HC Deb 23 May 1994 vol 244 cc44-75

'.—(1) If, with respect to any action taken by a public body which imposes a burden on any person, a Minister of the Crown is of the opinion that—

  1. (a) the effect of such action is such as to impose, or authorise, or require the imposition of a burden affecting that person in the carrying on of any trade, business, profession or otherwise; and
  2. (b) the burden so imposed is disproportionate to the end or purpose which is sought to be achieved; and
  3. (c) it would be possible without removing any necessary protection to remove or reduce the burden or, as the case may be, the authorisation or requirement by virtue of which the burden may be imposed,
he may by order require the body to act to remove, or as the case may be, reduce the burden.

(2) The reference in subsection (1)(c) above to reducing the authorisation or requirement by virtue of which a burden may be imposed includes a reference to shortening any period of time within which the burden may be so imposed.

(3) An order under subsection (1)—

  1. (a) shall, if it requires the reduction of a burden, specify the manner and extent thereof,
  2. (b) may include such incidental, consequential and transitional provisions and savings as appear to the Minister to be appropriate,
  3. (c) may make different provisions for different cases or descriptions of case, including different provisions for different areas,
  4. (d) shall be made by statutory instrument, and
  5. (e) shall be laid before Parliament after it is made.

(4) A public body in respect of the action of which an order has been made shall comply with the terms thereof within the period of 28 days beginning with the date on which it was made.

(5) It shall be a defence in any proceedings in any court or before any tribunal that a person has failed to comply with any burden to which subsection (1) above applies to prove that—

  1. (a) the failure to comply occurred or first occurred after the expiry of the period set out in subsection (4) above, and
  2. (b) if the burden had been removed or reduced in accordance with the requirement of the Minister under subsection (1) above there would have been no failure to comply.

(6) In this section— Minister of the Crown" and "burden" shall have the same meaning as in Chapter I of Part I and "Minister" shall be construed accordingly; and public body" means a body established by or under any enactment, to which the Minister has power to give directions regarding the discharge of its responsibilities, to the controlling organ of which the Minister makes nominations, or the income of which includes money provided by Parliament, but excludes any local authority, fire authority, police authority or civil defence authority.'.—[Mr. Meacher.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Michael Meacher (Oldham, West)

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

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient also to take new clause 14—Burdens imposed by public bodies (No. 2)— '.—(1) Where a person carrying on a trade or business—

  1. (a) is aggrieved by any action lawfully taken on proposed to be taken by a public body ("the action") which imposes, or may reasonably be expected to impose, a burden on the trade or business, and
  2. (b) is of the opinion that any burden so imposed is greater than is reasonably necessary to achieve the intended purpose of the action,
he may apply to a magistrates' court for a declaration under subsection (5) below. (2) An application under subsection (1) above shall be made—
  1. (a) by the person carrying on the trade or business or any other person duly authorised by him in that respect,
  2. (b) in the prescribed form and manner, and
  3. (c) within a prescribed period beginning with the date on which the person aggrieved became aware of the action or was deemed under any statutory provision to have been notified of it.
(3) The Secretary of State shall prescribe how any date required for the purposes of subsection (2)(c) above is to be determined, and different bases of determination may be prescribed for different circumstances. (4) A magistrates' court shall consider an application for a declaration under subsection (1) above within the period of seven days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays) beginning with the date on which it is made. (5) A magistrates' court considering an application under subsection (1) above shall—
  1. (a) if it is satisfied that the action imposes a burden on the trade or business greater than is reasonably necessary to achieve the intended purpose of the action, make the declaration as sought with such variation, and on such conditions as the court shall think proper in all the circumstances, and
  2. (b) if it is not so satisfied, refuse to make the declaration.
(6) In reaching a decision on whether to make a declaration under subsection (5) above the court shall, without prejudice to the generality of sub-paragraph (a) of that subsection, have particular regard to—
  1. (a) whether other action which imposes a lesser burden on the trade or business might reasonably be expected to achieve the intended purpose of the action complained of,
  2. (b) the extent of any risk to life, health or property of making, or refusing to make, such a declaration,
  3. (c) the extent to which the granting of a declaration may incidentally cause a burden to be imposed on any other person carrying on a trade or business, or cause an existing burden on any such person to be increased, and
  4. 46
  5. (d) the likely effect on the commercial prospects of the trade or business of refusing to make a declaration.
(7) The effect of making a declaration under subsection (5) above shall be that—
  1. (a) if the action has taken effect, that effect shall be suspended forthwith, but without prejudice to anything done before it was suspended or in consequence of anything so done, and
  2. (b) if the action has not taken effect, it shall not take effect other than in accordance with subsection (10) below.
(8) A declaration under subsection (5) above shall cease to have effect—
  1. (a) at the end of a prescribed period beginning with the date on which it is made, or
  2. (b) at the end of any longer period provided for in any statutory provision for an appeal against the action, unless subsection (9) below applies.
(9)(a) If—
  1. (i) within the period provided for in any statutory provision for an appeal against the action, such an appeal is properly made in accordance with a statutory provision, or
  2. (ii) an application for judicial review of the action is properly made,
subsection (8) shall not apply and a declaration under subsection (5) above shall cease to have effect when the appeal or, as the case may be, the application is finally determined or is withdrawn or abandoned, whichever first occurs, unless both an appeal and an application have been made.
(b) The Secretary of State shall prescribe when and in what circumstances a declaration under subsection (5) above shall cease to have effect if both an appeal as referred to in sub-paragraph (a)(i) above and an application for judicial review as referred to in sub-paragraph (a)(ii) above are properly made. (10) The effect of a declaration under subsection (5) above ceasing to have effect shall be—
  1. (a) if the declaration ceases to have effect in accordance with the provisions of subsection (8) above, the action shall (or as the case may be, shall again) come into effect; and
  2. (b) if the declaration ceases to have effect in accordance with the provisions of subsection (9) above, the action shall (or as the case may be shall again) come into effect, if and so far as is consistent with the determination (if any) of the appeal or the judgement (if any) of the court on the application for judicial review of the action.
(11) The Secretary of State shall, by order made by statutory instrument, prescribe—
  1. (a) anything which under this section is to be prescribed,
  2. (b) the procedure to be followed by magistrates' courts on applications for declarations under this section, and
  3. (c) any incidental, consequential and supplementary provisions which are, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, necessary to give effect to the provisions of this section.
(12) In this section— action" means any order, decision, instruction, or requirement (however described)—
  1. (a) with which there is a statutory requirement to comply, or
  2. (b) in respect of which it is an offence under any statutory provision to fail to comply;
other action" includes delaying the taking of the action; "public body" does not include any court or tribunal constituted under any statutory provision but, subject to that, means a body established by or under any enactment to which the Minister has power to give directions regarding the discharge of its responsibilities, to the controlling organ of which the Minister makes nominations, or the income of which includes money provided by Parliament. statutory provision" means any provision in any Act of Parliament or any statutory instrument and "statutory requirement" shall be construed accordingly.'.

Mr. Meacher

The purpose of the new clause is to provide a procedure for removing the burdens imposed by the Government's huge proliferation of quangos. It turns out that the new clause is timely, because yesterday the most exhaustive and authoritative survey of quangos was published by an independent organisation called Democratic Audit of the UK. It identified no fewer than 5,500 executive quangos, which is the major part of its total quango count of more than 6,700 appointed bodies.

It shows that public spending on executive quangos—I shall concentrate on those today—has increased by 24 per cent. in real terms since 1979 when Mrs. Thatcher came to power pledging to reduce both their number and their cost. Altogether, it found that quangos now control nearly £50 billion of all public expenditure and yet they are totally unaccountable to the taxpayers who provide the money.

All of that spending is under the control of an appointed "New Magistracy"—the name given to the business-dominated elite estimated by the report to number about 73,000 quangocrats put there by ministerial appointment. That is nearly three times the total number of all elected councillors, which is about 25,000. That, I submit, is the democrat deficit at the heart of Britain today.

Those executive quangos have usurped major local authority powers for the provision of key local services such as housing, schools, further education, employment training and urban development, and yet their accountability is minimal.

Mr. Anthony Steen (South Hams)

I am interested in the hon. Gentleman's speech. Is he saying that he does not like quangos or that there are too many people in the public sector? Would he, in effect, put those people into Government or would he cut the numbers, because that is the problem?

Mr. Meacher

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for anticipating my speech. I am in favour of both of those. I am in favour of a substantial reduction in the number of quangos and—this is the real point to which I was just coming—there is the question of accountability. Only about 14 per cent. of the quangos are subject to investigation by any ombudsman. Only one third are subject to public audit. Only 2 per cent. observe the Government's new open government code of practice. Less than half publish annual reports. Only 7 per cent. are obliged to hold at least one public meeting annually. Only one third make their minutes available, none let people see their policy documents and less than half keep a public register of interests.

All of that is a contrast to elected local authorities. Given that huge gap in proper public scrutiny, it is hardly surprising that the process is generating a steady stream of financial scandals, a waste of public resources, burdens on public life and political nepotism. That is why the Public Accounts Committee found in its recent report that standards of conduct in public business were at their lowest ebb since the Northcote-Trevelyan reform of the 1850s buried the old patronage state. However, the Government are fast creating a new patronage state that is as in need of democratic attention as Old Sarum in the 18th century.

The burdens imposed by the partisan expansion of the quango state are huge and growing. For example—I could give many examples—the Public Accounts Committee discovered that the Welsh Development Agency squandered £2 million of public money with unauthorised golden handshakes, paid the private motoring bills of senior staff and, through its poor personnel management, hired a man with convictions for fraud as its marketing director.

