 1688 revolution established our present constitutional tripod of sovereign, Parliament and people. It has been refined by universal suffrage and tested, and it may be tested again. In 1689, the popular belief was that our country could have been subverted by a foreign power—in this case, the papacy—and could have been undermined. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) that we may face a constitutional threat to the House, posed by the European Community, which must ultimately be for the people of Britain to decide. Having said that, we have every reason to be grateful for the 1688–89 revolution and I warmly endorse the motion.
§ Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)
It is entirely right that we should be debating this motion, and it is unfortunate that the amendment of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) has not been selected for debate.
We have chosen to celebrate the tercentenary of the so-called glorious revolution of 1688 rather than the triumph of the armies of Parliament over the armies of the King during the civil war—or any of the other extremely important events in the history of democracy in this country—because that revolution was all about the corruption of the state by the power of the landowners and the power of wealth. It was about the manoeuvrings of Lord Shaftesbury to prepare the ground to bring over William and Mary to take over the crown. William and Mary would for ever guarantee the powers of the landowning classes as well as bringing with them the Protestant religion and the discrimination against Catholics that followed. There is no historical basis for the selection of William and Mary except that it suited the landowning classes of the time to have a Protestant King and Queen and to guarantee their own power as against that of the people defeated during the civil war as a result of the corruption of Cromwell.
There is an important place in my constituency. In 1648 there was a historic—in some ways seminal—meeting between Cromwell and the leader of the Levellers, John Lilburne, who warned Cromwell that unless he was prepared to do a deal with the Levellers and accept the fundamental democracy of Parliament he would become a despot and pave the way for the return of the monarchy, which he did in 1660. That meeting is an event worth celebrating, and it took place in the Nag's Head on the Holloway road in my constituency.
We should recognise, too, that the so-called glorious revolution of 1688 paved the way for the processes of imperialism and colonialism. Implicit in the wording of the Bill of Rights is the domination of colonies throughout the 1254 world and all the disgusting, and degrading events that followed from that, such as slavery and the domination of subject peoples. All of them stem from the Bill of Rights and the glorious revolution of 1688, which once more imposed the monarchy on this country.
Many hon. Members have referred to what followed from the glorious revolution. I have a copy of the Bill of Rights, printed in a book entitled "A Documentary History of England", which was given to me by my mother and father when I was 15. They said, "One day, it will come in handy", and it has. One section of the Bill of Rights has been used to dominate the people of Ireland, and that domination continues. The Bill of Rights says:all and every person and persons that is, are or shall be reconciled to or shall hold communion with the see or Church of Rome, or shall profess the popish religion, or shall marry a papist, shall be excluded and be for ever incapable to inherit, possess or enjoy the crown and government of this realm and Ireland and the dominions thereunto belonging or any part of the same, or to have, use or exercise any regal power, authority or jurisdiction within the same; and in all and every such case or cases the people of these realms shall be and are hereby absolved of their allegiance;That specifically says that the Protestant religion is to take hold and that Catholics are to be discriminated against. We should commemorate the retribution meted out to the Catholic people of Ireland as a result of William and Mary coming to the throne by remembering that the only way we can ever bring peace and freedom to all the people of Ireland is by the reunification of Ireland and removal of British troops from it.
My right hon. Friend the Member of Chesterfield rightly drew attention to the section of the Bill of Rights that refers to the imposition of a standing army. Clause 6 of the preamble says that
raising and keeping a standing army within this kingdom in time of peace without consent of Parliamentis against the law.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield pointed out, there are 30,000 American troops and 140 bases here, while we have no control over what happens there. It is nothing more than an insult to celebrate the glorious revolution when we have a Government who have centralised more powers than almost any other Government since 1688, who are busy pushing through the poll tax—the most unfair, unjust tax imaginable—and who allow poverty to grow at unparalleled rates and people to sleep on the streets. At the same time this Parliament passes taxation laws that are a gift to the wealthiest.
