HC Deb 23 March 1993 vol 221 cc870-95 10.16 pm
Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Funds for Trade Union Ballots Regulations (Revocation) Regulations 1993 (S.I., 1993, No. 233), dated 8th February 1993, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th February, be annulled.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. The Order Paper says that this instrument has not been considered by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. It was considered this afternoon, and the Joint Committee has placed in the Vote Office a report to the effect that a section of the instrument is redundant because of the effect of the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Bill. I thought that I should draw the attention of the House to this, because once again the Government are hurrying through delegated legislation without giving adequate time for the Joint Committee to give proper consideration to it. The Committee Clerk has made special efforts to ensure that the House is informed about this matter.

Madam Speaker

The hon. Member, as ever, is helpful to the House.

Mr. Dobson

The regulations would cut off the funds which the Government have, for the past 13 years, provided to cover the cost of trade union secret ballots. In future, the cost will have to be borne by the members of each union. Last year, these ballots cost £4.25 million. That is quite a lot of money, and certainly a lot of money to be found from the voluntary contributions of members of trade unions, which are voluntary organisations without large sources of finance.

This decision is entirely typical of the events of the past week or so, because it is another Tory promise broken and another Tory betrayal of the people who trusted them. Last week's Budget extended VAT, put up national insurance and increased income tax, all in blatant betrayal of promises made during the 1992 general election. This week the Government go back on a promise made at an earlier general election, that of 1979, when they promised in their election manifesto to provide public funds for postal ballots for union elections and other important issues. At that time, ballots were not going to be made compulsory. Now, after the Government have made these ballots compulsory, the funding is to be taken away. The Government have no mandate for this. They have never raised it in any consultative document. They did not put it to the people at the last general election, and it is therefore contrary to the promises made at the outset and repeated at every later stage in the development of the Government's industrial relations policy.

The present Government, the present Prime Minister and the present Secretary of State for Employment all attempt to present what might be described as Thatcherism with a human face. Yet is has to be remembered that Margaret Thatcher and Norman Tebbit promised to provide those funds, and to be fair to Margaret Thatcher and Norman Tebbit, they delivered them. Yet this Prime Minister, this Employment Secretary and this Government are taking those funds away. They are breaking that promise. The Prime Minister is exceedingly keen on charters, we understand, and clearly, if he is going to cover everyone against the Tory party, he will have to produce a twisters charter to keep an eye on them.

It is not just the Government in general who are twisting and betraying their promises. Individual Tory Members have committed themselves in the past to the provision of these funds. A quick look through earlier debates shows that at least 15 existing Tory Members spoke in favour of the ballots. So far as I can see, not one of those who spoke in the past ever suggested that these funds would be withdrawn at a later stage. Not even any hon. Member on the far right suggested that they should not be provided or should be withdrawn.

The present Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the right hon. and learned Member for Tunbridge Wells (Sir P. Mayhew), then the junior Employment Minister, said in 1980 that trade unions were being told: "You do not have to have a secret ballot for any of your decisions—it is up to you; but if you are thinking of having one, you do not have to worry about the cost, for the taxpayer will reimburse you." Not any more, Paddy.

The present Minister of State, Foreign Office, the right hon. and learned Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) commended the merits of these funds when he said of that 1980 Bill: It provides for the establishment of a fund from which secret ballots are to be financed", and went on: That proposal is one to which no reasonable-minded Member could object."—[Official Report, 17 December 1979; Vol. 976, c. 138.] I wonder what he will do in the vote tonight.

The present Minister of State for Social Security, the right hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Scott), said: The Bill is simply making funds available so that the resources of unions that want to have ballots are not under pressure. He went on: This at least frees them from that constraint."—[Official Report, 17 December 1979; Vol. 976, c. 99.]

Mr. Patrick Nicholls (Teignbridge)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Dobson

No, I will not. It is a very short debate, and I do not have time to give way.

The right hon. and hon. Members whom I have mentioned are at present Ministers of the Crown, and they now expect people to take them at their word when they make a promise on behalf of the Government on Northern Ireland, foreign affairs or matters to do with social security. It is quite clear that there is no chance that anybody will take a promise from them.

When the ballots were made compulsory, in 1984, the then Employment Secretary—

Mr. Phillip Oppenheim (Amber Valley)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Dobson

No, I will not.

The right hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King) gave this reassurance at the point when ballots were going to be made compulsory: The money provided under the 1980 Act to meet the cost of such ballots will continue to be available."—[Official Report, 8 November 1983; Vol. 48, c. 160.] He is here tonight, and I wonder which way he will be voting. I could give other examples. For instance, the hon. Member for Chorley (Mr. Dover), told the House on that occasion: I support the measures in this Bill, particularly the secret ballots to be paid for by the Government, because ordinary trade union members in my constituency have been crying out for this every day virtually since the general election.

Mr. Oppenheim


Mr. Dobson

No, I shall not give way.

Mr. Nicholls

On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Mr. Dobson

I am willing to bet that the ordinary—

Madam Speaker

Order. I have a point of order, to which I must listen.

Mr. Nicholls

Would it be in order, Madam Speaker, for you to remind the hon. Members on the Labour Front Bench that this is supposed to be a debate, not a boring monologue?

Madam Speaker

The hon. Gentleman knows that it is not the responsibility of the Chair to instruct hon. Members who have the floor that they must give way. It certainly is a courtesy in a debate. The hon. Gentleman is determined that he will not give way for the present, so the hon. Member must bide his time.

Mr. Oppenheim

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Are you saying that we have been discourteous?

Madam Speaker

I am not saying anything of the kind; I am saying that the hon. Gentleman must bide his time. I think that it was a point of frustration, not a point of order.

Mr. Dobson

Generally speaking, Madam Speaker, I attempt to be courteous to all hon. Members, but there are a number of Members on the Benches opposite who are so notoriously and continuously discourteous that they cannot expect courtesy from this side of the House. Both the hon. Gentlemen who have raised spurious points of order fall into that category.

I should like to ask the hon. Member for Chorley whether any of those ordinary trade union members in his constituency have been crying out for these funds to be taken away. I do not suppose that he told them at the general election that the Government intended to take them away, and I do not suppose that he has told them since, but we have to ask ourselves why the Tories are doing this. We can reasonably say that it is a typical example of Tory spite against trade union members, but I do not think it is only that.

One reason for them taking away the funds at this time is political fund ballots. Up to know, the renewal of political funds by ballot could be financed from Government funds. The Government have forced ballots on trade unions; they have forced postal ballots and therefore, not unreasonably, they funded those postal ballots. They are now about to withdraw that facility, just as another round of political fund ballots appears on the horizon. It is not just spite against the trade unions; it is malice against the Government's political opponents. They have done everything they could by law to obstruct the funding of the Labour party and any political opposition from trade unions.

