HC Deb 15 July 1993 vol 228 cc1138-58 That the official status of the Welsh language shall be not less than the official status of English in the conduct of public business and the administration of justice in Wales.'.—[Mr. Morgan]

Brought up, and read the First time.

4.51 pm
Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Madam Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss also the following: New clause 2—Official status of the Welsh language ( No. 2)

  1. '(1) For the avoidance of doubt, the Welsh language shall be regarded as having official status in the conduct of official or public business and in the administration of justice in Wales and shall be treated on a basis of equality with the English language in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
  2. (2) Official or public business for the purposes of this Act means business conducted in Wales or with persons resident in Wales by the Crown and by public bodies as defined in section 6 of this Act.'.

New clause 8—National status of the Welsh language'As the national language of Wales, the Welsh language shall be regarded, along with the English language, as an official language of Wales for the conduct of public business and the administration of justice in Wales, as defined by this Act, and both languages shall be treated on a basis of equality.'.

New clause 9—Official status within Wales of the Welsh language for European Community purposes— 'For the avoidance of doubt, in matters relating to which the European Community institutions may have jurisdiction, the Welsh and English languages shall be regarded as official languages in Wales and both languages shall be treated on a basis of equality.'.

Mr. Morgan

With new clause 1, we come to what, by common consent, is the moment of truth for the Bill. It has been a long time getting to Report stage as we are the second House to deal with it, so the Government have had many opportunities to fulfil their promises to be a listening Government and to be conscious of the fact that the Conservatives are in a minority in Wales. When the Minister gives his final comments on the Government's opinion on the issue of official status and the Welsh Language Bill, he will have something constructive to say.

The Minister is probably as aware as any other hon. Member that, throughout the passage of the Bill, the Government have promised that, at the next stage or the stage after, they will have considered the objections made to the omission of reference to official status. There is no longer a next stage. Today is the day. Report is the penultimate stage, with only Third Reading to come. This is the last opportunity that the Government have—I am pleased to see that the Secretary of State has arrived for the moment of truth—to convert this Bill into what it says in its title. It says that it is the Welsh Language Bill, but unfortunately what we actually have is a Welsh language quango Bill—what might be called a quango for the lingo. We want it to be a genuine Welsh Language Bill, not a Bill simply about setting up another quango.

When people in Wales hear that the Government have it in mind to set up another quango, they say, "Lord save us from another quango; do not create it, cremate it; cremate it before you create it"—or whatever their phrase might be. They are deeply suspicious about the Bill. It is all very well to have a Welsh Language Board, but there has to be a context within which it can operate, or Parliament is simply washing its hands of issues relating to the Welsh language and passing them on to a nominated body.

We are therefore worried that the title of this Bill is a misnomer. It is rather like the incident in the 13th century—I am sure that some of the historians on the Back Benches will correct me if necessary—when Edward II told the Welsh princes that he was going to create a Prince of Wales who did not speak a word of English. They thought that he intended to choose one of them for the job, but he produced a babe in arms who did not speak any language at all.

In presenting the House with a Welsh Language Bill, but not giving it a legal context within which to work in relation to aims, objectives, goals, status and rights, the Government have left the quango completely dependent on definitions of common sense, and all being good chaps and understanding roughly what the Government want in terms of doing something, but not going too far, not pressurising people too much, not spending too much money, and not conferring rights, which would be inconvenient. It is all far too reliant on what has been referred to elsewhere as the good chap theory of government. It is not our job as legislators to leave it to the good chaps, with the occasional statutory woman, perhaps, on the quango. Our job is to write good, tight, comprehensive, well-thought-out, long-lasting legislation and this is the last opportunity that we in this place will have to make sure that the legislation does last.

Our new clause 1 is based on what we believe to be a compromise between new clause 2, which contains a declaratory statement about official status for the language, and the Government's use of the verbal device of the Welsh language being treated on a basis of equality. We are acting in the spirit of trying to meet the Government halfway and hope that the Government will respond by trying to meet us halfway.

It sounded as though there had been no further movement on the Government's part—but there may have been further consideration since then—in the exchanges between the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) and the Prime Minister in Prime Minister's questions on Tuesday. They were not promising at all, but we are hopeful that, if this Report stage is to have a meaning and is not some sort of charade, the Government have the ability and the freedom to consider what we shall be saying this afternoon. They have had two further days now to think about what the consequences will be if they completely reject any idea of linking the Bill with some form of official status.

Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarfon)

I agree wholeheartedly with what the hon. Gentleman is saying. Has he noticed that, during the last two or three days, the Government have had representations from Beata Brookes, chairperson of the Consumer Council, urging official status, and from the Archbishop of Wales, numerous members of the other place, and different denominations of churches and chapels in Wales? The will of Wales on this matter has been quite clearly declared. Is not it time that the Government listened to Wales rather than their own advisers?

Mr. Morgan

I could not agree more. I believe that the Government would like to be judge and jury in their own house because they won the election, but judges and juries in Wales have been pressing on them very strongly the idea that official status must be a part of the Bill if it is to have any meaning. The Government must show some humility with respect to their weak political position in Wales and their lack of democratic sanction for what they are doing. That is not to say that we expect them suddenly to resign over the issue, but they should recognise that they are not the majority party, or anything like it, and never have been since the secret ballot was introduced. They must be conscious, therefore, of who can, roughly speaking, say that they represent feelings in Wales, and not ride roughshod over the feelings expressed by people who can claim majority representation in Wales.

We are very concerned that the Welsh Language Board, in the absence of a reference to official status, will be working in a vacuum. There is a difference between on a basis of equality and that the official status of the Welsh language shall be not less than the official status of English. This amendment attempts to meet the objection that the Government have already mentioned in the other place and at different stages in this House: that the Bill might open up a legal Pandora's box and legal cases for years to come. Obviously, the Secretary of State is something of an expert on Pandora's boxes after his efforts on local government yesterday. Nevertheless, we believe that the Government must be conscious that, when they do things in relation to the Welsh language, they must not act like a colonial governor-general.

