HC Deb 06 July 1993 vol 228 cc188-265



3.44 pm
Mrs. Margaret Ewing (Moray)

I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 10, leave out '71' and insert '70'.

The Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Michael Morris)

With this it will be convenient also to discuss the following amendments: No. 2, in page 1, line 10, after '"71"' insert— '(ba) in paragraph (b) (Scotland) for "8" there shall be substituted "9".'. No. 9, in page 1, line 10, at end insert— '(bb) in paragraph (b) (Scotland) for "8" there shall be substituted "9"; and '. No. 3, in page 1, line 16, leave out '"71"' and insert '"70".'.

No. 4, in page 1, line 16, after '"71"' insert— '(ba) in paragraph (b) (Scotland) for "8" there shall be substituted "9".'. No. 12, in page 1, line 16, at end insert— '(bb) in paragraph (b) (Scotland) for "8" there shall be substituted "9".'. No. 5, in clause 2, page 1, line 20, after 'England', insert 'Scotland'.

No. 6, in clause 2, page 2, line 1, after 'England' insert 'Scotland'.

Mrs. Ewing

It is strange that my amendment should be the lead amendment in this group. I am grateful to the members of other parties who have associated themselves with my amendment. I had thought that I might speak from the Opposition Dispatch Box, but Labour Members might not have found my company especially agreeable. From time to time we do not find each other's company agreeable, but today we are agreed on the serious principle of Scotland's representation within the European Community.

Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North)

In the spirit adopted by the hon. Lady, we congratulate her on doing such a fine job of hijacking the Opposition's amendment by tabling her amendment before we managed to table ours.

Mrs. Ewing

The hon. Gentleman should congratulate my research officer, who did a great deal of work on the issue, although I recognise that other hon. Members have been working along the same lines. Within the procedures of the House, the way the cookie crumbles very much dictates who has the key amendment.

We are having difficulties with the allocation of the additional seats in the European Parliament. The principle of increased membership was agreed at the Edinburgh summit last December, yet it is not until the hot, sticky days of July that we are considering the implications and knock-on effects of that decision.

There were earlier opportunities to consider the matter and to have discussions between the various parties in the House. Instead, we are considering the issue in an air of panic, because the Government have introduced the Bill without giving the House a full opportunity to explore all its aspects.

The Government should not always base their arguments on the niceties of numbers. Last week, we all received from the Home Secretary various details about the number of and comparisons between the seats in Scotland, Wales and England. Northern Ireland is exempt, because it has proportional representation.

The niceties of numbers are not in the spirit of the Community. The Home Secretary's comments during our debate last Wednesday—in particular, those reported in column 984 of Hansard—show that he was using a British state argument rather than looking at the Community as a whole. If we are to enter into the spirit of the Community, any additional representation should not be seen as just a numerical gain: it should properly reflect the various peoples of the Community.

Those on the Treasury Bench suffer from the delusion that Britain is a nation. It is not; it is a state that combines three natural nation communities—Scotland, England and Wales. Underpinning the philosophy of the European Community is the idea that the smaller nations should not be penalised because of size, and that they should be recognised as equal partners. My contention today is that Scotland should be recognised as an equal partner, and that it should have additional seats.

I have long pursued that argument with various Government representatives. I wrote to the Foreign Secretary on 14 January, subsequent to the Edinburgh summit, asking how decisions would be made on the allocation of the six additional seats. He responded: We are now looking at how to allocate the six new seats as between the different parts of the United Kingdom. This distribution will eventually have to be enacted in legislation. The Scots, but also others, will be watching carefully to see that this is fairly done. We are seeking a very careful distribution of these seats.

I go back to the idea that there should be equality within the communities. I have brought with me a copy of the autobiography of Garret Fitzgerald, who was, at the time of the original direct elections to the European Parliament, the Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland. He talks in this book, "All in a Life", about Ireland's role within the European Community and the negotiations on the initial allocation of seats for direct election to the European Parliament.

I want to read this paragraph into the record of the House of Commons, because I believe that we should all be aware of the arguments that were used by the then Government. I do not think that it will be enough for the Minister to respond by saying that it was then a Labour Government. The principles that underpin these comments should be looked at: Callaghan and Crosland came to us to say that they were going to propose 82 seats for the larger countries, which would enable them to give an extra seat to Northern Ireland as well as an extra seat to Scotland and Wales, bringing these to 10 and five seats respectively. We told them we would go along with this. In the end, at Giscard d'Estaing's urging in a top-of-the-table huddle, Callaghan said he would settle for 81 seats by dropping an extra seat claimed for England. So it was agreed, but in the event, interestingly enough, Scotland and Wales never got their extra seats. Although the need to make greater provision for Scotland and Wales had been the basis of the British argument for more seats, it was to England that the additional seats were allocated. Scotland's proposed 10 was reduced to eight and Wales's five became four, whilst England got 66 instead of the 63 implicit in what Callaghan and Crosland had said to us. That is the record of the initial arguments about the allocation of directly elected seats to the European Parliament. I could argue, of course, that Scotland, being comparable to Denmark, with roughly the same population, should automatically have 16 seats. I recognise that that can be achieved only when Scotland is an independent nation—when we, too, will be allowed to participate in the Council of Ministers, to have our opportunity, not to be the tartan waitress at a European summit in Edinburgh, but to be the host country and to have, in our own right, the position of chief in the commission.

The argument for Scotland to have an additional seat is increasingly important. The Community is changing very rapidly. It has already been said quite clearly that, with the accession of additional members, the Community institutions will have to change. The Maastricht treaty makes it quite clear that the Parliament will acquire additional powers, and I for one welcome that.

I have no particular neurosis about this place being the mother of Parliaments and the seat of all democracy. I believe that the future for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England lies within the European Community. I want to move towards consensus politics within the Community.

Because the institutions are going to change, the influence of each voice will be particularly important. I know that the Minister, along with colleagues in the Cabinet, is very aware of the importance that has recently been attached to the argument for structural funds. Indeed, the Leader of the House referred to this in his capacity as substitute for the Prime Minister during Prime Minister's questions today.

The Parliament in Europe had a great deal of influence in persuading the Commission that the whole of the Highlands and Islands enterprise unit should be included within objective I. A great deal of work was undertaken by the member of the European Parliament for the Highlands and Islands—and I must declare an interest because of the family relationship.

That Parliament voted by 277 votes to 27 in favour of the whole of the Highlands and Islands enterprise area being included within objective 1 status. If one MEP, exerting that influence, can achieve that result, surely Scotland should be entitled to additional representation.

I notice that the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Robertson) is laughing. He should recognise that part of the victory was achieved because his party did not care to send a Scottish Office representative to the negotiations. Perhaps we should learn from that. Perhaps, when the Department of Trade and Industry represents Scotland's interests, we achieve the results that we want.

Mr. Brian Wilson (Cunninghame, North)

Let me endorse what the hon. Lady has said about the role of her mother-in-law, the MEP for Highlands and Islands, who fought very hard on this issue. I am sure that the hon. Lady will also recognise the role of my colleagues Hugh MacMahon, MEP for Strathclyde, West,and Henry McCubbin, MEP for North-East Scotland, and also that of the socialist group, which gave its backing to the same proposals. If ever there was a team effort on behalf of a Scottish interest, that was surely it. I am sure that Liberal MEPs were also involved.

Mrs. Ewing

I am not trying to claim all the credit for the MEP for Highlands and Islands. There was a great deal of cross-party co-operation, and Labour and Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament have joined me in various representations. There was also the influence of Highland regional council, the various local enterprise companies and the district councils, all of which were very much involved.

My point is that there was an opportunity, through the influence of an MEP, to persuade the Commission to recognise that its original idea that there should be exclusions from objective 1 status in the highlands and islands area was an example of how political life can operate within the European Community. We want that spirit of community to be pursued, and we want additional representation for Scotland in that regard.

Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow)

I readily accept the argument that this is a Parliament within a multinational state. The hon. Lady is referring to the European Parliament, which again is a Parliament in a multinational state. She has referred to the powers given to the European Parliament by article 189b of the Maastricht treaty; would she like the powers of that Parliament to be extended to enable it, say, to initiate European Community-wide legislation?

Mrs. Ewing

I certainly believe that the European Parliament has a major role to play in the development of economic and social policy. Progress must be made slowly and on the basis of consensus. That is why I am keen for Scotland to be an equal partner in this development.

I think that hon. Members from all parties will agree that we want to avoid the imposition of an ideology by one or two countries of the Community. We should reach a consensus through mutual discussion and agreement in terms of initiating programmes, but the initiation process, in many ways, should now be transferred from this place to the European Parliament. I believe that the development of the Community is of critical importance, not just to Scotland and the other constituent parts of the United Kingdom, but to the international community as a whole. I look forward to these developments.

Dr. Godman

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her concise answer. An expansion of the legislative powers of the European Parliament must surely lead to a diminution of the powers of the national legislatures. What does she feel about that shift in the distribution of legislative powers between the European Parliament and the national Parliament?

Mrs. Ewing

The hon. Gentleman and I both sit on the Select Committee on European Legislation. I would not describe this as a national Parliament; I would describe it as a multinational state Parliament. I would like Scotland to have a national Parliament, and then, according to the Helsinki agreement definition of sovereignty, we will have to decide how much of our national power we wish to pool for the greater good of the Community. That is how I envisage the Community developing. I am sure that the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) also noticed, during our various visits to European Community countries, that the vast majority of the politicians we met showed the same flexibility of approach. The pooling of sovereignty is the key to the Community's development.

On the subject of the additional seat, it was argued last week on Second Reading that I advised the Government that the size of the Highlands and Islands constituency should be taken into account, and that an additional seat for Scotland would have an impact upon the Highlands and Islands. I was not arguing that case. I was arguing that, when the Boundary Commission considers the distribution of seats, it should take into account the geography of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom. I believe that the Highlands and Islands constituency would wish to remain very much as it is, and I would bear no grudges if an additional seat were granted elsewhere in Scotland.

4 pm

I was arguing very clearly, with the support of other hon. Members, that the Highlands and Islands constituency has the land mass of Belgium, stretching for about 350 miles from north to south, and that representing it is a major task. The Member of the European Parliament for the Highlands and Islands willingly accepts the present situation, as I am sure would any subsequent Members, although I do not anticipate a change for a considerable number of years.

Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland)

I am grateful to the hon. Member for giving way, and I endorse much that she says about the highlands and islands. Does she also accept that, if the Bill is passed in the form that the Government wish, giving five seats to England, three seats in Scotland will have higher electorates than the average English electorate; North-East Scotland, with an electorate of 576,776; Mid-Scotland and Fife, with an electorate of 544,649; and Lothian, with an electorate of 522,020? Therefore, three of Scotland's eight seats will have larger electorates than the average now given to England by the Government.

Mrs. Ewing

The hon. Gentleman has a valid argument, which reaffirms those made last week on Second Reading: that numbers cannot be the sole criterion on which we base the allocation of seats. Full account must be taken of geography, but we must also take into account the valuable arguments of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace).

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

They were not valuable arguments at all. They were absolute nonsense, statistically speaking. If some seats in Scotland have more constituents than the average in England, some seats in England will also have more than the average number of constituents for England.

Mrs. Ewing

The hon. Gentleman misses the point about the principles of the Community. He is quite willing to be seen as a European sceptic who does not believe in the Community. We have argued that Scotland should be compared with Denmark, which has 16 seats in the European Parliament, that Wales should be compared with Eire, which has 15 seats, and that England could be compared with whichever country it wishes to be compared with, and have seats in its own right in the European Parliament.

That is a Community issue. It is not an argument about the debates between internal political parties in the House of Commons or in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Marlow

I am grateful to the hon. Lady, but what about my constituents? What about the people of Northamptonshire, which does not even have a whole European seat and yet has a bigger population than Luxembourg, which has six Members of the European Parliament? Where is the justice in that?

Mrs. Ewing

Edinburgh, which has roughly the same population as Luxembourg, does not have an MEP either. If the hon. Gentleman would only enter into the spirit of the European Community, he would recognise that, if England were an independent nation within the Community, it might be entitled to additional representation.

It is not a question of Scotland playing England off against Scotland or Wales. This is an argument about the spirit of the Community, and about ensuring that we all enter it with a rational approach and share the ideal of making the Community work as effectively as possible.

Last week, the Home Secretary was gratuitously rude to me in some of his responses. It is not my intention to be rude in responding to him, but I believe that there is a valid argument for Scotland to have an additional seat in the European Parliament.

After all, Scotland is the main oil producer for the European Community; we are the most energy-rich nation. We have the major fishing grounds, yet our fishing grounds are being invaded by other members of the Community, who do not seem to be affected in the same way as our fishermen—by the application of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1992, for example. All that makes us a most valuable member of the Community.

I believe that Scotland deserves more than eight representatives in the European Parliament, especially in view of the way in which that Parliament will develop as a result of the changes introduced in the Maastricht treaty.

During the debate last week, the Home Secretary said that only the Conservative party was prepared to fight for England. I do not believe that. I want England to be an equal partner with Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and all the other Community nations. The Home Secretary's remark was stupid, and it has caused much offence not only in the United Kingdom but in other parts of the Community, where there are different attitudes and responses, and where we work towards the idea of consensus rather than confrontation in our politics.

The Secretary of State for Scotland laid great emphasis on the fact that the Community held its summit in Edinburgh. As the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) said last week, in November 1992, the Secretary of State made a speech entitled "Taking Scotland to the Heart of Europe", in which he argued forcibly: If we are to take Scotland to the heart of Europe, we must be Communautaire"— that is the spirit to which I referred— but we must also have clout in the Community. To have clout in the community, we must have the representation that our country merits.

In the same speech, the Secretary of State said: it is necessary to build Scotland's own links, both commercial and cultural, with other parts of the Community. The most effective achievement of that aim must surely come through representation within the Community institutions.

The fact that Scotland is being denied an additional seat in the European Parliament reminds us only too well that the Government regarded Scotland as the tartan waitress at the summit. They are happy to serve haggis, and to sell our smoked salmon, our whisky and a variety of the other marvellous products of Scotland, but at the same time they deny us the full and equal representation that we so obviously merit.

In refusing to allocate Scotland an additional seat, the Government are reneging on the principles of European co-operation, reneging on what the Secretary of State said in Scotland about the future of Scotland within Europe, and reneging on the people of Scotland themselves.

Mr. Tom Clarke (Monklands, West)

I am happy to agree with the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing). At the beginning, she spoke, if I may say so, with an uncharacteristic immodesty perhaps more typical of the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) than of herself. But I am sure that she does not mind joining me, and joining my right hon. and hon. Friends in whose names the amendment was tabled.

Understandably, the hon. Lady crowed about the role of her distinguished mother-in-law, but I am sure that even Mrs. Winnie Ewing would agree that objective 1 status was the result of a concerted effort by many people, including many Scottish Labour MEPs and other colleagues in the socialist group. To them, as well as to Mrs. Winnie Ewing, we owe a great deal of gratitude. That gratitude is widespread, because an enormous amount of effort went into that achievement. I hope that none of that sounds churlish, because I agree with the hon. Lady and with the opinions of my right hon. Friends, as expressed in the amendment. But there is, of course, a strong case for an additional seat, and particularly an additional seat in Scotland.

The hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) failed to take it on board that geography comes into those matters. Perhaps one ought not to be surprised at that, if one heard the hon. Gentleman's contribution to the debate the other day. However, geography comes into such matters, and was embraced by one of the earlier Acts that dealt with boundary distribution. The Government have given little thought to the importance of geography and to Scotland's special needs and rights.

For example, it is a simple fact that the average size of European parliamentary seat in Scotland is about 3,000 square miles, compared with a mere 700 square miles for England. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Robertson) is leaving the Chamber. No one wishes to deny any country in the United Kingdom the representation that it feels is appropriate to its needs.

If it had been suggested at the Edinburgh summit that Scotland would not get the extra seat, people in Scotland would have been amazed. As with so many promises that we have had in Scotland, including promises about Rosyth and Ravenscraig, people expected that the Secretary of State meant what he said when he implied strongly that he would give his support to Scotland getting the extra seat. He also implied that, in a sense, the seat was in the bag.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Peter Lloyd)

The hon. Gentleman made the same point on Second Reading. I said then that I had not read my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland's speech. I have now read it. If the hon. Gentleman is referring to the same speech, my right hon. Friend made no reference to the European Parliament. He was talking about the Committee of the Regions.

I could find no trace of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State saying that he was expecting, pushing for or otherwise considering an extra seat in the European Parliament for Scotland. He concentrated strongly on the opportunities that the Committee of the Regions would provide for Scotland.

Mr. Clarke

. If the hon. Gentleman re-reads the Secretary of State's St. Andrews speech, he will see that, although his right hon. Friend dealt at length with the Committee of the Regions, the main thrust of the speech was that the Secretary of State was fighting for Scotland's influence in Europe to be increased and for stronger representation.

I refer the Minister to what the Government claim to be one of most important documents to have been presented to the people of Scotland, entitled "Taking Stock". That document arose from the commitment of the Prime Minister, no less, during the election campaign to take stock of the thoughts of the people of Scotland. In the document, the Secretary of State said that the Government would take steps to complement and add to Scotland's strong representation in Europe."

I assume that, if the Minister has done his homework, he will have read that introduction. I would like to discover how the terminology can be converted—even in this place—to mean that no extra seat means an extension or an addition.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

I wish that the hon. Gentleman would provide a chapter and verse reference, rather than a generality. He has given no direct quote from the Secretary of State which refers to the European Parliament. The hon. Gentleman quotes only my right hon. Friend's references to representation.

I have read my right hon. Friend's Edinburgh speech. He referred to the Committee of the Regions, to various offices and to the ways Scotland could have its interests conveyed and supported within the EC. The speech made no reference to the European Parliament. If the hon. Gentleman can find such a reference, I should be glad if he would underline it and pass it across the Dispatch Box to me. I have not yet seen it.

Mr. Clarke

The Government usually manage to turn words on their head, but this is rum. If the Government have redeemed any of their promises by failing to add to Scotland's representation in the European Parliament, I should like the Minister to tell me how they have been responsible for any addition to Scotland's representation. If we do not have increased Scottish representation in the only democratically elected body in Europe, where else are we to have it?

Are we to believe in the placepersons whom the Government appoint to various quangos in Europe, as they propose to do in Scottish local government and as they have already done in the health service? The Government are dodging the issue of direct representation based on the electorate of Scotland deciding what is best for them.

4.15 pm
Mrs. Ewing

I am sure that, like me, the hon. Gentleman recalls that, in his St. Andrews speech, the Secretary of State said that he welcomed the Maastricht treaty for two particular reasons. The first reason he outlined was the strengthening of the role of the European Parliament. As the Secretary of State for Scotland argued for the strengthening of the role of the European Parliament and its links with Scotland, one assumed that he was arguing for additional representation.

Mr. Clarke

In the St. Andrews speech to which the Minister referred, the Secretary of State said: It can only be good news for Scotland to have her own representation within Europe increased in this way". He was certainly referring to the Committee of the Regions. He said: I can assure you that I am bidding high". One assumed that the Secretary of State was bidding high, not merely for representation on the Committee of the Regions but for an additional European parliamentary seat.

Mr. Raymond S. Robertson (Aberdeen, South)

How does the hon. Gentleman make that out?

Mr. Clarke

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the numerous newspaper clippings which he undoubtedly has in his office. If he does not have them there, I am sure that they are available in New St. Andrew's house. If they are not available there, I am sure that they are available in the well staffed Conservative offices in Edinburgh.

Time after time, acolytes of the Secretary of State for Scotland claimed in those cuttings that he had gained the extra seat. Not once, even on the Floor of the House, did the Secretary of State admit that he had failed, failed and failed again. We did not find out until the Bill was published. No denials were issued when staff of the Secretary of State at St. Andrew's house claimed that Scotland had gained the extra seat.

Mr. Robertson

The hon. Gentleman has talked for the past five minutes about speeches and articles which claim what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland said. Could he put on record a quotation?

Mr. Clarke

You would rightly rebuke me for being repetitive if I did so, Mr. Morris. I have already placed on record that dull, uninteresting introduction to the document "Taking Stock", in which a clear commitment was given—and again, not honoured.

The hon. Member for Aberdeen, South tells me and tells the House that we in Scotland should be happy with a couple of extra meetings of the Scottish Grand' Committee and the doubtful pleasure of Lord Fraser coming to tell us about the health service, but that we shall not have the right democratically to elect an extra representative to Europe. I must inform him that the Scottish people regard that as democracy turned on its head.

There is every reason why the Secretary of State and his acolytes should have honoured the commitment which Scotland understood him to give to obtain an extra seat. When the Bill was published, it was clear that our Secretary of State had been defeated once again. Our Secretary of State had been beaten. Our Secretary of State had failed.

There was a time when Secretaries of State regarded such failures as a matter for resignation, but we know that, time after time, Tory Secretaries of State for Scotland have their noses rubbed in the dirt and simply accept it. They did so on Ravenscraig and Rosyth, and now they are doing so on representation in Europe. The House will not accept that.

I am not surprised that Labour Members and Members from other parties in Scotland are aghast that this is the Government's offering, after the lengthy period from February to June in which the Government have tune to consider the proposals. That is a long time, notwithstanding the rushed nature of the legislation.

We heard the feeble excuse the other day—I think that it was from the Minister—that we had to deal with Maastricht, and that the House was preoccupied. However, that did not prevent the Government from introducing other measures that were particularly unhelpful to the people of Scotland. Therefore, there is no excuse for the Government taking as long as they did, and in the event getting the wrong answer for Scotland.

I can understand why some hon. Members, who have since left the Chamber, made their silly points. I do not quite understand why the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South seems so enthusiastic about dismissing the fact that even Europe accepts that Scotland is a nation. It should not be dismissed simply as a region.

We are a nation, with a great history and with cultural links with the rest of Europe and the world. The geographical points that have been made suggest that we will be under-represented when compared with other nations, not just within the United Kingdom but elsewhere. I do not see how that can be justified.

The Government's proposals utterly fail to take on board the distinctiveness of Scotland as an individual nation within the United Kingdom and Europe. They fail to take on board the sparsity of population in certain areas. The Highlands and Islands seat makes that point. It is larger, as we have argued, than some countries within the Community.

The fact that those geographical issues have to be taken on board means that there is a distinct danger that the needs of the rest of Scotland, particularly those parts where there is considerable deprivation and where there is what some people describe, although I do not like the word, as an underclass, will not be established and dealt with in Europe. We should be looking for a response within Europe.

