HC Deb 24 April 1990 vol 171 cc166-304

'.—(1) For paragraphs (a) and (b) of section 1(1) of the Abortion Act 1967 (grounds for medical termination of pregnancy) there is substituted— (a) that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week and that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family; or (b) that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated; or (c) that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-eighth week and that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.".

(2) In section 1(4) of that Act, for "to save the life" to the end there is substituted— (a) to save the life of the pregnant woman, or (b) to prevent grave permanent injury to her physical or mental health, and, in the latte r case, that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week.".—[Sir Geoffrey Howe.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the clause be read a Second time.—[Sir Geoffrey Howe.]

The Chairman

With this we may consider the following amendments to new clause (4): (a), in line 3, leave out 'twenty-fourth' and insert 'eighteenth'.

(b), in line 3, leave out 'twenty-fourth' and insert `twenty-eighth'.

(c), in line 3, leave out 'twenty-fourth' and insert 'twentieth'.

(d), in line 3, leave out 'twenty-fourth' and insert 'twenty-sixth'.

(e), in line 3, leave out 'twenty-fourth' and insert 'twenty-second'.

(f), in line 6, at end insert— '(aa) that the termination is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman; or'. (g), in line 6, at end insert— (aa) that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-eighth week and that the termination is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman; or'. (x), in line 8, leave out from 'woman,' to 'or'.

(i), in line 9, leave out 'that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-eighth week and'. (j), in line 9, leave out 'twenty-eighth' and insert


(s), in line 11, at end insert '; or

(d) that the pregnancy is due to an act of rape or incest.'.

(h), in line 11, at end insert—

'( ) In section 1(2) of that Act, after "(a)" there is inserted "or (aa)"'.

(k), in line 12, leave out from beginning to end of line 16.

(y), in line 12, leave out from 'Act,' to end of line 16 and insert 'after "practitioners" (in line 3) the words "and to time limits" shall be inserted.'. (l), in line 15, leave out 'twenty-fourth' and insert 'eighteenth'.

(m), in line 15, leave out 'twenty-fourth' and insert 'twenty-eighth'.

(n), in line 15, leave out 'twenty-fourth' and insert 'twentieth'.

(o), in line 15, leave out 'twenty-fourth' and insert 'twenty-sixth'.

(p), in line 15, leave out 'twenty-fourth' and insert `twenty-second'.

(q), in line 16, at end insert—

'(3) For section 5(1) of that Act (effect on Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929) there is substituted— (1) No offence under the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 shall be committed by a registered medical practitioner who terminates a pregnancy in accordance with the provisions of this Act.".'. (r), in line 16, at end insert— '( ) In section 1(2) of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 (presumption that child is capable of being born alive), for "twenty-eight" there is substituted "twenty-four".'. (dd), in line 16, at end insert— '( ) In section 1(2) of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 (Presumption that child is capable of being born alive), for "evidence that a woman had at any material time been pregnant for a period of twenty-eight weeks or more shall be prima facie proof that she was at that time pregnant of a child capable of being born alive" there is substituted "to be considered being capable of being born alive, a foetus must be capable of sustained independent survival".'.

We are also to consider at the same time the following:New clause 1—Amendment of Abortion Act 1967'.—(1) The Abortion Act 1967 shall be amended as follows. (2) For subsections (1) and (2) of section 1 of the Abortion Act 1967 ("the principal Act") there shall be substituted— (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a person shall not be guilty of an offence under the law relating to abortion when a pregnancy is teminated by a registered medical practitioner if two registered practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve—

  1. (a) risk to the life of the pregnant woman; or
  2. (b) risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated; or
  3. (c) risk of injury to the physical or mental health of any existing children of her family, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated; or
  4. (d) substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.
(2) In determining whether the continuance of a pregnancy would involve such risk of injury to health as is mentioned in paragraph (b) or (c) of subsection (1) of this section, account may be taken of the pregnant woman's actual or reasonably foreseeable environment: (2A) No pregnancy may lawfully be terminated after the end of its twenty-fourth week—
  1. (a) under sebsection (1)(b) of this section, unless two registered medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the termination of the pregnancy is essential to prevent serious damage to the mental or physical health of the pregnant woman; or
  2. (b) solely on the ground of subsection (1)(c) of the section.
(2B) Where at the time of the termination of pregnancy two registered medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week, that opinion shall, for the purposes of subsection (2A) of this section, be conclusive. (3) For section (5)(1) of the principal Act there shall be substituted— 5.—(1) No offence under Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 shall be committed by a registered medical practitioner who terminates a pregnancy in accordance with the provisions of this Act. (4) This section shall come into force at the end of the period of two months beginning with the date on which it is passed.'.

New clause 2—Time limit for termination of pregnancy— '.—(1) Section 1 of the Abortion Act 1967 (termination of pregnancy not to be a criminal offence where specified in the section) shall apply only to a termination up to the end of the twenty-fourth week of gestation. (2) It shall not in any case be an offence under the law relating to abortion for a pregnancy to be terminated by a registered medical practitioner in a case where he is of the opinion formed in good faith, that the termination is immediately necessary to save the woman's life or to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman. (3) For section 5 of the Abortion Act 1967 there shall be substituted— 5. No offence under the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 shall be committed by a registered medical practitioner who terminates a pregnancy in accordance with the provisions of this Act. (4) In this section, "the law relating to abortion" means sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and any rule of law relating to the procurement of an abortion. (5) This section shall come into force at the end of the period of two months beginning with the date on which it is passed.'.

New clause 3—Medical judgment: termination of pregnancy— '(1) The Abortion Act 1967 shall be amended as follows. (2) After section 1(1)(b) there shall be inserted—"and (c) that the foetus is not viable and capable of sustained survival at the time the pregnancy is to be terminated. (3) For section 5(1) there shall be substituted (1) The provisions of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 (protecting the life of the viable foetus) shall not apply to any treatment for termination of pregnancy carried out under the provisions of this Act.".'.

New clause 5—Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment of 1967 Act)— '.—(1) Section 1 of the Abortion Act 1967 is amended by leaving out the condition imposed by the words beginning with the word "two", following the word "if' in subsection (1) to the end of the subsection, and by leaving out subsection (2). (2) In place of the words left out there are inserted the following words—

  1. "(a) the pregnancy has not exceeded its twelfth week and the termination is with the consent of the registered medical practitioner on whose list the pregnant woman is, or
  2. (b) the pregnancy has exceeded its twelfth but not its twenty-fourth week, if both the practitioner who carries out the termination and another registered medical practitioner of not less than consultant level certify in good faith that the pregnancy puts at grave risk the mother's physical or mental health, or that there is a foetal abnormality with a strong probability that the child would suffer a condition both incurable and wholly destructive of the quality of life, or that conception arises from rape or child abuse or that the mother was a minor at the time of conception,
  3. (c) the continuation of the pregnancy would result in the death of the pregnant mother or irreversible grave damage to her health."
(3) Section 1 of the 1967 Act is further amended by leaving out of subsection (4) the reference to two medical practitioners in subsection (1).'.

Mr. Bowen Wells (Hertford and Stortford)

On a point of order, Mr. Walker. Could you explain to the House in the best and most clear form available to you exactly how the procedures will operate today and how the voting will take place on the amendments on the order paper?

The Chairman

I am bound by the recommendations of the Business Committee. We shall have a debate lasting until 11 pm, on the assumption that hon. Members sustain the debate until then. All the signs are that that is the case. On new clause 4, the various amendments listed in the selection list and the substance of new clauses 1, 2, 3 and 5, the voting will follow the sequence of the amendments and new clauses on the selection list, conditioned, of course, by the outcome of each Division. We shall follow the sequence on the selection list.

Mr. Wells

Further to that point of order, Mr. Walker. Could you make certain that it is made clear to hon. Members exactly what they are voting on before each Division takes place?

The Chairman

That is a matter for the judgment and common sense of hon. Members. Of course, when the time comes to put the amendments to the House, we shall seek, as far as is practicable for the Chair, and short of appearing to advise hon. Members on how they might vote, to respond to what the hon. Gentleman said and to make sure that hon. Members know what they are voting on. In the course of the debate, Members will be aware of what they are discussing and what the Division about.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

I do not think that that is good enough. Yesterday, a list of amendments was put in the No Lobby. It showed what type of amendments would be taken today. Even they were complicated. Nevertheless, that is what we expected. Today the agenda is different. I have no doubt that many Members of Parliament here today are working on the principle that what they saw in the No Lobby yesterday will apply. Apparently, that is no longer the case. We have already heard that certain amendments tabled by my hon. Friends on the Front Bench have not been selected. Those amendments apparently will not be taken.

Furthermore, we are dealing with an unusual procedure. It is not normal practice for the House of Commons. In the first place, the idea that the debate will continue until 11 pm is unusual. From then on, a series of amendments will be put to the House. In many cases, which one is called will depend on which amendments have been carried. That is not the case on any other occasion. This procedure should not have been started in arty case. It is only because of the pressures brought by certain individuals that we are dealing with abortion on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. People have been twisting and turning on the Bill ever since it began.

The Chair has a duty to explain, before the business begins, exactly what amendments will be taken, in what order, and which will fall subsequently if others are carried, so that everyone is aware of what is happening. There is a serious danger that, if certain amendments are carried, some hon. Members will think that that is the end of the business. They might leave this place, with the result that a change might take place at 2, 3, or 4 o'clock in the morning. It is high time that the Chair fully explained what the amendments are, in what order they will be taken and which will fall consequent on others being carried.

4 pm

The Chairman

The normal procedure of the House has been followed for the selection of amendments. There is nothing unusual in the fact that, for various reasons, some amendments have not been selected. I have explained that I am not required to give reasons for non-selection. There is nothing unusual about that. The extension of our sitting time to 11 pm was decided by the House following the recommendations of the Business Committee.

Mr. Skinner

The Front Benches.

The Chairman

I am bound by the decisions of the majority of the House. The hon. Gentleman asked about the sequence of the amendments put to the House. At the conclusion of the debate, the occupant of the Chair shall again follow the usual practice of the House and put them as they are set down on the selection paper. Clearly, some amendments are conditional on what may happen to preceding amendments, but that can be determined only in the light of events after 11 pm.

Rev. Ian Paisley (Belfast, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Walker. Is it right that this debate will be more like a Second Reading debate than an ordinary Committee debate on abortion? In answer to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mrs. Fyfe), you said that the debate would be wide. Does that mean that it will be like a Second Reading debate on abortion, only with amendments?

The Chairman

The hon. Gentleman is correct, in so far as the new clause deals with abortion. We are responding to the question whether the clause will be read a Second time, and to that extent it will be like a Second Reading debate. It may be a little unusual that, within that one debate, we shall also discuss all the amendments which I have selected and which are set down on the selection paper.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

Further to the point of order of the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), Mr. Walker. Is it not the case that the lists for today and yesterday are identical except that today, not surprisingly, the words "First Allotted Day" are omitted?

The Chairman

The hon. Lady is correct.

Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax)

Further to the point of order of my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), Mr. Walker. I am sure that the public at large, as well as hon. Members, feel that this complicated procedure has been drawn up to confuse, in the hope that the anti-abortionists will at last get their way. I am disappointed that we shall not have a full explanation of each amendment and clause as it is debated.

The Chairman

If the hon. Lady finds the procedure difficult, the Chair finds it no less difficult. Like all hon. Members, I have to recognise the Standing Orders and established procedures of the House. It provides difficulties for the occupant of the Chair no less, and perhaps even more, than for ordinary Members. Surely, the explanation of the amendments rests not with the Chair, but with those responsible for them. It is not for me to guide the House on the merits of the amendments. I am following the established procedures of the House, and on an occasion such as this, they become rather difficult and complicated.

We are taking up valuable debating time. Perhaps we can move on.

Mr. Wells

Just before we get on to the debate, may I urge you, Mr. Walker, because of the views put to you from various parts of the House, to recognise that this is an unusual procedure which you have adopted? Members of Parliament will be in difficulties if you follow exactly the same sort of procedures which are normally followed by the Chair. Members of Parliament would appreciate a great deal more clarity when you announce the various questions about exactly what we are voting on. I urge you to consider that.

The Chairman

I must tell the hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells) that they are not procedures that I have adopted but the procedures of the House, reinforced by the recommendations of the Business Committee, upon which the House voted. I have not chosen the procedures, but I must apply them. I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's point that these are not easy matters and that, at the end of our debate, the House should be quite clear when it is required to vote. Certainly I shall bear in mind what the hon. Gentleman has said and, whether I or anyone else is in the Chair, we shall ensure that we are alive to the hon. Gentleman's point and that the House is clear, in so far as the Chair can make it clear, exactly what it is to vote upon. I do not think that I can go beyond that. Perhaps we can now proceed.

The Minister for Health (Mrs. Virginia Bottomley)

In rising to speak to this new clause I am clear that, perhaps above all others, this is an issue on which there are deeply felt and sincerely held views on all sides in the House and in the country.

On questions relating to abortion, the Government, like their predecessors, do not have a collective view. The issue is one on which Ministers and Members of all political parties, and also adherents of many religious beliefs, take differing views. It is essentially a matter of individual judgment and conscience to decide in this area what the law should permit and what it should ban.

On abortion it is also a matter of individual judgment and conscience what a person should do within what the law permits. In what follows I shall distinguish my role as a Minister and my position as the Member of Parliament for Surrey, South-West. Being a Health Minister gives me no special basis upon which to advise anyone on matters of conscience or morality. That is a measure of the special nature of the matter now before us.

In speaking to the new clause on time limits for abortion, which stands in the name of my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House, it would be helpful to the Committee to go into some detail about the background to it, its effect if carried in its present or modified form, and on the ways in which the Committee may be able to reach a coherent conclusion on those matters. In view of the importance and complexity of the questions, I have arranged for copies of my speech to be made available in the Vote Office as soon as possible so that hon. Members can study it in more detail and perhaps draw on it as the day proceeds.

I shall concentrate on the new clause and the amendments in the name of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State. Other amendments will no doubt be the subject of detailed discussion later in the debate.

The Government have an inescapable role in administering what Parliament has decided to enact. With it comes the role of advising Parliament if a legislative proposal seems confusing, or difficult to operate in practice, or inconsistent with some other provision. With it also comes the further role of advising Parliament of ways in which changes over time and the recent developments in medical and scientific practices may have affected the existing legislation in ways in which Parliament should take account. It is in that context that the Government have considered the question of abortion time limits.

The Abortion Act 1967—private Member's legislation—applied to Great Britain but not to Northern Ireland and did not include specific references to time limits. It linked instead with the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929. That Act, which applies to England and Wales, made it a criminal offence to destroy the life of any child capable of being born alive, except where it is done to save the woman's life, and for that purpose provided a rebuttable presumption that a woman who had been pregnant for 28 weeks should be presumed to have a child capable of being born alive. At and above 28 weeks, the onus is on the defendant to show that the child would not have been viable. Below that time, the onus is on the prosecution to show that the child would have been born alive.

The 28-week figure was established on the basis of the medical and scientific knowledge available at that time, more than 60 years ago. In Scotland, the only legislative proposals are those contained in the Abortion Act 1967. As I have made clear, the 1967 Act does not include reference to time limits, so in Scotland satisfaction of the grounds for abortion as set out in section 1 of that Act is all that is needed to ensure that a termination of pregnancy is lawful.

Mr. Wells

I am deeply grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. Before she goes on, will she accurately define what she means by "viable" in this context?

Mrs. Bottomley

For a child to be born viable, it must have a beating heart and sustainable respiration. I shall go on to talk about the recommendations of several organisations involved with the subject as to what is an appropriate way to respond to the issue of viability. Under the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929, that is a matter for the prosecution to substantiate in the case of a child born under or over the limit. Since 1929, advances in medicine have altered the position on foetal viability. Some foetuses of less than 28 weeks gestation, which would at one time have stood little chance of surviving after birth, now have a greater chance of survival. That is the issue about which my hon. Friend is concerned.

In 1980, the Government invited a working party of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, including representatives of medical and midwifery professional bodies, to consider the question of foetal viability. In 1985, they presented a report. Its conclusion was that the presumptive age of capacity to be born alive should be reduced from 28 weeks to 24 weeks. That advice was confirmed by the royal college and the associated organisations when they reviewed the report at the end of 1987.

In a statement issued only this month, the royal college reiterated its view that 24 weeks should be the age at which a foetus is considered viable. In their view, a gestational age limit below 24 weeks would have an inequitable and adverse effect on those women in need of having their pregnancies terminated. Ministers have indicated on several occasions, in this House and in another place, in debates on private Members' legislation on this subject, that a reduction to 24 weeks, as proposed in the royal college report, would be in line with current medical opinion and practice.

The Government have taken administrative action to ensure that no abortions above 24 weeks are carried out in private clinics licensed by the Secretary of State for the purpose of the Abortion Act. The number of such abortions carried out in National Health hospitals is now small—the figure for Great Britain in 1988 was 23.

Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill)

Has the Minister had a chance to consider the ruling of Mr. Justice Brooke, who said that viability was to be defined as the capacity to survive for a few minutes unaided? Where does the definition that she has just given leave babies such as the Carlisle baby, which was born and survived for three hours struggling for life in a petrie dish before being incinerated?

Mrs. Bottomley

The Carlisle baby case has been subject to much discussion, not least in a debate in this House in which my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State, Home Office took part. The other case to which the hon. Gentleman refers is a matter for civil law. I am making it clear that there is a considerable body of opinion which believes that the Infant Life (Preservation) Act limit should be reconsidered, and that viability should be reconsidered at the stage of 24 weeks. In cases where that is challenged, it is a matter for debate in the courts.

Mr. Wells

I am sorry to press the point about viability, but I am concerned as to whether the viability test includes the lack of a brain, or its function, and major defects, both mental and physical, in the foetus in the women's body. Therefore, I should be grateful if the Minister could make it clear whether or not her term "viability" includes those considerations.

Mrs. Bottomley

I have made it clear that viability has to do with being able to sustain life, having a heartbeat and being able to sustain respiration——

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South)

The fundamental question to many of us concerns the life of the child. How many women miscarry after 20 weeks, because that seems fundamental to the question of how many children we are killing?

4.15 pm
Mrs. Bottomley

I cannot tell my hon. Friend how many women miscarry after 20 weeks, but I can tell him that there have been about 3,000 legal abortions after 20 weeks.

Ms. Clare Short (Birmingham, Ladywood)

I should like to return to the point in the Minister's speech when she first gave way, and to the recommendation that we should come down to a 24-week limit—which I support, with exceptions for hard cases. Can the hon. Lady confirm for the record that, of babies born at 24 weeks, only about 15 per cent. survive—with all the medical technology that we have—and that large numbers of them are brain-damaged? It should be recorded that we are discussing the very brink of viability of a child.

Mrs. Bottomley

I can confirm that many of these early infants sustain either physical or learning disabilities. I cannot give the precise proportion, but it is considerable.

Sir Bernard Braine (Castle Point)

I hesitate to rise, because I realise that my hon. Friend is in the middle of her speech, but a far more important question with which the House must deal concerns the state of the present law. Does the Infant Life (Preservation) Act lay down that it is a crime to abort a child capable of being born alive? If we relate that to the age at which children are being born alive and surviving, we get a clue—nay, an answer—to the issue which should constitute this debate.

Mrs. Bottomley

As the Father of the House knows the terms of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act full well, he will know that it is for the prosecution to substantiate its claim to rebut the assumption of the limit at which a child should be presumed to be capable of being born alive. I know that my right hon. Friend feels strongly about this subject and no doubt he will have the opportunity to speak later in the debate, but I should make some headway.

In the many debates on abortion, in this House and in another place, there has been movement towards changes which would include specific time limits for Great Britain within the Abortion Act 1967, rather than merely amending the 1929 Act. That was the proposal made by the Select Committee in another place and in various recent Bills, including the Abortion (Amendment) Bill, which recently came to us as private Member's legislation from another place. For convenience I intend to refer to it as the current abortion Bill.

Members are all aware of the lengthy and complex debates that have taken place on this subject in recent years in this House and in another place. The Committee now has this opportunity to debate and decide on these matters. Both outside and inside Parliament a view has increasingly developed that Parliament should decide where it now stands on this vital issue. There have been lengthy debates in the country as well as here. Parliament many now be ready to reach a conclusion on those questions.

It may be the view of the House that a clear outcome should be reached which would take into consideration the changes in medical and scientific practices, but I must emphasise again that the Government are not seeking to lay down whether a change should be made or, if so, what the change should be. The Committee may wish to leave the law as it is, or to alter the Infant Life (Preservation) Act only, or to bring time limits within the Abortion Act at various possible levels.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Since the gynaecologists started to make their report on the viability of foetuses, and then brought in their revised report, a massive change has taken place in technology; so the so-called figures put on the so-called record by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) are quite fictitious because techniques are advancing so rapidly that disabilities of that kind can be overcome much more readily. We are supposed to be legislating for the future, not for the current state of play or what has happened within the year, but for what will happen in the next 10 years.

Mrs. Bottomley

I am afraid that in a sense I can confirm to my hon. Friend that the learned bodies have only recently reviewed and reconfirmed their previous advice. It is estimated that about 40 per cent. of small infants born before 24 weeks have some learning disability or some other serious disability. Perhaps I could make some progress now.

As hon. Members are well aware, the role of the Minister is to help the Committee, if it wishes to debate these matters and to reach conclusions, to do so in an orderly and logical way. We have already agreed on timetable motions to ensure that there is adequate time for debate and to allow votes on the amendments. It is up to the Committee whether it uses those opportunities. It is evident that it would be possible to produce outcomes which were to a greater or lesser extent coherent or confused.

From the detailed soundings that my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House has made in all parts of the Committee, it appears to be the overwhelming wish to avoid an inconclusive outcome and to produce a definite workable result. In view of the responsibilities of the Department of Health for administering the abortion provisions, my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health, with the Leader of the House, and with other Health Ministers considered how best procedural help could be offered to the Committee.

The subject is complex not only because of the wide range of choices available, but also because of the interaction in England and Wales between the Infant Life (Preservation) Act and the Abortion Act. The House will be grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House for putting down a comprehensive new clause setting out a coherent scheme based on what may be a possible consensus. I use the word "possible" rather than "likely" because the new clause is not intended in any way to pre-empt discussion and decision. The position is quite the reverse. The new clause tries to cover the main aspects on which the House needs to reach a decision one way or another, both on the time limits for the various provisions in the Abortion Act and on the rebuttable presumption in the Infant Life (Preservation) Act.

Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax)

Will the Minister tell us why we were not given the opportunity fully to debate the Houghton Bill as the Lords were? That is what we wanted.

Mrs. Bottomley

I think that I have made it clear that my right hon. and learned Friends the Leader of the House and the Secretary of State for Health have used their best efforts to ensure that it is possible for the Committee to debate the main principles involved so as to try to reach some sort of consensus. These subjects have been debated frequently in recent years without reaching a conclusion. Efforts have been made to ensure that people are fully able to debate the key issues not only in the House but in the country.

Mr. Skinner

The Minister has said that there have been soundings of hon. Members. I am not aware of who was sounded out. May we take it that she can tell us exactly who the Leader of the House spoke to? Were members of the pro-life group asked to give their opinion in order to try to get them off the Government's back? Notwithstanding the soundings of pro-life representatives, I can assure the Minister that from listening to interviews on the radio it is clear that the pro-life group will not go away. Irrespective of what happens today, they will come back because the Ceaucescu lobby is here to stay. I want to know who was sounded out. Was it Opposition Members, people on the Front Bench or members of the pro-life group? The hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) was sounded out. How many more people were sounded out?

Mrs. Bottomley

I have little sympathy for the hon. Gentleman's intervention. It is clear that a period of time has been set a part to debate these crucial issues. There is strong feeling not only in the House but in the country on these questions. I have made it clear that my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House has sounded out a number of people who have a strong interest. They were people in both parties with various interests and those who have strong views on the subject. He was trying to take a balanced view to make sure that everyone could contribute. I hope that the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) will have an opportunity to make a fuller contribution to the debate.

The new clause is put forward in my right hon. and learned Friend's role as Leader of the House. It does not necessarily comprise his views as the Member for Surrey, East. The new clause contains only possible answers. We have been anxious to present the House with a range of possible amendments on various aspects of the new clause, drafted in what we believe, after taking advice, would be a workable way. The rules of the House understandably prevent my right hon. and learned Friend from moving amendments to his new clause. For that reason, to assist the Committee my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health agreed to put down a series of amendments. Some propose to relax particular limits in the new clause and others would make them more stringent.

Mr. Andrew MacKay (Berkshire, East)

I rise on a point of clarification, which my hon. Friend may not be able to answer. Perhaps our right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State can answer when he replies to the debate. Some people feel that amendment (f) might have been inadvertently misdrafted. Perhaps we could have clarification on whether, if it is passed, the termination level would be unlimited, or whether it would be at the level that we previously would have agreed when we voted on the various weeks contained in earlier amendments. Perhaps we could have clarification of that before we reach the votes.

Mrs. Bottomley

I can make that clarification now, but then I must proceed with my speech so that other hon. Members can have the opportunity to make their speeches. Amendment (f) has no time limit, whereas amendment (g) introduces a time limit of 28 weeks in the case of grave permanent injury to the health of the woman.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House has already provided hon. Members with a fair amount of written material which sets out the background to the subject, the nature of the new clause and the amendments to it that he and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health have put down, and the main procedural issues which seem to us to arise when the time for decision-making comes. I urge all hon. Members to study that material carefully because it seeks to set out as clearly as possible the effect of the new clause and of my right hon. and learned Friends' amendments to it.

An attempt has been made to provide hon. Members with relevant material. It is nevertheless inevitably complex and difficult legally, over and above the moral and ethical complexities that the subject presents to us. It may help the Committee to go through the new clause in some detail, referring to possible variations which might be made in it and explaining at the same time how hon. Members may wish to reach a decision so as to avoid inconsistency and difficulty in practical matters. I apologise to the Committee in advance that in discussing the new clause and my right hon. and learned Friends' amendments I shall need to go into complex options and choices where action in one area may impinge on what is done in other areas. However, if the Committee permits I shall try in my speech to make the position as clear as I can. Copies of my speech will be available.

The main object of the new clause is to put specific time limits in the 1967 Abortion Act while leaving the system of the rebuttable presumption in the 1929 Infant Life (Preservation) Act to operate as well. I shall say more later about the 1929 Act. Unless changes are made in the 1929 Act to separate it from the 1967 Act completely, anything said about specific time limits needs to be qualified in respect of England and Wales by reference to the 1929 Act. If hon. Members do not wish to put time limits into the 1967 Act, they should vote against the new clause.

Subsection (1) of new clause 4 deals with the ordinary case where termination of pregnancy has to be approved by two doctors. That is to be distinguished from the emergency provisions in section 1(4) of the 1967 Act where the approval of only one doctor is needed, and to which I shall return later. The new clause sets out three separate grounds for abortion. Those are essentially the same as those in the 1967 Act, but have been rearranged to bring them out more clearly. The 1967 Act included two of them in one paragraph.

The first ground in new clause 4, subsection (I)(a), deals with abortion where two doctors consider that the continuation of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman, or any existing children of her family. I shall refer to this as injury to physical or mental health. That is by far the most common ground on which abortions are at present carried out, and accounted last year for 89 per cent. of the total. In such cases, the new clause would provide as a time limit that the pregnancy has not exceeded the 24th week.

Mr. A. E. P. Duffy (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

Will the Minister give way on that point?

4.30 pm
Mrs. Bottomley


Under the clause, the 1929 Act would still apply in England and Wales, so that it would not be legal to perform an abortion even at or below 24 weeks if the child was capable of being born alive. Twenty-four weeks was selected as perhaps the most commonly suggested limit, but my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State has moved amendments to substitute other figures at two-week intervals from 18 to 28 weeks. Those are amendments (a) to (e), and they appear on the Order Paper in what is referred to as the "pendulum order".

If the new clause is accepted, the first of those amendments that is passed will set the time limit in the new clause. If no amendments are passed, the time limit will be the proposed 24 weeks. That may be so regarded by most people outside the House.

Paragraph (b) provides for abortions where the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman greater than if the pregnancy were terminated. That makes no change from the 1967 Act. There is little or no dispute that that provision should remain.

Mr. Duffy

Will the Minister give way on that point?

Mrs. Bottomley

Unlike all the other provisions, it is not affected by the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929, since the 1929 Act makes a specific exception for actions done in good faith for the purpose only of preserving the life of the mother. Paragraph (c) of the new clause deals with cases where there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped. That is regarded as the "serious foetal handicap" category.

There is widespread recognition that such cases present particular difficulty for several reasons. A special factor is that foetal handicap may not be diagnosable until fairly late in the pregnancy, although we hope that new medical techniques will increasingly make earlier diagnosis of some of those abnormalities possible, a subject that we debated yesterday. A time limit of 28 weeks has been suggested. That is subject to the provisions of the 1929 Act.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health has put down amendments which, if selected, would give the options of a 24-week limit for that type of case, amendment (i), or no limit at all, amendment (j), as provided in the current Abortion Bill passed by another place. In either case, the amendments would be subject again to the overriding provisions of the 1929 Act, unless the House decides to remove those too. I refer to amendment (q).

The three criteria set out in the new clause and in the 1967 Act are not the only ones that can be proposed. As the first example of this, the new clause does not provide in abortions approved by two doctors for the special test of grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman". That form of words is specified as a ground for abortion in the emergency provisions in section 1(4) of the 1967 Act to which I shall refer later.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State has put on the Order Paper amendments to insert this as a ground, either with no time limit, amendment (m), or a 28-week time limit, amendment (g). Either would be subject to the 1929 Act unless, as I have made clear, the House decided otherwise, and that would be amendment(q)

Subsection (2) deals with what are generally referred to as the "emergency" situations where an abortion can be carried out by one doctor without the second opinion that is normally required. That is covered at present in section 1(4) of the 1967 Act on two grounds—to save the life of the pregnant woman, or to prevent grave permanent injury to her physical or mental health. On the first ground—that of saving life—there is at present no time limit, and the 1929 Act does not apply. No change is proposed here.

In the case of grave permanent injury, the effect of the 1929 Act in England and Wales is to apply at present a limit of, in effect, 28 weeks. That can be misunderstood. If time limits come to be applied in the Abortion Act to non-emergency abortion, it would seem logical that such time limits should also apply to this category of emergency abortions. The new clause proposes a limit of 24 weeks in line with the main limit. My right hon. and learned Friend refers to that aspect in his guidance for right hon. and hon. Members. In that area, in particular, it may be felt that the position should be different from the main limit.

My right hon. and learned Friend's amendments propose various alternatives. Amendment (k) would omit subsection (2) of the new clause altogether, thus leaving the situation as in section 1(4) of the 1967 Act, with the application of the 1929 Act as well. Amendments (l) to (p) set out other time limits for the emergency provision, varying from 18 to 28 weeks. My right hon. and learned Friend makes clear the importance of consistency in terms of the emergency and non-emergency limits. They should be taken in the same way as the similar changes proposed for the main limits.

It is necessary to say a further word about the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929, which applied only to England and Wales and for which no equivalent exists in relation to Scotland. Under the new clause and my right hon. and learned Friend's amendments down to and including (p), the 1929 Act remains, and it provides an overriding test of viability where the rebuttable presumption remains at 28 weeks.

My right hon. and learned Friend's last two amendments, (q) and (r), address that subject. Amendment (q) would separate the 1967 Act from the 1929 Act and would mean that any new time limits placed in the 1967 Act overrode the 1929 Act. That is proposed in the current Abortion Bill passed by another place. In other words, a main limit of 24 weeks, or for some other figure, would apply without consideration of whether or not the child was viable.

The 1929 Act would remain for abortions above those limits. Under amendment (q) by itself, the rebuttable presumption on viability would remain at 28 weeks. The 1929 Act does not apply to Scotland, and the effect of the new clause is setting out time limits on abortion would be the only one relevant to Scotland.

Amendment (r) amends the 1929 Act to make the rebuttable presumption apply at 24 weeks rather than 28 weeks. By itself, amendment (r) would simply mean that the 1967 Act and the 1929 Act both had to be taken into account but that the 1929 Act had a new and lower level for the rebuttable presumption.

If amendments (q) and (r) were both accepted by the Committee, the 1929 Act would apply only to abortions that were not covered by the specific limits in the amended 1967 Act but it would apply at the lower level of 24 weeks instead of the present 28.

In considering amendment (r), right hon. and hon. Members will wish to bear in mind difficulties that might arise if the levels set in the 1929 Act were lower than any of the levels set in the 1967 Act as amended, which were disapplied, unless amendment (q) were also passed to separate the operation of two Acts. For example, if the 1929 Act were reduced to 24 weeks, but the limit in the 1967 Act for serious foetal handicap was retained at 28 weeks, the resulting presumption that a child over 24 weeks is capable of being born alive would probably prevent abortions being carried out between 24 and 28 weeks for serious foetal handicap.

This explanation is inevitably rather complex. It may help the Committee to understand the basis of the new clause and the main possibilities for amendment which arise on it. The arrangement is that there will be a single debate on the new clause and on the various selected amendments together. That will be followed by a vote on the new clause. If it is accepted, there will be votes on the amendments selected.

Mr. Frank Doran (Aberdeen, South)

I am sure that the Committee is grateful for the Minister's explanation, but I am mindful that all her remarks relate to the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 and to the situation in England and Wales. Will the Minister clarify for the record the situation in respect of Scotland? She will be aware that the law there is very different from that in England and Wales. In Scotland, there is effectively no time limit—but the law is to be radically amended by new clause 11, apparently without consultation and in the absence of a Scottish Office Minister. Will the Minister confirm the precise impact of the new clause and of the amendments on Scotland?

Mrs. Bottomley

As the hon. Gentleman is well aware, the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 Act does not apply in Scotland. That may be a subject for further discussion and the hon. Gentleman may wish to refer to it later. The Abortion Act 1967 applies, but the 1929 Act does not apply in Scotland. That is simple and clear.

Mr. Doran

Regardless of which amendment the Committee finally agrees upon and what time limit, what would be the effect on the Scottish position?

Mrs. Bottonley

The only time limits that would apply in Scotland would be those in the new clause. As I have made clear, the 1929 Act does not apply in Scotland. At a later date we may wish to tidy up the position to ensure that there is a coherent framework within which the law can operate. Certainly the position in Scotland will require careful consideration.

Ms. Dawn Primarolo (Bristol, South)

Will the Minister give way?

Mrs. Bottomley


Other new clauses and amendments to the Government's new clause will be moved and many issues will be raised during our debate today. They will cover a range of topics in addition to the strict time limits issue. For example, they will cover subjects such as the exemptions for rape or incest. They may specify the nature of the abnormality by the certfying doctor and alter the basis on which doctors may consent to a termination.

At the conclusion of today's proceedings, I hope that the Committee may be able to reach a clear, coherent and workable position either to leave existing legislation as it is or to make a series of amendments to it. However, in this complex situation, it may not be possible to reach a position in which all the loose ends have been tied up. I referred to that point in relation to the intervention made by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Doran).

The Government will carefully consider the outcome of the debate to see whether what emerges satisfies the tests of coherence and workability. If necessary, amendments may be moved on Report, and it may be the wish of the House that that should be so.

In the end, the Committee will have made clear to the Government, to another place and to the large number of people outside the House who are deeply concerned about such matters, what the position is on the proper time limits for abortion in the light of current knowledge and experience. I hope that we can conduct our debate, in a way that is appropriate for such issues of individual judgment and conscience, always remembering that each individual instance where the question of abortion arises represents, whatever one's moral stance, a personal tragedy to all involved. I urge the Committee to support the new clause standing in the name of my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House.

Ms. Jo Richardson (Barking)

I doubt whether any Minister has ever had the task which the Minister for Health has had to carry out today in taking the Committee through such a complexity of amendments and their consequences. I am glad that she said that a copy of her speech would be in the Lobby. I only wish that I had had time to dash out of the Chamber and pick up a copy, because her speech was extremely hard to follow.

The method that the Government have used to arrange this important debate with new clause 4 as the core and amendments to it from every conceivable angle, is about as chaotic and crazy as the idea of attaching a clause on abortion to a Bill about embryology. We remain bitterly opposed to the inclusion of abortion in the Bill and we bitterly oppose the method of discussing it today.

The Government have come forward with this method in an attempt to buy off those who bring in restrictive abortion Bills every year. I have been involved in these issues for several years. Other hon. Members have been involved as well, notably the Father of the House. Over the years he has taken the opposite position from mine and he has highlighted abortion every year. I have had to suffer his antics each year when he sought to try to restrict women's rights to abortion.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke)

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Ms. Richardson

No. Let me get going a bit first. I shall come back to the hon. Gentleman if I feel like it.

As far as I can guess, the deal is that if the anti-abortionists can have a vote tonight they will go away for a few years. That is absolute rubbish. If the hon. Members believe that, they are more stupid than I gave them credit for.

It may be all very well for one or two people to have given undertakings. I do not know whether that has happened, but if undertakings have been given, other hon. Members may appear with different ideas. For example, we are two years away from a general election and there may be new Members and other people who may not feel bound by any commitments that might have been given.

4.45 pm
The Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Kenneth Clarke)

The hon. Lady has complained about the method by which we organised the debate. Does she accept that the fact that abortion law is within the scope of the Bill is a matter for the House authorities, not for the Government? That decision has been taken and we must address abortion in the Bill. The arrangements in the Order Paper, proposed by my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House and myself, admittedly with some complexity because this is a complex subject, provide a wide range of opportunities to allow the Committee to have a properly conducted debate and to reach a decision after considering all the options.

Does the hon. Lady further accept that neither she, from the Opposition Front Bench, nor the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) from the Opposition Back Benches, nor anyone else has put forward the slightest alternative or constructive suggestion as to how the debate might be arranged? When the Business Committee met to discuss the matter, the sum total of the Labour party's contribution to marshalling debate was shown by the fact that not a single member of the Labour party selected for that Business Committee turned up for the meeting.

Ms. Richardson

We did not come to that Business Committee meeting because we did not want to be a party to such action.

It is all very well for the Secretary of State to say that the Government have tried to give the Committee every opportunity and every option. I appreciate that, but it has made the whole position tonight more complicated and more chaotic. If the Government believe that, by allowing abortion into the Bill through extending its long title, people who are per se anti-abortion will go away, they are wrong.

Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone)

The hon. Lady said that no hon. Member can give an undertaking that, if we were to achieve a significant result tonight, we would go away. While it is true that any private Member may present a Bill—no hon. Member would dispute that—the hon. Lady must appreciate that the grievous pressure from which Parliament has suffered as a result of a series of non-decisions over the years has been caused not simply by the fact that one hon. Member presented a Bill. Rather it has been caused by the huge feeling in the House that a decision had to be taken and because outside the House a great deal of pressure was being mounted by pro-life groups. That is what caused the pressure. A single private Member's Bill does not cause that pressure.

Therefore, even if an hon. Member decided to present a private Member's Bill, unless it was backed by the pro-life movement, it would not be a particular pressure on the House. What would be the benefit of returning to Parliament in a short while if Parliament has already taken a clear decision?

Ms. Richardson

In spite of what the hon. Lady has said, I still think that some hon. Member, perhaps not her——

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

This one here, the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton).

Ms. Richardson

As my hon. Friend says, that one there. Perhaps an hon. Member will present a Bill to the House with further restrictions. There may well be pressures from outside.

Mr. Alton


Ms. Richardson

If the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) is going to ask me to give way, the answer is no.

The Government have plainly given in to what they believe is pressure. They have overlooked the fact that the overwhelming majority of people, particularly women, want to leave the Abortion Act 1967 as it is.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett


Sir Bernard Braine


Ms. Richardson

No, I shall not give way.

Sir Bernard Braine

Will the hon. Lady give way now?

Ms. Richardson

No, I shall return to the right hon. Gentleman later. I am sure that he will have some reason to rise later.

