HC Deb 20 January 1998 vol 304 cc881-914
Mr. Öpik

I beg to move amendment No. 93, in page 1, line 15, after 'of' insert 'members for each Assembly constituency'.

The Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir Alan Haselhurst)

With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 94, in page 1, leave out lines 16 and 17.

No. 22A, in page 1, line 16, leave out from 'constituency' to end of line 17.

No. 23A, in page 1, line 18, leave out from 'constituencies' to end of line 20 and insert 'shall initially be the parliamentary constituencies in Wales, which shall be subject to periodic review by the Boundary Commission for Wales with like powers and in like manner as in the case of parliamentary constituencies.'. No. 95, in page 1, line 18, leave out from 'constituencies' to 'shall' in line 19.

No. 110, in schedule 1, page 70, line 5, leave out 'the parliamentary constituencies in' and insert 'determined by the Boundary Commission for'. No. 111, in page 70, leave out lines 7 to 11.

No. 112, in page 70, leave out lines 12 to 14.

No. 113, in page 70, leave out lines 16 to 22.

No. 114, in page 70, line 24, leave out from 'where' to second 'the'.

No. 115, in page 70. line 26, leave out 'electoral region' and insert 'constituency'.

No. 116, in page 70, line 27, leave out 'electoral region' and insert 'constituency'.

No. 117, in page 70, line 31, leave out 'electoral region' and insert 'constituency'.

No. 118, in page 70, line 33, leave out from 'constituency' to 'and' in line 34.

No. 119, in page 70, leave out from beginning of line 44 to end of line 2 on page 71.

No. 120, in page 71, leave out lines 3 to 7.

No. 121, in page 71, line 10, leave out 'electoral region or regions' and insert 'constituency or constituencies'.

No. 122, in page 71, line 13, leave out 'electoral regions' and insert 'constituencies'.

No. 123, in page 71, line 18, leave out 'electoral regions' and insert 'constituencies'.

No. 124, in page 71, line 19, leave out 'electoral regions' and insert 'constituencies'.

No. 125, in page 71, line 44, leave out 'electoral regions' and insert 'constituencies'.

No. 126, in page 71, line 45, leave out 'electoral regions' and insert 'constituencies'.

No. 127, in page 72, line 1, leave out 'electoral regions' and insert 'constituencies'.

No. 128, in page 72, line 3, leave out 'electoral regions' and insert 'constituencies'.

No. 130, in page 72, leave out lines 7 to 43.

No. 191, in page 72, leave out lines 10 to 14.

No. 129, in page 73, line 6, leave out 'electoral region' and insert 'constituency'.

No. 131, in page 73, line 8, leave out from 'within' to end of line 9 and insert 'the Assembly constituency'.

No. 49, in clause 4, page 2, line 38, leave out from 'have' to end of line 15 on page 3 and insert— 'a single transferable vote, that is to say a vote—

  1. (a) capable of being given so as to indicate the voter's order of preference for the candidates for election as members for the constituency, and
  2. (b) capable of being transferred to the next choice—
    1. (i) when the vote is not required to give a prior choice the necessary quota of votes, or
    2. (ii) when, owing to the deficiency in the number of votes given for a prior choice, that choice is eliminated from the list of candidates.'.
No. 11, in page 2, line 38, leave out 'two votes' and insert 'one vote'.

No. 12, in page 2, line 39, leave out from beginning to end of line 2 on page 3.

No. 58, in page 3, line 4, leave out 'the simple majority system' and insert 'a preferential voting system whereby the voter indicates his or her preference for the candidates by marking the ballot paper 1, 2, 3, etc., with the votes of the last candidate being transferred on the basis of second preferences until one candidate has 50 per cent. + 1 of the votes cast.'. No. 13, in page 3, leave out lines 5 to 15.

No. 102, in clause 8, page 5, line 18, leave out from 'only' to end of line 20 and insert 'one vote; and the member shall be returned under the system in section 4 above'. No. 32A, in clause 10, page 6, leave out lines 28 to 30.

No. 106, in clause 14, page 9, line 1, leave out from 'member' to 'is' in line 3.

No. 107, in page 9, line 3, leave out from 'member' to first 'his' in line 5.

No. 108, in page 9, line 7, leave out from first 'member' to second 'he' in line 8.

No. 109, in page 9, line 13, leave out from 'member' to end of line 15.

Mr. Öpik

I am tempted to shout "House", but not sufficiently tempted actually to do so.

It is interesting to commence this debate having just had a Division because voting systems are what we want to discuss. In simple terms, the Liberal Democrats propose the replacement of the system in the Bill with a single transferable vote system. Our amendments pave the way for STV in multi-Member constituencies by removing the references to the electoral regions.

The system would achieve the main aims of an electoral system: proportionality, voter choice and constituency link. Naturally, the boundary commission would determine the boundaries of the STV constituencies. It is a fairly straightforward process. STV would allow for single-Member constituencies in rural areas with sparse populations. It is important to stress that in some areas STV can still provide single-seat constituencies.

The purpose of our proposal is to ensure the fairest achievable system of proportional representation for Wales. The Labour party's acceptance, about 18 months ago, of the case for proportional representation in the Welsh assembly was a source of great celebration among Liberal Democrats. It was with some delight that we prepared our amendments, safe in the knowledge that the strategic argument for a proportional representation system had been won. Not only the Liberal Democrats called for an STV system to maximise voter choice. The Electoral Reform Society, the Parliament for Wales Campaign, the Movement for Welsh Democracy, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats have been united in the belief that STV provides the best system of proportionality that we can have.

I shall briefly explain the system in the Bill—the additional member system with closed party lists—without going through every excruciating detail. Every voter has two votes: one for a constituency Member and one for a party list. The constituency Member is the same as we have now—40 constituencies with 40 Members elected by the first-past-the-post system. An additional 20 Members will be elected from a closed party list to correct the disproportionate effects of first past the post. To make up the 20, four will be elected from each of the five old European constituencies that make up the new assembly's electoral regions. That is huge progress; for the first time, Wales has a serious chance of getting a national elected body proportionate to the votes cast.

As we all know, first past the post has regularly and monotonously created an unrepresentative outcome. That was clearly the case on 1 May, when an overwhelming majority of Labour Members were elected to the House despite the fact that Labour had only a minority of the vote. To that extent, we praise the Government for their foresightedness and for their willingness to carry through a promise made before their election. We seek to amend the proportional system to make it even more proportional, on the basis that we are now arguing about the details and how to improve our system of election to make it as transparently fair as possible.

Mr. Rhodri Morgan

The hon. Gentleman said that he was seeking to make the system even more proportional, but do not studies of the 1 May general election result show that only the additional member system would have given a more proportional result than first past the post? STV would have given a less proportional result than AMS.

Mr. Öpik

There have been various surveys, but they have consistently failed to assess—indeed, they cannot realistically assess—how voting intentions would have changed had a truly proportional system been in use so that people did not have to take a gamble or make some tactical calculation before casting their votes.

Mr. Donald Anderson

How does the hon. Gentleman know?

Mr. Öpik

We do not know. That is one of the interesting elements of our debate. We can be fairly sure from what happened on 1 May that people voted tactically to help remove the Government. Few would question that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name names."] I do not want to mention individuals, on the ground that it would be a major retrograde step for my political career for me to bring the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats into this—unless he wants to intervene.

People voted in a way that showed that they were thinking of more than the simple casting of a vote for one party. They were thinking about the bigger picture—the effect that their vote would have. On that assumption, we are seeking to look beyond the simple calculations of the percentages of polls that have occurred in the past to how to remove the element of gambling in which voters have to indulge at present. How can we ensure that voters can vote according to their preferences and consciences, safe in the knowledge that the electoral system will do the rest on their behalf?

One of the assumptions of STV systems is that voters should not be expected to be experts on the electoral system and that the structure should serve them rather than make them study tables, graphs, advice in newspapers and what their friends are doing. For that reason, STV has generally been regarded as very successful.

Mr. Robert Syms (Poole)

If STV is so successful, why do only Southern Ireland and Malta use it? Why should someone's second preference outweigh someone else's first preference? That is how the system works.

Mr. Öpik

One person's second preference does not outweigh another's first choice. It is simply that if the candidate of first choice is eliminated, a person's vote is not wasted but transferred to their second preference. Before the hon. Gentleman rises again, let me stress that no system of election is perfect. We are trying to optimise the system that we have. He is wrong to say that Southern Ireland and Malta are the only places that enjoy STV systems. The United Kingdom uses STV in Northern Ireland because it was believed that STV would be the fairest system in an area where, more than anywhere else in the United Kingdom, fairness has to be seen to have been achieved.

Mr. Ancram

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the reason for the introduction of STV in Northern Ireland is that Northern Ireland does not have pluralist politics? Its politics are very different from those of the rest of the United Kingdom. If STV were introduced in the rest of the United Kingdom, its effect would be the reverse of that which it has had in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Öpik

I find it hard to understand the right hon. Gentleman's second point. He is almost saying that if we have a fairer system, people will have to become more partisan and sectarian. I do not accept that. Having grown up in Northern Ireland, I praise the STV system there. It is understood and accepted by pretty much everyone as a fair system for creating a representative outcome. Must we wait for things to get so bad in communities that people are no longer operating effectively in their political system before we are prepared to introduce a fairer system of government? The Liberal Democrats do not operate like that. We think that if something is working effectively in one part of the United Kingdom, the rest of the UK deserves it too. Let us not wait for troubles in our political systems to optimise their operations. The right hon. Gentleman has a deep knowledge of Northern Irish politics. Will he not ask himself whether he agrees with me and many people in Northern Ireland from both sides of the political divide that, for all the problems in Northern Irish politics, the STV system is one thing that is generally regarded as a success? That can be argued for particular reasons, but the most particular reason of all is that STV is the fairest system of electing a Government that anyone has yet come up with.

