HC Deb 15 February 1994 vol 237 cc812-52

[Relevant documents: European Community Document No. 9882/93, relating to the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament, and the Seventh Report from the Select Committee on European Legislation, HC48—vii of Session 1993–94.]

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

I beg to move, That the draft European Parliamentary Constituencies (England) Order 1994, which was laid before this House on 20th January, be approved.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse)

I understand that, with this, it will be convenient to discuss the following motions: That the draft European Parliamentary Constituencies (Wales) Order 1994, which was laid before this House on 20th January, be approved. That the draft European Parliamentary Elections (Changes to the Franchise and Qualifications of Representatives) Regulations 1994, which were laid before this House on 2 February, be approved. I shall deal first with the two constituencies orders which established new boundaries for European parliamentary constituencies. The orders give effect to the recommendations contained in the reports of the European Parliamentary Constituencies Committee for England and the similar committee for Wales. The committees were set up under the provisions of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1993 to carry out the task of determining the European parliamentary constituencies into which England and Wales should initially be divided to give effect to the increase that section 1 of the Act made to the number of constituencies.

Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock)

May I ask the Minister a straightforward question? There is a suggestion that France may not promulgate the additional seats that were agreed as part of the Maastricht negotiations. If that were so, and the House passed the orders today, would new primary legislation be required to reinstate the old boundaries?

Mr. Lloyd

The hon. Gentleman said that he would ask a straight question, to which I shall give a straight answer—no, it would not.

I will return to my line of explanation, and I remind the House of the background to the matter. Agreement was reached at the European Council in Edinburgh in December 1992 that the European Parliament should be enlarged by allocating additional seats to some member states. The primary reason for that was the large increase in the population of Germany, arising out of the reunification of that country. Eighteen extra seats have been allocated to Germany to take account of the increased electorate there. The United Kingdom received six extra seats under the agreement. Five of those have been allocated to England and one to Wales. The Government believe that that is the fairest distribution on an arithmetical basis.

Mr. William Cash (Stafford)

Can my right hon. Friend explain why, although the German Government made it clear in the run-up to the negotiations about the increase in the number of seats that they did not want the additional seats, subsequently, for reasons that have never been fully explained, we found that Germany had an additional 18? Can my hon. Friend explain how that came about?

Mr. Lloyd

I cannot tell my hon. Friend the ins and outs of the negotiations. Suffice it to say that the negotiations provided for extra seats for Germany, on account of the additional population that accrued to Germany from the reunification of East and West Germany. At the same time, the opportunity was taken to allot extra seats to some other countries, reflecting more closely the differences in population sizes of the various countries that make up the Community.

The two special committees to which I referred were set up in July 1993. They followed, as far as possible in the time available, the practices and procedures of the permanent parliamentary Boundary Commissions. Indeed, of the six members of the committees, five were members of the parliamentary Boundary Commissions, and they were appointed to the committees after consultation with the Opposition parties.

The committees had to work to a very tight timetable. They published provisional recommendations last September, and allowed one month for representations and counter-proposals to be made. Copies of all the counter-proposals and representations were then placed on local deposit in council offices, and a further period was allowed for representations to be made about them.

The committees made their final recommendations to my right hon. and learned Friend just before Christmas. In making those recommendations, they made it clear that they took into account the representations made and the views expressed to them, while complying with the statutory requirement that they should aim to recommend European parliamentary constituencies with as nearly as possible equal electorates. Although I recognise that they may not have pleased everyone—an aim which I think that the House will agree would be impossible to achieve—I believe that they have carried out their task in an objective and impartial way. The orders give effect, without modification, to their recommendations and I hope that the House will approve them.

Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills)

I apologise to my right hon. Friend for interrupting, but I wanted clarification of the previous point. I did not quite understand the answer given to the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay). If the French do not proceed, as they have said that they will not, what will happen to the status of our constituencies? Will we have the constituencies as they were before the additional six seats were created, or will we continue with the additional seats?

Mr. Lloyd

We are empowered by the orders to set up the new constituencies. They will not come into effect to enable the elections to be held in them until all the countries of the EC have agreed to the changes that are necessary to accommodate the new numbers of seats that countries will have. The 1993 Act has a commencement power within it. The commencement power will not be put into effect by my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary until he knows that the other countries have accommodated themselves to the new arrangements. If they do not, the commencement will not take place, and we shall continue on the existing boundaries.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Lloyd

I will give way to my hon. Friend in a moment.

It would create massive inconvenience if commencement did not take place. I see no real reason why the states that have yet to ratify should not do so. My hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) wanted to intervene with a further thought on the matter, so I give

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

I am curious to know whether the commencement order can be taken right up to the tape—say, the day before the elections? What will the time limit be on that?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, it could. It will be for the judgment of my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary how far to take it. He would have to balance the likelihood of other countries ratifying and the inconvenience of those taking part in the election here if uncertainty remains to the end, and perhaps have to revert to the current constituencies.

I hope and expect that these matters will be settled in the next few weeks. My right hon. and learned Friend will become increasingly concerned if there is no conclusion by mid-April. I think that hon. Members on both sides of the House may want to animadvert on when the last date should be. No last date has been set into the legislation; it provides only that, when ratification is required, the elections on the new constituency boundaries may, from the first day of the following month, take place under the new European rules. That means that a decision for an election in June will be needed by 1 May. It would be difficult after that.

Sir Teddy Taylor (Southend, East)

As my right hon. Friend is well aware, this is causing considerable concern among the small percentage of the population in Southend-on-Sea who are interested in European elections, because, instead of our being linked with Chelmsford, as we are at present, it is proposed that we shall be linked with Thurrock. My constituents would like to know what President Mitterrand wants. What price will we have to pay the French before they agree to this? We really do not know.

Mr. Lloyd

That question would be better directed towards the French, or possibly my colleagues in the Foreign Office. My understanding is that the French assembly has approved ratification, but the French Government are declining to append the appropriate signatures to it until agreement on the Parliamentary building at Strasbourg is completed. My hon. Friend, in true parliamentary form, asked a question to which he already feels he pretty well knows the answer. I suspect that my answer squares with what he knows already.

Mr. Geoffrey Hoon (Ashfield)

Following on directly from that point, will the Minister say whether the British Government support the attitude of the French Government? At the time of the Edinburgh summit, the British Government were wholly in favour of the agreement to require the European Parliament to meet in Brussels and Strasbourg. Therefore, I assume that an identity of interest exists between the British and the French Government on that question, because the French Government are maintaining their oppositioin to the six extra seats, simply because they want a new building constructed in Strasbourg. Do the Government support that position?

Mr. Lloyd

The British Government would like to see a resolution of these matters. Our precise position and attitude, and the assistance that we can give in reaching a conclusion, are much more matters for Ministers at the Foreign Office rather than myself. The hon. Gentleman invites me to tread in areas that do not belong to me and do not belong to the orders that are before us. They are not really relevant to whether we approve the orders.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Is not there a precedent for all this muddle—an opt-out clause?

Mr. Lloyd

There is, indeed, a precedent for the current situation: when the Labour Government were last in power in 1978, we had to set up the European constituencies. We had a limited time in which to do that. All the countries of Europe had to agree to bring forward the same kind of agreement and put it into effect at the same time.

Mr. Michael Spicer (Worcestershire, South)

I am becoming increasingly intrigued and want to ask my right hon. Friend a question to which I do not know the answer. I thought that I heard him say that some discretion was involved and that, if the French do not go ahead, the British Government will have some discretion. I thought that it was automatic that if the French do not ratify we shall not be able to ratify.

Mr. Lloyd

The original question was whether we would have to pass new primary legislation to revert to our present Euro-constituencies if the French do not go ahead. I said that we would not, because the Home Secretary would not put the commencement date into effect until he was certain that all member countries were on the start line, that the new constituencies could come into effect properly and that the MEPs could be elected.

I said that the Home Secretary would have some discretion when he imposed the commencement date. He would not merely bear in mind what is happening in Community countries and when they are commencing their changes, but would also consider the amount of time that we, the political parties and their candidates would need to run an efficient election campaign here.

Obviously, we do not want to be in two minds until the last day and we would not do that. There is, however, quite some time for discretion, but we would have to make a judgment as the time got shorter. I suspect that the time for a judgment would come in April.

Mr. Cash

My hon. Friend will remember that, in part II of the Maastricht treaty, entitled "Citizenship of the Union", article 8b states not only that citizens of the Union are given certain powers but that they shall enjoy the rights conferred by this Treaty and shall be subject to the duties imposed thereby. It continues: Every citizen of the Union residing in a Member State of which he is not a national shall have the right to vote and to stand as a candidate at municipal elections in the Member State in which he resides, under the same conditions as nationals of that State. It also states that the right "shall"—not may— be exercised … before 31 December 1994 by the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament; these arrangements may provide for derogation where warranted by problems specific to a Member State. My right hon. Friend is saying that some solution may need to be found to deal with the problem of the intransigent French. Apparently, the treaty lays down a requirement, which cannot be abrogated by any member state, and which can be enforced only by reference to the European Court of Justice.

In the light of the deep-seated concern of the French about Strasbourg and the European Parliament building, and the knowledge that that has such importance to the comity of voting and representation in the Community and the European elections, do the Government intend, by some means or another, to ensure that that matter is brought before the court so that it can be sorted out?

Mr. Lloyd

If I have followed my hon. Friend, I think that he is confusing two things. He began by mentioning the right of citizens in other member countries to vote in a country where they are not a citizen; we shall come to that when we discuss the regulations. However, that right does not enable anyone to take legal proceedings against France or the French Government for not ratifying the arrangements that would lead to the election of six additional Members of the European Parliament in this country and six more in France. Those matters are quite separate.

The purpose of the regulations to which my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) alluded is to extend to citizens of other member states of the European Union who are resident here the right to vote and to stand as candidates in elections to the European Parliament.

Our legislation on elections restricts the right to vote and to be a candidate to British and other Commonwealth citizens and to citizens of the Irish Republic. The treaty on European union signed at Maastricht, however, gave voting and candidacy rights to citizens of the Union who live in a member state without being a national of that state. Article 8b.2 related to elections to the European Parliament, which is the subject of the draft regulations. The regulations extend those electoral rights to citizens of the other member states of the European Union who are resident here, by making a number of technical amendments to existing legislation.

The overall aim of the draft regulations is, therefore, very simple. But the regulations themselves are somewhat long and complex—as those who have tried to read them will have noticed. The reason for the length and complexity is that our electoral legislation rightly goes into often minute details of prescription and practice. That level of prescription is valuable in safeguarding electoral procedures from ambiguity, but it means that even simple changes require complicated amendments to many legislative minutiae. That accounts for the complexity of the document before the House.

The general principle of article 8b.2 of the Maastricht treaty is that non-national residents in a member state should be treated, for electoral purposes, in the same way as the nationals of that state. The draft regulations seek to achieve that equality of treatment in practice, and we are not introducing of our own accord any requirements on citizens of other member states that we do not impose on our own citizens.

To register to vote, for example, a Union citizen must have been resident in Great Britain on the qualifying date of 10 October, or 15 September for Northern Ireland, in exactly the same way as British or other Commonwealth citizens. Citizens of other member states who wish to be candidates at the election to the European Parliament must also conform to the same nomination procedures as candidates have hitherto.

However, we are placing one or two small differences of procedure on Union citizens. These stem directly from the provisions of the EC directive implementing article 8b.2 of the treaty.

In mentioning the directive, I pause briefly to apologise to the House for the fact that the document was not made available at the draft stage. An unfortunate combination of human error and several failures of communication meant that the Select Committee was deprived of the opportunity to consider the directive at its draft stage. I have noted the Select Committee's report, which has been placed in the Vote Office in the usual way, and I acknowledge that the Government did not meet their scrutiny obligations with regard to this document in the normal way. I can only repeat here the apologies that have been made outside the House.

