HC Deb 15 June 1992 vol 209 cc747-50

Queen's Recommendation having been signified

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Boundary Commission Bill ("the Act") it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any increase attributable to the Act in the sums payable out of money so provided under the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986[Mr. Peter Lloyd.]

10.13 pm
Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

It is, of course, an important means of holding the Government to account to use the 45 minutes allocated to money resolutions. Although it is not a widespread activity, it is important.

Under the terms of the money resolution, £1.5 million is allocated to the legislation. That is a significant sum of money. The Home Secretary should explain how the money is to be allocated.

Under the heading "Financial Effects of the Bill", we read the total cost of the Bill spread over three years. Under the heading "Effect of the Bill on Public Service Manpower", we find that 15 additional extra staff will be required. So clearly, some of the money will be allocated to employing extra staff. Yet there are more important priorities to which extra civil service staff should be allocated. I have received complaints about the long delays in dealing with applications for mobility allowance and attendance allowance. I should have thought that, rather than speeding the passage and application of the Bill, the £1.5 million could be spent in better ways.

Perhaps the Secretary of State will outline whether any provision has been made for assistance to local authorities either to update registers or to provide information to the boundary commission. When the boundary commission sits and seeks information, local authorities have an obligation to provide papers. Of course, that is a cost on the local authority. Local authorities are extremely short of money at present. I wonder whether the Government have allocated any part of the £1.5 million for that purpose.

It would have been far and away better to allocate the £1.5 million, or a proportion of it, to a Speaker's Conference. It would have been much cheaper to consult all the parties than to rush ahead with the £1.5 million to facilitate what is widely regarded outside as gerrymandering.

I recall the amount of money that was spent in 1983. The Secretary of State must recognise that the money resolution makes provision for any expenditure that is consequential on the passage of the Bill. The Bill will be put into effect by a large number of orders. I wonder whether the £1.5 million covers consultation on the orders and their printing and distribution. There will be one order for each new constituency. That is 651 orders. Will that cost be covered by the £1.5 million or is that an ordinary cost borne by Her Majesty's Stationery Office in any event?

Before the Minister starts uttering high-flown platitudes about objectivity and improving democracy and says that the cost is small in relation to the cost of improving democracy, let me remind him of what happened in 1983. That impinges on the cost. When the orders went before the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, the Tory Whips told all the Tories on the Committee that they should not dare to vote against the orders but merely to seek information from the relevant Department. The Committee is supposed to be one of the famed, impartial, objective Committees of the House. It is bound to seek information if it is to make a report to the House. The Tory Whips told the Tory members of that impartial Committee, "There will be no overseas trips for any of you lot." That is what happened.

Mr. David Harris (St. Ives)


Mr. Cryer

The hon. Gentleman says that that is ridiculous. The Secretary of State has said from the Dispatch Box that the Bill has nothing to do with party advantage and that it is some sort of democratic improvement.

Mr. Vivian Bendall (Ilford, North)

Prove it.

Mr. Cryer

The hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Bendall) is shouting from outside the Chamber in a crude and inaccurate way and also illegally, because he is not supposed to speak from there. I seek to cut through all the platitudes and rhetoric. We know that £1.5 million is being spent to give the Tories the maximum electoral advantage. The support given to the Bill by Tory Members suggests that that is absolutely true. We have now pushed aside the tissue of hypocrisy woven by Ministers; we are now down to the nitty-gritty. An amendment should be tabled in Committee, proposing the inclusion of the £1.5 million in Tory candidates' election expenses. That should disqualify the lot of them.

10.20 pm
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Kenneth Clarke)

That speech was delivered with great passion, but most of it had little to do with the money resolution. The hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) greatly cheered the majority who voted for the Bill by assuring us that it would add to the number of Conservative seats in the next Parliament, but that proposition was denied even by those on his party's Front Bench; that is why our majority was so large.

Half a million pounds a year is required to finance the payment of the deputy commissioners, 15 additional staff and some computer equipment. It plainly would not have made sense for the House to give a Second Reading to such a straightforward, almost uncontroversial Bill passed by such a huge majority, and then deny it a money resolution. As ever, the hon. Member for Bradford, South is paddling his own canoe, but he is paddling it fairly purposelessly this evening.

Question put,

The House divided: Ayes 269, Noes 26.

Division No. 32] [10.20 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North)
Aitken, Jonathan Baldry, Tony
Alexander, Richard Banks, Matthew (Southport)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Bates, Michael
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Batiste, Spencer
Amess, David Bendall, Vivian
Ancram, Michael Beresford, Sir Paul
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Biffen, Rt Hon John
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Blackburn, Dr John G.

