HC Deb 21 April 1993 vol 223 cc325-80
Madam Speaker

It will help the House to know that I have not selected the amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley).

3.42 pm
Mr. Tony Benn (Chesterfield)

I beg to move, That this House regrets that the Chairman of Ways and Means, having selected Amendment 27 to the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, which has support from honourable Members on both sides of the House, having called a Right honourable Member to speak on that amendment, and having allowed a debate upon it to take place, should then have decided, contrary to normal practice, not to permit a division to take place upon that amendment, thus denying the House an opportunity to reach a decision on an issue relating to the applicability of the Protocol on Social Policy contained in the Maastricht Treaty, a protocol which Her Majesty's Government held to be so important that it sought and obtained a special opt-out from it for the United Kingdom; and, in the light of these considerations, and the long term significance of this ruling for parliamentary debates on all future legislation, calls upon the Chairman of Ways and Means to reconsider his ruling forthwith, and to permit the Committee to reach a decision on that amendment. First, I wish to make it clear that the motion is supported by 80 hon. Members who represent opinion in all parts of the House. It represents the only way in which the House can register its opinion of a decision of the Chairman of Ways and Means. It is not possible to appeal to Madam Speaker in respect of decisions taken by the Chairman.

Those of us who have signed the motion believe that it is a profoundly mistaken ruling and that the statement made by the Chairman has the most serious implications for the rights of hon. Members and their constituents in the future. It relates solely and simply to that one ruling, and invites the House to ask the Chairman of Ways and Means to reconsider it. It is nothing more than that. It is not a motion of censure on the Chairman of Ways and Means, who is widely respected by hon. Members on both sides of the House, especially for the way in which he has chaired the debates on the Bill.

I shall never forget that, at the outset of the Committee stage, the Chairman invited me and other interested Members to go to his room so that he could hear our points of view and explain his approach. I have never in my life known that to happen in connection with any Bill going into Committee. The motion is therefore nothing whatever to do with his impartiality; it is a question of his judgment in this one ruling.

Sir David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale)

Would the right hon. Gentleman be kind enough to correct his opening statement that the motion that he has moved has support in all parts of the House? That is not true.

Mr. Benn

It depends whether one is speaking geographically or in terms of political parties. Geographically, it has support from all sides.

This is a motion for the House as a whole to consider. It is not, and should not be seen as, a matter of party controversy, and I hope that the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) has not applied a whip to members of his party to prevent them from supporting the motion.

This motion is exactly the same as an appeal to an appeal court in order to consider a judgment from a lower court. It follows closely a similar motion moved by Sir Elwyn Jones in 1972, when the House was debating the European Communities Bill. The issue then related to rulings by the then Chairman about his selection of amendments to the Bill. In moving the motion, Sir Elwyn—later the Lord Chancellor—said this—

Mr. Michael Spicer (Worcestershire, South)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Benn


Mr. Spicer

I am most grateful. Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that many of my right hon. and hon. Friends, who share many of the anxieties that he has in this matter, will not be voting with him on the motion—not only out of respect for the Chair but also because we believe that the fault for this issue very largely lies with hon. Members on the Opposition Front Bench? They have been consistently tabling new clauses which are seen to be substitutes for amendment No. 27. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not push the motion to a vote at the end of the day.

Mr. Benn

The hon. Gentleman has not heard the case yet. If he has already reached a view on the basis of a few introductory words, it gives an indication, as civil servants would say, of the way his mind is moving. He should hear the argument before reaching a final view.

When Sir Elwyn Jones moved his motion of censure against Sir Robert Grant-Ferris—who was as popular as the present Chairman of Ways and Means—this is what he said: The Chairman's interpretation of the rules of order therefore is quite crucial to the whole role and function of Parliament and this House in its consideration of this historic and unprecedented Bill. That was the European Communities Bill. "The Chairman himself rightly described it yesterday as one of the most fundamental and important Bills which have ever been before the House of Commons. If the Ruling stands unamended and unqualified by subsequent action, it will as a matter of order muzzle proper consideration and decision by this House on a Bill which, if it becomes law, will restrict the power of Parliament to debate and resolve: first, questions vital to the finances and economy of our country; secondly, important changes in our law; thirdly, the control by the House over public expenditure; fourthly, restrictions which will be placed on the rights and powers of our courts of law —matters which affect every subject in the land. If as a matter of order Parliament can be so circumscribed that important Amendments which the Opposition have tabled cannot be made debatable, the consequence will be to reduce the role of this House in the consideration of the issues raised by this momentous Bill to discussion merely of the comparatively trivial and superficial."—[Official Report, 1 March 1972; Vol. 832, c. 434–35.]

Mr. Tom King (Bridgwater)

Is there not an essential difference between this Bill and the right hon. Gentleman's analogy? He knows that no amendments were made to the European Communities Bill, and that there was no Report stage. The right hon. Gentleman says that there should be an opportunity for appeal to another court. One reason why a number of us find the motion deeply offensive is that the right hon. Gentleman knows that he has another opportunity to make his arguments without seeking to impugn the impartiality and judgment of the Chairman of Ways and Means.

Mr. Benn

On the latter point, I have made it absolutely clear that I am not impugning the impartiality of the Chairman of Ways and Means. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am not. I gave the Chairman a copy of the speech that I am making so that he could read it in advance of the debate. I am making the point that the only way in which the House can query the judgment of a Chairman or Of the Speaker is to table a motion. It is absurd to say that that is impugning the impartiality of the Chair. As the right hon. Gentleman will learn, if he allows me to finish my speech, the issue is very similar to the one in 1972.

Sir Russell Johnston (Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber)

The right hon. Gentleman listed the apocalyptic consequences which Sir Elwyn saw if the Chairman's ruling was upheld. The Chairman's ruling was upheld. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that those consequences followed?

Mr. Benn

If the hon. Gentleman, who is a passionate supporter of the European Community, does not realise that everything that was said by Elwyn Jones was correct in terms of the superior power of Community law over European law, which is what that Bill was all about, I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman has followed the debates on issues to which he is so committed. Perhaps that is why he was able to support earlier legislation on this matter.

This debate is not about the merits of amendment No. 27 but about the right of the House to reach a decision upon it. It is not about the merits of the social chapter, or the protocol on social policy, but about the right of the House to give its judgment upon it. It is not about the merits of the Bill itself, or of the Maastricht treaty, but about whether the House should be able to amend it in one important respect.

I do not intend to dwell in great detail on the issue, apart from saying that the social chapter is a very important part of the agreement that was reached by the other 11 member states. It is an issue to which the Government, as my motion makes clear, are opposed. They wish to be at the heart of everything in Europe, except social policy.

According to article 1 of the social protocol agreement of the treaty on European union, The Community and the Member States shall have as their objectives the promotion of employment, improved living and working conditions, proper social protection, dialogue between management and labour, the development of human resources with a view to lasting high unemployment and the combatting of exclusion. To this end the Community and the Member States shall implement measures which take account of diverse forms of national practices, in particular in the field of contractual relations, and the need to maintain the competitiveness of the Community economies. The social chapter—I list the headings only—deals with the improvement of the working environment to protect workers' health and safety; working conditions; the information and consultation of workers; equality between men and women with regard to labour market opportunities so as to ensure that each member state shall maintain the principle of equal pay for male and female workers; social security and social protection of workers; protection of workers where their employment contract is terminated; representation and collective defence of the interests of workers and employers; conditions of employment, and so on.

It is a very important protocol. The Government are determined to prevent it from applying to this country. I do not comment upon its merits, but it is an issue so important to the Government that they persuaded the other 11 member states to let them off having to apply it. That is the Government's position. The Opposition's position, by contrast, is that my right hon. Friends attach great importance to the social chapter. I do not even comment at this point on whether they are right or wrong, but there can be no dispute that that is what the party of which I am a member wants.

When the Chairman of Ways and Means called a group of amendments which was headed by amendment No. 7 and which contained amendment No. 27, he knew perfectly well that that was the occasion on which these great issues would be debated. On 20 January, my right hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) said: Amendment No. 7 is a probing amendment which we intend ultimately to withdraw … I shall address my remarks to amendment No. 27 on which, in due course, we shall press the Committee to a vote. He then read out amendment No. 27, which would, of course, change the relationship.

We now come to the nub of the matter, because we are talking about an important parliamentary difference of opinion which is not able to be resolved by voting on amendment No. 27. My right hon. Friend the Member for Copeland also said: The Bill excludes Britain from provisions which our 11 partners have agreed to facilitate greater protection for employed people in their working conditions, better rights of consultation and information, equality of treatment and opportunity for men and women, and the integration into the labour force of long-term unemployed people, including disabled workers. The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the right hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones), then made an important statement. He said: The hon. Gentleman will be aware that, under the terms of the amendment, United Kingdom law would not conform to the treaty's provisions, so it would be impossible for the United Kingdom to ratify that treaty". My right hon. Friend responded at once, as I would have expected. He said: I … willingly explain … As the right hon. Gentleman well knows, I would not move the amendment on behalf of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) and my other hon. Friends if we did not fully understand its implications. Those implications would be to remove the protocol on social policy, which refers to the exclusion of the social chapter from the treaty. That would require Her Majesty's Government to negotiate with the other 11 Community members … Of course, I recognise that that would present Her Majesty's Government with a dilemma, but we have taken the precaution to check that the other 11 member states would be happy for that outcome to obtain." —[Official Report, 20 January 1993; Vol. 217, c. 402–03.] One cannot imagine a more fundamental question.

We now come to the Chairman's latest ruling. On Thursday last week, he said: to be selectable for a separate Division the purport of an amendment needs to have been substantially covered during the course of the debate on the group in which it has been included."—[Official Report, 15 April 1993; Vol. 222, c. 961.] Amendment No. 27 was the main debate, and no one can honestly believe that amendment No. 27 passed almost unnoticed in a clutch of amendments about the social chapter.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Copeland, ever quick to point to the importance of what had been announced by the Chairman, replied using stronger language than I would use. He said: Many people far beyond the confines of the Chamber will feel that the House of Commons has been cheated of a legitimate reason to have a vote. I do not use that word lightly, but because I am singularly unconvinced—I believe that the majority of the House is unconvinced—about the reasons for your decision."—[Official Report, 15 April 1993; Vol. 222, c. 963.] This is a major issue, a major ruling which prevents a vote, and a clear statement by my right hon. Friend that it is his view and that of others that the House has been cheated.

On Monday, again offering to be helpful—he has genuinely aimed to be helpful throughout—the Chairman made a further statement. I shall not say "reasons" because Chairmen do not give reasons. He said—this is the nub of the motion: the Chair must have regard to a number of factors, including the Committee's debates, the clarity of effect of an amendment, and its impact on the Bill which, if brought into effect, must be both workable and understandable."— [Official Report, 19 April 1993; Vol. 223, c. 39.] If we do not challenge that ruling, the terms "workable" and "understandable"—as I hope to show—will remain in the rules of the House for all time and all Bills. How can I tell the electorate in Chesterfield and people who want the Bill but with the social chapter that they cannot vote on it because the Chairman of Ways and Means says that an amendment that would bring Britain into line with every other country is not workable or understandable? It is the most workable and most understandable amendment that one could find; it is the one that 11 other countries in the Community have accepted. That is the difficulty.

Mr. Ray Whitney (Wycombe)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Benn

If the hon. Gentleman insists, but I do not want to detain the House for too long.

Mr. Whitney

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. He is making great play of the importance of adhesion to the social chapter. Why does the fact that the House will have a chance to vote on the social chapter on new clause 74 not satisfy his keen interest in the subject?

Mr. Benn

I am trying to avoid dwelling on the merits of the argument in order to concentrate on the parliamentary aspects of the matter. What should happen when the leader of a major Opposition party puts his name at the head of an amendment which is accepted by the Chair, and the party spokesman begins by saying that he will concentrate solely on that amendment? There are masses of ways of dealing with every issue, but that was the one chosen by the Opposition party.

Before I deal with the long-term implications, I shall consider briefly the arguments against voting. One, which has been repeated by the right hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King), is that the motion would somehow require the Chairman to resign, because it would impugn his impartiality. The argument has nothing to do with that. It is about three words that the Chairman used—"workable and understandable".

It is also said that a vote would not work because part of the Bill has already been passed. That is the point raised by my right hon. Friend the deputy leader of the Labour party last night. But if the motion is read carefully, it will be seen that it asks "the Chairman … to reconsider … forthwith".

It would be perfectly easy to find a procedural motion to put the matter back in its proper place in the Bill. I am afraid that, if the House votes against our motion, that will make it harder for Madam Speaker to select the same issue on Report. The argument would be put to her that the House had had a chance to reconsider and had rejected it.

Now I come to the wider questions which ought to concern people, and which go well beyond their interest in the Maastricht Bill. The real issue is that, if we leave the ruling in the record, the Chairman will have to consider every amendment to every Bill to decide whether it was "workable and understandable".

With the best will in the world, how does a Chairman know what is workable and understandable, unless he asks the Minister? He will say, "I have an amendment here, Secretary of State. Is it workable?" The Secretary of State will say, "I shall ask my civil servants," or he may say, "I shall ask the Law Officers—and I shall tell you whichever of the two judgments they give me suits me best." The Chairman of Ways and Means cannot decide whether an amendment is workable and understandable, so the ruling puts him at the mercy of the Executive—but the Chairman is our man, not the servant of the Government. That is the issue.

I might add that, if the Speaker of the House of Commons would not accept Bills that were not workable and understandable, a lot of legislation would not have gone through the House at all, including the poll tax legislation and some legislation on pay and other matters introduced by my right hon. Friends—but I shall not go into that now.

The Clerks are like elephants; they never forget. They have already noted the Chairman's ruling. I dug out my "Erskine May"—I have had a copy ever since I was first elected—and page 187 of the current edition says: The Chairman of Ways and Means or a Deputy Chairman has final authority over all points of order arising when he is in the chair and there is no appeal from his ruling to the Speaker. The Clerk of the House will add a bit to that, in the next edition, which will say, "The Chairman will not allow a vote on any amendment that is not 'workable and understandable'." I do not want to see that written into the rules of the House, because it will affect the Liberal party. After all, most of the Liberals' proposals are neither understandable nor workable, so I confidently expect to have them with me in the Lobby.

It is the minority Members who are affected. After all, it is an official Opposition amendment that has been rejected. What about little parties, tiny parties and minuscule parties? What about Back Benchers? What chance have they of persuading the Chairman, under the influence of the Secretary of State and the Attorney-General, that their little amendment is workable and understandable?

Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Benn

Yes, of course I shall, especially in the light of the hon. Gentleman's intervention yesterday.

Mr. Kirkwood

If the right hon. Gentleman is successful in browbeating the Chairman of Ways and Means into doing what he thinks is not right, does he believe that using majority power in the House to affect the decision of the Chair is in the interest of minority parties?

Mr. Benn

If I ever had the power to browbeat the Chairman or anyone else, I might have been tempted to do that. I am inviting the House to do what it does every day —to reach a judgment on whether it agrees with a proposal that is before it. I do not know what ideas the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) has about how Parliament should be resolved. However, if he does not want majorities to decide, the place should be packed up and given over—[Interruption.] Elections determine the majority and minority parties.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)

This is a serious point, and I know that the right hon. Gentleman will treat it as such. If it is the right hon. Gentleman's case that majorities should always decide what amendments are selected, in normal circumstances that means that the Government will decide every amendment that comes before the House.

Mr. Benn

The hon. Gentleman is assuming that the Chairman is not independent. The purpose in my proposal is to keep him independent. The House cannot close a debate without a vote, but it is prepared to give the Chairman the right to deny a vote without support. That is the point and the issue.

I know that the atmosphere is highly charged, that the media claim that we are Euro-sceptics and that my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) has suddenly become a Euro-sceptic because he believes that this is an important parliamentary point. It is an important parliamentary point. In my opinion, it will damage the understanding of our proceedings among the people we represent. With the best will in the world—I have touched on it already—I cannot explain to people outside who want the social chapter to apply in Britain why one Member of the House, the Chairman, can say that it was not workable or understandable.

I am an old parliamentarian. I once moved a motion of this character because the Speaker refused me an emergency debate when military action was contemplated in Oman. I know that, for many hon. Members, procedure is dull and irrelevant. However, I believe that democracy is about procedure. It is not about what we decide, but about how we decide it. That is what the whole democratic argument is about.

