HC Deb 20 June 1995 vol 262 cc230-49
Mr. Vaz

I beg to move amendment No. 3, in page 12, line 20, at end insert— '(1A) This Act, except for sections 2 and 4, shall come into force at the end of the period of six months beginning with the day on which it is passed, or on such earlier day as the Secretary of State may by order specify. (1B) Sections 2 and 4 of this Act shall come into force on such day as the Secretary of State may by order specify. (1C) Any power to make an order under this section shall be exercisable by statutory instrument; and no order shall be made under subsection (1B) above unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.'. Before I speak to the amendment, may I congratulate you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on receiving a knighthood from Her Majesty the Queen? Not only did that bring a great deal of joy to hon. Members of all parties, but I am quite certain that the citizens of Pontefract and Castleford were equally delighted at the honour.

The amendment would delay the coming into force of clauses 2 and 4 of the Bill, which deal with retrospection, until they have been approved through the affirmative resolution procedure of the House. The matter of retrospection has been addressed during the passage of the Bill, but the Minister has yet to give a satisfactory answer to the grave concerns raised not only by members of the Committee but by other hon. Members on Second Reading.

In Committee, the Minister argued that the Bill's provisions would not lead to true retrospection, for three reasons: first, because the clause would simply validate past payments that authorities made in good faith at the time of payment, believing that they had been sought and paid for lawfully since 1968. Secondly, he said: provision has been made in past annual local government finance settlements for the estimated expenditure that planning authorities expected to incur by way of charges for inspector's services at planning inquiries. Thirdly, he added: Without retrospection, the other provisions in the Bill would be unfair to those planning authorities that, through no fault of their own, have not yet reached the stage of holding an inquiry as part of their development plan process. The Minister also advanced those three reasons on Second Reading.

One major concern for local planning authorities is a conviction that the Government would not have been as flexible in dealing with them in similar circumstances had the change occurred in relation to local government's execution of its own powers. One can imagine what would happen if a local authority acted unlawfully, in exactly the same way that the Government have acted over the past 20 years in dealing with the costs of inquiries. Ministers would be up in arms, and they would be rushing to the Dispatch Box and going on to "News at Ten" demanding to know why local authorities had acted in such a way.

When Birmingham city council decided that there was a loophole in the law, no apology was given by Ministers. Indeed, the chief executive and members of Birmingham city council were not thanked. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Dr. Jones) and her colleagues who represent the city of Birmingham for having encouraged the local authority to do what it has done. Had it not been for Birmingham city council probing the legality of what the Government had been doing over the past few years, we would not have this Bill or, indeed, be discussing it at this stage.

The point that the deletion of retrospective provisions would be unfair to local authorities was raised at length by the Minister in Committee. The logic behind the Minister's argument was that it would be unfair to local authorities in the second tranche—those holding inquiries after the matter was raised by Birmingham city council and after the consultation procedure began. I have written, as have other Opposition Members, to local authorities. We have consulted various organisations, including the Association of District Councils, the Association of Metropolitan Authorities and the Association of County Councils, and not one of the constituent parts of those local authority associations would—

Sir Paul Beresford

They are Labour-controlled.

Mr. Vaz

I am glad that the Minister raises the point that they are Labour-controlled. Indeed, one of them has become Labour-controlled during the passage of the Bill simply because of the attitude expressed by the Government. It is no wonder that they all want to vote Labour. The Government are prepared to act unlawfully and to charge local authorities for doing something for which the Government have no power to charge them, as the Bill proposes. That is why the associations, representing Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour authorities as part of their constituent membership, have written unanimously to condemn what the Government propose.

8.45 pm

There is also concern about the wide-ranging nature of the retrospection proposed. Subsections (4) and (5) of clause 2 apply the concept of standard daily amounts to inquiries covered by retrospective powers. Subsection (6), however, goes one stage further by providing that if no standard daily rate was applicable to the inquiry in question, whatever charge the Minister considered reasonable would be levied. The provision goes beyond the original intention of the Bill, which was to provide merely for validating payments that have already been made.

Justifying this extraordinary provision in Committee, the Minister said: The inspectors' charges that can be recovered retrospectively will, like current charges, normally be based on a standard daily amount. Nevertheless, to ensure that every possible eventuality is catered for, subsection (6) is included, in case it is found that no standard daily rate amount was applicable at the time of a particular inquiry. If, most unexpectedly, the Planning Inspectorate had to use the powers of subsection (6) to decide what amount it was reasonable in all circumstances to recover from the planning authority, inspectorate officials would provide that authority with a complete analysis of the sum due and an explanation of why it was considered reasonable to recover it."—[Official Report, Standing Committee E, 17 May 1995; c. 26–27.] Surely the Minister must accept that that is taking the principle of retrospection to its absolute limits. He is asking the House to grant him the power to decide what amount to recover in any possible eventuality, which he does not even expect will arise. Given his view that the clause is unlikely to be required, he is seeking the House's agreement to stretch retrospection to a limit never intended by any other piece of legislation that I have studied during the passage of the Bill.

If the Minister proceeds with the Bill without the amendment, I hope that he will at some stage table an amendment setting out his commitment to ensuring that if the clause were used, the planning authority concerned would be supplied with a complete analysis of the sum due and an explanation of why it was considered reasonable, together with an opportunity to challenge the figure arrived at.