We are not criticising the Government's lack of generosity in financial terms to the Welsh language. We can see from the Government's expenditure plans that they hand out a considerable amount of money to Welsh language organisations. They can boast about it in their mauve-coloured book. They can say that the Urdd Gobaith Cymru—the Welsh youth movement—gets so many hundreds of thousands of pounds every year, the Welsh Books Council gets a subsidy, the Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin—the Welsh nursery schools movement—gets a subsidy, and the National Eisteddfod gets £360,000, but these are all handouts.

The age of the handout and the quango is considered very demeaning in Wales. People in Wales want rights, not handouts. There is always the thought of Secretaries of State, and even Ministers of State, who are from Wales—which makes a change—calling up the tribal chieftains, as it were, in their grass skirts and carrying their spears, and saying that they can have a collection of Gideon bibles, beads, and so on, but they cannot have rights; the natives must be kept quiet, but they are not to be given rights, although we will give them £150,000 for this and £250,000 for that.

It can be said that, except in the context of a Welsh Language Bill, the Government do not have an opportunity to confer rights on people. They are in the handout business each year when they are looking at the budget for the Welsh Books Council, and so on, but we have an opportunity now with the Welsh Language Bill before us. That is why it is important to confer these rights on the Welsh language, the speakers of the Welsh language, and those who may not be Welsh-speaking themselves, but want their children to be educated in Welsh, as a matter of right.

The Government have probably not, so far, understood the importance of the Welsh language to Welsh identity. They are probably misunderstanding the nature of the union of the United Kingdom, which this Parliament represents, and the difference between Scottish and the Welsh circumstances.

The Scottish Acts of Union were not based on absorption; they were based on allowing the Scottish people to retain all their separate legal, administrative, educational and religious separateness, and their separate identity, because it was a relatively voluntary arrangement. The Welsh Acts of Union were not voluntary at all; they were based on the principle of absorption.

Mr. Jonathan Evans (Brecon and Radnor)

No. We absorbed the English.

Mr. Morgan

Well, it may be possible to make out a case on one historic reading, but there was no doubt where the power lay, as distinct from where the office lay—although I do not want to go into the remarks of the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer on the difference between being in office and being in power now, because that would be a very considerable diversion.

Wales did not have—except in relation to markets ouverts and, later on, Sunday drinking—any separate legal, administrative or educational structures; and, until the disestablishment of the Church in Wales, it had no separate religious structures either. So the only thing that prevented the complete absorption of Wales into England, until the arrival, possibly, of international rugby and football matches between Wales and England in the 1870s, was the language.

In the preservation of Welsh identity in the 17th and 18th centuries, and most of the 19th, the language performed the function provided in Scotland by its separate administrative, educational and religious structures. We did not have that; our language was all that we had to prevent our being absorbed. That is why it is so important to appreciate the extent to which—even for those who do not speak Welsh—the language defines Welsh identity. Most people in Wales secure their national identity either by supporting Welsh rugby, soccer or other sports teams, or by speaking Welsh.

5 pm

I do not think that that point has been fully appreciated, especially by Conservative Members who are not Welsh. I remember when Billy Boston opened the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame in Cardiff. In the introduction to the ceremony, his wonderful rugby league career was described: it was said that he was the biggest rugby league scorer ever and had made more appearances in cup finals for Wigan and won more Great Britain caps in matches played against Australia than anyone else in the history of the game. When asked to say a few words, he said, "Yes, but I would have given all that up if I could only have won a cap for Wales." Every grown man present was suddenly in floods of tears. To Billy Boston, gaining a Welsh identity would have meant putting on the red jersey of Wales. Before 1880, it was not possible to play rugby league for Wales because it did not yet exist in any significant sense; in those days, the language linked people with their roots and gave them the identity about which the Scots do not need to worry.

New clause 1 is critical. It refers to "official status", but in not making it declaratory we have attempted to meet the Government's objections. We believe that it also covers the point about reciprocity of European Community legislation. Those wishing to sell Welsh goods on the continent, and to list ingredients and the like in Welsh, would have the right to do so. They would have the right to put Welsh lava bread in bijou little containers and have it sold in delicatessens on the Champs Elysees, Unter-den-Linden or the Via Venezia, listing all the ingredients in Welsh, just as Greek ouzo is now sold in Queen street or St. Mary's street in Cardiff.

The Government refer to "a basis of equality" in the Bill, but make no reference to official status. New clause 2 goes much further, including a declaratory statement with regard to official status—although it also defines and confines it in a way that I hope to discuss later. We have a few bob staked on new clause 2, but we basically believe that the Government should meet us half way by dispensing with the weasel words "a basisof "

I have mentioned the importance of the Welsh language to Welsh identity and the importance of official status in repairing the damage done to the language—not only by the Acts of Union, but by the introduction of universal primary education exclusively in English in the 1870s and 1880s. That period marked the beginning of the numerical decline of the language from its peak in the 1880s and the start of the inexorable westward march of the English-Welsh dividing line across industrial south Wales. At roughly that time, it began in the eastern valleys of Monmouthshire; more or less every decade another valley has been picked off. Now, in the 1990s, the battle lines—although that may not be an appropriate term—for the future of the language have reached the Tawe and Swansea valleys and, to an extent, the Neath valley.

The language continues to decline in one sense. There has been an apparent slowing down of that decline, caused by the number of children between the ages of three and 15 attending Welsh schools. However, if we ignore that age group, we find that, between 1981 and 1991, the decline in the census was very sharp. There was a fall of some seven percentage points in the number of people outside the school age group who spoke Welsh; the position was therefore rather artificial. The fear that the westward march of the English language across industrial south Wales will continue into the year 2000 is very damaging.

The fact that informal official status has been given to the Welsh language by administrative action and devolution to Wales is a purely coincidental by-product of the rise to political importance of Lloyd George, the United Kingdom's only Welsh Prime Minister, and the arrival of Tom Jones as the United Kingdom's only Welsh Cabinet Secretary in the late 1910s and the early 1920s. From that arose the concept of public business with which the Bill deals.

It was fortunate, perhaps, that in its early days the BBC was headed by a Scot, who was reasonably sympathetic towards matters Celtic. There were some counteracting forces in the public world. Nevertheless, even as late as the 1960s, the average person bringing up children in Wales probably thought it preferable for his children not to learn Welsh if they were to get on in life. That phrase was continually heard among the common people. Perhaps the middle classes picked up the idea first from the gradual re-establishment of Welsh in the world of education and the expansion of the university system, which placed some emphasis on the language.