As I have said, the draft regulations impose on Union citizens a few minor differences from the procedures that we require of our own citizens. The main difference from our normal arrangements is that Union citizens will have to apply to register to vote and will have to do so to their local electoral registration officer by 29 March. We shall not be placing on electoral registration officers a duty to seek out non-British or non-Irish citizens for registration.

A further small difference is that we shall be requiring intending voters and candidates to supply information about their electoral rights in their home member states. Member states will be exchanging information on non-national electors and candidates, on the basis of the information provided, with the aim of preventing double voting or candidacy, and to enforce concurrently disqualifications imposed by a home member state. That requirement stems from the directive to apply the provisions of the treaty and is designed to meet the concerns of some other member states.

As I have said, the regulations seem complex, but they merely effect a simple extension of rights to vote and to candidacy, in conformity with our treaty obligations. I hope that the House will approve them.

4.13 pm
Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North)

I am glad that, at last—after some further delay—hon. Members have an opportunity to discuss the important matter of the boundaries on which the European elections of 9 June will be fought and the extension of the vote to European Community citizens in the United Kingdom for those elections.

The European project goes on. For many of the newer generations in the House it is no longer an article of faith but a part of the political landscape that has to be dealt with on merit. It is all the more ludicrous, therefore, that the Conservatives' internal divisions over Maastricht have led to a situation in which, in certain constituencies, candidates in the ever more important European elections are only now being selected—just 14 weeks before the election. Given the size of the European constituencies, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for candidates to be widely known and for an informed choice to be made.

As we argued throughout the proceedings on the European Parliamentary Elections Bill, the Conservatives are entirely responsible for the fact that the process of drawing up the new European boundaries had to be compressed into such a short time. They are also responsible for the fact that the boundaries were drawn up not by the independent Boundary Commission, but by the new European Parliamentary Constituency Committee.

It took from the Edinburgh summit in December 1992, when the current Prime Minister first announced the Government's intention to legislate on the issue, until 30 June 1993 before the European Parliament Elections Bill was given its First Reading. We all know that the reason for this inordinate six-month delay was that the Government could not be sure of carrying a vote on anything European in the face of hostility from its Maastricht rebels—those whom the Prime Minister famously dubbed the illegitimate ones.

I understand that even at this late stage the review could be overturned by the refusal of France to agree the new allocation of seats. We have already had an exchange suggesting that whatever we decide today might be overturned completely by the inability of the French to ratify their part of the arrangement. The Minister referred to that as a massive inconvenience. If we have to resort to fighting the elections using the old boundaries—with all the problems that that will create for the selection of candidates—it will be one of the greatest understatements ever, even in the House.

Opposition Members will seek to press the Minister still further on the latest developments in France and on what influence we can exert to ensure that, if we pass the orders today, they will become the basis of the European elections.

When the Bill was in Committee, the Opposition believed, as we do today, that, had the Government been more efficient in the organisation of their parliamentary business, there would have been sufficient time for proper public inquiries. We now that the organisation of business is not the Government's strong point at the moment. Whether it is being run ragged by their own rebels or clumsily breaking down the usual channels, our non-co-operation policy seems merely an extension of the one that has been working so effectively within the Conservative party under the present Prime Minister.

Amidst all that confusion, it is important that the procedures used in the parliamentary review should never be deployed as a precedent for future boundary revisions for Strasbourg or Westminster. We must be clear that it must be the exception and not the rule. If people are to have confidence in our democratic system, they need to be sure that the electoral boundaries on which our system operates are beyond reproach.

When the Bill last came before the House, I stated that I did not believe that the Home Secretary intended to fiddle the boundaries. Some felt that I was being generous to the Home Secretary, but in his case we should be prepared to understand a little more and condemn a little less. It was always our contention that not only should justice be done, but that it should be seen to be done by the due process of public inquiry.

We have enjoyed the public inquiry process for more than 50 years, and it would be most helpful if the Minister could tell the House that the Conservatives do not intend to sidestep the public inquiry on any future boundary proposals, European or otherwise.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

In any boundary changes we would like the full panoply of inquiry. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the timetable was short and we had to follow the model that had been provided by the last Labour Government in 1978 which had similarly to timetable the legislation, took a similarly short time for the reviews and where the normal inquiries had to be dispensed with.

Mr. Jeff Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr)

The Government wasted a year.

Mr. Lloyd

One could look back to 1978 and say retrospectively that the process could have been started considerably earlier. The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that it was not practicable to launch an inquiry while the European Communities (Amendment) Bill was winding its way through the House—although the processes were started before the governing legislation was on the statute book. I understand why Opposition Members wish to make their party points, especially those who were not in the House in 1978. That does not, however, apply to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker), who knows very well that a similar machinery was used then—as fairly, honestly and impartially as time allowed.

Mr. Allen

I am more concerned about future possibilities—not least the possibility that, if we fight the next European election on the first-past-the-post system, further boundary changes will be needed in the near future as a consequence of the proposals of the parliamentary Boundary Commission.

I hope that the Minister will assure the House that this was a one-off decision caused by time constraints. I shall deal with the reasons for those constraints later. It is sad that the party political considerations to which the Minister alluded—the difficulties experienced by the Conservative party in relation to the Maastricht Bill—caused United Kingdom boundary procedures to be tampered with. We are currently seeing a welcome expansion of democratic forms elsewhere in the world—for instance, in eastern and central Europe, and in South Africa; at the same time, we are witnessing the erosion of such forms in the United Kingdom. We—people in the country and, indeed, the House of Commons—are capable of deep complacency at a time when we should be ever vigilant about our democracy and the precious forms that it takes. An example is the public inquiry stage of the Boundary Commission procedures.

Sir Teddy Taylor

The hon. Gentleman is being rather unfair to Conservative Members in regard to their attitudes to Maastricht. As a Euro-enthusiast, does he accept that an opinion poll published by the European Commission three weeks ago showed that the Labour party's tepid support for Maastricht was wholly out of line with the views of the average Labour voter? It clearly demonstrated that the majority of people in Britain were opposed not only to Maastricht but to the notion that the European Community was a good idea at all.

Mr. Allen

I feel rather like a stranger walking in on a Maastricht annual reunion dinner. I do not wish to cross swords with the hon. Gentleman over the details of the Maastricht Bill, but I must tell him that the false divide between Euro-sceptics and Euro-fanatics does not appeal to a number of people—perhaps including some Conservative Members, who may be prepared to admit it. The new generation of Members of Parliament—on both sides of the House, I suspect—consider that we are now in Europe; we need to make the best of it and treat Europe on its merits, rather than reliving the battles of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The public inquiry process is no mere decoration; it has an important function. During the previous round of European parliamentary proposals, there were 10 European boundary inquiries, five of which overturned provisional recommendations because people's views were listened to in public. In Committee, on the Floor of the House, the Home Secretary admitted that a public inquiry stage would have added seven weeks to the boundary process. That could easily have been accommodated if the Bill had been introduced seven weeks earlier. The problem was not the extra seven weeks but the wasted 32 weeks between the Edinburgh summit and the introduction of the Bill. That delay was caused entirely by party political factors—Conservative splits over Europe in general and Maastricht in particular.

Mr. Richard Shepherd

The hon. Gentleman may not know, but perhaps the Home Office will be able to say how many EC nationals are presently registered to vote in the forthcoming election.

Mr. Allen

At the moment no nationals are registered. I shall return to that point, but I understand that, potentially, some 400,000 people could register.

The Labour party looks forward with confidence to the 1994 European elections, within whatever boundaries they take place. At the European elections in 1989, Labour took 45 seats to the Conservative's 32 seats. Labour Members are looking forward to the elections in June when the Conservative party, riddled with divisions and disagreements, will suffer further losses and Labour, we hope, will make further gains.

We all know that there is a fundamental divide in the Conservative party which no amount of packaging can camouflage. The packaging in the previous elections was not as good as it could have been. Perhaps the Conservative party will make a more serious effort in the European elections, given that a potential influence on the outcome of the next leadership contest lies in the balance.

In Europe, the Conservative MEPs are led by Sir Christopher Prout, who is the vice-president of the European People's party.

Mr. Cash

The vice-chairman.

Mr. Derek Enright (Hemsworth)

He is the vice-president.

Mr. Allen

A debate may take place on whether he is the vice-chairman or the vice-president, but my information, until it is corrected, is that he is the vice-president of the European People's party. The Conservatives have a rather ambivalent relationship with the European People's party. They sit with it in the European Parliament. They speak on the European People's party membership of committees—the only way in which they can find a voice in committees—and they take their share of the European People's party funding. There seems to be a close relationship between the European People's party and the Conservative party, if only on that circumstantial basis.

The European People's party manifesto calls for a single currency, a central bank, the incorporation of the social chapter, a common immigration policy and a constitution for the whole of Europe, all of which have been greeted by Conservative Members with great acclaim as concepts obviously close to their hearts. I wonder whether it will bear much relationship to the manifesto which is finally produced by the Conservative party before the next European election.

Mr. Keith Mans (Wyre)

I am certain that the hon. Gentleman would not like to finish his speech before mentioning the relationship between the Labour party and the socialist parties in Europe and its own manifesto.

Mr. Allen

I certainly would not dream of finishing my speech without a substantial mention of that close relationship, of which we are proud to tell people. It is a close relationship—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse)

Order. Before the hon. Gentleman goes any further, may I say that it would be of advantage to the debate if he returned to the subject of boundaries.

Mr. Allen

I shall resist the temptation to follow Conservative Members in what could have been an interesting line of debate.

Mr. Cash

Has the hon. Gentleman noted that on 9 February, only a few days ago, the European Parliament, through its rapporteur, Mr. Fernand Herman of the Christian Democrats group, together with socialist MEPs, endorsed a constitution which contains even worse things than the European People's party manifesto? Are the hon. Gentleman and his party to repudiate—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. My recent remarks apply to the hon. Gentleman as they do to the Opposition spokesman.

Mr. Allen

The bad news for the hon. Gentleman is that Mr. Herman is, in fact, a member of the European People's party—[Interruption.] With great respect, the hon. Gentleman said that Mr. Herman was a Christian Democrat. He is a member of the European People's party, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will take up that point with his Conservative colleagues who have close connections with the European People's party, as I made clear earlier.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, whereas all the Conservatives voted against the Herman report, the socialists voted for it?

Mr. Allen

I am grateful for that information.

It is important that I make clear the Labour party's position in respect of the article of the treaty of Rome which calls for uniform electoral procedures to be established for elections to the European Parliament.

Hon. Members will recall that the matter was raised during a debate on an amendment during the Committee stage of the European Parliamentary Elections Bill of 1993. We argued then that it was not feasible for an entirely new electoral system to be set up for the European elections in June 1994 and that it was silly to apply a different system for the additional six seats from that applying for the other 81. However, we also made it clear that as part of Labour's wider democratic agenda we would view sympathetically the notion of a plurality of electoral systems, which might include legislating for a regional list system of proportional representation for future European elections.

During a debate in the House on 7 July, I said: The Plant commission, established by the Labour party to look into electoral systems, proposed, as one of its many recommendations, a system of proportional representation—the regional list system—for the European Parliament. Its report said: 'Such a system could be used by an incoming Labour Government for the 1999 elections at the earliest.' That report was sent to our national executive committee. On 19 May the leader of the Labour party stated: 'The Committee concludes that different elected bodies can be chosen by different electoral systems. That is a view which I share and I support the proposals made both for a reformed Second Chamber and the European Parliament. The proposal on the European Parliament sensibly recommends consistency of voting for the one election that we share with other members of the European Community.'"—[Official Report, 7 July 1993; Vol. 228, c. 401–02.] The strong sympathy expressed at the time of the last debate on those matters was approved overwhelmingly by the Labour party conference last October. I state that for the record lest there be any misunderstanding of our position on the voting system. It also highlights the fact that the Government are yet again lagging behind even right-wing and Christian Democrat parties in Europe and are utterly isolated in their unwillingness to contemplate electoral change of any kind.