In other amendments, the Opposition have pressed for full consideration of the regulations to be made under the Bill and for the introduction of a service level agreement. As we know from the previous debate, the Minister has been as positive as he can, given the circumstances. At the very least, this amendment would provide the opportunity for the House to satisfy itself that the commitments were fulfilled and that, crucially, before any steps were taken, the provisions of the Bill would not apply retrospectively.

The Minister has said that he has gone out to consultation and that meetings have taken place with the Prime Minister. Indeed, that consultation started more than a year ago. The Minister must understand from my hon. Friends' contributions that retrospection is crucial to the future progress of good relations between the Government and local authorities. If, as a result of the McCarthy and Stone Developments case and the probing nature of the inquiry conducted by Birmingham city council, we accept that a mistake was made, the Minister should stand at the Dispatch Box and say that a mistake was made, apologise for it and say that, in future, any inquiries would be the subject of charging. Everyone in local government would accept that. That is what local authorities would be expected to do in the same circumstances.

If the Minister is not prepared to accept the amendment, the Opposition will certainly push it to a Division.

Mr. William O'Brien

I must remind the Minister that when we discussed retrospection in Committee, he defended it, but when we were considering retrospective legislation in Committee on another Bill on which the Minister was leading, he defended the right not to introduce such retrospective legislation. If there is a political weathercock in the House, it is the Minister, because whichever way the wind blows, that is the way he faces.

The fact that the Minister's own Back Benchers criticised proposals for retrospective legislation in the Committee on that other Bill prompts me to remind those Tory Back Benchers and the Minister that, today, the Minister is arguing the contrary to his previously stated opinion by arguing in favour of retrospective legislation.

Everyone knows that retrospective legislation is dangerous. It leaves open the opportunity for Ministers to introduce legislation that can create penalties for something that happened in the past. That is the dangerous purpose of the Bill. The Minister should consider carefully before he proceeds with the Bill.

The amendment would at least give local authorities the opportunity to offer an input to the representations to the Secretary of State regarding the level of retrospective payments. If the Minister pursues the line of thought that he exposed in Committee—as he has done so far tonight—he should press the Secretary of State to lift the cap from local authorities. If those authorities are to be charged for payments over and above their budget provisions, those charges could best be met by lifting that cap. The Minister may shake his head at that suggestion, but many of his hon. Friends on the Back Benches are saying exactly the same thing—unfortunately, not tonight. In fact, there are more civil servants in the Box than there are Tory Members on the Back Benches. That is glaringly obvious. It is true, nevertheless, that many Tory Members are now arguing that the capping mechanism on the expenditure of local authorities, which has operated for so long, should be lifted by the Government. If that happened, local authorities would obviously be more able to meet the demands that the Minister is making of them.

The amendment would ensure that any future charges would have to be subject to the affirmative resolution of the House before they were imposed. That would enable hon. Members to question the Minister and offer their views on his proposals to charge local authorities retrospective payments for matters that were not those authorities' responsibility in the first place. The initial mistake was made by the Government, whose charges on authorities were illegal from the start. That is why the Bill is before the House.

In Committee, the Minister reminded us that he had served in local government. If he wants to gain any credit from local government and wants to demonstrate his affiliation to it, he should show some respect for the pleas from the Opposition to help local government. Our amendment would return to local government some of the credibility that the Government have taken away from it and will continue to take from it through the Bill.

The amendment is constructive and would benefit local authorities that will be charged for retrospective payments. If the Minister has any affiliation to local government, he should accept the amendment.

Mr. Bendel

I join the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) in congratulating you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on your recent success in the birthday honours list.

There is a difference between retrospective legislation about which people are warned in advance—that might sound like a rather strange concept, but it applies to an extent in this case—and genuine retrospective legislation, which applies to people who could not have known what was happening.

It is sometimes admissible, although not necessarily in this case, for a Government to announce that they are about to legislate and that that will apply from the date of announcement forward. That can happen, of course, during the Budget debates. But it is quite wrong for the Government to attempt to legislate, as they have done in this case, where authorities whose inquiries had taken place had the right to believe that the Government did not have any legislation in place, which allowed them to be charged for the cost of those inquiries.

The fact that there are authorities that will have to pay if the Bill goes through as it stands—at a time when they have every right to assume that they will not have to pay—shows what is clearly wrong with the retrospective aspects of the Bill. That is why I, and I hope the members of my party, will support the amendment.

9 pm

Mr. Stevenson

May I add my congratulations to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker?

Of all the concerns that we have about the Government's proposals, this part of the Bill is the one that causes us the most concern. It is potentially the most dangerous part of the Bill, because it concerns the whole aspect of retrospection. By introducing the legislation in this way, the Government have acknowledged per se that they were acting illegally and that they have had no statutory authority to operate the scheme which has been in place for the past two or three years.

We are now faced with retrospective legislation, which is dangerous and puts us on a slippery slope. My hon. Friends have made that point both here and in Committee, and it is worth underlining this evening. We were unable to convince the Minister in Committee, and perhaps we will not be able to convince him now. But I am sure that he would not want to go down in history as the Minister who started us down this slippery slope.

It is interesting to note the Government's attitude towards retrospection in the Bill, an issue that the amendment seeks to address. If a private sector firm with which the Government were in some way involved—a privatised industry, for example—had made mistakes, Ministers would come to the Dispatch Box to admit that mistakes had been made, but would say that the Government had catered for those mistakes and, in some cases, had written them off.

