HC Deb 24 January 1995 vol 253 cc240-63 10.16 pm
Mr. David Rendel (Newbury)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Local Government (Compensation for Redundancy) Regulations 1994 (S.I., 1994, No. 3025), dated 28th November 1994, a copy of which was laid before this House on 5th December, be annulled. I am delighted to have this opportunity to move the motion on the Order Paper standing in the name of myself and my hon. Friends. It is not often that the Liberal Democrats have an opportunity to initiate a debate in the House. [Interruption.]

Madam Speaker

Order. Liberal Democrats will not only initiate a debate; they will be heard in the House. Will Members who are leaving do so quickly? Close the doors so that we can hear what the hon. Member for Newbury has to say.

Mr. Rendel

I am especially pleased that we have today an opportunity to bring before the House a matter of such crucial importance. It is crucial not just to the individuals in local government who may be unfortunate enough to lose their jobs through redundancy but to the whole process of local government reform itself.

The regulations that the motion seeks to annul are unfair, inadequate and unlikely to attract sufficient numbers of voluntary redundancies. It is, therefore, important that the House should have a chance to debate them. I hope that as a result of the debate the Government will accept the annulment and return with an improved set of regulations as soon as possible. As the regulations cover England and Wales, but not Scotland, I hope that the annulment, which will result if the motion is passed later tonight, will persuade the Government to withdraw the equivalent set of regulations in Scotland.

The regulations have three main purposes: part II puts in place a scheme for redundancy payments above the statutory minimum for cases of redundancy that are separate from those caused by the reorganisation of local government. Part III deals with redundancy payments and early retirement for employees who lose their jobs as a result of local government reorganisation; and part IV seeks to overcome some of the difficulties caused when the notorious north Tyneside judgment led to an unforeseen reduction in the level of pension for some ex-local government employees, who had previously been made redundant or who left in the interests of the efficiency of the service.

Most of my remarks this evening will be directed towards part III, but it may be, appropriate at this point to begin with a few remarks about the inaccuracies of parts II and IV.

First, I pay tribute to the various bodies which have done their best to provide the Government with what would have been an acceptable set of regulations for local government redundancies. The local government associations, the Staff Commission and Unison in particular have all done valuable work in making sensible proposals and, in doing so, have given me invaluable support in considering how to react to the Government's response.

Those bodies consider part II to be the least unacceptable part of the proposals. Unison is unhappy that some degree of discretion is allowed to local councils by part II, but it is largely welcomed by the local authority associations. There is good reason to support some discretion in cases where we are not dealing with a large scale redundancy programme, as we may well be during the period of local government reorganisation.

However, it is greatly to be regretted that that discretion is fettered to the extent that the maximum payments allowed under that part are still well below payments which are being offered to civil servants in many cases.

Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on bringing such an urgent matter to the attention of the House. Is it not extraordinary that in Wales the level of payments given to redundant local government officers will be even lower than in England to start with and, even more extraordinary, to emphasise the point that has just been made, civil servants in the Welsh Office, perhaps with a similar experience and background to those in local government, will receive about £72,000 in redundancy pay, whereas the equivalent in local government will receive as little as £29,000? It is extraordinary that the Secretary of State cannot control his own Department while doing this to people in local government.

Mr. Rendel

I feel at least as sorry for the Welsh as I feel for the English in this case. Surely, in considering the different merits of civil servants and local government officers, the Government should recognise that what is sauce for the goose should also be sauce for the gander.

The attempt in part IV to overcome the problems produced by the north Tyneside judgment is also welcome in so far as it goes, but it is no better than a half-hearted and partial solution to the problems. Not all those affected will be covered by the new measures and those who are affected will, for the most part, not be fully compensated.

The fact that the compensation is discretionary is, in this case, simply a temptation to those local authorities which tend not to act in a responsible way in relation to their staff. After all, these are staff who, by definition, finished their service with the local authority some time ago. Clearly, the pressure on the local authority to treat them properly is so much reduced that we would be foolish to allow an unnecessary level of discretion in this case.

The Government should have put the pensioners affected back in the position that they were in before the north Tyneside judgment was made. That would have been the fair way to deal with the situation. After all, it is not the pensioners' fault that the law was misunderstood by those who should have known better. The pensioners should not now have to pay any of the costs of that misunderstanding.

I come now to what most of us consider to be the heart of the regulations, or at least the section which has the greatest importance for the immediate future—the section which deals with local government reorganisation. Sadly, not only is part III the heart of the regulations, but it is the part in the greatest need of significant amendment.

The first and most telling criticism of all is that the maximum level of payments to be made under the regulations is, quite simply, far too low, especially in relation to precedents set in previous episodes of local government reorganisation and by the modern day civil service.

For example, the maximum level set in the 1986 reorganisation for a 49-year-old with service throughout his or her career was 82 weeks' pay compared with a maximum of 66 weeks' pay under these regulations. It might be said that those were different, easier times, when the country could afford more; times when it was not so necessary to watch every penny. Is that the Government's argument? Are they really arguing that the economy has got steadily worse in the past 10 years of Conservative rule, so we can now afford to pay people only 80 per cent. of what we could afford to pay them 10 years ago? Surely not.

Mr. Alex Carlile (Montgomery)

A few moments ago, the hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) made a valid point about the redundancy pay level available to local government employees in Wales. Does my hon. Friend accept that a further problem is overlaid on the quantum and it especially affects local government officers who face redundancy in rural Wales? They face the grave problem of finding new jobs, if they have lived in a rural area for the past 15 or 20 years, and if their families have settled in those rural areas. Does my hon. Friend think that a strong case exists for protecting in particular those many local government employees in rural mid-Wales, who face terrible uncertainty and financial loss?

Mr. Rendel

Indeed. I accept the point made by my hon. and learned Friend. His case is all the stronger in that Wales has not been treated in the same way as England. Wales went through its organisation process by diktat of the Minister, rather than by a process of agreement by the people of the country.

The argument that the Government might think that we are now poorer is, in some ways, refuted by what is happening in the civil service. The very same Treasury mandarins who insist that 66 weeks pay must be the maximum for local government officials, have managed to negotiate a package for redundancies from their own Ministry which, I understand, amounts to a maximum payment of no less than 156 weeks pay. That, however, is not the only fault in part III of the regulations, even if it is the most obviously hypocritical.

I welcome the fact that the Government have decided that the scheme to be introduced for people under 50 is to be mandatory. In a major reorganisation of this sort, it is right that all employees who stand to be made redundant across the whole country should know what to expect by way of compensation. Nothing is guaranteed further to inflame an already emotive situation than for different councils to offer different redundancy terms as they go through the same trauma of reorganisation.

The fact that the Government have been forced to recognise the strength of that argument for people who are under 50 makes it all the more strange that they have failed to recognise that the argument is just as strong for people who are over 50. That is another serious fault in the regulations and another reason why the annulment should be agreed tonight, so that the Government can introduce a new set of regulations to ensure that all local government employees are fairly treated and have a clear picture of what their rights are.