Gradually, the world of public business achieved a turnround in the status of the Welsh language and over the past 20 or 30 years people have thought about whether they want their children to be brought up speaking Welsh. However, it has been purely an informal process. Some of the residual damage done by the Acts of Union and the use of the Welsh knot to extirpate the language after the introduction of primary education on a universal and English-only basis in the 1870s is still present. Over the generations, fewer families have been Welsh-speaking and thus able to bring up their children as Welsh speakers.

The Bill can act as the culmination of a gradual turnround that has been taking place since shortly after the first world war. The Government's attitude to the Welsh language has been converted: rather than trying to uproot it, on the basis that it was bad for everyone in Wales to speak Welsh—that it held them back from economic expansion—they have gradually perceived that that approach constitutes a denial of rights, identity and people's connection with their historic roots.

The Government are introducing a Welsh Language Bill, but they have made no reference to what it seeks to achieve. As I have said, we want it to represent the culmination of the process that I have described. We believe that the Government should not only cease to try to uproot the language and get rid of it altogether, but confer official status on it to right the wrongs of the period' between the 16th and 19th centuries.

The Secretary of State is gradually learning about matters Welsh. He experienced a great conversion on the road to St. Mellons in regard to unmarried mothers: indeed, he thinks that he may be the first person to speak about the matter publicly in Wales. Strangely enough, however, the main attempt to uproot the language was made by commissioners appointed by the House in the 1840s. The House was extremely worried about the Rebecca and Merthyr riots and about the Chartists; so three commissioners were sent to try to work out what was wrong with the Welsh.

The commissioners said that there were two things wrong with the Welsh: they kept having babies without marrying and they spoke Welsh. I must tell the Secretary of State that the St. Mellons estate had not been built at that time. The commissioners arrived in Wales knowing nothing about it and believing that there was something seriously wrong with the Welsh—largely because they could not understand them and because their habits did not seem to meet the standards of Balliol or Wokingham.

The Bill provides an opportunity to remedy that damage and repression. I commend new clause I to the House.

Mr. Alex Carlile (Montgomery)

I shall be brief because I am anxious not to take time from hon. Members whose names are appended to the new clauses, and I wish only to make a point of principle in relation to those clauses.

The Bill starts with a preamble, as do all measures. But any lawyer who is used to addressing courts on the meaning of statutes knows that it is rarely appropriate, and even more rarely helpful, to address the court on the preamble. The substance of any Act of Parliament is contained in the text, not in the preamble.

When examining a Bill of this kind, one looks to clause I for the principle underlying the measure. What are the people being told? Parliament speaks to the people of Wales by the way it acts in the measure. The message that clause l sends to the people of Wales is that there shall be established a Welsh Language Board.

The establishment of that body has been welcomed. It has already done some excellent work, work which in some ways surpasses the excellence of the Bill. The creation of a statutory Welsh Language Board is at least equally welcome, but the people of Wales will not be satisfied with the creation of such a board and the consequent legal framework as an end in itself.

We have few opportunities to create for Wales legislation which is as specific and momentous as this. So let us not run away from this opportunity to do something momentous for Wales. Many people in Wales are speaking Welsh fluently, many children from non-Welsh speaking homes are learning to speak Welsh fluently and many youngsters who have perhaps learnt Welsh at school and not at home have become fluent speakers. They are ambitious, not to leave but to stay in Wales.

We should recognise those achievements by giving Welsh a status that is not a vague statement in the preamble to the Bill but is recognised in the first clause as setting out the aspiration of the measure and the determination of Parliament to provide something new and momentous for the people of Wales.

There could be no better way to achieve that than by giving Welsh its true and proper official status as an equal language in Wales in all official respects. I have read with care all the reasons that have been given for preferring the phrase "equal validity" and leaving it in the preamble, compared with giving the Welsh language enacted official status in the body of the measure.

The reasons given for that preference seem to be distilled into an assertion that there may be legal problems and that it may do nothing more than provide work for lawyers. Perhaps I should declare my interest as a lawyer practising in Wales. I have done that for the last 21 years. I am proud of that achievement—[Interruption.]—and I answer the catcalls by saying that, in a sense, I have been doing it for part of this week. I make no apology for fulfilling public duty in Wales in the courts earlier this week. Indeed, there are other Welsh lawyers in the House today who fulfil public duties in Wales of a similar nature, and there are others who would probably like to do so.

We in Parliament should not be afraid to take the occasional risk of doing something bold which might mean the Government, the Welsh Language Board or some other public body finding itself the subject of an application for judicial review because it is not putting into effect the terms of the Act, as the measure will become. Without the availability of judicial review, by which citizens of Wales can establish that the status of the Welsh language has been sustained, what will the Bill really be worth?

5.15 pm

I do not demur from the view that goodwill for the Welsh language is the subject of attempted expression in the Bill. I do not say that the Government have acted out of bad faith. I simply suggest that by running away from the declaration of official status for Welsh-—I much prefer new clauses 2 and 8 to new clause l—the Government are running away from the aspirations of the people of Wales.

Mr. Roger Evans (Monmouth)

If Welsh had official status under new clause l, what, as a matter of law, would that mean? Would it mean that anybody—however few people in a constituency spoke Welsh; only 2 per cent. of my constituents say that they speak Welsh—could insist that community councils or local authorities must conduct their business in Welsh and publish their records, minutes and reports in Welsh? That would seem to be the inevitable general universal application of the type of argument and drafting that the hon. and learned Gentleman is suggesting.

Mr. Carlile

The simple answer to that question is no. There is nothing in the new clauses which would lay down a requirement that the sort of extreme action to which the hon. Gentleman referred would have to be taken. I agree that it would be absurd for a community council in his constituency, in which 2 per cent. of the population speak Welsh as their first language, to have to publish minutes in the Welsh language. Indeed, in my constituency some community councils would find it extremely difficult to publish minutes in the Welsh language.