If a local authority makes mistakes, heaven help it. It will have a phalanx of Ministers dropping on it from a great height. Minister after Minister—and, no doubt, Conservative Members—would be standing in line to condemn the local authority for its mistakes, and the Government would make the authority pay for those mistakes. But when the Government made mistakes—as was clearly established in the court action—what happened?

Sir Paul Beresford

The private Member's Bill which preceded the Local Government (Overseas Assistance) Act 1993 and which was supported by the Government had a retrospective aspect. The Act deals with local authorities which have paid moneys which are later suspected to be illegal. That matter was covered in the Bill by a retrospective measure.

Mr. Stevenson

I am glad that, after three minutes of my speech, I have apparently converted the Minister to the point that we want to make. I am extremely grateful for that intervention, because I cannot remember such a reaction from the Minister during all the hours we spent in Committee on this important point. I am extremely grateful for that intervention, as it encourages me to make some further points.

The Government made mistakes—I do not want to make a great song and dance about it, but they were acting illegally. What do the Government intend to do about that? They have made mistakes, and they had no statutory basis for operating the scheme. But they will now use their retrospective powers to load the financial responsibility on to the local authorities, which have been completely innocent. The justification for the Government's intentions to put the burden of costs on others as a result of their own mistakes is very interesting.

I should like to get the Minister to clarify what he means by retrospection. In Committee, he said that we did not have to worry, as this was not true retrospection. If it is not true retrospection, it is presumably untrue retrospection. If it is not full-blown, both-barrelled retrospection, it is presumably half-cocked and single-barrelled. Which is it? The Minister later tried to explain what he meant, but what he said does not stand up to scrutiny.

In 1992, the Government were challenged successfully on the basis of charging. The Minister is now basing the need for retrospection on two basic precepts. The first is that planning authorities will have no new financial burdens as a result of retrospection. I do not believe that that is the case, and I do not believe that the Minister really accepts it, either. The Bill seeks to amend the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which laid down local authority charges. It extends the scope of those charges, and I argue strongly that a Bill which extends the scope of charging is bound to increase charges for local authorities.

Unless the Minister is prepared to state categorically this evening that the Government do not intend to extend the scope of charges beyond those laid down in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, his claim that retrospection is not a problem because it will not amount to an additional financial burden cannot be sustained. It will not stand up to scrutiny.

The Minister's second justification for retrospection would be greeted, if the House were full, with a mixture of laughter and amazement.

Sir Paul Beresford

They would not believe you.

Mr. Stevenson

In reply to the Minister's sedentary intervention, hon. Members would not need to believe me, because they are the Minister's words, not mine. He said that the Government are seeking retrospection because they do not want to be unfair to local authorities. The Minister is unique among his colleagues in holding that view. Of the army of Ministers who are masquerading under the collective term "Government", you are the only Minister who does not want to be unfair to local authorities, and I congratulate you.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Geoffrey Lofthouse)

Order. The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Stevenson) has already congratulated me once; I think that he is referring to the Minister.

Mr. Stevenson

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Minister is the only Minister who does not want to be unfair to local authorities, and I agree with him.

The local authorities are telling the Minister that they do not want retrospection. When my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) spoke earlier about local government organisations, such as the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, I heard the Minister say from a sedentary position, "Labour-controlled." I hope that that was a throwaway remark, and that the Minister is not arguing—even from a sedentary position—that sound and reasonable views expressed by Labour-controlled authorities will be discounted simply because they come from authorities which have a majority of Labour members. If that is the case, retrospection will be even more dangerous. I am sure that it was only a throwaway line, but it is concerning.

Local authorities, such as the AMA and other associations, have said that they do not want retrospection; but now they are okay. Everyone accepts that action must be taken to clarify the position, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East said, we must start with a clean sheet. We can then move forward from there.

That is an extremely reasonable suggestion. Our amendment is trying at the very least to delay retrospection, so that it can be given further thought and so that any action taken on retrospective legislation will be subject to the affirmative resolution of the House. That is exactly the right thing to do. I can see now the queue of local authorities outside the Minister's office, banging on his door and shouting, "We want retrospection."

Sir Paul Beresford

indicated dissent.

Mr. Stevenson

It is no good the Minister shaking his head, because those are the very words that he used. He said that local authorities do not want it. Now he says that they are okay and tells us not to worry; but where is the queue?

I should like to know where my own local authority, Stoke-on-Trent city council, is in the queue. Is it second, third, hundredth or fiftieth? Where is it? I have checked: it is not in the queue. It does not want retrospection, and 1 have been unable to find a local authority that does.

I believe that, when the Minister gives as a justification for retrospection—a dangerous thing to do—the fact that local authorities are queueing up, banging on his door, saying that they want it because they do not want to be treated unfairly, it is right and proper for the House to say to the Minister, "Prove it!" He did not prove it in Committee, because he was silent on the matter. I hope that he will prove it this evening. I believe that it is not happening—and that the Minister knows that it is not happening.

Two planks support the Minister's justification for retrospection. The first plank, that there will be no additional financial burden, is simply not true. The legislation extends the scope of the 1990 Act, and there will be an additional financial burden unless we can obtain a commitment from the Minister this evening. The second plank that holds up that very wonky proposal for retrospection is that local authorities do not want to be treated unfairly.

In Committee, the Minister did not justify those two arguments. It is fair that he should take the opportunity to justify them this evening. If he cannot, all right hon. and hon. Members should support the amendment.

