§ The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. John Redwood)
I beg to move,That, notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order No. 86 (Nomination of standing committees), any Standing Committee appointed for the consideration of the Welsh Language Bill [Lords] shall consist of twenty-eight Members, including not fewer than nineteen Members sitting for constituencies in Wales.This is my first opportunity to speak from the Government Benches as Secretary of State for Wales. I am deeply conscious of the responsibilities which that office entails. My duty will be to represent the interests of the Welsh people at the heart of government, and to argue the case for Wales when key decisions are being made. I firmly believe that the office of Secretary of State for Wales provides the best way of advancing Welsh interests within the United Kingdom, and the Union the best future for Wales in the wider world.
The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the proper place to debate the needs and aspirations of Wales and all its people. I look forward to those debates, which I hope will prove constructive as well as incisive.
§ Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East)
The Secretary of State has said that he will put the interests of Wales at the heart of his considerations. From time to time conflicts will arise between his known views in respect of, for example, privatisation and reductions in public expenditure and the interests of Wales. Such a conflict would have arisen two weeks ago about the driver and vehicle licensing centre at Swansea, which his predecessor fought hard, on Welsh grounds, to retain there. Will the Secretary of State give an undertaking to the House that when there is such a conflict between his known ideological predilections and Wales, he will give priority to Wales?
§ Mr. Redwood
That intervention is a little wide of the Bill, but of course I give the assurance that I will put the interests of Wales first. I am extremely happy with what my predecessor did on that issue and with the position of the whole Government, which is in the interests of Wales. The hon. Gentleman should not reach conclusions about what my views might or might not be on certain subjects from the cardboard caricatures that he has in his mind. He should listen to my arguments and my views. We can debate those at the proper time.
I want to continue the dialogue with local government and other important Welsh institutions, which my predecessor initiated, for democracy flourishes beyond this House as well as within it.
The motion is procedural. The Welsh language is an essential feature of the inheritance of these islands. It is spoken in Wales, enriching its cultural life and that of the whole of the United Kingdom. The Government do not require people to speak the language against their will, but wish to give every encouragement to those who wish to speak and to learn it. I believe that those sentiments are widely shared in the House.
The motion relates to the constitution of the Standing Committee to consider the Bill. It is not concerned with, and has no implications for, the Welsh Grand Committee, which is established under Standing Order No. 98. The two Committees are entirely separate and distinct. I will be reflecting on changes that might be made to the role of the 89 Welsh Grand Committee following the discussions that my predecessor held with Opposition Members. Announcements will be made later: they are not for tonight's debate.
The general rule, so far as the House's consideration of legislation is concerned, is that Standing Committees for the consideration of Bills should have no more than 50 members and should reflect the composition of the House. For Committees considering Bills relating exclusively to Wales, Standing Order No. 86 also provides that every Member representing a Welsh constituency shall be a member of the Standing Committee.
It is not possible to constitute a Committee that satisfies all three requirements of that Standing Order—one with no more than 50 members, which reflects the composition of the House and which includes all Members representing Welsh constituencies. A Committee meeting all those requirements has not been constituted in recent years, irrespective of the party in power. The Labour party's Welsh Language Act 1967, its Welsh Development Agency Act 1975 and the Development of Rural Wales Act 1976 all proceeded other than in accordance with Standing Order No. 86.
Opposition Members usually claim to represent a party of the Union. In 1950, 1964 and 1974 they had no qualms about legislating for England when they failed to win a majority of seats there. As a unionist, I accepted their right so to do.
I hope that we can build cross-party agreement on the substance of the Bill. I have pleasure in commending the motion to the House.
§ Mr. Ron Davies (Caerphilly)
We used to complain about the Secretary of State's predecessor and his over-emphasis on self-promotion and self-presentation. Following the right hon. Gentleman's debut tonight, that is not a charge that we will have to make against him.
I offer the Secretary of State my sincere congratulations on his appointment and wish him well in his post. I know that all my right hon. and hon. Friends who represent Welsh constituencies will be ready and anxious to give him advice on how he should do his job. Who knows, on occasion the right hon. Gentleman might even be prepared to accept it.
The Secretary of State will face a challenging few years. This is the first time to my knowledge that a Secretary of State for Wales has been appointed without any qualification. I am sure that all of us in the House and the wider Welsh community are conscious of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman is in the post only because of the Prime Minister's need to maintain political balance in the Cabinet.
An outgoing right-wing Chancellor was sacked for his incompetence and his departure had to be balanced by an incoming right winger. No one was more right wing than the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood), so in he came. There was nowhere obvious to put him, so he was given the Welsh portfolio. In that sense, his appointment is an insult to Wales and the Welsh people. We are now represented in Cabinet by its most junior member—a man without experience or qualification, credibility or mandate, who owes his very seat at the Cabinet table to the political caprice of the most incompetent Prime Minister in living memory.
90 Today's debate is a clear and early sign of the right hon. Gentleman's unsuitability. One thought above all should inform his judgment: neither he nor his party govern with the consent or the authority of the people of Wales. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman of all people should now be determined to work with the grain of Welsh opinion. However, his very first contribution on the Floor of the House as Secretary of State for Wales is to seek to remove from Welsh Members of Parliament the right to involve themselves with Welsh legislation.
The right hon. Gentleman has some redeeming features. When asked on Radio 4 for one good reason why he should be appointed as Secretary of State for Wales he said, "I like Wales." On HTV he went further and admitted that he had even visited Wales. Even some of the Tory party faithful in Wales have now rallied to his side. Eric Howells, showing that deftness of touch, that cutting intellectual edge that we associate with Welsh Tories, said that Wales was "only 23 motorway junctions" down the M4 from the right hon. Gentleman's constituency. The Secretary of State might not have met Eric Howells yet —he is a Welsh Tory bigwig.
I am afraid that any good will that the Secretary of State may have enjoyed has been squandered tonight. It will be a long time before the Minister of State, Wyn O Fôn, recommends the addition of a new Druid, Sioni Coed-Coch, to the Gorsedd of Bards. I do not know about Sioni Coed-Coch, but I know about Sionis, and we in the valleys know when we have a Sioni before us.
Standing Order No. 86 is clear and its intention is precise. Some 86 years ago the House of Commons resolved that public Bills relating exclusively to Wales should be referred to a Committee constituted so as to include all Members with constituencies in Wales. The Welsh Office has argued in the past and the present Secretary of State argued today that paragraphs (1) and (2) are contradictory, so the entire Standing Order should be set aside. That was the argument advanced almost 12 months ago to the day by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary.
This morning I spoke to the Clerk of the House and his colleagues. Their interpretation is clear and their advice is that paragraph (2)(ii), which states:for the consideration of any public bill relating exclusively toWales, the committee shall be so constituted as to include all Members sitting for constituencies in Wales",
overrides any other provision such as that relating to the Committee reflecting the composition of the House. That is the advice of the Clerks of the House—
§ Mr. Davies
The mechanism for resolving that problem is not, as suggested by my hon. Friend, to refer the matter to the Attorney-General, but to refer it to the Committee of Selection so that it may adjudicate. However, the Secretary of State rejects the advice from the Clerks of the House and does not have sufficient confidence to put the issue before the Committee of Selection. There can be no basis for the motion other than the Government's stubborn refusal to acknowledge their own weakness in Wales.
I have four arguments against the motion. First, the view of the House in 1907 was clear. Standing Order No. 86 has stood the test of time. Not once has any attempt been made to amend it. The motion breaches a convention 91 to which all parties have subscribed for 85 years, and no good argument has been advanced for breaching the Standing Order tonight.
Secondly, even if there were an inconsistency, as the Government have argued, surely the logical action would be to set aside those parts of Standing Order No. 86 that conflict with the rights of Welsh Members and restore Welsh Members' rights as enshrined in Standing Order No. 86. That is at the heart of the debate. It is beyond dispute that the Welsh Language Bill applies exclusively to Wales. The Government are now not only giving themselves a majority on the Committee, which is at least understandable if not acceptable in the current circumstances, but deliberately removing the right from half of all Welsh Members—all of whom are Opposition Members —to have any say in the detailed deliberation on a Bill with direct and specific relevance to their own constituencies.
The Bill contains provisions relating to the cultural inheritance of all of us in Wales, whether English or Welsh speaking, the civil liberties of many of our people and the education of all of our children. The development of the Welsh language, influenced as it is by geographical experience, past prejudices and present campaigns, can be a powerful, emotive and divisive issue with the potential to affect us all. It is an abuse of power and a travesty of democracy for Welsh Members of Parliament who seek to represent the views of their constituents to be prevented from so doing by a Secretary of State who is currently little more than an apparatchik.
It is no good arguing, as we have heard today, that the provisions have been set aside before. My third argument against the motion is that, with only one exception, whenever Standing Order No. 86 has previously been suspended, it has been with the agreement of the Opposition, and one of two sets of circumstances has applied. Either the measure to be considered in Committee was of a non-controversial nature, such as the Conwy Tunnel (Supplementary Powers) Act 1983 and the Caldy Island Act 1990, or it was set to one side by a Labour Government with the agreement of the Opposition for the particular purpose of facilitating that Opposition. That was done in the case of the Welsh Development Agency Act 1975 and the Development of Rural Wales Act 1976. Those precedents are clearly not relevant to the business before us.