That is beside the point. We are not speaking of a requirement that every document should be in the Welsh language. To insist on that would be a patent absurdity. We are talking about the status of the Welsh language, and the Government should recognise that the only way to enable the aspirations of the people of Wales to be met by the Bill is to include that declaration of official status.

Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend)

I need not delay the House because my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) covered most aspects of Welsh history relating to the matters that we are discussing.

New clause l takes a minimalist approach. It is an attempt to draw the Government beyond the statement in the preamble. They should find our proposal acceptable because it provides a way to give definition to the official status of the Welsh language in Wales alongside that of English.

Some weeks ago, the Welsh Language Board wrote to hon. Members pointing out that for the new board and its chairman to be effective, the Welsh language should have official status in Wales. More recently, to my surprise, the former Member of the European Parliament for North Wales, Beata Brookes, came out strongly in favour of the Welsh language having official status. I am sure that she is well known to Conservative Members. I imagine that, privately, she will have forcibly told them her views.

I shall read one sentence from her letter, as chairwoman of the Welsh Consumer Council, to remind Conservative Members of the views of that redoubtable lady. She wrote: But unless the Welsh language is given official status, the ability of the Board to give real support to the language will be seriously undermined". I hope that right hon. and hon. Members will take full account of her words.

My constituent who was the chairman of the Welsh Language Board and who recommended that it should have official status was unable to continue as chairman of the board. I do not know whether it was because the Government did not offer him the job or whether he did not wish to continue, but whatever the circumstances, there is no doubt that, given his view that it was essential for the Welsh language to have official status, he could not continue as chairman because that was not the will of the Government.

I hope today that the Government will at least accept new clause 1. I hope that they will accept new clause 2 as well, but let us hope that, on the ground of accepting a minimal compromise solution, they will accept new clause 1.

Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy)

We are as much concerned with the status of the Welsh language as we are with the establishment of the Welsh Language Board. The feeling in Wales is that without a solution to the former, the latter will be an incomplete vehicle which will be hampered from the very beginning in the object for which it was set up.

New clause 2, to which I speak, is of immense practical importance as the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) has said. It is of even greater psychological importance.

Time and again on Second Reading, in Committee and in debates in the other place, the Government's view has been that a declaration of official status for the language would somehow open up a legal can of worms or an administrative Pandora's box.

The Welsh Office view is best described as excessive legal caution. Time and again we are told that the lawyers have come out against a declaration, saying that the language already enjoys official status in Wales. However, if that is true, why can we not encapsulate it in legislation so that there can be no doubt whatsoever?

The noble Earl Ferrers, on several occasions in the other place, referred to the need to clarify the position of the language and this is a great opportunity so to do. He said: The concept of Welsh being an official language raises similar concepts of definition and uncertainty. It is the Government view that whatever uncertainty there may have been in the past concerning the official language of Welsh, it should be removed by the Bill."—[official Report, House of Lords, 2 February 1993; Vol. 542, c. 152.] In reality, there is no lack of clarity. The Welsh speaker in Wales is a second class citizen in his or her own country and the amendment tries to address that. Failure to embody a declaration of status, even in the simplest terms, will merely perpetuate that unacceptable position. Worse still, it will defeat the object of the Bill.

The noble lord Lord Williams said in the other place that all the good in the rest of the Bill will be lost without a declaration of status. He said that there were many helpful measures in the Bill and I add my voice to that. I am not here to be a full-time critic, but without a declaration of status it will be an empty Bill.

The noble lord Lord Hooson said that it is necessary to have a declaration of this kind within the Act to make it totally acceptable and I shall return to that in a few minutes.

The Welsh Language Board has stated its clear view that a declaration is vital. The board took the view it should have been encapsulated in the long title. That could and should have been provided for; what is more, it could have been drafted without any problem whatsoever.

Since the some what turbulent passage of the Bill through the House, the immediate past chairman of the Welsh Language Board, Mr. John Elfed Jones, a man whose obvious virtues are held in high regard by many in the Chamber and elsewhere, has expressed his opinion. On a previous occasion, the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Evans) said somewhat mischievously that Mr. John Elfed Jones had done more for the language than Mr. Saunders Lewis.

I shall not debase the debate by pursuing that point, but it typifies the Government's esteem for Mr. John Elfed Jones who wrote to the Standing Committee on 18 June saying that, if the Bill omitted to include a declaration of status, the arguing and the tension in Wales would persist. Furthermore, and all-importantly, he said that the work of the board would be hampered ab initio and he spoke with the authority of having chaired the board.

When I raised that important point with the Minister of State, I received a sarcastic comment from him to the effect that anything that that gentleman says is unacceptable to the Government. He went on to say, with a smile on his face, that the comment was made ex cathedra, referring to the fact that that gentleman had left his post. However, ex cathedra, in cathedra, in chapel or anywhere else, thousands of people in Wales agree with the past chairman of the board that there must be a declaration of status embodied in the Bill. By failing to make such a declaration after decades of waiting and agonising delay, the Government will fail the people of Wales.

I have frequently said that I welcome the fact that the debates were not characterised by political point scoring. More importantly, the language was not sullied by such a scenario, but it should be asked whether it is acceptable for the Government in Westminster to deny the Welsh people. In any event, they have no mandate to rule Wales. They packed the Standing Committee with parachutists from England, people who went there to read their correspondence, who knew nothing about the Welsh language and cared even less. We had to argue our case against that brick wall. The Welsh language is our most valuable asset and we have to continue arguing against that dumb opposition.

My amendment in favour of Welsh jury trials was lost on the casting vote of the Chair. The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), somewhat uncharacteristically, sided with the Government. The cards were yet again stacked against the Welsh people. I deeply regret that I, who live my life through the medium of the Welsh language, have to plead, here in London, for the very existence of my own language. I am dismayed and angry about it.

In the past few weeks, many eminent people have been writing to No. 10. They include judges, academics, bishops and the Archbishop himself, pleading with the Government to think again. My hon. Friend the Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) raised the matter with the Prime Minister who said in his usual bumbling way that the language had an official status but no doubt we will be denied that in statute today.