Dr. Lynne Jones

I shall be brief. I do not wish to repeat comments about retrospection. However, I wish to continue the argument about being fair to local authorities. The reason why we are here today, the reason why the Government have been forced to introduce the legislation, is that the Government were being precisely that—unfair to local authorities.

When Birmingham city council received a bill for £63,000 in charges for the Planning Inspectorate carrying out the development inquiry, it was not happy. Originally, the budget for that purpose was £28,000. The council, being realistic, had realised that the inquiry had sat for a few days longer and had slightly upped its estimate, but it was a shock to receive a bill for more than twice the original estimate.

The Minister dismisses that by saying, "It is such a small proportion of total local government expenditure." However, expenditure of that magnitude on other items has never prevented Conservative Members from unjustifiably smearing local authorities such as Birmingham. That money is important to local government. It should take its own decision on the way in which it spends its money, and should not be subjected to unreasonable demands for costs from central Government—which I note, even at this late stage, the Government have yet to justify.

The Minister is silent on the reason for increases of that enormous order of magnitude—170 per cent., in slightly more than two years. That is completely unreasonable, yet the Government smear local authorities such as Birmingham city council, which has shown, in this instance, that it is there to protect the interests of its citizens.

It is about time the Government apologised for the way in which they smear councils such as Birmingham. The Prime Minister did it today. It is about time the Government congratulated Birmingham city council on the work it did to draw that issue out.

As we know, the issue also rests on the legal case of McCarthy and Stone Developments Ltd. v. Richmond upon Thames London borough council, but we note that the Government have not rushed out to protect that local authority or other local authorities which were unable to make what they considered to be realistic charges for costs that they have incurred.

This is yet another example of the Government expecting local authorities to behave in one way and behaving themselves in a completely different way. The Government say that the amounts are not important in relation to the totality of local government expenditure; the costs that the Government intend to recoup from the retrospective nature of this legislation are also small in relation to the totality of Government expenditure. The Government should be consistent.

It is about time the Minister congratulated Birmingham council. It would be good if he recognised the work that was done; it would also be good if, instead of relying on their majority to beat through whatever legislation they want, retrospective or otherwise, the Government listened to the arguments and realised that they were behaving unreasonably.

It is laughable to suggest that the Government are doing this to be fair to local government. I urge the Minister to consider the points made tonight, and to think again.

9.15 pm
Sir Paul Beresford

I add my congratulations to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on your knighthood. It is a considerable honour—may we join the party afterwards? [HON. MEMBERS: "The Labour party?"] No, I have made some subtle mistakes in my time, but that would be a fatal one.

We need to re-emphasise, apparently, the fact that these provisions validate past payments that local authorities made in good faith to my Department. The payments were made under legislation based on legislation enacted under the Labour Government—that is when the error was made. It was believed by all concerned and by the local authorities that the payments were lawfully sought and lawfully paid at the time.

This is not a case of imposing an additional burden on any authority, or of expecting authorities to find the sums involved without having had warning of what they would he required to pay. There are no surprises—

Mr. Stevenson

The Minister says that no additional burden is proposed for local authorities. Does he accept that the scope of charges under the Bill is far wider than the scope contained in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990? If he confirms that, how can he argue that there is no additional financial burden?

Sir Paul Beresford

The powers that will be used by the planning inspector will involve only payments that have already been made by the planning authorities or which they have been notified are due from them—we are not asking for other payments. As I said, there are no surprises. We do not expect local authorities to find additional sums that they have not been warned about. They understand that, and they have not gone to any lengths to seek repayments which they anticipated having to repay later to the Planning Inspectorate. If the Bill were not retrospective, my Department and local authorities would be faced with a minor bureaucratic nightmare.

Mr. Vaz


Sir Paul Beresford

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman should think again and delve into his knowledge of local authorities and planning law—

Mr. Vaz


Sir Paul Beresford

I want to finish. If he thinks about it, the hon. Gentleman will realise that it would indeed be a minor bureaucratic nightmare. Authorities would have to establish what was owed in repayments—

Mr. Vaz

Will the Minister give way?

Sir Paul Beresford

No. Moreover, there would have to be a retrospective readjustment in the SSA provision paid through the revenue support grant to local authorities over the past few years.

This is a short Bill. It has a clearly defined and limited purpose for England, Wales and Scotland. All the provisions in clauses 1 to 4 have been thoroughly considered at each stage of the Bill's progress. Consequently, I see no need to interpose a further delaying parliamentary process before any of the provisions in clauses 1 to 4 come into force. That would introduce an additional element of uncertainty into the timetable for resumption of the charging arrangements for inspectors and reporters' services.

In Committee, the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Stevenson) asked about the timetable for reintroducing charges. We intend to introduce regulations after consultation with local authority associations and as soon as practicable after the Bill is enacted. It may, therefore, be completely unnecessary to use the transitional charges as outlined in subsections (2) and (3) of clause 1. Even if it proves necessary to use the powers, no charge will be levied on planning authorities without giving them advance warning.

Mr. William O'Brien

Will the Minister give way on that point?

Sir Paul Beresford

I shall not give way as we have spent enough time on the matter.

The amendment is merely another delaying tactic. It would introduce uncertainty, which local authorities do not need, and I ask the House to reject it.

Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East)

It is now time to put a kilt on proceedings with a speech from a Scottish Member of Parliament. May I extend a Scottish welcome to your elevation to the knighthood, Mr. Deputy Speaker?