The trade unions have, rightly, for a long time contributed substantially to the funds of the Labour party through open and democratic decisions reached by British nurses, dinner ladies, miners and railway workers. The Tories have never liked it, and at every chance they have attempted to obstruct it. By this measure, they are attempting to make the process more expensive and to ensure that less money is available for political activities both directly by the unions and by the Labour party. Therefore, it is necessary to contrast this with the process by which the Tory party raises its funds.

Mr. Nicholls

Will the hon. Member give way?

Mr. Dobson

I shall not give way. Unlike the trade unions, who face innumerable legal obstructions—

Mr. Nicholls

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. A few moments ago you said that you anticipated that the hon. Gentleman would want to give way when he had recovered his nerve. Would now be an appropriate moment for him to do so?

Madam Speaker

It is for the hon. Gentleman who has the Floor and is at the Dispatch Box to determine when he is going to give way.

Mr. Dobson

We can reasonably contrast the legal obstructions to raising and disbursing political funds by trade unions which the Government have placed into law with the absence of virtually any obstruction to the funding of the Tory party.

Take company law, for instance. Companies do not have to establish any special political funds; they can make contributions to the Tory party out of their general funds. Nor do they have to conduct a ballot of anybody before they decide to do so. Just a few rich Tories can simply hand over money to the Tory party. Let us take as an example Thames Water, an organisation which is a taxing authority, because—

Mr. Nicholls

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Is it in order for the hon. Gentleman to start talking about water charges when he is not prepared to give way to Conservative Members on the subject of trade union ballots?

Madam Speaker

It is for the hon. Gentleman to determine what he has to say. It is not for the Chair to involve itself with the comments of hon. Members.

Mr. Dobson

The point I am making, in case the hon. Gentleman cannot understand it, is that the processes whereby trade unions raise funds and use them for political purposes are decided democratically by way of ballots. There is no ballot involved in the decision of Thames Water, the monopoly supplier of water to people in its area, when it levies what everyone recognises as a water tax—known as the water rate—which people cannot avoid. From that tax, Thames Water has been giving money to the Tory party. There was no democracy or ballot there.

Mr. Oliver Heald (Hertfordshire, North)

On a point of order. In a debate on trade union balloting, Madam Deputy Speaker, is it in order for the hon. Gentleman to spend his time talking about Thames Water, Conservative party funding and all sorts of irrelevant matters that have nothing whatever to do with trade union ballots?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes)

I have only just come to the Chair, and I want to listen carefully. It will be easier for me to do so if there is less noise.

Mr. Dobson

For ease of reference, Madam Deputy Speaker, when Madam Speaker was in the Chair I said that it was proper to contrast the arrangements made by law by the Government for the accrual and disposal of funds for political purposes by trade unions with what happens when companies and other people donate to the Tory party, and she accepted that.

No ballots are involved when people raise money for the Tory party. Only one ballot has been conducted by a company, National Freight, and the shareholders voted overwhelmingly against giving the party any money.

In the interests of democracy, what happens with funds from Britain is bad enough, but when we contrast the different arrangements, we must also consider the Tories' keenness on democracy when it comes to raising money from people from abroad. It raised £2 million from John Latsis, a Greek fascist who was involved with the colonels in the killing and torture of the people of Greece.

Mr. Nicholls

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it in order to call Robert Maxwell a Greek fascist just because he contributed substantial funds to the Labour party?

Madam Deputy Speaker

That is not a point of order for the Chair, and I notice that the hon. Gentleman raised several points of order before I came to the Chair.

Mr. Dobson

No one in their right mind would suggest that giving money to the Tory party makes someone a fascist. What makes them a fascist is supporting the Greek colonels, who murdered and tortured Greek people who stood up for democracy.

Within Britain, there was the case of Mr. Azil Nadir, who unlawfully shifted more than £400,000 of his company's funds to the Tory party, without declaring them in the company's returns. The Tories were in effect receiving stolen goods, and they have not returned them to the shareholders or to the administrator. No ballots were taken then.

Mr. Heald

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for the hon. Gentleman to spend his entire speech in our debate on an important issue talking about Conservative party funding, fascists, Greeks and all sorts of people around the world rather than dealing with the issue in question?

Madam Deputy Speaker

I have been trying to follow what the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) has been saying. I should prefer it if hon. Members left me to decide what is in order and what is not. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will understand that, while passing reference may properly be made to other matters, he must now—having sketched in the background—deal more closely with the subject under direct consideration.

Mr. Oppenheim

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. If it is in order for Opposition Members to talk, in passing, about Tory party funding, might it also be in order for Conservative Members—if they are called later—to talk in passing about the filthy Maxwell money that the Labour party accepted before the last election?

Madam Deputy Speaker

I shall wait to hear what is said first.

Mr. Den Dover (Chorley)

I was listening carefully to what the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) said about trade union ballots. When the legislation was passed 10 or more years ago, it was mainly targeted on postal ballots. I should be interested to hear from the hon. Gentleman whether the secret ballots benefit the trade union movement, and whether there might be a move away from postal ballots if the funds were not continued.

Mr. Dobson

The hon. Gentleman has not been keeping up with the increasingly draconian state of industrial relations law under the party of which he is a member. In future, all ballots will have to be postal ballots. It is curious that, at a time when postal ballots were voluntary, the Government agreed to fund them, but now that they are compulsory, the Government are taking away that funding.

One of the problems we face when dealing with this subject is that we have never seen anything from the Government to justify the termination of the provision of the funds. Therefore, we have to guess what the Minister is going to say. My speech is based on the assumption that the Minister will use certain arguments, one of which will involve the need for democracy in the unions. Another argument that he might use is that the process is costing the taxpayer money, so it is unfair to taxpayers.

Therefore, it is necessary to contrast the limited sums that the taxpayer is providing—£4.25 million in the last year for which figures are available—with the cost to the taxpayer of some of the ways in which the Conservative party has been raising money. We now know from several sources that rich foreigners who live in this country have been granted enormous tax breaks by the Government, in exchange, in effect, for donations to the Conservative party. It is true that several of those rich foreigners were invited to No. 10 Downing street for a meal at the taxpayer's expense. But that fell a long way short of the total cost to the taxpayer, as the foreigners were then promised by the Prime Minister that the present tax laws would not be changed if the Conservative party won the election, and they coughed up money for Conservative party funds.

The process cost the taxpayer vastly more than the £4.2 million—the cost of all the ballots, not just political fund ballots. The decision cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds, which the rich foreigners will not have to pay.