The Public Accounts Committee also found that West Midlands regional health authority agreed that the director of regionally managed services should be sacked, but in fact he was made redundant and got a lump sum of £81,000 and a pension. The regional health authority was found to have wasted £10 million in huge pay-outs to failed business consultants and officials at the expense of patient care. All that information is in the PAC report. The authority's chairman, Sir James Ackers, who resigned, was nevertheless given a £10,000 golden handshake by the Secretary of State for Health.

Wessex regional health authority squandered £20 million on an information system and there were serious conflicts of interest between it and the consultants who had recommended the system. The training and enterprise councils' Field system computer cost £48 million, but it was not assessed properly and proved to be a waste of money. The TECs spent a further £11 million on consultants hired in what the report describes as a haphazard manner.

Many of those examples are known to the House and new ones occur almost daily. I shall cite one or two more. The Midlands development corporation, which is packed full of estate agents and developers, was criticised last month for scheduling land owned by friends for development. The £30,000-a-year chairman of the Development Board for Rural Wales, Mr. Glyn Davies, was forced to stand down a week ago when the PAC found that 20 per cent. of tenants were granted homes according to rules that were not made public, that homes had secretly been allocated to the board's housing officer and his ex-wife and that irregular payments had been made to directors under a car leasing scheme.

In addition, there is an almost daily stream of appointments scandals. Last week, two former Tory Members of Parliament were appointed to the Government's deregulation panel, even though the Bill is still before the House. A little before that, a Tory businessman was appointed to run the Schools Funding Agency—and so on and so forth.

There is widespread revulsion at the explosion of croneyism and patronage. There is also a widespread feeling that quangos, having initially been sold as a spur to efficiency and a check on public bureaucracy, are layers of unwanted bureaucracy themselves in many cases. Developers now want to be close to the community and do not want a quango in the way. I am aware of one example in the east Thames corridor—the North Kent Forum now brings together the Department of the Environment, local councils and the Groundwork Trust with industry representatives. Such forums and partnerships are springing up in many places. They are local and they are funded by a balance between all the participants.

In contrast, quangos are another bureaucratic structure, which must be serviced and often costs too much, even in the absence of fraud and corruption. That is why we tabled the new clause, as a short-term measure to enable such burdens to be removed more readily. I would be the first to accept that it is a very limited measure. Our long-term strategy goes a great deal further. As they are constituted, quangos are virtually impervious to democratic influence. By nature, they are secretive and they are packed with Tory nomenclatures, like a one-party state.

5.15 pm

Where quangos have usurped powers that should be exercised only by elected bodies, we shall abolish them and restore their functions to elected regional or unitary authorities. In all other cases, if they are retained, we shall subject them to supervision by the ombudsman and to the same surcharge disciplines as local authorities. We shall provide them with a more balanced membership and require an open-government culture and freedom of information in all their dealings.

In the short term, and in the context of the Bill, our new clause would minimise the more extreme and flagrant abuses, so I commend it to the House.

Mr. John Sykes (Scarborough)

I shall speak to new clause 14, which stands in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Duncan Smith). Its object is to provide a speedy and effective means of challenging orders and decisions made by public officials, which are perceived to be disproportionate or unreasonable, could harm business and are not justified by any imminent danger to life or health.

The clause is the device that would continue and amplify deregulation. It is the device that would firmly establish the Deregulation and Contracting Out Bill, so that it rests on two pillars of strength. The first is the parliamentary pillar by which we in Westminster dispose of overburdensome regulations—the so-called Henry VIII clause. The second pillar is my new clause, whereby we in Westminster would give back a little power—a little subsidiarity perhaps—to the ordinary man in the street by allowing him to appeal to a magistrate to overturn an unfair order.

I call this clause or second pillar the Henry VII clause —he was the father of Henry VIII and the king who established the widespread use of administrative magistrates as a means of achieving justice and peace throughout his realm. Such a mechanism would be entirely in keeping with the Department of Trade and Industry report commissioned by the President of the Board of Trade and sent to the Prime Minister last year. The report stated: There needs to be an ombudsman who could act as a point of contact for traders and investigate cases of over-zealous enforcement.

Mrs. Helen Jackson

I read the new clause carefully and I have a question for the hon. Gentleman. If a local authority in his constituency decided that hotels used for bed-and-breakfast clients had to comply with stricter fire and safety regulations, and one of the owners said, "I am sorry but that will restrict my business, it is far too expensive for me to implement, I shall appeal to the Government because it is a burden," which side would the hon. Gentleman be on?

Mr. Sykes

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for asking me that question. One can always rely on her to open her mouth wide enough to put both feet in it. She was not present for the debate that we had on this subject in Standing Committee F on Thursday 28 April—she was in South Africa—but before that she had spent months and months complaining about over-zealous regulation. I beg her to listen to this debate with her ears, not with her mouth. I said right at the beginning that we are concerned here with over-zealous enforcement of regulations only.

Mrs. Jackson


Mr. Sykes

I may give way to the hon. Lady later, but I should like to make a little progress first.

Over-zealous enforcement of regulations is all I ask the House to concern itself with this afternoon. Let us consider the almost unlimited powers enjoyed by public officials, some of them fresh out of college. There are vast regiments of them. They have a right of entry to our premises and each of them is armed to the teeth with 1,000 different regulations, each regulation bristling with 1,000 dire and prohibitive consequences of the non-compliance with the will of the enforcer.

Consider the case of the Regal rest home in North Marine road, Scarborough. On 3 February this year, Ian Dewar, the proprietor, received a letter from S. Peacock, principal officer of the social services registration and inspection unit. Writing on behalf of North Yorkshire county council, S. Peacock called for two full-time members of staff to be present during the day, and one at night, together with a competent person to be on call in the building. The letter concluded ominously:

All homes not meeting the staffing standards will be required to do so". Mr. Dewar sent me a letter as follows: As owners of this care home, we are properly registered in accordance with current social services guidelines…Although we are registered for eight residents, we only have six because social services disapprove of double rooms. Now we are told by social services that we must have two staff on 24 hours a day, including waking night staff. Under current social services policy, residents who become physically dependent are moved into nursing homes or hospitals. Therefore, this care home cannot have physically dependent residents. We have six residents who are not physically dependent and I seriously question this imposition. To implement these staffing levels would inflict a wages bill that would be financially impossible for us to meet. It would bankrupt us within six months. We would lose everything we own in the process. We would end up homeless and left with tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt that we would not be able to pay back in our lifetime … In addition, there would be no home for our residents to go to. Mr. Dewar says that his staff would be made redundant because the business would be unsaleable and concludes:

As one of the many small homes who care for the elderly of this county, I am asking for your help in this matter. Help was at hand, in the shape of the hon. Member for Scarborough. North Yorkshire county council has now promised to reconsider the matter in the light of my representations. It should not, however, be for the Member of Parliament to deal with such things.

It was therefore with some astonishment that I began to read Labour's new clause 4, entitled "Burdens imposed on public bodies". At first, I thought that the road to Damascus had been widened; redemption was at hand— the little Johnny-come-latelys had finally come out of the closet. Could it be that Labour had tabled a new clause that would actually help the Regal rest home in my constituency—a capitalist institution? I studied the names on the amendment paper to see whether I could identify a leadership challenge. Certainly, there were some guns there—not howitzer league, but big guns nevertheless. They were the same guns, coincidentally, as sat in Room 9 every Tuesday and Thursday in our Standing Committee.

Those big guns were flanked by the pea-shooters among their Back Benchers. Week in, week out they shot off whatever meagre ammunition they had received from Walworth road—they were against this, they were against that, they were against the other. They agreed with us on one thing—they were against over-zealous regulators, and that was progress indeed. So Conservatives looked forward to hearing how Labour would deal with them.

We waited and waited, and then we waited some more. When we had become bored with waiting, we felt that the Opposition must be embarrassed. So we thought of putting a suggestion box in the Committee Corridor. Finally, however, the grim truth emerged. Among Opposition Members, cluelessness had scaled new heights. There was not an idea between them—until, that is, I read the first few lines of new clause 4, which establishes an appeal procedure. Wonderful, I thought, although not perfect. Labour's clause allows an appeal only to a Minister of the Crown. I could not quite see D.P.Barry and Company, tripe manufacturers, ringing up the Secretary of State just because some nosey environmental health officer would not allow the company to boil pigs' trotters in a particular pan.

I want an appeal procedure via the magistrates courts because they are more user-friendly, more widely understood and not even slightly intimidating. In the name of consensus and of progress, however, I did not want to quarrel with the big guns who tabled the new clause—until I reached subsection (6) where, to my despair, I found that Labour's big guns had spiked their own new clause. How? The subsection provides that anything done by a local authority is excluded from the appeals process.

Why? Was this because the Opposition fondly imagined that their municipal cousins in Labour-controlled authorities were genetically incapable of taking unreasonable decisions? Perhaps they have never heard of Manchester, which owes nearly as much as does El Salvador. Perhaps they prefer to overlook Birmingham which, in 10 years, has accumulated a debt three times the size of that of Albania, and which sent two officers to Belgium to buy six fig trees at a cost of £50,000. That same council sent two officers from technical services to Amsterdam, not for tulips or fig trees, but to watch people walking through revolving doors. Of course, Opposition Members know all about revolving doors—if they do not now, then by the time they have had to vote for a new leader, they will all be experts.

Perhaps the less said about Sheffield, the better—a city with the dubious distinction of being a training ground for Labour Members of Parliament. That city held the most expensive school sports day in history, the student games. It managed to frighten away Hamley, the famous toy shop, because the rates in Sheffield were higher than they were in Regent street. The list of examples is as unending as the shame that should attach itself to those Labour Members who have perversely sought to shield the very worst practitioners of the over-zealous application of regulations.

My hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and I therefore felt compelled to table new clause 14 which, unlike Labour's, does not masquerade as something it is not—the socialist extending the hand of friendship to the business community, accompanied as it is by a smile resembling the silver plate on a coffin. The fact is that 97 per cent. of all businesses in this country employ fewer than 20 people. Our clause is for them.

It is for the Minister, whom many regard as the spark plug of our deregulation initiative, to talk to the President of the Board of Trade, whom many regard as the vital piston in the deregulatory engine. For it lies within the power of the President to come to the rescue, to stand shoulder to shoulder with shopkeepers, farmers and small businessmen. He must make an appeal mechanism a component of the Bill, and he does not need the permission of Jacques Delors to do so. He could do it tomorrow, or, even better, tonight.

What I propose does not require detailed negotiations with our Community partners, upon whom it has suddenly dawned that Britain's deregulatory approach has been the right one all along.

Mr. Steen

Has my hon. Friend found a device to enable small firms or people who are aggrieved by an over-zealous attitude to regulations to go somewhere local for an immediate conclusion to their dispute? Is it really that simple?

Mr. Sykes

A good question. The beauty of my new clause is that it is simplicity itself. It is user-friendly and everyone understands it. Unlike so many appeals procedures, this is not one of byzantine complexity. It is a simple measure that the world and, I hope, the Minister and the President of the Board of Trade will understand.

The debate takes place during a week when competitiveness in business has been given its rightful prominence. New clause 14 will underpin a new British competitive age by making the over-zealous official a thing of the past. It will be a regulation to regulate the regulator. The new clause is needed because an unjustified administrative order is a substantial wrong committed by the Crown against the subject. It is needed because justice has been common to our way of life for centuries. We ask only that the Government extend that principle to arm the small man against the over-zealous regulator.

5.30 pm
Dr. Tony Wright (Cannock and Burntwood)

I always try to enjoy speeches by the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. Sykes) but I am finding it increasingly difficult to do so. Close contact with the hon. Gentleman over a long time has not helped matters a great deal. I had not intended to speak about his new clause, but I should like to make one comment on it. The hon. Gentleman was quite wrong to say that at no point in Committee did any of us suggest practical ideas to help the small business men of whom he spoke. I suggested a precise and practical idea—a small business support agency deliberately designed to meet the needs of small business men.

The idea came from a small business man in my constituency who said to me, "If the Government can set up a huge Child Support Agency at vast expense, why can they not set up a small business support agency to help me find the late payers who are crippling my business? I have neither the resources nor the mechanism to do that, but the problem affects every business in the land". Such an agency could carry out many other tasks, such as those to which the hon. Gentleman referred. It could have investigatory and ombudsman functions for the small business sector.

I put that idea to the Minsiter in Committee, but he did not welcome it. I subsequently wrote to him, extending the idea, and although he said that it was "interesting" he felt that the Government did not want to set up a new agency for that purpose. That was a practical idea and a serious opportunity for the Government to help solve the kind of problems that small businesses have identified. I hope that in his winding-up speech the Minister will say that he has thought again about that practical proposal. It would bring joy to all the small business people in my constituency if he would announce his support for such a proposal.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) for giving the House an opportunity to explore the whole question of the growth of unelected, non-accountable public bodies—the issue that is highlighted in our new clause. The Government returned to office promising to curb the growth of quangoland, regarding the whole excrescence as a product of the kind of corporatism which distinguished government in the 1970s. But the extraordinary reality is that there are now three times as many such bodies as there were in 1979, representing about £46 billion of public money—equivalent to a third of total public spending.

I am glad to have been associated with the report mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West, which documents in fine detail the growth of the unelected state. The most extraordinary feature of that development is that it has been presided over by the very people who used to tell us that the centre of their political credo was the attack on centralisation and over-extended government, and that their mission was to haul it back and constitutionalise it. That that has not happened is dramatically and momentously apparent.

I am happy to explore with the Government all kinds of devices to run government and the public services in new ways. I am prepared to explore agencies and contracting out. I am even prepared to explore the notion of the most senior civil servants being appointed in new ways. But if government is to be fragmented in that way it must always be accompanied by the extension and strengthening of democracy and accountability. If that is not done, a huge democratic and accountability deficit will open up. That is precisely what has happened, and the deficit has given rise to the extraordinary and scandalous events to which the Public Accounts Committee has had to draw attention in an unprecedented way. We have arrived at a moment very like that of 140 or 150 years ago, when the great Victorians had in their sights the corruption of the old patronage state and decided to bring it into the democratic era.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am having some difficulty relating the hon. Gentleman's speech to public bodies or small businesses. Perhaps he is about to elucidate.

Dr. Wright

Unless I am the subject of a monstrous deception—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I have been listening attentively and I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman's speech is very wide of new clause 4. Perhaps he will pull it back to that.

Dr. Wright

I shall, of course, try to be helpful, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I thought that I was speaking to new clause 4, which is about public bodies and their relationship to the need for the kind of controls that we debated earlier. I introduced my remarks by referring to the interesting other new clause which attempts to help small businesses. That was the context of my speech; I am sorry if it was not sufficiently clear.

The attempt by new clause 4 to bring public bodies—the new patronage state—under the umbrella of control and regulation will be seen as the historic equivalent of the attempt 150 years ago to constitutionalise the old patronage state. Interestingly, there has been only one serious study of patronage in Britain. It was written 30 years ago by an academic at the University of Reading and it is a rather meticulous, dry and scholarly book. It contains a comment at the end which may interest the House: the author said that the only danger that he could see on the horizon was that if one party exercised power for a prolonged period it could seek to use the patronage system in a partisan way to further its own interests. Precisely that danger has come to pass and makes most urgent the attempts at control and regulation that are being suggested.

I should like to relate the new clause to the Bill because the two are directly parallel. There has been an extraordinary growth in unaccountable, non-elected public bodies, representing the extension of state power in a quite new way that Parliament has failed to control. It was a great challenge to Parliament to provide that control and an indictment of Parliament that it has not done so. The key feature of the Bill is that it will enable Ministers to make orders to rescind primary legislation. The two elements are, first, the growth of ministerial patronage and the appointed state and, secondly, the Government's claiming to repeal primary legislation at will through orders—and the two sit together.

Will this Parliament allow that to happen? That is not a trivial question. It is rather important, and the answer will test Parliament itself. I must say to Conservative Members that it is striking that a political tradition which, historically, has attached itself to the importance of local government and of protections against a centralised state and has embraced the little platoons throughout society should have become the instrument of the most monstrous centralisation. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West for highlighting that in his new clause. I hope that the House will understand what the new clause is trying to say.

Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford)

New clause 14 stands in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough (Mr. Sykes), and, in spirit at least, we have with us my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mr. Deva), who somehow slipped between the earlier amendment and the new clause. As my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough has powerfully said—I will not back track over his arguments—new clause 14 is about giving the right of redress to a business that faces having to undertake large changes as a result of a decision by an official. Under the new clause, they may appeal through a magistrates court. We stand by that idea, which we proposed in Standing Committee, because we believe that it still provides the best mechanism for an impartial and judicial response to what is likely to be the imposition of an unfair decision.

The purpose of the Bill has always been deregulation. Yet it seemed to us that the one thing that was missing was a mechanism by which the ordinary business man or woman trying to go about his or her daily work has a right to challenge an unfair decision by an official. There is no such mechanism in the Bill as it currently stands. We urge and hope that the Government will think carefully about that.

I shall give only one example, although I could have given 100, which seems to enshrine so many of the problems faced by business men and women throughout the land. It is the case of a dairy farmer, Mr. Downey, who was recently told that, under a new EC regulation, he would face criminal prosecution unless he makes regular returns of the exact quantities of milk that he uses on his farm to feed his stock. After all the mechanisms of going through and checking how he did that—by weighing them and everything else—he was told that he had to calculate the weight of the milk.

Mr. Downey also has a cafe where he serves his unpasteurised milk, and an environmental health officer told him that he could serve it only if he put up notices to say that it contained organisms that were harmful to health, and submitted it four times a year for special test. That was at a cost of more than £240. Mr. Downey thought that that was altogether far too much and now serves UHT milk instead. But the irony is that his milk had already been checked by the Agricultural Development Advisory Service and local environmental health officers, because his main activity was in making cheese. Why could not they get their act together instead of double regulating that poor individual, who was trying to go about his business? He was compensated eventually by a cheque for £199. That was after he had lost thousands of pounds worth of business as a result of having to close the cheese-producing end of his business and being left with only the rump of his business.

After all that, Mr. Downey was served a notice by the local environmental health office advising him that there were 22 illegalities on the farm under the hygiene regulations, which would cost him thousands of pounds to change, or a fine of £2,000 if he failed to comply. After making a huge fuss and having a row with them, they eventually checked and discovered that only two of the regulations were statutorily required. They dropped the whole lot. The new clause would have given him, and others, a chance to challenge that imposition, which would have cost him a lot of money.

We all know the reasons for the regulations and we have been around them endlessly. They are threefold: first, the single market has produced some 200 to 300 different directives, which have poured out as a result of that harmonisation mechanism; secondly, the continuing business in Europe of the common agricultural policy and the ghastly common fisheries policy; and, thirdly, the problem here at home of the attitude of our Ministers and their officials. On seeing that a new regulation is required, the smiles light up on their faces. They reach into the rag-bag of things that they wanted to do over the past 10 or 15 years, heave them out and throw them at the particular regulation and say, "There it is. Let us add that on the back, because it tidies it all up." They do not even concern themselves about how much it will cost or what effect it will have.

