HC Deb 10 February 1998 vol 306 cc229-49 8.45 pm
Mr. Bernard Jenkin (North Essex)

I beg to move amendment No. 281, in page 22, line 40, leave out from `may' to end of line 41 and insert `apply to the Court of Session to seek an order to prohibit the proposed action'.

The Second Deputy Chairman

With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 282, in page 22, line 44, leave out from 'may' to end of line 45 and insert `apply to the Court of Session to seek an order to require such action to be taken'. No. 283, in page 23, line 14, leave out `by order revoke the legislation' and insert `apply to the Court of Session for an order revoking the legislation'.

Mr. Jenkin

I have to confess that I rise with some trepidation, because I was given this neat little collection of amendments to pursue. The more I delved into the Bill and had the Secretary of State jog my elbow and chuckle, the more I realised why a QC would want to delegate the matter to a non-lawyer. I shall try to be brief to give the Secretary of State as much time as possible to address all the issues that arise from clause 54.

Clause 54, which we term one of the governor-general clauses of the Bill in view of the powers that it possesses, relates to clause 33, which, unfortunately, we did not have time to discuss. I remind the Committee that clause 33(1)(a) deals with the Secretary of State's powers to intervene. If a measure contains provisions which he has reasonable grounds to believe would be incompatible with any international obligations", he can delay or make an order suspending the Royal Assent of an Act of the Scottish Parliament.

Although I do not wish to tie the Committee in knots, the Secretary of State tells me that the provision relates back to clause 28—one of the most complicated clauses of the Bill, which sadly, we did not discuss. In addressing our amendments to clauses 54 and 55, I invite the Secretary of State to relate his comments to the other clauses that we have not discussed, while remaining in order.

The key question is what is an international obligation, and what is the Secretary of State's determination of an international obligation in respect of his order-making powers under clauses 33 and 54. In the equivalent debate on Wales, we established that international obligations went beyond treaty obligations. We used as an example the Agenda 21 agreement on the environment. The example which I want to pursue in respect of the amendments is that of the Rio carbon emission targets. To what extent do they represent an international obligation on the United Kingdom that is translatable into an international obligation on the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament? What is the nature of the Secretary of State's decision whether to use his order-making powers in circumstances which I shall describe later?

The issue turns on whether the Secretary of State is making a political or a judicial judgment. The substance of our amendments to clause 54 and to clause 33 is that the Secretary of State is making more of a judicial pronouncement than a political judgment; therefore, it would be more appropriate for the matter to be decided by a court—whether it is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council or the Court of Session—than by the Secretary of State.

Let us accept that the circumstances would be exceptional, but they could also be extremely controversial. If the Secretary of State used an order-making power to strike down an action of the Scottish Executive or to compel the Scottish Executive to take an action that it would not otherwise take, one can imagine that the political atmosphere would become pretty heated. If we want a positive and constructive relationship involving Westminster and Whitehall and Holyroodhouse and St. Andrew's house, it is not difficult to suggest that the heat should be taken out of the issue by the courts rather than have an essentially judicial matter decided by the Secretary of State.

Mr. Wallace

There is much to commend amendment No. 281, not least the point that the hon. Gentleman has been making. However, if he has read the notes on clauses—as I am sure he has—he will note that one of the features of the international treaty obligations referred to in the Bill, and the reason for the clause, is that they have not been made part of our domestic law. How does he think that those obligations would become justiciably noted?

Mr. Jenkin

I shall deal with that point.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Sam Galbraith)

Do we have all weekend?

Mr. Jenkin

I wish I had.

The issue that the Secretary of State decides is not immune to questioning by the courts and may well be subject to judicial review. I shall deal with that point shortly.

I invite the Committee to examine the possibility, which I had started to describe, of a dispute among the Government, Whitehall and the Scottish Executive over the extent to which Scotland was fulfilling its part of the obligation to reduce carbon emissions. It would fall to the Secretary of State to decide whether Scotland was frustrating the United Kingdom in fulfilling that obligation. Perhaps there had been a concordat between the Scottish Executive and Whitehall on how the emission targets should be divided between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, and perhaps that agreement had broken down. When the point came at which the Secretary of State had to take a view on the issue, he might decide that Scotland had not contributed sufficiently to reducing emissions, and therefore invoke his order-making powers.

I invite the Secretary of State to tell the Committee whether that order-making power would be subject to judicial review. If so, what would be the substance of the judicial review? It is one thing for the Secretary of State to decide whether he considers an international obligation to have been fulfilled, but, if it comes to a judicial review, surely the court has to decide whether an international obligation existed and whether the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive were frustrating the United Kingdom's fulfilment of that obligation.

Would it not be better if such an issue were decided initially by a court? I do not know whether the issue would ultimately finish in an international court—for it to decide a United Kingdom constitutional dispute—but that seems rather unlikely. Therefore, to answer the question asked by the hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace), I think that, on an issue of international obligation and international law, a domestic court would have to decide whether the Secretary of State was justifiably using that power.

Our group of amendments would ensure that initially courts address the issues, rather than leaving them as the basis of political dispute. Specifically, in our proposed amendments to clause 33, we suggested that the matter should be referred directly to the disputes procedure, as specified in paragraph 4(1) of schedule 6. In amendment No. 281, we recommend using the Court of Session, but we are not fussy. If the Secretary of State comes up with a better idea, we should very much welcome those proposals. It is clearly odd to invite a United Kingdom domestic court to decide a matter of international law. Although it seems unavoidable that such adjudications will have to be made, they should not be made by the Secretary of State.

Mr. Dalyell

Clause 54 constitutes a substantial restraint on the competency of certain legislation in the Scottish Parliament. Although the clause empowers the "Secretary of State", that need not be the Secretary of State for Scotland; as the Bill is written, it could be any Minister of the Crown. I wonder whether the Secretary of State will confirm that.

