HC Deb 26 October 1988 vol 139 cc405-26 10.12 pm
Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Cathcart)

I beg to move,

That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Abolition of Domestic Rates (Domestic and Part Residential Subjects) (Scotland) Regulations 1988 (S.I., 1988, No. 1477), dated 22nd August 1988, a copy of which was laid before this House on 24th August, be annulled. Despite the fact that we have lost some time for these regulations, I can assure you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I have no intention of speaking at the speed at which you dealt with the final Lords amendments to the Housing (Scotland) Bill.

We have just considered what can now rightly be called the Michael Ancram Benefit Bill, set up to give him a job in his retirement from Parliament. In dealing with poll tax regulations, we now move to the measure that led to that gentleman's demise from the House. The only shame about that is that he is not here to apologise for the promises that he made about the poll tax, which are now being broken by the Government.

None of the six sets of regulations is of itself of great importance. Some of them give minor concessions to demands that the Opposition, local authorities in Scotland and COSLA have been making for some time. We have made it clear from the beginning that whenever we have an opportunity to debate the obscenities of the poll tax, we shall take it.

It is absurd that with only five months to go before the poll tax is imposed on 1 April 1989 we are still debating regulations that will bring the Act into force. When the Government introduced the commencement order for the Abolition of Rates Etc. (Scotland) Act 1987 over a year ago, they announced their intention to have, with the exception of the rebate scheme, all the regulations clear of the consultation process by the end of 1987. They said that the regulations would be laid and debated long before now. The report of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, which the Government commissioned, made it clear that if the timetable was not adhered to—it wanted a tighter timetable than that which the Government proposed—local authorities would be in considerable trouble in implementing the poll tax efficiently by April 1989. Ten months have passed and the tax will come into force in five months' time, and the process is still not complete.

Even the regulations that we are discussing will not complete the process. Several important issues are still being discussed with COSLA and local authorities in Scotland. Other regulations have been discussed, but they have not yet been laid before the House. They include the exemption from poll tax of care workers in residential homes, the registration of cross-border students from England and Wales to ensure that they do not become liable for two poll taxes, information from the Registrar General of the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys on deaths of those who are on the register for the poll tax to ensure that bereaved widows are not hounded, the prescription of base rates for non-domestic rates, and regulations on the direct reduction of poll tax from social security payments when arrears have been accumulated, which was one of the promises made in Committee by Mr. Michael Ancram. He said that that would never take place but now we know that it will. There are also to be regulations on the provision of information to registration officers from the DSS, as we now have to call it. The promise was made by Mr. Michael Ancram in Committee that no information would be sought from the DSS. We find now that information will be given to registration officers on all those claiming income support. It is a great shame that promise after promise is being broken by the Government.

One major set of regulations is still to come, and they concern the rebate scheme. It appears that we are to have yet another broken promise. My hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) has obtained a letter which was written by the Secretary of State for Social Security to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. It makes it fairly clear that the Government will break a promise that was given to those who are the hardest off in our society, the very poorest, who are living on basic income support, that their benefit would be uprated by the 20 per cent. that they will have to pay as a contribution to their poll tax liability. That promise will be broken by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

It is a pleading letter. The Secretary of State for Social Security pleads with his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to ensure that the rating matches the average poll tax payment. He is asking for an uprating of £1.05 and £1.30 for single people under and over 25 respectively and £2.10 for couples. The uprating of £1.05 assumes an average poll tax in Scotland of £273. No one believes that that will be the average. It will certainly not be less than that.

Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)

Why not?

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

My hon. Friend will tell the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) in a moment.

Mr. Maxton

As my hon. Friend the Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) said, I will tell the hon. Gentleman in a moment.

Poll taxes will be considerably higher in local authority areas which have the most of social security benefit claimants. Before Conservative Members start claiming, as usual, that that is due to high spending Labour-controlled local authorities—

Mr. Bill Walker

It is.

Mr. Maxton

That having been said, I shall quote the Secretary of State for Social Security. He said: I should also emphasise that my officials' estimates arc, if anything, on the low side because they are based on average liabilities to the community charge for the population as a whole whereas the Prime Minister's pledge was to protect the average liability for those on income support. The latter will probably be higher, as income support recipients are not spread uniformly throughout the country but tend to be in poorer authorities with higher levels of spending per capita. Hon. Members should notice that the authorities referred to are not high-spending Labour-controlled authorities, but poorer authorities, which have greater demands made on them and, equally, a lower tax rate to start with. That is the point that hon. Members should bear in mind.

One other point that is made by the Secretary of State for Social Security is that, unlike any Scottish Office Minister at any time, he is prepared to concede that the average poll tax in Scotland will be higher because local authorities may not be able to collect all of it. He says: The fact that local authorities may not collect the community charge in full is one, but by no means the only, reason for these estimates being higher than those published for the current year. The letter reveals a very serious breach of promises made by the Prime Minister, by the Secretary of State for Scotland and by junior Ministers in Committee. The Miniser has a responsibility tonight—

Mr. Foulkes

A duty.

Mr. Maxton

The Minister has a duty to say that that will not happen, that the promise that has been made will be fulfilled and that, if necessary, the rating will be even higher than the Department of Social Security is asking for, so that those who are the poorest in our society will receive their full entitlement.

Mr. Norman Buchan (Paisley, South)

My hon. Friend is being too kind and lenient. Despite the lateness of the hour, we should ask for a Treasury Minister to come here to reply to the letter before we give the regulations our blessing. That should have happened before now.

Mr. Maxton

My hon. Friend makes a good point. The Treasury Bench should ensure that a Treasury Minister is here before 11.30 pm, when the debate finishes. It would make more sense for a senior member of some standing in the Government to be here, even the Secretary of State for Scotland, rather than his underling. That would add a little more weight to the debate.