Perhaps I am a sentimentalist, but I deeply believe that we have one responsibility above all others, and that is to pass on to those who come after us a decent democratic machinery which can be used by them as we have used it. That democratic machinery allows us to table amendments and have them considered, voted upon and so on.

I finish as I did 35 years ago, when I moved a similar motion against Mr. Speaker Morrison. When all the speeches are forgotten, when the election manifestos are in the British Library, when the Queen's Speeches have disappeared and the Bills have been repealed, "Erskine May" is what this place is about, because it gives us the machinery to decide what we were elected to do. If that is denied by an error of judgment—no more than that—by a Chairman, I think that we shall pay a heavy price for it in future.

4.7 pm

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Tony Newton)

I hope it will be thought right, Madam Speaker, that I should rise at once to follow the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) and to set out some of the considerations which I believe the House should have in mind in judging what he has said and the motion he has brought before the House.

I do not think that I need to make a long speech, because it seems to me that the central issue is simple and clear: it is the issue of the authority of the Chair, and therefore its capacity to discharge effectively, on behalf of the House as a whole—not least the minority parties—the difficult task which the House as a whole has laid on it.

I note, of course, that the right hon. Gentleman has sought to resist that suggestion, but I must say frankly that I do not think he has done so successfully. Nor do I think he can, because in signalling the appearance of this motion, he could not have made his intention clearer, when he asked the Chairman: If a motion of this kind is tabled, may I take it that you would not feel able to take the Chair of the Committee until the matter was resolved?"—[Official Report, 19 April 1993; Vol. 223, c. 41.] Against that background, no amount of disclaimer, in whatever measured language, can alter the basic fact that the effect, and the intended effect, of this motion is to render it impossible for the Chairman to perform the duties that the House has laid on him unless and until it is defeated or withdrawn. As I said, that is the central issue which the House must resolve—whether it is to sustain the authority of the Chair to do its job.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

I am surprised by the line that the right hon. Gentleman is taking. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) used words which are his. Is the Leader of the House saying that, on that Monday when we pursued points of order and had a debate, there was no difference whatever in the accession of the Chair to what we were putting to him or his attitude to us? I put it to the right hon. Gentleman—he was not here, as many hon. Members were not here—that that was no different, because we respect the authority of the Chair in general. It is a matter of judgment on a single issue.

Mr. Newton

I do not accept that for a moment. Although I was not present throughout, I have carefully studied the lengthy points of order that were raised not only on Monday but on other occasions. If I may say so, the Chairman has listened and responded to those points of order with great care and courtesy.

There is the world of difference between legitimately putting points of order to the Chairman, albeit over a long period, and tabling a motion of this sort, which is, as the right hon. Member for Chesterfield made absolutely clear in his remarks on Monday, intended to make it impossible for the Chairman to function as the Chairman unless it has been disposed of.

Before I return to that matter, I should say something about the motion. I realise that, in many ways, it is not the central issue. Apart from anything else, it seems to reflect some misapprehension about the procedures of the House with respect to the selection of amendments. I think that this will be common ground.

Standing Order No. 31 is clear: in the Committee of the whole House, the Chairman is given the power—the right hon. Gentleman fairly said that it is an entirely unfettered power—to select the amendments, new clauses or new schedules to be proposed. That is understood. However, it seemed to render fairly meaningless the right hon. Gentleman's efforts to present his motion as some form of appeal or exercise of appeal rights. If he wishes to institute a right of appeal he should seek to change the Standing Order rather than table motions that criticise the Chair.

Mr. William Cash (Stafford)

Can my right hon. Friend tell me where Standing Order No. 31 gives the right certainly with respect to the selection of amendments and with it the right to choose whether a Division will take place? On page 405 of "Erskine May" and the sub-notes, can he tell me where the practice which has grown up is set out as to the question whether a specific matter should be subjected to a Division? If he would be good enough to do that, I would be interested to hear his comments.

Mr. Newton

My hon. Friend is accepting what I said about Standing Order No. 31, which I shall read to him if he wishes. Sub-section (2) of that Standing Order is absolutely clear: In committee of the whole House, the Chairman of Ways and Means and either Deputy Chairman shall have the like power"— to the Speaker in other circumstances— to select the amendments, new clauses or new schedules to be proposed". The right hon. Member for Chesterfield also quoted from page 405 of "Erskine May": It is a common practice to allow several amendments to be discussed together, although they have not all been selected to be moved. The Speaker or chairman may at his discretion call for division one or more of those amendments selected for debate with another or other amendments, if requested to do so. The key words are "at his discretion".

Mr. Roger Knapman (Stroud)

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Newton

No, I will not give way for the moment.

What seems less clear to some, to judge both from the terms of the motion and some of the points of order made recently, is that the power of selection is separate from what the Chairman does when he groups amendments for debate. When he groups amendments, he calls the lead amendment—that is, he selects it under the provisions of Standing Order No. 31—and tells the Committee that, for the convenience of debate, he will allow the discussion of other amendments appearing later on the Order Paper.

Thus, when the right hon. Gentleman said that the Chairman of Ways and Means had selected amendment No. 27, that was not strictly the case. As I have just said, the occupant of the Chair selects an amendment when he calls an hon. Member to move it so that the House or Committee can take a decision on it. Amendment No. 27 has not been moved: it was grouped for debate with another amendment on which the Committee has voted.

Nor is it correct to say, as the motion does, that it was contrary to the normal practice not to allow a Division to take place on an amendment which has been debated. Many amendments are grouped for debate with selected amendments; whether they are subsequently selected for a separate Division is a matter for the discretion of the Chair, as is clear from the extract that I have just quoted from "Erskine May". There is nothing automatic about it.

So when the right hon. Member for Chesterfield claims that the Chair's ruling has some great long-term significance for parliamentary debates on all future legislation, his argument simply does not stand up. The exercise of the Chairman's discretion in respect of amendment No. 27 has been entirely in accordance with the practice of the House, and his ruling has no long-term significance of the nature that the right hon. Gentleman suggests.

Mr. Benn

If what the Leader of the House says is to be accepted, the Chairman could have given a simple answer. He could have said, "I will not allow a vote on the amendment. I did not select it." But he did not say that. He said that the amendment was not understandable or workable. That is the difficulty, because "Erskine May" makes it clear that the Speaker or Chairman does not give reasons. I can understand the reason why they do not give reasons. The reasons given in this case were wholly different from the ones which the Leader of the House has cooked up to resist the motion.

Mr. Newton

These are not arguments that I have cooked up, but ones on which I have taken careful advice. They represent a straightforward description, as I understand it and as I am advised, of the procedural position in respect of the amendment.

I should make just one other point about the motion. It is the one brought out by the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett), the deputy Leader of the Opposition, in her intervention during my business statement yesterday, and acknowledged by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield today. It is the simple fact that, because the Committee has finished with the clauses of the Bill and is dealing with the new clauses, it is not possible for the Chairman to do as the motion asks. Indeed, amendment No. 27 has disappeared from the amendment paper.

The whole House knows that it is not the technicalities that are at issue here: it is the fundamental purpose and effect of the motion to which I referred earlier. The House has placed on the Chairman difficult and demanding responsibilities, within terms of reference which the House itself has determined. It has asked him to undertake those responsibilities during proceedings as difficult as any a Chairman has had to face for a long time.

For my part, I will say simply that, on all I have heard, seen and read in Hansard of those proceedings, he has exercised his responsibilities, whether in selecting and grouping amendments, listening and responding to many representations and innumerable points of order, or simply presiding over debate, with great care, great diligence and courtesy.

It is not a question whether any or all of us have liked each and every decision. The Chairman's is in some ways a role which produces a variant of one of the oldest political adages: it is a job in which you cannot please anyone all the time. There have been decisions unpalatable to those who want the social chapter and decisions unpalatable to those who do not. There have been decisions unpalatable to those who strongly support the Bill—

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

Will the Leader of the House give way?

Mr. Newton

No, I will not give way for the moment —and decisions unpalatable to those who vigorously oppose it. That is the nature of the job. As the Chairman himself put it in responding to a point of order on Monday: I must and do take every factor into consideration, but at the end of the day the buck stops here: I have to choose the amendments."—[Official Report, 19 April 1993; Vol. 223, c. 44.] The point could not have been put better than it was by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King) yesterday. He said that the motion sought to establish a dangerous precedent for the House, would have serious implications for the Chair, and is highly unfair to the Chairman of Ways and Means, who has conducted himself with good humour and tolerance.

The question for the House is whether it will reject the challenge which the right hon. Member for Chesterfield has mounted to the support which the Chairman is entitled to expect, both when we like his decisions and when we do not. If the motion is not withdrawn, as it should be, I urge the House to reject it, and reject it decisively.

4.19 pm
Mrs. Margaret Beckett (Derby, South)

All of us in the House are conscious of the importance of the relationship, balanced as it is between conflict and confidence, that exists between the House and the Chair. As the Leader of the House has just acknowledged, there cannot be an hon. Member here who has not, from time to time, disagreed with a decision of the Chair, even if it is only that the hon. Member believes that the occupant of the Chair has failed to recognise that the debate in hand would be immeasurably enriched by his or her contribution. Equally, every Member recognises the good faith and integrity that the occupants of the Chair bring to their onerous and difficult duties, and the extent to which those duties place them at the centre of the storm when difficult and contentious decisions arise. One such decision and one such ruling is cited in the motion that we are debating.

The whole House and many in the country are well aware that the announcement that there would not be an opportunity for the Committee to vote on amendment No. 27 on the social chapter has caused widespread concern on both sides. Thai concern was fully expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham), the shadow Foreign Secretary, when the ruling was first given on 30 March. You, Madam Speaker, and the House will recall that further concern was expressed at length in our debates on 15 April and that my right hon. Friend the Member for Copeland moved on that day to report progress on the Bill so that a sustained debate could be held in which our grave concern could be—and was—fully expressed.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Copeland made it clear then, and we have repeatedly sought to make it clear since, that we are still seeking and will continue to seek an opportunity to vote on amendment No. 27 before the Bill completes all the stages of its passage through the House. We look for the opportunity for that vote on the Report stage of the Bill, on which decisions have yet to be made.

With all respect to the care and devotion shown by the Chairman of Ways and Means in his conduct of the Committee stage, which we do not criticize—I was pleased by the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) when he moved the motion—we do not accept that amendment No. 27 and new clauses 74 or 75 are alternatives. My right hon. Friend the Member for Copeland explicitly made that case, as can be seen in Hansard. He said: I do not regard new clause 74"— or 75— as an alternative to amendment No. 27, nor do I believe that it can be reasonably or realistically posed in those terms." —[Official Report, 19 April 1993; Vol. 223, c. 39.]

Sir David Steel

Will the right hon. Lady clear up one point? When he moved the motion, the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) did not refer to the narrative of how new clauses 74 and 75 appeared on the amendment paper. If the Opposition were so confident of amendment No. 27, why did they table the two new clauses?

Mrs. Beckett

If the right hon. Gentleman had been attending the debates, I am sure that he would know the answer to that question, which is that we regard the subjects covered in the amendment and the new clauses as entirely separate issues. I shall return to that issue later. We believe that the new clauses and the amendment are complementary.

Concern has been expressed that a precedent might be set by the handling of amendment No. 27. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield referred a number of times to the use of the words "workable and acceptable". We can all understand that there might be concern about the juxtaposition of a vote on amendment No. 27 and new clause 75. I am not suggesting that that was the reason for the ruling given by the Chairman of Ways and Means, because, as we all know, for reasons that we all understand, the Chair does not give reasons for his or her decisions.

However, the argument might have been considered whereby it was thought that if amendment No. 27 were carried—removing the social protocol—it might remove the occasion for a vote on new clause 75. I can well understand that concern. However, we remain of the view that it would have been quite practical and possible for amendment No. 27 and new clause 75 to be debated separately, and that the one did not require a different decision from the other.

Mr. Dalyell

My right hon. Friend rightly said that the Chair does not normally give reasons, but part of the trouble is that the Chairman of Ways and Means, wisely or not, appeared on the Scottish television programme, "Scottish Lobby" on 18 April and gave his reasons. I quote from his script: And just on balance, because it was slightly more workable, I chose to have the debate on new clause 75. This may be part of the hazard of the Chairman going on television, but a reason was given.

Mrs. Beckett

I would not criticise the Chairman of Ways and Means for his remarks which were no doubt intended to elucidate for the viewer what on earth it is we are going on about in here. I well understand his difficulty in doing so without straying into the territory that my hon. Friend has quoted. However, it would not be right for us to suggest, and I am sure that my hon. Friend did not mean to do so, that the Chairman had strayed into giving reasons, as that would be a precedent and we all recognise that such a precedent should be avoided.

The Leader of the House said that the motion was not about the technicalities of the issue. I take his point, but he went on to defend at length the judgment that has been made on the vote on amendment No. 27. I must therefore say to him and to the House that, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Copeland made crystal clear from the Front Bench on behalf of the official Opposition on 19 April, we have not accepted that an amendment that is in order, has been debated and has the official backing of the Opposition—it is tabled in the name of the Leader of the Opposition—should not be available for decision in the Committee. We do not accept that such a precedent has been set.

We had every reason to expect that there would be a Division. The Chairman of Ways and Means said in Committee: We are some way off a vote on amendment No. 27."— [Official Report, 22 February 1993; Vol. 219, c. 685] That carries the connotation that there would be a Division and at that stage no one expected that there would not be a Division on amendment No. 27. He then suggested on television on 18 April that a Division on the amendment might have been expected at one stage. That is the real significance that we attach to the Chairman's remark. It immeasurably strengthens the case for a vote on amendment No. 27 on Report, which is perhaps a way of tidying up this extremely difficult matter.

As was identified yesterday and reiterated by the Leader of the House today, we cannot now proceed, whether or not it is desirable, in the manner proposed by the motion tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield. "Erskine May" makes it absolutely plain on page 496 that once the Chairman has put the Question that the clause stand part of the Bill—and the Question was put on Monday— No other amendment can be proposed to a clause after this question has been proposed from the Chair. My right hon. Friend suggested that some procedural method might be found, but he also suggested that we should take "Erskine May" as our bible and "Erskine May" leaves us in no doubt on the matter. That means that the question of an understanding approach to the desire of a majority in the House to decide on amendment No. 27 on Report—we know that there is a majority in the House, because otherwise we would not be having all this difficulty today—must inform our debate and decision.

That brings me to my final point which I hope will be borne in mind, especially by Conservative Members. The hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Mr. Spicer) and the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) sought to place the blame for these difficulties at the door of Her Majesty's loyal Opposition. I thought that the hon. Gentleman had incredible nerve. The scale of the difficulties faced by the Chairman of Ways and Means is the Government's creation.

It was the Government who claimed that amendment No.27 would wreck the Bill and the treaty. It was they who then claimed that, on the contrary, it would make no difference. It was they who brought in the Attorney-General, who failed to answer fully half the questions put to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson), to tell us that this was all of no significance. It was the Government, in the shape of the right hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones), who went about their usual business of placing ideas in the minds of the Lobby and everyone else to the effect that the Opposition must find another way of raising these issues. And then the Government have the nerve to come to the House and ask why we sought to find other ways to raise them.

Sir David Steel

Will the right hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Beckett

I have already given way to the right hon. Gentleman once and I have answered his point. I am almost at the end of my remarks and I do not want to take up too much time. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman will catch your eye, Madam Speaker, and be able to make his own speech.

It is the Government, too, who, since the other new clauses have been tabled, have not only continued to cast doubt on the validity of a vote on amendment No. 27 but have claimed that every other amendment or new clause tabled by the Opposition is in some way ineffective. I am certain that it is not the desire of the Chair, but it is most certainly the desire of the Government, to prevent the House from reaching a decision on the social chapter or, if they cannot prevent it, to find a way of discounting or ignoring it. Their manoeuvrings are the direct cause of the difficulties that have understandably been experienced by the Chairman of Ways and Means.