I must say that it is a travesty of scrutiny in the House of Commons that, as with clause 33, we did not debate clause 53. By the time of the Bill's Third Reading, no one will be able to say that the Bill was properly scrutinised. Unless we very thoroughly scrutinise clauses 33 and 53 at Report, we cannot claim to have had scrutiny.

Given the existence of clause 53, which allows Westminster Ministers to override the actions or supply the omissions of Scottish Ministers in the European Community and convention spheres, it is not clear why clause 54(2), with its power to require action of a Scottish Minister in the same spheres, is necessary. Surely the same result can be achieved by the UK Minister asserting his independent right. Regardless, what sanctions are available to ensure that relevant action is taken by the Scottish Minister?

Clause 54(1) clearly remains necessary, to take account of the possibility that a Scottish Minister committed to so acting could presumably act contrary to international obligations unless the UK Government retained a preventive power. Again, however, and much more pertinently, that raises the question of appropriate enforcement mechanisms. The Bill does not have much to say about those.

Clause 54(3) makes no provision for the Secretary of State's action to be directed to a particular person. Is it the First Minister or the member of the Scottish Executive who can be directed to act, and how can such a direction be reviewed? I look forward to hearing the Secretary of State on those matters.

Mr. William Cash (Stone)

As the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) has said, the provision in clause 54 ignores the fact that clause 53 has not been properly scrutinised, raising some fundamental questions—not the least of which is the relationship involving legislation that is made in the House, legislation that is made in the Scottish Parliament and the obligations that are imposed by section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972. The bottom line is simply that, in the Bill, an attempt is made to bypass the impact of the European dimension on legislation that will have an impact on the people of Scotland, not to mention on the people of the United Kingdom as a whole.

Clause 53, which has not been debated but is of direct relevance to the provision, states: (1) Despite the transfer to the Scottish Ministers by virtue of section 49 … any function of a Minister of the Crown in relation to any matter shall continue to be exercisable by him as regards Scotland for the purposes specified in section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972. It goes on: (2) A member of the Scottish Executive has no power to make any subordinate legislation, or to do any other act, so far as the legislation or act is incompatible"—

The Second Deputy Chairman

Order. I remind the hon. Member that we are discussing clause 54. I should be grateful if he confined his remarks to the amendment before the Committee.

Mr. Cash

The point that I am making arises with respect to clause 54(4). The question whether the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe that a provision would be incompatible with international obligations or within the legislative competence of the Parliament by virtue of … section 28 is directly relevant to superior law, which takes us back to clause 53.

I shall not go into the merits of clause 53. I shall simply make the important point that the consequences of legislation made in the European Community dimension—because it is superior law—will override any decisions taken, including those on the basis of so-called "reasonable grounds" by the Secretary of State. The bottom line is that, whether or not the Secretary of State comes to a conclusion based on what he may regard as "reasonable grounds", that is not within his jurisdiction, because it will be overridden by the fact that the legislative competence of the Parliament under clause 54(4) will be determined by the ultimate decision of the European Court.

Mr. Wallace

Given that international obligations are defined in clause 111(7) as meaning obligations … other than obligations under Community law", and therefore expressly exclude anything relating to Community law, how can Community law have relevance?

9 pm

Mr. Cash: I debated this question with the Minister during earlier proceedings. When he kept on saying that he was concerned with the question of international agreements—by which I mean international obligations—I made the point that he was completely confused about the interaction between what he was describing as international agreements and international obligations as defined in clause 111. That is where the problem lies.

Clause 111 may be an attempt to define an international obligation, but the plain fact remains that whether such an obligation is an international obligation falling within the purview of the European Communities Act will be decided not by the Secretary of State's reasonable assessment but by the Court of Justice—if and when the question gets there because of a contravention of a provision of European Community law.

We know perfectly well that, over and again, there have been attempts—as, indeed, there is in this Bill with regard to the Scottish Parliament—to create an impression that, somehow, we will be able to retain control over what is decided in this House. The White Paper demonstrates the nature of the problem by reference to the manner in which decisions will be taken in the Council of Ministers. An attempt is being made, somehow, to create an impression that there will be a continuing jurisdiction in this House or in the Scottish Parliament. The reference to legislative competence under section 28 shows that the Government are concerned about whether there would be legislative competence in the Scottish Parliament. There is a raft of inconsistency of jurisdiction in the schedules which seek to determine the Parliament's legislative competence.

The Bill is unbelievably obscure and opaque when it comes to where decisions will be taken. I see the Secretary of State shaking his head. Perhaps he would be kind enough to say why he thinks that I am wrong on this point. I raised it with him in an earlier debate, and he admitted that he did not have the means of determining where the line was drawn. A massive confusion will occur, ultimately driven by the provisions of European Community law, which will override and frustrate any attempt, which I am sure the Government are making, in any Act of Parliament—including this Bill or, indeed, the European Communities (Amendment) Bill—to create dividing lines between the various jurisdictions.

We now have a tripartite jurisdiction. We are no longer talking only about what matters will be determined by ministerial decision. The opportunities that Ministers have to state whether they have reasonable grounds, which is a matter of judicial review, will be determined—as the Amsterdam treaty makes abundantly clear—not in the courts of first instance but in the highest courts in the land.

The Secretary of State will be in an extremely ambiguous position in his relationships with the United Kingdom Cabinet, Scotland and the Council of Ministers. He will find himself in increasing difficulties over the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament as stipulated in subsection (4). Who will be the ultimate arbiter? Who will make the fundamental decisions? It will not be the Secretary of State.

The clause is a load of codswallop. It is an attempt to give the impression that the Secretary of State will have the power to revoke legislation where he has reasonable grounds to believe that there has been an infringement of the powers that are laid down—it is an ultra vires issue. He is arrogantly trying to give the impression that he can make decisions that he will not be able to make.