I do not want to speak for long because many hon. Members want to take part in this short debate. However, I must say that we await the details of the rebate scheme with interest. There has to be a rebate scheme with the poll tax. If many Conservative Members had their way, there would be no rebate scheme. Over a month ago, the Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland hyped the rebate scheme in Scotland and made a great deal of play of its being generous and taking account of ability to pay.

But everybody must pay a minimum of 20 per cent. That is the first point to be made about the rebate scheme. If there is not full uprating, someone under the age of 25 will pay a minimum of £1 a week even in the lowest rated authority in Scotland. In other rating authorities, the amount will be considerably more. That amount is nearly 4 per cent. of a low income. My wife and I will pay £500 in poll tax, but that is only 1.5 per cent. of our income. That is what makes this tax so obscene and unfair: someone on the lowest possible income will pay a higher percentage of his income than someone on my income will pay.

We shall continue on all occasions to fight the poll tax. We shall put the case to the people of Scotland and the people of Great Britain as a whole. As is clear from the last general election, the tax will bring down the Government. It will lose many Conservative seats in England and Wales. We shall form the next Government, and we shall withdraw the poll tax.

Several hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. As this is a short debate and many hon. Members wish to take part, brief speeches would be appreciated.

10.25 pm
Sir Hector Monro (Dumfries)

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) has continued his speeches of misinformation. We seem to have gone round and round the buoy several times on the community charge, as directed by the hon. Gentleman.

In a general debate on the community charge, I think that we should record the good news that registration has gone so well in Scotland. Only an infinitesimal proportion of people have not registered. That is entirely contrary to the expectation of Opposition Members, who hoped that it would be a rating disaster. It has turned out exactly the opposite: the Scottish people have shown great responsibility, and have reacted to the registration procedure as we had anticipated. I think that they now understand, despite the Opposition's efforts, that it is a fair system and particularly helps those on low incomes. The Opposition have gone out of their way to avoid discussing the rebate scheme, and have spent the last few months scaremongering in Scotland and trying to create dissatisfaction and dissension about a new system that is entirely different from the rating system, based as it is on fairness and the ability to pay.

As the day of implementation gets closer the Opposition are realising how wrong they have been about the views of the majority in Scotland—despite the public opinion polls. As we all know, anyone can get the right answer out of any public opinion poll. I anticipate that by next summer there will be even less opposition to the charge than at present, especially when people find out what the charges will be. The hon. Member for Cathcart —with, no doubt, his cohorts behind him—has grossly inflated the likely charge. The hon. Gentleman said that the average charge might be £250, but obviously a good many local authorities will charge less if the average is as high as that. My authority, which has not been the warmest supporter of the charge, estimates it at £230, including the water rate. I believe that it will be very much lower than the figures bandied about by the Opposition.

Until now—when they realise that the charge is so imminent that they will have to accept it—Opposition Members have dodged explaining to the Scottish population about the rebate scheme, that 80 per cent. will be available to those with the appropriate income level and that those who thereafter still cannot afford the 20 per cent. will have support from the DHSS. There could be a 100 per cent. rebate for those on the lowest incomes.

Mr. Foulkes

That has not been published.

Sir Hector Monro

The hon. Gentleman says that it has not been published. Opposition Members do not seem to read what is in the newspapers or listen to what Ministers say. Let me give them some examples. A married couple with two children aged under 11 would not pay the full community charge unless their gross income was more than £8,800 a year, the equivalent of £135 a week.

Mr. Foulkes

That is great.

Sir Hector Monro

Yes, it is nice to know. That couple would probably be paying more under the present rating system.

A pensioner couple would need to have a gross unearned income of £6,300 a year—the equivalent of £115 a week—before they would pay the full community charge.

Mr. Foulkes

Did the hon. Gentleman get permission to leak this?

Sir Hector Monro

Well, it is much better than the stuff that the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) produced—that was the greatest non-event of the year. After listening to the one o'clock news I thought that something dramatic was going to turn up later on, but it all fell as flat as a pancake.

A single pensioner would need to have a gross unearned income of more than £3,530—a net income of £66 a week —before he would have to pay the full community charge. I could give a whole list of cases that would show the effectiveness of the rebate scheme. We should all welcome that and publicise it rather than try to sweep it under the carpet and, at the same time, claim that it is a raging disaster.

Mr. John Heddle (Mid-Staffordshire)

Will my hon. Friend confirm that in Scotland, as well as in England, the Labour party proposals would replace one unfair taxation with two—a capital valuation as well as a valuation based on local income tax? Surely that would hit the pensioners, those who can least afford to pay? [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I hope that the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) will resist the temptation to discuss matters other than those before the House.

Sir Hector Monro

Of course, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but my hon. Friend is right. The scheme presented by the Labour party is so complicated that no one understands it.

Given that I have explained some of the rebate scheme to the Opposition—there is a great deal more to it, but I shall obey your suggestion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to be brief—we are entitled to know where the Opposition stand on the issue.

I am glad to note that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mrs. Fyfe) is present, because on 17 September she was quoted in a newspaper as saying:

if voting does not get you what you want and the Government does not reflect the will of the people, then you have to resist that Government by any means open to you. The only man of sense and the only man in step in the Labour party is the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) who has said: you can't argue for the rule of law when the right people are in charge and have the luxury of picking and choosing when they are not. A party which takes this course forfeits respect. The hon. Gentleman is the only chap to understand that the rest of his party is forfeiting respect.

Mrs. Maria Fyfe (Glasgow, Maryhill)

Earlier, when we were discussing the Scottish homes legislation, the point was raised about the landlord who attempts to continue charging rents and rates on a house when the poll tax is implemented. The Minister said that, in that case, the tenant was being charged fraudulently for rates and that he should complain and refuse to pay. That is the Minister's advice to a tenant who may be poor, young or elderly or who may have difficulty with the English language. The Conservatives are on the side of the landlord who attempts to defy the law by obtaining money under false pretences. We are on the tenants' side.