That problem has not gone away. A mass of legislation pours out of the House in response to every single aspect, worry, concern or pressure group. The salmonella scare over the chickens and the eggs ended up closing vast numbers of businesses. After thousands of people had got into deep trouble—some 5,000 egg producers were put out of business—the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food abandoned the policy, because, as it discovered, the incidence of salmonella continued to rise after all those impositions, and it did not get to the root of the problem by closing the businesses. The costs were absurd and they nearly destroyed too many businesses.

5.45 pm

The problem is that bureaucracy will continue to grow, and at a pace, unless we do something positive to check it and turn it around. That essentially is what the new clause is about. It will give the opportunity to somebody affected by that over-burdening, overweening bureaucracy to cry, "Stop. Check for a moment. They want to close me down, and I think that I have a chance to stay in business."

Mr. Miller

The hon. Gentleman is making an interesting and powerful case, and an attack on his own Front Bench. Does he agree that some 70 per cent. of the regulations about which he is referring were brought in by his Government? Is not that really the problem?

Mr. Duncan Smith

Governments of all persuasions are the problem, because at the end of the day they are invited down this road by hon. Members, such as the hon. Gentleman, who listen to the pressure groups and say, "My God, we have to go—panic, panic. Let us get this done." We all jump up. We have wonderful cross-party consensus. We all say, "Great stuff. Wonderful. Let us get this regulation on the statute book." Then in six months or a year, business men cry out to us, "It is killing us." We must start rowing back in the other direction, which is what the Bill is about.

Mr. Sykes

Does my hon. Friend think it odd to be lectured by a Member of Parliament who voted for the social chapter, which would heap a new raft of regulations on trade and industry in this country? Will my hon. Friend ask him whether he will vote with us in the Lobby tonight on the Bill?

Mr. Duncan Smith

As ever, my hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is galling to hear lectures from Labour Members. I certainly did not vote for the social chapter —I also did not vote for an awful lot of other stuff that came out of Maastricht, but that is neither here nor there. I resist lectures from Labour Members on the matter.

The reality is that it is not, as I said in the Standing Committee, about saying that every official out there is wrong and that every official is out to kill business. It is about saying that those on the extremes are the ones who are causing the problems, and we have to make them stop and think and check. It seems to me that only a mention of the words "health and safety" is enough to make everybody jump up and say, "My God, we must do something. Close that business down, because it is a real problem." Yet we find that we are way beyond the point at which there is a balance between cost and reasonableness.

Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury)

Does my hon. Friend agree that, if we were talking about powers given to the police to deal with criminal matters, instead of those that are given for purely civil matters to the various bodies, all of what my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans) calls "That lot opposite" would be up shrieking about civil liberties?

Mr. Duncan Smith

My hon. Friend is right, and makes a powerful point. His support for us on the new clause is welcome, and I take note of that.

I hope that, in 20 years' time, people will look back on the Bill and see it as the point at which the Government grabbed the nettle of the over-imposition of regulation. Our new clause is the way through which individuals can fight back for their businesses and livelihoods, and people will wonder why that did not happen a long time before. They will also wonder why the Opposition were not up and down on their feet supporting every single word of it. The new clause does not affect safety. It will not mean that many more people will be involved in accidents. It will not mean extra difficulties for those working on the shop floor, but simply that the long-held principle of a British citizen's right to a fair hearing, to be innocent until proven guilty, and to go about his or her lawful business without unnecessary hindrance is at stake.

I urge the Government to bear with us. I urge them not to allow pressure groups and officials to tell them, "No, no, Minister, we must not do this"; they should say, "Let us do it, because it is right. It is the only thing to do." That is what our people outside want to hear.

Mr. John Heppell (Nottingham, East)

I had not intended to speak on new clause 14. It was first presented to me on the basis that we should try to secure some cross-party consensus. The hon. Members for Chingford (Mr. Duncan Smith) and for Scarborough (Mr. Sykes) should consult some of the literature on how to win friends and influence people: insulting hon. Members across the Floor of the House is not likely to produce such consensus. It is amusing to watch the Morecambe and Wise act performed by the hon. Gentlemen, but they should try to get their timing right—or, if they cannot do that, try to get the balance right. All the matters that we are discussing are questions of balance.

The hon. Member for Chingford keeps talking about the individual. Amazingly, all the individuals involved happen to be business men. The hon. Gentleman never talks about individuals who are workers or consumers; he never talks about any individuals except business men.

Mr. Duncan Smith

'The individual who is not running a business is also the individual who needs to be employed by the business. It is a fat lot of use to him when it has been closed down.

Mr. Heppell

I agree. I do not want businesses to be closed down; I want to encourage them as much as possible, and to ensure that unnecessary burdens are not placed on them. We must be careful, however, about what we deem necessary and what we deem unnecessary.

I really wanted to speak about new clause 4, which strikes me as being much more important than new clause 14. Its aim is to rein in the power of some of the unelected bureaucracies that are in control at present. The passage of the Bill so far has shown just how dangerous quangos can be; it has also shown how the Government operate. It has involved the establishment of a network of quangos—seven task forces, all containing appointees. The majority of those appointees are business men.

That reflects what is happening throughout the country. Bodies are set up with no democratic accountability; their members are hand-picked because of their views. They consult in secret and keep the results of that consultation secret. They make decisions on rules and regulations behind closed doors—decisions that are not released until the last moment. Last week, at the end of the process, we found that the Secretary of State had already set up a new deregulation panel composed of placemen to deal with the legislation: before it has passed through either House, a new quango is already in existence.

I maintain that, without that kind of democratic deficit, we would not have seen many of the examples given by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher). The district auditors would not have been investigating the health authority in Nottingham in connection with the Nottingham clinic; we would not have had one of our nurseries closed and then been told about the possibility of building new nurseries—but only if we were prepared to sell NHS land so that Sainsbury could build a supermarket; and other NHS land would not be, in effect, given away to private health operators.

The tragedy of all this is that the Government and the Conservative party do not accept that they are doing anything wrong: they think that there is nothing wrong with all these quangos. The personnel involved in the task forces, however, reflect the composition of quangos in general. Twelve of the companies represented on the committees concerned have made a total of 88 donations, worth £2.8 million: I suspect that that is one of the reasons for their membership of the quango. Another reason, I suspect, is the fact that 55 other donations have been made to four key Tory organisations, totalling nearly £700,000.

Mr. Brazier

Will the hon. Gentleman please remind me which Prime Minister appointed his son-in-law ambassador to Washington?

Mr. Heppell

I think I can remember, but I am not sure that it is particularly relevant. My point is this: it would be just as wrong for me to fill a quango with trade unionists as it is for the Government to fill one with business men. We should do away with quangos altogether.

Four out of the seven task forces contain representatives of companies that have employed seven Tory Members, or ex-Members; four of the seven chairmen come from companies that have given large donations to the Tory party. Mr. Christopher Chope, who lost his Southampton seat, serves on the transport task force.

Mr. Norris

Very good man.

Mr. Heppell

Very good man, the Minister says.

It does not matter if a Tory Member or candidate loses in an election; if he does not get into Parliament, he will still be able to make decisions in unelected quangos, having been placed there by the Government. That is what I object to.

The Minister is not listening, but I shall continue none the less. Last week I talked to the chief executive of my local training and enterprise council. I told him, "I cannot accept the fact that there is no democracy in the way in which you make decisions, or in the placing of people on the TEC." In fact, members of the TEC pick their own successors: if someone leaves, the TEC chooses that person's replacement. The chief executive replied, "Yes, but these are all honourable men with the good of the community at heart."

In the main, I can accept that; but I cannot accept the idea that I should be willing to be ruled by business men. I cannot accept the "Lady Bountiful" attitude that business men know what decisions should be made better than I do. I believe that business has a part to play, and should be included in our deliberations, but business men should not make these decisions in isolation. They do not represent the whole community. The only way in which to ensure that the community is represented is to establish public bodies that are accountable to the public.

People used not even to be able to vote unless they were landowners or had a business. We stopped that, because it was not democratic. Until just before the war, business men were allowed an extra vote simply because they were business men. We stopped that, too, because it was not democratic. I hope that hon. Members will support the new clause, because it attempts to restrict what is happening at present—the appointment of business men and Tory placemen—and to return us to proper, accountable democracy.

Mr. Nirj Joseph Deva (Brentford and Isleworth)

In Committee, I was privileged to join my hon. Friends the Members for Scarborough (Mr. Sykes) and for Chingford (Mr. Duncan Smith) in tabling new clause 14, which I consider very important. I note a sense of anxiety in the House about time; as Henry VIII would have said to his many wives, "I shall not detain you for too long."

Henry VIII, in fact, was much cited in Committee in recent months, but I support the new clause on the ground that it is a Henry VII clause. That good king enabled his people to use the courts to right the wrongs perpetrated by officialdom many years ago. It is important to consider the conditions in which our industrial and manufacturing sectors and small businesses operate. Small businesses create jobs more efficiently than any other sector in this country. Between 1980 and 1988, the Conservative Government created 1 million new jobs, some of which have vanished because of the recession, predominantly in the small business sector, which is an efficient generator of jobs.

6 pm

The Labour party talks incessantly about manufacturing industry. Manufacturing industry is not some great monolith, but is supported by small contractors. Small businesses support large enterprises. If the Labour party is saying that it is not willing to support the small business man, it is talking through the other side of its head.

The Labour party talks incessantly about the consumer interest. The consumer must be given good value for money, for which there must be competition and efficient production. How will that be achieved if small businesses cannot compete against each other?

