HC Deb 22 June 1992 vol 210 cc79-112
Mr. Peter Lloyd

I beg to move amendment No. 10, in page 2, line 17, leave out 'subsection' and insert `subsections'.

The Chairman

With this we may also take the following: Amendment No. 3, in page 2, leave out lines 29 to 31

Government amendment No. 11.

Amendment No. 4, in page 2, line 31, at end insert `provided that such boundaries are specified in any Act passed on or before that date whether or not that Act (or any part of it) is in force on that date'. Amendment No. 9, in page 2, line 31, at end insert `provided that the Boundary Commission may not publish recommendations which take account both of boundaries which are in operation and of boundaries which are not in operation at the time of publication'. Amendment No. 7, in page 2, line 38, leave out `the Boundary Commission for Wales and insert 'a Boundary Commission'.

Government amendments Nos. 12 and 13.

Mr. Lloyd

You kindly said, Mr. Morris, that I might discuss in more detail the answer to the question asked me by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling) on an earlier group of amendments. His question concerned the possibility of partial reviews of parts of the United Kingdom. I was about to intervene at the end of his speech, but I rise now to clear up the matter.

The 1986 Act, of which I am sure everyone has a copy, states in section 3(1): Each Boundary Commission … shall, in accordance with subsection (2) below, submit to the Secretary of State reports with respect to the whole of that part of the United Kingdom"— in other words, to the whole of England, the whole of Wales, the whole of Scotland, or the whole of Northern Ireland, Subsection (2) in turn states: Reports under subsection (1) above shall be submitted by a Boundary Commission not less than 10 or more than 15 years from the date of the submission of their last report under that subsection. Taking the two elements together, it is clear that the boundary commission for each part of the United Kingdom must submit reports to the Secretary of State within the 10 to 15 year window, and those reports must relate to the whole of its part of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Darling

I do not want to labour the point, but the Act does not speak of submitting a report to the Secretary of State. It speaks of "reports"—in the plural—which implies that it would be open to a commission to produce several reports on a part of the United Kingdom. The only qualification in subsection (2) regards the period in which the commission must submit the reports. This Act was considered by the House in 1986, within recent memory, and there must have been some reason for the use of the plural.

Mr. Lloyd

I do not remember attending the debate, and if I did, I did not pay close attention. The Act is grammatically correct. The boundary commission remains in existence and is on its fourth review, so "reports" refer to there being at least one report every 10 to 15 years. That is the reason; it has nothing to do with breaking up the reports into sections dealing with parts of one of the nations that make up the United Kingdom.

If the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central wants to say more about this later or to see me privately I am willing to talk to him.

The hon. Gentleman said on Second Reading that he and his colleagues would table amendments to clause 3, and so they have. I said then that I thought the Opposition might be interpreting the effect of clause 3 too widely and I undertook to look again at its wording to check its clarity and scope. I have done that in the amendments standing in the name of my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, who has arrived at the magic moment. They are designed to show more clearly and to obtain with greater precision what was intended in the original wording.

I hope that I can speedily pass over amendments Nos. 10 and 12 which are technical and consequential to Government amendments Nos. 11 and 13. I hope that Government amendment No. 11 makes it clear that the parliamentary boundary commission may take into account in its provisional recommendations only the boundaries currently in force or prospective new boundaries—save in one instance which I shall come to later—which have already been specified in an Act, a statutory instrument, a statutory rule or measure of a Northern Ireland Assembly, but are not yet in force.

There is thus no question of pre-empting Parliament, the local government boundary commissions or the Local Government Commission. The provision is intended to give the boundary commission a degree of flexibility that will enable it to produce, conveniently for itself and everyone else, the most up-to-date boundaries. With reviews of local government boundaries around the country at different stages at any one time, it is sensible to let the boundary commission make its provisional recommendations with such prospective changes in mind.

The parliamentary boundary commission makes a series of provisional county recommendations over a number of years. It must then bring them together to make a single final recommendation to the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Scotland or to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in which it must have regard to the appropriate boundaries in force on 1 June 1994.

In 1992 and 1993, it would surely be unreasonable to prevent the boundary commission from taking into account, in its provisional recommendations, boundaries which it knew that Parliament had approved for 1 April 1993 or 1 April 1994. It would mean that it would have to present revised proposals later, which would increase its work. It would also oblige those making representations upon it to do so in terms of boundaries which those petitioners knew were about to be superseded. That would happen if our amendment were not accepted, and it would certainly be so if the House were to accept amendment No. 3, which was tabled by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central and his colleagues.

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By contrast, amendment No. 4, also tabled by the hon. Member and his colleagues, would achieve a similar effect to Government amendment No. 11, except that it would confine flexibility to boundaries that are adjusted by Act of Parliament only, and not by statutory instrument, which is the normal procedure in England. For that reason, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will drop amendment No. 4 and accept that Government amendment No. 11 would achieve more completely what I believe that he intends to achieve with amendment No. 4. I also hope that he decides that my clarification meets the worries that persuaded him to table amendment No. 9 and that he will accept that, during the course of the general review, it will certainly be possible and right to have some provisional recommenda-tions made on boundaries that are in force at the time and on some that will be prospective. It would cause great difficulty if that were not to be the case.

Of course, the final proposals must relate to boundaries that are in force, except in the one instance to which I alluded in clause 3(3). The special exception in that subsection relates specifically to Wales because the review of local government structure in Wales is well advanced. Proposals were set out in a consultative document issued in the spring of last year, and a White Paper is due this autumn, with the intended changes recommended therein coming to Parliament in a Bill which should be on the statute book before June 1994. It would obviously be of great convenience to the Welsh boundary commission, to Welsh local government and to the electors of Wales if the parliamentary boundary commission were obliged to have regard to the boundaries in that Act even though they were not yet in force. If that were not permissible there must, at the very least, be an interim review and there could be local and parliamentary elections with the boundaries of constituencies of local authorities not matching as well as they might before such a review took place. For that reason, clause 3(3) makes an exception of Wales and requires the Welsh boundary commission to have regard to boundaries incorporated in an Act on the statute book by 1 June 1994, but not yet in force.

Amendment No. 13 adds to that by making it clear that, in any provisional recommendations that the Welsh boundary commission may make, it is able to take account of any new boundaries included in a Bill that has had a Second Reading in the House. Of course, there is an element of risk. If the Bill does not go through the House or become an Act by 1 June 1994, the boundary commission for Wales would have to revise its proposals to accommodate them to the boundaries then in force rather than to those that are intended. As I said, there is a risk either way. However, Wales is sufficiently far down the track of reform for the risk of not taking into account the changes made in a Bill that has received a Second Reading and of having therefore to revise proposals in the second half of 1994 to be substantially greater than taking them into account and then having to backtrack because the Bill has missed the deadline and failed to become an Act by 1 June 1994.

I have some sympathy with amendment No. 7, which makes the exception apply throughout the United Kingdom, hut, on the argument of balance of risk, I advise the Committee to reject it. Proposals for structural reform are nowhere else as far advanced as they are in Wales. In England, a rolling programme will be put into effect by statutory instrument and not by Act of Parliament. In Scotland, the Government are proposing a further consultation stage. What is helpful for Wales and would reduce uncertainty there would import unwelcome uncertainty elsewhere in the United Kingdom, where local government structural reform is less well advanced.

Mr. Maclennan

I understand the Minister's reasoning in respect of Wales. However, is not the consequence for Scotland of his not accepting amendment No. 7 a serious alteration in the balance of criteria, which will be considered by the boundary commission for Scotland if the Bill is enacted? As the law stands, under the 1986 Act, the boundary commission is required to give greater weight to local government boundaries in Scotland than it is in other parts of the United Kingdom. If the boundaries to be considered in Scotland are not up to date—that is what the Minister appears to be saying—we will find that the boundary commission in Scotland will give greater weight to other criteria. Therefore, it will alter the balance of substantive law and not simply accelerate the process.

Mr. Lloyd

The parliamentary boundary commission in Scotland will have to take into account the boundaries that are operational on 1 June 1994. The local government boundary reviews for Scotland are on track to be in place well before that date. Therefore, the normal local government boundary review will inform the final report of the parliamentary boundary commission in Scotland. It is possible that two issues are being confused. The structural review and possible change of local government in Scotland, on which a first consultation paper has been issued and for which another is due, is a separate matter.

It would be difficult for boundary commissions in places where the proposals for the structural reform of local government are not so well advanced as they are in Wales to assess, until the last minute, what proposals they would take into account. They would be far less certain as to what those proposals would be until the final stage and they would not be sure that they would be on the statute book by 1 June 1994.

As I said, there is a risk for Wales, but there is a far greater risk for other areas of the United Kingdom. What is helpful for Wales, in which structural reform is far advanced, would be unhelpful for other parts of the United Kingdom and, certainly, for the boundary commission, which would have to judge whether the proposals that had been mooted were likely to get on to the statute book. It would then have to decide whether to keep its review going until close to the deadline at the end of 1994 or whether it should properly ignore the proposals because it felt that they would not come into force. The most sensible and helpful thing is to say to the rest of the United Kingdom that the boundaries will be in place and operational by June 1994 with the exception of those in Wales, quite simply because the process is further advanced there. I am talking about the review of local government structure, not the normal local government boundary commissions, which will make their conclusions well in time to enable the parliamentary boundary commissions in all parts of the United Kingdom to take them into account before that cut-off date of 1 June 1994.

Mr. Darling

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that the local government review structure in Scotland is likely to be in place by 1 June 1994?