Sir Hector Monro

The hon. Lady does not understand the point. That landlord would be breaking the law and it would be wrong to pay something when it is illegal. The objective of our legislation is to help people who are paying the community charge.

Mr. George Galloway (Glasgow, Hillhead)

The hon. Gentleman should take the balls out of his mouth because I cannot understand what he is saying.

Sir Hector Monro

The Door is over there if the hon. Gentleman cannot understand. The people of Dumfries understand more than they do in here. I would like to retort to that remark, but I would only embarrass the hon. Gentleman.

This week Opposition Members have been visiting Govan and we are entitled to know what the Labour party candidate had to say about paying the community charge, the candidate said: The policy allows individuals like myself to refuse to pay as a personal gesture of solidarity"— [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. We are moving away from the issues before the House. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will confine his remarks to the motion before the House.

Sir Hector Monro

As I appreciate the embarrassment on the Opposition Benches, I will not proceed with that line.

However, the people in Scotland would certainly like to know where the Labour party—which seems to be fractured in every direction—is going with respect to the community charge. The intention to defy the law is a shocking example from any party that aspires to government in Scotland, and that applies as much to the Scottish National party and the Democrats as to the Labour party.

The regulations that are the subject of the Prayer tonight help to clarify a number of important parts of the community charge legislation. They add substantially to helping those who need help and we should have no problem approving them tonight. I warmly support my hon. Friend the Minister's proposals. We have had another opportunity tonight to show that the Labour party does not understand the community charge. It is hopelessly split and is against the wishes of the people of Scotland.

10.35 pm
Mrs. Ray Michie (Argyll and Bute)

When I saw that these regulations had been brought forward tonight, my immediate reaction was to say: "How much longer is this going to go on? How many more bits and pieces will be brought to the House in a patched-up job?" Will the Minister assure us that the regulations will help the individuals and the local authorities which collect the poll tax? Will he also confirm that no individual will be excluded from the electoral register simply on the grounds that he or she is exempt from the personal poll tax due to severe mental impairment?

That exemption clause should probably be extended. The revised definition of severe mental impairment extends the original definition to include those suffering from an injury to the brain causing severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning which appears to be permanent. It could be argued reasonably that dementia —and Alzheimer's disease is the commonest form of dementia, in neurological terms—can be described as injury to the brain. Should those sufferers be included? We should also consider dementia sufferers in residential care or in hospital who will be exempt from the charge while those living in the community will remain liable to it. That does not seem to be particularly fair.

I am also interested in the need for a certificate to qualify for exemption. I understand that the registration officer requires information from a general practitioner. With all due respect to general practitioners, who are busy people, I believe that "general" is the operative word. I am worried because it is the general practitioner who will say whether someone is severely mentally handicapped. Quite rightly, few general practitioners can make the proper assessment and conduct the proper investigation into whether someone is severely mentally handicapped.

Will those people who have to produce a certificate from the doctor for the registration officer have to pay for it? Will they get it free? With regard to the question of the invasion of privacy which was raised earlier, the form from the DHSS requests the date of birth in Scotland only. That has caused a great deal of resentment in my constituency. Here is the Department sending a form to the community charge registration officer saying "This person is getting income support. It may be that you do not know they are living at the address given below. You may wish to register them for the community charge." Already, information about where a person is staying is to be passed on from one to the other.

You asked us to be brief, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I hope that I shall be. I hope to goodness that this is the final word on this awful poll tax. [Interruption.] Some hon. Members seem to think that there will he more, but it remains unfair and regressive, and the Government will rue the day that they ever introduced it.

10.40 pm
Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)

Following the trend set by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) and my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), may I say that I too am delighted that the registration process has gone so well. It has gone so well that the Opposition have gone quiet about it all.

It is also interesting that the hon. Member for Cathcart, if I understood him and our previous debates and discussions, complains that the Department of Social Security is to be consulted, yet any other proposals for amending local authority rates, from wherever they come, involve local income tax. That would necessarily involve substantial consultation and would mean that the town house would have access to information that it does not have at present. That shows the sort of humbug that we are hearing from the Opposition in their proposals.

I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister of State will take this opportunity to answer a query that has arisen in my constituency on the views being taken by the assessors in Forfar. They have been advising some of my country constituents who have cottages which they let for holiday purposes, on an ad hoc, not an annual, basis to people on vacation.

My understanding of the debates that took place during the passage of the Scottish legislation was that such cottages would be treated as a business. I see the hon. Member for Cathcart nodding his head. However, the assessors in Forfar are advising my farmers and others with cottages in that category that they will have to pay the double community charge, whether or not the cottages are let.

That is a fundamental and important difference because if the cottages are let for holiday purposes the rate charge can be set as an expense against the income from the lets, whereas the community charge falls into a different category.

I have been interested in some of the Opposition's comments on the rebate scheme. There is no question but that this has been welcome. It may interest the House to know that during the recess, in common with many other Scottish Members, I went round my constituency knocking on doors asking my constituents for their views on current affairs. [Interruption.] I do it every year. Is that unusual? I should have thought that I was merely doing what everyone else does.

I can tell the House that out of the many hundreds of homes on which I called, I received only two critical comments about the community charge. That says much more about public reaction to the community charge and why people have registered to pay it. All the other comments made to me were complimentary, with people saying, "It is long overdue, and we cannot see it come in quick enough." That is certainly the situation in North Tayside.

That did not surprise me, because I was able to advise single pensioners on state earnings only, that if they had £4,000 in savings, they would receive a rebate of nearly 70 per cent. of the community charge. I was able to advise married pensioners that those of them receiving £69.90 gross per week would receive the maximum rebate, which reduces progressively until income rises to £115. That was seen as being a responsible way of offering rebates and of making the community charge acceptable to the population at large.