I say—with some care—that secret deals at the expense of the taxpayer in exchange for donations to party funds are utterly unacceptable to the people of this country. At this moment, politicians in Italy are being prosecuted for exactly that offence, and it is likely that they will go to gaol for such processes. We have corrupt arrangements that are costing the taxpayer a fortune and utterly straightforward—

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The hon. Gentleman is making some extremely serious and scurrilous accusations without any evidence. Will you ask him to withdraw the accusations of corruption or prove them?

Madam Deputy Speaker

As I understand it, the points are generalised. The rules of the House relate Io accusations made against individual Members. However, I am sure that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) will wish to maintain the highest tone in his remarks.

Mr. Dobson

It is my desire—

Mr. Cormack

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is clear that the hon. Gentleman's accusations are clearly directed at my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. The hon. Gentleman is accusing my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister of corruption, which cannot he in order.

Madam Deputy Speaker

That is not what I understood him to say.

Mr. Dobson

I certainly believe in maintaining the highest standards of integrity. It is right and proper for the reputation of this country to maintain those standards in the funding of all political parties.

Mr. Cormack

Is the hon. Gentleman accusing the Prime Minister of corruption? If so, what evidence does he have?

Mr. Dobson

I am saying that the Tory party is guilty of corruption, and I shall maintain that until the day the Conservatives publish their funding details and prove to us that they have not had any money from Robert Maxwell.

Mrs. Angela Browning (Tiverton)

Will the hon. Gentleman clarify his remark that Downing street paid for a Tory party function out of the taxpayers' purse? Is that his accusation against the Prime Minister?

Mr. Dobson

The hon. Lady misunderstands me.

Mr. Don Dixon (Jarrow)

My hon. Friend did not mention the name of the caterers.

Mr. Dobson

No, I did not. But a dinner was held at Downing street, paid for by the taxpayer, and it turned out to be rather advantageous to the Tory party—let us leave it at that.

By contrast with all this shifty, seedy raising of foreign money to fund the Tory party—because hardly anyone in Britain will make contributions to it—the trade unions have been finding life more and more difficult throughout the recession. Now, all the costs involved in these ballots will have to be met, not from Government funds, but from the pockets and handbags of ordinary British trade union members. The money will come from income on which they have paid tax and national insurance, unlike the income that goes to the Tory party.

The decisions taken by Britain's trade unions are open and democratic. This process will make them more expensive. It is intended to undermine their capacity to achieve something like parity or bargaining power with the employers. It is part of the Government's effort to force wages lower and to force our people to work longer hours in worse conditions. This measure is intended to undermine the resources that the unions have for political action.

But it is my view that, instead of doing that, it will strengthen their resolve to get rid of this Government, who betray their promises and betray the British people in the interests of the rich, who want to drive down wages, and of the limited number of rich foreigners who want the benefits of living in this country without having to pay their fair share of the costs of running it.

10.43 pm
Mr. Graham Riddick (Colne Valley)

I have just heard an interesting sedentary exchange originated by my hon. Friend the Member for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls), who shouted to the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), "You could have done better than this," to which the latter replied, "Yes, I would hope so." I expect that most of us could have done better than the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) did. We have heard a series of nasty, unsubstantiated, scurrilous allegations which the hon. Gentleman failed to prove.

Ms Angela Eagle (Wallasey)


Mr. Riddick

The trade union reforms that the Government have brought to the House over the past 14 years have been a success. The unions have become more democratic. The Government were responsible for the introduction of ballots for the election of trade union officers and ballots before strike action can be taken. We now have trade union leaders who have to respond to what the members want rather than members responding to what the leaders want.

Mr. Robert Ainsworth (Coventry, North-East)

When will the Tory party introduce some democracy into its funding? Why does the hon. Gentleman not answer the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson)?

Mr. Riddick

The majority of the money that the Conservative party receives is raised from ordinary, individual members in the constituencies.

We have also brought the trade unions within a reasonable framework of law. All those changes have been brought about in the face of intractable, determined opposition from Labour Members. They have voted against all the trade union measures that we have brought before the House. They voted against all the ballots that we have set up.

The closed shop, as much as anything, kindled my interest in politics in the 1970s. The then Labour Government gave carte blanche to trade union leaders to force employees to belong to trade unions. I was looking through my files for the debate tonight and came across an excellent article in a fine newspaper called The Free Nation, produced by the National Association for Freedom—an excellent organisation. The heading is, "Commissar Jones's orders". Here is part of what Jack Jones, the then leader of the Transport and General Workers Union, wrote to his members. He said: we can now go ahead with closed shop or 100 per cent. agreements in the knowledge that it will be fair for an employer to dismiss in circumstances of enforcing such an agreement… I hope you will advise your officers and shop stewards about the legislation and ensure that maximum efforts are made to achieve 100 per cent. membership wherever possible. In other words, he was perfectly happy for workers to be put on the dole queue if they refused to join a trade union. When we hear lessons from Mr. Jones about pensioners, we should not forget his past.

It is not surprising that the Labour party has opposed all our legislation. It always has been and always will be beholden to the trade unions. Of the 271 Labour Members of Parliament, 152 are sponsored by trade unions. All 20 of the shadow Cabinet are sponsored by trade unions. The trade unions contributed some £5 million to the Labour party general election fund.

Mr. Frank Cook (Stockton, North)

There is no secret about what the hon. Gentleman has just been telling the House. All that information is freely available, declared and publicised. When will the Conservative party behave in a similar fashion about contributions from the likes of Li Kha Shing?

Mr. John Bowis (Battersea)

Is the hon. Gentleman swearing?

Mr. Riddick

I do not know.

The Labour party is beholden to the trade unions. The Conservative party is supported by business, but business creates wealth. We are happy to be supported by private enterprise, by the wealth creators. [Interruption.] I heard a Labour Member shout "crooks". One could not get a bigger crook than Mr. Maxwell, and whom did he support? What is more, he was a Labour Member of Parliament.

I should like to return to debating the order.

Mr. Richard Caborn (Sheffield, Central)

Before doing so, will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Riddick

No, I shall not give way.

I recognise the difficulty that the regulations will create for some of the trade unions, but they cannot be immune from the recession or the public deficit that we face today. If the Government are faced with the choice of spending money on hospitals or subsidising trade union ballots, there is no contest: the money must be spent on the public services. It is perfectly reasonable to ask trade unions to fund their ballots. We should not forget that the Trades Union Congress has never recommended that its affiliated unions make use of the scheme. Until 1985, TUC-affiliated trade unions boycotted the scheme.

I am not hostile to the trade unions. My advice to anyone who has a bad employer is to join a trade union. Anyone who has a good employer generally does not need the services of a trade union. My advice to my wife when she was working before she had our first baby was to belong to a trade union and to stay in it. She worked in an art gallery and her employer was a Labour-controlled council. I thought that it was important that she should be in a trade union so that the union could protect her against some of the worst excesses of that Labour-controlled council.