For that reason, because we cannot do what the motion suggests, because the opportunity to vote on amendment No. 27 is not yet completely lost to us, and because of the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield about the respect in which the Chairman of Ways and Means is held in every part of the House, I very much hope that my right hon. Friend will follow the usual precedent once concerns of this nature have been aired in debate in the Chamber. I must tell the right hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King) that these concerns have been aired on a number of occasions before—by the official Opposition when the Conservative party was the Opposition, by ourselves, and by Back Bench Members on both sides of the House. The phenomenon is not unknown, but usually when such concerns have been aired and such a debate has been held, the motion is either withdrawn or negated by voice only and not pressed to a Division.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield told the House that the only way to bring the matter before the House and to express concern was to table the motion. That is his view; it may or may not be the view of all Members. Unquestionably, however, he is not required to press the motion to a Division because he has brought it before the House, and I hope that he will not do so. If he chooses to do so, I must tell him that I will advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote against it.

Mr. Jeff Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. May I ask you to rule on a matter? I regret having to do so, but you are the only person in a position to make such a ruling.

All three speakers so far have referred to a Report stage for the Bill. I want you to rule on whether the Report stage of a Bill that has been considered in a Committee of the whole House is different from the Report stage of a Bill considered in a normal Standing Committee. In past years, I have moved more amendments in Committee that have been found to be defective than I have had hot dinners, but subsequently I have been able to find opportunities on Report to raise exactly the same issues.

For the avoidance of doubt, can you tell us whether the procedures are any different? Does the content of amendment No. 27—whether the wording is the same does not matter—mean that we are precluded from considering such an amendment on Report? It could only be selected by you, Madam Speaker, so it is only you who can give the ruling. Does the fact that the Bill has been considered on the Floor of the House prevent the House from coming to a conclusion on the precise contents of amendment No. 27?

Madam Speaker

The whole situation and the matter raised by the hon. Gentleman are very hypothetical. In order not to leave the House in any doubt, I will make no ruling whatever. I will determine it when these matters are put before me at the appropriate time.

4.34 pm
Mr. Roger Knapman (Stroud)

I listened with care to the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett). If I heard her correctly, she said that she was actively looking for other ways of dealing with the matter than amendment No. 27. I suspect some of us can understand why.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House quoted extensively from pages 404 and 405 of the procedural book, "Erskine May". Unfortunately, he finished at the end of the second paragraph on page 405, whereas to me the most important point is at the beginning of the third paragraph: Selection is made by the Chair in such a way as to bring out the salient points of criticism". Therein for me lies the difficulty.

May I draw the attention of the House to the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, hardly as long as the 63,500 words of the treaty, and to something which does not normally get much attention, the explanatory memorandum which says: The Bill will have no direct financial effect in the United Kingdom. I invite the House to reflect on whether that is so. I suspect that it is not true and never has been. Only amendment No. 27 bears on the matter.

My constituents in Stroud will be obliged, through VAT, to pay moneys to the advantage of countries which are presumed to have the benefit of the social chapter. In short, my constituents in Stroud will, through VAT, push money across to Sicily, Sardinia or other areas which are regarded as suffering poverty.

Many people say that there is an opt-out from the social chapter. What we mean is that we are giving the other 11 nations the opportunity to have a social chapter because they believe that it is in their interests. Perhaps the two great lies in the debate are, first, that opt-outs mean very much and, secondly, that if we do not have Maastricht we will not get inward investment. Perhaps the opt-out will be effective but by the time we have seen article 100A, on majority voting, and by the time that we have looked at health and safety legislation, and, most of all, the European Court of Justice, our opt-out may not be as effective as many think. Only amendment No. 27 addresses those points. If it is not called, we will get no opportunity to make our view known on behalf of our constituents.

Mr. Rupert Allason (Torbay)

I am sympathetic to many of the views which my hon. Friend has expressed in the House in recent weeks. Can he explain why the issue cannot be raised on Report?

Mr. Knapman

May I draw the attention of my hon. Friend to the fact that there is a movement towards new clauses 74 and 75? No doubt we shall be asked to look at new clauses which have not yet even been framed. The debate will be at a later stage. Therefore, there is little chance of amendment No. 27 being called by Madam Speaker at the appropriate time; of course, Madam Speaker, that will be a matter for you.

New clause 74 says: This Act shall come into force only when the House of Commons has come to a Resolution on a motion tabled by a Minister of the Crown". At this stage we have no idea what that motion might say.

The motion is not to me a form of challenge to authority. I speak as one who has been here for the 21 days of Committee proceedings. It is encouraging that the longer we carry on debating the Maastricht treaty, the more hon. Members are here.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

New clause 74 says that the powers of the legislation shall not take effect until there has been a debate on the social chapter. If the new clause is accepted in Committee, does not that make it difficult for the Chair to accept amendment No. 27 on Report? Is not that the problem?

Mr. Knapman

My hon. Friend is exactly right. That must be so, and it was among the points that I was trying to make.

I promised in my note to you this morning, Madam Speaker, that I would not detain the House for more than one or two minutes. You will know that the whole House holds you in the greatest respect because we know that you are the guardian of Back Benchers' interests. My constituents are being asked, probably for the first time, to have their taxes sent abroad—I still feel that Sicily and Sardinia are abroad—at the very time when our county council is short of money for education. The matter is important and I want an opportunity to vote on it. Unless my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House can contradict me, I say that amendment No. 27 is the only one that deals with that matter.

4.40 pm
Sir Russell Johnston (Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber)

I shall begin with five short general observations which will enable my subsequent specific comments to be even briefer. The way in which the House deals with treaties may certainly be defective. The right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) often draws attention to that in his not infrequent comments and criticisms of the Crown prerogative. However, that is not one of the responsibilities of the Chairman of Ways and Means, Who must handle debates according to the rules as they are. Neither do I understand it to be an objective of the Labour party to change those rules, although since that party is in an evolutionary phase my information on that may be dated.

Yesterday and today the right hon. Member for Chesterfield compared his motion with that moved by the late Sir Elwyn Jones in 1972 and said that it was, supported by all Opposition Members."—[Official Report, 20 April 1993; Vol. 223, c. 184.] The right hon. Gentleman's memory is faulty. If he consults the Division lists for 1 and 6 March 1972 he will find my name and those of my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Liberal party. We voted against such motions and my right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel), who was then the Whip of the Liberal party, spoke against it at that time. At that time his constituency was Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles.

Thirdly, the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) said that the Chairman of Ways and Means gave an interview on 18 April on the "Scottish Lobby" programme. However, I think that the interview was on 3 April. I have a transcript, which seems bland and inoffensive. He gave that interview with the best of intentions. However, I think that, while it is accepted on all sides that a Chairman or, indeed, you, Madam Speaker, should not have to give reasons for decisions because of the inevitable disputation that will follow, television, radio and press in-depth probing interviews should not be taken up but left to other hon. Members who are not subject to such inhibitions.

A long time ago the late Horace King "ignited" the Blackpool illuminations. I did not greatly approve of that and interviews have potentially a much greater detonatory effect. Fourthly, the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman) gave an interview this morning. It is difficult for me to comment on it because I was in the land of nod when the interview took place and have had to depend on my more wide-awake colleagues to tell me about it.[Interruption.] Perhaps we could ignore the rumbustiousness of some Opposition Front-Bench Members. I am told that the hon. Gentleman said that the Chairman of Ways and Means was in cahoots with the Government on closure motions and that, in the tailoring phrase of the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), the whole thing was stitched up. My version of the interview may be slightly wrong and if so I will gladly withdraw.

One could say that I am in a uniquely appropriate position to comment since I have been in cahoots with the Government throughout debate on the Bill on timing and procedure and I know what it is all about. It is not true that the Chairman of Ways and Means is in cahoots with the Government. Throughout the progress of the Bill the timing of closures has been decided solely by the Chairman of Ways and Means according to his judgment of an appropriate time for debate. The Government have known no more about it than anyone else in the House. It is quite wrong for an hon. Member to make such allegations.

To my sure and certain knowledge, throughout our proceedings in Committee the Chairman has behaved with impeccable impartiality and has given no advance indication of his intentions to any Member that he was unwilling to give to another. I shall give that point the added stress that membership of a minority party allows me to give. We are extremely sensitive to any possibility of collusion between the Chairman and the Government and to the possibility of the Chairman being cavalier in the treatment of minority opinion. The Plant committee, which was established by the Labour party, has again drawn attention to the fact that if our support in the country was reflected in the House we would have more than 100 Members. In the light of that, I repeat that the Chairman of Ways and Means has behaved with impeccable impartiality.

Mr. Knapman

I draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the comments by my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) which are contained in Monday's record of our proceedings. I can confirm those, as can my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley (Mr. Cran).

Sir Russell Johnston

That is a somewhat opaque comment. I regret that at my age instant recall is now denied to me.—[Laughter.]

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross)

As one who suffers from a similar difficulty, may I tell the hon. Gentleman that all the allegations, which he has correctly denied, are entirely hearsay, would not be allowed in the High Court or the lower courts of Scotland, and should not be allowed in the High Court of Parliament. They are a great slight on the Chair.

Sir Russell Johnston

I note the hon. and learned Gentleman's remarks. I do not think that he and I have similar problems; we may have parallel problems.

It is certainly true that the whole Committee could have been handled in a different way. That would have made not only the job of the Chairman less stressful but would have enabled the Committee to have a more engaged, more real, debate.

I have been taking part in debates on the European Community for two decades. They have reached the stage of a sort of religious disputation in which nobody ever wins. Nevertheless, I have come to respect the consistent opposition of people such as the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) and the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore). His constituency is no longer called Stepney and Poplar. They are minorities, like me. They deserve to be heard and their arguments must be addressed.

Mr. Michael Lord (Suffolk, Central)

Although his memory may not be what it was, I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is a fair man. Amendment No. 27 has been the most talked about amendment in the debate, and the amendment most discussed in the press and on television. It has been the amendment that Ministers have talked about, and debated on television. Being a fair man, does he not think that it is unreasonable that the House of Commons will not be allowed to vote on an amendment of such importance?

Sir Russell Johnston

I shall come to that point shortly.

I was talking about the handling of the Committee. Given its official support for Maastricht, the Labour party should have sat down with the Government and the minority parties and agreed a sensible timetable, and a limitation on speech length. I know that, in Committee, speech length is not normally limited, but it makes no sense for the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) to speak for hours. Apart from anything else, it does not progress the debate in any rational fashion. It was wrong that the Labour party felt unable to do so, mainly because of its Euro-sceptics. While both major parties frequently extol the virtues of the House as a unique example of democracy, they have been guilty of being unwilling to reform its procedures to make debate more of a meaningful discussion and less of a pyrotechnic confrontation.

Mr. George Robertson (Hamilton)

This is not perhaps a terribly substantial point, but the hon. Gentleman spoke about the conduct of the Committee, through which I, like him, have sat virtually in its entirety. He made one of the first speeches, on one of the first amendments, and took an hour to do so. Is that the sort of limitation on speech length that he wants?

Sir Russell Johnston

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his not terribly substantial intervention on my not terribly substantial point. I remind him that on that occasion I gave way to 24 interventions—no wonder the speech took so long.

The motion is about the refusal of the Chairman of Ways and Means to allow a vote on amendment No. 27. My party argued for a vote on amendment No. 27 because we want the House to vote on whether the United Kingdom should accede to the social chapter of Maastricht. In practice, it has turned out to be difficult to find an appropriate form of words to ensure that. The Attorney-General told us that amendment No. 27 would not have such an effect. Indeed, he said that it would have no effect at all. Presumably, unless we have a vote of no confidence in the Attorney-General—as far as I know no one has suggested that—his decision has to be accepted.

Mr. Cash

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that those constitutional experts who are well acquainted with the constitutional usage and practice of the Law Officers of the Crown are deeply disturbed at the way in which the Attorney-General was brought into the argument? If anybody wishes to follow that up, he will find that there are substantial criticisms of the manner in which the Attorney-General was involved. No doubt, in due course, those will emerge.

Madam Speaker

Order. I remind the House that this is a limited motion. It deals only with the exercise of the Chair's discretion on amendment No. 27. I hope that the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston), who has the Floor of the House, and any others who are called to speak in the debate will limit their comments to the expressions in the motion before us.

Sir Russell Johnston

I am grateful for your guidance, Madam Speaker. I will leave what the hon. Member for Stafford has said, apart from saying that I have met few constitutional experts who do not spend most of the time being disturbed.

We are left with the judgment of the Attorney-General, so what does the Chairman of Ways and Means do then, poor thing? He is faced with that as a fact that he has to take into account. He knows that the House wants a vote on the social chapter, but his job is not to arrange that but to examine the amendments that are put before the Committee with that intention. What does he do when faced with an amendment that, according to the highest legal authority in the land, has no effect? His job is not to judge whether amendments will be carried but whether, if they are carried, they produce a clear result that can be implemented in law.

The right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn)) proclaimed at length the undesirability of being confined to what is workable and understandable. That is not an unreasonable confination, if there is such a word, and it would have been a happy thing if it had been applied to him over many years.

Mr. Benn

Without implying partiality by the Chairman—a point that neither the hon. Gentleman nor have put forward—the hon. Gentleman said that the Chairman was guided by the law in deciding whether to allow a vote on amendment No. 27 because of the question of workability. Is that the road along which the House wishes to go, with the Chairman depending on the Law Officers—I made that point in my speech—to know whether he should call an amendment? That would be a dangerous course to follow.

Sir Russell Johnston

The right hon. Gentleman knows, probably better than me, that the Attorney-General is supposed to advise the House, not the Government. He is supposed to tell the House what, in his judgment, the law means. Therefore, I suppose that I would have to answer yes to the right hon. Gentleman.

None of us comes out of this covered with glory. Those of us who wanted a clear vote on the social chapter have failed to find a form of words to achieve that. The Liberal Democrats are also culpable in that, but the Labour party has far greater resources than we have, although both of us have equal access to the Clerks. Perhaps on Report we shall be successful. I hope so because I want such a vote.

We also have to recognise that, even if we achieve that elusive form of words on Report, such a vote would be carried only with the support of two groups. The first consists of Conservatives who are against Maastricht and the social chapter but who would vote against their views on the social chapter to achieve their objective of defeating Maastricht. The second consists of Labour Members who do not want Maastricht at all, even with the social chapter, and who will vote on the social chapter with the aim of defeating the whole book.

The justification for continuing through these byzantine tunnels and accepting some strange allies is the attempt to find some way to make the Government choose between having Maastricht with the social chapter or no Maastricht. I accept that that has been the object of my party and those on the Opposition Front Bench. None of that is either the fault or the responsibility of the Chair.

The right hon. Member for Chesterfield said that the House had been—"cheated" was the word that he used.

Mr. Benn

No. I was quoting my right hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham).

Sir Russell Johnston

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman quoted with approbation. I do not see how he or anyone can say that and simultaneously claim that what he proposes casts no doubt on the Chairman's judgment.

Mr. Benn

I must correct the hon. Gentleman, because he misheard. I quoted my right hon. Friend the, Member for Copeland but I said that that was stronger language than I would have used. I would not have used the word "cheat" in respect of a decision by the Chair. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw that allegation because it would be unfair to give a false impression.

Sir Russell Johnston

I am not going to argue that something is when it was not. However—

Mr. Dalyell

My right hon. Friend was very careful.

Sir Russell Johnston

It does not matter. At the end of the day, whatever the right hon. Member for Chesterfield says, the essence of the debate comes down to this: do we trust the judgment of the Chairman of Ways and Means or not? I trust it, and, if necessary, I shall vote that way in the Lobby tonight.

4.58 pm
Sir Peter Emery (Honiton)

The debate is obviously not about Europe or about amendment No. 27, which is otiose because there is no way that it can be included in the Bill as it stands. Rather surprisingly, the debate is, in itself, one of the more important debates that have been held this Session, and the reason should be clear. We have no written constitution. The method and operation of Parliament are not because of a written constitution; in the place of a written constitution, we have precedents and procedure. It is the procedure of the House that governs the working of this place and ultimately safeguards the liberties of us all, both within the House and outside. That is why our procedures must be followed and must, in my judgment, be supported on all occasions.

I wish to make it absolutely clear that, in my view, the debate must end with an overwhelming vote of confidence in the Chairman of Ways and Means. There must be no escape, such as the withdrawal of the motion or a failure to appoint Tellers, which would prevent a vote taking place. We must not allow the matter to be left hanging around, suggesting an entirely unsatisfactory outcome to the debate. The reason for that is absolute. Indeed, it goes to the heart of our parliamentary system.