Mr. Lloyd

No, I am saying that it may well not be. Unlike Wales, it is not so far advanced. As I understand it, a consultation document was issued last year and another is due out later this year but in Wales what is now due is the White Paper following the period of consultation, which has now ended. Therefore, it is possible to write into the Bill that which enables the Welsh boundary commission, without much risk, to take the conclusions into account. Elsewhere in the United Kingdom, with structural reform of local government in England and Scotland not so far down the track, there could be an uncertainty that would be extremely awkward for the boundary commissions to manage.

Mr. Maclennan

I thank the Minister for giving way again. Does he recognise that the consequence of the policy behind what he has just said is that for Scottish parliamentary constituencies, following the next report of the boundary commission and the proposed restructuring of Scottish local government, which is apparently to be subsequent to it, there will be a departure from the rubric of the 1986 Act, which is that the boundary commission shall have regard to the local government boundaries. As a result of this process of acceleration, in Scotland, local government boundaries and parliamentary boundaries will not coincide.

Mr. Lloyd

It is the exception for Wales that is out of line with previous practice. The actual boundaries operational in 1994 will be those that, in Scotland and England, must be taken into account by the parliamentary boundary commissions when making their proposals. There will be no discrepancy. If, afterwards, there is an Act of parliamentary measure in England that changes the structure of local government, there would then have to be, as there is when local government boundaries are changed, an interim review by the parliamentary boundary commission. The hon. Gentleman is wrong to suggest that what the Bill proposes would put local authorities out of line with the boundaries proposed by the Scottish parliamentary boundary commission.

The requirement of the 1986 Act, which applies to Scotland as well as to the rest of the United Kingdom, is that the commission must take account of the boundaries. It has traditionally been the boundaries that exist. For the convenience of Wales, which is so far advanced, an exception is being made to allow the boundary commission to take into account that which is encapsulated within an Act of Parliament that is due to come into force. It is possible to do this for Wales because it is sufficiently far advanced for there to be a reasonable certainty that that Act will be available in time to be taken conveniently into account. In Scotland and England that is more problematical.

Mr. Maclennan

There is not a factual misunderstand-ing between us. It is a question of judgment as to whether it is appropriate that the boundary commission for Scotland should be basing its accelerated work under the provisions of the Bill on boundary commissions for local government that will be rendered historical by the Government's future restructuring of local government. The practical consequences of that will be that the parliamentary boundaries will not, for the duration of the period that follows the report and the implementation of the boundary commission's recommendations, coincide with local government boundaries in Scotland, whatever may be the position in Wales.

Mr. Lloyd

They will be when the parliamentary boundary commission reports. I believe that the local government boundary commission for Scotland is due to report later this year, so there will be a connection between the local government boundaries and the proposals for the boundaries of parliamentary constituencies in Scotland. It may be that measures passing through the House a year, two or three years afterwards will alter local government boundaries in Scotland but it is up to the House, at a future date, to decide on proposals that have not yet been made. If that change comes about, the normal operation will happen, and there will be an interim review to adjust parliamentary and local government boundaries as has been done before. That is the fairest, most open and most convenient way to proceed.

8.15 pm
Mr. Darling

As the Minister said at the outset, we tabled amendments to qualify clause 3 because we had reservations about it. I am glad that the Minister has also tabled amendments, which have met some if not all of our objections.

Our amendment No. 3 would have the effect of removing the provision allowing the boundary commis-sion to choose to base its recommendations on boundaries that did not exist nor were in operation. Amendment No. 4 presents the alternative approach of qualifying the clause so as to ensure that the boundary commission could consider only those boundary changes that were enshrined in an Act. I take the Minister's point that amendment No. 11 goes much wider than that, and has met the point of amendment No. 4. Perhaps I should say for the benefit of those who read reports of our proceedings that I welcome Government amendments Nos. 10 and 11, although, for technical reasons and so as to deal with other points in the group of amendments, we may have to divide the Committee against them. The amendments that the Government have tabled will improve clause 3.

The Minister has distinguished between the work of the local authority boundary commission and local govern-ment structure. He is right to do so in part, except that, once Parliament has determined the local authority structure, it will be necessary for the local authority boundary commissions to redistribute boundaries within those structures. There comes a point, if Parliament has decided what is to be encompassed within a county or a region, at which that may have an influence on the shape of a constituency or constituencies that the parliamentary boundary commission is considering.

I make that point because, in England, where the local authority structure is being dealt with in groups—or tranches, as the Secretary of State for the Environment calls them—there will be a point at which those boundaries will have a bearing on constituencies. I am sure that the Government know that full well, and that is why the Secretary of State for the Environment picked the groups that he did. They do not seem to be to go naturally together. He said in his statement that he had picked them partly because of their proven unpopularity, which is another way of saying because they consistently returned councils of a political complexion different from the Government and for that reason he wished Sir John Banham to get to grips with them at an earlier stage than the councils which have followed the Government's instructions over the past few years and which are to be left until later on.

It would be out of order for me to canvass the Secretary of State's views on these matters—we can only guess what he had in mind. However, we can have a pretty good guess knowing this Government and knowing that they would not have introduced the Bill at all had they not smelt political advantage. One can have a pretty good guess that the intention is to benefit the Government by nodding and winking to the boundary commission, or nudging it in the right direction.

I am sure that clause 3 has been framed so as to allow the commission to pick and choose—in other words, to take account of new boundaries in some areas and old boundaries in others. Amendment No. 9 would deal with that. Had the clause been allowed to pass unchallenged, the commission could have had regard to new boundaries that did not exist in the sense that they did not appear in any Act or other measure and were simply twinkles in Sir John Banham's eye, or perhaps the Government's eye. That would have been most unfortunate and an extremely bad precedent. Government amendment No. 11 has qualified the matter.

In England, five groups or tranches of counties are being examined. The Minister heard the debate that began this afternoon's proceedings, which focused on clause 2 and registration, and will realise that the counties that are examined in England will be crucial in determining the commission's work. It is not so much registration of timing that will have an impact on the political complexion of constituencies but the boundaries that the commission uses. That is why boundaries are so important, and that is one reason why the Secretary of State for the Environment has dealt with these matters in such an odd way. It is also the reason why the Government introduced clause 3. There is an awareness that opportunities may arise that will allow the commission, while following impartially the guidelines, to make recommendations that the Government think might favour them.

I remember in "Yes, Minister" instructions being given to impartial bodies. It was said by Sir Humphrey that all that was necessary to remain impartial was for the Government to lay down the railway lines and to put the railway engine at one end of the system, and the engine would end up precisely where the Government wanted. At the same time the Government would be completely impartial, having had no regard to any political considerations. Clause 3 smacks of that practice. That is why we have sought to qualify it—successfully, I think —by ensuring that the commission can take account only of those matters that Parliament has already approved. We wish also to ensure that there can be no picking and choosing within any one area.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

That is what the Bill would do with the amendments that I have proposed. With the exception of Wales, the final report of the commissions to the Secretaries of State can take into account only boundaries that are operational. In provisional reports they may take into account boundaries which are not operational but which have been included in legislation or which have passed through the House of Commons in the form of a statutory instrument. Therefore, the commission cannot pick or choose, and the Government cannot direct it to do so. It is clear that the commission can use only boundaries that are operational by the cut-off date, which is June 1994. There is no choice for either the commission or the Government.

Mr. Darling

That is precisely the point. If we take the first tranche of counties that are being considered by the Banham report, we understand from the statement made on 3 June 1992 that it is hoped that the first report will be in place by 1 June 1994. Students of boundary commission procedures know that Avon, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Cleveland, Durham, Derbyshire, Humberside, Lincolnshire, north Yorkshire and the Isle of Wight are all likely to feature in the review because they raise interesting propositions. If 1 June 1994 is the cut-off date, the Government know that the recommendations that relate to that group of counties will be enacted in some form even if they are not in operation. That causes us some concern.

If amendment No. 9 is not accepted—this goes to picking and choosing—there is a possibility that the commission, in any one of its reports, will pick boundaries that existed, or exist at present, as well as those that are likely to exist, or will exist because of legislation that has been passed but is not in operation. If I am wrong about that, it will not be necessary to proceed with the amendment. It seems, however, that it might be open to the commission to do that—to pick and choose—in its report. England will be dealt with in local government terms in five separate local government reports, which means that it might be possible for the commission to pick and choose, especially at points where a new set of boundaries cross or converge upon an existing set of boundaries.

It is interesting that the Government have tabled an amendment that tends to suggest that their timetable has slipped. Perhaps we have a rare insight into the way that the Government's business managers operate. It seems that they take the view that only the Second Reading of the proposals for Wales is under way. I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) wishes to speak about that and the Welsh interest generally. Clause 3(3) seems to have much to commend it when we consider Wales and other parts of the United Kingdom, and our proposals would have had the same effect.

The logic that suggests to the Government that subsection (3) has merit applies also to Scotland's position. I appreciate that Wales is ahead of Scotland in these terms. Indeed, it could be said that in Scotland these matters are not even off the ground yet. The Government decided in the best tradition of government that something had to be done. To their surprise, they discovered that many who they thought were opposed to the present structure were prepared to say that there was something to commend it. Alternatively, there were those who said there was much to be said for not dismantling it merely for the sake of change. I am one of those who take the view that there might be something to be said for local government reform in Scotland, but experience tells me that any change is costly and disruptive.

Our regional system of government gives us 12 directorates in different areas. To create 20 or 30 local authority structures suggests that there will be a degree of replication. Be that as it may, in Scotland, as in other parts of the United Kingdom, the local authority structure and local authority boundaries, which are the building blocks for the Scottish boundary commission, are related. If there are to be major structural changes, it follows that there will be major changes to local authority boundaries, which in turn will affect the parliamentary constituencies.