The European parliamentary constituency committees have now made their recommendations. We have a number of specific disagreements about the way in which boundaries have been drawn. In addition, hon. Members will remember that we called strongly for an additional Scottish seat. Nevertheless, we are generally satisfied that the English and Welsh constituency committees have done a thorough job and, on behalf of my colleagues, I pay tribute to those who served on them and discharged their responsibilities with great professionalism in circumstances made unnecessarily difficult by ministerial dithering and delay.

We live in dark days for democracy, days of Executive decree, 'Henry VIII' clauses and Bills being passed without proper parliamentary debate. I suppose that in that context we should be grateful that Ministers have not used their power to modify the recommendations of the boundary committees. It is a sad day when the House is grateful for not being abused, but it is just about all that we have to be thankful for until this wretched system is altered root and branch.

I deal now with the regulations that cover the enfranchisement of EC citizens resident in the United Kingdom. We welcome the change which allows EC citizens resident in the United Kingdom to vote in European elections. The regulations, which will give effect to the European Council directive of 6 December, will of course alter the long-standing position whereby only British and Commonwealth citizens and citizens of the Republic of Ireland are entitled to vote in European parliamentary elections. It is a sensible and a desirable change which is welcomed by Opposition Members. I understand—the Minister may correct me if I am wrong—that the order relating to local government elections and European community citizens will be before the House by the end of 1994.

The Opposition believe that extension of the franchise to EC citizens who are resident in Britain is a clear affirmation of our practical commitment to greater European co-operation and rights that apply to all European citizens. Consequently, we have been greatly worried by the Government's delay in bringing forward the legislation, which was adopted in draft on 23 June 1993 and became a Council directive on 6 December 1993.

It is indicative of the Government's approach to all matters European that every obligation under the Maastricht treaty appears to be discharged grudgingly and after unnecessary delay. Often the wheels appear to grind exceeding slow, especially where democratic change is concerned. It was in 1977 that the European Parliament first passed a resolution on voting rights in European elections. I hope that many of the pioneers of that time feel a sense of satisfaction this evening that the Bill and the orders are going through. It may interest them to know that in the past few months the European Parliament has agreed to press for a Bill of Rights for the citizens of Europe and for a written constitution for Europe. Who knows how quickly that may come to fruition?

The principles underlying that change are relatively straightforward. As the Minister has already said, article 8 of the treaty on European Union, passed last year, entitled "Citizenship of the Union", guarantees the right to move and reside freely in the territory of member states.

Mrs. Teresa Gorman (Billericay)

Is it not also true that the European Union or Community—whatever one likes to call it—also intends to introduce a compulsory identity card in the form of a smart card, carrying details of the citizen's health, but on which there will be ample room to put all types of other information?

Mr. Allen

There are no proposals in draft directive form or before the House on that matter, as far as I know. If that were proposed, Opposition Members would object to it strenuously.

Article 8b(2) provides that citizens of the union shall have the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament". At present, there are considerable disparities between the way in which the right to vote and the right to stand as a candidate are treated in various member states. On the right to vote, for example, the United Kingdom grants that right to all United Kingdom citizens who have been out of the country for less than 20 years, while Germany extends voting rights to all German nationals residing in another member country of the Council of Europe and those who have lived in a non-member country for less than 10 years.

Certain member states—Denmark, the Netherlands and Portugal—grant such voting rights only to those expatriate nationals who are living in another EC member state. There are also differences between the states on the ability of people to stand as candidates. The order that we are debating this evening will ensure that there is greater harmonisation in respect of elections to the European Parliament.

Mr. Christopher Gill (Ludlow)

When the hon. Gentleman became a Member of the House, it seemed to me that he challenged the establishment, and many of us welcomed that; it seemed to be a breath of fresh air. Now it seems that he has become entirely institutionalised. Can he explain that to the House?

Mr. Allen

Absolutely. I plead guilty. The hon. Member has found me out. I am totally institutionalised, and no doubt the hon. Gentleman will see the truth of that if and when the Jopling report is debated in the House.

The proposals also include additional checks on nationality to prevent multiple candidature and voting. Community voters living outside their home country will be required to meet the same qualifying rules of residence as any other national in that state. That is a reasonable principle, which we support. Regulation 4, rightly, creates an offence of standing as a candidate in more than one member state at the same election.

It is also right that there should be, in new rule 8(5), a declaration on the part of prospective EC candidates that contains details of nationality, address and last constituency in the home member state and evidence that the individual is not standing as a candidate in another member state. We also support the element of flexibility in the new arrangements whereby Community citizens have the option of voting in their country of residence or in their home country via a postal ballot.

While there is much to support, we need to draw attention to the Conservative's half-heartedness in one particular area, registration of voters. We note that the transitional arrangements that apply to the United Kingdom should enable the electoral registers to include as many EC citizens as possible. Regulation 8 authorises electoral registration officers to register relevant citizens of the union as European parliamentary electors. Regulation 9 requires the officer to publish a register of relevant citizens of the union entitled to vote. However, delay has meant that the ordinary electoral register is already published, so regulation 18 substitutes the publication date of 9 May for the European Community citizens register. Applications must therefore be in nine weeks from now at the very latest; in other words, by 22 April.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

I understand that the hon. Gentleman wants to establish that the Government have been extraordinarily dilatory, that there has been massive delay and that there are problems for electoral registration officers; but the regulations depend upon the directive. The directive was agreed and promulgated in December 1993. We have been two months in producing this very complicated set of regulations. That is not slow; it is moving with considerable speed.

Mr. Allen

The directive was promulgated when the Minister said, but it was hardly a bolt out of the blue. It had been around for some considerable time before that, and that excuse hardly applies to the delay in establishing the European parliamentary constituency committees. As the Minister knows well, it was merely a matter of seven weeks, the excuse being that had they had another seven weeks they could have had the public inquiry stage. In reality, there was plenty of time to do this in good order and without the present confusion over the candidatures and the existing European boundaries.

On the registration of electors, if we now have less than nine weeks from this evening for a possible 400,000 people to seek registration, it is essential that the Minister and the Department engage in a serious advertising campaign to ensure that people can exercise their rights. I should like the Minister, in his later remarks, to expand on what, if any, measures the Government intend to take to publicise EC voting rights for those 400,000 or so European citizens of voting age resident in this country.

Needless to say, other European countries are taking the job more seriously. There is an advertisement, for example, in a recent issue of The Guardian, and if my Dutch were a little better, I would quote it into the record, but I am afraid that it does not make very much sense to me. I understand, however, that, literally translated, it says that Dutch citizens in this country should contact their ambassador at 38 Hyde Park Gate and ask for the relevant forms in order to register for the election and vote in the United Kingdom. Our friends in the Binnenhof seem to have taken that a little more seriously than the Home Office has.

Similar exercises are being undertaken by other Governments, and there is a tremendous contrast between what they have done and what our own Government have done. No publicity whatsoever has appeared yet, and once again I offer the Minister the chance to tell us later in the debate how the Government are prepared to exert themselves on this matter and whether they want people to register. It is not clear whether this is part of some idea of the Government that people should not register, and the Minister needs to make this clear so that people outside hear the message. Nine and a half million people did not vote even in the last general election.

May I therefore ask the Minister, on another matter, to agree to the proposal that the right to a postal vote should be highly publicised in the RPF 9A form in the newspapers well before the closing date of 20 May, not least because many people will be away on holiday in the summer and some may well be involved in the D-Day celebrations.

It is self-evident that the Government are utterly unconcerned to carry out an obligation to which they are bound by a treaty freely entered into. The Minister must tell us how he squares this inactivity with regulation 9(3), which obliges registration officers to take reasonable steps to obtain information about who should be eligible to appear on the electoral roll.

The Government should declare a willingness this evening to put some energy or resources into maxirnising electoral turn-out among EC voters. The importance of ensuring a high turn-out among EC nationals surely warrants something more than the complacency and drift that has come to characterise the Government's whole policy towards the European Community.

Tonight the Conservatives have gone through the motions. Law and treaty demanded that boundaries be redrawn and EC citizens be given the vote. These statutory instruments fulfil that bare minimum, and it will be left to others to do the job well.

4.46 pm
Mr. Michael Spicer (Worcestershire, South)

I must confess that it is a matter of some indifference to me how many Members we are to elect to the European Parliament. If 81 is to be the new magic number, so be it, although I suppose that one must make a passing reference to the information which has come out in another place and been publicised this weekend in the press that, at almost £1 million a slug, Members of the European Parliament do not come cheap. I suppose that one should make allowances for the fact that they have three parliamentary buildings, they have to go on trips and they have to pay German rates for their bureaucracy, so there are exceptional factors and I would not want to make too much of that.

What I really want to put before the House is the question of what those Members of the European Parliament will do when they get there, and hence their cost-effectiveness.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. In this very short debate it may be advantageous to draw to the attention of the House the scope of the debate. It is confined to the desirability of the proposed boundaries for European parliamentary constituencies and the introduction of changes to the franchise and qualifications of representatives for use in parliamentary elections in the manner specified. If hon. Members will keep to that in the debate, it will be of great advantage to the House. It is a short debate and going outside its main scope leaves less time for other hon. Members to speak.

Mr. Spicer

I accept that ruling entirely, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but the point that I want to make—I assure you that I intend to speak only very briefly—is that, if we are trying to assess the correctness of the numbers for which we are going to vote and the boundaries associated with those numbers, it is perfectly fair to ask, as they go off from us, what they are going off into. I assure you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I do not plan to speak for more than two minutes and I hope that that will allow me to make a very brief point on this, because otherwise it is almost impossible—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am not allowing anything outside the scope of the debate.

Mr. Spicer

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for us to discuss the cost-effectiveness of Members of the European Parliament and the costs associated with them?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The simple answer to that is no, it is not in order.

Mr. Spicer

If we are not now to discuss the costs associated with electing a greater number of Members of the European Parliament and the boundaries associated with it, I have nothing further to say.

4.49 pm
Mr. Matthew Taylor (Truro)

I suspect that the brevity of the speech of the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Mr. Spicer) will be welcomed if only because a number of us were not sure how much time would be available for our speeches after those of the Front-Bench spokesmen.

I advance two specific arguments: the first relates to the overall boundary review and the second involves my county. If the proposals for electoral reform in the European Union had been adopted, today's debate would not be taking place and boundaries would not be a relevant issue. A common electoral system would mean that the citizens of the European Community could be properly represented. It is unacceptable in any democratic institution for a region to be represented in an unfair and undemocratic way which distorts the Parliament. Under paragraph 3 of article 138 of the treaty, a common electoral system is required.

Mr. Bernard Jenkin (Colchester, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In view of your previous ruling, is it in order to discuss different voting systems? Are we not discussing those eligible to vote and the parliamentary constituencies?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman can safely leave the matter for the Chair to decide.

Mr. Taylor

If the hon. Member for Colchester, North (Mr. Jenkin) pays attention, he will appreciate that the boundaries are the nub of the issue in terms of the electoral systems. The Commission should have been asked to address the principle of a common electoral system, to which this country is a signatory and towards which it has agreed we should aim. That system should have been introduced long ago, but sadly both Labour and Conservative Governments have preferred to ignore it for their electoral benefit.