The Minister referred to fatal mistakes. He appeared to believe that it was a fatal mistake to give way to Labour Members because it put him completely off his stroke and he could not read the briefing that the civil servants had passed to him. That was the level of his contribution to tonight's debate.

I was surprised that the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Kincardine and Deeside (Mr. Kynoch), who is here tonight, chose not to take part in the debate, as clauses 3 and 4 apply to Scotland. It is insulting to the Scottish people that a Scottish Office Minister should be present in the House while we are discussing the issue, but choose not to take part in such an important debate.

Mr. Stevenson

I am sure that his predecessor would have done so.

Mr. McAllion

As my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Stevenson) says, his predecessor, the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart), who is in the Chamber tonight, would have taken part in the debate had he still been a Scottish Office Minister, but certain circumstances led to his resignation.

On Second Reading, the hon. Member for Eastwood, who was in charge of the Bill, put an argument in defence of retrospection that we did not hear tonight. He argued that for the past 25 years everyone—successive Ministers, local authorities and inquiry reporters—had been working on the assumption that the Government had the statutory power to charge local authorities for the costs incurred in appointing inquiry reporters on planning issues. We now know that the assumption was wrong and they had no such power or legal authority to make those charges and that they were acting unlawfully. Had councillors acted in such a way for the past 25 years, they would have been surcharged by the Government, yet I suspect that the Government will not surcharge anyone for illegal action in the past 25 years.

The hon. Member for Eastwood went on to argue that the Government acted in perfectly good faith because they did not know that they were acting unlawfully when they took the money from the councils. Pleading ignorance is not much of a defence in law, or anywhere else, although increasingly we hear that the Conservative Government did not know what was going on—whether it was arms for Iraq, arms for Iran or cash for questions. It is not a good legal defence, and it is less of a defence for councillors.

The Government instituted the practice in local government whereby council officers are instructed to warn councillors if they believe that councillors are about to act illegally. If the Government are prepared to do that for local government, why cannot they do it for central Government? Why cannot civil servants or judges—who are very popular among Conservative Members—be appointed to warn Ministers when they are acting unlawfully and beyond their legal powers? If they had introduced the same set-up in central Government that exists in local government, the problem might not have arisen.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. George Kynoch)

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that when his party was in power it charged on exactly the same basis and had the same understanding with local government that it was legal to do so? Does he accept, therefore, that the assumption existed on both sides of the House?

Mr. McAllion

I accept entirely that the situation existed under Labour Governments as well as under Conservative Governments. I am certain, however, that a Labour Government would not now be seeking retrospectively to put right what was wrong. A Labour Government would accept that an error had been made and that they had to live with the costs of that error. Central Government would be responsible for making the payments as local government was working under the conditions that central Government had created for it.

Sir Paul Beresford

Would they not want returned the balance paid through the rate support grant and the SSA assessment to the local authorities over many years?

Mr. McAllion

The Government gave green dowries to water companies when they had already paid for them over the years through council tax support—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is going rather wide of the amendment.

Mr. McAllion

I was merely trying to respond to the poor point made by the Minister.

Mr. Kynoch


Mr. McAllion

Another poor Minister is trying to intervene.

Mr. Kynoch

I have not participated in the debate because the arguments were covered fully in Committee and previously. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that this retrospection will bring no extra charge to any local authority in his area in Scotland?

Mr. McAllion

I thought for a moment that the Minister was about to say that the arguments had been covered fully by his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, but he noticeably failed to say that. He said that they had been fully covered in Committee and elsewhere. I agree that his hon. Friend has not covered the arguments tonight. That became increasingly obvious as the debate went on. I have now forgotten what the point was.

Mr. Kynoch

I shall repeat it for the benefit of the hon. Gentleman, who obviously has a short memory. Does he accept that retrospection means no extra payment for local authorities, and that if retrospection is not in place there will be chaos because local authorities will be able to ask for funds back which they have already been given by the Government?

Mr. McAllion

I accept that the position in Scotland is different from in England and Wales, but clause 2 applies to England and Wales and money is involved. Money has been given back to local authorities that will need to be repaid as a result of clause 2. It will still have to be paid back to central Government if the clause is applied retrospectively. The Minister must understand that.

I shall come to what local authorities have to say about the clause in a minute, but before I do I want to say that the argument that local authorities have been acting under the same assumption over the last 25 years does not pass muster. If the Minister thinks for a moment, he will realise that local authorities are simply the creatures of statute passed by the House under the advice of Ministers. Their powers, responsibilities and competencies are defined for them. The sovereign authority lies with the House and it is the House that got it wrong during the past 25 years and it is the House that must put it right and accept responsibility for paying the costs of putting it right. That is the simple point that has to be made.

The Minister asked about the position of local authorities in Scotland. COSLA—for the benefit of English Members, that is the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities—has made its position clear. It accepts that, under the kind of 19th century constitution that we have, Parliament has the power to pass retrospective legislation. But it goes on to point out that, as a matter of good law and practice, Parliament should do that only in exceptional circumstances. In COSLA's view, this is not one of those exceptional circumstances.

COSLA goes on to point out that the small sums involved in Scotland—about £320,000 a year—do not justify the use of retrospective legislation in Scotland. Scottish local authorities are telling the Minister not to do it. I am telling the Minister not to do it and the Opposition are telling the Minister not to do it. If he was wise, he would not do it. It is as simple as that.