Even the Government's most ardent supporter and apologist, Miss Beata Brookes, the chairwoman of the Welsh Consumer Council and of the Conservative party for Wales, wrote to all right hon. and hon. Members on 12 July. Her letter has been referred to, but it is important none the less. It states: unless the Welsh langugage is given official status, the ability of the Board to give real support to the language will be seriously undermined. The Welsh Consumer Council has consistently argued, in its response to Fforwm Iaith's Strategy and the Welsh Language Bill, that there needs to be"—

5.30 pm
Mr. Win Griffiths

The hon. Gentleman is concentrating on an official status for the Welsh language in Wales. Has he had the opportunity to ask his fellow party member, who now holds a distinguished position of power and influence in this matter, whether he intends to treat Welsh as though it has official status in Wales?

Mr. Llwyd

I am aware that the person concerned—Lord Elis Thomas—is within the confines of the House at this moment. I sincerely hope that he hears the pleas of hon. Members on the Opposition Benches. Had any hon. Members on the Conservative Benches any regard for the language, there would be pleas from them also. I have no doubt that Lord Elis Thomas will take into account what has been said today.

Has the Minister accepted the view of many eminent people in Wales? There is no doubt that English is, de facto, an official language in Wales. It runs through every piece of legislation, going back over centuries. Because of that, the Welsh language has been treated as inferior. We now have an opportunity to put that right. Failure to do so will be to fail the people of Wales.

On past occasions, I have referred to the wealth of good will in Wales towards the language and the large number of people each year who seek to learn it. I applaud and welcome that. I also applaud the fact that many of those who have moved to Wales recognise the need to nurture the language and its culture. They are aware of the great value that attaches to the language.

When the Bill was first presented, there was a consensus. It did not meet with any vociferous opposition because we all accepted that there was good will behind it. For reasons that I have already explained, the language was not treated as a political football because a consensus was reached on the implicit understanding that the Government would table numerous strengthening amendments. Where are they? Last December we were told, "Don't worry—it is not what you want, but it will be strengthened." Now, after a great deal of debate, not one of the 70 or more amendments tabled by the Opposition parties has been accepted by the Government. That is a said indictment of the 'Government and of their real intention.

The Minister said that he would strengthen the Bill—have we all been duped?

Mr. Wigley

My hon. Friend could also ask whether the members of the Welsh Language Board have been duped. They were on the point of resigning last December, and would have resigned were it not for the Minister's promise that the Bill would be strengthened. Were they duped, too? Has everybody been duped at every stage simply to pass a Bill that does not give the Welsh language the rights to which it is entitled'?

Mr. Llwyd

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments, which are heartfelt across the party divide.

Because not a single amendment was accepted by the Government, they have driven a coach and horses through the welcome consensus that they enjoyed when the Bill was first presented. Not only has the consensus in the Chamber disappeared, but in Wales the mood is one of anger, betrayal and exasperation. Many societies feel that their reasoned arguments have been dispatched without consideration or comment.

We have presented the Minister with numerous amendments dealing with the official status of the Welsh language. Some of them were designed to meet his objection that granting official status would militate against the language's perceived status in other legislation. Some amendments were designed to meet the opposite view, which he also gave us, that the wording covered too broad an application. Some amendments were drafted by eminent lawyers in Wales. They have knowledge of the everyday working of the language in Wales and of the various pieces of legislation. It was all to no avail.

The issue is important not just in this Chamber and in the United Kingdom, but in Europe. We will soon again be considering the Maastricht Bill; the Government must be wondering what that has in store for them. They have yet to ratify the charter on minority languages. In Committee, we were told that they were still considering it. I do not understand why they have had to take nine months to do so. I sincerely hope that that consideration will come to fruition before too long. If it does not and if the new clause fails, the language will not be official and neither will it have the protection of a minority language in Europe. It will be denied support from both this Chamber and the European Chamber. The Irish language has been recognised as an official language in Europe and it will receive European assistance. Whatever the outcome of our sad proceedings tonight, I hope that the Government will again consider the charter, without further hopeless prevarication.

The retired archdruid of Wales, Dr. William George—a person whose views I hold in great regard—said about the Bill that half a loaf is better than no bread. On this occasion, I must disagree with him. The half loaf is stale and it will not provide sustenance to the Welsh language. If the new clause does not succeed, history will record that a truly golden opportunity has been missed, to the great sadness of hon. Members and the people of Wales.

Some months ago, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg and other societies urged me to vote down the Bill at the first opportunity. I said that as a Member representing a Welsh constituency, my job was to try to strengthen the Bill. I reminded them that, last Christmas, the Minister had said that it would be strengthened. It was because I was confident of that that I told them that I would not vote against it.

The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Sir Wyn Roberts)

Does not the hon. Gentleman regard the amendments that we have made to the Bill—21 in all—as strengthening it? Have not we strengthened it by what we have said about written evidence, about charities and by our changes to company legislation? I resent some of the comments made by the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues.

Mr. Llwyd

Those amendments concern the minutiae of the Bill. I agree that the changes to company law, those relating to charities and the changes to one or two other words are welcome. However, the core issue is that for centuries the Welsh language has been treated as inferior, yet nothing in the Bill deals with that problem. I do not deny that there have been some cosmetic changes, one or two of them quite substantial—but by and large the important amendments dealing with the core issue have been ignored by the Government. [Interruption.] It appears that those of us who live and work in Wales do not know as much about Wales as those who live and work across the border. That is what they think and it saddens me.

If the new clause is not successful, it will be a betrayal of the people of Wales and a denial of their legitimate aspirations. The Government will be directly responsible for any divisiveness and disharmony. I urge hon. Members to vote for the new clause.

Mr. Roger Evans

What does new clause 1 as drafted mean? Does the phrase "official status" carry any legal practical weight whatever? If it does, it is dangerous, general and universal, and undermines the good will behind the Bill. If it is simply window dressing, what is the point of putting it in, except as a symbol? I respect the need for a symbol, but perhaps it would have been better to have put a grand statement in the preface, as Henry VIII's advisers would no doubt have done.

Mr. Llwyd

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was listening to me, but I tried to make the explanation fairly explicit. One short example is the fact that Welsh is currently denied any assistance from the European sphere. That is one aspect that the hon. Gentleman may like to ponder.