Parliament works not because it exists but because it is allowed to operate by the mutual consent of its Members, who over many years have established a procedure that allows individual Members, often of highly conflicting views, to be able to conduct debates and consider legislation in a way that enables Governments to govern and Opposition Members to debate fairly in expressing their points of view.

To that end, Madam Speaker, we elect you and senior Chairmen—they are similarly elected by the House—to rule over us and to ensure that debates and the general proceedings of the House are conducted in a proper and orderly manner, as established by the procedure that has been put in place.

Mr. Spearing

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, who is the Chairman of the Procedure Committee, for allowing me to intervene. Will he concede, particularly as the motion before us is a rarity—I think that the previous debate on such a motion took place about 20 years ago—that the procedure of the House allows for the safety valve of a debate of this sort? Such debates provide guidance for Chairmen in future and are integral to the practice of the House. They are therefore permissible, whatever the merits or demerits of any such motion.

Sir Peter Emery

The hon. Gentleman is correct. The motion is in order. Indeed, we would not be debating it if it were not. However, when the authority of the Chair is questioned, as it is in the motion, we undermine the structure that I am determined to defend.

Those who claim that the motion is no criticism of my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, South (Mr. Morris), the Chairman of Ways and Means, do not live in the real world. It must be seen as an attack on the Chairman's impartiality and the integrity of the Chair. It is—[Interruption.] Those who say no should listen for a moment. If the motion were passed, the Chairman, being a man of honour, would have no alternative but to resign. That needs to be clearly understood.

Mr. Benn

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Sir Peter Emery

No. Let the right hon. Gentleman sit for a moment.

As I have said, it must be clearly understood that the Chairman would have to resign. Whether the right hon. Gentleman likes it or not, that is the action that an honourable man would take.

Mr. Benn

The right hon. Gentleman is hyping up the issue beyond reason, and I shall tell the House why. There are many occasions when the House varies an earlier decision. That happens quite often. We are the High Court of Parliament, and in this instance we are reviewing the judgment of one of the Officers of the House. No judge resigns when his decision is overturned on appeal.

The right hon. Gentleman is trying to make it personal, which is the great corruption of modern politics. It seems that we cannot discuss principle without the discussion being turned into a punch-up with someone. That is something that will destroy democracy perhaps more readily than anything else.

Sir Peter Emery

The right hon. Gentleman may not understand what honour is all about. I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that, if the motion were passed, we would put the Chairman in an untenable position. We have seen it happen once before, and that will be in the memory of some right hon. and hon. Members. The issue did not result in a motion, but the then Chairman of Ways and Means decided that he must resign.

Has the Chairman of Ways and Means erred? I suggest that his only error, being the extremely nice man he is, has been to try to explain things to his critics and to set out the reasons for his decisions to show his impartiality. Indeed, some of his decisions have certainly not pleased Her Majesty's Government.

Had the Chairman not been so reasonable—had he not tried to make others understand the reasons for his decisions—today's problems would probably not have arisen. The Chairman could have held to the time-honoured procedure that has been established over the years, which is that the Chair does not give reasons for the selection of amendments for debate or for Divisions. If anyone is in doubt about that, let him remember that reference has already been made to page 405 of "Erskine May".

Mr. Dalyell

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Sir Peter Emery

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman when I have referred the House to an exactly similar matter that arose when Sir Charles MacAndrew was Chairman of Ways and Means. Mr. Eric Fletcher said that, if the then Chairman ruled that certain amendments could be discussed together, that could only be on the assumption that they have all been selected for discussion. He added: If you rule that certain Amendments can be discussed together … surely it follows that, if any Member wishes to vote on any Amendment that has been discussed, he is entitled to ask that there should be a Division. The then Chairman replied: Certainly not. That has never been the rule. I have been doing this work for many years and this has always been the rule that I am now applying. It is often indicated, as the hon. and learned Gentleman has just done, that a Division is desired, and I am allowing a Division on two Amendments. Otherwise, all that would happen would be that my selection would be very much narrower. Mr. Fletcher asked: The Chair has power of selection?", and the then Chairman replied yes. Later, Mr. Fletcher said: I suggest, in all seriousness, that once the Chair has ruled that certain Amendments have been selected for discussion, and might all be discussed together, the Chair has no authority to decide that there shall not be a Division on any of the selected Amendments. The then Chairman replied: The Chair has every power to do so. Up to that point, there has only been one Amendment called. If the Chair does not call any of the others there can be no Divisions. It is very simple. Now we had better get on with the business. Mr. Tom Proctor, whom some of us will remember, intervened as follows: Is it now contended that the Chair has two selections, selection for discussion and selection for voting? I have never heard of two before. The then Chairman said: Well, the hon. Member has heard of them today."—[Official Report, 14 February 1957; Vol. 564, c. 1459–61.] The same issue arises this afternoon.

Mr. Dalyell

I want to be clear on who the Chairman of the Procedure Committee was referring to in relation to the censure of a Chairman of Ways and Means. Was he referring to the MacAndrew incident or something else?

Sir Peter Emery

I said that there was not a censure motion. There was a debate concerning Sir Gordon Touche, who resigned.

Mr. Cash

Will my right hon. Friend give way on that point? Was there an amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition? It might be helpful to know that.

Sir Peter Emery

I do not think that that matters.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

Is the answer to the question no?

Sir Peter Emery

I shall answer the question in my own way, if the hon. Gentleman will allow me to do so. He has enough to say in the House without making my speeches for me.

I say in response to my hon. Friend that selection rests entirely with the Chair. If that were not so, junior Members, or Members representing minority parties, would never get any consideration. It must be on the matter of the amendment itself. Page 490 of "Erskine May" states: The Chairman may at his discretion allow separate divisions on one or more of the subsequent amendments It seems to me that those who speak in favour of the motion are directly challenging the discretion and impartiality of the Chair. By questioning the discretion they are undermining that authority. The motion must be rejected. I again stress that the motion must be defeated by a massive vote so that it is clear beyond peradventure that we have absolute confidence in the Chairman of Ways and Means.

5.10 pm
Mr. Denzil Davies (Llanelli)

As we have been reminded, the motion is about the decision of the Chairman of Ways and Means not to allow a vote on amendment No. 27. To some extent, the motion is a product of the difficulties that the Committee and the Chairman have faced, and the frustration that the Committee has felt because we are trying to debate a Bill which incorporates a treaty that will have an effect on much, if not most, of the commercial, financial and economic life of the nation.

The real legislation that we are debating is not the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, but the treaty of European union. We cannot amend it. We can exclude. but we cannot amend. The last time something similar happened was 21 years ago, and it happened then for the same reason. Sir Elwyn Jones moved a motion—I forget the words—regretting the lack of selection of amendments because we were in precisely the same situation then as now: the Bill that we were debating was not the real Bill. We were debating the treaty of Rome—that was the real Bill—and we could not amend it then. I am not sure that then we could even exclude parts of it. That Bill was slightly different from this one, but we were experiencing the same frustrations and problems.

Sir Elwyn's motion was not a personal criticism of the then Chairman of Ways and Means, just as the present motion is not a personal criticism of our Chairman.

The Standing Committees of the House are there to debate Bills. Bills are presented after they have been given a Second Reading, and Second Reading Bills are draft Bills. They are completed after consultation with Ministers —sometimes after White or Green Papers—but they are draft Bills. They then go before a Committee. The function of the House is to debate them, to try to change them and to make representations to Ministers. It is the opportunity that hon. Members have to change legislation.

Again, we cannot do that here. We are not debating a "Second Reading" Bill; we are debating, in effect, a "Third Reading" Bill. The treaty of European union is a Third Reading Bill which cannot be changed. That is one reason for the frustration, and one reason why we are here today in the same circumstances as 21 years ago.

The problem has been compounded—I make no criticism, although I will criticise on another occasion—by the fact that the official Opposition—except in regard to the social chapter—is in general agreement with Her Majesty's Government. The House works best when the official Opposition are opposing.

The Executive in Britain sits in the legislature, and I think that it is a good system. I do not go along with the trendy views of The Independent and The Guardian and the chattering classes that it is a terrible system. Because the Executive sits in the legislature, the Executive in the main has control over the legislature. It has enormous power, but that power is limited, checked and balanced by the fact that Her Majesty's loyal Opposition, in general, oppose. In this case, they do not, apart from on the social chapter, thus increasing the problem that the power of the Executive over this legislation is even greater than it normally is within our legislative and constitutional system. That also has contributed to our frustrations and, in the end, to this motion.

In addition to those difficulties, we have also had problems with the debates. The Chairman of Ways and Means had no alternative but to make groupings of amendments. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) said, the Chairman of Ways and Means saw us in his room and we discussed these matters. Because we could only exclude chunks of the Bill, he had no option but to group a large number of amendments together.

I think that Ministers treated those debates as if they were Second Reading debates; certainly the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the right hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones), has done so. I will exonerate the Foreign Secretary and partly exonerate the Financial Secretary to the Treasury from this criticism, but in general Ministers have treated them as Second Reading debates. They have intervened early, not replied to the debates and often replied to only a few of the points raised. The cue was taken by my hon. Friends, quite naturally, because that is the way the system works.

As to the question of closures, many of us were cut off in full flight. My hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, East (Mr. Smith) was actually writing his speech on the Front Bench, but he did not have a chance to speak. I have spoken to people outside the House who watch our proceedings on satellite and cable television on something called the parliamentary channel. They have expressed amusement, and asked "Who is that gentleman who so often jumps up? He sits not far from where the Chairman of Ways and Means sits. Sometimes he is a little gentleman, sometimes a large gentleman, but when hon. Members speak he suddenly jumps up and that is the end of the debate." I have to try to explain that the gentleman is not a lord high executioner. I think the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. Patnick) has done the same thing on one or two occasions.

Madam Speaker

May I jump up and intervene? I am being very tolerant, but the right hon. Gentleman has had a long introduction to what he is really seeking to say. He will understand that I have many hon. Members to call. I hope he will now speak more directly to the motion.

Mr. Davies

The way in which the closure was operated added to our frustration.

Amendment No. 27 is not only about the operation of the social chapter, but about money, because it deals with the part of the treaty relating to payments to be made by Her Majesty's Government towards the administration of the social chapter by the other 11 member states. So there are two factors involved which unite the different groups in the House who are against the Maastricht treaty.

The problem started, I am sorry to say, when the Chairman of Ways and Means appeared to most of us to have agreed that there would be a vote on amendment No. 27. It would be unfair to subject the Chairman's statement to a kind of Byzantine textual criticism, because, by definition, the Chairman's job is to react to certain situations and circumstances.

The Chairman of Ways and Means said: We are some way off a vote. Later, he said: I am minded to take seriously the need for a further debate". To the Chairman's credit, he accepted that further debate, and the Attorney-General had to come and speak to the Committee. Then he went on to say: before the Committee votes on that amendment."—[Official Report, 22 February 1993; Vol. 219, c. 685.] In my opinion, that was a clear statement that there would be a vote on the amendment. It was not a decision; it was a statement at the time. The Chairman then changed his mind. He was entitled to change his mind and decide in the way that he did, but to give a strong indication to the Committee that he was prepared to call a vote and then to change his mind means that we are entitled to scrutinise and consider carefully whether there were any reasons for that change of mind, bearing in mind, as has been said, that the amendment had been selected for debate, was in order and was not a wrecking amendment. The Minister of State, the right hon. Member for Watford, thought that it was, but he was wrong. The Attorney-General made it clear that it was not a wrecking amendment. It was tabled not by the cavaliers on the Back Benches but by the roundheads on the Opposition Front Bench. It is a sensible and respectable amendment.

When it appeared to us, therefore, that the Chairman of Ways and Means had changed his mind, we were, and are, entitled to scrutinise why he did so. The Chairman of Ways and Means, being a very brave, nice and, perhaps, foolish man, did not give reasons, but he came close to giving reasons. No doubt that was a dangerous thing to do, because barrack-room lawyers on the Back Benches could then pore over the reasons, or non-reasons, that had been given.

Then the Chairman quite properly indicated—I applaud him for it, because he had changed his mind—at column 39 on 19 April that he had to consider, in allowing a vote, the clarity of the amendment, its impact on the Bill and the fact that, if brought into effect, it had to be workable and understandable. Without having subjected the amendment to that amount of textual criticism, I had always thought that amendment No. 27 was pretty clear. The Minister of State got it all wrong, but if he was wrong he was clearly wrong, as was said of a judge in the Court of Appeal some time ago.

The Attorney-General did not think much of amendment No. 27, for it did not make any difference to anybody, but it was perfectly clear to him. I have read again the Attorney-General's speech. Nowhere did he say that amendment No. 27 was not clear. The Foreign Secretary made a statement before the Attorney-General spoke. He did not say, either, that amendment No. 27 was not clear. With the greatest respect, therefore, there is nothing wrong, so far as I can see, with the clarity of amendment No. 27.

Is amendment No. 27 workable and understandable? The Government seemed to think that it was workable and understandable. Many of us have been Ministers and have latched on to little nods from parliamentary draftsmen and civil servants, indicating that we should resist certain amendments because they are badly drafted, unclear and unworkable. There was no such indication from the Government about amendment No. 27. The promoters of the Bill, the Foreign Secretary and the Attorney-General, never told us, as far as I can tell—I leave aside the Minister of State who says lots of things—that amendment No. 27 is unworkable, cannot be understood and will do something terrible to the Bill.

I cannot understand the reasons or the indications given by the Chairman of Ways and Means. They do not convince me. They may convince others. I make no criticism of the honesty or integrity of the Chairman of Ways and Means, but looking at it as a statement, that is my feeling about it.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield said, or implied, if every future vote has to be taken on an amendment that is workable and clear, there will be far fewer votes in Committees. There will also be far fewer votes on Government amendments. I remember Government amendments, inserted in Committee into groups of amendments and voted upon, that were not particularly clear or workable or understandable. There lies the rub. It is a very brave Chairman of any Committee who, on a Bill promoted by the Government, who have a panoply of assistance from parliamentary draftsmen and civil servants, says, "This amendment is not clear and is not workable; therefore I will not call it." That is why I am not convinced by the reasons or indications that have been given to us.

I hope, Madam Speaker, that it may be possible, somehow, to have a vote on amendment No. 27, or on one similar to it. Many people outside the House will find it strange if we are unable to do so. Therefore, I hope that a way of doing so can be found. After all, a vote takes only 15 minutes.

5.24 pm
Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East)

I am grateful to you, Madam Speaker. for calling me to speak in the debate. My intervention will be brief so that other hon. Members will have an opportunity to contribute to the debate.

I listened with increased misgivings to what was said about the motion. However much the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) tries to give the impression, as he does with great skill, that what he has put forward is reasonable, restrained and far from being a fully fledged censure motion, one listens I o such points with mounting anxiety. As the Chairman of the Procedure Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery), rightly said, the implications of the motion are sinister for the future of the House and the conduct of its business. The implications of the motion are outrageous, even though it is cleverly couched in restrained and slightly reticent language.

I am old-fashioned enough to believe in the procedures of the House—so much so as to say that I do not believe that the reasons given by the Chair for selecting or not selecting amendments should be questioned in any way. That may sound excessively docile, but it is the only way in which the House can proceed in a practical way, particularly on major legislation that is taken on the Floor of the House, when there is a highly charged atmosphere and when people are looking for the slightest reason to be suspicious, with barrack-room lawyers looking not just for television interview reasons but for the slightest reason to suspect conspiracy or collusion between the Treasury Bench, the Chair, and so on.

I have detected no evidence of that in any way whatsoever throughout the 19 or 20 days of the prolonged Committee stage on the Floor of the House. One has to compare these proceedings with the much more fundamental and profound Bill on entry into the Community and the treaties—the treaty of Rome and treaty of accession—that we enacted in 1972 and 1973, when I think I am right in saying that fewer days were spent considering the measure in a Committee of the whole House. That was a much more epoch-making step for this country to take, at the request of the then Government, than this legislation, although I welcome it, and the treaty, for all the reasons that have been put forward in our debates.