A third problem lies in the failure of the Government to introduce any special provisions for people in the age bracket of 40 to 49. Unfortunately, I have been in the position of trying to find work when aged over 40. Who knows, had it not been for the people of the Newbury constituency asking me to carry out my present responsibilities, I might still be looking for work. Besides, I am sure that all hon. Members have come across several constituents who have complained to them bitterly about the ageism of employers, about the way in which, in some careers, it is now almost impossible to get even an interview, let alone to get a job, once one has passed the magic figure of 40.

There is a pressing need, therefore, to make special provision for people who are in that especially difficult part of their careers. They are far too young to retire—what a waste it would be if retirement were their only option—and yet they are old enough to find it desperately difficult to find another job.

Finally on part III, there is the inadequacy of the provisions for people whose work for local government has, so far, been limited either because they are part-timers, or because they have only recently taken up their local government employment. Those people, more often women than men, do not deserve to be neglected just because they have not yet had the chance to put in a long period of service. Their needs should be provided for in the regulations.

Why is this all so important? Whenever we think of the local government reorganisation shambles, as it has turned out to be, we must all hope that the process, whenever it does go ahead, proceeds as smoothly as possible. We must hope that, not just for the sake of the employees concerned as they go through what will no doubt turn out to be a very traumatic period for some of them, but, perhaps even more important, for the sake of all the recipients of local authority services—residents of local authority areas, many of whom are the very people who elected us to speak for them here. Many of those people fear that local authority services will be disrupted by the reorganisation.

One way in which we can allay some of those fears is to ensure that, where redundancies and early retirements are necessary, they take place smoothly and with the maximum acceptance by the employees involved. Surely experience has taught us that to offer redundancy terms less good that those that have been offered in similar circumstances in the past is a sure way to create discontent and low morale. That is true not only of those who are eventually forced to accept the terms but—this is important—of those who are left behind.

If the Government sincerely want local government reorganisation to be a success, one of their first tasks should be to improve the regulations to ensure that all the redundancies that it is expected to cause can be voluntary rather than compulsory.

Although this is not at the heart of the debate, let me say in passing that the Government's failure to provide adequate funds for the costs of local government reorganistion in areas such as Berskshire where, on top of the transitional costs, there are expected to be on-going costs rather than on-going savings—can serve only to exacerbate the problem of redundancy costs. Indeed, it may even force some councils to use the discretion that the Government are giving them to minimise redundancy payments, which can only make the problem of inadequate payments even worse.

We see, then, just how fundamentally the regulations demand to be improved: indeed, I believe that the very success of local government reorganisation hangs on their being improved. This is another example of how the Government have got it in for local government, and local government officers, in a big way. What is it about local government that makes this Conservative Administration hate it so much? Could it be that the Government know that the number of Conservative councillors is falling year by year, and that most of the seats are being taken over by Liberal Democrats?

Whatever it is, the Government would be well advised to admit tonight that the regulations are nowhere near adequate. If they refuse to vote to annul the regulations—as my hon. Friends and I will—they will find that their decision traps them yet deeper in the mire into which they have fallen over the whole question of local government reform. Tonight, the Liberal Democrats have provided the Government with an opportunity to overcome the difficulties in which the regulations will land them otherwise; they should seize that opportunity with both hands.

10.23 pm
Mr. Roy Thomason (Bromsgrove)

I am surprised by the prayer, and by the comments of the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel)—although I congratulate him on moving the motion and giving us an opportunity to debate it.

I am surprised first by the hon. Gentleman's claim that the local authority associations do not support the proposals, because I have a piece of paper from the Association of District Councils that suggests that they do support them. Secondly, I am surprised that the Liberal party—which began the week with a demand for the Labour party to come clean over its spending plans, and sought to cost the expenditure of that same party only a few days later—should seek to increase public expenditure as it is tonight. Is there much difference between the two Opposition parties?

Thirdly, I am surprised because it appears that Unison has yet another spokesperson on the Opposition Benches. Fourthly, I am surprised that the hon. Member for Newbury seems to think that one can make an argument in favour of increasing expenditure and improving conditions of employment by mounting one settlement upon another. We know that is the very reason why inflation has gone out of control in the past.

One cannot take the civil service settlement and seek to improve on it, because in turn somebody will come along with an attempt to improve it further, which leads inevitably to escalation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I hear the cries of the Opposition. That way leads to ruin, because each settlement is taking more public expenditure than the previous one, and adds more to inflation, step by gruesome step.

Mr. Rogers

Why does not the hon. Gentleman follow the logic of his own argument and attack the Ministers who agreed to the civil service settlement, rather than trying to exploit people in local government who have no real voice? If there is a bad settlement—the hon. Gentleman seems to think that the civil service settlement was had—why does he not criticise Ministers?

Mr. Thomason

I did not say that the civil service settlement was a bad one. My argument is that the Labour party—and apparently now the Liberal Democrat party— is seeking to use one settlement to step above another to increase public expenditure. That is the old story which we have heard so often.

Mr. Oliver Heald (Hertfordshire, North)

Does my hon. Friend agree that the McKinstry memorandum in The Spectator, in which Leo McKinstry described the way in which the Labour party has operated in local government and said what a great indication that was of what it would be like in government, goes very much to the heart of the issue and explains the parrot cries from Opposition Members?

Mr. Thomason

My hon. Friend is right.

I do not wish to detain the House, so I shall briefly ask my hon. Friend the Minister whether he can define "material date" for the purposes of the regulations, and whether he can confirm that the regulations are improving local discretion by giving power to local government to make decisions. Can he also confirm that the national joint negotiating bodies are likely to meet later this week to agree tariffs for the over-50s that are generous, and to agree to settle terms that some of us consider to be more than fair? Can he further confirm that meetings are taking place on 26 January between the local authorities and the unions, which could give a guaranteed offer of new jobs after reorganisation to those who want them? Will not that answer the criticisms raised by the hon. Member for Newbury?

Does my hon. Friend agree that the present proposed costs—not any enhanced costs—of this provision could be met by savings that will be generated from the local government review? Does he further agree that this measure should be welcomed on both sides of the Chamber as being in the interests of local government employees?

10.36 pm
Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras)

Tonight the House has a very clear choice. We are dealing with the future of people who will lose their jobs in local councils through no fault of their own, either through general redundancy or through the local government reorganisation that the Government are pushing through. The question is whether such people should get a fair deal, and the choice before the House tonight is whether people are treated fairly or meanly.

The choice is not between a generous settlement and a mean settlement—it is a much narrower choice between a fair settlement and a mean settlement. Needless to say, the alternative that the Government are proposing tonight is a mean alternative. We all know that the Government are extremely generous to rich people, and that they are happy to pour money into the pockets and handbags of the bosses of privatised industries. They look after themselves rather nicely, and they are very mean to people who cannot fight back.

The regulations cover three categories of staff—staff who are likely to be made redundant by the local government review, staff who may he made redundant generally and pensioners whose pensions were cut as a result of the court decisions on North Tyneside.