The Government's deal will achieve nothing. With the number of Divisions that we shall have tonight, we could even end up with very bad law,. The Minister rather suggested that we might come up with what she called "loose ends" that may have to be tied up. I believe that we shall come up with bad law, and perhaps with law that has been made by mistake. People may go into one Lobby believing that they will achieve their aim when they should go into another Lobby. The voting will be extremely complicated. There must be about a dozen idiots' guides, trying to advise people on both sides of the debate how to vote, going round the House.

Sir Bernard Braine


Ms. Richardson

The pendulum system swings from 18 to 28 weeks, from 20 to 26 weeks and from 22 to 24 weeks. That could result in mistaken voting and we shall be then be stuck with the law, despite the Minister's promise to tie up the loose ends.

Sir Bernard Braine

The hon. Lady was kind enough to refer to me earlier. She and I have been in the House long enough to know that the House has given a Second Reading to abortion reform Bills, often by a substantial majority, yet those Bills have then been sabotaged by a relatively small minority of determined Members. As no Government were ready to give extra time, as was done with the Abortion Bill in 1966–67, all the other Bills failed. The will of the majority in the House was completely frustrated time and again by the hon. Lady, in her customarily charming way, and by numbers of her colleagues, contrary to the will of the British people.

Ms. Richardson

Plenty of private Members' Bills receive a Second Reading, but are blocked later.

Mr. Skinner

The hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Browne) had one and look what happened.

Ms. Richardson

That is right. The Bill of the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Browne) was blocked. Bills are constantly blocked by the Government Whips, who do not even say who they are. It has always been considered that abortion would naturally fall within private Members' legislation. With private Members' Bills, one has to take one's chance with the procedures of the House.

We may end up tonight with a law that we shall be stuck with and that we do not want. More importantly, women outside will be stuck with it. It is an insult to women that the Government should bring forward this lottery system to decide a matter that will have such a long-term effect on women's lives.

New clause 4 is more restrictive than the Abortion Act 1967. Under the Act, for example, a registered medical practitioner may terminate a pregnancy if he or she is of the opinion that it is necessary to save the life of the woman or to prevent grave permanent damage to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman. In other words, a time limit does not operate. New clause 4 is said to be the main core of the proposal. Under new clause 4, a medical practitioner may act to prevent "grave permanent injury" to the "physical or mental health" of the pregnant woman only up to the end of the 24th week. I realise that the new clause could be amended later, but the proposal is monstrous and the new clause must be amended back to the position under the 1967 Act.

Under new clause 4, after the 24th week, a woman suffering from, for example, serious and progressive kidney disease, serious and deteriorating lung disease or certain types of congenital heart disease, which may be aggravated by the stress of pregnancy, would not be able to have an abortion. Those conditions may not only worsen during pregnancy, but may be diagnosed during pregnancy. That is especially so in the case of the HIV positive mother, as health authorities are increasingly informing women of the risks of pregnancy and AIDS and more women may seek tests during pregnancy. We must consider those matters with the utmost seriousness to ensure that we get the law absolutely right.

There is one point—there are probably several others—on which, although I tried to follow the Minister's speech carefully, I am still not clear. There is a possibility that at least one of the amendments—amendment (f)—is misleading or defective. It is intended to ensure that there is no time limit when there is a threat of "grave permanent injury" to a woman's health. I have taken advice and it seems that amendment (f) may be affected by paragraph (a) of new clause 4, and would therefore be subject to the time limits for which hon. Members vote—in other words, 18 or 24 weeks, or whatever. I seek an assurance from the Secretary of State that amendment (f) would ensure that this ground was exempt from the time limits restriction.

As a result of the complexity of the procedure—the Secretary of State asked why I did not propose something different—I tried to construct amendments to be taken first, which would have formed a package. That package would have included 24 weeks, but would also have included the maximum number of exceptions for 28 weeks and the maximum number of exceptions with no time limit.

I tabled my amendments, which was difficult in the context of new clause 4. I now find that only two parts of my package have been included in your selection of amendments, Mr. Walker. I am not suggesting that you deliberately added to the complexity as I know that you would not want to do that. However, it is an illustration of what happens when we try to amend a new clause that we do not want by means of a package of amendments. I understand that you, Mr. Walker, from your position as Chairman of Ways and Means, may not have appreciated that my amendments were a package and should have been taken in that sense. We are stuck with our present selection, which makes everything more complicated.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I am not returning to the argument about procedure. It is a bit unsatisfactory if the answer to the hon. Lady's question waits until the end of the debate, thus leaving continuing doubt about amendment (f). Amendments (f) and (g) both relate to the new category of "grave permanent injury" to the health of the woman. Amendment (f) would follow the word "or" in line 6. It would not, therefore, be governed by the reference to the "twenty-fourth week" in paragraph (a). It is important to confirm that amendment (f) would have the effect of introducing no time limit in the case of "grave permanent injury" to health. Amendment (g) would introduce a time limit of 28 weeks. The House must make a choice between those or the 24 weeks in the new clause.

Ms. Richardson

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for clarifying that point. Again, the position is complex, as the Secretary of State has given us two options and we shall have to get our heads round that later.

I want hon. Members to look carefully at what we are doing. We are threatening the lives and futures of countless thousands of women who may need an abortion now or in the future. If we decide to bring clown the present upper time limit from 28 to 24 weeks, we shall deny the possibility of an abortion to a very small, but important, number of women and young girls. In 1988, the latest year for which we have published statistics, only 23 women had abortions over 24 weeks.

There are young girls who become pregnant without knowing that they are pregnant. They may have had irregular periods, a not uncommon phenomenon in teenage girls. They may have unsupportive parents and be afraid of revealing that they are pregnant. They may feel unable to go to their GP or find it hard to locate a doctor—not just one, but two doctors—who will terminate their pregnancy. All such events lead to delays that may take them over the 24th week.

When discussing the failure of young girls to recognise pregnancy, we must not overlook the stance of some hon. Members, which suggests that they are against sex education in schools. If we had more such education, more girls and young women would be better able to appreciate their sexuality and the way in which their bodies function.

The Brook advisory centre points out in a paper the fear that many young women have at the discovery of an unwanted pregnancy. They fear the rejection of friends, families, boy friends and even school mates, remembering that some of them are still at school. For many, that rejection can mean homelessness, poverty and isolation. Are we to turn our backs, by reducing the upper time limit from 28 to 24 weeks, on that handful of young people?

5 pm

Ms. Short

I understand that the overwhelming majority of post-24 week abortions in recent years have occurred as the result of the late detection of severe foetal abnormality. We must also bear in mind in that context the categories of whom my hon. Friend has spoken, including very young girls, often having been sexually abused, who become pregnant and do not know it. Is my hon. Friend suggesting that if the Government's new clause is approved, girls as young as 11 and 12 might be forced to complete their pregnancies?

Ms. Richardson

Yes, that is my reading of the Government's proposal. I am greatly concerned that, at such a vulnerable age, young girls will not be protected.

Women in the menopause who become pregnant come within that small number who presented themselves in 1988 for abortion after the 24th week. Many women think that irregular periods are normal in the menopause, as they are, but sometimes they find that they are pregnant. They can then be horrified because their families may be settled, they may have grown-up children or they may need the money that they earn and be unable easily to leave work. They suddenly find that instead of being in the menopause, as they thought, they are pregnant.

I have given details of a case of a 42-year-old married woman with children aged 21 and 20. She had successfully used a diaphragm for 25 years and did not suspect that it had let her down. She missed four periods, did a test and was horrified to find that she was pregnant. She was opposed to abortion, but, because of her family circumstances—she also had aged and ailing parents for whom to care—she decided after several counselling sessions to request an abortion. Under the new clause, she and women in a similar position could not have an abortion. Many family circumstances lead people to decide to have an abortion, and the present social provision must be available.

Let us not forget the distress that has been caused through delay in the National Health Service. It often depends on the part of the country in which one lives—[Interruption.] I am amazed to see at least a couple of hon. Ladies on the Government Benches expressing dissent, even smiling, at that remark, as though it were an old wives' tale. I assure them that it is not.

People who live in the west midlands find it more difficult to get an abortion than those living elsewhere, in the north or in the south. Imagine finding oneself pregnant and being unable to find a doctor or hospital willing to treat one, or having little money and being unable to travel to a different part of the country to obtain an abortion.

Even if we reduce the time limit to 24 weeks, the same problems will arise—but for more women. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the Pregnancy Advisory Service and other organisations in the charitable sector are not permitted to do terminations after 24 weeks. Both those advisory services have compiled an interesting and moving dossier of cases that illustrate the problems that women face through delays or obstruction in the NHS, through doctors failing to diagnose pregnancy, through failure by patients to recognise pregnancy, through failure of methods of contraception or failed pregnancy tests, as the result of menopausal problems or because the females concerned are very young. I have cited some cases, but there are many more.

It is well known that many surgeons err on the side of caution because of the law—as they do not want to be caught by the law—and in practice allow a four-week or, at the least, a two-week margin. So in practice, 24 weeks become 20 or 22 weeks in terms of the operation that the surgeon will perform. Or a 20 or 22-week limit would become in practice an 18-week limit, and an 18-week limit—should the House agree to that tonight—could become a 14-week limit. That would greatly affect many necessitous women.

In an ideal world, there would be no need for late abortions. This is not an ideal world, and in 1988, 84 per cent. of all abortions were performed at under 13 weeks; 14 per cent. were performed at between 13 and 20 weeks; and, as I said, 1.7 per cent. were performed at over 20 weeks.

My hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Dr. Moonie) tabled an amendment which I hoped the House would discuss and approve. The hon. Member for Torridge and Devon, West (Miss Nicholson) also tabled a new clause, which allows women to have an abortion up to the end of the 12th week without seeking approval from a second doctor. Those who support the Abortion Act 1967, and who would like to see it liberalised, would strongly support it because we believe that it is the best way to reduce the number of late abortions, by allowing women to ask a doctor—one doctor—to give permission for them to have an abortion without the need to seek approval from a second doctor. That practice is followed in many European countries with beneficial results. I regret that we shall not have an opportunity tonight to discuss those matters.

We must make provision for those women, some of whose cases I have described, including women who require an abortion after an amniocentesis test and who need time to decide whether to continue with a pregnancy. A woman will have an anmiocentesis test at 16 weeks. If it is discovered that she is carrying a mentally or physically handicapped child, she is given the offer of an abortion. If we set the limits too tightly, such a woman will not even have time to reflect on whether to have an abortion.

Miss Widdecombe

Is not that problem easily solved by doing what the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) and myself propose, which is now incorporated in the amendments tabled by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State, and exempting from the restrictions the severe disabilities that would be revealed by amniocentesis, so that for those women there is no change in the law?

Ms. Richardson

I shall look at that. It sounds all right, but why was it not in the new clause? The way in which the clause is presently phrased is ridiculous. We are leaving it to the lottery of whether an amendment is carried. That is the whole point. There may be some good amendments that we could carry, but will we carry them and will people know exactly what we are doing?

We do not want women who are carrying babies who turn out to be damaged to have a pistol at their heads and to be told, "You are going to have a physically or mentally handicapped baby and you must have an abortion tomorrow or you will not be within the time limit." That could happen if our attitude is too tight and not relaxed enough. We must ensure that it will turn out for the best for those women.

I hope that right hon. and hon. Members will think seriously about the effect of their votes tonight. Labour party policy is clearly to defend the 1967 Act. Some of my hon. Friends consider that that is a matter of conscience for them. If I were in that position, and I am not, I should also want to consider the difficulties in which many women find themselves—difficulties that are often inflicted on them by irresponsible men who do not have to face the traumatic consequences.

If I were to exercise my conscience, I should also want to ask myself whether my conscience was more important than considerations involving the quality of women's lives. There could also be a conscience consideration for women now and in the future, which hon. Members will overlook if they vote to restrict the law. I beg them to take that into account when they vote tonight. I know that such hon. Members who exercise a conscience clause on this sensitive issue have compassion. I hope that they will extend that compassion to unlucky or unfortunate women who may be precluded from much-needed medical assistance.

Last night there was a march through London to defend abortion rights. It was called at relatively short notice for a march. However, 2,000 to 3,000 women turned up to defend the 1967 Act. They were young, middle-aged and even older. They and their families represent the women who will be affected by our votes tonight. Their fears and anxieties must be reflected by us, as their only way of expressing their fears is through us—they cannot speak for themselves or vote in this Chamber. We must not let them down.

I repeat that a vote for 24 weeks will effectively mean a 20 or 22-week limit in practice. A vote for a 22 or 20-week limit will mean a 20 or 18-week limit in practice. An 18-week limit will mean a 16 or 14-week limit in practice. Women will be denied an abortion if we vote for those reductions.

On the radio this morning the hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) said, "We will save 3,000 women from an abortion." Those 3,000 women who want an abortion will have to resort to the back streets. That is not to put it in too terrifying a way.

I appeal to hon. Members to think carefully, to vote very carefully, to use the guidance that suits them and to ensure that we come out of the horrendous evening that faces us with law that we really can live with.

Miss Widdecombe

I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the debate. I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House for the way in which he has tried to give both sides an opportunity to put their views on the amendments. Had he merely approached the votes in an ascending or descending order, as we reached some compromise mid way, one section would have said, "But our opinions were never put to the test." The fact that my right hon. and learned Friend has devised what is called the complex pendulum has at least ensured that both sides have an opportunity to put their views to the test. That is desirable and I should like to record my gratitude.

5.15 pm

The aspect that I find most worrying is that in the two opening speeches there was mention of the rights of women, individual hon. Members', rights of conscience and of their beliefs, but no mention of the unborn child. It is as though we are determined to conduct the debate by turning away from the main issue, which is at what point, if at all——

Ms. Short

It is not the main issue.

Miss Widdecombe

It is the main issue. At what point, if at all, do the rights of the unborn child prevail over those of the mother?

Ms. Short

If at all?

Miss Widdecombe

I said "if at all"—that is the main issue.

It is distressing that we have not discussed the basis on which we can decide whether a child's rights prevail. The only test that has been mentioned, and it was mentioned largely in the context of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929, is that of viability. We should look at the context in which some of us wish to move a change. There is already in our law a recognised limitation of a woman's rights over those of her child at a certain time. For example, if anything goes wrong at birth, as it did in a case of Christie Nolan, no matter how grievously handicapped the child, no matter how appalling the circumstances of the mother, no matter if the mother has recently been deserted by her partner, no matter what the awful circumstances are, at that point we recognise that the child has full human rights.

Under our current law—the 1929 Act rather than the 1967 Act—two months before that point is reached we say that the rights of the child prevail. Some hon. Members think that that is right. Some hon. Members think that the limit is too low, and some hon. Members think that it is much too high. We already have in our law a recognised limitation of the rights of the mother over the child. We must ask whether we have drawn the line in the right place or whether it needs moving. That is what the first six amendments address.

The line was set down in 1929, and it was a perfectly reasonable line to be imposed at that time. Before the 28th week there is a very low possibility of a child surviving. It needs considerable modern science and assistance to breathe and survive. In 1929, such aids were extremely rudimentary, so it was a reasonable limit at that time.

Since then, however, medical science has advanced considerably and we now have situations in which children can be kept alive very much earlier and sustain permanent survival. There are other criteria on which we would judge lower limits, but the issue is between the 22nd and the 24th week if we are talking about permanent viability, which I do not necessarily accept as a definition.

There seems to be some confusion. My hon. Friend the Minister of State has made considerable reference to 24 weeks being the point of viability. However, in a written answer to the hon. Member for Barking (Ms. Richardson) in January this year, the point of viability at which an infant could sustain survival was put at 22 weeks. Two issues are involved. First, if the Minister stands by that written answer, it makes no sense to talk about viability while in the same breath setting the limit at 24 weeks.

Secondly, laying aside the politics of this issue for a moment, the whole House wants the principle of this issue to be resolved for some time to come. Given that we can now keep children alive at 22 weeks, and given the gradual improvements and advances in technology, is it sensible to set a level above that at which the Minister has already admitted that there can be viability? If we are looking for a piece of good law——

Mr. Doran

Regardless of what the Minister may have said, I am sure that the hon. Lady is well aware that the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists made a statement at the end of last year that made it clear that although technical advances may enhance the survival rate above 24 weeks, it is unlikely that there would be any possibility of extra-uterine survival below 24 weeks.

Miss Widdecombe

We are talking not only about probability but about what happens. The Minister would not have given an answer based on something conjured out of thin air. We know that it is possible to sustain viability——

Mrs. Mahon


Miss Widdecombe

I should like to finish my point because I should like to answer the interventions of the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Doran).

Although admittedly in a small number of cases, it is possible to sustain viability below the 24th week. However, I should like to take the matter further. First, if the Minister is talking about viability, she must stick by the answer that was given by her Department. Secondly, setting a limit above that for viability does not make any sense in long-term law. Is "permanent viability" a good method? Once again, there is a clear contradiction in our laws and in the interpretation of them. I think that the Minister will accept that until recently, the words capable of being born alive in the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 were interpreted by the medical profession and the law as meaning "capable of sustaining survival". However, we have recently had the ruling of Mr. Justice Brooke, who put a different interpretation on the law and said, "No, if a child is capable"—

Mrs. Mahon


Mr. Peter Thurnham (Bolton, North-East)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Miss Widdecombe

If I may finish my point, I shall then give way to my hon. Friend for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham), if he will remind me.

Mr. Justice Brooke said, "No, the point at which a child is capable of being born alive is the point at which it can survive independently of its mother, even if only for a short period." If we take that as a definition, we are no longer talking about 22 weeks—we are talking about something substantially lower.

Mr. Thurnham

The only point on which I agree with my hon. Friend is that there is too much abortion in this country. Where I differ from her is that she feels that the solution to that problem is to send doctors to prison. It is most important that she should not mislead herself and the House by getting her facts wrong. My hon. Friend spoke about the case to which she is now referring on 27 March—it is the case of Rance v. the Mid-Downs health authority. She told the House that Mrs. Rance had asked the doctors to abort her son and to their credit the doctors refused. That is wrong because as a result of administrative delays the doctors had not told Mrs. Rance that she had a pregnancy with a handicap in the foetus. Because it was running so close to the 28-week limit, the doctors decided not to tell Mrs. Rance. Therefore, she was not in a position even to have asked for the abortion. The hon. Lady is wrong. She should therefore withraw her allegation against Mrs. Rance and not mislead herself and the House with her argument.

Miss Widdecombe

During this debate I do not think that I have mentioned the lady that the hon. Gentleman has now named. I was specifically addressing myself to the terms of Mr. Justice Brooke's ruling. The crucial issue is whether that ruling now overtakes the previously accepted definition. The particular cases to which it might be applied do not matter until we have established the principle. Furthermore, neither now nor in any previous debate can I recall talking about locking up doctors. When we have changed the law, I believe that the doctors will abide by the law and in those circumstances, I see no good reason for locking them up.

Therefore, we have a problem with the definition of "viability", and with the definition of capable of being born alive". We also have a problem about where to set any future limits. However, before turning to that, I should like to consider some of the problems that are occurring as a result of our present very muddled and in my view very bad abortion laws. At the moment——

Ms. Short

rose ——

Miss Widdecombe

I shall not give way because I should like to finish this point.

At the moment, a child in an incubator can be kept alive, loved and cherished with all the resources of medical science being devoted to saving it, while a child of identical age and identical gestation in the womb has no rights and can be destroyed. There is something wrong with a law which allows that degreee of inequity between two individuals who are exactly the same except that we can see one and we cannot see the other. That law has to be wrong. Therefore, we must bring about a situation in which there is at least equality. At present, we have a law which states that a child who is seen is protected but that a child at an identical stage who is not seen is not protected.

Perhaps the issue is not whether one can or cannot see the child. Perhaps at that stage the issue is whether the child is wanted or not wanted. If there is no objective criterion for saying that two children of identical development are different, bringing the issue down to a matter of human perception and saying, " I perceive this to be a human being because I want it" or, " I perceive this not to be a human being because I do not want it" is extremely dangerous on all ethical and social grounds, whether religious or not.

I do not want to raise the temperature of the debate by drawing difficult analogies, but there is a clear analogy to be drawn. The analogy is of racism everywhere, where one individual perceives another as less worthy of respect or less naturally possessed of rights because they are of a different colour——

Mrs. Mahon


Miss Widdecombe

I will give way in a moment. It is purely perception——

Mrs. Mahon


Miss Widdecombe

I intend to give way to the hon. Lady because I want to hear her argument. If we are defining humanity in terms of individual perceptions, wants and not wants, that is dangerous.

Mrs. Mahon

The hon. Lady is aware that any baby born prematurely needs a great deal of care and attention, so why did she vote for the National Health Service and Community Care Bill, which will take resources away from such babies, and why she has never put to the House an argument for more resources for the hospitals which cannot take care of all the premature babies born at the moment?

Miss Widdecombe

If I take interventions about other laws and other measures, I shall be wasting my time. I do not intend to be distracted from the major issue today, which is the rights of the unborn child, because of the defence of Health Service reforms which I have made in the House on many occasions.

The law states that it is an offence to destroy a child who is capable of being born alive, yet in the NHS it is permitted to administer lethal injections to babies before an abortion to ensure that they are born dead. Therefore, I ask my hon. Friend the Minister of State and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State this question. If a doctor does not believe that the child whom he is about to abort is capable of being born alive, why seek to kill it with a lethal injection in the first place? Is there any answer to that? Is it not an example of the extreme muddle of our laws? Quite apart from their ethical status, there is clearly a prize muddle.

Ms. Primarolo

Is the hon. Lady insinuating that doctors deliberately give lethal injections to foetuses so as to escape the current law that a foetus capable of being born and sustaining life after birth cannot be terminated? Is she making that accusation against the medical profession?

5.30 pm
Miss Widdecombe

I am making a straightforward statement that if a doctor believes that a child is not capable of being born alive, he has no need to give it a lethal injection, so one presumes that if he gives it a lethal injection he is trying to prevent a child capable of being born alive from being so born.

Mr. Alton

To help the hon. Lady on that point, perhaps I may inform her that today I received a letter from the Solicitor-General confirming that police investigations are being carried out into an incident described in correspondence between the Solicitor-General and us. The case involved a baby of 27½ weeks being stabbed to death through the wall of the womb with potassium chloride during so-called selective reduction. That took place in the City of London just a few weeks ago.

Miss Widdecombe

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that further information. I understand from my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Health that that case is the subject of a formal inquiry and that the House will hear more of it when that inquiry comes to a conclusion.

Ms. Short


Miss Widdecombe

I now wish to deal with a case which is established and has been the subject of affidavits, a coroner's inquiry, two debates in the House and ministerial statements. It is therefore absolutely sustainable and no detail has been left unturned. I refer to the case of the Carlisle baby.

Ms. Short

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Miss Widdecombe

I shall not give way for some time. I will take interventions later.

I wish to address myself to the case of the Carlisle baby.[Interruption.] The degree of disorder prevailing on the Opposition Benches makes me think that Opposition Members are frightened of something in the case of the Carlisle baby. There is something that they do not want to hear.

The Carlisle baby was aborted at 21 weeks' gestation. The grounds for the abortion were handicap, even though it was not certain that handicap was present. Nevertheless, under the 1967 Act the grounds were valid. It is important that hon. Members should understand that. We are talking not about some back-street abortion or something that was done improperly in the Health Service but about a supposedly legal, safe and decent abortion carried out by the NHS in Carlisle city general hospital.

That child of 21 weeks' gestation was born alive, so we may assume that the doctor had not given any lethal injection. When the child was born alive, the two nurses and the doctor on duty on the ward that night did not know what to do. They had not expected a live birth. Had it been a premature baby from an ordinary early birth, they would have known exactly what to do, but they were confused and distressed because they had expected what they would have termed a foetus and what they got was a baby which gasped and ran a pulse rate for three hours.

What distresses me about that case is that during the three hours for which that little scrap lived she was not in an incubator or in her mother's arms. She was not even—spare us—wrapped up decently in a warm cot. She was on a kidney dish in a side ward for three hours, During that time one of the nurses became so grievously distressed that she carried out a rudimentary baptism. After three hours the child was incinerated. The mother was not told that her child had lived. The child was not registered for birth, nor was she registered for death. Until one of the nurses could finally stand it no longer and took steps to make sure that the issue was brought into the public eye and before a coroner, nothing was done at Carlisle city general hospital about what happened.

I raise that case, not to introduce horror stories but to show that horror can result from our muddled laws. I repeat, had it been an ordinary birth, the doctor and nurses would have known what to do and there would have been no doubts about it. Anyone who can jeer at that case is not giving the matter the serious and humane consideration that it deserves.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

It is disputed.

Miss Widdecombe

The case, and the facts to which I have confined myself, are not disputed. If the hon. Gentleman wants proof, he can go now to the Vote Office and ask for the report of the debate on the Carlisle baby on 8 June last year, to which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Health replied. He confirmed all the facts to which I have referred. A late abortion took place and the result was to be a foetus—the language used implies that when a child is wanted it is a baby, but when it is not wanted it is a foetus—and when the result was not a foetus but a baby there was no good practice in place to cope with the situation.

National Health Service guidance says that if abortions are carried out after 20 weeks, resuscitation equipment must be available. The Secretary of State will not license private clinics to carry out abortions after the 20th week if they cannot demonstrate that resuscitation equipment is available. In that case, the limit is 20 weeks. Does that mean that although resuscitation equipment must be available at 20 weeks, it need not be used because no rights are given until 22 or 24 weeks? At 20 weeks, the mother must be offered a funeral for the baby, so some status is given to the 20-week-old unborn child. Why must resuscitation equipment be available and a funeral be offered at 20 weeks when, if amendments allowing abortion after 20 weeks are passed, we shall not safeguard the lives to which we afford those dignities? We shall have a muddled law.

Ms. Short

The hon. Lady will be aware that in some terribly distressing cases foetuses much older than t hose to which she refers are killed because the mother would otherwise die. Does she think that that should be done or not? Should the woman be allowed to die? That is my first question. Secondly, will the hon. Lady be straight with the House? Does she think that any abortion should be legal, or not? We must know where her arguments are coming from.

Miss Widdecombe

I am delighted to answer the hon. Lady's questions. I was coming to the exemptions that should be allowed. Where the life of the mother is at risk, an exemption should be made—not because I deny that in that case the life of the child is being removed, but in that case I must face a choice between two lives.

Ms. Short

So the hon. Lady is not against all abortion.

Miss Widdecombe

I never have been. I am trying to answer the question. The hon. Lady does not seem to want to hear the answer. I have said that where two lives are at stake, one cannot say that one is pro-life if one immediately condemns one of them. If there are two lives in conflict, one cannot rule out the possibility of an abortion. I do not deny that people elsewhere may be against it, but no hon. Member is against abortion to save the life of the mother.

In answer to the hon. Lady's second question, I have never concealed my position on abortion. I made it clear to the hon. Member for Barking in a late night Adjournment debate some months ago. I believe that abortion should be available only in the most exceptional circumstances, such as where the life of the mother is at risk and perhaps in one or two other rare cases. That would certainly include cases in which the child suffers from a condition such as anencephaly and would not survive anyway. In those circumstances, I believe that it is humane——

Miss Emma Nicholson (Torridge and Devon, West)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Miss Widdecombe

I will give way in a moment. In those circumstances, I believe that it is humane to allow abortion.

The fact that I am anti-abortion is scarcely a great discovery today. It has been known for some time. We are drawing a line and fighting only late abortions for exactly the same reasons as a teetotaller will join a moderate drinker to combat abuse. Those who share my views are joining others who do not share those views so as to combat the worst abuses, which are encapsulated in the Carlisle baby case. This is tremendously serious. If any hon. Member is thinking of voting for a limit above the 21st week, I repeat that such a limit would not have saved the Carlisle baby.

Miss Nicholson

May I ask my hon. Friend to comment on two of her points? I would not want her to mislead the House. The purpose of a funeral for a 20-week-old aborted baby, whether a natural or unnatural abortion, is to help the mother cope with her grief, not to award rights to the child. She says that she would allow abortion in cases of anencephaly where the child cannot live. I must tell her that anencephaly is not necessarily a cause of death. A baby born with no brain in my constituency is nearly two and I know of another who was born without a brain who has already reached nine years. How can she cope with that statement?

Miss Widdecombe

I have to cope according to the advice that in some cases the child cannot survive either the full nine months of pregnancy or birth. All I am saying is that in such a case I am confronted not with a choice between life and no life, but between no life and no life, and I do not find that particularly difficult.

Mr. David Martin (Portsmouth, South)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Miss Widdecombe

I am sorry, but I wish to make some progress because I am aware that many hon. Members wish to speak.

The second difficulty with the definition of viability arises from the percentage of children surviving prostaglandin abortions where no lethal injection is administered.

Mr. Martin

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Miss Widdecombe

I am sorry—

Mr. Martin

I have never tried to intervene in any of the hon. Lady's speeches.

The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Miss Betty Boothroyd)


Miss Widdecombe

I must ask my hon. Friend to resume his seat. It may be for the convenience of the House if I say that I have given way a great deal and now intend to make rapid progress.

It is difficult to extract from the Department of Health information on the percentage of children born alive following prostaglandin abortions. When the prostaglandin tests were being done and prostaglandins were being introduced, the medical perception, as exemplified in many articles and writings, was the danger of live births. I ask the House to note the language used. The "danger" was that of live births. Tests run in the United States on prostaglandin abortions, where no lethal injection is involved, show a survival rate of up to 8 per cent.

Will the Secretary of State come clean about the survival rate for such abortions in this country? Does he perceive it to be a problem? If there is a survival rate and if Mr. Justice Brooke's ruling is accepted—that a child capable of surviving independently of its mother for a short period is capable of being born alive—is not prostaglandin abortion in clear opposition to the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929? Could that please be taken on board when the Minister replies?

Although there has been much discussion of absolute principles, this is a case of extremely bad law being applied and not even being policed in its own right. There is precious little will in the Department to ensure that the joint workings of the 1967 Act and of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 marry well and are implemented. It refuses to address the vital questions of lethal injections, of live births during prostaglandin abortions and of children under 24 weeks who survive, all of which need to be addressed in reaching our decisions today.

The exemptions are important. I did not want to exempt all severe disability from the requirement. However, in the Committee on the Bill of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill, (Mr. Alton), we took on board what had been said on Second Reading. Many hon. Members had said that they would vote for a lower limit if and only if severe disability which could be detected by the amniocentesis test was excluded. At the end of the Second Reading debate the hon. Gentleman undertook to address the concerns of the House during further stages. On that basis he asked for, and was granted, a Second Reading. Since then we have always said that we believe in the exemption of severe handicap from whatever limits the House decides to impose, subject only to the requirements of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act.

5.45 pm

The hon. Member for Barking suggested that that was not covered in the new clause. I understand that paragraph (c), where the provision is: if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped takes that point on board. However, it does not take it on board with the safeguards that my hon. Friend the Member for Mossley Hill, my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine) and I would have wished. Although we shall support the exemption because we said that we would, we want to see the nature of the disability specified on the form, and we shall raise that again on Report.

On several occasions during the passage of his Bill, my hon. Friend the Member for Mossley Hill claimed that doctors were aborting for hare-lip and club-foot. Everyone said, "Oh, nonsense—the medical profession would not do that." Not long ago there was a great to-do in the national press because Guy's hospital advertised for mothers to come forward with children suffering from hare-lips and facial deformities to have pre-natal surgery, of which we are all in favour. They asked those mothers to come forward because they were considering abortions for those reasons. Did the Department of Health inquire whether abortions for such trivial reasons were encompassed by the 1967 Act'? No—it was allowed to pass by.

If the disability must be declared on the form, we shall be able to see the difference between spina bifida and hare-lip. That must be so. We are pledged to keep our promise to exempt severe disability, so we shall vote for that exemption today, but on Report we shall wish to return to the matter merely to ensure that the disability is severe.

Ms. Harman

Will the hon. Lady make her position clear? She referred to new clause 4(1)(c) which provides for an abortion where it is suspected that a foetus would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped. Is she saying that she will not support amendment (j), which would reduce the time limit for serious foetal abnormality to 24 weeks, when some foetal abnormalities cannot be detected? Will she vote for or against amendment (j)?

Miss Widdecombe

At present we are recommending that amendment (j) is supported. We have always said that these exemptions should be made subject to the requirements of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act. Even if the House tonight sets an 18-week limit, there will be exemptions up to that level determined by the Infant Life (Preservation) Act. We are trying to decide what that level should be. Currently it is 28 weeks, so we would say, "All right—exempt up to 28 weeks." If by any chance it comes down to 24 weeks, we would say, "Exempt up to 24 weeks." However, where there is a chance of grave permanent injury to the mother or where her life is in question, we support the emergency provisions to a much later stage.

I agree with the hon. Member for Barking that we have a complex series of amendments and we must judge each according to what has gone before. That is why I suport amendment (j). I do not do so because we want to reduce the limit artificially as I suspect that the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 will be changed tonight. We made the pledge to accept exemptions from whatever limit we decide up to that imposed by the 1929 Act as well as exemptions regarding serious risk to the mother beyond that time limit. I gave way to the hon. Member for Peckham (Ms. Harman) as I believe that new clause 4(c) deserves further consideration, but I must now make some progress.

We also pledged that we would make an exemption to the time limit for cases involving rape and incest. When we examined the clause produced by the Secretary of State we found no reference to rape or incest. We therefore asked the Secretary of State if rape or incest was covered by new clause 4. The Department informed us that it was, but when we looked at it we were not happy and therefore we have introduced specifically amendment (s). That makes the exemption specific beyond all doubt, as it is not encapsulated in some other phrase about grave physical injury. We have made the exemptions specific and we have kept faith with the House by introducing those concessions asked of us which we believe we should make.

There has been a lot of misinformation, especially in the press in recent days, and it is important to stress that severe handicap is exempted beyond our limit and up to the 1929 Act limit. Rape and incest are also exempted under the specific amendment (s).

Mr. Alton

I congratulate the hon. Lady on the clarity with which she is taking the House through this difficult series of amendments. Some Members on the Opposition Benches have recently introduced a Bill to extend abortion up to birth, but that is not the issue before the House tonight. Although many of us may have difficulties with specific exemptions and may not agree with the particular principles, the issue before the House, to which the hon. Lady has rightly drawn attention, is the upper time limit. In that respect, will she repeat her intention to seek clarification on Report about what constitutes disability, as many people outside the House will be concerned because the Carlisle baby was aborted at 21 weeks gestation with a non-inherited and in no way life-threatening skin disorder?

Miss Widdecombe

I can confirm that we shall wish on Report merely to ensure that severe disability means just that. We shall not negative any clause exempting disability, but the specific agreement reached among those of us who feel strongly about this is that that disability should be specified. I do not believe that a doctor would put down the disability as spina bifida if it was a hare-lip, so we shall obtain some control of what is going on if the disability is specified.

I have addressed myself to the complex series of amendments before the House. It is true that we may, at the end of the debate, finish up with something which needs further refinement in terms of coherence, consistency and workability.

Mr. Doran


Miss Widdecombe

I will give way, but this is the last time.

Mr. Doran

The hon. Lady has consistently used the word "we", and I am sure that she is not using it in the same way as the Prime Minister. It would be helpful to us to know who she means when she speaks of "we". Earlier this year the hon. Lady gave an interview to The Times on this subject and she was asked about the abortion amendment being added to the Bill. She said, "We shall go away for a while if the Government concede the debate." Who does "we" mean, and what does "for a while" mean? How long will it be before we discuss the issue again?

Miss Widdecombe

We are not a grandmother——

Mr. James Pawsey (Rugby and Kenilworth)


Miss Widdecombe

Nor ever, I am afraid.

I am sure that most hon. Members understand that, when I said "we", I meant that group of hon. Members who have pioneered Bills on this issue and who have talked to other hon. Members who broadly support their approach. They have forged out what is and is not accepable. I was referring to hon. Members including the Father of the House, my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point, the hon. Member for Mossley Hill, the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours), who regrettably is absent, the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy) and many others who share similar views.

As to what is meant by "for a while", how long is a piece of string? A decent interval must mean just that. We, I or anyone may go to Government again to say that the House wants to take a decision on this matter and must do so, but if we simply get into the habit of coming back with a whole load of similar or different proposals, frankly we would not deserve the trust of Government, nor would I expect to receive it. Therefore, "for a while" means a decent interval.

So far I have devoted time to the various amendments and I have spoken about 20 weeks, 22 weeks and 24 weeks. Finally I should like to consider the question of 18 weeks. That limit has not been dreamt up as some sort of arbitrary line. When the hon. Member for Mossley Hill was considering the subject of late abortions, he had to ask himself, what is a late abortion and where does it start? The figure of 18 weeks had come up in the Lane committee and it is the period beyond which growth but no further development takes place. That figure seemed to be a few weeks away from the point that medical science had reached as being able to sustain viability. Looking forward to the future, and in the desire for long-term law, 18 weeks seemed a reasonable limit.

The Second Reading of the Bill promoted by the hon. Member for Mossley Hill was marked by excellent contributions from all sides and two arguments were presented against the 18-week limit—disability and the amniocentesis test. We have conceded the argument on disability and the amniocentesis test and they have been taken out of the debate. The other arguments against the 18-week limit related to menopausal women, young girls and rape victims. We have specifically introduced an amendment relating to rape in amendment (s) because we were not satisfied with the clause introduced by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State. When we looked at the statistics relating to abortions carried out on menopausal women and young children we found that the percentages were so low—0.4 per cent. and 0.5 per cent., respectively—that that argument was not worth pursuing.

It is important to remind the House of one fact. We are told that late abortions are principally due to delays in the National Health Service. Some 50 per cent. of abortions carried out after the 18th week are done on non-resident women who come here to get around the laws in their own countries.

Ms. Short

So what?

Miss Widdecombe

The hon. Lady may think that that is all right, but it is important to remember that those women have not been subject to delays in the NHS. The 8 per cent. of abortions conducted because of severe foetal abnormality will not be affected by the proposals that we have put forward. As great a variety of reasons are presented for the remainder of late abortions as there are for those at an earlier stage.

Given that we have exempted from the limit the major consideration of disability, and given that we need a law which will last and not need to be revised on the basis of some cataclysmic advance in medical science next week or next year, I ask the House to consider seriously the 18-week limit. Beyond that, the House should go no higher than the limit of 20 weeks, at which we give the dignity of a funeral and insist that resuscitation equipment be available.

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle)

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Miss Widdecombe

We have all sorts of protection at the 20th week. If we go for the 22nd week, we are doing no more than accepting the Secretary of State's statement about where viability starts.

Mr. Martlew

Will the hon. Lady give way to the Member representing Carlisle?

Miss Widdecombe

I urge hon. Members to think hard, when they vote today, about what it is that they are talking about. We are not talking about some abstract view of women's rights, nor even about conscience or religion, but about a living mortal in the womb whom we cannot see——

Mr. Martlew

On a point of order.

Miss Widdecombe

That living mortal is there in the womb. It cannot protect itself and it deserves the protection of the House.

Several hon. Members


The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

Order. I have a point of order from the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew).

Mr. Martlew

On a point of order, Miss Boothroyd. Is it right that the hon. Lady can quote a case in my constituency at great length and not give way to me?

The Second Deputy Chairman

Whether or not she gives way is in the hands of the hon. Lady.

6 pm

Sir David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale)

It must be said in defence of the hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe)—[Interruption.]

The Second Deputy Chairman


Sir David Steel

I am trying to say a word in defence of the hon. Member for Maidstone, who today made a more moderate speech to advance her view than those which we have listened to and read about outside the House, for which we must be grateful. I have two quarrels with her, which I shall come to later. The first is that she still tries to set herself up as a medical authority, greater than others, on the time limit that the House should accept. Secondly, I would not accuse her of telling horror stories to the House, but I accuse her of telling the same horror story over and over again.

Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

It is a terrible story.