The arguments that have been used to block the introduction of a fair electoral system in the United Kingdom Westminster elections should not block the reform of electoral procedure in Europe. The De Gucht proposals, which demand a common electoral system, have been passed by the European Parliament. They rest on the table of the Council of Ministers. It is common knowledge that the Government have shown the greatest reluctance to make any progress. Such reform is necessary.

It is a pity that the Government have not taken the opportunity of the change in the number of seats to bring a measure of proportionality to the British European elections. Even if the Government did not wish to take that opportunity for a full reform leading to a fair voting system, the extra six seats offered them the chance of creating a more proportional system by creating so-called additional member top-up to ensure that under-represented views gained their rightful place in Europe. They could have created a fairer system and avoided the problems such as trying to redraw boundaries at short notice before the European elections and of getting candidates in place. Given that even that partial reform has been rejected, Liberal Democrats cannot be expected to support the proposals.

I also want to deal with a narrower issue—how the proposals affect my county of Cornwall. I may be the only hon. Member to discuss a specific European seat in any detail, but the proposals are important to our region, as we have long argued.

The European Assembly Elections Act 1978 states: The electorate of any Assembly constituency in Great Britain shall be as near the electoral quota as is reasonably practicable having regard, where appropriate, to special geographical considerations. The relative importance given to the second half of that statement is crucial to the argument for a Cornish seat. There is strong evidence that Cornwall fulfils the requirements of those special geographical considerations.

The committee proposals for a Cornwall and West Plymouth European parliamentary constituency provoked an enormous response from those opposing the link with Plymouth. That has occurred on each occasion that the constituency has been reviewed. The late David Penhaligon argued for a separate constituency in 1978 and I argued for it in Select Committee in 1988.

The sheer weight of numbers of democratically elected organisations in Cornwall was the most important feature of those responses. Those organisations included the county council, all six Cornish district councils, the Cornwall Association of Town and Parish Councils and 48 Cornish town and parish councils. Those councils are run by various political groupings or, more importantly, by independent councillors at parish level.

Those organisations have responded with a united voice and have declared their support for a separate Cornish constituency. I think that all hon. Members will recognise that it is remarkable to achieve such widespread agreement among councillors working at different tiers and in different regions.

The responses are all the more impressive when one considers the short period for consultation on the proposals. The case for a Cornish constituency has also been supported by the business community and leading academics. Peter Fitzgerald, one of the largest manufacturing employers in the county, and chairman of the Cornwall Economic Forum, has emphasised the importance to local business of Cornwall having its own Member of the European Parliament. The Institute of Cornish Studies, the University of Exeter and even Cambridge university advanced strong arguments for a separate Cornwall constituency and many individuals took their views personally to the Commission.

I want to explain why Cornwall is a special case and why so many local people advanced that argument. There are five reasons: first, precedents exist for concessions on the electoral quota; secondly, Cornwall has a separate cultural identity; thirdly, it has a special geographical location; fourthly, it has economic needs; and, fifthly, Plymouth also has relevant concerns.

The criteria for the mean electorate size for a European parliamentary constituency have been used as a justification for ignoring Cornwall's case. Yet concessions that have led to the establishment of constituencies which do not meet the size requirement have been given to other regions because it is accepted that European parliamentary constituencies should be created along the lines of natural communities, with common identities and interests. Cornwall has a strong identity as a separate community. The present arrangement that links Cornwall with west Plymouth does not benefit either area.

Although the English review is being conducted independently from the rest of the United Kingdom, it is relevant to examine the overall picture. Northern Ireland returns a representative for every 384,000 electors and even on the mainland, there are marked variations. I understand that the proposed West Wales seat will have an electorate of only 400,000. The electorate in the Highlands and Islands seat is 310,000.

Cornwall's electorate of 372,000 is higher than that of the Highlands and Islands and virtually the same as that of Northern Ireland and West Wales. There are only 36,000 electors per Member of the European Parliament in Luxembourg and 161,000 in the Republic of Ireland. The size of the constituencyt is not the most material issue. The European Parliament has a wide range of electors per Member and, if Cornwall were to obtain its own seat, its electoral quota would not be extraordinary.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

What size are the Devon seats?

Mr. Taylor

A wide range of changes would follow. I accept that a change in Cornwall should not create an over-size Devon seat. We have argued from the first that any change should be part of the review and that Cornwall should not be considered in isolation.

Cornwall has one of the most rapidly growing populations in the country and it is expected that it will not remain much under quota for very long. It is estimated that the population will grow to 500,000 relatively rapidly. The electoral quota argument is not final. Other arguments run counter to the Commission's suggestions and its brief.

Cornwall has a separate identity with its own traditions, history, customs and language. Those attributes are firmly rooted in a Celtic past that bears more relation to Scotland and Wales than to Devon. There would have been objections if regions in Scotland or Wales had been linked with parts of England for the convenience of the review. It seems that Cornwall, which has a distinct and separate identity, continues to be ignored. The European Union recognises that special regard must be paid to areas with strong regional identities. Indeed, the European Parliament's resolution is specific on that point and I believe that the boundary commission has failed to take the opportunity to observe that requirement.

Thirdly, it is disappointing that the committee has ignored the well-defined geographical boundary of Cornwall along the River Tamar. That is still a substantial physical and psychological barrier between Plymouth and Cornwall. The Tamar bridge is the only road vehicle crossing for 23 miles from Rame head northward to Gunnislake bridge. Cornwall is almost an island, with natural boundaries fixed by the coastline and the River Tamar. It is effectively isolated from the rest of the country. That is often forgotten in conversation, when people tend to say, "I was in Bristol at the weekend, in your part of the world," forgetting that Bristol is nearer to London than it is to Cornwall. Indeed, for some Cornish people the distance between their home and Plymouth is longer than the journey from London to Bristol.

My fourth point is probably the single most important reason why Cornwall should be treated as a special case. It is not an emotional reason; it is the fact that there has been a failure to take into account the economic geography of the county. Plymouth and Cornwall have totally different economic identities, so European entanglement between them will be mutually economically detrimental. The economy of Cornwall is still heavily reliant for its income on traditional industries such as fishing, farming, tourism and mining. Plymouth relies mainly on the fact that it is a conurbation with a growing and diversified industrial and commercial base.

The two economies' distinctive and incompatible needs have been recognised in a development that occurred since the committee met. Europe's regional economic development programme has afforded Plymouth objective 2 status, which is targeted at areas fighting industrial decline. Cornwall, on the other hand, has objective 5b status, which is aimed at developing rural areas. That demonstrates the difference between the two. I do not oppose links where they are relevant. I argue for them, encourage them and defend them when I believe that they are important, but I do not believe in links that are irrelevant and unhelpful.

Cornwall is one of the worst black spots in the country for unemployment, poverty and other economic difficulties. It has one of the lowest gross domestic products in Europe. According to the Central Statistical Office's regional figures for Cornwall, the county is so badly off that in 1991 our GDP was only 73 per cent. of the national average. Devon's GDP was 87 per cent. of the national average. The different progress of the two areas is shown by the fact that in 1989 Cornwall's GDP was 75.6 per cent. of the average, so it has fallen comparatively, whereas that of Devon was 85.5 per cent. in 1989 and has since grown. The two areas have been moving in opposite directions. Their economic performance is divergent and they have a different set of problems.

Linking part of Plymouth with Cornwall will create a wholly artificial unit unrelated to geographical, social or economic reality. Indeed, the creation of a split within the city of Plymouth makes that divide even more stark. As Plymouth city council has been keen to point out, it is even clearer that that is not in the interests of Plymouth. Plymouth's interest is as clear as Cornwall's, and its natural links into south Devon provide the basis for a seat in which it could be better represented.

Cornwall needs a voice of its own to argue its case for regional funding to improve its infrastructure, reduce its unemployment and encourage its industry. Funds need to be directed at improving Cornish roads, rail links and other communications.

The Liberal Democrats oppose the basis of the review. We believe that at national level an opportunity has been missed, or perhaps ducked, to encourage the common fair electoral system to which this country is supposedly a signatory. But even if the chance for a fair electoral system has been lost, at least we should have played to what strength there is in a single-Member system and recognised properly the individual communities of the United Kingdom. That chance has been missed, and on that ground I do not believe that the review should take effect.

5.3 pm

Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills)

As the Government and the Opposition Front-Bench spokesmen want to introduce the measure fulfilling their commitments to the Maastricht treaty, I accept the methodology and precedents that the Government cite. They are indeed appropriate.

However, I must say briefly that the vote is no longer like the generality of the population voting for membership of a golf club in which we have varying degrees of interest. We are now trying to affirm citizenship through the vote, so the way in which we distribute the seats and the affirmation that we give through the vote will not relate to any of the sentiments expressed by the Opposition Front-Bench spokesman, the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen). Both he and the spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor), ally themselves to an outer reach of lunacy not shared by the general populace outside the House.

I understand that at the previous European election only 31 per cent. of the population could find their way to polling stations, although that may be because they were denied the Liberal Democrat's panacea for everything—proportional representation. There is a profound and deep argument that that system is no more representative and provides no truer a democracy than do single-Member constituencies. That is a legitimate debate and the parroting of proportional representation as the only way forward is inappropriate for serious people trying to discuss the matter. One understands why the Liberal Democrats wish to pursue the idea, but not necessarily why the Labour party wishes to do the same.

Mr. Campbell-Savours


Mr. Shepherd

This has a great deal to do with boundaries, as the hon. Gentleman well knows, but the essence of the argument is that the procedure is wholly inappropriate in terms of trying to attest citizenship through an arrangement of six additional boundaries into a union and a political state. That is the profound objection that Conservative Members have long expressed and it reflects the public mood in the country about the elections and the way in which the boundaries are drawn. In conclusion, we now have further evidence of the irrelevance of the House in reflecting and attesting to public opinion.

5.5 pm

Mr. Jeff Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr)

I do not wish to follow the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd), who is one of my parliamentary neighbours, but I believe that it is part of grown-up politics to ensure that the political opinion of a nation is adequately represented in the forums of that nation, whether they be this place or the European Parliament. For that reason, I make no bones about the fact that I wish that we were debating a different electoral system.

I did not wish to intervene in the Minister's speech because this is a short debate and I did not want to take up too much time. However, our electoral system, which is unique in Europe, means that our deadline will be different from that of all the other member states. They all use proportional representation with either national lists or large regional lists, so it is easy for them, even literally the day before, as the Minister said, to change the cut-off point. That will not affect the value of anybody's vote in those countries, but that cannot be the case with single-Member constituencies. For us, there will have to be at least 21 days; that is the rock-bottom minimum.

I suspect that the French have us over a barrel, and we shall have to cough up for the enormous expenditure on an extra building in Strasbourg which I believe is not needed—although I do not have the details of that argument.

I sincerely hope that these are the last boundary changes that we shall have to debate. It has been said that we may have to go through the process again, but I hope that we do not. I suspect that the wipe-out of the Conservative party in the European elections on 9 June may make even Conservative Members think that to save their own skins in future they had better start thinking about a fairer electoral system.

Indeed, I am sure that a unified system is on the way, and if we do not take it upon ourselves to act it will be forced on the House by Europe. That will be our own fault because we will have shirked our responsibilities. As my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen) said, the Labour party is now firmly committed, both by the voices of the leadership and by the votes and resolutions at our party conference, to a system of proportional representation for the European Parliament.

I hope that when the elections come on 9 June, and people argue about why they are voting for European candidates according to one set of boundaries rather than another, and why there are different rules for European elections—the registration will be different, allowing all kinds of "foreigners" to vote in European elections in this country—we shall be able to say that different arrangements will be made in future.