I shall listen with great interest to speeches from colleagues from other parties if they wish to express their worries about STV. We shall try to allay some of their fears.

I wish to talk a little more about the additional member system.

8 pm

Mr. Alan W. Williams (East Carmarthen and Dinefwr)

Before the hon. Gentleman moves on, may I point out that a big negative for the STV system is that it creates multi-Member constituencies. I notice that he has not made any remark about that. He represents a rural seat that has its own strong identity, and so do I. Unfortunately, multi-Member constituencies mean that the attachment of people in a given area to their Member is lost.

Mr. Öpik

I thank the hon. Gentleman for bringing that up. I am discussing the STV system this evening rather as I would eat a pizza—I am saving the very best bit until last.

Mr. Ancram

The best bit is the crust.

Mr. Öpik

I knew that I would regret saying that. I shall move swiftly on, not be distracted by these gastronomic accusations and return to the point made by the hon. Member for East Carmarthen and Dinefwr (Mr. Williams).

It is important that we discuss the merits and demerits of multi-seat constituencies, but I want to talk about the additional member system first. I shall describe our concerns about the AMS system. I shall be brief because I am sure that many other hon. Members wish to speak on the matter. The AMS system maintains the firstpast-the-post system for the 40 constituencies. That means that the voter has to develop a certain understanding of the nature of the political process. That is our job, not the voter's job. Our job is to create the simplest structure so that the voter can enjoy the outcome for which he or she or, to be more exact, his or her community, has decided to vote.

The AMS system creates party lists. Party lists can be open or closed, but in essence the voter votes for a political party. In a closed list system, the political parties decide who goes on those lists. As Liberal Democrats, we are worried about the power that that gives political parties to establish who will sit in the assembly. We would like a more open system, and there is more than one open system to choose from. We want a system that gives voters choice and we want an open list so that the parties do not enjoy a stranglehold on the 20 seats.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon)

Does my hon. Friend think that the Government ought to be persuaded that parties that insist on closed lists may be punished by the electorate, who resent being presented with cloned candidates rather than the genuine range of opinion that is apparent even within new Labour? Does he agree that the Government should perhaps consider that a more pluralist system might benefit them?

Mr. Öpik

My hon. Friend makes an interesting point. By amazing coincidence, I have an example of just such an event. In Bavaria, which has a form of open-list AMS for its state Parliament elections, in a celebrated case in 1962, Dr. Hildegard Hamm-Brucher was sensationally moved from 17th position to first, despite the protestations of the political parties, by the wish of the voters. The voters reacted to party bullying and elected the person they, rather than the party, wanted.

There is resentment among the public when they feel that there is a party stitch-up. Some valuable points were made by Labour Back Benchers earlier about jobs for the boys—jobs for the boys and the girls. The STV system gets rid of all that, but with AMS there is still a danger, especially in the 20 seats, of patronage and that the situation will be exacerbated by the closed list.

The hon. Member for East Carmarthen and Dinefwr expressed concern about multi-seat constituencies. I want to explain why we think they are an advantage. There is nothing new about them in the United Kingdom. In any large metropolitan authority, members of different parties are likely to represent the same ward. I have experience on Newcastle upon Tyne city council of a three-party ward. For a long time there were two Tories and one Liberal Democrat councillor. Now, I am glad to say, there are three Liberal Democrats. We learnt to work together. The public chose which councillor they wanted to use. There was a surprising degree of co-operation. The party issues came second and the interests of the people came first. In local government, we already have abundant evidence to suggest that people are effectively represented by multi-seat wards.

Another example is to be found in the Republic of Ireland. I have had many discussions with politicians in Southern Ireland in fulfilling my responsibilities as Liberal Democrat spokesman on Northern Ireland. They often talk about STV. One of the most interesting consequences of the multi-seat STV system in the Republic of Ireland is the regular and consistent interest that all Members of the Irish Parliament must take in the activities and problems of their constituents. More to the point—this is perhaps something that we as Members of Parliament would not enjoy—there is an element of competition within the parties to be the best constituency representatives. That may make us work a little harder in our constituencies, but there is no doubt that the winner is the voter.

Mr. Richard Allan (Sheffield, Hallam)

Is not one of the strongest benefits of the STV system that individuals who hold strong political views are more likely to be represented by a range of political representatives? For example, strong Conservatives in Wales cannot find a sympathetic ear because only one party represents large areas of Wales.

Mr. Öpik

My hon. Friend makes an important point. I should like to think that there is no such problem in Powys and that the voters would repeatedly fill up all the spaces with Liberal Democrats, but I am sure that even in Powys there is a cross-section of political views. In rural areas, for the sake of simplicity, we may end up with single-seat constituencies, but in places such as Cardiff and Swansea there is no doubt that the first-past-the-post system mitigates against proportional representation of a cross-section of opinion. We do not get two Labour, one Liberal Democrat, one Conservative and a Plaid Cymru Member representing such cities.

I agree emphatically with my hon. Friend's point. In the interests of democracy, leaving aside the stress and anxieties for us as elected representatives, it would be preferable if a 50 per cent. vote for Labour delivered 50 per cent. of the seats to Labour and if 25 per cent. of the votes for the Liberal Democrats gave us one quarter of the representatives.

One point about multi-Member constituencies that is not always made is that women and ethnic minorities tend to achieve more representation by being allowed to choose between candidates of the same party and, more to the point, by the elimination of some of the closed-shop mentality which, whether we like it or not, often pervades the political system. In that sense, the system is effective even in helping to redress some of the traditional inequities thrown up by the first-past-the-post system.

Mr. Donald Anderson

I am a little puzzled. If the only precedents are those from Southern Ireland and Malta, which ethnic minorities are likely to be helped there?

Mr. Öpik

To add fuel to the hon. Gentleman's fire, who would imagine that a Northern Irish Estonian, living at the time in Newcastle, would go on to be Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire? One may regard that as surprising. I accept that the minorities in the Republic of Ireland are not so much ethnic ones, although there may be such examples, but they do not come to mind immediately. In the past, women were discriminated against in the Republic, as has often happened in many countries, and they are now much better represented in Irish politics than they are in the United Kingdom. We would assert that one reason for that difference is the STV system. I look forward to other examples being cited in the debate.

In Northern Ireland, the whole purpose of the STV system is to prevent one political or religious grouping from overwhelming the political system. Not only has it been quite effective in ensuring the election of a cross-section of representatives from different parts of the sectarian divide, but I should like to think that it has gone some way towards breaking it down. Perhaps that example is a better one to offer the hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson).

I should now like to consider the amendments. I shall not dwell on them because right hon. and hon. Members have no doubt already studied them at great length. I am glad to see that the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths), are indicating assent.

Mr. Ron Davies

Since the hon. Gentleman tempts me, I assure him that I have studied them closely. In fact, I studied them with his predecessor, Alex Carlile. We agreed before the election that the best scheme on offer was the additional member scheme. Before the election, the hon. Gentleman's party signed a solemn and binding undertaking with me to campaign for it during that election. His party also put its name to the White Paper which proposed that scheme and campaigned vigorously and successfully in favour of that document during the referendum. I can therefore assure the hon. Gentleman that I have studied his proposals closely, but I judge them to be second best to the scheme that, before the election, his party thought to be much better.

Mr. Öpik

The right hon. Gentleman has forgotten that we signed on the dotted line for the best scheme that we thought that we could get away with at that time. I have nothing but praise for the right hon. Gentleman's accurate memory, although his hearing is not necessarily as impressive. I believe that we have fulfilled our side of the contract. Despite our misgivings, we campaigned positively and faithfully for the Welsh assembly. It is clear that the Liberal Democrats' contribution was crucial on 18 September. I would suggest that, since the referendum, we have returned the generosity shown by the Secretary of State in like kind.

Ms Lawrence

It is interesting to note what the hon. Gentleman has said. We in the Labour party have stressed the importance of sticking to the contract that we made with the British people. Is he saying that his party does not take the same view about keeping its side of that contract?

Mr. Öpik

On the contrary. I would like to think that, for all our differences—we are now discussing one—we have presented ourselves as a constructive Opposition. We support many of the Bill's proposals. In the final analysis, we will vote for it. I am sure that the hon. Lady is not trying to encourage the Secretary of State to impose some sort of gagging order on the Liberal Democrats.

Mr. Livsey

My hon. Friend is talking about the important principle of proportionality in the STV system. Does he agree that one of our concerns is that the additional Member element in the system proposed for Wales is much weaker than that proposed for Scotland? In Scotland there will be seven additional Members per Euro-seat or electoral region compared with four in Wales. The Scottish system is based on a first-past-the-post element and that is why we are proposing a more proportional system.

Mr. Öpik

I thank my hon. Friend for that observation.