It could be that the position in Scotland is such that there would be no chance of changing anything within the country. The Government have realised that the next review might come and go before there is anything to show in Scotland. It could be that that is why no attempt has been made to qualify the position in Scotland.

The approach that the Government have taken to Wales has something to commend it when we consider Scotland. First, if there are to be no local government structural changes in Scotland, we should be told. Secondly, the parliamentary constituencies should relate to the present structure. It is a shame that the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton), appears to be in the Chamber to take notes rather than to speak. Perhaps he could throw some light on the remarks of the Minister of State, Home Office. I remember that in a previous incarnation the Minister of State was challenged to name any one of Scotland's regions and failed to do so.

Mr. Maxton

The worst feature of the Scottish local government review is that, unlike the English review, it will be done entirely at the whim of Ministers. That is the worst possible thing for Scottish local government.

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Mr. Darling

Government whims have a great deal to do with all local government reform. All Governments tend to implement changes that benefit their political party, and that is regrettable. The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart), has been running up and down Scotland promising every village and parish that it will get its own local government structure if that is what it wants—and especially if it creates a little blue enclave in parts of Scotland. It would be unfortunate if our parliamentary boundaries were based on the same piecemeal and ill-thought-out approach. However, nothing in the Scottish Office surprises us. Part of the Tory revival in Scotland happened because of boundary changes. I certainly cannot think of any other way that the Government can make substantial progress in Scotland.

As I said, there is an important point in clause 3 because local authority boundaries are the cornerstone of parliamentary boundary reviews. Therefore, what happened to the structure of local authority boundaries is crucial. Another important point is the question of local links, where usually local authority boundaries and divisions are taken into account. However, last time around in my constituency, the residents' parking areas were considered to be of paramount importance. It is the first time that I have known community ties to be circumscribed with yellow lines, whether double or single.

I welcome the fact that the Government have qualified clause 3, although there are other aspects of it that cause us great concern, not least our suspicion that the Government hope to take the opportunity to lay down track lines for the boundary commission to run along, which will be to the Government's political advantage. We remain deeply sceptical about clause 3, but we look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say.

Mr. Robert B. Jones

Listening to the debate, I was struck by what heavy weather the Opposition have been making of the Government's sensible amendment and the original proposals. Any proposals from a parliamentary boundary commission must, of necessity, be introduced throughout the country at the same time. If local government boundaries are not to be introduced at the same time, it is right that there should be a cut-off point —the point at which a snapshot is taken and from which the parliamentary boundary commission can work. There is nothing new in that. In the reorganisation of the early 1970s, it was common for local government boundaries to be changed in different parts of the country in response to local circumstances. The parliamentary boundary commission never found it difficult to take into account those that had already reached the statute book and to ignore those still in the pipeline.

I see some Labour Members here who represent areas where there were changes during that time. I shall give the example of the city of Northampton. A moment ago, Mr. Lofthouse, your colleague in arms, Mr. Morris, was in the Chair. He came to the House to represent the constituency of Northampton, South when the parliamentary boundary commission created two seats out of the expanded county borough of Northampton. A number of villages on the outskirts were taken into the county borough, which affected the way in which parliamentary constituency boundaries were later drawn. However, that change did not happen within an overall restructuring of local government; it was an extension of the county borough of Northampton.

Sometimes, a local government structure was completely changed. I recall the creation of the county borough of Teesside in the late 1960s. It comprised part of the old county of Durham—the Stockton-on-Tees area—and part of the north Yorkshire area around Middlesbrough and out to Redcar and the county borough of Middlesbrough itself. In a sense, that was done on an ad hoc basis, because the creation of that county borough was not part of any overall restructuring of local government—it was the response of the local government boundary commission to the individual circumstances of the area. In due course, the parliamentary constituencies were realigned so that they followed the county borough boundaries.

Sometimes, such individual consideration makes precious little difference to the numbers involved. In my constituency some time ago, 60 electors in the Little Heath area of the parish of Potten End were transferred from the parish of Northchurch. The parliamentary boundaries were realigned, as is possible under the present arrangements, without waiting for the boundary commis-sion's full report. Surely no Labour Member could dispute the fact that if the discrepancies between new local authority areas are minor and involve only a few hundred or a few thousand people, there is a perfectly adequate method for bringing those into line later.

Mr. Maxton

That has happened in my area and it is a double process: first, there is the local government change of moving a piece of land from one district council to another; then the parliamentary seats are reorganised. However, to do that in Scotland without an independent commission and without any idea of what the reforms will be is quite ludicrous. I recall that the hon. Gentleman served on the Committee that set up the English local government reform. He promised me that if there were not an independent commission in Scotland, he would raise objections with his Ministers.

Mr. Jones

The hon. Gentleman's recollection is a little different from mine, but lie was correct to say that minor changes occur in Scotland just as they occur in England and Wales—and I suppose, although I do not know, in Northern Ireland. I assume that hon. Members are concerned that changes in the pattern of local government will lead to major differences between the building blocks currently used to make up constituencies. That is why I said that such changes were a common feature of parliamentary redistributions in the 1950s and 1960s—a period when there was a rolling rather than a total programme of local government reform.

Many people found themselves in one local authority area but excluded from the parliamentary constituency because the realignment had not happened. That was quite common with the county boroughs. In those days, it was a rule of thumb of the parliamentary boundary commission that where a county borough was involved, it did not cross its border into the neighbouring county. Of course, there were exceptions to that rule. In recent years, the town of Reading has always had some of its wards outside the Reading constituency. Now, some rural wards are included in it.

In its practical operation, the boundary commission must have regard to changes in local government boundaries that have already come into operation. That is why my hon. Friend the Minister is right to draw the line in the Bill and to say that any changes must have gone through the House and have statutory backing, whether or not those authorities have appointed their new chief executives or held their elections.

The Labour amendment has two disadvantages: first, there would be guesswork about what might happen to local government: and, secondly, the whole process might be delayed to ensure that everything came into line. That could lead to all kinds of injustices. I do not believe that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) was present when I spoke on Second Reading, when I illustrated the system's unfairness by referring to the city of Glasgow, which is over-represented in United Kingdom terms and even in Scottish terms. It would be wrong for people to have a vote that was worth less in an expanding area such as Grampian than in a declining area such as the city of Glasgow. Judging from the remarks of other Labour Members on Second Reading, the view that injustices must be rectified is widely held among Opposition Members.

There can be no question of the Opposition arguing that redistribution in Scotland should be delayed until after local government reorganisation has taken place.

Mr. Maxton

The danger is that the boundary commission will do its work and devise draft constituen-cies prior to final local government reform and that those boundaries, drawn up for parliamentary purposes, would affect local government reorganisation. That could occur if certain things happened around the periphery of Glasgow—if, for example, one parliamentary seat encompassed parts of Glasgow, whereas other parts currently within Glasgow went outside the city's boundaries. The temptation would be to include in the new local government area that part of Glasgow that fell into the parliamentary constituency, even if that were against the wishes of local people.

Mr. Jones

The hon. Gentleman is being highly suppositious.

Mr. Home Robertson

Will the hon. Gentleman spell that?

Mr. Jones

I could certainly spell it for the benefit of the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) —although I see that you, Mr. Lofthouse, are aware of the spelling.

The hon. Member for Cathcart is concerned not about the work of the parliamentary boundary commission but about Scottish local government reorganisation. That argument will stand or fall on its own merits. In due course, at the next redistribution, the commission will adjust the boundaries so that they came into line with the new local government units in Scotland.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

It will not be necessary to wait until the new round of parliamentary boundary commission reports. There will have to be an interim review—as there always is when local government changes that ought to be taken into account occur between boundary reviews.

Mr. Jones

I addressed that point earlier, when I said that minor discrepancies could be dealt with by an interim review without difficulty. It would not be so easy to deal with major discrepancies.

When local government was reorganised in 1973–74, a large number of constituencies found that parts of their area fell in one county or another, crossed districts or crossed regional boundaries in Scotland. The practice was to leave such discrepancies alone until the next parliamentary redistribution. A perfectly adequate mechanism exists for adjusting parliamentary boundaries to deal with minor discrepancies. Major discrepancies would have to wait for—and would certainly influence —the next round.

The situation in Wales is different, because it is much further down the line. Where the boundary commission can reasonably expect progress before it has to report, it ought to draw boundaries on that basis. That is happening with the English redistribution at this very moment. Work has started on those counties whose external boundaries have, under the present local government system, already been fixed. The commission is coming to the end of its work in those counties where the local government boundary commission has not yet finished its work.

I represent a Hertfordshire constituency that is right at the end of the line in terms of the boundary commission, because there is uncertainty about the boundary between Hertfordshire and Greater London. Although only a few thousand electors will be affected, the commission— perfectly reasonably—thought fit to wait until that matter is resolved, if that can be done in time, before specifying the internal boundaries.

Mr. Donald Anderson

Is there not a fundamental difference between boundaries in England which have been fixed and agreed and those in Wales which are no more than Government proposals, and which may have been agreed on Second Reading? What is the hon. Gentleman's view of the constitutional propriety of proceeding with that which is no more than the first stage of the passage of legislation through the House?

8.45 pm
Mr. Jones

The situation is the same as with a proposed statutory instrument for altering the boundaries of an English county, when the boundary commission might say, "We know that this work is proceeding and will wait until the boundaries are specified before we produce our proposals for that particular area." I see no difference between that and the Welsh situation.

The snapshot approach is the right one. It allows boundary changes to be taken into account as and when they occur and of necessity it introduces a cut-off date; otherwise the entire process might be delayed. We all agree that should not happen because of the injustices that might arise. I commend the Government's proposals and the amendment to the Committee.