Mr. Jimmy Hood (Clydesdale)

When the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) explained to pensioners that they will receive a 70 per cent. rebate of poll tax, did he also explain that they did not have to pay any rates at all before?

Mr. Walker

I may first tell the hon. Member for Clydesdale (Mr. Hood) that I never once discussed the poll tax—it does not exist. I discussed the community charge. I discussed with those individuals their current situation, which is what I believe the hon. Gentleman meant. I discussed also what will happen after the community charge comes into operation. I assure the hon. Member for Clydesdale that there were no complaints from any of the pensioners to whom I spoke.

What is important and relevant, certainly in my constituency, is that pensioners are among the most responsible and sensible of those in the community. They recognise that services must be paid for, and they acknowledge also that 14p in every £1 as their contribution, if they are paying the maximum community charge, is not unreasonable. If they enjoy a rebate, as in the case of the couple that I mentioned, they will receive a rebate on that 14p. The rest is paid for by taxation through central Government and the non-domestic rate.

I assure right hon. and hon. Members that what I have told them is no fairy tale. It can all be checked. I can mention the names of some of the towns I visited. They included Aberfeldy, Pitlochry, Dunkeld, Blairgowrie Forfar and Kerriemuir. The people there all know that I have been to those places.

Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East)

The hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) obviously has detailed information about how the rebate system will operate when it is introduced in Scotland. I wrote to his hon. Friend the Minister of State six weeks ago, asking for detailed information about how the rebate scheme will operate, but he has yet to reply. Will the hon. Member for Tayside, North explain how he obtained his detailed information, when other hon. Members have been unable to gain access to it?

Mr. Walker

I obtained my information from the sources from which I normally obtain it. As hon. Members may recall, some time ago in the Scottish Grand Committee I commented that I always prepare my own briefs. That seemed to cause quite a stir. I can tell the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) that I obtained my information from the sources that are available to any hon. Member who wishes to make the effort.

10.48 pm
Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline, West)

The hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) said that right hon. and hon. Members should read the papers to learn what is happening. I can tell the hon. Gentleman that on 25 October, The Scotsman carried a headline, Half Scots on poll tax rebate 'would soon be in arrears'. Does the hon. Member for Dumfries believe that that is true? The article begins:

Half of Scotland's 1.5 million community charge payers who next year will qualify for a rebate will be in arrears after only three months of its operation, it was claimed yesterday. The responsible person making that claim was an officer of the Scottish Consumer Council, which has carried out a survey of what is happening just now—as the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) suggested one should do. Currently, people are in debt with their rent and rates, but they will be even more in debt come 1 April 1989. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) mentioned a letter from the Secretary of State for Social Services to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. The letter states: I am copying this letter to Nick Ridley. There is no suggestion that the Secretary of State for Scotland was sent a copy, yet it is far more pressing for Scotland than it is for England and Wales that there is some understanding of the rebate system and the cut-off points.

What is the position in Scotland? What is the Treasury saying? What defence will be forthcoming? What can the Secretary of State and his Ministers plead in aid?

My views about the tax are probably too well known for my own good. I have made my position clear and I only hope that others will join me in my regretful defiance. I do not take any pleasure in defying the law—[Hots. MEMBERS: "AV.] Let those who say, "Ah" be clear about what we are doing. What is the cost of imposing the law?

Mr. Irvine Patnick (Sheffield, Hallam)


Mr. Douglas

I am not giving way because when I spoke on the Local Government Finance Bill I was told by the right hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) that I had no right to speak as it was an English and Welsh measure, despite the fact that there were hundreds of Scottish amendments—

Mr. David Wilshire (Spelthorne)

The hon. Gentleman votes on English measures.

Mr. Douglas

One way to cure that would be to give us a Scottish Assembly.

The hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Mrs. Michie) spoke for the so-called Democrats—I mean no disrespect to her—about the severely mentally impaired. I shall briefly explain what the Government are doing by putting this measure on the statute book. There have been slight concessions and we understand that, in round figures, they will affect about 6,000 people in Scotland.

Let us examine the conditions being laid down for exemption for someone who is severely mentally impaired and living in the community. They do not apply to someone in a hospital or a home; they relate to someone who is being compassionately cared for in the community and who has to go through such a rigmarole to gain exemption. All conditions must be fulfilled for someone to be granted exemption on ground of severe mental impairment. They are:

  1. "(a) he is severely mentally impaired;
  2. (b) he is stated to be severely mentally impaired in a certificate of a registered medical practitioner;
  3. (c) he satisfies at least one of a number of benefit/pension conditions—see Annex A."
I will not go through that. The procedure when a poll tax registration officer has been notified of a possible claim on behalf of a person with severe mental impairment is that he will use the form annex B to request: (a) evidence of the applicant's entitlement to one of the relevant social security benefits"— which is an invasion of privacy—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] It is not nonsense. One thing for which I have fought throughout my life in politics is not to humiliate the poor and those whom we are sent here to defend and who cannot defend themselves.

The conditions continue: (b) the name of the applicant's general practitioner or other registered medical practitioner with knowledge of the applicant; (c) agreement to the CCRO approaching the doctor to obtain a certificate and so on. They go through all that.

Mr. David Harris (St. Ives)

That is sensible.

Mr. Douglas

The hon. Gentleman says that it is sensible. From his point of view, it may be.

Mr. Harris

Surely if we do not have checks on these matters, there will be widespread abuse and evasion. We must have sensible checks—nothing more than that.

Mr. Douglas

There has been widespread abuse for 6,000 people. We are talking about 6,000 people having to go through the rigmarole to obtain exemption. The most pointed fact is that, when all that is done, if the community charge registration officer declines to treat a person as exempt, he will enter the name on the register. What expertise has the poll tax officer to determine that matter? What assistance does he have? If he does so determine, there is a right of appeal, but who will appeal and humiliate themselves?