We have nothing to celebrate. The concluding sentence of the Address states:established those constitutional freedoms under the law which Your Majesty's Parliament and people have continued to enjoy for three hundred years.Many people have not enjoyed those freedoms. They have been won by struggle and are all under threat while the Government and their ilk—their landowners, wealthy people and banking system—continue to repress people and take away the freedoms to organise in trade unions, to demonstrate on the streets and to organise politically against the Government. We should demand guarantees of freedom for the people, not celebrate a glorious revolution which brought a land-owning class to power and kept it there, for fear of the success of the civil war and the revolution that went with it in 1840.
§ Mr. Brian Sedgemore (Hackney, South and Shoreditch)
As one who was born in Devon and has walked on the beaches and landing grounds where it all began, I feel the urge to speak, even if no one has the desire to listen.
I was puzzled that the Prime Minister—a Tory with the instincts of an 18th century Liberal—should invite the House to celebrate a 17th century Whig theory of history. It is in the spirit of celebration, good will, good humour and grace which always characterise everything that I say that I am prepared to put that down to the fact that she was badly briefed rather than ignorant of history. I see that a historian is here—the Minister of Trade—but I do not think that he was here for the speech by the Prime Minister, which is sad, or he would have been able to put the right hon. Lady right.
The Prime Minister wishes to celebrate the glorious revolution because it saw the British establishment at its best—suave, cunning and deceitful. The Prime Minister invites us to celebrate the rule of law and parliamentary democracy which she claims arose from that revolution. Yes, we celebrate the rule of law, but surely we should be a little careful about celebrating a rule of law that saw Ireland drenched in the blood of virgins and Catholic priests. Surely we should be a little careful about celebrating a rule of law when E.P. Thompson in his book "Whigs and Hunters; The Origin of the Black Act", which dealt with the 18th century, said that the laws of England have always been bent and manipulated in the interests of the ruling class. Surely we should be a little chary of celebrating a rule of law which, after 1688, was largely administered by the same people who administered it just before 1688.
A painting in the corridors of this building shows the infinite mercy of the English legal system. It shows that Alice Lisle, who harboured a fugitive at the battle of Sedgemoor on 7 July 1685, was sentenced to be burnt at the stake. The English legal system, backed by the rule of law and administered by the same people after 1688 as before, in its infinite mercy commuted that sentence so that she was hanged!
Surely we should be slightly worried about the development of parliamentary democracy. I do not want to go into constitutional history or a modern theory or analysis of parliamentary democracy, but two things only can be said with certainty about parliamentary democracy. First, power does not reside in Parliament. Secondly, there is nothing that is democratic about the exercise of that power. Who said that? It was said not by Trevelyan, as one may think, not by Macaulay or by Hill, but by Sedgemore in the first paragraph of his book "The Secret Constitution". I suggest that the House should adjourn and read that book, rather than go into the Lobby and support the motion.
§ Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East)
The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) asked, "What is democracy?" He felt that the debate required a definition of it, but did not offer one and I will not either, because there are flaws in seeking to offer definitions behind which one may hide. When asked to define trade unions, George Woodcock refused and said that it was like looking at an elephant—a person might not know how to 1256 define an elephant but he knew it when he saw it, and a person knew a trade union when he saw it. Likewise, democracy depends perhaps less on definition and more on recognition. There may be some characteristics that we would expect a democracy to have.
The first charcteristic of a democracy is a voting system based on a universal franchise. Our universal franchise was fought for long after 1688 and was pushed considerably from the bottom. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) is an advocate of the principles of Chartism in the 19th century. Most of its principles were finally adopted, apart from the provision of annually elected Parliaments. I do not know whether I go that far, but I believe that we should seek annual elections in local government.
An election requires choice, and we see the Soviet Union as being inadequate in that respect. Schumpter defined an election in "Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy" as being a competitive struggle for the people's vote. Voting is not entirely democratic. Other provisions must be there in connection with it. It requires not only that the vote is freely and fully exercised but that society has within it a wide range of civil liberties so that the majority do not decide to take action willy-nilly and so that the electoral system does not throw up Governments based upon 42 per cent. of the electorate who willy-nilly push through items without considering individuals' rights.
My hon. Friends the Members for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) and for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) have stressed civil liberties. We need great freedoms in terms of expressing views, demonstrating, organising and ensuring that central Government do not have detailed control over what is done. Information for one purpose—for example, housing benefits—should not be used against people by the state—either the local state or the national state.