Mr. Alun Michael (Cardiff, South and Penarth)

I want to comment on amendment No. 13 in view of the contributions made by Government Members who, on the tenuous basis that they have Welsh surnames, profess to have a degree of expertise in Welsh politics. The Secretary of State for Wales would have been wise to be present. As one can hold that office these days without representing a Welsh constituency, perhaps the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, West (Mr. Jones) and the Minister of State, Home Office are vying for the job of the Secretary of State. The right hon. Gentleman should take care.

I ask the Government to withdraw amendment No. 13 with the support of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling). The amendment refers specifically to Wales, as the Minister made clear. It presumes on the existence of Sir Humphrey's railway track. It is constitutionally improper, presumptuous in regard to Parliament and foolish in common sense terms —and it is appropriately numbered.

The amendment's very existence shows that the Secretary of State for Wales has been denied time in this Session for a Bill to reorganise Welsh local government. The Minister of State said that the Bill was unlikely to be on the statute book until June 1994, which is a very different timetable from that given to us in Wales.

Amendment No. 13 seeks to add the words: a boundary which has not yet come into operation on a particular date and which, apart from this subsection, would not be regarded as prospective on that date shall be so regarded if it is specified in a Bill which, on or before that date, has been read a second time by the House of Commons". The Bill says that parliamentary boundaries must take into account local government boundaries following local government reorganisation in Wales. That new local authority boundaries should be taken into account even if they have not yet been established is reasonable, provided that Parliament has spoken. The boundaries would be set out in an Act of Parliament and would receive Royal Assent. At that stage the future of local government would be clear.

The amendment introduces a much more outrageous proposition—that the boundaries contained in a Bill that has not reached the statute book should be taken into consideration. That is unreasonable, because Parliament would not have spoken—and the basis of reorganisation may change considerably.

On the last group of amendments, the Minister stressed that he was not presuming on decisions to be made subsequently by Parliament. When we consider the implications, it becomes clear that amendment No. 13 contains an outrageous proposition. It would lead to the deciding of constituency boundaries on the assumption that there would be no chnge in the forthcoming Bill to reorganise local government in Wales between Second Reading and Royal Assent.

That may be the Government's aspiration, but to assume that there will be no change shows contempt and disregard for the democratic processes of the House. It is a very uncertain basis for decision-making. It is possible, for instance, that the Government will fall and the reorganisation Bill will never become law. In that event, if the amendment were passed, the details contained in a piece of failed legislation would have to be treated as though they reflected reality. That is manifest nonsense. It is also constitutionally improper and borders on the unconstitutional.

Such a proposal is presumptuous in terms of the procedures of the House. After Second Reading come the Committee and Report stages, Third Reading, all the stages in the House of Lords and consideration of Lords amendments. It is insulting to both Houses to assume that they will make not the slightest change in the boundaries during those stages.

Mr. Donald Anderson

Surely the proposal is not only presumptuous but arrogant. How can hon. Members be persuaded to sit on a Committee when they have been told in advance that the result will be the same whatever they say or do? Is that not a perfect example of the Government's arrogance in power?

Mr. Michael

Indeed it is. It may be the basis on which some Conservative Members sit on Committees; certainly, they seem at present to be remarkably silent on important issues contained in Bills.

Mr. Maxton

My hon. Friend has made a good point. During the passage of a Bill to reform local government in Scotland, introduced in 1972, major amendments relating to the structure of Scottish local government were accepted. The region of Fife was created from previous divisions; areas such as Eastwood, Bearsden, Bishopbriggs and Clydebank, which under the original proposals were to be part of Glasgow district council, were taken out of Glasgow and new district councils were formed. Surely we are entitled to expect the same consideration from any Government when a Bill of this nature is going through Parliament.

Mr. Michael

I entirely agree. Even in the Government's terms, Second Reading—the stage at which we are supposed to take account of the boundaries in this instance—relates only to the principle of a Bill, not to its detail. As my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) pointed out, it is arrogant of the Government to assume that no changes will be made.

The Minister said that Wales was further down the road of local government reorganisation than Scotland or England. I suspect that he has not seen the map published by his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and the dotted lines all over it which indicate uncertainty about the boundaries and a willingness for considerable further discussion. The Minister is less well-informed about Wales than he usually manages to be. There has been no satisfactory discussion about the functions and powers of local authorities, for instance. To anyone who cares about local government—as my hon. Friends and I do—the whole position appears unclear and uncertain.

Mr. Anderson

The point was made earlier that at least a Scottish Office Minister was present, even if he was present only to take a note. Is it not rather puzzling that no Welsh Office Minister is present, even to take a note?

Mr. Michael

My hon. Friend's timing is impeccable. Welsh Members with an interest in the matter are present, including the shadow Secretary of State for Wales. It would have been a little more sensible, for the Minister's own sake, for a Welsh Office Minister to move the Government amendment. In defending the clause and other Government amendments, he has completely destroyed the case for amendment No. 13. He must have felt very embarrassed about having to move the amendment and to speak in terms that were clearly inconsistent with everything that he had said about other aspects of the clause. There must be opportunities to improve the legislation during its passage, possibly in an entirely non-partisan fashion. That is very important, when a measure as important as a Bill to reform local government in Wales is going through the House.

The amendment is a sign of the Government's desperation. In recent weeks, we have tried to persuade the Secretary of State for Wales to come clean about the timetable for the reorganisation of Welsh local govern-ment. It is not as clear and simple as the Minister suggested in his introduction. Questions have been answered with prevarication, or—in this afternoon's Welsh questions, for instance—with patronising knockabout. The amendment, however, tells us the truth. The fact is that the Cabinet and the Government's business managers have denied the Secretary of State for Wales time for his local government Bill. He originally promised us a White Paper in the autumn and legislation during the current Session. Tonight the Minister said clearly and without prevarica-tion, as he confirmed our suspicion that such a timetable could not be met, that it was unlikely that the Welsh local government reorganisation Bill would be in place even as late as June 1994.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

If the hon. Gentleman consults Hansard—and if, as I believe, my memory of what I said is correct—he will find that I was talking about Scotland and explaining why the same arrangements could not be made in Scotland and in Wales. What I said about Wales—the hon. Gentleman repeated it tonight—was that it was well down the track and that a White Paper was projected for the autumn. When the measures will be presented in the form of a Bill and how, when or if it will be on the statute book will depend on decisions made by the House, but the opportunity will certainly come much earlier than in the case of Scotland. In deference to Scotland, and to ensure that all is understood and taken into account, a second round of consultation is planned by Scottish Office Ministers.

Mr. Michael

The Minister manages, with a straight face, to make a brave attempt to defend the indefensible. He did make the comments about Scotland to which he referred, but at a different point he justified Government amendment No. 13, on the ground that the Welsh legislation might well not be in place by June 1994. Were that not the case, there would be no justification for the amendment. The Minister is plainly very confused about the timetable for Wales.

The legislation has wider implications, with which we cannot deal tonight. Local government members and officers need to know where they are; they do not know where they are with the timetable in its current state. We need continuity and quality of services, but that will be put at risk by this kind of doubt. The Local Government Act 1972 requires elections in May 1993, and primary legislation is required to cancel or delay them. Clearly, legislation must at least be introduced before the summer recess for a range of practical reasons, if those elections are not to go ahead next year. It would be greatly to the convenience of local authorities in Wales if the amendment were agreed to, says the Minister. It would be greatly to the convenience of everyone in Wales to know exactly what the Government are up to—when the local government measure is to be introduced and when the measure to delay or cancel the elections is to be introduced, if that is what is going to happen.

The democratic processes of selection, the fact that returning officers need to prepare for elections and the fact that members and officers need to plan ahead—all this is uncertain because of the timetable that has been let out of the bag today by the Minister. It must be very embarrassing for the Secretary of State for Wales to be in this position, but it is a major headache for many people and organisations throughout Wales, not least those engaged in local government.

The amendment seeks to cover up the embarrassment of the Secretary of State for Wales. That is no good reason for such an extraordinary piece of drafting which makes nonsense of and shows great disrespect for the parliamentary process. I invite the Minister to show respect for the House and to withdraw amendment No. 13.

9 pm

Mr. Donald Anderson

The Government have clearly run into a problem. The dilemma is that they want to press ahead as speedily as they can with boundary revisions because they have made a neat calculation that it would be in their interests to do so and to get the boundary changes in force by the time of the next election. They are not, however, in any way balancing that wish with an effort to ensure that the legislation is as accurate as possible. Their wish to expedite the process has run into difficulties. It conflicts with the fact that the local government boundary revision is taking place and that the building blocks upon which the commissioners will make up their minds are changing. The dilemma that faces the Government is that this is a moving target.

I shall speak briefly to amendment No. 13, since much of what I should otherwise have said has already been covered extremely well by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael). The amendment tells us that the Government's timetable for Welsh local government reorganisation has slipped. The Government had thought that the Bill would have completed all its parliamentary stages by the time the boundary commissioners reached their conclusions. It also tells us something about the clout, or lack of it, of the Secretary of State in the Cabinet. The Welsh Office plea to have this matter expedited has obviously not been heard by the Secretary of State's Cabinet colleagues.

It is not unknown for local government and parliamentary boundaries to be different. It is a little inconvenient, but it is no great tragedy. In my county, West Glamorgan, the one seat of Gower straddles both the Lliw valley district council and Swansea city council. It is less convenient, but it happens. Any changes that may come into being as a result of the recommendations arising from local government reform can be taken into account, if they are not major recommendations, in interim reviews.

We are therefore bound to ask, why the hurry? Why expedite this in Wales? As amendment No. 13 suggests, a Second Reading debate should be taken as the starting point for the local government commissioners.