The reality is that in the past 14 years it has been the Conservative Government who have had the guts to tackle the excesses of the trade unions. I am happy to support the regulations tonight.

10.51 pm
Mr. Alex Carlile (Montgomery)

I am bound to wonder what the Government's attitude would be if the majority of trade unions supported the Conservative party. I suspect that they would be less enthusiastic about removing this small amount of funding from trade unions.

The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Riddick) rightly advised his wife to remain a member of a trade union. However, the distinction that he sought to draw between people who work for good employers and people who work for poor employers is a bad point.

I have always understood that the Conservative party is not opposed to trade unions as such. I understand that many members of the Conservative party are members of, and active in, trade unions. Surely they and hon. Members on both sides of the House should agree that people should join trade unions for their own protection. What Conservative Members seem to object to is not so much trade unions in themselves as the fact that they perceive that trade union members feel compelled to support the Labour party.

The present decline of civil legal aid under the Lord Chancellor's latest proposals and the fact that claimants under civil legal aid will be obliged to make a contribution from the outset, provide a good justification for us as Members of Parliament advising constituents to be members of trade unions.

I have considerable professional experience of acting for trade unionists in civil pesonal injury claims. There is no doubt that even when legal aid was more widely available for such claims, the trade union legal assistance scheme on the whole provided a better and more expert service.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Riddick) said that he would encourage anyone who had a bad employer to join a trade union. Is the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) aware that 10 days ago there was an Adjournment debate about an industrial dispute that has been going on for months in the west midlands and I do not think that anyone would argue that the employer concerned is a bad one? There was a ballot and the vote was overwhelmingly in favour of joining a union. Yet the Under-Secretary of State for Employment, the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. McLoughlin), defended the employer's action in refusing to recognise the right of those people to join a union and gave every possible excuse why that employer should not recognise the people involved.

Mr. Carlile

As ever, the hon. Gentleman has made his point powerfully; but I was trying to make the point that not only those working for bad employers, but those working for good employers, are well advised to join trade unions—partly, at least, because of the benefits available to members, particularly in relation to union legal aid.

There is a second reason why those with good employers should join trade unions; a good employer can obtain nothing but benefit from the fact that his employees are union members. He will find it far easier to negotiate, discuss health and safety and deal with common problems that arise if he can do so through the elected representatives of those employees. The best possible elected representatives are responsible trade union officials who have been elected by the employees, and can represent the views of their members not on a whim but on the basis of well-organised and well-constructed union consultation.

I feel that the regulations and the political thinking that underlies it, are purely an attempt to bash the unions because they happen to support the Labour party—but even that is misguided as a political view of the position. Under the existing arrangements, the Government have a stake in trade union ballots: because they fund the ballots, they can enforce the funding regulations. If the existing regulations are breached, they can take the trade union concerned to court for not following those regulations. If the regulations are enacted, they will lose, at a stroke, a considerable degree of lateral influence over the unions. That strikes me as a very bad move, which will do nothing for industrial relations—and, indeed, will encourage many trade union members who may not be inclined to support Labour to decide that the Government are out to damage their interests in the workplace.

The sum involved is so small, and the gain to industrial relations and union-Government relations so obvious, that I ask the Minister to reconsider whether the changes are really in the public interest.

10.57 pm
Mr. Peter Bottomley (Eltham)

I pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of trade union members who give their time voluntarily to serve their fellows at work. When we talk of those intermediate groups in society, we are not talking merely of members of ward committees, Labour or Tory, or about those involved in churches, chapels, mosques, temples or synagogues; we are talking of a body of people that, at its peak, comprised between 250,000 and 300,000 people who served as shop stewards, working often for no thanks and always for no pay.

The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) pointed out that they have taken up issues that matter to individuals: issues such as accidents at work, health and safety and general representation.

It is beyond dispute that the trade unions have gone wrong at times, but the fact that they have now come right is also well established—partly because of the move towards free and fair elections.

The serious point made by the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) was that the regulations have come about with virtually no notice and no discussion. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will explain why the announcement that the ballot money would be cut off was made so suddenly; most of us were surprised by that announcement.

The issue of the money itself is slightly less important. In the case of a union subscription of about £60 a year, the cost of a postal ballot is not so very great—

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Yes, it is.

Mr. Bottomley

I leave the hon. Gentleman to make that point if he wishes.

If we are to be fair, we must consider other issues. Some parts of the union subscription cover matters which are tax-deductible, but only a small number of union members apply for tax relief on those parts. If some parts of the funds are allowable for tax relief, it would be fair if they were dealt with automatically so that individual members need not have to discover that they qualify. We would then show that we do not keep money from trade unions to which their members are legally entitled. That is one way in which the Government could avoid the accusation that they are union bashing.

I will leave it to other hon. Members to point out something that was not covered by the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras—Labour's attitude to state funding of union ballots. When I was a Minister at the Department of Employment I went to the Trades Union Congress and I managed to live quite well and be more than a light drinker by offering to pay for the drink; of all my friends in the trade union movement. They said, "Government money? Not a hope." I lived on their money for virtually a week. The idea that the Labour party supports the funding is not consistent.

We can go a stage further. Should we assume that members of trade unions are members of trade unions which support the Labour party? Half the members of trade unions are in unions which do not have political funds and, of course, not every union fund is openly dedicated to the Labour party. If a diplomat tried to comment on the relationship between trade unions and political parties in this country, he would say that there were matters of substance and of direction. It would help trade unions if they shook themselves free of the association with the Labour party.

It was honourable for the trade unions to establish a political party. The lives of many trade unionists around the world are threatened and even ended because the trade unions stand for democracy and for an alternative to a dictatorial regime. We do not have dictorial regime in this country, but in many countries such as in central America, Africa and many parts of Asia, being an active member of a trade union is to volunteer for intimidation and to suffer the kind of violence that people in the United Kingdom may suffer from the IRA. It is as bad as that, as I saw in El Salvador.

If the trade unions with political funds which backed the Labour party at the last four elections, and backed the loser four times in a row, were more neutral in their political interests and were actively involved with both major political parties, they might do much better than by supporting just one political party. However, that is a matter for those unions and that is why the political fund ballot will be interesting in 1995.

With regard to the relationship, there are points of strength and of weakness. The Tory Government and Tory voters can be congratulated on helping to get trade unions away from their dominant political role, which was unhealthy for them and for the country, and back to a position where we can openly say that trade union members and their families are one of the largest groups of Conservative voters.

However, we do not always earn those votes by our actions. For example, it would be healthy if we said, in respect of the Timex dispute, that the management are using tactics ill suited to the United States and not at home in this country at all. When my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke up about the people who were arrested in the demonstration, he pointed out that those who were arrested were not workers at the factory and he was right.