The same applies to rural areas. For example, I have not yet had an answer to the fact that the average Scottish seat covers an area of 3,000 square miles, compared with an average area of 700 square miles in England. The Government seem to think that we should accept that and go home feeling happy.

The Government have failed to take those arguments on board. They have failed to consider Scotland's remoteness from the United Kingdom and EC centres of power. I find it odd that, if indeed the Secretary of State for Scotland is as committed to Scotland's interests as he claimed in his St. Andrews speech and his introduction to the stocktaking exercise, he has not once appeared at any of these debates, and nor has any other Minister from the Scottish Office.

Scotland deserves far more than that. An English Tory Member of Parliament who happens to be the Scottish Whip is no substitute for Scottish representation. I hope that we shall see some modesty there that has otherwise been missing.

In the past few rushed weeks, we have considered a Bill about British representation in Europe, which should have meant that we would seize on the opportunity to ensure that Britain's—and that includes Scotland's—voice is heard.

If the Bill is approved and the amendments before the Committee are not accepted, Scotland's share of British seats will fall from 9.9 per cent. to 9.2 per cent. It is not a matter of the Secretary of State failing to honour the pledge that Scotland's representation would be increased. In the Bill, to which the Secretary of State has given his support, we see a decrease in Scottish representation, and that is entirely unacceptable.

If we disregard for the moment representation from the highlands and islands, lowland Scotland is less well represented than even Wales. I welcome the extra seat for Wales—and not just because my hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) has been kind enough to join us on the Front Bench, in contrast to the apathy of Scottish Tory Ministers.

If the amendments are accepted, the average representation for Scotland outwith the highlands and islands will be about the same as for Wales. I am sure that our Welsh colleagues, who are generous and in no sense inward-looking on these matters, will agree that that is perfectly reasonable.

The people of Scotland look forward, as they did even before the Edinburgh summit, to improving and increasing our links with Europe. We were proud of the appointment of Bruce Millan as a Commissioner, and we thank him for the contribution that he has made. But there is no substitute, and there can be no substitute—I disagree strongly with the Minister if he is telling us that the Secretary of State for Scotland is merely arguing for a stronger Scottish voice in Europe, but not one that has been approved by the electorate—for democratic representation as expressed at the ballot box, and it is for that that we are pleading today.

Apart from Tory Ministers and those who support the Tory arguments in Committee today, Scotland is completely united on the issue. We have the support of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the Constitutional Convention—[Laughter.]—and even, as I understand' it—before the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South laughs again—of the Scottish CBI. Apart from the Scottish Tory party—we are not even sure about that—virtually no one in Scotland gives succour to the Government's position on the matter.

If we have—as we were told when the Prime Minister came to Scotland at the election and said that he would involve himself in listening and stocktaking—a Government who, despite all their history, are prepared to do that, the arguments presented today by the hon. Member for Moray and, I am sue, in due course, by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace), and by the Labour party are unanswerable.

We are facing in the Bill a mean-minded Government, who did not have the guile to see the damage that they were doing to the United Kingdom to which they say that they are committed, who did not have the judgment to see that Scotland should have that improved representation, and who, in view of the fact that they seem to stir up political marks night after night as they are doing with Scottish local government reform, were not magnanimous enough to accept that the Scottish people have a contribution to make.

If the Government go ahead with this proposal, they are selling Scotland, Britain and Europe short, and, in time, all that will be reversed.

Mr. Tim Rathbone (Lewes)

It may seem peculiar that a Member from the other extremity of the United Kingdom should rise on what seems to be, and has been argued as, an entirely parochial matter of Scottish propaganda versus the Government.

Mr. Wallace

The hon. Gentleman must accept that the word "parochial" refers to a parish. We have been debating a nation. Will he please withdraw that comment?

Mr. Rathbone

Of course I withdraw it if it hurts the legal refinements of argument with which the hon. Gentleman likes to demean himself. I used the word "parochial" to embrace all of Scotland, and it was in no way meant to be demeaning.

We are here talking about the representation of various parts of the British Isles in the European Parliament, and that is an important question for anyone who is committed, as I believe all hon. Members are, to the proper operation of parliamentary democracy.

I happen to agree with the thrust of the arguments of the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing). I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will reconsider his opinion on the allocation of an additional seat in Scotland. That is correct not only from an idealistic standpoint but from a position of political wisdom, because it is only through the allocation of another European constituency to Scotland that we shall increase the possibility of representation for the large minorities there.

In that caregory, I fear, I must count my own party. I should like to see Conservative representation of the many Conservative interests in that part of the United Kingdom, as I would hope to see all parties representing their own political interests elsewhere in the country.

It is dangerous to concoct—this has to be a concoction —a system of representation with constituency boundaries that tend against giving broad-brush representation of political minorities in any part of the United Kingdom.

4.30 pm

The allocation of another seat to Scotland would also be a practical step. There is room for improvement in our electoral system as it applies to the European Parliament. We shall return to that point under the proposed new part III of the schedule.

Whether that improvement comes within this Bill, or at some point in the future, with the adoption of a pan-European system of elections that would apply to the United Kingdom as well as to other countries, the allocation of an additional MEP to Scotland would be part of it. We must get that right to achieve the correct basis for that system, whenever it may come.

However, without the adoption of a new method of elections, which would enable those minorities in Scotland or any other part of the United Kingdom to be represented —as part III of the schedule would provide—I suppose that the Minister will argue on a largely numerical basis.

On that basis, the argument of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) did not cast any doubt on the Government's plans. Averages are averages: they are made up of figures above and below. I am not sure that even the enormous area represented by the relative of the hon. Member for Moray in the European Parliament constitutes an argument against the Government's position. I am quite aware of the difficulty in getting round a large constituency as compared with a small one, but with modern forms of communication, especially telephone and mail links, it is possible to represent a considerably larger number of constituents than any one of us currently represents.

I realise that some European Members of Parliament find some difficulty in keeping in touch with their constituents because of the large numbers involved.

Mrs. Ewing

I fully accept the hon. Gentleman's point about improved communications by telephone and, in particular, by fax. That development has been most important in the highlands and islands, not only because it has improved communication between MEPs or MPs and their constituents but because it has helped to provide employment opportunities.

Does the hon. Gentleman accept, however, that Scotland has only 171 people per square mile, whereas England has 955 people per square mile, and that it is important that personal contact should be maintained between an elected representative and his or her constituents?

Mr. Rathbone

I fully accept that fact, but I do not think that it should weigh in the balance in the drawing of constituency lines. It should, however, be taken into account in allocating travel funds, to allow the representative of a large constituency to travel by hedge-hopper plane or helicopter—or, in the case of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace), a huge motor cruiser, perhaps.

Dr. Godman

Just before the hon. Gentleman gave way to the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing), he referred to the need for MEPs to keep in touch with their constituents. Does he agree that MEPs also need to keep in touch with the European Parliament? Absenteeism is far worse in the European Parliament than in this place—indeed, I am told that more than 150 MEPs rarely if ever turn up in Strasbourg.

Mr. Rathbone

I have long believed that people in glass houses should not throw stones, so I do not propose to enter into argument with the hon. Gentleman on that subject.

Mr. Wallace

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way, and I promise him that I will not make a specious lawyer's point. I should like him to return to the theme to which he seemed to be warming—ensuring that Members of the European Parliament can get around large constituencies. Perhaps he would like that to be extended to this place, as some of us have more spread-out parliamentary constituencies than others.

The hon. Gentleman has already said that he favours some other form of election, but what the Government propose in the Bill is a first-past-the-post system. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that one of the great so-called strengths of that system is the identification and sense of community of a single-Member constituency? What sense of community can there possibly be in a constituency the size of the south of Scotland, which stretches from East Lothian down to Stranraer and Galloway, up to Cunninghame, South and across to the border with England in Coldstream. How can a single Member succeeding in a first-past-the-post system identify with such a disparate community

Mr. Rathbone

I will not be tempted into discussing methods of elections, to which I think we come later in the Bill. I am glad to see that you, Mr. Morris, are indicating your assent for my analysis.

The Chairman

I would not wish the hon. Gentleman to misinterpret the movements of my eyes or head. I was merely indicating that the hon. Gentleman should stay firmly on the group of amendments before the Committee and not anticipate anything at all.

Mr. Rathbone

I was correctly analysing the movement of your head, eyes and any other part of your anatomy that may have been indicating agreement, Mr. Morris.

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland sells himself short. On my frequent and extremely happy visits to Scotland, I have found that there is a much greater sense of community over a much larger area in Scotland than in most parts of the United Kingdom, and certainly in most parts of England. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman finds that degree of cohesion in his constituency, and that MEPs find coalescence of opinion in theirs.

We should not be tied in these matters to numerical definitions or to local argument on a statistical or quasi-statistical basis about what is fair. We must make political judgments.

In that respect, I suggest to my hon. Friends on the Front Bench that they may have made the incorrect political judgment in not allocating an additional European parliamentary constituency to Scotland—even though that could detract from the additional representation that could be given to England, which, as we know, has been under-represented vis-a-vis Scotland in this House for years and years.

Mr. Wallace

I certainly endorse the conclusions of the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Rathbone). There is a strong political argument for Scotland to have additional representation, even at the expense of their being one fewer seat for England. What the hon. Gentleman said, and the political judgment that lies behind it—he is a strong supporter of the European Community—is one that I am sure he identifies in the Community.

Population is often of secondary importance to the identification of communities and nation states within communities. Luxembourg, whose population is much the same size as that of Edinburgh, has six Members of the European Parliament, whereas Edinburgh has one Member for the whole of Lothian. No one in the Community perceives that as inimical to the whole balance of the Community and the loading of numbers. Indeed, it is part and parcel of the make-up of the Community. That is why the hon. Gentleman presents an important case for Scotland having an extra seat. I hope to give that case some additional support through the use of some statistics.

The hon. Gentleman is perhaps optimistic. I understand that the amendment relating to part III of the schedule has not been selected on the provisional list of amendments. Admittedly, it is provisional list at this stage. As the day goes on, we hope that wiser counsels will prevail and we shall be able to have a proper discussion on how the additional Members of the European Parliament will be elected.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) on moving the amendment. She paid tribute to a research assistant who had done a considerable amount of work. I sat down to do the same exercise and go through the Bill. It is a question not simply of deleting one seat from England and adding one to Scotland—there are consequential parts to it. I was about halfway through the exercise when I realised that the research assistant had done the same thing, so there was little point in doing it again. That is why I was only too pleased to add my name to her amendment.

I make the same observation as that of the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke)—no Scottish Office Minister is present for this debate. At the conclusion of the debate on Wednesday, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland slipped on to the Government Front Bench. As no Scottish Office Ministers are present when we are debating an amendment that focuses on Scotland's representation in the European Parliament, it raises the question: what are they doing? Perhaps some of us have a shrewd idea of what they may be doing. It may be part and parcel of what is involved in this amendment.

Mrs. Ewing

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that Scottish Office Ministers may well be preparing some answers for Scottish questions tomorrow? It would be a unique situation if we actually received answers to our questions. Alternatively, they may be looking at the changes to the local government boundaries.

Mr. Wallace

I suspect that it may be a combination of a number of things. My point—this relates to what the hon. Lady said about local government boundaries—is that we have similar sides of the same coin. The Conservative party had a lack of success in Scotland and the Liberal Democrats were even less successful. We both ended up with no seats in the European Parliament. [Interruption.] We were both equally unsuccessful. The Greens beat us. It is true that it would not happen today. Under the first-past-the-post system, what does it matter whether one knocks up second place, fifth place, third place or fourth place? That is the problem with that system.

The Conservative party was unsuccessful. Therefore, one can understand why it is reluctant to allow another seat in Scotland. It probably realised that in the present climate—after Rosyth and Ravenscraig and all the Government's false and broken promises—there was little chance that the Conservative party would win the seat.

The Government's lack of electoral success in European elections has led them not to allow Scotland an extra seat. Later this week, they will probably propose local government boundaries that will be gerrymandered to try to ensure Conservative councils. The remarks in The Scotsman clearly show that. It seems that the Boundary Commission has come under some influence with some of its proposals for parliamentary seats.

Dr. Godman

With regard to the protection and promotion of the needs of Scotland, does the hon. Gentleman agree that, over the next few years, the role played by Scotland's MEPs will be more decisive and important than the role performed by the Scottish members of the Committee of the Regions?

4.45 pm
Mr. Wallace

That is true. I shall illustrate that point in a moment by quoting a speech of the Secretary of State for Scotland, who has identified the growing importance of the European Parliament. The identification of that importance seems to be at odds with doing absolutely nothing to enhance the role of Scotland in the European Parliament. It has been noted that the Secretary of State for Scotland is one of the names on this Bill. I shall certainly return to that, because the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) makes an important point.

My point is that the Conservative party, having reached an impasse or rock bottom in terms of its electoral success in Scotland, must now resort to electoral fixes to get some representation. Of course, that cannot be in the democratic interests of Scotland as a whole.

I return to the point made by the hon. Member for Lewes. I recall the St. Andrews speech of the Secretary of State, which has been referred to on a number of occasions in this debate. The passage I remember the most is the part where he talked about Scottish Office Ministers being in the boiler room of the European debate. It conjured up a wonderful picture of the Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State for Scotland, the hon. Members for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton) and for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), in their boiler suits, stoking the furnace and, as usual, coming forward with little results.

On objective 1 status, success was won by the Minister for Industry when no Scottish Minister could attend such an important European Council meeting where Scotland's vital interests were at stake.

Mr. Raymond S. Robertson

It worked out okay.

Mr. Wallace

I accept that it worked out okay.

Mr. Robertson

It is a United Kingdom formula.

Mr. Wallace

It is the United Kingdom and I have no objections to what the Minister for Industry achieved, but it is significant that the Scottish Office could not send anyone to the meeting to enhance Scotland's case on an important issue for Scotland. It may be a matter for some debate, but, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you will rule me out of order if I go down that line to say that the Minister for Industry succeeded in spite of rather than because of the absence of Scottish Office Ministers.

Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

I think that it was "because of".

Mr. Wallace

That may be an interesting debate, but I am sure that I will not be allowed to pursue it at any great length.

I turn to the St. Andrews speech of the Secretary of State, which the hon. Member for Moray quoted. When the Home Office Minister asked for chapter and verse, it was clear that he had not paid any attention to the passage quoted by the hon. Member for Moray. For his benefit, I quote it again: In this connection, I welcome the Maastricht Treaty for two reasons in particular. Firstly, because it strengthens the role of the European Parliament, where Scotland is directly represented. Scotland has 8 MEPs and while I may have my political differences with them, I am anxious to work in partnership with them to further Scotland's interests in Europe. As a consequence of the Maastricht Treaty, the elected European Parliament"— this is the point referred to by the hon. Members for Greenock and Port Glasgow and for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Robertson), although I am not sure that he was so strong on it— will have more financial control over the unelected Commission, thus improving significantly the accountability of that key EC institution. This dramatic departure from past practice was the result of British ideas being taken on board by our European partners. That shows that Britain does have clout in the Community. It shows how that clout works for Scotland. And it also illustrates our desire to make the Community as a whole more accountable. Many of us support the enhanced importance of the role of the European Parliament. That role has been enhanced by the Maastricht treaty and many of us would like to see it enhanced even more by necessary democratic input to European affairs and the Community. At present, decisions affecting more aspects of our lives are made by the Council of Minister in secret meetings. We would like to see a much greater role for the European Parliament and, of course, we want the voice of Scotland to be more powerful in that Parliament.

The Secretary of State for Scotland may have identified the strength and role of the European Parliament, but one assumes that if he were doing his job for Scotland, he would try to increase Scotland's representation in that Parliament when that possibility was on offer. Far from doing that, however, the right hon Gentleman is a sponsor of a Bill that will not increase Scotland's representation and role in that Parliament.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

I, too, had noted that paragraph from my right hon. Friend's speech for use in my own speech. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for putting it on the record, because it answers the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke), who sought to convey to the House the idea that, in that speech, the Secretary of State had pledged himself to effecting an increase in Scottish representation.

As that paragraph makes absolutely clear. however, my right hon. Friend pledged himself to work closely with Scotland's eight MEPs, even if he disagreed with them politically, for the benefit of Scotland. That was the undertaking that he sought to make and that is the undertaking that, uncharacteristically cunningly, the hon. Member for Monklands, West tried to convert into a promise to increase the representation of Scotland in the European Parliament.

That was plainly not what my right hon. Friend said, and I am grateful to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) for putting my right hon. Friend's actual promise on the record.

Mr. Wallace

I remember when I used to appear before the second division of the Court of Session presided over by Lord Wheatley. Every time I made a point similar to that made by the Minister, Lord Wheatley would lean over, look over his glasses and say, "Is that your best point?" I must ask the Minister the same question, because his intervention did not amount to very much.

The Secretary of State for Scotland made his speech on 23 November 1992, some three weeks before the Edinburgh summit at which it was agreed to increase the number of seats at the European Parliament. It is not surprising that the right hon. Gentleman referred to the eight Scottish MEPs. For the Minister to seize on that and argue that that meant his right hon. Friend gave a commitment that Scotland should have only eight MEPs is disingenuous. I learnt that good word from the Social Democratic party.

In that speech, the right hon. Gentleman identified the importance of the European Parliament. He also said that it was important that Scotland was directly represented at it. When there was an opportunity to increase Scotland's representation, however, he did nothing. At least to the outside world, he did nothing: he may have fought his battle in Cabinet and lost. There would be nothing unusual about that, because that seems to be his track record. The fact that the right hon. Gentleman is a signatory to the Bill does not help Scotland's case, which was well put, for political reasons, by the hon. Member for Lewes. I accept that the Secretary of State has acknowledged the importance of the European Parliament.

The hon. Member for Moray also stressed the important role that that Parliament played in achieving objective 1 status for the highlands and islands and, in particular, extending that to Moray and Argyll and Bute. I pay tribute to the work of the MEP for the Highlands and Islands, but I am sure that the hon. Member for Moray would accept that that success was gained through cross-party support. When the votes were stacking u p, the support offered by the Liberal Democrat group within the European Parliament was important.

The fishing industry, agriculture, the manufacturing industry and the need for further investment and research are important issues to Scotland. Nowadays, those issues also have an important European dimension. Scotland should have a stronger voice to argue for those interests.

I should like to give the Minister another quote from the famous Government document—it has probably been consigned to most shelves—entitled "Scotland in the Union. A Partnership for Good." Chapter 5, under the heading, "Scotland in Europe," contained the following conclusion in paragraph 5.9, on page 22: The European Community is involved in almost every aspect of Scottish life. It is vital that Scotland's voice should he heard in Europe and under the existing arrangements Scotland is strongly represented in Brussels. The Government have taken steps to complement and add to that strong representation to ensure that there is a multi-pronged approach for promoting Scotland's interests in Europe. The Government may have done that and tried to get some representation on the Committee of the Regions, but what steps have they taken to add to Scotland's representation in the European Parliament? That paragraph concluded: As Europe continues to develop, the Government will keep under review Scotland's profile in Europe to ensure that it matches Scotland's needs. One can only ask what kind of view the Secretary of State has of Scotland's needs.

Mr. Raymond S. Robertson

On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for the hon. Gentleman and Labour Members to criticise the Government for the fact that no member of the Scottish Office is on the Front Bench, when no representative of the Opposition Scottish Office team is present?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I was listening to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace), and he seemed to be making an adequate speech.

Mr. Wallace

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My speech is founded on a good Scottish base.

"Scotland in the Union—A Partnership for Good" is a recent publication from the Scottish Office and refers to the need to promote Scotland's profile. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] The hon. Member for Monklands, West has just re-entered the Chamber and perhaps I should explain to him why he has been greeted with cheers of support. Apart from being a recognition of the hon. Gentleman's natural demeanour and good humour, those cheers are in response to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South, who, just a moment ago, raised a point of order about what had happened to the hon. Gentleman. I am sure that the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South will now be able to sit at ease, perhaps until the call of nature—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman's speech is now beginning to wander a little. Perhaps he could get back to the amendment.

Mr. Wallace

I will wander no more. I am sure that the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South will not wander for a while either.

Mr. Tom Clarke

The last time I recall getting a cheer like that was when the House debated a firm called Silent Night and reference was made to a millionaire, Mr. Tom Clarke, with whom I have no links.

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) will be aware that much is set to happen tomorrow about local government and he will appreciate that, like himself, I have to reply to a long list of telephone calls from people who have told me what the Government will not tell hon. Members.

Mr. Wallace

In case there is any misunderstanding, I will not say anything further except to assure the hon. Member for Monklands, West that I had made no criticism of his absence. I fully understand the problems that he faces.

Dr. Godman

Does the hon. Gentleman believe that, in the next few years, the European Parliament and its Scottish representatives and other Members will play an increasingly important role in the development of the regional management of the fisheries? Does he agree that the growing hostility among many Norwegian fishing communities towards membership of the European Community is precisely due to the failure of the European Commission and the Council of Ministers to initiate and establish a fair and reasonable common fisheries policy?

Mr. Wallace

I will answer that question with care, so that I do not get distracted into a debate on the common fisheries policy. We should have time in the House, however, to debate it at some length.

The hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow is right that fisheries is an important industry for Scotland. It has undoubtedly been subject to considerable upheaval recently. I sometimes fear that the cause of that can be laid at the doors of the Westminster Government rather than at those of the European institutions. As any fisherman will tell hon. Members, many of the edicts and regulations from the Commission or the Council of Ministers have a direct bearing on the future of the industry.

I understand the concerns expressed by the Norwegians. The common fisheries policy is an obvious issue which a Scottish MEP or, for that matter, a representative from Cornwall, Devon, Wales or from the south coast of England—the hon. Member for Lewes has strong fishing interests represented at Newhaven and I am sure that his fishermen are interested in that policy—could raise in the European Parliament.

Fisheries is an important issue in the European Parliament and, given the proportional importance of that industry to Scotland, it is another good argument in favour of increasing Scotland's representation at that Parliament. In that way, Scotland's views could be heard. That does not mean that that need detract, however, from the work currently done by Scottish MEPs on behalf of our fishing interests.

We should consider some of the population and electorate figures, because they are part of the argument against giving Scotland an additional seat at the European Parliament. I have managed to get some statistical information, for which I thank the Library. At present, England has an electorate of 36,411,280 and has 66 MEPs; Wales has an electorate of 2,222,624 and has four MEPs; Scotland has an electorate of 3,931,429 and has eight MEPs; and Northern Ireland, which elects Members by proportional representation, has an electorate of 1,141,466 with three MEPs.