Mr. Davies

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman could remind the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire (Mr. Livsey) that in answer to me he said that the AMS is the best system that he could get away with

Mr. Öpik

Because of various numerical differences, the system in Scotland is more proportionate than that proposed for Wales. The right hon. Gentleman should remember that I said that AMS was the best system that we thought that we could get away with at that time. More to the point, it set the slightly old-fashioned Labour party of Wales on the long, painful journey towards accepting the more radical, fresh and far-sighted views of the Liberal Democrats in Wales. The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have made tremendous progress in the past 12 months. We will carry on coaching them as best we can on all matters of constitutional reform as the years go by.

It is important to emphasise that we are pleased that we are not discussing the case for proportional representation, but the type of proportional representation that we want to adopt. We do not want to wreck any accord on the creation of the Welsh assembly, rather we want to propose arrangements to improve it. As the Government are a listening Government, surely it is good to have the opportunity to respond to our concerns. On the basis of earlier discussions—and whatever the outcome tonight—perhaps we will review the issues in years to come. Perhaps the Government will be persuaded of the benefits of STV once they have considered what happened with AMS.

8.15 pm

Amendment No. 110 provides for the boundary commission to determine the boundaries of the proposed constituencies. Amendments Nos. 111 to 130 remove references to electoral regions to allow for STV. They are technical changes. Amendment No. 49 is the main enabling amendment to introduce STV by amending clause 4. Amendment No. 102 changes clause 8 to allow for STV and amendments Nos. 106 to 109 change clause 14, again to remove references to the electoral regions in order to allow for STV. In effect, the amendments are a complete package designed to replace AMS with STV.

We are not setting out to wreck the accord; we are very pleased to note where we are starting from because it could have been a lot worse if we had a less progressive man holding the office of Secretary of State for Wales and a Labour party that was unwilling to look at the future but was content simply to rest on laurels past. Now that the bold step has been taken, it is right for the Liberal Democrats to suggest that the Labour party should take the final step towards true proportionality.

The Labour party should support not just a system that is fairer, but a system that is seen to be such by the public and which offers no secret controls to party hacks to appoint individuals from party lists. Above all, the Labour party should favour a system that enables the Welsh voting public to get exactly what they vote for. That is our intent and it may lead to the re-election of Conservatives in Wales.

Mr. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire)

Given that we are talking about proportion, may I ask the hon. Gentleman to remember that, in the referendum, only 24 per cent. of the electorate of Powys voted yes?

Mr. Öpik

Let me remind the hon. Gentleman of three other statistics. First, the result was massively different from that achieved at the previous referendum. I accept that we still have a job to do to convince many people in Wales that the assembly is the right way forward, but we are well on the way to doing so. Secondly, I should like to remind the hon. Gentleman that just 29 per cent. of the voting public propped up the Tory Government for five years, yet the Tories regarded that as a mandate for wrecking large parts of the country.

As for the third and final statistic, the hon. Gentleman should bear it in mind that those who whinge about figures and statistics after the vote are often punished by the electorate at the next election, as we saw so graphically in Winchester, where Conservative whingers managed not to win back the seat, but to increase our majority from two to 21,556. My advice to him is to accept the decision of the whole of Wales and constructively to work to weld together a more co-operative and constructive process with members of all parties and of none.

In conclusion, I hope that the Government will seriously entertain our amendments and accept the merits of STV. Perhaps we have some way to go before we convince the Government, but I hope that the door is open for a constructive debate. We have come a long way already and I should like to think that this is the beginning of a constructive dialogue that will help to revolutionise the way we elect our representatives and restore the faith of the public who, all too often, have been disappointed, not by how they voted, but by what they got when they voted according to their conscience. I thank hon. Members for their time and I shall be interested to hear all the speeches from Labour Members that add colour and insight to our debate tonight.

Mr. Donald Anderson

The hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik) asked whether Labour is the listening party. Perhaps that is part of the problem—we listened to Alex Carlile. He came to a concordat, which is now described as the best the Liberal Democrats could get away with. I wonder whether Mr. Carlile said so at the time.

I understand that our good friends on the Liberal Democrat Benches venerate Mr. Lloyd George, of whom it was said, "Count not his broken promises as a crime. He meant them, oh he meant them at the time." It was clear that, in the spirit of Lloyd-George-ism, the latter-day Liberal party meant its promise to us "at the time", prior to the election, but since that time an amendment has been ably moved by the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire who, consistent with Liberal Democrat tradition and like Miss Enid Lakeman, is having a love affair with proportional representation. He believes that all the ills of society will evaporate if only we accept different forms of proportional representation, depending on whether we are dealing with the matter before or after the election.

Mr. Öpik

On the contrary, I assure the hon. Gentleman that I have no doubt that, were STV to be introduced in Wales, the return of the Tories would mean that many of the ills of society would return to sit in the Welsh assembly. It is not in our political interests that we move the amendment; it is in the interests of democracy.

Mr. Anderson

What self-sacrifice.

The amendments set out a series of potential voting systems. It is fair to say that there is no perfect voting system and the outcomes are never exact, save in a country such as Israel, where the whole country is a single electoral unit. Unless there is a minimum vote requirement—say 5 per cent.—the result can contain enormous distortions and give great power to fringe groups such as that of the late Rabbi Kahane in Israel.

Mr. Syms

Because of the fringe elements and the diversity of its system, Israel has introduced a directly elected Prime Minister on an essentially first-past-the-post system so as to get away from minorities holding power.

Mr. Anderson

That Prime Minister is still dependent on the Knesset, which is itself the result of a one-country proportional system that carries with it all the problems of coalition-building and fringe or minority power that can now be seen affecting the peace process. Leaving Israel speedily, it can be said that all systems are proportional, but some are more proportional than others. All have advantages and disadvantages.

One important and fundamental point has not yet been made. The fact that the Government are introducing a system of proportional representation tells us something about the spirit in which the devolution package has been put forward. It is an important signal that, in this respect, the Labour party is Plaid Cymru—the party of Wales. Under the current system, we have gained all the seats in the European Parliament—five out of five. To put it bluntly, we are overrepresented and, by contrast, the Conservative party is underrepresented. By what can only be deemed to be an act of generosity, the Labour Government are proposing a system from which we as a party shall not benefit—but Wales will benefit.

If the assembly were to use the first-past-the-post system, we would have the same distortions as have been thrown up by the current system in this Parliament. The Government and the Labour party have not been given sufficient credit for their act of generosity—an act not of weakness, but of strength, because we can decide the issue. It was a spirit not of domination but of inclusiveness that persuaded the Labour Government to bring forward a system of proportional representation in the first place. That fundamental point needs to be stated before we consider the effects of different electoral systems.

Mr. Allan

I should like to stress that Liberal Democrat Members give the Government credit for their decision. My hon. Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik) made it clear that we feel that the Government have gone a long way in a fairer direction and that we are talking about the final outcome. We fully accept and are duly grateful for the fact that the Government took that decision. It is an essential step forward and we hope that it will be a model for the whole United Kingdom.

Mr. Anderson

I welcome that response. I simply said something that must be said. Had we accepted the Conservative amendment, which would have introduced a first-past-the-post system, the result in respect of the assembly would have been as distorted as was the result of the last election. In that election, the Conservative party received about 20 per cent. of the vote in Wales but had no representatives whereas Plaid Cymru had 10 per cent. of the vote and has four representatives. If that is what the Conservative party wants to follow from its amendment, so be it, but it is wrong in principle and unfair.

The Labour Government are coming to the aid of the Conservative party, both in respect of Europe and in respect of proportional representation, and trying to breathe some life into the corpse that is the Conservative party in Scotland and in Wales. It may well be that that corpse will be slightly revived by the electoral system we are debating.

Mr. Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Anderson

Yes, to the hon. Gentleman speaking from the dead.

Mr. Robertson

To get 20 per cent. of the vote and yet no seats is wrong only if one looks at the whole area of Wales; but if we look at each constituency—the principle on which the constitution of this country is rightly founded—we see that in each case electors chose to vote for another candidate. Surely that is quite acceptable to everybody?

Mr. Anderson

If the hon. Gentleman supports the amendment put forward by his party in favour of the first-past-the-post system, he must intend the natural consequence of that, which is that on the 1997 outcome the Conservative party would not be represented in the assembly. He may welcome that and think it a happy result of the electoral system, but I think that it is wrong and unfair. The Conservatives should be included, in spite of themselves, in the assembly

Mr. Wigley

The hon. Gentleman must be aware that many Conservative party members in Wales desperately hope that this provision will be in the Bill; they include a number of former Members of Parliament who are looking for a new incarnation.

Mr. Anderson

It is wonderful to think of former Conservative Members in Wales having a Damascene experience. They have seen the light and, in spite of the unreconstructed policies put forward by the Conservative Front Bench, they now say that they wish to clamber on board and that they were really closet devolutionists all the time. Like Nicodemus, they come to us at night and say that they were really with us.

Various systems were on offer. The present Welsh Whip, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Jones), and I happily proposed a system that was accepted by the Government—our submission was not to Alex Carlile but to the Welsh Labour party. It was based on the following principles: first, the link between a Member and his constituency is deemed to be valuable and should be accepted in the system. I have been here for a fairly long time. My international experience has shown me that many of my colleagues on the continent come from multi-Member constituencies or have no real identity and base in the areas that they represent. There should therefore be a direct link between a Member and the constituency that he or she purports to represent.

8.30 pm

Secondly, there should be, as far as possible, a known electoral division. Hence the proposed system is based on the current Westminster constituencies because they represent identities and communities. It is also based on the Euro-constituencies, which will now be swept away but which have some relevance in terms of community. Ultimately, there will be a greater relationship between the seats in the assembly and the votes cast by the people of Wales. That is part of the inclusiveness that clearly weighed heavily with Alex Carlile when he accepted that view before the election.

