HC Deb 20 June 1988 vol 135 cc883-906

`At the end of Schedule 1 to the Juries Act 1974 there shall be added "those who object on grounds of religious belief to serving on juries.".' — [Mr. Peter Archer.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

6.45 pm
Mr. Peter Archer (Warley, West)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

This is a proposal which I believe transcends party differences and I should like to acknowledge the indications of support that I have received from parliamentary colleagues in all parts of the House.

I should like also to acknowledge the vigilance of the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop). As originally set down, the new clause referred to the Juries Act 1984. That error escaped everyone but the hon. Gentleman. The draft was taken, as I had fully intended, from the Official Report of our proceedings in Committee. Although we debated the Juries Act 1974, it was transcribed as the Juries Act 1984 in the Official Report. I say that only by way of explanation. I fully understand the Official Report's difficulties. Indeed, because we so rarely find a mistake we come to rely on it uncritically.

I should like to seize this opportunity to correct one other misconception. Dr. Bryan Wilson of All Souls—who I understand is the distinguished constituent of the Minister—to whom we are all indebted for having drawn attention to this problem in the first instance, also pointed out to me that, following the Official Report of our debate in Committee at column 881 on what was then new clause 65, there is a reference, in column 893, to new schedule 65, which is reported as having been added to the Bill. I understand that this has led to some genuine misconceptions. I should like to place it on record, lest anyone be misled, that, unhappily, as I believe, nothing was added to the Bill relating to this matter. It was left that the Minister would investigate some of the examples that had been given and that he would write to me. That is an undertaking which he very properly observed.

I believe that most hon. Members take the view that, in return for the privilege of living in a democratic society, citizens should be prepared to undertake their share of the burdens entailed in its working. I would not wish to question that principle, but it sometimes happens that a good conscientious citizen says, "Although I am normally prepared to shoulder my share of the burdens, this one is not one in which I can conscientiously participate." It may be an obligation to undertake military service or an obligation to return a census form. There may be other obligations about which that could be said.

I believe that, at that stage, every tolerant society says not, "We must automatically respect this objection," but, "We must balance the equation—we must balance the consequences, if the objection is allowed, against the respect we would normally accord to an individual conscience." There may be circumstances in which to allow an objection would tempt large numbers of other citizens to take a similar objection and, in what I think is the common terminology, open the flood gates. If someone had a conscientious objection to paying his income tax, I would not recommend that we give effect to that objection. But that will not happen in this case. Vast numbers of people will not rush off to become Exclusive Brethren to avoid jury service. I am always impressed by the readiness of members of the public to drop all their other concerns and apply themselves with great concentration to assisting the administration of justice.

On the other side of the equation, there is the respect that our country has traditionally accorded to those with conscientious scruples, especially those who do not usually seek to avoid their obligations as citizens and are good and conscientious members of the community. The brethren objection is to sitting in judgment as a member of a jury, because that is the interpretation that they accord to certain scriptural texts. I do not share their conclusions, but I respect them and am totally persuaded of the sincerity with which they hold those views. Of course, in any particular case it may be an issue whether someone summoned for jury service really holds such views or is merely seeking an excuse to avoid his obligations.

The House will have noticed that this new clause is narrowly drafted. It does not seek to provide an excusal as of right for anyone who objects on the ground of conscience; it is an excusal for those who object on religious grounds. An excusal on grounds of conscience might present a court with a difficult issue to resolve. But the new clause should not provide any difficulties. Usually all that would be required would be a letter from a local pastor saying, "Mr. X is a member of my congregation and attends my church regularly. He plays a full part in our activities. I am satisfied that he genuinely believes our teachings. What our church teaches on this issue is …" Usually, nothing more would be required. If it were, I have no doubt that the pastor would attend court and expound on that and answer any questions. Excusal as of right would not, in principle, provide any difficulties for the administration.

There is also a good, pragmatic reason for allowing an objection as of right. The brethren's objection is to sitting in judgment with others. So if one of them applies to be exempted and that application is refused and he has to serve on the jury, he will stand aside from the discussions in the jury room. He will write down his individual verdict and request the foreman or the usher to deliver it to the judge. Not surprisingly, that would place the judge in a difficult position because he is not allowed to receive an individual verdict. That cannot be a way of effecting justice. Most judges would prefer not to have a reluctant juror. It is better for everyone to have 12 jurors, participating willingly. Where, in addition, one juror is not willing to discuss the case with the other jurors, that does not effect justice.

Schedule 1 to the Juries Act 1974 lists certain categories of people exempted as of right. Section 9 provides that, in certain circumstances, the appropriate officer has a discretionary power to exempt from jury service someone not exempt as of right. If that officer does not grant the exemption, there is a right of appeal to the judge.

It is not the first time that there have been proposals to add those with religious objections to the category of those exempted as of right. In 1965, Lord Morris's committee on jury service considered the proposal that those with religious scruples should be added to that category. It concluded that that was not necessary and, in para 153 of its report, said: We recognise that there are people whose religious scruples would make it genuinely distressing for them to serve on a jury but we cannot think that excusal as of right would be an appropriate way of dealing with this problem. In our view such persons should apply for excusal in the normal way, and we have no doubt that summoning officers and courts will deal with the applications sympathetically. The committee was right: it would have been better to deal with them in that way. Over the years, tolerance, sympathy and common sense have worked well and there has been no need to discuss amendments to legislation. However, recently in a few specific courts a number of members of the Exclusive Brethren have applied for exemption and been refused. It is a problem that has arisen only——

Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

Like the right hon. and learned Gentleman, I am aware of the Coventry cases where judges have said no. Bearing in mind that the judges have a discretion and that, in some cases, that discretion has worked in favour of the Exclusive Brethren and the Plymouth Brethren and so on, does he feel that this problem should be dealt with not by legislation but by the Lord Chancellor sending a circular to all circuit judges and recorders alerting them to the problem and making them aware of the strong, heartfelt feelings of the Exclusive Brethren?

Mr. Archer

I understand what the hon. Gentleman is saying and I would have agreed with him had it not been for the fact that that has already been tried. In a moment I shall try to explain what has gone wrong. The problem has arisen in only a few courts—although more than just one—and it has given rise to a great deal of distress and, I suspect, to some real anxiety among those on trial about whether justice really has been achieved. Their problem is that they do not know what happened in the jury room, so they do not know whether they received justice.

Mr. Bermingham

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that, as the deliberations in the jury room are for ever silent and secret, if one of the Exclusive Brethren opts out any contribution that he may have made is withdrawn from the general discussion of the jury? There will always be a question mark in the minds of both the defendant and, in the case of acquittal, the Crown that had there been a 12-man rather than an 11 or 10-man jury the verdict might have gone the other way.

Mr. Archer

I agree with my hon. Friend and would not seek to improve on the way that he put it. We do not know whether it has affected the outcome in any particular case. But we know that if the proper procedures are not followed someone will be left unhappy.