First, on the local government review, contrary to what the hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Thomason) said, the staff are not seeking any leapfrogging improvement on what has gone before. They are simply asking for a settlement along the lines that the Government conceded in 1986, when the metropolitan counties were abolished—the terms agreed by Margaret Thatcher. One might summarise it by saying that the deal that she put together, John Major has decided to put asunder. The settlement can thus be simply categorised as meaner than Thatcher, and it is difficult to think of anything meaner than that.

The settlement is not merely meaner than Thatcher, but worse than what the Staff Commission recommended to the Government, worse than the terms offered to the civil service, and worse than severance payments paid to other categories of people for whom the Government are responsible. The boss of Severn Trent Water, for example, got £512,000 as part of his severance agreement, which was entirely the Government's responsibility as they passed the legislation that enabled him to pay himself that enormous amount.

If someone is made redundant as part of the local government review, the regulations allow maximum compensation of 66 weeks, which compares with the 82 weeks to which Mrs. Thatcher agreed in 1986 and which the Staff Commission recommended, and the 156 weeks that this Government and these Ministers have agreed will be available in the civil service.

Let us consider an example of what will happen in Wales as a result of the regulations. Under the civil service severance agreement, a 45-year-old civil servant in the Welsh Office with 26 years' service, earning £23,000, will get £71,000, but a local government officer in Wales, aged 45—perhaps the civil servant's twin brother or sister—and earning £23,000 after 26 years' service, would get £29,570 at the most, which cannot be fair or reasonable.

The scheme is mandatory only up to the age of 50, or for people over that age who are not entitled to a pension when they give up work. It also provides some special arrangements for people who are entitled to a pension. Once again, the Government have chosen the mean-minded alternative. Generally, those over 50 who are entitled to a pension will receive only statutory redundancy pay because the Government have apparently decided that the pension, which people have worked and paid for, should be taken into account when they allow a special severance payment as a result of a local government review that they introduced. People who are paid a salary will have to live on a pension and statutory redundancy, without the Government making up any of the difference.

The Government and the hon. Member for Bromsgrove, who is supporting them, claim that they cannot afford better terms. Presumably they think that, from a Government point of view, times are harder than they were in 1986.

There are two choices. No one knows how many people may be made redundant as a result of the local government review. If it is to be a large number, massive savings in expenditure will result in the years to come and it would surely be easy to find the money to pay a decent severance payment out of those savings. If few people are to be affected by redundancy, the sums will be so trivial that it will be equally easy for the Government or local government to find them.

The second aspect of the regulations is the enhanced payment for people made redundant because of changes in the internal organisation of their council. I admit that the regulations improve the maximum under such arrangements, from 24.5 to 66 weeks, but that is not the 82 weeks for which the staff have been asking, and it is not mandatory. The payments are entirely discretionary and, given the choice between a fair and a mean arrangement, yet again the Government have chosen a mean one.

The third aspect is the North Tyneside judgment. When the district auditor went through North Tyneside council's books, he said that enhanced severance payments and top-up retirement bonuses, given to staff were unlawful. That has left existing pensioners, not just in north Tyneside but in other parts of the country, who retired in good faith with a higher pension as part of those agreements, with lower pensions. Indeed, some of them have been asked to pay back the lump sums that they received. All those involved in those agreements—employers and employees—were acting in good faith and believed that they were acting lawfully at all times. Councils of all parties believe that to be the case.

One of the areas most affected, which is dear to the hearts of Tory Members, is Tory Westminster council. It agreed to some of the biggest enhanced pension arrangements and pay-offs when people left local government service of any council in Britain. Some 600 of its former staff—now its pensioners—are now faced with substantial reductions in their living standards. The same applies to agreements with the then Tory Hillingdon council.

Everyone agrees that the matter should be put right. What everybody thought was lawful and reasonable should be made lawful and reasonable. But it is not being made so by the regulations, which fail to put pensioners in the position that they thought they were in before that unexpected judgment.

In passing, I comment on the strange inconsistencies of the district audit service, which for years said nothing about those enhanced payments. In the year when district auditors in North Tyneside identified the payments as unlawful, the district auditors in Hillingdon and Westminster apparently still saw them as lawful. We need more consistency in the system.

Furthermore, the arrangements are not mandatory. Whether Westminster pensioners get back even what is permitted under the regulations is entirely in the hands of Westminster city council, from which we can expect no sensible decision. In other councils, all the money that pensioners have lost will not be made up. Indeed, the judgment may affect other pensioners who were paid off before the period covered by the regulations, and they may still lose. Once again, these are sloppily drafted and mean-minded regulations. What the Government are doing might be described as "a Maxwell" on the pensioners, but in this case it is by statutory instrument.

Various people advise me that aspects of the regulations are technically unsound and may lead to the Minister having to come back within a very short period to put them right. My Welsh colleagues want to know why the period covered by the regulations is 18 months in England but only 15 months in Wales.

The regulations are mean to council staff who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. They are in marked contrast to the generous attitude that the Government have towards themselves and their colleagues. Since the settlement in 1986, the Conservatives have introduced and benefited from ministerial severance payments. Those are made to people who lose their jobs not through no fault of their own but either because even the Prime Minister finally recognises that they are totally incompetent or because they are up to something, financially or with somebody who is not their spouse. Those seem to be the reasons why Ministers lose their jobs, yet they get severance payments in those circumstances.

The other part of the ministerial severance package is that Ministers then go on to jobs in the City with Barclays bank, in industries that they have privatised, or in merchant banks that have taken part in the privatisation process. The Government are very generous to themselves but mean to everybody else. The regulations are typical of what they are up to, and people are sick of it.

10.49 pm
The Minister for Local Government, Housing and Urban Regeneration (Mr. David Curry)


Mr. Anthony Steen (South Hams)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As a defender of Back Benchers, do you believe that in a debate of one and quarter hours it is appropriate that there should be three opening speeches and three closing speeches from Front-Bench spokesmen? Do you think it appropriate that we should have had just one speech from a Conservative Back Bencher and not even one from an Opposition Back Bencher? That is an abuse of parliamentary procedure and I ask you to protect Back Benchers on both sides of the House from such abuse.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse)

That point of order has been noted.

Mr. Curry

This is a serious matter because people's livelihoods are affected and they are naturally anxious. It merits a serious debate.

Although I do not agree with the conclusions of the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel), he treated the subject seriously. The hon. Member for Holborn and St.Pancras (Mr. Dobson) has a particular talent for disfiguring any subject with which he comes into contact—mainly, it must be said, as a pretext for his failure to understand the substance of it.

Local government reorganisation is at an advanced stage. The commission has submitted final reports for all 39 shire counties and the Cleveland order has been approved by both Houses. I know that the hon. Members for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson) and for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell) are looking forward to joining their colleagues in the Lobby tonight.