I have written to the Secretary of State, but he has still to reply. Should not the onus of proof be the other way?

If a medical practitioner adjudges a person to be severely mentally impaired, and if that person is in receipt of benefit, and if there is widespread abuse, should not the poll tax registration officer have to prove to the contrary?

Mr. Patnick

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Douglas

No, I shall not give way.

That is what we are doing to impose a tax on society. As my hon. Friends have said, it means that, in terms of a youngster of 18 earning about £4,000, the proportion of tax is greater than that of someone earning £80,000. It is nonsense to argue that that is ability to pay. The hon. Member for Argyll and Bute has rightly pointed out that there are severe restrictions and restraints. Members of the House of Commons are asking people to humiliate themselves to get narrow exemptions.

The House and the country should be ashamed. Conservative Members want to ensure that the more fortunate in society bear a lesser burden than the poorer section of the population. If that is the type of society that Conservative Members want to live in, we in Scotland should completely reject them. I hope and trust that, in the forthcoming Govan by-election, the signal goes out for a complete rejection of them.

10.57 pm
Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)

For a second or two, I was fascinated by the speech of the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker). That was unusual. I thought that he was about to raise the flag of revolt against an aspect of the tax, but then the revolt fizzled out. Once again, he treated us to reminiscences of his personal canvassing around his constituency. I have distrusted these reminiscences since a previous poll tax debate just before the district elections. Hon. Members will recall that the hon. Member for Tayside, North assured us that his personal canvassing in his constituency detected an upsurge of support for the poll tax legislation. That was followed in the elections not only by the defeat of many Conservative councillors but by the fact that the Conservative party was out-polled by the Scottish National party in Tayside, North.

Like the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), the hon. Member for Tayside, North claims to be well understood by his constituents. I suspect that that will be a major problem for them both at the next election.

Sir Hector Monro

After the humiliation of the SNP in the general election, I am not surprised that they did marginally better.

Mr. Salmond

I am always disappointed by the hon. Gentleman's interventions. We shall settle for the result of the Govan by-election as being an accurate reflection of the relative standing of the parties in Scottish politics.

Dr. John Reid (Motherwell, North)

While mindful of the necessity for the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) to maintain his position as the low flyer of the Tory Benches, may I ask the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) whether he believes the story that, of all the constituents the hon. Member for Tayside, North met, not one was worse off under the poll tax? If he does believe it, can he give us some advice on how to get a house in north Tayside?

Mr. Salmond

I recall that fantasy, but the hon. Gentleman should recall that the hon. Member for Tayside, North has turned down more Government posts than the rest of us would dream of being offered.

Mr. Bill Walker


Mr. Salmond

The hon. Gentleman must forgive me. I resisted the temptation to intervene in his speech, and I shall now resist the temptation to let him intervene in mine.

I shall follow the unusual example in this debate of the hon. Members for Argyll and Bute (Mrs. Michie) and for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) and speak briefly about the regulations. Conservative Members seem to believe that the registration process is over. What is made clear by statutory instrument No. 1539 is that the registration process is a continuous one and the registration officer at any point from now until this dreadful legislation is repealed can demand information with menaces from any one of us. A snoopers' charter, once in place, will stay there until it is repealed.

I shall not attempt to emulate the eloquence of the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West on statutory instrument No. 1541 concerning the mentally handicapped, but 1 do want to put this question to the Minister. How and why is it that the Government can spend so much time drawing the offensive distinction between the severely mentally impaired, who will be exempt from the poll tax, and the merely mentally impaired, who will have to pay poll tax, but cannot draw the distinction between those on average earnings, the rich and the very rich in terms of their liability to pay the poll tax? How can the Government make such efforts to draw the first distinction but no effort to make the second?

Conservative Members seem to believe that the poll tax debate is coming to the end of its term, but it is just beginning. The full ramifications of what is being done are just beginning to be understood. I hope that the hon. Member for Dumfries can explain to his constituents why a young, single person on just over £50 a week will bear the full blast of the poll tax next year or why a pensioner couple on £85 a week will pay one full poll tax between the two of them. Is he really saying that the levels of rebate are satisfactory and reflect the principle of a person's ability to pay? That is without going into the shameful deceit that is being practised in terms of the rebate system for those on income support.

The impact of the poll tax in political terms is just about to be felt at the Govan by-election. But the real level of resistance to the poll tax will be at its highest and greatest at the point of payment next April. I give the Minister my personal assurance that I shall be part of that resistance, as will my colleagues.

11.4 pm

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross)

I am sure that all Scottish Opposition Members who are not members of the Scottish National party listened with fascination to the electoral predictions of the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond). I am sure we are all fascinated to know whether that party's candidate, who is, after all, a traitor to the Labour party, will win the Govan by-election for another brief spell of emotional fantasy —a glimpse or two of the tartan miasma. Like other salmon, such people come to Scotland only occasionally and go away for a long time thereafter.

I pay a sincere tribute to the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas). His speech was responsible, and the House should honour it.

The Opposition have overlooked one matter of importance. Their criticism of the community charge is that it is a standard charge that is imposed regardless of ability to pay. An income of £60 a week has been mentioned. But Opposition Members never stop talking about the National Health Service, which is central to Socialist philosophy. How do we pay for the NHS? [HON. MEMBERS: "Through taxes."] We have a standard charge, called the national insurance contribution. People who earn £30, £40, £50, £60, £70, £80, and £90 a week all pay exactly the same charge—or their employers pay it on their behalf.

In the context of the poll tax, therefore, we must ask who introduced the concept of a standard charge for an essential service—whether or not for the mentally handicapped. The answer is: the Labour party. It was the biggest fraudulent poll tax ever imposed on the British people in the name of the emotion of Socialism.

I have noticed no objection from any party to the fact that everyone, regardless of ability to pay, pays the same for a motor car licence, or a television licence—

Mr. Foulkes

Or a dog licence?