Mr. Evans

The effect in Europe is not clear. If the phrase had any meaning, the immediate practical effect of the amendment and others like it would be that, instead of a system that has been most carefully devised by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, with piecemeal schemes where they are appropriate and reasonably practical in the circumstances, we should have a general, universal rule that had to be applied equally in all circumstances.

I am prepared to listen to and even to accept the argument that there is something to be said for putting something suitably Welsh and passionate into the preamble to address the point that has been made—although it is now too late to do so. However, I object strongly to the corruption of the statute book by grandiloquent, general, American-sounding statements such as "the pursuit of happiness", which are legally imprecise and which will undoubtedly lead to litigation.

I am not satisfied by the answer given by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) when I asked him what more we should have than we have at present if Welsh were to have a statutory official status. Would an individual citizen in Wales be entitled to have a document addressed to him in Welsh? Would he be entitled to have the committee minutes of my community council given to him in Welsh? What does the phrase mean? If the amendments were accepted, such decisions would have to be taken by the High Court, not by an expert body such as the Welsh Language Board.

My right hon. Friend has devised a scheme whereby the needs of every part of Wales would be covered. The Bill is a monumental historical achievement. It is undoubtedly the best thing that has happened to the Welsh language for half a millennium and it is deeply saddening that an imaginative, effective Bill, well drafted to promote good will in Wales, should be so unfairly belittled.

Mr. Martyn Jones (Clwyd, South-West)

I shall not detain the House too long, because I know that many Members wish to speak and there is a lot of business to conduct on the Bill.

As the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) told us, Lord Ferrers said in the other place: Welsh already enjoys official status"—[Official Report. House of Lords, 25 February 1993; Vol. 543, c. 347.] If that is the case, and if that is the Government's view, is it too naive to expect them to state the fact in the Bill? I do not believe so. That status should be declared in the Bill.

It has been argued that that is not necessary, because the fact that Welsh is an official language is implicitly recognised in other statutes. However, the Bill must be the right place in which duly to recognise the statutory position of the Welsh language. If the legislation had been considered by the Welsh Grand Committee, as it should have been according to the rules of the House, the Welsh language would have been given official status and the Bill would have been stronger. It would have been considered by Members from Wales and there would have been more Members in the Chamber tonight. As we see, the Conservative Members who do not represent seats in Wales and yet were on the Committee have not chosen to come here tonight. Presumably they have decided to deal with their mail somewhere else.

The Bill should promote the greater use of the language, which would promote its development and give it equal validity with English in the life of Wales. We have heard many quotations tonight, but here is another, from the Welsh Language Board: Equal validity for the Welsh and English languages in Wales is a prerequisite for a fair society. Any status for the Welsh language that falls short of this is demeaning". It demeans the Welsh language.

We have already heard some history tonight. Welsh is the oldest language in the United Kingdom. The Gododdin, the oldest Welsh document, dates from the 9th century, I believe, so Welsh is considerably older than the English that is known and used in the House today.

The Government's policies will once again fail the people of Wales unless the principle of official status for Welsh is incorporated in the Bill. That is a fundamental request and if it were granted it would give the Welsh language new life and vigour. The Welsh Language Board put the position succinctly in paragraph 36 of its recommendations for a new Welsh Language Act: Unless it be declared by an Act of Parliament that the Welsh language shall have equality of status with the English language it will continue in its existing state of inequality. It is therefore imperative that Parliament uses this opportunity to right some wrongs of the past and to provide the Welsh language with the status it deserves". If our new clause is not accepted, an historic opportunity to right 450 years of wrong done to the language will have been missed.

Unlike the hon. Member of Meirionnydd Nant Conwy, I shall not oppose Third Reading, if only on the ground that half a loaf is better than no bread. I agree that the half loaf is probably stale, but at least it is something. It is a shame that we shall have only that stale half loaf and not a whole loaf for the people of Wales.

5.45 pm
Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East)

I shall be brief, not only because what I wanted to say has been said already, but because of my deep reverence for the Whips. I heard what the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) said about the Welsh Language Board being duped and his extremely passionate denunciation. I hope that he will have a brief word with Lord Elis Thomas and ask him to consider his position.

The key difference between the two sides of the House is that the Government have clearly failed to understand the importance of symbolism for the language. New clause 1 offers them an olive branch and a way out. We do not know what "official status" and "a basis of equality" mean precisely, but whatever they mean we want Welsh to have the same status as English. I am not sure whether there is a Welsh word for "me too-ism". My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris) suggests "fi hefyd-ism". If it is good enough for them, it is good enough for us.

Mr. Cynog Dafis (Ceredigion and Pembroke, North)

The Bill has been received in Wales with a deep disappointment, felt most by those who are most committed to the future of the Welsh language—those who have campaigned long and hard to bring about such a Bill, and without whom the Bill would never have been introduced.

The disappointment springs first from the total failure to establish in the Bill rights of any kind—crucially, perhaps, the right to receive education through the medium of the Welsh language. The second disappointment is the failure to make an unequivocal declaration of official and equal status. There is talk about the principle that in the conduct of public business and the administration of justice in Wales the English and Welsh languages should be treated on a basis of equality". However, that statement is ambiguous and the ambiguity is compounded by phrases such as, so far as is appropriate in the circumstances and reasonably practicable". The principle is hedged about by all kinds of conditions, so it is both ambiguous and limited in scope. As we shall no doubt hear later, there is no reference to the privatised utilities and other such organisations.

Campaigners for the Welsh language have seen a language Act not simply as a kind of totem, nor even as a symbol, but as a necessary basis for a practical process and for the restoration of the Welsh language to its proper position in the life of Wales. That is what the campaign for a Welsh Language Act has been all about. To use current jargon, the campaign has been designed to set in motion a process that some people call the reversal of language shift. That means bringing about an ever-wider knowledge and use of the Welsh language in Wales. The Welsh language has been undergoing the contrary process to that for the past century.

Reversing language shift is no mean task. It is a serious business and is difficult to achieve, although not impossible. It is a major task that requires a great deal of understanding and much commitment of resources. Whether or not that task is undertaken, how seriously it is attempted and its prospects of success depend on the good will of one person—the Secretary of State for Wales, whoever he or she may be at the time. That is deeply unsatisfactory. In the absence of the establishment of rights and of an unequivocal declaration of official status, my colleagues and I find it impossible to support the Bill.