As part of the package my hon. Friend and I proposed, we suggested that there should be 60 seats—40 plus 20—and not simply because there happen to be 60 seats in the Swansea guildhall and, by some great foresight, the founding fathers, who helped to construct and design the Swansea guildhall, had put 60 seats in the chamber. Although that is an important consideration, we thought that that figure made sense. We did not want people to say, "There they go again; we are over-governed." That number of seats seemed to be right for Wales as a whole. It is the Goldilocks syndrome of not too many and not too few. However imperfect it is, I believe that our suggestion meets the requirement.

Hence, I agree with Alex Carlile and the Government, but I do not agree with Lloyd George or the Liberal Democrats

Mr. Ancram

It is always a pleasure to follow a speech of that kind and I am grateful to the hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) for his solicitousness about the Conservative party. I assure him that if he thinks that we are a corpse, he will have some sleepless nights, because we shall haunt him. He may find a little later that it is not the Canterville ghost but a live political body that is haunting him. But by that time it may be too late to do much about it. He spoke about Nicodemus coming in the night. That was a little rich coming from a Labour Member in the context of Wales because there is not total unity of spirit among Labour Members. I, too, have had some interesting conversations over the past four months about the proposals before us.

I am sorry that the Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths), is being overworked tonight. This is the third debate to which he will have responded. I had been looking forward to the launching in Committee of the hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Hain), who I thought was the devolution Minister, particularly during the referendum campaign. I then remembered that about 20 years ago he wrote a book called "Proportional Misrepresentation", in which he completely destroyed the argument for proportional representation and came out in favour of the first-past-the-post system, so a speech from him from the Government Front Bench might not have helped the Government's cause.

I listened with interest to the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik). I felt that we were having a peep-show view of the Lord Jenkins of Hillhead committee and the attempts of the Liberal Democrats to persuade their Labour colleagues of the benefits of the single transferable vote. The more I hear the arguments for STV, the less I am convinced by them. The hon. Gentleman talks about fair votes, but when my hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson) suggested that only 24 per cent. in Powys had voted for the assembly, we were effectively told that those who had voted against were wrong, so they could be ignored. That is the antithesis of an argument for fair votes.

Mr. Öpik

While no one is wrong for expressing a view in any vote, does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that we still have a job of work to do in that respect? However, under STV, a minority vote will not command an overwhelming majority of the power

Mr. Ancram

That does not detract from the fact that the hon. Gentleman said that if one dislikes what the majority votes for, one simply ignores it. That is not the basis of a fair vote. He gave some examples of STV and referred to Ireland. I do not wish to criticise the Irish system, but in my experience it created anything but stable government. When I was a Northern Ireland Minister, I found myself negotiating with a Government led by Mr. Albert Reynolds one month and with a Government led by Mr. John Bruton the next. There had been neither a change of political opinion nor a general election, simply a change of coalition partners—a falling out of individuals—and suddenly the whole political landscape in Ireland changed. We should be very much aware of such lessons if we are to create a stable system. I thought that the Government wanted to create a stable institution in Wales, not one that is constantly at the whim of the small parties involved.

Proportional representation leads to government by deal. That is what coalition is about. I was entertained tonight to hear that the deal cobbled up before the election on the additional member system between the Liberal Democrats and the Labour party, which was in opposition at the time, had not even lasted the short course between the election and now, and that the Liberal Democrats were trying to unpick it. That does not fill me with great confidence about the Liberal Democrats' proposals.

Mr. Dafis

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that all Governments govern by deal? One of the last Conservative Government's biggest problems was that a deal between the two disparate wings of the party was impossible, so the whole thing fell apart.

Mr. Ancram

I suppose that, in a pluralist system, all political parties are coalitions. At least within a party there is a system for having arguments, whereas under proportional representation deals are done between different parties. I seriously believe that, almost invariably in a coalition system born out of proportional representation, the small parties hold the balance and sway of power. The Liberal Democrats are keen to have such a system because they look across the water to Germany and see that the party that has remained in government, regardless of whether the left or right is in power, is their sister party. That must be attractive to them. However, it is not a democratic prospect when the party that is actually in power is the one that secures the smallest number of votes.

Mr. Dalyell

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the writings of Vernon Bogdanor, professor of government at Oxford university, who incidentally is a great pro-devolutionist, about the problems of having fixed-term Parliaments under a coalition? If one member of the coalition wants to swap sides or change allegiance, real problems arise. Unless there is the possibility of dissolution, it is difficult to maintain a credible Government.

Mr. Ancram

I take the hon. Gentleman's point.

Mr. Donald Anderson

As in Norway now.

Mr. Ancram

We shall closely examine whether the Scotland Bill has provision for dealing with such a situation. It is a serious point, as is the issue of minorities holding the balance of power in coalitions. Proportional representation makes it easier for not only the moderate minority in the middle but for the extreme minority on the outside to get in. In the recent election in Ireland, three of the seats were held on a narrow majority by people with strongly republican views: two were from Sinn Fein and one was an independent who could, ultimately, hold the balance of power. That is the antithesis of stability.

We argued against devolution, but we now believe that it will happen, so it must work. We should be conscious of anything that is likely to create a more unstable system.

Mr. Livsey

The right hon. Gentleman argues that there is instability in Ireland, which operates an STV system, and in Germany, which operates AMS. Where does he actually stand? The Federal Republic of Germany has been extremely stable under AMS, and so has the Republic of Ireland under an STV system.

Mr. Ancram

I have said what I have said about the Republic of Ireland. The one stable factor in the Federal Republic of Germany has been the constant re-election of the equivalent of the Liberal Democrats on between 5 per cent. and 7 per cent. of the vote.

The additional member system gives rise to other problems. Perhaps the Minister will remind me whether the system proposed is the d'Hondt or Sainte-Lague system. They are complicated systems that try to ensure that there is some degree of proportionality. If the system were totally and openly proportional, it might produce a distorted result. The problem with AMS is that, particularly where there is a closed list, it is the antithesis of fair votes. People are asked, in effect, to vote for a party. Members who are elected are chosen not by the electors, but by the party machine, however the list rankings have been decided. That adds to the power of the party machine, which undermines democracy and creates enormous areas of political patronage. Such a system is open to abuse. That is why we do not like it. The AMS, as opposed to the European system of a straightforward list, has two categories of Member. One category is elected directly by the electors in the constituency under a first-past-the-post system, and the other is elected by party according to the weight of vote across a larger area. Members in the first category will undoubtedly claim to represent the constituents in dealing with the problems of housing, health and roads, and Members in the second category will not have that mandate.

In the Welsh assembly and in the Scottish Parliament, the two categories of Member will be paid the same and have the same facilities, but one will have to work a darn sight harder than the other. I believe that that is a recipe for instability.

The Liberal Democrats' proposal for an open list should be considered, because it at least gives a greater mandate to the Member elected than does AMS.

Ironically, the proposed system is likely, in the short term, to help my party. The hon. Member for Swansea, East kindly reassured us that that was the reason for the Government's proposal. I am not sure that I take that entirely at face value. Even so, I believe that the stability and robustness of the system that we adopt for the Welsh assembly is more important than short-term political gain.

For that reason, we have tabled amendments Nos. 22A and 23A, which would replace the additional member system with the straightforward, firstpast-the-post system. If the result of the vote on 1 May were to be replicated, that would not be in the interests of Conservatives in Wales. However, I take the rather more optimistic view that we are on our way back, and by the time of the Welsh assembly elections, the firstpast-the-post system will do us very well, and a large number of Conservatives will be elected to the assembly.

8.45 pm

I want to put on record the reasons why we are strongly against proportional representation. We believe that our electoral system works better than the PR systems in other countries. Italy is a good example, because it has had PR for years and has had countless Governments. It has now begun to move away from PR towards first past the post, because PR created years of unstable government. France switched back to its second ballot system because the national front won more seats under PR from 1986 to 1988. New Zealand, which introduced PR last year, had to wait more than two months for a Government to be formed. A number of people who have studied that system have told me that we should consider closely the lessons to be learnt from New Zealand before we make the same mistakes.

Mr. Allan

Italy is an extraordinary example to use. According to my reading of that country's current political situation, there has been far more instability since the change in the electoral system than there was before it. There has been a complete breakdown of the parties, a growth of new parties and confusion between Forza Italia and the parties in the north. There is no case for saying that the introduction of first past the post has stabilised the Italian system.

Mr. Ancram

The hon. Gentleman should consider the number of Governments that there have been since the system was changed, as opposed to the average number per year in the years since the war before it was changed. He will find that his argument does not stand up.

There is no doubt that accountability suffers under a PR system.

Dr. Marek

The right hon. Gentleman should bear in mind the fact that Italy overtook us in economic well-being years ago, so we must not draw too many conclusions from the position there.

If the election were replicated in Wales, a Labour group from south Wales would be in charge. We needed to change the system so as to provide not a Labour assembly, but a Welsh assembly. We have achieved that by moving away from a first-past-the-post system and providing an element of AMS.

Mr. Ancram

I cannot remember whether the hon. Gentleman has declared that he is going to the assembly or staying in the House. If he is going to the assembly, he must be looking forward to many changes of Administration, possibly in the hope that he will feature in a number of them. I take his point about the need to create a Welsh political unit, but there are other ways of doing that. I do not want to show my hand at this stage, but I shall introduce amendments that try to achieve that. The price that is paid for PR is not necessarily the best way of creating homogeneity in Wales.