As usual, one problem left unresolved leads to others. Some people have applied for exemption and been rejected—somewhat peremptorily, I am told—by a judge without what they would regard as a proper hearing. They then asked to appear by counsel to put their case and explain their reasons, but that was also rejected. I understand that consideration is now being given to an application for judicial review of that decision. If nothing is done, this will grow into a major issue and everybody will make a meal of it, and that is not what the brethren want.

The Minister said in Committee that the Lord Chancellor's Department had written to the court service asking it to place on record the specific concerns of the Exclusive Brethren and the Plymouth Brethren, to draw them to the attention of the judiciary and to remind the courts of the relevant laws and procedures." — [Official Report, Standing Committee H, 29 March 1988; c.885.] 7 pm

I have not seen the circular and I would not ask for it, but I wonder whether it made itself understood. I am told that recently a member of the Exclusive Brethren telephoned the office at Acton which deals with the selection and summoning of jurors in London and was told that the Lord Chancellor's Department had said that applicants should not be excused jury service on grounds of their religious belief. When he telephoned the Lord Chancellor's Department and expressed surprise, he was told that no such guidance had been given. Whether he misunderstood what was said to him by the Acton office or whether the Lord Chancellor's circular, in attempting to help, had merely created confusion is a matter on which I, at least, can shed no light. Perhaps the Minister can. I would have agreed with the hon. Member for Yorkshire, South—

Mr. Hind

Lancashire, West.

Mr. Archer

Geography was never my strongest subject.

I would have agreed with the hon. Gentleman that the circular should be tried if it had not already created confusion. In Committee, the Minister very fairly said that he would investigate some of the cases and write to me. He did so, and I understand that the problem is that, as no record is kept when an application is made for exclusion from jury service, it cannot be investigated. Perhaps one day such records will be kept: to do so surely would not impose an inordinate burden on the courts.

I do not propose to elaborate on the matter at great length. In my view, the case makes itself. If we are all agreed that a genuine religious conviction should be respected, that a reluctant juror who will not discuss the case with the rest of the jury is not conducive to effecting justice, that deciding who has a legitimate claim would entail the simplest and briefest of investigations and that this would not open the floodgates to a host of applications for exemption by newly enrolled Exclusive Brethren, what is the objection? If there is no objection, why should we not remove all the difficulties and prevent the escalation of problems by writing the new clause into the Bill?

Mr. William Cash (Stafford)

My constituency contains a number of Exclusive Brethren, but the issue is not confined to them. It concerns a point of principle, and goes back to a practice direction made in 1973 by Lord Widgery, then Lord Chief Justice. He said that a juror may be excused at the discretion of the judge on grounds of personal hardship or conscientious objection to jury service. He went on to say: It is contrary to established practice for jurors to be excused on more general grounds such as race, religion or political beliefs or occupation. Since then the Juries Act 1974 has become law. As the right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) stated in his cogent speech, section 9 prescribes that If any person summoned under this Act shows to the satisfaction of the appropriate officer that there is good reason why he should be excused from attending … the appropriate officer may excuse him from so attending and shall do so if the person falls within the various categories specified in schedule 1. Schedule 1 makes exemptions for, among others, vowed members of religous orders. There is a category specifically related to the clergy and to exemptions which appear to all intents and purposes to be made on religious grounds. If the practice direction has been overtaken by a discretion conferred by Parliament under the 1974 Act—which I believe could be argued—and the only basis for the obligation to exempt is contained in section 9 and the schedule that includes religious exemption, the words "good reason" must include a basis not exclusively related to the practice direction.

Surely, in all conscience, it is reasonable for us to make provision in the Bill to ensure that we do not get into the tangle of difficulties mentioned by the right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West. There is inconsistency, on the evidence that I have seen, in the way in which the matter is being handled by different courts. There is a good case in principle for excluding those with genuine religious convictions. It will not lead to a rash of applications. It would be sensible to bring the Juries Act 1974 up to date with what I regard as reasonable and proper practice, in the interests not only of the Exclusive Brethren but of others who hold similar convictions. That would also deal with what I fear could also be difficulty in the case of majority verdicts under section 17 of the 1974 Act. If people were effectively exempting themselves from participating in a majority verdict, it would be a very difficult problem for the courts.

Mr. Robin Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)

My hon. Friend is legally qualified and I am not. Can he tell me what happens under the existing law if someone who believes that he ought not to serve as a juror turns up but refuses to take the jurors' oath or affirmation?

Mr. Cash

That is governed by a subsequent section in the Juries Act which deals with the various offences of failure to comply with a summons. Section 20(4) provides: A person shall not be liable to be punished under the preceding provisions of this section if he can show some reasonable cause for his failure to comply with the summons". Although he may have technically committed the offence, such a person may be able to excuse himself on the basis of "reasonable cause". We return again and again to the question: what is "reasonable cause" or "good reason"?

We should clarify the matter by passing the new clause. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will give reasonable consideration to the arguments which I have advanced and which, no doubt, others will put forward.

Mr. Bermingham

A long time ago there was talk in the land that anyone who was a conscientious objector went to prison. That was during the first world war. Then suddenly people began to think about the issue, and began to have some sense. People such as the Quakers, for whom I have infinite respect, served in the second world war not as soldiersߞbecause they were conscientious objectors—but as ambulance men for the field hospital in which my father served. After the war he said that they were the bravest men that he had ever known. When people have a conscientious objection to something, it is because of a profoundly held belief. The Exclusive Brethren have a profoundly held belief that they should not serve in judgment on others.

For once I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash), who showed us the dichotomy that arose between a practice direction and a section of a subsequent Act. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee unanimity of practice in this country, no matter how we try, as was rightly pointed out by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer). What do we find—the events that took place in Coventry. We find that certain other judges take a robust view. I have had the misfortune to fall foul of such a robust view. We were told, "The man must serve," and serve he did. A disagreement arose and when the final note came after three or four hours' deliberationߞwe had the practice direction in two hours, 10 minutes—it was a majority verdict. We were told, "Nine of us are for, two of us are against, and one won't say because he objects to sitting in judgment." That was the man who had been forced to serve.

What did we do? The defendant had to stand trial again; the jury was locked. Are we seeking to put people of conscience—whose conscience we respect—in such a position that they know that because they stand by their conscience they may affect the livelihood or way of life of another? Let us consider the case that I mentioned. That person had to stand trial again. The outcome on the first or second occasion matters not. The point is that more than one person suffered. The witnesses, the defendant, the state, and the man who stood by his conscience all suffered. Do we really want that to happen? The Lord Chancellor's Department sent out an advice but one cannot enforce an advice.

What are we asking the House to do? The new clause seeks to turn back the clock to Lord Widgery's direction, which said that if a matter of conscience is involved a juror should not serve. A provision later in the Bill removes the right of peremptory challenge; it is a provision with which I violently disagree. We shall leave the right to challenge for cause. As a practising lawyer, I know what I shall do.