§ The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Sir Wyn Roberts)
The hon. Gentleman will agree that, in those cases, even when there was agreement with the Opposition, the process was carried out with the approval of the House, which is what really matters.
§ Mr. Davies
That is precisely my point, and I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for making it for me. Today the Opposition's support is being withheld. In the case of the 1975 and 1976 Acts, the setting aside of Standing Order No. 86 was done not merely with the agreement of the Opposition, but specifically at their request. The fact is that there were not enough Conservative Members representing Welsh constituencies to man the Committee. That is why they wanted the Standing Order set aside—so as to provide an Opposition spokesman. It is no good the right hon. Member for 92 Conwy (Sir W. Roberts) saying that that should be taken as a precedent. There is no precedent, and we bitterly resist the motion.
I hope that my exchanges with the Minister have made clear the fact that we do not regard the Acts of 1975 and 1976 as precedents. It is true that the Bill was given an unopposed Second Reading, but there is common ground among all the Opposition parties about many matters of detail in the Bill, and common disagreement about them with the Government. I refer, for instance, to whether the Bill's provisions should apply to privatised utilities. It is inevitable that some matters will be pressed to a Division —hence the precedents of the non-controversial Bills of 1983 and 1990 are not relevant.
The one exception, mentioned earlier, was the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill, which was taken 12 months ago almost to the day. That measure was opposed in Divisions, but even so, the circumstances were quite different. That Bill was itself a precedent, being a private Bill that was later converted to a public Bill. There were differing views, held across all parties, on that Bill's merits, and it was highly localised in its application.
No such factor applies here. On the contrary, the Welsh Language Bill directly and exclusively affects the constituents of every Welsh Member, and there is a consensus among 32 of the 38 Welsh Members of Parliament. Surely these are the precise circumstances in which Standing Order No. 86 should apply?
Fourthly, the Secretary of State said that the Standing Order did not refer to the Welsh Grand Committee. I have to correct him: as he will know by now, Standing Order No. 86 specifically refers to that Committee:Save in the case of—(a) the Scottish Grand Committee. (b) the Welsh Grand Committee".All Welsh constituency Members are entitled, as of right, to sit on the Welsh Grand Committee. There is widespread agreement that its proceedings need to be reviewed. The previous Secretary of State conducted his own review, and the present Secretary of State said tonight that he would decide the course of that Committee.
If the new Secretary of State takes this arrogant and abrasive line on the proceedings of the Welsh Grand Committee, he will come rapidly unstuck. The Welsh Grand Committee belongs to Welsh Members of Parliament; it is not the plaything of the Minister or of the Government Whips Office.
§ Mr. Redwood
If the hon. Gentleman had listened carefully to what I said, he would know that I said that my predecessor had conducted consultations with Opposition Members on this subject and was putting together his responses in the light of those consultations. It is in that spirit that I shall present the Government's conclusions, in addition to undertaking any other consultations that I think appropriate. I give the hon. Gentleman that promise. I hope that he will now remove from the record what he has just said, which went against the spirit of my remarks.
§ Mr. Davies
I shall certainly not remove any remarks from the record. The Secretary of State's earlier remarks are on the record; he has now compounded his error by saying that the former Secretary of State prepared his proposals for the review of the Welsh Grand Committee in the light of representations made to him. He may have conducted a review, but its findings were certainly not made in the light of the representations made to him. They were made in spite of those recommendations.
93 The former Secretary of State conducted his review making it clear initially that he wanted additional powers for the Committee to debate, to question Ministers and to deal with legislation. The Prime Minister recognised the democratic deficit in Scotland and promised a review as part of the "taking stock" exercise. That review was to include Wales. What better demonstration could there be of the Government's honesty of intent, of their commitment to more democratic forms of government or of their willingness to recognise their minority status in Wales than that the Secretary of State for Wales should have invited comments on how more devolved Government could work and then acted on those suggestions?
On 8 March in the Welsh Grand Committee in Cardiff, and on behalf of a majority of Welsh Members, I made a public and precise suggestion to the Secretary of State which, if it had been accepted, would have obviated the need for this motion. If the Government were interested in greater democracy and consensual politics, my suggestion pointed the way forward for them. We would have agreed not to oppose the Bill's Second Reading, which could have taken place in the Welsh Grand Committee. We would have agreed a timetable for the Committee stage. We would have agreed not to force unreasonable amendments, knowing all the time that the Government still had the security to right any unacceptable wrongs, as they saw them, on Report.
The Government's refusal to accept that suggestion was both unreasonable and myopic. The consequence is that Standing Order No. 86 has to be suspended, and many Welsh Members are excluded from detailed debate on the Bill. The Government's obstinacy provides a compelling reason for us to oppose the motion.
We must ask ourselves why the Government are embarking on this course of action. It cannot be to protect their legislative timetable or to avoid damaging or wrecking amendments to the legislation. That would not be in the interests of Welsh Members. It is patronising to suggest that Welsh Members would pass amendments that would damage the interests of the Welsh language or the wider interest of Wales and our constituencies. In any event, we have offered adequate guarantees covering these matters.
Why cannot the Secretary of State show a little more confidence, originality or initiative than his predecessors did? Why does the condescending, "we-know-best" mentality always have to take priority over flexibility, variety and political reality?
The answer lies in the nature of the Conservative party —and in this Secretary of State we find that party at its most ideological. To avoid this motion, the Government would have to accept that new arrangements should apply to our parliamentary procedures, at least in so far as they affect Wales. They would have to be prepared to compromise and to work with the grain of Welsh public opinion. None of that is acceptable to the present-day Conservative party. Its members call themselves unionists. The Secretary of State used the word again this evening. In fact, Conservatives are members of a centralist party. Only a party so insecure about its own future and so uncertain of its purpose would feel threatened by diversity.
As a former Trade Minister wrote in The Spectator last week, the Prime Minister headsa regime unwilling to tolerate dissent and afraid of views different from its own.94 That Minister was sacked for holding those views, yet his ideology is at one with the Secretary of State's. The one is sacked, the other promoted. That shows the extent to which the Government are in disarray; it is a clear demonstration of their incoherence. It is because the Government feel threatened that they want to set aside our constitutional arrangements for their own party political convenience—and Welsh Members will have none of it.
§ Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes)
Order. Before I call the next speaker, I remind the House that this is a procedural motion. I hope that Members will not be tempted to go off on to other topics relating to Wales.
§ Mr. Alex Carlile (Montgomery)
I should like to join in the good wishes given to the new Secretary of State for his period at the Welsh Office.
It is slightly puzzling to learn that a transfer to the Department of Employment is regarded as promotion for someone who was the Secretary of State for Wales. Many Welsh Members think that the Welsh Office warrants a senior Cabinet post. After all, the Secretary of State for Wales is responsible for most aspects of Welsh life. He is a sort of viceroy in Wales, covering many Departments. It was surprising that the former Secretary of State, who was born in Wales, should have thought it right to be transferred to another Department to which many Welsh Members, had any of them been Secretary of State for Wales, would have been reluctant to move.
The new Secretary of State will have been in the House for 10 years on Wednesday. [Interruption.] No, he will have been here for only six years on Friday. My mistake shows that he seems to have been here longer than we imagined. During those six years he has certainly shown himself to be clever. People in Wales have a sophisticated view of political life and enjoy their politics. To fulfil not only the expectations but the justified desires of the people of Wales during his term of office, he will have to show that he is not just clever but also wise.
I hope that, in demonstrating the wisdom which I am sure the new Secretary of State wishes to show, he will be willing to listen to representations on issues that are very much alive in Wales and which were being considered by his predecessor. I refer in particular to local government reform, which has had a far from unanimous welcome, especially in rural mid-Wales, and to the desperate problems that will arise in some parts of the Welsh economy if rail privatisation results in the destruction of the Welsh rural railways.
As you are moving towards the edge of your seat, Madam Deputy Speaker, I shall now deal with Standing Order No. 86. It is regrettable that the Standing Order should effectively be suspended for the purposes of a Bill that could not be more Welsh. It is quite extraordinary that the Government should think it right that only two thirds of the members of the Standing Committee should be Welsh Members. More important, it is extraordinary that the Government should regard it as right that half the Welsh Members should be excluded from the Committee.
Every Member representing a Welsh constituency has an interest of one sort or another in the Bill, and some of us have to represent conflicting interests in dealing with the Bill. It is vital that Welsh Members should be able to put 95 their views in Committee. The Government have not made a convincing case—they have barely tried to advance any case—for excluding Welsh Members.
On what basis do the Government think that they can circumvent Standing Order No. 86(2)? Surely the words "provided that" are overriding, as suggested by the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies). If the Standing Order is not to be totally suspended for the purposes of the Bill, the Minister cannot override that proviso. The Standing Order makes it impossible for the consideration of a public Bill relating exclusively to Wales to take place without the inclusion of all Welsh Members.
How do the Government propose to deal with the question raised in the earlier part of Standing Order No. 86(2), which states that, in nominating Members to a Standing Committee,the Committee of Selection shall have regard to the qualifications of those Members nominated to the composition of the House?I understand the Secretary of State's argument about the composition of the House—that needs no further explanation—but how does he expect the Committee of Selection to look at qualifications of non-Welsh Members who are to be nominated to the Committee if the motion is carried?