5 pm

The average electorate in England is 551,686; in Wales, 555,656; in Scotland, 491,429; and in Northern Ireland 380,489. To shorten my speech, I shall take it as read that no one disputes that Northern Ireland should have an additional MEP—although, if a Northern Ireland Member were to arrive and engage in this debate, his contribution would be most welcome.

I shall simply consider the position of England, Wales and Scotland. It is proposed that England should have an additional five MEPs and Wales an additional one MEP. England's average electorate is 512,835; Wales's average electorate is 444,525; and Scotland's average electorate is 491,429—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) has a piece of paper that gives different figures, but he will see that it says that option No. 1 is "England plus six". I have done my own arithmetical calculation for England plus five and Wales plus one. I hope that my arithmetic is correct, but I shall stand corrected by any other hon. Member who can correct me during my speech—I have some time to go yet.

I welcome the fact that Wales will get an additional seat, but if the amendment were accepted it would create a more even distribution of seats, giving England an additional four rather than five, Wales an additional one, and Scotland an additional one. If I get the calculation wrong, it is no fault of the Library, as these are my calculations. England would have an average electorate of 520,161; Wales would have an average electorate of 444,525; and Scotland would have 436,825. That brings Scotland and Wales in line with each other, with a difference of less than 8,000. With such vast electorates, that is very little, so I hope that the argument for putting Scotland and Wales on a comparable basis will weigh with the Minister.

When considering population, even on that basis, it is important to examine what happens in some other European countries. We would then find that Scotland and Wales are disproportionately under-represented. The Library's research paper No. 93/70 gives the population per MEP. One assumes, therefore, that the electorate per MEP is less because the population includes people who are not electors because they are either too young, insane, Members of the House of Lords or in gaol—or all four. They could not be all four, because Members of the House of Lords could not be too young to vote, but they could be a combination of three of the four.

After the new MEPs have been added, Belgium will have a population of 400,000 per MEP, which would still be less than Scotland, even if Scotland were allocated another seat. Denmark would have 318,750 people per MEP, which would be considerably less than the average in Scotland. I could continue to quote such figures, but one could not argue that, on a population basis, Scotland would be over-represented by having an additional MEP.

Mrs. Ewing

This matter is of paramount importance. Has the hon. Gentleman noticed that Luxembourg, for instance, which has roughly the same population as Edinburgh, has six MEPs and an average electorate of only some 66,000? That amplifies the argument that the hon. Gentleman is so ably making.

Mr. Wallace

I was going to stop quoting such figures, but the hon. Lady has given me the encouragement to continue. For instance, Ireland has a population of 240,000 per MEP; Greece has 400,000; and Portugal has 408,000. Again, they would all have less than Scotland even if Scotland had an extra seat. Further examples include the Netherlands, with 474,194 per MEP. As those figures refer to population, as opposed to electorate, they tend to understate my case. So the Government cannot come to the House and argue that, on the ground of population, Scotland is over-represented, when it is clear that, compared to other EC countries, that is far from the case.

The question of geography—the land mass covered—is also important. The area of England is 13,043,865 hectares; Wales is 2,076,833 hectares; Scotland is 7,879,340 hectares; and Northern Ireland is 1.412,182 hectares. I do not wish to eleborate on the case of Northern Ireland, as I do not wish to take issue with hon. Members representing Northern Ireland who may join the debate later. The average size of electorate in England is 197,634 hectares; in Wales it is 519,208 hectares; and in Scotland it is a staggering 984,918 hectares.

I can go through that in much more detail, although I must unfortunately switch to square miles unless another hon. Member can translate square miles into hectares. The North East Scotland constituency covers an area of 4,873 square miles; Mid-Scotland and Fife covers 2,140 square miles; Lothian covers 407 square miles: Strathclyde East covers 500 square miles; Strathclyde West covers 794 square miles; Glasgow a meagre 74 square miles; South of Scotland covers 5,979 square miles; and the Highlands and Islands covers 15,661 square miles.

Dr. Godman

The hon. Gentleman's statistics are baffling me. In his otherwise fine speech, he has made little or no mention of the role and functions of MEPs. As the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Rathbone) said, if the Maastricht treaty is ratified, the MEP will perforce come into greater contact with his or her constituents in terms of complaints that are taken to the European Parliament's ombudsman. A case can therefore be made for manageably sized constituencies because of the greater role put on MEPs by Maastricht. Amid the plethora of statistics that the hon. Gentleman has given, he has not mentioned MEPs' enhanced roles.

Mr. Wallace

I apologise to the hon. Gentleman if I overlooked that matter. I referred to the importance of the European Parliament and, by definition, the importance of the MEP's role, though I am happy to elaborate on that.

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point in regard to the increasing workload that will fall on MEPs. European legislation and the arms of the European Community are stretching into ever more aspects of our lives, and hon. Members need no reminding of the number of inquiries that we now receive relating to European issues. Populations have a great bearing on that. The greater the electorate, the greater the potential burden on the parliamentary representative, be it in relation to the European ombudsman or other issues.

Dr. Godman

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that—because of the massive European constituencies—if Maastricht is ratified and there are many complaints about maladministration and so on, we may have to act as referral agents for local MEPs?

Mr. Wallace

That is possible, and to some extent it already happens. I am happy to say that I have formed a good working relationship with the MEP who covers my constituency, and we have a mutual referral system. She often receives details and refers them to me or the local authority, and I receive details of European issues which I refer to her. I anticipate that happening increasingly. The burden will remain, even with a smaller electorate, although a smaller electorate might make matters more manageable.

Mrs. Ewing

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, while the enhanced facilities that now exist for communicating between the House of Commons and the European Parliament and between both of those and the Council and the Commission—directly by telephone and by faxing—make a great difference, there will have to be additional liaison between MEPs and MPs because of the increased interest that people have in the affairs of the European Parliament?

At least two major Scottish newspapers now have permanent representation in Brussels. The media generally are taking a greater interest in affairs there. That is heightening the awareness of people in European matters. The citizens of the United Kingdom are becoming alerted to the importance of the European legislative processes.

Mr. Wallace

The hon. lady makes a pertinent point. the fact that national newspapers are covering events in the European Parliament with greater thoroughness must make people more aware of what is happening there. That will undoubtedly result in people making greater demands on their MEPs and perhaps on their Westminster MPs. Indeed, hon. Members throughout the Committee will have noticed over the years an increasing volume of correspondence attributed to European matters. Those matters have involved, for example, motor bikes, driving licence conditions for Community coaches and the common fisheries policy.

The hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow referred to populations. That in turn concerns the sizes of constituencies. After all, the bigger the constituency, the more chance there is of MEPs having to cover a wider diversity of interests, to the point where virtually every subject could arise.

I intervened in the speech of the hon. Member for Lewes to refer to the South of Scotland, which is an extremely large seat. I note that several hon. Members who represent that area are in the Committee today, including the hon. Member for East Lothian. The hon. Member for Cunninghame, South (Mr. Donohoe) was in his place and will no doubt be back, as will my hon. Friend the Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood). They represent divers parts of Scotland, but all within the same South of Scotland seat. I fought that constituency in 1979, unfortunately unsuccessfully.

Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian)


Mr. Wallace

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that word of sympathy, although, as the constituency was then known as Berwick and East Lothian, I do not think that he was so sympathetic at the time.

Mr. Home Robertson

I must admit that I did not vote for the hon. Gentleman.

5.15 pm
Mr. Wallace

That comes as no surprise.

During that, albeit brief, campaign, I learned a great deal about what goes on. I got my nomination papers in with about three minutes to spare, so late in the day had I been selected. I saved considerable public expense because the returning officer had already had the ballot papers printed and was biting his nails wondering whether I would make it in time.

I learned during that experience of the great diversity within that Euro-constituency, including the sheer difficulty of covering the whole area. During an election campaign, one is trying to cover a wide area in a short period compared with the time available when the European Parliament is sitting normally. I was fortunate to have a home base in Dumfriesshire, so, from the constituency point of view, it was useful to be 90 miles one way to Coldstream and 90 miles the other way to Stranraer, and one could travel easily to places such as Haddington or Killington in Ayr. That experience brought home to me. just what a vast area was being covered.

Mr. Tom Clarke

Did the hon. Gentleman get to Prestonpans?

Mr. Wallace

I passed through Prestonpans, but I do not think there were many Liberal votes to be won there, so I would not have spent a great deal of time there. I remember a meeting at which I was to talk to fishermen in Eyemouth, but I am afraid nobody turned up. I met some of them in a local hostelry and had a good discussion about the common fisheries policy.

One of the biggest meetings that I attended during that campaign centred on the issue of nuclear waste dumping, though perhaps that had what might be called more of a general academic interest to people living in, say, Carluke. I had almost forgotten that Carluke was in the then European patch that I was contesting—until about a year later, when a student I was tutoring in conveyancing law at Edinburgh university said, "You must be the guy I voted for in the European elections." I had forgotten that I had sought election in his home area.

I have made those points to illustrate how vast constituencies are. Not only are they difficult to manage, but they can give rise to many issues. If the Government are as insistent on the first-past-the-post system as they appear to be, we are in difficulty, because some of the constituencies are so large that it can be difficult to identify a community of interests.

That would apply even more to the new boundaries, with 71 rather than the present 66 seats. The average size in England would be 512,835 hectares, and Wales and Scotland would be the figures I have given—[Interruption.] I apologise to the Committee. I have referred to electorates rather than to areas. I must give the correct figures. We propose something different, but I fear that I cannot immediately find the figures. Suffice it to say that our proposal would be more manageable than the scheme before us.

There is a strong political case for Scotland being given an extra seat. I am not putting a nationalistic argument. Indeed, the Secretary of State for Scotland said in his famous St. Andrews speech: I have talked already of Scots being one of the people of Europe, as much part of the rich tapestry of the Community as Bavarians, Walloons or Catalonians. That must be appreciated, as the hon. Member for Lewes has strongly argued.

Mr. Rathbone

Hon. Members will recall that I doubted the validity of the numerical base for such arguments as the hon. Gentleman is pursuing. Even greater doubt is cast on that numerical base if the single additional Scottish Member were elected for the whole of Scotland, whatever basis of voting might be suggested. It would mean the establishment of a constituency embracing all of Scotland. Any points that the hon. Gentleman is now making about the difficulties of getting around any part of Scotland would be that much greater. Will he explain how those two points are happily married?

Mr. Wallace

With pleasure. As the hon. Gentleman will be quick to appreciate, we are not comparing like with like, because I have been basing my argument, as we must, on the first-past-the-post system which the Government have proposed.

Much play is made of the Member of the European Parliament's identity with the community that he represents. In a seat such as the south of Scotland, there is huge diversity of communities. They undoubtedly have things in common—they celebrate St. Andrew's day on 30 November, and the nights around Burns night on 25 January and they have a good time. We all cheer for the same side at Murrayfield and Hampden park.

There are also other common factors that are much more important and deeply ingrained in the Scottish culture. A Member of the European Parliament deals with a multiplicity of interests. If we were to allocate one seat to Scotland using a proportional system, we would be elevating another principle—fair representation. I am sure that the hon. Member for Lewes would warm to that proposal, not least because it would achieve some representation for his party in Scotland.

There is a community of identity in Scotland. But clearly, if one were to have the best of all worlds, we would do away with the first-past-the-post system and have a proper system of fair representation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am pleased to hear the encouraging support from Labour Members. I shall not go into too much detail on that issue now, but I hope that we will debate it on another occasion.

I quoted earlier from the famous St. Andrews speech of the Secretary of State for Scotland, which I suspect has been over-quoted, as it did not amount to much.

Mr. Tom Clarke

It is overrated.

Mr. Wallace

That is a better way to describe it, particularly as it promised so much and has failed to deliver.

In that speech, the Secretary of State advanced one or two good arguments—on which the hon. Member for Lewes elaborated—on the political value of having an extra seat for Scotland. I hope that I have made it clear that the European Parliament has an increasingly important role which means that there is an additional work load for Members of the European Parliament.

If there is an opportunity to reduce that work load through a much better distribution of seats in Scotland to deal with issues that are peculiarly Scottish and have a specific and Scottish dimension, it should be taken. In comparison with other European Community countries, Scotland is not over-represented.

Vast areas will need to be covered. An additional Scottish seat elected under the first-past-the-post system would allow some steps to be taken towards achieving a manageable work load. It would be no means eliminate some of the greater travel distances, but nevertheless it would help to achieve that aim. For those compelling reasons, I cannot understand how the Minister can say that he is not going to give Scotland another seat. The speeches of hon. Members representing the Scottish National party, the Labour party, the Conservative party, and the Liberal Democrats show that there is great cross-party consensus which should be welcomed and encouraged. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will respond positively to the arguments I have advanced.

Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East)

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) has made a speech of stunning length–40 to 50 minutes, which seemed like only four or five hours. He held the House captivated throughout his speech. If he ever feels like publishing it, I am sure that it would sell well in the travelogue section of any of the bookshops in Scotland. One of the details which the hon. Gentleman failed to mention and of which I was reminded by my hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian (Mr. Clarke), was that the shoreline of Argyll is longer than the shoreline of France. The hon. Gentleman should have remembered and mentioned that when making such a detailed speech.

I have no intention of referring to the speech allegedly made by the Secretary of State for Scotland on St. Andrew's day. Like 99.999 per cent. of the Scottish people, I was totally unaware that the Secretary of State for Scotland had made a speech on St. Andrew's day. Now that I am aware of it, I have no intention of reading the speech.

Mr. Wallace

The speech was made in St. Andrews on 23 November, not on St. Andrew's day.

Mr. McAllion

That explains the matter. I was perplexed when I heard that the Secretary of State had made a St. Andrew's day speech on 23 November, as I had always believed that St. Andrew's day was on 30 November. I thought that perhaps I was wrong. 11 shall not refer to the speech because, if I remember rightly, the Secretary of State for Scotland is the same man who claimed that the Conservative party had won the general election in Scotland on the basis that it received one in four of the votes cast in 11 out of the 72 seats that were at stake. The speeches of anyone who is as out of touch with reality as the Secretary of State should not be listened to or accorded respect.

I am pleased with the group of amendments tabled in the names of my hon. Friends and hon. Members from other political parties in Scotland. As a founder member and stalwart supporter of Scotland United I was delighted to see the cross-party co-operation that led to the parliamentary leaders of the Labour party, the Scottish National party and the Liberal Democrats putting their names to the same amendments and being so nice to each other during the debate. It gladdened my old heart to see such cross-party co-operation and restored my faith in the fact that, even at this late hour, Scotland may yet rescue something from the debris of previous general elections, eventually get their act together and perhaps force the Tories into retreat. I certainly hope so.

Earlier in the debate, the complete lack of participation from anyone from the Conservative party in Scotland was noticeable. Not only Scottish Office Ministers, but Back Benchers, have yet to attempt to catch your eye. Mr. Morris, to try to participate in the debate and explain why they are opposed to Scotland's being given an additional seat and additional representation in the European Parliament. We had to rely on an hon. Member from the other extremity of the United Kingdom—as he described it—to argue the case for Scotland to be given additional representation.

What struck me about the hon. Gentleman's argument was that he said that he believed that everyone in the Chamber would be in favour of the proper operation of parliamentary democracy, but that it was important, within that process, for the voice of the political minority to be heard. I found that argument strange coming from a representative of the Conservative party as that party is the political minority in Scotland. Not only is the Conservative party given a voice in the proper operation of Scottish democracy: it dominates Scottish democracy. It runs every aspect of Scotland on the basis of only a handful of votes cast in its favour and a handful of seats.

The latest opinion poll in Scotland gives the Conservative party 16 per cent. support among Scottish people—[Laughter.] However, it is still able to make key decisions about how Scotland will be represented elsewhere. I see that Conservative Members laugh at my reference to the fact that the Conservative party has only 16 per cent. support in Scotland. A spokesperson for the Conservative party went on record as saying that he was delighted that his party had attained 16 per cent. of the opinion poll ratings in Scotland because it represented a marked improvement.

I was interested in some aspects of the argument of the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing). She left the Chamber as soon as I got to my feet—the Scottish National party must now be opposed to cross-party co-operation, as it skedaddles as soon as a Labour Member rises from his seat. The hon. Lady advanced the argument about the British state. It is important, particularly for Conservative Members, to understand what we mean when we talk of the British state and say that the British state is not a country or a nation.

As the hon. Lady correctly said, the British state is a multinational state. It consists not of one nation or one country, but three different nations and three different countries—Scotland, Wales and England. I clearly remember at the last Labour party conference in Scotland when we debated whether Labour should stand and organise in Northern Ireland. The biggest cheer of the day was reserved for one of the delegates who took the platform and, in a short speech, simply said that he did not think that the British state should be in Northern Ireland, never mind the Labour party. He received a tremendous reception.

I do not think that the British state should be in England, never mind in Northern Ireland. I do not think that the British state should be in Scotland, Wales, or, indeed, Northern Ireland. We need a new, democratic deal to bind together the different nations that make up the United Kingdom, not the present system which is supported by the Conservative party and by no other political party in this country which supports the status quo.

I could not agree with the hon. Lady when she tried to answer that, because we are part of a multinational state, Scotland should be treated as an equal partner with England and be given—as she put it—full and equal representation with England at the European Parliament. As I understand it, England currently has 71 Members of the European Parliament. If the amendments are defeated, it will have 76 Members of the European Parliament. If the hon. Lady is to be taken at her word, she is arguing for Scotland to have 76 Members of the European Parliament, which seems slightly absurd as we only have 72 Members in the United Kingdom Parliament. The Scottish National party seems to be arguing that we should have 76 Members at European level.

If anyone read The Scotsman this morning—I am sure that you, Mr. Morris, read it every morning of your life —he would have seen an article which was critical of Euro Members of Parliament. It attacked them for living off their expenses and consultancies, and the rich pickings that they can make during the five years of their tenancy in the European Parliament. I did not necessarily agree with the article, but it expressed a view that is held by some people.

The author is a member of the Conservative party. Indeed, he was a candidate in recent general elections. Naturally, like the majority of Conservative candidates in Scotland, he was defeated. I refer to Mr. Peter Clarke, who writes for The Scotsman. If the views that he expressed were in any way correct—if it were true that Scotland should have not eight but 76 Euro-Members of Parliament living off the fat pickings in Europe—it would be a rather strange world. It is surprising that the hon. Lady should advance such an argument.

5.30 pm

It was surprising also to hear the hon. Lady argue that the answer is for Scotland to have independence, that only with independence shall we be able to determine for ourselves what our representation in the European Parliament should be. The hon. Lady went on to say that she is a great supporter of further integration at the European level. I have always understood that further integration at the European level would require member states to surrender sovereignty. Thus, the hon. Lady says that she believes in independence for Scotland, but that she believes also in giving up Scotland's independence, in ceding sovereignty to the European Parliament.

It seems to me that those are contradictory positions, which cannot be used with any kind of logic. I am always struck by the difference between the Labour party and the Scottish National party. We argue for a Scottish parliament within the United Kingdom, while the Scottish nationalists argue for a Scottish parliament within the union of a European superstate.

I should like now to turn to points that have been made in connection with the amendments. If the amendments are defeated, Scotland will have eight European parliamentary seats out of a total of 93 for the United Kingdom. That is about 6 per cent.

Mr. Wallace


Mr. McAllion

I understand that the current number is 87, which will be increased to 93.

Mr. Wallace

The current number is 81.

Mr. McAllion

So it is to go up to 87.

In any case, 6 to 7 per cent. of the seats in the European Parliament will be Scottish. In the case of Westminster, we have 72 seats out of 630–11 per cent. It seems to me, therefore, that there is a contradiction in the Government's argument. They say that it is only fair that Scotland should settle for 6 or 7 per cent. representation at the European level. They argue that we must be fair to England, Wales and Scotland. But if it is fair for Scotland to have representation of only 6 or 7 per cent. at the European level, surely it is fair that it should have only 6 or 7 per cent. representation at the United Kingdom level.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Do not encourage them.

Mr. McAllion

They are being illogical, and the flaws in their argument must be pointed out.

They cannot have it both ways. They cannot say that it is fair for Scotland to have 6 to 7 per cent. representation in Europe—only about half its 11 or 12 per cent. representation in the United Kingdom. The application of consistency and logic would result in a reduction in the number of Scottish seats in this place to about 39. This is not my idea; it is the logic of the Government. They are pretending to be fair and logical in their treatment of Scotland. Of course, there is no fairness or logic. If the Government were to pursue their argument to its logical conclusion, they would have severe problems in Scotland.

Reference has been made to the White Paper, "Scotland in the Union—A Partnership for Good". In the foreword, written by the Prime Minister, there is a reference to the Government's deep commitment to the unity of the United Kingdom. The right hon. Gentleman recognised that no nation could be held irrevocably, against its will, in any kind of union. He conceded that there was growing anxiety in Scotland about the union and whether it was in Scotland's best interests. He promised that he would search for new ways of strengthening the union—in particular, Scotland's place in it—so that Scotland might flourish for a fourth century.

The Minister may believe that that is just so much guff strictly for the natives up in Scotland, that the Prime Minister makes such remarks only when he is there. When he comes down to England it is a very different argument —the argument that was advanced during the Second Reading debate: that Scotland's place in the union is no different from that of Essex, Yorkshire or Lancashire, that the governing principle must always be fairness as between individual constituencies and the size of electorates.

If that is what the Government actually believe, they should apply the argument not only in respect of the European Parliament but in respect of the United Kingdom. That would result in their ignoring Scotland's so-called special place in the union. We are to be denied an additional seat in Europe. Consistency would result in our representation in this House being cut.

Mr. Tom Clarke

I had an opportunity on Sunday afternoon to meet some of my hon. Friend's constituents at Timex. The regard of one of them—a woman—for my hon. Friend was exceeded only by my own. Those people made the point that, time after time, the Government miss opportunities in Europe—including the opportunity of the social chapter—very much at their own expense.

Mr. McAllion

That is an excellent point. Not long ago, I was accused in the Chamber by the Minister for Public Transport, the hon. Member for Kettering (Mr. Freeman), of supporting job wreckers at Timex. The hon. Gentleman was referring, of course, to the Timex workers who had been sacked and locked out by management, whereas the real job wrecker there is the multinational company itself. The Government consistently get it wrong by backing multinationals, as well as others who are rich and powerful, against their own people. There is no better example of this than the way in which they have set their face against the social chapter, which would give the workers of this country the protection that is available to workers everywhere else in the European Community.

The hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) is muttering into his shirt. I shall not ask him what he said, as I understand that he has been promoted to the post of Parliamentary Private Secretary and is therefore not allowed to take part in debates. That being the case, he should not mutter either. He should just sit there quietly and accept what Opposition Members say.

There is no possibility that the Government will apply to the European Parliament the logic that they apply to the United Kingdom Parliament. If they were to do so, they would be faced with the break-up of the United Kingdom and of this Parliament, as they know very well. While North sea oil is important to them, there will be no possibility of their risking Scotland's breaking away and deciding for itself that the union no longer has anything to offer to its people.

The Government continue to be two-faced and inconsistent. They play the national card in England when it suits them to do so. For example, during this debate they say that they are fighting for fairness for England. When they are up in Scotland, of course, there is no such place as England, and Scotland has a special place in the United Kingdom. What they say is totally inconsistent, totally two-faced and totally unbelievable. No one in Scotland, except diehard Tories, believes them any longer.

Ultimately, Scotland's representation in Europe should be a matter for the Scottish people themselves. The hon. Member for Moray argued that, with an independent Scotland, that would be the case. The trouble with her argument is that Scotland has not yet voted for independence.

Mr. Wallace

Will the hon. Gentleman note the fact that at 5.37 pm, almost two hours after the beginning of the debate, a Scottish Office Minister now graces the Committee with his presence?

Mr. McAllion

The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point. No doubt, when the Minister saw my name appear on the screen, he hurried to the Chamber.

It is for the Scottish people to decide how they should be represented at the European level. With an independent Scotland, that would be the case. But we have not yet voted for independence and no major Scottish political party supports that policy. I include the Scottish National party, which is willing to give up Scotland's independence and to cede its sovereignty to the European Parliament in a way that would be much more damaging to Scottish interests than in the sovereignty of this Parliament. The SNP, for example, supports an independent central bank beyond any kind of political control.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes)

Order. We are dealing with a relatively narrow point, and I must ask the hon. Gentleman to address himself to it.

Mr. McAllion

I am trying very hard to do precisely that, Dame Janet.

How do the Scottish people express their views on what their representation should be in Europe? They choose not to do so through the SNP. Indeed, that would be a waste of time because the SNP holds out only an unrealistic promise. Nor do they choose to do so by voting for incorporation in a unitary Parliament, as the Tories want them to do and even pretend that they have done. The Scottish people did not vote for this Parliament to decide how they should be represented at the European level; they voted for something quite different.

The democratic authority for the Bill comes from the Tory vision of an incorporating union between Scotland and England. The Tories believe that this is a unitary Parliament in which the majority is all powerful. Their attachment to the reactionary principle that sovereignty rests not with the people but with whichever party happens to have a majority in the House is the vision that they pray in aid when they argue that they have the right to decide for Scotland how it will be represented in Europe.

That vision has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Scottish people. Three out of four of those who voted in the last general election voted against that sort of incorporating union, unitary Parliament and the Tories having the right to tell us what our representation in Europe should be. Indeed, 61 of the 72 Members who represent Scotland in this Parliament oppose that sort of incorporating union and unitary Parliament. That goes to the heart of the argument between the two sides tonight.

We do not believe that the Government have a democratic right to decide Scotland's representation in Europe—or any of the other issues that affect the Scottish people. The Scottish people have that right, which is why all the opposition parties signed the claim of right for Scotland—

Mr. Tom Clarke

I hesitate to become involved in this argument, but when we have a Labour Government and the majority of Members of Parliament in England happen to be Conservative, will the same logic apply and the Labour Government not have the right to govern England?

Mr. McAllion

If English people decide to vote overwhelmingly for parties that want to break up the United Kingdom, that is a matter for them. The sovereign right of nations applies to all nations across the globe, not just to this or that nation. If Scotland has a national right to self-determination, so has England. That is what the argument is about. We are discussing who decides the representation of different nations at the European Parliament. We are challenging the idea that that decision should be taken only by the majority party in the House, which does not even reflect the majority of the English people, let alone the majority of the British people.

The Second Deputy Chairman

Order. The logic of the hon. Gentleman's argument appears to be that we should not legislate on anything, at any time. We must deal with matters as they are.

Mr. McAllion

If the House decided to stop interfering in the affairs of the British people, that would be one of the most progressive decisions that it had made and the British people—especially in Scotland—would be the first to give three cheers and to say, "Thank God for that."

Scotland wants a new democratic deal. It wants a directly elected Scottish Parliament, sovereign in its own areas, which can negotiate with the Westminster Parliament, if that suits Scotland, on a particular area, or with the European Parliament, if that suits Scotland, on other areas. That Scottish Parliament would negotiate the division of competencies and powers between the Scottish, Westminster and European Parliaments. That is what Scotland voted for and that is what Scotland should be getting.

A Scottish Parliament should have been established in the aftermath of the general election, able to negotiate either directly with Europe or, if it thought it better, with Westminster about what the joint representation of Scotland and the rest of Britain should be. Before the House decides Scotland's representation in Europe, the consent of the Scottish people should be sought.

All too often, the House decides for Scotland and discounts what Scotland thinks. The Tory Government believe that there should be five additional seats for England and one for Wales—and Scotland can jump into the North sea if it so chooses. That is the Government's view, but they have no right to impose it on the people of Scotland.

One point that has not yet been mentioned is that the Bill is the consequence of an agreement reached at the European Council, which was held in Scotland's capital city last year. However, there was no direct representation for Scotland in the European Council when it discussed additional representation for the countries within the European Community.

In fact, we were represented by the Prime Minister, who is now so unpopular in Scotland that he is even less popular than his predecessor. To be less popular than Baroness Thatcher is some achievement, which I doubt will ever be paralleled. The feelings of the Scottish people were probably better represented outside that European Council meeting when 25,000 people demonstrated in support of a Scottish Parliament.

5.45 pm

The Scottish people are becoming seriously disillusioned with the Tory Government's views on how Scotland should he represented in the European Community. The Government argue that we are represented because the Secretary of State for Scotland happens to be a member of the Tory Cabinet. As has been said before, the right hon. Gentleman represents the Cabinet in Scotland; he does not represent Scotland in the Cabinet. That is a tragedy.

They say that we are represented because the Tory-controlled Scottish Office participates in the United Kingdom governmental machine that influences the United Kingdom's permanent representatives in Europe. They argue that we are represented because that same Tory-controlled Scottish Office participates through the Council of Ministers and agencies such as Scotland Europa and Scottish Trade International, which are essentially Government agencies under the control of Tory Ministers.

That indirect representation through the Tory Government, who are so unpopular in Scotland, is an affront to democracy and all Opposition Members recognise that. I suspect that Tory Members who are honest with themselves also recognise that. They know they have no democratic right to make decisions tonight about what should happen north of the border.

My hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) said that there is no substitute for democracy. Tragically, in Scotland this Parliament is a substitute for democracy. The way that Parliament is governed is an affront to democracy. If the Tories do not understand that, their current poll rating in Scotland of 16 per cent. will plummet even further, and deservedly so.

Dr. Godman

It is curious that we, in this multinational Parliament, are debating the extent of the representation within another multinational Parliament —

Mr. Wallace

Has the hon. Gentleman noticed that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton) has departed? Again, there is no Scottish Office Minister on the Bench.

Dr. Godman

The Minister came in so quietly that I did not spot his presence; I certainly did not spot his departure.

The legislative sovereignty of this Parliament has been severely restricted by the central institutions of the European Community, whereas over the next decade the power of the European Parliament must grow. It cannot be otherwise, because it cannot remain in its present condition. The Bill owes its very existence to the reunification of the two Germanies, which in itself was a most welcome European development? It has important repercussions for the European Parliament.

I agreed wholeheartedly with the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) that we are members of a multinational parliament. There are those who believe that, with European union, if Maastricht is ratified, Europe will develop—albeit slowly—into a multinational federal state. I parted company with the hon. Lady, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion), when she argued the case for an independent Scotland within the European Community.

Given the treaty of Rome, the role of the European Commission, that of the European Council and, perhaps most important, that of the European Court of Justice, there are no independent member states of the European Community. It makes better sense, in my view, to talk about autonomous member states forming, in relation to the Maastricht treaty, a European union.

I believe that we all now accept, readily or grudgingly, the increasingly important role of the European Parliament and the Members of that Parliament. That greater power of the European Parliament must be matched—if that is the right way to put it—by the increasing diminution of this Parliament in terms of the power of the European Community's central institutions.

All 12 national legislatures are now subordinate to the European Court of Justice; it is in evey sense a supreme court. As Judge Christopher Bellamy of the Court of First Instance said in his De Lancy lecture last year, those of us who are aware of it are witnessing a quiet legal and constitutional revolution in terms of the power of these institutions. That includes the European Parliament.

In his lecture, Judge Ballamy claimed that, if we accept that the principle of the supremacy of Community law applies not only when the Act of Parliament in question is inconsistent with the Treaty, but also when it is inconsistent with subsidiary Community legislation, that is to say regulations and directives, then matters have moved very far indeed. Because in that event the will of the once sovereign legislature has become subordinate to another legislative act, which is itself derivative, passed by another legislature, the EEC Council of Ministers. On this view Parliament"— he is referring her to the United Kingdom Parliament— has become subordinate not just to a constitutional instrument—the Treaty—but also to subsequent legislation based on the Treaty made by a rival legislature. He is talking about the European Council of Ministers, but in time to come that statement would fit the role played by the European Parliament.

If we look at the powers of that Parliament and the role of the MEPs, we see that, in accordance with the Maastricht treaty, all Community citizens have the right to petition the European Parliament by way of their local MEP—that is article 18—and all citizens have a right to complain to the European ombudsman in respect of the actions of Community institutions. They cannot do this by taking a complaint to a Member of Parliament; they have to take the complaint to a Member of the European Parliament.

So, in terms of representing the interests of these huge constituencies, certainly where Scotland is concerned, MEPs will perforce, I believe, become much more involved, as the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) suggested, in a very wide range of issues. He said, rightly, that we are already referral agencies where some matters are concerned in terms of taking complaints to MEPs. This, I believe, will increase in the light of Maastricht.

Mr. Brian Donohoe (Cunninghame, South)

Will my hon. Friend tell us how it is possible to consider an MEP in Scotland to be a local MEP, when two of them represent both the east and the west coasts of Scotland?

Dr. Godman

I am glad that my hon. Friend was listening so intently. I apologise for that slip of the tongue. I guess it is a contradiction in terms to talk about Alex Smith, the very fine MEP for South of Scotland, being a local MEP, given that his constituency, as was pointed out earlier, stretches from coast to coast. He represents for example, both east coast and west coast fishermen.

We have to remember that these MEPs are taking part in a European Parliament which increasingly has a powerful role to play—the kind of role that this Parliament cannot play. In terms of the decision making of that unelected body, the European Commission, and of the Council of Ministers, these few MEPs have a more direct, more interventionist role to play with regard to the proposals emerging from the European Commission. Even now, they can block some proposals. For example, they can stop the accession of a country seeking to join the European Community.

In terms of the European Parliament, MEPs become, vis-a-vis the Maastricht treaty, in every sense co-decision-makers with the Council of Ministers. We have never had that power. According to article 189b, if the European Parliament is so minded, it can reject a Commission proposal. We in national Parliaments cannot do that. Even at this moment, the various Committees in the European Parliament can shape to a considerable degree proposals by the 17 Commissioners to the Council of Ministers.

So it is not an empty claim that the European Parliament now has powers that we do not have, but which it is often reluctant to use. I believe that I am right in saying that it can dismiss the President of the European Commission. We do not have that power. So we are talking about placing representatives on this increasingly powerful body.

Under article 189b, the European Parliament can stop a Council regulation. As Judge Bellamy said in his lecture: We will therefore have a joint legislature, the Council of Ministers and the Parliament. He is referring, of course, to the European Parliament. In recognition of that fact Community regulations will be signed by the Presidents of both bodies. We are literally standing on the touchline in this regard, but all this centres upon the immensely powerful role of the European Court of Justice and the roles, certainly nowhere near as powerful, of the European Commission and the Council of Ministers. In a very real sense, we are determining the extent of representation in another multi-national Parliament, which is growing in stature and power, while our legislative power is increasingly constrained by the actions and deliberations of central institutions.

6 pm

Some parliamentarians in other member states are even arguing that the members of the European Court of Justice should be appointed by the European Parliament rather by national Governments on the recommendation of law officers, as is currently the case. I do not want the European Parliament to be given that kind of power, but those discussions are taking place, and in the amendments we are arguing for more representation in Scotland.

We need that extra seat in the European Parliament. I consider it essential that Scotland should be well represented by the very finest people.

Mr. Marlow

Surrounded as I am by hon. Members concerned with Scotland, I hope that it will be all right for me to stand up and say a few words on behalf of England. Is that in order with the rest of the House?

The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Dame Janet Fookes)

Order. It is a question of whether it is in order with the Chair. Provided it is relevant, the answer is yes.

Mr. Marlow

I will try my hardest—and I may well succeed—to make it both in order and relevant.

What does the European Parliament do? What is it for? I do not think that anyone is greatly impressed by the European Parliament at the moment, or particularly impressed by its Members. There are some very bright people, some of them with a great deal of ambition but not a lot of power. It would seem that their overriding objective at the moment is to increase the power of the institution of which they are members, rather than the good governance of Europe. So be it. If we have more members of that institution, we are concerned about how they should be allocated within this nation of ours, this state of ours, this United Kingdom. We are a united kingdom, and we are all equal within it.

Mr. McAllion

We are not a nation.

Mr. Marlow

From a sedentary position, the hon. Gentleman says that we are not a nation. I believe that we are a nation state, and the nation state is the United Kingdom.

Mr. McAllion

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Marlow

In a minute.

I believe that we are a nation state—to which I give my loyalty—and that everybody within that nation state should have equal rights and equal representation. People and businesses in my constituency may wish to get in touch with their MEP, and may have reason to do so. I cannot really conceive why, if this institution has any value at all —and hopefully it does—my constituents should be less fully represented than someone from another part of the country. I cannot conceive why constituents in Cornwall should have a different level of representation from that of constituents in Scotland, London, or the north-west. Why should the regions of the United Kingdom be catered for less fully, just because they happen to be in a different part of the nation state from that part known as Scotland?

Mr. Allen

Does the hon. Gentleman seek to erode the original premise of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1978 and subsequent amendments—that it need not be a pure mathematical formula that distributes seats around Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England? The electorate of any Assembly constituency in Great Britain shall be as near the electoral quota as is reasonably practical having regard, where appropriate, to special geographical considerations. Does the hon. Gentleman concede that in Scotland, more than anywhere else in the United Kingdom, special geographical considerations apply?

Mr. Marlow

I think the hon. Gentleman is talking about size and scale. That is a factor, but there are many other factors, as I am sure he will agree. Increasingly, in this age of the communications revolution, a lot of work is done by telephone and fax; in the future, much will probably be done by videophone, and so on and so forth, and by meetings of that sort. Although I concede that the population is more sparsely distributed in some parts of the country than in others, I do not think that that in itself is a sufficient reason why people in those parts of the country—

Mr. Peter Lloyd

Perhaps I may help the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen). The Act to which he referred does enumerate the normal boundary commission criteria, but that is in their respective parts of the United Kingdom. The Boundary Commission took cognisance of the geography of Scotland, which is why in the Highland and Islands constituency the large area is balanced by a much smaller population. That is done within the constituent parts of the United Kingdom, and not across the United Kingdom as a whole. The legislation is quite clear about that.

Mr. Marlow

I hear what my hon. Friend says, but there are parts of Scotland where the population is very densely distributed, whereas there are parts of England where the population is not as densely distributed as it is in Scotland.

The hon. Gentleman talked about geography and boundaries being consistent, to a certain extent, with identity. It makes sense where possible—where groups of people live within a county, or a high-density area, or a catchment area, or a London, or Edinburgh or Glasgow—that the boundaries should not go through the middle of Glasgow or Nottingham, but should be consistent with people's communities and identities.

If there is work to be done, the overriding principle of Members of the European Parliament should be that it is done for everybody—every business, every constituent and every interest—in the United Kingdom in equal measure. I see no reason why my constituents should not have the same opportunity of being represented by somebody in the European Parliament as any other constituent in the country, be they in Cornwall, Northumberland, Scotland, Cambridge or wherever.

The Government are quite right to allocate the seats in the way they seek. I think that in the past England has been unfairly treated, and that it is only right and proper that that unfairness should be addressed.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)

How does the hon. Gentleman tie in what he is saying today with what he said on Second Reading? It is my recollection that his attitude to the enlargement of the European Parliament was, so far as this country is concerned, that it was totally unnecessary. If I recall his speech aright, he said it was simply a drain on the Exchequer and the taxpayer. If he is not terribly interested in enlargement, why not bow out of the debate and let those who do feel that it is important that we are represented have their way?

Mr. Marlow

It is an interesting point. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is not quoting me aright. I am sceptical about the European Parliament and the motives of its Members, but I am not saying that it does not have a role and a purpose, or that it is a total waste of space. It may develop a constructive role which is helpful to the interests of my constituents and of the United Kingdom as a whole, although I am sceptical about that. I am not saying that we have reached that stage yet. It may happen.

The hon. Gentleman has his view, which is shared by some people in my constituency. I am likewise entitled to participate in the debate, particularly as many of the hon. Members who have already spoken have represented a small but vital part of the United Kingdom: Scotland. Someone should run up the flag for England and ensure that we follow the Government's lead in getting justice and a fair share for England. I am delighted that the Government are proceeding in such a way.

Mr. Wallace

I am grateful to the hon. Member for giving way. Perhaps what he fails to understand was betrayed by his opening remarks. He seems to regard the United Kingdom as one unitary state, without accepting that it is composed of the four distinctive elements of Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland. Recognising those separate identities within the United Kingdom, which I support, let us consider the fact that Luxembourg, with a population that might merit only about one Member of the European Parliament, has six. There has always been over-representation of peoples and nations within the European Community, and it is something that the United Kingdom should have tried to achieve.

Mr. Marlow

I accept that the United Kingdom, which I call a nation state, is made up of four different nations. They have their different identities and aspirations, but come together within the greater United Kingdom. I think most hon. Members are in favour of that, as it is a good thing. So I do not understand where the difference lies between the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) and myself.

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland goes on about Luxembourg. Since the inception of the Community, Luxembourg has been over-represented in the European Parliament. I am against overrepresentation and would like it to be reformed because it is wrong. It is nonsense. As far as possible, different parts of Europe should be equally represented in the European Parliament; different peoples, constituents, organisations and lobbies should have equal access. It is wrong that Luxembourg, which is smaller than Northamptonshire—which does not even have an MEP because it is not big enough—has six MEPs when its population is less than that of Northampton.

The main reason for my opposition to the Maastricht treaty is that the Commission has too much power and is seeking to get more. I want its power to be reduced. It is not properly democratically accountable, and because there is no such thing as party there and it is polyglot, and also because of different interests and shifting coalitions, I do not think that the European Parliament is likely to be an adequate institution to control the Commission in my lifetime.

The Commission uses its power by gaining the support of the smaller nations of Europe, which feel that it is on their side and that it will produce a federal Europe, which is what they want. They see their power coming from a federal Europe, whereas we see ours coming from the United Kingdom. The Germans see their power coming largely from Germany and the French from France. The Belgians, to an extent the Dutch, and certainly Luxembourg, see their power coming through Europe.

Over-representation helps the Commission to get its own way. When there is a vote in the Council of Ministers, it is wrong that the small countries are over-represented, because that means that there is a bias in decision making in favour of the smaller countries. There is also a bias because some of the smaller countries happen to be the peripheral countries, such as Greece, Portugal, Ireland—the people who are in receipt of net moneys from the European Community.

6.15 pm
The Second Deputy Chairman

Order. Do I hear the cantering footsteps of a hobby-horse? May we please return to the amendment under consideration?

Mr. Marlow

I am not arguing at all, Dame Janet.

I am concerned about the regional allocation of Members of the European Parliament. If the recipients of European funds, the small nations of Europe and the allies of the Commission are over-represented, not just on the Council of Ministers but in the European Parliament, that enhances the power and prestige of the Commission and makes it easier for it to get its way. In my view, when the Commission gets its way, it is more often than not contrary to the interests of the United Kingdom and of my constituents, whom I seek to represent.

Mrs. Ewing

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman because I am following his arguments with interest. Given that during debates on the European issue the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) has consistently agreed with the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor), who said last week on Second Reading that it did not matter where the extra seats were allocated, why does the hon. Gentleman now take such a strong stance against the argument propounded by Opposition Members and supported by some Conservative Members that Scotland should have extra representation? Is it not because he is in principle against the idea of a European Parliament?

Mr. Marlow

I am not a great fan of the European Parliament, as the hon. Lady knows. My hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) is a wise and effective politician and we have a great identity of view, but perhaps the hon. Lady will understand that we are not totally as one on Scottish issues.

I have two arguments. First, let us be fair to England. Secondly, if we are fair to England and to the idea of equal representation throughout Europe, that will enhance the power of the larger units of Europe rather than the smaller units and, by doing so, will reduce the power of the Commission. I am therefore very much in favour of the Government's point of view.

Mr. Home Robertson

It is an unspeakable joy to follow the authentic voice of the Tory empire loyalist. I always enjoy listening to the speeches of the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow), whether he is flogging a dead horse or not. When I saw him rising to his feet, I thought that he was going to solve all our problems. We are looking for an extra seat for Scotland and he has made his views clear on previous occasions—I understand that on Second Reading he thought that the number of seats anywhere would be irrelevant.

I thought that he was going to solve the problem by doing away with the MEP for Northamptonshire and giving an extra seat to Scotland. But I see that he is muttering behind his hand. Perhaps he is prepared to accept a manuscript amendment to that effect, which would get us out of the problem and give us an extra seat in Scotland.

I agree with practically every word that my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) said about the tyranny of the minority from which we suffer in Scotland. That is a deep running sore in Scotland. It is affecting every aspect of public policy and public life, and until that constitutional issue is sorted out, nothing will go right. It is about time that the Government addressed themselves to that problem, in relation to our representation in the European institutions and right across the board. It is an important and serious matter.

Mr. Phil Gallie (Ayr)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Home Robertson

Here is the other authentic voice of the empire loyalist.