We are consulting on draft orders to implement changes in Avon, Humberside and York and we are aiming to seek parliamentary approval soon, in time for elections to be held in May. Further orders will be laid as decisions are taken.

Change is a normal part of local government. The search for efficiency, the changes in function and the growing success of the role of local government as an enabler has inevitably meant that there will be different staffing requirements. No organisation can petrify its structure if it is to respond to public needs and its own search for greater efficiency.

That is the context in which the new local government compensation regulations have been introduced. Those regulations are not confined just to local government reorganisation, but, as hon. Members have already noted, they achieve three things. First, they provide a better and more flexible general compensation scheme, for which local authority employers have long asked, for use in all cases—not just reorganisation. Secondly, we have made special extra provisions to suit the particular circumstances of local government reorganisation, reflecting the key role to be played by local government staff in the transition to restructured authorities.

Thirdly, we have provided the means for compensation to be paid to those pensioners who are adversely affected by the North Tyneside Court of Appeal judgment. Only one of the three elements covered in the regulations therefore refers to local government reorganisation.

Mr. William O'Brien (Normanton)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy)


Mr. Curry

I will give way, but you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, no doubt want me to press ahead in the interests of Back Benchers.

Mr. O'Brien

If the Minister will not accept the annulment of the regulations, will he support those local authorities that are involved in the reorganisation of local government which do not wish to make people compulsorily redundant? Would he agree to negotiate a national agreement on severance and conditions for those who agree to leave their employment voluntarily?

Mr. Curry

It is entirely up to a new council to make staffing dispositions; the Government do not intend to lay down whether redundancies should be compulsory or voluntary. It is up to councils to seek the changes by the methods which they arrive at. That is what the principle of allowing local authority discretion means. I understand that the negotiating body is likely to agree soon that the discretionary awards in the regulations will be paid at the maximum. That could obviously benefit the over-50s and the other groups covered by the regulations.

Mr. Llwyd

Can the Minister explain why Wales is being treated differently? Is he aware that, during the passage of the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994, the implications of reorganisation were raised time and time with Welsh Office Ministers? Assurances were given about improving conditions and so on, but to date nothing has been done. We have been badly treated by the Government.

Mr. Curry

The hon. Gentleman knows that there are some differences between England and Wales.

Mr. Rogers


Mr. Curry

If the hon. Gentleman will wait, I will tell him.

The first difference is that the prescribed period to which part III applies in England is 18 months after the vesting day; in Wales, it runs from three months before to a year after. That is the result of a consultation that was undertaken. In Wales, the consultation resulted in the choice of that formula; in England, people preferred a different period. The United Kingdom has constituent parts which have their own characteristics, so I see no problem in that.

Mr. Nick Ainger (Pembroke)


Mr. Curry

I have not finished the answer to the first intervention yet.

As far as the other condition is concerned, loss of employment in Wales must be attributable to provisions made under the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994, because it is intended to target part III to staff losing their jobs because of reorganisation, and not for other reasons.

I think that you would want me to make progress, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in view of the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for South Hams (Mr. Steen).

As I said, we have made additional provision because of the specific circumstances of reorganisation. I have also mentioned the North Tyneside position.

The regulations provide new and significantly improved compensation terms for local government staff in England and Wales in cases of redundancy, which may occur as part of the normal operations of local government. Before the regulations came into force, local government employees aged below 50 could receive only the minimum statutory payments on redundancy. The most that could be given to an employee under the age of 50 was 24 weeks' pay. Under the new regulations, for all future general cases of redundancy, local authorities have the discretion to make payments of up to 66 weeks' pay for employees, based on a tariff according to age and service.

Employees aged over 50 have, for many years, had a better deal than those aged below 50. If they have two years' service, they are entitled to immediate payment of their pension and pension lump sum. In addition, if they have at least five years' service, they may receive a discretionary top-up to their pension benefits. That provision has not changed. Local government employees aged over 50 facing redundancy as a result of normal change in local government can still receive those benefits.

As well as introducing significantly better severance terms for general cases of redundancy, the regulations provide extra benefits for employees made redundant from local government service specifically as a result of local government reorganisation. Those benefits are, first, that the maximum amounts permitted under the 66-week tariff are mandatory for staff aged under 50 affected by reorganisation. [HoN. MEMBERS: "How much?") They are maximum and mandatory. Secondly, for the over-50s made redundant in reorganisation cases, there are options for further compensation payments at the employer's discretion. I shall say more about that later.

Mr. Paddy Tipping (Sherwood)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way on that point?

Mr. Curry

If I can make progress, I will return to that later.

We have also taken the opportunity provided by the regulations to provide local authorities with new powers to enable them to compensate those of their pensioners who suffered reductions in their pension payments as a result of the 1992 Court of Appeal decision in Allsop v. North Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council. As hon. Members will recall, that judgment declared unlawful the local severance scheme operated by North Tyneside council and, as a consequence, several councils had to terminate pension claims made under their local schemes—although I have not heard of cases of pensioners being required to pay back lump sums. If my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe) has specific references to that, I will be pleased to receive them.

Many of those pensions, which authorities had agreed, had been in payment for some years before being redluced. Some of those pensioners have had to wait more than two years for compensation, and the new powers that we are giving to local authorities will be widely welcomed.

All those new provisions, which flow directly from discussions that we have had with the Staff Commissions, the local authority associations and the Local Government Management Board, incorporate the results of two extensive consultation exercises among all interested parties, and provide the framework that local government has sought.

We have modified our proposals substantially in the light of the consultation exercises. Specifically, we have amended our proposals to make a mandatory arrangement for reorganisation cases.

Mr. Steen

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way, because the matter that I wish to mention will not come out in any other way. The Prime Minister said last year that there would be fewer rules and regulations in the House. There were going to be fewer rules and regulations on the Floor of the House, fewer rules and regulations upstairs and fewer downstairs. Yet every time that I enter the Chamber, there is another rule or regulation. Why do we have to take this course tonight? Only the other day I was dealing with the town and country planning regulations; now we are discussing another regulation. Is the deregulation arrangement working in the Minister's Department?

Mr. Curry

The answer to the second question is yes. The answer to the first question is that, if there is reorganisation, one has to make provision—as has been made in the past—for those people affected by it. We have taken advantage of that fact to enhance the conditions for all local authority members. My hon. Friend will appreciate that it is relatively unusual now to be here at nearly 11 pm, and perhaps we have become accustomed to slightly soft ways in the House.

Mr. Steen

Wednesday mornings and Friday mornings?

Mr. Curry

My hon. Friend is a slave to duty.

Mr. Tipping

Although the Minister has amended the regulations to take account of criticisms, will he explain why the figure given now is 66 weeks when, back in 1986 when the metropolitan counties were abolished, 82 weeks redundancy payment was offered?

Mr. Curry


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Before the Minister replies I must inform the House that all the interventions—it is not a matter for the Chair to criticise them as they are in order—are ruling out hon. Members who wish to speak and who have taken the trouble to write to the Speaker to ask to speak.