What qualifications would the Secretary of State and the Minister of State, from whom the Secretary of State is understandably now taking advice, regard as appropriate? Will those who have lost Welsh seats and are now retreads representing English constituencies be regarded as suitably qualified? I doubt that you could properly be advised, Madam Deputy Speaker, that that is a suitable qualification. Would somebody who was born in Wales or has a Welsh grandmother or is perhaps a supporter of Wrexham football club be regarded as qualified to serve on the Committee?
§ Mr. Carlile
The hon. Gentleman raises an interesting issue. Will knights of the shires who have cottages in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) be regarded as qualified? I raise this as a serious issue and seek a serious answer. How will the Committee of Selection approach the problem?
§ Mr. Rod Richards (Clwyd, North-West)
What difference will the suspension of Standing Order No. 86 make to the representation of Welsh Liberals on the Committee?
§ Mr. Carlile
That is a thoroughly insolent point and all that I would expect from the hon. Member from Clwyd, North-West (Mr. Richards). He has made insults an art form in the House, but a tedious art form. Perhaps we may return to the issue under debate, which concerns me as the sole Welsh Liberal Democrat Member but which obviously does not concern the hon. Member for Clwyd, North-West. He will be the first Welsh Conservative Member to go at the next election. Obviously, he is perfectly satisfied to have Wales under-represented on the Committee, and his constituents should know that.
The people of Wales take this issue rather more seriously than the trivial, tiresome and irritating hon.
96 Member for Clwyd, North-West. They should be aware of his complete contempt for the interests of the people of Wales—a surprising contempt for a Welsh speaker. The hon. Gentleman's speech on Second Reading was deeply disgraceful and disappointing. Welsh people should know that he is prepared to see Wales sold short, at a democratic discount, in debates on the Bill.
I am sure that the Secretary of State will wish to address the more serious points on Standing Order No. 86. He owes the House an answer, if he has one, and I look forward to hearing it.
§ Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I understood that our procedures allow for hon. Members to be called from alternate sides. Why should two Members in succession be called from the Opposition side? I do not challenge the fact that you called the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley), but why do not Conservative Members have the guts to seek to take part in the debate?
§ Madam Deputy Speaker
That is a somewhat spurious point of order, but no doubt the hon. Gentleman has put over his point.
§ Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarfon)
I am grateful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for calling me. I could see that you had little option but to call someone from the Opposition Benches, as nobody from the Government Benches was standing, as far as I could see, but there we are. No doubt the massed ranks of the Conservatives from Wales will come into battle at some stage to defend the new Secretary of State.
§ Mr. Donald Anderson
Might it not just be possible that even Conservative Welsh Members are not prepared to defend the indefensible and are uneasy about it?
§ Mr. Wigley
I can well imagine that Tory Members feel 'considerable embarrassment at the way in which the order is about to be gerrymandered by the House tonight and about the fact that the Minister of State, Welsh Office has been passed over once again for the position of Secretary of State for Wales.
In the past, I have found it necessary to call "I spy strangers" when I have seen strangers in the seat of the Secretary of State for Wales. I shall forgo that tonight in the interest of the time that we have left, but once again we see a Secretary of State for Wales who did not fight the last election in a Welsh constituency, who, by his own admission, does not have a great background of detailed knowledge about Wales and who comes to tell us in the first debate that the rules of the House must be amended to meet the convenience of the governing party and his convenience as Secretary of State.
However, I wish him well in his tenure of office, as the powers that he has are immensely important to my country. In the same way as we co-operated, where it was possible to do so, with his predecessors, we shall always do so where the interests of Wales are concerned—[Interruption.]
§ Madam Deputy Speaker
Order. I wish to hear the hon. Gentleman, but it is very difficult to do so. I trust that hon. Members will listen in silence. In particular, I expect those on the Front Bench to set a good example.
§ Mr. Wigley
I am grateful for your protection, Madam Deputy Speaker, but to some extent this is an argument within the family and I think that I understand the point that was made: that when we debate Bills—potential Acts —which specifically, totally and uniquely deal with Wales and its needs, we are talking about matters within the family. Those who are within the family know best what is required.
The motion highlights the inability of our system of government to pay attention to the needs and political priorities of the people of Wales, expressed through the ballot box, while at the same time abiding by the conventions and requirements of the governing party in Westminster. The two are mutually contradictory. That is the background to the standing order. As has been said, it was passed in the first decade of the century, following the 1905 general election, when the Conservative party did not win a single seat in Wales. Every seat was held by the Liberal party, with one exception—Keir Hardie. the first Labour Member of Parliament for Merthyr Tydfil.
In the 120 years that we have had democratic representation in Wales, the Conservative party has never had the majority of Welsh seats. The standing order was introduced to meet the need to adapt the system of this place, were that possible—tonight we are beginning to realise that it might not be—to meet those different requirements in Wales and its different political values, aspirations and priorities. At that time, there were debates about setting up educational and health institutions in Wales to meet the needs of the people and there was a raging debate about the disestablishment of the Church in Wales—a debate that England is catching up on now. Against that background, it became clear that it was necessary to have a structure that would allow us at least some modicum of decision-taking on an all-Wales level as representatives elected from Wales.
We find now, as we would have found in that debate, and for a large proportion of this century, that it is not possible for the priorities of the people of Wales to be accommodated within the system of government that we have here. I personally, and my party, believe that that is impossible. This place will never adapt itself in a way that allows the people of Wales to take meaningful decisions at a significant level. Some colleagues believe that it might be possible, but what we are seeing tonight is a denial of that.
It would have been possible, by living with the implications of Standing Order No. 86, for Welsh Members of Parliament to consider the Bill, whether that were achieved by amendment of the maximum of 50 Members on the Committee, or through agreement whereby the Committee was scaled down in a way that reflected the balance of parties among Welsh Members of Parliament rather than the balance among all Members of Parliament. Another way to safeguard the justifiable interests of hon. Members representing different parts of Wales, where circumstances are immensely different, would be to allow a larger Committee.
A Committee on which a majority of Welsh Members of Parliament served, and therefore a Committee with a majority of Members against the Government, would have agreed to amendments that would not be acceptable to the 98 Government. So what? If the majority of the people of Wales want those amendments, and that desire is expressed through their democratically elected representatives, why on earth, even for that limited period between Committee and Report, could not that be shown in the constitutional mechanisms of the House? The Government's majority could overturn those amendments on Report, but the people of Wales would at least know the wishes and aspirations of their representatives. That hope will be snuffed out.
We shall now have a Committee on which all Welsh Conservative. Members of Parliament will serve, along with nine Conservative Members representing constituencies outside Wales. No doubt they will sit in the Committee taking not a blind bit of notice of what is going on except to vote for the Government where necessary. The Government will thereby get their majority.
All that shows that, whatever consideration the Secretary of State had in mind when he spoke of adjusting and amending the form of the Welsh Grand Committee, it was nothing more than froth. Unles he is prepared to allow the Welsh Grand Committee to take a meaningful decision in an all-Wales context, and that Committee has a majority of Opposition Members, any tinkering will be meaningless. If he allows that, why is he not allowing Welsh Members of Parliament to have a real voice in the consideration of the Bill, which is specific to Wales more than anything else could ever be?
The Secretary of State may or may not be aware that 84 per cent. of my constituents speak Welsh as their first language. That is the pattern in some of the north-western and south-western parts of Wales. In other parts, such as Newport and Gwent, the percentage is small. The circumstances vary enormously from part to part and even within counties—for example, within Dyfed, between Ceredigion and south Pembrokeshire.
§ Mr. Rogers
So as to demonstrate the unanimity among hon. Members sitting on the Opposition Benches, will the hon. Gentleman agree that, in the Labour-controlled English-speaking areas of Wales, the greatest advances in the Welsh language have been made in the education system over the past 20 years, and that an enormous effort, has been made in the development of Welsh schools?
§ Mr. Wigley
The hon. Gentleman will know that I have paid tribute before to people like Llew Heycock and the work that he did on the old Glamorgan county council. What he says is true of some Labour-controlled parts of the valleys. In other parts, it is regrettably not so true. For example, it is not as true of West Glamorgan as it is in Mid Glamorgan. He will know that from the demonstration that took place last week in the Eisteddfod. I hope that we shall see progress now in West Glamorgan.
The point is that circumstances vary greatly from area to area. That is what requires hon. Members from all parts of Wales, from Gwent and Gwynydd, and Clywd and Dfyed and every part within them, to serve on the Committee considering the Bill.
The feeling that has been expressed in Wales, across party boundaries and across the language divide, is that the Bill does not go as far as people had hoped it would. There are questions about status, about the way in which the Bill will impact on bodies that have been privatised or that will be privatised and about the way in which the langauge is used in the courts. Those are genuine 99 arguments that need to be advanced in the light of the experience that comes from Rhondda, Cardiff, Swansea, Merthyr, Llanelli, Pembroke, Denbigh, Carmarthen, Newport and all around. Wales is a patchwork of different experiences; it is a whole network of small communities. Each of the voices representing them should be heard in the Standing Committee.