A more important consideration is the climate in which our country competes against what are now fashionably called the emerging markets. The western economies, particularly the United States, have invested £1,000 billion in setting up manufacturing institutions and industries throughout the Pacific rim, China, India and south Asia. Those countries produce the same goods as we can, but they do so much more cheaply. Do those countries have over-zealous regulation? Do they have the officialdom to which we are subjected in this country? Do people shut down businesses because the letter and spirit of the law has not been followed?

Mr. Miller

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Deva

No, I am sorry, but I will not.

Why are we discussing this very important Bill in total isolation, as though the rest of the world does not exist? We debate health, protection, over-zealous regulation and deregulation as though we are on another planet. That is why I ask my ministerial colleagues to agree to our new clause. The new clause follows the spirit of remarks made by the Prime Minister, the President of the Board of Trade and other people who are much more senior and more erudite than I in the Department of Trade and Industry.

The DTI's "Guide to Good Regulation", which was published this year, states: The emphasis should be on compliance rather than on over-zealous enforcement. In their efficiency scrutiny, the Government said: We believe a culture of mistrust has developed over a number of years: openness and transparency in enforcement action seem to be the key to addressing this problem. We believe that a safety net of an independent appeals mechanism would provide justice for all, and impose sufficient discipline on enforcers to curb any excesses. Our new clause addresses that problem. It would enable hard-working business men and small traders—the lifeblood of our country—to ask a magistrate for a stay of execution against a decision of an over-zealous official. That would concentrate the mind of the man imposing the regulation because he would have to make his case to a third party—a magistrate. With such a mechanism in place, businesses would expand, jobs would be created and our economy would grow.

Mr. William Cash (Stafford)

Ancient Greece provides a cautionary tale for the Minister, the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett), the Law Commission and perhaps the House. When the rulers of ancient Greece considered a new law proposed by a member of the public, they would ask the proposer to stand on a platform. If they liked the law, they took away the noose; if they did not, they took away the platform.

The House should consider the vast amount of expenditure that is imposed on small businesses and business. Day in and day out, we impose duties on the British people which cost money. The money is not necessarily available, so there is a tremendous squeeze, with the Chief Secretary having to negotiate on how to reduce the PSBR from £50 billion to reasonable levels, or having to decide whether we should increase taxation to meet the difference.

We should take a more radical view of the duties that the House imposes and reduce them to a level that is reasonably practicable. Forty-three Members signed an amendment that I tabled, which I understand could not be selected for this debate. Unless we are prepared to reduce the level of regulation to which our businesses our subjected, unless we are prepared to say that, irrespective of the amount of money available, there will not be an absolute duty to meet regulations, enforceable by judicial review, which places a burden on quangos, small businesses or the British people, and unless we are prepared to accept that there is another route—to go only so far as is reasonably practicable, rather than to impose blanket mindless obligations that cannot be met because money is not available—we shall find ourselves in a pit of unpopularity, and that difficulty may be combined with an inability to pay.

Only last weekend, I visited a retail complex in my constituency which contained a number of businesses. I encountered the most amazing state of affairs. Six 1992 regulations have been introduced, purportedly under health and safety requirements, but actually under European legislation. They include a list of duties for people and their employees. They include a list of about 15 to 20 activities such as twisting, turning, bending and stretching, for which there is a requirement to use goggles. It is unbelievable.

My hon. Friends the Members for Chingford (Mr. Duncan Smith) and for Scarborough (Mr. Sykes) have suggested that magistrates should consider such regulations, which I believe are worthy of reference to a lunatic asylum. The regulations state that staff must be trained to put on goggles and to put on a jacket. An assessment must subsequently be made of every single person in the business. Businesses are subjected to the humiliation, embarrassment, absurdity and expense of this ridiculous nonsense, which is associated with the social chapter, which Opposition Members urge us to accept in their absurd European manifesto.

The Bill goes to the heart of the changes that are necessary. It might be only one swing of the pendulum in "The Pit and the Pendulum", but the walls are closing in on the people of this country. The only way in which we can extract ourselves from this position is by reducing the duties that we continually heap on the people and substitute for them that which is reasonably practicable and can reasonably be paid for. Until we make a decision on that, we shall remain in the vortex of difficulty that we have created for ourselves.

Mr. Steen

Before I take up the points made in the tremendous oration of my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash), which greatly moved the House, I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough (Mr. Sykes). He has shown great courage and fortitude in tabling new clause 14, and the debate has attracted an enormous number of Conservative Members who are squeezed tightly together because of the shortage of space.

We could not have expected or hoped for a more sympathetic, more tuned in or more charismatic Minister than my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Corporate Affairs. There is perhaps little point in our making speeches because the Minister knows it all. He knows that what we are saying is right and he knows the problems that need to be dealt with. I suspect that our speeches are merely delaying the moment when he says that he will not only do what we suggest and accept the new clause but will go even further. It is unkind of us to delay his opportunity to tell us the good news—an opportunity for which he has waited for several hours—that he will not only accept the main provisions of new clause 14 but will improve them and make additional suggestions.

The House is especially bright at picking things up immediately, so I cannot believe that it has not detected the fact that the new clause is an attempt to find a way of dealing with existing rules and regulations. We are not discussing the big issues, such as reducing the number of Acts of Parliament or getting rid of primary legislation; we are discussing how to establish a mechanism to enable people at the grass roots to obtain some justice in the interpretation of those rules and regulations.

Although we recognise that the Bill is an amazing step in the right direction and that it will cut through swathes of unnecessary administration and bureaucracy, it will take a little time to do so. It could be four to five years before its real impact is felt. One way of proceeding would be to introduce a similar Bill every year. The Minister should take that suggestion to heart. Perhaps he could come to the House every year to respond to our debates—nothing would give us greater pleasure.

The main question covered in the new clause is how we get bevies of officials, paid for by the taxpayer, off the backs of the people when they are intent on pinning down their victims by enforcing a rule that they believe should be interpreted in a particular way. A rule will be interpreted differently in different parts of the country.

We need to involve a local tribunal, panel or administrator—one already in post. The beauty of the new clause is that it would not establish another quango or any further bureaucracy, but would make use of existing machinery to which we could give added responsibility and more work. We could perhaps call on the local tax inspector who is probably under-employed. It does not have to be the magistrate. We could ask the district surveyor or valuer. What about the rates panel—what do its members do—or the education appeals committee? I am sure that it could take on a little extra activity.

We need find only one or two such groups—there are many hundreds—and ask them to accept a bit of extra work. We should not expect to pay them for it—it is a voluntary activity although it is an important job. I do not care who takes on the work, but we need to find a way to ensure that the man in the street no longer feels victimised, persecuted, prosecuted, terrified or devastated by the little Hitler attitude of small-minded officials.

6.15 pm

In the past few weeks, I have several times raised the matter of over-zealous—I note that that has now become the "in" word—interpretation of regulations relating to filing cabinets by the administration of the Palace of Westminster. The administration is insisting that all filing cabinets have an anti-tilt device. Everyone in the House is familiar with that device, but it is nonsense. I have examined all the rules and regulations and there is no directive, either from Europe or from the United Kingdom, covering such matters. However, officials in the Palace of Westminster have decided that all filing cabinets that might tilt over and conk one on the head—though only if one opens all four drawers at the same time—have to be cleared out.

If a magistrates court in Westminster examined such a ridiculous interpretation by officialdom, we should not be getting rid of such filing cabinets. [Interruption.] Does my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester, North (Mr. Jenkin) wish to intervene?

Mr. Bernard Jenkin (Colchester, North)

indicated dissent.

Mr. Steen

My hon. Friend is wise not to intervene while I am citing such a ridiculous example of bureaucracy and officialdom. As there is no method of appeal, officials are free to interpret as they wish. There is no way of stopping them. Even more serious, what would happen if every local authority inspector decided that every filing cabinet without an anti-tilt device had to be thrown away? What would be the cost to the taxpayer? [Interruption.] No, I do not have an anti-tilt device.

Filing cabinets are not the only problem. What about the height of desks? Colleagues do not realise that all their desks are to be thrown out because they are not the right height. That is not a result of European legislation or local officials; it is because officials in the Palace of Westminster have decided that all desks have to be changed because one secretary has a back ache. That proves the absurdity of the rules and regulations and makes it clear why the new clause is extremely important.

Mr. Jenkin

May I draw my hon. Friend's attention to the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989? Has he noticed that a little tag or sticker has recently been put on the back of the electrical appliances in his office, or on their flexes, to show that a Palace official has checked them to ensure that no one could kill himself with them? Has he asked any officials to give chapter and verse of the regulation that requires such extensive checking? To my knowledge, no such regulation exists.

Mr. Steen

My hon. Friend's question is very timely and is evidence of his foresight because I was about to raise exactly that issue. I thought that my hon. Friend might mention it so I took the precaution of asking senior people in the Library to help me track down the relevant regulation. I received a letter which said: I can find no regulations, or even codes of practice, which specifically mention such a requirement. Therefore, the House has unnecessarily spent tens of thousands of pounds on sticking little numbers on flexes and power points, not to mention the £600 German hair dryers installed in some of the cloakrooms. Little numbers have also been stuck on typewriters and computers, which is wholly unnecessary.

Mr. Duncan Smith

To extend my hon. Friend's argument, the point is not just the Palace of Westminster, but the fact that throughout the land there are businesses that are now being told by a number of sources, "This is a regulation with which you must comply" when, in reality, it is not. Does my hon. Friend accept, therefore, that the big problem is that, without a form of challenge, businesses never dream of challenging what they are told is a regulation?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse)

Order. Before we go further, I point out that we are straying a little wide. We should be talking about business outside the Palace, and not business within the Palace. The hon. Member for South Hams (Mr. Steen) has so far dwelt on business within the Palace.