The workers should be proud that they have stayed within the law. When trade union members do that, even though Government do not take sides in an industrial dispute Conservatives should say that they do not like management rolling back wages and conditions arbitrarily. That may sometimes be necessary to stay in business, but we should take a more even-handed approach. It is not our job simply to be on the side of industry as represented by management. We should also be on the side of industry as represented by the workers.

Mr. Frank Cook

Careful—they are getting a bit tetchy on the Front Bench, lad.

Mr. Bottomley

I do not need any help from Opposition Members just at the moment.

We need a network of co-operation, and that means trying to work with the democrats within the trade union movement to provide an election system which the members recognise to be fair.

Those of us who are members of building societies as lenders or borrowers are involved in secret ballots on this, that or the other, and we are aware that that practice is not an unusual thing in the network of institutions which have helped to build up the better parts of this country and have helped people when they required help.

As the Minister will be aware, I believe, that there is sometimes a lack of coherence in our approach. When we consider issues such as the way in which the mining communities were shattered by the form of the announcement in the autumn, and the fact that the courts said that some of that action was unlawful, I wonder whether all the industrial relations experience of the Department of Employment and of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service has suddenly vanished. In my day that sort of thing would never have happened. Ministers and civil servants in the Department and, for that matter, outsiders would have said, "You can't do that—look at the law." In respect of these regulations, we are looking at one part of the law.

We need to create an organic relationship with trade unions and their members. We need to consult them about the things which affect them. In the case of this issue, I do not believe that we did consult them. I may be wrong about that; my hon. Friend the Minister will be able to tell me if I am.

I want to speak now as a party politician. The bulk of relationships between people in the Conservative party and trade unionists should be conducted on a people-to-people basis, involving individuals. Let me say something about my own trade union. It is fine to go sponsoring Members of Parliament and to have meetings of those Members, but why, in my seventeen and a half years as a member of that union, have I been excluded on every occasion as a consequence of my not being sponsored?

I am a member of the union, but I am excluded from the meeting. Every time there is to be a new general secretary, I write and ask for an invitation, but I am always refused on the grounds that my election expenses are not met. If the purpose of paying election expenses is to have union members elected to this House, but someone is elected without that sponsorship, what is the democratic reason for that Member's exclusion from all meetings? They cannot all be intended to help the Labour party. If so, they are not very effective. Some of them must be about issues with which the House is dealing.

We need a periods of hard reflection. It is not a question simply of being hard in thought. We must avoid giving the impression of being hard of heart and soft in the head. The Labour party needs to think through its relationship with the trade unions, as does the Tory party, and when the Government are thinking of doing something which will affect trade unions they ought to treat those bodies as they treat other people in society: they ought to consult them and then make their decision, rather than make their decision as a substitute for consultation.

11.6 pm

Mr. John Hutton (Barrow and Furness)

Like all my right hon. and hon. Friends, I take the view that this is a foolish and mistaken measure. It is foolish because, whether or not they realise it, the Government have fundamentally contradicted what has been the central theme of their industrial relations policy for more than 14 years.

Since 1979, the Government have lectured the Opposition about the need to improve democracy in the trade union movement. My view is that we should take no lectures about democracy from the Conservative party. If and when it turns itself into a democratic party and publishes its accounts, we may be more prepared to pay attention to what it says. Throughout the past 14 years, the Government have told us that the trade unions are not democratic. We have been told that there is a need to promote the use of postal and workplace ballots in the decision-making processes. At the same time, the Government have claimed that this is not a burden on the trade union movement, as public funds are available for reimbursement of the costs. From tonight, that will not be the case. At a stroke, the Government have undermined their fundamental argument and contradicted the main theme of their industrial relations reform.

This is a mistaken measure, as it will compromise the ability of many trade unions, particularly the smaller ones that make heavy use of the reimbursement scheme—

Mr. Jacques Arnold (Gravesham)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hutton

No. I intend to make some progress.

The regulations will compromise the ability of many trade unions, particularly the smaller ones, to comply with the mandatory ballot requirements imposed by successive measures since 1980. It is worth bearing in mind the fact that the Government always gave the impression that the refund scheme was permanent and was necessary to help trade unions to meet their new legal obligations. In fact, it might be educational for Conservative Members if they were to be reminded of what the right hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King) said as Secretary of State for Employment. On 8 November 1983, when introducing the Trade Union Bill, he said: I hope that whenever possible unions will make use of postal ballots. The money provided under the 1980 Act to meet the cost of such ballots will continue to be available.—[Official Report, 8 November 1983; Vol. 48, c. 160.]

Mr. Jacques Arnold

Did the hon. Gentleman perhaps consult his Back-Bench colleague the hon. Member for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth (Mr. Hogg)? If we are to quote debates, the hon. Member said in the debate on the Employment Bill on 17 December 1979, The trade union movement has not asked for it"— that is, funds— and there is no evidence that the trade union movement cannot afford to run secret ballots." [Official Report, 17 December 1979; Vol. 976, c. 488.] He said it.

Mr. Hutton

I am quite sure that my hon. Friend is able to defend himself, if he wants to, on that point.

Mr. Norman Hogg (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I do not like replying to someone else's intervention, and it was very improper of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) to quote me in an intervention in someone else's speech. However, if I may answer the point, when I made that speech 12 million people were members of trade unions in this country. They were able to act independently because of the funds which 12 million members generated. The whole basis of opposing it at that time was the knowledge that the Government were setting about introducing legislation which was intended to restrict the trade union movement.

Since then, they have introduced the legislation and it has restricted the trade union movement. They have also created, through the folly of their policies, 3 million unemployed people. In that pincer movement they have caught the trade unions. The hon. Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) shakes his head. He does not like it, but he should not make smart remarks and then be unable to defend them. The trade union movement has been nobbled and, to a large extent, destroyed by the activities of this Government, and evidence of that is the fact that they are withdrawing this funding, which shows that introducing it in the first place was a sham and a lie.

Mr. Hutton

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that comment. I was sure that he would be able to respond to the point that the hon. Member for Gravesham made, and I was correct in my assessment. The hon. Gentleman should also bear in mind that what was true in 1980 is not true in 1993, because the balloting regime that the Government have imposed over the past few years has changed dramatically from the one that was introduced in 1980. That was exclusively a voluntary scheme; now it is essentially mandatory. The balloting mechanisms themselves have also changed beyond recognition.

Nor was there any mention of the Government's intention to withdraw the refund scheme for trade union ballots in the manifesto on which Conservative Members were elected in 1992. It is clear from the Hansard record of proceedings relating to the refund scheme for trade union ballots, that it was always the Government's intention to make this funding available. Now they have changed their minds.