Mr. Curry

I like to give way as I think that that helps the debate, but in view of your stricture, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall now try to move to the conclusion of my speech. I shall answer the question of the hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr. Tipping) because I had anticipated it. If he has patience, we shall get there—with the tolerance of his colleagues.

The compensation package that we have adopted, as contained in the regulations, means that local government employees under the age of 50 on being made redundant as part of normal staffing changes, can now receive compensation equal to the maximum of two weeks pay for each year of local government service over the age of 23. In addition, each year of service over the age of 42 counts for five weeks pay, leading to a total equivalent to 66 weeks pay. Those improvements also apply to redundancies due to reorganisation, with the important proviso that in this circumstance it is mandatory for local authorities to pay the maximum amounts available.

Secondly, we have also provided that extra powers are available to provide benefits to those aged 50 and over made redundant as a result of reorganisation. At the employers' discretion, such employees' pensions can be increased if they have five or more years service, or they can receive the lump sum compensation payment—up to 66 weeks pay in some cases. For those with between two and five years service, we are making available the option of additional compensation in lieu of immediate payment of pension.

In formulating the regulations, we had helpful and detailed assistance from the Local Government Staff Commission in England and the Staff Commission for Wales. The Staff Commission was expressly asked to consider whether there should be a special scheme for staff made redundant as a result of reorganisation and, if so, whether the arrangements should be discretionary or mandatory. After consideration, it advised that there should be a special scheme, and that is now provided. It also recommended that the scheme should be mandatory—a proposal that has been implemented in respect of staff under 50. A special mandatory level payment has been included as one of the options for the over-50s.

Other recommendations by the Staff Commission—for example that the age group of 45 to 49-year-olds should be targeted for the highest payments and that the age service banding should closely follow that used in previous reorganisations—have also been followed. In some respects, such as the 18-month period for the reorganisation terms in England, we have bettered what the Staff Commission recommended.

Two recommendations of the Staff Commission were not followed in full. Those were that the maximum limit for payments should be set at 82 weeks and that it should be mandatory for over-50s to receive maximum added years enhancement to their pension and pension lump sum.

The precedent of the GLC and the metropolitan counties abolition is prayed in aid. However, the 82 weeks maximum was available in 1986 only to a very limited group of employees. In fact, employees had to be aged exactly 49 and to have over 25 years service to qualify for that amount. Anybody aged less than 49 could not receive 82 weeks and received similar amounts in 1986 to those available under the regulations. A 45-year-old with 27 or more years service would receive 66 weeks pay under both the 1986 regulations and under our new regulations.

We have targeted the maximum 66 weeks to employees aged between 45 and 49—the very group that the Staff Commission and other consultees asked us specifically to earmark for higher compensation payments. The 66 weeks maximum was settled upon only after full account was taken of all the relevant factors. I am sure that it is the right level—it is more than two and a half times better than the compensation previously available to local government employees. Taken together with the other measures that we have introduced or are proposing—including our proposed compensation for detriment, the consultation period for which closed yesterday—those regulations provide a very much improved and flexible statutory-based compensation package.

The other recommendation of the Staff Commission which we have not fully followed is that staff over 50 years of age should receive mandatory payment of added years, which results in higher pension payments. I believe that this would be an expensive imposition on local authorities' discretion. Under our proposals, employing authorities may choose to pay maximum added years if they believe that the case for doing so is justified. We have also provided the alternative of a lump sum payment according to personal circumstances. Such a single sum may be more welcome to individuals than relatively small increases in continuing pension payments.

Local government employers and their employees now know where they stand on redundancy payments and they can plan for the future. The decisions themselves are for the councils to make. We have provided a proper statutory protection for staff affected by reorganisation and for all local authority staff affected by change. If the motion to reject the package is successful, not only will the package for staff affected by local government reorganisation fall, but so will the great improvement in the security of all local government staff. It will also mean that pensioners who stand to receive compensation for cuts in their pensions will be immediate losers. I trust that the House will firmly reject such an outcome.

Mr. Dobson

Before the hon. Gentleman sits down—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Has the hon. Gentleman given way?

Mr. Curry

Congeniality is second nature to me, as you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Dobson

As I understand it, the hon. Gentleman accepts that the pensioners who retired in good faith feel that, one way or another, they have been swindled out of the pensions to which they and their employers thought that they were entitled. Can he tell us why he is not proposing a scheme which will restore to each and every one of them by right the money that they have lost as a result of the judgement? Why does he accept that some of them will not get full restoration, and why is he leaving the decision to the discretion of the councils?

Mr. Curry

First, the hon. Gentleman talks about pensioners being swindled. I think that one has to be cautious in using that sort of terminology when speaking about something that has happened as a result of a court ruling. The pensioners may feel that they were dealt with unjustly, but one must be careful how one reflects that feeling.

Secondly, we have provided for 66 weeks in the regulations which cover those people affected by both reorganisation and the normal run of changes in local authorities' competences and employment. It seems reasonable that, if 66 weeks is applied to those cases, it should apply also to the generality of cases, so that everyone is on the same footing. I think that it is a perfectly reasonable position, and the overwhelming number of pensioners will receive full compensation under that methodology.

11.7 pm

Mr. Clive Betts (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

I wish to comment on the North Tyneside follow-up and the regulations. The Minister must be much clearer about the position of pensioners who were affected by the genuine and proper decisions taken by local authorities, generally on the basis of legal advice.

Will the Minister assure the House that people who entered into agreements with local authorities that they would retire under a certain compensation package will not have that package reduced as a result of the regulations? It is most improper for the House to pass regulations that will have the effect of reducing the pensions of people who entered into an agreement with their local authorities in good faith.

While I am on that subject, I take strong exception to the comments of the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel). He spoke of people who "should have known better"—presumably referring to the local authorities which made the decisions at the time. My local authority received advice from our legal officers and from counsel on the subject before we reached a decision. Certainly members of both the leading political parties took that decision seriously. The fact that the hon. Gentleman's colleague on the committee at the time walked out halfway through the meeting and refused to pass a vote on the subject is probably not untypical of the way in which the Liberal party behaves in such circumstances.

Let me also comment briefly on the issues that affect the current reorganisation of local government and the compensatory arrangements for redundancy. First, it is disappointing that the Government did not concede the general issue that was put to them by the local authority associations and the unions—that staff transfer orders should have applied to all staff. It would have been much easier to have sorted out all the arrangements for redundancy, retirement and compensation had that approach been taken.

The problem now is that staff are in totally different positions. Some are subject to staff transfer orders, some have chief officer open interviews and others have priority interviews. They do not know whether redundancy rules will apply to them. In direct service organisations, for example, staff still do not know whether their jobs will exist after the reorganisation, although private contractors that employ people have contracts with the authorities, and the new authorities will have to honour those contracts. That is wrong, and something should be done to sort it out.

Equally, the Government have not issued any proper advice on the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 and that certainly will affect people who are made redundant. It is time the Government sorted it out. Clearly, it is a substantial mess. A general staff transfer order would have resolved that problem and allowed the redundancy issues to be sorted out in a more ordered and proper way.