Irrespective of what the hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) said—that clause 111 defines international obligations—where there are conflicts with the European Court and European Community obligations, decisions will be taken by the highest courts in the land and, ultimately, by the European Court itself. The Secretary of State is living in cloud cuckoo land if he does not understand that the implications of the clause will be overridden by decisions ultimately taken by the European Court.

In the past few years, a denial has been increasingly built into the legislative process. There has been a refusal to admit that there will be complications in determining the overriding jurisdiction of the law-making powers of this land in relation to a raft of legislation, including those matters set out in the schedules to the Bill, as the debate on clause 28 demonstrated. There will be no clear dividing line, and ultimate jurisdiction will lie with the European Court of Justice.

The Secretary of State can remonstrate and shake his head. He can say that he does not think that that will happen, but I guarantee that, within a matter of years, it will become abundantly clear that—despite the Government's protestations—the dividing line of legislative competence will be determined by the European Court in those areas where it has the competence to decide.

I see that the Secretary of State has been handed a note from his advisers. I should be delighted if he would be good enough to read out what advice he has been given, as it is clear that he cannot make up his own mind on the subject. I have raised this point with him over and over again—

Mr. McLeish

The hon. Gentleman is out of touch.

Mr. Cash

The Minister may say that, but over and over again there have been attempts to give the impression that we are in control of our own affairs, on questions of overlapping jurisdiction, ultra vires issues and legislative competence, when in reality those matters have been resolved against us. The Secretary of State may seek to determine those questions of legislative competence in a Bill of this sort, on what he would term reasonable grounds, but there is no basis for the confidence that is expressed by the look on his face at the moment.

Mr. McAllion

I shall not follow the remarks made by the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash). Indeed, I doubt whether any hon. Members present could do so.

When the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) introduced this group of amendments on behalf of the Opposition, he said that the key to understanding them was the definition of "international obligations". One of the keys to understanding the amendments, as well as the clause, is the definition of "any action proposed". Clause 54(3) states: 'action' includes making, confirming or approving subordinate legislation and, in subsection (2), includes introducing a Bill in the Parliament. That tells us what the definition includes, but it does not tell us what is excluded. When my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State replies, I hope that he will be clear about what is meant by "action". Does it refer only to subordinate legislation—to Bills of some sort—or can it refer to any sort of action taken by the Scottish Executive, or indeed, the Scottish Parliament?

I shall give an example. Let us pretend that the Scottish Parliament is already in existence and that, in the middle of this international crisis in the Gulf, the First Minister has decided to hold a debate on the crisis and to put forward a resolution for the approval of the Parliament that would condemn any military action in the Gulf either by the United States of America or by the United Kingdom. That is an action that the Prime Minister in this Parliament could well define as being opposed to international obligations undertaken by the United Kingdom Government. Obviously, we are under some sort of obligation to support the Americans in any military action in the Gulf. Could the UK Prime Minister overrule the Scottish Parliament and stop it holding such a debate?

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Donald Dewar)

The answer to that question is simply no. I fear that my hon. Friend is suffering from the delusion that a speech by him against certain forms of action in the world amounts to an international obligation. That is an optimistic definition of his own efforts.

Mr. McAllion

My right hon. Friend deliberately misses my point. I was not referring to international obligations arising from any speech that I might make, but simply saying that the British Government are under an international obligation, I would assume, to support America in the Gulf at the moment. If a Scottish Parliament were against giving that support, would that be defined as going against a UK Government international obligation?

Mr. Dewar

The answer is that there is no such international obligation. The foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government is a matter for the judgment of the Government of the day, but a decision to follow a certain line in international debate does not constitute an international obligation.

Mr. McAllion

I am greatly relieved to find that we are under no obligation to undertake military action in the Gulf. That will be a great source of satisfaction for many Labour Members.

Mr. Cash

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman ignores the fact that, under both the Maastricht and the Amsterdam treaties, what is or is not decided as an international obligation is continuously and progressively being taken into European jurisdiction. Therefore, my earlier point—about which he was dismissive—is entirely relevant to this debate. The bottom line is that it is no good the Secretary of State saying that he will have the right to make those decisions, because he is already being overtaken by—

The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Michael J. Martin)

Order. I have just arrived in the Chair, but I have been listening to the hon. Gentleman, and clause 54 does not concern our obligations in Europe, so perhaps we could leave that question for this evening.

Mr. McAllion

I am grateful to you for your ruling, Mr. Martin. If the definition of an international obligation is any international obligation of the United Kingdom, will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State confirm that, if, the United Kingdom Government signed up to the multilateral agreement on investment this April, it would be the sort of obligation that would affect the Scottish Parliament?

My right hon. Friend will recognise that the multilateral agreement on investment prevents any Government, whether of the UK or of Scotland, from discriminating against multinationals. It is expected that, under that agreement, multinationals will be able to sue local authorities which they believe to be in breach of that obligation not to discriminate. The Canadian Government are trying to ban a dangerous toxin that is used as an additive in petrol but, because the toxin is produced by only one multinational company, they have been taken to court under the north American free trade agreement, which is similar to the multilateral agreement on investment, on the basis that to ban the toxin would be to discriminate against the multinational that produces it.

When he winds up the debate, will my right hon. Friend confirm that a Scottish Parliament acting through local government legislation to ban toxins on environmental grounds might under the clause be subject to UK Government intervention to prevent such legislation being passed, because it might be in breach of the multilateral agreement on investment? If the answer is yes, is not that a good and strong argument for not signing up to the multilateral agreement on investment until we hold a proper debate in this Chamber?

9.15 pm
Mr. Wallace

First, may I say how much I envy your power, Mr. Martin? When I intervened on the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) and suggested that the clause dealt with international obligations, which are defined expressly as not including anything relating to European Community law, he told me that I was missing the point. I am sure that the Committee was relieved that he did not try to explain how you, too, had missed the point as, from the Chair, you could not possibly have missed the point—in fact, you were bang on.