Sir David Steel

It is a terrible story, and it was a ghastly tragedy. But I do not believe that we should set the law based on the one ghastly tragedy of the Carlisle case. There is a raft of experience of the working of abortion law.

Mr. Martlew

That case has deliberately been used by the opponents of abortion. The case was a set-up. The doctor who refused treatment was a member of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. We accept that the foetus should have been put in an incubator and treated. The fact that the case has been used by the anti-abortionists is a slur on the good hospital and the good doctors in it.

The priest involved, who was not the chaplain of that hospital, received evidence about the case in confidence, and he broke that confidentiality. The organisation has used the case time and time again, despite the agony and distress that it caused to the woman involved. Does the House know that the woman was interviewed at great length by the police after the tragedy because of the actions of those involved, who exploited the case? I agree with the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) that it was a tragedy, but it has been used gratesquely by those opposed to abortion at any price, not at 18, 22 or 28 weeks, but altogether. They are using the same tactics again today.

Sir David Steel

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way in his intervention. He made a helpful point, as the local Member of Parliament, about what happened in that hospital. His intervention underlines my point that we should not base future legislation on one experience, however tragic and unhappy. We should consider the totality of experience and the working of the 1929 and 1967 legislation when coming to our decisions tonight.

I hope that the Committee will consider it reasonably appropriate that, as the promoter of the 1966 legislation, I should address myself——

Miss Widdecombe


Sir David Steel

I shall give way later, but the hon. Lady should let me get going and cover some of my points, in the hope that I can prevent unnecessary interventions.

We should survey what has happened to the practice of abortion since we changed the law in 1967. I start by reminding the House, particularly the hon. Member for Maidstone—she was not a Member of the House when we debated issues such as rape and incest and whether they should be included or excluded from the legislation—that there is nothing new in that argument. The House went over it time and again during the passage of that legislation.

More importantly, I should like to remind the House about the state of the law and the practice on abortion before 1967. We do not have the figures for abortion then, as we have since 1967. One of the stipulations of the 1967 Act was that every abortion had to be recorded and published. However, two surveys were done before 1967. I do not lay claim to their accuracy, but they were published in 1914 and 1940, and both estimated—I stress that it was only an estimate—that there were about 100,000 illegal abortions in this country. That compares with a figure, which many may feel is too high, of 182,000 in England and Wales last year.

There were high numbers of illegal abortions before 1967, and there were none of today's campaigning organisations against abortion in those days. Such organisations have campaigned only against safe, legal abortions, not the illegal ones that happened then I do not have an exact figure of abortions, but I have some accurate figures from the Department of Health that give us a clue about the picture before 1967. The number of women discharged from hospital with post-abortion sepsis in 1965 was 3,050 and in 1982, just 390—10 per cent. of the pre-1967 figure. That gives an indication of the scale of abortion going on, about which we were supposed not to know.

In the three years from 1961 to 1963, 160 women were recorded, in this country as dying as a result of abortions. In the three years from 1985 to 1987, the figure was four. How can anyone say that it has not been a major social advance to have achieved the end of the scourge of illegal abortion in Britain?

The second argument of those who want to reduce the availability of abortion is that in this country we have an exaggeratedly high rate of abortion. I accept that some other countries have lower rates of abortions than we do, but a great many countries have high rates of abortion. I objected to an hon. Lady, who is not present, so I shall not mention her name, saying in the House some weeks ago that this country was a foetal dustbin. I resent and reject such phrases, because the figures do not bear out such claims.

The rate of abortion is measured internationally by the number of abortions per 1,000 women of child-bearing age. Last year, in England and Wales, the figure was 14.8 per thousand women. In Scotland, it was 8.9. The last year for which we have total international figures is, sadly, back in 1983–84, for which the figure for England and Wales was 12.8. In France, in the same period, the figure was 14.9, in East Germany, it was 26.6, in Italy it was 19, in Denmark it was 18.4, in Sweden it was 17.7, in Poland it was 16.5, in Norway it was 15.9, in Czechoslovakia it was 34.5 and in Bulgaria—presumably because of the lack of any family planning policy—it was an appalling 61.9 per thousand.

Let us set the British figures in the context of the legal abortion rate of other European countries. In this country, we are not carrying out an excessive number of abortions, judging by international standards. It is a slur on the practice of medicine in this country to go on repeating and conveying the impression that there is an outrageous level of abortion in Britain.

I think, if I caught her words correctly, that the hon. Member for Maidstone said that 50 per cent. of late abortions were carried out on foreign women. She said that that was not due to delays in the National Health Service, and of course it is not. It stands to reason that, if people come to this country from other countries, that takes time. Presumably they have undergone processes elsewhere, and then come to this country.

In 1983, before the Spaniards changed their law, exactly 22,000 women from Spain came to this country for illegal abortions. They could not have them in Spain, and no doubt they were among the late abortion figures. Spain then changed its law, and the last figure I have, for 1988, was that that figure of 22,000 women from Spain had come down to 3,000. Figures change as other countries change their law and as the availability of abortion becomes uniformly more accessible throughout Europe.

Mr. Alton


Sir David Steel

I shall give way when I have finished this point, and my hon. Friend may feel even more inclined to interrupt when he hears my next point. One figure that inflates British abortion figures is the number of women who have to come over from both parts of Ireland—from the Republic, the figure is 3,000 and from Northern Ireland, it is 1,500.

Mr. Alton

Of those women who have children in southern and Northern Ireland, those figures represent a tiny percentage. I hope that my right hon. Friend will tell the House that women came from more than 100 different countries to the United Kingdom last year, from as far away as Mongolia and South Africa. That does not suggest a uniformity of law, but that our laws are such that they come to this country because we allow later abortions than anywhere else. Does he agree that the assurance that he gave in the 1967 debates that his legislation would not lead to abortion on demand looks absurd when, at present, one in five pregnancies end in abortion?

Sir David Steel

I shall come to that wider argument in a moment. I have never accepted that the intention of the law in Britain is to provide some sort of worldwide service. The hon. Member for Maidstone made the point that 50 per cent. of the late abortions about which people complain are performed on foreign women who come here because of the accessibility of legal abortions in this country. I do not particularly like that. I should much prefer other countries—they are doing so gradually—to reform their own abortion laws so that women there can seek redress of their difficulties in their own lands. That is a matter for those countries, not for us, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Mossley Hill knows, I have never liked the foreign trade in abortions.

What is the state of the law in other countries? It has not been mentioned much in this debate, but in previous debates opponents of the Abortion Act 1967 have repeatedly said—my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) said it again a moment ago—that we allow abortions later here than they do in other countries. That is true in some instances, but it is not the whole truth. Those who keep saying that some of our continental neighbours have upper limits of 10 or 12 weeks should quote the whole of their law. It is based on a completely different tenet: on the right of a woman to request an abortion at up to 10 or 12 weeks. If we changed our law to reflect that idea, as some hon. Members advocate, that would naturally cut out many of the delays that occur. But that is not our law; our laws are different, and we cannot compare them with those that provide obortion on request.

Our laws attempted in 1967 to strike a balance—to make a neutral statement—between the rights of the foetus and those of the woman, and left it to two doctors to judge in any given situation and in good faith whether an abortion was necessary. Hon. Members should not take bits of other people's laws and claim that, because other countries set a figure of 10 or 12 weeks, we allow abortions later than they do. Their whole systems are different. So if hon. Members want to argue for a crippling reduction in the availability of abortion here, they ought to follow through the logic and accept that early abortions should be available on request, as some would argue—although that has never been my argument.

It would be a great mistake—this is where I quarrel with the hon. Member for Maidstone—for the House to set aside the opinion of established medical bodies on the issue of setting a limit of 18 weeks. The survey published in The Lancet of 2 December 1989 showed that only 3 per cent. of members of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists favoured a reduction to 18 weeks; 75 per cent. favoured 24 weeks. The British Medical Associaton is also firmly against 18 weeks and says, correctly, that such a limit would have an inequitable and adverse effect on those most in need of having their pregnancies terminated". The representative professional committee on foetal viability, to which the Minister referred, also stressed in 1985 the harmful effects of setting the limit too low. Its report stated: late attenders are usually the women in greatest need of help—the very young and socially deprived". We are not entitled to cast aside all these opinions as though they did not matter, or to pluck out of the air a figure that we think might be better——

Miss Widdecombe

Will the right hon. Gentlemen acknowledge that in 1967 he went against a considerable body of medical opinion and presumably thought it right to do so?

6.15 pm
Sir David Steel

Certainly not; I do not accept that for a minute. I worked with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the BMA throughout the passage of the legislation——

Mr. Alton

They were opposed to it.

Sir David Steel

There were differences about bits and pieces of the legislation, but fundamentally these bodies were not opposed to it——

Mr. Alton

Yes, they were.

Sir David Steel

My hon. Friend is beginning to sound like a parrot. The fact is that they did not oppose it. They supported it throughout its passage, and they still do. That is why they study these matters and send recommendations to Members of this House. They are not asking for fundamental changes in the 1967 legislation.

There is concern about the rise in the number of abortions, particularly in the past two years. I rather share that concern, but I do not believe that any hon. Member can suddenly arrive at some correct number of abortions. How would one do that? Each case must be assessed under the law and considered on its merits. In some cases, I or other hon. Members might not agree with the doctors that an abortion should have been allowed; in other cases, we might think that they made the wrong decision, but under the law, we leave that decision to two doctors acting in good faith.

My worry about the rise in the number of abortions in the past two years relates not to the practice of the Abortion Act but to the declining standards of availability of family planning in this country. The "World in Action" television programme last night had done a survey of health authorities and found that a third of authorities in England and Wales had been reducing the numbers of family planning clinics for cash reasons. It was said that, in one area, there was a waiting list of 18 months to have vasectomies on the NHS, and there have been instances of local authorities under financial pressure reducing their subscriptions to the Family Planning Association and to Brook Advisory Clinics. Moreover, the new core curriculum in secondary schools leaves little time for non-statutory subjects such as sex education, so the picture is one of a rise in unnecessary abortions.

If this were a less male-dominated House, we should have spent less time over the years debating abortion, and far more time discussing family planning facilities. I am convinced that there is a relationship between the unhappy cuts of the past couple of years and the unfortunate increase in the number of abortions. Whether we are caricatured outside this place as pro or anti-abortion—I do not accept the labels—it should be common ground in the House that Ministers and the Department of Health should pay more attention to that relationship.

Finally, I turn to the time limit, and——

Mr. Beith

My right hon. Friend has dealt with the two-doctor provision of the 1967 legislation. He must surely recognise that, under that provision, late abortions have taken place in circumstances that he would not have contemplated as part of that legislation; and that the provision has led to a wide range of assumptions, practised by different doctors, of what reasonable circumstances for an abortion are. If he does not recognise that, he does not recognise the significance that many hon. Members attached to the assurances that he gave in 1967.

Sir David Steel

I go this far with my hon. Friend: I certainly accept that there have been cases—I hinted as much a few moments ago—in which doctors have taken decisions on abortion with which I or my hon. Friend would not have agreed, but the fact is that the onus was put on the medical profession to act in good faith.

I may have said this before, but I distinctly remember going, during the passage of the 1967 Act, to see the secretary of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists perform an operation under pre-1967 legislation. When I saw the case notes in the clinic where he was operating, I told him that I had grave doubts about whether he was acting within the law.

Of course there is room for variation in opinion. All we can say is that we have to rely on the ethics of the medical profession to act in good faith. I accept that, just as there are bad Members of Parliament and clergymen, so there are bad doctors. I regret that, and I have never denied it, but in the main the great majority of doctors are carrying out the intentions of the House as enshrined in the 1967 legislation.

I turn now to the time limits, and I should like to deal in passing with the vexed issue of the situation in Scotland. With great respect to the Minister, I thought that she was not exactly comfortable with this part of her remarks. I stand to be corrected by the Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Doran), who is a Scots lawyer, but time limits in Scotland are and always have been a happier subject, legally speaking, than they have been in England. The Infant Life (Preservation) Act does not apply in Scotland; the common law of Scotland makes child destruction a crime. Fortunately, because no time limit has ever appeared in a Scottish statute, there is a degree of flexibility there which has been helpful as medical science has developed.

There has been no need for such a great debate north of the border. I looked up the figures and found that, in 1987, there were only two abortions at over 24 weeks in Scotland. In 1988, there was only one. The issue hardly arises there. This is a peculiarly English and Welsh problem. I do not wish to enter into nationalistic considerations, but I do not understand why that should be so. The problem does not exist in the law of Scotland, and we are wise to leave well alone there.

For England and Wales, we put the provisions of the 1929 Act into the 1967 one. It is right—the Minister put the point fairly—that medical science has moved on a great deal since 1929 and it is now possible with resuscitation equipment to keep alive at least a small proportion—we should not exaggerate this—of those born between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. That is why there has been such deep consideration of the workings of the Abortion Act and the time limit by, among others, the Lane committee, which recommended a reduction to 24 weeks. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the British Medical Association, the 1985 committee to which the Minister referred and the House of Lords Select Committee all recommended 24 weeks.

A wide section of expert opinion appears to have looked into the matter very carefully, and says that there is now a case for reducing the presumption of viability from 28 to 24 weeks. Before I finish on that matter, I again reiterate a point that is widely misunderstood. The fact that there is a presumption of viability in the law at 28 weeks does not mean the reverse. There is no presumption that a foetus is not viable before 28 weeks. That is important.

It is precisely because of that, as the hon. Member for Barking (Ms. Richardson) said, that the medical profession usually allows a two-week safety margin in its judgment below the level that the law states. That is because the profession can be in danger of prosecution even if it is shown that the foetus was below the 28th week of pregnancy. There is no presumption that below that level viability does not exist.

Let us be clear that, whatever decisions we reach, if we go for 24 weeks, which I will support because I think the law should now be changed, we are in practice introducing a clinical procedure in which 22 weeks will become the limit. If we go for 22 weeks the practice will be 20 weeks and so on. That is why I am wholly opposed to 18 weeks or any lower suggestion. That is nothing but a crude attempt to stop the availability of legal abortion to certain categories of women. There is no medical justification for it.

All the expert medical bodies have told us that, whatever the advances in medical science, it will not be possible to sustain life at such a low limit, except in occasional cases such as the one that has been widely quoted, where it was suggested that a baby survived at 21 weeks. By and large, the general medical opinion is that it is not possible to get any significant number of babies to survive below the 24th week of pregnancy. That is the simple reason why I believe that that is the right term. Anything lower is simply arbitrary and designed to deny women their rights.

It is right that we should have this debate. Hon. Members have been plagued by endless pieces of mail, to put it politely. I in particular have been the target of an extraordinary resurgence of hate mail of the type that I thought I had last seen in the late 1960s. That is life. By and large, the House wishes to come to a conclusion. I shall support the new clause—with some of the amendments, because I do not think that the clause in itself is quite right. I hope that, at the end of the confusion, we will come to a decision and stick to it. There may not be another debate on abortion in this Parliament and, if there is not, the House must turn its attention to the issues of family planning and contraception facilities.

Mr. Cormack

It is a great privilege to follow the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel). I do not agree with everything that he said, but I have always admired him and he has always sought to act from the best possible motives. Although the Act that he introduced has not been the signal success that I am sure he wished it to be, no one who has paid any attention at all to this matter could accuse him of having acted for anything other than the social good of the nation as he saw it at the time. I speak with some diffidence because the last time that the House devoted a fair amount of time to abortion, I had the difficult task of chairing the Committee that examined the Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton).

Ms. Richardson

The hon. Gentleman was a good Chairman.

Mr. Cormack

I am grateful for that intervention because it was a difficult task and one had to be impartial. I hope that I was impartial throughout the sittings of the Committee. Because I chaired that Committee, for two years I have refused to make any public utterance on this subject. I did not think it right to give any sign of sympathy for one side or the other. When I chaired that Committee I learned a great deal from both sides. One of the things that I learned was that people felt passionately and, on occasions, spoke with some intolerance and misunderstanding, sometimes deliberate, of other people's opinions, which did not advance either case very much.

I shall try to explain how I see the matter and how I shall vote. First, the interests of the mother are and must be paramount. If there is any question of a mother's life being at risk, then, faced with the ghastly choice of which life is to be ended, it is important to decide that the mother's life should be preserved.

On the second matter I cannot go all the way with the Roman Catholic Church, much as I admire the courage of the statements on moral absolutes that are made frequently by the Pope. Certain categories of women must always be granted abortions. There can be no debate about cases arising from rape and incest. If a woman or a girl has been violated by a member of her own family or by anybody else and a pregnancy that was never wanted or never sought has been thrust upon her, she must have the chance to have the pregnancy terminated.

If there is evidence of severe abnormality, the family must have the opportunity to take counsel, to consider, and, if necessary, to decide that termination is the right course. In what I would loosely call certain social categories, after careful consideration it might be in the interests of other members of the family for abortion to be contemplated.

However, we are not considering with sufficient care the sanctity of life. I was in the Members' Post Office on Saturday morning when all the parcels arrived and my initial feeling was of great sympathy for the staff. When I opened my parcel I found a legitimate and graphic piece of campaigning, because nobody disputes that that is what a 20-week-old foetus looks like. [Interruption.] If somebody had been able to produce medical evidence that this was a grotesque mock-up that was totally inaccurate and grossly misleading, it would have been the most obscene piece of campaigning that anyone could indulge in. However, nobody has suggested that. When I was in the Post Office yesterday an hon. Member came in, took his parcel, opened it and threw it in the bin. I could not help thinking that this is what happens to many foetuses.

Over the past 23 years, we have developed a new attitude towards the sanctity of life which accords ill with our constant talk about the need to preserve the quality of life. I do not make the ridiculous mistake of blaming the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale for that. That would be absurd. However, I say to him and to other hon. Members that the climate that was partly—and I choose my words carefully—influenced by his Act has degenerated over the past 20 years. People who would never have contemplated abortion then, would do so now.

6.30 pm
Mrs. Mahon

If I understand the hon. Gentleman, he is suggesting that there are more abortions now because abortion is legal. Can he explain why there were 1.2 million abortions in Romania in 1989, most of them illegal? Obviously, the rich can always buy safe abortions.

Mr. Cormack

For the sake of other hon. Members, I will not be sidetracked to Romania—a country which I have just visited and which is one of the saddest places that I have ever seen. I shall not talk about the obscene antics of the Ceaucesceu regime and the actions that people were driven to during that time. I am talking about our attitude to life. I am trying to put my case with a degree of calmness and moderation—[Interruption.] I hope that the hon. Lady will accept that I understand how passionately she feels. I know that she was a member of the nursing profession and must have just as great a concern for life as I have—[Interruption.] We view these matters differently, but she must allow me to develop my speech. I hope that she will have the opportunity to make her speech later.

I was not defending back-street abortions. I understand why the right hon. Gentleman introduced his Bill—he wanted to combat a terrible social evil. The choice to have an abortion must always be traumatic, and the right hon. Gentleman wanted to introduce a Bill that would make abortion available under proper clinical conditions for those who needed it. I am suggesting that, unwittingly, his Act has helped to create a climate in which people do not have so great a regard for the sanctity of human life.

Mrs. Mahon


Mr. Cormack

I do not think that it is rubbish. This is what I mean by the intolerance that these arguments sometimes provoke. The hon. Lady cannot solve the problem or salve her conscience—or, indeed, anyone else's conscience—by shouting, "Rubbish." People now have a much less serious regard for the really important decisions of life. We must recognise that, which is why——

Ms. Mildred Gordon (Bow and Poplar)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is because mothers are concerned about the quality of life for their whole families that they have abortions? Women sometimes feel that they cannot continue with another child, so they have an abortion. The law does not make much difference to them, because history shows that, when abortion was not legal, they went to the back-street abortionists. They risked their lives and the freedom of those who helped them because of their desire to maintain the quality of life for their families.

I can count on my fingers the number of hon. Members who have carried a child to full term or who have had to face a decision on whether to have a foetus aborted. I know that it is hard for hon. Members to understand——

The Second Deputy Chairman

Order. The hon. Lady is making a speech, not an intervention. I shall do my best to call her later in the debate.

Mr. Cormack

I gave way because I know that the hon. Member for Bow and Poplar (Ms. Gordon) has strong feelings. She was on the Committee that I chaired. However, she was not here when I began my speech——

Ms. Gordon

I was.

Mr. Cormack

I was trying to be kind to the hon. Lady by suggesting that she might not have heard my earlier points. I said that there were certain social categories where abortion might be right. However, it must never be lightly entered into and the law must not make it easy for that to happen. Currently, the law makes it too easy.

On the question of how and at what point, I refer hon. Members to the model foetus that we were all sent. It showed a well formed, recognisable human body. When I intervened in my hon. Friend the Minister's speech, the substance of my question to her might not have been immediately clear. I asked how many women miscarried after 20 weeks. She said, quite honestly, that she did not know. My point, which I hoped hon. Members had understood, was that most women who carried a child up to 20 weeks went on to deliver that child. Most 20-week foetuses develop into healthy babies. That point was alluded to, very fairly, by the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale, and it needs emphasising.

It is often said that we live in a throwaway society, and we do. We are always throwing things away. We do not pay sufficient regard to our environment. When we are chided and upbraided by members of the Green party, many of us deserve it, and I do not exempt myself. However, we must not allow that throwaway mentality to extend to the most important areas of life and lead to the throwing away of life itself.

Sir David Steel

I do not deny that there is something in what the hon. Gentleman says, because the subject of abortion is now more open to discussion and, perhaps, is being treated too trivially. I hope that he will accept that there is a reverse side to the coin. It was well put to me by a friend who was a medical student at Edinburgh when I was a student there. He is now in general practice. He said that one of the effects of the 1967 legislation has been that people will come to his surgery and discuss abortion with him, whereas pre-1967 they would not have done so and he would have lost control of what was happening, and the patient might have ended up with a back-street abortion or going into a private clinic. That is the other side of the hon. Gentleman's argument.

Mr. Cormack

I entirely accept that. The right hon. Gentleman has made a fair point, and I acknowledge it. All the right is not on one side and all the wrong on the other. I know that the right hon. Gentleman is a devout and convinced Christian—so, I hope, am I. Because we are both Christians we both believe in sin and we are both sinners. Neither of us can be right all the time. I would never suggest that one must believe in no abortion if one is to be a Christian. That is nonsense. I must not refer to yesterday's debate or I shall be called to order. However, yesterday there was a tendency to polarise. In The Times yesterday there was an article by the Archbishop of York who, whatever else he might be, cannot be called anything other than a totally convinced, committed and devout Christian. He is a far better man than I am.

My beliefs make me feel that there is a less deep regard for the sanctity of human life than I would wish. I know that many people in the House and outside do not share the Christian beliefs held by the right hon. Gentleman and myself. However, we still live in a country that has an established Church——

Sir David Steel

I do not.

Mr. Cormack

The right hon. Gentleman does not, but there is an established Church in England and we still subscribe to the general Christian ethic. Many people who are not Christians also subscribe to that ethic. At the centre of that ethic must be a regard for the sanctity, the decency, the quality of human life. It is about those things that we are talking today.

Dame Jill Knight (Birmingham, Edgbaston)

Is my hon. Friend aware that, when we debated the matter in the House 23 years ago, not even the keenest advocate of the new Bill claimed that any more than 100,000 babies, at the outside, were aborted each year? We know that the figure now is well in excess of 180,000 babies a year. Is my hon. Friend aware that those statistics back up his case?

Mr. Cormack

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I am aware of that and that is why I have been trying to make the case, imperfectly I realise. Many of the things that most hon. Members would hold dear are held a little more tenuously than they were 23 years ago. I was not in the House then but I came shortly after. My hon. Friend was. One has to face the fact that marriage is no longer the central institution that it was. One has only to do some canvassing, as I did in Mid-Staffordshire recently—not that it did much good—to realise that for two people of different sex to live in the same house in different names is much more common that it was 20 years ago. One has only to consider the statistics for children born out of wedlock, or the increasingly powerful demands, which I shall not expand on at the moment because it would be out of order, from some sections of the community for women to be allowed to have children without any thought of marriage, to realise that there have been many changes.

No one could have been married for 23 years as I have—[AN HON. MEMBER: "Too long."] I hope that it is not too long; I hope that I can carry on—without realising that monogamy is not always the easiest state to sustain. The old words of the old prayer book about natural instincts being directed aright show that that has always been recognised.

We are talking about life and the quality of life and we in the House have a great duty, whatever our personal beliefs, to recognise that there is nothing more sacred than life.

Miss Emma Nicholson

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Cormack

No, I shall not give way any more. You are nodding, Miss Boothroyd, and in fairness to others, I should bring my remarks to a close. My hon. Friend may then have a chance to address the Committee.

We in the House have a great duty to sustain the concept of the sanctity of life. Whether or not we believe in the word "sanctity" is irrelevant. There is nothing more precious than a life. When two people come together and cohabit and create a third person they take on a great responsibility. The act of coming together should not be lightly entered into. The consequences of conception should not lightly be consigned to the flames, or anywhere else for that matter. Children should not be aborted, and that means killed, unless there is a paramount reason—the life of the mother, the circumstances of the conception or some overriding personal problem which can be assessed.

This evening we should tighten up the law and reduce the time limit—I shall vote for the 18-week limit—to make abortion more difficult, but not impossible. The one thing that I could never agree to is abortion on demand. That demeans everyone, most of all the person who demands. It is with that sort of thought in mind that we should conduct our debate. I hope that at the end of our proceedings, whether it is in the small hours or not, we shall have improved the law so that those with legitimate needs will have nothing to fear and those whose attitude to life is rather a casual one will have to think more seriously about the consequences of their actions.

6.45 pm
Mr. Doran

My main purpose in rising is to address the House on the uniqueness of the Scottish position, which has been ignored in all the amendments before the House. That was confirmed by the Minister's response to my intervention.

I oppose new clause 4, because I am in favour of the status quo. If the legislation were to be changed, I would want it liberalised and the Scottish position imported into the English legislation. For that reason, I shall be supporting new clause 3.

The Scottish position tends to be ignored and I am conscious that today's debate has concentrated on specific time limits. As a Scottish lawyer, that is an aspect of the English legal system which I have always found it difficult to understand. The English adherence to precedent and strict rules makes legislation complicated and forces one into the sort of debate that we have heard today.

The Scottish legal system is based on principle. The 1967 Act applies in Scotland, but the basic principle in the application of the Act is the medical decision on the viability of the foetus. When the 1967 Act came into force in Scotland, the limit of 28 weeks was accepted in exactly the same way as it was accepted in England and Wales, but it was accepted because that was the best medical view on the viability of the foetus. As medical technology has improved, so the limit has been lowered. Therefore, the effective limit in Scotland now is 24 weeks, but the limit progresses with medical technology and the ability of the medical profession to sustain the life of a viable foetus. It is on that basis that I present our principle to the House. It is much more flexible, it advances with the times and it would save us endless and interminable debates on the subject of abortion.

To illustrate how flexible the Scottish system is, it is important to consider what was happening in Scotland before the introduction of the 1967 Act. Throughout the rest of the United Kingdom abortion was illegal, but in Aberdeen, the city that I am proud to represent, National Health Service abortions were introduced by the then consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology at Aberdeen royal infirmary, Dugald Baird, who had learned his medicine in the slums of the Gorbals in Glasgow. He had seen working-class women who had produced children year after year, and many of them were worn out in their mid-30s.

With the legal authorities, Dugald Baird introduced the concept of an abortion where the pregnancy posed a risk to the health of the mother. With the procurator fiscal in Aberdeen, he devised a scheme whereby every case in which he as consultant considered that abortion was appropriate because of the risk to the health of the mother, was reported to the procurator fiscal and, if he was satisfied that an abortion was appropriate, it was carried out. The procedure was streamlined so that there were no delays, and many hundreds of abortions were carried out in Aberdeen before the introduction of the 1967 Act. That was possible because of the flexibility of the Scottish system, which declared abortion to be a crime but provided exceptions where, for example, there was a real risk to the mother's health.

The Government amendments threaten that flexibility. No consideration has been given to the uniqueness of the Scottish situation. There is no Scottish Office Minister on the Government Front Bench now, nor has there been for any of the debate—and I do not expect to see one there. There has been inadequate consultation in respect of the Scottish position. When the Minister responded to my earlier intervention during her own speech, she said that the situation in Scotland was at a loose end and that it had to be "tidied up." I hope that she views it as something more than that, and that we can return to that aspect on Report.

Sir David Steel

The hon. Member may be interested to learn that I discussed the matter with Sir Dugald Baird at the time of the Abortion Act 1967. He was much in favour of including Scotland in that statute, because during the time that he was carrying out the practice to which the hon. Gentleman referred, a particular Law Officer in Scotland wrote to him, warning in effect, "Watch it." Sir Dugald replied, "The next time that I have a case, will you come and tell me whether or not I can carry out an abortion?" He did not regard the law in quite the ideal light that the hon. Gentleman suggests.

Mr. Doran

Few doctors regard the law in the same ideal light that it is regarded by Scottish lawyers, but I take the right hon. Gentleman's point. Although I never met Dugald Baird, I know from his colleagues that his views were not quite those that I would like to present. He was not totally in favour of the 1967 Act, although he was in favour of establishing a statutory position. I am sure that he would be in favour of the operation of such a law today. Sir Dugald's colleagues recently established a trust fund in memory of the work that he did. The Minister for Health indicates surprise. Perhaps I may write asking her to make a donation to that trust, if she supports its objectives.

Although Scottish law appears to be much more liberal than that of England and Wales, as the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) mentioned, the number of late abortions performed in Scotland is very small. In 1987, there were only two abortions involving pregnancies later than 24 weeks, and only one in 1988. In 1984, the United Nations undertook a survey of abortion rates in every European country where abortion was legal. The rate in Scotland was only eight per thousand, compared with 13 per thousand in England. That bears out the point also made by the right hon. Gentleman that National Health Service family planning services are well developed in Scotland.

Aberdeen's extensive experience of providing abortions on the National Health Service provides many other examples of the way in which abortion law operates north of the border. My local hospital, Aberdeen royal infirmary, has a well organised and streamlined system that aims at avoiding late abortions. No one favours abortion. Every abortion that is performed is a tragedy, but the Aberdeen system ensures that cases that fulfil the legal criteria set by the 1967 Act are dealt with, according to the woman's wishes, at the earliest possible opportunity.

When a woman visits her general practitioner for the purpose of arranging an abortion, he is instructed not to write a letter or postcard to the appropriate consultant seeking an appointment for her but to pick up the telephone and contact a named individual. An appointment is made for the woman there and then. Bureaucratic delays are avoided and the case can be dealt with at the earliest opportunity. I am not frightened by the prospect of an 18-week limit for my own constituents in Aberdeen, although I consider it undesirable for all the other reasons that have been advanced.

In Aberdeen, the latest date effectively for an abortion to be considered is 20 weeks, because the system is streamlined and all qualifying cases are picked up at the earliest stages. Virtually all Aberdeen GPs are tuned in to the system, having worked with it for many years. Even those opposed to abortion pass cases to their partners in the same practice.

There are exceptions to the rule, but the majority of abortions are dealt with within 18 or 20 weeks. That is an excellent example of the way that the National Health Service can restrict the number of late abortions without right hon. and hon. Members having to tug at their heart strings and being the recipients of obscene items—at least, I consider them obscene—through the mail, to persuade them to take a particular view.

Even those who support the 18-week limit accept that abortions should be provided on the National Health Service. That may be to distort some of their views, but I am entitled to place that interpretation on their support for the 18-week amendment. They should also be looking for ways of removing the trauma and stress that is suffered by all women who have to endure an abortion, for whatever reason.

Ways should also be found of taking the issue away from this House and interminable debate. I asked the hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) what she meant by her statement of a few months ago that she and her supporters "would go away for a while". I do not believe for a minute that the issue will die once a decision has been made by this House. I certainly do not accept that the hon. Lady can guarantee that all those who share her view will stay in line.

We need to establish a principle that is related to the best medical practices. We should not have to debate the matter year in, year out, but should place our trust in medical practitioners and give them a legal framework within which they can operate and which the public can understand. That would bring an end to the debate, except among those who are totally opposed to the concept of abortion. We could then enter into a much more honest debate on the arguments for and against abortion, rather than have to tinker with time limits and risk the dishonesty that they might engender. For all those reasons, l support new clause 3 and shall vote against new clause 4.

Sir Bernard Braine

We can at least all agree that it is high time to legislate on this important issue. Right hon. and hon. Members who have been in this House for many years will recall repeated attempts by private Members to seek, in some cases, quite modest reforms of abortion law, who succeeded in securing substantial majorities in favour of such measures on the Floor of the House, yet were frustrated by a comparatively small minority who knew how to use our rules and regulations to prevent the House from reaching a final decision.

Whether or not one agrees with the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe)—and I do—hers was a remarkable speech, showing a great command of the subject. I listened to her with profit, and I hope that other right hon. Members, whether or not they agree with my hon. Friend, will acknowledge that hers was a remarkable performance.

Clearly, it seemed to the pro-life movement that the only way to resolve the matter once and for all was to persuade the Government of the day—in this case a Conservative Government—that embryo experimentation and abortion law reform should be incorporated in a Government Bill. The right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) will be the first to recall that the Abortion Act 1967 would not be on the statute book had the Government of the day refused time for it. I do not complain about that. I complain about subsequent Governments who did not take a similar course, although there was an overwhelming majority in the House and in the country in favour of abortion law reform. I join my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone, therefore, in congratulating the Government on facilitating this debate.

7 pm

The House has voted repeatedly to stop the scandal of late abortions and abortion on dmand, but we have been prevented from coming to a decision not by argument or reason or by a straight defeat in the Division Lobby, but by blatant filibustering, which is an open admission of defeat by the pro-abortionists. This debate, however, has been very different, precisely because those who used to use those practices know perfectly well that this is a Government Bill, that there is a time limit and that we are being given full facilities to express our views. I have listened with respect to the views advanced by those who fundamentally disagree with me. This has been a good debate for that reason, and we should thank the Government for making it possible.

We have an opportunity now to decide on a reasonable upper limit for abortions. We should take decisions tonight that will be valid for years to come. We should take decisions that bear a relationship to the present situation but, having regard to the advances in medical science, to the situation that is likely to develop in the next decade. That is why I ask hon. Members to consider very carefully which way they will vote tonight. I declare straight away that I am in favour of an upper limit of 18 weeks.

We must also recognise that we compare somewhat unfavourably in that regard, even if the Bill is enacted with the provisions that my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health has said that he is in favour of—namely, 24 weeks—with a good many countries in Europe. We are still way behind them and the details are available for hon. Members. Thus, the position in Germany and in France, to consider two of our nearest neighbours, is quite different from the position here, and it will be different again if the Bill is enacted with the recommendations made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State.

Let us consider the position in this country with regard to late abortions. In 1988, the last year for which I have figures, 183,798 abortions were performed under the Abortion Act 1967. The overwhelming majority were performed for social or non-medical reasons. Handicap was given as a ground for abortion in 3,817 cases, and only 486 abortions were performed because the mother's life was at risk.

Down the ages, it has been acknowledged—it is not challenged now—that abortion is the only surgical operation involving two lives where one must die. It has been accepted down the ages by Christian societies that, where the mother's life is in danger, it is paramount. There is no argument about that.

In 1988, only five abortions were performed to prevent grave permanent damage to the mother. Of late abortions—for the purposes of this debate, I will take those to be at 19 to 20 weeks—3,406 were performed. The total of abortions at 21 to 22 weeks was 1,983; at 23 to 24 weeks, it was 1,107; and at 25 weeks and over, there were only 23. Under the provisions of the new clause tabled by my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House, the number of lives that would be saved on 1988 figures, if the House voted for an 18-week limit, would be 5,977. If the upper limit was set at 20 weeks, that figure would be reduced to 2,914; at 22 weeks, it would be reduced to 2,027, and at 24 weeks to nil.

I was deeply moved by the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South (Mr. Cormack). This debate is about life and death. Will we be voting to save the maximum number of lives? We must consider the figures. The pro-life movement readily concedes that there are certain tragic circumstances in which an abortion is justified. We are not absolutists on the subject. However, for God's sake let us consider the figures. When hon. Members vote, they should weigh the figures very carefully.

My right hon. and learned Friend's new clause is different from the amendment introduced by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) in his Bill, in that an upper limit would apply at the end of the week that we decide upon. The new clause refers to a pregnancy which has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week". The Bill sponsored by the hon. Member for Mossley Hill set the limit at the beginning of the 18th week. I would like clarification from my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Health as to whether the words, "has not exceeded" means the end of the week in question. Perhaps that can be clarified later.

We have clear choices before us. How many lives do we want to save? That is what the debate is about. How many unborn children do we condemn to death, and how many do we save? It is clear that 24 weeks is no decision at all. That is a fudge, because it would save hardly a single life. In a written answer to the hon. Member for Barking (Ms. Richardson), my hon. Friend the Minister for Health stated that the 22nd week is considered by doctors to be the earliest time that there is the possibility of a foetus being born alive. Wait a minute. We must remember that the Abortion Act 1967 does not have an upper limit. It refers to the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929, which makes it the crime of child destruction to destroy a child capable of being born alive. The prima facie case of capability of being born alive at that time was 28 weeks.

We should note that the 1929 Act does not require a child to be born alive and to survive, which no one can determine in advance, but only to be born alive. I recall that my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone told us that Mr. Justice Brooke defined "capable of being born alive" as surviving for only a few minutes. Twenty-eight weeks was the figure agreed in 1929, but medical science has moved fast since then, and that limit is now totally out of date.

Does the Committee realise that, at this precise moment, an abortion carried out at 24 weeks is illegal and contrary to the 1929 Act if it turns out that the child could be born alive at 22 weeks? In short, a 24-week limit would put the clock back and legalise what at present is plainly illegal. Does the Committee realise that that would be the precise effect if we voted for a 24-week limit tonight?

Last December, the Daily Mail featured a delighted mother holding her baby and girl, who had been born at 22 weeks. She weighed just 20 oz. She was not only born alive, but she survived. How against that can anyone defend 24 weeks and think that he is voting for reasonable upper limit? Parliament will be enacting nonsense. A vote for 24 weeks tonight is a vote for a nonsense. When the country realises that, it will not easily forgive us. Medical science will continue to advance, and more and more babies born prematurely will survive. Surely we should legislate for the future and not for the past.

New Clause 1 does not apply a 24-week upper limit as it seems to do. I do not know whether my hon. Friends the Members for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham) and for Berkshire, East (Mr. MacKay), who tabled the new clause, are aware of that. The new clause seems to allow abortion up to birth under the exceptions stated in paragraphs (2A) (a) and (2A) (b) of the new subsections. Those exceptions could be interpreted widely and the doctors performing such exceptional abortions could stand wholly unchallenged. They would not even be subject to the 1929 Act. I therefore urge hon. Members to oppose new clause 1.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State aware of the effect of new clause 1? I am not seeking to draw my right hon. and learned Friend to his feet, and I do not expect a snap answer. The subject is too serious for that. However, I ask him to reflect on what I am saying and on whether I am right or wrong. God knows, there are moments when one prefers to be wrong. This is the moment of truth. As I said in respect of embryo research yesterday—although the vote did not reflect my advice—the buck stops here in Parliament. I ask my right hon. and learned Friend to consider arranging for a statement to be made before we vote.

It is now appropriate to describe the unborn child in the later stages of pregnancy. There have been several references to a package that hon. Members have received. I have not received one, and I am not especially in favour of such dramatic gestures. However, this is an adult House and hon. Members would not be here if they were not trusted by many of their fellow citizens. It is right to describe what we are discussing. Far from being an inanimate object and a mere clump of cells, the unborn child is sensitive to sound and touch. At 18 weeks, it is complete. All its organs are in place and what it needs between 18 weeks and birth is the correct environment in which to live and to grow.