There is no doubt that under PR the one-to-one link between a Member of Parliament and his constituency is weakened. I believe that the electorate want one person to be responsible for dealing with their grievances. The fact that I represent all my constituents and not just those who support me is a healthy part of our democratic system, because it broadens our outlook.

I shall ask for a vote on our amendment, because I believe that the introduction of PR into our political system—leaving aside Northern Ireland, where the lack of pluralism creates a different situation—is a bad step. It is a bad step not just for Wales and Scotland, but because it will be seen as the forerunner for the rest of the United Kingdom.

There is no doubt that PR produces the second best, because the result is always compromise. Some people may argue that compromise is a good thing, but in my experience compromise has its place. Compromise in politics normally means getting not the strongest and the best but the "least worst". I do not wish that on the Welsh assembly, and I will therefore press my amendment to a vote when the time comes—if I may, Sir Alan.

Mr. Denzil Davies

I do not think that Ministers will be surprised when I tell them that I do not support the system proposed in the Bill. Although I am old-fashioned and, no doubt, in a very small minority, I support the first-past-the-post system. We have been told that no system is perfect, and I will not argue the case for first past the post versus proportional representation in general, because that is not what the amendment is about; but basically I support first past the post for the Welsh assembly—and, indeed, for the House. The Bill proposes the worst kind of PR system, if it can be strictly described as a PR system.

I was surprised by the. speech of the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik): like my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, I had thought that his party's favoured system was the system proposed in the Bill. Certainly, as far as I remember, the Liberal Democrats did not criticise the additional member system during the referendum campaign. I did, publicly, and may have incurred the wrath of the central committee by doing so.

Mr. Livsey

Surely it is well known—and surely the right hon. Gentleman knows—that the Liberal Democrats favour the single transferable vote. The issue was whether we were to have a Welsh assembly, and whether it would involve an element of proportionality. We were prepared to accept that as far as it went, but obviously, as a matter of principle, we favour STV.

Mr. Davies

I think that it would be possible to vote for a Welsh assembly in a referendum as a matter of principle, in support of decentralisation and devolution, while adding the caveat that the Liberal Democrats did not support the additional member system; but I heard no caveats. It surprised me that the Liberal Democrats were not prepared to say fairly, clearly and honestly, before the Welsh people, what they believed.

Mr. Öpik

May I jog the right hon. Gentleman's memory? He may recall that we made our specific concern about the system of proportionality very clear. Indeed, I made it clear more than once on television. During the referendum campaign, we said that strategically things were proceeding in the right direction; the big question, we said, was about PR.

Mr. Davies

I did not hear the hon. Gentleman say that, and his speech came as a bit of a surprise to me, but I do not want to pursue the matter. It is understandable, I suppose: it is in character, in the context of the Liberal Democrat party.

My hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson), waxed lyrical about a system which, apparently, he had invented along with the Whip, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Jones). It was marvellous, he told us, because it provided a direct link with constituencies. That is not how I read it. In the case of two thirds of Members the link is there, but in the case of the remaining third it is not a case of breaking a link with a constituency, because there is no link to break. Members are chosen by the party centrally, although there may be certain ways of choosing them.

The Electoral Reform Society has issued a splendid briefing paper. Most of the speech of the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire was taken from it, although he did not acknowledge the source of his speech. He even found a reference to Bavaria in the briefing, but he did not say that he had found it there. He obviously knew about Bavaria before the briefing was published.

The briefing paper gives the example of a ballot paper, which shows vividly that there is no link with constituencies. There are no names of people on the paper in the additional member scheme; there are just names of parties. Perhaps there is a list tucked away somewhere, but it is certainly not possible to vote for the names on such a list. The Members who are chosen will of course be accountable—a word that is used constantly nowadays. They will not be accountable to constituents, because they will have no constituents; they will be accountable to the party that has favoured them by putting them on a list.

The additional member system is an apparatchik's dream. It is democratic centralism: "democratic" in inverted commas, that is. The central party chooses. Although the salaries of the additional Members will presumably be paid by the taxpayer rather than the parties, they will be nominees of the parties and accountable to those parties. I think that we will pay a price at the polls. I am old-fashioned enough to believe that the British like a link between their Members of Parliament and the constituencies. I think that the Welsh people will find a way out, and I think that, if we adopt the same system in Britain as a whole, the British public will find a way of telling us that they do not like the concentration of party power.

The problem nowadays is that political parties tend to be more and more unpopular. People resent a political class that increases its own power, pay, perks and status, but here we are going further down the road when we should be trying to find a way of making people trust us a bit more as political parties, rather than creating a centralised system.

It is true that two thirds of those who are elected will be chosen by constituencies, but the centralising tendency which probably exists in all parties nowadays is certainly very strong in the Labour party. I am told that efforts are now being made to dilute even the constituency element in the choice of the two thirds. I would not dream of using a word like "cloning"; I think that the managerial language is "profile". A kind of DNA profile is drawn up, and those who fit the profile are deemed acceptable. If someone is old Labour, or old-fashioned—as we have heard from the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire, who is extremely new-fashioned—

Mr. Allan


Mr. Davies

I did not want to say "new-fangled". I wanted to be kind to the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire. As his colleague has used the phrase, however, I can.

Those of us who are old-fashioned, with unradical thoughts and minds that are not prepared to address problems, are not the kind of people who fit the "profile". Only those who fit the profile will be thrown back to their constituents.

Last night, the Labour party I think decided to put constituencies together, so even the link between the so-called constituency Member and the constituency might not be strong. We are seeing again the centralising tendency in my party and perhaps we see it in other parties too.

Ms Julie Morgan

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the purpose of putting two constituencies together is to achieve better representation for women? Can he suggest another way of achieving that?

Mr. Davies

I have no idea. I have not heard any debate on the matter, which is perhaps not surprising. The executive's decision the other night was taken behind closed doors. I have not seen any minutes. This is the first time that I have heard that argument. By all means, let us have the argument, but let us not take the decision before we have it.

Mr. Rogers

Surely my right hon. Friend would accept that the great advantage of being responsible for two constituencies is that the Member can be doubly democratically accountable—he can be accountable to both constituencies. We double democratic accountability.

Mr. Davies

Except that one does not know where the Member happens to be at the time. Putting constituencies together reduces accountability. That is a problem in modern politics in Wales and probably in all the western democracies. Accountability is reduced as the political class creates more power for itself.

9 pm

I agreed with the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire about one thing: we should have an open list system. If we are going down this road—and I am sure that there is no chance of changing anything—we should have that system. I confess that I am not as knowledgeable as the Liberal party about electoral reform—it has been thinking and talking of little else for the past 50 years—but I have read the excellent electoral reform publication and I know about the lady from Bavaria who managed 17 years ago to win an election, even though she was at the bottom of the list.

I was attracted by the specimen ballot paper—if we have to have this system at all. Apparently, although I would have thought that it would confuse voters, it is possible to have a choice: to vote for the party and forget about the people who have been chosen, or to vote for someone on the party list. The person at the top of the list might not receive any votes. That would not be conducive to or useful for the apparatchiks, but at least it ameliorates, although only to some extent, the iniquitous system of the closed list and the additional Member.

We shall not be going back to the first- past-the-post system entirely; I accept that that battle has been lost. One third of Members will be elected by this crazy system, but if we are going to have it let us explore the possibility of the open list system. I do not think that there are any problems. If the Bavarians can do it, so can we. As a party, we are very attracted by the German system. I remember my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) extolling the virtues of Baden-Wurttemberg. I am not sure where that is, except that it is in Germany.

Mr. Rhodri Morgan

It is next to Bavaria.

Mr. Davies

I am sorry to say that Baden-Württemberg has a closed list system, so I cannot use it as an example. Most of Germany has a closed list system. When I went to East Germany years ago, it had such a system. The people there told me that it was similar to the one in West Germany, except for Bavaria. They were right.

As the excellent pamphlet tells us, the Germans have that system—and it is part of their history and I do not criticise them for it—because of the problems of the Weimar Republic. One can understand why Germany needed a strong party-based system at that time, but the world has moved on and no doubt one day the German constitution will have to move with the rest of the world.

At least I can give my hon. Friends Bavaria. If one of the German Lander is doing something, it must be right and good. We in Wales should follow that example. I say to my hon. Friends: please consider the matter again. We will pay a price for this centralism unless something is done about the closed list system. Let us have at least an open list system. Then at least the additional member system will be slightly better than it is at present.

Mr. Dafis

Amendment No. 191 provides some flexibility in relation to the boundaries of the regions for the additional member lists. The regions are based on the European electoral regions, which will no longer operate at the time of the election for the National Assembly for Wales. It is important that the areas represented by Members elected under the additional member system bear some relationship to community and geographic reality, and are not simply based on numbers, which the Bill emphasises.

The Wales Mid and West European constituency best demonstrates the absurdity of merely emphasising numbers. That constituency covers an area extending almost from Llandudno, in the north, to Pembrokeshire and includes all of Powys and Llanelli. It is impossible to imagine a more disparate region. The region has absolutely no unity or cohesiveness and is extremely difficult to represent. I do not envy the Member of the European Parliament who must try to represent it, as it is difficult to keep in contact with one's constituents.