Despite what I have said so far, I am prepared to concede that those who drafted the Bill, and in particular the Minister of State, seem to have been well intentioned. Theoretically, through the mechanism of the schemes, much could be achieved on certain conditions. What are the conditions which must be fulfilled? [HON. MEMBERS: "Come on."] I am entitled to say what I want to say and I am trying to do that. I believe that I am saying something that has not been said before.

What are the conditions which must be fulfilled to ensure that the schemes' mechanism delivers something? The membership of the board must be determined on the basis of a commitment to, and an understanding of, the needs of the Welsh language. It must be based on that and not merely on acceptability to the Government of the day. The board's professional staff should have commitment, application, knowledge and ability. The board must be adequately resourced to fulfil its extraordinarily broad remit. It must be adequately staffed to carry out the complex procedures of dealing with the schemes with expedition to provide momentum to the process of increasing knowledge and use of the language. Momentum is all-important at this stage. At the end of the day, the legislation and the board should have the backing of the Secretary of State.

If those conditions are met, the Bill might provide the means to strengthen the position of the Welsh language. In addition, the Bill might create a new political context within which voluntary campaigning and action on behalf of the Welsh language could flourish.

If those conditions are not fulfilled—and that is what we fear—there will be disenchantment and frustration. We have no doubt about which of those two scenarios we want to be fulfilled. That is why we are so disappointed at the failure to establish rights and incorporate a statement on the principle of status. We want the positive scenario to reign in relation to the Welsh language in Wales.

The irony is that the nature of the Bill that has emerged, and the success that may attend it, depend on the political will of the Government of the day in London. If I may say so, that places a heavy responsibility on that Government.

Sir Wyn Roberts

I have been accused of excessive legal caution. I have been urged by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) to take a risk. I have been told by the hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) that I am not concerned about symbolism. I must remind the House that we are legislating. It is all very well to include something in a Bill which gives us a great glow of satisfaction, but it may not actually mean anything.

Let me be quite clear. The Government start from the simple premise that the Welsh language already enjoys "official status" and can therefore be said to be an official language in Wales. That is, of course, what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said on Tuesday.

Mr. Wigley

Will the Minister give way?

Sir Wyn Roberts

While the Bill serves to confirm the status which the language enjoys, it is not the intention of the Bill to confer that status on the language—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris)

Order. Hon. Members on both sides of the House should contain themselves and listen to the Minister. This is an important subject and hon. Members want to listen to the Minister.

Sir Wyn Roberts

I was saying that this immediately gives rise to one of my concerns with some of the general declarations of status that have been proposed in the new clauses. If the purpose of the Bill is seen to be to confer "official status" upon the Welsh language, it follows that the language does not currently enjoy that status. The Government's view is that it does.

Mr. Wigley

Will the Minister give way now?

Sir Wyn Roberts

I will give way to the hon. Gentleman in a moment.

I believe that that ignores the current reality and would lessen the status of the language in matters not covered by schemes. That is the acid test and one of the criteria that we have applied to the new clauses.

The other criterion which, as I explained in Committee, we have applied to the proposals on this matter was that amendments on status should not have the effect of including in the Bill a general declaration of uncertain effect which could be interpreted only by the courts. The amendments should not include a provision which could be interpreted as corresponding to statutory bilingualism and they should not constrain the status of the language so as to be entirely dependent upon measures provided for in the Bill.

My hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Evans) was quite right to ask about the meaning of the phrase "official status". He is well aware of the point that I am making. The inclusion of that phrase would have an uncertain effect and lead to confusion. We do not require the inclusion of the phrase "official status" in the Bill to empower the board to perform its function which is already covered by other clauses.

Mr. Wigley

The Minister said that there is doubt about the meaning of the term "official status". Only a few moments ago, he said that Welsh has official status. He cannot have it both ways. There may be doubts about the meaning of the "basis of equality", but he includes that in the Bill although it is open to interpretation.

A case in the European courts involving a Dutch citizen and the Irish Government related to whether the Irish language was recognised as an official language within Ireland. Unless the Welsh language is recognised in law as having official status within Wales, we are open to similar cases being taken in the European courts. This matter must be cleared up now in the context of the Bill. If it is not cleared up tonight, it should be cleared up in the other place when the Bill finally returns there.

Sir Wyn Roberts

The official status of the language in Europe can arise only from the unanimous agreement of the European Council. It does not depend on there being a legal declaration of status in domestic law in this country. I could tell the hon. Gentleman much about the situation in Europe because I have examined it most carefully. Passage of the Bill and its recognition of the Welsh language and its official status could be extremely helpful to the Welsh language in Europe.

Mr. Denzil Davies (Llanelli)

The right hon. Gentleman tells us that the Welsh language now has official status in Wales, whatever that might strictly mean. Is not his fear that, if it is written into the statute, it will become an official language of the United Kingdom? Is not that the difference?

6 pm

Sir Wyn Roberts

I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman heard what I said and what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said on Tuesday—namely, that Welsh is an official language in this country. That does not have to be stated in law. It is not stated in law in respect of English. English is also an official language.

Mr. Alex Carlile

The right hon. Gentleman said something interesting in answer to the right hon. Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies). Does the Minister say that Welsh is an official language in the United Kingdom, or does he say that it is an official language merely in Wales? There seems to be great confusion about that and, of itself, that confusion is surely evidence for defining status clearly in the Bill.

Sir Wyn Roberts

I do not agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said that Welsh is an official language. The hon. and learned Gentleman should read what my right hon. Friend and I have said.

Mr. Llwyd

If, as the Minister says, Welsh is an official language, surely his answer to me about the minority charter should have been that we cannot ratify it because it is an official language.

Sir Wyn Roberts

The hon. Gentleman is somewhat confused about the status of the European charter. We are still considering whether we should subscribe to it and take further steps. The hon. Gentleman is aware that we meet all the requirements of that charter in respect of Welsh.

I have considered the new clauses very carefully. They do not meet our requirements and they do not meet the criteria that I have set out. The inclusion of any of the new clauses would be contrary to the preamble of the Bill and they would certainly not provide a proper basis for the Welsh Language Board to pursue its function of promoting and facilitating use of the Welsh language.