I am one of the few people in the House who can think back to 1986 and say that I was party to the issues which applied to the metropolitan county reorganisation from both sides. I was both a councillor and an employee, one of Sheffield city council and the other of the South Yorkshire local authority, so I saw the regulations from both sides and generally they worked pretty well.

The question that the. Minister has not answered tonight—he tried to answer it by explaining that only a small group of staff would benefit if the maximum number of weeks was 82 and not 66—is why a system which worked in 1986 has now been changed. He did not say why the Staff Commission,. which recommended that exactly the same rules that applied in 1986 should apply now, was ignored. His argument that 82 weeks applied only to a certain number of staff was surely taken on board by the Staff Commission when it recommended that 82 weeks should be the maximum period. Why did he demur from the Staff Commission's decision?

Mr. Rendel

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Betts

I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman as he has had his say and I am aware that others want to speak.

The Minister also did not answer why the Staff Commission recommended that the scheme for the over-50s should be mandatory. Why did the Minister not accept that recommendation? It was good enough in 1986; why is it not good enough for staff in 1995?

Those questions certainly need answering because they affect people who are not responsible for the changes. They are not staff who have been inefficient or unproductive, but staff who are affected by a political change beyond their control. They want some degree of certainty and a feeling that their interests are being recognised and looked after.

Finally, the Minister said nothing about the funding of the scheme. I agree that the scheme should be mandatory because—rightly or wrongly—the House is compelling reorganisation on local authorities. I support some of the changes, but the House is making the decisions, so the scheme should be mandatory.

The House should also make provision for the proper funding of the arrangements. All that we know for the next financial year is that the Government will top-slice £50 million of capital to allow local authorities to borrow to try to fund the schemes. We also know that money is topsliced, so every other authority in the country will suffer.

My authority represents about one hundredth of the population of the country, so if one subtracts one hundredth of the cost of £50 million from its own borrowing, it will lose £500,000 of borrowing to help fund the reorganisation schemes. My local authority, therefore, loses more than its total allocation of borrowing for social services in the city of Sheffield.

Is it not time that the Government accepted their own responsibilities and decided to fund the schemes? Will they guarantee that the sum of £50 million for 1995–96 will be substantially increased for 1996–97, when the majority of those costs will fall? Will they guarantee to provide borrowing facilities for those authorities and not do it at the expense of the other authorities in the country?

11.14 pm
Mr. Anthony Steen (South Hams)

Although there is not much point in speaking for a minute or two, I thought that the House might like to hear me.

First, I do not understand why, having just adopted the Jopling recommendations, we sat until late last night. We are sitting till midnight tonight, all Wednesday morning, afternoon and evening, on Thursday and on Friday morning. The more the House sits, the more rules and regulations it passes. These regulations are a good example of filling the time available—it is Parkinson's law. My hon. Friend the Minister beautifully and convincingly explained the reason for them, but we should not be passing more and more regulations and sitting later into the night than we did last year. We are passing more regulations in Committee upstairs, in the Chamber and in the basement, despite the Government's commitment to reducing regulations. I would like my hon. Friend the Minister to assure me that these are the last regulations that he will introduce this Session.

11.15 pm
Mr. Roger Berry (Kingswood)

Part III of the regulations concerns local government reorganisation and compensation for resulting redundancies. I was involved in local government for 12 years before entering the House and I have grave reservations about the redundancy implications of reorganisation in my county of Avon.

If there are to be redundancies, it is essential to provide a fair system of compensation and ensure that the package is realistically funded. Neither is the case. It is accepted that the maximum compensation payable to staff aged 45 to 49 will be 66 weeks' pay, assuming full service from the age of 18. Few staff will be eligible for that maximum. Even then, those terms are significantly worse than those offered when metropolitan authorities were abolished in 1986. If 82 weeks' pay was thought acceptable compensation then, why should a significantly lower amount be acceptable today? the proposed compensation is worth less than the civil service scheme and is vastly poorer than that offered under the last reorganisation in 1974.

Mr. Rendel

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Berry

I would love to give way, but I am told that there is no time.

The proposed redundancy package is a poor deal for local government staff who have given good service to their communities. The scheme will not attract many voluntary redundancies, but it will lead to more compulsory redundancies from reorganisation. Even though the terms are an insult, local councils will have difficulty finding the money to fund them. There will be no new money to cover the costs of reorganisation, but only limited powers to borrow.

Most redundancies will occur in 1996–97 and 1997–98. No guarantee has been given that councils will be allowed to borrow in those years as they will need to do. Any redundancy costs that cannot be funded from additional borrowing will have to be met from more cuts in services or higher council tax, if that is allowed.

The regulations provide worse compensation than for any other previous local government reorganisation. They are not fair and will not encourage voluntary redundancies. They will result in further cuts in services and jobs, and they should be opposed.

11.17 pm
Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend)

Labour Members have explained compellingly why we oppose the regulations and want them annulled. The Minister did not touch on the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981, which are vital to Wales because only one of its counties is unaffected by the possibility that workers on the transfer will not be covered by them. As this Government-inspired scheme of local government reorganisation will affect the whole of Wales, there should be no nit-picking over the interpretation and application of TUPE.

The Government's record of interpreting TUPE shows them to have been wrong on virtually every occasion. Rather than engage in a prolonged dogfight, at the end of which the Government will be proved wrong, they should, for the sake of fairness and completeness, accept that TUPE applies to all workers in reorganised local government in Wales.

I come next to arrangements for the proper funding of the local government reorganisation. There seems to be a major debate about the exact number of people likely to be made redundant as a result of the reorganisation. Touche Ross, employed to carry out a survey of the possible consequences for jobs, suggested that about 900 people employed in central services and administrative tasks—out of a total of about 6,000—would probably lose their jobs in Wales. The Secretary of State for Wales, however, is on record as saying in the House that he expects very few people to become redundant, because of the scope for retraining and finding new jobs for people in the new unitary authorities. If this is true, it would appear that few savings will be made from these local government changes, yet savings were ostensibly the Government's reason for effecting the reorganisation.

There will be a mandatory scheme for some staff, and the Welsh Office will be prepared to provide supplementary credit approvals to cover those schemes. The Welsh Office will take account of the consequences in future years when the capping criteria are determined. For the discretionary schemes, however, no supplementary credit approvals will be provided. When local authorities apply discretionary schemes, they will not be counted for capping criteria purposes, so authorities will be in danger of being capped for trying to give their employees a fair deal. Given that the Staff Commission has recommended mandatory schemes to cover all workers who are made redundant, or who choose redundancy, the Government should be prepared to withdraw the scheme tonight and to make further changes.

The shadow Environment Secretary has already cited the huge differences between the Welsh Office redundancy scheme and the one for local government workers. The Minister of State made no attempt to justify the fact that workers in the Welsh Office will receive double what their counterparts in local government will get.