In Committee, the Minister also argued that this is not true retrospection. He said that the law is simply being put back to what it has universally been seen as being for the past 25 years. However, I will remind the Minister that the law is the law. It is not what it is seen to be but what it is. There was no express or implied legal power for the Government or any other Government to make the charges on local authorities, which they have been doing during the last 25 years. They have been acting beyond their powers, and in a parliamentary democracy that is not acceptable.

If the Government choose to act retrospectively to put right what has been wrong, I can only warn them that they are setting a dangerous precedent. Future Parliaments may apply the law retrospectively in circumstances that will not be to their liking. The Government are setting the precedent with which they will have to live.

Mr. Kynoch

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that no money will be transferred and that the Bill simply legalises what Governments of both complexions and local authorities believed to be the position?

Mr. McAllion

It is not legalising what they believed to be the position. Labour Members who have been responsible in the past are no longer in the House. Labour Members now are a very different group from previous Labour Members.

Labour councils made it clear that they do not believe that the Bill should be applied retrospectively. It is as simple as that, and if the Minister does not understand that as a Scottish Office Minister, he really should listen to what Scottish local authorities have to say.

9.30 pm

My hon. Friend the Member for Normanton (Mr. O'Brien) made a good point when he said that the Minister is sometimes in favour of retrospective legislation and is sometimes against it. What he really meant is that when it suits him, the Minister is in favour of retrospective legislation. That is hardly a principled decision, because democratic principles are not matters of convenience. A true democrat is somebody who sticks to his principles even when they do not suit him. According to that test, the Government have shown that they are not true democrats.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 154, Noes 190.

Division No. 170] [9.30 pm
Ainger, Nick Hall, Mike
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Hanson, David
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Harvey, Nick
Ashton, Joe Heppell, John
Austin-Walker, John Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Hinchliffe, David
Barnes, Harry Hoey, Kate
Bayley, Hugh Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)
Beith, Rt Hon A J Home Robertson, John
Bennett, Andrew F Hood, Jimmy
Betts, Clive Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Boateng, Paul Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W)
Bradley, Keith Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Burden, Richard Ingram, Adam
Byers, Stephen Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)
Callaghan, Jim Jamieson, David
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)
Canavan, Dennis Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomery) Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)
Chidgey, David Keen, Alan
Chisholm, Malcolm Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)
Clapham, Michael Khabra, Piara S
clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Kiffoyle, Peter
Clelland, David Kirkwood, Archy
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Coffey, Ann Lewis, Terry
Connarty, Michael Liddell, Mrs Helen
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Loyden, Eddie
Cook, Robin (Livingston) McAllion, John
Corston, Jean McAvoy, Thomas
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE) McCartney, Ian
Davidson, Ian Macdonald, Calum
Denham, John Maclennan, Robert
Dewar, Donald McWilliam, John
Dixon, Don Madden, Max
Donohoe, Brian H Maddock, Diana
Dowd, Jim Mahon, Alice
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Marek, Dr John
Eagle, Ms Angela Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Eastham, Ken Marltew, Eric
Enright, Derek Maxton, John
Etherington, Bill Michael, Alun
Fatchett, Derek Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Flynn, Paul Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Milburn, Alan
Foster, Don (Bath) Morgan, Rhodri
Foulkes, George Morley, Eliot
Fyfe, Maria Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wy'nshawe)
Galbraith, Sam Mowlam, Marjorie
Gapes, Mike Mudie, George
George, Bruce Mullin, Chris
Gerrard, Neil Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Godman, Dr Norman A O'Brien, Mike (N W'kshire)
Godsiff, Roger O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Gordon, Mildred O'Hara, Edward
Graham, Thomas Olner, Bill
Grant, Bemie (Tottenham) Parry, Robert
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Pike, Peter L
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Pope, Greg
Grccott, Bruce Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Gunnell, John Prentice, Bridget (Lew'm E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Tipping, Paddy
Quin, Ms Joyce Touhig, Don
Radice, Giles Turner, Dennis
Reid, Dr John Tyler, Paul
Rendel, David Vaz, Keith
Roche, Mrs Barbara Wareing, Robert N
Rooney, Terry Watson, Mike
Simpson, Alan Wicks, Malcolm
Skinner, Dennis Wilson, Brian
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Winnick, David
Spearing, Nigel Wise, Audrey
Spellar, John Worthington, Tony
Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W) Wright, Dr Tony
Steinberg, Gerry Young, David (Bolton SE)
Stevenson, George
Sutcliffe, Gerry Tellers for the Ayes:
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury) Mr. Joe Benton, and
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Ms Estelle Morris.
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Fabricant, Michael
Amess, David Field, Barry (lsle of Wight)
Arbuthnot, James Fishbum, Dudley
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Forman, Nigel
Ashby, David Forsyth, Rt Hon Michael (Stlirling)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset) Freeman, Rt Hon Roger
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Fry, Sir Peter
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Gallie, Phil
Bates, Michael Gardiner, Sir George
Batiste, Spencer Gillan, Cheryl
Bellingham, Henry Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Beresford, Sir Paul Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Brffen, Rt Hon John Gorst, Sir John
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Bowden, Sir Andrew Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Bowis, John Hague, William
Brandreth, Gyles Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archibald
Brazier, Julian Hampson, Dr Keith
Bright, Sir Graham Hannam, Sir John
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Hargreaves, Andrew
Brown, M (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Harris, David
Burt, Alistair Haselhurst, Sir Alan
Butcher, John Hawksley, Warren
Butler, Peter Hayes, Jerry
Carrington, Matthew Heald, Oliver
Carttiss, Michael Heathcoat-Amory, David
Chapman, Sydney Hendry, Charles
Clappison, James Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ru'clif) Horam, John
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)
COE, Sebastian Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W)
Congdon, David Hunter, Andrew
Conway, Derek Jack, Michael
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Jenkin, Bemard
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Jessel, Toby
Cormack, Sir Patrick Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Couchman, James Jones, Robert B (W Hertfdshr)
Cran, James Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) King, Rt Hon Tom
Day, Stephen Kirkhope, Timothy
Deva, Nirj Joseph Knapman, Roger
Dicks, Terry Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Dover, Den Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)
Duncan, Alan Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Duncan-Smith, Iain Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Dykes, Hugh Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Elletson, Harold Legg, Barry
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Leigh, Edward
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Lidington, David
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Lightbown, David
Evennett, David Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Faber, David Luff, Peter
MacKay, Andrew Spink, Dr Robert
Maclean, Rt Hon David Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
McLoughlin, Patrick Steen, Anthony
Madel, Sir David Stephen, Michael
Maitland, Lady Olga Stern, Michael
Malone, Gerald Stewart, Allan
Mans, Keith Streeter, Gary
Marlow, Tony Sweeney, Walter
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Sykes, John
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Merchant, Piers Temple-Morris, Peter
Mills, Iain Thomason, Roy
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Monro, Sir Hector Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Moss, Malcolm Thumham, Peter
Nelson, Anthony Trend, Michael
Neubert, Sir Michael Trotter, Neville
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Twinn, Dr lan
Nicholls, Patrick Viggers, Peter
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Walden, George
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Pawsey, James Waller, Gary
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Ward, John
Pickles, Eric Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Porter, David (Waveney) Waterson, Nigel
Powell, William (Corby) Wells, Bowen
Richards, Rod Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Riddick, Graham Whittingdale, John
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn Widdecombe, Ann
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S) Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Robinson, Mark (Somerton) Wilkinson, John
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard Willetts, David
Scott, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Shaw, David (Dover) Wolfson, Mark
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Wood, Timothy
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Shersby, Sir Michael
Sims, Roger Tellers for the Noes:
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Mr. Simon Burns and
Spencer, Sir Derek Dr. Liam Fox.