Mr. Gallie

The hon. Gentleman was discussing representation in Scotland. He suggests that there should be other constitutional changes there. Would not such constitutional changes mean that ultimately there would be a reduction in the representatives coming from Scotland to this place, as the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) has suggested?

Mr. Home Robertson

I would not necessarily quarrel with that.

Mr. McAllion

Perhaps the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie) will not be here.

Mr. Home Robertson

As my hon. Friend says, it would give us all the greatest joy if the hon. Member for Ayr and some of his hon. Friends stopped coming here, or—more important still—if they were not in the Scottish Parliament when we succeed in establishing it.

The hon. Member has made me think of another extraordinary argument of his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North about Britain being a nation. How can a united kingdom be a nation? I know that Conservative Members find the fact difficult to grasp, but the United Kingdom is not a nation; it is a union of nations. For such a union to thrive, all the nations within it must have their place, and must be respected. That is not happening now.

I admit that I do not altogether agree with everything that has been said by some of my hon. Friends, which will not come as a surprise to them. I must own up to having been one of the five Labour Members who voted for the Third Reading of the Bill on the Maastricht treaty. I make no apology for that. I believe that Europe is important, that it is the way forward for our people, and that it must develop. Europe's Parliament and its other institutions must develop, too, and that will be possible only if those institutions are seen to be increasingly democratic and credible, and to identify with the peoples of Europe.

That brings me back to the geographical difficulties associated with the British single-Member constituencies in the European Parliament. I represent one of the numerous Westminster constituencies which lies within the Euro-constituency of South of Scotland. Several hon. Members have already referred to that Euro-constituency. Indeed, the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) is the battle-scarred veteran of a lost deposit there.

Mr. Wallace

The first lost deposit in a European election.

Mr. Home Robertson

The hon. Gentleman takes great pride in that fact. The constituency stretches for almost 6,000 square miles, from Ailsa Craig in the firth of Clyde to the Bass rock in the firth of Forth.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon)

There are no voters there.

Mr. Home Robertson

I once visited the Bass rock, which is in my constituency, and I was a little alarmed to see that a copy of The Sun was delivered to the lighthouse keeper—so I was not all that distressed when the lighthouse was closed down.

Mr. Wallace

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be familiar with the expression, "addressing one's remarks to Ailsa Craig". Does that not feel much the same as trying to address a reasoned argument to Ministers, especially Scottish Office Ministers?

Mr. Home Robertson

That is rather a ponderous observation, especially as I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Ailsa Craig, or rather for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes), is in the Chamber. He represents Ailsa Craig almost as well as I represent Bass rock.

I was arguing that the single-Member Euro-constituencies, as they exist for Great Britain alone— Northern Ireland is not involved—stretch democratic credibility too far. There is an overwhelming case for a proportional system in elections to the European Parliament.

As the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland said at the time, if we had held a snap vote in the Chamber when he first made that point, I think that we would have carried the day, because the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Rathbone) and one or two Liberals were here, and so were my hon. Friends the Members for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion), and for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman).

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


Mr. Home Robertson

Now here is the bad news.

Mr. Foulkes

My hon. Friend may not have heard the bad news—bad news, that is, for him. Today, I am thankful to say, the Transport and General Workers Union decided to continue its support for the first-past-the-post system. I believe that that wise decision represents a turning of the tide for proportional representation. I hope that my hon. Friend will now get off the bandwagon of proportional representation and return to the major issues, such as unemployment, privatisation and the appalling record of the Conservative Government.

Mr. Home Robertson


The Second Deputy Chairman

Before the hon. Gentleman continues, I ask him not to be diverted too far.

Mr. Home Robertson

I shall refrain from asking my hon. Friend how the Transport and General Workers Union democratically reached that decision, and whether it was reached proportionately. But I take your point, Dame Janet; this is all miles out of order—or at least, my hon. Friend's intervention was out of order.

I return to the question whether there should be an additional Member of the European Parliament for Scotland. There is a case for electing such a Member—and, indeed, for electing the whole lot of them—by proportional representation.

The hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) moved the lead amendment in this important group. Does she trust the Home Office or the Scottish Office to do the business of providing an extra seat for Scotland? I must not be drawn into speculation about boundaries—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] An announcement about boundaries in my part of the world will be made in a couple of days' time. It is embargoed, so it would be totally out of order for me to speculate about where the proposed boundaries, daft though they may be, might be drawn.

Mr. Wallace


Mr. Home Robertson

No, I must make progress.

Mrs. Ewing


Mr. Home Robertson

I must give way to the hon. Lady.

Mrs. Ewing

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way to me, because he asked me a specific question.

Mr. Home Robertson

I have not asked it yet.

Mrs. Ewing

I do not believe that this is a question of trusting any member of the Government to argue the case for an additional seat for Scotland. The issue at stake is democratic representation for Scotland, where there is clear unanimity of opinion among the 61 Opposition Members of Parliament that there should be additional representation for Scotland in the European Parliament, which increasingly influences the decisions that affect our constituents's lives.

Mr. Home Robertson

Of course the hon. Lady is right about that, and I agree with her. However, the trouble with all aspects of life in Scotland these days is caused by the people who sit on the Government Front Bench. Good Lord! I see that the hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Mr. Conway) is sitting there at the moment. Is he a Whip? Or has he suddenly been appointed to the Scottish Office, or perhaps the Home Office? What is he doing? Has there been a reshuffle? This is exciting news; news is unfolding on the hoof.

Nowadays it is people such as the hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham who make the decisions about how policies are administered and worked out in the machinery of government, and in everything else, in Scotland. We need look no further than last Friday's edition of The Scotsman to see what can happen when such people start trying to draw maps.

The leading article in The Scotsman described the Government's proposals for local authorities in Scotland as safe havens for the Tories. Who knows what might happen if we got the extra seat for Scotland? Perhaps there would be an MEP for east Renfrewshire. If the Government are crazy enough to propose that there should be an all-purpose, single-tier authority for east Renfrewshire—

Mr. Eric Clarke (Midlothian)

Or for Eastwood.

Mr. Home Robertson

My hon. Friend is too much of a cynic. Surely he is not suggesting to me or to the House that the judgment of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart), would he in any way affected in the execution of his duties as the Minister responsible for local government in Scotland, or that he would take certain decisions on the future structure of local government, simply because he is the constituency Member for Eastwood. My hon. Friend would never suggest such a thing.

But who knows, if Eastwood is good enough to have an all-purpose, single-tier authority, running social work, education, further education and everything else, although it has a population of only 84,000, why should it not have a Member of the European Parliament too?

I see that the hon. Member for Ayr is nodding. He is giving the game away, because exactly the same could be argued for Kyle and Carrick—or south Ayrshire, or whatever it is called. I apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire—or rather, my hon. Friend the Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley—for saying so, but if the south Ayrshire local authority—Kyle and Carrick district council or whatever it is called—with a population of more than 100,000, makes sense as an all-purpose local authority, would it not be an appropriate candidate as a European parliamentary constituency?

Mr. Foulkes

I intend to nominate one of the councillors for Girvan, Glendoune for the job. She would do an excellent job, as I am sure my hon. Friend would agree.

Mr. Home Robertson

The thought of Councillor Foulkes in Strasbourg is appealing, and—I am sorry to have to tell you, Dame Janet—there are more such potential constituencies. There is Moray, and—

Mr. Gallie

Will the hon. Gentleman tell us whether the idea of Councillor Foulkes, the councillor for Girvan, being dispatched to Strasbourg would be most popular with the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley?

The Second Deputy Chairman

Order. It is previous for the hon. Gentleman to select candidates for seats that have not yet been established.

Mr. Home Robertson

It would be a good thing if there were more female Members of the European Parliament for Scotland. As an old friend of Councillor Foulkes, I must say that that is a most commendable suggestion.

Mr. Wallace

What about Stirling?

6.30 pm
Mr. Home Robertson

The hon. Gentleman mentions Stirling as another likely fiefdom or Tory safe haven. Stirling may be good enough for a single-tier, all-purpose local authority that would run the colleges, schools, social work departments, transport and everything else with a population of only 81,000. Stirling may be good enough for that. The area was described by an editorial in The Scotsman—who am Ito differ from that newspaper?—as a safe haven for the Tories. Perhaps Mrs. Forsyth would be a likely candidate there.

The real shocker is one that I feel strongly about. It spoiled my porridge at breakfast last Friday. I read on the front page of The Scotsman that a new local authority was to be proposed in the House, either tomorrow or the next day, called Berwickshire and East Lothian. But it will not be Berwickshire and East Lothian, as it includes only a piece of East Lothian. The Government want to chop it up and add it to part of the Borders, because somebody thinks that that might be a Tory safe haven too. The population of such a local authority area would be 76,000—barely enough for a parliamentary constituency.

Mr. Wallace

The hon. Gentleman is worried about what the Government could create as a European constituency. Does he feel that that is what the Boundary Commission will propose on Friday for a parliamentary constituency? If the Boundary Commission, which is politically neutral by all accounts, can do something like that, what does the hon. Gentleman think a committee of placemen set up by the Secretary of State will do to European seats?

Mr. Home Robertson

My lips are sealed on any speculation about what the Parliamentary Boundary Commission may be about to propose. It would be improper to say anything about that before it makes its announcement on Thursday.

We know what information The Scotsman has obtained about what the Government may propose for local authorities. They may hope for Tory safe havens, including the dotty little conglomeration of part of the Borders and part of East Lothian which is joined by the Dunglass corridor over a bridge which just about ties it all together.

The Second Deputy Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman will have to show more ingenuity if he is to convince me that his remarks are relevant to the amendment.

Mr. Home Robertson

Do not worry, Dame Janet—I am about to conclude. This is the final one on my list, and it is the craziest. If that area is good enough to be an all-purpose, single-tier local authority—I do not know how on earth it could operate a full range of local services with such a small population and given the moronic geography of such an artificial local authority—perhaps the Government will propose it as a Euro-constituency?

I do not trust the Government. The hon. Member for Moray proposes the excellent idea that we can get an extra Member of the European Parliament to represent Scottish interests, even if we cannot pinch one from Northampton. But does she trust the Government not to mess around with the process—

Mr. Wallace

To gerrymander.

Mr. Home Robertson

I was not going to use that word. It never entered my head that the Conservatives would try such a thing.

Mrs. Ewing

This is a matter for the people of Scotland and their representatives. If all hon. Members who believe that there should be a Scottish Parliament were to take destiny into their hands, the House would not be debating an increase in the number of Euro-seats in Scotland from eight to nine. Scotland would have 16 seats.

Part of the responsibility for this situation lies on the hon. Gentleman's shoulders, because he believes in the retention of the Union. I believe in the establishment of an independent Scotland that would put us on an equal basis with Denmark and other countries within the EC.

Mr. Home Robertson

I can see that I may run into difficulties with you in answering that question, Dame Janet. I believe passionately in Scottish home rule within the United Kingdom.

Mr. Wallace

Does not the hon. Member mean home rule?

Mr. Home Robertson

No, not home rule. I believe in home rule for Scotland within the United Kingdom and within the EC. Those are serious matters.

The trouble is that, during the past 15 years of grossly cynical administration by the minority administration in the Scottish office, the credibility of the machinery of government and the democratic process has been undermined again and again. We cannot trust the Government to do things in a fair, even-handed way. So in a sense, the hon. Lady may be right—we may have to take hold of our destiny. But how do we do it under the circumstances?

Mrs. Ewing

Recall the Scottish Parliament.

Mr. Home Robertson

That may be one way. It is important that we should get extra representation for Scotland, and that it should be done fairly, and the sooner the better.

Mr. Maclennan

When the EC Council of Ministers met in Edinburgh on 11 and 12 December 1992, it would have been far from the thoughts of the Council that, in recommending the enlargement of the European Parliament, the one part of the United Kingdom that would not benefit from the decision would be Scotland —the country where it was meeting.

The EC Heads of Government, in reaching the decision to enlarge the European Parliament, properly took the view that those matters should be entrusted to the constitutional processes of the member countries, on the understanding that the processes would operate fairly and democratically, and in a proper constitutional manner.

It is set down in their decision, which it is the purpose of the Bill to enact, that the measure is recommended to member states for adoption in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. It may well be asked, in connection with the group of amendments that we are considering, what the proper constitutional requirements are.

The phrase means little more than this. If it is necessary for Britain to proceed by way of Acts of Parliament to give effect to the decision, that is how we should proceed. As Members of Parliament, we are entitled to ask ourselves whether the proposals contained within the legislative provision are proper and reflect the consensus which prevails in the country about the constitution.

The basis of the Government's argument about the distribution of the six seats is too exclusively related to population. In all the member states of the EC, population did not count a great deal in determining how seats should be divided out.

Mr. Foulkes

The hon. Gentleman is a skilful barrister at law. Will he advise me whether it would be possible for a European seat to straddle Scotland and England? Does he think that that might have been one way of creating a rather more equitable distribution of seats?

Mr. Maclennan

I have no doubt that that matter would not be of interest to the Heads of EC Governments. If it were proper within our domestic law to make such a provision, it would be in order in terms of the decision that we are seeking to implement. It is possible within the EC. On the basis of previous Acts that established European parliamentary representation, it would not be possible within the United Kingdom.

It would be constitutionally possible to introduce an Act so to provide, but as we are building in the Bill on previous Acts which provided for the establishment of separate boundary commissions for the constituent nations of the United Kingdom, it would not be in accordance with precedent. But that is perfectly possible, just as it was possible in defiance of all constitutional convention not to transfer but to wind up entirely the government of London.

It would be possible to do almost anything under the terms of our unwritten constitution if Parliament were so inclined, which is a major reason why I think that the time has long since passed when we should have a written constitution setting out the precise powers, and limits to the powers, of the legislature and the Executive.

It is perfectly plain that the distribution of parliamentary seats between the member countries of the EC population was not a factor to which a great deal of weight was given in Edinburgh when the decision was arrived at. It is clear that there is great disparity of representation between Luxembourg and Germany. Luxembourg with its six seats is over-represented in population terms. Wholly different considerations from population gave rise to the decision to equate the treatment of France and the United Kingdom.

Therefore, it is neither necessary nor desirable to follow the argument in respect of Scotland that population should be the determinant, certainly for European purposes. The population argument has been well deployed by my hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace), so I do not wish to detain the House on that point. I do, however, wish to raise other issues.

The powers of the European Parliament, even as they are at present—a point touched on by the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman)—are of increasing significance to the economic life of the nation, and touch in an immediate way upon the effectiveness of Government. Not a day passes in the discharge of my parliamentary duties when I am not conscious of the extent to which decisions of the Council of Ministers, which may or may not have been considered by the European Parliament but usually have been, affect the prosperity of my constituents.

I apologise for addressing my remarks to the interests that I represent in the House, but I do so briefly to illustrate the point. The fisheries regime, which is so critical, ultimately depends on decisions of the EC and the attitudes of the European Parliament. The agriculture regime, which is critical to the prosperity of my agricultural and rural areas, depends so much upon the effectiveness of the European Parliament.

There are also the prospects of the oil industry, for preserving the environment, and therefore the attraction of tourism. Scarcely an issue that has to be dealt with in one's daily mailbag does not have a European dimension, and that is increasingly so.

Dr. Godman

I am listening closely to the hon. Gentleman's argument. Does he agree that the European Parliament has the power to constrain to some extent the decision making of that unelected body, the European Commission?

Mr. Maclennan

I think that the hon. Gentleman is entirely right, as so often with what he has to say on these matters.

Because there is a public and growing perception of the fact that the European Parliament impinges on the lives of people, it is beyond comprehension in Scotland—I put it in that emotive way—that, at a time when it is intended to increase the representation of the United Kingdom, Scotland will not share in that development. That argument cannot be countered by arguments about population when population so clearly has not played a part in the basic decision to increase the representation of this country.

6.45 pm

In earlier debates on the Bill, the Minister touched on some of the issues contained in the amendments. I put it to him that to focus so narrowly on the population question is entirely to miss the point. Others have spoken of the geographical difficulties of representing Scotland, particularly its highlands and islands. I am as aware of that as anyone in the House, as, even under the present dispensation, I represent some 2,800 square miles of Scotland, which is a substantial area.

If the Boundary Commission has its way, it is about to be enlarged by the addition of a further 300 or 400 square miles. Therefore, I know about that argument, but it is not one to which I would attach the greatest weight.

I wish to reply to what the Minister said on that in his winding-up speech on Second Reading. In advocating an additional Member, it is not our intention to seek to solve the Scottish geographical conundrum. I do not think that that is open to us. If we are to adopt the system of election that I and my right hon. and hon. Friends advocate, the geographical base of representation will be much wider than that at present. It would be wider even than that of Mrs. Winifred Ewing, Member of the European Parliament for the Highlands and Islands.

We do not seek to make the task of travelling around Scotland easier by adding to Scotland's representation, but rather to address the sense of outrage that is felt by those in Scotland who see a decision taken by Her Majesty's Government in Edinburgh to enlarge the membership of the European Parliament but to exclude Scotland from that process.

Scotland has at least as varied an economy and social problems as the United Kingdom as a whole. Many matters there are distinct and unique. Its peripherality and its sparsity are unequalled in any part of the United Kingdom.

I say that not because of the need to cover the ground by the MEP, but because it creates its own distinctive problems. Those problems have been recognised in recent decisions by the Council of Ministers, in deciding what structural assistance should be available in the highlands and islands, and there alone, not in any part of England. That makes the case for a particular deal for Scotland justifiable in terms of the diversity and heterogeneity of the United Kingdom.

I profoundly hope that, as the debate has progressed, and as hon. Members from both sides have supported the amendments—there has been only one intervention against the amendments: from the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow)—the Government should accept the force of the argument. I do not propose to canvas all the arguments that have been mentioned by others in the debate, but will simply confine myself to my own point.

When we move to alter the shape of our democracy, it is extremely important that it should be done with cross-party consent. If the Government do not accept the amendments, they are flying in the face of the expressed consent of the House. That would be a highly undesirable development, and, for that reason, I hope that they will agree to the amendments tabled.

Mr. Eric Clarke

The argument advanced by many of my hon. Friends and other hon. Members is that we need more representatives in the EC and in the European Parliament if we are to democratise that institution. That is the desire of many people throughout Britain and the other countries represented. The role of the Commissioners and appointees must be diminished, and Scotland's voice should be heard.

What do we do when the new member nations join? Will more time be taken to debate and discuss specific items on the agenda because there will be more representatives from those new member countries? I see them being slower and more deliberate—rightly so, if they are to have a say in laying down laws.

The United Kingdom representatives should not just be members of the august body: representations should be heard from all parts of the United Kingdom, as they are from the länder in Germany, which lobby for their own interests. I am all for that representation, because I think that we are losing.

As an hon. Member who represents an area that qualifies for RECHAR money, I lay the blame at the feet of the Government. That money is not being taken up —not because of any lack of effort on the part of the European Parliament and, in particular, our own representative from Lothian, who has cross-party support in this, but because of the lack of additionality money from the Government, who have not honoured their so-called promises.

As we heard in a debate earlier in the week, there are many areas throughout the United Kingdom that will now qualify for the RECHAR fund because of mine closures. There have been many promises and hints that the mining communities will be helped, but if they get as much help as we and many of the other older mining areas have had, they will be toiling in many ways.

There is a need to speak up in the House, in the European Parliament and, yes, in the media, because there is a practical proposition to be made. Many other countries, such as Eire, seem to benefit from being EC members in a more practical way than Scotland. I hope that, when some of the legislation is passed—I am harking back to the mining industry—we shall not have closures alone in the steel and coal industries. I hope that the coal industry in Scotland will be an industry if privatisation comes off, and that there will be EC help to retain it for ever more. As we all know, we have great assets in that part of the world.

There has been talk of boundary changes. Some of the things that have emerged—especially pertaining to the leak from The Scotsman—are reminiscent of the Vance-Owen agreement. We seem to have corridors not of Muslims but of Tories—being kept in an enclave to ensure that no one encroaches on their positions.

There are some boundary changes that we should like to be made: we should like to have Berwick-upon-Tweed back, for example. Berwick belongs to the Scottish nation and was stolen from us many years ago—[Interruption.] Yes, and perhaps some other places that I do not know. I would happily put in a claim right now if that would give the Scottish nation another representative or two.

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

The hon. Gentleman has referred to my constituency. I hope that he will recall that Berwick-upon-Tweed has changed hands between England and Scotland 15 times over several centuries, and that it would be somewhat disruptive if that were to continue.

I put it to him that the Boundary Commission's activities on both sides of the border at Berwick-upon-Tweed could give us considerable cause for anxiety, given that the same people who will be implementing the Bill appear—if the rumours are true—to be making the most extraordinary proposals about the very piece of Berwickshire with which Berwick has traditionally been associated over those centuries.

Mr. Clarke

I do not intend to declare war on the people of that area, for whom I have great affection—as I do for my Geordie friends in the coalfields further south.

This is a serious matter, which should not be left to the Government. It should not be left to any Ministry, and especially not to Dover house or St. Andrew's house. If the people of Scotland were asked, they will give the answer that they gave at the election; they need full representation, and they need it in Europe. I shall leave it at that, as I think that the geographical case has been made by my hon. Friends.

Mr. Allen

This has been a very good debate. Although the Opposition wholeheartedly welcome—

Mr. Wallace

On a point of order, Dame Janet. Can you confirm that we are in Committee, and that it is open to any hon. Member to speak twice if called by you?

The Second Deputy Chairman

I can confirm that that is so.

Mr. Allen

Although the Opposition wholeheartedly welcome the Minister's decision to grant one of the extra seats to Wales, the decision to exclude Scotland from the distribution is unacceptable to us. It shows the contempt in which the Conservative party holds those parts of the country in which they lack support.

The Government are effectively saying to 5.1 million people, "You don't vote for us, so we'll deny you adequate representation." The Home Secretary said on Second Reading just the other day that he is fighting for England. It is a shame that he cannot bring himself to fight for the other countries in the Union with as much force as he says he fights for England.

Like other hon. Members who have spoken in the debate, I readily accept that the average size of a Scottish Euro-constituency is marginally smaller than that of an English one. It is nevertheless greater than the average constituency in Wales will be if the proposals are implemented.

The Home Secretary has given no indication that he took the geographical size of the constituencies into account in his calculation, as he is entitled to do by law, under the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1978. If constituency size were taken into consideration, it would be obvious that Scotland requires greater representation than it is currently given. The Conservatives are willing to push through a measure amounting to a relative lessening of Scotland's representation in Strasbourg, without even an independent look into the matter.