To stand heavy on the rule tonight is not just to gain a slight political edge for the Government's convenience over the next few weeks. They will undoubtedly get their way in any case. What is happening tonight is a portent of the Government's attitude. I put it to the Secretary of State, in the strongest but kindest way possible, that, if he is to play a constructive part in the future government of Wales—there is a vacant role for statesmanship in building the structure of government in Wales, both locally and at the all-Wales level—what is happening tonight is a singularly bad way to start off down that road. I appeal to him, even at this late stage, to think again and to put the interests of Wales first on this occasion.
§ 9 pm
§ Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East)
I follow the excellent speech of the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) by posing this question to the Secretary of State —what would he lose by yielding to the overwhelming opinion of Welsh Members tonight? He would not lose anything of substance because, as he knows, on Report he could easily reverse any decisions with which he did not agree. Certainly, if he were to so yield it would be a symbolic gesture to the House that he was prepared to do his best to come into the tribe, to listen to the great consensus in our Welsh parties and not to try to impose some neo-colonialist view on us. I wonder whether, even at this late stage, he might ask himself, "Would I really lose anything by yielding? Would I not certainly gain something were I to show a willingness to listen?"
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) on his speech. I say warmly and with sincerity that it was by far the best speech that I have heard him make in the House. It was extremely well researched and powerful. It is a tremendous credit to him.
The people of Wales wish the Secretary of State well. Why? It is because, whether or not we like it, he is the advocate of Wales in the Cabinet and if he does not do the right job for Wales we will all suffer. He did bring one welcome new quality—although only one—to the debate, and that was brevity. I wonder whether he will continue in that vein. I ask him and his colleagues to ask themselves whether, in the light of the overwhelming consensus against this procedural motion, they should not feel a little uneasy at what is being done tonight. It is wholly insensitive.
The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by saying that he is and has always been a unionist. However, certain things might be done in the name of unionism which would be wholly contrary to the interests of unionism. He will unite all Wales against him if he persists with this stubborn and obstinate course.
I wish to make two points about the motion. First, in my judgment the debate raises fundamental questions about the legitimacy and style of Government. I would be out of order were I to make the proper points about the 100 lack of support in Wales for the governing party. The Government are, and will always remain, a minority in Wales, so it behoves them to deal with the affairs of Wales with constant and continuing sensitivity. Otherwise, the consequences will be counter-productive to the policies that they espouse.
There was great anger in Wales at the news of the right hon. Gentleman's appointment as Secretary of State for Wales. It was not because anyone had anything against him personally; with great respect, few knew him personally. He is known as a person of immense natural ability and intellectual stature, who served in the private office of the former leader of the Conservative party. However, the right hon. Gentleman has no experience of Wales. For him, Wales is wholly unknown territory.
It would be a great feat of imagination to comprehend the Secretary of State understanding the tribal emotions and sensitivity within Wales. At least his predecessors not only had personal contacts with Wales but were on the wet wing of the Conservative party. Therefore, their prejudices were more likely to be in the grain of Wales. The Secretary of State knows well that he comes with an image of being very much on the dry side of his party, against public expenditure and in favour of privatisation. All are policies that have no relevance to Wales and are likely to harm it.
All right hon. and hon. Members representing Welsh constituencies have something direct and relevant to say from their own experience, background, and occurrences in their own constituencies in relation to the Welsh language. Some will be denied the opportunity to make that contribution. That is anti-democratic. Right hon. or hon. Members representing Welsh seats will be denied—
§ Mr. Anderson
Of course they will be denied that opportunity, because only a proportion of Welsh Members of Parliament will serve on the Committee. Welsh Members with something legitimate to say on the subject of the Welsh language will be denied that opportunity in Committee, during detailed consideration of the Bill—but there will be parachuted into the Committee people who have nothing to contribute and who will be there simply to ensure a Government majority.
§ Mr. Redwood
Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that the purpose of Second Reading, Report stage and Third Reading is to give just such an opportunity to right hon. and hon. Members who do not serve on the Committee to participate in deliberations on the Bill? In a large parliamentary party such as the Labour party, do not colleagues work together so that the best arguments and points are marshalled in Committee? That is the duty of a democratic Opposition and I look forward to receiving the benefit of that advice and of those viewpoints in Committee.
§ Mr. Anderson
I represent a unique constituency—Swansea, East—and would not want to delegate my views to any of my colleagues, however much I respect them. Also, I do not want to give the Secretary of State a constitutional lecture, but he knows that the Report stage may be relatively short and that there may or may not be a Third Reading debate. It will be in Committee that detailed consideration of all the important matters will be given. The Secretary of State is misleading the House if he thinks that, by excluding from the Committee a number of 101 Welsh Members of Parliament who have a proper interest in the Bill, he is advancing in any way democracy in Wales or the cause of unionism that he purports to espouse.
I am bound to concede that, in a unitary state. which we have, there will be occasions when the Government, because an item of legislation is essential, perhaps ideologically part of their programme, will insist that they have a majority throughout its progress. That may be true even of matters of particular relevance to Wales. They might include water privatisation, which figured largely in the Government's manifesto and which gives rise to clear party divides on an ideological basis.
The Bill in question is not one such piece of legislation. It is almost Wales against the rest. There is a considerable consensus in Wales on the Bill and that was shown by the fact that there was no Division on Second Reading. The Government cannot draw an analogy with water privatisation, where they must use their majority, juggernaut-like, to get it through.
Of course there will be differences, which will include such questions as whether the Post Office—or some other utility moving from the public to the private sector— should take with it the obligations placed on it under the Bill. If so minded, the Government could reverse such matters on Report. Far more important, however, is the 102 fact that the only argument against imposing the "burden" of the Welsh language obligations on the private sector —including privatised utilities, and utilities that will move from the public to the private sector in future under the present Government—is that those obligations lay a burden on the industries involved which might deter investors and provide a disincentive for jobs in Wales.
If that is the Secretary of State's argument, let me give him my answer. First, we in Wales might see a different balance between economic interests and the interests of the language. Why not listen to the consensus that emerges from Wales? Secondly—this, too, is a fundamental argument—if retaining the language obligation on companies moving from the public to the private sector may put jobs at risk, should not we in Wales decide the matter, rather than having it imposed on us by an artificial majority in a Committee set up by the Government?
When Britain confronted countries in the old Commonwealth that sought to move from a colonial to an independent status, the cry from any of the old leaders was, "Please allow us the democratic right to make our own mistakes." If ours be mistakes—and I do not concede that they are—will not the Secretary of State and his Unionist majority allow us in Wales to debate the issues and, if necessary, "make our own mistakes"?
§ Mr. Ted Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney)
I was going to address a few personal words to the new Secretary of State, but he seems to have disappeared for the moment.
If Standing Order No. 86 was designed to do anything, it was designed to accommodate precisely this sort of Bill. There is no clear party divide on the Bill; indeed, if we had the chance to establish a Welsh Grand Committee, we should discover a good many cross-party currents, and a good many differences and nuances in where each of us would stand on any issue. It is absurd to table a motion such as this in relation to a Bill for which the Standing Order was perfectly designed way back in 1907. Why not give the chemistry of the Welsh Grand Committee a chance to work? I do not believe that a Whip would be imposed: even the Opposition would not dare to impose one—certainly not with me on the Committee, because I have my own views about the balances and sensitivities involved in a Bill of this kind.
Sadly, I fear that there will be a party political divide if we consider the Bill in an old-fashioned Standing Committee of the kind that we have all suffered—and, at time, enjoyed—when party lines are drawn. Inevitably, if the Government draft in ill-assorted Conservative Members, the aggro will start and the Committee will be diverted to party battles. There is no place or reason for such battles on a Bill such as this. There could be discussions within our parties and also cross-party debates.
Has the Secretary of State for Wales read the debates on the Bill in the other place? They are the saddest debates that I have read for a long time. Lord Cledwyn, Lord Prys-Davies and Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas did not advocate radical change. They did not make huge demands on the Government to change the Bill. Theirs was modest and moderate advocacy. However, the reply of the fourteenth English earl, Lord Ferrers, a Minister of State, Home Office, was absolutely wooden and insensitive, although the points made to him by many Members of the other place had been put sensitively to him.
That shows why this House should handle the Bill in a different way. We do not want a repetition of what happened in the other place: wooden responses from Ministers, backed up by members drafted on to the Committee for no reason other than that they have to fill it up and form the majority.
§ The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Sir Wyn Roberts)
I rise to defend the speeches made by my noble Friend in the other place. They proved sufficiently satisfactory for the other place to divide only once.
§ Mr. Rowlands
The Minister of State has been around for too long. There is a civil service appointment of permanent under-secretary. There is now a permanent Minister of State in the Welsh Office. This is a new creature. Footnotes to British constitutional practice will be written, based upon the Minister of State's tenure of office.
I led a deputation from Aberfan and Merthyr Vale. I shall not go into the details, but Lord Ferrers is one of the politest men I have ever met. The women in that deputation left the meeting shaking their heads. They did not believe that such people still existed. The Minister of 104 State tempted me into making that observation, but it is true. The Government's defence in the other place was put forward by the fourteenth English earl. His reply suggested that the Government had handed us a great gift; how dare we ask for more?