The scheme provides important practical help to trade unions and is thus a direct benefit to trade union members and to their employers as well. The figures from the annual report of the certification officer bear out the relevance and importance of the rebate scheme. The last year for which we have an annual report from the certification officer is 1991. In that year, 78 trade unions, both large and small, made applications for refunds in respect of more than 700 ballots, and the certification officer paid over £4 million in refunds to those trade unions.

It is also interesting—I am sure that Conservative Members will benefit from doing this—to look at the list of unions and organisations that made use of the refund scheme. They were not large, TUC-affiliated trade unions; many were small, non-TUC-affiliated unions, including, for example, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives and the Health Visitors Association. The value of the scheme is demonstrated by the range of organisations that make use of it.

The Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Bill will also add considerably to the cost of trade union ballots by removing the discretion over the conduct of workplace ballots and requiring external scrutiny of those ballots as well. By moving away from the discretion on conduct of workplace ballots, the Government have added considerably to the cost conducting the ballots. There is no doubt that workplace ballots are considerably cheaper to operate than fully postal ballots. While we are in the mood to quote from previous speeches, perhaps I can refer again to the speech by the right hon. Member for Bridgwater on 8 November 1983, when he said: I am not convinced that postal ballots are always the best means of ensuring maximum participation in elections…A workplace ballot…may often be a more effective means of getting voting papers into the hands of trade union members, as a comparison between some unions which operate postal ballots and others which operate workplace ballots clearly shows."—[Official Report, 8 November 1983; Vol. 48, c. 160.] I wonder why it is, therefore, that at a time when the Government are about to withdraw the rebate scheme for trade union ballots, they have extended considerably not only the range of subjects covered by the obligation to ballot but the actual mechanism by which the ballot itself may be conducted. Why have the Government chosen this moment to withdraw the scheme?

The Government's case cannot be based on public expenditure criteria, as the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Riddick) suggested earlier. In the context of a debate about public expenditure, it is important to talk about the options available to the Department of Employment and not make comparisons between expenditure of the Department of Employment and the Department of Health, as the hon. Gentleman did.

If we are talking about the Department of Employment and its expenditure criteria and priorities, is it not extraordinary that, at a time when the Government are withdrawing the £4 million which is necessary for the conduct of the postal ballot introduced by a Tory Government, they are proposing to spend .£1.5 million of taxpayers' money on the ludicrous commissioner for the protection against unlawful industrial action? The House has never proposed to spend money on a more stupid and ludicrous proposal. The Government would rather fund fruitless litigation than promote democratic behaviour in the trade unions.

I believe, as do many of my hon. Friends—clearly, Conservative Members also believe this—that the Government's actions are aimed more at the next round of political fund ballots in the near future. The proposal is a naked and partisan use of legislative power to further their own perceived political interests. I wonder whether the Government's real hope is that the unions will not conduct the next round of due ballots and that their political funds will expire. Clearly, that would be to the political advantage of the Conservative Party.

In conclusion, this is not a sensible or desirable path for the House to follow, and we should reject the Government's proposals out of hand.

11.15 pm
The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. Michael Forsyth)

At least the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton) addressed the issue that we are debating tonight. The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) did not do so. Indeed, he made a disgraceful speech which I am sure, on reflection, he will wish in the morning that he had not made. I do not propose to respond to some of the matters that he raised because they are not matters for this debate.

Listening to the hon. Members for Barrow and Furness and for Holborn and St. Pancras and the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile), one might be forgiven for thinking that this scheme was one of the Labour party's most cherished initiatives from the 1970s—a piece of benevolence for which the trade unions are indebted to the Labour Party. As my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley) said, it is hard to believe that this is the same party whose members objected so violently to the introduction of the scheme in 1980.

On hearing tonight's reaction to the phasing out of the scheme, one might imagine that at the very least we received the support and gratitude of the Opposition when it was introduced. Far from it. The hon. Member for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth (Mr. Hogg) explained what he said in 1979. He replied to my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) by saying that, when he said that there was no need for this public funding, that reflected the fact that the trade union movement was larger and more able to pay its costs in 1979.

There is another quote from the same debate, from the hon. Member for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth: There is no case for the use of public money for this purpose. There is no demand from trade unions that such money should be used for the purpose. There is no public demand for spending public money in such a way."—[Official Report, 17 December 1979; Vol. 976, c. 123.] I agree with the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Norman Hogg

I am glad that the Minister reads my speeches. Rumour has it that he only ever reads the works of Adam Smith. At least this represents an improvement in his reading.

The point I made in 1979 remains valid. The trade union movement had an independence born of its strength in 1979 which does not now exist. The Minister is making a case for withdrawing this funding—[Interruption.] I am sorry that those on the Government Front Bench are getting excited. They should remain calm.

The Minister is saying that this funding should be withdrawn at a time when the trade union movement is much smaller than it was in 1979. That exposes what the Government are doing, which is turning the screw harder on the trade union movement. Any attempt to pretend that these ballots were introduced in a spirit of good will to the trade union movement is a lie.

Mr. Forsyth

The hon. Gentleman is arguing that the trade union movement is now a lame duck and should therefore have a public subsidy. What the hon. Gentleman said in 1979 was that there was no case for public money being used in this way—as well as the quote which was drawn to the attention of the House by my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham.

The Trades Union Congress cannot be described as anything other than a late convert to the scheme—if, indeed, it has ever been converted at all. Its policy was, as stated in its 1982 conference report, that Affiliated unions shall observe Congress policy and not seek or accept public funds for union ballots under the Employment Act 1980 ballot funds scheme. At least until 1986, the TUC was openly hostile to the scheme and tried to punish any unions which had the temerity to make use of it. The engineers union and the electricians union learned this to their cost, as they came perilously close to expulsion from the TUC for doing so. That is hardly a ringing endorsement.

The TUC has continued to fudge the issue. Despite all that we have heard tonight, the TUC has never endorsed the scheme—never, that is, until its vociferous protests after we announced that the scheme was to be brought to an end. We have all heard of deathbed conversions, but surely someone on the Labour Benches should have advised the TUC that these are supposed to come before and not after the moment at which death has been pronounced.

Many taxpayers would, I am sure, find it extraordinary to learn that part of their taxes is spent paying private organisations to comply with what are now, for the most part, the requirements of the law. I say to the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras that to understand why their money has been spent in this was we need to go back to 1980, when the scheme was established, and when the principle of industrial democracy in British trade unions was, to say the least, in its infancy. Postal balloting of trade union members was almost unheard of in 1980. Secret workplace ballots were not much more common.

The norm was that union business—including the all too frequent calls to strike and to take other industrial action—was carried out by a show of hands in the workplace car park, under the meaningful gaze of Shope stewards and the more militant union members. That was the context in which the ballot funding scheme was established. Its purpose was to encourage trade unions to adopt postal balloting at a time when this was very much the exception rather than the rule. The Government made no secret at the time of their wish to see much wider use of postal ballots for important trade union decisions. The Opposition and the trade union bosses opposed this. I doubt whether many ordinary trade union members would endorse such a stance now.