Question accordingly negatived.

Order for Third Reading read.

9.41 pm
Sir Paul Beresford

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I did not believe that we could hear so much verbiage in such a small event. On Report, the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) desperately tried to justify his position. I remind hon. Members that the Royal Town Planning Institute's independent opinion is that the Bill simply puts the law back to what it was universally seen to be for the past 25 years until last year.

9.42 pm
Mr. Vaz

I assure the Minister that if I were seeking to justify my position I certainly would not have called four votes on Report on the night that the beer club was sailing down the Thames. On Second Reading I promised a bare-knuckle fight with the Government if Ministers failed to compromise on a number of important points in the Bill. In that spirit the Opposition tabled a number of reasonable amendments in Committee and on Report that we hoped would improve the Bill.

Town and country planning legislation should not be controversial, and I regret that I had to call so many votes on Report. But that was necessary because of the Bill's contents. I thank my hon. Friends the Members for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Cunningham), for Lewisham, West (Mr. Dowd), for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Dr. Jones), for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion), for Normanton (Mr. O'Brien), for Nuneaton (Mr. Olner) and for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr Stevenson) for their excellent contributions in Committee and on Report.

We shall vote against Third Reading for three reasons. The first is that the Bill imposes greater burdens on local authorities. Secondly, we shall vote against it because the Government did not keep their promise about full consultation with the local authority associations. Thirdly, we shall oppose Third Reading because of the most dangerous precedent of all in the Bill—that of retrospective legislation. For that third reason more than any other we oppose the Bill.

Judge Chase, speaking in the case of Calder v. Bull, said that every law that takes away or impairs rights vested agreeably to existing laws is retrospective, generally unjust and may be oppressive, and it is a good general rule that a law should have no retrospective effect. The Government seek to break that precedent. Ministers will regret that decision, which will be reluctantly forced on reluctant councils. The legislation will come hack to haunt the Minister and the Government.

9.44 pm
Mr. Rendel

At the grave risk of being accused by Ministers of standing here merely to justify my position, I shall add a few points. Obviously, the main points that can be made against Third Reading are simply that the amendments that should have been passed tonight have not been, and that the Bill is unacceptable without them. It is also important, however, to point out that the Bill is a great missed opportunity. It deals with planning law and there is a lot wrong with planning law. It is a great pity that the Government have not included in the Bill the proposals that should have been included to rectify those faults.

In particular, it is clear that there is a great disparity between the opportunities given to the big boys in planning—the local authorities, the Government and the major developers—and the much smaller opportunities given to the small man—the individual objector to a planning development proposal. That should and could have been rectified in the Bill. 1 too will oppose it and I hope that my party will do so.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 190, Noes 155.