We cannot afford similar debates in our Committee stage. There are certain debates where the party lines are drawn—for instance, on the Welsh economy, education and so on—and where the outcome of the debate, if not the vote, is known. In this case, we genuinely do not know the outcome of the debate. If I am given the chance to serve on the Standing Committee—although I should love to serve on a Welsh Grand Committee—I should welcome the opportunity to find out where we stand on the way that the Welsh language will be promoted and developed.
According to the 1991 census, in communities such as mine, only 8 per cent. of the people speak the Welsh language. However, 15 per cent. of the younger generation speak Welsh. All sorts of interests could be debated. That will not happen, however, in a Standing Committee of the kind that the Government want to force upon us.
Why not have a Welsh Grand Committee? Why not let the chemistry of that Committee work? If the Government do not like the outcome, they have the power, on the Floor of the House, to reverse the Committee's decisions on Report. However, they would at least have to defend the reversal of those decisions, unlike the sad and sorry story in the other place.
§ Mr. Alan W. Williams (Carmarthen)
I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the excellent debate in which many of my hon. Friends have made telling speeches. There has been a terrific consensus between the 32 of the 38 Members of Parliament with Welsh constituencies and perhaps some sympathy from one or two Conservative Members, although they have been noticeably quiet today. We have heard only one intervention from the hon. Member for Clwyd, North-West (Mr. Richards). As usual, the Conservatives do not have the courage to defend the Government. The Government are taking away the democratic right of hon. Members who represent the various communities in Wales to defend and strengthen the law on the Welsh language.
I echo briefly the congratulations and good wishes extended to the new Secretary of State. We know of his background, academic prowess, ability and vision, but I hope that he will temper the latter during the next few months or years in the Welsh Office. I hope that he will try to reach a consensus, because he will find that in Wales people want to work together for the benefit of all. If he can work with the grain rather than against it, we shall revise our opinion of him in due course.
The great democratic deficit in Wales is shown up at every general and local government election. Wales is overwhelmingly left of centre, which causes problems under the rules of the House when it comes to setting up the Standing Committee. However, the interpretation of Standing Order No. 86 is clear—we should all have the right to participate in discussions about the unitary authorities when local government is reorganised and about the Welsh language. The counties of Wales all have very different linguistic backgrounds, and all 38 of us should have the opportunity to articulate our views. However, the Committee is to consist of 19 Welsh 105 Members of Parliament and, in addition, nine English Members who will not be able to understand the problems facing a minority language in an overwhelmingly English culture. It is clear that the English Members are merely Lobby fodder for voting.
At the most recent sitting of the Welsh Grand Committee on 8 March in Cardiff, the then Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for Wirral, West (Mr. Hunt), made it clear that he wanted to strengthen that Committee's powers. Two or three times in his speech, and in an intervention on my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies), he almost threw down the gauntlet to us, asking us to help him strengthen the Committee's powers to make up for the democratic deficit. It is therefore very disappointing to learn that the Committee will be pushed to one side when we come to debate the Bill which deals with an issue that is overwhelmingly Welsh.
Last year, there was only one sitting in Cardiff, whereas there are usually three or four. I believe that the Bill and any discussions on unitary authorities should be dealt with by the Welsh Grand Committee.
§ Mr. Walter Sweeney (Vale of Glamorgan)
I echo the welcome given to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales. Change is very stimulating. We have been lucky to have had a succession of excellent Secretaries of State for Wales. Although I am sure that all of us who are prepared to be open minded are sorry to lose David Hunt—
§ Madam Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman should refer to the right hon. Member for Wirral, West.
§ Mr. Sweeney
I am grateful, Madam Deputy Speaker. I meant my right hon. Friend the Member for Wirral, West (Mr. Hunt).
It is an opportunity for a fresh approach. Labour Members have cast aspersions about the credentials that my right hon. Friend brings to the task that faces him. That demonstrates the arrogance of the left in politics, and especially the arrogance of the left in Wales, where there seems to he an assumption that only left-wing politics can be good for Wales. I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend will prove them wrong.
§ Mr. Alun Michael (Cardiff, South and Penarth)
Does the hon. Gentleman regard it as left-wing arrogance to suggest that the wishes of voters should be taken into account and should be reflected in the composition of the Committee?
§ Mr. Sweeney
Of course I do not. The wishes of the voters are being reflected in the composition of the Committee. It would be strange if the principle, which is commonly followed throughout the political system, that the party in government should have a majority when important decisions are to be taken were not followed in this case. The Welsh Affairs Select Committee, where there is also a built-in majority for the Conservative party, set that precedent. Conservative Members on the Welsh Affairs Select Committee who do not represent Welsh constituencies make an important and valuable contribution.
The hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Williams) suggested that it would be impossible for hon. Members 106 representing constituencies outside Wales to recognise the importance and contribution of minority languages. The hon. Gentleman cannot have been present when my hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Coe) spoke when this subject was last before us. My hon. Friend made an excellent speech in which he showed his understanding of how the Cornish language had fallen into disuse.
It is important to have a good debate in Committee. I am sure that the three Labour Members who serve on the Welsh Affairs Select Committee feel that they are not denied any opportunity to express their views and that they have no difficulty in doing so. I am sure that other Labour Members, who are not members of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee, have no difficulty in communicating to their colleagues and ensuring that their views are reflected.
I had not intended to speak this evening, but in reaction to what has been said by Labour Members, I felt that it was important to say that I strongly support my right hon. Friend tonight.
§ Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)
This debate is of great importance to some of us, although from the faces of Conservative Members, it seems to be a bit of a game for them. The debate is important to Labour Members because it brings together two specific elements. First, it is proposed to overturn a Standing Order that has been in existence since 1907, which was put there to measure and to safeguard the uniqueness of Wales in the unionist structure.
The second element is the issue of the language. If there is anything that makes us in Wales feel in some way different—there is nothing wrong in being different—it is that the Welsh language exists and that many people speak it. I say that as a non-Welsh speaker. I am very proud to have been part of the process of retaining and developing the Welsh language as a county councillor, with the late Lord Haycock, who, as leader of Glamorgan county Council, was responsible for establishing Welsh language schools in south Wales. If it were not for people such as Lord Haycock, the Welsh language would have gone completely. Since then, many other local authorities have contributed to the language in south Wales in particular.
Many colleagues in the Labour party have supported the development of the Welsh language, because we think that it is important. The two issues come together tonight, and they are of fundamental importance to us. I say to the Welsh Conservative Members that there are precedents for people who sell out their country, and, quite frankly, if they support the motion tonight they will be selling out Wales. They will sell out the language and the uniqueness of Wales—for whatever trivial purpose that they may construct. I do not know whether the Whips are putting pressure on the Welsh Office, but the Welsh Office ought to have enough guts to stand up to the Government Whips on this issue. The Conservative party and the Welsh Conservative Members are selling out the language and selling out Wales. They ought to have enough guts to vote against the motion tonight.
§ Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy)
We have heard many a fiery speech from Opposition Members tonight. That shows both the passion and the emotion with which the language has been and is regarded in Wales.
I refer in particular to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) and the assessment of the legal position vis-a-vis Standing Order No. 86. I was disappointed to see that he was reading "Erskine May" earlier, because if the Government's position turns out to be true, "Erskine May" is irrelevant. That is the crux of the matter.
This is the most important Welsh measure of the century. I echo the words of many Opposition Members who, although they are not Welsh speakers, have an equal stake in its development and an equal emotional attachment to the language. The language is at the very heart of the Welsh people. It is the true meaning of us as a people, and of our difference—"vive la difference" as was said earlier.
The suspension of Standing Order No. 86 is in my view an insult to Welsh Members. This is not a political football, thank heaven. Only one hon. Member on Second Reading debased the argument and turned it into a political free-for-all. That hon. Member has left the Chamber following his two minutes' worth. That is nothing new.
The matter is not a political football. I am sure that every Welsh person of every political colour should be able to respect the language and do his best to nurture it. The Secretary of State said earlier that he hopes that there will be a consensus in Committee—that the whole point of the Committee is for the exchange of views for the building up of a consensus. If that view is true, why should Standing Order No. 86 be suspended? What is the point in that?
The suspension is an insult to our constituents. It is an insult to us as hon. Members representing Welsh constituencies, as was the fact that the Secretary of State last week went to Swansea on one of his visits—probably his second to Wales—but declined to make the 10-minute journey to the Urod national eisteddfod. That is the jewel in the Welsh crown and the largest youth festival in Europe. He did not want to go. That is how interested he is in the Welsh culture, and no doubt in the subject that we are debating.
The Secretary of State must listen to what is said by Opposition Members. We represent the whole of Wales and we do not have a short-term political view of matters. We represent the people of Wales and we have their interests at heart. Their interests will be denied by the suspension of Standing Order No. 86. I believe that the Secretary of State has made the worst possible start and I trust that he will change his mind.
§ Mr. Alex Carlile
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I want to raise a point of order about the motion which I would hope to put helpfully in the form of four questions, the first of which relates to the motion itself. Is it a motion for the amendment, repeal or suspension of Standing Order No. 86? The House is entitled to know whether it is such a motion.
108 If it is such a motion, what is its nature as such? With respect, it looks to me as though it might be a motion for suspending Standing Order No. 86, at least by implication. It certainly cannot be a motion for amendment or repeal.