Members elected under the additional member system should have a type of constituency to which they are linked, and the regions from which they are elected should be more manageable than European constituencies. Although the Government will not accept amendment No. 191, I hope that, to achieve a sensible system, they will seriously consider making constituencies manageable, rather than simply emphasising numbers.

Amendment No. 58 supports Liberal Democrat amendments in favour of the single transferable vote system. The right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) spoke against proportional representation, although he seemed to say that the additional member system had even greater deficiencies than the STV system. It has been suggested that the STV system weakens the link between the Member and the constituency. The experience in the Republic of Ireland, however—my comments are based on my meetings with Irish TDs and on seeing them work together—belies the idea that the link is weakened. Although their constituencies are considerably larger, they are not unmanageable.

Electors in an STV system can choose their assembly Member, rather than merely voting for a party, as in the additional member system. Such a connection would provide a stimulus to a Member of the Assembly to be a good constituency Member. Therefore—as the right hon. Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) said—an STV system empowers electors rather than political parties, because electors, not a party, decide which Member will be elected.

It has been suggested that an STV system is complex, and that it is difficult for electors to understand the ballot paper, which contains so many names that are arranged in party lists. Again, however, the Irish experience overwhelmingly shows that that is not true. Although the system seems complex, it is well understood in Ireland. Moreover, the Irish clearly appreciate the influence that the system gives them over a party's selection of candidates. The parties themselves must also consider which of those they include on their lists are most likely to be electable. It is, therefore, a way in which electors can influence the party's choice of candidates, which is perfectly reasonable.

The Irish experience demonstrates that STV produces a less confrontational style of politics in which members of different political parties representing the same constituency work well together. That sometimes happens under the current system when those representing adjoining constituencies work together in the interests of the region, but I was particularly impressed by what I saw in Ireland.

STV also encourages coalition Governments. It has been suggested that coalition Governments create constant instability. However, the Irish Government have displayed a significant continuity of policy over several decades, instead of swinging from one set of policies to another. That must have something to do with Ireland's outstanding economic success. A striking continuity of policy has run through successive Administrations comprising different combinations of political parties. There is, therefore, no evidence from the Irish experience that the accusation of instability has any substance.

The strength of the case for STV has persuaded Plaid Cymru to change its policy. We have moved from supporting the additional member system—although it was a little more complex than that—to supporting the STV system.

We know that the amendment will not be accepted tonight, but we have put down a marker to highlight the virtues of the STV system. We hope that at some stage there will be an opportunity to introduce STV in Wales, and perhaps on a broader basis, as it is a preferable system.

Mr. Laurence Robertson

I agree with some of the remarks by the hon. Members for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) and for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik). They stressed the importance of the link between the Member and the constituency, not just because it tends to give people what they want, but because it is representative of the British constitutional and electoral systems.

I shall make one or two brief comments. I make no apology for repeating myself, as one of my concerns about devolution and the constitution of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh assembly is the drift—although it is somewhat driven—towards European politics.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that there is no constitutional bar to Britain joining a single currency. The United Kingdom is being broken up into regions. Proportional representation is also an alien concept. My right hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) spoke about its dangers.

Mr. Allan

Does the hon. Gentleman feel that proportional representation is more or less alien than eating horses and having toilets that are holes in the ground?

Mr. Robertson

I am not sure whether I should welcome that intervention, but I feel that proportional representation and devolution are totally alien to British political life.

The concept of political parties having to register or be part of the constitution is also totally alien, as is the fact that people will be asked to vote for a political party rather than a person, even though they support that political party. The fact that Members will serve those who compile a list rather than the people whom they are supposed to represent is another element of an alien system. The fact that there will be gatherings of groups to keep the whole thing going is also alien to the British way of life.

I am perplexed that so many hon. Members are smiling or laughing at what I am saying. It may be somewhat comical, but I challenge them to point out where I am wrong in saying that the system is alien to the British way of life. It is not what people in this country expect or what they have grown up with. I agree with the right hon. Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies), who said that the issue will come back to haunt his party. I ask the Government to take note of him and many others from various parties, who, although I do not agree with everything that they have said, have already come up with many objections to the system.

9.15 pm
Mr. Evans

I thank the Government for their generosity in devising a system for the assembly that throws a lifeline to the Conservative party—or that is what we are supposed to believe. However, the Secretary of State must forgive me for being suspicious of his lifeline. I know that he is a charitable person, but I did not realise that his charity extended as far as the Conservative party.

A pick-and-mix assortment of systems is offered for the European elections, the assembly in Wales and the Parliament in Scotland. In addition, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead is looking at various systems that may be used for Westminster. The Liberal Democrats advocate the single transferable vote. I fully understand why they support that system. It may have something to do with their belief that they might be the depository of all the second votes from Tories and Labour supporters. In their virtual reality world, they may think that under STV the assembly will be packed full of Liberal Democrats trying to keep out the Tories and—

Mr. Donald Gorrie (Edinburgh, West)


Mr. Evans

I have only three minutes. I hope that hon. Members will be understanding. I can imagine the system that the Liberal Democrats are thinking of.

With a closed list system, the parties have disproportionate power over their candidates. I have grave reservations about centralising that power in political parties. It is transferring power not from the parties to the people, but from the people to the parties, particularly from the people who work for political parties in the constituencies.

I also have grave reservations about having two Members representing the same area—a constituency Member and a regional Member. The ordinary electors are already confused about the different responsibilities of different tiers of government. With the assembly, we shall have more tiers of government than Elizabeth Taylor has had tiers on her wedding cakes. The demarcation of responsibility between tiers of government is not clear. Even within one tier of government, people will not know whether to write to their constituency assembly Member or their regional assembly Member, who may be from different parties. There will be massive conflict.

We already know that conflict exists between the members of different parties, and one can only imagine the conflicts that would exist between members of the same party. If the Prime Minister does not get on with his Chancellor of the Exchequer, although they are in the same party and even the same Government, we can only imagine what will happen if we have that form of proportional representation.

I disagree strongly with the system suggested by the Liberal Democrats, which would produce 10 extra politicians. One of the strong arguments that won us a lot of votes in the referendum was, "Do you want to spend the money on politicians or on the people?" We got the result there, but the Liberal Democrats have not been listening and have suggested a system with 10 more politicians. That would cost about £1 million with all the salaries and expenses, and the people would prefer to see the money spent on services.

Dr. Marek

I am making a brief intervention in support of my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies). We want not a closed list but an open list. The people of Wales will want to be able to decide whom to vote for and whom not to vote for. That is important.

However, if we are to have closed lists, I wonder whether the Minister can promise us that all members of the Labour party will be able to vote to decide the order within the closed list. I do not want some shadowy group of people in Labour party headquarters at Millbank to decide the order. That ought to be done in Wales.

Mr. Win Griffiths

To answer my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Dr. Marek) directly, let me say that what he has asked about is one of the things still to be decided in the Labour party. He will have a chance to say something about it at a later stage—and we shall be able to debate the issues of open lists tomorrow.

Until I heard the speech by the hon. Member for Tewkesbury (Mr. Robertson), and his peroration about aliens, I had not realised that the electoral system that we propose would form a suitable case for investigation in "The X Files".

The hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik) may have thought that he was on to a winner in proposing amendments to clause 4, but I have to disappoint him because we do not support the amendments that would introduce the single transferable vote. We made it clear in the referendum campaign that we would use the additional member system. That is the best way of achieving a new inclusiveness and an element of proportionality in Wales, and it was endorsed in the referendum vote on 18 September.

We believe that that system best serves the constituencies, with a representation that reflects the whole of Wales. It will not be too complex for voters to understand or officials to administer—unlike STV, under which we would have to have constituencies with three to five members. Some of the constituencies in rural Wales, such as mid-Wales, west Wales and north Wales, would be very large.

There is also great potential for voter confusion. For example, we know that, although the Irish Republic has had STV since 1923, there are 10 times as many spoilt ballot papers in general elections in Ireland as there are in Wales. Moreover, the counting process is exceedingly complex. In most of Ireland, there are constituencies of between 60,000 and 75,000, but the Welsh constituencies would be bigger. Even in Ireland, there are sometimes as many as 11 or 12 counts—15 were recorded in one constituency—and they take two days to complete. That is not the best system.

As for representation for women, as the hon. Gentleman is a member of the British islands parliamentary group, he will know that there are only two women in the group, and that at present the representation of women in Ireland is no better than in the United Kingdom. From his discussions with members of the Dail, he will also know that they would dearly love to get rid of STV, were it not so entrenched. The German example that the hon. Gentleman used lends no credence to what he had to say. Indeed, it is a warning to political parties to ensure that their selection processes are open.

The official Opposition, of course, want to keep the old first-past-the-post system for elections in Wales. It is for the political parties to tackle the criticisms levelled by the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) in respect of selecting members, especially for the regions, and allocating their roles. They will not be free-wheeling, independent, forget-the-party members. They will be elected by the voters of Wales to represent the political parties that they have chosen to support. I hope that any Conservatives who may be elected in the process will exhibit enough allegiance to the Conservative party to agree on useful ways of proceeding in the National Assembly for Wales—that is to say, if any of them get elected for the constituencies, which we have yet to see.

Criticism of the additional member system implies criticism of every country in the world that uses it. Does the right hon. Member for Devizes really think that the German system, which Britain was chiefly responsible for creating, has served that country badly or has led to more political and democratic problems than we have suffered since the war? We can agree to differ about what we believe to be the most effective system, but there is no empirical evidence to suggest that first past the post is better than any sort of additional member system.