What is the difference between an 18-week baby and a 28-week baby? It is only size and weight. The unborn child will move spontaneously, it will react to bright light shining on the uterus, and it can recognise and react to its mother's voice. In January 1980, the British Medical Journal published an article entitled, "What the Fetus Feels". In describing the reactions of a nine-week unborn child, the article said: the baby is well enough formed for him to bend his fingers round an object in the palm of his hand. In response to a touch on the sole of his foot he will curl his toes or bend his hips and knees to move away from the touching object. At 12 weeks he can close his fingers and thumb and he will open his mouth in response to pressure applied at the base of the thumb. At 11 weeks after conception the fetus starts to swallow the surrounding amniotic fluid and to pass it back into his urine. He can also produce complex facial expressions and even smile. All these movements and reactions require a high degree of sense and organisation of the various bodily functions. That is the little creature about whom we are talking—a human being not yet born, yet with all the hope and expectation of life.

When we come to vote, let us not vote for a figure. Let us remember that we are voting for the preservation of the lives of future citizens. God knows the number of those who have been sacrificed as a result of abortion since the passage of the 1967 Act. There were, of course, abortions before that Act—I am not criticising the right hon. Member for Tweeddale Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel), but since its passage, 2.5 million to 3 million children have been lost, and the overwhelming majority, if they had been allowed to be born, would have been perfectly fit and healthy.

Where would they have been today? They would have been in our schools or at universities or at work, serving their country. That should be a matter of prime concern for every man and woman inside and outside the House. When we vote, let us remember that we are not voting about figures, but about unborn children who may one day make a contribution to our national life.

7.15 pm

I want to put another crucial question to hon. Members. Can the foetus feel pain? I am sure that we are all conscious of the need to safeguard the welfare of animals. How many of us are members of one of the animal welfare societies, go to dog shows in our constituencies and are revolted by cruelty to animals? Let us ask ourselves a question. Tonight, we shall decide whether a foetus should be allowed to live or die after the 18th, 20th or 22nd week, or later. Does this little creature feel pain?

The distinguished Australian, Professor Peter McCullagh who, I am glad to say, is one of the advisers to my all-party pro-life committee, state in his 1987 book entitled "The Foetus as Transplant Donor" that the brain cells essential for consciousness of pain in the adult are present in the 10-week-old unborn child. The sensory nerve fibres transmitting pain are present even before those capable of inhibiting perception of pain. Some hon. Members have had the privilege of hearing Professor McCullagh speak to us elsewhere in this building.

A study that appeared in 1987 in Nature, a well recognised and respected journal, stated that the unborn child's sensory neurones appeared to be more sensitive than those of an adult or a new-born baby. There can be little doubt that abortion is intensely painful for the child as well as for the mother. It is a gruesome business, but I doubt whether many people outside the House—or many in the House—know exactly what is involved.

I shall describe one of the most vivid accounts I have read of a dilatation and evacuation abortion performed at 22 weeks in a London hospial. The House should know exactly what happens before we vote tonight. I quote from the book "Abortion: The Whole Story" by the well-known journalist Mary Kenny. This is her account of what she saw: First came an arm, perfectly formed, a tiny baby's hand, fingers curled. A limb was extracted. Then two limbs lay in the bowl … The intestines, brain tissue, liver, lungs came away. Last of all—the most difficult part—was the cranium. The skin was torn, and there was not much more than a skull". Who passed that account to me? It was passed to me by the organisation called Doctors Who Respect Human Life.

Many things have been said about the medical profession in the course of the debate. There has been the odd tribute here and there and people have said that the vast majority of doctors are honourable people who care for their patients, and so on. Thank God many doctors, men and women, take the view that such abortions are an obscenity and a crime that should be stopped. The quotation does not come merely from a journalist or someone who wants to tell an alarmist story.

Mrs. Maria Fyfe (Glasgow, Maryhill)

Has the right hon. Gentleman read accounts of back-street illegal abortions or what happens when women attempt to abort

themselves, with equally gruesome results, often resulting in the death of the women?

Sir Bernard Braine

Yes, I have. It has been claimed strongly since the passage of the 1967 Act that the legalisation of abortion rendered back-street abortions unnecessary. As the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale would tell the hon. Lady if he were in his place—I hope she will not shake her head in dissent before hearing my answer to her intervention—the rate of back-street abortions was on the decline before that Act came into being.

I am not arguing that there should not be effective control or that we do not have a responsibility, as a civilised society, to see that women who are in dire need and distress are cared for. Under French law, for example, a woman must be in a state of distress before an abortion can be granted. I am concerned about abortion on demand.

It is a pity that my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone is not in her place. If she had been, I would have asked if she could recall the grounds on which the Carlisle baby was aborted. Hon. Members will remember the terrible story that she told. I am not absolutely sure, but I believe that the grounds were largely trivial and that, if there had been effective control——

Dame Elaine Kellet-Bowman

It was a skin disease.

Sir Bernard Braine

I thank my hon. Friend for pointing out that it was a skin disease, which is common enough among adults, some of whom do not even know that they have it.

Miss Emma Nicholson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that 84 per cent. of all women in the United Kingdom believe that women should have the right to choose?

Sir Bernard Braine

The right to choose what?

Miss Nicholson

The right to choose their own pregnancies.

Sir Bernard Braine

In most civilised countries, there is a requirement before an abortion is permitted that the woman—who, in such circumstances, will obviously be in a state of great distress—is counselled by a doctor. There is a pause during which she is given the opportunity to consider the situation. There is at least one organisation in Britain which not only gives counselling but which, if necessary, would help a woman in that situation to bear her child.

Miss Nicholson


Sir Bernard Braine

No, I will not give way. My hon. Friend raised a trivial point—[Interruption.]—because a woman in that situation needs help. I am not saying that she should be denied help or that there are not circumstances in which abortion is not justified. I am not saying that, and have never said it. I am simply endeavouring to bring home to hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Torridge and Devon, West, what is involved in an abortion.

Ms. Short

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that she does not know?

Sir Bernard Braine

We should consider who benefits from late abortions. Who performs them? I am talking not about early but about late abortions. In a survey conducted by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists entitled, "Late Abortions", published in 1984, it was found that over 60 per cent. of very late abortions were performed, believe it or not, by just 11 private practitioners. That is killing for profit. Some would call it legalised murder.

I trust that whoever replies to the debate will say, since I am referring to 1984 figures, whether the Department of Health has investigated those 11 doctors, whether they have ever been found to have transgressed the so-called gentlemen's agreement between the Department and the clinics performing late abortions, and, even more important, whether their activities have been found to be contrary to, or in line with, the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929.

What happens in other countries, particularly in Europe? In West Germany, abortion is only allowed up to week 13 for social reasons and up to week 22 for reasons of handicap. In France, abortion is available up to the 10th week for a woman in distress, and after that only if the unborn child is handicapped or if there is serious risk to life or health. In Greece, abortion is available up to the 12th week and thereafter in limited conditions. Spanish law allows abortion up to 12 weeks for rape and up to 22 weeks for handicap. In Denmark, abortion is allowed on demand up to 12 weeks and after that on the authorisation of a special committee. The law is similar in Norway. Swedish law provides for abortion up to 18 weeks and after that only if the foetus is below the age of viability.

In terms of an upper limit, we in this country have one of the most permissive laws in Europe. That is a disgrace to our nation, with women travelling from other countries to have their abortions here.

There is a major difference between yesterday's debate and the matter that we are discussing today. On embryo research, many people honestly have doubts about when life begins. I am referring not to those who are certain about their uncertainties but to those who genuinely have doubts. But today we are concerned with the living unborn child who is capable of being born alive. Abortions carried out on such babies at 24 or 22 weeks are already illegal under the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929, which makes it an offence to destroy a child capable of being born alive.

We are dealing today, therefore, not with doubts or uncertainties but with the question whether the life of the unborn child is sacred or not. As I said in yesterday's debate, the buck stops here in the House of Commons. In my view, we have a solemn duty to protect those who cannot speak for themselves and to consider their interests when others manifestly will not.

Mr. Alton

The hon. Member for Barking (Ms. Richardson) concluded her remarks by talking about the role of irresponsible men in relation to the abortion argument. Although there are areas where she and I disagree, on that issue I agree with her. I accept that men are often the cause of women being pressurised into having abortions. That is a reason why, fundamentally, men along with women are involved in this issue.

However, abortion affects every member of the human race potentially, so this is not a question that divides men and women. It is an issue on which we are all entitled to have an opinion and about which we should show responsibility.

Ms. Richardson


Mr. Alton

Although the hon. Lady refused while she was speaking to give way to me, I happily give way to her.

Ms. Richardson

I said—I may have said it badly—that women often suffered from men who did not consider them and who made them pregnant in an irresponsible way, not necessarily pressurising them into having abortions.

Mr. Alton

I accept that, too. Men will often use their sexuality in a way that demonstrates a greater sense of machismo than it does responsibility towards their partners. At the heart of the debate about contraception and family planning, the subject raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel), is the need to recognise that when love and a sense of responsibility is removed from sexual relations, there will always be tragedy. Sometimes that can result in men trying to pressurise women into what people often perceive as the quick fix of an abortion. They believe that that will solve the problem. Rather than solving the problem, it destroys a life and has consequences for the men, women and children involved and for the medical staff.

Actions that we take in life are bound to carry consequences for us as individuals, and as we discuss this issue, we must accept our responsibility as parliamentarians in drafting the law. We must also accept that society's attitudes must change and that the massive taking of life that has occurred in the past 23 years, with the authority of the law, can never be regarded as desirable.

Mrs. Fyfe

Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that another form of irresponsibility could occur? Far from pressuring a mother to have an unwanted abortion, a father could be quite happy to let her get on with it and take no responsibility for the child. What would the hon. Gentleman advise the woman to do in those circumstances?

7.30 pm
Mr. Alton

The hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) has often put forward views on that subject, which I entirely support. Indeed, the Prime Minister has put forward views about the subject with which I agree also. Many hon. Members will agree that the man who is involved in the creation of life should be forced to take far greater responsibility for the child. Like the hon. Lady, I represent an area in an inner city with many single-parent families and many women who have been left by men. Our concern about life—we shall come to different conclusions—does not mean that we should assume that those who take my position do not also care about doing something about alleviating the distressing poverty and misery that many other people face.

I am sure that many Conservative Members share my view. I am not prepared to say that all Conservative Members are wrong and all Opposition Members right. I have never accepted that in any debate, let alone this one.

The hon. Member said that 2,000 or 3,000 women marched last night to protest against changes in the abortion law. I do not think that it comes down to a numbers count, but the hon. Lady will know that probably the biggest lobby in the life of this Parliament occurred when about 10,000 people came here just a few weeks ago to lobby their Members of Parliament sensitively over two days about this matter. For them this issue is a crucial human rights matter. For them it must be considered seriously by Parliament. On both sides of the argument many people feel deeply.

The hon. Lady also touched on a point that needs to be addressed. She said that if we draw a time limit of 20 weeks, it would really mean 18 weeks, and that 18 weeks would mean 16 weeks. Just a couple of weeks ago at the Royal Liverpool hospital I saw a scan of a baby of nine weeks and four days. I saw the computer printout on the scan of the exact gestational time. I do not accept that it is impossible to tell the point which a pregnancy has reached and, therefore, with some precision, to be able to come to conclusions about whether an abortion should be allowed.

I thank the Secretary of State for giving the House the chance tonight to vote on the amendments. Whatever the result, as a person who believes in democracy, I shall abide by it. In 1988, 296 Members torn from 10 political parties in the House—quite an achievement in itself—gave my Bill a Second Reading, by a majority of 45. It was the biggest post-world war two attendance on a Friday. We then had 30 hours in Committee, but it distressed me when we were not able to come to a conclusion on Report. We know why that was not possible—the Bill was talked out.

Given that, since 1974, every pro-life Bill that has come before the House has had a Second Reading majority, it is not acceptable to conduct our affairs on this crucial matter in that way, wherever we stand on the issue. The difference with this debate, knowing that we shall come to a conclusion tonight, is that there has been rather more tolerance and respect of each others' attitudes and beliefs in this climate than there ever is when people, whichever side of the argument they are on, try to block progress on a Bill by using the procedural tricks and devices that are open to hon. Members.

That is why, with the constitutional lacuna that clearly exists on a hybrid issue—it is neither public nor private legislation, because it was given 26 hours of Government time to make progress back in 1967—it is right that the House of Commons should be given this chance today, admittedly with a complicated series of amendments before it, to come to a conclusion on a matter about which the public and hon. Members feel deeply.

Ms. Primarolo

The hon. Gentleman made a point about not seeking to mislead the House with arguments that do not represent the truth as we best know it. He referred to identification of the date for termination and to the scan. The hon. Gentleman knows that, for fear of prosecution under the criminal law, doctors must protect themselves in some way, particularly given the pro-life zealots. Therefore, they are bound to reduce the time limit below that which is set by Parliament to protect themselves from prosecution. It is misleading to say that it is possible to pinpoint exactly and that a doctor will take that risk.

Mr. Alton

I was telling the House that just two weeks ago in the Royal Liverpool hospital I saw a foetal scan and the printout on the scan that said that the baby's gestational age was nine weeks and four days. That evidence would be perfectly acceptable in a court of law should it come to that, but I do not wish to see large-scale prosecution of anybody. I happen to believe that doctors and nurses will abide by the law as Parliament frames it. That is what we are here to do tonight.

The protagonists in the debate describe themselves as pro-choice or pro-life. I have met few people who would describe themselves as pro-abortion. I agree with the Minister, who said that every abortion—I extend that to whether it is legal or illegal—is a personal tragedy for all involved. Mostly, those who uphold the present abortion laws describe abortion as the lesser of two evils. That is the fundamental point of difference. For those of us who seek to reform the law, abortion will always be the greater of two evils. Once we accept, and I do, that after fertilisation the new person has entered the frame, it is not possible to remain indifferent to the position of the tiniest and most vulnerable member of our species. I shall never accept the argument of choice—that it is my right to choose to take another person's life. I believe that that is a modern heresy.

However sincerely the opposing views are canvassed in the debate, we shall not repeal the 1967 Act, nor do I think it likely that the House will be convinced by those such as the hon. Member for Bristol, South (Ms. Primarolo) who seeks to extend the Act to birth. I hope that, when looking at the uncoupling of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 and amendments (q) and (r), the House will give deep consideration to that point. The ILPA is a safeguard that is worth retaining, and it would be a profound mistake to uncouple the two pieces of legislation.

The present limit was not drawn in 1967. As we have heard, it is 61 years since the rule of thumb—capable of being born alive—was drawn at 28 weeks' gestation. That rule of thumb was included in the 1967 Act. That is what Parliament is being asked to vote on tonight. Is it any longer a responsible limit to sustain? That is the issue. Twenty-three years ago, let alone 61 years ago, there was no ultrasound scanning of the type that I have described, no electro-cardiograms for a foetus, and no appreciation of the complete sensory development of the unborn child or knowledge that the unborn baby feels pain—a point that was made by the right hon. Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine).

Given those quantum leaps in our knowledge, it is absurd to leave our laws in the dark ages. We have revolutionised our knowledge about the unborn child. Yesterday evening, hon. Members solemnly voted on another clause of the Bill that outlawed experimentation on the human embryo beyond two weeks' gestation. In that debate the Secretary of State said: At various stages, fresh rights are acquired. He went on to say that two weeks' gestation is a logical point beyond which it would be unwise to engage in research."—[Official Report, 23 April 1990; Vol. 171, c. 34.] Does it not strike the House as odd that, as matters stand at present, for the following 26 weeks it will remain legal to procure the abortion of that same embryo, foetus or unborn child, whom we properly say that it would be unwise to use for purposes of research or experimentation?

Not only has our knowledge of the unborn moved on apace, but we have moved hopelessly out of step with the rest of the world. As I said earlier, last year women from over 100 countries, from places as far away as Mongolia and South Africa, chose to come to this country for abortions and one third of late abortions, those after 18 weeks—in fact, 3,248 such abortions—were conducted on women from overseas. That makes the point far better than any amount of argument. Those statistics make the point that our abortion laws allow things to happen in the United Kingdom that are not allowed elsewhere.

If one looks at the rest of the European Community——

Mrs. Mahon

The hon. Gentleman is talking about women coming here from overseas. If he gets his way and the time limit for abortions is reduced to 18 weeks—or to whatever level the hon. Gentleman wants—does he recognise that British women will become somebody else's "foreign" women?

Mr. Alton

No, I do not believe that. The hon. Lady is mistaken. All over the world people are beginning to assess again their attitude towards abortion. People in this country are recognising that abortion is a destructive act; that it destroys a child and that it destroys women psychologically and physically. If the best that we can offer British women or overseas women is abortion, something is fundamentally wrong with our country.

In the rest of the European Community, social abortions are not allowed beyond an average of 12 to 14 weeks' gestation. As we talk about harmonisation of every other aspect of the law under the sun, let us be clear that the average European Community time limit for social abortion is 12 to 14 weeks' gestation. I hope that a modest change will be made tonight to reduce the time limit here to 18 weeks' gestation—I personally shall support that provision—which is a time limit that applies outside the European Community in another European country—in Sweden, hardly a country that has laws that are reactionary or damaging to women's rights.

I believe that we should make these changes because I believe that we need a system in which rights are balanced with responsibilities. Yes, exemptions will be voted upon tonight, and hon. Members will have the chance to vote on the hard cases of rape and incest; of disability and of damage to a woman's physical or mental health. In 1988, on the Second Reading of my Bill, I gave assurances that hon. Members would have the chance to vote on those questions both in Committee and on Report. I was as good as my word. We provided for that. That shows that, although I disagree on some of these issues, especially on the taking of life because of disability, I tried to move in the direction of those who hold diametrically opposed views so that we could try to reach a sensible arrangement about the upper time limits.

I refer to disability. At the outset of the passage of my Bill, a young Anglican woman, Ellen Wilkie, who had muscular dystrophy, wrote to me, giving me a great deal of encouragement. Her mother had been told that the child would have that incurable disease and Ellen wrote to say that no one was capable of saying what a disabled person would be capable of. I met Ellen and worked with her during the passage of my Bill. Sadly, she died last year at the age of 29, but in the course of her short life she had achieved a classics degree, had written poetry, presented radio and television programmes and written a biography entitled, "A Pocketful of Dynamite", which is to be published shortly.

In that book and in the many things that she said during those weeks, she kept pointing out that one cannot confuse words such as "kill" and "cure". She said that it is not our right to take life merely because that life will be disabled. She said that we should not impose quality controls on life and that eugenics is the refuge of a society that has grown uneasy with disability. Disability is a challenge to each of us. We should seek to meet it with unconditional love, care and respect, not by choosing to take the disabled person's life.

7.45 pm
Mrs. Teresa Gorman (Billericay)

Is not the point that the hon. Gentleman is making negated by the fact that that person lived and achieved so much because her mother had a choice and made her own decision? The legislation that is favoured by the hon. Gentleman and those who think like him would prevent a mother from having the right to choose.

Mr. Alton

The unborn child has no choice in these matters. Ellen had no choice in these matters. The part of the equation that troubles me the most is that unborn children have no say; if we do not speak for them here, who will?

Putting the disability issue to one side, because I know that the House is not convinced by it—I hope that it will be so convinced one day—the fact is that 98 per cent. of all abortions have nothing whatever to do with disability. Indeed, 92 per cent. of late abortions have nothing to do with disability. They involve perfectly healthy children.

Ms. Short

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the majority of conceptions are destroyed by nature? Does he not accept that that demonstrates that he has got this matter wrong and out of all proportion? The majority of conceptions are wasted and never come to term to produce a child. The hon. Gentleman should take that into account and balance his argument.

Mr. Alton

What the hon. Lady says is true, but I believe that there is a plan for each of us in our lives. We are unique human beings. We are not expendable raw material; we are all important and irreplaceable. I agree with the hon. Lady's hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy), who said yesterday that each of us is sculpted in the image of our maker. I believe that that is a truth. It may well be true that some fertilised embryos are not to come to term and that that is not part of the plan of either God or nature—depending on which one believes in—for them, but the problem for the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) and for me is that we can never know which would or might have come to full term. The difficulty is that, when one decides to take life in an abortion, one knows that that child would have come to term if we had not intervened.

Miss Widdecombe

Will the hon. Gentleman address another problem that was raised by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short), who has tended to deal with the argument in terms of numbers and who has said that, because an awful lot of unborn children, and an awful lot of embryos and an awful lot of conceptions, are wasted by nature, they do not have protection? If one were to take that argument logically, one would have to say that where nature wasted the majority of born individuals, such as in the distressing circumstances of Calcutta or the Third world. those individuals do not have natural rights. Numbers have nothing whatever to do with it; all that has anything to do with this issue is the definition of life.

Mr. Alton

The hon. Lady will not be surprised that I entirely agree with that view. The issue that is dividing the House is the point at which one believes that life begins. If one believes in the sacredness and sanctity of human life, it is unlikely that one could sanction the taking of life.

Ms. Short

The hon. Gentleman has a serious problem. If he believes that life begins at conception and that God creates life, he must believe that God has created a system in which most of the lives that are created are destroyed. As I do not think that there could be such a silly God, the hon. Gentleman's argument is flawed.

Mr. Alton

The hon. Lady may well be putting in for the job, but I would rather trust in God than in the hon. Lady. I hope that she will not take offence at my saying that.

The natural process in which some embryos are lost shows that God works in important ways——

Ms. Short

In mysterious ways.

Mr. Alton

Yes, in mysterious and in important ways. Many of the embryos that are naturally discarded might well have carried a genetic disorder. This is one of the things that deals naturally with that problem, but handicap and disability are also put in our midst as a way of challenging us. Each of us in our own way is handicapped and disabled. We might conceal some of our disabilities better than others, but there is not a single hon. Member who does not have a disability. If there were to be a perfection test on life, many of us would have to watch out. Surely the House can never sanction quality tests and perfection tests on life.

I now refer to the way in which late abortions are procured. Two principal methods are involved. The hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) referred to the method of using prostaglandins when she described the case of the Carlisle baby. That is a graphic case which illustrates the way in which our law works at present. It involved not an embryo that was discarded but a baby of 21 weeks' gestation with all its organs in place. It was thought that the baby might have a disability, so, under the disability section of the 1967 Act of my right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale, it could be aborted. What was the disability? It was a non-inherited, in no way life-threatening skin disease. At 21 weeks' gestation, the baby was aborted. It was left to struggle for life for three hours before it was placed in a black sack and incinerated. The doctors and nurses on duty could not fight to save the life of the child because it was part of an abortion.

Here we have a dilemma—that doctors cannot fight to save the life of a child at 21 weeks' gestation. The county coroner said in reply to a letter on the matter that it was in the public interest that there should be an inquest. He was overruled by the Law Officers. That was a tragedy, because it is in the public interest that such cases should be examined.

Ms. Primarolo

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Alton

If the hon. Lady will let me make some progress, I shall give way in a little while.

About 300 other babies are probably in an identical position to that of the Carlisle baby every year. In private clinics, the prostglandin method is avoided because it involves inducing labour and poisoning the baby, and it is a long drawn-out process. As we have already heard, the preferred method in private clinics is dilation and evacuation. That method involves inserting a pliers-like instrument into the uterus and crushing the baby's skull. That baby is then dismembered and removed piece by piece.

No anaesthetic is used on the child, even though, as the right hon. Member for Castle Point said, from seven weeks' gestation a baby can feel pain. In other words, the baby is writhing in agony during those procedures. Nothing short of that is true. The House must address those facts of life and death. That is what happens in late abortions by the prostaglandin and dilation and evacuation methods. That is what we sanction with the full authority of British law.

Another example of the way in which we go about abortion is selective reduction. That is one of the latest pieces of terminology to be coined. The Lancet had a letter recently from a doctor suggesting that it would be better to call it pregnancy enhancement. A few weeks ago, a baby of 27½ weeks' gestation was aborted. It was to be one of twins and the mother was told that it would suffer from a gene disorder that would leave it sterile for life. At 27½ weeks' gestation, the twin was aborted. It was done by injecting the child with potassium chloride—by stabbing it to death through the wall of the womb.

I wrote to the Law Officers about that case. I am glad that the Solicitor-General has said that there is to be an investigation into the incident. The fact that that could happen in this country is indicative of our sad state of affairs. It is also indicative that within two weeks, the other twin came early because of the trauma that it had experienced. That baby's life was put at risk and, ironically, exposed to the danger of handicap caused by premature birth, about which we heard earlier. That is an illustration of the nonsensical way in which the abortion laws are working.

Ms. Primarolo

I wish to make two points. First, returning to the Carlisle case, which is quoted continually as a horror story, the hon. Gentleman may or may not have been in the Chamber when the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew) spoke. He said that the doctor who undertook the termination was a supporter of SPUC. Presumably he was not a supporter of abortion, so there must have been a good reason for carrying it out. Secondly, we have heard many times this afternoon about the case that the hon. Gentleman has just reported. It is a horror story. The fact that the case is being investigated after an allegation has been made does not mean that the allegation is true. The hon. Gentleman should not present accusations as truth in the Committee, because it is misleading to do so.

Mr. Alton

I am grateful to the hon. Lady. I have received a letter from one of the medical staff involved that evening.

Mr. Flannery

A member of SPUC.

Mr. Alton

That member of staff is not a member of any organisation. The letter describes the details of the case of the King's college baby. I have the letter here and I have submitted it to the relevant authorities. No one doubts the authenticity of the events that are described. Although the hon. Lady says that such cases are horror stories, the truth is that what we allow in this country is horrific and barbaric. The reason why the House came to the conclusions that it did in 1967 was that it was told about some of the tragedies caused by back-street abortions. Without minimising what happens in back-street abortions, can anyone say that what we have replaced that with—the massive taking of life in the way that I have described—is an advance or progress?

The King's college baby, the Carlisle baby and the baby that I described in the dilation and evacuation at 18 weeks' gestation were 1 ft in length, pumping 50 pints of blood a day, with every one of their organs in place. They were as much a member of the human race as any person in the Chamber this evening.

Miss Widdecombe

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman a second time. A point arose that I did not want to lose and I did not know whether the hon. Gentleman would answer it. I do not want the doctor in the Carlisle baby case to be introduced into the debate. He did not start the abortion. The hon. Gentleman will confirm that the abortion was started by a consultant who went home leaving a pro-life doctor and two Catholic nurses to pick up the pieces.

Mr. Alton

I was coming to that point next. Although, to the best of my knowledge, the doctor is not a member of any organisation, I have met him and I know that he has pro-life views. That is still not a crime in this country. Life is made difficult for members of the medical profession who are pro-life. I have talked to gynaecologists, doctors and nurses who have told me of their difficulties when they try to obtain promotion in their profession. It is difficult for them unless they are prepared to participate in abortion.

I refer the House to letters that I have received from members of the medical profession who have been placed in a dilemma. One is from midwives about a live birth during an abortion at 22 weeks: As midwives we are required to register any infant that lives and breathes independently of its mother for one minute as a livebirth, irrespective of its gestation. We received into our Unit one night twins of 22 weeks gestation accompanied by their grieving father…The second one survived for 10 hours or so. However, the obstetrician in charge said, 'What fool had those babies baptised?' From his point of view they were probably abortions, especially if at the other end of the corridor he had been conducting 7-month hysterectomies that day. Another letter says: I myself nursed a baby who was judged to be between 20 and 22 weeks gestation who ten years ago made medical history by surviving. Surely we have come further in medical technology and in civilisation since then to say that these children have rights as well? Another letter from a nurse says: As an SRN I have nursed many young girls who have undergone 'termination of pregnancy'…Many of these girls I am sure will be scarred for life. Many seem to be almost innocent victims of a corrupt, greedy system. The Abortion Act is grossly misused…Our society seems to think so high-tech these days that they have lost the reality of what happens in an abortion. They are the sordid facts which people should know. Another letter says: I am a junior doctor working in the Special Care Baby Unit. In the Unit we often spend all day and night battling to save the life of just one of these babies, and last week while we were successfully allowing a baby to go home, I realised that this same child could have still been killed under the 1967 Act, if unborn. I find it incredible that in the same hospital babies can be saved in one ward and killed in the next by the same profession. That is the dilemma in which we place medical practitioners.

Recently a case came before the courts in Liverpool, which illustrates how far we have been conditioned by the thinking of the 1967 Act. A young mother eight months into pregnancy was run over on a pedestrian crossing by a drunken driver. The driver was sentenced to three months and given a £1 fine. In the court it was said that the baby did not count, yet it was eight months into gestation. That is where our attitudes and thinking have taken us.

Since 1967, some 3 million babies have been aborted, of which 184,000 were aborted last year. That is some 600 every working day. One in five pregnancies now ends in abortion. The legislators of the day—this evening we have again heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale—said that if we passed the Bill, there would be no more child abuse, every child would be wanted and it would give women new rights. Sadly, despite the sincerity of those who made the claims, many of them ring hollow today.

Tonight's votes will not stop abortions or enshrine the right to life, but they will give the Committee the chance to address an assessment of human viability made 61 years ago. I urge the House not to vote for cosmetic change. As the 24-week clause is drawn, it would not stop a single one of the 184,000 abortions last year. I hope that the House will recognise that a time limit of 18 weeks is far more compatible with what we now know about viability and humanity.

Several Hon. Members


The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir Paul Dean)

Order. It will be evident to the Committee that many hon. Members wish to speak. Unless speeches are much shorter, many will be disappointed.

8 pm

Mrs. Gorman

Since I have been a Member of the House I have sat through most of our debates on this subject and have listened, as we all do, to the elaborations in great clinical detail about abortions. I have heard the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) rehearse his emotive arguments so often and others refute all those arguments that I do not intend to spend my time going over them again.

One thing always strikes me about these debates. Although superficially we are talking about medicine, science and when, where and whether we should stop abortion, emotions and deep passions bubble up from underneath. What motivates those who persist in trying to amend a woman's right in these affairs is theology. They make no bones about it. They persistently refer to their Christianity, their Christian values and their Christian views. That is the motive which subsumes what the so-called pro-life group is up to.

Those motives form one of the deepest, most misogynous strands in human society. For centuries, theologians have equated sex with sin and celibacy with grace. They have regarded women as little more than flower pots in which future generations of children, preferably boy children, are reared. Time and again we hear people pay lip-service to a woman's rights in this, yet when it comes down to it they legislate to give priority to the rights of the foetus that she carries. Whatever time limit they come up with, whether 18 weeks or some other, their motivation is to prevent a woman from controlling her fertility.

Christianity has always speculated in clinical and almost obsessive detail about sex, from Adam and Eve to the gynaecology of the virgin birth, which could be tolerated only by an elaborate mythology which eliminated the sexual act from procreation. The doctrine of original sin cultivates in pathological detail the central facts of life of human sexuality.

It is the advance of science in providing safe, sound contraception and now termination for women, together with the early legislation that decriminalised abortion, which have produced the furious reaction from the opponents of women's sexuality. We see the screaming, spitting harridans of both sexes outside the clinics where women go for termination, trying to prevent them from going in to exercise their legal right.

Many people who have contributed to these debates continue that deeply misogynous tendency which existed in the early Church. They love to deal in sordid detail with the concept of abortion and how it happens. Yesterday they tried to shock us by sending plastic models through the post. The concept of a woman having a right to control her sexuality, let alone enjoy it, is anathema to them.

If I were to take a hand count in the House of people who believe that a woman has a right equal to a man's to enjoy her sexuality, I should probably have all hands up, but if I asked whether a woman had the right to deal with the unforeseen consequences of the overwhelming passion which consumes her, as it does a man, it would be a different story and there would be talk of social abortions—when women conceive without being properly prepared, as it is usually described. We are told by the so-called humanist preachers of the pro-life movement that in those circumstances a woman has, to all intents and purposes, sinned and must bear the consequences. They may not use that old-fashioned biblical language, but that is what they mean.

If the Pied Piper of Mossley Hill had his way, he would lead the House and the country back to the time when women were the victims of their sexuality—perpetually pregnant, physically worn down, old before their time, unable to find time to develop the other talents with which they were born and always subservient to a man and to the demands of the family. The path that the hon. Gentleman would have us go down would lead us back to those dark days when the only contraception allowed to a woman was the right to say no to her sexuality when confronted with a natural situation to which she would be inclined to respond naturally.

The products of those unfortunate conceptions are the result of a man's sexuality as much as a woman's, but the man, of course, bears no responsibility for carrying through that product. Men laugh about it. They chuckle and sneer and talking about putting a woman in the club or whatever other expression they choose to use. They like the idea that a woman has to bear the unwanted progeny of a desirable or undesirable union. The number of men in these debates who repeat remarks which are fundamentally anti-feminist, dictating to a woman what she will do with herself as a result of those circumstances, sticks in my throat.

If hon. Members think that the scenario that I am painting is melodramatic, they have only to witness the situation in Romania, where another form of dogma has denied women both contraception and abortion. There we see the tragedy of orphanages brimming over with unwanted children, women dying in large numbers because of the equivalent of back-street abortions, and rampant AIDS—the product of a perverted intercourse—from which many of the children in those orphanages are dying. That is the reality which would result from the doctrine embraced by the pro-life group.

The so-called pro-life group are not what they seem. In my view, they are pro-death—the death of women from illegal abortions or unwanted childbirth. They are also pro-death for the deformed and unviable little children who are born only to suffer and die soon after. They are pro-death for human love in families because of the stress caused by the unfortunate and sometimes tragic circumstances forced upon people as a result of the dogma embraced by the hon. Member for Mossley Hill. The pro-life group would seek to deny a woman, but not a man, the right to her biological nature, her sensuality, her sensitivity and the end result of it. That is what it is all about.

Speaking as a woman, I believe that the great majority of women in this country—and throughout history—would agree that they should have the right, as a man has, to enjoy their sexual nature, and they are grateful for the opportunity that progress and science has given them to control that nature. If the men in this House, and some of the women, are mindful to deprive women of part of their sexual nature, they should think carefully about their motivation. The scholars of the church, such as Albertus Magnus, one of the early fathers of the Catholic Church, declared that women existed simply for the sexual enjoyment of men. That attitude prevails today in judges who tell juries that women who say no do not necessarily mean it. That is the end product of such thinking.

We know that the Catholic Church wants to deny contraception and termination. We see the appalling consequences of that in the south of Ireland, where babies are dumped on beaches to drown, or left in dustbins. We even see the strength of the Catholic Church in Northern Ireland, where British women in part of the British Isles have to come to this country for a termination, so strong is the Church's influence in that part of our country. It is important to remember that things are not what they seem to be when considering this Bill.

Mr. Seamus Mallon (Newry and Armagh)

When the hon. Lady talks about Ireland, north and south, she should be reminded that there is one thing at least that unites all the Churches—their stand on this topic. Rightly or wrongly, let us be consistent and accurate rather than, in the hon. Lady's terms attributing blame to one specific Church. They all agree on this issue.

Mrs. Gorman

I am grateful for that intervention, but two wrongs do not make a right.

Ms. Short

What my hon. Friend the Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) has said is true, but in Ireland women want advice on abortion but clinics which seek to give it are illegal. People who merely seek to assist women who want information so as to make a decision can be prosecuted in the courts. The Churches may agree with one another, but not all the people who live in those countries agree with the Churches.

Mrs. Gorman

I am grateful for that intervention.

Since the enactment of the Abortion Act 1967, which granted a woman, with the advice of her medical practitioner, the right to end a pregnancy for whatever reason she deemed essential to her happiness, that of her family or the interest of the child that she is carrying, we have been bombarded by attempts to remove that right. In so doing, the House is declaring that an individual woman should not be allowed to make that most fundamental decision for herself. Often men are trying to deprive her of the right to make that decision—time and again, we have to remind ourselves of the predominance of male opinion in this Chamber—on a matter that no man ever has to face.

8.15 pm
Miss Widdecombe

The hon. Lady has said a great deal about women's rights and sexuality, but the specific issue under discussion is a woman's right over the life of her unborn child. The hon. Lady's speech is not along those lines, but where does she believe that that right begins and ends? At what point does she give the right to the child?

Mrs. Gorman

The hon. Lady questions me in clinical detail. I have already said that I do not intend to spend time on such detail, but I would not limit the right of a woman—I would leave it to the woman, her medical adviser and her family to make the decision. It should not be a political decision. I would far rather trust the woman and her medical adviser than any Members of this House who think that they should have the right to make that decision for her.

Ms. Harriet Harman (Peckham)

The hon. Lady may have noticed the snorts and derision which followed her statement that there should be no limit to the right of the woman and that the decision should be left to the woman and the medical adviser. Is the hon. Lady aware that in the Netherlands, which has much less restrictive time limits than our own and where the decision is more or less left to the woman and her medical adviser, the abortion rate is far lower than here? There are also fewer late abortions because there are good early referral systems and the family planning service has been sorted out.

Mrs. Gorman

I am gratified to know that there are countries—democracies—which have adopted a more civilised and reasonable attitude than ours.

The pro-life lobby has a perfect right to try to persuade people to its point of view, but it does not have the right to come to this Chamber time and again to try to deprive women of what has become part of their rights in this country. Persuasion is one thing, but inflicting one's views on others in such circumstances is reprehensible. I hope that those views will be rejected.

I hope that the majority of my colleagues, perforce mainly male, who do not have to bear the responsibility of an unwanted birth and pregnancy and who do not have to make such decisions, will not have the temerity, arrogance, inhumanity and insensitivity to make those decisions for women. As sure as eggs are eggs, women will continue to make such decisions for themselves—if not here, then somewhere else.

The grand illusion of the House is that one can legislate to force people into different patterns of behaviour. One can indeed suppress and repress, but that should not be our business. This is supposedly a liberal society and we should accord to the women of that society the maturity and ability to make decisions about such matters for themselves. I hope that the House will leave the legislation as it stands.

Mrs. Mahon

I entirely agree with the description of the House given by the hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) when she said that it had a strongly misogynist streak running through it. It is overwhelmingly male, and it is important to remember that fact when discussing abortion. The fact that we are debating the subject of abortion at all today is a serious abuse of parliamentary procedure. Those who tabled the amendments have ignored the majority view, which supports the 1967 Act and believes it should stay as it is, and have caved in to religious and extremist organisations such as the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and LIFE. If they were honest, they would admit that they are against all abortions.

The anti-abortionists are dishonest. They pretend to support a lowering of the time limit and to be satisfied with that when we know that they will not be satisfied. The hon. Member for Billericay was absolutely right—they represent a firmly fixed idea which involves controlling women's fertility, keeping them in their places and forcing them to have unwanted pregnancies. Conservative Members who support SPUC but also favour cuts which take away services for women, as they have recently done, are behaving in a highly hypocritical manner and clearly have double standards.

Mr. Flannery

If we had a democratic set-up, I could not imagine this debate taking place in this way. If there were a large number of women in the House, the problem would not arise in this form. I also find it alarming and vulgarly opportunist for people who are totally against abortion but will not admit it to pronounce, by their own definition, that they are willing to commit murder at 18 or 22 weeks. If that is not opportunism, I do not know what is. Those who think like that should go to confession.

Mrs. Mahon

I agree with my hon. Friend.

A report in today's press mentions reductions in family planning services. In some areas, such services have been cut by 50 per cent. We are debating restricting abortions still further when such a statistic exists and such cuts are taking place across the country. It is a disgrace to be suggesting today that abortion should be restricted still further.

Conservative Members who have spoken against all forms of abortion are the enemies of women. The same people who stand up today and talk about the sanctity of life will go through the Lobby to vote for hanging and for defence estimates involving large amounts of money to procure the weapons of mass destruction. Apparently the sanctity of life is precious when it relates to a group of undifferentiated cells, but not when it comes to frying men, women and children with nuclear weapons. I find that totally unbelievable.

Ms. Short

Moreover, 25 per cent. of the world's population go to bed hungry every night. Many are children who die because they do not get enough food. Yet Conservative Members have consistently voted for cuts in overseas aid and for changes in the international economy which have increased the number of children dying in a world which produces twice as much food as its population consumes.