Mr. Cash

The hon. and learned Gentleman seems to have great confidence in what is contained in a British Act of Parliament. Does he dispute the fact that, if there is a dispute about whether a matter that is thought to be a matter of international obligations as defined in the Bill is in fact to be regarded as a matter of Community obligations, the question will go to the European Court of Justice for a decision? Will he answer that?

Mr. Wallace

I am convinced that, if the matter is one of Community law, it will fall under clause 53. In addition, the Parliament will be ultra vires under other clauses, including clause 28.

Mr. Cash

That is not my point.

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. The hon. Member will have to behave himself.

Mr. Wallace

The hon. Gentleman asked rhetorically how it was that he might be mistaken. The answer is that, when one is as Euro-obsessed as he is, one can be mistaken about a great many things.

Earlier today, when my colleagues and I went through the amendments, we thought that amendment No. 281, which was moved by the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin), held some superficial attraction. We thought that something must be wrong, as we might have to support a Conservative amendment which seemed to be constructive. When the hon. Gentleman thought that he had the wrong brief when he rose to move the amendment, we thought that our analysis had been right.

However, the hon. Gentleman did make a fair and legitimate point when he said that, if many of the matters in question could be put into the hands of the courts, that might reduce any political tension that may arise in future between the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood and the Westminster Parliament. The difficulty is that, if they are not incorporated into domestic law, international treaty obligations are not automatically judicially noted.

However, if my recall of practising law many years ago is correct, I believe that it was and is possible to set out foreign law in one's pleadings, so specific treaty obligations can be set out in pleadings to any action or application before the Court of Session. I should be interested to hear whether the Secretary of State thinks that the provision might reduce some of the tension that might arise if it was thought that, for political motives, the Secretary of State in Westminster had intervened in the Scottish Parliament.

Clause 54(2) states: If the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe that any action capable of being taken by a member of the Scottish Executive is required for the purpose of giving effect to any such obligations"— that is, international obligations— he may by order direct that the action shall be taken. If, for example, the intention is to distribute fairly the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions across the United Kingdom, I am sure that it is not in prospect that all the responsibility will be loaded on to the Scottish Executive, or the balance put on Scotland.

Clearly, the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) and I are on the same wavelength, because the issue connected with international obligations that I wish to raise is the multilateral agreement on investment. I mentioned to the Secretary of State earlier tonight that I thought that the issue was flavour of the month, and he said, "Not in Anniesland." I can tell him that it is in Dundee and Orkney. The issues connected with the multilateral agreement on investment are serious and are becoming more current.

Mr. McAllion

The issues are serious, and one of the best attended meetings that I have been to recently in Dundee was about the multilateral agreement on investment. Feeling is running high among ordinary people in Scotland, and if any hon. Members believe that the people do not know or care about the multilateral agreement on investment, they should think again.

Mr. Wallace

The hon. Gentleman is right, and we shall find that the issue is increasingly addressed in the contents of our postbags. He gave the example of a local authority taking certain actions, but what would happen if the Scottish Parliament or the Scottish Executive were to take certain actions? For example, if one of those bodies was trying to attract inward investment and imposed certain requirements with regard to local employment or the use of indigenous suppliers, would that fall foul of the multilateral agreement on investment? Could the Secretary of State at Westminster intervene to prevent that? Who would be ultimately liable—the United Kingdom Government or the Scottish Parliament—if a multinational company were to sue for damages for a breach of the multilateral agreement on investment?

The issue has not been aired sufficiently, and I bear some responsibility for that, because I have become aware of the problem only in the past week or two. The House of Commons should have a broader debate on it, but this debate addresses issues that will be relevant to the workings of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish local government. It may be unfair to ask the Secretary of State to produce an answer tonight, but I hope that he appreciates from the contributions to the debate that the issue will require explanation at some stage, and sooner rather than later.

Mr. Swayne

I regard it as one of the principal duties of the Committee to remove sources of potential conflict before the Parliament begins to sit. I have read the Bill sequentially without the benefit of a legal education, and my impression of clause 54—and I have pointed out to the Committee before that impressions are very important—was that it gave draconian powers to the Secretary of State. Under clause 54(1), he may direct that the proposed action shall not be taken. He is given a similar power in clause 54(2), and under clause 54(4), he may by order revoke the legislation. It strikes me as an obvious source of conflict if a Secretary of State, who is effectively appointed by the British Prime Minister under the Crown, may revoke legislation made by a Parliament responsible to the Scottish people. Amendment No. 281 would at least ameliorate that conflict in some respects.

Mr. Salmond

I have waited 20 years to agree with something said by my old university friend, the hon. Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne), but I am now in that position.

I have two questions for the Secretary of State for Scotland. First, will any Secretary of State have the power to adopt a quasi-judicial, supervisory role over the functions of the Scottish Parliament on any issue related to international obligations? Secondly, what are "reasonable grounds" and who will judge what would be reasonable grounds for an intervention? I await the answers to those questions with great interest. Meanwhile, I hope never again to agree with the hon. Member for New Forest, West.

Mr. Grieve

I want to pick up an important point, which I hope that the Secretary of State will address.

It is always said that courts grant mandatory injunctions very sparingly. However, clause 54 makes it possible for a Secretary of State to give a mandatory direction without having any power to back it up, because ultimately, as I understand it—the Secretary of State will correct me if I am wrong—if the Scottish Parliament, annoyed at the fact that there had been a direction that legislation should be introduced, simply said, "We will do nothing about it," the only solution would be for the Westminster Parliament to introduce the legislation and impose it.

That strikes me as an unsatisfactory state of affairs. In those circumstances, would it not be better if there were a mechanism to enable the courts to determine who was right in a dispute?