The Minister has said that there is an element of risk. I made the point in an intervention that the constitutional priority that the Government seem to be ready to overlook means that, in effect, the Government are saying that the local government commissioners can go ahead confidently on the basis that what the Government have proposed, by way of a Bill whose Second Reading has been agreed in principle, will be what will emerge at the end of the parliamentary process. There can be no other conclusion.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

There can be another conclusion, if anybody with any common sense reads the Bill, as amended. The boundary commission for Wales can produce provisional recommendations based on that which is contained in the Second Reading debate. The real risk to which I referred is that there may be changes to the Bill as it goes through the House. The boundary commission for Wales would then have to revise its recommendations. Only the boundaries that are legislated for in the Bill when it has become an Act can be used as a basis for its final recommendations to the Secretary of State. They will form the boundaries of the new constituencies. That is exactly what the Bill says, with the amendments. The hon. Gentleman shakes his head. That is because he has not followed the argument. I accept that it is difficult to follow a Bill and the amendments that have been made to it and to get both perfectly clear, but I suggest that if the hon. Gentleman looks quietly and carefully at the amendments he will find that what I have just said is correct.

Mr. Anderson

Despite all the Minister's talk of risk and comparative risk, his message to the commissioners is, "You can act on the supposition that what is contained in the Bill as agreed on Second Reading will be the ultimate result." That is the reason for the difference between Wales and England, but it is hardly an encouragement for hon. Members to serve on a Committee.

Recommendations on boundaries are questions of judgment and are not likely to be matters of partisan conflict. For example, Labour-controlled West Glamorgan county council is making its own recommen-dations, Labour-controlled Swansea city council is making other recommendations and Labour-controlled Lliw valley district council is making yet others. Port Talbot district council, which includes Aberavon, and Neath district council, which are both Labour controlled, are making other recommendations. Non-partisan judgment is being pre-empted by what the Government are suggesting.

It is unconstitutional to prepare on that basis—the arrogance of power, as I have called it. I argue that there is no great problem in Wales. We do not have great disparities in electorates, which may be a problem elsewhere, nor are there great movements of people as there are between the inner cities of London and other great cities and the suburbs. That is not a problem which might impel the Government to accept an argument for expediting consideration.

About 20 unitary authorities, rather less than the 38 seats in Wales, are likely to emerge from the Secretary of State's suggestion. On the basis of logic, therefore, it is unlikely that there will be much overlap or difference between parliamentary constituencies and the lower number—almost half as many—of unitary authorities that will emerge.

Wales should be treated on a par with the rest of Britain. There is no great hurry in respect of Wales. Indeed, on the contrary, there should be time for reflection and for avoiding the unconstitutional haste that the Government are accepting in amendment No. 13.

Mr. Clive Soley (Hammersmith)

I shall not detain the Committee long. A number of my colleagues have been slightly suspicious of the Government's timing. That being so, I must be deeply suspicious, because the Government have managed to get this group of amendments to coincide with a well-attended meeting—and not the first one, I might add—of my constituents who are deeply angry about the way in which the boundary commission is proposing to transfer them to Brent, another Labour-controlled authority.

I want to focus my comments briefly on the sense of community and the link between the Member of Parliament, the local authority and citizens in the area. That has been causing me some concern, because an increasing number of people have been saying to me that they feel that the sense of community has been overridden. I fear that the way in which the Government have approached the Bill, and indeed the timing of its Committee stage, suggests that they have given too little thought to the sense of community and all that goes with it.

The issue is fairly clear. I shall quote briefly from the Department of the Environment's guidelines to the Local Government Commission for England and shall urge the Government to take them on board in the longer-term changes that they are suggesting, which will not help with the link between Members and councils. The Department says: Local authorities should be based on communities. The Commission should assess the extent and strength of local people's loyalties and identities, and their interests. It will use its own judgment as to the best method for making this assessment, but should bear in mind that research has shown that people's sense of identity with the community is often intuitive. That is an important and strong point, on which I agree 100 per cent. with the Department of the Environment.

The Department then says: The Commission should take account of people's expressed preferences … The Commission may also wish to use statistical information about the pattern of people's lives within the area under review. It may wish to look at patterns of employment, shopping and travel … The Commission should base its recommendations on communities … The Commission should take account of the strength of identity associated with each level of community. In paragraph 11, the Department says: All functions"— in a local authority— should be exercised in a way that is responsive to the needs and wishes of local people, and, particularly in the case of strategic functions, is in the wider public interest. The Commission should look at the exercise of functions from the point of view of the citizen, not the providing authority. It should look for a structure to achieve the most effective and convenient exercise of functions to fit in with community identities and which is in the interests of local people. Complaints have been expressed strongly in the case of both the Edward Woods area which, it is proposed, should go to Kensington—that has not come about yet—and the College Park area, about which there is a meeting tonight in my constituency, which will go to Brent. The argument is neither about different services in different areas nor, I emphasise, about different political control. I do not take the view that one should never cross local borough boundaries in London because I believe that we are getting to the stage where that might be necessary. I hope I can take the Minister with me in saying that that should be a measure of last resort because the sense of community is more important. We should go for that in the first instance.

I bring to the Minister's attention what the boundary commission itself recommends. To return to the railway analogy, the issue goes off the rails at this point. If we continue down this road, we shall go off the rails with the identity of interest of Members of Parliament. The commission recommended that College Park should go to Brent despite the wishes of the community.

The commission says: Nearly all respondents claimed to identify strongly with Hammersmith and Fulham, and to have a few connections with areas north of the Harrow Road. The commission gives examples of that. It then says: We acknowledge the strength of local residents' opposition to our draft proposal; approximately 50 per cent. of residents signed the petition opposing our draft proposal, and Hammersmith Council's survey apapeared to show a similarly high proportion of households to be against major change. We accepted that College Park was unusually self-contained for an inner London community, and that it could be said to have a distinct identity. I emphasise that point to the Minister.

A number of hon. Members have referred this afternoon to the difference between inner-city areas and other areas in terms of the rapid turnover of population. There is a rapid turnover of population in areas such as mine. However, it is also true—we ignore this point at our peril—that a core component of the local community stay within the area for most of their lives. They have a history going back not just over one generation, but over many. To override them is not in the interests of good local government or in the interests of keeping well the link between the Member of Parliament and the constituency, unless we believe that it is desirable to cross borough boundaries when deciding the parliamentary constituency.

9.15 pm

It is interesting that the boundary commission justifies its actions by referring to simple geographical barriers, such as the Harrow road which is the main factor dividing College Park from Brent. The commission says that it is not of major importance and could be crossed.

The report continues: In reviewing our draft proposal, we were conscious of the points raised … in particular, we bore in mind that the wishes of the people are only one of the factors which we must consider. I take issue with that. I accept that the wishes of the people are only one factor, but I do not accept that they are minor. The report continues: We acknowledged the strength of feeling expressed by the considerable number of College Park residents who made their views known to us, but we had also to consider the pattern of community life and the effective operation of local authority services. I understand that there could be a cost factor if we were discussing the large constituency of the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan), but we are talking about transferring an area half a mile down the road, or perhaps a mile at most, from the rest of the constituency. I have run around the periphery of my constituency several times and I can do it in about two hours, but that is not true of many constituencies. I do not want us to lose sight of the fact that communities matter, and I hope that the Government will not do so.

The report continues: Notwithstanding the views of local residents, we concluded that College Park has natural affinities with Brent. The commission concludes that, but no one else does, and it continues: We realise that most local authorities are resourceful in overcoming problems", and it states that it is perfectly possible to do so. It then refers to geographical divisions such as the Grand Union canal. Most of my constituents do not have to worry about crossing the canal because several bridges cross it, and it is therefore not difficult.

There is real anger about the College Park proposal. The last meeting to discuss the proposals before they became a recommendation was attended by between 150 and 200 of the 700 residents, and I am missing a meeting tonight. They were massively opposed and no one spoke in favour. I attended a similar meeting about the proposal for the Edward Woods estate and surrounding areas. Again, no one spoke in favour, and the other local authorities are not in favour.

What on earth are we doing considering amendments that the Government say must be made to ensure that the link between local authorities and the constituencies of Members of Parliament remains when all the evidence shows that the boundary commission is making decisions for geographical reasons rather than on the basis of the essence of community, which is what we should consider?

I accept that the commission should have the power to override arguments about political expediency. I want the boundary commission to be independent. If I thought that the Conservative party was fighting to get these parts of my constituency, I might be suspicious, but it is not. The proposal is apolitical in that respect.

Community and a sense of it should be our highest priority, especially in inner city areas where the community is already fractured. We fracture it further at our peril. If a community wants to stay in a local authority and a constituency, that wish should be given a high rating, and should be overruled only in exceptional circumstances, not as the norm.

Mr. Home Robertson

I was alarmed to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) refer to running around his constituency. If I were to do the same, there would be a by-election before I had got 100 yards.

Mr. Maxton

What about swimming?

Mr. Home Robertson

I do not know how I would get on if I tried to swim to the Bass Rock. I think we will pass over that.

The Government have concocted a number of dog's breakfasts and the Bill is certainly one. I do not doubt that they will go ahead with it—they always do—but I shall make a few comments so that I shall be able to say, "I told you so."

Mr. Maxton

My hon. Friend has done that a few times too.

Mr. Home Robertson

Yes, I have, along with my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) and especially on the subject of the poll tax.

I was intrigued to read reports in the Scottish press late last week that no less a person than Professor Ross Harper had been designated as the Conservative party action man on boundaries—a sort of gerrymandering officer. We shall be watching him. I hope that truly independent boundary commissioners will not let him get away with anything like that.