Mrs. Mahon

My hon. Friend makes a telling and moving point, which is true.

Miss Widdecombe

I have made it clear throughout that my guiding principle is that of balancing a life against a life. Where there is no other life to be balanced, as in an ordinary social abortion, I want to retain the life of the unborn child. Where two lives are at issue, as in cases where the mother will otherwise die, I agree that one cannot insist on one life or the other. Without going into a great philosophical treatise, I support the death penalty because I believe that it saves lives and I support defence expenditure because I believe that the only way not to have brutal war is to be prepared against it.

Mrs. Mahon

The hon. Lady's explanation is staggering. Does she not accept that people have sometimes been hanged by mistake? Let her answer that.

Conservative Members convey the idea that abortion never happened before the 1967 Act. I said before, when I had been a Member for only a few months—I must be careful how I repeat it today because the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children made great play of it—that as a young student nurse before 1967 I had experience of back-street abortionists and what happened to women who used them. To pretend that abortion did not happen and that the 1967 Act somehow made it possible is a lie, and flies in the face of the truth. Many abortions took place before that time—mainly at weekends because women with two or three children needed their partners to look after those children while they went to the back-street abortionists. We therefore knew that we would be busy on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) is not present. He goes on and on about the Carlisle baby. I wish that he had seen the results of women forced to use the syringe and slippery elm bark method. In some cases, the bark penetrated the uterus and caused all kinds of horrendous complications. I wish that he had seen the consequences of women who took poison and those who were bowed down by childbirth and had no access to decent contraception. If people are concerned about nurses now, they should have seen some of the nurses who had to pick up the pieces then.

Another fact that I find unforgiveable is that we have evidence of what happened in Romania when a mad dictator, an insane man, decided to abolish not only abortion, but contraception. The Minister of Health in Romania estimated—records are kept there, and there is a health service—that in 1987 there were 300,000 live births and 1.2 million abortions, nearly all illegal. The rich could buy abortions, but the poor women, like those everywhere else in the world, could not. In Bucharest alone, 20,000 women were admitted to hospital in 1987 with complications following abortions because birth control was also banned. The average woman of 40 had between five and nine abortions. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) does not even want to listen to what I am saying.

Ms. Short

It is her dream society.

Mrs. Mahon

That is true.

Another shocking statistic from the Minister for Health in Bucharest is that it is estimated that one quarter of fertile women in Bucharest have been damaged by visits to back-street abortionists. I wish to make the point strongly that those women were kept in poverty, harassed continuously and denied contraception and abortion. If even the Securitate's methods could not stop women who had decided that they could not have another child, Conservative Members must be living in cloud cuckoo land to think that interfering with the 1967 Act will stop abortion here, because it will not.

Have those who seek to criminalise women here ever asked themselves why women take the decision? It is not made lightly. It is a decision that women agonise about. They do not want abortions. If we had a better Health Service in this country and, as the hon. Member for Billericay said, if there was less hypocrisy about sex, there might be no need for them. If a woman decides that she cannot go through with a pregnancy, a decision that is never reached lightly, she will have an abortion. What Conservative Members and most male Members do not understand is that the instinct telling a woman not to go through with a pregnancy is, like abortion, as old as life itself and they will not stop that instinct.

I believe firmly that women should have the right to choose. I am pro-choice—I am not particularly pro-abortion. We should be debating how to fund our National Health Service and plan our health care so that late abortions will always be unnecessary, how to organise early referrals, how to make family planning freely available and accessible to all.

I for one would be much more convinced of the genuineness of some of the arguments that we have heard today if those who advanced them spent a fraction of the time that they spend trying to criminalise women on some of the real social ills of society, and if they spent some of their energies on increasing child benefit rather than voting to freeze it. They should spend their time providing nursery places and paying for clinics and for workers to help to abolish the real crime in society—that of neglected, sexually abused children who are not wanted. I hope that the House will not interfere with the 1967 Act and that some of the men with their heavy consciences will start weighting them in favour of women and children.

8.30 pm
Rev. Ian Paisley

This debate is about the preciousness and sanctity of life, by which I mean the life of the mother as well as that of the child. I doubt whether I will be accused in this debate of being Roman Catholic. Although many hon. Members may not agree with what I say, I take the traditional Protestant line on this issue. Where I might disagree with the Roman Catholics in the House would be about the priority that I would give to the mother, whose life, I believe, must come first in all circumstances. That has always been the traditional Protestant view.

Nothing could be more important to the House than discussing this preciousness and sanctity of human life. I am well aware that all such debates raise hackles. I was very interested in the remarks of the hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman), who made a forceful and robust speech that would go down exceedingly well in parts of Northern Ireland. Perhaps when she is supporting some of her Tory friends in the coming elections she may help them stir up some fervour for their candidate, who will nevertheless lose his deposit. However, I am sure that we will welcome her to Portadown in the near future: she campaigned there in the previous European election against my Unionist colleague and myself. She did not do too well, but that is a story for another day.

We need to dwell on one question for a while tonight: should the life of the babe in the womb, at whatever stage, be protected, safeguarded and preserved? Or should it be destroyed—at times wantonly and ruthlessly? It is not enough for people to say that they do not like descriptions of what happens during an abortion; such descriptions are based on well-established facts. The most telling point that I have heard in this debate was made by the hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe), who pioneers this issue with great zeal. She said that if the baby was outside the mother's womb—say, in an incubator—and a member of the general public or of the medical profession came along and deliberately slaughtered it, such a person would be in breach of the law and would be tried for murder. Yet because the child is inside the mother's womb, we are asked to legislate tonight so that it can be slaughtered. All of us, no matter what our views, should think seriously about that.

A mother can make a decision. A woman can speak. She makes a choice about the sexual act that may bring about conception. She makes a further choice of whether to conceive a child, and so on, but the child itself has no choice. We are speaking about a child who feels, who can recognise its mother's voice, who can know pain and who is a member of the human family and has been given the unique gift of human life. We cannot get away from that. We might like to, but we should consider it seriously.

Who will plead the case of the child? That relates to the reason why some people misjudge the passion of those who feel strongly about the life of the child. They feel so because it cannot speak or make its own ideas known. Today, the hon. Member for Barking (Ms. Richardson) spoke of 3,000 women who wanted to put forward their views but were unable to come to Parliament and vote on the issue, but they could lobby their Members of Parliament and put forward their views in that way. Who will lobby for the child? Tonight we should listen to the plea of those who cannot make a plea and hear the voice of those who cannot speak. No matter how we vote at the end of the debate we should all realise that we are on solemn ground.

Mrs. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley)

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the only significant piece of medical research, done over a 21-year period in Aberdeen by the Medical Research Council, to have looked at the experience of women who had unwanted pregnancies? It discovered that a considerable proportion of the children born to mothers who did not want the pregnancies subsequently became battered children. Is not the hon. Gentleman concerned about those children, as he protests about the rights of the child?

Rev. Ian Paisley

Of course I am. Having been a minister of religion for 40 years in a very large parish with hundreds of families, I certainly know about all such tragedies. One cannot be a pastor in a large city and not know what human nature is. I certainly feel as much for such children as I do for the unborn child. It has been forcefully argued that the children who are being aborted are largely those of married women who cannot face the prospect of another member in the family, but I notice different statistics in a document from the Library, dated 19 January 1988, which deals with research into abortion. It says: 74 per cent. of abortions after 18 weeks are on single women, disproving the argument that many are on women who cannot face the prospect of another birth. We must take that into account. I assure the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) that I am concerned.

The former leader of the Liberal party, the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) said that many people did not care about back-street abortions. In my early days, all the Churches campaigned vigorously against such abortions. No one who is against legal abortion in the sense of trying to limit the number of abortions and deal with the matter of weeks and so on, could be accused of being in favour of back-street abortions. Such abortions were horrible, a curse on society. It is wrong to say that the Churches and other organisations closed their eyes to them. It may have been so in Scotland, where the right hon. Gentleman comes from, but it was not true in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Flannery

The hon. Gentleman is putting his view forcefully and honourably. Does he agree that if legal abortion is made more difficult, back-street abortions will flourish? That is the harsh reality that we have to face. Some hon. Members who are in the Chamber will not admit that they are totally against abortion, and they are the merchants who would create back-street abortions and bring them up to the level that we had in the Victorian era. That is what they are after.

Rev. Ian Paisley

I do not accept that everybody in the Chamber who will vote for a reduction in the number of weeks wants to see a return to back-street abortions. That is a blanket condemnation of decent people.

Mr. Flannery

That is what happened.

Rev. Ian Paisley

Why did it happen? I agree with Opposition Members who said that the men responsible should not have been dealt with in the way that they were. In Victorian society a man could have been a leech or a rascal, but he could move in the highest society and nobody pointed the finger at him. It was the poor woman who had to bear the brunt of his sexual appetite. I utterly condemn that, as did all the Churches. It should not be thought that the Churches closed their eyes to that.

Sir Russell Johnston (Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber)

The hon. Gentleman has wide experience as a minister in Northern Ireland and must know about many of these cases. He must also know that simply preventing things, making them illegal, is likely to make the situation worse, not better, because people will find some way around the law. That will mean looking for back-street abortionists. The present proposition simply seeks to deal with something that it is impossible to prevent, and seeks to do that in a decent, legal and reasonable fashion.

Rev. Ian Paisley

That depends on how the House votes, and the hon. Gentleman'a vote is a matter for him. I was answering a point made by his former leader and colleague, and if he reads Hansard he will understand that. I resent the picture being painted of some hon. Members closing their eyes to back-street abortions.

8.45 pm

I have experience of people who have had abortions and it has not been the answer to their problems. I know of a young man and woman in a common-law marriage. The woman became pregnant and they came to me. She said that she wanted to have an abortion. I said, "I would not advise it, but you have to make your own decision. I am totally opposed to it. You know my view." She went ahead and had the abortion and the physical impact shattered her completely. Her common-law husband had a complete breakdown and committed suicide, and that young woman has been under constant pastoral and medical care ever since. It was not the answer in her case, and we should never pretend to anybody that abortion is an answer.

I agree with the many hon. Members who have said that the present law on abortion removed from people's minds the seriousness of what they were doing when they were going for abortions. I assure hon. Ladies in the Opposition that I did not vote for cuts in the Health Service. We need better health facilities, and more money needs to be spent in that area. There is a voice that should be loud in our ears and it utters a cry for protection. It says, "Let me live." I should like to take the part of those who say that.

The Bible is the most ancient of all books and I am old fashioned enough to believe that it is the Word of God. That will come as no surprise to any hon. Member. The book of Psalms is part of the Hebrew scriptures and therefore covers Judaism and Christianity. The Psalmist said: I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. That is the most beautiful description of life and the sacredness of human life. That is why I plead with hon. Members not to take upon themselves the destruction of God's handiwork. We should not take it upon ourselves to terminate that God-breathed vitality, nor should we lift our hand against the continuance of that special sanctity.

Clearly, there are circumstances when physical and health problems must be considered. That has always been the traditional view of the Protestant Church. I emphasise the priority of the mother whose life must come first in all circumstances. In ordinary physical circumstances, when a proper and normal birth can take place, it should take place.

Scores of families in my parish would love to have children. As the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) knows, many families in Northern Ireland cannot adopt children because of the proscriptions and the scarcity of children. I have been to Romania and tried to get some children there to Northern Ireland. Scores of families would love to take unwanted children.

Ms. Gordon

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that more than half the children born with handicaps have to live out their lives in institutions and that there are no happy homes waiting for them? I wish that there were. It is not always the people who call themselves pro-life who are the first to come forward to help handicapped people and handicapped children.

Rev. Ian Paisley

I have some handicapped children in my parish and they are happy because they have love, comfort and dedication. I have often said that the best can be brought of a father and mother who have a handicapped child. However, I should not like anyone to think that those who take my view would close their eyes to other important matters. It is essential that consideration is given to all matters when it is known that a child will be very seriously handicapped. Of course there is some division on that, but I take the same view on incest and rape. I may differ from some of my colleagues on those issues, but I feel strongly about them.

The number of weeks is important. How will we decide where to set the limit? The Father of the House made an important point when he said that the Government new clause suggesting 24 weeks does nothing. Those who are somewhat worked up about the new clause need not be so because it does nothing. It will not reduce the number of children who will be slaughtered in their mothers' wombs. There is a case for setting the limit at 18 or 20 weeks.

The hon. Member for Torridge and Devon, West (Miss Nicholson) said that the only reason why a mother was offered a funeral service for her 20-week child was to soothe her feelings. It is a terrible indictment upon any Christian minister who would soothe a mother with a lie. The law recognises that child as a human being. It should not be simply dismissed as though the Church was prepared to join in some falsehood to cover up what had happened. The solace given to a mother in those circumstances must be genuine. It is not speech that calms a person—it is the pressure of a hand, the silent tear, the communication of deep feelings when one weeps with that person in his or her hardship.

I should not want anyone to think that the majority of ministers, of whatever Church, would carry on some farce over a body that was 20 weeks old just to give some false comfort to the parent. That view should not be put forward as a genuine point in any debate on this important subject.

We need seriously to consider the amendments suggesting 18 weeks and 20 weeks. I should prefer 18 weeks. The Committee will decide. We have been told tonight that some of the pro-life supporters will come back to the House time and again. That is their democratic right. The hon. Member for Billericay said that women would not abide whatever limit we set. Although we must bow to what the House decides, after the Divisions everyone is still entitled to continue to campaign for his point of view. If people can get some other House of Parliament to agree with them, that is their right. That is democracy. Surely I have the support of both sides of the House in that.

Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)

As a mere man, I am happy to be called, because I also represent women. People may say that men are making their opinions heard in the House, but they should recognise that many of those who lobby us either for or against any issue, and especially this issue, are women.

We have been lobbied at various levels. One interesting suggestion was that I should not vote tonight unless the Abortion Act 1967 is extended to Northern Ireland. I wonder whether that would be applicable to English and Welsh Members who deal with Northern Ireland issues although they do not live there. Does it, perhaps, reflect the fact that this House should not be making laws for Northern Ireland unless we are given the same rights of citizenship and representation as the remainder of the country? There are those who would even seek to limit further our representative capacity in this House. Tonight, we are representing part of this nation. We have been lobbied by people from throughout the country, both for and against the issue. I shall seek to make my comments accordingly.

I was amused by the revelation of historical perspective of the hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman). Perhaps she appeared as a libertarian or an Amazon in her presentation tonight, but the harsh reality was her quotation from a father of the early Church. He was a medievalist, and certainly could not have been a father of the Church. I regret the fact that she extended her background into the debate without giving due consideration to the arguments——

Mr. Mallon

I found the remarks of the hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) disturbing and confusing, especially as she referred to the north of Ireland and to one specific religious denomination. The hon. Gentleman has a vast knowledge of the people of the north of Ireland. Does he agree that neither he nor the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) could in any way be described as misogynistic, medievalist, Jesuitical Catholics?

Rev. Martin Smyth

I said that I regretted the fact that the hon. Member for Billericay transferred some of her background into the debate and completely misrepresented the issues. Perhaps we are misogynists—it depends on how we are viewed. Hon. Members tonight have referred to extremists. I was always taught that there were various extremes, so we must decide where we stand when calling someone else an extremist.

Ms. Short

There is no doubt when one looks at writings from the days of the early fathers of the Church that some of them are horrendous in its hatred of women, and rejection of their sexuality and any rights. That is all pre-reformation and forms part of the origins of the hon. Member's Church, as of the Catholic Church. It is part of the ancestry of the hon. Gentleman's religion and it does inform part of its Christian tradition.

9 pm

Rev. Martin Smyth

We are being asked to have a theological discussion, as the hon. Member for Billericay desired. The harsh reality is that some politicians in the House put forward their own position, and I pray to God that their position, whatever the subject matter may be, may never be immediately extended and attributed to the rest of us.

There are those in the early Church who, for their own reasons, took a particular line, but the line described tonight was certainly not one taken by the early fathers. I have no hesitation in welcoming a tradition that goes right back, particularly to those who turned to the scriptures and sought to order their lives. Calvin was one of the best quoters of the early fathers, and he did not allow himself to be misled.

One issue that has not been considered carefully enough is that, for whatever reason, pregnant women may be in a traumatic state, so that, when a medical adviser suggests that an abortion might be wise, the woman's thoughts immediately turn down that road.

Yesterday, the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mrs. Barnes) said that she had had to decide whether to go through with a pregnancy, having been advised that the child might be deformed. In the end, thank God, there was little deformity. In my pastoral experience, I have had similar experiences.

I am not, as some may be, an absolutist on abortion, but I have always found it difficult to counsel the taking of life. Therefore, I have had to consider the issues with those whom I have counselled, and stand by them. I can think of several who have decided to have an abortion and others who have decided to allow their pregnancies to go full term and, thankfully, they have never looked back, although I do not say that life has been easy for them.

I think of one young nurse who returned to Belfast from England for her confinement about a year ago, having been told that her unborn child might be deformed. She was advised to have an abortion, but she chose not to and she now has a delightful little girl, who was named Joy because of the joy that she brought to the family. Thank God again that, despite the prognosis of medical science, the handicap was not as severe as had been suggested.

That is why we must ask questions. Even with the advance of medical science, doctors, like the rest of us, make mistakes. It is not right to say that if, for example, there is a severe handicap, an abortion must automatically be considered. Therefore, I support the lowering of the time limit within which an abortion must be carried out.

It is 23 years since the 1967 Act., and 61 years since the 1929 Act. Despite the fears that some hon. Members have expressed tonight, that the matter will be brought up again next year and the year after, I suspect that it will be another 20 years before we have a debate of this nature in the House again. The way of politics is such that it is unlikely that we shall have another opportunity to come to a decision on such an issue in an open debate with a free vote.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that medical techniques are advancing so rapidly that, long before 20 years is up, we shall regard a termination within 20 weeks as ludicrous? By that time, medical techniques will he so good that a foetus will be viable much earlier than that.

Rev. Martin Smyth

I accept the hon. Lady's argument. It is the very one that I was about to come to. But no matter how fast medical science advances, I cannot imagine, with my limited knowledge of the House after eight years, that it will move with any speed to deal with the issue.

There have been advances in medical science over the past 20 years, and the House has been presented with opportunity after opportunity in the form of private Members' Bills to take them into account—but abuse of our procedures has made it impossible to do so. That is why I doubt that we shall have another opportunity to debate the matter for 20 years. I take the hon. Lady's point.

It would be wrong to let the limit remain at 24 weeks. We should look ahead and adopt the limit defined by the judge—who interprets the laws that we make—who said that life is viable after 18 weeks. The Committee now has an opportunity to go down that road.

Ms. Primarolo

If a judge pronounced that medical science is capable of developing a fertilised egg through all the stages of the embryo, separate from man or woman, does the hon. Gentleman think that that would be acceptable?

Rev. Martin Smyth

I was not making any such proposition. The hon. Lady has been long enough in politics to know that one should never answer a hypothetical question. I was speaking of a recent decision and of the prospects for medical science, and asking the Committee to consider carefully before making a decision to leave the limit at 24 weeks. I believe that it should be reduced to 20 weeks, and preferably to 18 weeks.

Part of the difficulty stems from the climate in society. The right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick. and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) compared the attitude in Scotland with that in England and Wales. There is in Scottish common law a prohibition on killing. I wonder to what degree that has influenced the opinions held in Scotland. It was pointed out by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Doran) that there have been fewer abortions in Scotland than in England and Wales since the 1967 Act. Perhaps that is a consequence of the attitudes that have grown from the 1967 Act rather than because of the Act itself. I refer to the attitude that human life is cheap, with the consequence that decisions are taken to dispose of a baby before thinking through all the consequences.

One is talking not just of the woman's choice—and one must remember that the foetus might be female. At times, the debate has resembled a contest between male and female. The tragedy is that the selective abortion techniques that are now available could be used not only to breed heirs for the Upper House but to reduce the number of women in a society that did not value them as much as our society does today.

Reference has been made to back-street abortions. Were they more horrendous in the way that they disposed of babes in the womb than the methods used by modern medical science?

Ms. Short

Yes, they were. They were much worse.

Rev. Martin Smyth

Well, I recognise the brutality of back-street abortions, but do not modern techniques also involve the battering of a babe—as described tonight by several right hon. and hon. Members? We should not allow ourselves to be conditioned in that way.

Sir Russell Johnston

What about the mother in that context?

Rev. Martin Smyth

I accept the point about the mother. However, someone talked about sticking pins into a foetus. The methods of abortion may be more refined today, but the attack on the baby is similar. I am puzzled because we do not have any hard evidence one way or the other to substantiate some of the conclusions that have been reached tonight, including the conclusion that there may be a return to back-street abortions in areas where abortion is not available. Even where abortions are available, women still take the lives of their babies or induce others to do so.

As we make laws in this House, one of our fundamental concerns must be to re-establish standards and values. I do not believe that anyone would suggest that, because people do not keep laws, we should not make them. That idea appeared in the arguments tonight. Our laws are guidelines for society.

When we consider older women who are seeking abortions, we must also consider the figures provided by the Library, which were quoted by the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley). Those figures show that a high percentage of abortions occur among single women. I wonder how far the attitude of men and of families affects younger women particularly and encourages them to take the easy way out to avoid the social scandal and stigma which still exist in our society whether we like to admit it or not. I wonder how far that attitude encourages the taking of human life when those children should be nurtured and their families and society enriched.

Mr. Andrew MacKay

It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth) even though on this occasion he knows that I fundamentally disagree with him on this important issue. The House will be aware of my close involvement with the Province of Northern Ireland. I believe that the hon. Member for Belfast, South and all other Northern Ireland Members have every right to take part in and vote in this debate even though, as the hon. Member for Belfast, South pointed out, the present legislation in my view mistakenly does not cover the Province.

I hope that the hon. Member for Belfast, South and the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) will not take it amiss if I say that when I find that all the politicians agree in the Province, I am always a little worried. This is one of those occasions when they will clearly all be in the same Lobby.

Our very serious debate has been badly let down by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, which committed a gross act of bad taste yesterday when it sent a plastic model of a 20-week foetus to virtually every Member of the House. It is already a matter of record that at least one of our secretaries who had recently had a miscarriage found the prospect of that foetus highly offensive and deeply upsetting when she opened the parcel.

I hope that all those involved in sending the foetuses are thoroughly ashamed of themselves, and I hope that Mr. Godfrey Bradman will find a better use for his money in future. The only small silver lining to the incident is that it has clearly alienated a large number of right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House who were perhaps not entirely committed to voting in this important debate. It has illustrated to many the paucity of the arguments of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and of some of the people who organise it.

9.15 pm

I wish to reiterate to the House my position on this issue. I am neither in favour nor against abortion—I am in favour of women having the chance to decide, in most circumstances, whether they should have an abortion. It is a traumatic decision for the mother and father of the potential child to conclude that there should be an abortion, but that decision is not made easier by meddling and interference by politicians. The politicising of the abortion issue is deeply regrettable. I hope that after today, if there is some sensible voting in the early hours, the issue can be put to bed once and for all.

If we follow the anti-abortion lobby and make it difficult for women to have an abortion in this country, or if we make it illegal for them to have an abortion, which is what the SPUC supporters want, it will be the worst piece of class legislation that Parliament has ever allowed. My mainly affluent, middle-class electors would still be able to obtain an abortion, whether legal or not, and would not have to go to the back streets. They have the money and the wherewithal to know where to go.

The people most affected are the most vulnerable members of society, such as the young girl who does not realise that she is pregnant until late in the day. Such a young girl may have an IQ which is not so high as it might be. She may have unhelpful parents and an unhelpful doctor, and she may find herself driven to the back streets. I do not need to emphasise, because other hon. Members have done so, the traumas and horrors of back-street abortions. Do we really want to go back to that?

The problem was well illustrated by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) and the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston) when they rightly pointed out to the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) that if we make it difficult for people to obtain abortions, abortions will still take place, but there will be increasingly large numbers of back-street abortions causing grave damage, mentally and physically, to the women on whom they are performed.

Mr. Thurnham

There is not only a problem of back-street abortion—there is the problem that the Bill threatens doctors with gaol sentences. Those who are opposed to abortion want to send doctors to prison rather than let them help women. The real problem is the million women in this country who are at risk of an unplanned pregnancy. In any year, one in three of those women becomes pregnant. Half then go through with an unplanned pregnancy and the other half go through the trauma of abortion.

Is it not better to look to the example of countries such as Holland, where there are more liberal laws, a far better awareness and understanding, and a culture which does not encourage unplanned pregnancies?

The Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Harold Walker)

Briefly, please.

Mr. Thurnham

That is the way to seek a solution to the problem.

The Chairman

Order. Interventions should be brief.

Mr. MacKay

I realise, Mr. Walker, that you will not want me to take up every point raised by my hon. Friend. Nevertheless, I thank him for his intervention. One of the more regrettable aspects of the debate has been the anti-abortion lobby's attack on many members of the medical profession. We all acknowledge that there must be some bad doctors, as there are bad members of any profession, but the slanderous attacks in this debate on various doctors and the even stronger attacks by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children have been disgraceful and do not add to its case.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham) is right to say that we should prefer to have fewer and earlier abortions. He is also right to say that doctors are concerned about breaking the law, and that seems to be the key to the voting today.

Many of my hon. Friends, and some Opposition Members, want a reduction in the time limit because of the advance of medical science. I share that view, and I am a sponsor of the Houghton Bill which would put a 24-week limit on abortions, with medical exceptions. I would have moved an amendment—it was not selected—on the Alton measure two years ago to reduce the time limit to 24 weeks, taking into account the advances in medical science.

Many hon. Members ask whether it matters whether the limit is 24 or 22 weeks. In the way in which the amendments have fallen on the Order Paper, we shall be voting on 22 weeks before a decision is taken on 24. It might be helpful, therefore, if I explain why 22 weeks would be unsatisfactory.

Most surgeons allow a four-week or, at the least, a two-week margin on their diagnosis of gestational age so as to avoid inadvertently breaking the law. Therefore, if we vote for 22 weeks tonight, in practice there will be no more abortions after 18 weeks. If we were foolish enough to follow the advice of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) and vote for 18 weeks, in practice we should be voting for 14 weeks, as the hon. Gentleman knows—that is what he wants, and he is on record as saying that he would rather there were no abortions at all.

If we vote for 24 weeks, as I encourage hon. Members to do, in practice that will be 20 or at the most 22 weeks, and we shall then have to vote for medical exceptions. Let it be clearly remembered that hon. Members who think that 22 weeks is all right should vote for 24 weeks.

Hon. Members on both sides of the argument deplore late abortions and believe that they should occur only in the most dire circumstances. With better family planning, a better educated population, and doctors who more readily refer pregnant women to abortion clinics for advice, we should have earlier abortions.

From all the talk about late abortions, one would imagine that a large number occur in Britain, but the figures for 1988, the last recorded for a full year, show that 84 per cent. of all abortions were performed at under 13 weeks and 14 per cent. between 13 and 20 weeks, leaving only 1.7 per cent. at over 20 weeks.

No woman wants or welcomes the need to terminate a pregnancy, still less to have a late abortion. Very late abortions are the most traumatic and usually the most needed. Broadly, they involve two categories who are the most vulnerable people in society. The first are those who find that they would have a severely or potentially severely or grossly handicapped child.

I have said before that I have every admiration for parents who feel that they can cope with a grossly disabled child. My wife and I took the decision twice when she was pregnant that we could not do that—that we were not sufficient people to cope with that—and if she and I had known that either of our children would be grossly handicapped or disabled, we would have sought an abortion at the first possible opportunity. I therefore believe that it is the right of parents to decide whether to have an abortion if the child would be grossly disabled. In most circumstances, that decision can only be taken quite late in pregnancy.

The second category of late pregnancies are, by and large, the young girls to whom I referred who, unfortunately, due to a lack of education are not aware that they are pregnant until late in the day. They are often scared and have no idea where to turn. They probably cannot turn to parents or family or to their local doctor. By the time they arrive at a consultant or an abortion clinic, they are very heavily pregnant and therefore need a late abortion.

Reducing the time limit for abortion below 24 weeks would penalise the two most vulnerable groups who require abortion—those who would have severely handicapped children and those, by and large young girls, who are not aware that they are pregnant. I remind the Committee that, in 1988, such late abortions represented no more than 1.7 per cent. of the total.

I take issue with hon. Members who are anti-abortion. They have perhaps been gently and inadvertently misleading in the Committee and in their press comments. They have given the impression or have trailed their coat to the effect that if we settle a 22-week limit they will go away, pack their bags and be quite happy—"We will not trouble you again. You will not have any more nasty mail from the awful SPUC people. All will be well. There will be no more ten-minute Bills and no more private Members' Bills. We will not demand more time from the Government." If we believe that, we will believe anything. It is absolutely clear that the SPUC anti-abortion lobby is against abortion in principle, and I do not begrudge that—it is a deeply held view which I respect but with which I totally disagree—but they should be honest enough to say so. They have referred to the ratchet effect—in other words, 22 weeks will be the first turn of the ratchet, moving downwards towards the aim of complete abolition.

For perfectly genuine reasons, my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) cannot be present at the moment. She told us that very story in the Sunday newspapers—"Don't worry. Vote for 22 weeks and we will all go away." Unfortunately, our hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Mrs. Winterton) let the cat out of the bag when she said, "She has no right to say that—no right at all. We shall be back." I suspect that, on this occasion, my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton is being slightly more honest with the House.

I now refer to another lady, the national director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children—one Phyllis Bowman, who, on teletext today, after the embryo research result last night, was quoted as saying, "The campaign to reverse it starts today." Does anyone honestly believe that if the vote on abortion does not go their way tonight, Mrs. Bowman and her supporters will not be saying exactly the same thing? I think not.

I strongly urge hon Members to vote for 24 weeks with medical exceptions and to look carefully at what some of my colleagues have said about whether the issue will go away. Frankly, I do not believe them.

Several Hon. Members


The Chairman of Ways and Means

I see seven hon. Members trying to catch my eye. We have roughly 60 minutes of debating time left. I hope that hon. Members will recognise the obvious arithmetic and play fair by their colleagues.

Ms. Primarolo

I shall try to be reasonably brief. To hear many hon. Members speak, one would think that only they possess a conscience and that the thousands of women who take the difficult and traumatic decision to have an abortion do not. That is a travesty of the truth and a massive insult to the women of this country, who are perfectly capable of exercising their consciences over what they do with their bodies.

If we are so concerned about abortions and about reducing the number of abortions, there is another solution that does not interfere with women's rights over their sexuality; it interferes with men's rights over theirs. That way of reducing abortions is to have men sterilised. However, that is not the proposal that we are considering—perhaps that is because most hon. Members are men. I would not support such a proposal because I do not think that we have any more right to interfere in men's sexuality than we have a right to interfere in women's sexuality.

9.30 pm

It is interesting that it has been alleged, by implication, that women do not have consciences because we have abortions and we therefore have little regard for life. It is suggested that the lowering of the standard of the sanctity of life has been brought about by women exercising our rights to have abortions. It has also been implied that women are baby machines and that we have no rights over our bodies because of our sexuality and our biology. That view has to be refuted in the House. Women must say—hon. Members who are women must say—that we have consciences and that we exercise them daily as women and that women exercise their consciences when making choices about abortion. We do not need the men in the Chamber to borrow our consciences for us and to take that decision.

As a Parliament, we need to say whether we agree with the legal right to abortion. The debate would be a lot clearer and a lot more honest if it was about whether we agreed with that right to legal abortion. The time limit question is not relevant to the debate. The medical decision and the woman's decision are what is relevant. What is relevant is that it is against the law to terminate a pregnancy where the foetus is viable.

There is no upper time limit in Scotland, yet women in Scotland do not have less sense of responsibility or better consciences than the women in England and Wales when they exercise difficult choices about access to abortion. Whether or not a time limit exists is irrelevant.

Much play has been made about late abortions. The hon. Member for Berkshire, East (Mr. MacKay) pointed out that only a tiny proportion of abortions are late abortions. We need to remind ourselves of some of the circumstances in which very late abortions—post-24 week abortions—occur. I shall give just two brief examples. The first relates to a young woman who went to see her doctor when she was two weeks pregnant. She did not know that her doctor was an anti-abortionist. The doctor was a man and he did not declare his conscience. By the time that young woman finally managed to get through the bureaucracy and to have the abortion that she had sought at two weeks, she was 22 weeks pregnant. That happened through no fault of her own. Hon. Members who claim the sanctity of their consciences are seeking to impose constraints on the life of such young women because of delays that are no fault of their own.

My second example is that of a woman who took part in a television programme on abortion in which I, too, participated. She was a woman in her mid to late thirties. She and her husband desperately wanted a child. She had suffered 10 years of infertility. At 27 weeks into the pregnancy of a much-wanted child, it was discovered, even though all the tests had been done, that the baby was suffering from spina bifida of the upper spine. She was paralysed from the neck down, had only one kidney, a deformed chest cavity and no urinary system. That child was not capable of sustaining life separately from the mother. The time limit meant that that woman was forced to make a decision quickly about what was best for her child and for her. Without an upper time limit, the condition of that unborn foetus would give grounds for termination. But if we move the time limit it may not.

Not only Christians have a conscience and value life and the quality of life. Those of us who do not quote the Bible and are not Christians do not value life any the less. Many of us value the lives of the women who live now and struggle with inadequate and ever-decreasing family planning centres and related advice, and the fact that for many of us contraception is unsafe and threatens our health.

We need the right to access to abortion within the law as it is currently stated. We do not say that lightly or without using our consciences, but on the basis of what is best for our lives and those of others. it is appalling that hon. Members should insinuate or say directly that women do not live by those principles and do not have those basic understandings. We have heard slurs against doctors and accusations about their practices. The courts have been quoted in favour of deciding what the upper time limit should be and quoted the other way in the case of the woman run over on a zebra crossing when she was seven months pregnant.

Parliament must decide whether it agrees to legal abortion. If we do, who are the best people to decide on those abortions? It is the women and the doctors whom they consult. To terminate a viable foetus is against the law. That will not be changed. I support new clause 3 in my name, which proposes that the law in Scotland be adopted to create the same law in England and Wales so that there will be no upper time limit. Abortion is a medical decision and a woman's choice. We should examine the abortion law and recognise that, of course, abortion is not a legitimate form of contraception. It is a desperate measure for desperate situations. We must make sure that women have speedy, quick, efficient and safe access to legal abortion.

With, perhaps, a few exceptions, hon. Members are not medically qualified. They are not consultants and they are not the best people to make medical decisions. We should recognise that. We should not attempt to play God and impose our consciences on others. We should create an environment where women can excercise their consciences safely and legally.

Mrs. Audrey Wise (Preston)

Has my hon. Friend also considered the difficult legal cases and controversies which may well result if time limits become restrictive, because it is not possible to prove beyond doubt when a pregnancy commences? It cannot be done by scans. Doctors do not always agree with their patients or believe them. Who will decide beyond all doubt when the pregnancy started? That is not necessary now because of the flexibility in the time limits. Has my hon. Friend considered that problem?

Ms. Primarolo

It makes my blood run cold to think that the courts may make that decision with such ill-qualified judges as the one who recently said in a rape trial that women did not know their mind when refusing sexual intercourse and that sometimes no meant yes. Presumably the courts would tell women that the women did not know when pregnancy started.

Women in Bristol feel strongly, as do all women, about the right which Parliament seeks to take from us. A large petition was collected in Bristol where the women have a clear view on this issue. The 1967 Act is working as well as it can within the definitions for controlling legal abortion. Abortions beyond 24 weeks are not conducted without grave reason. It is a travesty of the truth for hon. Members to read out horror stories and describe most horrific events to frighten Members of Parliament into an ill-judged, incorrect decision.

I hope that hon. Members will vote not to amend the 1967 Act, but to leave it as it is. If they want to improve it, they should vote for new clause 3 which removes all time limits and leaves the decision to the women and the doctors.

Several Hon. Members


The Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. I shall have another stab at my simple arithmetic. Seven hon. Members wish to speak and there are 49 minutes left, which is seven apiece.

Miss Emma Nicholson

It may seem to the House that we have already discussed every facet of abortion law tonight, but there is a new form of thinking to which we should address ourselves, which is more rigorous thinking about the whole Abortion Act 1967.

Tonight we have been placating our consciences by concentrating our attention, as always, on the upper time limit. That argument is close to the medieval debate on how many angels can dance on the point of a pin. In the same way, there is no real-life answer. On the other hand, if we look carefully at the worries that are troubling people outside the House, we might reach a rational and wholly different solution.

Although this is the tenth debate on this subject in 16 years, I do not think that there will not be another debate in a short time, because we shall not reach a practical solution tonight. I draw the attention of the Committee to new clause 5. Although we shall not vote on it, I feel strongly that hon. Members should consider it carefully to see whether it strikes a more realistic chord.

New clause 5 starts from the premise that we should separate social abortions from other abortions. After all, social abortions and other abortions are sought for two wholly different reasons. The hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) talked of identical babies whose only difference at 20 weeks was that one was visible and the other invisible to the naked eye. That is not true because the baby invisible to the naked eye may be hideously deformed and if born and brought to life, may face a future of unimaginable suffering. It may be visible to the naked eye through modern machinery and perhaps it can be kept alive, despite its wretched existence, for many years.

Earlier I mentioned the case of a child born with no brain who has now reached the age of nine. In nobody's terms can that child be considered to have a life since the essence of human life is the brain. Abortions for medical reasons represent a different style of need to those abortions on what are broadly termed social grounds.

9.45 pm

The Committee should step away immediately from the fiction that the 1967 Act does not provide abortions on request—of course it does. The woman requests that abortion. Abortion on demand is just a more fearful way of describing abortion on request. General practitioners in my constituency and elsewhere tell me that it is virtually impossible for a doctor to refuse an abortion under the workings of the 1967 Act. However, the Act places a succession of minor hurdles in the way of the pregnant mother trying to obtain an abortion. I know of a good example of that. I hope that I will not fall into the same trap as many other hon. Members tonight who have taken extreme examples and used them to support a generality. My example is a straight, middle-of-the-road one.

A girl in the village next door to mine became pregnant. She was single and 18 and the boy who had made her pregnant did not marry her, nor did he want to. She started to seek an abortion at five weeks after she had missed her period. The general practitioner in that particular village is not sympathetic to abortions. She had no car and the rural bus service is appalling. In addition, the two general practices in the nearby market town are full. By the time she obtained two signatures, her pregnancy was visible to everyone in the village. Her credibility was wrecked, and more to the point for the purposes of this debate, it was 18 weeks before she got that abortion. That is the price paid by that woman for us salving our consciences here by pretending that we do not have abortion on demand. We do, but we draw it out in a cruel and lengthy way.

It is my view—I recognise the problem that it will cause to members of the Catholic Church whose views I recognise and honour, though I do not share—that up to 12 weeks the mother's wish, in conjunction with her general practitioner's decision, should be sufficient to allow her an abortion. Why should she have her GP's agreement? Solely so that society can satisfy itself that she is not using the medical profession as a source of late contraception. We should remember that this should not be a debate on the funding of the National Health Service since more than half of abortions are not carried out by the NHS. I am talking about the use of medical resources.

It is worth reminding hon. Members that the population of reproductive age in the United Kingdom are rapidly diminishing; they have become a significant minority. I believe that their quality of life and rights must be protected. Similarly, the mother's family, her life and her future must come first.

It is interesting to compare my proposal with the practice in the remainder of Europe, Scandinavia and north America. In this regard my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine) was in some confusion. He told us quite correctly that in terms of late abortions after 12 or 13 weeks we scored badly with the rest of Europe, Scandinavia and north America. He omitted to tell the House, however, that since 1975 in France abortions up to 12 weeks have been available on demand and the same is true in Sweden.