However gradually the Opposition parties arrive at their positions, they will certainly want to ensure at least an element of proportionality. They can do so by supporting our original proposition.

Mr. Öpik

It was remiss of me not to acknowledge the tremendous contribution of the Electoral Reform Society, not just to my speech tonight, but to the general debate on STV and proportional representation.

An alien system, in my view, is one that consistently delivers majority government in the UK with a minority of the vote, as happened in 1992 and 1997. I shall tell the House what I mean by stability. I mean the Republic of Ireland, which now enjoys a standard of living exceeding that of the United Kingdom. Another example would be Germany, which managed to absorb 17 million people on the breadline without going bust in the process. Both countries use PR systems.

I shall tell the Committee what is not acceptable: a system that merely harms one party or prefers one party to another. The reason for change is justice. Social justice is democratic justice. We should not measure the stability of a nation by the frequency with which it changes Administrations. We should measure it according to the country's economic, cultural and social stability. Germany and the Republic of Ireland have shown that stability in spades.

The right hon. Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) suggested that I might be new-fangled. I assure him that I am old-fangled. I am, for instance, a strong monarchist, as many people know. I still love a T-bone steak, if I can find one. What I do not want to have to tolerate are iniquities from the past and the first-past-the-post system is one of those iniquities.

Interestingly, the right hon. Member for Llanelli seems to agree with many of our tenets for proportional representation. For one thing, we believe in an open system. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram)—

Mr. Denzil Davies


Mr. Öpik

I have not the time to give way.

Mr. Davies


Mr. Öpik

Well, I shall briefly.

Mr. Davies

I made it clear at the beginning of my speech that I was not in favour of proportional representation. All I said was that, if we were to have that sort of system, I should prefer an open to a closed list.

Mr. Öpik

I accept that point and shall move on swiftly. Perhaps we can discuss it further over a pint after the debate.

The constituency and Member link is absolutely right. STV is the one PR system that establishes a 100 per cent. link between elected Members and constituents. A list system does not do so.

We also discussed the fact that the system is an alien proposition, but it is already here, in Northern Ireland and in many organisations. If it makes Wales an alien nation, I would be happy to live in an alien nation. Perhaps we can import some of that alien thinking back to the rest of the United Kingdom and improve democracy here as well.

In conclusion, this is a debate not about old and new, but about fair and unfair. It is a debate not about stable and unstable, but about undemocratic and democratic processes. That is our argument for STV and if we cannot get it, it is our case for an open-list system. We are glad to have got this far and we praise the Government for the steps that they have taken in moving towards proportional representation. We sincerely hope that this is not the destination, but merely a staging post on a greater journey.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 43, Noes 335.

Division No. 135] [9.30 pm
Baker, Norman Keetch, Paul
Ballard, Mrs Jackie Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye)
Beith, Rt Hon A J Kirkwood, Archy
Brake, Tom Livsey, Richard
Breed, Colin Llwyd, Elfyn
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Burnett, John ÖPik. Lembit
Burstow, Paul Rendel, David
Cable, Dr Vincent Russell Bob (Colchester)
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife) Sanders, Adrian
Chidgey, David Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Cotter, Brian Stunell, Andrew
Swinney, John
Dafis, Cynog Taylor, MatthewTruro
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Tonge Dr Jenny
Feam, Ronnie Tyler Paul
Foster, Don (Bath) Wallace, James
George, Andrew (St Ives) Webb, Steve
Gorrie, Donald Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Hancock, Mike Willis, Phil
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick Tellers for the Ayes:
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome) Mr. Michael Moore and
Jones, leuan Wyn (Ynys Môn) Mr. Richard Allan.
Abbott, Ms Diane Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Brinton, Mrs Helen
Ainger, Nick Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Alexander, Douglas Browne, Desmond
Allen, Graham Buck, Ms Karen
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Burden, Richard
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Burgon, Colin
Armstrong, Ms Hilary Butler, Mrs Christine
Ashton, Joe Byers, Stephen
Atherton, Ms Candy Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Atkins, Charlotte Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Banks, Tony Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Barron, Kevin Campbell-Savours, Dale
Bayley, Hugh Canavan, Dennis
Beard, Nigel Cann, Jamie
Begg, Miss Anne Caplin, Ivor
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Casale, Roger
Bennett, Andrew F Cawsey, Ian
Benton, Joe Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Bermingham, Gerald Chaytor, David
Berry, Roger Chisholm, Malcolm
Best, Harold Clapham, Michael
Betts, Clive Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Blizzard, Bob Clwyd, Ann
Borrow, David Coaker, Vernon
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain Heppell, John
Colman, Tony Hesford, Stephen
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Cooper, Yvette Hill, Keith
Corbett, Robin Hinchliffe, David
Corbyn, Jeremy Hodge, Ms Margaret
Corston, Ms Jean Home Robertson, John
Cousins, Jim Hoon, Geoffrey
Cox, Tom Hope, Phil
Cranston, Ross Hopkins, Kelvin
Crausby, David Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley) Howells, Dr Kim
Cummings, John Hoyle, Lindsay
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S) Humble, Mrs Joan
Dalyell, Tarn Hurst, Alan
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair Hutton, John
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W) Iddon, Dr Brian
Davidson, Ian Illsley, Eric
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Ingram, Adam
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C) Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly) Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H) Jamieson, David
Dean, Mrs Janet Jenkins, Brian
Denham, John Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Donohoe, Brian H Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Dowd, Jim Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)
Drew, David
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey) Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston) Jowell, Ms Tessa
Edwards, Huw Keeble, Ms Sally
Efford, Clive Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Ellman, Mrs Louise Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Ennis, Jeff Kelly, Ms Ruth
Etherington, Bill Kemp, Fraser
Fitzpatrick, Jim Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Fitzsimons, Lorna Khabra, Piara S
Flint, Caroline Kidney, David
Flynn, Paul Kilfoyle, Peter
Follett, Barbara King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Forsythe, Clifford King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Kumar, Dr Ashok
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings) Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Foster, Michael J (Worcester) Laxton, Bob
Foulkes, George Lepper, David
Fyfe, Maria Leslie, Christopher
Galbraith, Sam Levitt, Tom
Galloway, George Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Gapes, Mike Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Gardiner, Barry Linton, Martin
George, Bruce (Walsall S) Livingstone, Ken
Gerrard, Neil Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Gibson, Dr Ian Love, Andrew
Gilroy, Mrs Linda McAllion, John
Godman, Norman A McAvoy, Thomas
Godsiff, Roger McCafferty, Ms Chris
Golding, Mrs Llin McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
Gordon, Mrs Eileen McDonagh, Siobhain
Grant, Bernie McDonnell, John
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) McGuire, Mrs Anne
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) McIsaac, Shona
Grocott, Bruce McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Grogan, John Mackinlay, Andrew
Hain, Peter McLeish, Henry
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale) McNamara, Kevin
Hall, Patrick (Bedford) McNulty, Tony
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE) MacShane, Denis
Hanson, David Mactaggart, Fiona
Heal, Mrs Sylvia McWilliam, John
Healey, John Mahon, Mrs Alice
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N) Mallaber, Judy
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich) Mandelson, Peter
Hepburn, Stephen Marek, Dr John
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S) Shaw, Jonathan
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Sheerman, Barry
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Martlew, Eric Shipley, Ms Debra
Maxton, John Short, Rt Hon Clare
Michael, Alun Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley) Skinner, Dennis
Milburn, Alan Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Miller, Andrew Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Mitchell, Austin Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Moffatt, Laura Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway) Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N) Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W) Snape, Peter
Morley, Elliot Soley, Clive
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Southworth, Ms Helen
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon) Squire, Ms Rachel
Mullin, Chris Stevenson, George
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck) Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood) Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Naysmith, Dr Doug Stinchcombe, Paul
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton) Stoate, Dr Howard
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks) Straw, Rt Hon Jack
O'Hara, Eddie Stringer, Graham
Olner, Bill Stuart, Ms Gisela
O'Neill, Martin Sutcliffe, Gerry
Organ, Mrs Diana Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Pearson, Ian Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Perham, Ms Linda Taylor, Rt Hon John D (Strangford)
Pickthall, Colin Temple-Morris, Peter
Pike, Peter L Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Plaskitt, James Timms, Stephen
Pollard, Kerry Tipping, Paddy
Pope, Greg Todd, Mark
Pound, Stephen Touhig, Don
Powell, Sir Raymond Truswell, Paul
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E) Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Prescott, Rt Hon John Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Prosser, Gwyn Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Purchase, Ken Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Quin, Ms Joyce Vaz, Keith
Quinn, Lawrie Vis, Dr Rudi
Radice, Giles Walley, Ms Joan
Rammell, Bill Ward, Ms Claire
Rapson, Syd Wareing, Robert N
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough) Watts, David
Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N) White, Brian
Robertson, Rt Hon George (Hamilton S) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Roche, Mrs Barbara Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Rogers, Allan Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Rooker, Jeff Wills, Michael
Rooney, Terry Winnick, David
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Rowlands, Ted Wise, Audrey
Roy, Frank Wood, Mike
Ruane, Chris Worthington, Tony
Ruddock, Ms Joan Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester) Wyatt, Derek
Ryan, Ms Joan
Savidge, Malcolm Tellers for the Noes:
Sawford, Phil Mr. Kevin Hughes and
Sedgemore, Brian Mr. John McFall.