Every time someone says, "I'm from the Exclusive Brethren" I shall challenge for cause for all the reasons given by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warley, West. [Interruption.] It is all right for the hon. Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind), whom we nearly exported to Yorkshire, to say that that is his right, but do we really want to start building up challenges for cause in which we test a person's religious belief to justify the challenge?

Mr. David Ashby (Leicestershire, North-West)

The hon. Member for St. Helens, South (Mr. Bermingham) has illustrated the point that I wanted to make. He has shown the farcical nature of challenge for cause. We have been told that there is no need to have peremptory challenge because one can challenge for cause, but if one challenges for cause in Coventry, will that be held to be a good challenge for cause by the judge who insisted that those people should sit on a jury?

Mr. Bermingham

The hon. Gentleman has made a valid and strong point with which I entirely agree. I sought to argue that, if the matter is left to the lottery of the individual choice of judges, whether it be on challenge for cause or under the Juries Act 1974, we shall get different results. We shall get a different outcome in Coventry from that in Snaresbrook or elsewhere.

Mr. Hind

The hon. Gentleman knows my view on peremptory challenge. Is it not clear that we shall build up a body of law on challenge for cause that will inevitably be tested by the Court of Appeal time and again? We shall extend the time that cases will take to try as a result.

Mr. Bermingham

I have just realised why I did not export the hon. Gentleman to Yorkshire: I agree with what he has just said. He has made a valid point showing the shortsightedness of the Bill in removing the right of peremptory challenge and leaving only challenge for cause. He is right in saying that if we are not careful we shall go down the American road; it takes four of five days to empanel a jury in America. The Minister may tell me that I am seeing mountains where there are none. If he opposes the new clause, I shall merely tell him that he has given me my first 20 or 30 challenges for cause. I shall challenge for cause on the ground that a person has a right not to serve as a matter of conscience.

I shall seek to detain the House no longer. I hope that the Minister will listen to the voices crying from both sides of the House, and in particular to the voice of justice, which cries that the jury must be free in its deliberations and that no one in the jury room must be reluctant, whether for religious or other reasons. If a juror is reluctant, he will not play the full part that is so necessary in trial by jury and to the future of the person on trial. In conscience, I ask the Minister to use his conscience and to support the new clause.

7.15 pm
Mr. Lawrence

If the Government do not like the new clause, they have only themselves to blame. Many of us, especially those who are lawyers, warned the Government that if they abolished peremptory challenge something like this was bound to happen. At present following the practice direction, the judge, in his discretion, may excuse the Exclusive Brethren or anyone for reasons of conscience from serving on the jury. If he fails to do so, it is never in the interests of counsel—either prosecution or defence—to allow to serve on the jury someone who clearly does not want to serve and who has no interest in contributing to justice. Under the rule of peremptory challenge, the Exclusive Brethren, the Plymouth Brethren or the conscientious objector is nearly always challenged. That is one of the safety valves provided by peremptory challenge. Now that that is being abolished, the Exclusive Brethren and those who are concerned about conscientious objection are rightly worried.

We now have to choose between the complicated procedure of challenging for cause, which no one would welcome, and the new clause, which will give those under the pressure of conscientious objection the right to say, "No; I do not want to serve on the jury." Conscientious objection is a traditional privilege that the citizen of Britain has always been able to enjoy in a whole range of activities. It is a mark of a free society and we should not forbid it.

Although I should not have supported this change in any other circumstances, because I should have thought it entirely unnecessary, the stubborn determination of the Government to carry on with the proposal to abolish peremptory challenge leaves me no alternative but to support the new clause to ensure justice and protect the tradition of exclusion for conscientious objectors.

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones (Ynys Môn)

I do not intend to detain the House unduly because from the speeches made thus far it is fairly clear that there is a general welcome for the new clause. It is right that I should place on record, as other hon. Members have, the fact that in normal circumstances it is the duty of the citizen to submit himself to jury service. It is part of the price that we pay for living in a democracy, as the right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) said.

In my experience of working in the legal profession, it never failed to surprise me how readily people submit themselves for jury service. Some are prepared to wait for days on end before being called. When they are called to serve, they do so willingly, and regard it as part of life in a free society. We all subscribe to that view.

I confess that I was extremely worried when I read of the reports that have been referred to. In some courts in England, members of the Exclusive Brethren were denied the right not to serve on juries on religious grounds. That was a step back from the position that pertained many years ago. As we have heard, it is only recently that difficulties have arisen about not serving on juries on religious grounds. Most hon. Members who have expressed an interest in the matter have received copies of the arguments that were used by the Exclusive Brethren and the Plymouth Brethren in seeking to be excused, and the arguments used by the courts to deny them that right. That disturbed me. In the past, courts allowed exclusion for that reason, but, suddenly, a spate of applications were refused and so I came to the view that the system was breaking down.

It has already been mentioned that the right to peremptory challenge is to be withdrawn when the Bill becomes law. Then this clause will be the only way in which people can be excused on religious grounds. Essentially, it is a matter of principle—a right that people with conscientious objections should be able to exercise.

I come from a Welsh tradition of nonconformity. Over generations and centuries people fought hard to achieve religious freedoms and rights. It is right that hon. Members continue to uphold such principles. When we consider that such rights are being denied, we should uphold them.

As I stated, the arguments have been well rehearsed. In view of the clear support for this small but important measure, I sincerely hope that the Government will accept the new clause.

Sir George Young (Ealing, Acton)

As a non-lawyer, I intervene briefly to speak against the new clause. I am delighted to see the hon. Member for St. Helens, South (Mr. Bermingham) in the Chamber. The parallel with conscientious objection against war was not convincing. Those who objected were against war in principle. In this case, those who seek exemption are not against justice. It was not a direct parallel.

We must determine whether there is a good case for exempting from jury service people who are able, intelligent and conscientious and examine the problems that we face nowadays in getting good juries. We saw recent cases of intimidation of jurors in Birmingham. There is growing evidence that many cases are becoming complex. We must now think carefully before introducing a blanket exemption on religious grounds.

The right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) spoke about the brethren. Of course, the new clause does not mention the brethren at all—it mentions religious belief. Quite frankly, the sort of cross-examination that the hon. Gentleman envisaged taking place before a jury is sworn fills me with apprehension about clogging up the system of justice. He envisaged a vicar being cross-examined on whether someone was a church attender or a church member. To go through that sort of rigmarole when one is trying to swear in a jury will slow down rather than accelerate the jury process.

Mr. Archer

The hon. Gentleman is entitled to deploy his argument, but he is not entitled to attribute to me things that I did not say. I certainly did not paint a picture of a long cross-examination of a pastor or minister of religion about whether someone attended his church. How long could cross-examination on that point conceivably last?