Another characteristic of a democracy is that there are some limits to the amount of centralisation. In 1688, the problems of totalitarianism did not exist. They were largely the creatures of the development of the 20th century. Governments can control centrally and operate controls over the media, as we have seen in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. Social and economic developments in this country should worry us and we should make sure that there is a pull against them and that there is decentralisation, local government and local democracy.
Democracy should also have concern about fairness and public service. In 1867, the franchise was first extended to elements of the working class—but not to all—and shortly after an Education Act was introduced by Foster, saying that we must "educate our masters now". Because of the fight for the extension of the franchise, we have had public education, public services and provisions and the development of the welfare state. That has all happened because ordinary people have been able to vote for greater distribution of wealth. Left to itself, the free market brings hardship and exploitation. If we do not have a democratic system to distribute wealth, we are in trouble.
We can now compare the 1688 glorious revolution with the 1979 revolution, which started gradually but which has been pressed through at an ever increasing rate. It may become known as the inglorious revolution.
I have already mentioned the four characteristics of democracy, and I would like to say something about our supposed heritage from 1688 which working people have fought for and established. With the poll tax comes a cut 1257 in the franchise. We know that there is a hidden agenda for the poll tax. The results are emerging in Scotland, Manchester and Kensington, where it is clear that the number of electors is falling. It is falling in areas where people oppose the poll tax. It is a means of perpetuating, without devices such as the enabling acts used in Nazi Germany, the Conservative Government's life. That is a very serious matter because it goes against traditions that go back not so much to 1688 as to the 19th and 20th centuries and the democracy that the working class fought for. We should be fantastically worried about the cut in the franchise.
We should also be worried about what is happening in local government, where there is an attempt to fix election results. The recent Conservative party political broadcast showed that their intention is to pressurise people into voting Conservative and to get rid of Labour's base in local government. That should worry us tremendously, as should the smashing of local government and the development of further centralisation.
The second characteristic of democracy concerns civil liberties, which others have dealt with. Poll tax registrars will invade a whole host of sensitive information that was never previously registered. That information will be used to ensure that people pay the poll tax. It has been said, and confirmed by the Leader of the House, that the ancient right of petitioning, which predates 1688, is affected. Before 1688, petitions tended to be about personal grievances, whereas after they tended to be about matters of public policy. Petitions will now be available to poll tax registrars to make sure that the signatories are on their registers. That is an invasion of a right that dates back before the franchise. Indeed, it was one of the limited rights that ordinary people had even in 1688.
Thirdly, poll tax represents excessive centralisation. The Government have introduced a host of measures which advance the development of something akin to a gentle corporate state. There must be some Conservative Members who believe in the free market and the freedom of competition and that centralised authority is something that we should all fight against. Too much power is going in that direction.
The philosophical stance of some Conservative Members is nonsense. It is almost as though they have turned their backs on the freedoms enjoyed under capitalism and returned to Hobbes' "Leviathan", in which he suggested that there could be either anarchy or absolute centralisation, with authority and sovereignty resting with one person or one group of people in Parliament. Others, he suggested, should be excluded completely.
Fourthly, there is the terrible unfairness of the poll tax, but there is no need to go into that as Conservative Members know the vast social difficulties that it will cause. How can we call this democracy when it does such things? Has it not been eroded to such an extent that we must fight solidly to defend it and oppose what is taking place? The poll tax is the most serious interference with our liberties since the glorious revolution of 1688. We should all stand up and fight it.
§ Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)
I do not propose to detain the House for long, but I want to register my objection to the motion, which I find offensive.
1258 Opposition Members who vote in favour of it will have different reasons for doing so, but we must deal with the motion on the Order Paper. It is reasonable to recognise that 1688 was a short step on the path to accountability and the right to dislodge the Executive, but that is not what the motion says. The motion states that some sort of millennium was established and that our people have enjoyed constitutional freedoms under the law for 300 years. It is patently offensive to suppose, for example, that the people who lost limbs and lives in the factories during the industrial revolution enjoyed anything at all, especially when their average life expectation was less than 30 years in the huge developing industrial towns in the north, such as Bradford, Manchester and Leeds. The motion will he left behind after all the arguments have gone, and that fact is overlooked.