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

The hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes), being a chap who wants a Scottish Assembly, is one of those who are particularly ignorant of Scottish history. The dog licence was not introduced to entitle someone to have a dog. It was introduced because, in 19th century London, people stole and sold dogs, so the only way to establish that one's dog was not stolen was to produce a licence for it. I remember my father—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman is not going to tell us too much about his father, and that we can now return to the prayer.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

I was answering a charge about a dog licence from the wolf, the hon. Member who sits for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley. The licence was introduced because in the last century men stole dogs. It was not introduced to entitle people to have dogs.

I have never heard anybody complain that the rich man and the poor man pay the same price for a loaf of bread or a lettuce, a haggis or even a dog. The attempt to make out that the community charge is unfair is hysterical and foolish. We are replacing a system of grotesque unfairness with a system that is fair. It exempts those who are ineligible and it is correct. The hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley asked how much I will save on my castle. I was impressed when the BBC sent a team of 12 people from London to do a programme about how much I will save on my castle which, incidentally, I bought for £100.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. This is a short debate and other hon. Members are waiting to take part. The House has established the principle of the community charge and we are now debating some very narrow regulations. I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will confine his remarks to them.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

I shall, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

The hypocrisy of the debate is evident from the sedentary illustration given by an Opposition Member. A team of 12 with four Mercedes at Edinburgh airport came to photograph this great castle of mine to prove how much I will save. Before they left they asked me where they could get the best meals and the richest hotels. On that trip alone they spent money contributed by pensioners and mentally handicapped people for their television licences and spent more money than I have paid in rates on my castle since I restored it. That is an illustration of the attempt to introduce a false air of unfairness into the debate. We have redeemed a pledge of fairness to those who have to pay their mite towards local services.

When all the hullabaloo and the attempts to get marchers out is over, when everybody is drained and when the Scottish National party has got the last bit of blood out of the Labour party, and when the Labour party has got the last bit of blood and guts out of the Scottish National party, people will say that this is a wise and fair tax that is also honourable and responsible.

11.13 pm
Mr. Nigel Griffiths (Edinburgh, South)

It is clear that the hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross (Sir N. Fairbairn) has recovered all the faculties that he had prior to his recent operation. The statutory instruments that we are debating are considerably more serious than either the hon. and learned Gentleman or his contribution.

Like some of my colleagues, I should like to focus on statutory instrument No. 1541 against which the Opposition have also tabled a Prayer. That and the letter to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury from the Secretary of State for Social Security, form two more pieces of that evil jigsaw that has become the poll tax/community charge in Scotland. It shows how much more evil it is than was predicted by many of the most bitter opponents of the poll tax. These regulations show a deliberate attempt by the Government not to target rebates at significantly mentally handicapped people, nor to absolve them from the need to pay poll tax on compassionate grounds. Instead, they are designed to ensure that these are the very people who do not claim, because it is too humiliating to claim.

In my work with the mentally handicapped in the eight years before I became a Member of Parliament, I built up many contacts with families with mentally handicapped people and with organisations that have done far more than all Tory Members put together have done for the mentally handicapped, or ever will. They tell me that this is the most pernicious legislation affecting mentally disabled people. As a result of it, many parents, who have to suffer because their children will never achieve what the rest of us might—although their achievements in their personal struggle are so great that many hon. Members would be ashamed to compare their modest achievements with them—will not go through the humiliation of going to the doctor to ask him to certify their mentally handicapped relatives as severely mentally disabled.

The doctors have written to me, as they have to organisations that deal with the mentally handicapped, to say that they are not qualified to distinguish types of mental handicap. That is not in any of their medical training. However, the Government are using them as a convenient way to cut the numbers of those exempted, so that almost nobody will be eligible for exemption.

Even those handicapped people who are in the same category as all those who will have to pay the minimum payment will have to pay far higher sums than has hitherto been admitted. That brings me to the letter and to the information that the Minister gave me on 25 April, in a written reply.

Next year, the community charge in Edinburgh is likely to be £442 for a single person, and £884 for a couple. After the water charge has been paid in full—there is no rebate on the water charge—at £105 for a single person and £210 for a couple, according to the figures given by the Secretary of State for Social Services, a couple in Edinburgh will be presented with a bill for £208.80 for their poll tax, and will receive from the DHSS only £109.20 to pay for it. That is a shortfall of almost £100, or more than £1.90 a week. Single people—the handicapped, the disabled and the pensioner on the basic state pension—will receive only £54.60 from the DHSS to pay a poll tax bill of £104.40.—a shortfall of £49.80—almost £1 a week of their meagre incomes.

In Glasgow, the comparable figure is £812 for a couple, who will have to pay £1.54 a week out of their benefits over and above anything that the Government are offering. In Dundee, a couple will be £1.13 a week worse off, even after the payments promised by the Secretary of State. In Aberdeen, the shortfall will be £46. In Edinburgh, the mentally handicapped will have to pay not just the 20 per cent. that was set out in the Government information leaflets, not even the 25 per cent. that the Minister admitted would be the liability to personal community charge and water charge, but nearer 30 to 35 per cent. In Glasgow, the figure will not be 26 per cent., as the Minister predicted in April, but closer to 35 per cent. In Aberdeen, the minimum fee will not be 30 per cent., but closer to 40 per cent.

It is clear that, when the figures are adjusted as councils have been telling the Minister they will have to be adjusted because they may not collect the community charge in full —those words are now being echoed by the secretary of State for Social Security—the bill for individuals will be considerable.

Mr. Wilshire

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that his figures are based on the assumption that Labour-controlled councils will continue to waste a great deal of money?

Mr. Griffiths

I shall not confirm that. The trend in Lothian region, when Labour lost control in 1982 and regained control in 1986, showed that, in each of the four years of Tory rule, the Tories failed to meet even the Secretary of State's guidelines and the electors threw them out on their ear. That is why there is a responsible Labour council there.