Mr. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire)

It is vital for the Secretary of State to give us some clarification in answer to the questions that have been asked in the debate, such as: what are reasonable grounds, and how are they decided? Ministers have laughed and sniggered, but those questions are fundamental.

Ministers must also address the issue raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr. Cash). International obligations are defined in clause 111. That is fine, but what happens if the European Court of Justice does not agree with the definition in the Bill? It is most important that the Secretary of State quickly reads the piece of paper in front of him, which may have come from the dog run over there, which may inform him.

Time is running out. My final point, which I have made in previous debates in Committee, is that the Bill presumes that a party in power in Westminster has friends in power in the new Scottish Parliament—which may not always be the case. I should like the Secretary of State to consider an example from recent years—the break-up of Czechoslovakia. Clause 54 fills me with foreboding, because it is possible to see conflict ahead and it is ludicrous that the Secretary of State should be the grand panjandrum who decides. Amendment No. 281 should be made, so that disputes are settled in a court of law. The Secretary of State laughed at me when I took the example of the former Czechoslovakia—

Mr. Dewar

indicated dissent.

Mr. Paterson

The Secretary of State did laugh.

The Committee should think carefully about what happened in the Czech and Slovak lands, which were bound together in a union and have since fallen apart, catastrophically for the secessionist nation. The secessionist nation is now the one that is struggling. It is the one that was previously subsidised by the richer nation. The nationalist—the secessionist—party in this case has a rotten example from the past 10 years, and it should address it. As it stands, clause 54 is a recipe for conflict.

Sir Robert Smith (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine)

I shall be brief. Subsection (2) of clause 54 seems to be the one that is most likely to lead to controversy or conflict. It says: If the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe that any action capable of being taken by a member of the Scottish Executive is required for the purpose of giving effect to any such obligations, he may by order direct that the action shall be taken. The Secretary of State may desire to fulfil an international obligation such as the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, but a range of actions might be available to achieve that object. By what process will the Secretary of State choose an action so as to produce the least damaging reaction from the Scottish Parliament? Conflict may well arise in that regard. That worries me.

Perhaps, when he replies, the Secretary of State will address that issue, which seems to give the Secretary of State a much wider power to intervene. Stopping an action is a specific and focused act. Forcing an action when there could be a range of options to achieve an international goal is far wider-ranging. I am still quite sympathetic to the concept that, if one goes to the courts first and sorts the matter out, one knows where one stands. If one takes the action and relies on judicial review, the process is dragged out and becomes bogged in a quagmire.

Mr. Laurence Robertson

It seems curious that my hon. Friends the Members for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne) and for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson) always seem to attract derision for constantly hitting the nail on the head. I shall not rehearse the points that they made.

When the Scottish people were given devolution, I think that they expected to be given democracy. I ask the Secretary of State to address this point: how on earth can the Scottish people have democracy if one person has the right to overturn legislation? How does that sit with the principles of democracy?

9.30 pm
Mr. Dewar

I am grateful for this opportunity to respond to the rich array of questions that has been laid before me. I shall begin with the hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson), who asked about the bit of paper that I was passed. It says, "Paterson, North Shropshire". The hon. Gentleman probably has a case for saying that that is a pretty sinister message. I am rather fond of the name "Paterson": it is attached in my mind to an admirable make of oatcake. Oatcakes are quite fresh smelling and crumble at the edges—and I suspect that that description is appropriate in this case.

I was touched also by the hon. Member for New Forest, North—

Mr. Swayne

New Forest, West.

Mr. Dewar

I am very sorry; it is not an area that I know well. The hon. Gentleman read sequentially. Perhaps he should practise a little longer, but I congratulate him on his achievement and I wish him well in that venture. I must also inform him that I do not believe in guilt by association; my doubts about him have nothing to do with his friendship with the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond).

Mr. Dalyell

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State should be careful in what he says about Paterson shortbread—it is made in my constituency.

Mr. Dewar

I eat it often, which perhaps accounts for many things.

I take the debate seriously, but I want to put it in perspective. Hon. Members will recall that we impinged on the question of international obligations for a very short time during the debate on 29 January. Anyone who has the energy will find the relevant passages concerning amendment No. 173 at column 604 of Hansard. That amendment was moved by the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox). I always think that, in some mysterious way, Woodspring is an appropriate name for the hon. Gentleman's constituency. He raised some interesting points on that occasion, and fortunately we returned to the issue today.

The first and very obvious point to make is that clause 54 is an example of the care with which fail-safe mechanisms have been built into the Bill. There is no suggestion that the procedure will be used commonly—in fact, it may never be used at all. However, it was thought right that the mechanism should be in the Bill to guard against a situation in which for some reason—I find it difficult to envisage—the Scottish Executive or the Scottish Parliament should fail to recognise the implications and the importance of an international obligation entered into by the United Kingdom, steadfastly refuse to observe it and act in some way contrary to it. That runs parallel with the point made by the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash)—it may also assist my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell).

There is also the possibility of a refusal to honour an obligation under European law. That point must be dealt with against that eventuality—although I think it is probably an unlikely one.

Mr. Cash


Mr. Dewar

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to address that point. He also asked me—it is a great curiosity, and no doubt very flattering to those who write the notes—about a piece of paper that was handed to me. It is not a particularly sophisticated argument and is probably the product of reading the Bill. It says; Clause 54 does not deal with EC obligations, but with international obligations—see clause 111(7). It will therefore be for the ordinary domestic courts to deal with any judicial review, not the European Court of Justice, as was being suggested. I draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that clause 53 provides, by reference to section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972, a fail-safe mechanism to deal with a failure to honour European obligations. Clauses 33 and 54 contain similar and parallel machinery to deal with the unlikely consequences of a refusal to honour international obligations, which I mentioned a few moments ago.