I do not know the mechanism by which the motion came to the House, but if any Labour Members were involved, the motion should have recognised the years of struggle and bloodshed undergone by ordinary people. The first Factory Act to control the bloodshed among the people who, according to the motion, were enjoying constitutional rights was not introduced until 1802. It was then applied by a venal, corrupt and ineffective magistracy, who owned most of the factories and therefore were not keen to apply the law. The people who looked to the magistrates for the constitutional rights did not receive much consolation.
I am concerned about what the motion says, because it omits any reference to the bloodshed in the factories and the rise of the trade union movement. I will not go into that in detail because my hon. Friends have dealt with it powerfully, but trade unions were developed to protect ordinary men and women, and their families, against the outrages that were visited upon them. The workers and their organisation had no constitutional privileges or rights to enjoy.
It is folly for any hon. Member to talk about constitutional freedoms being enjoyed for 300 years, when in the post-war period we have had the threat of nuclear weapons. What sort of constitutional right have ordinary people over the Prime Minister if, for example, she decides to use Polaris when she receives information from United States-controlled radar installations—and we know how reliable they are—that the Soviet Union is promoting an attack upon us?
The right hon. Lady is organising the building of £11 billion-worth of Trident nuclear weapons. What constitutional rights does the citizenry enjoy to control the Prime Minister in the use of those weapons? The answer is, none at all.
We cannot isolate the motion from the realities. I am not here to get involved in the niceties of Parliament and to rubberstamp motions emerging from some committee. The reality is that our nation is retaining means of mass extermination on a scale that, by some fortunate stroke, has hitherto never been experienced, and is building at a cost of many billions of pounds nuclear weapons which could exterminate even more effectively and efficiently than Polaris.
The whole question of rights over those new weapons of mass extermination is ignored in the motion. It is on that basis that I shall vote against it.
§ Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North)
I should like first to apologise to you, Mr. Speaker, and to colleagues of all parties for not having heard all the contributions to the debate. No disrespect was intended. My speech will be brief and I intend to refer only to my amendment, which I wish had been selected.
When I first became a Member of this place, I had no thoughts of tabling amendments mentioning a written constitution and a Bill of Rights. However, my experience of this place—brief though its is—has changed my mind fundamentally on some key constitutional issues. I believe that Parliament, as currently constituted, no longer acts as the main constitutional brake on the Government. We seriously need to consider a major constitutional settlement that would entrench the rights of individual people and define the institutions in our constitution that could defend those rights effectively.
We are meant to be celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. There are many ways of celebrating. One would be to pickle that Bill of Rights, to put it into aspic and say, "It is a marvellous thing. We should have a drink and a bit of a sing-song." That would be a celebration. However, the people who brought forward that Bill of Rights would expect us to celebrate it in a far more serious way and to review where we have gone in those 300 years and say where we should like to go in the next 300. I fear that if we entrust our civil liberties and the defence of our rights to this Chamber, in 300 years' time we may not be celebrating even those few rights that are enshrined in the 1688–89 settlement.
I therefore put forward some proposals in my amendment. Those proposals do not bear particularly on my constituency. Like many of my hon. Friends, I could repeat the history of the democratic struggle that has taken place in my constituency and area. There are three unmarked graves in a church close to our shire hall in Nottingham. If those three unmarked graves were in a country fighting for its democratic rights in this day and age, they would be shrines. In fact, they are the unmarked, uncelebrated graves of three individuals who were plucked out of a crowd in 1830 and hanged on the steps of the shire hall in Nottingham. They were the victims. They were people who were merely trying to get the right to vote. I could quote many other examples from the Labour history, the trade union struggle and the struggle for the fight to vote in my city, not least the burning down of the famous Nottingham castle. However, that would not get us very far in discussing what I proposed in my amendment.
I suggested first a Bill of Rights to entrench the individual liberties of all citizens, regardless of decisions made in this Chamber. They should be entrenched by a referendum and amended only by a referendum so that, whatever the political complexion of this Chamber, there would always be a marker against which any individual would know his or her rights against our Executive and legislature.