Incidentally, once abortion was made available on demand in Sweden, up to 18 weeks, 95 per cent. of abortions since then have been carried out pre-13 weeks. If one eases up the bureaucracy at the beginning women have abortions earlier and that must be to the benefit of the NHS, the private health service and the mother. That is the time limit—about 12 weeks—around which most debates take place in other civilised countries. Beyond that time limit there must be specific criteria and a consultant's judgment should be required.

Therefore, I propose that, for up to 12 weeks, the judgment of the woman's own GP should be sufficient. That would hasten abortions and provide a large economy of private emotion, and private and public money, and take out of the debate about the upper limit the simple social ground of abortion.

It becomes harder and harder for hon. Members to justify later abortions on purely social grounds. It will never become harder to say, unless one is a Catholic, when it is wholly understandable, that between 12 and 24 weeks, when grotesque deformities occur, abortion should not take place. I believe that it should. I have therefore listed a range of exceptions, including significant handicaps, the mother's severe disability, whether mental or physical, and the classic exceptions of rape, incest and under-age pregnancy. Between 12 and 24 weeks, such exceptions should suffice.

The pro-life group's calling card rests on its validation of the over-arching importance of life, but is that really so? Would some of those babies wish to be born alive had they the ability to tell us? In sone of those circumstances, I do not believe that life is such a gift if abominable handicaps and pain are to be the new child's predestined future. On those grounds I justify abortion up to 24 weeks, and until the birth, only if the mother would either die or have significant, permanent, acute disability if the birth were to go ahead.

I commend those points to the Committee. They are in line with the legislation of Europe, Scandinavia, North America and, oddly enough, with the House of Lords' report of the year before last.

Mr. Duffy

The debate amply demonstrates that no issue raises more agonies of doubt and conscience than abortion. On the one side there is the natural revulsion at the destruction of life, and on the other side, the certain tragedies of desperate women. For nearly 2,000 years of Christian civilisation, taking the life of an unborn child was regarded as a vile and heinous moral offence that degraded humanity. The Hippocratic oath that preceded that view forbade abortion. There is no more reactionary deed, because abortion turns life into death.

Every unborn child that is aborted is witness to our failure to have created a society in which every child can be received into our world with love and affection. Worst of all, abortion is a defeat for women. Far from offering an extension of women's freedom, it is often an enslavement, given the pressures that come from family and other quarters.

At bottom, every abortion is a grave issue of fundamental morality, not simply a matter of amoral social convenience. However, hon. Members do not like grappling with truly moral issues, whether they involve destructive embryonic experimentation, divorce, homosexuality or even hanging. It is the arguments of social utility, rather than essential morality, on which hon. Members ultimately prefer to rest their case. Even hon. Members who wish to reform the 1967 Act, too often shrink from making the assertion that lies beneath their unease, that abortion is a morally wrong act that can be justified, if ever, only by a greater moral imperative.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)


Mr. Duffy

I shall give way, but I must watch the clock.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that research carried out in the United States shows that 82 per cent. of women who have had their pregnancy terminated suffer from post-abortion syndrome?

Mr. Duffy

Yes, I am aware of that, and I am glad that the hon. Lady has reminded the Committee of it.

Is it not illogical of Parliament to provide legal protection for human embryos from two weeks onwards yet not to be concerned for the future of that protected embryo at 18, 20, 24, 26 or 28 weeks? As in yesterday's debate on embryonic research, the issue today turns first on the question of when life really begins. Clearly the onus of proof lay yesterday with the embryonic researchers: they evaded it. Similarly, the onus of proof lies overwhelmingly tonight with those who want to terminate pregnancies. When do they say life begins? If at 28 weeks, why not at 27 or 20? If not at 20, why not at 40?

If, moreover, it is proper to defend the life of the unborn child when it is damaged in the womb by a drug such as thalidomide, why is it so illiberal to defend it against being aborted? Yet it would be an ignoble sort of Member who possessed no moral code about life or death or who failed to give that code precedence over social convenience.

The conscience of the nation is plainly uneasy. The once extremist goal of abortion on demand has long since been realised, at least for those with enough persistence or private funding. Deeming the decision to be one of medicine only stands revealed as the legal fiction it always was. The de facto ground for abortion in the great mass of cases is now that of serious inconvenience to the mother—nothing more or less.

Mrs. Wise

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Duffy

I will, but I remind the hon. Lady that I must watch the clock, so I shall not give way again.

Mrs. Wise

My hon. Friend has said that abortion takes place on grounds of serious inconvenience. He is therefore suggesting that women have an extremely frivolous attitude to the whole matter. Does he think that a woman who would undertake an abortion on such grounds would suitably be compelled to be a mother? If that is his opinion of women, I tremble for the children of this nation.

Mr. Duffy

My hon. Friend is responsible for the construction that she puts on my arguments, which I shall develop a little later in the light of experience in my own city of Sheffield.

As I have mentioned Sheffield, perhaps I could add that Dr. R. E. J. Ryder, now at the Hallamshire hospital in that city and a former senior registrar in medicine at the Northern general hospital, informs me that 18 weeks is the time when the mother commonly starts to feel her baby moving. Bonding begins, and abortion takes on a more traumatic character. Even if we still have doubts, Dr. Ryder insists that the case that the entity is not a living human being will always be shrouded with uncertainty. Thus, in our society, in which one is innocent until proved guilty, it must be wrong to kill a baby in utero if there is any possibility that it is a live human being.

Those who oppose any amendment do so because they fear that women will return to the back streets or because they fear that it will penalise married women who already have enough children. But back-street abortion deaths were dropping before the Abortion Act came into operation. Surveys of class profiles show that the section of the population most opposed to abortion are working-class women; the section most in favour of it are upper-class men. Free and easy abortion is in the interests of men because it removes the problem of pregnancy, and women are well aware of that. As for penalising married women, the majority of abortions after 18 weeks are on single women and the largest number of abortions at this stage are upon women who have no children.

10 pm

Given the exemptions, the Bill deals with social abortions after 18 weeks, for the most part of perfectly healthy babies. Are they necessary? That is the issue before the House. The issue is not late referrals. In 1986, young girls and menopausal women accounted for only about 5 per cent. of late abortions. The report entitled "Late Abortions in England and Wales" which was published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1984 says on page 39 that it absolves NHS facilities and referring doctors from responsibility for a delayed abortion. It blames late presentation to a doctor by the women. All that is borne out in my city of Sheffield, where, over the five years from 1984 to 1988, the number of abortions increased by 7 per cent. Over the period from 1980 to 1986, the increase was of the order of 14 per cent. Some 71 per cent. of Sheffield women having abortions are single, and that is well above the average in the Trent region and in England and Wales. The percentage of Sheffield women having abortions who are married is lower than in the rest of the region and in England and Wales. Within the National Health Service in Sheffield, abortion has increased from 54 per cent. to nearly 60 per cent. over the past five years.

My inference from the information that is available to me about present practices in Sheffield is that there have been no cases during the period that I have mentioned of abortions to save the life of the mother. In 1986, there were 10 handicap exemptions, which is less than 1 per cent. More than 80 per cent. involved women in the three age groups 16 to 19, 20 to 24, and 25 to 34 and, as I have said, almost 70 per cent. of them were single girls. That leaves approximately 10 per cent., which is accounted for by women over 35, and 4 per cent. by girls under 16.

It is not possible to ascertain how compelling or trivial are the social reasons that constitute ground 2 on which most of those abortions are now taking place in Sheffield and how many involved the same women. if the Minister had given way to me earlier in the debate, I would have asked her to help the House, because, although the medical statistics division of the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys is more helpful now than it was in recent years, it will still not entertain such questions.

Without more information, none of us, with the possible exception of the Secretary of State, can know what is happening to ground 2. It is certain that ground 2 covers the great majority of abortions in Sheffield and, presumably, involves healthy children. Abortions are making growing and unjustified claims on the National Health Service in Sheffield at a time of scarce medical resources.

Yesterday, the House discussed the problem of infertility and I mentioned the child work in the fertility clinic in Sheffield and in the corresponding department of the Jessop hospital for women, linked with the university. I described the pains that those responsible for that work in Sheffield are taking and the direction in which they are moving to get around some of the ethical objections voiced by hon. Members in yesterday's debate. It is plain that scarce resources are being used for ground 2 claims for abortion in Sheffield. Those resources might go to relieve the anxiety of infertile and childless couples.

In trying to assess the impact of the Bill on Sheffield, I can arrive only at approximate figures. It appears that some 80 babies will be affected by the 18-week limit: 40 by the 20-week limit, 20 by the 22-week limit; and hardly any by the 24-week limit. Not all those babies will be linked with Sheffield. Apart from exemptions, they will all be perfectly healthy children. What will be their future? That is the central question facing hon. Members when they vote. Has not the time arrived for the House to reconsider the time limits for abortion, and preferably to agree upon lower limits? I shall vote for the lowest limit.

Mr. David Amess (Basildon)

This is the most important debate in which I have taken part since I became a Member of Parliament. It is about the sanctity of life and all that that means. I want to draw on my personal experiences. My wife has not suffered a miscarriage, nor has she suffered an abortion. We are very fortunate in having four healthy children. Indeed, our last baby was delivered only two weeks ago. I was present at the birth and also throughout the labour. I witnessed the miracle of life. Any hon. Member who has experienced that will recognise the emotion and the euphoria felt on the occasion of the safe delivery of a child.

When I look at our baby Alexandra, I clearly recall the stage when I and my wife went to our excellent hospital in Basildon for a scan. It was at the 18th week of gestation. We clearly saw a picture of the baby. We saw our baby's head moving, her arms moving, her legs moving, and then we saw our baby, at 18 weeks, sucking her thumb. There was no doubt in our minds that she was a human being. She was real: she was our baby. When she was delivered to my wife at 40 weeks, the only real difference was that she was larger. She looked exactly the same. I have a picture of that scan to prove it.

This is very much a debate about the sanctity of life. I am confused about how hon. Members square their views on these issues. I entered politics because I actually care about people's lives——

Ms. Short

That is why you are a Tory.

Mr. Amess

I shall comment on that remark in a moment.

I care about people's lives and I was sent here to represent the people of Basildon. I am not prepared to speak on behalf of the men of Basildon and I would not dream of saying that I speak on behalf of the women of Basildon. I was sent here to represent all the people in my constituency. We spend all our time discussing laws, education, defence and the economy, all of which affect people's lives. There is no dispute that we all regard life as precious. In fact, I should be surprised if there were any hon. Members who were not extremely glad to be here. At the time of their conception, there was no question about the right to choose.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) referred to the fact that I am a Conservative. In an ideal world I would hope that abortion would be avoided in every case. I am not an idealist and that is probably why I support the party that I do. I am a realist and I accept what I have to cope with in the House when we come to vote.

Therefore, despite the remarks that were made earlier about the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and other organisations, all of which I regret because they rather spoilt the debate, I shall not be returning year after year. There is no plot among those who share my views to keep returning to the House. What are people frightened of? They are wrong to be frightened. Tonight we shall have the opportunity democratically to vote. Let us not personalise the debate.

I despair at the way in which the 1967 Act has worked in practice. I am sure that the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) introduced that legislation with the best intentions, but it has resulted in 170,000 abortions each year, 96 per cent. of which are undertaken for social reasons. I fully recognise that no woman would lightly undertake an abortion. There are no circumstances under which an abortion——

Mr. Frank Cook (Stockton, North)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Amess

It would be unfair to those hon. Members who are waiting to speak. I apologise.

I understand the arguments made earlier about a woman's right to choose, disability, the time delay in medical diagnosis, back-street abortions and every child being a wanted child. But I find it impossible to reconcile my respect for life with all the matters that have been raised. Twenty-three years after the 1967 Act, 22½-weekold babies are being kept alive in our special baby care units. I have heard the remarks about the NHS, but that is certainly the case at Basildon. How on earth can we have special baby care units fighting to keep babies alive at 22½ weeks while, for whatever reason, they can still be destroyed in the same hospital?

Sadly, we live in an aggressive and violent society. I meet aggression every day of the week. We see it on the tube. We experience it among drivers. There is no longer respect for humanity. That is highlighted by what the House has done since 1967.

I do not regard a reduction of four weeks in the time limit for abortion as a fair reflection of 23 years of advancement in medical science. Therefore, please let us take the opportunity tonight to restore the esteem of the House by recognising the dignity of life. Let us make this a proud day for Parliament and at least legislate to protect babies who are capable of being born alive.

Ms. Short

The problem throughout this deeply unimpressive debate—I say that in all seriousness—is that we are not discussing where the real division of opinion in the Committee lies. A substantial minority of hon. Members believe that abortion should never, ever be allowed. I disagree with that view, but I respect it.

I come from an Irish Catholic background. I was brought up in the Catholic Church. My mother lives with me and goes to mass every morning. She does not believe in abortion and I respect that position. I do not agree with her and neither do any of her other four daughters, but we all get along with and respect each other.

What I do not respect is a debate led by people of that view—the hon. Members for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) and for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton), the Father of the House and my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy)—who believe that abortion should never be allowed but who, instead of having the integrity, honesty and straightforwardness to put that position before the House and to argue for it, pretend to talk about time limits. Because they are absolute fundamentalists and hold the view that all abortions should be prohibited, the evidence that they present to the Committee is biased, and they distort fact and reality.

I pay tribute to Lord Houghton and to the quality of his reports, which many right hon. and hon. Members have not even read.

Viability is reached at 24 weeks. My local hospital has one of those wonderful baby care units in which precious and wanted babies are kept alive by tubes. The problem is that most of them do not survive, and those who do are brain-damaged for the rest of their lives. If one studies the development of a baby, it is clear that it cannot independently sustain life much before 24 weeks because its lungs are not formed. Those are the medical facts, but so-called right hon. and hon. Members, who really want all abortions to be made illegal, try to trick the Committee and the public into accepting a lower time limit than is defensible. They distort reality and put false information before the Committee. I do not respect that, and it does little credit to Parliament itself.

10.15 pm
Mr. Mallon

In fairness to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy) who spoke in yesterday's debate, and whose contribution is in Hansard, and to myself, we both made very clear the views that we hold. We were not hiding our light under any bushel, but making clear our belief that the destruction of a human being is wrong in any circumstances.

Ms. Short

I am sorry, but I have no respect for right hon. and hon. Members who hold that view and who do not have the guts to state their position. If there was a vote, they know that they would be overwhelmingly defeated. We could then have a rational debate on the proper framework of the law.

I do not believe that I have a right to make moral decisions for every individual in our society. What is needed is a sensible, defensible and serious legal framework within which individual women and families can make their own decisions—given all the pressures, aspects of morality and worries that confront them. Part of that defensible framework of law would be to say that once a foetus is capable of independent survival and no longer dependent on its mother, it has a right to live. That is the framework of previous law.

In current law, the time limit is 24 weeks, other than in exceptional cases. The law says that one cannot abort a foetus that is capable of being born alive. Because of advances in medical science, the limit has fallen to 24 weeks, and the number of post-24 week abortions is now minute. They relate to hard cases such as very late detection of severe abnormalities on the very young girl who has been sexually abused and did not know that she was pregnant. They are tiny in number. We already have a good framework of law that operates sensibly.

I also have no respect for the Government's action; they had no need to bring this clause before the House. As a result of the lies presented in SPUC's case, which was designed to confuse public opinion and to suggest that there are many late abortions, the Government are trying to appease its supporters. The Government thought about and talked about tabling Lord Houghton's Bill in this House. I would have supported that very constructive move, but there were internal divisions in the Tory party, the SPUC supporters made their views known in the Whips' Office, and there were conflicts with the Secretary of State for Health. The result is the nonsense that is before the Committee tonight.

There will be a whole series of Divisions tonight from which many right hon. and hon. Members will be absent, while others will not really know what they are voting for. Rational decisions will not be made—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Speak for yourself."] I am speaking for myself.

I agree with the hon. Member for Torridge and Devon, West (Miss Nicholson) that we should seek to improve our law and prevent preventable late abortions. It is sinful and unforgiveable that many women who come forward for abortions before 12 weeks have post-18 weeks abortions because of delays in our National Health system and because of delays caused by doctors processing their cases. That is outrageous and disgraceful.

If the rhetoric and regret about late abortions were true, the hon. Members for Maidstone and for Mossley Hill would be queuing up to demand the right of women to have an abortion up to 12 weeks with reference to one doctor. That is what they would do if they really wanted to prevent late abortions. Many preventable late abortions would then be prevented. Instead, those hon. Members are trying to trick and fib. They are trying to make all abortions illegal.

Whatever the outcome of our Divisions tonight, this will not be the end of the issue. The hon. Members to whom I have referred will be back. If it is not those hon. Members because they have made promises, it will be others. I am surprised that the Secretary of State for Health has involved himself in this shabby game, with such an irrational method of inviting the House to reach a decision.

The case of SPUC is encapsulated in the postcard that it used for so long. That postcard carried an attractive picture, which had been coloured, of a foetus which was supposedly sucking its thumb. Of course that picture was a complete lie. That 22-year-old picture of a natural miscarriage had been taken in a laboratory in Sweden. It had been tinted and coloured up. That is the SPUC case. It is misleading and pretending to the public that lots of late abortions are like that. That is not true.

Mr. Alton

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Ms. Short

I do not have time to give way. In fairness to other hon. Members who have been waiting to speak, I should not give way to the hon. Gentleman.

The present framework of practice in Britain is reasonable. Post 24-week abortions do not happen except in the most extreme and distressing cases. The only change that we need to that law is to speed up abortion at the early end so that young women who come forward early do not end up having late abortions. That change is not on offer to the Committee today and that is deeply regrettable.

Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley)

I do not want to detain the Committee, and perhaps another hon. Member can speak before the winding-tip speeches.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) that we have a very reasonable law with regard to termination. That law has stood the test of time for the vast majority of people. The Lancet reported in December last year that 75 per cent. of the people in this country are satisfied with the working of the Abortion Act 1967. However, I do not want to see restrictions on women's access to abortions. I want to see an improvement in financing and facilities to reduce the number of later abortions. I hope that all hon. Members would agree that we should be aiming for that.

Eighty-seven per cent. of late abortions in this country take place within 12 weeks of pregnancy, and less than 2 per cent. take place when a pregnancy is over 20 weeks. According to the 1988 figures, only 23 abortions in England, Wales and Scotland were performed over the present 24-week limit.

In a recent survey, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists found that only 3 per cent. of its members were in favour of an 18-week time limit, which appears in an amendment tonight. Organisations representing the medical profession have said that the limit for clinical practice—what doctors actually do—will be between two and four weeks lower than the legal limit, allowing for a margin of error in calculating the duration of pregnancy. People are saying to the House that, in effect, 14 weeks, 12 weeks or even less will be the time limit for the termination of pregnancy.

Those who talk about their despair about the Abortion Act 1967 and how it has been implemented do not recognise the despair caused by the fact that abortion is again on the agenda. People did not believe that the law would be changed, as is proposed. Some hon. Members will support the limit of 18 weeks tonight. When they have achieved that, they will attack another aspect of the 1967 Act and then another, until they have whittled away women's rights to abortion.

Those hon. Members doing this at a time when the deficiencies of the National Health Service are stark. We hear reports of delays of four weeks in reporting pregnancy test results. We see headlines in the newpapers, such as one in The Guardian on 2 April: Birth control hit by cash squeeze". When the lack of contraceptive services, especially for young people, is becoming acute in some areas, we are being asked to support punitive measures.

The right hon.Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) said that a survey reported on national television this week showed that one third of health authorities were reducing their family planning services. In 1982, a study by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists revealed that a significant number of abortions performed after 20 weeks were the result of avoidable delays by general practitioners and failures in the organisation of NHS services. In addition, women have no way of knowing, when they first visit their general practitioner, what that doctor's non-medical views on abortion are.

I wish that those hon. Members who threaten people who are in dire need and have been for many years would argue for the betterment within the National Health Service of counselling and contraceptive services, so that people are not led into wanting an abortion in the first place. Since the introduction of the 1967 Act, any retreat to the back-street abortionist to whom women had to go before we had legal termination in this country must be avoided.

Ms. Mildred Gordon (Bow and Poplar)

It has been difficult to listen with equanimity to some of the speeches today, particularly a speech which cast a slur on women by saying that since the Abortion Act 1967 their concern for the sanctity of life had been lessened. It is poverty which reduces the value of life, and those who voted for the freezing of child benefit might bear that in mind. Women are pro-life. They bear the children and take the main responsibility for bringing them up. They do the unpaid work of managing the family and they should make the decision on what is best for their family.

This has been a phoney debate. We have seen the opportunism of hon. Members who have made sanctimonious speeches but are prepared to compromise to get their foot in the door. They intend eventually not just to attack all abortion rights, but to attack contraceptive rights. They have already attacked the French contraceptive pill. If they really cared about doing away with late abortions and did their best to prevent the few late abortions that there are, they would be in favour of abortion on request. Unfortunately, we are unable to discuss or vote on that tonight. Those hon. Members would be in favour of improved sex education and of all the points outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron).

Above all, those hon. Members would want to improve social conditions. Instead of sending round plastic foetuses, why do they not think of the real world, where so many miscarriages take place in the first few months of pregnancy and where still-births take place at seven months because mothers are dragging babies and prams up flights of stairs or have to live on poor diets? Why do those hon. Members not concern themselves with saving lives by improving the conditions for such people?

Those who have been spearheading the SPUC campaign are concerned not so much with saving life as with control over women's lives. Let us remember that the women of Romania, in fighting for freedom, want above all the freedom to have legal abortions. That should be a lesson to us.

To reduce the number of weeks within which abortion is legal would be a form of cruelty to women. My generation and that of my mother remember the shadow that was cast over women's lives by the fear of pregnancy, particularly when they were not in a position to have more children and when their health and social conditions, already extremely low, could not tolerate larger families. Every month their relations with their partners were crippled and there were severe burdens on doctors, who either had to break the law or turn away desperate patients, and then deal with the mess of septicaemia and other causes of death resulting from back-street abortions, which a whittling down of the present law would bring back.

Women should have the right to choose. All women are pro-life. Women do not enter abortions lightly because their very nature bonds them to the life that they are carrying. They have the right to decide what is best for their families—and almost all women, given the chance, choose correctly.

10.30 pm
Ms. Harman

The votes that will take place tonight will be on the time limit up to which abortion can lawfully take place and the grounds on which it can be justified. But many hon. Members have spoken about the number of abortions that take place, and that is the subject with which I shall start.

Nobody believes that a high abortion rate is good, and of course it is desirable to reduce the number of abortions, but the matter must be put in perspective. As the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) said, the abortion rate in the United Kingdom is lower than the rate in France, Norway, Italy, Germany and numerous other countries. We are by no means high in the international league table of abortion rates.

I agree with those who say that it is still too high, but what divides us is the way in which we might reduce the number of abortions. Some argue that the rate should be cut by forcing women to continue with unwanted pregnancies. I argue that we should help women to avoid unwanted pregnancies. There are 200,000 unplanned and regretted pregnancies every year in this country. Contraception is no easy matter. An unwanted pregnancy is not the result of fecklessness on the part of a woman.

The battle for safe, effective, accessible contraceptive services is far from won. Yet across England, Scotland and Wales, family planning services are being cut. Cash-starved district health authorities, desperate to avoid closing another hospital or ward, desperate to avoid again reporting longer waiting lists to the Department of Health, are picking on family planning services as a soft option for cuts.

The scale of those cuts, year after year, has been disastrous: Sheffield, 31 per cent.; Gravesend, 50 per cent.; Chichester, 50 per cent.; Cheltenham, 55 per cent.; Mid-Essex, 48 per cent. cut. The list is endless. Unless the Government step in now, the cash crisis in health authorities will spell the destruction of family planning clinics and lead to more unwanted pregnancies.

Where has been the protest of those who say that they want to reduce the number of abortions? Those who, like us, want fewer women having to seek abortion, should join us in demanding that the Government call a halt to cuts in the family planning service, that they review the number of unplanned and regretted pregnancies, particularly among teenagers, and that they step up the contraceptive training of GPs and nurses, thereby developing a strategy for reducing the large number of unplanned and regretted pregnancies. Such action would reduce the number of abortions far more dramatically than would reducing the time limit to 20 or even 18 weeks.

Some health authorities have tried to take such steps, despite the current cash crisis. South Warwickshire health authority, for example, concerned about the high level of abortions in its district, has developed a strategy which it hopes will reduce the number of abortions by a quarter before the end of the century. It includes work with local schools to improve sex education, better advertising of family planning services and increased access to services. We should look at the Netherlands, for example, where there are fewer restrictions on time limits than we have, but, because there are better planning services there, there are far fewer unwanted pregnancies and fewer abortions as a result. That is the way to cut the number of abortions, not by restricting access to abortion to those who find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy.

Concern has been expressed about the number of late abortions. The case has been put that cutting time limits will cut the number of late abortions, but that would solve the problem of late abortions at the expense of the women who seek them. As my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon) said, the way to reduce the number of late abortions is not to deny abortions to the women who need a late abortion but to try to deal with the cause of late abortions, and that is to improve services so that, when abortion is necessary, it can be carried out as early as possible in the pregnancy. It is not as though the Government do not know that. Countless reports have shown up the inadequacies of the Health Service as a substantial cause of late abortion.

In 1981 and in 1985 Isobel Allen of the Policy Studies Institute reported on delays caused by GPs and consultants. As the anecdote related by the hon. Member for Torridge and Devon, West (Miss Nicholson) about the girl in the next village demonstrated, in 1984 the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists reported that one in five women who had abortions later than 20 weeks had approached their doctor asking for an abortion more than eight weeks earlier—before 12 weeks. What is needed in practical terms—if hon. Members are interested in practical ways of reducing the toll of late abortions—is better diagnosis of pregnancy, quicker referral for women who seek abortions and better abortion services throughout the United Kingdom. That is the way to cut late abortions, not by restricting access to abortion for those women whom the Health Service has failed.

However good our family planning services, however good our referral system, however good access throughout the country, there will still be some cases when women will seek abortion after 20 weeks, after 22 weeks, and even after 24 weeks. That is where the debate has become most heated. We are talking about only a small percentage of the total number of abortions, so I should like to put the matter in perspective. Eighty-four per cent. of all abortions were performed at under 13 weeks, 14 per cent. were performed between 13 and 20 weeks, and only 1.7 per cent were performed at over 20 weeks. In the whole of last year, only 22 abortions were carried out after 24 weeks.

Among later abortions we see the most tragic and the most difficult cases—first, young girls who at first do not realise that they are pregnant, and although desperate to end the pregnancy, are afraid to seek help and therefore do not go to the doctor until the pregnancy is 22 weeks, say, because they are afraid that they might be kicked out of the home and they do not know where to turn; and, secondly, women who develop pregnancy-induced hypertension, who continue with a planned pregnancy for as long as possible, but it becomes clear at 24 weeks, say, that the continuation of the pregnancy could mean kidney damage for the woman or even permanent blindness.

I should like hon, Members to consider the case of a woman called Meriel Gillman, whom I had the chance of meeting last week. She had a son and had been trying for another child for 10 years. When she finally became pregnant at 40, she and her husband were overjoyed. She told me, "No one could have wanted a baby more than we wanted that baby." Because she was 40, she was offered extensive ante-natal screening—blood tests, urine tests, corionic villus sampling, blood pressure tests, and all the tests were clear. But her blood pressure became raised at 27 weeks. It was then discovered, after exhaustive testing, that the foetus had severe spina bifida, urino-genital problems, a deformed rib cage, small lungs and numerous other problems. Seven doctors were involved in the diagnoses in that one day, and the following day she had an abortion.

I should not dream of casting a moral judgment on the painful choice that Meriel had to make and of saying that such an abortion was so morally wrong that it should be made a criminal offence. Nor would I dream of casting a moral judgment against a woman who is against abortion and decides that she will carry on with the pregnancy, despite knowing that the child will be born with a severe handicap. It must be for those women themselves to make that choice, and whatever choice they make, they deserve our compassion and our full support, not empty moral judgments from a distance.

If hon. Members share my view that there must be a choice for women such as Meriel and the other two cases that I have mentioned, they should vote for limits that are no more restrictive than the combination of the new clause and amendments, which together would give us the result that the House of Lords so recently supported in Lord Houghton's Bill, which commands wide support within the medical profession and, I believe, is anchored in public opinion.

Lord Houghton's Bill implements the unanimous recommendations of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929. It lays down a time limit of 24 weeks. After that, abortion would not be legal as it is now up to 28 weeks, except that the Houghton Bill allows that, after 24 weeks a pregnancy may be lawfully terminated, if there is a risk to the life of the pregnant woman, or if two doctors believe that it is essential to prevent serious damage to the woman's health, or on the grounds of a substantial risk of such foetal abnormality as to involve serious handicap.

I should have thought that that could command a broad consensus. That formula is most nearly achieved by amending new clause 4 with amendments (b), (f), ), (k), (m) and (q). I apologise for the publication of that list, but as hon. Members have said, it was not our choice that this procedure has been chosen.

The time limit of 24 weeks was not arrived at arbitrarily. When deciding on an abortion, doctors err on the side of caution and, in practice, a 24-week limit would mean something like a 22-week limit or even a 20-week limit. Medical opinion—and the view of the Department of Health—is that the chances of survival at 22 weeks are negligible. The presumption is that the foetus is not viable at 22 weeks, so a 24-week time limit would effectively be a 22-week time limit, at which, I repeat, medical opinion is agreed that the foetus is not viable. For the future, doctors believe that they can increase the chances of survival for babies after 24 weeks, but because of the insufficiency of development, they do not expect to be able to keep babies born at 22 weeks alive in the foreseeable future.

Making the time limit more restrictive than the present law or than Houghton would have another sad effect. It would increase the number of abortions on the grounds of foetal abnormality, because screening can show different things at different stages of the pregnancy. A blood test at 16 weeks can suggest the probability of an abnormality, but the doctors will advise the woman to hang on for a few further weeks because the child might be all right a nd a further conclusive test can then be carried out——

Miss Widdecombe


Ms. Harman

Let me just finish this point about diagnostic tests.

The woman is then able—this is a regular occurrence—to continue with the pregnancy knowing that, if her worst fears are realised and there is a serious abnormality, she can still have the pregnancy terminated. If the possibility of a later abortion is taken away—as it would be, for example, under amendment (j), which I know that the hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) will support—the chances are that that woman will seek an abortion earlier than she otherwise would.

Miss Widdecombe


Ms. Harman

So those who seek—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Give way."] No, I shall not give way.

Those who seek to cut the time limit to below 24 weeks for foetal abnormality will, paradoxically, have brought about a situation in which many more, possibly normal, pregnancies are terminated.

There has been vociferous lobbying on the matter, but I believe that public opinion is clear. Four out of five people are against reducing the time limit below 24 weeks. Most Members of Parliament have never found themselves, as a teenager, lonely, afraid and pregnant. Most hon. Members have never had a pregnancy which, if they carried it on, would threaten them with a brain haemorrhage, blindness or a nervous breakdown. Most hon. Members have never faced the prospect that every woman dreads, that there is something terribly wrong with their baby. But there are women in this country who face that dilemma and will face it in future. Hon. Members must not vote that women who are in a position that they hope never to be in themselves, should lose the choice of having that pregnancy terminated.

10.45 pm
Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I begin by agreeing with the hon. Member for Peckham (Ms. Harman) on the general point with which she started. The first thing that we should all agree on in the Committee is that we should do everything possible to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and late abortions and get to the root cause of the problem by making sure that as full and comprehensive as possible a range of family planning services, sex education and aid and support is available through the National Health Service so as to minimise the number of potential tragedies that all cases of abortion represent.

This is not the occasion for me to debate the comments of the hon. Member for Peckham about the changes taking place in the Health Service. However, I begin by making it clear that there is no difference of principle between us. The NHS provides free family planning services. About 4 million patients per year take advantage of those services. Certainly, the services are changing, but all our guidance makes it clear that we expect the health authorities to continue to provide a full range of service and a balanced service. The service is bound to change over the years—above all, I hope, because it must reflect the preferences of women and whether they wish to obtain that service from their general practitioner or family planning clinic.

We know that there is sometimes much local controversy when changes to the pattern of family planning clinics are proposed, but those changes should never be made purely on financial grounds. Sometimes they can be made on the basis of changes in patients' choice and the best use of resources. It is only since the 1970s that GPs have provided free family planning services. Now the majority go to their GP rather than to their clinic. It is inevitable that that gives rise to changes in some parts of the country.

For probably the only occasion in my speech, I must touch on the usual allegations that the hon. Member for Peckham made about a cash crisis, cuts in clinics, and so on. The cost to the NHS of family planning services was £33 million when we took over and £84 million for 1987–88, the last year for which we have figures.

The debate is not about family planning services, particularly as there is no difference of policy between the Opposition and the Government. It is about the Abortion Act 1967, whether the time has come to revise it and, if so, how. I arrived in the House just a year or two too late to vote for the 1967 Act. Ever since I have been a Member of Parliament, I have been an open and strong supporter of the Act. In my opinion, that Act was one of the more civilised and liberalising measures of the past few years and has made a profound change to our society which on balance has been beneficial.

I am sorry that an urgent appointment stopped me from listening to the speech of the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel), but I have heard a summary of what he said. He went back to the underlying policy of the 1967 Act and no doubt repeated arguments with which, over the years, I have usually agreed whenever he has expounded the underlying philosophy of the 1967 Act.

In the past I have taken part in debates and voted in Divisions on abortion, and I have consistently been against the repeated attempts of many members of the pro-life lobby in the Committee to make changes to that Act. I remember voting against the Bill of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) and voting with many hon. Members on both sides of the Committee who have spoken against the spirit of that measure today.

The reason why we are voting on abortion today, despite the history with which we are all familiar, is that a change has taken place in the past year or two. Hon. Members who have always fundamentally opposed the 1967 Act clearly wish to keep returning to it. However, in recent years many supporters of the 1967 Act have felt that the time has come to make some changes to the law. In particular, there has been growing uncertainty about whether the time limits are wholly satisfactory.

I listened with care to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe), but I am afraid that I do not always agree with her underlying philosophy, as she well knows. However, she is right about the unsatisfactory nature of the law and the relationship between the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 and the Abortion Act 1967. It is time to review the present time limit in the 1929 Act and the House has been trying to do that. I think that for some years all hon. Members have wanted to change it, regardless of their views on the underlying Act.

Certainly it has been a serious matter ever since 1985, when the working party of the Royal College said that in practice 24 weeks was a much better guide which doctors should use when considering whether a baby could be born alive. I was the Minister of Health who introduced the arrangement which made it clear to private clinics licensed for late abortions that we would probably not renew licences if they persisted with them after 24 weeks. That is why the few operations after that date have been carried out in National Health Service hospitals.

For a long time many of us have waited for a Warnock Bill and an attempt to tackle the subject of embryo research. I must confess that in contemplating the Bill I was not instinctively attracted to the idea of debating the abortion law at the same time as discussing the introduction of law on embryo research. Even in the past month or two I have genuinely changed my mind, and today's debate has confirmed that. These subjects are so closely related that this is a suitable opportunity for the House to have a day at the end of which it can come to a conclusion, which should last a long time, on the time limits and future operation of the 1967 Act and its relationship with the Infant Life (Preservation) Act.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House and I have tried to provide the best framework for a judgment to be reached on what is inevitably an extremely complex series of interrelated aspects of time limits for abortion. It is futile, particularly for the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) with whom I broadly agree on the underlying subject, to make all these attacks on the way in which we have devised the procedure.

It would have been difficult to start with Houghton because it is an extremely liberalising measure. It does not start down the middle of the strongly held passions that we have heard. It is more difficult to devise the range of options on both sides which hon. Members can use to construct their preferred solution if we start with Houghton rather than my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House's new clause and all the amendments. If hon. Members follow the debate and the guides to voting, and contemplate their personal positions seriously, as we all will, the Government have provided a perfectly adequate and probably overdue opportunity for us to exercise our undoubted duty to make our best judgment according to our own conscience on the matter.

We are not debating or voting on the policy of having legalised abortion under the 1967 Act—[Interruption.] it seems that some people are—not surprisingly, people do not leave their views behind. During the debate we have heard impassioned views from one side and the other—my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine), my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) on one side of the argument, and my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman), who probably made the most dramatic intervention, from the other.

I do not agree with the position taken at either end of the argument. I am probably not the only hon. Member who on Saturday found my surgery being lobbied by two groups—the Socialist Workers party outside with a tannoy attacking Tory attempts to restrict a woman's right to choose, and the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children inside, presenting me with an embryo and demanding that we reduce the limit to 18 weeks.

My judgments are my own. I propose to make a complex series of judgments when voting for and against the various amendments. I shall not vote against my conscience and my judgments are not totally determined by what the majority of my constituents think. As it happens, I believe that the majority of my constituents —pleasant, provincial, rural and suburban people in Nottinghamshire—share my view. I believe that the vast majority believe that the present law is about right except that the time scales are wrong and need to be revised, and that we need to take some notice of the royal colleges' opinions. In a simple way, that represents the way in which I shall vote, although people will appreciate that the issues are more complex.

We are talking about late abortions and the time limit which should apply to the limited number of such abortions. How restrictive should we be in the generality of cases? What exceptions should we make to that restriction for what have been described as the hard cases where grave permanent injury might result to the mother should the pregnancy continue, severe foetal abnormalities are present, and so on. If we do not go too far in making change and if we keep close to the consensus of medical opinion, we shall improve the 1967 Act.

Some argue that there is no need for change and that, despite the working group and the opinion of the royal colleges, everything is all right as it is. Those who believe that can take a simple step by voting against new clause 4 being read a Second time. If they are successful, everything will remain as it is in England and Scotland regarding the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 and the Abortion Act 1967.

If new clause 4 is passed, it is important to note the change that it will make to the law as it introduces time limits into the 1967 Act for the first time. Those new time limits for various purposes will exist alongside the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929, which will continue with the rebuttable presumptions either way, unless amended, at the 28-week stage.

Attendance in the Chamber is now reaching its peak and hon. Members will want to know how to vote correctly during the next couple of hours. I trust that as many as possible will remain, as the final Division will be the clause stand part vote on whatever the House has decided.

In the three minutes remaining, I shall not add to the information given. Lest people outside argue that whatever view is decided was reached in ignorance, hon. Members should ensure that they have their copy of the explanatory note from my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House setting out what all the amendments mean. [Interruption.] For those who cannot understand it and, like me, believe that as a response to a request for an idiot's guide it did not quite fit the bill, the Government Whips Office will make available for the convenience of all hon. Members, regardless of views, a one-page document which simplifies the issues. It will be made available on application to my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Knight). If used in conjunction with detailed, careful reference to the guide issued by my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House, that document will explain clearly what every vote is about.

The opening speech of my hon. Friend the Minister for Health is also available and she set all the issues extremely carefully. People outside should also know that my hon. Friends the Members for Maidstone and Berkshire, East (Mr. MacKay) produced their own guides for those who share their respective opinions. We can therefore begin on the process of settling the matter for some time.

The starting point of new clause 4, which I expect to be carried if the majority believe that the present law requires some change—there can be no change unless it is carried—is a 24-week limit for the most important grounds upon which legal abortions are permitted. I want to see a 24-week solution because I am persuaded by the opinion of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists that that is the best limit to which to move now and I know that the royal college holds that view strongly. Those who believe that will vote against the succeeding five amendments from (a) to (e), but the amendments are perfectly clear as to the alternative limits that they would substitute if people do not want 24 weeks. A clear look will show that there are higher limits to cover most other eventualities.

I hope that amendment (q) will be carried and that the Infant Life (Preservation) Act is not left standing alongside the Abortion Act. To have two sets of time limits would be confusing in practice. I therefore hope that there will be a single test, with the Infant Life (Preservation) Act applying only to non-Abortion Act cases.

We have had an adequate debate, with expressions of passion and desire, to settle the matter so that the public know that Parliament has given an up-to-date opinion as to what the law on this sensitive matter should be. I hope that in the next hour or two we can resolve the matter and live up to the high standards of debate that have prevailed for the past eight hours.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes 409, Noes 152.