Mr. Morgan

With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Minister should be aware that what he said about not wishing to express noble declaratory sentiments is in absolute contrast with what the Secretary of State said yesterday about local government. The Secretary of State said that we must legislate in a way that resonates with the people and agrees with the people's sentiments in respect of local government reform. The same applies on Thursdays as applies on Wednesdays. One cannot enunciate a principle one day and deny it the following day.

In the main, the Minister addressed objections to the declaratory statements which characterise new clause 2. He barely addressed new clause I, which would align the status of the Welsh language by way of official status in Wales with the de facto and de jure status of the English language. The right hon. Gentleman shuffled papers and accepted interventions in a way that I have never seen him do before. He criticised the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) for being in a state of confusion. Perhaps the confusion is among Conservative Members. Perhaps the Minister has lost a battle that might have gone to Cabinet.

A Bill which merely transfers from the Welsh Office to the new Welsh Language Board the right to hand out lollipops to the National Eisteddfod and the Welsh Books Council will not satisfy the demands of the people of Wales. The Government must recognise that. Therefore, I ask right hon. and hon. Members to support us in the Lobby.

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

The House divided: Ayes 129, Noes 173.

Division No. 335] [6.05 pm
Ainger, Nick Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Armstrong, Hilary Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Ashton, Joe Hutton, John
Barnes, Harry Illsley, Eric
Bayley, Hugh Jamieson, David
Benton, Joe Jones, leuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)
Betts, Clive Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Boyce, Jimmy Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)
Bradley, Keith Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Byers, Stephen Jowell, Tessa
Callaghan, Jim Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Khabra, Piara S.
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry) Kirkwood, Archy
Chisholm, Malcolm Lewis, Terry
Clapham, Michael Livingstone, Ken
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Llwyd, Elfyn
Connarty, Michael Lynne, Ms Liz
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) McAllion, John
Corbyn, Jeremy McAvoy, Thomas
Cox, Tom Macdonald, Calum
Cryer, Bob Mackinlay, Andrew
Cummings, John McNamara, Kevin
Dafis, Cynog Madden, Max
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Mahon, Alice
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Mandelson, Peter
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'I) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Dewar, Donald Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Dixon, Don Martlew, Eric
Dowd, Jim Meale, Alan
Eastham, Ken Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Enright, Derek Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Etherington, Bill Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret Morgan, Rhodri
Faulds, Andrew Morley, Elliot
Flynn, Paul Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Mowlam, Marjorie
Foulkes, George Mullin, Chris
Gerrard, Neil Murphy, Paul
Godman, Dr Norman A. Patchett, Terry
Godsiff, Roger Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Golding, Mrs Llin Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Gordon, Mildred Prescott, John
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Primarolo, Dawn
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Quin, Ms Joyce
Gunnell, John Rendel, David
Hain, Peter Rogers, Allan
Hall, Mike Rowlands, Ted
Hanson, David Ruddock, Joan
Hendron, Dr Joe Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Heppell, John Simpson, Alan
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Skinner, Dennis
Hoey, Kate Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury) Wigley, Dafydd
Smith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Spearing, Nigel Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Steel, Rt Hon Sir David Wise, Audrey
Stott, Roger Worthington, Tony
Strang, Dr. Gavin Wright, Dr Tony
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Vaz, Keith Tellers for the Ayes:
Wallace, James Mr. John Spellar and
Watson, Mike Mr. Ray Powell.
Wicks, Malcolm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Harris, David
Alexander, Richard Haselhurst, Alan
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Hawksley, Warren
Amess, David Heald, Oliver
Arbuthnot, James Heathcoat-Amory, David
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Hendry, Charles
Ashby, David Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.
Atkins, Robert Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Horam, John
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Baldry, Tony Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Bates, Michael Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)
Bellingham, Henry Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Beresford, Sir Paul Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Blackburn, Dr John G. Hunter, Andrew
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Jack, Michael
Booth, Hartley Jenkin, Bernard
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Jessel, Toby
Bowden, Andrew Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Bowis, John Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Brazier, Julian Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)
Browning, Mrs. Angela Jopling. Rt Hon Michael
Burns, Simon Key, Robert
Burt, Alistair Kilfedder, Sir James
Carlisle, John (Luton North) King, Rt Hon Tom
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Kirkhope, Timothy
Carrington, Matthew Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Cash, William Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Chapman, Sydney Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Clappison, James Lawrence, Sir Ivan
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif) Legg, Barry
Colvin, Michael Lennox-Boyd, Mark
Congdon, David Lidington, David
Conway, Derek Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Lord, Michael
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Day, Stephen MacKay, Andrew
Dover, Den McLoughlin, Patrick
Duncan, Alan Maitland, Lady Olga
Duncan-Smith, Iain Malone, Gerald
Dunn, Bob Mans, Keith
Durant, Sir Anthony Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Dykes, Hugh Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Eggar, Tim Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Elletson, Harold Merchant, Piers
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Milligan, Stephen
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Moss, Malcolm
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Neubert, Sir Michael
Faber, David Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Fabricant, Michael Oppenheim, Phillip
Fenner, Dame Peggy Page, Richard
Forman, Nigel Paice, James
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) Patnick, Irvine
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Freeman, Rt Hon Roger Pickles, Eric
French, Douglas Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Gale, Roger Powell, William (Corby)
Gallie, Phil Rathbone, Tim
Gillan, Cheryl Redwood, Rt Hon John
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Richards, Rod
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Riddick, Graham
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Hague, William Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Robinson, Mark (Somerton) Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard Thurnham, Peter
Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim Tracey, Richard
Shaw, David (Dover) Tredinnick, David
Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian Trend, Michael
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Viggers, Peter
Speed, Sir Keith Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Spencer, Sir Derek Waller, Gary
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Spink, Dr Robert Waterson, Nigel
Sproat, Iain Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Whitney, Ray
Stephen, Michael Whittingdale, John
Stern, Michael Willetts, David
Streeter, Gary Wood, Timothy
Sweeney, Walter
Sykes, John Tellers for the Noes:
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Mr. David Lightbown and
Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E) Mr. Michael Brown.
Thomason, Roy

Question accordingly negatived.

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