The Labour party firmly believes that the Scottish people should have one of the extra seats. In the Europe of the regions and nations, the very least that this Parliament should do is allocate to Scotland a fair share of the new seats to be distributed. An extra seat for Scotland, like the extra seat given to Wales, would mean far more in terms of increased representation than one more or less seat for England. With that in mind, the Opposition propose to divide the House in favour of the amendment.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

I congratulate the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) on assuming so effectively for the time being the leadership of the Opposition—even if she let it slip that she was only a front for her dynamic research assistant.

The hon. Lady sharpened up the attack from the Opposition Benches, but I do not think that her essential argument that, to be an equal partner, Scotland needs more seats is very convincing. Partnership cannot, thank goodness, be defined by numbers in that way. If it was, it would presumably mean that a partnership could be equal only with equal representation—as the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) cogently observed, although I thought that after that remark his speech went sadly astray.

Partnership between the countries of the United Kingdom is real and of enormous value to each of them. However, it does not finally depend on giving any part artificially high representation in the European Parliament or, indeed, at Westminster where Scotland has long had enhanced representation.

In many ways, this debate is a reprise of the one on Second Reading. I make no complaint about that. I realise that Scottish Members would like an extra seat in Scotland and I understand why they and other hon. Members argue persistently that they should have one. However, I am as sure now as I was on Second Reading that an extra seat would not be justified and that the Government are right to give five of the extra seats to England and one to Wales. That is what a distribution based on electorate sizes—the fairest way of deciding the matter—produces.

7 pm

It is impossible to get average Euro-constituency sizes exactly the same in the different countries of the United Kingdom—there must be a rounding up or down. In each case, that has always been done in favour of the smaller country and never in favour of England. As a result of this Bill, the average English Euro-constituency will still be 4 per cent. larger than the average Scottish one.

Mr. Wallace

The Minister made a fair point, that it is difficult to average the whole thing out. Does he accept that, by allocating four seats to England, one to Wales and one to Scotland—that would be the consequence of this amendment—the averages for Scotland and Wales would be within 8,000 of each other? That is a remarkably close proximity, given the large size of the constituencies. It would approximate much more closely to the Minister's objective than to what is being proposed by the Government.

Mr. Lloyd

No. It would mean that two constituent countries of the United Kingdom would be further from the average than they would otherwise have been. The next best thing to 5:1 would be to give the six seats to England. However, that would mean that the average Welsh seat would have a larger electorate than the average English seat. We did not want to allow that, so we gave Wales the benefit of the statistics and it has the extra seat. That is justified for Wales, but not justified for Scotland on the same grounds.

I understand the argument for distributing the seats in a different way. This distribution keeps to the advice given by the Select Committee in 1978, adopted by the then Labour Government in the 1978 Act and expanded from the Dispatch Box by Brynmor John, who represented a Welsh seat, and others in the Labour Government. The Labour Government were right at that time. This is the fairest way of distributing the seats. I am sorry to see Labour Members and the Opposition spokesman, the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen), resiling from the arrangements that not he but his colleagues supported when in office.

The hon. Member for Moray quoted Garrett Fitzgerald suggesting that, in the negotiations that took place in the Community before it was decided how many seats each EC country would have, the then Prime Minister, Lord Callaghan, secured 81 seats for the United Kingdom on the understanding that Scotland and Wales would have enhanced representation.

Obviously, I do not know what Lord Callaghan said in private discussions, but the outcome was that the largest countries in the EC—West Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom—all got 81 seats, providing overwhelming circumstantial evidence that the needs of Scotland did not secure United Kingdom-enhanced representation. I cannot tell whether Lord Callaghan tried and failed or did not try at all, but, clearly, no special significance was granted by our fellow members with regard to Scotland, Wales or any national entity, two of which have been referred to this afternoon by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace)—the Walloons and the Catalonians.

Clearly, seats are distributed between the sovereign countries of the Community in Europe with regard to their being separate single sovereign entities. The hon. Member for Moray and several other hon. Members argued that Scotland should have at least the same number of seats as Denmark, which has a similar population size. Undoubtedly, if Scotland were a member of the Community separate from England, Wales and Northern Ireland—as the hon. Lady would wish—it would have a similar number of seats.

I am sure—I refer to points made and queries launched in my direction by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan)—that Scotland would overall have less leverage in the EC than it does as part of the United Kingdom, which has two commissioners to Denmark's one and, effectively, much greater representation in the European Community. Above all, the United Kingdom has a much more powerful voice in the Council of Ministers than England, Wales or Scotland could ever have on their own.

When the interests of Scotland especially demand it, Scottish Ministers can and do go to the Council of Ministers with the weight of the entire United Kingdom behind them. I do not want to dwell on this point. It is part of the wider argument about the nature and benefit of the Union, which puts Scotland in a more powerful position in the Community. It would be alone, as is Denmark with its number of seats in the European Parliament.

Before I sit down, I shall revert to the speech of the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke). He referred to the St. Andrew's speech in which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is alleged to have promised to fight for more representation for Scotland in the European Parliament. On Second Reading, I said that I had not read that speech, but I have now. I realise that the hon. Gentleman could not have read it at that time and probably still has not done so, judging by his interventions today.

It is clear that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was talking not about the European Parliament but about the Committee of the Regions on which he is determined to make Scotland's voice heard, together with organisations such as Scottish Europa and the Scottish Trade International. I have a copy of the speech here. I will throw it across to the hon. Gentleman. He should sideline those areas in which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State promised or undertook to produce an extra seat in the European Parliament because I would be interested to read it. If he wants me to give way to him, I will do so.

Mr. Tom Clarke

I have had the misfortune to re-read the speech several times. The Secretary of State did not, in that speech or his introduction to the stocktaking exercise, say that he would commit himself to reduced representation for Scotland. Does the Minister accept that that is what this Bill means?

Mr. Lloyd

My right hon. Friend clearly said that he intended to work with the eight members of the European Parliament representing Scottish constituencies, whether or not he agreed with them politically. That was the undertaking he gave, and the number was eight.

Mr. Clarke

Does the Minister take on board that the Secretary of State, in his introduction to the document on stocktaking—he has joined us in the past few minutes, having shown no interest whatever in debate over several days—talked about increased representation in Europe? Where is that increased representation? If the Minister cannot assure us—as we are still in Committee and as the Secretary of State can still catch Dame Janet's eye—why does not the Secretary of State have the guts to get up and assure us, instead of hiding behind the junior Minister?

Mr. Lloyd

As the hon. Gentleman will know if he re-reads the speech, my right hon. Friend was referring to the Committee of the Regions. The hon. Gentleman owes my right hon. Friend an apology, and I hope that he will give it before the end of this evening.

Mrs. Ewing

There is a rumour sweeping the House that the closure will be moved on this debate, and many hon. Members still wish to speak. I draw the attention of the Minister to the development of the idea of direct elections, especially the debates that took place in 1977 and 1978 when the current Foreign Secretary said that the allocation of seats would be on a purely mathematical basis. Is the Minister saying that the Government have not moved from that approach, and take no account of geography or the needs of smaller nations in the European Community?

Mr. Lloyd

Smaller nations have an enhanced representation in the European Parliament when they are sovereign, independent entities. Seats are divided between sovereign countries. The United Kingdom has been allocated 81 seats and they are divided, on the advice given in 1978 by the Select Committee, between the countries of the United Kingdom on the basis of arithmetic and the size of the respective electorates.

Mrs. Ewing

The Minister has clearly stated that, if Scotland were an independent, sovereign nation she would receive a different allocation of seats. Does he not accept the basic constitutional principle, however, that the people in Scotland are sovereign, not Parliament? The people of Scotland have clearly shown that they want additional representation within the European Parliament.

Mr. Lloyd

Every part of the United Kingdom would like extra representation in the European Parliament. I am sure that the hon. Lady heard me say that if Scotland were a separate member of the European Community it may well have enhanced representation. I doubted, however, whether it would have as much influence and leverage as it does now; indeed, I was quite sure that it would not. I then explained why.

Mr. Gallie

Does my hon. Friend agree that the place in which we need strength is the Council of Ministers? Does he also agree that that showed through when we won objective 1 status for the whole of the highlands?

Mr. Lloyd

That is a good example. We want to be strongly represented in all parts of the Community. Scotland is part of the United Kingdom and benefits from that.

Mr. Wallace

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Lloyd

I should make some progress, because I sense that the Committee would like me to conclude. [Interruption.]

The Second Deputy Chairman

Order. There is far too much noise in the Chamber. Hon. Members who want to engage in conversation should leave the Chamber.

Mr. Lloyd

Hon. Members have also put the practical argument that an extra seat could help the highlands and islands problem.

Mr. Wallace


Mr. Lloyd

I will not give way, because the Committee wants the debate to come to a conclusion. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, it does not."] The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland had plenty of opportunity to speak. In fact, he spoke for longer than I will have done. If he will excuse me, I will conclude my remarks.

Mr. Wallace

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Lloyd

I have said no.

Mr. Wallace

The Minister is frit.

Mr. Lloyd

That is not so.

The current Boundary Commission rules require that constituencies should be produced with electorates of, as near as possible, the same size. Departures can be made from the electoral quota, however, to take into account special factors such as geography. The Boundary Commission for Scotland did just that when it created the seat of Highlands and Islands, which has a much smaller electorate than the Scottish average.

I doubt whether any Boundary Commission would feel justified in going much further from the average than that. The odds must be that any new seat for Scotland would, therefore, reduce the average electorate size of the remaining more populous constituencies rather than radically reduce the geographical spread of the highlands and islands. I believe that the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland, at least, is convinced of that.

As I said on Second Reading, the arrangements for the distribution of seats between the particular countries of the United Kingdom is fair to all of them—to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. Anything else, however, would be unfair to England.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce

The Bill is an extremely unsatisfactory way in which to address such a serious issue. I wonder how many other member states of the Community will decide the allocation of parliamentary constituencies on the basis of a vote in one Chamber of their Parliament. How many of them have some independent means of determining how that allocation should take place?

Mr. McAllion

If the hon. Gentleman thinks that this is such a serious issue, why was he not present in the Chamber for the first three hours of the debate? Why has he just turned up?

Mr. Bruce

I must say—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer".] Some Opposition Members now present were not here for the entire debate, either.

7.15 pm
The Second Deputy Chairman

Order. I would prefer the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) to continue his speech. If we are to have such harsh rules, I shall bear them in mind in the future.

Mr. Bruce

I should remind the Committee that I spoke on the Bill's money resolution, which was debated last week.

I am surprised that the Government decided not to accept the amendment. If they had, the debate need not have continued. I find it deeply offensive, as I said when I spoke on the money resolution, that the first line on the first page of the Bill mentions the city of Edinburgh.

The Prime Minister claimed that he was bringing the European process to Scotland and ensuring that Scotland is fully involved in that process. The fact that he has now introduced a Bill in which Scotland alone is denied a share of the increased representation at the European Parliament is deeply offensive. The Prime Minister's decision is extremely damaging to him and it is extremely harsh to Scotland. The Bill is not the way in which such matters should be decided.

Hon. Members have also referred to the current representation for Scotland, with which I should have thought the Government were deeply unhappy. There are eight MEPs from Scottish constituencies; seven of them are Labour Members, the other is an SNP Member. I am not criticising those MEPs individually—they were elected, and that is fine—but they do not give a true representation of the cross-section of political opinion in Scotland. It is a profound irony that the Government cannot even get one Conservative MEP elected. I should have thought that the Government would welcome the opportunity for a ninth MEP from Scotland, because that might give them an itsy-bitsy chance of returning a Conservative representative from Scotland to the European Parliament.

Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire)

That depends on how the Government gerrymander the boundaries.

Mr. Bruce

That is true.

It is a real disgrace—that is too mild a word—that we are about to have European parliamentary seat boundary reviews, in the middle of parliamentary boundary reviews, while the Government are making up their own local boundaries as they go along. There is no correlation between the three.

The hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) asked my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) whether it was possible to have a seat that straddled the border. Presumably he believes that that would achieve a greater parity of numbers. Many of us would have considerable difficulties with the practical consequences of such a decision and would not wish to be the Member for that constituency and balance its conflicting interests. I suppose that it would, however, reunite the county of Berwickshire, although I know that two of my colleagues have differing views on the merits of that argument. If there was a will and pure numbers was the problem, the matter could be resolved. The hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley has a fair point.

Mr. Beith

If the commissioners appointed are not given an additional seat in Scotland to play with, does that mean that they will be unable to do what they are now doing in my hon. Friend's part of Scotland? In that region they are crossing all kinds of community and traditional boundaries to produce the most extraordinary configuration of seats. That option will not be open to the commissioners in Scotland under the Bill.

Mr. Bruce

My hon. Friend is right. His intervention and that of the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley show that the Government's claim that this is simply a matter of numbers and an attempt to achieve a degree of parity is not the substantive argument.

Mr. Wallace

My hon. Friend has referred to cross-border seats for the eastern side of the border. Does he accept that there might be a case for having what could be described as a Solway seat, comprising Galloway and Upper Nithsdale, Dumfries, Carlisle, Penrith and The Border, Copeland and Workington? That area is a communal one, it is home to Border Television and it has a sense of community. It also includes the seat of the Secretary of State for Scotland, so he could kill two birds with one stone. The right hon. Gentleman might end up with a more compact seat for his MEP to represent and at least give Scotland half of what is required, if not the whole.

Mr. Bruce

My hon. Friend makes an interesting point. It raises questions about the Solway firth and the fact that there would be two different local authorities and two different methods of discharging sewage by two different forms of ownership within the same constituency.

The Government's argument that it was impossible to provide justice for Scotland does not stand up. A numbers argument is not valid because, as the Government have acknowledged, that is not the paramount objective. On local government boundaries, the Government propose that the whole of the Highland region should be a unitary local government authority.

That is an absurd proposition. It may be all right in terms of numbers, but it makes no sense in terms of geographical community links and denies a proper community identity. It boils down to the fact that the only way in which a community can be represented as a single, all-purpose authority is for it to be Conservative-controlled or, better still, a dead heat with the Labour party, so that the gerrymandering will tilt the balance and secure control. That is not how to determine fair and democratic representation.

If the Government regard such comments purely as party political objection, they should think seriously about the implications of their actions. They have already abolished a tier of local government in London and the metropolitan counties and are fixing local government boundaries in Scotland to meet their own needs. They are determining the allocation of parliamentary seats for the European Parliament on the basis that it is controlled by a political chamber—Westminster—rather than an independent constitutional process.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland said, it is high time that we fundamentally reviewed our constitutional procedures and processes and how we do things in this country. Our constitution is such that a law passed by this Parliament can supersede a previous law. There is no external reference and no opportunity for second judgment or for effective judicial review of primary legislation.

Members such as the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow), who spoke earlier and opposes the whole idea of the European Community, want to fight for the sovereignty of Parliament. Many of us regard the sovereignty of Parliament not as a democratic advantage but rather as a democratic abuse. A party that can take control of this Chamber on a minority vote can not only impose its policies for the duration of a Parliament but can fix the mechanism of the constitution to preserve its power base against external challenges.

That serious weakness of our political system is, ultimately, turning it into a decadent, corrupt and disintegrating system, which is becoming increasingly out of touch with the people, who cannot understand why they have a Government whom most of them did not vote for and decisions—

The Second Deputy Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman is placing a number of constitutional issues on this group of amendments. I do not think that it will bear the weight.

Mr. Bruce

I willingly accept your guidance, Dame Janet. The simple point is that we should have an independent mechanism for determining how people are elected to any institutions, not only the United Kingdom Parliament but the European Parliament. I object to the lack of independence of that procedure, which is why we have been forced to table an amendment.

I should have preferred it if we had not had this debate and this amendment. The only reason why we have them is that there is no other theatre in which we can make that argument, achieve justice or get an independent assessment. There is no other theatre in which the decisions are not determined by the political bias of the controlling group. In a true democratic constitution, the rights of minorities are safeguarded and the Administration's right to ride roughshod over minorities is limited. In the United Kingdom, that is not the case, and it is a damaging and weak feature of our system of Government.

The amendment simply seeks to ensure that the Government recognise that the Prime Minister took the European presidency to Edinburgh as a post-election symbol of the enhanced role that Scotland would play as part of the United Kingdom within the European Community. Nobody could have believed that the upshot of that would be the obscenity—from a Scottish point of view—of a Bill enshrined on the basis of an agreement signed in Edinburgh, which denies the citizens of the country of which Edinburgh is the capital a share in an increased allocation of representation.

The Secretary of State for Scotland should feel utterly ashamed that he has been unable to secure the follow-through which the Prime Minister promised in Edinburgh. The Scottish people have reason to question the Prime Minister because, a year after the general election, he came to Scotland and said that he stood by the United Kingdom. He said that Scotland had voted for the Union and that it was his mission as Prime Minister to ensure that Scotland played its full part within the Union. How can the Bill be encapsulated as Scotland playing its full part in the United Kingdom?

Scotland is finding that its influence within Europe is being deliberately diluted as a direct consequence of that action of the Prime Minister. His promises are worthless, as are those of the Secretary of State. Scotland will continue to be sold short. The Government talk about the Union, but use it as a bullying tactic to ensure that the aspirations of the Scottish people are frustrated. We insist that the Government think again and recognise that the Scottish people deserve better.

Mrs. Ewing

I welcome the opportunity to respond to the debate—[Interruption.] Although it may be disappointing to those standing beyond the Bar of the House to realise that the debate will continue for some time, this is an important issue and I suggest that they remain silent to hear the necessary arguments.

The Minister of State was rather ungracious to suggest that having a dynamic research officer should not be correctly recognised. All hon. Members are greatly indebted to their staff at constituency and parliamentary level for the work that they undertake on our behalf. If they correctly carry through our advice and instructions, that should be recognised. We could all do with a bit of humility in recognising our staff's work.

This fairly wide-ranging debate has lasted much longer than many people anticipated. It has been interesting to note the consensus that has emerged, not only among the Opposition but among Conservative Members, who have shown their belief that Scotland should have additional representation within the European Parliament. Members may disagree on points of detail, but, on the basic principle that Scotland should have an additional seat in the European parliament, the consensus is of fundamental importance.

The Minister of State failed to answer a question raised in the context of "Scotland in the Union". On page 22, section 5(9), the Secretary of State for Scotland said: the Government have taken steps to complement and add to that strong representation"— he was talking about the European dimension— to ensure that this is a multi-pronged approach to promoting Scotland's interest in Europe". The European Parliament must form a fundamental part of that approach, because it is an institution which will develop and accrue unto itself additional powers that affect all our lives.

The Secretary of State added: As Europe continues to develop, the Government will keep under review Scotland's profile in Europe to ensure it matches Scotland's needs". Nevertheless, in one of the pieces of legislation that have emerged from the Edinburgh summit we find that Scotland's position is not enhanced; nor are her needs being matched.

Not only should the Minister read the book by Garret Fitzgerald, which makes interesting reading about the development of direct elections in the European Community, but he should look back to the 1970s, when the principle of direct elections was first mooted in this House. The record of the Select Committee at that time shows that the Scottish National party, which had substantial representation in the House,. gave clear evidence to that Committee. A great deal of interest was generated in the House on the issue of direct elections. Members continue to suggest that some people still fear the idea of European development, whereas I suggest that the development of the Community is crucial to what we are discussing.

Our discussion of the amendment has dealt with the relationship of Scotland to this Parliament and to the Community. It is clear that the Community is changing. That development will have an impact on the lives of us all.

I welcome that development; as part of it, the relationship of Scotland as a nation to the Community as a whole is of critical importance.

The Parliament to which we have directly elected representation is of paramount importance—[Interruption.] My remarks may be regarded as boring by some of the noisier elements in the Committee. Some hon. Members may be wondering why I am speaking in this manner. I assure them that there are strong arguments for the national identities of our communities in the EC to be continued. Otherwise, we might as well talk about having a seat for the south-west Pyrenees or north-west Germany. There are strong identities in the nations of the EC. There should be a single Member representing an identified constituency where there is a strong and continuing relationship between that Member and his or her constituents.

We must also have the settlement and negotiation of national interests between the different countries to ensure that we find an appropriate formula for proceeding. Our purpose in tabling the amendment is to point out that an appropriate formula has not been found to represent the national interest of Scotland. In that connection, during the debates in the 1970s, the present Foreign Secretary—[Interruption.]

Mr. Andrew Welsh (Angus, East)

On a point of order, Mr. Lofthouse. I am anxious to hear what my hon. Friend the Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) is saying. Given the babble of hon. Members who have not participated in our debates, it is difficult to hear her. Perhaps those who are anxious to listen to what is being said may be allowed to do so in peace.

The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse)

The Chair will decide. I should have thought, as the hon. Gentleman is sitting right next to the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing), that he would have no difficulty in hearing her. I agree, however, that there is considerable noise in the Chamber. If hon. Members are unable to remain quiet, they must leave and conduct their conversations elsewhere.

Mrs. Ewing

Some hon. Members may find it difficult to understand a Scottish accent, or perhaps I should refer to it as a European accent belonging to one who speaks with a European voice. Hon. Members who do not want to listen to a Scottish or European voice should perhaps go elsewhere.

I was about to recall that the present Foreign Secretary said in 1978, when we were debating what was then the European Assembly Elections Bill: The Select Committee decided that the right approach was the mathematical approach".—[Official Report, 2 February 1978; Vol. 943, c. 786.] I find the whole situation depressing. Today, in 1993, the Community having moved substantially forward since that time, there has been no change in the British Government's attitude. They may have changed colour, but they have not changed their attitude. They observe mathematical niceties rather than looking to the communautaire spirit which I strongly endorse.

In the debates that followed the publication of the Select Committee report, many interesting speeches were made by hon. Members, some of whom are still here; others have departed. For example, in the debate on 24 November 1977—we were still discussing the issue of direct elections—the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston) said: if one is talking about the capacity of individual people to exert influence in the increasingly complex world in which we live, if they are able to elect persons directly to a European Parliament, I contend that this gives them another dimension of influence".—[Official Report, 24 November 1977; Vol. 939, c. 1804.] That remains true today. We are talking about the dimension of influence, and Scotland's influence will not be enhanced by this legislation.

In that debate in November 1977, Mr. Fairgrieve—now Sir Russell Fairgrieve—who then represented Aberdeenshire, West and who is now chairman of the European Movement in Scotland and played host at various functions during the Edinburgh summit, said that we were trying to put Scotland somewhere halfway between Denmark and Yorkshire. We are not in that position. Scotland should have full recognition in the Community, with additional representation in the European Parliament, and that is what the amendment is about.