Mr. Steen

I shall quickly move outside the Palace. I dwelt on what was happening within the Palace only to point out that if we cannot get it right without an appeals mechanism, how can we expect the little man to get it right?

Mr. John Garrett (Norwich, South)

I was tempted earlier to ask the hon. Gentleman whether he tilted when his drawers were pulled open, but I decided not to. Surely he is aware that the Palace of Westminster operates under Crown immunity. All he has to do is to speak to the Leader of the House, who is a member of his own party.

Mr. Steen

I know who my right hon. Friend the Member for Braintree (Mr. Newton) is. I am speaking to him and drawing his attention to this additional and unnecessary expenditure. I do not want to spend any more time on the matter and I must follow what Mr. Deputy Speaker has said in his important ruling.

The issue is this. If the Palace of Westminster cannot get it right, none of the small businesses and industries can get it right. I shall now give one or two examples outside the House and I shall explain to my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough why his new clause is so important. Three enormous new barns have been built in my constituency in an area of great landscape value. The view is magnificent until one sees these whacking great barns. They were built in the wrong place, at the wrong height and without planning consent. What do the planners say?

Mr. Garrett

They say, "Pull them down."

Mr. Steen

They do not. The planners say, "Apply for retrospective planning consent." The developer has applied for retrospective planning consent and the officials will recommend that these whacking great barns, which are far larger than one would have contemplated, should stay.

Ten miles away, in the little hamlet of Aveton Gifford on the banks of the Avon, there is a little farmhouse. It has very little future because farming has declined. The farmers have converted their front parlour into a tea room and applied for planning consent. It is a beautiful little tea room in which wonderful cream teas are served. It is miles off the beaten track, so people cannot find it. The farmers have put a little cardboard sign in the grass by the side of the road which says, "Cream teas this way". They have been threatened with enforcement action by the local planners if they do not take that little cardboard sign out of the soil. The local authority is prepared for the farm to close if it goes bust. The farmers will not be able to find the money to survive, so the cream teas are important to them. Yet the whacking great barns can stay up for ever.

That is an example of why new clause 14 is so important and that is why my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Corporate Affairs needs to respond in his customarily helpful and enigmatic way. If he feels that he cannot support new clause 14, I point out that he has 11,389 officials. Surely some of them can dream up a better new clause which will provide an even better solution to the problem.

I had a word with the Whip, my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Mr. Mitchell), before I spoke. He said that it might help my career if I did not speak for too long. I had to tell him that I did not have a career any longer, so it would not help me to speak for a short while. I support the new clause.

Mr. Christopher Gill (Ludlow)

I support new clause 14. I am sorry that I was not present to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough (Mr. Sykes) speak in support of the new clause. I know that he speaks with the experience of having run a private business. He has, therefore, an understanding of the way in which regulatory over-kill impacts on business. In other words, he is not discussing this, as many Opposition Members will tonight, in a vacuum. He is discussing it in the light of his experience.

It is difficult for people outside the House to understand why their problems and concerns are not more adequately and satisfactorily represented in the House. I believe that the reason is, in no small measure, that, regrettably, there are fewer and fewer hon. Members who have had the experience of running businesses and of being on the receiving end of so much mindless bureaucracy.

The Minister for Industry (Mr. Tim Sainsbury)

indicated assent.

Mr. Gill

I see my right hon. Friend the Minister for Industry, who has a connection with a large business, nodding. I am not sure whether he is nodding in agreement. In a little while, I shall tell the House how seriously I regard the matter of over-regulation, not least because the burden bears down most heavily on the smaller businesses rather than on the bigger businesses.

The bigger businesses have the scope to designate a person within the business to look after this or that piece of regulation. I hope that Ministers understand that in a small business, where there may be only one owner-driver, that person has to be the salesman, the marketing director, the production director and the accountant, and he has to look after all the regulations. That is why so many of our small business men are absolutely fed up to the back teeth with so much regulation. Small business men know that when it comes to the implementation of that regulation, it is down to them.

Many hon. Members may be inclined to believe that small business men should react more strongly against the legislation that they resent and that they should be more troublesome about it. That again illustrates the lack of understanding in the House about a small business man's priority. His priority when he gets up in the morning is to go to his factory, and to produce a product that he can sell at a profit. He can then reinvest in the business to create more jobs, more products, more profit, more investment, more jobs and so on. It is a virtuous circle. What mitigates against that virtuous circle is the plethora of legislation.

I support new clause 14 because it would, for the first time, establish an appeals procedure which would involve the impartiality of the courts. From my own experience, I can tell the House without fear or favour that in all the jams I have been in when dealing with officialdom, there was no final arbiter to whom I could appeal other than the senior civil servant or local government officer. He is not, of course, exactly impartial in these matters.

My hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Duncan Smith) has referred to the number of small businesses that have simply closed down because of the attitude of officials. My hon. Friend the Member for South Hams (Mr. Steen), in his invaluable contribution, mentioned how so much depends on the interpretation that officials put on a piece of legislation, which may vary from one local authority area to another.

Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley)

Does my hon. Friend agree that part of the problem with Opposition Members is that they have never run a business in their lives? If they had done so, they might be more supportive of the deregulation principle—

Mr. John Spellar (Warley, West)

A real captain of industry.

Mr. Evans

Irrespective of what the hon. Gentleman says, at least I have had to meet a wage bill every week on behalf of eight employees. Opposition Members have never had to do that. That is the crux of the difference between us. Opposition Members have never had to meet a wage bill. Does my hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow (Mr. Gill) agree that it would be useful if some of our local officers, who have to interpret some of the rules and regulations, were seconded to industry? They would then get a better understanding of industry.

Mr. Gill

My hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) raises an interesting point. Broadly speaking, he is probably correct in saying that not too many Opposition Members have run businesses. However, I detect a dawning realisation on the Opposition Benches that it is quite important to have successful businesses, because they create the wealth of the nation and employ our constituents. The sad thing is that not all Opposition Members are prepared to go that far and, undoubtedly, many have yet to see the light. Of course, it is satisfactory from our standpoint that they continue to squabble and bicker among themselves on this and many other subjects.

My hon. Friend the Member for Chingford also mentioned the question of eggs and salmonella. I am on record as saying that, when the scare blew up in 1988, we immediately seized the wrong end of the telescope through which we peered at the problem. Why were Ministers considering the problem of eggs and salmonella through the wrong end of the telescope? It was simply because their officials handed them the wrong end of the telescope.

The knee-jerk reaction to that cry resulted in a great deal of extra, burdensome legislation being enforced in the egg and poultry industry, although some of it has been rescinded because it has been proved faulty. I do not blame Ministers nearly as much as I blame their officials for giving that advice in the first place. The only categorical statement one can make about that problem is that, if the housewives, the cooks, the chefs and anybody else involved in preparing food had cooked eggs and poultry correctly, there would have been no risk to human health whatever. In the interim, we have seen the slaughter of 3.5 million poultry at a cost of over £7 million to the taxpayer.

6.30 pm

I want to tell the House about the case of my constituent, Mr. Shaw of Morville, who is being pilloried even now by officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food because he feels, with some justification in my opinion, that he is a victim of a vendetta simply because he stands up to the officials, says that they do not have the power to do what they want to do and tells them that, until they produce the legislation which empowers them to enforce what they say he must do, he is not letting them on to his premises.

The reason why Mr. Shaw is on the hit list of officialdom is not least because he was involved in a cause celebre. He went to court in defence of the nuns at Daventry and won the case, against all the officials. That went down very badly with the officials, to the extent that, even to this day, they hound my constituent Mr. Shaw, who runs a bona fide business responsibly and who conducts an enormous amount of valuable research work for the poultry industry, quite apart from maintaining a breeding stock and a blood-line, which would otherwise disappear and be a great loss to the whole British poultry and egg industry.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) spoke about the responsibility of politicians. My goodness, we have a responsibility, because it is only as a result of our going through one Lobby or the other, night after night, that we have such an enormous weight of statute law. That situation—

Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East)

That is because of the hon. Member's Government.

Mr. Gill

Does the hon. Gentleman wish to intervene?

Mr. McAllion

Does not the hon. Gentleman think that it has had something to do with his right hon. Friends on the Front Bench that an enormous amount of statute law has gone through the House?

Mr. Gill

The hon. Gentleman raises an interesting point. However, I took the trouble to go to the Library some weeks ago to see how the amount of statute law had varied from one year to another and from one Government to another. I must say to the hon. Gentleman that, while it is true that my team has not done ever so well, neither has his team. The honours are shared. The hon. Gentleman provokes me to say, while I am on my feet, that at least this Government have recognised the problem and are doing something about it. If the Minister has the good sense to adopt new clause 14, so ably proposed by my hon. Friends the Members for Scarborough and for Chingford, not only will he have done something about it, but he will have done so in a workmanlike manner.

My constituents and those of my hon. Friends want to be rid of the tyranny of officialdom. What the Government have to do and what any Government must do is hold the ring between, on the one hand, what is desirable and, on the other, what is necessary. Many Opposition Members are for ever coming to the House and saying what additional legislation they would like. I must say to them that much of that proposed legislation may be desirable, but not much of it is necessary.

Mr. Steen


Mr. Gill

May I finish the sentence? I especially want to tell my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench how important it is for the Government to hold the ring between what is desirable and what is strictly necessary.

Mr. Steen


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Has the hon. Member given way?

Mr. Gill

Of course.