Ashby, David Body, Sir Richard
Aspinwall, Jack Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Booth, Hartley
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Boswell, Tim
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)
Bowden, Andrew Hargreaves, Andrew
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Harris, David
Brandreth, Gyles Haselhurst, Alan
Brazier, Julian Hawkins, Nicholas
Bright, Graham Hawksley, Warren
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Hayes, Jerry
Browning, Mrs. Angela Heald, Oliver
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Burns, Simon Hendry, Charles
Burt, Alistair Hicks, Robert
Butcher, John Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Butler, Peter Horam, John
Butterfill, John Hordern, Sir Peter
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Carrington, Matthew Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Carttiss, Michael Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)
Cash, William Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Chaplin, Mrs Judith Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Chapman, Sydney Hunter, Andrew
Clappison, James Jack, Michael
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif) Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Jenkin, Bernard
Coe, Sebastian Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Congdon, David Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Conway, Derek Jones, Robert B. (W H'f'rdshire)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Key, Robert
Couchman, James Kilfedder, Sir James
Cran, James King, Rt Hon Tom
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Kirkhope, Timothy
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Knapman, Roger
Davis, David (Boothferry) Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Deva, Nirj Joseph Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Devlin, Tim Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)
Dorrell, Stephen Knox, David
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Dover, Den Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Duncan, Alan Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Duncan-Smith, Iain Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Dunn, Bob Lawrence, Sir Ivan
Durant, Sir Anthony Legg, Barry
Dykes, Hugh Leigh, Edward
Eggar, Tim Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Elletson, Harold Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield) Lidington, David
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Lord, Michael
Evennett, David Luff, Peter
Faber, David Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Fabricant, Michael MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas MacKay, Andrew
Fenner, Dame Peggy Maclean, David
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) McLoughlin, Patrick
Fishburn, John Dudley McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Forman, Nigel Madel, David
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Maitland, Lady Olga
Forth, Eric Malone, Gerald
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Mans, Keith
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) Marlow, Tony
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Freeman, Roger Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
French, Douglas Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Fry, Peter Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Gale, Roger Mellor, Rt Hon David
Gallie, Phil Merchant, Piers
Garnier, Edward Milligan, Stephen
Gill, Christopher Mills, Iain
Gillan, Ms Cheryl Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW)
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Moate, Roger
Gorst, John Monro, Sir Hector
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Moss, Malcolm
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) Nelson, Anthony
Hague, William Neubert, Sir Michael
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Nicholls, Patrick
Hampson, Dr Keith Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hannam, Sir John Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Norris, Steve Stewart, Allan
Oppenheim, Phillip Streeter, Gary
Ottaway, Richard Sumberg, David
Page, Richard Sweeney, Walter
Paice, James Sykes, John
Patnick, Irvine Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Patten, Rt Hon John Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Pawsey, James Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Thomason, Roy
Pickles, Eric Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Porter, David (Waveney) Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Thurnham, Peter
Powell, William (Corby) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Richards, Rod Tredinnick, David
Riddick, Graham Trend, Michael
Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm Trotter, Neville
Robathan, Andrew Twinn, Dr Ian
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S) Waller, Gary
Robinson, Mark (Somerton) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne) Waterson, Nigel
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent) Watts, John
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard Wells, Bowen
Sackville, Tom Wheeler, Sir John
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Whitney, Ray
Shaw, David (Dover) Whittingdale, John
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Widdecombe, Ann
Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian Wiggin, Jerry
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Wilkinson, John
Shersby, Michael Willetts, David
Sims, Roger Wilshire, David
Skeet, Sir Trevor Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Spencer, Sir Derek Wolfson, Mark
Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset) Wood, Timothy
Spink, Dr Robert Yeo, Tim
Spring, Richard Young, Sir George (Acton)
Sproat, Iain
Squire, Robin (Hornchurch) Tellers for the Ayes:
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Mr. David Lightbown and
Stephen, Michael Mr. James Arbuthnot.
Stern, Michael
Alton, David Loyden, Eddie
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Lynne, Ms Liz
Caborn, Richard McCartney, Ian
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Mahon, Alice
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry) Parry, Robert
Foster, Donald (Bath) Patchett, Terry
Gordon, Mildred Pickthall, Colin
Hall, Mike Skinner, Dennis
Heppell, John Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Hood, Jimmy Tipping, Paddy
Hutton, John Winnick, David
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Kennedy, Ms Jane (L'p'l Br'g'n) Tellers for the Noes:
Kilfoyle, Peter Mr. Bob Cryer and
Kirkwood, Archy Mr. Harry Barnes.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Boundary Commissions Bill ("the Act") it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any increase attributable to the Act in the sums payable out of money so provided under the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986.