My second point, which relates wholly to this clutch of 18 articles plus a schedule, which the Minister did not have the time to go through in great detail, explains why I tabled an amendment to provide that the order should not be approved until the citizens of Gibraltar are represented in the European Parliament. I know that my amendment was not selected and I am not complaining about that. Far from it—I would never complain about the Chair. [Interruption.] I do not complain about the Chair and I would not do so. I introduced a Bill on this matter yesterday.

If hon. Members have read the orders, which run to at least 10,000 words, they will see that, by and large, all and sundry—citizens of the European Union—will be able to vote on 9 June. On one or two occasions, the Minister said that all citizens of the Union will be able to vote. However, that is not true. Citizens of the Union who live in south America, the West Indies or the Pacific, and are members of the French colonies, will be able to vote in the European elections. But citizens of the European Union who are members of the only mainland European colony belonging to this country—Gibraltar—will not have a vote. That is not right, fair or democratic.

For years, we have shied away from handling this issue. But the House now has total responsibility for the 30,000 citizens of Gibraltar. That is not the electorate—it is the total population. We continue to deny those citizens a vote, yet they are citizens of the European Union under our legislation, and they are accepted as such by the European Parliament.

It is wrong that the boundaries that we are talking about were not drawn—it could easily have been done—in such a way as to incorporate the 20,000 or so European Union citizens of Gibraltar who do not wish to be part of Spain and who will not be until it has been a democracy for 50 years or more. We could easily have given them a right to vote by absorbing them into one of the English constituencies. I accept completely what the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) said. It is absolutely right that the cultural and geographical identity of people matters to the European Parliament.

We have a responsibility to the citizens of Gibraltar. If they live in this country on a semi-permanent basis, and if they were here last October, they will have a vote, as will everyone else who is a citizen of the European Union. Peers of the realm who live elsewhere will also have a vote under these and previous regulations, whether or not they are in this country. It is wrong that citizens of France—it is remarkable that the French will be the cause of this whole edifice collapsing if we do not submit to their extra demands—who are living in the colonies in south America, the West Indies, and the Pacific will have a vote in the European elections on 9 June.

We cannot shirk our responsibility to the citizens of Gibraltar. We are denying them that responsibility, and it is time that the House addressed the matter.

5.13 pm
Sir Teddy Taylor (Southend, East)

I shall say three brief things about the boundaries. Before doing so, I must declare a personal interest. I have put my name forward to be considered as a candidate to stand for the Conservative party in the new constituency of South Essex. It is possible that I may not be selected, for all sorts of reasons. However, if I am selected, it may at least give the people of that lovely part of the world the opportunity of having the referendum that they never had on the Maastricht treaty because of the shameful way in which Labour Members were not willing to allow the people to have their say on that vital issue.

The first issue that I want to put to the Minister is: does this matter? My hon. Friend the Member for AldridgeBrownhills (Mr. Shepherd) rightly said that only 31 per cent. of the people bothered to vote, so why are we bothering with new things at all? Logically, we would ask why on earth, because the Germans are getting more seats and East Germany is being added to the Union, Britain should get more seats as well. It is very difficult to explain why we should have extra seats at all.

Another factor that we should bear in mind is that the great majority of people are not only not interested, but are hostile to the whole business. If hon. Members have looked at The European, they may have noticed that 53 per cent.—the highest figure ever—of all the people of Britain are now totally and completely opposed to the whole business of the EC; they do not think that it is a good idea. In that case, why should we have new boundaries?

There is a special interest in south Essex. The people are concerned that while the Government wanted to give aid to south Essex because of its unemployment, unfortunately that was stopped by two Commissioners. Mr. Van Miert and Mr. Millan. The Government requested assisted area status and objective 2 status for south Essex. That was turned down by the two Commissioners simply because we sliced 2 per cent. from the application.

Can the Minister give any more assurance that the orders will come into effect? Has he been in touch with the French Government? It is important that people in, for example, Southend-on-Sea should know where they are going. If the new regulations are passed, they will be part of a new seat. However, if the regulations do not come into effect, they will belong to another seat. As Southend-on-Sea had the lowest recorded percentage voting of any constituency in England at the last European elections, it is important to explain to people whether all this is likely to happen.

People are getting more concerned about the way in which the French Government are disrupting so many worthwhile things for silly reasons. The GATT negotiations were held up for a long time simply because the French wanted even more cash for agriculture—and, of course, they got it. When we are spending £250 million a week on dumping and destroying food, it is silly that we agreed to give more money to the French for agriculture.

Mr. Enright

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the GATT negotiations failed in the end because Caribbean bananas were not protected?

Sir Teddy Taylor

It would not be in order for me to go into that, but I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman. The filthy protectionism of the common agricultural policy forces up the price of food by £28 a week for the average family in Britain.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I must insist that we get back to the boundaries. I have insisted on that repeatedly this afternoon and I thought that hon. Members had got the message.

Sir Teddy Taylor

You are absolutely right, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wish that hon. Members would not raise such irrelevant points. The hon. Gentleman's argument; is rubbish. It is bad for the third world and bad for the people of Europe. I shall be glad to give the hon. Gentleman an answer outside the House, but I cannot give it here.

I ask the Minister to tell us what we will have to do on these new boundaries. I understand that the European Parliament has many buildings. It built a great building in Brussels at enormous cost, and it wants a new building in Strasbourg. It is now paying rentals of £24 million a year. Frankly, if we want these new constituencies, including South Essex, it seems that we will have to tell the French that they have lots of money to build lots of new buildings for this ridiculous Parliament. In voting for the new boundaries, we will have to decide what we want to do. Will we simply chuck out these extra six constituencies and tell the French that we will not agree to silly extra expenditure, or will we cave in, as we have done so often?

Hon. Members should bear in mind the cost of caving in to French blackmail. We did it over the GATT negotiations at great expense to the people of this country and Europe, and at great damage to the third world. It seems that if we agree to the new constituencies, we will do it only by having additional buildings which are an utter waste. Honestly, I think that our constituents are distressed about the waste, the fraud and the mismanagement of the EC.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

Of course, the buildings are all related to these orders, which provide that MEPs can be elected in the first place. It is interesting to note that if agreement cannot be reached, as is the position at present, in what is called the European Union over where the Parliament will sit—one would have thought that agreement could easily be reached on that matter—what on earth is the possibility of reaching agreement on much more substantial matters? We are supposed to believe that the European Union is one—that it is all unanimous and the rest of it. There does not seem to be much evidence of that, even on the question of where MEPs will meet.

Sir Teddy Taylor

How right you were, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to say that I could not go into this matter, because it is out of order. On the other hand, if the hon. Gentleman looks at the basic policies he will see that the flaw of the EC is that it cannot solve problems.

All the new Members of the European Parliament whom we are sending over should bear it in mind that they are going to something where problems cannot be solved. An ideal example is the common agricultural policy, where reform after reform is talked about, but nothing happens.

My final point is that expenditure is at an all-time high, mountains are at an all-time high, and the gap between consumer prices and world prices is the highest ever recorded. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said to me that a sum of £28 a week extra per family—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is testing my patience now. I must insist that he, and hon. Members who make interventions, should stay within the terms of the debate on the boundaries.

Sir Teddy Taylor

How right you are, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have been trying hard to stick to the regulations. Unfortunately, hon. Members can ask a direct question and if one does not answer, it gives the impression that one is ignoring them. The hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) attends European debates with great regularity, and I will be only too glad to speak to the hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Enright) to clarify the matters.

My final point is important. Bearing in mind the fact that so few people bother to vote, is there any possibility that, before the regulations come into effect, a little pamphlet can be distributed which says exactly what the additional MEPs—and the existing ones—actually can do? In the progress of democracy, people can sometimes gain the impression that the European Parliament can do things which it cannot. Many people who study it carefully take the view that if it closed down tomorrow, nobody would notice apart from the taxi drivers in Strasbourg.

People ask whether anything can be done by the European Parliament about the export of live cattle—the answer is no. They ask whether the flood of legislation can be stopped—of course not, as it goes through by majority vote in the European Council.

Do we need the order at all? Why should we have extra seats just because Germany is getting more? Are we to cave in to French blackmail again, and what will that cost us? We are to send even more people to Strasbourg, Brussels or anywhere else, and the people of Britain are becoming more worried, concerned and perplexed about the EC. [Interruption.] That is particularly the case in places such as the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes), where they take a special interest in public affairs. They want to know what is going to happen, and whether it would make any difference if there was not a European Parliament at all.

5.23 pm
Mr. Geoffrey Hoon (Ashfield)

I am delighted once again to have the opportunity to follow the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) in a debate on European matters. I wish him well in his efforts to become a candidate for the forthcoming European elections, and I am looking forward to seeing a copy of the election manifesto on which he will fight those elections. I am also looking forward to seeing how it will be possible for the Conservative party to have a manifesto that both the hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath) will be comfortable with. No doubt that is a matter for the Conservative party.

The great advantage of having a fixed date for the European elections of 9 June—a date well known for a considerable time—should be certainty for the electorate. The electors should know not only the date of the election but the geographical boundary of the constituency in which they live. They should also know the candidates from whom they can choose and the number of MEPs who will represent the United Kingdom. However, even if the House agrees the order, none of those issues will be resolved.

There is a temptation—I regret that the hon. Member for Southend, East succumbed to it—to blame the French, and the French Government, for the present uncertainty. That assertion needs to be examined a little more closely, because the British Government are not without blame in the matter.

The issues affecting the forthcoming elections should have been resolved at the Edinburgh summit during the British presidency in December 1992. It was decided at that summit that Germany would have an extra 18 seats and that France, Italy and the United Kingdom would each have an extra six seats. In addition, however, the Government went along with the French Government's demand that Strasbourg should be recognised as a meeting place for the European Parliament in perpetuity. The British Government agreed to that demand, and that has caused the present difficulties and uncertainties.

The Prime Minister came back from the Edinburgh summit and told the House that he was entirely happy with the negotiations and with the results of the summit. In so doing, he overlooked two crucial aspects of what was decided there. He overlooked the fact that the European Parliament had consistently voted for Brussels as a meeting place. The Parliament was often led by Conservative MEPs on the issue, and they had argued strongly that Brussels should be the single meeting place for the Parliament.

Clearly, there are MEPs who support Strasbourg as a meeting place, but the majority do not; they want to meet in a single city. In so doing, the majority have accepted that there should be a new European Parliament building in Brussels. That building now operates, but on a limited basis. During 1994, it is likely that only eight half-day meetings of the full European Parliament will be in Brussels.

The Prime Minister also overlooked the fact that the existing chamber in Strasbourg is simply not large enough to accommodate the extra MEPs who will be elected. Those extra MEPs will come as a result not so much of the Edinburgh agreement as of the enlargement which is in prospect. That idea has been strongly supported by the Government.

The Government have supported the idea of Strasbourg as a permanent meeting place for the European Parliament. The proposals for the boundary changes are affected by the decisions of the French national assembly and the French Government to make life difficult for the other member states in terms of ratifying the proposals. It is right that we should ask what the Government's position is.

I asked the Minister earlier about this matter, and I appreciate his difficulties. He is a Home Office Minister, rather than a Foreign Office Minister, and I quite understand that he is reluctant to stray too far from his departmental portfolio. The Government agreed that the European Parliament should continue to meet in Strasbourg, but we heard nothing from the Minister as to where the money should come from to make that commitment a reality.

I am sure that every Conservative Member would say that the uncertainty about the present boundaries is the responsibility of the British Government, and they should sort out which boundaries will be in place by 9 June. The reality is that the British Government have gone along with the arrangement of having Strasbourg recognised as a seat of the European Parliament, and they have done so without recognising that there will be a cost.

Conservative Members have consistently criticised the European Parliament for having a number of buildings from which to operate, and they are right to do so. That is not of the making of the European Parliament, which would be delighted to hold meetings in the new building in Brussels. The truth is that the British Government—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. This is all very interesting, but can we hear something about the boundaries?