I recognise the importance of much of what my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) said about strengthening community loyalties. The song in Musselburgh in my constituency is Musselburgh was a burgh when Edinburgh was nane, and Mussleburgh will be a burgh when Edinburgh's gane. So if anyone suggests lumping Musselburgh with Edinburgh he will be in trouble.

I shall now speak to the amendment, Mr. Lofthouse. I have the honour to represent the constituency of East Lothian, which is happily coterminous with East Lothian district council. Since the last major local government review, everyone has known where the boundaries of East Lothian are. Indeed, no less a person than the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton), is a citizen of East Lothian. He should know all about East Lothian. Everyone knows where the boundaries are except the Post Office, which still uses the old county areas as postal addresses in some areas, just for the sake of confusion.

The boundaries are largely a straightforward matter. Everyone understands what the district is, who the Member of Parliament is, what the constituency is and what the local authority is. But it was not always thus. When I was first elected to Parliament in 1978 I was elected to the former constituency of Berwick and East Lothian. It was a truly historic constituency. It was first constituted in 1908 from two former counties. I make that point because it is relevant to the position that we are working ourselves into.

The former constituency of Berwick and East Lothian outlived the 1974 local government boundary review. So the constituency for which I was elected included parts of two regional council areas and no fewer than four district council areas. I had to deal with six local authorities, six chief executives, and six sets of local government officers. As other public authorities often conduct their administra-tion on the basis of local authority areas, I also had to deal with two health boards, and two separate offices of the Department of Health and Social Security, the Department of Employment and so on.

The arrangement in my former constituency was fairly chaotic for my office but it was also confusing for many of my constituents. Ideally, indeed necessarily, local authority boundaries should be related to the boundaries of parliamentary constituencies. It is nonsense when the Government are embarking on a major review of the structure of local government in Scotland for them to move ahead of that to create new parliamentary constituencies. We shall go back to the same confusion into which I was elected with bits of local authority areas in old parliamentary constituencies. The Government tell us that they intend to make major changes to local authority areas.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman should address his remarks to his hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael), who said that he did not want any arrangements to be made for Wales that would bring the new local authorities in Wales in line with the new parliamentary constituencies as early as possible. The remarks of the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) are diametrically opposed to those which we heard a few minutes ago from the Opposition Front Bench in respect of Wales.

Mr. Home Robertson

I cannot speak for Wales but I think my hon. Friend is about to.

Mr. Michael

I am happy to do so. The Minister makes another attempt to get himself out of the mess that he has dug himself into during the day. I am happy for the new local government boundaries in Wales to be taken into account as quickly as possible. Indeed, I made that clear in my speech. That is what the Bill would do as it was originally drafted. If the amendment were accepted things would not be done as quickly as possible. The commission would be instructed to run around doing things on the basis of speculation which would be disrespectful to the House and constitutionally dubious. I do not believe that there is any difference between my hon. Friend and me, however much the Minister suggests that there is.

Mr. Home Robertson

I am relieved to hear that and I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that helpful intervention.

I conclude my remarks because my message is straightforward and simple. There should be some sensible correlation between parliamentary and local authority boundaries.

The Government say that they will embark on a major restructuring of local government in Scotland. It is probably right that they should do so because the two-tier local government structure has not been a success. People do not understand it and it does not work well. There is certainly a case for a single tier local authority system and I should be inclined to support such a principle, although I am always deeply suspicious of the detail of schemes that the Government introduce.

Although the structure of local government in Scotland should be reviewed, it would be absurd to construct a whole new set of parliamentary boundaries in Scotland on the basis of existing local government boundaries if, just one or two years after that, a whole new network of local authority boundaries were superimposed on those new parliamentary constituency boundaries. I have suffered from that problem in the past and seen the confusion that it causes, not only for Members of Parliament but, more importantly, for the people whom we represent. It can give rise to chaos and I fear that the Government are drifting into that again. They should not do so.

Mr. Barnes

Government amendment No. 13 is a constitutional insult. The Government should not deal with the Bill as though it were an Act of Parliament. I do not know what precedents exist for that. I assume that they are bad precedents and I doubt whether many precedents deal with constitutional matters.

I wish to support amendment No. 3. A reform of local government boundaries should not take place alongside a reform of parliamentary boundaries because the paramet-ers within which the commissioners are supposed to act, as provided in the Bill, place them in an invidious position. Considerations about changes in local government areas are affected by considerations for parliamentary boundaries, and vice-versa.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

Having listened to the hon. Gentleman, I wonder which review he will cancel: the review of local government boundaries; the review of local government structure; or the parliamentary boundary commission review. If we cannot run any of those in parallel, something must give. Which one would the hon. Gentleman dispense with?

Mr. Barnes

I shall leave the problem of which problem to sort out first with the Minister. It would be possible to go ahead with parliamentary boundary reviews relating to existing local government structures while, at the same time, engaging in discussions about local government structures to come into place later. Obviously, the two will then be out of line but later, when a further parliamentary boundaries review takes place, the position will be adjusted according to local government boundaries. That is one way in which the problem could be tackled but one set of commissioners should not have to consult another set of commissioners about what is taking place.

Mr. Lloyd

They do not.

Mr. Barnes

Policy guidance documents issued by the Department of the Environment say that, for the purposes of local government boundaries reviews, a number of people must be consulted. Many of the areas in which interest should be taken are reasonable, and the document says that particular account should be taken of the views of Members of Parliament. But among the people to be consulted, the document also lists the parliamentary boundary commission. That shows at least one way round the problem—in altering local government boundaries, consultations must take place with the parliamentary boundary commission.

That seems to be fraught with danger, and nowhere more so than in Derbyshire. We have often heard Conservative Members refer to David Bookbinder as a demon. Now that he has been replaced as leader, presumably Martin Doughty's name will be used instead. Martin Doughty responded to the local government boundary changes suggested for Derbyshire, which is included in the first tranche of local government authorities. The alterations to Derbyshire's local government boundaries will be taken into account when considering parliamentary boundaries. Derbyshire is not down to be considered for early parliamentary boundary changes, and is likely to be in the last tranche to be reviewed, so new arrangements will have to be made.

On page 76 of County News, 14 June 1992, Martin Doughty states: Eight of the ten authorities chosen for immediate scrutiny by the Government were either set up following the 1974 local government reorganisation, or border onto those councils. The exceptions are the Isle of Wight which has two small districts within the county boundary, and Derbyshire which at this stage seems to stand alone". We are told that the Derbyshire review has to take place because of concern about the county and its boundaries. Those worries had been mainly expressed by Conservative Members from Derbyshire. Pressure has been applied by the politics of Conservatism in Derbyshire to ensure that that county is included in the first tranche. That should not be a reason for including Derbyshire in the review of local government at the initial stage when the parliamentary boundary review and consideration of parliamentary seats are included in the arrangements.

There is a considerable danger in a county such as Derbyshire being put forward for the local government review and the parliamentary boundary review. It may be that the parliamentary review will be limited to the current boundaries of Derbyshire and split that county into a number of regions, but it is possible for the local government commissioner to ask the Minister for other districts to be considered and added to the review. We would then have a problem, as some authorities in Derbyshire might begin to shrink, while others expanded. Even if that does not happen, we should not allow the Minister even to consider it. That should be set out clearly in legislation.

It should be clearly set out in legislation that boundaries constitute one parliamentary sphere and local authorities another, and the two should not be cross-referenced or alterations made to the political map that help certain groups close to the Government. The Minister should seriously consider amendment No. 3, which begins to resolve some of those problems. He should carefully respond, particularly in relation to whether clause 3 should stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Maxton

I shall try to keep my remarks brief—[Interruption.] Conservative Members should never tempt me into making long speeches—they might get one.

I apologise for missing the Minister's earlier remarks, but ! want to speak entirely about Scotland this evening. Unlike in England and Wales, no independent commission is looking into local government reform and reorganisa-tion in Scotland. That is entirely at the whim of Ministers, who make proposals and then push through legislation. That can never be right. Even at this late stage, an independent commission should he set up.

Let us examine the time scale for local government reform and its relationship to the parliamentary boundary commission. It appears that in September this year there will be a White Paper with Government proposals on Scottish local government. I am told that it will contain a series of proposals, offering choices and even various maps. We do not know if that is true, but certainly there will be no legislation this Session. It will be November 1993, the Queen's Speech, before we even know what the final proposals are. The legislation will then go through the House of Commons. The regional elections planned for May 1994 will be cancelled and the regions will be allowed to continue until the legislation becomes an Act and the new structure is put in place for May 1996. The boundary commission might therefore report in 1994 with no idea of what the new local government structure in Scotland will be. The hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) has come out with some very odd and vague ideas, concentrating on only one aspect—Eastwood district council should remain in existence and hell-mend the other authorities in Scotland. On the other hand, the commission might not do its job and might allow the local government boundary reforms to take place and then set up new parliamentry boundaries related to the new local government structure.

As my hon. Friend the Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) said, the latter is the best way of approaching the matter. It ensures the continuing links between Members of Parliament and local government areas, so that they will not find themselves representing various parts of various local authorities. Ideally, they will represent only one—

Mr. Home Robertson

Or two.

Mr. Maxton

Two would be fine, if there is a two-tier structure, but we should not have to represent a mass of local authorities.

Is it impossible for the boundary commission to wait for the new local government structure in Scotland to be in place? No. I accept that the boundary commission can only begin its work; it cannot finalise it on the basis of the first draft of the first Bill to come before the House, in November 1993. Presumably, that legislation will complete all its stages by June 1994. By then, it may have been changed and the commission will have to take account of the changes. Last time we effected a major local government reform in this place—not that I was here—the legislation was changed significantly as it went through this place and the other place.