If it is a motion for suspension of Standing Order No. 86, is it in a proper form? It does not say in the text that it is a motion to suspend Standing Order No. 86. If it is such a motion, has the requisite notice been given in accordance with the usual practice of the House?
Finally, if this is not a motion to suspend Standing Order No. 86, the House is entitled to know whether it is in order for us to pass a resolution that purports to override the proviso contained in paragraph (2) of Standing Order No. 86.
I submit that the answer to my first three questions can be encapsulated briefly in the sentence, "No, this is not a motion to suspend Standing Order No. 86." If I am correct in that regard, how on earth can it be in order, without such a motion, for the Government to seek to pass a resolution which does indeed purport to override the proviso in paragraph (2)?
§ Madam Speaker
To some extent, the hon. and learned Member answers his own question. It is not a motion to suspend Standing Order No. 86. However, the motion is of course in proper form because if it were not I would not have accepted it for debate this evening.
§ Mr. Carlile
Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. if I may be permitted another brief go.
If it is not a motion to suspend Standing Order No. 86, how, without such a motion, can the House effectively dispose of the proviso in paragraph (2) of Standing Order No. 86, which appears to be an overriding proviso governing the membership of Standing Committees relating to Bills which concern only Wales?
§ Madam Speaker
When hon. Members consider the motion on the Order Paper, they have to determine for themselves how they interpret it. I have told the hon. and learned Gentleman and the House that the motion is in a proper and acceptable form. Therefore, hon. Members. must decide for themselves whether it is acceptable or unacceptable. They must then divide the House accordingly.
§ Madam Speaker
Order. Is the hon. Gentleman raising a pont of order? [Interruption.] I am sorry. The hon. Gentleman was rudely, or perhaps not so rudely, interrupted earlier.
§ Mr. Jones
I was interrupted in a very gentlemanly way, Madam Speaker. I want to speak on the issue for a couple of minutes as I was unable to attend the Second Reading debate because I was away on a Select Committee visit.
The issue is of such importance that all hon. Members within Wales should have the right to speak on it. By the turning over of Standing Order No. 86, the six Conservative Members for Wales will sit on the Committee as of right while fewer than half the Members representing the majority party in Wales—the Labour party—will sit on the Committee. That cannot possibly be fair. To ignore the Standing Order is an insult to Wales. It is comparable to the change in unitary authorities, which ignores the fact that we need a regional tier of government for Wales.
109 I shall not speak at length, because we have had much debate. All contributions have been made by the Opposition, apart from one small intervention by a Conservative Member. That shows the depth of feeling within Wales, within the majority party in Wales, and among the majority of Welsh Members.
We have now finished weeks of debate on Maastricht, much of which was about subsidiarity. We have an opportunity for the Government to put subsidiarity into practice on this issue. Can we not do that? I join right hon. and hon. Members in welcoming the Secretary of State to his new position. I hope that he will choose to follow the advice of my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) and put subsidiarity into practice and give Welsh Members of Parliament the right to discuss this item of Welsh business.
§ Mr. Paul Murphy (Torfaen)
I advise the Secretary of State that I am disappointed that my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) referred to the debate which occurred in 1907. My direct predecessor, Reginald McKenna, who was then President of the Board of Education, moved the Standing Order. It now falls upon myself and my right hon. and hon. Friends to defend the Standing Order. It has been continuously in force ever since that date and it has certainly stood the test of time. Except for today and last year in respect of the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill. it has never been the subject of controversy, challenge or debate.
True, of course, it has been set aside by Government motions—the Secretary of State has indicated that—in respect of specialist and technical Bills such as those in respect of Caldey island and Conway tunnel and, in 1975, the Welsh Development Agency Bill, and the Development of Rural Wales Bill in the following year. However, those circumstances were wholly different from the circumstances that we are considering today.
The move was never challenged in the 1970s. It was carried through by a system of consensus and agreement. If anything, the then Labour Government were helping the then Conservative Opposition to have better representation on the Committee. There was no conflict between what is and was a Labour Wales and a Labour Government. As my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Williams) said, the proportion of Welsh Members of Parliament who considered those Bills was about 14 out of 16. Today we are considering only 19 out of 28. That involves bringing in reinforcements—English Tory troops—to top up the Committee.
Another point that has not been mentioned is that, back in the 1970s, many Labour Members of Parliament were also Ministers. It would have caused considerable difficulty had they served on the Committee. The most significant point that the Secretary of State made was that he absolutely rests his case on his interpretation of the Standing Order. However, we know that the provision that all Welsh Members of Parliament deal with Bills which are exclusively Welsh overrides everything else in that Standing Order. That is the crux of the issue.
What makes the Government's attitude so eccentric and bizarre is that there is considerable consensus on the Bill in Wales. My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) and others referred to that point. There is an incontrovertible case for all 110 Welsh Members to take part in the detailed consideration of the Bill. It affects every part of Wales and every constituency in Wales.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen said, it does not matter whether 60 per cent., 70 per cent. or 80 per cent. of people in his constituency speak Welsh or whether only a small number in my constituency in Gwent speak Welsh. We all have a right and a part to play in deliberations on the Welsh Language Bill because of the burgeoning of Welsh-medium education, interest in the language itself and all the different attitudes that exist. Each of the 38 constituencies in Wales has a story to tell with regard to the Welsh language and its consideration by the Committee.
§ Mr. Redwood
If there is this enormous fascination with the Bill, as I hope there is, why was it that only six Labour Members wanted to speak on its Second Reading? Why did other Members representing Wales not take advantage of that opportunity to make their speeches? Why is it that only half the Opposition Members for Wales have turned up for this important debate? Tonight is an opportunity for debate. Where are those hon. Members?
§ Mr. Murphy
I do not think that this is the time or the place for the Secretary of State to talk about the number of hon. Members who have taken part in the debate. It was only by accident that the hon. Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Sweeney) decided to speak.
§ Mr. Murphy
The hon. Gentleman said that he never intended to make a speech in the first place, but perhaps his speech was not accidental.
The Second Reading dealt with the principles of the Bill, which commands much consensus and agreement. There is an awful lot of difference, however, between Second Reading and the detailed consideration and scrutiny of the Bill in Committee. That is the time when every hon. Member representing Wales should be involved, and quite properly, in its consideration. Hon. Members who represent England may speak on Report. Two such Members spoke on Second Reading; one because his mother came from Aberavon, the other because he wanted to talk about Cornish. They can speak again on those matters on Report, but not—it is important to stress this—in Committee on the Welsh Language Bill.
The real reason for today's debate is that the Government are simply afraid to entrust the Bill to a Committee in which they cannot guarantee a majority. Their behaviour is a combination of arrogance, uncertainty and panic. That was spelt out in the debate in 1907 when a Conservative Member said:The representation of Wales is, for the most part, in the hands of one party.He meant the Liberals; today it is in the hands of the Labour party. Another Conservative Member said:It would be impossible for a Unionist Government"—an interesting phrase, given what the Secretary of State said—to entrust legislation to Grand Committees … because no Government would consent to send legislation to Committees on which they were in a minority.If the Secretary of State had told the House that that lack of a majority is the chief reason for his decision not to send the Bill to a Committee consisting of every Member 111 representing Wales, we would at least have understood the politics of that. The right hon. Gentleman has come up with the nonsense about the Standing Orders not providing proper or evident reason for sending the Bill to such a Committee.
Despite the pitfalls and the holes in which the Government have got themselves in the past few weeks, they are highly unlikely to fall over a minor defeat on a minor amendment to the Welsh Language Bill in Committee. Even if they did, they would, of course, change the Bill on Report. Have they completely lost their confidence that they cannot trust hon. Members representing Wales to deal with a Bill concerning the use of Welsh language in their own country?
The previous Secretary of State attacked the concept of devolution many times during and before the election. I am sure that the present incumbent will follow that practice. The former Secretary of State argued that he did not want devolution because the procedures of the House were such that there was no need for it. He said that we had the Select Committees, the Grand Committee and Welsh Question Time and asked why we wanted devolution. On 8 March in Cardiff he said:In Wales, we have always considered ways to improve the structure of government … The government of Wales evolves constantly.I propose that I, as Secretary of State for Wales, should invite all the party leaders in Wales to discuss how the Grand Committee could develop, and to present ideas about how to proceed."—[Official Report, Welsh Grand Comtnittee, 8 March 1993; c. 2–3.]This is the first opportunity that the House has had to consider such matters since March, and what a consultation and answer the Secretary of State has now given us. He has decided to bypass the Welsh Grand Committee to deal with the most consensual Bill on Wales to emerge for a decade. There was no vote on it on Second Reading, yet the right hon. Gentleman has still decided that that Grand Committee and all hon. Members representing Wales cannot deal with this Bill.
Compare that attitude with what is happening north of the border in Scotland. At least the Secretary of State for Scotland has issued a White Paper, "Scotland and the Union: a partnership for good" in which he set out that he intends to enlarge the powers of the Scottish Grand Committee to consider legislation. He suggests that there should be Special Standing Committees that can take oral evidence on Bills. Would not that have been a good idea for the Welsh Language Bill? The Secretary of State for Scotland talked about those changes as emphasising the important role of all Scottish Members of Parliament.