It is almost demeaning that I should have found it necessary to table this series of amendments—that on behalf of the people of Scotland, who are equal in number to the people of Denmark, I should have to beg for a single crumb from the rich man's table here at Westminster. We in Scotland should be equal and have 16 seats in the EC. That may be achieved only as a result of being an independent nation, when we would also have access to the Council of Ministers, have our place in the discussions and, as the Community develops, have a position as the host nation for Commission activities.

I am fed up thinking about the time in Edinburgh at the European summit when we were seen as the tartan waitress. Our tartan was used for the benefit of a Conservative Government who had only 11 out of 72 MPs in Scotland, with no Member of the European Parliament representing a Scottish constituency. Yet from Edinburgh emerges a Bill by which we are denied additional representation.

I do not want Scotland to continue in the role of a tartan waitress. I do not want Scotland to have to continue to eavesdrop on the counsels of the world. I want Scotland to be there, helping to influence the development of the European Community and the international community as a whole. If the Government have any respect for Scotland, they will at least grant us one additional seat in the European Parliament.

Mr. Greg Knight (Treasurer to Her Majesty's Household)

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

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 302, Noes 49.

Division No. 317] [7.37 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Atkins, Robert
Aitken, Jonathan Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Alexander, Richard Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North)
Amess, David Baldry, Tony
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Banks, Matthew (Southport)
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Banks, Robert (Harrogate)
Ashby, David Bates, Michael
Ashton, Joe Batiste, Spencer
Aspinwall, Jack Bellingham, Henry
Bendall, Vivian Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Beresford, Sir Paul Freeman, Rt Hon Roger
Biffen, Rt Hon John French, Douglas
Blackburn, Dr John G. Fry, Peter
Body, Sir Richard Gale, Roger
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Gallie, Phil
Booth, Hartley Gardiner, Sir George
Boswell, Tim Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Garnier, Edward
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Gill, Christopher
Bowden, Andrew Gillan, Cheryl
Bowis, John Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Brandreth, Gyles Gorst, John
Brazier, Julian Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW)
Bright, Graham Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Browning, Mrs. Angela Grylls, Sir Michael
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Budgen, Nicholas Hague, William
Burns, Simon Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom)
Burt, Alistair Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Butcher, John Hampson, Dr Keith
Butler, Peter Hanley, Jeremy
Butterfill, John Hannam, Sir John
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Hargreaves, Andrew
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Harris, David
Carrington, Matthew Haselhurst, Alan
Carttiss, Michael Hawkins, Nick
Cash, William Hawksley, Warren
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hayes, Jerry
Chapman, Sydney Heald, Oliver
Clappison, James Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Hendry, Charles
Coe, Sebastian Hicks, Robert
Colvin, Michael Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.
Congdon, David Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Horam, John
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Cormack, Patrick Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Couchman, James Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Cran, James Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Howell, Sir Ralph (North
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Norfolk)
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Day, Stephen Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Deva, Nirj Joseph Hunter, Andrew
Devlin, Tim Jack, Michael
Dickens, Geoffrey Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Dicks, Terry Jenkin, Bernard
Dorrell, Stephen Jessel, Toby
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Dover, Den Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Duncan, Alan Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)
Duncan-Smith, Iain Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Dunn, Bob Key, Robert
Durant, Sir Anthony Kilfedder, Sir James
Dykes, Hugh King, Rt Hon Tom
Eggar, Tim Kirkhope, Timothy
Elletson, Harold Knapman, Roger
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield) Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Knox, Sir David
Evennett, David Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Faber, David Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Fabricant, Michael Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Fenner, Dame Peggy Lawrence, Sir Ivan
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Legg, Barry
Fishburn, Dudley Lennox-Boyd, Mark
Forman, Nigel Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lidington, David
Forth, Eric Lightbown, David
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Luff, Peter Neubert, Sir Michael
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Newton, Rt Hon Tony
MacKay, Andrew Nicholls, Patrick
Maclean, David Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
McLoughlin, Patrick Norris, Steve
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Madel, David Oppenheim, Phillip
Maitland, Lady Olga Ottaway, Richard
Malone, Gerald Page, Richard
Mans, Keith Paice, James
Marland, Paul Patnick, Irvine
Marlow, Tony Patten, Rt Hon John
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Mates, Michael Pickles, Eric
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Merchant, Piers Porter, David (Waveney)
Milligan, Stephen Powell, William (Corby)
Mills, Iain Rathbone, Tim
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Redwood, Rt Hon John
Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW) Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Moate, Sir Roger Richards, Rod
Monro, Sir Hector Riddick, Graham
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm
Moss, Malcolm Robathan, Andrew
Needham, Richard Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Nelson, Anthony
Abbott, Ms Diane Livingstone, Ken
Alton, David Llwyd, Elfyn
Barnes, Harry Loyden, Eddie
Beggs, Roy Lynne, Ms Liz
Beith, Rt Hon A. J. Maclennan, Robert
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Madden, Max
Canavan, Dennis Maginnis, Ken
Chisholm, Malcolm Mahon, Alice
Connarty, Michael Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Corbyn, Jeremy Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Cryer, Bob Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Cummings, John Rendel, David
Davidson, Ian Salmond, Alex
Ewing, Mrs Margaret Skinner, Dennis
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Foster, Don (Bath) Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Galloway, George Taylor, Rt Hon John D. (Strgfd)
Godman, Dr Norman A. Trimble, David
Gordon, Mildred Tyler, Paul
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Wallace, James
Harvey, Nick Welsh, Andrew
Hood, Jimmy Wray, Jimmy
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Janner, Greville Tellers for the Noes:
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys MÔn) Mr. Archy Kirkwood and
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Mr. Malcolm Bruce.
Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 255, Noes 306.

Division No. 318] [7.50 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret
Adams, Mrs Irene Beith, Rt Hon A. J.
Ainger, Nick Bell, Stuart
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Allen, Graham Bennett, Andrew F.
Alton, David Benton, Joe
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Bermingham, Gerald
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Berry, Dr. Roger
Armstrong, Hilary Betts, Clive
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Blair, Tony
Ashton, Joe Blunkett, David
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Boateng, Paul
Barnes, Harry Boyce, Jimmy
Barron, Kevin Bradley, Keith
Battle, John Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)
Bayley, Hugh Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Burden, Richard Hinchliffe, David
Byers, Stephen Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)
Caborn, Richard Home Robertson, John
Callaghan, Jim Hood, Jimmy
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Hoon, Geoffrey
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Canavan, Dennis Hoyle, Doug
Cann, Jamie Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Chisholm, Malcolm Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Clapham, Michael Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Hutton, John
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Illsley, Eric
Clelland, David Ingram, Adam
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Jamieson, David
Coffey, Ann Janner, Greville
Cohen, Harry Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)
Connarty, Michael Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Corbett, Robin Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Corbyn, Jeremy Jowell, Tessa
Corston, Ms Jean Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cousins, Jim Keen, Alan
Cryer, Bob Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)
Cummings, John Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE) Khabra, Piara S.
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John Kilfoyle, Peter
Dalyell, Tam Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)
Darling, Alistair Kirkwood, Archy
Davidson, Ian Leighton, Ron
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral) Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Lewis, Terry
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Litherland, Robert
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l) Livingstone, Ken
Denham, John Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dewar, Donald Llwyd, Elfyn
Dixon, Don Loyden, Eddie
Donohoe, Brian H. Lynne, Ms Liz
Dowd, Jim McAllion, John
Dunnachie, Jimmy McAvoy, Thomas
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth McCartney, Ian
Eagle, Ms Angela Macdonald, Calum
Eastham, Ken McFall, John
Enright, Derek McKelvey, William
Etherington, Bill Mackinlay, Andrew
Evans, John (St Helens N) McLeish, Henry
Ewing, Mrs Margaret Maclennan, Robert
Fatchett, Derek McMaster, Gordon
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) McWilliam, John
Fisher, Mark Madden, Max
Flynn, Paul Mahon, Alice
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Mandelson, Peter
Foster, Don (Bath) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Foulkes, George Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Fyfe, Maria Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Galloway, George Maxton, John
Gapes, Mike Meacher, Michael
Garrett, John Meale, Alan
Gerrard, Neil Michael, Alun
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Godman, Dr Norman A. Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Godsiff, Roger Milburn, Alan
Golding, Mrs Llin Miller, Andrew
Gordon, Mildred Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Gould, Bryan Moonie, Dr Lewis
Graham, Thomas Morgan, Rhodri
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Morley, Elliot
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Grocott, Bruce Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Gunnell, John Mowlam, Marjorie
Hain, Peter Mudie, George
Hall, Mike Mullin, Chris
Hanson, David Murphy, Paul
Harman, Ms Harriet Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Harvey, Nick O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Henderson, Doug O'Hara, Edward
Heppell, John Olner, William
O'Neill, Martin Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Patchett, Terry Smith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E)
Pendry, Tom Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Pickthall, Colin Snape, Peter
Pike, Peter L. Soley, Clive
Pope, Greg Spearing, Nigel
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Spellar, John
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Prescott, John Steinberg, Gerry
Primarolo, Dawn Stevenson, George
Purchase, Ken Stott, Roger
Radice, Giles Straw, Jack
Randall, Stuart Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Rathbone, Tim Tipping, Paddy
Raynsford, Nick Turner, Dennis
Redmond, Martin Tyler, Paul
Reid, Dr John Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Rendel, David Wallace, James
Richardson, Jo Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Robertson, George (Hamilton) Wareing, Robert N
Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW) Wicks, Malcolm
Roche, Mrs. Barbara Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Rogers, Allan Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Rooker, Jeff Wilson, Brian
Rooney, Terry Winnick, David
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Wise, Audrey
Ruddock, Joan Worthington, Tony
Salmond, Alex Wray, Jimmy
Sedgemore, Brian Young, David (Bolton SE)
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Tellers for the Ayes:
Short, Clare Mr. Jon Owen Jones, and
Skinner, Dennis Mr. Andrew Welsh.
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Butler, Peter
Aitken, Jonathan Butterfill, John
Alexander, Richard Carlisle, John (Luton North)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Carrington, Matthew
Amess, David Carttiss, Michael
Arbuthnot, James Cash, William
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Clappison, James
Ashby, David Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Aspinwall, Jack Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Atkins, Robert Coe, Sebastian
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Colvin, Michael
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Congdon, David
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Conway, Derek
Baldry, Tony Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Bates, Michael Cormack, Patrick
Batiste, Spencer Couchman, James
Beggs, Roy Cran, James
Bellingham, Henry Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Bendall, Vivian Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Beresford, Sir Paul Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Davis, David (Boothferry)
Blackburn, Dr John G. Day, Stephen
Body, Sir Richard Deva, Nirj Joseph
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Devlin, Tim
Booth, Hartley Dickens, Geoffrey
Boswell, Tim Dicks, Terry
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Dorrell, Stephen
Bowden, Andrew Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bowis, John Dover, Den
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Duncan, Alan
Brandreth, Gyles Duncan-Smith, Iain
Brazier, Julian Dunn, Bob
Bright, Graham Durant, Sir Anthony
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Dykes, Hugh
Browning, Mrs. Angela Eggar, Tim
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Elletson, Harold
Budgen, Nicholas Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Burns, Simon Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Burt, Alistair Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Butcher, John Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Evennett, David Knox, Sir David
Faber, David Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Fabricant, Michael Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Fenner, Dame Peggy Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Lawrence, Sir Ivan
Fishburn, Dudley Legg, Barry
Forman, Nigel Lennox-Boyd, Mark
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Lidington, David
Forth, Eric Lightbown, David
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley) Luff, Peter
Freeman, Rt Hon Roger Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
French, Douglas MacKay, Andrew
Fry, Peter Maclean, David
Gale, Roger McLoughlin, Patrick
Gallie, Phil McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Gardiner, Sir George Madel, David
Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan Maginnis, Ken
Garnier, Edward Maitland, Lady Olga
Gill, Christopher Malone, Gerald
Gillan, Cheryl Mans, Keith
Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair Marland, Paul
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Marlow, Tony
Gorst, John Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW) Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Mates, Michael
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) Merchant, Piers
Grylls, Sir Michael Milligan, Stephen
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Mills, Iain
Hague, William Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom) Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Moate, Sir Roger
Hampson, Dr Keith Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Hanley, Jeremy Monro, Sir Hector
Hannam, Sir John Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hargreaves, Andrew Moss, Malcolm
Harris, David Needham, Richard
Haselhurst, Alan Nelson, Anthony
Hawkins, Nick Neubert, Sir Michael
Hawksley, Warren Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Hayes, Jerry Nicholls, Patrick
Heald, Oliver Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward Norris, Steve
Heathcoat-Amory, David Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Hendry, Charles Oppenheim, Phillip
Hicks, Robert Ottaway, Richard
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L. Page, Richard
Hill, James (Southampton Test) Paice, James
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham) Patnick, Irvine
Horam, John Patten, Rt Hon John
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A) Pickles, Eric
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Howell, Sir Ralph (North Porter, David (Waveney)
Norfolk) Powell, William (Corby)
Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W) Redwood, Rt Hon John
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W) Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Richards, Rod
Hunter, Andrew Riddick, Graham
Jack, Michael Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Robathan, Andrew
Jenkin, Bernard Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Jessel, Toby Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr) Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Key, Robert Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Kilfedder, Sir James Sackville, Tom
King, Rt Hon Tom Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Kirkhope, Timothy Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Knapman, Roger Shaw, David (Dover)
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Shersby, Michael Townend, John (Bridlington)
Sims, Roger Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Skeet, Sir Trevor Tredinnick, David
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Trend, Michael
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S) Trimble, David
Soames, Nicholas Trotter, Neville
Speed, Sir Keith Twinn, Dr Ian
Spencer, Sir Derek Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset) Viggers, Peter
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Spink, Dr Robert Walden, George
Spring, Richard Waller, Gary
Sproat, Iain Ward, John
Squire, Robin (Hornchurch) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Waterson, Nigel
Stern, Anthony Watts, John
Stephen, Michael Wells, Bowen
Stern, Michael Whitney, Ray
Stewart, Allan Whittingdale, John
Streeter, Gary Widdecombe, Ann
Sumberg, David Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Sweeney, Walter Willetts, David
Sykes, John Wilshire, David
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Wolfson, Mark
Taylor, Rt Hon John D. (Strgfd) Wood, Timothy
Taylor, John M. (Solihull) Yeo, Tim
Temple-Morris, Peter Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Thomason, Roy
Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V) Tellers for the Noes:
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Mr. Sydney Chapman and
Thornton, Sir Malcolm Mr. Michael Brown.
Thurnham, Peter

Question accordingly negatived.

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Maclennan

I want to speak—

Mr. Roger Stott (Wigan)

On a point of order, Mr. Lofthouse. I realise that the House is in Committee, but I seek your guidance on how to reverse that procedure so that the Home Secretary can make a statement on a certain matter. I was in court this afternoon when a young Irish man was set free by a magistrate and the—

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman's point is nothing to do with this Committee. I cannot deal with it; it must be dealt with by the Chair when the Committee reverts to being the House.

Mr. Stott

Further to that point of order, Mr. Lofthouse.

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. I have ruled on the matter.

Mr. Maclennan

So far, clause 1 has been considered only in so far as it deals with the rather narrow question of whether an additional European Parliament seat should be allocated to Scotland. In fact, the clause goes a great deal further and wider than that. It is the core of the commitment to widen the United Kingdom's representation in the European Parliament, as set out in the decision amending the Act concerning the election of representatives of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage annexed to the Council Decision 76/787/ECSC,EEC, Euraton of 20th September 1976. The background to the decision is the view taken by the Community Heads of Government that it was proper to enlarge the European Parliament to give membership to the new Länder of east Germany which had adhered to west Germany and to the European Community. That was a welcome step. However, we must determine whether it is necessary to give effect to that decision of the Council of Ministers through the manner proposed by the Government, whether clause 1 is necessary to give effect to that decision or whether it is a self-executing decision under the terms of the treaty of Rome and the European Community Acts.

I make no secret of the fact that I and my right hon. and hon. Friends feel that the way in which the Government propose to widen the representation is undemocratic because it will only extend the unfairness of the present representation in the European Parliament. It would not greatly disquiet us if the Bill were found to be so defective as to be unsuitable for implementation by the House.

The question is whether it would be appropriate as well as necessary to give effect to clause 1. It might be argued that if we vote against the clause, that could defeat the Government's intentions and make it impossible for this country to ratify the decision taken by the Community Heads of Government at the Edinburgh summit. That might be regarded as unfortunate, but we believe that the position is not entirely clear. The legal status of both decisions taken on 1 February, to which clause 1 would give effect, and of the so-called Act, as amended, which is annexed to the 1976 Council decision, is obscure. That makes it difficult to determine what would happen if the British Parliament declined to pass this implementing Bill.

The authority on the question who has been drawn to my attention is the author T. C. Hartley who, in his book "The Foundations of European Community Law", second edition, 1988, page 24, writes: The instrument providing for elections took an unusual form since all its substantive provisions are in an Act annexed to the Council decision. The legal nature of this Act is controversial. Does it take effect as an international agreement between the member states based on a draft recommended by the Council? Or does it take effect as a decision of the Council to which the member states have agreed? Perhaps the best view is that article 138(3) of the European Community"— he refers to the provisions of the European Coal and Steel Community and Euratom Acts— lay down a special procedure for amending these treaties which derogates from that in articles 236 EEC, 96 ECSC and 204 Euratom. If this view is correct, it takes effect as an Act of the member states, but forms part of the three treaties. The importance of this question is that the jurisdiction of the European Court to annul, interpret or enforce the Act depends on the Act's legal status. I think that you will agree, Mr. Lofthouse, that that is far from a conclusive view as to the necessity of clause 1 for the implementation of the decision taken by the Heads of Government in Edinburgh. Certainly, it is true that, normally, if the Government commit themselves to a binding international agreement, the commitment stands, regardless of any subsequent inability, for domestic reasons, to implement it.

To take another example from a different European sphere, if the European Court of Human Rights finds that British law is incompatible with the European convention on human rights, to which the United Kingdom is committed in international law, the Government are obliged to take steps to change the law and to make it clear to Parliament that this is an overrriding commitment.

If Parliament decides to reject their advice, the Government are placed in a very difficult position, which most Governments would naturally seek to avoid. Normally, the situation is avoided because of' the opportunity that Parliament is given, as the Government are giving us the present opportunity, to consider treaties and any necessary implementing legislation before the Government are finally bound by the act of ratification. It is, however, avoided in the case of European Community legislation because the primacy of this is established in United Kingdom law by the European Communities Act itself.

In the case of the European Parliament elections, therefore, the question arises: are the Government already bound by the agreement at Edinburgh and the subsequent decision by the Council of Ministers, or is the procedure set out in the decision whereby the provisions are to enter into force following receipt of the last notification akin to ratification?

The language of the decision which clause 1 purports to be importing is, I submit, quite unclear on this point. Council decisions in general are binding in their entirety. Article 189 EEC would seem to make that point clear beyond peradventure. This one is to enter into force on the day of publication—that is, 9 February. It also states clearly that the provisions "shall" be applied to the elections to the European Parliament in 1994. That is made clear in article 2 of the decision, which says that the provisions shall be applied for the first time in elections to the European Parliament to be held in 1994. These questions may, therefore, fairly be asked. Is what we are doing necessary? Is it being done in vain? Is Parliament intervening in a manner that is simply not required by European Community law? Is it handling this matter in an inappropriate fashion?

On the other hand, the provisions—this is the curious contradiction in the decision—are merely "recommended" to member states for adoption in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. That comes at the end of the preamble, just before article 1.

In short, the reference to respective constitutional requirements seems to imply that this is really a ratification process akin to that in article 236 for amendments to the treaty of Rome. But the other language and legal form of the decision give some grounds for arguing that the Government are already bound to implement the provisions, and that if Parliament were to choose to reject amendment 1, that would not free the Government from their obligation.

8.15 pm

The method of implementation is not laid down; we are not required by the decision to proceed in the manner in which the Committee is proceeding. We are certainly not bound to implement the Government's policy in this matter, for it is clear that the adoption of the decision is to be in accordance with our respective constitutional requirements, not according to any European Community law. If the Government were faced with the rejection by Parliament of clause 1 of this Bill, they could conceivably seek an alternative method, depending on the reasons for rejection.

Nor is any firm deadline laid down for implementation. I put it to the Committee that, if we reject clause 1, it will still be perfectly possible for the Government to meet their obligations under the decision by bringing forward a system of election which does not depend upon a boundary commission procedure, but which gives effect to a system of election which is pursued in many other member countries of the European Community—a proportional system which relies upon the votes cast in the existing European parliamentary constituencies. Therefore, a vote to defeat clause 1 would in no way defeat the objectives of the Government in seeking to give effect to the decision.

I therefore submit that it is an act of high responsibility to question whether the Committee should embark upon a legislative process to implement a system of election which runs entirely counter to the other commitment of this country to seek a common system for elections to the European Parliament, and which is not necessary.

I have taken a little time to deploy these legal arguments about the necessity of clause 1 to avoid any charge being made by the Government that, in advocating its rejection, we are acting irresponsibly.

Mr. Beith

I have been following my hon. Friend's deployment of his case, to which he brings his customary legal authority. Looking at it more from a layman's point of view, would I be right in assuming that there is at least an argument for saying that the authority that supports the position in the treaty of Rome requiring a common system is more compelling than the authorities that he cites for implementing the additional number of seats, which would be the basis on which the Government might press us to vote that clause 1 stand part?

Mr. Maclennan

I would certainly accept that argument. Indeed, I would go further and say that, in the light of the decision taken by the European Parliament in March this year to adopt the de Gucht proposals, and the fact that under the presidency of Belgium in the autumn this matter will undoubtedly be brought on to the agenda of the Council of Ministers, it is highly probable that member countries of the European Community will progress further down the road to a common system of election before the 1994 election. It would be acting very much within the spirit of EC law—and, I would argue, within the letter—if we were to reject the way of implementing the decision that the Government have recommended to us.

I referred briefly to the deadline laid down for implementation. The decision envisages implementation in time for the 1994 elections, but it does not specify any earlier date after which it would be difficult, or impossible, to proceed on the basis of the new allocation. I concede that that last point would add to the political difficulty if the Bill were rejected—when I say "the Bill" I am talking about clause 1 of the Bill, because that is the heart of the matter. Other member states would not know whether to proceed on the assumption that the United Kingdom would find the means of implementation, or to conclude that the agreement could not come into force in time for the elections and make their own arrangements on the basis of the present allocation.