Mr. Wilshire


Mr. Griffiths

The hon. Gentleman says that because his intervention was most ineffective and detrimental to the Government's case.

There is no doubt that what councillors, including Tory councillors, Opposition Members and even some Conservative Members critical of the Government have been saying is true. Tonight we see that the poll tax figure for Scotland will be far higher than has been predicted and that has now been endorsed by a Minister.

11.21 pm
The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Mr. Ian Lang)

The regulations reflect the sensitivity and flexibility with which the Government have approached the implementation of the community charge in Scotland, taking account, as many of them do, of arguments advanced and pledges given during the passage of the Local Government Finance Act 1988. They also show the progress of the community charge arrangements towards full implementation next April.

The House has this evening identified an important underlying theme to the debate, which was apparent in almost all the contributions—the question whether the Opposition believe in obeying the law. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I know that they had a conference in Govan to decide their view on this matter and it was plain after that conference that the party was suffering from a multiple fracture in its opposition to the community charge. Seven Opposition Members set up a committee of 100 prominent citizens against the community charge and a further four—the hon. Members for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson), for Clydesdale (Mr. Hood), for Glasgow, Pollock (Mr. Dunnachie) and for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Wray)—also said that, although they were not taking part in the committee—presumably because they were not sufficiently prominent in the class structure of Socialism—they were also unwilling to pay the community charge. The hon. Member for Provan dismissed the committee of 100 as elitist and bourgeois.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) put his finger on the issue when he quoted the comments of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mrs. Fyfe) in the Morning Star. She said: if voting does not get you what you want and the Government does not reflect the will of the people, then you have to resist that Government by any means open to you". That appears to be the reality of the policy of the Opposition. It is no wonder that we now have organisations spawned by attitudes such as that, represented—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am sure that the Minister heard me reproach other hon. Members for straying wide of the matter. I hope that he will confine his remarks to the prayer before us.

Mr. Lang

Thank you for your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall reply to some of the other points.

For months, the Labour party has sought to frustrate the law through its "Stop It" campaign and its urgings to procrastinate or overwhelm registration officers with delaying tactics. They produced experts to talk about a shortfall in registration of 10 per cent., 15 per cent., 20 per cent. or more, whatever happened to suit them at the time.

I am glad to be able to tell the House that, in spite of the Opposition's feeble attempts to disrupt the system, and the assertions of prophets of doom that it would be unworkable, preparations have gone ahead as planned. As my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries said, the community charge registers have been drawn up successfully. The preliminary signs from registration officers are that the number of people included on the registers, which came into force on 1 October, amount on average to over 99 per cent. of the adults resident in their areas according to the Registrar General's population figures, not 80 per cent. or 90 per cent. The registers are subject to checking by the residents concerned and to the appeal process if there is any question about their accuracy.

This is a splendid result that gives the lie to the criticisms of the system that have been made. We have always said that the system is entirely workable and practicable. It is clear that the people of Scotland are more law-abiding than the Opposition give them credit for.

Over the next few months, it will be for local authorities to establish who will be eligible for community charge rebates and then to prepare community charge bills once the levels of the charge for 1989–90 have been set. We shall play our part in the process by undertaking a comprehensive publicity campaign to ensure that everyone is aware of the availability of rebates for those on low incomes. From now, on the standard procedures for updating the register as people move will apply. I am confident that they too will work smoothly.

Mr. Salmond

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Lang

I am sorry, but I do not have time to give way.

I look forward with confidence and great anticipation to the abolition of the domestic rating system on 1 April 1989. I am sure that the majority of the population of Scotland will join me in that.

Mr. Maxton

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Lang

No. I have a number of matters to cover and I do not have time to give way. I am sorry.

The regulations before us range over a number of issues that are connected with the abolition of domestic rates and the introduction of the community charge system to replace them. The need for the new provisions in the regulations arises for the most part from changes which have been made to the community charge system and to primary legislation in the Local Government Finance Act 1988. I make no apology for that. We have always made it clear that we would consider carefully the application to Scotland of any changes to the system that were made during parliamentary consideration of the Local Government Finance Bill, as it was, and that is what we have done. The revised and improved system of community charges will therefore apply on both sides of the border.

We have also made clear that we shall keep in close touch with the registration officers and other local authority interests to ensure that none of the changes that we shall be introducing will jeopardise the timetable for the introduction of the community charge system in Scotland. I am happy to say that the system is well on course for introduction next April, as we intended. The registration process has gone ahead and it has achieved nearly complete coverage. Preparations are well advanced for the setting up of a billing and collection system. I am confident that work will go forward smoothly in accordance with the planned timetable.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) referred to a letter that came into the possession of the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook). I shall make no comment on the propriety of the publication of letters between Ministers. I cannot anticipate the statement on the uprating of income support that is to be made tomorrow by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security. The Government have given a clear pledge that income support levels will include an element that reflects the average minimum liability for the personal community charge, and we shall honour the pledge.

A number of those who contributed to the debate—

Mr. Douglas

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Lang

No, I shall not give way. I wish to respond to the arguments of the hon. Member for Cathcart about the severely mentally impaired.

It has always been our intention to exempt from the community charge liability on the ground of severe mental impairment only those who are unable to play any meaningful part in the democratic process. The 1988 Act amended the previous provisions to allow for the exemption of those who have become severely mentally impaired as a result of an accident in adulthood, for example, as well as for those who are congenitally mentally handicapped.

The hon. Member for Cathcart referred to the mechanics of the exemption process. I believe that the system that we have devised is a sensible and humane one. It will be for the person who looks after the application for exemption to inform the community charges registration officer that he or she wishes to claim exemption on the ground of severe mental impairment. The officer will ask him or her to nominate a general practitioner to provide a certificate. The officer will then approach the nominated doctor and request a certificate, and make his decision accordingly. Any decision will be open to appeal. This procedure will keep to a minimum the inconvenience that is caused to those who care for a severely mentally impaired person.