What a contrast such an approach makes with the grudging, laggardly approach of the Welsh Office and Welsh Ministers. They have not changed since the debate in 1907, when the opponents of Standing Order No. 86 said that they thought that it would lead to the break-up of the Union. Even the Minister of State was not present in 1907, but had he been there, he would certainly have been a Liberal. As the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) said, no Tories were returned in 1905.
Another speaker in the 1907 debate said that behind the proposals of the Prime Minister lay a process for devolution. Would that that had been the case—instead of all the Government attempts to override the rightful position of Welsh Members of Parliament, there would 112 have been a proper Welsh Assembly in Cardiff to deal with the issues and consider the importance of the Welsh language.
The abandonment of the modest Standing Order on a Bill that attracts support from both sides of the House is typical of a Government who reduce the role of anyone elected in Wales and choose, instead, to govern Wales on the basis of unelected, unrepresentative quangos. The Government are so terrified of any debate or criticism that they cannot allow Welsh Members to consider a Bill that has support in every part of the House. I suspect that few measures this Session will so graphically and vividly show up the weakness and continued arrogance of the Government, and I urge the House to vote against the motion.
§ Sir Wyn Roberts
On behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, I thank the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) for wishing him a few years in office [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Caerphilly looks at the Official Report he will see that he did so. Those good wishes were echoed by the hon. Members for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) and for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley). I must not forget the good wishes of my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Sweeney).
As I listened to today's debate it seemed that there was still some confusion in the minds of Opposition Members about why the motion is absolutely necessary. That confusion prevails in spite of the clear reference in the speech by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to the inconsistency contained in Standing Order No. 86. It simply is not possible to constitute a Committee that satisfies all three criteria of the Standing Order—a Committee that reflects the composition of the House, includes all Members representing Welsh constituencies, and does not exceed 50 members. However one tries to form such a Committee, one of those requirements will not be met.
§ Sir Wyn Roberts
I shall not give way as I want to deal with the various issues raised.
The hon. Member for Caerphilly said that he had taken advice and been told that the representation of Welsh constituencies was the most important of the three requirements. However, that advice holds good only in so far as it is endorsed by the House. I am sure that that is right.
§ Mr. Ron Davies
The independent, authoritative advice given by the Clerks of the House is that paragraph (2) overrides all other provisions—that is, the one conferring on all Welsh Members of Parliament the right to participate in the Committee. I hope that the Minister will accept that he is asking the House to judge between the Clerks' advice and his exercise of voting powers in the Lobbies. If the matter is to be tested by political division, of course he is right. Our argument is that, on any objective basis, the logic and proof of the past 86 years stands.
§ Sir Wyn Roberts
The hon. Gentleman has not answered the question about the precedents, which are undeniable. I refer to the Welsh Development Agency Act 113 1975 and to the Development of Rural Wales Act 1976, which was passed by a Labour Administration. The circumstances do not matter; motions similar to this one had to be agreed. By the end of this evening the House will have expressed its will that there should be a Committee as established by this motion.
§ Mr. Alex Carlile
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I regret having to say this, but the Minister of State has clearly stated that Standing Order No. 86 is inapplicable to any Bill relating solely to Wales, because, he says, it is impossible to apply it to the present membership for Wales. That being so, is not the proper course for the Government to table a motion to amend or suspend the Standing Order, not to fiddle about and cheat their way around it as they are attempting to do?
§ Madam Speaker
It is for the Minister to explain precisely what he means. I hope that that is what he is about to do—if he is given an opportunity.
§ Sir Wyn Roberts
The motion is quite clear: it begins with the words:notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order No. 86",and it goes on to describe the kind of Committee that should be established.
I remind the House that the motion relates to a Government Bill. I may not have been around in 1907, but I did read the debate to which the hon. Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) referred. It was the then hon. Member for Ashford who rightly said that no Government would consent to sending legislation to Committees on which they were in the minority.
The hon. Member for Caerphilly tried to tempt us into setting up a Committee in which we did not have a majority with the promise that only reasonable amendments would be tabled. Whether we could agree about what was reasonable is open to question, however. He said that we could correct what we thought wrong on Report. That is not a serious proposition for a Government Bill
§ Mr. Wigley
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Will you now give the House a ruling on whether the Government motion is, in your view, an attempt to suspend Standing Order No. 86?
§ Madam Speaker
The motion before the House is in order; otherwise, as I said earlier, it would not have been placed on the Order Paper. It is for Members of the House to decide the issue. I am sure that, if the Minister is allowed to pursue his case, he will explain precisely what the motion means, so that Members can decide for themselves on the issue.
§ Sir Wyn Roberts
We are absolutely clear that. as this is a Government Bill, we should have a majority on the Committee.
§ Sir Wyn Roberts
No, because I have less than a minute left.
We are quite convinced that this is the best way to deal with the Bill. There is no suggestion that the Government should not have a majority in Committee and, of course, 114 the Committee will represent the composition of the House. We could have had a smaller Committee but its size will ensure representation for the minority parties.
§ It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business),
§ Question agreed to.
§ Question again proposed.
§ Mr. John Morris
The Minister spoke about the Welsh Development Agency Act 1975 and the Development of Rural Wales Act 1976 and said that they were precedents. I was the Minister in charge of that legislation and my recollection, which has been assisted by that of my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies), is that the procedure followed then was to facilitate and assist the Opposition. It was not a precedent. I was generous in advising those who were in charge of the proceedings of the House. It is quite wrong to regard assistance for the Opposition as a precedent for what the Government intend to do.
§ Sir Wyn Roberts
I accept the right hon. and learned Gentleman's description of the circumstances surounding that legislation. I dare say that special circumstances attached to the Development of Rural Wales Act 1976 as well. That was implied by the hon. Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy). There have been cases since then, and it is an established fact that no Government can process their own Bill in Committee without a clear majority.
I welcome the fact that there will be English Members on the Committee. I also welcome the participation on Second Reading of my hon. Friends the Members for Mid-Staffordshire (Mr. Fabricant), for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Coe) and for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Sweeney). The presence of English Members on the Committee will reaffirm the fact that the Bill was promoted by the United Kingdom Government in support of the Welsh language, which is part of the British heritage as well as that of Wales.
§ Mr. Alex Carlile
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I apologise for raising another one. You have listened with obvious attention to the Minister of State, who has explained with his usual care the thinking behind the motion. You always take great pains to protect the interests of Back Benchers. The motion, if passed, would exclude half the Welsh Back Benchers from membership of the Standing Committee, despite the provisions of Standing Order No. 86(2)(ii).
The right hon. Gentleman has made quite clear what the Government are trying to do. He said honestly, as always, that Standing Order No. 86 is completely unworkable in present political circumstances in connection with any Bill that relates solely to Wales. He told us, by corollary, that what the Government seek to do can only be to suspend the operation of Standing Order No. 86, not in so far as it relates to the House in general but in so far as it relates specifically to Wales. That is akin to introducing a new Standing Order.
If that is what the Government wish to do, surely the protection of Back Benchers and the good procedure of the House demand that the Government should table the appropriate procedural motion. I invite you to rule as to 115 whether this is, de facto, an attempt to suspend Standing Order No. 86 and, if it is, that the Government should table a procedural motion to that effect.
§ Madam Speaker:
The hon. Gentleman is an experienced advocate, but he must not try to interpret to me what the Minister has said. I listened carefully. I have also explained that the motion is in order. Therefore, it is for hon. Members, Ministers and Back Benchers alike, to determine, after what they have heard, how they should vote in the Division. If they wish to pursue the matter further, there are parliamentary channels open to them to do so.