I remind my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham that the scheme was never intended to last for ever, and we never said that it would. During the 1980s the law was radically changed. Progressively and, it has to be said, in the clear absence of any willingness on the part of the trade unions to put their own house in order, the law gave union members the right to a postal ballot for electing their leaders and a secret ballot before they could be called out on strike.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

My hon. Friend is putting me in a slight dilemma, because during my year and a quarter as a Minister in the Department of Employment no one once suggested that the scheme was temporary. I put it to him that the regulation would go down slightly more easily if he said that he intended one way or another to continue funding the trade union education and health and safety work, which is also to be cut off. None of his arguments would apply.

Mr. Forsyth

My hon. Friend, as he told the House, is a member of the Transport and General Workers Union, which receives a quarter of the £4 million which has been provided under the ballot scheme, so I understand his concern. The trade union education and training grant is a separate matter. We have already said that we shall make additional funds available to the Health and Safety Executive to provide for training on health and safety.

The truth of the matter is that most trade unions refused to touch the ballot funding scheme so long as the law allowed them to deny their members a secret ballot. They only became interested in the scheme—and then only some of them, and only in the teeth of TUC opposition—when the law compelled them to acknowledge that their members had a right to vote in secret to elect their leaders sand before strikes. In 1985, 26 unions made applications, most of them not unions affiliated to the TUC. In 1992, applications were made by 80 unions. Like that of the Labour party, the attitude of the trade unions to the scheme has been a monument of inconsistency.

The issue comes down to the proper use of significant amounts of public money—taxpayers' money. In 1981 the ballot funding scheme cost £13,000. Today it costs £4.2 million. The House must ask itself whether that is the most effective use of public money in the current circumstances.

A total of £4.2 million is enough to pay for almost 3,500 cataract operations, or more than 1,000 hip replacements. The Opposition clearly find this of no interest, but I wonder whether, when people come to their surgeries asking about waiting time in hospitals, they will say that they prefer the money to go on a trade union ballot scheme. I am sure that I know where, given the chance to make a choice, the taxpayer would prefer his money to go—and it is not on buying stamps and stationery to help trade unions to hold ballots on matters such as strikes. The Opposition have argued—

Mr. Dobson

As the Chancellor is here, and as he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury at the time the deal was done, will the Minister ask him to confirm that the cost to the taxpayer of the deal not to tax rich people from abroad who are domiciled here was about 60 times more than the amount spent on these ballots?

Mr. Forsyth

I understand why the hon. Gentleman has spent the entire evening trying to avoid the arguments on this matter, and to change the subject to other matters. Until tonight, I had never known an Opposition spokesman who put down a prayer and then refused to address the reasons behind his prayer.

The hon. Gentleman has argued that the decision to phase out the ballot funding scheme is an attack on trade unions and that it will place an unreasonable financial burden on trade unions. I am totally unconvinced by the argument that trade unions will be unable to afford to comply with the law when the ballot funding scheme is phased out. After all, some trade unions have never used the scheme at all and continue not to do so. The National Association of Local Government Officers, with its 760,000 members, has never made a claim under the scheme, and neither has the Graphic, Media and Printing Union or its antecedents.

The unions which formed the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, which sponsors the hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras, might seem to many to typify the TUC's schizophrenic behaviour on this whole question. It was formed out of the National Union of Seamen, which made claims under the scheme, and the National Union of Railwaymen, which resolutely refused to do so. The merger of the unions led to even greater schzophrenia, with a claim made under the scheme despite a conference vote not to accept Government money for ballots. Current RMT policy, as the hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras—who is desperately trying not to look as though he is listening to the argument—knows, is anyone's guess. It would be interesting to have the hon. Gentleman's views on whether his union is still all at sea or off the rails on this issue.

I have already referred to the gross assets of the TGWU. The certification officer records that, at the end of 1990, the gross assets of the 300 or so trade unions amounted to no less than £777 million. Against that background, the argument that unions will face financial ruin because of the phasing out of some £4 million of Government subsidy—or that this ought to represent a priority claim on scarce public resources—is wholly unsustainable. I simply cannot accept that trade unions will be unable to cope without this subsidy.

It is a dangerous and fundamentally flawed argument, which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Holborn and St Pancras put, to suggest that because the law requires an organisation or an individual to act in a certain manner there should be a public subsidy to enable those affected to meet any costs which might arise from the requirements of the law. Because Parliament decides that seat belts should be compulsory in the rear seats of cars, the Government do not offer subsidies to car manufacturers or individual car owners to fit the belts. That would not be a proper use of taxpayers' money—nor is it any longer a proper use of taxpayers' money to subsidise trade union ballots.

The bottom line is this: trade unions have obligations which exist because they continue to enjoy privileges under the law. For unions to ensure that they comply with those obligations, it is not for the taxpayer to provide them with the resources to enable them to do so.

The trade union ballot funding scheme is a scheme whose time has passed. It was established to accomplish a particular purpose: to encourage trade unions to make postal balloting the rule rather than the exception. That encouragement is no longer needed. Trade union members are now balloted by post on numerous issues, and have a legal right to vote by post on the most important of these. The original purpose of the scheme has been fulfilled and there is no case for continuing this subsidy at the taxpayer's expense. It is right that it should be phased out, and I urge the House to reject the Opposition motion.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 239, Noes 290.