Mr. Hoon

I will certainly stay in order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Even if we pass the proposals tonight, the British electorate will not know in which constituencies they will vote on 9 June. The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) gave an illustration by referring to his European constituency. If I may, I will give a similar example in my area. The European constituency of Derbyshire and Ashfield will be divided into three different sections if we pass the order. A series of new constituencies will be created across the east midlands, and the electorate will expect to know who the candidates are. The political parties are selecting the candidates in preparation for the elections. There will be an extra constituency in the east midlands as a result of the order. At some stage, the political parties will have to select new candidates for the six extra seats across the United Kingdom. That is under way. The political parties' processes for choosing candidates are an important part of our democratic process.

The political parties undertake considerable organisation in selecting candidates. I assume that that is the case for the Conservative party. I know that it is for the Labour party. I assume that the same is true for the Liberal Democrats and other parties represented in the House. It will cause astonishing confusion among the electorate if the parties undertake the selection process only to find a few weeks before 9 June that, as a result of the difficulties with the French Government's attitude to the elections, we have to revert to the existing arrangement and the new boundaries cannot be put in place. The Government will seek to blame that on the French.

It is important that the record is set straight about the French Government. The British Government not only went along with the agreement at the time of the Edinburgh summit but positively endorsed the arrangement and urged it on other member states of the European Community. That is a relevant matter, with respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I appreciate that other issues relating to the constituencies are of greater concern to right hon. and hon. Members. However, who is to pay for any new building for the European Parliament is a matter that the Government cannot avoid.

I appreciate the Minister's difficulty. He represents the Home Office, which has no specific responsibility for Europe. Nevertheless, the matter affects the electorate and the House should take note of it.

5.31 pm
Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)

I rise to sum up the debate for the Opposition. We welcome the orders, delayed as they are and besmirched as they are by the usual examples of Government incompetence. The Government failed to send them to the Scrutiny Committee in the proper manner and to allow the usual processes to take place; that is par for the course these days.

I particularly welcome the order relating to Wales because it confers on Wales one additional seat, giving us five altogether. That reflects the rise in the Welsh population in the past 10 years. Wales was underrepresented under the previous distribution of seats. We had only four seats. We shall be slightly over-represented when we have five seats because we cannot have four and a half seats—it has to be one or the other.

As the Welsh population is continuing to grow rapidlly, it is likely that the over-representation will be put right. In percentage terms, the Welsh population is increasing more rapidly than that of England. By the year 2001, when the next review will take place, we shall certainly fully occupy that seat—if I can put it that way—in terms of average size. In the past 10 years, Welsh Euro-constituencies were slightly larger on average than those in England. So we are moving from under representation to slight overrepresentation for a temporary period simply because Wales is regarded as indivisible for the purpose of Euro-elections. That is why we welcome the debate.

Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall)

I am listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman's argument. Obviously, the integrity of Wales is important to him; otherwise, he would presumably be prepared to accept that part of England could have gone with one of the new seats. Will he deal with the fact that, because the orders for Wales and England are taken separately, it is not possible to apply the quota in the same way in different parts of the United Kingdom? Wales has been given a different quota to that for England, and because Cornwall has been included in England for this purpose we are being unfairly treated while Wales is being generously treated. Would the hon. Gentleman care to comment on that inequality?

Mr. Morgan

Cornwall is a special case. The people of Cornwall are our Celtic cousins. Cornwall is the only non-Anglo-Saxon county in England. As a result, we feel a strong, almost uncle-nephew relationship with Cornwall. The Cornish are certainly not Welsh, but nor are they Anglo-Saxon English. We have a great deal of sympathy with Cornwall. However, we do not think that the ideas that have been floated tonight for a Cornwall and Gibraltar, West seat or some link between Cornwall and the tail end of a Welsh seat are practical. The hon. Gentleman must solve the problem within the confines of Cornwall being regarded as part of England, if not Anglo-Saxon England. It is not a problem with which I can deal.

Wales takes an interest in Europe that most of the Conservative Members who have spoken—in summing up the debate, one has to refer to them—have not been able to show. A definite anti-European theme came through in he speeches of most of the Back-Bench Conservatives who took part in the debate. It is difficult to sum up the debate without some reference to the points that they have made.

Their attitude is in complete contrast to the attitude that we in Wales have to Europe. We are anxious to promote the Wales in Europe theme, because it is important to us. We have built up links with other regions of Europe, including Catalonia, Rhône-Alpes, Lombardy and Baden-Wurttemberg. They are our strong neighbours and they can teach us a lot about industry. Those are the areas with which we want to link up by having the extra seat in the European Parliament.

We have some sympathy with the occasional point that is made by the anti-Europe Conservative Members. There is an excessive proliferation of European bodies. We have the European Parliament, the new Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee. In the end, something will have to be done to sort out that excessive proliferation.

We welcome the recognition of the fact that the population of Wales is growing. The additional population is not primarily in industrial south Wales, which people think of as the most typically Welsh area. It is in the two counties of Clwyd and Dyfed which are growing more rapidly as a result of the life style there and retirement migration. That is why the additional seat is the Mid and West Wales seat. It has been taken from the four previous seats.

The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) compared it to parts of Cornwall. The new Welsh constituency has a population of only 401,000. However, it is an extensive seat because the population is much more sparse than in Cornwall. The constituency will stretch from south of Milford Haven to the Llanrwst area, within about 20 miles of the north Wales coast. It will include two whole counties plus one additional sparsely populated area in the county of Gwynedd. It is an awkward constituency, but we look forward to fighting and winning it, to give us five out of five seats, when the new boundaries are accepted.

The third order deals with the registration of overseas voters. In the 1992 election, overseas voters had their first opportunity to participate in Westminster elections. The Conservatives in Wales have taken the principle much further. They do not merely allow overseas voters to participate in Welsh elections; they encourage them to become chairmen of our quangos. We have David Rowe-Beddoe, the chairman of Conservatives Abroad—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I do not want to hear anything whatever about quangos. I want to hear something about the boundaries of the European parliamentary constituencies.

Mr. Morgan

We are dealing with three orders. The third order relates not to boundaries but to the registration of overseas voters, to enable them to vote in the European parliamentary elections for United Kingdom constituencies. That is why the position of Mr. David Rowe-Beddoe, as the chairman of Conservatives Abroad in Monte Carlo, is relevant.

For the first time, the European Parliament, with the new constituency boundaries, will be able to remedy part of the democratic deficit. European Members of Parliament will have a voice in choosing the chairman of the European Commission—which is a Euro-quango, in a way. I see a parallel which I want to put to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We are remedying the democratic deficit in the giant Euro-quango in the same way as we would like to remedy the democratic deficit with respect to the proliferation of quangos in Wales.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. That is all very interesting, but let us now talk about the boundaries of the European parliamentary constituencies.

Mr. Morgan

We have heard a great deal about how the bigger European Parliament needs to be incorporated in a bigger building at a cost of £200 million. The extra European Members of Parliament—we shall have one in Wales—would not have anywhere to sit if they could not go to the building in Strasbourg. The Labour party accepts that, if there is to be a bigger Parliament, the logical consequence must be followed right through. That is unlike the attitude that has been displayed by the Conservatives. They are going to take part in the election, but one is never sure whether they are enthusiastic about it. The hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) said that we do not want the additional six seats. The hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Mr. Spicer) said that he did not give a damn whether it was 81 or 87. The Labour party thinks it important to have the additional six seats.

I can well imagine that, if the Germans had said that they wanted all the additional seats in the European Parliament, the Conservatives would have complained about the Germans grabbing all the sun beds and European seats. That would have been seen as not right, as well.

The Labour party does not share that hypocritical attitude. Either the Conservatives want to be part of Europe, in which case they should take part in all the boundary changes and the debate tonight in an enthusiastic way—as we are doing—or they do not. They are completely hypocritical about it. We read in The Guardian only last Saturday of the extraordinary visit to the new European Parliament building by members of the Commons-Lords hockey team. The article said: Some MPs turned up with young relatives or assistants including a tall blonde in her mid-twenties who was clad in jodphurs"—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. We have had quite sufficient about that. Let us get back to the European boundaries.

Mr. Morgan

It was a terribly brief point about being clad in jodphurs, riding boots and hacking jacket.

I have heard about riding roughshod over Europe, but that is ridiculous. Hon. Members who took part in that visit to the European Parliament took public money, yet all they do tonight is criticise its existence. Either they—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is trying my patience. Please get back to the European boundaries.

Mr. Cash

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You will have observed that hon. Members on the Front Benches have spoken at incredible length and that you have had to reprimand them—certainly the Opposition—for going away from the subject matter. Do you not believe that it would have been far better to allow some Back Benchers to get into the debate?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I have no control over the length of speeches, but I am perfectly able to control the debate.

Mr. Morgan

The Labour party believes that the additional six seats are important because the European Parliament elections will be important. We regard it as important to fight the elections on the new boundaries with the minimum of delay, in spite of the delay that was caused by the Government's incompetence. We regard the debate tonight as important to approve the orders. We cannot thus far work out whether the Government will fight the whole campaign on "back to basics" while the European Peoples party will fight it on the basis of some other manifesto—"Vorsprung durch technik". Perhaps the Government will try to merge the two slogans into "Vorsprung durch back to basics".

We do not know whether the Government want to be part of Europe and whether their Back Benchers will be willing to co-operate with the EPP. They take the money from the EPP but do not want to participate with it in its manifesto. The Labour party has an agreement in fighting the 87 seats. Certainly in terms of Wales, we will win all five of the seats.

5.42 pm
Mr. Peter Lloyd

I am sorry that some of my hon. Friends have not been able to speak, as I would have liked to hear them.

I will use the few minutes that are left to me to comment on some of the points that have been raised. I shall start with the remarks made by the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen). I was grateful for his tribute to the members of the two boundary committees. They did an excellent job. They did it—as he implied slightly less generously to the Government—in a considerably shorter time than they and we would have liked, but they did it well and fairly.

In organising the new seats, we have taken about the same time as the Labour Government took in 1978. Although I said that earlier, it is worth repeating for the record. Exactly the same pressures were on us as were on them. The timetable for the constituency changes and the problems that we are facing are nothing to do with any action in the compass of the British Government, but because France has yet to ratify. One hopes that it will.

The regulations about candidates and voters from EEC countries are complicated. The directive of December 1993 contained details that we were neither expecting nor looking for, so there was a great deal of new work to take on board. The hon. Gentleman wondered whether we would ever have a truncated view again. We certainly will not under the 1993 legislation, because that was one off, as careful reading of it will show.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) hoped that there would be no more reviews of European boundaries. He was talking about proportional representation. We shall certainly have one new review of Euro constituency boundaries. As soon as the parliamentary boundaries are completed there will have to be a new review of all the European seats. Full inquiries on that will be held in the normal way.

Mr. Allen

If the French do not ratify the proposals, which now appears likely, how late can the Minister leave it before he informs people that they must fight the European elections on the old boundaries, not the new?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not accept that the French are unlikely to ratify—rather the contrary. That remains finally for them and not for me. I think that the final time comes some time in April; otherwise, there would be—I use the term again—massive inconvenience for those fighting the elections here.

Mr. Jenkin

Will my right hon. Friend take the opportunity to repudiate the comments made by the hon. Member for Perry Barr, who said that we will not have an alien voting system inflicted on this country by the institutions of the European Community? I reiterate what my right hon. Friend said in a meeting last year: I do not see that uniformity means adopting a system of proportional representation, and I have yet to see a good case as to the merits of the different states adopting the same procedure. Will we continue to veto any proposals that do not match our culture in this country?