Mr. Steen

My hon. Friend has made an important contribution to a very important debate, but there is one issue that I should like to correct. Most officials are carrying out their duties, they are doing their best and they are terrified about losing their jobs. One of the problems is corrected by the new clause. Because they are sometimes concerned about keeping their jobs, they go too far and that is why we need an appeals mechanism. The other point is that we have too many officials. Does my hon. Friend agree that if we reduced the number of officials, it would be far better?

Mr. Gill

My hon. Friend makes some interesting observations. Unfortunately, his intervention was not quite long enough for me to think of another peroration of the speech that I thought I had just finished. Notwithstanding that, my hon. Friend tempts me to comment on one or two things that he said.

I well remember going to a meeting organised by the tourist association of south Shropshire, where various farmers and farmers' wives came together to discuss how they could develop their properties for bed and breakfast, overnight accommodation and so on. I had the audacity to stand up and say, in front of all the planning officers who were also present, that perhaps it would be easier for those people to provide bed and breakfast accommodation if they were allowed to convert their barns and buildings in the way they wanted. I said that I understood their problems because along comes an official, who says to them, "Not like that, not now, not in that shape and form; re-submit an application."

Of course, the officials pointed out that it was as a result of the activities of this House that they were empowered to take such an attitude. So we cannot shuffle off blame from the House to the hundreds of thousands of officials who are empowered to enforce rules and regulations. There are too many regulations and I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for South Hams that there are too many officials as well.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Corporate Affairs (Mr. Neil Hamilton)

I am sure that I speak for the entire House when I welcome the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) to our proceedings. If ever a demonstration were needed that the inter-party truce had come to an end, that must be it. The hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett)—nice, emollient, reasonable and moderate—has been replaced by the red rottweiler from Oldham.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West made a passionate speech in favour of new clause 4. I normally associate him with passionate speeches on old clause IV. We do not hear so much of that any longer because a new spirit stalks the land, especially in Bambi land, which is occupied by Opposition Members. They now have to pole-vault over one another in their speeches to become ever more right wing to appeal to their electorates.

We heard a vintage right-wing performance from the hon. Member for Oldham, West, which I might have been capable of making before I joined the Government. He spoke, for example, in defence of those old-fashioned Thatcherite themes of cutting government, reducing the amount of interference in people's lives, destroying quangos and reducing the size of the civil service. The hon. Gentleman may be under some misapprehension because it is in his party that there is a leadership vacancy. He is appealing to the wrong audience.

The hon. Gentleman's speech seemed not to go to the heart of his new clause, if I may put it in that delicate way. He talked about quangos in general and quoted in particular a report that has appeared in the newspapers of a body called Democratic Audit, which has criticised the Government performance on quangos. He claimed that Democratic Audit was an independent body. I do not know anything about its membership but I am slightly suspicious. It may be as independent as the German Democratic Republic was democratic.

The truth of the matter is otherwise to that which the hon. Gentleman asserts. Over the past 15 years, there has been a substantial reduction in the number of quangos. The hon. Gentleman can reach the figures that he has been quoting only if he includes grant-maintained schools, for example, where, for the first time, parents and others with a direct interest in the education of their children have a voice. If grant-maintained schools are counted as quangos, I shall be delighted to see more of them. Indeed, that policy could be applied to many other areas.

In the few minutes that are available to me. I shall talk about some of the serious policies that my hon. Friends endorse—some Opposition Members have professed to endorse them—and which form the basis of the arguments advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough (Mr. Sykes) and many other hon. Friends in a variety of philippics in the past hour and three quarters, or so.

I have no difficulty in saying to my hon. Friends that I share their analysis of the problems that beset us. I share also their objectives in trying to do something to overcome them. I wish to try especially to provide an appeals mechanism that is quick, effective and cost-effective and will not create a new bureaucracy within which people will be subsumed. That was one of the many good points made by my hon. Friend the Member for South Hams (Mr. Steen). I hope that, as a result of the deregulation initiative, we shall be able seriously to examine the difficulties and produce practical solutions.

6.45 pm

We are doing many things that will assist us in achieving our objective. We are trying in particular—this emerged in Committee, where there was consensus on the matter—to bring together the regulators and those who are being regulated, to ensure that there is clarity of purpose among those making the rules. We wish to ensure that there is a good dialogue on enforcement policies, that: there is adequate consultation, a courteous and efficient service, the minimisation of compliance costs and, especially, well-publicised, swift and effective complaints procedures that are easily accessible to business.

We are doing all those things. That provides us with part of the answer, but I emphasise, "part". I accept that there is a need to go further.

We must ask ourselves whether the courts will provide us with the right answer. Far be it from me to speak ill of my profession—the law. I have no intention of doing that in case I might need to take it up again one day. My experience of the courts, and as a Member, in terms of the interests of businesses, does not incline me to believe that the courts offer the perfect mechanism by which we can solve all the difficulties that my hon. Friends and others have brought before us.

I can illustrate that by taking an example that is set out in the Bill—the provision of children's certificates for pubs. We have already been receiving complaints that the magistrates courts—the mechanism by which the certificates will be granted—are in some instances taking an overly restrictive attitude towards the new liberality that those who support the Bill are trying to bring about. For example, I have a letter from a firm of solicitors complaining about the licensing committees of Birmingham and Sheffield. The letter states that the committees have attained some notoriety within licensing circles for their lack of flexibility, and rigid adherence to their policies in the face of overwhelming evidence. I have other letters about, for example, Carlisle where it is alleged that the statements on policy on the provision of family rooms under the law as it stands … are both unreasonable in themselves and bode ill for the future children's certificates regime. I shall quote shortly from the policy of the Carlisle justices. The quote may illustrate to my hon. Friends why I think that the magistrates courts may not be the ideal solution and may not provide an answer to their problems. The justices state that they do not favour the provision in licensed premises of what are generally known as 'family rooms', that is to say, rooms specially provided to accommodate children. They continue to assert that they would not favour the proposition of a family room in a busy city or suburban public house … the provision of other children's facilities (such as swings or climbing frames) in the garden or car park of such premises, would not by itself influence the justices in favour of a family room in those premises. The justices would require suitable toilet accommodation to be provided for the use of children only, quite apart and separate from that provided for adults. And so on and so forth. As I have said, it may be that the magistrates courts do not provide a forum in which businesses are likely to be given the most sympathetic hearing.

Appeals mechanisms are already provided in some instances, which would be overridden by the general provisions of new clause 14. We would have to examine carefully the way in which the clause might supersede or duplicate the existing enforcement and appeals powers. I have asked the deregulation task force to examine with care the problems that are being faced by businesses throughout the country, which I fully accept.

I have no difficulty in saying that the absurd cases that my hon. Friends have brought forward are a more than adequate demonstration of the need to find a solution to the problem. We must be certain, however, before we make any policy decision, that we shall not make the problem worse.

The essence of the deregulation initiative is that we should think extremely carefully, think even more carefully—I say this in deference to my hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow (Mr. Gill)—before we legislate. We must cost what we propose to do and think through the consequences of our decisions. I hope that the deregulation task force will be able quickly to produce a proposal. I am sure that the matter will be dealt with at length in another place.

Given the opportunities that are available for the Government to take, I ask my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough to withdraw his new clause. As I have explained, there are opportunities for the Government to take a policy decision. If my hon. Friend withdraws his clause and the matter goes to another place, the basis of the debate there will consequently be more informed. I fully support what my hon. Friend wants to achieve, but I am not certain that the mechanism that he has put forward is the one to realise his objective. Therefore, I am not able to accept his new clause.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West has gone halfway towards achieving what my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough wishes to achieve. I had half a mind to astonish him—perhaps horrify him—by accepting his new clause. I am not prepared to do that, however, for the reasons that I have set out in my response to my hon. Friend's new clause. On that basis, I hope that both the hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend will not press their new clauses.

Mr. Fatchett

During the past hour and a half, facts have rarely intervened on some of the prejudices that have been peddled enjoyably by Conservative Members. It may be worth while to recall that 71 per cent. of the orders and regulations which now cover industry and which are a so-called burden on industry were introduced by this Government. Conservative Members should ask themselves what they are doing when they go into the Division Lobby at night and slavishly follow their Whips.

It may be worth while to refer to a point made by the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. Gill). He said that the last Labour Government's record and this Government's record were about the same with regard to regulations. He embellished the point by saying that he had visited the Library to discover the facts. His visit was not wholly fruitful.

The simple fact is that this Government have introduced almost twice as many regulations and orders as did the previous Labour Government. As the hon. Member for Ludlow played such a keen part in the opposition to the Maastricht Bill, he should know the reason for that imbalance. Much of that relates to secondary legislation from the European Union. That accounts for the substantial difference and change in the quantity of regulations.

There are many weaknesses in new clause 14 because of the procedures that are to be used. The route via the magistrates court would be a lawyer's gold mine. There would have to be case law and precedent and there would be one case after another. That is not the way to deal with the problem to which the new clause relates.

There would also be a lack of uniformity. All Conservative Members have said that they are looking for uniformity and sensitivity in terms of the application of regulations. New clause 14 will not achieve those objectives. If the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. Sykes) decides to press his new clause to a Division, my hon. Friends will be asked to vote against it because we believe that it is defective in terms of achieving the hon. Gentleman's objectives.

I have another point for the hon. Member for Scarborough. In his opening comments, he turned on my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mrs. Jackson) and said that she was not in the Standing Committee when it debated fire safety and hotels. I remind the hon. Member for Scarborough that, at columns 774 and 775 of the report of the Committee proceedings of 24 March, he had an exchange with my hon. Friend the Member for Hillsborough, which seems to suggest that they were both present then.