Mr. Jenkin

Is the Secretary of State therefore giving the Committee an assurance that all the obligations that are at present classed as international obligations between members of the European Union will at no stage ever be transmuted into European Community law by some action of a European Court, as has happened in the past?

Mr. Dewar

I am not going into such arcane matters. We are discussing a sensible series of safeguards against the kind of friction and difficulty that Opposition Members envisage. I think that they exaggerate the danger. I do not think that it will occur, but if we did not make provision in the Bill against those eventualities, we would be open to criticism, such as, "What happens if there is friction? What happens if there is a refusal?" If default will fall heavily on the state in which we shall all be involved—the United Kingdom—and which signed up for those obligations, it is important that we have a way in which to obviate the problem.

Mr. Rowe

In the admittedly unlikely event of such a disagreement arising, does the right hon. Gentleman envisage that it would be subject to scrutiny by the House of Commons, or would it be an arbitrary act or an executive act of the Secretary of State? If it were subject to scrutiny by the House, would that not lead to a curious situation where Scottish Members might line up with the Scottish Parliament, and other Members might sympathise with them?

Mr. Dewar

It may be a curious situation, but the answer to the hon. Gentleman's question is that clause 33 contains a provision whereby a Bill may be prevented from going for Royal Assent because of such a dispute. The relevant Secretary of State will lay an order prohibiting the Presiding Officer from making that presentation. Under clause 54(4), where a statutory instrument or some other form of subordinate legislation is being dealt with, an order must be laid revoking that legislation. I understand the hon. Gentleman's point, but it is adequately covered.

Mr. Cash

The right hon. Gentleman has a slight disadvantage, which is that I think that he is a reasonable man. I have no doubt that he will strive with all his might to arrive at reasonable grounds if the provision leads to the possible revocation of legislation. My problem with it—I invite the Secretary of State to answer the question that so far has not been answered by him—is that clause 111(7) purports to describe international obligations. It states that those are obligations other than those relating to European Community law.

However, with his great experience, the right hon. Gentleman must know that there are spheres of jurisdiction where Community law overlaps with what purport to be international obligations that might fall within the remit of domestic law. Does he accept that the Bill itself is subject to the question of whether the Court of Justice would arrogate to itself jurisdiction—

The First Deputy Chairman


Mr. Cash

On a point of order, Mr. Martin. I am making a substantive point relating to a question of important constitutional law which arises in the context of—

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. Let me answer that point. The hon. Gentleman made an intervention and he should know by now that interventions should be brief. He certainly had a good innings in that one.

Mr. Dewar

The hon. Member for Stone always has a good innings. It is always redeemed by the fact that he grins at his own efforts at the end, in the most pleasant and genuine of ways, and we all forgive him. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I can only ask my hon. Friends to search their hearts for charity. A perfect antidote is, when the hon. Gentleman crosses the 18th minute, to leave the Chamber. That cuts the pain quite considerably.

On a more serious note, I cannot pretend to be an expert on international jurisdiction, but I hold to the simple point that I have made—that we have built into the Bill a series of procedures to reduce any possibility of friction. That is what we are constantly being asked to do. The hon. Member for Stone is only one of a procession of hon. Members saying, "Oh, if there is friction, what a difficulty that will be." This measure meets that point.

Clearly, if there is a difficulty, we would expect the respective authorities in Edinburgh and London to discuss the issue and to see, at official level, whether agreement could be reached. There might have to be ministerial contact at both ends of the country. From that, one proceeds in the way that we have described—the European way, through section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972 or, if it is an international obligation, the route that we are now debating.

Mr. Salmond


Mr. Dewar

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will bear with me for a moment.

I come now to some of the other points that have been made. I am anxious to get across that this is a belt-and-braces and a fail-safe measure, not a general override power which a Secretary of State can use at whim. If he had to lay orders because it involved subsidiary or primary legislation, clearly he would, in the first place, have to convince the House, which, presumably, is not beyond reason, and, if it was arbitrary, the House would tell the Minister in no uncertain terms that that was so.

However, if the Minister got the measure through the House and at that point it was still thought to be arbitrary, we have built in the reasonableness test exactly to ensure that it would be justiciable so that those who were oppressed, or felt that they had been oppressed, by an arbitrary decision could go to the Court of Session, or some other relevant domestic judicial forum, in order to test and contest that issue.

I understand the point made by the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) about the part that the courts could play, but speed is the essence of this. If there is a breach of an international obligation, it must be brought to an end as quickly as possible. If it has not been possible to do so through agreement, and one then has to have recourse to the courts, it is right to do so in order to test the reasonableness of the decision that has been taken.

I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow would recognise that the term "Secretary of State" does not just mean the Secretary of State for Scotland. It means the relevant Secretary of State. If the matter concerned was a breach of an international obligation, it is likely that the Foreign Secretary would bring the matter to the House of Commons and, ultimately, deal with the situation that had arisen.

Mr. Salmond

A few seconds ago, the Secretary of State said that a Secretary of State would first have to get the matter through the House. By what procedure would that be done? Would it be by affirmative resolution? Given that international obligations are often arguable—the Spanish interpretation of their obligations in fisheries policy is often different from that in the United Kingdom—why should the judgment of an individual Secretary of State on what is or is not an international obligation be superior to that of an entire Scottish Parliament?

Mr. Dewar

We propose to use the negative procedure. We are talking about a breach of an international obligation; that is not some vague concept amounting to no more than a disagreement about policy. We are talking about a specific breach which is causing acute difficulty to the Government of the United Kingdom and where a solution, in these extreme circumstances, has to be found. Our proposals are not unreasonable.

I wish to refer to the essence of the amendments, and perhaps I could be spared further interventions in the interests of the Committee.