I hope that, even at this late stage, the Government will be prepared to withdraw the regulations and to introduce others based on the 1986 scheme. It has been claimed that the lower limit of 15 months for the scheme to work in Wales—as opposed to 18 months in England—resulted from consultations with local authorities; but local authorities in Wales at the time were under the impression that the period of 82 weeks would also apply to the new scheme. The Welsh Office has therefore reneged on that part of the agreement, while retaining the 15-month period. That is yet another reason why the regulations should be withdrawn and a new scheme introduced in their place.

11.23 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Gwilym Jones)

I shall try to answer all the points raised in this short debate. The House will understand that I feel the greatest sympathy for my hon. Friend the Member for South Hams (Mr. Steen), who expressed reservations about what we do here, and when we do it. I think, though, that we are making good progress with the timing.

The Government do not agree that it would be right to annul the Local Government (Compensation for Redundancy) Regulations 1994. The package that they contain is a fair and good one. Local authorities have a certain legal framework to provide equitable and affordable compensation to their employees in a variety of circumstances.

Part II of the regulations—I think that the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) called it the least unacceptable part—gives councils an opportunity to structure flexible severance packages to suit local needs, at levels that are significantly above those that applied before 28 December. These improved arrangements stem directly from discussions with the local authority associations. A higher overall limit may be preferred by some, but councils, just like anybody else, must live within their means, precisely as my hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Thomason) was seeking to emphasise. The Government took the view that the tariff in part II was at the right level.

Opposition Members tended to concentrate on part III of the regulations. They say that the terms on offer for the staff who lose their jobs because of local government reorganisation are worse than those that would have been available in previous reorganisations, and are worse than those available in the civil service. Civil service pay has traditionally been set to take account of the greater job security that civil servants have, and compensation payments were set at a correspondingly higher level.

What the Opposition do not say is that the compensation for local government employees is now higher than it is for certain other groups of public sector employees; nor have they recognised that compensation is just one aspect of terms and conditions: it is the whole package that should be compared, not just elements of it. The Government take that wider view, and terms and conditions in local government, taken as a whole, are no worse or better than in other parts of the public sector.

I accept that the compensation terms that applied when the Greater London council and metropolitan councils were abolished involved higher payments only for particular long-serving staff aged 49. That does not mean that the precedent must always be followed slavishly. The detriment consultation scheme, on which we have been consulting, would provide for potentially higher detriment payments than were available in 1986. The key feature of part III of the regulations is a mandatory scheme for staff aged under 50. That was the principal recommendation of the staff commissions for Wales and for England, and our decision to follow it has been widely welcomed.

I acknowledge that the commissions went further and recommended that there should be mandatory "added years" for staff aged over 50 who can receive an immediate pension. The Government did not feel able to accept that recommendation. We have instead provided councils, in these regulations, with a range of options for dealing with staff over 50. It would not make sense to provide a range of options but then decree that one of them—the most expensive, naturally—should be mandatory.

The hon. Members for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers), for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) and for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths) all sought to allege that Wales has been treated worse in these arrangements than in previous reorganisations. I must remind them that the consultation paper issued last June said that the scheme should apply in Wales only for the calendar year 1996. We received 13 comments on that proposal.

Of those proposals, eight of the responses argued that the period should be extended beyond the calendar year 1996 to 31 March 1997. That is precisely what we have done. We responded to those consultations. Normally, it is claimed that we do not listen to consultations, but on this occasion, we did precisely that.

I want to put it into perspective because, to stress the importance of the point, we also had responses from 15 district councils and four county councils in Wales. Not one of them mentioned the point about the term, nor did a joint response by the Local Government Management Board, the Council of Welsh Districts, the Assembly of Welsh Counties and the Wales Trades Union Congress.

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Betts) was concerned that part IV of the regulations provide a legal basis for councils to make compensatory lump sum payments to pensioners who have suffered reductions in the North Tyneside case. They have waited some time for these provisions. The regulations do not attempt to restore the illegal payments that were made previously, but I hope that authorities will exercise their discretion fairly and sympathetically within the terms of the regulations. As my hon. Friend has already made clear to the House, we have brought forward the right package, and I commend it to the House.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 265, Noes 296.