Division No. 199] [11.29
Abbott, Ms Diane Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)
Adams, Mrs Irene Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)
Ainger, Nick Burden, Richard
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Byers, Stephen
Allen, Graham Caborn, Richard
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Callaghan, Jim
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Armstrong, Hilary Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Ashton, Joe Canavan, Dennis
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Cann, Jamie
Barnes, Harry Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)
Barron, Kevin Chisholm, Malcolm
Battle, John Clapham, Michael
Bayley, Hugh Clark, Dr David (South Shields)
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Beggs, Roy Clelland, David
Bell, Stuart Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Cohen, Harry
Bennett, Andrew F. Connarty, Michael
Bermingham, Gerald Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Berry, Dr. Roger Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Betts, Clive Corbett, Robin
Blair, Tony Corbyn, Jeremy
Blunkett, David Corston, Ms Jean
Boateng, Paul Cousins, Jim
Boyes, Roland Cryer, Bob
Bradley, Keith Cummings, John
Bray, Dr Jeremy Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE) Livingstone, Ken
Dafis, Cynog Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dalyell, Tam Llwyd, Elfyn
Darling, Alistair Loyden, Eddie
Davidson, Ian McAllion, John
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral) McAvoy, Thomas
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) McCartney, Ian
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l) Macdonald, Calum
Denham, John McFall, John
Dewar, Donald McKelvey, William
Dixon, Don Mackinlay, Andrew
Dobson, Frank McLeish, Henry
Donohoe, Brian H. McMaster, Gordon
Dowd, Jim McWilliam, John
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Madden, Max
Eagle, Ms Angela Mahon, Alice
Eastham, Ken Mandelson, Peter
Etherington, Bill Marek, Dr John
Evans, John (St Helens N) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Fatchett, Derek Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Fisher, Mark Martlew, Eric
Flynn, Paul Maxton, John
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Meacher, Michael
Foulkes, George Meale, Alan
Fraser, John Michael, Alun
Fyfe, Maria Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Galbraith, Sam Milburn, Alan
Galloway, George Miller, Andrew
Gapes, Mike Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Garrett, John Moonie, Dr Lewis
Gerrard, Neil Morgan, Rhodri
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Morley, Elliot
Godman, Dr Norman A. Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
Godsiff, Roger Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Golding, Mrs Llin Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Gordon, Mildred Mullin, Chris
Gould, Bryan Murphy, Paul
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) O'Hara, Edward
Grocott, Bruce Olner, William
Gunnell, John O'Neill, Martin
Hain, Peter Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Hall, Mike Parry, Robert
Hanson, David Pendry, Tom
Henderson, Doug Pickthall, Colin
Heppell, John Pike, Peter L.
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Pope, Greg
Hinchliffe, David Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Hoey, Kate Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld) Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Home Robertson, John Prescott, John
Hoon, Geoffrey Primarolo, Dawn
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Purchase, Ken
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Quin, Ms Joyce
Hoyle, Doug Randall, Stuart
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Raynsford, Nick
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Reid, Dr John
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Hutton, John Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Illsley, Eric Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Ingram, Adam Rogers, Allan
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead) Rooker, Jeff
Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H) Rooney, Terry
Jamieson, David Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Johnston, Sir Russell Rowlands, Ted
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side) Ruddock, Joan
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn) Sedgemore, Brian
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O) Sheerman, Barry
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Keen, Alan Short, Clare
Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn) Simpson, Alan
Khabra, Piara S. Skinner, Dennis
Kilfoyle, Peter Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn) Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Leighton, Ron Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Litherland, Robert Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive Wicks, Malcolm
Steinberg, Gerry Wigley, Dafydd
Stevenson, George Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Stott, Roger Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Strang, Dr. Gavin Wilson, Brian
Straw, Jack Winnick, David
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury) Worthington, Tony
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Wray, Jimmy
Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold Wright, Dr Tony
Walley, Joan
Wardell, Gareth (Gower) Tellers for the Ayes:
Wareing, Robert N Mr. John Owen Jones and
Watson, Mike Mr. Dennis Turner
Welsh, Andrew
Adley, Robert Davis, David (Boothferry)
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Day, Stephen
Aitken, Jonathan Deva, Nirj Joseph
Alexander, Richard Dickens, Geoffrey
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Dorrell, Stephen
Amess, David Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Ancram, Michael Dover, Den
Arbuthnot, James Duncan, Alan
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Duncan-Smith, Iain
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Dunn, Bob
Ashby, David Durant, Sir Anthony
Atkins, Robert Elletson, Harold
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Baldry, Tony Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Evennett, David
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Faber, David
Bates, Michael Fabricant, Michael
Batiste, Spencer Fenner, Dame Peggy
Bellingham, Henry Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Bendall, Vivian Fishburn, Dudley
Beresford, Sir Paul Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Forth, Eric
Blackburn, Dr John G. Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Booth, Hartley Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Boswell, Tim Freeman, Roger
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) French, Douglas
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Gale, Roger
Bowden, Andrew Gallie, Phil
Bowis, John Gardiner, Sir George
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan
Brandreth, Gyles Garnier, Edward
Brazier, Julian Gill, Christopher
Bright, Graham Gillan, Cheryl
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Browning, Mrs. Angela Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Budgen, Nicholas Gorst, John
Burns, Simon Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW)
Burt, Alistair Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Butterfill, John Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Grylls, Sir Michael
Carrington, Matthew Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Carttiss, Michael Hague, William
Cash, William Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom)
Churchill, Mr Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hampson, Dr Keith
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif) Hanley, Jeremy
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Hannam, Sir John
Coe, Sebastian Hargreaves, Andrew
Colvin, Michael Hawkins, Nick
Congdon, David Hawksley, Warren
Conway, Derek Hayes, Jerry
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Heald, Oliver
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Hendry, Charles
Cormack, Patrick Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.
Couchman, James Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Cran, James Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Horam, John
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A) Pickles, Eric
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W) Porter, David (Waveney)
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Hunter, Andrew Powell, William (Corby)
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Rathbone, Tim
Jack, Michael Redwood, John
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Jenkin, Bernard Richards, Rod
Jessel, Toby Riddick, Graham
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Robathan, Andrew
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr) Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Kilfedder, Sir James Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
King, Rt Hon Tom Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Kirkhope, Timothy Sackville, Tom
Knapman, Roger Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Shaw, David (Dover)
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n) Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Knox, David Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Shersby, Michael
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Soames, Nicholas
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Spencer, Sir Derek
Legg, Barry Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Leigh, Edward Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lennox-Boyd, Mark Spink, Dr Robert
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Spring, Richard
Lidington, David Sproat, Iain
Lightbown, David Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Steen, Anthony
Lord, Michael Stephen, Michael
Luff, Peter Stern, Michael
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Stewart, Allan
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Streeter, Gary
MacKay, Andrew Sumberg, David
Maclean, David Sweeney, Walter
McLoughlin, Patrick Sykes, John
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Tapsell, Sir Peter
Maitland, Lady Olga Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Malone, Gerald Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Mans, Keith Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Marland, Paul Temple-Morris, Peter
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Thomason, Roy
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Mellor, Rt Hon David Thurnham, Peter
Merchant, Piers Townend, John (Bridlington)
Milligan, Stephen Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Mills, Iain Tracey, Richard
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Tredinnick, David
Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW) Trotter, Neville
Moate, Sir Roger Twinn, Dr Ian
Monro, Sir Hector Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Viggers, Peter
Moss, Malcolm Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Needham, Richard Walden, George
Nelson, Anthony Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Neubert, Sir Michael Waller, Gary
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Nicholls, Patrick Waterson, Nigel
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Watts, John
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Wells, Bowen
Norris, Steve Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Whitney, Ray
Oppenheim, Phillip Whittingdale, John
Ottaway, Richard Widdecombe, Ann
Page, Richard Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Paice, James Willetts, David
Patnick, Irvine Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Patten, Rt Hon John Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Wolfson, Mark
Pawsey, James Wood, Timothy
Yeo, Tim Tellers for the Noes:
Young, Sir George (Acton) Mr. Sydney Chapman and
Mr. Robert Hughes.

Question accordingly negatived.

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