Several points have been made. We have been asked why we do not assume that the matter will be dealt with under the ultra vires negotiations through the normal dispute procedure over vires that leads to the judicial committee of the Privy Council. The answer to that—put fairly by the hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) on another occasion, and again today—is that it is difficult for the courts to deal with international obligations that have not been imported into their own domain of domestic law. The courts are not normally in a position to assess the compatibility of actions under domestic law with our international obligations, except to the extent that they have been incorporated into domestic law.

It may be useful to bear in mind that international obligations include not only those established by international treaties, but obligations under customary international law, binding Security Council resolutions and decisions of international tribunals such as the International Court of Justice. These could all be relevant and could lead to great difficulty if there were an impasse on the matter. It is right to build in the kind of machinery we have been discussing.

9.45 pm

I wish to give two brief examples, as it is important to put them on the record. In terms of marine transport, there are obligations under customary international law. If, for example, a Scottish Executive were to impose restrictions on entry to Scottish ports which would be inconsistent with these obligations, there could be a need for action under clause 54. Similarly, the bilateral air services agreement to ensure non-discriminatory treatment at airports is another example where it would be extremely difficult for the domestic courts to act.

To sum up, ultra vires is a track to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, but it is not available to us. There are great difficulties in customary international agreements in using the domestic courts. We have suggested, in the most unlikely circumstances in which this will be necessary, that we move with some speed; that the provision is justiciable within the domestic courts because of the reasonableness test; and that it is a sensible provision which will allow good order and sensible business to be conducted within the United Kingdom, while accommodating the proper position and the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. Those of us interoseed in that good order will see that this is a sensible clause which does not require the kind of amendment that the Opposition have urged upon us.

Mr. Jenkin

I shall be extremely brief, and I am grateful to the Secretary of State. However, we are not satisfied because, quite simply, we are dealing with a potentially draconian power. These matters will be subject to dispute. The Secretary of State may find himself dealing with a substantially nationalist Parliament, as we see from recent opinion polls. Even when he takes action—and it becomes clear that the reasonableness test has been satisfied by a judicial review—if the Scottish Executive persists with an action or refuses to take an action which has been outlawed, what then?

Mr. Dewar


Mr. Jenkin

I am grateful for that clarification. But how much better it would be to take the heat out of the matter initially by making sure that the courts dealt with it ab initio, rather than dragging in the courts later—perhaps after mistakes had been made.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 181, Noes 323.