Sir George Young

I thought that the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that he was sure that the pastor would give evidence. We shall find out from Hansard whether he said that. A pastor could give evidence about the religious beliefs of an individual who had been called to jury service. That would slow down the process of jury service. I do not share the view that no one would abuse the exemption. I can think of many people who would like an excuse not to serve on a jury. As the new clause is drafted, it would be perfectly possible for anybody to claim, "I have a religious belief that protects me against jury service. I wish to be exempt." I do not accept that that is a sensible way to make progress.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Sir George Young

I shall not give way. My remarks will be brief.

Each time a parliamentary problem arises, I am, like other hon. Members, lobbied by the brethren. On previous occasions, I was swayed by the force of their argument. In 1979, I supported my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester) in the case that he deployed against rating. On the occasion when I was visited at my advice bureau, I was struck by the fragility of the argument, and I said so to those who came to see me, and explained that I would speak against it. I did not like their phrase "yoked to unbelievers". There is a risk of enshrining in statute a questionable approach to one's fellow citizens. When one is swearing in a jury, the basic question is whether they are able people who would perform their task. Like the rest of us, the brethren benefit from the imprisonment of criminals and the protection of society that our judicial system offers. I was not persuaded that being yoked to unbelievers was a sufficient cause for exemption.

Mr. Cash

Does my hon. Friend agree that, in principle, there is little between what he just objected to and, for example, pacifists? They may take a similar line because they regard an issue of principle in the same way.

Sir George Young

I tried to deal with that matter in a sentence at the beginning of my speech. Those who seek protection behind the new clause are in favour of justice and the judicial process, and they want criminals to be put in prison. Those who objected to war were against war. That is why I do not accept that there is a direct parallel with conscientious objection.

Some obligations of citizenship are indivisible. Tax paying is one and sitting on a jury is another. I should be gravely disturbed if the Government are minded to accept new clause 16.

Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East)

Like other right hon. and hon. Members, I have been subject to a great deal of canvassing on this subject. To use a word that has already been mentioned, some of it has been rather robust, to the point at which it almost persuaded me to be less than sympathetic to the proposal. I am convinced by the strength of the belief of those who have sought to enlist my support that this is a measure that, in turn, I should support.

I was interested in a phrase used by the hon. Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young). He took exception to the expression, "yoked to unbelievers." I do not share all the beliefs of the Exclusive Brethren. If this were an argument about doctrine, I could think of several points that I would like robustly to put to them. But I do not for a moment want to detract from their right to believe as they do. This is a matter of conscience. If their consciences drive them in a certain direction, it is not my right to seek to alter that or to drive them in another direction. The truth is that the issue is inextricably linked to the right of peremptory challenge. It is proposed that that should be abolished, although, happily, north of the Tweed it still exists.

My experience of peremptory challenge has always been that when one arrives in court the court officer or usher has inevitably, by the intelligence system that operates on these occasions, found out who might wish to be excused and for what reason. Therefore, the peremptory challenge is frequently an informed one, based on the knowledge that there is a person who has a substantial objection to service.

If the proposal is enacted there may be a slowing up in the administration of justice to the extent that the depth of a person's religious belief will have to be examined. However, I cannot help thinking that a recognised form will soon be achieved which will satisfy the judges.

7.30 pm

What if the administration of justice is slowed up? Is that not a legitimate price to pay if, as a consequence, one is ensuring that a person who has a conscience against serving on a jury is entitled not to do so? To have people serving on juries whose conscience so divides them from those with whom they must serve and makes their contribution to the work of the jury impossible cannot strengthen the jury system or the system of justice.

The proposal is right in principle, and, if enacted, it will avoid the evils of practice which might otherwise arise. For those reasons, it should commend itself to the whole House.

Mr. Teddy Taylor (Southend, East)

First, I hope that the Government will accept this new clause, which I have signed, or make some positive move in that direction. We all accept that it is not the job of Parliament or the Government to make provision for people's strange views. I do not like wearing seat belts, and we all object in particular to things of that sort. But it would be wrong to consider this matter in that regard. There is no doubt that we are dealing with a deeply held religious belief, of which all hon. Members who have spoken to the brethren and who have observed their rites in our communities must be aware.

Secondly, the Government must be aware that the present circumstances in some instances cause great offence and distress to those involved.

Thirdly, we must bear in mind that in this case we are dealing not with an anti-social group of people who cause social problems, but with a group who lead good lives as good citizens whom we would not wish to condemn in any way.

Finally, I hope that the Government will think about the problem in so far as it affects the courts. How does it help the judicial process to have reluctant jurors? Will it not simply be a prescription for injustice to the defendant? It seems unreasonable that the Government cannot make some move in this direction.

I am sorry that the excellent amendment No. 2, which I and some hon. Friends tabled, is not being debated with this new clause. It calls upon the Government to give guidance in statute to the courts to exercise their discretion so that religious beliefs and deeply held convictions are taken into account. That would be not an instruction to judges, but some sort of guidance on how they should exercise their discretion.

I hope that the Government will appreciate that we are dealing with a matter that is important to the administration of justice and the respect that the House should have for the deeply held religious views of a group within our community.

Dr. Lewis Moonie (Kirkcaldy)

Two matters are of particular interest in this debate. The first is the inordinate number of lawyers on both sides of the House who seem to turn out for an interesting legal point. The second is that this is one of the few occasions on which we can all truly say that we have no self-interest whatever in the matter under discussion.

Members of the sects to whom we are referring not only do not wish to serve on juries, but do not vote, join political parties or take part in many aspects of collective decision making. Surely that is their right.

It is not a question of whether we resent some group being allowed to wriggle out of jury service. We are considering two different questions. First, are the interests of justice served by forcing a member of a sect to serve on a jury? If a person by definition will not play his or her proper part in arriving at a collective decision with other jurors, is it in the interests of justice or of the defendant? It is not.

Secondly, does the present rule cover the matter adequately? The Government will no doubt argue that it does. From the many cases cited tonight, the answer, again, must be no. It allows the awkward or robust judge, if we are to use those various euphemisms, through his discretion, to circumvent the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. Therefore, we should consider the new clause as a reasonable means of ensuring that people with strong religious beliefs and conscientious objections against serving on a jury are not forced to do so.

Mr. Michael Shersby (Uxbridge)

Those of my constituents who are members of the Exclusive Brethren have made the point to me that they are obliged to rely on the provisions of section 9 of the Juries Act 1974 to be excused from jury service. As the House has heard from several hon. Members, it is clear that that discretion does not operate uniformly. Often those who object on conscientious grounds are excused without difficulty, but on several occasions, which have been reported to all hon. Members interested in this matter, one judge or another has clearly not felt able to excuse a person who has been summoned for jury service.

I was interested to read the report of Lord Morris's committee which considered this matter in 1965. The committee decided that it was better to deal with the question of being excused from jury service on a common sense basis rather than by statutory exemption. In his report, Lord Morris said: we have no doubt that summoning officers and courts will deal with their applications sympathetically. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. Clearly that causes distress to members of the Plymouth and Exclusive Brethren, and they have asked me and others to support this new clause.