Secondly, I suggested a written constitution so that at any point anyone in our society would know the institutional relationship between the various parts of our constitution, and so that people could make up their own minds about what we were doing and whether we were doing it properly in this Chamber of the House of Commons.
§ Mr. Winnick
My hon. Friend has referred to a written constitution. He will know that I am critical of certain aspects of that, hence my remarks about three quarters of an hour ago. Why should we believe that a written constitution would give our citizens greater freedom? Would it not take away from this House and give to the courts powers which we should not give away—all the more so, bearing in mind the position with the EEC, which was referred to earlier? Why cannot this Parliament control the Government? Previous Parliaments have done so. Surely it is a question of majority.
§ Mr. Allen
The courts have that power now, but the citizen has no guide or marker by which to measure any judgments. The citizen cannot say, "This is my inalienable tangible right which I will test against the judgment of any member of the judiciary." If my hon. Friend believes that this place has acted as a defence for the rights of individuals, trade unionists and people who would wish information to be more widely available in our society, he is living in dreamland.
My final point is that this place should ensure that it, rather than any other part of our constitution, becomes the decision-making chamber. That is why I suggest in my amendment the abolition of the House of Lords. That was and remains the policy of my party and should feature in any serious constitutional settlement 300 years after the previous one.
§ Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill)
I wish to speak only briefly, but want to place on record the reasons why I shall vote against the Humble Address. I shall do so because it is deeply insensitive to the House to pass an address which commemorates in an almost celebratory way an event which, in 1688, led to enormous harm and distress to many people living in these islands. With a family from the west of Ireland, and having seen for myself the ravaged homes, hamlets and small villages which were depopulated as a result of what happened in the period after 1688, I find it difficult to celebrate the tercentenary of those so-called historic events, because for those families they were tragic events. The trouble with motions such as this is that they stir up old memories and hatred. For that reason, the motion is deeply offensive to many of Her Majesty's loyal Catholic subjects. I am surprised that the Government have shown such insensitivity.
I also believe that there is a danger of becoming prisoners of our own history, especially when it is history as selective as that incorporated in the motion. It is absurd to table such a motion without any reference to the events which a number of other hon. Members have touched on.
The period in the aftermath of the war with the French and after the battle of Peterloo is infinitely far more important for our constitutional rights than the battle of Waterloo or 1688. The battle of Peterloo took place on the fields of St. Peter's, outside Manchester, where the reformers demanded suffrage. For me, the Chartist movement, the emancipation of Catholics and Jews, and the anti-slavery movement which was led by William Wilberforce and other Members of this House are the events that we should be celebrating, rather than choosing selective parts of our history as in the Humble Address.
The House will not be surprised that I have another reason for resisting the Humble Address. I personally find it difficult that the greatest right of all—the right to life 1261 —is not enshrined in this great celebration of the tercentenary of the events of 1688. Indeed, it is impossible in this House even to bring about a vote on the question of the right to life. In 1948 the United Nations stated that everyone should have the right to life, yet hon. Members are not allowed a vote on that subject because Parliament has become so enfeebled that it will not provide the time necessary to arrive at a conclusion on that question. In these circumstances, there is, therefore, no way that I would be able to support what I regard as a sham.
There is a third reason why I shall vote against the Humble Address. It is because of the way that we run our democracy in this country. It is fraudulent and often corrupt and phoney. Governments can be elected with just one third of the votes and yet receive two thirds of the seats in the House. That we can have a system of government that is so centralist and secretive and so often rides roughshod over the wishes of the people whom we seek to serve is the antithesis of democracy.
While I agree with what the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) said about our system of government being one of which we can be proud, it was E. M. Forster, in his book "Two Cheers for Democracy", who said that only love, the beloved republic, deserves three cheers. Certainly that is true. Democracy, as we experience it in this country today, is highly inadequate. We need a new constitutional settlement which looks again at many of the questions raised during the debate. A proper Bill of Rights, freedom of information legislation, a Select Committee system that is able to hold the Executive accountable, a proper and fair electoral system, a decentralised form of government—those are the developments that we should be looking forward to, instead of simply looking back to a period that does this country no great credit, and is a period of which we should be deeply ashamed.