Mr. Sykes

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for allowing me to put the record straight. If the hon. Gentleman had been listening to me, he would know that I referred to Thursday 28 April when I moved new clause 21 on the very subject that we are discussing today. That was when the hon. Member for Hillsborough was in South Africa.

Mr. Fatchett

We will consider the record on that matter.

Mrs. Jackson

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Fatchett

I will give way to my hon. Friend, but I know that the House wishes to reach a conclusion on this issue in a few moments.

Mrs. Jackson

Very briefly, the point that the hon. Member for Scarborough failed to answer related to a question about fire safety specifically. I remembered the interchange in Committee, for which we were both present. That was the intervention that I spoke about.

Mr. Fatchett

I no longer intend to be a conduit in the conversation between two other hon. Members.

I must tell the hon. Member for Scarborough that we will not support new clause 14.

New clause 4, which my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) introduced some time ago, is about the burdens imposed on business by the quangos that have been set up by the Government; the extent to which they now account for a substantial proportion of gross national product and public expenditure; and the extent to which they are bodies in respect of which it appears that the only qualification for membership is that one is a supporter of the Conservative party, a member of the Conservative party or related to someone in either of those categories. Any other attribute seems to be of no importance.

When Conservative Members who have spoken so vividly on other occasions about Maastricht and accountability are not prepared to support new clause 4, their arguments about accountability and democracy become somewhat thinner. The crucial point about new clause 4 is that it makes this place more able to make accountable money that is spent on our behalf.

We are opposing the sleaze, corruption and waste involved in the number of quangos that the Government have established. A keen and obvious theme arises from these debates: the Opposition are in favour of open and clean government; Conservative Members are not. That is why I ask my hon. Friends to support new clause 4.

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

The House divided: Ayes 225, Noes 284.

Division No. 252] [6.54 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Adams, Mrs Irene Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Ainger, Nick Clelland, David
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Allen, Graham Coffey, Ann
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Cohen, Harry
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Armstrong, Hilary Corbett, Robin
Ashton, Joe Corston, Ms Jean
Austin-Walker, John Cousins, Jim
Barnes, Harry Cunliffe, Lawrence
Barron, Kevin Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Battle, John Dafis, Cynog
Bayley, Hugh Dalyell, Tam
Beith, Rt Hon A. J. Darling, Alistair
Bell, Stuart Davidson, Ian
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Benton, Joe Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Bermingham, Gerald Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Berry, Roger Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'I)
Betts, Clive Dewar, Donald
Blair, Tony Dixon, Don
Blunkett, David Donohoe, Brian H.
Boateng, Paul Dowd, Jim
Boyes, Roland Dunnachie, Jimmy
Bradley, Keith Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Bray, Dr Jeremy Eagle, Ms Angela
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Enright, Derek
Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Evans, John (St Helens N)
Burden, Richard Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Byers, Stephen Fatchett, Derek
Caborn, Richard Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Callaghan, Jim Fisher, Mark
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Foster, Don (Bath)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Foulkes, George
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Fyfe, Maria
Cann, Jamie Galloway, George
Chisholm, Malcolm Gapes, Mike
Clapham, Michael Garrett, John
George, Bruce Milburn, Alan
Gerrard, Neil Miller, Andrew
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Godman, Dr Norman A. Moonie, Dr Lewis
Godsiff, Roger Morgan, Rhodri
Golding, Mrs Llin Morley, Elliot
Gordon, Mildred Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Graham, Thomas Mowlam, Marjorie
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Mullin, Chris
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Murphy, Paul
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Grocott, Bruce O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Gunnell, John O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Hall, Mike Olner, William
Hanson, David O'Neill, Martin
Hardy, Peter Parry, Robert
Harman, Ms Harriet Patchett, Terry
Harvey, Nick Pickthall, Colin
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Pope, Greg
Heppell, John Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Hinchliffe, David Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Home Robertson, John Prescott, John
Hood, Jimmy Primarolo, Dawn
Hoon, Geoffrey Purchase, Ken
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Quin, Ms Joyce
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Radice, Giles
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Randall, Stuart
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Raynsford, Nick
Hutton, John Reid, Dr John
Illsley, Eric Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Ingram, Adam Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead) Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H) Rogers, Allan
Janner, Greville Rooker, Jeff
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn) Rowlands, Ted
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Ruddock, Joan
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O) Sedgemore, Brian
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Jowell, Tessa Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Short, Clare
Keen, Alan Simpson, Alan
Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn) Skinner, Dennis
Khabra, Piara S. Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn) Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Lewis, Terry Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Litherland, Robert Soley, Clive
Livingstone, Ken Spearing, Nigel
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Spellar, John
Loyden, Eddie Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Lynne, Ms Liz Steinberg, Gerry
McAllion, John Stevenson, George
McAvoy, Thomas Strang, Dr. Gavin
McCartney, Ian Straw, Jack
Macdonald, Calum Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
McFall, John Turner, Dennis
McKelvey, William Vaz, Keith
Mackinlay, Andrew Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
McLeish, Henry Wareing, Robert N
McMaster, Gordon Watson, Mike
MacShane, Denis Williams, Rt Hon Alan (SW'n W)
McWilliam, John Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Madden, Max Wilson, Brian
Maddock, Mrs Diana Winnick, David
Mahon, Alice Wise, Audrey
Mandelson, Peter Worthington, Tony
Marek, Dr John Wray, Jimmy
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Wright, Dr Tony
Martlew, Eric Young, David (Bolton SE)
Maxton, John
Meacher, Michael Tellers for the Ayes:
Michael, Alun Mr. Peter Kilfoyle and
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Mr. Alan Meale.
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)
Aitken, Jonathan Allason, Rupert (Torbay)
Alexander, Richard Amess, David
Arbuthnot, James Forman, Nigel
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Forth, Eric
Ashby, David Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Atkins, Robert Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Freeman, Rt Hon Roger
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) French, Douglas
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Fry, Sir Peter
Baldry, Tony Gale, Roger
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Gallie, Phil
Bates, Michael Gardiner, Sir George
Bendall, Vivian Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan
Biffen, Rt Hon John Garnier, Edward
Blackburn, Dr John G. Gill, Christopher
Body, Sir Richard Gillan, Cheryl
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Booth, Hartley Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Boswell, Tim Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Gorst, John
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Grant, Sir A. (Cambs SW)
Bowden, Andrew Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Bowis, John Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Brandreth, Gyles Grylls, Sir Michael
Brazier, Julian Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Bright, Graham Hague, William
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Browning, Mrs. Angela Hampson, Dr Keith
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Hanley, Jeremy
Budgen, Nicholas Hannam, Sir John
Burns, Simon Hargreaves, Andrew
Burt, Alistair Harris, David
Butcher, John Haselhurst, Alan
Butler, Peter Hawkins, Nick
Butterfill, John Hawksley, Warren
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Hayes, Jerry
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Heald, Oliver
Carrington, Matthew Heathcoat-Amory, David
Carttiss, Michael Hendry, Charles
Cash, William Hicks, Robert
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.
Churchill, Mr Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)
Clappison, James Horam, John
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif) Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Coe, Sebastian Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Colvin, Michael Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Couchman, James Hunter, Andrew
Cran, James Jack, Michael
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Jenkin, Bernard
Davis, David (Boothferry) Jessel, Toby
Day, Stephen Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Deva, Nirj Joseph Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Devlin, Tim Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)
Dickens, Geoffrey Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Dicks, Terry Key, Robert
Dorrell, Stephen King, Rt Hon Tom
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Kirkhope, Timothy
Dover, Den Knapman, Roger
Duncan, Alan Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Duncan-Smith, Iain Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Durant, Sir Anthony Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)
Dykes, Hugh Knox, Sir David
Elletson, Harold Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield) Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Legg, Barry
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Lennox-Boyd, Mark
Evennett, David Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Fabricant, Michael Lidington, David
Fenner, Dame Peggy Lightbown, David
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Fishburn, Dudley Lloyd, Rt Hon Peter (Fareham)
Lord, Michael Sims, Roger
Luff, Peter Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
MacKay, Andrew Soames, Nicholas
Maclean, David Speed, Sir Keith
McLoughlin, Patrick Spencer, Sir Derek
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Malone, Gerald Spink, Dr Robert
Mans, Keith Spring, Richard
Marlow, Tony Sproat, Iain
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Steen, Anthony
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian Stephen, Michael
Merchant, Piers Stern, Michael
Mills, Iain Stewart, Allan
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Streeter, Gary
Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW) Sumberg, David
Moate, Sir Roger Sweeney, Walter
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Sykes, John
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Tapsell, Sir Peter
Moss, Malcolm Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Nelson, Anthony Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Neubert, Sir Michael Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Temple-Morris, Peter
Nicholls, Patrick Thomason, Roy
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Norris, Steve Thomton, Sir Malcolm
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Thurnham, Peter
Oppenheim, Phillip Townend, John (Bridlington)
Ottaway, Richard Tracey, Richard
Page, Richard Tredinnick, David
Paice, James Trend, Michael
Patnick, Irvine Trimble, David
Patten, Rt Hon John Twinn, Dr Ian
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Pawsey, James Viggers, Peter
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Walden, George
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Porter, David (Waveney) Waller, Gary
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Ward, John
Rathbone, Tim Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Redwood, Rt Hon John Waterson, Nigel
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Watts, John
Richards, Rod Wells, Bowen
Riddick, Graham Whitney, Ray
Robathan, Andrew Whittingdale, John
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn Widdecombe, Ann
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S) Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Robinson, Mark (Somerton) Wilkinson, John
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne) Wilshire, David
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent) Wolfson, Mark
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela Wood, Timothy
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard Yeo, Tim
Sackville, Tom Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Tellers for the Noes:
Shaw, David (Dover) Mr. Sydney Chapman and
Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian Mr. Derek Conway.

Question accordingly negatived.

Forward to