In reply to my constituents, I quoted the words of my hon. Friend the Minister who is in charge of the Bill. In Committee, he said: We must not open loopholes through which others can drive a coach and horses. In the end it is a matter of judgment. We know that this is a matter of judgment, but it does not seem to be working as we might hope. My hon. Friend went on to say that between the Home Office and the Lord Chancellor's Department there was unanimity of view, and that the Lord Chancellor's Department should write to the court service in December 1987 to place on record the specific concerns of the Exclusive Brethren and the Plymouth Brethren, to draw them to the attention of the judiciary and to remind the courts of the relevant laws and procedures." —[Official Report, Standing Committee H, 29 March 1988; c. 883–85.] Was that letter sent by the Lord Chancellor's Department in December 1987, and is the Minister satisfied that it has worked as intended and is working uniformly? The House has a choice to pass this new clause or to continue to rely on the discretionary procedure. That is the crux of the matter.

To help me to make up my mind whether to support the new clause, I ask my hon. Friend to tell me whether the provisions of schedule 1 to the Juries Act 1974, especially the part which refers to people being excused on grounds of conscience, still operates. It says that a person shall be excused if he is a vowed member of any religious order living in a monastery, convent or other religious community. Do the Exclusive Brethren who live in the religious community in my constituency qualify for exemption under that schedule? What is the definition of a religious community? I suspect that we are getting near to an agreement that people who are vowed members of a religious community, whether it be residential or non-residential, should be exempt from jury service.

If my hon. Friend cannot accept the new clause, will he ask the Lord Chancellor to issue further guidance, requests or instructions to the judiciary to have regard to the genuinely held religious scruples that have been demonstrated by the Exclusive Brethren so as to achieve the uniformity of practice that so many hon. Members have made clear is greatly to be desired?

Mr. Worthington

I have listened with great interest to hon. Members who have much experience in the courts. One might have thought that the objection to the new clause would be the difficulty in obtaining good juries and the fact that a coach and horses can be driven through the present exemptions, or the floodgates can be opened, or whatever image one wishes to use. But apparently that argument is not being used. The system seems to work reasonably well, although I believe that there are exemptions for holidays, which would be much more prone to having a coach and horses driven through them. It is difficult to accept that the new clause would cause major problems to the courts. The Minister will have to find stronger grounds than that.

It will not be difficult for the courts to establish the strength of a claim to conscientious objection on the ground of religious belief. Some time ago a Member of the House was named because he objected to the presence of others at Prayers. It would be difficult for some us to make a similar claim to a long pattern of religious belief as the ground upon which one should be excluded. It is difficult to pretend that one has been a member of a faith for a long time.

We have heard what was said by the judge who saw the brethren who were claiming exemption. He said: I have your letter. I notice you refer to the scriptures. Have you considered the gospels where it says 'Render to Caesar what is Caesar's'? Have you got anything to say? The reply was, "I respect the court." The judge then left. It is difficult to accept that as a mature consideration of the case. The judge also said: If we went by this, I would be out of a job. You are a British citizen with privileges like voting; you therefore need to be included also in services. You will have to serve. When one member of the Plymouth Brethren referred to the scriptural background, the judge said: No, that's enough. There are other scriptures in the New Testament which refer to Pharisees. I suggest that you have a look at those as well. Your reasons are not sufficient. You will have to decide when it comes to the day whether to attend or pay the penalty. The worst example was the clerk of the court saying: The judge has no time for conscientious objection. Those actions by judges do far more to weaken the English legal system than anything that we may do today by allowing conscientious objection. That is why I hope that the House will support the new clause.

7.45 pm
Mr. David Wilshire (Spelthorne)

Like many hon. Members, I became involved in this matter because members of the brethren came to see me. Having read all that they gave me, I have come to the conclusion that new clause 16 is fundamentally wrong. First, it is wrong in principle. Secondly, even if the House finds the principle acceptable, the wording is wrong.

The principle at stake is that of being able to opt out of jury service on the grounds of religious belief. What justification have we been offered? The letter from the brethren to the Minister of State dated 15 April this year states that their conscience is governed

by conviction based on the holy scriptures". The first belief is that it is wrong to judge, while the second is that it is wrong to sit with unbelievers. There are difficult implications for all of us in both beliefs. If we accept the point that it is wrong to judge, does that mean juries only, or judges, too? Either way, it undermines our concept of the rule of law. As my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young) said, the belief that it is wrong to sit with unbelievers postulates two classes of citizens: brethren and others. We enshrine that concept in the statute book at our peril.

Mr. Cash

My hon. Friend may recall that one of the most important British constitutional cases was that of Bradlaugh in the 19th century. That dealt with whether a Member of this House should be allowed to take his seat on the basis of his religious conviction that he would not swear an oath but would affirm. That case reverberated throughout the House for a long time and was decided in Bradlaugh's favour. My hon. Friend is dealing with an issue that goes to the centre of gravity of the constitution of the House and the country.

Mr. Wilshire

Time is against me, Madam Deputy Speaker. Were it not, I would happily enter into a long debate about the significance of religious belief and how it is translated into freedom of action, which are two different concepts. For my purposes, I see the relevance in the judge saying: Render to Caesar what is Caesar's. We are all citizens of the United Kindom. We receive things from it and it grants us rights and privileges. In return, we all have civic duties and responsibilities, one of which is jury service.

There is a danger in trying to legislate via biblical quotations. I shall explain where it leads using a simple example. The Children of God are a fringe Christian sect who believe sincerely that the saying in the New Testament, I will make you fishers of men, means that their young women members should become prostitutes to recruit new members. Will that be entered as a defence against a charge of soliciting in the future?

The wording of new clause 16 raises two problems. First, it does not define religious belief, and, secondly, it provides no test of the genuineness of religious belief. The only definition to hand is that offered by the brethren in their letter to the Ministerߞthat it should be based upon holy scripture. Whose holy scripture is relevant? We are on a dangerous path.

I have with me a book that looks exactly like the Bible. To the Children of God that book contains divinely inspired words. In that book, however, there are detailed instructions on how to be a prostitute and it advocates sex betwen children and adults.

I believe that to try to establish the genuineness of religious belief is dangerous. Will it simply be enough to say, "I do not believe in jury service"? If so, that will provide everyone with a cop-out. I hope that new clause 16 will be rejected. Like it or not, we are all part of British society.

Mr. Madden


Mr. Wilshire

I shall not give way, because time is against me.

We all benefit from being part of that society and we owe it something in return. We fulfil our calling when we play our proper part in making it work.

Mrs. Ann Taylor

I hesitate to follow the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire) down some of the paths he was travelling. Some of his arguments would be extremely dangerous were they applied to other areas upon which we legislate.