For those reasons, I certainly cannot support the Humble Address.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 139, Noes 18.1262
|Division No. 402]||[8.1 pm|
|Adley, Robert||Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)|
|Alexander, Richard||Cope, Rt Hon John|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Cran, James|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Cummings, John|
|Amos, Alan||Currie, Mrs Edwina|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Day, Stephen|
|Ashby, David||Dixon, Don|
|Atkinson, David||Dobson, Frank|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James|
|Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Durant, Tony|
|Body, Sir Richard||Dykes, Hugh|
|Boswell, Tim||Emery, Sir Peter|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Fenner, Dame Peggy|
|Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard||Forth, Eric|
|Brazier, Julian||Fox, Sir Marcus|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||French, Douglas|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Gale, Roger|
|Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)||Garel-Jones, Tristan|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Gill, Christopher|
|Burt, Alistair||Gorman, Mrs Teresa|
|Butler, Chris||Gow, Ian|
|Butterfill, John||Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)|
|Carlisle, John, (Luton N)||Gregory, Conal|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn|
|Carttiss, Michael||Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)|
|Channon, Rt Hon Paul||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hanley, Jeremy|
|Churchill, Mr||Harris, David|
|Hawkins, Christopher||Nicholson, David (Taunton)|
|Hayward, Robert||O'Neill, Martin|
|Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)||Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley|
|Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.||Page, Richard|
|Holt, Richard||Pawsey, James|
|Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)||Porter, David (Waveney)|
|Howells, Geraint||Portillo, Michael|
|Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)||Powell, Ray (Ogmore)|
|Hunt, David (Wirral W)||Raison, Rt Hon Timothy|
|Hunter, Andrew||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Irvine, Michael||Riddick, Graham|
|Jack, Michael||Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm|
|Janman, Tim||Roe, Mrs Marion|
|Janner, Greville||Rost, Peter|
|Jessel, Toby||Rowe, Andrew|
|Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Ryder, Richard|
|Jones, Robert B (Herts W)||Shaw, David (Dover)|
|Kilfedder, James||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)||Sims, Roger|
|King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Spearing, Nigel|
|Knapman, Roger||Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)|
|Knowles, Michael||Squire, Robin|
|Latham, Michael||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Stewart, Ian (Hertfordshire N)|
|Lightbown, David||Stradling Thomas, Sir John|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|Lord, Michael||Thorne, Neil|
|McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)||Thurnham, Peter|
|McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael||Waddington, Rt Hon David|
|McNair-Wilson, P.(New Forest)||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Mans, Keith||Ward, John|
|Mates, Michael||Wheeler, John|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Michael, Alun||Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)|
|Mitchell, David (Hants NW)||Wilshire, David|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)||Wolfson, Mark|
|Needham, Richard||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Nelson, Anthony||Mr. David Maclean and Mr. Stephen Dorrell.|
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Madden, Max|
|Allen, Graham||Mahon, Mrs Alice|
|Alton, David||Meale, Alan|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Nellist, Dave|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Patchett, Terry|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Skinner, Dennis|
|Cryer, Bob||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Hoyle, Doug||Mr. Harry Barnes and Mr. Brian Sedgemore.|
|Hughes, John (Coventry NE)|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows:
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects. the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, having in mind the acceptance by Their Majesties King William and Queen Mary of the Declaration of Rights presented to them on 13th February 1689, and recalling also the Bill of Rights passed by the Parliament of England and the Claim of Right made by the Estates of Scotland for vindicating and asserting the ancient rights and liberties of the people of the two Kingdoms, beg leave to express to Your Majesty our great pleasure in celebrating the tercentenary of these historic events of 1688 and 1689 that established those constitutional freedoms under the law which Your Majesty's Parliament and people have continued to enjoy for three hundred years.
That the said Address be presented to Her Majesty by the whole House.—[Mr. Wakeham.]
That such Members of this House as are of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, do humbly know Her Majesty's Pleasure when She will be attended by this House with the said Address and whether Her Majesty will be Graciously pleased to permit the invited representatives of overseas Parliaments of the Commonwealth to accompany this House in attending Her Majesty.—[Mr. Wakeham.]