There has been a huge amount of debate on the Bill by a minority of Members. I reckon that between 85 and 90 hon. Members in all parts of the House are rigorously against the provisions of the Bill, in its final enactment, and the treaty behind it. When one compares that with the overwhelming majority of hon. Members who want the Bill to be enacted and also want the treaty, the amount of time devoted to debate has been more than reasonable. It is outrageous to suggest that the Chair has given erroneous reasons, or has done the wrong thing by the House of Commons in respect of amendment No. 27, or has, in general, oppressed the House. But that is the meaning of the motion. That is why it is unacceptable and should be crushingly defeated today.

Mr. Knapman

I am sorry that my hon. Friend believes that the motion has sinister implications. It would be interesting to know what they are. I am sure that my hon. Friend does not wish to suggest that the outcome of tonight's vote will in any way reflect upon the need, or otherwise, for a vote on amendment No. 27.

Mr. Dykes

My hon. Friend's intervention is totally astonishing. If we assume that the motion of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield is carried, is it not right to reflect on the implications of the collapse in the credibility of the business of the House in general, not just in respect of this piece of legislation? The reasons for the silly suspicions of a conspiracy are self-evident. I need not go into them. Instead, I shall refer to the assertions that, in my estimation, were wrongly made about a Scottish television interview.

I did not see the interview, but the assertions relate to an answer given to television viewers by the Chairman of Ways and Means. Subject to an examination of the text of his answer, it seems to me incredible that the Chairman of Ways and Means would say on television that he never gives reasons and that, despite the fact that he was giving a television interview, it was none of the interviewer's business and that he would not answer the question. Answers in a television interview are, surely, totally different and, in any case, discursive, wide-ranging, colloquial and different from literal answers that are given in the Chamber of the House of Commons.

The idea that that is the same as giving reasons for selecting or not selecting an amendment for debate or vote is completely spurious, and I am surprised that people are even suggesting it.

Mr. Cryer

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Dykes

I may give way, but not for the moment.

The Leader of the House presented his argument briefly but with great skill. He is known to be not only a very good Leader of the House but a very fair-minded person who always makes his points in a calm, balanced and dispassionate way. I was glad that on this occasion he had a note of justified indignation in his voice when he rejected the motion and asked for it to be defeated in the appropriate manner. The majority of hon. Members are extremely annoyed and fed up about the fact that the motion has even been presented.

Although a majority have spoken against the motion, the anti-Europe and, for the purposes of this debate, the anti-Chair speakers—I use that description deliberately although they deny it—have repeated exactly the points of order made for more than an hour at the beginning of this week. Their arguments were a complete rerun, and nothing new has been added. There has been no justification for the motion. Even the right hon. Member for Chesterfield has fallen asleep—he is either bored with my words or with the text of his own motion. It is essential for the House to reject the motion decisively with a crushing defeat.

I am not defending a personality, although I agree with the repeated assertions, which have also been made by the critics, that the present Chairman of Ways and Means has done an outstanding job throughout the Committee stage. The reason I am genuinely indignant about the motion —as are other hon. Members—is that I am worried about paralysing the authority of the Chair in the future. From now on, there would be perpetual questioning of the Chair's motives—

Mr. Cryer

The hon. Gentleman keeps asserting that the Chair's decisions are always universally accepted. However, on a controversial issue in 1976, for example, the Speaker—not the Chair—made a decision against the hybridity of a Bill. He said that that was his final ruling and that, if hon. Members disagreed with it, they should table the usual motion—a motion of no confidence. The Conservative Opposition at the time did not wrap their cloaks around them and go home but persuaded the Speaker to change his decision because they did not agree with it. Were they wrong to do so?

Mr. Dykes

I did not mean that one should automatically reject the remote possibility of such an event arising in the House on rare occasions. That would be manifestly absurd. What I object to is the fact that the right hon. Member for Chesterfield did not table the motion as a motion of censure or of no confidence but tried to tone it down to make it more acceptable. That is the danger of the text.

I hope that the Opposition Front Bench spokesman is listening. I noticed that the shadow Leader of the House carefully did not respond—I do not think that she could at that stage—to the question asked by the former leader of the Liberal Democrats who is now a foreign affairs spokesman. The question was about the comparison between new clauses 74 and 75 and amendment No. 27 which, as has rightly been said, we have already passed by in Committee, subject to any re-presentation on Report. I hope that the question will be answered because it is important.

I am not assuming the construction of any reasons why the Chair should have selected an amendment or new clause for a vote. In my opinion, no reasons need to be given. I accept the Chair's decision. Many of the Chair's selections have been very much against the Government's interest and there have, quite rightly, been no complaints about that.

Mr. George Robertson

The hon. Gentleman should have listened to my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett) as he is accusing other people of not having listened. My right hon. Friend spelt out the position in some detail. Amendment No. 27 and new clauses 74 and 75 may have the same ultimate objective —to put pressure on the Government to accept the social chapter—but they do so in two entirely different ways. From the beginning, we have never accepted that they were alternatives. They have separate functions, which is why amendment No. 27 was pressed and why subsequent amendments were tabled, officially and by Back Benchers, to find a way to achieve the basic objective. My right hon. Friend made that point and we stand by it.

Mr. Dykes

In that case, it is funny that the shadow Leader of the House did not answer the question in that way. I think that there is a disagreement among members of the Labour Front Bench and among Labour Members. Be that as it may, we are getting back to the idea that the Chair should, through the motion and outrageous pressure from a minority of hon. Members, apparently be coerced to give reasons for the selection or otherwise of amendments, either for debate or vote. I reject that idea out of hand, except perhaps once every few decades in 1 per cent. of parliamentary opportunities and in a truly outrageous case.

The Chair's decision was a routine and justified decision, although I concede that amendment No. 27 is very important. The motion is disgraceful, and the quicker it is unequivocally defeated, the better.

5.35 pm
Mr. Michael J. Martin (Glasgow, Springburn)

Like all members of the Opposition, I am keen to get the social chapter included in the treaty. I hope that it will be possible on Report, because many of my constituents and people in Scotland generally have very low-paid jobs and need the protection of legislation, whether it comes from the House or from Europe. However, I support the Chairman of Ways and Means. I am reminded of a discussion that took place last night in the Tea Room. A young colleague summed up the issue very well by saying that one cannot have a football match without a referee, which is what the motion is trying to do.

For seven years, I have been a member of the Chairmen's Panel, and have throughly enjoyed it. I have learnt a great deal about the procedure of Committees and the House, and about amendments. Above all, I have learnt that one cannot please everyone. It is very difficult to do so, and it is natural that, when the Chairman decides in favour of one side, the other side is displeased. I do not think that any Chairman, including the Chairman of Ways and Means, would do anything to harm the integrity of the position that he or she holds. The strength of the House of Commons is that those who chair our Committees are constituency Members of Parliament. When they listen to the arguments made by hon. Members, they can easily put themselves in their position. They know what it is to be in a minority, trying to appeal to the Chair.

I recall a humorous situation that occurred in the Scottish Grand Committee. I was in the impossible position of trying to call as many Back Benchers as I could, including those from the minority parties. Inevitably, some hon. Members were squeezed out. One hon. Member spoke to me during one sitting, and the language he used would have made a navvy blush—it certainly made me blush. He gave me a great deal of abuse. I told him that the reason he was not called was that I had to call the Scottish National party, but I still got the abuse. Six months later, that Labour Member was in the SNP and was shouting about the SNP not getting enough time on the Floor of the House. One cannot win.

On another occasion, the Clerk informed me that I could allow the Committee to sit 10 minutes beyond 1 pm to dispose of the business. I thought that everyone would be delighted about that, but a member of the Committee told me that he was not pleased because it meant that he would be late for his luncheon engagement, so he intended to report me to the Speaker.

I was in the House last Thursday and heard the discussion. I was aware of the high feelings. You will have noticed, Madam Speaker, that for many years I have chosen to sit here below the Gangway, and I enjoy the banter of my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), who sits nearby. I admire his sharp wit and the way that he gives Ministers and Conservatives in general a hard time—he gives the Opposition Front-Bench spokespersons an even harder time. He is at his best in such situations, but he is certainly not at his best when he starts making personal attacks. I dissociate myself from terms such as "stitch-up" and "deals with the Government". I do not think that such remarks are helpful.

If we want people to accept positions of responsibility, by all means we can criticise them, so long as it is fair criticism, but personal attacks do not help. I was brought up in the trade union and labour movement, and because of the disadvantaged situation from which I came, I acquired most of my education from attending trade union and Labour party meetings. I would not have had that education, and l would have not been capable of being a Member of Parliament, had it not been for strong chairmanship. One thing that I learned early was that, when things go against someone, he should fight his corner and keep fighting, but the last thing he should do is blame the chairman.

5.41 pm
Mr. William Cash (Stafford)

The hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) referred to the occasion on which the Speaker's ruling on the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill was—disgracefully, I believe —overruled by the Government. The manner in which the decision had been arrived at was significant. I was involved to some extent, because I was then the legal adviser to the ship repairers, so I was well acquainted with what was going on. The decision was disgraceful, and there was no basis whatever on which anyone could derive any satisfaction from ignoring a ruling of the Speaker or, indeed, of the Chairman of Ways and Means.

I have not put my name to the motion, but that does not mean that I have not been seriously concerned about the difficulties that have arisen over amendment No. 27, primarily because, as I said about the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill, the object of the procedure is more important than all the arcane technicalities that prevail at the end of the day. Underneath all the precedents, we are really discussing a simple question: should the House of Commons be able to put to the vote a matter of vital interest to the people outside, whether in terms of the social chapter or of taxation and the agreement? The real problem is that the people outside simply will not be able to understand why, in simple language, after all the debate that has taken place, we cannot have a vote on amendment No. 27.

Miss Emma Nicholson (Torridge and Devon, West)

Surely the argument is not about whether the people outside understand why we do or do not have a vote. The people outside frequently do not understand our complex procedures. The object of the debate is to determine whether the Chairman of Ways and Means has authority over the Chamber. That is the question today. We cannot have a form of mob rule. As the hon. Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Martin) said, it is difficult enough being a Member of Parliament. We must make our own judgments, and occupants of the Chair must make theirs. They should not be a football to be kicked about on the whim of other hon. Members such as my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash).

Mr. Cash

I do not believe that I have put forward any views on the subject on the basis of a whim. The problem is that the issue has become Byzantine because, although we are told that no reasons are given, unless we subscribe to the notion of the hypocrisy of democracy, we know perfectly well that reasons have been given. In the light of the television transcript that we have seen and of statements that have been recorded in Hansard, it is perfectly ludicrous to say that no reasons have been given.

We have been clearly told that one of the problems involved with the selection of the amendment is that apparently it would wreck the Bill, and we must have regard to the effect that it would have on the Bill. That was said in so many words in the television programme. I see that the Chairman of Ways and Means is shaking his head, so I shall read out the transcript, because we must have a clear understanding. In reply to an interviewer's question the transcript records that he said: Well you have to go back to the fact that there was a significant 2nd reading vote for the Bill therefore the House has already said, as it moved into Committee, that it wanted the Bill to go through and that it would accept amendments on the workings of the Bill, like the one we have got on the Committee of the Regions where they change the basis of who shall be appointed, but you cannot wreck the Bill but you can put in these sort of caveats and in a sense this one is a caveat and a very strong moral one actually, because what it really says is that yes the Bill can go through but the House will have to have a vote after the Royal Assent on whether or not it wants the Social Chapter in there. Earlier, referring to another amendment, which must have been new clause 75, the Chairman said: to put down an amendment which is more workable than 27 and that is what has actually come out. I am now at a slight disadvantage, because I see that the Chairman of Ways and Means, in a sedentary position, is shaking his head. I should be more than happy to withdraw my reference if what I have is not a verbatim transcript, but I can use only the evidence before me. I am simply making a point that is reiterated in column 39 of the Official Report of 19 April—perhaps we are entitled to put more emphasis on that than on a television interview. I am glad to see that my hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and Means is now nodding his head. In respect of amendment No. 27 he said: In arriving at such a decision … any occupant of the Chair must have regard to a number of factors, including the Committee's debates, the clarity of effect of an amendment, and its impact on the Bill which, if brought into effect, must be both workable and understandable. In the very nature of this case, there can be no exact precedent."—[Official Report, 19 April 1993; Vol. 223, c. 39.] My right hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery) referred to the MacAndrew case, but the Chairman of Ways and Means has made it clear that he had to form his judgment on the issue before him. The problem that I have with the reasons that he has given leads me to be concerned about the basis upon which that decision was made. It is conceded that there is no precedent, because such matters must be regarded as being taken separately on each occasion.

That being said, let us consider the questions that are put to us. In my view, they merely compound the Byzantine nature of the position that we are already in, because if the reasons that we have been given were applied on future occasions they would cause an unbelievable amount of difficulty. Who is to decide on the "clarity of effect" of an amendment? It is sometimes exceedingly difficult, without waiting for the matter to be referred to the courts, to know what decision will be taken on the meaning to be drawn from a specific form of words. In the European dimension, considering the methods of interpretation now applied in the European courts as compared with those used in our own courts, that becomes even more difficult. The considerations are to be: the clarity of effect of an amendment, and its impact on the Bill". The reference to the amendment's impact on the Bill is similar to the reference in the television transcript to which I have just referred. I am very concerned about the impact on the Bill. Although no reasons have been given for the reference, I believe that it refers to Second Reading, which was mentioned in the television transcript, and the impact that amendment No. 27, if passed, would have on the process of the treaty and the Bill. It has been decided effectively to remove amendment No. 27 from the amendment paper.

The Bill received a majority of 244 on Second Reading. However, Second Reading occurred a very long time ago, on 2 May last year. Since then, there has been a referendum in Denmark. Therefore, we are not dealing with the same agreement or treaty that was signed on 7 February because the Danish people are—

Madam Speaker

Order. I have been very tolerant, but I am now insisting that the hon. Gentleman should speak to the motion before the House. The debate is limited to the exercise of the Chair's discretion on amendment No. 27. It is limited only to that and not to the Danish referendum or to what anyone else does in any other country. It is limited simply to the judgment and discretion of the Chairman of Ways and Means: that is all.

Mr. Cash

Indeed, Madam Speaker, and I am happy to follow your ruling. I am referring to the impact on the Bill and that was the reason given by the Chairman of Ways and Means. That causes me concern because the principle of the Bill on Second Reading has been breached by our withdrawal from the exchange rate mechanism. If we are not to have a Division on amendment No. 27 and the reason for that—although it is not entirely disclosed—is the effect that it would have in respect of Second Reading, that is not a justifiable reason for there to be no Division on the amendment.

According to the motion and to the comments of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), the amendment must be workable and understandable. That point has already been discussed. By providing new criteria, there will be enormous difficulties in respect of future rulings.

Mr. Andrew Rowe (Mid-Kent)

I have listened with great care to my hon. Friend who, unlike me, is not one of the minority of hon. Members to whom the procedures of the House are sometimes arcane. I have examined pages 491 to 493 of "Erskine May". It is clear that the intelligibility and the workability of an amendment are criteria which Chairmen of Committees have taken into account for many years. Is my hon. Friend saying that they are new criteria?

Mr. Cash

Those of us who have examined the same provisions are perfectly aware that it may be a question of grammar or logic. However, there is no question about the meaning to be attached to amendment No. 27. It is crystal clear. The problem is about workability and understan-dability in relation to the Bill which received its Second Reading by a substantial majority and in respect of which the landscape has changed fundamentally since then.

The Chairman of Ways and Means told me that it was not the length of debate in question, but the content that was the issue. However, I want to query another issue that has not been mentioned so far in this debate. If we were to be confined in this way, it would be impossible for anyone to know whether the content of an amendment would lead to its being ruled out of order in respect of a Division.

That raises yet another problem: what is the content of a debate? Some debates are immensely interesting and some are exceedingly difficult to understand. The reality is that we cannot become locked into an argument about content as opposed to length because that would confuse matters.

It is equally clear that, in respect of amendments tabled on Report, "Erskine May" states: In particular, amendments are sometimes tabled to reverse Government defeats in Committee and these are always selected. That means that Governments always have the right to obtain a reversal on Report. Presumably that will apply to the vote on the Committee of the Regions. "Erskine May" continues: In general, amendments which were debated at length"— it does not say anything about content— in Committee, and brought to a vote, are not selected by the Speaker for further debate on Report. Amendments only briefly debated and which were then withdrawn, may well be selected if time permits. However, the Chairman is on record as having made it perfectly clear that one of the prime reasons why amendment No. 27 was not selected for a Division was that the length of the debate and presumably also its content were not substantial. I believe that that is extraordinary having regard to the column inches devoted to that amendment. If we move to another stage, I find it difficult to understand how such matters might not be considered.