Mr. Lloyd

What my hon. Friend has just read out is certainly my view. We will of course engage in any discussions on this subject that come up in the Council of Ministers. But it would take a lot to convince me and my colleagues that any other form of election would be an improvement on first past the post.

Mr. Enright

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Lloyd

I will not give way, because I have only about four minutes left and I want to make a couple of other points. If there is any time left, the hon. Gentleman shall have it.

The hon. Member for Nottingham, North said that he was not looking to proportional representation for these elections. He was absolutely right. I hope that he will invest his thoughts in that piece of good sense when we come back to these questions later.

I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Mr. Spicer) was unable to make all of his points, as I would have been interested to hear them.

The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) talked about PR. He thought that, if there was proportional representation for this election, it would save time. It most certainly would not. We would have to decide on the system and who drew up the list. Would it be a United Kingdom list or a regional list? Or would it be one of the separate countries that make up the United Kingdom? There is a huge amount of discussion to be had there. It is not a missed chance at all.

The hon. Gentleman wanted a separate seat for Cornwall. Many other counties would like a conterminous seat—I know that Norfolk would—but the rule is that constituencies should have, as far as possible, equal numbers of electors.

The committees were able to take in special geographical considerations, but those do not apply to Cornwall. The problem with Cornwall having a seat of its own is that its population is too small. No brief was given to the committee. All the criteria that it should have taken into account were included in the legislation. The hon. Gentleman referred to the Highlands and Islands. That is a different matter, because the geographical considerations that do not apply to Cornwall apply in their case.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) also spoke about PR. I have mentioned that, so he will excuse me if I do not go over his remarks.

I have considerable sympathy with what the hon. Member for Perry Barr said about Gibraltar. I cannot deal with that matter in this debate. I am afraid that a decision was taken within the Community which was made part of the European Community Act on direct elections of 1976 and there is no way that we can change it without the agreement of all the other members of the Community. I know that my colleagues at the Foreign Office are extremely concerned about that matter, sympathise with what the hon. Gentleman said and certainly sympathise with the feelings of the citizens of Gibraltar.

My hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) asked whether all this mattered. In the sense of whether it matters if there are 651 Members of this House rather than 640 or 655, no it does not. However, the change reflects rather more accurately than the previous arrangements the various sizes of electorates in European countries, and that is the logic and sense behind it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East also aked whether I had been in tough with the French Government. I am flattered that he should think that I might help be doing so, but that matter lies with the Foreign Office and I am not able to intervene.

My hon. Friend also wanted to know what the job of a Member of the European Parliament entails. He is applying for a Euro-seat, and I wish him the best of luck. When he has been there a little while. Perhaps he will come here with all the authority of a MEP and tell us the answer to his question

The hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Hoon) referred to the positioning of the European Parliament and to where it should meet. There are three sites. The British Government regret the inconvenience and expense and would like a sensible resolution, but they knwothat matter will be resolved only through unanimity—as the hon. Gentleman knows—and they do not expect that in the near future, although they will work for it.

The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) replied for the Opposition. I am glad that he is pleased that Wales for an extra seat—

It being two hours after the commercemnt of proceedings on the motion, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question pursuant to Order [11 February].

The House divided:Ayes 368, Noes 71.

Division No. 124] [5.51 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Brazier, Julian
Aitken, Jonathan Bright, Graham
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)
Allen, Graham Browning, Mrs. Angela
Amess, David Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Budgen, Nicholas
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Burns, Simon
Arbuthnot, James Burt, Alistair
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Butcher, John
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Butler, Peter
Ashby, David Butterfill, John
Ashton, Joe Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Aspinwall, Jack Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Atkins, Robert Carlisle, John (Luton North)
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Carrington, Matthew
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Cash, William
Baldry, Tony Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Churchill, Mr
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Clappison, James
Barron, Kevin Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)
Bates, Michael Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Batiste, Spencer Coe, Sebastian
Battle, John Colvin, Michael
Bellingham, Henry Congdon, David
Benton, Joe Conway, Derek
Beresford, Sir Paul Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Bermingham, Gerald Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)
Betts, Clive Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Blackburn, Dr John G. Cormack, Patrick
Blair, Tony Couchman, James
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Cran, James
Booth, Hartley Cunliffe, Lawrence
Boswell, Tim Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Bowden, Andrew Darling, Alistair
Bowis, John Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Boyes, Roland Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Brandreth, Gyles Davis, David (Boothfeny)
Day, Stephen Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Deva, Nirj Joseph Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Dicks, Terry Howarth, George (KnowsleyN)
Dorrell, Stephen Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)
Dover, Den Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Dowd, Jim Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)
Duncan, Alan Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Duncan-Smith, Iain Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Dunn, Bob Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Durant, Sir Anthony Hunter, Andrew
Dykes, Hugh Hutton, John
Eggar, Tim Illsley, Eric
Elletson, Harold Jack, Michael
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Enright, Derek Janner, Greville
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield) Jenkin, Bernard
Evans, John (St Helens N) Jessel, Toby
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Evennett, David Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Faber, David Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)
Fabricant, Michael Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Fatchett, Derek Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Key, Robert
Fishburn, Dudley Kilfedder, Sir James
Flynn, Paul Kilfoyle, Peter
Forman, Nigel King, Rt Hon Tom
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)
Forth, Eric Kirkhope, Timothy
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) Knapman, Roger
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley) Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Freeman, Rt Hon Roger Knight, Greg (Derby N)
French, Douglas Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)
Fry, Sir Peter Knox, Sir David
Fyfe, Maria Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Gale, Roger Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Gallie, Phil Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Gardiner, Sir George Lawrence, Sir Ivan
Garrett, John Legg, Barry
Gill, Christopher Leigh, Edward
Gillan, Cheryl Lennox-Boyd, Mark
Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair Lidington, David
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Lightbown, David
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Gorst, John Lloyd, Rt Hon Peter (Fareham)
Grant, Sir A. (Cambs SW) Lord, Michael
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Luff, Peter
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) McAvoy, Thomas
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) McCartney, Ian
Grocott, Bruce McFall, John
Grylls, Sir Michael MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn MacKay, Andrew
Gunnell, John Mackinlay, Andrew
Hague, William Maclean, David
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie McLoughlin, Patrick
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) McWilliam, John
Hampson, Dr Keith Madel, Sir David
Hannam, Sir John Maitland, Lady Olga
Hanson, David Malone, Gerald
Harris, David Mans, Keith
Haselhurst, Alan Marek, Dr John
Hawkins, Nick Marland, Paul
Hawksley, Warren Marlow, Tony
Hayes, Jerry Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Heald, Oliver Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Heathcoat-Amory, David Mates, Michael
Hendry, Charles Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian
Hicks, Robert Meale, Alan
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L. Michael, Alun
Hill, James (Southampton Test) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Mills, Iain
Hinchliffe, David Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham) Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Hoon, Geoffrey Monro, Sir Hector
Horam, John Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter Morgan, Rhodri
Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Moss, Malcolm Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mudie, George Spring, Richard
Mullin, Chris Sproat, Iain
Murphy, Paul Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Needham, Richard Steen, Anthony
Nelson, Anthony Stephen, Michael
Neubert, Sir Michael Stern, Michael
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Stewart, Allan
Nicholls, Patrick Stott, Roger
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Strang, Dr. Gavin
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Streeter, Gary
Norris, Steve Sumberg, David
O'Hara, Edward Sweeney, Walter
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Sykes, John
Oppenheim, Phillip Tapsell, Sir Peter
Ottaway, Richard Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Page, Richard Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Paice, James Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Parry, Robert Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Patchett, Terry Temple-Morris, Peter
Patnick, Irvine Thomason, Roy
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Pawsey, James Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Pendry, Tom Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Pickles, Eric Thurnham, Peter
Porter, David (Waveney) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Powell, William (Corby) Tracey, Richard
Quin, Ms Joyce Trend, Michael
Radice, Giles Trimble, David
Rathbone, Tim Trotter, Neville
Raynsford, Nick Turner, Dennis
Redwood, Rt Hon John Twinn, Dr Ian
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Richards, Rod Viggers, Peter
Riddick, Graham Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm Walden, George
Robathan, Andrew Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn Waller, Gary
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S) Ward, John
Robinson, Mark (Somerton) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Roche, Mrs. Barbara Waterson, Nigel
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne) Watts, John
Rooker, Jeff Wells, Bowen
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent) Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela Whitney, Ray
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard Whittingdale, John
Sackville, Tom Wicks, Malcolm
Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim Widdecombe, Ann
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Sedgemore, Brian Willetts, David
Shaw, David (Dover) Wilshire, David
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Wolfson, Mark
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Worthington, Tony
Shersby, Michael Yeo.Tim
Sims, Roger Young, David (Bolton SE)
Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury) Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Tellers for the Ayes:
Soames, Nicholas Mr. Sydney Chapman and Mr. Timothy Wood.
Speed, Sir Keith
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Alton, David Cryer, Bob
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Cummings, John
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Barnes, Harry Davidson, Ian
Beith, Rt Hon A. J. Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Bennett, Andrew F. Dixon, Don
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Donohoe, Brian H.
Callaghan, Jim Etherington, Bill
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Foster, Don (Bath)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Godman, Dr Norman A.
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry) Gordon, Mildred
Clapham, Michael Graham, Thomas
Cohen, Harry Harvey, Nick
Connarty, Michael Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead) Parry, Robert
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn) Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Redmond, Martin
Kennedy, Charles (Ross.C&S) Rendel, David
Kirkwood, Archy Rooney, Terry
Leighton, Ron Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Lewis, Terry Simpson, Alan
Litherland, Robert Skinner, Dennis
Livingstone, Ken Soley, Clive
Loyden, Eddie Steinberg, Gerry
Lynne, Ms Liz Wallace, James
McAllion, John Welsh, Andrew
McKelvey, William Wigley, Dafydd
Maclennan, Robert Winnick, David
Madden, Max Wise, Audrey
Maddock, Mrs Diana Wray, Jimmy
Mahon, Alice Wright, Dr Tony
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S) Tellers for the Noes:
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute) Mr. Matthew Taylor and Mr. Paul Tyler.
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Olner, William

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the draft European Parliamentary Constituencies (England) Order 1994, which was laid before this House on 20th January, be approved.

MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER then put the Questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on the other motions.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith,

That the draft European Parliamentary Constituencies (Wales) Order 1994, which was laid before this House on 20th January, be approved.—[Mr. Peter Lloyd.]

The House divided: Ayes 365, Noes 28.