Division No. 168] [11 pm
Aitken, Jonathan Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Alexander, Richard Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Bright, Graham
Allason, Rupert Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)
Alton, David Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Amos, Alan Browne, John (Winchester)
Arbuthnot, James Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Buck, Sir Antony
Ashby, David Buckley, George J.
Aspinwall, Jack Budgen, Nicholas
Atkins, Robert Burns, Simon
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Burt, Alistair
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Butcher, John
Baldry, Tony Butler, Chris
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Butterfill, John
Batiste, Spencer Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Battle, John Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Canavan, Dennis
Beggs, Roy Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)
Beith, A. J. Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Bell, Stuart Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Bendall, Vivian Carrington, Matthew
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Cash, William
Benyon, W. Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Bermingham, Gerald Chapman, Sydney
Bevan, David Gilroy Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)
Blair, Tony Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Blunkett, David Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffie)
Body, Sir Richard Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Clelland, David
Boscawen, Hon Robert Colvin, Michael
Boswell, Tim Conway, Derek
Bottomley, Peter Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Cope, Rt Hon John
Bowis, John Corbett, Robin
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Cormack, Patrick
Couchman, James Hayward, Robert
Cran, James Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Crowther, Stan Heathcoat-Amory, David
Cummings, John Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Dalyell, Tarn Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Hill, James
Davis, David (Boothferry) Hinchliffe, David
Day, Stephen Hind, Kenneth
Devlin, Tim Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Dewar, Donald Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Dickens, Geoffrey Holt, Richard
Dicks, Terry Home Robertson, John
Dixon, Don Hood, Jimmy
Douglas, Dick Hordern, Sir Peter
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Dover, Den Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Duffy, A. E. P. Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Dunn, Bob Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Dunnachie, Jimmy Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Durant, Tony Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Dykes, Hugh Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Eggar, Tim Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Emery, Sir Peter Hume, John
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Evennett, David Hunter, Andrew
Fallon, Michael Irvine, Michael
Faulds, Andrew Irving, Sir Charles
Favell, Tony Jack, Michael
Fearn, Ronald Janman, Tim
Field, Barry (lsle of Wight) Janner, Greville
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Jessel, Toby
Flynn, Paul Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Fookes, Dame Janet Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Forman, Nigel Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Fox, Sir Marcus Kennedy, Charles
Freeman, Roger Key, Robert
French, Douglas Kilfedder, James
Fry, Peter King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Gale, Roger Kirkhope, Timothy
Galloway, George Kirkwood, Archy
Gardiner, George Knapman, Roger
Garel-Jones, Tristan Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Gill, Christopher Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Lambie, David
Godman, Dr Norman A. Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Golding, Mrs Llin Lang, Ian
Goodhart, Sir Philip Latham, Michael
Goodlad, Alastair Lawrence, Ivan
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Gorst, John Leadbitter, Ted
Gow, Ian Lee, John (Pendle)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Gregory, Conal Lightbown, David
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Lilley, Peter
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Livsey, Richard
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Grist, Ian Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Grocott, Bruce Lord, Michael
Ground, Patrick Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Grylls, Michael Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn McAvoy, Thomas
Hague, William McCrea, Rev William
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) McCrindle, Robert
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Macdonald, Calum A.
Hanley, Jeremy McFall, John
Hannam, John Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Hardy, Peter McGrady, Eddie
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) McKay, Allen (Bansley West)
Harris, David Maclean, David
Haselhurst, Alan Maclennan, Robert
Hawkins, Christopher McLoughlin, Patrick
Hayes, Jerry McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney McNamara, Kevin
Madel, David Rowlands, Ted
Major, Rt Hon John Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Malins, Humfrey Ryder, Richard
Mallon, Seamus Sackville, Hon Tom
Mans, Keith Salmond, Alex
Marek, Dr John Sayeed, Jonathan
Marlow, Tony Shaw, David (Dover)
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Sheerman, Barry
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Shelton, Sir William
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Martlew, Eric Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Mates, Michael Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Maude, Hon Francis Sillars, Jim
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Sims, Roger
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Skeet, Sir Trevor
Mellor, David Smith, Sir Cyril (Rochdale)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Michael, Alun Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute) Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Miller, Sir Hal Soames, Hon Nicholas
Mills, Iain Speed, Keith
Miscampbell, Norman Speller, Tony
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Mitchell, Sir David Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Moate, Roger Squire, Robin
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Stanbrook, Ivor
Monro, Sir Hector Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Moore, Rt Hon John Steen, Anthony
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Stern, Michael
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Stevens, Lewis
Morrison, Sir Charles Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Moss, Malcolm Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Moynihan, Hon Colin Straw, Jack
Mudd, David Sumberg, David
Murphy, Paul Summerson, Hugo
Nelson, Anthony Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Neubert, Michael Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Nicholls, Patrick Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Norris, Steve Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Temple-Morris, Peter
O'Brien, William Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Oppenheim, Phillip Thorne, Neil
Page, Richard Thornton, Malcolm
Paice, James Thurnham, Peter
Paisley, Rev Ian Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Parry, Robert Tracey, Richard
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath) Trippier, David
Patten, Rt Hon John Trotter, Neville
Pawsey, James Twinn, Dr Ian
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Pike, Peter L. Vaz, Keith
Porter, David (Waveney) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Portillo, Michael Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Powell, William (Corby) Walden, George
Price, Sir David Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Raffan, Keith Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Rathbone, Tim Wallace, James
Redwood, John Waller, Gary
Reid, Dr John Ward, John
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Riddick, Graham Warren, Kenneth
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Watts, John
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Wells, Bowen
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Robertson, George Wheeler, Sir John
Robinson, Geoffrey Whitney, Ray
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E) Widdecombe, Ann
Roe, Mrs Marion Wiggin, Jerry
Rooker, Jeff Wilkinson, John
Rossi, Sir Hugh Wilshire, David
Rost, Peter Wilson, Brian
Winterton, Mrs Ann Young, Sir George (Acton)
Winterton, Nicholas Younger, Rt Hon George
Wolfson, Mark
Wood, Timothy Tellers for the Ayes:
Worthington, Tony Mr. John Brazier and Mr. Edward Leigh.
Wray, Jimmy
Yeo, Tim
Abbott, Ms Diane Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Allen, Graham Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Armstrong, Hilary Knox, David
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Leighton, Ron
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Lewis, Terry
Barron, Kevin Litherland, Robert
Beckett, Margaret Livingstone, Ken
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Bidwell, Sydney McAllion, John
Biffen, Rt Hon John McCartney, Ian
Boateng, Paul McKelvey, William
Boyes, Roland McLeish, Henry
Bradley, Keith McWilliam, John
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Madden, Max
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Maples, John
Buchan, Norman Marland, Paul
Caborn, Richard Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Callaghan, Jim Maxton, John
Cartwright, John Meacher, Michael
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Meale, Alan
Clay, Bob Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Cohen, Harry Moonie, Dr Lewis
Coleman, Donald Morgan, Rhodri
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Morley, Elliot
Corbyn, Jeremy Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Cousins, Jim Mowlam, Marjorie
Cox, Tom Mullin, Chris
Critchley, Julian Neale, Gerrard
Cryer, Bob Nellist, Dave
Cunningham, Dr John O'Neill, Martin
Darling, Alistair Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Patchett, Terry
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Patnick, Irvine
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Dobson, Frank Prescott, John
Doran, Frank Quin, Ms Joyce
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Radice, Giles
Eadie, Alexander Redmond, Martin
Eastham, Ken Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Evans, John (St Helens N) Rhodes James, Robert
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Richardson, Jo
Fatchett, Derek Rogers, Allan
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Flannery, Martin Ruddock, Joan
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Foster, Derek Sedgemore, Brian
Foulkes, George Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Fraser, John Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Short, Clare
George, Bruce Skinner, Dennis
Gordon, Mildred Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Gould, Bryan Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Snape, Peter
Harman, Ms Harriet Soley, Clive
Haynes, Frank Spearing, Nigel
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Steinberg, Gerry
Henderson, Doug Stott, Roger
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Howells, Geraint Strang, Gavin
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Hoyle, Doug Townend, John (Bridlington)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Tredinnick, David
Illsley, Eric Turner, Dennis
Ingram, Adam Viggers, Peter
Johnston, Sir Russell Walley, Joan
Warden, Gareth (Gower) Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C) Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N) Winnick, David
Wigley, Dafydd Wise, Mrs Audrey
Woodcock, Dr. Mike Tellers for the Noes:
Young, David (Bolton SE) Ms. Dawn Primarolo and Mrs. Maria Fyfe.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause read a Second time.

The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

The first amendment is amendment (a), which seeks to make the 18th week the limit. I hope that all hon. Members are clear about that.

Amendment proposed to the new clause: (a), in line 3, leave out 'twenty-fourth' and insert 'eighteenth'.—[Mr. Kenneth Clarke.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 165, Noes 375.

Division No. 169] [11.17 pm
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Hague, William
Alton, David Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Amess, David Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Amos, Alan Hayes, Jerry
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Hayward, Robert
Ashby, David Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Aspinwall, Jack Hill, James
Atkins, Robert Hind, Kenneth
Battle, John Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Beggs, Roy Hume, John
Beith, A. J. Hunter, Andrew
Bell, Stuart Irvine, Michael
Bendall, Vivian Irving, Sir Charles
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Janman, Tim
Benyon, W. Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Bevan, David Gilroy Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Kilfedder, James
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Kirkhope, Timothy
Bowis, John Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Lambie, David
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Latham, Michael
Brazier, Julian Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Bright, Graham Lilley, Peter
Burns, Simon Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Burt, Alistair Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Butler, Chris McAvoy, Thomas
Canavan, Dennis McCrea, Rev William
Cash, William Macdonald, Calum A.
Channon, Rt Hon Paul McFall, John
Chope, Christopher Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n) McGrady, Eddie
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) McLoughlin, Patrick
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) McNamara, Kevin
Conway, Derek Malins, Humfrey
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Mallon, Seamus
Cormack, Patrick Mans, Keith
Cummings, John Marlow, Tony
Cunliffe, Lawrence Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Day, Stephen Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Devlin, Tim Maude, Hon Francis
Dickens, Geoffrey Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Dicks, Terry Mills, Iain
Douglas, Dick Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Monro, Sir Hector
Dover, Den Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Dunn, Bob Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Evennett, David Moynihan, Hon Colin
Faulds, Andrew Mudd, David
Favell, Tony Murphy, Paul
Fearn, Ronald Neubert, Michael
Fookes, Dame Janet Nicholls, Patrick
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Norris, Steve
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Fox, Sir Marcus Page, Richard
Freeman, Roger Paice, James
French, Douglas Paisley, Rev Ian
Fry, Peter Parry, Robert
Gale, Roger Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Garel-Jones, Tristan Patten, Rt Hon John
Gorst, John Pawsey, James
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Porter, David (Waveney)
Grylls, Michael Powell, William (Corby)
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Redwood, John
Reid, Dr John Thorne, Neil
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E) Thornton, Malcolm
Roe, Mrs Marion Tracey, Richard
Rossi, Sir Hugh Trippier, David
Sayeed, Jonathan Vaz, Keith
Shaw, David (Dover) Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Shelton, Sir William Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Sillars, Jim Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Skeet, Sir Trevor Waller, Gary
Smith, Sir Cyril (Rochdale) Watts, John
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S) Whitney, Ray
Speed, Keith Widdecombe, Ann
Speller, Tony Winterton, Mrs Ann
Stanbrook, Ivor Winterton, Nicholas
Stevens, Lewis
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Tellers for the Ayes:
Sumberg, David Mr. A. E. P. Duffy and Mr. Toby Jessel.
Summerson, Hugo
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Abbott, Ms Diane Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Aitken, Jonathan Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Alexander, Richard Clay, Bob
Allason, Rupert Clelland, David
Allen, Graham Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Arbuthnot, James Cohen, Harry
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Coleman, Donald
Armstrong, Hilary Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Cope, Rt Hon John
Baldry, Tony Corbett, Robin
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Corbyn, Jeremy
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Couchman, James
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Cousins, Jim
Barron, Kevin Cox, Tom
Batiste, Spencer Cran, James
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Critchley, Julian
Beckett, Margaret Crowther, Stan
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Cryer, Bob
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Cunningham, Dr John
Bermingham, Gerald Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bidwell, Sydney Dalyell, Tam
Biffen, Rt Hon John Darling, Alistair
Blair, Tony Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Blunkett, David Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Boateng, Paul Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Body, Sir Richard Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Dewar, Donald
Boscawen, Hon Robert Dixon, Don
Boswell, Tim Dobson, Frank
Bottomley, Peter Doran, Frank
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Durant, Tony
Boyes, Roland Dykes, Hugh
Bradley, Keith Eadie, Alexander
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Eastham, Ken
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Eggar, Tim
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Emery, Sir Peter
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Evans, John (St Helens N)
Browne, John (Winchester) Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Fatchett, Derek
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Buchan, Norman Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Buck, Sir Antony Flannery, Martin
Buckley, George J. Flynn, Paul
Budgen, Nicholas Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Caborn, Richard Forman, Nigel
Callaghan, Jim Foster, Derek
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Foulkes, George
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Fraser, John
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Galloway, George
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Gardiner, George
Carrington, Matthew Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Cartwright, John George, Bruce
Chapman, Sydney Gill, Christopher
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Livingstone, Ken
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Livsey, Richard
Godman, Dr Norman A. Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Golding, Mrs Llin Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Goodhart, Sir Philip Lord, Michael
Goodlad, Alastair Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Gordon, Mildred McAllion, John
Gould, Bryan McCartney, Ian
Gow, Ian McCrindle, Robert
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Greenway, John (Ryedale) McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Gregory, Conal MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') McKelvey, William
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Maclean, David
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) McLeish, Henry
Grist, Ian Maclennan, Robert
Grocott, Bruce McWilliam, John
Ground, Patrick Madden, Max
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Madel, David
Hanley, Jeremy Mahon, Mrs Alice
Hannam, John Major, Rt Hon John
Harman, Ms Harriet Maples, John
Harris, David Marek, Dr John
Haselhurst, Alan Marland, Paul
Hawkins, Christopher Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Haynes, Frank Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Martlew, Eric
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Mates, Michael
Heathcoat-Amory, David Maxton, John
Henderson, Doug Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Meacher, Michael
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Meale, Alan
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Mellor, David
Hinchliffe, David Meyer, Sir Anthony
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Michael, Alun
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Holt, Richard Miller, Sir Hal
Hood, Jimmy Miscampbell, Norman
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Mitchell, Austin (G'r Grimsby)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Mitchell, Sir David
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Moonie, Dr Lewis
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Moore, Rt Hon John
Howells, Geraint Morgan, Rhodri
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Morley, Elliot
Hoyle, Doug Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Morrison, Sir Charles
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Moss, Malcolm
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Mowlam, Marjorie
Illsley, Eric Mullin, Chris
Ingram, Adam Neale, Gerrard
Jack, Michael Nellist, Dave
Janner, Greville Nelson, Anthony
Johnston, Sir Russell Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) O'Neill, Martin
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn) Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Oppenheim, Phillip
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Patchett, Terry
Key, Robert Patnick, Irvine
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Pike, Peter L.
Kirkwood, Archy Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Knapman, Roger Prescott, John
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Primarolo, Dawn
Knox, David Quin, Ms Joyce
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Radice, Giles
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Raffan, Keith
Leadbitter, Ted Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Lee, John (Pendle) Rathbone, Tim
Leighton, Ron Redmond, Martin
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Rhodes James, Robert
Lewis, Terry Richardson, Jo
Litherland, Robert Riddick, Graham
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Robertson, George Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Robinson, Geoffrey Temple-Morris, Peter
Rogers, Allan Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Rooker, Jeff Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Thurnham, Peter
Ruddock, Joan Townend, John (Bridlington)
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Ryder, Richard Tredinnick, David
Sackville, Hon Tom Trotter, Neville
Salmond, Alex Turner, Dennis
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Twinn, Dr Ian
Sedgemore, Brian Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Viggers, Peter
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Sheerman, Barry Walden, George
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Walley, Joan
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Ward, John
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Short, Clare Warren, Kenneth
Sims, Roger Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Skinner, Dennis Wells, Bowen
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury) Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Wheeler, Sir John
Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam) Wiggin, Jerry
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Wigley, Dafydd
Snape, Peter Wilkinson, John
Soames, Hon Nicholas Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Soley, Clive Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Spearing, Nigel Wilshire, David
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W) Wilson, Brian
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Winnick, David
Squire, Robin Wise, Mrs Audrey
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Wolfson, Mark
Steel, Rt Hon Sir David Wood, Timothy
Steen, Anthony Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Steinberg, Gerry Worthington, Tony
Stern, Michael Wray, Jimmy
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Stott, Roger Younger, Rt Hon George
Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Strang, Gavin Tellers for the Noes:
Straw, Jack Mrs. Maria Fyfe and Mrs. Teresa Gorman.
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ian (Esher)

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment proposed to the new clause: (b), in line 3, leave out 'twenty-fourth' and insert `twenty-eighth'.—Mr. Kenneth Clarke.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:

The Committee proceeded to a Division—

Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West) (seated and covered)

On a point of order, Miss Boothroyd.

The Committee having divided: Ayes 141, Noes 382.

Division No. 170] [11.31 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Bradley, Keith
Allen, Graham Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Buchan, Norman
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Buck, Sir Antony
Barron, Kevin Caborn, Richard
Beckett, Margaret Callaghan, Jim
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Cartwright, John
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Bidwell, Sydney Clay, Bob
Biffen, Rt Hon John Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Boateng, Paul Cohen, Harry
Boyes, Roland Coleman, Donald
Corbyn, Jeremy Maxton, John
Cousins, Jim Meacher, Michael
Cox, Tom Meale, Alan
Cryer, Bob Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Cunningham, Dr John Mitchell, Sir David
Darling, Alistair Moonie, Dr Lewis
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Morgan, Rhodri
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Dobson, Frank Neale, Gerrard
Doran, Frank Nellist, Dave
Eadie, Alexander O'Neill, Martin
Eastham, Ken Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Evans, John (St Helens N) Patchett, Terry
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Fatchett, Derek Prescott, John
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Radice, Giles
Flannery, Martin Redmond, Martin
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Richardson, Jo
Foster, Derek Rogers, Allan
Foulkes, George Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Fraser, John Ruddock, Joan
Fyfe, Maria Sedgemore, Brian
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
George, Bruce Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Short, Clare
Gordon, Mildred Skinner, Dennis
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Gould, Bryan Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Harman, Ms Harriet Snape, Peter
Haynes, Frank Soley, Clive
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Spearing, Nigel
Henderson, Doug Steinberg, Gerry
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Stott, Roger
Howells, Geraint Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Strang, Gavin
Hoyle, Doug Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Thurnham, Peter
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Illsley, Eric Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Johnston, Sir Russell Tredinnick, David
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Turner, Dennis
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Viggers, Peter
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Walley, Joan
Leighton, Ron Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Lewis, Terry Wig Iey, Dafydd
Litherland, Robert Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Livingstone, Ken Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Winnick, David
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Wise, Mrs Audrey
McAllion, John Woodcock, Dr. Mike
McCartney, Ian Young, David (Bolton SE)
McKelvey, William
McWilliam, John Tellers for the Ayes:
Madden, Max Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody and Ms. Dawn Primarolo.
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Aitken, Jonathan Battle, John
Alexander, Richard Beaumont-Dark, Anthony
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Beggs, Roy
Allason, Rupert Beith, A. J.
Alton, David Bell, Stuart
Amess, David Bendall, Vivian
Amos, Alan Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Arbuthnot, James Benyon, W.
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Bermingham, Gerald
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Bevan, David Gilroy
Ashby, David Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Aspinwall, Jack Boscawen, Hon Robert
Atkins, Robert Boswell, Tim
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Bottomley, Peter
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Baldry, Tony Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Batiste, Spencer Bowis, John
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Galloway, George
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Gardiner, George
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Garel-Jones, Tristan
Brazier, Julian Gill, Christopher
Bright, Graham Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Godman, Dr Norman A.
Browne, John (Winchester) Golding, Mrs Llin
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Goodhart, Sir Philip
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Gorst, John
Buckley, George J. Gow, Ian
Budgen, Nicholas Graham, Thomas
Burns, Simon Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Burt, Alistair Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Butcher, John Gregory, Conal
Butler, Chris Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Butterfill, John Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Grist, Ian
Canavan, Dennis Grocott, Bruce
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Ground, Patrick
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Grylls, Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Carrington, Matthew Hague, William
Cash, William Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Chapman, Sydney Hanley, Jeremy
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n) Hardy, Peter
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Harris, David
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Haselhurst, Alan
Conway, Derek Hawkins, Christopher
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Hayes, Jerry
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hayward, Robert
Cope, Rt Hon John Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Corbett, Robin Heathcoat-Amory, David
Cormack, Patrick Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Couchman, James Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Cran, James Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Crowther, Stan Hill, James
Cummings, John Hinchliffe, David
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hind, Kenneth
Currie, Mrs Edwina Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Dalyell, Tam Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Holt, Richard
Davis, David (Boothferry) Home Robertson, John
Day, Stephen Hood, Jimmy
Devlin, Tim Hordern, Sir Peter
Dewar, Donald Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Dickens, Geoffrey Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Dicks, Terry Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Dixon, Don Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Douglas. Dick Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Dover, Den Hume, John
Dunn, Bob Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Dunnachie, Jimmy Hunter, Andrew
Durant, Tony Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Eggar, Tim Irvine, Michael
Emery, Sir Peter Irving, Sir Charles
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Jack, Michael
Evennett, David Janman, Tim
Fallon, Michael Janner, Greville
Faulds, Andrew Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Favell, Tony Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Fearn, Ronald Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Flynn, Paul Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Fookes, Dame Janet Kennedy, Charles
Forman, Nigel Key, Robert
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Kilfedder, James
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Kirkhope, Timothy
Fox, Sir Marcus Kirkwood, Archy
Freeman, Roger Knapman, Roger
French, Douglas Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Fry, Peter Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Gale, Roger Lambie, David
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Parry, Robert
Lang, Ian Patnick, Irvine
Latham, Michael Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Lawrence, Ivan Patten, Rt Hon John
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Leadbitter, Ted Pawsey, James
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Pike, Peter L.
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Porter, David (Waveney)
Lightbown, David Portillo, Michael
Lilley, Peter Price, Sir David
Livsey, Richard Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Rathbone, Tim
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Redwood, John
Lord, Michael Reid, Dr John
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Rhodes James, Robert
McAvoy, Thomas Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
McCrea, Rev William Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
McCrindle, Robert Robertson, George
Macdonald, Calum A. Robinson, Geoffrey
McFall, John Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Roe, Mrs Marion
McGrady, Eddie Rossi, Sir Hugh
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Rowlands, Ted
Maclennan, Robert Rumbold, Mrs Angela
McLoughlin, Patrick Salmond, Alex
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Sayeed, Jonathan
McNamara, Kevin Shaw, David (Dover)
Madel, David Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Major, Rt Hon John Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Malins, Humfrey Shelton, Sir William
Mallon, Seamus Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Mans, Keith Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Marek, Dr John Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Marland, Paul Sillars, Jim
Marlow, Tony Sims, Roger
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Smith, Sir Cyril (Rochdale)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Martlew, Eric Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Mates, Michael Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Maude, Hon Francis Soames, Hon Nicholas
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Speed, Keith
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Speller, Tony
Mellor, David Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Michael, Alun Squire, Robin
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute) Stanbrook, Ivor
Miller, Sir Hal Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Mills, Iain Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Steen, Anthony
Moate, Roger Stern, Michael
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Stevens, Lewis
Monro, Sir Hector Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Moore, Rt Hon John Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Straw, Jack
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Sumberg, David
Morrison, Sir Charles Summerson, Hugo
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Moss, Malcolm Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Moynihan, Hon Colin Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Mudd, David Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Murphy, Paul Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Nelson, Anthony Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Neubert, Michael Temple-Morris, Peter
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Nicholls, Patrick Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Thorne, Neil
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Thornton, Malcolm
Norris, Steve Tracey, Richard
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Trippier, David
O'Brien, William Trotter, Neville
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Twinn, Dr Ian
Oppenheim, Phillip Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Page, Richard Vaz, Keith
Paice, James Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Paisley, Rev Ian Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Walden, George Wilshire, David
Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Walker, Bill (T'side North) Winterton, Nicholas
Wallace, James Wolfson, Mark
Waller, Gary Wood, Timothy
Ward, John Worthington, Tony
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill) Wray, Jimmy
Warren, Kenneth Yeo, Tim
Watts, John Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wells, Bowen Younger, Rt Hon George
Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Wheeler, Sir John Tellers for the Noes:
Whitney, Ray Mr. A. E. P. Duffy and Mr. Toby Jessel.
Widdecombe, Ann
Wilkinson, John

Question accordingly negatived.

11.45 pm
The Second Deputy Chairman

The hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) has a point of order.

Mr. Canavan

On a point of order, Miss Boothroyd. My colleague the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mr. Parry) asked me to nod him through during the Division that has just taken place. I took the trouble of checking with the Clerk, and the Clerk who was marking off the names on the register took the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Riverside, but there seemed to be some dispute with the Tellers as to whether my hon. Friend's vote had been recorded. I am hereby vouching for the fact that my hon. Friend, who suffered a car accident some time ago, is still suffering a disability and is incapable of continuously going through the Lobby tonight. I ask your guidance, Miss Boothroyd, on whether his vote was valid in the previous Division and whether it will be in subsequent Divisions.

The Second Deputy Chairman

Let me make the position clear to the House. Nodding through is not a rule of the House. It is usually done when an hon. Member has a medical problem, but it has nothing to do with the Chair. It is usually settled by the political parties concerned. In this case, it must be agreed by those who are organising the vote—that is, it has nothing whatever to do with the Clerks; it has to do with the Tellers. If they agree that an hon. Member can be nodded through, so be it. I hope that that makes the matter quite clear.

Amendment proposed to the new clause: (c), in line 3, leave out 'twenty-fourth' and insert 'twentieth'.—[Mr.Kenneth Clarke.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Commitee divided: Ayes 189, Noes 358.

Division No. 171] [11.48 pm
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Alton, David Benyon, W.
Amess, David Bermingham, Gerald
Amos, Alan Bevan, David Gilroy
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)
Ashby, David Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Aspinwall, Jack Bowis, John
Atkins, Robert Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Brazier, Julian
Battle, John Bright, Graham
Beggs, Roy Burns, Simon
Beith, A. J. Burt, Alistair
Bell, Stuart Butcher, John
Bellingham, Henry Butler, Chris
Bendall, Vivian Canavan, Dennis
Cash, William McNamara, Kevin
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Malins, Humfrey
Chope, Christopher Mallon, Seamus
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n) Mans, Keith
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Marlow, Tony
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Conway, Derek Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Maude, Hon Francis
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Cormack, Patrick Mills, Iain
Cummings, John Moate, Roger
Cunliffe, Lawrence Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Davis, David (Boothferry) Monro, Sir Hector
Day, Stephen Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Devlin, Tim Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Dickens, Geoffrey Moss, Malcolm
Dicks, Terry Moynihan, Hon Colin
Douglas, Dick Mudd, David
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Murphy, Paul
Dover, Den Neubert, Michael
Dunn, Bob Nicholls, Patrick
Evennett, David Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Fallon, Michael Norris, Steve
Faulds, Andrew Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Favell, Tony O'Brien, William
Fearn, Ronald Page, Richard
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Paice, James
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Paisley, Rev Ian
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Parry, Robert
Fox, Sir Marcus Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Freeman, Roger Patten, Rt Hon John
French, Douglas Pawsey, James
Fry, Peter Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Gale, Roger Porter, David (Waveney)
Garel-Jones, Tristan Portillo, Michael
Goodhart, Sir Philip Price, Sir David
Gorst, John Redwood, John
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Reid, Dr John
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Grylls, Michael Roe, Mrs Marion
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Rossi, Sir Hugh
Hague, William Rowlands, Ted
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Sayeed, Jonathan
Hayes, Jerry Shaw, David (Dover)
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Shelton, Sir William
Hayward, Robert Sillars, Jim
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Hill, James Smith, Sir Cyril (Rochdale)
Hind, Kenneth Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Home Robertson, John Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Speed, Keith
Hume, John Speller, Tony
Hunter, Andrew Stanbrook, Ivor
Irvine, Michael Stevens, Lewis
Jack, Michael Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Janman, Tim Sumberg, David
Jessel, Toby Summerson, Hugo
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Kilfedder, James Thorne, Neil
Kirkhope, Timothy Thornton, Malcolm
Knapman, Roger Tracey, Richard
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Trippier, David
Lambie, David Vaz, Keith
Lang, Ian Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Latham, Michael Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Lawrence, Ivan Waller, Gary
Lilley, Peter Watts, John
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Whitney, Ray
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Widdecombe, Ann
McAvoy, Thomas Winterton, Mrs Ann
McCrea, Rev William Winterton, Nicholas
Macdonald, Calum A.
McFall, John Tellers for the Ayes:
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Mr. Edward Leigh and Mr. A. E. P. Duffy.
McGrady, Eddie
McLoughlin, Patrick
Abbott, Ms Diane Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Aitken, Jonathan Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Alexander, Richard Dewar, Donald
Allason, Rupert Dixon, Don
Allen, Graham Dobson, Frank
Arbuthnot, James Doran, Frank
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Armstrong, Hilary Durant, Tony
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Dykes, Hugh
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Eadie, Alexander
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Eastham, Ken
Baldry, Tony Eggar, Tim
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Evans, John (St Helens N)
Batiste, Spencer Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Fatchett, Derek
Beckett, Margaret Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Flannery, Martin
Bidwell, Sydney Flynn, Paul
Biffen, Rt Hon John Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Blair, Tony Forman, Nigel
Blunkett, David Foster, Derek
Boateng, Paul Foulkes, George
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fraser, John
Boswell, Tim Galloway, George
Bottomley, Peter Gardiner, George
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Boyes, Roland George, Bruce
Bradley, Keith Gill, Christopher
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Godman, Dr Norman A.
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Golding, Mrs Llin
Browne, John (Winchester) Goodlad, Alastair
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Gordon, Mildred
Buchan, Norman Gould, Bryan
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Gow, Ian
Buck, Sir Antony Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Buckley, George J. Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Budgen, Nicholas Gregory, Conal
Caborn, Richard Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Callaghan, Jim Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Grist, Ian
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Grocott, Bruce
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Ground, Patrick
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Carrington, Matthew Hampson, Dr Keith
Cartwright, John Hanley, Jeremy
Chapman, Sydney Hannam, John
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Harman, Ms Harriet
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Harris, David
Clay, Bob Haselhurst, Alan
Clelland, David Hawkins, Christopher
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Haynes, Frank
Cohen, Harry Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Coleman, Donald Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Colvin, Michael Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Henderson, Doug
Cope, Rt Hon John Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Corbett, Robin Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Corbyn, Jeremy Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Couchman, James Hinchliffe, David
Cousins, Jim Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)
Cox, Tom Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Cran, James Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Critchley, Julian Holt, Richard
Crowther, Stan Hood, Jimmy
Cryer, Bob Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Cunningham, Dr John Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Dalyell, Tarn Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Darling, Alistair Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Howells, Geraint
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Hoyle, Doug Mowlam, Marjorie
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Mullin, Chris
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Neale, Gerrard
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Nellist, Dave
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Nelson, Anthony
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Illsley, Eric Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Ingram, Adam O'Neill, Martin
Jackson, Robert Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Janner, Greville Oppenheim, Phillip
Johnston, Sir Russell Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Patchett, Terry
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn) Patnick, Irvine
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Pike, Peter L.
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Key, Robert Prescott, John
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Primarolo, Dawn
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Quin, Ms Joyce
Kirkwood, Archy Radice, Giles
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Raffan, Keith
Knox, David Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Rathbone, Tim
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Redmond, Martin
Leadbitter, Ted Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Lee, John (Pendle) Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Leighton, Ron Rhodes James, Robert
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Richardson, Jo
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Riddick, Graham
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lewis, Terry Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Litherland, Robert Robertson, George
Livingstone, Ken Robinson, Geoffrey
Livsey, Richard Rogers, Allan
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Rooker, Jeff
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Lord, Michael Ruddock, Joan
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Ryder, Richard
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Sackville, Hon Tom
McAllion, John Salmond, Alex
McCartney, Ian Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
McCrindle, Robert Sedgemore, Brian
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Sheerman, Barry
McKelvey, William Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Maclean, David Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
McLeish, Henry Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Maclennan, Robert Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
McWilliam, John Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Madden, Max Short, Clare
Madel, David Sims, Roger
Mahon, Mrs Alice Skinner, Dennis
Major, Rt Hon John Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Maples, John Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Marek, Dr John Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Marland, Paul Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Snape, Peter
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Soames, Hon Nicholas
Martlew, Eric Soley, Clive
Mates, Michael Spearing, Nigel
Maxton, John Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Meacher, Michael Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Meale, Alan Squire, Robin
Meyer, Sir Anthony Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Michael, Alun Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Steen, Anthony
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute) Steinberg, Gerry
Miller, Sir Hal Stern, Michael
Miscampbell, Norman Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Stott, Roger
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Mitchell, Sir David Strang, Gavin
Moonie, Dr Lewis Straw, Jack
Moore, Rt Hon John Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Morgan, Rhodri Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Morley, Elliot Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Morrison, Sir Charles Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis Wheeler, Sir John
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley) Wiggin, Jerry
Thurnham, Peter Wigley, Dafydd
Townend, John (Bridlington) Wilkinson, John
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath) Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Tredinnick, David Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Trotter, Neville Wilshire, David
Turner, Dennis Wilson, Brian
Vaughan, Sir Gerard Winnick, David
Viggers, Peter Wise, Mrs Audrey
Wakeham, Rt Hon John Wolfson, Mark
Walden, George Wood, Timothy
Walker, Bill (T'side North) Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Walley, Joan Worthington, Tony
Ward, John Young, David (Bolton SE)
Warden, Gareth (Gower) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill) Younger, Rt Hon George
Warren, Kenneth
Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C) Tellers for the Noes:
Wells, Bowen Mrs. Teresa Gorman and Mrs. Maria Fyfe.
Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment proposed to the new clause: (d), in line 3, leave out 'twenty-fourth' and insert `twenty-sixth'.—[Mr. Kenneth Clarke.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Commitee divided: Ayes 156, Noes 372.

Division No. 172] [12.03 am
Abbott, Ms Diane Flannery, Martin
Allen, Graham Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Foster, Derek
Armstrong, Hilary Foulkes, George
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Fraser, John
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Fyfe, Maria
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Barron, Kevin George, Bruce
Beckett, Margaret Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Gordon, Mildred
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Bidwell, Sydney Gould, Bryan
Biffen, Rt Hon John Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Boateng, Paul Harman, Ms Harriet
Boyes, Roland Haynes, Frank
Bradley, Keith Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)
Browne, John (Winchester) Howells, Geraint
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Buchan, Norman Hoyle, Doug
Buck, Sir Antony Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Caborn, Richard Illsley, Eric
Callaghan, Jim Ingram, Adam
Cartwright, John Johnston, Sir Russell
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Clay, Bob Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Cohen, Harry Leighton, Ron
Coleman, Donald Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Corbyn, Jeremy Lewis, Terry
Cousins, Jim Litherland, Robert
Cox, Tom Livingstone, Ken
Cran, James Livsey, Richard
Cryer, Bob Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Cunningham, Dr John Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Darling, Alistair McAllion, John
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) McCartney, Ian
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Dobson, Frank MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Doran, Frank McKelvey, William
Eadie, Alexander McWilliam, John
Eastham, Ken Madden, Max
Evans, John (St Helens N) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Maples, John
Fatchett, Derek Marland, Paul
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Maxton, John Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Meacher, Michael Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Meale, Alan Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Snape, Peter
Miscampbell, Norman Soley, Clive
Mitchell, Sir David Spearing, Nigel
Moonie, Dr Lewis Steinberg, Gerry
Morgan, Rhodri Stott, Roger
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Mowlam, Marjorie Strang, Gavin
Neale, Gerrard Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Nellist, Dave Thurnham, Peter
O'Neill, Martin Townend, John (Bridlington)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Patchett, Terry Tredinnick, David
Patnick, Irvine Turner, Dennis
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Viggers, Peter
Prescott, John Walley, Joan
Quin, Ms Joyce Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Radice, Giles Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Redmond, Martin Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn Wigley, Dafydd
Rhodes James, Robert Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Richardson, Jo Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Rogers, Allan Winnick, David
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Ruddock, Joan Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Wray, Jimmy
Sedgemore, Brian Young, David (Bolton SE)
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Tellers for the Ayes:
Short, Clare Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody and Ms. Dawn Primarolo.
Skinner, Dennis
Aitken, Jonathan Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Alexander, Richard Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Buckley, George J.
Allason, Rupert Budgen, Nicholas
Alton, David Burns, Simon
Amos, Alan Burt, Alistair
Arbuthnot, James Butcher, John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Butler, Chris
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Butterfill, John
Ashby, David Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)
Aspinwall, Jack Canavan, Dennis
Atkins, Robert Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Carrington, Matthew
Baldry, Tony Cash, William
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Batiste, Spencer Chapman, Sydney
Battle, John Chope, Christopher
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)
Beggs, Roy Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Beith, A. J. Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Bell, Stuart Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Bellingham, Henry Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Bendall, Vivian Colvin, Michael
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Conway, Derek
Benyon, W. Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Bermingham, Gerald Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Bevan, David Gilroy Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Cope, Rt Hon John
Body, Sir Richard Corbett, Robin
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Cormack, Patrick
Boscawen, Hon Robert Couchman, James
Boswell, Tim Crowther, Stan
Bottomley, Peter Cummings, John
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Cunliffe, Lawrence
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Dalyell, Tarn
Bowis, John Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Davis, David (Boothferry)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Day, Stephen
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Devlin, Tim
Brazier, Julian Dewar, Donald
Bright, Graham Dickens, Geoffrey
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Dicks, Terry
Dixon, Don Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Douglas, Dick Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Dover, Den Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Duffy, A. E. P. Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Dunn, Bob Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Dunnachie, Jimmy Hume, John
Durant, Tony Hunter, Andrew
Dykes, Hugh Irvine, Michael
Eggar, Tim Jack, Michael
Emery, Sir Peter Janman, Tim
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Janner, Greville
Evennett, David Jessel, Toby
Fallon, Michael Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Faulds, Andrew Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Favell, Tony Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Fearn, Ronald Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Flynn, Paul Kennedy, Charles
Forman, Nigel Key, Robert
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Kilfedder, James
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Kirkhope, Timothy
Fox, Sir Marcus Kirkwood, Archy
Freeman, Roger Knapman, Roger
French, Douglas Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Fry, Peter Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Gale, Roger Lambie, David
Galloway, George Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Gardiner, George Latham, Michael
Garel-Jones, Tristan Lawrence, Ivan
Gill, Christopher Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Leadbitter, Ted
Godman, Dr Norman A. Lee, John (Pendle)
Golding, Mrs Llin Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Goodhart, Sir Philip Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Gorst, John Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Gow, Ian Lightbown, David
Graham, Thomas Lilley, Peter
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Gregory, Conal Lord, Michael
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) McAvoy, Thomas
Grist, Ian McCrea, Rev William
Grocott, Bruce McCrindle, Robert
Ground, Patrick Macdonald, Calum A.
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn McFall, John
Hague, William Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) McGrady, Eddie
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Hanley, Jeremy Maclennan, Robert
Hannam, John McLoughlin, Patrick
Hardy, Peter McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') McNamara, Kevin
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Madel, David
Harris, David Major, Rt Hon John
Haselhurst, Alan Malins, Humfrey
Hawkins, Christopher Mallon, Seamus
Hayes, Jerry Mans, Keith
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Marek, Dr John
Hayward, Robert Marlow, Tony
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Heathcoat-Amory, David Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Henderson, Doug Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Martlew, Eric
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Mates, Michael
Hill, James Maude, Hon Francis
Hinchliffe, David Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Hind, Kenneth Mellor, David
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Michael, Alun
Holt, Richard Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Home Robertson, John Miller, Sir Hal
Hood, Jimmy Mills, Iain
Hordern, Sir Peter Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Moate, Roger
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S,)
Monro, Sir Hector Soames, Hon Nicholas
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Speed, Keith
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Speller, Tony
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Morrison, Sir Charles Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Squire, Robin
Moss, Malcolm Stanbrook, Ivor
Moynihan, Hon Colin Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Murphy, Paul Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Nelson, Anthony Steen, Anthony
Neubert, Michael Stevens, Lewis
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Nicholls, Patrick Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Sumberg, David
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Summerson, Hugo
Norris, Steve Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Taylor, Ian (Esher)
O'Brien, William Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Oppenheim, Phillip Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Page, Richard Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Paice, James Temple-Morris, Peter
Paisley, Rev Ian Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Parry, Robert Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath) Thorne, Neil
Patten, Rt Hon John Thornton, Malcolm
Pawsey, James Tracey, Richard
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Trippier, David
Pike, Peter L. Trotter, Neville
Porter, David (Waveney) Twinn, Dr Ian
Portillo, Michael Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Price, Sir David Vaz, Keith
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Rathbone, Tim Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Redwood, John Walden, George
Reid, Dr John Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Wallace, James
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Waller, Gary
Robertson, George Ward, John
Robinson, Geoffrey Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E) Warren, Kenneth
Roe, Mrs Marion Watts, John
Rossi, Sir Hugh Wells, Bowen
Rowlands, Ted Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Wheeler, Sir John
Salmond, Alex Whitney, Ray
Sayeed, Jonathan Wilkinson, John
Shaw, David (Dover) Wilshire, David
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Winterton, Nicholas
Shelton, Sir William Wolfson, Mark
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Wood, Timothy
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Worthington, Tony
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Yeo, Tim
Sillars, Jim Young, Sir George (Acton)
Sims, Roger Younger, Rt Hon George
Skeet, Sir Trevor
Smith, Sir Cyril (Rochdale) Tellers for the Noes:
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Miss Ann Widdecombe and Mr. David Amess.
Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment proposed to the new clause: (e), in line 3, leave out 'twenty-fourth' and insert `twenty-second'.—[Mr. Kenneth Clarke.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Commitee divided: Ayes 255, Noes 301.