We must also bear in mind that the House of Lords would not be able to consider the tax implications of amendment No. 27. Furthermore, with respect to the whole issue of tax which has been thoroughly debated this afternoon, we must consider whether we have a right to determine the issues that arise under the agreement vested in amendment No. 27.

When considering the remarks of the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones), and the Chairman of the Ways and Means last week, I found it strange and opaque to discover that a new kind of doctrine appeared to be emerging—that the Government deserve protection if they find themselves in a minority. Some of the proceedings last week, in respect of the comments of the Minister of State and the Chairman of Ways and Means, would repay detailed consideration.

Mr. Whitney

Before my hon. Friend concludes his remarks, will he clarify a problem that is puzzling some of us? Some of us have noticed that three of our hon. Friends have signed the motion that we are debating. However, the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) is missing from that list. Many of us would be interested to know why his name does not appear, given the strength of feeling that, at his usual generous length, he is now offering to the House in respect of the views and conduct of the Chairman of Ways and Means. Can my hon. Friend tell us which way he will be voting in the Lobby, as that would also be of interest to hon. Members?

Mr. Cash

I do not have the slightest intention of disclosing in advance how [will vote. However, I do not believe that the motion is sensible, for the simple reason that I do not believe that we need to hype the issue into a censure motion. Substantive questions arise and I am addressing them.

We would be neglecting the responsibility vested in us, given the fact that I raised points of order on the matter in the past, if we did not follow through the logic of what has been happening. It is not in the interests of the House, for the reasons that I have given, for us to be taken down this route by the judgment on amendment No. 27. That is the point that I am making.

With respect to the implications of declining a Division on amendment No. 27, "Erskine May" states: The Speaker's guiding principle is to avoid debate on the Floor of the House which is simply a repetition of the debate in Committee and where exactly the same decision may be expected on the amendment or amendments concerned. If there is no vote, exactly the same decision will be taken because no opportunity for a vote will have been offered. There is ample opportunity for this matter to be reconsidered without getting into a tremendous hysterical turmoil about whether the Chairman made the right decision. I am happy to accept that he made the best judgment at the time. The question must be: was it the right judgment and has it led us into an impossible Byzantine position which can be resolved on Report?

Another reference to the Speaker's criteria, which was set out by Speaker King, is that all Government amendments are usually selected. Therefore, given the importance of this matter to the Government, and the fact that amendment No. 27 is in the name of the Leader of the Opposition, that presents an extremely good reason for selecting it subsequently.

Mr. Rooker

Surely the hon. Gentleman is overstating the case. The amendments in the name of the hon. Member in charge of the Bill are selected virtually automatically. If this were a private Member's Bill, the amendments of the hon. Member who introduced it would be selected. Government amendments have been selected only because the Minister is in charge of the Bill.

Mr. Cash

That is a fair point: I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I have simply set out what "Erskine May" says: The Speakers usually select … important issues fully debated in committee, but still containing vital matters worthy of a 'last look'. That seems to be the basis on which there will be ample opportunity, after this debate is finished, to re-examine amendment No. 27, which is of enormous importance politically and constitutionally. Undoubtedly, it is an important and vital issue. I believe that it is worthy of a last look.

6.2 pm

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

I hope that I do not have to travel or take anyone down these Byzantine ways. I have heard hon. Members on both sides of the House talking about the matter, and I want to be as clear as I possibly can. I shall kick off by saying that we do not need any lectures from Euro-fanatics such as the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) about ensuring that democracy in the House of Commons remains. He has been at the forefront of ensuring that power has been taken away from the House of Commons to Brussels, Bonn, Strasbourg, Luxembourg and anywhere else on the continent. We do not need any lectures from Euro-fanatics about undermining democracy in the House.

Mr. Dykes

The hon. Gentleman is wrong about the treaty. As he knows, the treaty as debated provides for a reinforcement of the powers and involvement of all national parliaments, including the House of Commons.

Mr. Skinner

There has been a hidden agenda in the Common Market since it began on 28 October 1971. Before the hon. Gentleman became a Member of Parliament, he was campaigning outside for the European Movement. He is telling hon. Members in the House, "We are not going to do anything important today. We will pass a little treaty, but don't worry—nothing will happen". There has been a hidden agenda.

Madam Speaker

Order. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will not allow himself to be moved away from the motion on the Order Paper by such interventions.

Mr. Skinner

It is important to remember that we are talking against the background of a shift in power from this place to the Common Market. The whole argument, like the previous one in which Grant-Ferris was involved, was about the Common Market. It has bedevilled the House of Commons almost all the time that I have been a Member of Parliament.

Some of the greatest problems which have arisen in the House of Commons have done so because we are a member of the Common Market. The split in the Labour party, the split in the Tory party and all the rest of it are attributable to the fact that many hon. Members in the House and many millions of people outside believe that we made a big mistake.

Mr. Stephen Milligan (Eastleigh)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Skinner

No—we must allow other hon. Members to speak.[Interruption.] Madam Speaker is nodding her head, so we are together; we have established a partnership.

As for all that talk about not undermining the Chair, let us have none of that nonsense. A few years ago, when Speaker Weatherill was in the Chair, there were briefings from the Government to get rid of him. All the newspapers got the stories about how the Prime Minister wanted to get the Speaker out of the Chair. We know the stories. Conservative Members were briefing all the time.

Let us not be lily-livered about the fact that the Chairman of Ways and Means is under the microscope because Mrs. Thatcher and the rest of them were quite happy to tell Weatherill, indirectly through the newspapers, "Get on your bike. We have had enough of you. We want somebody else in your place". Weatherill was smart enough to talk to Members of Parliament that he thought might help him to stay in his job. That is the background.

Let us not have any more talk from those pompous people that somehow or other we cannot discuss the Chair in the House of Commons. It happens in every other organisation that I know about. I had not been chair of the Labour party for five minutes before nearly every right-wing member of the national executive committee tried to move me out at the first meeting. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) stood by me, but he had a job to get a seconder.

All the hon. Members on the Labour Front Bench, who were members of the NEC, were not bothered about undermining the authority of the chair. I was right. I had only quoted the standing orders, but that was enough for them. They did not like the standing orders—they are all standing orders—and they were prepared to kick me out of the chair at the first meeting. I stood my ground. I did not go whining to people and saying, "Isn't it terrible? How can I manage?" I fought on.

I do not know what this place is coming to when hon. Members cannot make comments about the Chair. The Chairman made a series of mistakes—not just one. He got caught up in the 20th century and television. Some people said that television would not alter this place. It has altered this place, and the Chairman of Ways and Means. I do not say that in a machiavellian way. The Chairman went on television. Like all people who go on television, he was asked awkward questions and responded.

It is time that we stopped this nonsense of saying that the Chair cannot explain. Is it time to stop it? We are approaching the 21st century, and a leading Member in the House of Commons is not able to tell the assembled Members, "The reason why I am not selecting your amendment or putting it to the vote is the following." Let us grow up. Let us start to explain so that people fully understand. What is it about the mythology of this place that somehow or other we wrap the Chair in a cocoon? What is it all for? It is high time that we understood more clearly. The Chair was wrong on 22 February when he said that there would be a vote. Surely we should be allowed to make the point in the House.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield and I were brought up in different ways, although we agree on many things. He is a sensitive old soul. Today, he said that the motion was not an attack on the Chairman of Ways and Means. I think it is. I have never thought any different —I had to tell my right hon. Friend that last night. The motion is an attack on the Chairman. It is not a personal attack in the sense that hon. Members do not like him: it is an attack on his judgment. Some of us feel that he made the wrong one.

What is wrong with being able to say that from time to time? That is against a background of a Tory party which, only a few years ago, told the Prime Minister, "Get on your bike". They chucked her out like a dog in the night.

Now, those same sensitive souls, such as the right hon. Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery), who was probably one of those who chucked her out, and the hon. Member for Harrow, East—they were part and parcel of that great vote—try to tell us that we cannot discuss these other matters in here. They stand here talking about the pomp and ceremony of this place. The previous Prime Minister got thrown out without a majority vote. There was no majority to kick her out, but she went, just as many others have done.

I will tell the House why I believe that some of the people here are not keen on passing a motion against the Chairman of Ways and Means. They are afraid that he might resign. He is an honourable man. I am sure that he would resign. I put another proposition to the Chairman of Ways and Means. I think that he should not resign. He should come back and say, "We should have a vote on something similar to amendment No. 27." I would back him in the Chair if he said that.

So what is it? Do people not want him to resign because the Government have at least 15 members of the Cabinet who ought to resign? It might catch on. They might say, "We cannot afford to let him go, because people might think we should go. He has been an honourable man." That is the last thing that this Tory Government want.

There is a hidden agenda. I do not have any hang-ups about it. It was a stitch-up from beginning to end. I do not believe that, in this modern age, especially with television, it is possible for the Chair not to know what the Government are up to. I find that incredible. When a debate is closed after three, four or five hours in the middle of the night, do people expect me to believe that there has not been a discussion between the Chair and the Chief Whip or one of his people? I do not believe it. Of course it is done, and I expect it to be done. This place could not be run without that sort of collaboration.

I am also in favour of the motion because I have seen power removed from Back Benchers in the 23 years that I have been a Member of Parliament. The motion is not merely about Mr. Morris. When my hon. Friends go into the Lobby, as assuredly we will, they should realise that, in the past 23 years, this Government and Governments before them have taken power to themselves over and over again.

There was a time when the Government had to close the summer and spring Adjournment motion debates. Now the debates last only three hours. We used to fight on the Consolidated Fund Bill right through the night and the following morning and cock up the Government's business for the next day. Now all that has gone. There was a time when there was no such thing as 10-minute limits on speeches for Back-Bench Members after 6 and 7 o'clock. Now there is a limit, but the Front-Bench spokesmen still have their 30, 40 or 50 minutes.

We never used to have guillotines such as we have now. When I came into the House, it was extremely rare for a guillotine to be put on. The practice has grown over the years. That is all part of the same business.

The power that the Government have today is enormous by comparison with what Governments had previously. On this occasion, Back Benchers want to assert some authority, but in the end it is about Speakers and their role in relation to Back Benchers. Speakers all claim to be on the side of the Back Benchers. They say that they will preserve and safeguard the interests of Back Benchers. The truth is that that is not always the case.

Speaker Lenthall said, "I have neither eye to see," and the rest of it. On this occasion, my view—for what it is worth—is that the Chairman of Ways and Means did not act like Speaker Lenthall. He acted on behalf of the Government. The result was that we lost a great opportunity to score a great wounding victory against the Government on amendment No. 27. That is what really happened. It sticks in my craw. No one will convince me otherwise. I believe that, instead of standing his ground, Morris surrendered not only to the Government but, sadly, whether he knows it or not, to Brussels. That is why I shall vote for the motion.

6.14 pm
Mr. lain Duncan-Smith (Chingford)

It is a case of "Follow that", but I shall endeavour to do so in a short speech, to allow others to speak.

I have listened to right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House. Having heard many of the speeches made throughout the Committee stage, I had a sense of deja vu, but at least it was a comfortable one. I listened particularly carefully to the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn). Clearly, his knowledge of procedure is far ahead of anything that I could possibly rival. I do not intend to be caught up in that argument.

I am against the Maastricht process and treaty. That is fairly clear to hon. Members on both sides of the House. I have made my position pretty clear. I was and am disappointed that amendment No. 27 was not put to a vote. However, I believe that the important thing is to make my views clear on the Chairman of Ways and Means, who has behaved wholly honourably and in a fair manner throughout the Committee stage.

Therefore, one must ask whether the motion will' be perceived in the way that the right hon. Member for Chesterfield explained it. I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman and others, especially the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), believe that it is not absolutely a motion of censure. It is not written exactly in those terms. But the problem is that the motion will be perceived as a motion of censure on someone who has behaved honourably in reaching his decision.

As I said, I am disappointed that the Chairman's decision precluded a vote on amendment No. 27. I hope that, on Report, you will review that decision, Maclam Speaker, and for your own reasons come to a decision that may well allow the House to vote on amendment No. 27.

The problem with the motion is that the mechanism —as far as I can tell from the procedure of the House—is such that there is no way in which the outcome of the vote tonight, whatever it may be, will allow a vote on amendment No. 27. Therefore, it is bound to be perceived wholly as a motion of censure. That is why I am opposed to it.

Therefore, I hope and wish that the right hon. Member for Chesterfield and the other right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who put their names to it will carefully examine the motion again and, before we reach the stage at which it is necessary to proceed to a vote, withdraw it. It would be in the best interests of the House not to have the motion pressed to a vote, to proceed to the remaining stages of the Committee proceedings and the Report stage and, hopefully, to a vote on amendment No. 27.

6.17 pm
Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney)

I make it clear from the start, speaking as the second signatory to the motion, that no personal attack is intended. I do not agree with the attack in the forthright speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) on the conduct and motivation of the Chairman of Ways and Means. I take the view that Sir Elwyn Jones, as he then was, took when he moved a similar motion against the Chair in 1972. He said: Least of all is it an imputation … against his good faith and integrity."—[Official Report, 1 March 1972; Vol. 832, c. 434.] There is no such intention.

I respect the Chair, as I believe other Members do. I have considerable regard for those who have the difficult task of occupying it and conducting the business of the House. However, while I have respect for the Chair and its occupants, I do not believe that they are infallible. From time to time, we perform a service to the House and the country when we subject certain rulings to serious debate and scrutiny.

That is precisely what we are doing. Through our actions this afternoon, we have done a considerable service to the House. I refuse to be buried by a load of humbug —the suggestion that Members never have the right to question the Chair about any matter. The people making that accusation know jolly well that it is over 20 years since, on another matter of vast importance, such a motion was moved. Therefore, let us dispense with that argument straight away.

Happily, I do not have to go over the background, as that has inevitably been done by previous speakers. I shall turn to what is almost the crux of the matter. Amendment No. 27 was moved from the Front Bench. My right hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham), who moved the group of amendments, immediately made it plain that, although the lead amendment was amendment No. 7, he was not interested in that one, would not be talking to it and would withdraw it. He emphasised that the debate was about amendment No. 27. It was not only my right hon. Friend who asserted that: the rest of the Committee concurred, because it knew that amendment No. 27 was the most important amendment in the group. The Committee then debated it as such.

We know that the Government were horrified at the prospect of the amendment. The Minister of State said that it would wreck the Bill and the treaty as soon as he heard of my right hon. Friend's intention to insist on pressing the amendment to a vote. We then had the extraordinary incident of the Foreign Secretary coming to the House to repudiate on the advice of the Law Officers what the Minister of State had said. He said that the Minister had got it wrong and amendment No. 27 would have no effect on the treaty's ratification and the conclusion of the Bill. We took that advice with the scepticism that such contradictory advice deserved.

The Chairman of the Committee was not particularly impressed, either. In a statement on 22 February, he said that he was minded to take another debate on the important matter before he allowed a vote on amendment No. 27. The clear implication was that we should vote on the matter, and the Chairman had not been swayed by what the Attorney-General or the Minister of State had said in earlier debates.

We now come to the heart of the matter. What happened? Why did the Chairman of Ways and Means change his mind after serious consideration? He first announced that he would select, not amendment No. 27, but different amendments, particularly new clause 75. He told us that first, I think, on 30 March. He then met a number of anxious hon. Members who thought that that would be a great mistake, and he reconsidered the issue and came forward on Thursday 15 April with further confirmation of his intention to select new clause 75 and not allow a vote on amendment No. 27.

The Chairman's restatement led to considerable concern in the Committee and, after a long period of questions to the Chairman of Ways and Means, there was a debate in which the matters were thrashed out yet again. We came to the last stage of this when, on Monday, the Chairman reaffirmed his decision not to call amendment No. 27.