In June 1994, the boundary commission would have to lay out its draft boundaries for the parliamentary seats in Scotland. There is nothing wrong with that. Indeed, there is nothing wrong with the final drafting and submissions not being ready until February or March 1995. After all, we have just had a general election, in April. This place works on a five-year lifespan. Therefore, at least constitutionally, the next general election will take place in April, or even May, 1997. That is when the parliamentary boundaries need to be in place unless we witness another occasion when a Prime Minister believes that he can rig the election by calling it when it suits his purpose rather than that of anyone else.

The fact is that, in constitutional theory, the next election will take place in April 1997. Why all the rush and hurry about getting the boundaries in place before then? Even if the Government decided on a four-year term rather than a five-year one, my time scale would still allow time for the boundaries to be in place by April 1996. We would then have the new parliamentary and local government boundaries in place at the same time. That is the sensible way forward and I hope that the Minister will take heed of it.

Mr. Maclennan

The different treatments given to Wales and Scotland by the Bill are understandable in view of the fact that the Secretary of State for Wales has made his intentions clear. However, it is unsatisfactory that the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland sat through the debate and kept the intentions of the Scottish Office entirely covert.

The Bill would affect Scotland, England and Wales differently. It would be reasonable to expect the Under-Secretary to explain precisely how the Bill is intended to operate in Scotland. Under the 1986 Act, Scotland is not in the same position as England and Wales. Schedule 2(4) to the Act clearly sets out that Scotland is to be treated differently and that the boundary commission in Scotland is required to have regard to local government boundaries. If the Bill becomes law and the Government amendments are accepted, the boundary commission in Scotland will have no option but to act on existing local government boundaries and to produce a report which, if the Government's intentions as expressed by the Scottish Office are clear, will be overtaken by structural changes as soon as they are implemented by the House. Therefore, Scottish local government and parliamentary boundaries, which should coincide or at least bear some relationship to each other, will probably be completely different. That is not satisfactory. It is up to the Under-Secretary to explain when he intends to bring forward the structural proposals for change so that we can consider them before the Bill leaves the House and assess whether a measure such as that proposed for Wales would be appropriate for Scotland. However, in Scotland, we have no proposals to consider.

Although the procedure for Wales is unusual, it relates to the facts as they were spelt out by the Ministers responsible for Wales. The proposal is understandable, if novel, but the great cloud of unknowing in respect of what will happen in Scotland is unacceptable. We do not know whether the work of the boundary commission in Scotland will be accelerated, which many people would accept, or whether the boundary commission's recommendations will diverge from any that may have to be considered later in this Parliament.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

I have noted what most hon. Members have said. Some of their points have been lost in the obscurity of my handwriting, so I shall start with the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling). I should like him to confirm whether he made this following point, because it is less logical than most of his points. He appeared to want the boundary commission to ignore some changes that Parliament will have willed in local government boundaries and that will already be in operation when it makes its report. Is that so? The hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I am glad that, at least to that extent, he agrees with the Government that, if there are local government changes in operation by the time that the parliamentary boundary commissions have to make their final report, they should take those into account in their reports.

The hon. Gentleman then queried the opportunities for provisional recommendations to be taken into account before the boundaries are in operation. That will be legitimate only—except in the case of Wales—if they have been legislated for. They will not be acceptable in arty final report unless they are in operation. Throughout the debate, many hon. Members have talked as if the final report could be based on recommendations that appeared only in a Bill that had had Second Reading when it can only be for recommendations that have had statutory form through becoming an Act. If the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central wishes to intervene, I would be happy to give way to him.

9.45 pm
Mr. Darling

I bet the Minister would—it was painfully obvious that he was taken by surprise when he was called to speak. I will give him this opportunity to wake up. My point was that it is conceivable, especially in England because of the way in which the Government are going about local authority changes, that there could be areas in which there were new boundaries in operation, or at least enacted and capable of being in operation, and others where they were not. I was concerned that, in such an area, the boundary commission might make recommendations that were partly based on new boundaries and partly on old boundaries. I would not urge the boundary commission to ignore a new local authority area. However, I am concerned about the mixture.

Mr. Lloyd

With the rolling programme in which sectors of the country are taken as they will be in the local government review, that must inevitably be so if those reviews roll across the date of 1 June 1994, which is the cut-off point for the convenience of the boundary commission so that it knows what it has to take into account and what it does not have to take into account. If we accepted the hon. Gentleman's amendment, the boundary commission would be in great confusion as to what it should be taking into account. Inevitably there will be a mixture.

The hon. Gentleman also assumes that the revised local government structure will, somehow, produce more favourable circumstances, and therefore constituency changes, for the Conservative party than existing local government boundaries. I do not know how he can assert that, as he does not know what the local government commissions will be recommending. He cannot possibly make that prediction, and I suspect that he has no principled objection to the arrangements being made and does not know how they will end up but finds it a little easier to fill in his time by spraying around assertions that he cannot sustain.

Like others, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central referred to the timing of local government restructuring in Scotland. As I said earlier, the Secretary of State has said that there will be a further consultation stage in Scotland this autumn. This will probably give some idea of how the Government will implement their manifesto commitment. The Secretary of State has not given any idea of timing. The current thinking is that there will be a Bill in the 1993–94 Session and that Royal Assent may be given in the summer of 1994. Elections for the new authorities could take place in the spring of 1995, with the new authorities coming into effect in April 1996—well after the parliamentary boundary commission will have been obliged to report.

Mr. Maxton

Did the hon. Gentleman say that there could be elections in 1995? The legislation is unlikely to be through this place much before October or November of 1994.

Mr. Lloyd

There may be a need to elect a shadow authority to take over from the existing authority for a period. If the new structure comes into effect in 1996, which is quite possible, I think that even the hon. Gentleman would accept that that will be well after the commission has to report. It would be extremely difficult for the commission to take the new local government boundaries into account two years after it had to report.

Mr. Maxton

Is the Minister confirming that the regional elections of May 1994 will be cancelled? That would appear to be the implication of what he is saying.

Mr. Lloyd

The hon. Gentleman may draw what inferences he thinks logical from what I say. These are matters for the Secretary of State for Scotland and I shall not trespass too far on matters that he will be making clearer in his consultation document later this year.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, West (Mr. Jones), in an interesting and well-informed speech, rightly said that local government boundaries need to be known before they can be taken into account by boundary commissions. That is the basic common sense that underlies this measure, but it was not adopted by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael). The hon. Gentleman invited me to withdraw amendment No. 13, which he described as improper and presump-tuous. In fact, it is entirely sensible and practicable.

The hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth professed to be outraged. That was either because he had not followed the debate—he certainly had not followed clearly what is in the Bill or in the amendments—or, more likely, because he felt that he needed to generate some strong emotion to compensate for the lethargic Opposition Members sitting behind him, as well as empty Benches, while he was speaking.

There is no question of the Government taking Parliament for granted. I believe that the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth was wheeled on to make the bluster that I have described. He will know that the plan is that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales will produce a White Paper in the autumn, which will set out the reform that is planned and the timetable.

Mr. Michael

If there was a need to wake anyone, it was the Minister. Very few Conservative Members were sitting behind him whereas the Opposition had the presence of the shadow Secretary of State for Wales, my hon. Friend the Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones). My hon. Friends on the Opposition Back Benches have given their Front-Bench colleagues lively support. The Minister has suggested that we are divided against one another when we are not. The reality is that he is divided against himself on amendment No. 13. We say that the Bill should not proceed on the detail of a piece of proposed legislation that has not passed through the House. We certainly should not ask the Boundary Commission for Wales to do so. It is as simple as that. The Minister seems not to understand that.

Mr. Lloyd

When the hon. Gentleman was speaking I could see behind him rather better than he could. I shall return to the argument that he has reiterated when I direct my remarks to the hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson), who made the same point. He, too, let his imagination run riot while his common sense took a back seat.

The only assumption that lies behind the Bill is that the Government will introduce a Welsh local government Bill sufficiently early for Parliament to determine its fate well before the Boundary Commission for Wales has prepared its final recommendations, which must depend on what an Act states rather than on what is contained in the Bill. If changes are made to the Bill, there is not a shadow of doubt that the Boundary Commision for Wales will have to take them into account when it makes its final recommendations.

Should the Bill be defeated, the commission will have to operate on the basis of current boundaries. Parliament is not being taken for granted. Instead, there is an opportunity for the Boundary Commission for Wales to take into account the sort of structure that is proposed in the Bill in the full knowledge that it will have to revise its thinking if the Bill is amended before its reaches the statute book.

I was glad that the hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) approved of the guidelines for the local government boundary commission. He said that, in London, the time had come to cross the borough boundaries. In fact, there is a principle that there should be constituencies of more or less equal size. I understood from what he said that he accepted that as a general principle, while emphasising that that does not always fit easily with respecting local government and other boundaries and social links. That tension will always be there and the boundary commission must balance that. No doubt its members will read the report of this debate and note the remarks that the hon. Gentleman and others made about the position in London. There is sufficient guidance for the boundary commission in schedule 2 of the 1986 Act—

Mr. Soley

Will the Minister go a little further and tell the boundary commission that greater priority should be given to the sense of community? That is especially true if it is thinking of crossing borough boundaries. The sense of community, especially in inner-city areas, must be maintained; it must not be subservient to the geographical lines, which often appear to override the sense of community.

Mr. Lloyd

I hear what the hon. Gentleman says and no doubt the commission will note his views. It would be wrong of me to give additional guidance to the commission on how to interpret its responsibilities. Its guidance is contained in the schedule to the 1986 Act, and it is for the boundary commission, not me, to construe that.

The hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Barnes) recommended that we do exactly what we are planning to do in Scotland, which is not to make changes until the local government boundaries are either in statute form or in place. That is why the arrangements in the Bill for Scotland differ from those for Wales. I am sure that that makes complete sense. It is for the convenience of the boundary commissions and for the more accurate delineation of the constituency boundaries along the lines of those that are about to come into existence or that have already done so.

I ask the Committee to support the amendment and to reject the Opposition amendments.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment proposed: No. 3, in page 2, leave out lines 29 to 31.—[Mr. Darling.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 249, Noes 298.

Division No. 39] [9.58 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Adams, Mrs Irene Benton, Joe
Ainger, Nick Bermingham, Gerald
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Berry, Roger
Alton, David Betts, Clive
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Blair, Tony
Armstrong, Hilary Boateng, Paul
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Boyce, Jimmy
Ashton, Joe Boyes, Roland
Austin-Walker, John Bradley, Keith
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Bray, Dr Jeremy
Barnes, Harry Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)
Battle, John Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)
Bayley, Hugh Burden, Richard
Beckett, Margaret Byers, Stephen
Bell, Stuart Caborn, Richard
Callaghan, Jim Hoyle, Doug
Campbell, Ms Anne (C'bridge) Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Campbell, Ronald (Blyth V) Hutton, John
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Illsley, Eric
Canavan, Dennis Ingram, Adam
Cann, James Jackson, Ms Glenda (H'stead)
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry) Jackson, Ms Helen (Shef'Id, H)
Chisholm, Malcolm Jamieson, David
Clapham, Michael Janner, Greville
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Clelland, David Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Jones, Ms Lynne (B'ham S O)
Coffey, Ms Ann Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Cohen, Harry Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Connarty, Michael Jowell, Ms Tessa
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Kennedy, Charles (Ross, C & S)
Cousins, Jim Kennedy, Ms Jane (L'p'I Br'g'n)
Cryer, Bob Khabra, Piara
Cummings, John Kilfoyle, Peter
Cunliffe, Lawrence Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE) Kirkwood, Archy
Dafis, Cynog Leighton, Ron
Darling, Alistair Lewis, Terry
Davidson, Ian Litherland, Robert
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral) Livingstone, Ken
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Llwyd, Elfyn
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'I) Loyden, Eddie
Denham, John Lynne, Ms Liz
Dewar, Donald McAllion, John
Dixon, Don McAvoy, Thomas
Dobson, Frank McCartney, Ian
Dowd, Jim MacDonald, Calum
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth McFall, John
Eagle, Ms Angela McKelvey, William
Eastham, Ken Mackinlay, Andrew
Enright, Derek McLeish, Henry
Etherington, William Maclennan, Robert
Evans, John (St Helens N) McMaster, Gordon
Ewing, Mrs Margaret McNamara, Kevin
Fatchett, Derek McWilliam, John
Faulds, Andrew Madden, Max
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Mahon, Alice
Fisher, Mark Mandelson, Peter
Flynn, Paul Marek, Dr John
Foster, Derek (B 'p Auckland) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Foulkes, George Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Fraser, John Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Galbraith, Sam Martlew, Eric
Galloway, George Maxton, John
Gapes, Michael Meacher, Michael
George, Bruce Meale, Alan
Gerrard, Neil Michael, Alun
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Godman, Dr Norman A. Milburn, Alan
Godsiff, Roger Miller, Andrew
Golding, Mrs Llin Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Graham, Thomas Moonie, Dr Lewis
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Morgan, Rhodri
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Morley, Elliot
Grocott, Bruce Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
Gunnell, John Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Hain, Peter Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Hall, Mike Mowlam, Marjorie
Hanson, David Mudie, George
Hardy, Peter Mullin, Chris
Harman, Ms Harriet Murphy, Paul
Harvey, Nick Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Henderson, Doug O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Heppell, John O'Hara, Edward
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Olner, William
Hinchliffe, David O'Neill, Martin
Home Robertson, John Patchett, Terry
Hoon, Geoff Pendry, Tom
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Pickthall, Colin
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Pike, Peter L.
Pope, Greg Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Steinberg, Gerry
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E) Stott, Roger
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Strang, Gavin
Prescott, John Straw, Jack
Purchase, Ken Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Quin, Ms Joyce Tipping, Paddy
Radice, Giles Trimble, David
Randall, Stuart Turner, Dennis
Raynsford, Nick Vaz, Keith
Redmond, Martin Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Reid, Dr John Wallace, James
Robertson, George (Hamilton) Walley, Joan
Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Roche, Ms Barbara Wareing, Robert N
Rogers, Allan Watson, Mike
Rooker, Jeff Wicks, Malcolm
Rooney, Terry Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Rowlands, Ted Wilson, Brian
Ruddock, Joan Winnick, David
Sheerman, Barry Wise, Audrey
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Worthington, Tony
Short, Clare Wray, Jimmy
Skinner, Dennis Wright, Tony
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Tellers for the Ayes:
Soley, Clive Mr. Jack Thompson and
Spearing, Nigel Mr. Jimmy Dunnachie.
Spellar, John
Adley, Robert Cash, William
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Aitken, Jonathan Chaplin, Mrs Judith
Alexander, Richard Churchill, Mr
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Clappison, James
Amess, David Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Ancram, Michael Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)
Arbuthnot, James Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Coe, Sebastian
Ashby, David Colvin, Michael
Aspinwall, Jack Congdon, David
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Conway, Derek
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Coombs, Anthony (Y/yre For'st)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Baldry, Tony Couchman, James
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Cran, James
Bates, Michael Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Batiste, Spencer Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Bellingham, Henry Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Bendall, Vivian Davis, David (Boothferry)
Beresford, Sir Paul Day, Stephen
Biffen, Rt Hon John Deva, Nirj Joseph
Blackburn, Dr John G. Devlin, Tim
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Dickens, Geoffrey
Booth, Hartley Dicks, Terry
Boswell, Tim Dorrell, Stephen
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Dover, Den
Bowis, John Duncan, Alan
Brandreth, Gyles Duncan-Smith, Iain
Brazier, Julian Dunn, Bob
Bright, Graham Durant, Sir Anthony
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Dykes, Hugh
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Eggar, Tim
Browning, Mrs. Angela Elletson, Harold
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Emery, Sir Peter
Budgen, Nicholas Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Burns, Simon Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Burt, Alistair Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Butcher, John Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Butler, Peter Evennett, David
Butterfill, John Faber, David
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Fabricant, Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Carrington, Matthew Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Carttiss, Michael Fishburn, John Dudley
Forman, Nigel Luff, Peter
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) MacKay, Andrew
Forth, Eric Maclean, David
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman McLoughlin, Patrick
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley) Madel, David
Freeman, Roger Maitland, Lady Olga
French, Douglas Malone, Gerald
Gale, Roger Mans, Keith
Gallie, Phil Marland, Paul
Gardiner, Sir George Marlow, Tony
Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Garnier, Edward Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Gill, Christopher Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Gillan, Ms Cheryl Mates, Michael
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Merchant, Piers
Gorst, John Milligan, Stephen
Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW) Mills, Iain
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) Monro, Sir Hector
Grylls, Sir Michael Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Moss, Malcolm
Hague, William Needham, Richard
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Nelson, Anthony
Hampson, Dr Keith Neubert, Sir Michael
Hanley, Jeremy Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hannam, Sir John Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hargreaves, Andrew Norris, Steve
Harris, David Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Haselhurst, Alan Oppenheim, Phillip
Hawkins, Nicholas Ottaway, Richard
Hawksley, Warren Page, Richard
Hayes, Jerry Paice, James
Heald, Oliver Patnick, Irvine
Heathcoat-Amory, David Patten, Rt Hon John
Hendry, Charles Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hicks, Robert Pawsey, James
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hill, James (Southampton Test) Pickles, Eric
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Horam, John Porter, David (Waveney)
Hordern, Sir Peter Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A) Powell, William (Corby)
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Rathbone, Tim
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Redwood, John
Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W) Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W) Richards, Rod
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm
Hunter, Andrew Robathan, Andrew
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Jack, Michael Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Jenkin, Bernard Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Jessel, Toby Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Jones, Robert B. (W H'f'rdshire) Sackville, Tom
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Key, Robert Shaw, David (Dover)
Kilfedder, Sir James Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
King, Rt Hon Tom Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Knapman, Roger Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Shersby, Michael
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Sims, Roger
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Knox, David Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Soames, Nicholas
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Speed, Sir Keith
Legg, Barry Spencer, Sir Derek
Leigh, Edward Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Spink, Dr Robert
Lidington, David Spring, Richard
Lightbown, David Sproat, Iain
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Lord, Michael Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony Waller, Gary
Stephen, Michael Ward, John
Stern, Michael Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Streeter, Gary Waterson, Nigel
Sumberg, David Watts, John
Sweeney, Walter Wells, Bowen
Sykes, John Wheeler, Sir John
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Whitney, Ray
Taylor, John M. (Solihull) Whittingdale, John
Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E) Widdecombe, Ann
Temple-Morris, Peter Wiggin, Jerry
Thomason, Roy Wilkinson, John
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Willetts, David
Thornton, Sir Malcolm Wilshire, David
Thurnham, Peter Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Townend, John (Bridlington) Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'Id)
Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th) Wolfson, Mark
Tracey, Richard Wood, Timothy
Trend, Michael Yeo, Tim
Trotter, Neville Young, Sir George (Acton)
Twinn, Dr Ian
Vaughan, Sir Gerard Tellers for the Noes:
Viggers, Peter Mr. Timothy Kirkhope and
Walden, George Mr. Sydney Chapman.

Question accordingly negatived.

It being after Ten o'clock, THE CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

Committee report Progress; to sit again tomorrow.

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