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment proposed: No. 22 A, in page 1, line 16, leave out from 'constituency' to end of line 17.—[Mr. Ancram.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 136, Noes 378.

Division No. 136] [9.43pm
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Leigh, Edward
Amess, David Letwin, Oliver
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Arbuthnot, James Lidington, David
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E) Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Baldry, Tony Loughton, Tim
Bercow, John Luff, Peter
Beresford, Sir Paul MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Blunt, Crispin McIntosh, Miss Anne
Body, Sir Richard MacKay, Andrew
Boswell, Tim Maclean, Rt Hon David
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) McLoughlin, Patrick
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia Malins, Humfrey
Brady, Graham Maples, John
Brazier, Julian Mates, Michael
Browning, Mrs Angela Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Burns, Simon May, Mrs Theresa
Butterfill, John Moss, Malcolm
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Bamet) Nicholls, Patrick
Norman, Archie
Chope, Christopher Ottaway, Richard
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington) Page, Richard
Collins, Tim Paice, James
Colvin, Michael Paterson, Owen
Cran, James Prior, David
Curry, Rt Hon David Randall, John
Davies, Quentin (Grantham) Redwood, Rt Hon John
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice) Robathan, Andrew
Day, Stephen Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Duncan, Alan Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Duncan Smith, Iain Ruffley, David
Evans, Nigel St Aubyn, Nick
Faber, David Sayeed, Jonathan
Fabricant, Michael Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Fallon, Michael Shepherd, Richard
Flight, Howard Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Forsythe, Clifford Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Forth, Rt Hon Eric Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Spicer, Sir Michael
Fox, Dr Liam Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Fraser, Christopher Steen, Anthony
Gale, Roger Streeter, Gary
Garnier, Edward Swayne, Desmond
Gibb, Nick Syms, Robert
Gill, Christopher Tapsell, Sir Peter
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Green, Damian Taylor, Sir Teddy
Greenway, John Townend, John
Grieve, Dominic Tredinnick, David
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie Trend, Michael
Hammond, Philip Tyrie, Andrew
Hawkins, Nick Walter, Robert
Hayes, John Waterson, Nigel
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David Whittingdale, John
Horam, John Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Wilkinson, John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot) Willetts, David
Hunter, Andrew Wilshire, David
Jack, Rt Hon Michael Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Jenkin, Bernard Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Johnson Smith, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Woodward, Shaun
Yeo, Tim
Key, Robert Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor Tellers for the Ayes:
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Mr. Oliver Heald and
Lansley, Andrew Sir David Madel.
Abbott, Ms Diane Corbett, Robin
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Corbyn, Jeremy
Ainger, Nick Corston, Ms Jean
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Cotter, Brian
Alexander, Douglas Cousins, Jim
Allan, Richard Cox, Tom
Allen, Graham Cranston, Ross
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Crausby, David
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Armstrong, Ms Hilary Cummings, John
Ashton, Joe Cunliffe, Lawrence
Atherton, Ms Candy Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Atkins, Charlotte Dafis, Cynog
Baker, Norman Dalyell, Tam
Ballard, Mrs Jackie Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Banks, Tony Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Barren, Kevin Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Bayley, Hugh Davidson, Ian
Beard, Nigel Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Begg, Miss Anne Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)
Beith, Rt Hon A J Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Dean, Mrs Janet
Bennett, Andrew F Denham, John
Benton, Joe Dewar, Rt Hon Donald
Bermingham, Gerald Dismore, Andrew
Berry, Roger Dobbin, Jim
Best, Harold Donohoe, Brian H
Betts, Clive Dowd, Jim
Blackman, Liz Drew, David
Blears, Ms Hazel Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Blizzard, Bob Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Borrow, David Edwards, Huw
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Efford, Clive
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Ellman, Mrs Louise
Brake, Tom Ennis, Jeff
Breed, Colin Etherington, Bill
Brinton, Mrs Helen Fearn, Ronnie
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E) Fitzpatrick, Jim
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Fitzsimons, Lorna
Browne, Desmond Flint, Caroline
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Flynn, Paul
Buck, Ms Karen Follett, Barbara
Burden, Richard Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Burgon, Colin Foster, Don (Bath)
Burnett, John Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Burstow, Paul Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Butler, Mrs Christine Foulkes, George
Byers, Stephen Fyfe, Maria
Cable, Dr Vincent Galbraith, Sam
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Galloway, George
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Gapes, Mike
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife) Gardiner, Barry
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) George, Andrew (St Ives)
Campbell-Savours, Dale George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Canavan, Dennis Gerrard, Neil
Cann, Jamie Gibson, Dr Ian
Caplin, Ivor Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Casale, Roger Godman, Norman A
Cawsey, Ian Godsiff, Roger
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Golding, Mrs Llin
Chaytor, David Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Chidgey, David Gorrie, Donald
Chisholm, Malcolm Grant, Bernie
Clapham, Michael Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands) Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S) Grogan, John
Clwyd, Ann Hain, Peter
Coaker, Vernon Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Coffey, Ms Ann Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Coleman, Iain Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Colman, Tony Hancock, Mike
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Hanson, David
Cooper, Yvette Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick McDonnell, John
Heal, Mrs Sylvia McGuire, Mrs Anne
Healey, John McIsaac, Shona
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome) McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N) Mackinlay, Andrew
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich) McLeish, Henry
Hepburn, Stephen McNamara, Kevin
Heppell, John McNulty, Tony
Hesford, Stephen MacShane, Denis
Hewitt, Ms Patricia Mactaggart, Fiona
Hill, Keith McWilliam, John
Hinchliffe, David Mahon, Mrs Alice
Hodge, Ms Margaret Mallaber, Judy
Home Robertson, John Mandelson, Peter
Hoon, Geoffrey Marek, Dr John
Hope, Phil Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Hopkins, Kelvin Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Howarth, Alan (Newport E) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Howells, Dr Kim Martlew, Eric
Hoyle, Lindsay Maxton, John
Hughes, Ms Beveriey (Stretford) Michael, Alun
Humble, Mrs Joan Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Hurst, Alan Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Hutton, John Milburn, Alan
Iddon, Dr Brian Miller, Andrew
Illsley, Eric Mitchell, Austin
Ingram, Adam Moffatt, Laura
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough) Moore, Michael
Jamieson, David Moran, Ms Margaret
Jenkins, Brian Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle) Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield) Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morley, Elliot
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark) Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N) Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn) Mullin, Chris
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW) Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Naysmith, Dr Doug
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S) O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Jowell, Ms Tessa O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Keeble, Ms Sally O'Hara, Eddie
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Olner, Bill
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth) O'Neill, Martin
Keetch, Paul Öpik, Lembit
Kelly, Ms Ruth Organ, Mrs Diana
Kemp, Fraser Osborne, Ms Sandra
Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye) Palmer, Dr Nick
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) Pearson, Ian
Khabra, Piara S Perham, Ms Linda
Kidney, David Pickthall, Colin
Kilfoyle, Peter Pike, Peter L
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth) Plaskitt, James
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green) Pollard, Kerry
Kirkwood, Archy Pope, Greg
Kumar, Dr Ashok Pound, Stephen
Lawrence, Ms Jackie Powell, Sir Raymond
Laxton, Bob Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Lepper, David Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Leslie, Christopher Prescott, Rt Hon John
Levitt, Tom Primarolo, Dawn
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S) Prosser, Gwyn
Lewis, Terry (Worsley) Purchase, Ken
Linton, Martin Quin, Ms Joyce
Livingstone, Ken Quinn, Lawrie
Livsey, Richard Radice, Giles
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C) Rammell, Bill
Llwyd, Elfyn Rapson, Syd
Love, Andrew Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
McAllion, John Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N)
McAvoy, Thomas Rendel, David
McCafferty, Ms Chris Robertson, Rt Hon George (Hamilton S)
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
McDonagh, Siobhain Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rogers, Allan Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Rowlands, Ted Taylor, Rt Hon John D (Strangford)
Roy, Frank Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Ruane, Chris Temple-Morris, Peter
Ruddock, Ms Joan Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Russell, Bob (Colchester) Timms, Stephen
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester) Tipping, Paddy
Ryan, Ms Joan Todd, Mark
Sanders, Adrian Tonge, Dr Jenny
Savidge, Malcolm Touhig, Don
Sawford, Phil Truswell, Paul
Sedgemore Brian Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Shaw Jonathan Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Sheerman Barry Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Twigg Derek (Halton)
Shipley, Ms Debra Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Short, Rt Hon Clare Tyler, Paul
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S) Vaz, Keith
Skinner, Dennis Vis, Dr Rudi
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E) Wallace, James
Smith, Angela (Basildon) Walley, Ms Joan
Smith, Rt Hon Chris(Islington S) Ward, Ms Claire
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S) Wareing, Robert N
Smith Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale) Watts, David
Webb, sieve
Smith, John (Glamorgan) White, Brian
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Southworth, Ms Helen Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Squire, Ms Rachel willis Phil
Stevenson, George Winnick, David
Stewart, David (Inverness E) Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles) Wise Audrey
Stinchcombe, Paul Wood, Mike
Stoate, Dr Howard Worthington, Tony
Straw, Rt Hon Jack Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Stringer, Graham Wyatt, Derek
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew Tellers for the Noes:
Sutcliffe, Gerry Mr. Kevin Hughes and
Swinney, John Mr. John McFall.

Question accordingly negatived.

It being after Ten o'clock, THE CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report progress and ask leave to sit again.

To report progress and ask leave to sit again.—[Mr. McFall.]

Committee report progress; to sit again tomorrow.

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