As the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover said, the Chairman has helped the Committee by making statements on the reasons for his decisions. He opened proceedings on 19 April with a statement to the Committee about the context in which my decision not to allow a separate Division to amendment No. 27 was taken. He said that the context included a number of factors such as the extent of the Committee's debate the clarity and effect of an amendment, and its impact on the Bill."—[Official Report, 19 April 1993; Vol. 223, c. 39.] The Chairman gave an interview, not just on Scottish television, but on BBC2 on Tuesday 13 April, the full text of which a number of hon. Members have seen, and a copy of which I have with me today. The Chairman was specifically asked about his selection of new clause 75 in place of amendment No. 27—indeed, why else would he appear on the programme? The Chairman was reported to have said: You have got to go back to the fact that there was a significant Second Reading for the Bill. Therefore, the House had already said, as it moved into Committee, that it wanted the Bill to go through, that it would accept amendments on the workings of the Bill, like the one we have got on the Committee of the Regions, but you cannot wreck the Bill. Clearly, the Chairman considered that amendment No. 27 is or was a wrecking amendment. He made clear his views on new clause 75, the alternative choice, when he said: What it really says"— new clause 75— is that, yes, the Bill can go through, but the House shall have to have a vote after the Royal Assent on whether or not it wants the social chapter. There is a world of difference between amendments with such different effects. Despite what the Attorney-General said, amendment No. 27 would wreck the Bill and bring it to a halt. We know perfectly well that new clause 75, backed up by new clause 74, would have no such effect, and the Bill would receive Royal Assent.

The issue lies at the heart of the matter. It makes plain the enormous difference between the effects of amendment No. 27 and new clauses 75 and 74. Not surprisingly, the Government have said that they would have no difficulty in accepting new clause 75. They have no difficulty with that new clause, because they know that it will not stop the Bill and ratification of the treaty. The new clause is sufficiently vague not to lead to a satisfactory conclusion.

Mr. Geoffrey Hoon (Ashfield)

I refer my right hon. Friend to the words of new clause 74, which states that the Bill cannot come into force before there is a debate on the social chapter. Therefore, it follows that the Government could not ratify the treaty before that debate has taken place.

Mr. Shore

We shall see what the Government have to say and whether they would find any difficulty with it when we reach that stage. As we well know, as the vote on the social chapter is to be taken after Royal Assent, it will have an entirely different effect from a vote on amendment No. 27, which would prevent the Bill from receiving Royal Assent. There is a major difference between the two.

I do not understand why it is said that, because amendment No. 27 stops or wrecks the Bill, it cannot be voted on because the House has given the Bill a Second Reading. Surely, if it were considered a wrecking amendment, it should never have been called in the first place—indeed, it would not have been called in the first place. The Chairman allowed it to appear among the selected amendments because he did not consider it to be a wrecking amendment. If it was a wrecking amendment, it should have been disqualified from the start, but it was not.

Secondly, and even more puzzlingly, the Chair has already allowed a number of amendments—after they have been properly selected and debated—to be put to the vote. We had votes on amendment No. 79, which sought to remove the clause and the protocol relating to excessive deficits. It was selected, we debated it and then voted on it. No one could deny that the effect of my amendment No. 79 would be to wreck the Bill—it would have virtually torn the heart out of economic and monetary union.

The same was true, not only of my other amendment No. 81, which was similarly voted on and rejected, but of a number of other amendments which would have wrecked the Bill, and which were moved, debated and voted on. They would have prevented the treaty from being ratified.

Mr. George Robertson

Perhaps I can stop my right hon. Friend going down this route. Earlier, my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett) made it clear that we are arguing, certainly from the Front Bench, that the Chairman of Ways and Means has already said that amendment No. 27 has integrity and does not fail the test.

I know that my right hon. Friend does not have the pleasure and privilege of living in Scotland, but if he had, he would have seen BBC Scotland's admirable "Scottish Lobby" programme at 12 o'clock on Sunday, on which the Chairman of Ways and Means was interviewed again. He said that, had subsequent amendments not been tabled, he supposed that there might well have been a vote on amendment No. 27.

Therefore, my right hon. Friend's argument on the basis of the first interview does not stand, because the Chairman has told the wider world, certainly Scotland, that amendment No. 27 has integrity. That is the argument that we shall be using on Report to convince you, Madam Speaker, that you should select it.

Mr. Shore

My hon. Friend is confusing the House, and not for the first time. He is contradicting the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett) who spoke earlier and his right hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham), the shadow Foreign Secretary, both of whom have made it plain that there is a world of difference between amendment No. 27 and new clauses 74 and 75, and that they will continue to plead, argue and persuade that there should be a vote on it.

If there is a vote on it, that will not please my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson), as it will have the effect, at least for a time, of bringing the treaty and its procedures to a stop. That is a matter on which we fundamentally disagree. That brings me to my last point, which is why I think that this is such an important matter.

Mr. Spearing

My right hon. Friend is making an important point about whether or not the Chair can select, let alone put to the vote, a matter which he regards as a wrecking amendment. Surely the whole problem is the difference between wrecking the Bill, which I do not think my right hon. Friend's amendment would do, and wrecking the treaty, which might well happen if the Bill becomes an Act. We are in a double-decked situation.

Mr. Shore

It would have the effect of wrecking the treaty, and that is the important objective that I, personally, wish to achieve, without any doubt, concealment or apology.

I now come to the final significance of amendment No. 27. Uniquely, it combines two features. First, it is the only amendment moved by the Opposition and properly debated which has been denied a vote. Even people such as myself, now a humble Back Bencher, have had amendments debated and voted upon in the middle of the night. My amendments were far more damaging than anything that was moved by the Front Bench.

Secondly, it is the only amendment on which we and the Government know that they are likely to be defeated. It is the only amendment of serious substance, because there has been so much general tacit agreement among the three major parties and their leadership that the House will not be able to make such a challenge to the Bill and the treaty on any other issue. That unique combination makes amendment No. 27 essential to the good reputation of the House and its continued esteem among our fellow citizens.

6.33 pm
Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

I am sorry that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House introduced the Government's response to the debate in the way that he did. He implied that anyone who was concerned about this issue was critical of my hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and Means.

My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, South (Mr. Morris) and I have the privilege of sharing parliamentary responsibility for Northampton. Before he was elevated to his present, highly responsible position, I thought that he was a mere mortal and a human being. Since he has taken on responsibility for the most difficult parliamentary procedure since I have been a Member of Parliament, he has behaved in a most superhuman way. I am not given to ladling on the syrup. The Chairman of Ways and Means has performed magnificently and I am delighted and overwhelmed that a Member for Northampton has responsibility for this Bill dealing with such an important measure. But—[Interruption.] It is the old political trick of ascribing to people with whom one disagrees motives that they do not have. We are not critical of the Chairman of Ways and Means; we admire him and the way in which he has carried out his duties and responsibilities. He has been highly responsive, articulate and effective.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House says that if we want to say anything about the motion we are attacking the Chair. We are not. We are saying something about the motion because we want a vote on amendment No. 27.

As the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) said when he introduced the debate, where is the court of appeal? The Chairman of Ways and Means has made a decision and some of us disagree. We think that it is an important decision on an important issue. In this House of Commons, are we not able to express our concern and our desire to do something else?

My hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and Means has performed magnificently. At some stage in future we may have a Chairman of Ways and Means who does not do so, who is culpable and makes mistakes. Is my right hon. Friend saying that in those circumstances the House must roll on its back and enjoy it and do nothing about it? Is that what democracy is about? Is that what my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House wants the House to do —not to have a view or a voice on the most important issue that has come before this House, this Parliament and this people in the past 25 years?

I refer to page 405 of "Erskine May". The Chair is not required to give reasons and we all understand—[Interruption.] Most of us understand why. I respect the speech by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), but I disagree with him on that point.

"Erskine May" states: Selection is made by the Chair and one of the things that is taken into account is the prevention of "repetition and overlapping". It may well be that repetition and overlapping were considered when the Chairman was looking at new clauses 74 and 75 and amendment No. 27. But they do not overlap; they are different in detail. Amendment No. 27 has financial implications; new clauses 74 and 75 are wholly different and the House knows that. They are different in detail and, by golly, they are different in their impact. The House should be able to vote on both.

The point has been made that we have to protect minorities. It is common ground that a majority in the House want a vote on amendment No. 27. If a minority wants a vote on an important issue, they should have one, but if a majority of the House wants it, should not the majority of the House have a vote on an important issue?

My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) brought out the tired old cliche about the Second Reading of the Bill. The Second Reading was nearly a year ago. The world has changed and I am sorry that my hon. Friend has not changed in that long period of time. If a week is a long time in politics, a year is a generation.

Everyone would agree that the treaty of European union is a massive issue. It is irreversible. Once passed, powers will pass from this House to other institutions. Rightly, our constituents are greatly concerned about that. As the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) said, amendment No. 27 carries with it massive implications. Our constituents feel that it could make a difference. On this great issue people's perceptions are vital. In this case, as we continue our debates, their perception is that the House is entitled to a vote on such a major issue. If we do not have one, orders will come from European institutions in years to come without the House having been able to vote—

Mr. Milligan


Mr. Marlow

I am coming to a conclusion—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hurrah!"] What a chance to get my second wind.

The perception of our constituents is that the House must have a vote, if possible, on such an important issue.

"Erskine May" refers to the 1966–67 appendices to the minutes of evidence to the Select Committee on Procedure by the then Speaker on the Report stage of public Bills. It states that the Report stage is not unimportant. The Bill as it emerges from Committee is often a much modified Bill"— this one has been modified— the Opposition"— I presume, in a wider sense— may now have a new attitude to parts of it … The deliberations of the Committee, even those which have not resulted in amendments to the Bill, have often been of considerable effect on the thinking of both sides. This reveals itself at the Report stage. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash), who spoke of important issues, carefully debated in Committee, but still containing vital matters worthy of a last look. Hence they should be selected for debate on Report. I hope, Madam Speaker, that we will be able to look at this subject again then.

6.42 pm
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

I should like to speak quietly for a moment or two to the Leader of the House and to hark back to what he said at the beginning of his speech. He used the word—I do not think I misquote him —"unpalatable". According to him, what has happened is either palatable or unpalatable, depending on whether a Member is pro or anti-European. That was the gist of what he said.

A number of us feel rather differently. Wrongly, in the view of many of my colleagues, I have from time to time voted on closures and other matters with the Government. I am a Euro-fanatic, if that is the right word, but last Thursday, although I sat here as quiet as a church mouse, I felt increasingly uncomfortable when my hon. Friends were making their points of order. It seems very odd, even to those of us who hold passionately pro-European views, that a vote should be denied us on a matter, whether one likes it or not, of enormous substance. I ask the House's forgiveness if this is not an exact analogy, but it felt rather like being a forward in a football match who knows that he was yards offside but the goal was allowed. There seemed something not quite right about the decision.

I said nothing at the time, but I was greatly influenced by the comments I heard in my constituency over the weekend. I do not suggest for a moment that all our constituents understand the finer points of "Erskine May", but somehow the fact had percolated through that the House of Commons was not acting quite properly—that there was something unfair going on. In schoolboy slang, there was a general feeling that there had been a bit of a swizz.

A deeper question was also being asked. It was voiced, too, by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), who received a great deal of agreement from the country, last Thursday. It was to the effect that we should ask what the House of Commons is for. The hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) made the same point extremely eloquently. Constituents ask what the House of Commons is for if it cannot make up its mind on the question of the social chapter. They ask whether we can think of a way of bringing the matter to a decision.

Mr. Milligan

The hon. Gentleman says that amendment No. 27 covers an issue of enormous importance. Can he explain why new clauses 74 and 75 do not cover that same issue, and why what the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) has described as a ticking timebomb appears to have become a ticking mouse?

Mr. Dalyell

My hon. Friend must answer for himself on ticking timebombs. I am extraordinarily cautious about my use of language, but it is not arguable that there is no difference between new clauses 74 and 75 and amendment No. 27. If there is no difference, all we can say is that a great many serious Members of Parliament believe that there is one.

Perhaps all these are the troubles that arise when Ministers want to have Maastricht a la carte. Once they start chopping and changing, they cannot be surprised when they find themselves in such difficulties. The House should be in no doubt that a great many of our constituents understand a vast amount more than some hon. Members this afternoon have given them credit for. They have the gut feeling that there has not been fair play. That is why I hope that there will be some change of attitude towards this subject.

6.46 pm
Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) has touched on one of the fundamentals of our debate today. We are talking about the functions of the chairmanship of Standing Committees and of Committees of the whole House, and in particular we are discussing discretion.

Madam Speaker has been telling us that the debate is about the discretion of the Chair. The hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) has let his views be known, allbeit rather loudly; the views expressed by his colleague, the hon. Member for Northampton, South (Mr. Morris), have been delivered with characteristic courtesy and patience throughout this difficult Committee stage.

It has not been denied even by the Chairman of the Procedure Committee that if confidence in the Chair is to be sustained, and if our procedures are to inspire confidence in the country, there must be an opportunity for debates of this sort when an important matter about which there are strong feelings arises. I therefore reject the accusations by the right hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King), who said a couple of days ago, as did the Chairman of the Procedure Committee, that there was something improper about holding such a debate. I suggest that, because of the issues involved, this debate is quite proper.

The essence of parliamentary debate is the opportunity it affords to ventilate an issue. That is what we are doing now. It is what the Standing Orders allow for. We also, however, operate on the basis of a Question. When a motion is proposed, having been selected by the Chair, we have a debate. There is evidence today that the debate under discussion, in which amendment No. 27 was the main feature, exercised the House, and there were strong reasons why there should have been a vote. My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow has pointed out that the public expect, as is their right, that if a matter of great importance is debated, it should be brought to a conclusion by a decision.

The Chair has a problem because of the link between the Bill and the treaty. In certain respects something that wrecks a Bill may not be selectable or, if it is, it may not be put to the vote. That is for the discretion of the Chair. We are concerned not with the Bill but with the treaty. We have to decide whether the House will provide the Government with sufficient power to ratify the treaty. Therefore, something which may be within the compass of the Bill, because it restricts what can be done, may wreck the treaty. That is a matter for the House and it is not a question on which the Chair should exercise discretion, as would happen in a Standing Committee. In Standing Committees we deal with domestic legislation, which is reversible, and which may be changed by a different Government.

Some people want the European Communities (Amendment) Bill to be irreversible in regard to citizenship of the United Kingdom, a matter of momentous importance. Therefore, democracy and the procedure of the House must be seen to work. It is the same with justice which must not only be done but must be seen to be done. The confidence of the population in our procedures must be maintained; we must demonstrate that our procedure is above board.

Mr. Salmond

The hon. Gentleman's views are held sincerely. When new clauses 74 and 75 came into play, the Chairman of Ways and Means had to make a choice. While we may not agree with the choice, nevertheless it was his choice. We can hardly blame him for making his choice, nor can the hon. Gentleman, given that new clauses 74 and 75 were tabled by members of his party.

Mr. Spearing

Let us go through it carefully. The Chairman had a choice. As matters developed, I suppose we can say that the range of that choice varied. I do not think that any of us would have liked to have been in that position. The point is that when the choice was made, it was exclusive and not inclusive. Something which was reckoned to be a strong possibility—I put it no higher—was excluded. People were disappointed. I will not use the word, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), but some people, very distinguished people, reflected a view and said that they were cheated. If people feel like that because a discretionary choice involved exclusion rather than inclusion, we must question the use of that discretion.

I expect it has happened to other people too, but I was moved out of the Chair on one occasion, about 30 years ago. I hasten to add that it was not in respect of any function in the House. The feeling about it was strong and was of great personal concern to me at the time. The incident arose from a ruling which I made when in the chair at a meeting of a voluntary organisation. There was no question of a motion of mild comment or even criticism, which would cover the motion before the House. I was moved out of the chair forthwith because my friends disagreed with a vital ruling which I had made. The matter was resolved, but when I spoke to them afterwards I began to see their point of view. I realised that they had every right to propose a motion to remove me from the chair.

I would not agree with it happening here perhaps more than once every 20 years. It should not be done without good reason. Having been Chairman of a Select Committee for nine years, I know the problems. There must be an opportunity for people to ventilate their concern. We are doing so now in a proper, democratic way. If we could not do so, the power of discretion which we put in the charge of any Chair could become wider and other Chairmen might hot know that at any time their decisions were under scrutiny. If decisions were not under scrutiny, the power of the Chair would not be exercised with proper caution. Indeed, after a time the power of the Chair would be diminished.