Division No.173] [12.17 am
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Alton, David Aspinwall, Jack
Amos, Alan Atkins, Robert
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Baldry, Tony
Ashby, David Banks, Robert (Harrogate)
Batiste, Spencer Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Battle, John Hanley, Jeremy
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Hannam, John
Beggs, Roy Hardy, Peter
Beith, A. J. Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Bell, Stuart Harg reaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Bellingham, Henry Harris, David
Bendall, Vivian Hayes, Jerry
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Benyon, W. Hayward, Robert
Bermingham, Gerald Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Bevan, David Gilroy Hill, James
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Hind, Kenneth
Boscawen, Hon Robert Holt, Richard
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Home Robertson, John
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Hordern, Sir Peter
Bowis, John Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Hume, John
Brazier, Julian Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Bright, Graham Hunter, Andrew
Budgen, Nicholas Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Burns, Simon Irvine, Michael
Burt, Alistair Jack, Michael
Butcher, John Janman, Tim
Butler, Chris Jessel, Toby
Butterfill, John Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Canavan, Dennis Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Carrington, Matthew Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Cash, William Kennedy, Charles
Channon, Rt Hon Paul King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Chapman, Sydney Kirkhope, Timothy
Chope, Christopher Knapman, Roger
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n) Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Lambie, David
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Latham, Michael
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Lawrence, Ivan
Conway, Derek Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Cope, Rt Hon John Lightbown, David
Cormack, Patrick Lilley, Peter
Cummings, John Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Currie, Mrs Edwina Lord, Michael
Davis, David (Boothferry) Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Day, Stephen McAvoy, Thomas
Devlin, Tim McCrea, Rev William
Dickens, Geoffrey Macdonald, Calum A.
Dicks, Terry McFall, John
Douglas, Dick Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James McGrady, Eddie
Dover, Den MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Dunn, Bob Maclean, David
Durant, Tony McLoughlin, Patrick
Eggar, Tim McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Evennett, David McNamara, Kevin
Fallon, Michael Major, Rt Hon John
Faulds, Andrew Malins, Humfrey
Favell, Tony Mallon, Seamus
Fearn, Ronald Mans, Keith
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Marlow, Tony
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Fox, Sir Marcus Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Freeman, Roger Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
French, Douglas Mates, Michael
Fry, Peter Maude, Hon Francis
Gale, Roger Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Garel-Jones, Tristan Mellor, David
Goodhart, Sir Philip Miller, Sir Hal
Gorst, John Mills, Iain
Gow, Ian Moate, Roger
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Monro, Sir Hector
Gregory, Conal Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Hague, William Moss, Malcolm
Moynihan, Hon Colin Soames, Hon Nicholas
Murphy, Paul Speed, Keith
Neubert, Michael Speller, Tony
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Stanbrook, Ivor
Nicholls, Patrick Steen, Anthony
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Stevens, Lewis
Norris, Steve Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
O'Brien, William Sumberg, David
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Summerson, Hugo
Oppenheim, Phillip Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Page, Richard Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Paice, James Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Paisley, Rev Ian Temple-Morris, Peter
Parry, Robert Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Patten, Rt Hon John Thorne, Neil
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Thornton, Malcolm
Pawsey, James Tracey, Richard
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Trippier, David
Porter, David (Waveney) Twinn, Dr Ian
Portillo, Michael Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Price, Sir David Vaz, Keith
Redwood, John Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Reid, Dr John Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E) Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Roe, Mrs Marion Wallace, James
Rossi, Sir Hugh Waller, Gary
Rowlands, Ted Ward, John
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Sayeed, Jonathan Watts, John
Shaw, David (Dover) Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Whitney, Ray
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Widdecombe, Ann
Shelton, Sir William Winterton, Mrs Ann
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Winterton, Nicholas
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Worthington, Tony
Sillars, Jim Yeo, Tim
Skeet, Sir Trevor
Smith, Sir Cyril (Rochdale) Tellers for the Ayes:
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Mr. A.E. P. Duffy and Mr. David Amess
Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Abbott, Ms Diane Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Aitken, Jonathan Buchan, Norman
Alexander, Richard Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Allason, Rupert Buck, Sir Antony
Allen, Graham Buckley, George J.
Arbuthnot, James Caborn, Richard
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Callaghan, Jim
Armstrong, Hilary Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Barron, Kevin Cartwright, John
Beckett, Margaret Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Bennett, A F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Clay, Bob
Bidwell, Sydney Clelland, David
Biffen, Rt Hon John Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Blair, Tony Cohen, Harry
Blunkett, David Coleman, Donald
Boateng, Paul Colvin, Michael
Body, Sir Richard Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Boswell, Tim Corbett, Robin
Bottomley, Peter Corbyn, Jeremy
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Couchman, James
Boyes, Roland Cousins, Jim
Bradley, Keith Cox, Tom
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Cran, James
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Critchley, Julian
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Crowther, Stan
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Cryer, Bob
Browne, John (Winchester) Cunningham, Dr John
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Alistair Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Dewar, Donald Key, Robert
Dixon, Don Kilfedder, James
Dobson, Frank Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Doran, Frank Kirkwood, Archy
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Dykes, Hugh Knox, David
Eadie, Alexander Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Eastham, Ken Leadbitter, Ted
Emery, Sir Peter Lee, John (Pendle)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Leighton, Ron
Evans, John (St Helens N) Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Fatchett, Derek Lewis, Terry
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Litherland, Robert
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Livingstone, Ken
Flannery, Martin Livsey, Richard
Flynn, Paul Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Forman, Nigel Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Foster, Derek McAllion, John
Foulkes, George McCartney, Ian
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman McCrindle, Robert
Fraser, John McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Fyfe, Maria MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Gardiner, George McKelvey, William
Garrett, John (Norwich South) McLeish, Henry
George, Bruce Maclennan, Robert
Gill, Christopher McWilliam, John
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Madden, Max
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Madel, David
Godman, Dr Norman A. Mahon, Mrs Alice
Golding, Mrs Llin Maples, John
Goodlad, Alastair Marek, Dr John
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Marland, Paul
Gordon, Mildred Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Gould, Bryan Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Martlew, Eric
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Maxton, John
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Meacher, Michael
Grist, Ian Meale, Alan
Grocott, Bruce Meyer, Sir Anthony
Ground, Patrick Michael, Alun
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Hampson, Dr Keith Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Harman, Ms Harriet Miscampbell, Norman
Haselhurst, Alan Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hawkins, Christopher Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Haynes, Frank Mitchell, Sir David
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Moonie, Dr Lewis
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Morgan, Rhodri
Heathcoat-Amory, David Morley, Elliot
Henderson, Doug Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Morrison, Sir Charles
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Mowlam, Marjorie
Hinchliffe, David Mullin, Chris
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Neale, Gerrard
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Nellist, Dave
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Nelson, Anthony
Hood, Jimmy Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Howard, Rt Hon Michael O'Neill, Martin
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Patchett, Terry
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Patnick, Irvine
Howells, Geraint Pike, Peter L.
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Hoyle, Doug Prescott, John
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Quin, Ms Joyce
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Radice, Giles
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Raffan, Keith
Illsley, Eric Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Ingram, Adam Rathbone, Tim
Janner, Greville Redmond, Martin
Johnston, Sir Russell Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Reid, Dr John Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Rhodes James, Robert Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Richardson, Jo Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Riddick, Graham Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Robertson, George Thurnham, Peter
Robinson, Geoffrey Townend, John (Bridlington)
Rogers, Allan Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Rooker, Jeff Tredinnick, David
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Trotter, Neville
Ruddock, Joan Turner, Dennis
Ryder, Richard Viggers, Peter
Sackville, Hon Tom Walden, George
Salmond, Alex Walley, Joan
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Sedgemore, Brian Warren, Kenneth
Sheerman, Barry Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Wells, Bowen
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Wheeler, Sir John
Short, Clare Wiggin, Jerry
Sims, Roger Wigley, Dafydd
Skinner, Dennis Wilkinson, John
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury) Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam) Wilshire, David
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Wilson, Brian
Snape, Peter Winnick, David
Soley, Clive Wise, Mrs Audrey
Spearing, Nigel Wolfson, Mark
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W) Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Squire, Robin Wray, Jimmy
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Young, David (Bolton SE)
Steel, Rt Hon Sir David Young, Sir George (Acton)
Steinberg, Gerry Younger, Rt Hon George
Stern, Michael
Stott, Roger Tellers for the Noes:
Strang, Gavin Mrs. Teresa Gorman and Ms. Dawn Primarolo.
Straw, Jack

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment proposed to the new clause:(f), in line 6, at end insert— '(aa) that the termination is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman;or'.—[Mr. Kenneth Clarke.]

Question put,That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 337, Noes 146.

Division No. 174] [12.30 am
Abbott, Ms Diane Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Alexander, Richard Boswell, Tim
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Allason, Rupert Boyes, Roland
Allen, Graham Bradley, Keith
Arbuthnot, James Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)
Armstrong, Hilary Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)
Ashby, David Browne, John (Winchester)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Buchan, Norman
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Buck, Sir Antony
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Buckley, George J.
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Butler, Chris
Barron, Kevin Caborn, Richard
Battle, John Callaghan, Jim
Beckett, Margaret Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Beggs, Roy Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Bermingham, Gerald Carrington, Matthew
Bidwell, Sydney Cartwright, John
Blair, Tony Chapman, Sydney
Blunkett, David Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Boateng, Paul Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Body, Sir Richard Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Haselhurst, Alan
Clay, Bob Hawkins, Christopher
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Haynes, Frank
Cohen, Harry Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Coleman, Donald Henderson, Doug
Colvin, Michael Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Hinchliffe, David
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)
Cope, Rt Hon John Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Corbett, Robin Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Corbyn, Jeremy Hood, Jimmy
Couchman, James Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Cousins, Jim Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Cox, Tom Howells, Geraint
Cran, James Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Crowther, Stan Hoyle, Doug
Cryer, Bob Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cummings, John Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Cunningham, Dr John Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Dalyell, Tam Illsley, Eric
Darling, Alistair Ingram, Adam
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Irvine, Michael
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Johnston, Sir Russell
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Devlin, Tim Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Dewar, Donald Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Dixon, Don Key, Robert
Dobson, Frank Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Doran, Frank Kirkwood, Archy
Durant, Tony Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Dykes, Hugh Knox, David
Eadie, Alexander Lambie, David
Eastham, Ken Lawrence, Ivan
Emery, Sir Peter Lee, John (Pendle)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Leighton, Ron
Evans, John (St Helens N) Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Fatchett, Derek Lewis, Terry
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Litherland, Robert
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Livingstone, Ken
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Livsey, Richard
Flannery, Martin Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Flynn, Paul Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Lord, Michael
Forman, Nigel Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Foster, Derek McAllion, John
Foulkes, George McCartney, Ian
Fraser, John McCrindle, Robert
French, Douglas Macdonald, Calum A.
Fry, Peter McFall, John
Fyfe, Maria McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Galloway, George MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Gardiner, George McKelvey, William
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Maclean, David
George, Bruce McLeish, Henry
Gill, Christopher McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian McWilliam, John
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Madden, Max
Godman, Dr Norman A. Madel, David
Golding, Mrs Llin Mahon, Mrs Alice
Goodlad, Alastair Major, Rt Hon John
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Maples, John
Gordon, Mildred Marek, Dr John
Gould, Bryan Marland, Paul
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Martlew, Eric
Grist, Ian Maxton, John
Grocott, Bruce Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hague, William Meacher, Michael
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Meale, Alan
Hampson, Dr Keith Meyer, Sir Anthony
Hanley, Jeremy Michael, Alun
Hannam, John Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Hardy, Peter Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Harman, Ms Harriet Miscampbell, Norman
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Mitchell, Sir David Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Moonie, Dr Lewis Snape, Peter
Morgan, Rhodri Soley, Clive
Morley, Elliot Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Squire, Robin
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Morrison, Sir Charles Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Steen, Anthony
Mowlam, Marjorie Steinberg, Gerry
Mullin, Chris Stern, Michael
Neale, Gerrard Stott, Roger
Nellist, Dave Strang, Gavin
Nelson, Anthony Straw, Jack
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Sumberg, David
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Summerson, Hugo
Norris, Steve Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
O'Brien, William Taylor, John M (Solihull)
O'Neill, Martin Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Temple-Morris, Peter
Page, Richard Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Patchett, Terry Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Patnick, Irvine Townend, John (Bridlington)
Pike, Peter L. Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Porter, David (Waveney) Tracey, Richard
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Tredinnick, David
Prescott, John Turner, Dennis
Primarolo, Dawn Twinn, Dr Ian
Quin, Ms Joyce Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Radice, Giles Viggers, Peter
Raffan, Keith Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Rathbone, Tim Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Redmond, Martin Wallace, James
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn Walley, Joan
Reid, Dr John Ward, John
Richardson, Jo Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Riddick, Graham Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Warren, Kenneth
Robertson, George Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Robinson, Geoffrey Wells, Bowen
Rogers, Allan Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Rooker, Jeff Wheeler, Sir John
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Wiggin, Jerry
Ruddock, Joan Wigley, Dafydd
Ryder, Richard Wilkinson, John
Sackville, Hon Tom Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Salmond, Alex Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Wilson, Brian
Sedgemore, Brian Winnick, David
Shaw, David (Dover) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Wolfson, Mark
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wood, Timothy
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Worthington, Tony
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Wray, Jimmy
Short, Clare Young, David (Bolton SE)
Sims, Roger Young, Sir George (Acton)
Skeet, Sir Trevor
Skinner, Dennis Tellers for the Ayes:
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody and Mrs. Teresa Gorman.
Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Alton, David Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Amess, David Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Aspinwall, Jack Budgen, Nicholas
Atkins, Robert Burns, Simon
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Burt, Alistair
Beith, A. J. Butcher, John
Bell, Stuart Canavan, Dennis
Bellingham, Henry Cash, William
Bendall, Vivian Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Chope, Christopher
Benyon, W. Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)
Bevan, David Gilroy Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Bottomley, Peter Conway, Derek
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) McGrady, Eddie
Cormack, Patrick Maclennan, Robert
Davis, David (Boothferry) McLoughlin, Patrick
Day, Stephen McNamara, Kevin
Dickens, Geoffrey Malins, Humfrey
Dicks, Terry Mallon, Seamus
Douglas, Dick Mans, Keith
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Dover, Den Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Duffy, A. E. P. Maude, Hon Francis
Dunn, Bob Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Evennett, David Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Fallon, Michael Monro, Sir Hector
Fearn, Ronald Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Murphy, Paul
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Neubert, Michael
Fox, Sir Marcus Nicholls, Patrick
Freeman, Roger Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Gale, Roger Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Garel-Jones, Tristan Paice, James
Goodhart, Sir Philip Paisley, Rev Ian
Gow, Ian Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Gregory, Conal Patten, Rt Hon John
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Pawsey, James
Ground, Patrick Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Redwood, John
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Harris, David Roe, Mrs Marion
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Rossi, Sir Hugh
Heathcoat-Amory, David Rowlands, Ted
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Sayeed, Jonathan
Hill, James Shelton, Sir William
Home Robertson, John Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Smith, Sir Cyril (Rochdale)
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Soames, Hon Nicholas
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Speed, Keith
Hume, John Speller, Tony
Hunter, Andrew Stanbrook, Ivor
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Stevens, Lewis
Jack, Michael Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Janman, Tim Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Jessel, Toby Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Thorne, Neil
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Thornton, Malcolm
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Trippier, David
Kennedy, Charles Trotter, Neville
Kilfedder, James Walden, George
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Watts, John
Kirkhope, Timothy Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Knapman, Roger Whitney, Ray
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Widdecombe, Ann
Latham, Michael Wilshire, David
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Winterton, Nicholas
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
McAvoy, Thomas Tellers for the Noes:
McCrea, Rev William Mr. Julian Brazier and Mr. Alan Amos.
Macfarlane, Sir Neil

Question accordingly agreed to.

The Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Harold Walker)

Consequently amendment (g) falls.

Amendment proposed to the new clause: (x), in line 8, leave out from 'woman,' to 'or'.—[ Ms. Richardson.]

Question put and negatived.

Amendment proposed to the new clause: (i), in line 9, leave out:— `that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-eighth week and'.—[ Ms. Richardson.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 277, Noes 201.

Division No. 175] [12.48 am
Abbott, Ms Diane Fatchett, Derek
Alexander, Richard Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Allason, Rupert Flannery, Martin
Allen, Graham Flynn, Paul
Arbuthnot, James Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Forman, Nigel
Armstrong, Hilary Foster , Derek
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Foulkes, George
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Fraser, John
Barron, Kevin Fyfe, Maria
Batiste, Spencer Gardiner, George
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Beckett, Margaret George, Bruce
Bell, Stuart Gill, Christopher
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Bidwell, Sydney Godman, Dr Norman A.
Blair, Tony Golding, Mrs Llin
Boateng, Paul Goodhart, Sir Philip
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Goodlad, Alastair
Boscawen, Hon Robert Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Boswell, Tim Gordon, Mildred
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Gould, Bryan
Boyes, Roland Graham, Thomas
Bradley, Keith Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Gregory, Conal
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Grist, Ian
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Grocott, Bruce
Buchan, Norman Hague, William
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Hampson, Dr Keith
Buck, Sir Antony Hanley, Jeremy
Butler, Chris Hannam, John
Caborn, Richard Hardy, Peter
Callaghan, Jim Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Harman, Ms Harriet
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Haselhurst, Alan
Carrington, Matthew Hawkins, Christopher
Cartwright, John Haynes, Frank
Chapman, Sydney Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Henderson, Doug
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Clay, Bob Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)
Cohen, Harry Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Coleman, Donald Hood, Jimmy
Colvin, Michael Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Howells, Geraint
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Corbett, Robin Hoyle, Doug
Corbyn, Jeremy Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Couchman, James Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Cousins, Jim Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Cox, Tom Illsley, Eric
Cran, James Ingram, Adam
Cryer, Bob Irvine, Michael
Cummings, John Jack, Michael
Cunningham, Dr John Johnston, Sir Russell
Dalyell, Tarn Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Darling, Alistair Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Key, Robert
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Knox, David
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Lambie, David
Dixon, Don Leighton, Ron
Dobson, Frank Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Doran, Frank Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Durant, Tony Lewis, Terry
Eadie, Alexander Lightbown, David
Eastham, Ken Litherland, Robert
Emery, Sir Peter Livingstone, Ken
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Evans, John (St Helens N) Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) McAllion, John
McCartney, Ian Rogers, Allan
McCrindle, Robert Rooker, Jeff
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Ruddock, Joan
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Ryder, Richard
McKelvey, William Sackville, Hon Tom
Maclean, David Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
McLeish, Henry Sedgemore, Brian
McWilliam, John Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Madden, Max Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Madel, David Shelton, Sir William
Mahon, Mrs Alice Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Maples, John Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Marek, Dr John Short, Clare
Marland, Paul Sims, Roger
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Skinner, Dennis
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Maxton, John Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Meacher, Michael Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Meale, Alan Snape, Peter
Meyer, Sir Anthony Soley, Clive
Michael, Alun Squire, Robin
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Mills, Iain Steen, Anthony
Miscampbell, Norman Steinberg, Gerry
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Stern, Michael
Mitchell, Sir David Stott, Roger
Moonie, Dr Lewis Strang, Gavin
Morgan, Rhodri Straw, Jack
Morley, Elliot Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Morrison, Sir Charles Thurnham, Peter
Moss, Malcolm Townend, John (Bridlington)
Mowlam, Marjorie Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Mullin, Chris Tredinnick, David
Neale, Gerrard Turner, Dennis
Nellist, Dave Viggers, Peter
Nelson, Anthony Walden, George
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Walley, Joan
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Ward, John
O'Neill, Martin Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Page, Richard Warren, Kenneth
Patchett, Terry Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Patnick, Irvine Wells, Bowen
Pike, Peter L. Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Porter, David (Waveney) Wheeler, Sir John
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Wiggin, Jerry
Prescott, John Wigley, Dafydd
Primarolo, Dawn Wilkinson, John
Quin, Ms Joyce Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Radice, Giles Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Raffan, Keith Winnick, David
Rathbone, Tim Wise, Mrs Audrey
Redmond, Martin Wolfson, Mark
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn Worthington, Tony
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Young, David (Bolton SE)
Richardson, Jo
Riddick, Graham Tellers for the Ayes:
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Mrs. Teresa Gorman and Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody.
Robertson, George
Robinson, Geoffrey
Alton, David Beith, A. J.
Amess, David Bellingham, Henry
Amos, Alan Bendall, Vivian
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Benyon, W.
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Bermingham, Gerald
Ashby, David Bevan, David Gilroy
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Blunkett, David
Aspinwall, Jack Bottomley, Peter
Atkins, Robert Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Bowis, John
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes
Battle, John Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Beggs, Roy Brazier, Julian
Bright, Graham Knapman, Roger
Brown, Michael (Brigg S Cl't's) Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Buckley, George J. Latham, Michael
Budgen, Nicholas Lawrence, Ivan
Burns, Simon Leadbitter, Ted
Burt, Alistair Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Butcher, John Livsey, Richard
Butterfill, John Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Canavan, Dennis McAvoy, Thomas
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) McCrea, Rev William
Cash, William Macdonald, Calum A.
Channon, Rt Hon Paul McFall, John
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n) McGrady, Eddie
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Maclennan, Robert
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) McLoughlin, Patrick
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Clelland, David McNamara, Kevin
Conway, Derek Malins, Humfrey
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Mallon, Seamus
Cope, Rt Hon John Mans, Keith
Cormack, Patrick Marlow, Tony
Crowther, Stan Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Day, Stephen Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Devlin, Tim Maude, Hon Francis
Dicks, Terry Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Douglas, Dick Mellor, David
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Dover, Den Moate, Roger
Duffy, A. E. P. Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Dunn, Bob Monro, Sir Hector
Evennett, David Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Fallon, Michael Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Favell, Tony Murphy, Paul
Fearn, Ronald Neubert, Michael
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Nicholls, Patrick
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Fox, Sir Marcus O'Brien, William
Freeman, Roger Paice, James
French, Douglas Paisley, Rev Ian
Fry, Peter Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Gale, Roger Patten, Rt Hon John
Garel-Jones, Tristan Pawsey, James
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Ground, Patrick Redwood, John
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Reid, Dr John
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Roe, Mrs Marion
Harris, David Rossi, Sir Hugh
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Rowlands, Ted
Hayward, Robert Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Heathcoat-Amory, David Salmond, Alex
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Sayeed, Jonathan
Hill, James Shaw, David (Dover)
Hind, Kenneth Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Holt, Richard Sillars, Jim
Home Robertson, John Smith, Sir Cyril (Rochdale)
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Speed, Keith
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Speller, Tony
Hume, John Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Hunter, Andrew Stanbrook, Ivor
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Janman, Tim Stevens, Lewis
Jessel, Toby Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Summerson, Hugo
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn) Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Thorne, Neil
Kennedy, Charles Thornton, Malcolm
Kilfedder, James Tracey, Richard
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Trippier, David
Kirkhope, Timothy Trotter, Neville
Kirkwood, Archy Twinn, Dr Ian
Walker, Bill (T'side North) Winterton, Nicholas
Wallace, James Wood, Timothy
Waller, Gary Yeo, Tim
Watts, John Young, Sir George (Acton)
Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Whitney, Ray Tellers for the Noes:
Widdecombe, Ann Mr. Nicholas Bennett and Mr. Edward Leigh.
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann

Question accordingly agreed to.

1 am

The Chairman of Ways and Means

Amendment (j) therefore falls. We now come to amendment (s). Not moved.

We therefore turn to amendment (h), which I must tell the House is a minor consequential amendment to an earlier amendment.

Amendments made to the proposed new clause: (h), in line 11, at end insert— `( ) In section 1(2) of that Act, after "(a)" there is inserted "or (aa)"'. (k), in line 12, leave out from beginning to end of line 16.—[ Mr. Kenneth Clarke.]

The Chairman of Ways and Means

The next amendments consequently fall, up to amendment (q).

Amendment proposed to the new clause: (q), in line 16, at end insert— `(3) For section 5(1) of that Act (effect on Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929) there is substituted— (1) No offence under the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 shall be committed by a registered medical practitioner who terminates a pregnancy in accordance with the provisions of this Act.".'.—[Mr. Kenneth Clarke.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 308, Noes 149.

Division No. 176] [1.02 am
Abbott, Ms Diane Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Alexander, Richard Buchan, Norman
Allason, Rupert Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Allen, Graham Buck, Sir Antony
Arbuthnot, James Butler, Chris
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Butterfill, John
Armstrong, Hilary Caborn, Richard
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Callaghan, Jim
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley}
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)
Barron, Kevin Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Beckett, Margaret Carrington, Matthew
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Cartwright, John
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Chapman, Sydney
Bermingham, Gerald Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Bidwell, Sydney Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Blair, Tony Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Blunkett, David Clay, Bob
Boateng, Paul Clelland, David
Body, Sir Richard Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Cohen, Harry
Boscawen, Hon Robert Coleman, Donald
Boswell, Tim Colvin, Michael
Bottomley, Peter Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Cope, Rt Hon John
Boyes, Roland Corbett, Robin
Bradley, Keith Corbyn, Jeremy
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Couchman, James
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Cousins, Jim
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Cox, Tom
Browne, John (Winchester) Cran, James
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Crowther, Stan
Cryer, Bob Johnston, Sir Russell
Cunningham, Dr John Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Dalyell, Tam Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Darling, Alistair Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Davies, Q. (Stamfd & Spald'g) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Key, Robert
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Dewar, Donald Kirkwood, Archy
Dixon, Don Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Dobson, Frank Knox, David
Doran, Frank Lambie, David
Durant, Tony Lawrence, Ivan
Eadie, Alexander Leadbitter, Ted
Eastham, Ken Lee, John (Pendle)
Emery, Sir Peter Leighton, Ron
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Evans, John (St Helens N) Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Lewis, Terry
Fatchett, Derek Lightbown, David
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Litherland, Robert
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Livingstone, Ken
Flannery, Martin Livsey, Richard
Flynn, Paul Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Forman, Nigel Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Foster, Derek McAllion, John
Foulkes, George McCartney, Ian
Fraser, John McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Gale, Roger MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Gardiner, George McKelvey, William
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Maclean, David
George, Bruce McLeish, Henry
Gill, Christopher Maclennan, Robert
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan McWilliam, John
Godman, Dr Norman A. Madden, Max
Golding, Mrs Llin Madel, David
Goodlad, Alastair Mahon, Mrs Alice
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Maples, John
Gordon, Mildred Marek, Dr John
Gould, Bryan Marland, Paul
Graham, Thomas Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Martlew, Eric
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Maxton, John
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Grist, Ian Meacher, Michael
Grocott, Bruce Meale, Alan
Ground, Patrick Meyer, Sir Anthony
Hampson, Dr Keith Michael, Alun
Hanley, Jeremy Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Hannam, John Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Hardy, Peter Miscampbell, Norman
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Harman, Ms Harriet Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Haselhurst, Alan Mitchell, Sir David
Hawkins, Christopher Moonie, Dr Lewis
Haynes, Frank Morgan, Rhodri
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Morley, Elliot
Heathcoat-Amory, David Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Henderson, Doug Morrison, Sir Charles
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Moss, Malcolm
Hinchliffe, David Mowlam, Marjorie
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Mullin, Chris
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Neale, Gerrard
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Nellist, Dave
Hood, Jimmy Nelson, Anthony
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey O'Neill, Martin
Howells, Geraint Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Page, Richard
Hoyle, Doug Paice, James
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Patchett, Terry
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Patnick, Irvine
Illsley, Eric Pike, Peter L.
Ingram, Adam Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Jack, Michael Prescott, John
Primarolo, Dawn Stern, Michael
Quin, Ms Joyce Stott, Roger
Radice, Giles Strang, Gavin
Rattan, Keith Straw, Jack
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Sumberg, David
Rathbone, Tim Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Redmond, Martin Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Richardson, Jo Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Riddick, Graham Thurnham, Peter
Robertson, George Townend, John (Bridlington)
Robinson, Geoffrey Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Rogers, Allan Tredinnick, David
Rooker, Jeff Trotter, Neville
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Turner, Dennis
Ruddock, Joan Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Ryder, Richard Viggers, Peter
Sackville, Hon Tom Walley, Joan
Salmond, Alex Ward, John
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Sedgemore, Brian Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wells, Bowen
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Wheeler, Sir John
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Wiggin, Jerry
Short, Clare Wigley, Dafydd
Sims, Roger Wilkinson, John
Skinner, Dennis Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury) Winnick, David
Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Wolfson, Mark
Snape, Peter Wood, Timothy
Soley, Clive Worthington, Tony
Spearing, Nigel Yeo, Tim
Squire, Robin Young, David (Bolton SE)
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steel, Rt Hon Sir David Tellers for the Ayes:
Steen, Anthony Mrs. Maria Fyfe and Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody.
Steinberg, Gerry
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Alton, David Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Amess, David Cormack, Patrick
Amos, Alan Davis, David (Boothferry)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Day, Stephen
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Devlin, Tim
Ashby, David Dicks, Terry
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Aspinwall, Jack Dover, Den
Atkins, Robert Duffy, A. E. P.
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Dunn, Bob
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Evennett, David
Battle, John Fallon, Michael
Beggs, Roy Favell, Tony
Beith, A. J. Fearn, Ronald
Bell, Stuart Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Bellingham, Henry Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bendall, Vivian Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)
Benyon, W. Freeman, Roger
Bevan, David Gilroy French, Douglas
Bowis, John Fry, Peter
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Garel-Jones, Tristan
Brazier, Julian Gow, Ian
Bright, Graham Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Gregory, Conal
Budgen, Nicholas Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Burns, Simon Hague, William
Burt, Alistair Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Butcher, John Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Canavan, Dennis Harris, David
Cash, William Hayes, Jerry
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n) Hill, James
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hind, Kenneth
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Holt, Richard
Conway, Derek Home Robertson, John
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Patten, Rt Hon John
Hume, John Pawsey, James
Hunter, Andrew Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Irvine, Michael Redwood, John
Janman, Tim Reid, Dr John
Jessel, Toby Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Roe, Mrs Marion
Kennedy, Charles Rossi, Sir Hugh
Kilfedder, James Rumbold, Mrs Angela
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Sayeed, Jonathan
Kirkhope, Timothy Shaw, David (Dover)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Shelton, Sir William
Latham, Michael Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Smith, Sir Cyril (Rochdale)
McAvoy, Thomas Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
McCrea, Rev William Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Macdonald, Calum A. Speed, Keith
McFall, John Speller, Tony
McGrady, Eddie Stanbrook, Ivor
McLoughlin, Patrick Stevens, Lewis
McNamara, Kevin Summerson, Hugo
Malins, Humfrey Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Mallon, Seamus Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Mans, Keith Thorne, Neil
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Thornton, Malcolm
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Trippier, David
Maude, Hon Francis Twinn, Dr Ian
Moate, Roger Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Monro, Sir Hector Wallace, James
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Watts, John
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Whitney, Ray
Murphy, Paul Widdecombe, Ann
Neubert, Michael Wilshire, David
Nicholls, Patrick Winterton, Mrs Ann
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Winterton, Nicholas
Norris, Steve
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Tellers for the Noes:
Paisley, Rev Ian Mr. Nicholas Bennett and Mr. Edward Leigh.
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)

Question accordingly agreed to.

The Chairman of Ways and Means

Amendment (r)? Not moved.

Question put, That the clause, as amended, be added to the Bill—:

The Committee divided: Ayes 335, Noes 129.

Division No. 177] [1.17 am
Abbott, Ms Diane Bottomley, Peter
Alexander, Richard Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Allason, Rupert Boyes, Roland
Allen, Graham Bradley, Keith
Arbuthnot, James Bright, Graham
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)
Armstrong, Hilary Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Browne, John (Winchester)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Buchan, Norman
Barron, Kevin Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Batiste, Spencer Buck, Sir Antony
Beckett, Margaret Buckley, George J.
Bellingham, Henry Butler, Chris
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Caborn, Richard
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Callaghan, Jim
Bermingham, Gerald Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Bidwell, Sydney Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)
Blair, Tony Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)
Blunkett, David Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Boateng, Paul Carrington, Matthew
Body, Sir Richard Cartwright, John
Boscawen, Hon Robert Chapman, Sydney
Boswell, Tim Clark. Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Harris, David
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Haselhurst, Alan
Clay, Bob Hawkins, Christopher
Clelland, David Haynes, Frank
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Hayward, Robert
Cohen, Harry Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Coleman, Donald Henderson, Doug
Colvin, Michael Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Hinchliffe, David
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th m)
Cope, Rt Hon John Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Corbett, Robin Hood, Jimmy
Corbyn, Jeremy Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Couchman, James Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Cox, Tom Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Cran, James Howells, Geraint
Crowther, Stan Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Cryer, Bob Hoyle, Doug
Cunningham, Dr John Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Dalyell, Tarn Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Darling, Alistair Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Illsley, Eric
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Ingram, Adam
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Irvine, Michael
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Jack, Michael
Dewar, Donald Johnston, Sir Russell
Dixon, Don Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Dobson, Frank Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Doran, Frank Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Dunnachie, Jimmy Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Durant, Tony Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Eadie, Alexander Key, Robert
Eastham, Ken Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Emery, Sir Peter Kirkwood, Archy
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Evans, John (St Helens N) Knox, David
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Lambie, David
Fatchett, Derek Leadbitter, Ted
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Lee, John (Pendle)
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Leighton, Ron
Flannery, Martin Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Flynn, Paul Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Lewis, Terry
Forman, Nigel Lilley, Peter
Foster, Derek Litherland, Robert
Foulkes, George Livingstone, Ken
Fox, Sir Marcus Livsey, Richard
Fraser, John Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Freeman, Roger Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Fyfe, Maria Lord, Michael
Gale, Roger Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Gardiner, George Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Garrett, John (Norwich South) McAllion, John
George, Bruce McCartney, Ian
Gill, Christopher MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Godman, Dr Norman A. McKelvey, William
Golding, Mrs Llin Maclean, David
Goodhart, Sir Philip McLeish, Henry
Goodlad, Alastair Maclennan, Robert
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles McWilliam, John
Gordon, Mildred Madden, Max
Gould, Bryan Madel, David
Graham, Thomas Mahon, Mrs Alice
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Marek, Dr John
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Marland, Paul
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Grist, Ian Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Grocott, Bruce Martlew, Eric
Ground, Patrick Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Hampson, Dr Keith Maxton, John
Hanley, Jeremy Meacher, Michael
Hannam, John Meale, Alan
Hardy, Peter Meyer, Sir Anthony
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Michael, Alun
Harman, Ms Harriet Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute) Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Mills, Iain Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Miscampbell, Norman Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Snape, Peter
Moonie, Dr Lewis Soley, Clive
Morgan, Rhodri Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Morley, Elliot Squire, Robin
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Morrison, Sir Charles Steen, Anthony
Moss, Malcolm Steinberg, Gerry
Mowlam, Marjorie Stern, Michael
Mullin, Chris Stott, Roger
Neale, Gerrard Strang, Gavin
Nellist, Dave Straw, Jack
Nelson, Anthony Summerson, Hugo
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Taylor, Ian (Esher)
O'Neill, Martin Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Page, Richard Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Paice, James Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Patchett, Terry Thurnham, Peter
Patnick, Irvine Townend, John (Bridlington)
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Pike, Peter L. Tracey, Richard
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Tredinnick, David
Prescott, John Trotter, Neville
Primarolo, Dawn Turner, Dennis
Quin, Ms Joyce Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Radice, Giles Viggers, Peter
Raffan, Keith Walden, George
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Rathbone, Tim Walley, Joan
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn Ward, John
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Richardson, Jo Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Riddick, Graham Warren, Kenneth
Robertson, George Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Robinson, Geoffrey Wells, Bowen
Rogers, Allan Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Rooker, Jeff Wheeler, Sir John
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Wiggin, Jerry
Ruddock, Joan Wigley, Dafydd
Ryder, Richard Wilkinson, John
Sackville, Hon Tom Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Salmond, Alex Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Sayeed, Jonathan Wilshire, David
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Wilson, Brian
Sedgemore, Brian Winnick, David
Shaw, David (Dover) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Wolfson, Mark
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wood, Timothy
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Worthington, Tony
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Short, Clare Tellers for the Ayes:
Sims, Roger Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody and Mrs. Teresa Gorman.
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Alton, David Brazier, Julian
Amess, David Burns, Simon
Amos, Alan Butcher, John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravosham) Butterfill, John
Ashby, David Canavan, Dennis
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Cash, William
Aspinwall, Jack Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Atkins, Robert Chope, Christopher
Beith, A. J. Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)
Bell, Stuart Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Bendall, Vivian Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Benyon, W. Conway, Derek
Bevan, David Gilroy Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Cummings, John
Bowis, John Davis, David (Boothferry)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Devlin, Tim
Dicks, Terry Mallon, Seamus
Dover, Den Mans, Keith
Duffy, A. E. P. Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Dunn, Bob Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Evennett, David Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Fallon, Michael Maude, Hon Francis
Faulds, Andrew Mitchell, Sir David
Fearn, Ronald Moate, Roger
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Monro, Sir Hector
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
French, Douglas Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Fry, Peter Murphy, Paul
Garel-Jones, Tristan Neubert, Michael
Gow, Ian Nicholls, Patrick
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Gregory, Conal Paisley, Rev Ian
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Hague, William Patten, Rt Hon John
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Pawsey, James
Hargreaves. Ken (Hyndburn) Porter, David (Waveney)
Hayes, Jerry Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Roe, Mrs Marion
Hill, James Rossi, Sir Hugh
Hind, Kenneth Rowlands, Ted
Holt, Richard Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Home Robertson, John Shelton, Sir William
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Hume, John Speed, Keith
Hunter, Andrew Speller, Tony
Janman, Tim Stevens, Lewis
Jessel, Toby Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Kennedy, Charles Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Kilfedder, James Thorne, Neil
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Thornton, Malcolm
Kirkhope, Timothy Trippier, David
Knapman, Roger Twinn, Dr Ian
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Wallace, James
Latham, Michael Waller, Gary
Lawrence, Ivan Watts, John
Lightbown, David Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Whitney, Ray
McAvoy, Thomas Widdecombe, Ann
Macdonald, Calum A. Winterton, Mrs Ann
McFall, John Winterton, Nicholas
McGrady, Eddie
McLoughlin, Patrick Tellers for the Noes:
McNamara, Kevin Mr. Nicholas Bennett and Mr. Edward Leigh.
Malins, Humfrey

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.

Clause 11, schedule 2 and new clause 4, as amended, reported.—[Mr. Nicholas Baker]

To lie upon the Table.

Forward to