Division No. 125] [6.06 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Brandreth, Gyles
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Brazier, Julian
Aitken, Jonathan Bright, Graham
Alexander, Richard Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Browning, Mrs. Angela
Allen, Graham Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Amess, David Burns, Simon
Arbuthnot, James Burt, Alistair
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Butcher, John
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Butler, Peter
Ashby, David Butterfill, John
Ashton, Joe Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Aspinwall, Jack Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Atkins, Robert Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Carrington, Matthew
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Churchill, Mr
Baldry, Tony Clappison, James
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)
Bates, Michael Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Batiste, Spencer Coe, Sebastian
Beggs, Roy Colvin, Michael
Bellingham, Henry Congdon, David
Benton, Joe Conway, Derek
Beresford, Sir Paul Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Betts, Clive Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Blackburn, DrJohnG. Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Blair, Tony Cormack, Patrick
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Corston, Ms Jean
Booth, Hartley Couchman, James
Boswell, Tim Cousins, Jim
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Cox, Tom
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Cran, James
Bowden, Andrew Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Bowis, John Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Boyes, Roland Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Darling, Alistair
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral) Hoon, Geoffrey
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Horam, John
Davis, David (Boothferry) Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Day, Stephen Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Deva, Nirj Joseph Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Dicks, Terry Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Donohoe, Brian H. Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)
Dorrell, Stephen Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Dover, Den Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Dowd, Jim Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Duncan, Alan Hunter, Andrew
Duncan-Smith, Iain Illsley, Eric
Dykes, Hugh Jack, Michael
Eggar, Tim Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)
Elletson, Harold Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Jenkin, Bernard
Enright, Derek Jessel, Toby
Evans, John (St Helens N) Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)
Evennett, David Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Faber, David Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Fabricant, Michael Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)
Fatchett, Derek Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Fishburn, Dudley Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Flynn, Paul Key, Robert
Forman, Nigel Kilfedder, Sir James
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Kilfoyle, Peter
Forth, Eric King, Rt Hon Tom
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) Kirkhope, Timothy
Fraser, John Knapman, Roger
Freeman, Rt Hon Roger Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
French, Douglas Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Fry, Sir Peter Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)
Fyfe, Maria Knox, Sir David
Gale, Roger Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Gallie, Phil Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Gardiner, Sir George Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Garnier, Edward Lawrence, Sir Ivan
Garrett, John Legg, Barry
Gill, Christopher Leigh, Edward
Gillan, Cheryl Lennox-Boyd, Mark
Godman, Dr Norman A. Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair Lidington, David
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Lightbown, David
Gordon, Mildred Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Lloyd, Rt Hon Peter (Fareham)
Gorst, John Lord, Michael
Grant, Sir A. (Cambs SW) Luff, Peter
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Greenway, John (Ryedale) McAvoy, Thomas
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) McCartney, Ian
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Macdonald, Calum
Grocott, Bruce McFall, John
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Gunnell, John MacKay, Andrew
Hague, William McKelvey, William
Hall, Mike Mackinlay, Andrew
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie Maclean, David
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) McLoughlin, Patrick
Hampson, Dr Keith Madel, Sir David
Hannam, Sir John Maitland, Lady Olga
Hanson, David Malone, Gerald
Hargreaves, Andrew Mans, Keith
Harris, David Marek, Dr John
Haselhurst, Alan Marland, Paul
Hawkins, Nick Marlow, Tony
Hawksley, Warren Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Hayes, Jerry Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Heald, Oliver Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward Martlew, Eric
Hendry, Charles Mates, Michael
Hicks, Robert Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L. Meale, Alan
Hill, James (Southampton Test) Merchant, Piers
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Michael, Alun
Hinchliffe, David Milburn, Alan
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham) Mills, Iain
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Speed, Sir Keith
Moate, Sir Roger Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Monro, Sir Hector Spink, Dr Robert
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Spring, Richard
Morgan, Rhodri Sproat, Iain
Morley, Elliot Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Moss, Malcolm Steen, Anthony
Murphy, Paul Stephen, Michael
Needham, Richard Stern, Michael
Nelson, Anthony Stewart, Allan
Neubert, Sir Michael Strang, Dr. Gavin
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Streeter, Gary
Nicholls, Patrick Sumberg, David
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Sweeney, Walter
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Sykes, John
Norris, Steve Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire) Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Oppenheim, Phillip Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Ottaway, Richard Temple-Morris, Peter
Page, Richard Thomason, Roy
Paice, James Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Patchett, Terry Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Patnick, Irvine Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Patten, Rt Hon John Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Thurnham, Peter
Pawsey, James Townend, John (Bridlington)
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Pickles, Eric Tracey, Richard
Porter, David (Waveney) Trend, Michael
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Trimble, David
Powell, William (Corby) Trotter, Neville
Quin, Ms Joyce Turner, Dennis
Rathbone, Tim Twinn, Dr Ian
Raynsford, Nick Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Redwood, Rt Hon John Viggers, Peter
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Richards, Rod Walden, George
Riddick, Graham Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm Waller, Gary
Robathan, Andrew Ward, John
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S) Waterson, Nigel
Robinson, Marie (Somerton) Watts, John
Roche, Mrs. Barbara Wells, Bowen
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne) Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Rooker, Jeff Whitney, Ray
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent) Whittingdale, John
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela Wicks, Malcolm
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard Widdecombe, Ann
Sackville, Tom Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim Wigley, Dafydd
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Willetts, David
Sedgemore, Brian Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Shaw, David (Dover) Wilshire, David
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Wolfson, Mark
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Wright, Dr Tony
Shersby, Michael Yeo, Tim
Sims, Roger Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Skeet, Sir Trevor
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Tellers for the Ayes:
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Mr. Sydney Chapman and Mr. Timothy Wood.
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Barnes, Harry Livingstone, Ken
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Loyden, Eddie
Clapham, Michael McAllion, John
Connarty, Michael Mahon, Alice
Cummings, John Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Dalyell, Tam Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Davidson, Ian Olner, William
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Parry, Robert
Dixon, Don Redmond, Martin
Etherington, Bill Rooney, Terry
Hughes, Kevin (DoncasterN) Simpson, Alan
Lewis, Terry Skinner, Dennis
Steinberg, Gerry Tellers for the Noes:
Wise, Audrey Mr. Bob Cryer and Mr. Andrew Bennett

Question accordingly agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith,

That the draft European Parliamentary Elections (Changes to the Franchise and Qualifications of Representatives) Regulations 1994, which were laid before this House on 2nd February, be approved.—[Mr. Peter Lloyd.]

The House divided: Ayes 364, Noes 45.

Division No. 126] [6.18 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Conway, Derek
Aitken, Jonathan Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Alexander, Richard Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Allen, Graham Cormack, Patrick
Alton, David Couchman, James
Amess, David Cousins, Jim
Arbuthnot, James Cox, Tom
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Ashby, David Dalyell, Tam
Ashton, Joe Darling, Alistair
Aspinwall, Jack Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Atkins, Robert Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Davis, David (Boothferry)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Day, Stephen
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Deva, Nirj Joseph
Baldry, Tony Dicks, Terry
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Donohoe, Brian H.
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Dorrell, Stephen
Bates, Michael Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Batiste, Spencer Dover, Den
Beith, Rt Hon A. J. Dowd, Jim
Bell, Stuart Duncan, Alan
Bellingham, Henry Duncan-Smith, Iain
Bendall, Vivian Dunn, Bob
Benton, Joe Durant, Sir Anthony
Beresford, Sir Paul Dykes, Hugh
Betts, Clive Eggar, Tim
Biffen, Rt Hon John Elletson, Harold
Blair, Tony Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Enright, Derek
Booth, Hartley Evans, John (St Helens N)
Boswell, Tim Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Bowden, Andrew Evennett, David
Bowis, John Faber, David
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Fabricant, Michael
Brandreth, Gyles Fatchett, Derek
Brazier, Julian Fishbum, Dudley
Bright, Graham Flynn, Paul
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Forman, Nigel
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Browning, Mrs. Angela Forth, Eric
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Foster, Don (Bath)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Burns, Simon Freeman, Rt Hon Roger
Burt, Alistair French, Douglas
Butcher, John Fry, Sir Peter
Butler, Peter Fyfe, Maria
Butterfill, John Gale, Roger
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Gallie, Phil
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Gardiner, Sir George
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Garnier, Edward
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Garrett, John
Carrington, Matthew Gillan, Cheryl
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Clappison, James Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif) Gorst, John
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Grant, Sir A. (Cambs SW)
Coe, Sebastian Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Congdon, David Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) Lightbown, David
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Grocott, Bruce Lloyd, Rt Hon Peter (Fareham)
Grylls, Sir Michael Lord, Michael
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Luff, Peter
Gunnell, John Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Hague, William Lynne, Ms Liz
Hall, Mike McAvoy, Thomas
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie Macdonald, Calum
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) McFall, John
Hampson, Dr Keith MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Hannam, Sir John MacKay, Andrew
Hanson, David Mackinlay, Andrew
Hargreaves, Andrew Maclean, David
Harman, Ms Harriet Maclennan, Robert
Harris, David McLoughlin, Patrick
Haselhurst, Alan McMaster, Gordon
Hawkins, Nick Maddock, Mrs Diana
Hawksley, Warren Madel, Sir David
Hayes, Jerry Maitland, Lady Olga
Heald, Oliver Malone, Gerald
Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward Mans, Keith
Heathcoat-Amory, David Marek, Dr John
Hendry, Charles Mariand, Paul
Hicks, Robert Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L. Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Hill, James (Southampton Test) Martlew, Eric
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Mates, Michael
Hinchliffe, David Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham) Merchant, Piers
Hoon, Geoffrey Michael, Alun
Horam, John Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter Milburn, Alan
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A) Moate, Sir Roger
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Monro, Sir Hector
Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W) Morgan, Rhodri
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Moss, Malcolm
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Needham, Richard
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W) Nelson, Anthony
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Neubert, Sir Michael
Hunter, Andrew Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Hutton, John Nicholls, Patrick
Illsley, Eric Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Jack, Michael Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead) Norris, Steve
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Jenkin, Bernard Oppenheim, Phillip
Jessel, Toby Ottaway, Richard
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Page, Richard
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side) Paice, James
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Patnick, Irvine
Jones, leuan Wyn (Ynys Môn) Patten, Rt Hon John
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Pawsey, James
Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Pickles, Eric
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Porter, David (Waveney)
Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S) Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Key, Robert Powell, William (Corby)
Khabra, Piara S. Purchase, Ken
Kilfedder, Sir James Quin, Ms Joyce
Kilfoyle, Peter Rathbone, Tim
King, Rt Hon Tom Raynsford, Nick
Kirkhope, Timothy Redwood, Rt Hon John
Kirkwood, Archy Rendel, David
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Richards, Rod
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n) Riddick, Graham
Knox, Sir David Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Robathan, Andrew
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Legg, Barry Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Leigh, Edward Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Lennox-Boyd, Mark Rooker, Jeff
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Lidington, David Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Ryder, Rf Hon Richard Townend, John (Bridlington)
Sackville, Tom Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim Tracey, Richard
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Trend, Michael
Sedgemore, Brian Trotter, Neville
Shaw, David (Dover) Turner, Dennis
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Twinn, Dr Ian
Shersby, Michael Tyler, Paul
Sims, Roger Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Skeet, Sir Trevor Viggers, Peter
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Walden, George
Soames, Nicholas Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Speed, Sir Keith Wallace, James
Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset) Waller, Gary
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Ward, John
Spink, Dr Robert Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Spring, Richard Waterson, Nigel
Sproat, Iain Watts, John
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Wells, Bowen
Steen, Anthony Welsh, Andrew
Stephen, Michael Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Stern, Michael Whitney, Ray
Stewart, Allan Whittingdale, John
Strang, Dr. Gavin Wicks, Malcolm
Streeter, Gary Widdecombe, Ann
Sumberg, David Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Sweeney, Walter Wigley, Dafydd
Sykes, John Willetts, David
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Taylor, John M. (Solihull) Wilshire, David
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Wolfson, Mark
Temple-Morris, Peter Worthington, Tony
Thomason, Roy Yeo, Tim
Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V) Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Tellers for the Ayes:
Thornton, Sir Malcolm Mr. Sydney Chapman and Mr. Timothy Wood.
Thurnham, Peter
Adams, Mrs Irene McKelvey, William
Barnes, Harry Mahon, Alice
Beggs, Roy Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Caborn, Richard Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Clapham, Michael Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Connarty, Michael Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Cummings, John Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Cunliffe, Lawrence Mullin, Chris
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE) Olner, William
Davidson, Ian Parry, Robert
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Patchett, Terry
Dixon, Don Redmond, Martin
Etherington, Bill Rooney, Terry
Godman, Dr Norman A. Simpson, Alan
Gordon, Mildred Skinner, Dennis
Graham, Thomas Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Trimble, David
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O) Winnick, David
Leighton, Ron Wray, Jimmy
Lewis, Terry
Litheriand, Robert Tellers for the Noes:
Livingstone, Ken Mr. Bob Cryer and Mr. Andrew F. Bennett.
Loyden, Eddie
McAllion, John

Question accordingly agreed to.