The Chair is a servant of the House. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) mentioned Speaker Lenthall. The Chair is a servant of the corporate Committee or of the House, to do what the House wishes. The House wishes its procedures to be beyond reproach so that hon. Members who wish to vote on a motion, having debated it, may do so. Anything which stops that happening raises a question and will be viewed, in the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow, as a bit of a swizz. That might be an understatement in respect of the possible consequences of amendment No. 27.

You have listened to most of the debate, Madam Speaker. Report stage is there for a purpose: the Speaker can take an overall view of all the circumstances and is not bound by some of the precedents which are properly adhered to by the Chair of Committees. Whatever we decide now, there will be a Report stage. A matter of major controversy was selected for debate, and was debated. I ask you, Madam Speaker, in your capacity as a servant of the House and, through that, as a servant of the people whom we represent and who expect us not only to debate but to reach a decision, to bear in mind in your judgment all the matters raised in the debate.

Mr. Timothy Wood (Lords Commissioner to the Treasury)

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 337, Noes 86.

Division No. 242] [6.58 pm
Adley, Robert Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Aspinwall, Jack
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E)
Aitken, Jonathan Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Alexander, Richard Baker, Rt Hon K.(Mole Valley)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North)
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Baldry, Tony
Alton, David Banks, Matthew (Southport)
Amess, David Banks, Robert (Harrogate)
Ancram, Michael Bates, Michael
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Batiste, Spencer
Arbuthnot, James Bayley, Hugh
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Beith, Rt Hon A. J.
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Bellingham, Henry
Ashby, David Beresford, Sir Paul
Blackburn, Dr John G. French, Douglas
Booth, Hartley Fry, Peter
Boswell, Tim Gale, Roger
Bowden, Andrew Gallie, Phil
Bowis, John Gardiner, Sir George
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan
Brandreth, Gyles Garnier, Edward
Brazier, Julian Garrett, John
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Gillan, Cheryl
Brown, M.(Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Browning, Mrs. Angela Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Gorst, John
Burns, Simon Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW)
Burt, Alistair Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Butler, Peter Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Grylls, Sir Michael
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry) Hague, William
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom)
Carrington, Matthew Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Cash, William Hampson, Dr Keith
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hannam, Sir John
Chapman, Sydney Hargreaves, Andrew
Churchill, Mr Harris, David
Clappison, James Haselhurst, Alan
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hawkins, Nick
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif) Hawksley, Warren
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Hayes, Jerry
Coe, Sebastian Heald, Oliver
Colvin, Michael Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward
Congdon, David Heathcoat-Amory, David
Conway, Derek Hendry, Charles
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hicks, Robert
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.
Cormack, Patrick Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Couchman, James Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Horam, John
Dafis, Cynog Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral) Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Day, Stephen Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Deva, Nirj Joseph Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Devlin, Tim Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Dicks, Terry Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Dorrell, Stephen Hunter, Andrew
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Dover, Den Ingram, Adam
Duncan, Alan Jack, Michael
Duncan-Smith, Iain Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Dunn, Bob Jenkin, Bernard
Durant, Sir Anthony Jessel, Toby
Dykes, Hugh Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Eggar, Tim Johnston, Sir Russell
Elletson, Harold Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)
Enright, Derek Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield) Jones, Robert B.(W Hertfdshr)
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Kennedy, Charles (Ross, C&S)
Evennett, David Key, Robert
Faber, David Kilfedder, Sir James
Fabricant, Michael King, Rt Hon Tom
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Kirkhope, Timothy
Fenner, Dame Peggy Kirkwood, Archy
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Fishburn, Dudley Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Forman, Nigel Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Knox, David
Forth, Eric Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Foster, Don (Bath) Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Foulkes, George Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) Lawrence, Sir Ivan
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley) Leigh, Edward
Freeman, Roger Lennox-Boyd, Mark
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Lidington, David Sackville, Tom
Lightbown, David Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Shaw, David (Dover)
Llwyd, Elfyn Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Luff, Peter Sheerman, Barry
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Lynne, Ms Liz Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Shersby, Michael
Maclean, David Sims, Roger
Maclennan, Robert Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
McLoughlin, Patrick Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Soames, Nicholas
Madel, David Speed, Sir Keith
Maitland, Lady Olga Spencer, Sir Derek
Major, Rt Hon John Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Malone, Gerald Spink, Dr Robert
Mans, Keith Spring, Richard
Marland, Paul Sproat, Iain
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Martin, Michael J.(Springburn) Steen, Anthony
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Stephen, Michael
Maxton, John Stern, Michael
Mellor, Rt Hon David Stewart, Allan
Merchant, Piers Streeter, Gary
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute) Sumberg, David
Milligan, Stephen Sykes, John
Mills, Iain Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Taylor, John M.(Solihull)
Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Moate, Sir Roger Temple-Morris, Peter
Monro, Sir Hector Thomason, Roy
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Moonie, Dr Lewis Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Moss, Malcolm Thurnham, Peter
Needham, Richard Townend, John (Bridlington)
Nelson, Anthony Townsend, Cyril D.(Bexl'yh'th)
Neubert, Sir Michael Tracey, Richard
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Tredinnick, David
Nicholls, Patrick Trend, Michael
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Trotter, Neville
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Twinn, Dr Ian
Norris, Steve Tyler, Paul
O'Neill, Martin Viggers, Peter
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Oppenheim, Phillip Walden, George
Ottaway, Richard Wallace, James
Page, Richard Waller, Gary
Paice, James Ward, John
Patnick, Irvine Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Patten, Rt Hon John Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Waterson, Nigel
Pawsey, James Watts, John
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Wells, Bowen
Pickles, Eric Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Whitney, Ray
Porter, David (Waveney) Whittingdale, John
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Widdecombe, Ann
Powell, William (Corby) Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Rathbone, Tim Wigley, Dafydd
Redwood, John Willetts, David
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Wilshire, David
Richards, Rod Wilson, Brian
Riddick, Graham Wolfson, Mark
Robathan, Andrew Wood, Timothy
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn Yeo, Tim
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Robinson, Mark (Somerton) Tellers for the Ayes:
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne) Mr. Andrew Mackay and
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent) Mr. Robert G. Hughes.
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Adams, Mrs Irene Austin-Walker, John
Ainger, Nick Barnes, Harry
Beggs, Roy Leighton, Ron
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Lewis, Terry
Bennett, Andrew F. Litherland, Robert
Berry, Dr. Roger Livingstone, Ken
Boyce, Jimmy Loyden, Eddie
Burden, Richard McAllion, John
Callaghan, Jim McAvoy, Thomas
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) McKelvey, William
Canavan, Dennis Mahon, Alice
Cann, Jamie Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Chisholm, Malcolm Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Clapham, Michael Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Cohen, Harry Mullin, Chris
Connarty, Michael O'Hara, Edward
Corbyn, Jeremy Olner, William
Corston, Ms Jean Parry, Robert
Cummings, John Pickthall, Colin
Cunliffe, Lawrence Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Dalyell, Tam Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Redmond, Martin
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l) Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Donohoe, Brian H. Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Dowd, Jim Rowlands, Ted
Eagle, Ms Angela Simpson, Alan
Eastham, Ken Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Etherington, Bill Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Evans, John (St Helens N) Snape, Peter
Flynn, Paul Taylor, Rt Hon John D.(Strgfd)
Fraser, John Tipping, Paddy
Galloway, George Trimble, David
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Hain, Peter Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Hanson, David Winnick, David
Heppell, John Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Hood, Jimmy Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Wise, Audrey
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Wright, Dr Tony
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)
Jowell, Tessa Tellers for the Noes:
Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn) Mr. Bob Cryer and
Khabra, Piara S. Mr. Dennis Skinner.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly:—

The House divided: Ayes 81, Noes 450.

Division No. 243] [7.10 pm
Adams, Mrs Irene Flynn, Paul
Ainger, Nick Galloway, George
Austin-Walker, John Gerrard, Neil
Barnes, Harry Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Barron, Kevin Hain, Peter
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Hanson, David
Bennett, Andrew F. Heppell, John
Berry, Dr. Roger Hood, Jimmy
Boyce, Jimmy Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Burden, Richard Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Callaghan, Jim Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)
Canavan, Dennis Jowell, Tessa
Cann, Jamie Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)
Chisholm, Malcolm Khabra, Piara S.
Clapham, Michael Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Lewis, Terry
Clelland, David Litherland, Robert
Cohen, Harry Livingstone, Ken
Connarty, Michael Loyden, Eddie
Corston, Ms Jean McAllion, John
Cummings, John McKelvey, William
Cunliffe, Lawrence Madden, Max
Dalyell, Tam Mahon, Alice
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l) Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Donohoe, Brian H. Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Eagle, Ms Angela Mullin, Chris
Etherington, Bill Olner, William
Parry, Robert Soley, Clive
Pickthall, Colin Spearing, Nigel
Pope, Greg Steinberg, Gerry
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E) Taylor, Rt Hon John D.(Strgfd)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Tipping, Paddy
Purchase, Ken Wareing, Robert N
Redmond, Martin Winnick, David
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E) Wise, Audrey
Rowlands, Ted Wright, Dr Tony
Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Simpson, Alan Tellers for the Ayes:
Skinner, Dennis Mr. Bob Cryer and
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Mr. Jeremy Corbyn.
Snape, Peter
Adley, Robert Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Aitken, Jonathan Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)
Alexander, Richard Carlisle, John (Luton North)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Carrington, Matthew
Allen, Graham Carttiss, Michael
Alton, David Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Amess, David Churchill, Mr
Ancram, Michael Clappison, James
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Clark, Dr David (South Shields)
Arbuthnot, James Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Armstrong, Hilary Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Ashby, David Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Coe, Sebastian
Aspinwall, Jack Coffey, Ann
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Colvin, Michael
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Congdon, David
Baker, Rt Hon K.(Mole Valley) Conway, Derek
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)
Baldry, Tony Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Cormack, Patrick
Bates, Michael Couchman, James
Batiste, Spencer Cousins, Jim
Battle, John Cran, James
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Beggs, Roy Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Beith, Rt Hon A. J. Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Bell, Stuart Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Bellingham, Henry Darling, Alistair
Benton, Joe Davidson, Ian
Beresford, Sir Paul Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Bermingham, Gerald Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Blackburn, Dr John G. Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Blair, Tony Davis, David (Boothferry)
Blunkett, David Day, Stephen
Boateng, Paul Deva, Nirj Joseph
Booth, Hartley Devlin, Tim
Boswell, Tim Dewar, Donald
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Dicks, Terry
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Dixon, Don
Bowden, Andrew Dobson, Frank
Bowis, John Dorrell, Stephen
Boyes, Roland Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Dover, Den
Bradley, Keith Duncan, Alan
Brandreth, Gyles Duncan-Smith, Iain
Brazier, Julian Dunn, Bob
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Durant, Sir Anthony
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Dykes, Hugh
Brown, M.(Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Eggar, Tim
Brown, N.(N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Elletson, Harold
Browning, Mrs. Angela Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Enright, Derek
Budgen, Nicholas Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Burns, Simon Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Burt, Alistair Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Butler, Peter Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Byers, Stephen Evennett, David
Caborn, Richard Faber, David
Fabricant, Michael Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Hoyle, Doug
Fatchett, Derek Hughes Robert G.(Harrow W)
Fenner, Dame Peggy Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Fishburn, Dudley Hunter, Andrew
Fisher, Mark Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Forman, Nigel Hutton, John
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Illsley, Eric
Forth, Eric Ingram, Adam
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Jack, Michael
Foster, Don (Bath) Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Foulkes, George Jenkin, Bernard
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Jessel, Toby
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley) Johnston, Sir Russell
Fraser, John Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)
Freeman, Roger Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
French, Douglas Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Fry, Peter Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Fyfe, Maria Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Galbraith, Sam Jones, Robert B.(W Hertfdshr)
Gale, Roger Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Gallie, Phil Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Gapes, Mike Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Gardiner, Sir George Kennedy, Charles (Ross, C&S)
Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan Key, Robert
Garnier, Edward Kilfedder, Sir James
Garrett, John King, Rt Hon Tom
George, Bruce Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)
Gillan, Cheryl Kirkhope, Timothy
Golding, Mrs Llin Kirkwood, Archy
Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Gorst, John Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)
Graham, Thomas Knox, David
Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW) Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) Lawrence, Sir Ivan
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Legg, Barry
Grylls, Sir Michael Leigh, Edward
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Lennox-Boyd, Mark
Gunnell, John Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Hague, William Lidington, David
Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom) Lightbown, David
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Hampson, Dr Keith Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Hannam, Sir John Lord, Michael
Hardy, Peter Luff, Peter
Hargreaves, Andrew Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Harman, Ms Harriet Lynne, Ms Liz
Harris, David McAvoy, Thomas
Harvey, Nick Macdonald, Calum
Haselhurst, Alan McFall, John
Hawkins, Nick MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Hawksley, Warren Mackinlay, Andrew
Hayes, Jerry Maclean, David
Heald, Oliver McLeish, Henry
Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward Maclennan, Robert
Heathcoat-Amory, David McLoughlin, Patrick
Henderson, Doug McMaster, Gordon
Hendry, Charles McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael McNamara, Kevin
Hicks, Robert McWilliam, John
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L. Madel, David
Hill, James (Southampton Test) Maitland, Lady Olga
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Major, Rt Hon John
Hinchliffe, David Malone, Gerald
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham) Mans, Keith
Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld) Marland, Paul
Hoon, Geoffrey Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Horam, John Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A) Martin, Michael J.(Springburn)
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dtord) Martlew, Eric
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Maxton, John Shaw, David (Dover)
Meacher, Michael Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Meale, Alan Sheerman, Barry
Mellor, Rt Hon David Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Merchant, Piers Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Michael, Alun Shersby, Michael
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute) Sims, Roger
Milburn, Alan Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Miller, Andrew Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Milligan, Stephen Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Mills, Iain Smith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW) Soames, Nicholas
Moate, Sir Roger Speed, Sir Keith
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Spellar, John
Monro, Sir Hector Spencer, Sir Derek
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Moonie, Dr Lewis Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Morgan, Rhodri Spink, Dr Robert
Morris, Rt Hon J.(Aberavon) Spring, Richard
Moss, Malcolm Sproat, Iain
Mowlam, Marjorie Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Mudie, George Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Murphy, Paul Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Needham, Richard Steen, Anthony
Nelson, Anthony Stephen, Michael
Neubert, Sir Michael Stern, Michael
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Stevenson, George
Nicholls, Patrick Stewart, Allan
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Stott, Roger
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Strang, Dr. Gavin
Norris, Steve Straw, Jack
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Streeter, Gary
O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire) Sumberg, David
O'Brien, William (Normanton) Sweeney, Walter
O'Hara, Edward Sykes, John
O'Neill, Martin Tapsell, Sir Peter
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Oppenheim, Phillip Taylor, John M.(Solihull)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Ottaway, Richard Temple-Morris, Peter
Page, Richard Thomason, Roy
Paice, James Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Patnick, Irvine Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Patten, Rt Hon John Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Thurnham, Peter
Pawsey, James Townend, John (Bridlington)
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Townsend, Cyril D.(Bexl'yh'th)
Pendry, Tom Tracey, Richard
Pickles, Eric Tredinnick, David
Pike, Peter L. Trend, Michael
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Trotter, Neville
Porter, David (Waveney) Turner, Dennis
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Twinn, Dr Ian
Powell, William (Corby) Tyler, Paul
Quin, Ms Joyce Vaz, Keith
Radice, Giles Viggers, Peter
Rathbone, Tim Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Redwood, John Walden, George
Reid, Dr John Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Wallace, James
Richards, Rod Waller, Gary
Riddick, Graham Walley, Joan
Robathan, Andrew Ward, John
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Robertson, George (Hamilton) Waterson, Nigel
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S) Watts, John
Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW) Wells, Bowen
Robinson, Mark (Somerton) Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne) Whitney, Ray
Rogers, Allan Whittingdale, John
Rooker, Jeff Widdecombe, Ann
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent) Willetts, David
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela Wilshire, David
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard Wilson, Brian
Sackville, Tom Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim Wolfson, Mark
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Wood, Timothy
Sedgemore, Brian Worthington, Tony
Yeo, Tim Tellers for the Noes:
Young, Sir George (Acton) Mr. Sydney Chapman and Mr. Andrew MacKay.

Question accordingly negatived.