It seems reasonably clear from the wording of the decision that, if we fail to make provision for the election of extra MEPs, and therefore fail to notify in accordance with the decision, the other member states would be prevented from taking up their own allocations and the whole agreement would he held up. However, this is not the only way in which our obligation to implement the decision can be fulfilled.

It is possible that, if we do not pass clause 1, that will be seen by other member countries of the European Community as putting a block in the way. That might be so interpreted by the Government that they felt unable to give effect to the decision. It is possible that other member states might try to bring us back to the negotiating table, seek an opt-out for Britain from the Government, or seek to take us to the European Court of Justice to clarify the legal position.

I referred earlier to Hartley. His view would seem to imply that the European Court of Justice might have the power to enforce the decision once notification had been given, but might be inhibited from doing so beforehand if it regarded the notification procedure as akin to ratification. There is another theoretical outcome: the Council of Ministers might recognise the difficulty of the United Kingdom's implementation by adopting a decision to amend the Act, leaving the United Kingdom allocation unchanged at 81 seats.

Mr. Beith

My hon. Friend is worrying me a little, or at least Hartley is. Does he conclude from Hartley that, in any challenge in the European Court, it is likely that the provisions of clause 1 would appeal to the Court more strongly than the provision of the treaty of Rome which requires us to have a common electoral system? I would find that a worrying conclusion for the court to draw.

Mr. Maclennan

I do not think that that is the conclusion to be drawn from Hartley. I think that the court would be more likely to conclude that the matter should be governed by Community law rather than by the domestic law of this country.

If the outcome of this temporary impasse was that the Council of Ministers thought it appropriate to ask us to adopt a new decision, leaving the United Kingdom representation allocation unchanged, that would require the consent of Her Majesty's Government. I have no doubt that Her Majesty's Government would be reluctant to accept an allocation of seats lower than that of France and Italy. It would be a temporary way out of the impasse for the Community because we would not be holding up the Community's development, but simply inflicting a wound on ourselves. It would be an unnecessary wound, as it would be open for us to proceed very speedily in a different way.

Clause 1 is unnecessary to fulfil our obligations: that is really the core of my argument. It is not necessary because a wholly different way of proceeding is available to the Government: it implements the purposes of the Bill as set out in its long title. All that the Bill seeks to do is to give effect to a Decision of the Council of the European Communities … of 1st February 1993 having the effect of increasing the number of United Kingdom representatives to he elected to the European Parliament; and for connected purposes. Nothing in that long title requires us to go down the route that the Government have chosen to give effect to the decision. The preferable route is one that has been adopted in all the other 11 countries of the European Community. It is a system of election that does not depend on the work of boundary commissions or allocation of seats along the lines proposed in the Bill. It would be necessary to insert a reference in the European Communities Act 1972—either by Order in Council or by primary legislation —hut it would no longer be necessary to amend the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1978 as the Bill proposes.

There is a perfectly straightforward way of proceeding, which, to my mind, is infinitely preferable. It is more democratic, and tends to support the obligation of this country under European Community law to adopt a common system of election, reinforced by the European Parliament as recently as March.

I submit that the House should strike out clause I of the Bill and proceed in a wholly new way to give effect to the decisions made at Edinburgh. If it does, it will meet with total understanding from our European Community partners, and widespread support from the vast majority of people in this country who recognise that the system that the Bill seeks to perpetuate in clause 1 is unfair and unrepresentative, distorting our representation and that of other countries' political parties in the European Parliament. It is damaging to the representativeness of Parliament, and is a step back from the developments that we want. I suggest that the clause should not stand part of the Bill.

Mr. John Biffen (Shropshire, North)

It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan), who has spoken with courtesy and scholarship on what is undoubtedly a very important point. He was technical in its presentation because, as he rightly observed, it has much wider ramifications and I am sure that the Committee will be interested in the ministerial reply.

The hon. Gentleman's approach had something of the relentless charm of my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) and I hope that unofficial negotiations can be undertaken to conscript him into that wider audience of men of good will on this topic. However, I am not a mascot to the hon. Gentleman's organ grinder, so my contribution will be brief and wholly different. My intention is simply to place on record the fact that the clause increases the membership of the European Parliament, and the United Kingdom component or it, so that the total membership will stand at 567.

8.30 pm

Unlike the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan), I am happy to support the clause, but I should like to leave, just as a trace in the sand, a question mark over the assumption that we should always be increasing the membership of the European Parliament and of the Commission. I shall not say that such things are done thoughtlessly, but the rhetoric that accompanies them—phrases such as "increasing our influence"—implies that the additional Members in a larger Parliament will give us a more significant and indentifiable national interest than would otherwise be the case.

In the presence of my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Mr. Rathbone), who is well versed in North American affairs, I observe that I do not consider that Congress loses any of its effectiveness by being a smaller entity than many European national Parliaments and smaller than the Parliament at Strasbourg. I say that as no more than a passing observation to my hon. Friend, but it is not an idle passing observation.

The enlargement of the Community is in prospect and that will constantly call into question what size the Parliament should be. It seems to me that, unless we have a much clearer idea of what its finite functions will be and how they will be conducted, we shall be dribbling along accepting increases in membership because we can think of no more suitable way of conducting our affairs than to assume that more means better. I do not say that more means worse, but I say that the idea of more has to be considered rather more objectively than has been the case hitherto.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

Of course it is necessary to give effect in domestic law to the Council's decision of 1 February, but I realise why the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland raised that issue on clause stand part. I entirely sympathise with him and I hope that he will not think me satirical when I say that that was his way of bringing up the subject of the absence of proportional representation in the system. His failure to bring his amendments into order meant that he had to raise the issue in that roundabout way.

The Council's decisions could not be put into effect, and we could not increase the number of seats, without changing the 1978 Act that governs our representation. The clause and the Bill as a whole demonstrate how that should be done, in terms of distributing the extra seats between the four countries that make up the United Kingdom.

The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland was teetering on the edge—indeed, I think that he teetered over it—of suggesting that it would be possible to drop the clause from the Bill and to meet the Council's requirement that all the countries in the Community should have adopted the appropriate number of additional seats that they had been awarded, without any of them being prevented from being able to fill those seats at the 1994 election.

However, it is clear from the latter part of the Council's decision—I believe that the hon. Gentleman has a copy of it with him—that, if we do not include the clause, we shall not be able to take up the six extra seats, and nor will any of the other countries in Europe be able to take up theirs, unless we produce other legislation in double quick time. No doubt the hon. Gentleman would prefer us to produce other legislation that would award the seats differently within the United Kingdom and introduce a different method of voting. It is for the House to decide which it should choose.

Mr. Beith

Why does the Minister say that that would have to be done in what he calls double quick time, given that such legislation would not require the same apparatus as is required by the Bill in its present form?

Mr. Lloyd

I shall risk straying out of order if I talk about a form of voting different from that provided for in the Bill, but if we produced another Bill, introducing proportional representation, no doubt even more hon. Members would complain about the type of election being adopted. Such a measure would be no easier to get through the House than the present Bill, and there would have to be an enormous amount of consultation beforehand on the appropriate form of proportional representation.

There is no easy alternative to the method that we have chosen. It is in line with our traditions and—I regret to say—it will not pre-empt the argument on future elections, but we shall have those arguments after the Council of Ministers has considered the De Gucht report. The Council has not yet done that, so there is no obligation upon us to interpolate the report into our system of electing European Members of Parliament.

Mr. Maclennan

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way and for his candid admission, with which I do not disagree, that there could be another way of doing things. It appears that the only argument is about time, yet he will recall that, when the House legislated in such a manner before, it agreed to introduce a form of proportional representation for Northern Ireland. Things were done with at least as much celerity in 1978 as would be required now, and it has to be said that it was rather more complicated to set up such an arrangement for the first time. Even under the timetable now proposed, the process is unlikely to be concluded before the end of the year at the earliest. It would be a remarkable consultation on the system of voting which could not be concluded in a much shorter period than that.

Mr. Lloyd

The hon. Gentleman refers to the previous time that we dealt with such an arrangement, when we had at least twice as long to make the arrangements that we have now. Of course he is right to say that we could have adopted a different system of distributing the seats and of organising the elections. The form that the Government have chosen to present to the House in the Bill is the form that I think is most likely to command the most widespread support.

The hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends would not agree with me. They believe in a different system, but on that matter they are in a minority.

Mr. Rathbone

In answer to an earlier intervention, my hon. Friend the Minister said that the House, or perhaps the Committee, would decide what the method of election would be. May I ask him to clarify at what point in the consideration of the Bill that decision will take place? Is it taking place at this very moment, or will it take place on clause 2, or on the schedule?

Mr. Lloyd

I did not mean that the decision would be taken on the Bill. When I said that the House would return to the issue, I did not intend that to apply to the 1994 elections, but afterwards, when the Council had considered the De Gucht proposals, as it no doubt will. I am sure that the House will return to the subject, but not in the Bill, and not yet.

I shall refer briefly to what my right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen) said. He made a point that we shall have to bear in mind when we revisit such matters, especially when the Community expands. It is undoubtedly a characteristic of legislatures to accrete members. The House of Commons has done so over the years and it is inevitable that there should be pressures for legislatures to do so, especially with the Community assemblies, when new members are joining. However, as my right hon. Friend rightly said, in terms of cost, of management and of effectiveness, the question of how large legislatures—the European Assembly and, indeed, the House of Commons—should be, must be tackled at some point.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

I wonder whether clause I should stand part of the Bill. That is not because I believe that proportional representation is the answer. I believe that proportional representation would be an undemocratic disaster. But I wonder whether we should enlarge what is in essence not a legislature but a consultative assembly. I speak with some experience, because for five years I was an elected member of that bickering body. I was grateful to be elected. The European Parliament is one of the best Government job creation schemes that has ever been devised for defeated Members of Parliament. So I do not quibble about the availability of seats when resting between general elections.

However, the fact that I put all that behind me and preferred to return to the United Kingdom Parliament is an indication of the great importance that I attach to the House of Commons and the low importance that I attach to the EC Assembly, which meets in Strasbourg and Brussels and has its offices in Luxembourg. It is worth bearing that in mind. Life in the EC is such that there is simply not the demand among the ordinary people for the extra MEPs proposed in clause 1.

The amount of correspondence that MEPs receive is but a tiny fraction of that received by Members of the United Kingdom Parliament, even though MEPs have constituencies of more than 500,000 people in Britain. Indeed, they are so large as to be completely amorphous. MEPs do not have any recognition among the vast majority of their constituents.

It is also worth noting that, in the Strasbourg Assembly, the United Kingdom is the only member state in which the MEPs have a constituency and some recognisable connection with the people who elected them. In that sense, the United Kingdom representatives are unique. The contempt with which representatives from other member states regard the quaint notion that United Kingdom representatives have some connection with a group of people in the country from which they come is telling.

All the other representatives are chosen by some form of proportional representation which involves the central bodies—the apparatchiks of the parties—choosing the representatives. There is no direct constituency involvement.

The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) argued that clause I should not stand part of the Bill, because he wanted a circuitous route to the introduction of proportional representation to be adopted. I am hotly opposed to that.

Mr. Beith

I intervene not so much on the issue of proportional representation as on the point about what the additional MEPs would do. Did not the hon. Gentleman find it odd when he was an MEP that the representation of the two British party groups was so distorted? On his point about the role of the United Kingdom MEPs, surely he recognises that there are two categories. There are those in England, Scotland and Wales, who, with the best will in the world, cannot be expected to identify with the electorate in their huge European constituencies in the same way as the hon. Gentleman does with the electorate in his smaller constituency. Then the three Northern Ireland MEPs are elected on a different system. Is the hon. Gentleman saying that the Northern Ireland Members are not representatives of the community there?

Mr. Cryer

For those who are elected by the first-past-the-post system, there is a much clearer and more recognisable relationship with the electorate. I include the people of Northern Ireland in that. The amorphous system of choosing people is one of award of favours by the political parties.

After the election, apparently there is a whole lot of new faces in the Assembly. That is brought about not by changes in the electoral decisions, but by the political party to which the Members belong simply switching them on the lists to which they were appointed to exclude them from the Assembly.

Mr. Andrew Mitchell (Gedling)

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

Question put, That the Question be now put—

The House proceeded to a Division—

Mr. Beith

(seated and covered): On a point of order, Mr. Lofthouse. The preceding debates came to an end after my constituency had been mentioned. I sought to take part in that debate, but I was prevented from doing so by the moving of the closure motion. There have been only three or four speeches so far in this debate and I still have not been permitted on clause stand part to make the point about the part of the Bill that relates to my constituency and which was raised in the preceding debate.

I plead with you, Mr. Lofthouse, after all our experiences during the Maastricht debates, to recognise that it is only reasonable that hon. Members should have a fair opportunity to take part in the debate in Committee.

The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse)

I take the view that there has been a wide-ranging debate on clause stand part. The matter has been reasonably covered during the debate.

Mr. Beith

Further to that point of order, Mr. Lofthouse. It would have been out of order in the preceding debate to discuss matters relating to England, which I could not have raised even if I had been allowed to make a short speech.

The First Deputy Chairman

I have explained my decision and that is where the matter stands.

The House having divided: Ayes 238, Noes 41.

Division No. 319] [8.44 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Burns, Simon
Aitken, Jonathan Burt, Alistair
Alexander, Richard Butcher, John
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Butler, Peter
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Carlisle, John (Luton North)
Amess, David Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Carrington, Matthew
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Carttiss, Michael
Ashby, David Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Aspinwall, Jack Chapman, Sydney
Atkins, Robert Clappison, James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Coe, Sebastian
Baldry, Tony Colvin, Michael
Bates, Michael Congdon, David
Bellingham, Henry Conway, Derek
Beresford, Sir Paul Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Booth, Hartley Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Boswell, Tim Cormack, Patrick
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Couchman, James
Bowis, John Cran, James
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Brandreth, Gyles Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Brazier, Julian Davis, David (Boothferry)
Bright, Graham Day, Stephen
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Devlin, Tim
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Dickens, Geoffrey
Browning, Mrs. Angela Dorrell, Stephen
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Budgen, Nicholas Dover, Den
Duncan, Alan Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Duncan-Smith, Iain Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Dunn, Bob Luff, Peter
Durant, Sir Anthony Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Eggar, Tim MacKay, Andrew
Elletson, Harold Maclean, David
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield) McLoughlin, Patrick
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Madel, David
Evennett, David Maitland, Lady Olga
Faber, David Malone, Gerald
Fabricant, Michael Mans, Keith
Fenner, Dame Peggy Marland, Paul
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Marlow, Tony
Forman, Nigel Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Mates, Michael
Forth, Eric Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Merchant, Piers
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) Milligan, Stephen
Freeman, Rt Hon Roger Mills, Iain
French, Douglas Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Gale, Roger Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW)
Gallie, Phil Monro, Sir Hector
Gardiner, Sir George Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan Moss, Malcolm
Garnier, Edward Needham, Richard
Gill, Christopher Neubert, Sir Michael
Gillan, Cheryl Nicholls, Patrick
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Gorst, John Norris, Steve
Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW) Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Oppenheim, Phillip
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) Page, Richard
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Paice, James
Hague, William Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom) Pickles, Eric
Hampson, Dr Keith Porter, David (Waveney)
Hanley, Jeremy Powell, William (Corby)
Hannam, Sir John Redwood, Rt Hon John
Hargreaves, Andrew Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Harris, David Richards, Rod
Haselhurst, Alan Riddick, Graham
Hayes, Jerry Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm
Heald, Oliver Robathan, Andrew
Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Heathcoat-Amory, David Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Hendry, Charles Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Hicks, Robert Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Hill, James (Southampton Test) Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Horam, John Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A) Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Howell, Sir Ralph (North Shaw, David (Dover)
Norfolk) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W) Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Hunter, Andrew Shersby, Michael
Jack, Michael Sims, Roger
Jenkin, Bernard Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Jessel, Toby Soames, Nicholas
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Spencer, Sir Derek
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr) Spink, Dr Robert
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Spring, Richard
Key, Robert Sproat, Iain
Kilfedder, Sir James Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
King, Rt Hon Tom Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Kirkhope, Timothy Steen, Anthony
Knapman, Roger Stephen, Michael
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Stewart, Allan
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Streeter, Gary
Knox, Sir David Sweeney, Walter
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Sykes, John
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Temple-Morris, Peter
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Thomason, Roy
Legg, Barry Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Lidington, David Thurnham, Peter
Lightbown, David Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Trend, Michael Whittingdale, John
Trotter, Neville Widdecombe, Ann
Twinn, Dr Ian Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Walden, George Willetts, David
Waller, Gary Wilshire, David
Ward, John Wood, Timothy
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill) Yeo, Tim
Waterson, Nigel
Watts, John Tellers for the Ayes:
Wells, Bowen Mr. James Arbuthnot and
Whitney, Ray Mr. Irvine Patnick.
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Mahon, Alice
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Barnes, Harry Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Beggs, Roy Morley, Elliot
Beith, Rt Hon A. J. Mullin, Chris
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Primarolo, Dawn
Callaghan, Jim Rendel, David
Corbyn, Jeremy Salmond, Alex
Corston, Ms Jean Skinner, Dennis
Cryer, Bob Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret Spearing, Nigel
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Foster, Don (Bath) Taylor, Rt Hon John D. (Strgfd)
Gordon, Mildred Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Harvey, Nick Trimble, David
Hood, Jimmy Welsh, Andrew
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Wilson, Brian
Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S) Wise, Audrey
Lewis, Terry
Loyden, Eddie Tellers for the Noes:
Lynne, Ms Liz Mr. James Wallace and
Maclennan, Robert Mr. Archy Kirkwood.
Maginnis, Ken

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the clause stand part of the Bill:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 245, Noes 31.

Division No. 320] [8.55 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Butcher, John
Aitken, Jonathan Butler, Peter
Alexander, Richard Carlisle, John (Luton North)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Carrington, Matthew
Amess, David Carttiss, Michael
Arbuthnot, James Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Chapman, Sydney
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Clappison, James
Ashby, David Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Aspinwall, Jack Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Atkins, Robert Coe, Sebastian
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Colvin, Michael
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Congdon, David
Baldry, Tony Conway, Derek
Bates, Michael Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)
Beggs, Roy Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Bellingham, Henry Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Beresford, Sir Paul Cormack, Patrick
Biffen, Rt Hon John Couchman, James
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Cran, James
Booth, Hartley Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Boswell, Tim Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Davis, David (Boothferry)
Bowis, John Day, Stephen
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Devlin, Tim
Brandreth, Gyles Dorrell, Stephen
Brazier, Julian Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bright, Graham Dover, Den
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Duncan, Alan
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Duncan-Smith, Iain
Browning, Mrs. Angela Dunn, Bob
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Durant, Sir Anthony
Budgen, Nicholas Eggar, Tim
Burns, Simon Elletson, Harold
Burt, Alistair Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Maitland, Lady Olga
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Malone, Gerald
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Mans, Keith
Evennett, David Marland, Paul
Faber, David Marlow, Tony
Fabricant, Michael Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Fenner, Dame Peggy Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Merchant, Piers
Forman, Nigel Milligan, Stephen
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW)
Forth, Eric Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Monro, Sir Hector
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Freeman, Rt Hon Roger Moss, Malcolm
French, Douglas Needham, Richard
Gale, Roger Neubert, Sir Michael
Gallie, Phil Nicholls, Patrick
Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Garnier, Edward Norris, Steve
Gillan, Cheryl Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Oppenheim, Phillip
Gorst, John Page, Richard
Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW) Paice, James
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Pickles, Eric
Hague, William Porter, David (Waveney)
Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom) Powell, William (Corby)
Hampson, Dr Keith Rathbone, Tim
Hanley, Jeremy Redwood, Rt Hon John
Hargreaves, Andrew Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Harris, David Richards, Rod
Haselhurst, Alan Riddick, Graham
Hayes, Jerry Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm
Heald, Oliver Robathan, Andrew
Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Heathcoat-Amory, David Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Hendry, Charles Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Hicks, Robert Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Hill, James (Southampton Test) Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Horam, John Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A) Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Howell, Sir Ralph (N. Norfolk) Shaw, David (Dover)
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Hunter, Andrew Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Jack, Michael Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Jenkin, Bernard Shersby, Michael
Jessel, Toby Sims, Roger
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr) Soames, Nicholas
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Spencer, Sir Derek
Key, Robert Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Kilfedder, Sir James Spink, Dr Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom Spring, Richard
Kirkhope, Timothy Sproat, Iain
Knapman, Roger Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Steen, Anthony
Knox, Sir David Stephen, Michael
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Stewart, Allan
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Streeter, Gary
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Sweeney, Walter
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Sykes, John
Legg, Barry Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Taylor, Rt Hon John D. (Strgfd)
Lidington, David Temple-Morris, Peter
Lightbown, David Thomason, Roy
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Luff, Peter Thurnham, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
MacKay, Andrew Trend, Michael
Maclean, David Trimble, David
McLoughlin, Patrick Trotter, Neville
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Twinn, Dr Ian
Madel, David Walden, George
Maginnis, Ken Waller, Gary
Ward, John Willetts, David
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill) Wilshire, David
Waterson, Nigel Wood, Timothy
Watts, John Yeo, Tim
Wells, Bowen
Whitney, Ray Tellers for the Ayes:
Whittingdale, John Mr. Irvine Patrick and
Widdecombe, Ann Mr. Robert G. Hughes.
Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Maclennan, Robert
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Mahon, Alice
Barnes, Harry Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Beith, Rt Hon A. J. Rendel, David
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Salmond, Alex
Callaghan, Jim Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Corbyn, Jeremy Skinner, Dennis
Cryer, Bob Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Ewing, Mrs Margaret Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Galloway, George Tyler, Paul
Gordon, Mildred Wallace, James
Harvey, Nick Welsh, Andrew
Hood, Jimmy Wray, Jimmy
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S) Tellers for the Noes:
Lewis, Terry Mr. Don Foster and
Loyden, Eddie Mr. Archy Kirkwood.
Lynne, Ms Liz

Question accordingly agreed to.

Mr. Beith

I beg to move, That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again. I wish to speak to that motion.

The First Deputy Chairman

I am not prepared to accept that motion at this point. We move on to—

Mr. Beith

On a point of order, Mr. Lofthouse. I wonder whether you could draw my attention to the provision in "Erskine May" that restricts my right to move progress, so that I may be sure that you are not in some way confining that right to those on the Government Front Bench, who seem to be calling the shots.

The First Deputy Chairman

The Standing Order gives the occupant of the Chair discretion, and I am exercising that discretion. We now come to clause 2.

Forward to