Division No. 48] [11.30 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Dowd, Jim
Adams, Mrs Irene Dunnachie, Jimmy
Ainger, Nick Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Eagle, Ms Angela
Allen, Graham Eastham, Ken
Alton, David Enright, Derek
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Etherington, Bill
Armstrong, Hilary Evans, John (St Helens N)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Ashton, Joe Fatchett Derek
Barnes, Harry Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Barron, Kevin Fisher, Mark
Battle, John Flynn, Paul
Bayley, Hugh Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Fraser, John
Beith, Rt Hon A J Fyfe, Maria
Bell, Stuart Galbraith, Sam
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Galloway, George
Bennett, Andrew F Gapes, Mike
Benton, Joe George, Bruce
Bermingham, Gerald Gerrard, Neil
Berry, Roger Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Betts.Clive Godman, Dr Norman A
Blair, Rt Hon Tony Godsiff, Roger
Blunkett, David Golding, Mrs Llin
Boateng, Paul Gordon, Mildred
Boyes, Roland Graham, Thomas
Bradley, Keith Grant Bernie (Tottenham)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Brown, N (N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Grocott, Bruce
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Gunnell, John
Burden, Richard Hain, Peter
Byers, Stephen Hall, Mike
Caborn, Richard Hanson, David
Callaghan, Jim Hardy, Peter
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Harman, Ms Harriet
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Harvey, Nick
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Campbell-Savours, D N Henderson, Doug
Canavan, Dennis Heppell, John
Cann, Jamie Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomery) Hinchliffe, David
Chidgey, David Hodge, Margaret
Chisholm, Malcolm Hoey, Kate
Church, Judith Hogg, Norman (Cumbemauld)
Clapham, Michael Home Robertson, John
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Hood, Jimmy
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Hoon, Geoffrey
Clelland, David Howarth, George (Knowsley North)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Coffey, Ann Hoyle, Doug
Cohen, Harry Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Connarty, Michael Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Corbett, Robin Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Corbyn, Jeremy Hutton, John
Corston, Jean Illsley, Eric
Cousins, Jim Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)
Cox, Tom Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)
Cummings, John Jamieson, David
Cunliffe, Lawrence Jones, Barry (Alyn and U'side)
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE) Jones, leuan Wyn (Ynys Mon)
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Dalyell, Tam Jones, Lynne (B'ham S 0)
Darling, Alistair Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Davidson, Ian Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral) Jowell, Tessa
Denham, John Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Dewar, Donald Keen, Alan
Dixon, Don Kennedy, Charles (Ross, C&S)
Dobson, Frank Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)
Donohoe, Brian H Khabra, Piara S
Kiffoyle, Peter Prescott, Rt Hon John
Lewis, Terry Primarolo, Dawn
Liddell, Mrs Helen Purchase, Ken
Litherland, Robert Radice, Giles
Livingstone, Ken Randall, Stuart
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Raynsford, Nick
Llwyd, Elfyn Reid, Dr John
Loyden, Eddie Rendel, David
Lynne, Ms Liz Robertson, George (Hamilton)
McAllion, John Roche, Mrs Barbara
McAvoy, Thomas Rogers, Allan
McCartney, Ian Rooker, Jeff
Macdonald, Calum Rooney, Terry
McFall, John Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
McKelvey, William Rowlands, Ted
Mackinlay, Andrew Ruddock, Joan
Maclennan, Robert Sedgemore, Brian
McMaster, Gordon Sheerman, Barry
McNamara, Kevin Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
MacShane, Denis Shore, Rt Hon Peter
McWilliam, John Short, Clare
Madden, Max Simpson, Alan
Maddock, Diana Skinner, Dennis
Mahon, Alice Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Mandelson, Peter Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
MareK, Dr John Snape, Peter
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Soley, Clive
Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S) Spearing, Nigel
Martin, Michael J (Springbum) Spellar, John
Martlew, Eric Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Maxton, John Steinberg, Gerry
Meacher, Michael Stevenson, George
Meale, Alan Stott, Roger
Michael, Alun Strang, Dr. Gavin
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Straw, Jack
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute) Sutciffe, Gerry
Milburn, Alan Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Miller, Andrew Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Mitchell, Austin (G. Grimsby) Timms, Stephen
Moonie, Dr Lewis Tipping, Paddy
Morgan, Rhodri Turner, Dennis
Morley, Elliot Tyler, Paul
Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Vaz, Keith
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon) Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Mowlam, Marjorie Wallace, James
Mudie, George Walley, Joan
Mullin, Chris Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Watson, Mike
O'Brien, Mike (N W'kshire) Wicks, Malcolm
O'Brien, William (Normanton) Wigley, Dafydd
O'Hara, Edward Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Olner, Bill Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Winnick, David
Patchett, Terry Wise, Audrey
Pearson, Ian Wray, Jimmy
Pickthall, Colin Wright, Dr Tony
Pike, Peter L Young, David (Bolton SE)
Pope, Greg Young, David (Bolton SE)
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Tellers for the Ayes:
Prentice, Bridget (Lev'm E) Mr Archy Kirkwood and
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Mr Don Foster.
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Aitken, Rt Hon Jonathan Baker, Rt Hon Kenneth (Mole V)
Alexander, Richard Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Baldry, Tony
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Banks, Matthew (Southport)
Amess, David Banks, Robert (Harrogate)
Ancram, Michael Bates, Michael
Arbuthnot, James Batiste, Spencer
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Bellingham, Henry
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Bendall, Vivian
Ashby, David Beresford, Sir Paul
Atkins, Robert Biffen, Rt Hon John
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Gallie, Phil
Booth, Hartley Gardiner, Sir George
Boswell, Tim Garel Jones, Rt Hon Tristan
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Garnier, Edward
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Gillan, Cheryl
Bowis, John Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Brandreth, Gyles Gorst, Sir John
Brazier, Julian Grant, Sir A (SW Cambs)
Bright Sir Graham Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Brown, M (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Browning, Mrs Angela Grylls, Sir Michael
Bruce, Ian (Dorset) Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Budgen, Nicholas Hague, William
Burns, Simon Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archibald
Burt, Alistair Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Butcher, John Hampson, Dr Keith
Butler, Peter Hanley, Rt Hon Jeremy
Butterfill, John Hannam, Sir John
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Hargreaves, Andrew
Camington, Matthew Harris, David
Cash, William Haselhurst, Alan
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hawkins, Nick
Chapman, Sydney Hawksley, Warren
Churchill, Mr Hayes, Jerry
Clappison, James Heald, Oliver
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ru'clif) Hendry, Charles
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Coe, Sebastian Hicks, Robert
Colvin, Michael Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence
Congdon, David Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Coombs, Simon Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Horam, John
Cormack, Sir Patrick Hordem, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Couchman, James Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Cran, James Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Day, Stephen Hunt, Sir John (Ravensboume)
Deva, Nirj Joseph Hunter, Andrew
Delvin, Tim Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen Jack, Michael
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Dover, Den Jenkin, Bemard
Duncan, Alan Jessel, Toby
Duncan Smith, Iain Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Dunn, Bob Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Durant, Sir Anthony Jones, Robert B (W Hertfdshr)
Dykes, Hugh Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Eggar, Rt Hon Tim Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Elletson, Harold Key, Robert
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Kirkhope, Timothy
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield) Knapman, Roger
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Knight Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Knox, Sir David
Evennett, David Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Faber, David Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Fabricant, Michael Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Fenner, Dame Peggy Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Lawrence, Sir Ivan
Fishburn, Dudley Legg, Barry
Forman, Nigel Leigh, Edward
Forsyth, Rt Hon Michael (Stirling) Lennox-Boyd, Sir Mark
Forth, Eric Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Lidington, David
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) Lightbown, David
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley) Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Freeman, Rt Hon Roger Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
French, Douglas Lord, Michael
Fry, Sir Peter Luff, Peter
Gale, Roger Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
MacKay, Andrew Shersby, Michael
Maclean, David Sims, Roger
McLoughlin, Patrick Skeet, Sir Trevor
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Madel, Sir David Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Maitland, Lady Olga Soames, Nicholas
Mans, Keith Speed, Sir Keith
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Spencer, Sir Derek
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mates, Michael Spink, Dr Robert
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian Spring, Richard
Merchant, Piers Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Mils, Iain Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants) Steen, Anthony
Moate, Sir Roger Stephen, Michael
Monro, Sir Hector Stem, Michael
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Streeter, Gary
Moss, Malcolm Sweeney, Walter
Needham, Rt Hon Richard Sykes, John
Nelson, Anthony Tapsell, Sir Peter
Neubert, Sir Michael Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Nicholls, Patrick Temple-Morris, Peter
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Thomason, Roy
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Norris, Steve Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Thumham, Peter
Oppenheim, Phillip Townsend, Cyril D (Bexl'yh'th)
Ottaway, Richard Tracey, Richard
Page, Richard Tredinnick, David
Pace, James Trend, Michael
Patrick, Sir Irvine Trotter, Neville
Patten, Rt Hon John Twinn, Dr Ian
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Pawsey, James Viggers, Peter
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Walden, George
Pickles, Eric Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Waller, Gary
Porter, David (Waveney) Ward, John
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Rathbone, Tim Waterson, Nigel
Redwood, Rt Hon John Watts, John
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Wells, Bowen
Richards, Rod Whitney, Ray
Riddick, Graham Whittingdale, John
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Widdecombe, Ann
Robathan, Andrew Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn Wilkinson, John
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S) Willetts, David
Robinson, Mark (Somerton) Wilshire, David
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne) Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent) Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela Wolfson, Mark
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard Wood, Timothy
Sackville, Tom Yeo, Tim
Sainsbury, Rt Hon Sir Timothy Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Scott, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Shaw, David (Dover) Tellers for the Noes:
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Mr. Andrew Mitchell and
Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian Mr. Derek Conway.

Question accordingly negatived.

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