Our debate marks another step forward in the process of removing the totally discredited domestic rating system. We have heard a number of criticisms of the regulations and of the community charge system in general, but I remind the House that they pale into insignificance in contrast to the huge and entirely justified weight of criticism that has been directed at the domestic rating system over the years. I rejoice, and so do the people of this country, that we are now within six months in Scotland of the ending of the domestic rating system for ever. I commend the regulations to the House.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 123, Noes 183.

Division No. 458] [11.30 pm
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Hood, Jimmy
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Hoyle, Doug
Battle, John Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Beckett, Margaret Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Ingram, Adam
Bermingham, Gerald John, Brynmor
Blunkett, David Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Boateng, Paul Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Boyes, Roland Kirkwood, Archy
Bradley, Keith Lambie, David
Bray, Dr Jeremy Lamond, James
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Leadbitter, Ted
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Lewis, Terry
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Litherland, Robert
Buchan, Norman Livsey, Richard
Buckley, George J. Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Caborn, Richard Loyden, Eddie
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) McAllion, John
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) McAvoy, Thomas
Campbell-Savours, D. N. McCartney, Ian
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Macdonald, Calum A.
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) McFall, John
Clay, Bob McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Clelland, David McLeish, Henry
Clwyd, Mrs Ann McNamara, Kevin
Cohen, Harry McTaggart, Bob
Coleman, Donald McWilliam, John
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Madden, Max
Cousins, Jim Mahon, Mrs Alice
Cummings, John Marek, Dr John
Cunliffe, Lawrence Martlew, Eric
Darling, Alistair Maxton, John
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Meacher, Michael
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Meale, Alan
Dewar, Donald Michael, Alun
Dixon, Don Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Dobson, Frank Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Doran, Frank Moonie, Dr Lewis
Douglas, Dick Morgan, Rhodri
Eadie, Alexander Morley, Elliott
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Mullin, Chris
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Murphy, Paul
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Nellist, Dave
Foster, Derek Patchett, Terry
Foulkes, George Pendry, Tom
Fyfe, Maria Pike, Peter L.
Galloway, George Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
George, Bruce Redmond, Martin
Godman, Dr Norman A. Reid, Dr John
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Robertson, George
Henderson, Doug Rooker, Jeff
Hinchliffe, David Salmond, Alex
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Short, Clare
Home Robertson, John Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Steel, Rt Hon David Winnick, David
Steinberg, Gerry Wise, Mrs Audrey
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury) Worthington, Tony
Wall, Pat Wray, Jimmy
Wallace, James
Walley, Joan Tellers for the Ayes:
Wardell, Gareth (Gower) Mrs. Llin Golding and
Wareing, Robert N. Mr. Frank Haynes.
Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Alexander, Richard Currie, Mrs Edwina
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Amess, David Davis, David (Boothferry)
Amos, Alan Day, Stephen
Arbuthnot, James Devlin, Tim
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Dorrell, Stephen
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Atkinson, David Dover, Den
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Durant, Tony
Baldry, Tony Dykes, Hugh
Batiste, Spencer Emery, Sir Peter
Bendall, Vivian Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Evennett, David
Bevan, David Gilroy Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Blackburn, Dr John G. Fallon, Michael
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Favell, Tony
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fenner, Dame Peggy
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fishburn, John Dudley
Bottomley, Peter Fookes, Miss Janet
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bowis, John Forth, Eric
Brazier, Julian Franks, Cecil
Bright, Graham Freeman, Roger
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter French, Douglas
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Garel-Jones, Tristan
Budgen, Nicholas Gill, Christopher
Burt, Alistair Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Butler, Chris Gow, Ian
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Gower, Sir Raymond
Carrington, Matthew Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Carttiss, Michael Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Cash, William Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Gregory, Conal
Chapman, Sydney Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Chope, Christopher Grist, Ian
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Ground, Patrick
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Grylls, Michael
Conway, Derek Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Cope, Rt Hon John Hanley, Jeremy
Couchman, James Hannam, John
Cran, James Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Redwood, John
Harris, David Renton, Tim
Hawkins, Christopher Rhodes James, Robert
Hayes, Jerry Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Hayward, Robert Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Heathcoat-Amory, David Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Heddle, John Roe, Mrs Marion
Hind, Kenneth Rost, Peter
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Sackville, Hon Tom
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Shaw, David (Dover)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Hunter, Andrew Soames, Hon Nicholas
Irvine, Michael Stanbrook, Ivor
Jack, Michael Stern, Michael
Janman, Tim Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Sumberg, David
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Summerson, Hugo
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Key, Robert Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Lang, Ian Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Thurnham, Peter
Lightbown, David Townend, John (Bridlington)
McLoughlin, Patrick Tracey, Richard
Meyer, Sir Anthony Tredinnick, David
Mills, Iain Trippier, David
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Trotter, Neville
Moate, Roger Twinn, Dr Ian
Monro, Sir Hector Waddington, Rt Hon David
Nelson, Anthony Walden, George
Neubert, Michael Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Nicholls, Patrick Waller, Gary
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Ward, John
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Warren, Kenneth
Oppenheim, Phillip Watts, John
Page, Richard Wheeler, John
Patnick, Irvine Widdecombe, Ann
Patten, Chris (Bath) Wilshire, David
Patten, John (Oxford W) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Pawsey, James Winterton, Nicholas
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Wood, Timothy
Porter, David (Waveney) Yeo, Tim
Portillo, Michael Young, Sir George (Acton)
Powell, William (Corby)
Price, Sir David Tellers for the Noes:
Raffan, Keith Mr. David Maclean and
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Mr. Kenneth Carlisle.
Rathbone, Tim

Question accordingly negatived.