Division No. 162] [9.48 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Chapman, Sir Sydney
Allan, Richard (Chipping Barnet)
Amess, David Chidgey, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael Clappison, James
Arbuthnot, James Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E) Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Baker, Norman (Rushcliffe)
Baldry, Tony Collins, Tim
Beggs, Roy Colvin, Michael
Beith, Rt Hon A J Cormack, Sir Patrick
Bercow, John Cotter, Brian
Beresford, Sir Paul Cran, James
Blunt, Crispin Cunningham, Ms Roseanna
Body, Sir Richard (Perth)
Boswell, Tim Curry, Rt Hon David
Brady, Graham Dafis, Cynog
Brake, Tom Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Brand, Dr Peter Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Brazier, Julian Day, Stephen
Breed, Colin Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Duncan, Alan
Browning, Mrs Angela Duncan Smith, Iain
Burnett, John Evans, Nigel
Burns, Simon Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Burstow, Paul Fabricant, Michael
Butterfill, John Fallon, Michael
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife) Fearn, Ronnie
Cash, William Flight, Howard
Forth, Rt Hon Eric Nicholls, Patrick
Foster, Don (Bath) Norman, Archie
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Oaten, Mark
Fox, Dr Liam Öpik, Lembit
Fraser, Christopher Ottaway, Richard
Gale, Roger Page, Richard
Garnier, Edward Paice, James
George, Andrew (St Ives) Paisley, Rev Ian
Gibb, Nick Paterson, Owen
Gill, Christopher Prior, David
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl Randall, John
Goodlad, Rt Hon Sir Alastair Redwood, Rt Hon John
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Rendel, David
Gorrie, Donald Robathan, Andrew
Gray, James Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Green, Damian Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Greenway, John Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Grieve, Dominic Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Gummer, Rt Hon John Ruffley, David
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Hammond, Philip St Aubyn, Nick
Harris, Dr Evan Salmond, Alex
Harvey, Nick Sanders, Adrian
Hawkins, Nick Sayeed, Jonathan
Hayes, John Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome) Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Horam, John Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Soames, Nicholas
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N) Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Hunter, Andrew Spring, Richard
Jack, Rt Hon Michael Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Jenkin, Bernard Streeter, Gary
Johnson Smith, Swayne, Desmond
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Swinney, John
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Syms, Robert
Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye) Tapsell, Sir Peter
Key, Robert Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Kirkwood,Archy Thompson, William
Laing, Mrs Eleanor Tonge, Dr Jenny
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Townend, John
Lansley, Andrew Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Leigh, Edward Tyler, Paul
Letwin, Oliver Tyrie, Andrew
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E) Viggers, Peter
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Wallace, James
Livsey, Richard Walter, Robert
Llwyd, Elfyn Wardle, Charles
Loughton, Tim Webb, Steve
Luff, Peter Wells, Bowen
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Welsh, Andrew
McIntosh, Miss Anne Whitney, Sir Raymond
Mackay, Andrew Whittingdale, John
Maclean, Rt Hon David Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert Willetts, David
McLoughlin, Patrick Willis, Phil
Madel, Sir David Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Maples, John Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Maude, Rt Hon Francis Woodward, Shaun
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian Yeo, Tim
May, Mrs Theresa Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael Tellers for the Ayes:
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway) Mr. Oliver Heald and Mr. Nigel Waterson.
Moss, Malcolm
Abbott, Ms Diane Atkins, Charlotte
Ainger, Nick Austin, John
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Barnes, Harry
Allen, Graham Barron, Kevin
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Battle, John
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Bayley, Hugh
Armstrong, Ms Hilary Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Ashton, Joe Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough) Edwards, Huw
Bennett, Andrew F Efford, Clive
Benton, Joe Ellman, Mrs Louise
Bermingham, Gerald Ennis, Jeff
Berry, Roger Etherington, Bill
Best, Harold Field, Rt Hon Frank
Betts, Clive Fisher, Mark
Blears, Ms Hazel Fitzpatrick, Jim
Blizzard, Bob Fitzsimons, Lorna
Blunkett, Rt Hon David Flynn, Paul
Boateng, Paul Follett, Barbara
Borrow, David Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Bradshaw, Ben Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Brinton, Mrs Helen Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E) Galbraith, Sam
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Galloway, George
Buck, Ms Karen Gapes, Mike
Burden, Richard Gardiner, Barry
Burgon, Colin George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Butler, Mrs Christine Gerard, Neil
Byers, Stephen Gibson, Dr Ian
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Godsiff, Roger
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Goggins, Paul
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Golding, Mrs Llin
Campbell-Savours, Dale Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Canavan, Dennis Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Casale, Roger Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Caton, Martin Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Grocott, Bruce
Chaytor, David Grogan, John
Chisholm, Malcolm Gunnell, John
Clapham, Michael Hain, Peter
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Clark, Dr Lynda(Edinburgh Pentlands) Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Hanson, David
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge) Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Clelland, David Healey, John
Clwyd, Ann Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Coaker, Vernon Hepburn, Stephen
Coffey, Ms Ann Heppell, John
Cohen, Harry Hesford, Stephen
Coleman, Iain Hill, Keith
Colman, Tony Hinchliffe, David
Connarty, Michael Hoey, Kate
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Home Robertson, John
Cooper, Yvette Hoon, Geoffrey
Corbyn, Jeremy Hope, Phil
Corston, Ms Jean Hopkins, Kelvin
Crausby, David Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley) Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch) Howells, Dr Kim
Cummings, John Hoyle, Lindsay
Dalyell, Tam Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Darvill, Keith Hurst, Alan
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W) Hutton, John
Davidson, Ian Iddon, Dr Brian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Illsley, Eric
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C) Ingram, Adam
Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly) Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H) Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Dawson, Hilton Jamieson, David
Dean, Mrs Janet Jenkins, Brian
Denham, John Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Dewar, Rt Hon Donald Johnson, Miss Melanie
Dismore, Andrew (Welwyn Hatfield)
Dobbin, Jim Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Donohoe, Brian H Jones, Ms Jenny
Doran, Frank (Wolverh'ton SW)
Drew, David Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Drown, Ms Julia Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey) Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally Pope, Greg
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Pound, Stephen
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth) Powell, Sir Raymond
Kelly, Ms Ruth Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Kemp, Fraser Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Kilfoyle, Peter Prescott, Rt Hon John
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green) Primarolo, Dawn
Kingham, Ms Tess Prosser, Gwyn
Kumar, Dr Ashok Purchase, Ken
Ladyman, Dr Stephen Quin, Ms Joyce
Laxton, Bob Rammell, Bill
Lepper, David Rapson, Syd
Leslie, Christopher Robertson, Rt Hon George
Levitt, Tom (Hamilton S)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S) Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Linton, Martin Rooker, Jeff
Livingstone, Ken Rooney, Terry
Lock, David Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Love, Andrew Rowlands, Ted
McAllion, John Roy, Frank
McAvoy, Thomas Ruane, Chris
McCabe, Steve Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
McCafferty, Ms Chris Ryan, Ms Joan
McDonagh, Siobhain Salter, Martin
Macdonald, Calum Savidge, Malcolm
McFall, John Sawford, Phil
McGuire, Mrs Anne Sheerman, Barry
McIsaac, Shona Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary Short, Rt Hon Clare
Mackinlay, Andrew Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
McLeish, Henry Skinner, Dennis
McNamara, Kevin Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
McNulty, Tony Smith, Angela (Basildon)
MacShane, Denis Smith, Miss Geraldine
Mactaggart, Fiona (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
McWilliam, John Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Mahon, Mrs Alice Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Mallaber, Judy Snape, Peter
Mandelson, Peter Soley, Clive
Marek, Dr John Southworth, Ms Helen
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S) Squire, Ms Rachel
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury) Steinberg, Gerry
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Stevenson, George
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert Stinchcombe, Paul
Martlew, Eric Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael Stringer, Graham
Meale, Alan Stuart, Ms Gisela
Michael, Alun Sutcliffe, Gerry
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley) Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann(Dewsbury)
Milburn, Alan
Miller, Andrew Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Mitchell, Austin Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Moffatt, Laura Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Moran, Ms Margaret Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N) Timms, Stephen
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W) Tipping, Paddy
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Todd, Mark
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon) Touhig, Don
Mudie, George Trickett, Jon
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck) Truswell, Paul
Naysmith, Dr Doug Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Norris, Dan Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton) Twigg, Derek (Halton)
O'Hara, Eddie Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Olner, Bill Vaz, Keith
Organ, Mrs Diana Vis, Dr Rudi
Osborne, Ms Sandra Walley, Ms Joan
Palmer, Dr Nick Wareing, Robert N
Pearson, Ian Watts, David
Pendry, Tom White, Brian
Pickthall, Colin Whitehead, Dr Alan
Pike, Peter L Wicks, Malcolm
Plaskitt, James Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Pollard, Kerry (Swansea W)
Pond, Chris Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy) Wray, James
Winnick, David Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C) Wyatt, Derek
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike Tellers for the Noes:
Woolas, Phil Mr. Jim Dowd and Jane Kennedy
Worthington, Tony

Question accordingly negatived.

It being after Ten o'clock, THE CHAIRMAN, pursuant to the Order [9 February] and the Resolution [this day], put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour.

Clause 54 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 55 to 58 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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