I wish to make a brief speech because hon. Members generally are in agreement and most of us would like to move to a vote. I want juries to consist of as wide a cross-section of the public as possible. I believe that that hope is common ground among most hon. Members. I believe that we would all agree that members of the public should not be excused from jury service lightly. That should occur only when there is good reason for it. There are two arguments that I should like to make to emphasise to the Minister the seriousness with which we consider this new clause.

The first argument relates to the principle of religious belief. If people have a strongly held religious belief that precludes them from certain activities, even though they are desirable civic duties, we should respect their right to opt out. If the Exclusive Brethren find it offensive to sit on juries because it is against their religous principles, we should make provision for their exclusion from such service.

The hon. Member for Spelthorne has misled the House. We do not have to accept people's religious beliefs to respect them. We now live in a multi-cultural, multi-religious country and it is dangerous to criticise other people's religious beliefs in the way that the hon. Member for Spelthorne has sought to do. We believe that one should respect religious beliefs even though one does not agree with them. We believe that the Exclusive Brethren have a strong case and we shall support the new clause that was moved by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer).

The second important argument for the Minister to considerߞit was made in Committee and has been repeated todayߞis that a reluctant juror is not an asset to justice. The Minister acknowledged that in Committee, and if he plans to resist the new clause he must explain to the House how he can square that circle. It will not be in the interest of justice for reluctant jurors to sit on juries.

I hope that on those grounds and on the ground of respecting religious beliefs the Minister will accept the new clause.

Mr. John Patten

I am sure that all of us would agree that we want to have the widest possible pool of jurors from whom to pick. The Bill widens the pool from which that selection takes place because it will make it possible for those between the ages of 65 and 70 who wish to serve on juries to do so. I believe that that has been widely welcomed.

It is clear from this debate and the powerful speeches that we face a collision between principle and practice regarding the operation of jury selection—a collision between strongly held religious convictions, which I appreciate and agree are those that a free society should mark, and the demands of good citizenship. I am sure that all of us would recognise that we are on a collision course and that it is not an easy problem to solve. My hon. Friends the Members for Stafford (Mr. Cash) and for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) and others have tried to deal with the problem in an extremely helpful way.

Whatever scheme is introduced it is clear that, in the end, it is not a mechanistic test. It is not like sticking a piece of litmus paper into a solution to see what colour it turns. Someone must decide whether a person is a conscientious objector or whether he should serve in the armed forces. In Australia someone must decide whether someone has a proper reason not to vote. In this connection we must decide whether someone has a genuine, conscientiously held religious conviction that should persuade the summoning officer for the jury that that person, be he a Jehovah's Witness, a member of the Select Brethren or a member of the Roman Catholic, Jewish or Anglican faiths, should not serve on the jury. There is no easy way of doing that. A human being must decide whether another human being has such a conviction. There is no magic formula.

The formula suggested by the right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) does not save a human being from having to judge whether another human being has strongly held religious convictions and to decide whether that should exempt him from jury service. Such arguments exercised the Morris committee. I do not believe it is necessary for us to go over the findings of that committee and what it considered was and was not in the public interest.

Mr. Cash

Does my hon. Friend agree that when dealing with the manner in which discretion is exercised the problem is that there are insufficient criteria to determine the question in one direction or another? That is what leads to inconsistency and, in the absence of peremptory challenge, it will lead to reluctant jurors. That will create chaos in our legal system.

Mr. Patten

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. I am discussing the general principles at the moment rather than learned judges' practical applications of the rules and practice guidelines handed down. The points that my hon. Friend has raised are similar to those raised by my distinguished constitutent, Mr. Bryan Wilson, who is a fellow of All Souls. He is not a member of the Select Brethren or a Jehovah's Witness, but he has given a lot of the intellectual underpinning to the argument. Nothing sharpens up a Minister more than to have a prominent constituent leading the campaign—especially if he keeps the cellar at All Souls. There are fearful sanctions that he could exercise against me should the vote go against me.

Mr. Hind

Does my hon. Friend agree that something could be taken from the recommendations of my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash), who cited Lord Widgery's practice direction to the judges on how to deal with cases where there was some true reason for the citizen not taking part in jury service? Perhaps that is the way to resolve this matter. The Lord Chancellor could make a direction for circulation to judges so that they could interpret section 9 of the Juries Act 1974.

Mr. Patten

My hon. Friend has made an extremely helpful suggestion; he has put his finger on it. For the sake of argument, let us suppose that we voted in favour of the new clause. That would not stop Jehovah's Witnesses or members of the Select Brethren or other religions arguing their cases to the jury summoning officer or the judge of appeal. The new clause would not get the summoning officer or the judge of appeal out of making the difficult decision on whether a person's conscientious objections were genuinely held.

Mr. Peter Griffiths (Portsmouth, North)

Does not my hon. Friend accept that, in addition to those who are excluded from jury service at the moment, there are those who are specifically permitted to seek to be excused from jury service? They simply tell the officer who requests their service the reason for that. All that we are seeking is a simple extension of the rule to a relatively small number of people. Is it not as simple as that?

8 pm

Mr. Patten

I do not think that my hon. Friend is quite right. It is perfectly simple. If one has a series of exemptions from the public duty of a citizen to serve on a jury which is based on a profession, such as being a Member of Parliament or a barrister, that class is easily identifiable. It is slightly different—I do not think that I am logic chopping—for someone to turn up and say that he is a member of Jehovahs' Witnesses, the Roman Catholic Church or the Jewish faith and to show something from his rabbi, bishop or pastor to attest that that is so. It may be easy in the case of those mainstream faiths, but my hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire) is right in saying that many organisations call themselves religions and, under certain circumstances, from each of those organisations there could come arguments about strongly held religious convictions. I do not want to exaggerate the importance of that, but it would ill behove the House to dismiss it as if it were a problem that would never arise.

Mr. Ashby

My hon. Friend will appreciate that we are concerned only about these two sects and it would be obnoxious to spell them out in the legislation. As the right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) said, would it not be possible for the summoning officer to have a letter from the pastor saying that the person belonged to that sect? If the summoning officer was not satisfied, all that he would have to do would be to refer the matter to the judge. Judges are highly paid. They are highly qualified to do just this—to judge. Why do we not let them judge? That is their job.

Mr. Patten

It is exactly that process of judgment by judges that is being criticised. My hon. Friend is right in intimating that it would be obnoxious to enshrine in legislation the names of one, two, three or more faiths. The trouble is that if one does not do that, not next year, but the year after or the year after that, one could well find other people coming forward and using that as a perfectly legitimate excuse.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Patten

I must answer the Uxbridge question.

Mr. Archer

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Patten

I am just answering the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby). As he said, those who are ineligible include ministers of religion and, in the words of the statute, A vowed member of any religious order living in a monastery, convent or other religious community —"living in" being the key words. Those people are in a slightly different category. They are ineligible for jury service on the ground that their vocation and position in the community are incompatible with jury service. The question before us is the slightly different one whether adherence to a particular religion but living in the community should be treated in the same way. That is where the line needs to be drawn.