Division No. 171] [9.45 pm
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Amess, David Bowden, Sir Andrew
Arbuthnot, James Bowis, John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Brandreth, Gyles
Ashby, David Brazier, Julian
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Bright, Sir Graham
Baker; Nicholas (North Dorset) Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Brown, M (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Burt, Alistair
Bates, Michael Butcher, John
Batiste, Spencer Butler, Peter
Bellingham, Henry Carrington, Matthew
Beresford, Sir Paul Carttiss, Michael
Biffen, Rt Hon John Chapman, Sydney
Clappison, James Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ru'clif) Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Coe, Sebastian Legg, Barry
Congdon, David Leigh, Edward
Conway, Derek Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Lidington, David
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Lightbown, David
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Cormack, Sir Patrick Luff, Peter
Couchman, James MacKay, Andrew
Cran, James Maclean, Rt Hon David
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) McLoughlin, Patrick
Day, Stephen Madel, Sir David
Deva, Nirj Joseph Maitland, Lady Olga
Dicks, Terry Mabne, Gerald
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Mans, Keith
Dover, Den Marlow, Tony
Duncan, Alan Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Duncan-Smith, Iain Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Dykes, Hugh Merchant, Piers
Elletson, Harold Mills, Iain
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Monro, Sir Hector
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Moss, Malcolm
Evennett, David Nelson, Anthony
Faber, David Neubert, Sir Michael
Fabricant, Michael Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Nicholls, Patrick
Fishbum, Dudley Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Forman, Nigel Oppenheim, Phillip
Forsylh, Rt Hon Michael (Stirling) Pawsey, James
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley) Pickles, Eric
Freeman, Rt Hon Roger Porter, David (Waveney)
Fry, Sir Peter Powell, William (Corby)
Gallie, Phil Richards, Rod
Gardiner, Sir George Riddick, Graham
Gillan, Cheryl Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Gorst, Sir John Scott, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Shaw, David (Dover)
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Hague, William Shersby, Sir Michael
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archibald Sims, Roger
Hampson, Dr Keith Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Hannam, Sir John Spencer, Sir Derek
Hargreaves, Andrew Spink, Dr Robert
Harris, David Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Haselhurst, Sir Alan Steen, Anthony
Hawksley, Warren Stephen, Michael
Hayes, Jerry Stem, Michael
Heald, Oliver Stewart, Allan
Heathcoat-Amory, David Streeter, Gary
Hendry, Charles Sweeney, Walter
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence Sykes, John
Horam, John Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk) Temple-Morris, Peter
Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W) Thomason, Roy
Hunter, Andrew Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Jack, Michael Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Jenkin, Bernard Thurnham, Peter
Jessel, Toby Trend, Michael
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Trotter, Neville
Jones, Robert B (W Hertfdshr) Twinn, Dr Ian
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Viggers, Peter
King, Rt Hon Tom Walden, George
Kirkhope, Timothy Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Knapman, Roger Waller, Gary
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Ward, John
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n) Waterson, Nigel
Wells, Bowen Wolfson, Mark
Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John Wood, Timothy
Whittingdale, John Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Widdecombe, Ann
Wiggin, Sir Jerry Tellers for the Ayes:
Wilkinson, John Mr. David Willetts and
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton) Mr. Simon Burns.
Ainger, Nick Hinchliffe, David
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Hoey, Kate
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)
Ashton, Joe Home Robertson, John
Austin-Walker, John Hood, Jimmy
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Barnes, Harry Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Bayley, Hugh Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Beith, Rt Hon A J Ingram, Adam
Bennett, Andrew F Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)
Benton, Joe Jamieson, David
Betts, Clive Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)
Blunkett, David Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Boateng, Paul Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)
Bradley, Keith Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Burden, Richard Lewis, Terry
Byers, Stephen Liddell, Mrs Helen
Callaghan, Jim Loyden, Eddie
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) McAllion, John
Canavan, Dennis McAvoy, Thomas
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomery) McCartney, Ian
Chidgey, David Macdonald, Calum
Chisholm, Malcolm Maclennan, Robert
Clapham, Michael McWilliam, John
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Madden, Max
Clelland, David Maddock, Diana
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Marek, Dr John
Coffey, Ann Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Connarty, Michael Martlew, Eric
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Maxton, John
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Michael, Alun
Corston, Jean Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE) Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Davidson, Ian Milburn, Alan
Denham, John Morgan, Rhodri
Dewar, Donald Morley, Elliot
Dixon, Don Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wy'nshawe)
Donohoe, Brian H Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Mowlam, Marjorie
Eagle, Ms Angela Mullin, Chris
Eastham, Ken Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Enright, Derek O'Brien, Mike (N W'kshire)
Etherington, Bill O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Fatchett, Derek O'Hara, Edward
Flynn, Paul Olner, Bill
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Parry, Robert
Foster, Don (Bath) Pike, Peter L
Foulkes, George Pope, Greg
Fyfe, Maria Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Galbraith, Sam Prentice, Bridget (Lew'm E)
Gapes, Mike Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
George, Bruce Quin, Ms Joyce
Gerrard, Neil Radice, Giles
Godman, Dr Norman A Reid, Dr John
Godsiff, Roger Rendel, David
Gordon, Mildred Roche, Mrs Barbara
Graham, Thomas Rooney, Terry
Grant, Bemie (Tottenham) Simpson, Alan
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Skinner, Dennis
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Grocott, Bruce Spearing, Nigel
Gunnell, John Spellar, John
Hall, Mike Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Hanson, David Steinberg, Gerry
Harvey, Nick Stevenson, George
Heppell, John Sutcliffe, Gerry
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Wilson, Brian
Tipping, Paddy Winnick, David
Touhig, Don Wise, Audrey
Turner, Dennis Worthington, Tony
Tyler, Paul Wright, Dr Tony
Vaz, Keith Young, David (Bolton SE)
Wareing, Robert N Tellers for the Noes:
Watson, Mike Mr. George Mudie and
Wicks, Malcolm Mr. Jim Dowd.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

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