I have no alternative now but to put to the House the motion on the Order Paper, as I am required to do.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 275, Noes 243.118
|Division No. 288]||[10.05 pm|
|Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey)||Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Coombs, Simon (Swindon)|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)||Cope, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Amess, David||Cormack, Patrick|
|Ancram, Michael||Couchman, James|
|Arbuthnot, James||Cran, James|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)|
|Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv)||Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)|
|Ashby, David||Davies, Quentin (Stamford)|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Davis, David (Boothferry)|
|Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E)||Day, Stephen|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Deva, Nirj Joseph|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)||Dicks, Terry|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North)||Dorrell, Stephen|
|Baldry, Tony||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James|
|Banks, Matthew (Southport)||Dover, Den|
|Banks, Robert (Harrogate)||Duncan, Alan|
|Bates, Michael||Duncan-Smith, Iain|
|Batiste, Spencer||Dunn, Bob|
|Bellingham, Henry||Durant, Sir Anthony|
|Bendall, Vivian||Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)|
|Blackburn, Dr John G.||Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)|
|Body, Sir Richard||Evans, Roger (Monmouth)|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Evennett, David|
|Booth, Hartley||Faber, David|
|Boswell, Tim||Fabricant, Michael|
|Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)||Fenner, Dame Peggy|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia||Forman, Nigel|
|Bowden, Andrew||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Bowis, John||Forth, Eric|
|Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes||Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)|
|Brandreth, Gyles||Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)|
|Brazier, Julian||Freeman, Roger|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||French, Douglas|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)||Fry, Peter|
|Browning, Mrs. Angela||Gale, Roger|
|Budgen, Nicholas||Gallie, Phil|
|Burns, Simon||Gardiner, Sir George|
|Burt, Alistair||Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan|
|Butler, Peter||Garnier, Edward|
|Butterfill, John||Gill, Christopher|
|Carlisle, John (Luton North)||Gillan, Cheryl|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair|
|Carrington, Matthew||Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles|
|Carttiss, Michael||Gorman, Mrs Teresa|
|Cash, William||Gorst, John|
|Churchill, Mr||Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW)|
|Clappison, James||Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Greenway, John (Ryedale)|
|Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)|
|Coe, Sebastian||Grylls, Sir Michael|
|Colvin, Michael||Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn|
|Congdon, David||Hague, William|
|Conway, Derek||Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom)|
|Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)||Norris, Steve|
|Hanley, Jeremy||Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley|
|Hannam, Sir John||Oppenheim, Phillip|
|Harris, David||Ottaway, Richard|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Page, Richard|
|Hawkins, Nick||Paice, James|
|Hawksley, Warren||Patnick, Irvine|
|Hayes, Jerry||Patten, Rt Hon John|
|Heald, Oliver||Pawsey, James|
|Hendry, Charles||Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Hicks, Robert||Pickles, Eric|
|Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.||Porter, Barry (Wirral S)|
|Hill, James (Southampton Test)||Porter, David (Waveney)|
|Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)||Portillo, Rt Hon Michael|
|Horam, John||Powell, William (Corby)|
|Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Rathbone, Tim|
|Howard, Rt Hon Michael||Redwood, John|
|Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)||Richards, Rod|
|Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)||Riddick, Graham|
|Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)||Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm|
|Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)||Robathan, Andrew|
|Hunter, Andrew||Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn|
|Jack, Michael||Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)|
|Jackson, Robert (Wantage)||Robinson, Mark (Somerton)|
|Jenkin, Bernard||Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)|
|Jessel, Toby||Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)|
|Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela|
|Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)||Ryder, Rt Hon Richard|
|Key, Robert||Sackville, Tom|
|Kilfedder, Sir James||Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|King, Rt Hon Tom||Shaw, David (Dover)|
|Kirkhope, Timothy||Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)|
|Knapman, Roger||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)|
|Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)||Sims, Roger|
|Knight, Greg (Derby N)||Skeet, Sir Trevor|
|Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)||Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)|
|Knox, David||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Kynoch, George (Kincardine)||Soames, Nicholas|
|Lait, Mrs Jacqui||Spencer, Sir Derek|
|Lawrence, Sir Ivan||Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)|
|Legg, Barry||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Leigh, Edward||Spink, Dr Robert|
|Lennox-Boyd, Mark||Spring, Richard|
|Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)||Sproat, Iain|
|Lidington, David||Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)|
|Lightbown, David||Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Lilley, Rt Hon Peter||Steen, Anthony|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Stephen, Michael|
|Lord, Michael||Stern, Michael|
|Luff, Peter||Streeter, Gary|
|Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas||Sumberg, David|
|MacKay, Andrew||Sweeney, Walter|
|Maclean, David||Sykes, John|
|McLoughlin, Patrick||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick||Taylor, Ian (Esher)|
|Madel, David||Taylor, John M. (Solihull)|
|Maitland, Lady Olga||Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)|
|Malone, Gerald||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Mans, Keith||Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)|
|Marland, Paul||Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|Marlow, Tony||Thurnham, Peter|
|Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Martin, David (Portsmouth S)||Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)|
|Mates, Michael||Tracey, Richard|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Tredinnick, David|
|Merchant, Piers||Trend, Michael|
|Milligan, Stephen||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Mills, Iain||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)||Walden, George|
|Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW)||Walker, Bill (N Tayside)|
|Moate, Sir Roger||Waller, Gary|
|Montgomery, Sir Fergus||Ward, John|
|Moss, Malcolm||Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)|
|Needham, Richard||Waterson, Nigel|
|Nelson, Anthony||Watts, John|
|Neubert, Sir Michael||Wells, Bowen|
|Newton, Rt Hon Tony||Whitney, Ray|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Whittingdale, John|
|Nicholson, David (Taunton)||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)||Wiggin, Sir Jerry|
|Willetts, David||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)||Mr. Sydney Chapman and|
|Yeo, Tim||Mr. Timothy Wood.|
|Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Etherington, Bill|
|Adams, Mrs Irene||Evans, John (St Helens N)|
|Ainger, Nick||Fatchett, Derek|
|Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)||Field, Frank (Birkenhead)|
|Allen, Graham||Fisher, Mark|
|Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)||Foster, Rt Hon Derek|
|Armstrong, Hilary||Foulkes, George|
|Ashton, Joe||Fraser, John|
|Austin-Walker, John||Fyfe, Maria|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Galloway, George|
|Barnes, Harry||Gapes, Mike|
|Battle, John||Garrett, John|
|Bayley, Hugh||George, Bruce|
|Bell, Stuart||Gerrard, Neil|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John|
|Benton, Joe||Godman, Dr Norman A.|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Godsiff, Roger|
|Berry, Dr. Roger||Golding, Mrs Llin|
|Betts, Clive||Gordon, Mildred|
|Blair, Tony||Graham, Thomas|
|Boateng, Paul||Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)|
|Boyce, Jimmy||Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)|
|Bradley, Keith||Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Grocott, Bruce|
|Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)||Gunnell, John|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)||Hall, Mike|
|Burden, Richard||Hanson, David|
|Byers, Stephen||Hardy, Peter|
|Caborn, Richard||Harman, Ms Harriet|
|Callaghan, Jim||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy|
|Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)||Heppell, John|
|Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)||Hinchliffe, David|
|Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)||Home Robertson, John|
|Campbell-Savours, D. N.||Hood, Jimmy|
|Canavan, Dennis||Hoon, Geoffrey|
|Cann, Jamie||Howarth, George (Knowsley N)|
|Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)||Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)|
|Chisholm, Malcolm||Hoyle, Doug|
|Clapham, Michael||Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)|
|Clark, Dr David (South Shields)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)||Hughes, Roy (Newport E)|
|Clelland, David||Hughes, Simon (Southwark)|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Hutton, John|
|Coffey, Ann||Illsley, Eric|
|Cohen, Harry||Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)|
|Connarty, Michael||Jamieson, David|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton N)||Janner, Greville|
|Corbett, Robin||Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)|
|Corston, Ms Jean||Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)|
|Cousins, Jim||Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)|
|Cox, Tom||Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)|
|Cryer, Bob||Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Jowell, Tessa|
|Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)||Keen, Alan|
|Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John||Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)|
|Dafis, Cynog||Khabra, Piara S.|
|Darling, Alistair||Kilfoyle, Peter|
|Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)||Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)||Leighton, Ron|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'I)||Lestor, Joan (Eccles)|
|Denham, John||Lewis, Terry|
|Dewar, Donald||Litherland, Robert|
|Dixon, Don||Livingstone, Ken|
|Dobson, Frank||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Donohoe, Brian H.||Llwyd, Elfyn|
|Dowd, Jim||Loyden, Eddie|
|Dunnachie, Jimmy||Lynne, Ms Liz|
|Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||McAllion, John|
|Eagle, Ms Angela||McAvoy, Thomas|
|Eastham, Ken||McCartney, Ian|
|Enright, Derek||Macdonald, Calum|
|McFall, John||Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)|
|McKelvey, William||Roche, Mrs. Barbara|
|Mackinlay, Andrew||Rogers, Allan|
|McLeish, Henry||Rooker, Jeff|
|McMaster, Gordon||Rooney, Terry|
|McNamara, Kevin||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|Madden, Max||Rowlands, Ted|
|Mahon, Alice||Ruddock, Joan|
|Mandelson, Peter||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Marek, Dr John||Sheerman, Barry|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)||Short, Clare|
|Martlew, Eric||Simpson, Alan|
|Meacher, Michael||Skinner, Dennis|
|Michael, Alun||Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)|
|Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)||Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)|
|Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)||Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)|
|Milburn, Alan||Soley, Clive|
|Miller, Andrew||Spearing, Nigel|
|Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)||Spellar, John|
|Moonie, Dr Lewis||Steel, Rt Hon Sir David|
|Morgan, Rhodri||Steinberg, Gerry|
|Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)||Stevenson, George|
|Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)||Stott, Roger|
|Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)||Strang, Dr. Gavin|
|Mudie, George||Straw, Jack|
|Mullin, Chris||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)|
|Murphy, Paul||Taylor, Matthew (Truro)|
|O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)||Tipping, Paddy|
|O'Brien, William (Normanton)||Vaz, Keith|
|O'Hara, Edward||Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold|
|Olner, William||Walley, Joan|
|O'Neill, Martin||Wardell, Gareth (Gower)|
|Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Wareing, Robert N|
|Patchett, Terry||Watson, Mike|
|Pendry, Tom||Wicks, Malcolm|
|Pickthall, Colin||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Pike, Peter L.||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)|
|Pope, Greg||Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)|
|Powell, Ray (Ogmore)||Winnick, David|
|Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)||Wise, Audrey|
|Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)||Worthington, Tony|
|Prescott, John||Wray, Jimmy|
|Primarolo, Dawn||Wright, Dr Tony|
|Quin, Ms Joyce||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Randall, Stuart||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Redmond, Martin||Mr. Dennis Turner and|
|Reid, Dr John||Mr. Alan Meale.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ That, notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order No. 86 (Nomination of standing committees), any Standing Committee appointed for the consideration of the Welsh Language Bill [Lords] shall consist of twenty-eight Members, including not fewer than nineteen Members sitting for constituencies in Wales.