Since the Committee debate, I have discussed the matter further with my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor. It would not be proper for either him or me to comment on the three cases that have arisen in this calendar year and say whether they were correctly or incorrectly treated. Those matters are within the discretion of the court and would remain so should the new clause be passed.

I should like to answer a highly pertinent question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge. The Lord Chancellor is considering whether the December guidance on the law and practice relating to jury service should be supplemented. That is happening at the moment. My noble and learned Friend and I share the hopeߞit is important that I put these words on the record —that applications for excusal from jury service based on genuine conscientious scruples should be sensitively and sympathetically considered by the courts within the discretion that the law allows them. My noble and learned Friend will not hesitate to issue further directions along those lines should he judge it necessary to do so. I hope that the House will agree on reflection that that is the right way to proceed.

Mr. Shersby

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. Has the Minister finished his speech?

Mr. Patten

I am afraid I have.

Mr. Madden

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I appreciate that you have only just arrived in the Chair, but my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) moved the new clause at 6.46 pm and there seems to have been a great deal of unanimity of view. I sense that many hon. Members wish to vote. Will you accept a motion, That the Question be now put?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I shall consider it later.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

I shall overlook the unusual discourtesy of my hon. Friend the Minister in rising to speak while colleagues of his who have sat through the debate were still trying to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It means that my hon. Friend will have to ask your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to reply to points that have yet to be made in the debate.

There is only one point that I wish to make. It is quite clear that the new clause does not refer only to the Exclusive Brethren. It is general rather than particular. It is also clear that it could be abused for economic reasons by those who have no authentic religious belief. Therefore, the question must be: how does one protect those who have an authentic religious belief while eliminating as far as possible those who would wish to make a spurious claim of religious belief for their own economic advantage to avoid jury service? That is a real problem, and I doubt not that it is one that taxes the Government, and reasonably so.

Reference has been made by the hon. Member for St. Helens, South (Mr. Bermingham) to the fact that it is usual in wartime for those who successfully plead conscientious objection nevertheless to serve the community, often in peril of their lives— [Interruption.] Will the Government Whip on duty allow the Minister to listen to what I am saying? I thank him. I should have thought that the problem could be avoided in the following way. If the new clause were carried, and then when it went to another place an amendment were made to it that those who claim exemption rather than excuse on the grounds of religious belief should have to be present at the court building, although not necessarily in the court proceedings, for the duration of the trial, the conscientious objection would be met, but those involved would secure no economic advantage from it. I should have thought that that would protect those of genuine conscience and at the same time protect the judicial system from abuse of the conscientious claim for the economic, commercial or unworthy advantage of spurious claimants.

Mr. Mike Woodcock (Ellesmere Port and Neston)

The argument is fairly simple. It cannot be just for people to be forced to serve on juries when they have strong religious objections. It cannot be just for the accused to have reluctant jurors. The tradition of the House is to defend the right of conscience and religious freedom. Present interpretations of the law are not serving those causes. In the absence of a clear commitment and clearer directions to judges, we should amend the law. This is a sensible new clause and we should support it.

Mr. Ashby

As we do not have jury challenge, we could now have jurors who cannot read, which will cause problems in cases in which there are large numbers of documents. We shall now have jurors who perhaps cannot speak or understand English. Yet we are told that people who do not want to participate in jury service will be forced to do so.

In this Chamber there are many lawyers with a wealth of experience. They have given their views, but been completely ignored by the Minister. This new clause is not open to abuse, and to say that it is is nonsense. It would be obnoxious if an amendment named the Plymouth Brethren. A juror should come along and give his objection and a judge should then decide whether that objection is genuine. For those reasons, I support the new clause.

Mr. Harry Greenway

I shall always respect a Christian's right to conscientious objection, which is what the clause is really about. I welcome what the Minister said, and, as a non-lawyer, ask the right hon.and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) to clarify something for me. Would a judge betake a specifically legal view when considering whether to excuse a juror, or would he, as a Christian member of the Church of England or of the Church of Rome—a body other than the Plymouth or Exclusive Brethrenߞmake a Christian judgment of the individual who was seeking to be excused jury service in certain circumstances? If he did that, he might take the view that the individual concerned should be part of the leaven of society, share its burdens, and therefore undertake jury service.

Mr. Watts

The mood of the House and the balance of the debate has been overwhelmingly in favour of the new clause, so I find it unnecessary to reiterate the points that have been fully and persuasively made by other hon. Members. However, I have one question for my hon. Friend the Minister, which I would have made in an intervention had he not sat down so quickly.

The Minister said that it was his wish that all who have a genuine religious objection to jury service should be released from that obligation. If that is his intention and that of his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor, in view of the poor past performance of the guidance for achieving that objective, why does he still seek to rely on further guidance notes? Can he not accept that there is an overwhelming case for accepting the new clause so that a right is enshrined in law that would make it much more difficult for judges, such as those who have been cited by Opposition Members, to say that they do not believe in religious objection?

Mr. Archer

I want briefly to reply to two questions that I have been asked. The hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) asked whether a judge would decide this matter as a Christian. He will decide as a judge. He will decide, as a simple question of fact, whether the applicant has a genuine objection on religious grounds to serving on a jury. He will do that, one hopes, in the interests of tolerance and of justice.

The hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) raised the difficulty of deciding whether an applicant genuinely had a religious objection or whether he might be motivated by economic considerations. I would be content to leave the amendment that he proposed to be discussed in another place. I can see the argument, but I am not sure that the House needs to resolve it tonight.

The issue tonight is: will it be too difficult for a court to decide whether someone has genuine religious objections? I am sure the Minister will recognise that when I opened the debate I tried to face the objections to the new clause. If I were persuaded that any of them were valid and had been established, I would not persist in calling a Division. But the only objection that has been ventilated is the apparent difficulty that a court might have in deciding whether an objection is genuine. I do not see how that could be a difficulty for a court. If a person says he has genuine religious objections, he will have to establish that he is a regular member of a congregation. I cannot believe that anyone will attend a congregation, Sunday after Sunday for years on end, because one day he might be called for jury service and would not want to do it. There can be no doubt about whether someone has attended a congregation. It can easily be resolved.

The only remaining issue is whether a congregation genuinely holds this doctrine. There is no difficulty in calling someone in authority from the congregation to say that that is its doctrine. I cannot foresee any problems for the courts.

Mr. Cash

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the point that he has just made is equally applicable in principle in the case of religious communities?

Mr. Archer

I should have thought that it was. I fully take the hon. Gentleman's earlier point, but at the moment I cannot amend the new clause further. This is a limited amendment, and there can be no problem about this aspect of it.

None of the arguments would benefit from being repeated. I have respected the Minister's approach throughout our debates on the Bill. He has usually tried to address his mind to the matters that we have raised. On this one, for reasons that I do not follow, he has raised objections that do not exist. This is a sad day for British justice and tolerance. We propose to proceed to a Division.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 205, Noes 209.

Division No. 366] [8.16 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Allen, Graham Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Corbett, Robin
Armstrong, Hilary Corbyn, Jeremy
Ashby, David Cousins, Jim
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Cryer, Bob
Ashton, Joe Cummings, John
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Cunliffe, Lawrence
Barron, Kevin Dalyell, Tam
Battle, John Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Beckett, Margaret Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Bell, Stuart Dewar, Donald
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Dixon, Don
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Dobson, Frank
Bermingham, Gerald Doran, Frank
Bidwell, Sydney Dover, Den
Blair, Tony Duffy, A. E. P.
Blunkett, David Dunnachie, Jimmy
Boateng, Paul Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Boyes, Roland Eadie, Alexander
Bradley, Keith Eastham, Ken
Bray, Dr Jeremy Evans, John (St Helens N)
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Buchan, Norman Fatchett, Derek
Buckley, George J. Faulds, Andrew
Caborn, Richard Fearn, Ronald
Callaghan, Jim Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Flannery, Martin
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Flynn, Paul
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Foster, Derek
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Fraser, John
Clay, Bob Fyfe, Maria
Clelland, David Galbraith, Sam
Cohen, Harry Galloway, George
Coleman, Donald Gardiner, George
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend) Morgan, Rhodri
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Godman, Dr Norman A. Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Golding, Mrs Llin Mullin, Chris
Gordon, Mildred Murphy, Paul
Graham, Thomas Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) O'Brien, William
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) O'Neill, Martin
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Parry, Robert
Grocott, Bruce Patchett, Terry
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Pendry, Tom
Henderson, Doug Pike, Peter L.
Hinchliffe, David Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Prescott, John
Home Robertson, John Primarolo, Dawn
Hood, Jimmy Quin, Ms Joyce
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Radice, Giles
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Randall, Stuart
Hoyle, Doug Redmond, Martin
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Reid, Dr John
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Richardson, Jo
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Hunter, Andrew Rogers, Allan
Illsley, Eric Rooker, Jeff
Irvine, Michael Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Janner, Greville Rowlands, Ted
John, Brynmor Ruddock, Joan
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Sedgemore, Brian
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn) Sheerman, Barry
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Kennedy, Charles Short, Clare
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Skinner, Dennis
Lambie, David Snape, Peter
Lamond, James Spearing, Nigel
Lawrence, Ivan Steinberg, Gerry
Leadbitter, Ted Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Leighton, Ron Stott, Roger
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Strang, Gavin
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Straw, Jack
Lewis, Terry Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Litherland, Robert Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Turner, Dennis
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Vaughan, Sir Gerard
McAllion, John Vaz, Keith
McCartney, Ian Wall, Pat
McKelvey, William Wallace, James
McLeish, Henry Walley, Joan
McNamara, Kevin Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
McTaggart, Bob Watts, John
Madden, Max Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Mahon, Mrs Alice Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Marek, Dr John Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Wilson, Brian
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Winnick, David
Martlew, Eric Wise, Mrs Audrey
Maxton, John Woodcock, Mike
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Worthington, Tony
Meacher, Michael Wray, Jimmy
Meale, Alan Young, David (Bolton SE)
Michael, Alun
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Tellers for the Ayes:
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute) Mr. Allen McKay and
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Mr. Frank Haynes.
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Aitken, Jonathan Atkins, Robert
Alexander, Richard Atkinson, David
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)
Allason, Rupert Baldry, Tony
Amess, David Banks, Robert (Harrogate)
Amos, Alan Batiste, Spencer
Arbuthnot, James Beaumont-Dark, Anthony
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Bellingham, Henry
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Bendall, Vivian
Aspinwall, Jack Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Benyon, W. Hayward, Robert
Bevan, David Gilroy Heathcoat-Amory, David
Biffen, Rt Hon John Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Hill, James
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Hind, Kenneth
Body, Sir Richard Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Holt, Richard
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hordern, Sir Peter
Boswell, Tim Howard, Michael
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Bowis, John Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Brazier, Julian Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Bright, Graham Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Irving, Charles
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Jack, Michael
Browne, John (Winchester) Jackson, Robert
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Janman, Tim
Buck, Sir Antony Jessel, Toby
Burns, Simon Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Burt, Alistair Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Butcher, John Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Butler, Chris Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Butterfill, John Key, Robert
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Carrington, Matthew Kirkhope, Timothy
Carttiss, Michael Knapman, Roger
Chapman, Sydney Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Knowles, Michael
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Cope, Rt Hon John Lilley, Peter
Cormack, Patrick Lord, Michael
Couchman, James Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Cran, James McCrindle, Robert
Currie, Mrs Edwina Maclean, David
Curry, David McLoughlin, Patrick
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Davis, David (Boothferry) McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Day, Stephen Madel, David
Devlin, Tim Malins, Humfrey
Dicks, Terry Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Dorrell, Stephen Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Dunn, Bob Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Durant, Tony Miller, Sir Hal
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Mills, Iain
Evennett, David Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Fallon, Michael Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Favell, Tony Moate, Roger
Fenner, Dame Peggy Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Moore, Rt Hon John
Fookes, Miss Janet Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Forman, Nigel Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Moss, Malcolm
Fox, Sir Marcus Moynihan, Hon Colin
Franks, Cecil Mudd, David
Freeman, Roger Neubert, Michael
French, Douglas Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Fry, Peter Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Gale, Roger Paice, James
Gill, Christopher Patnick, Irvine
Goodhart, Sir Philip Patten, John (Oxford W)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Renton, Tim
Gow, Ian Rhodes James, Robert
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Riddick, Graham
Gregory, Conal Roe, Mrs Marion
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Rost, Peter
Grist, Ian Rowe, Andrew
Ground, Patrick Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Shersby, Michael
Hampson, Dr Keith Sims, Roger
Hanley, Jeremy Skeet, Sir Trevor
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Squire, Robin
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Stanbrook, Ivor
Harris, David Steen, Anthony
Haselhurst, Alan Stern, Michael
Hayes, Jerry Stevens, Lewis
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood) Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Waller, Gary
Sumberg, David Ward, John
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Wells, Bowen
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman Widdecombe, Ann
Temple-Morris, Peter Wilshire, David
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Wolfson, Mark
Thornton, Malcolm Wood, Timothy
Townend, John (Bridlington) Yeo, Tim
Tracey, Richard Young, Sir George (Acton)
Trippier, David
Trotter, Neville Tellers for the Noes:
Twinn, Dr Ian Mr. Kenneth Carlisle and
Waddington, Rt Hon David Mr. David Lightbown
Wakeham, Rt Hon John

Question accordingly negatived.

Sir Anthony Grant (Cambridgeshire, South-West)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have to report to you that, in the last Division, the Division bell did not ring in St. Stephen's Tower, where my office is located. I should be grateful if you would cause an inquiry to be made into why it did not ring.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I shall ask the Serjeant at Arms to make inquiries into the failure of the Division bell.

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