HC Deb 02 March 1998 vol 307 cc754-87

`.—(1) No legislative, administrative or other decision shall be made by the Assembly which the presiding officer determines might reasonably affect the vital interests of any region, unless the same shall have been approved by a resolution of the Assembly which was itself supported by at least one third of the Assembly members in that region.

(2) In making such determination, the presiding officer—

  1. (a) may not be overruled by any resolution of the Assembly, and
  2. (b) shall have regard for the views of the region possibly affected through its regional committee and the individual members thereof, which views shall be binding upon the presiding officer unless he certifies that he is satisfied that the same are without any reasonable weigh.'.—[Mr. Ancram.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

6.30 pm
Mr. Ancram

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

The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Michael Lord)

With this, it will be convenient to discuss new clause 24—Decentralisation within Wales'.—The Assembly shall give active consideration to the decentralisation of appropriate functions from Cardiff to other parts of Wales, and shall actively seek to encourage other public sector bodies over which it has control, or which are answerable to it, to do likewise.'.

Mr. Ancram

It is appropriate that we are debating this important new clause on 2 March, the day after St. David's day. I genuinely regret the absence of a St. David's day debate. I was looking forward to participating in my first such debate, as I was told that they were occasions on which matters relating to all interests and parts of Wales could be properly aired. I only hope that the absence of such a debate this year is not a forerunner for future decisions and the beginning of the marginalisation of Welsh Members of Parliament following devolution.

Mr. Gareth Thomas

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that there could hardly be a more appropriate subject for a debate the day after St. David's day than the constitutional future of Wales?

Mr. Ancram

The hon. Gentleman cannot have been listening. I said that it was most appropriate that we were debating the new clause on this date. I was merely making the point that I hope that we are not having a St. David's day debate just because we are having this debate. For the sake of hon. Members who represent Welsh constituencies, who will continue to do so after devolution, I hope that we are not seeing an end to the traditional St. David's day debate, which was certainly welcomed by Welsh hon. Members, if not the hon. Member for Clwyd, West (Mr. Thomas).

Mr. Ron Davies

My hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd, West (Mr. Thomas) would not know, because he was not a Member during previous debates.

Mr. Ancram

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will advise his hon. Friend on the value of St. David's day debates.

The new clause stems directly from the result of the referendum on 18 September, when the people of Wales—we cannot avoid the fact that, more precisely, just over 25 per cent. of the people of Wales—voted for an assembly. That tiny minority, about which much has already been said, was not replicated evenly across Wales. Indeed, Wales was effectively split down the middle. The most significant aspect of the result was the regional variation in the yes and no votes. It reflected deep differences and different outlooks—and, indeed, fears—between the various parts of the Principality. The geographic split in the vote was both instructive and not a little alarming. As politicians who are used to studying the nuances of votes, we should be most unwise to ignore the way in which the votes were distributed.

I may not be Welsh, nor can I claim to know Wales as well as I know Scotland but, since June, I have travelled extensively in Wales and regularly visited various parts. It does not take a great deal of expertise to realise that Wales is fundamentally divided. It is not just, as one Labour Member said, that Offa's Dyke has moved west, but that the north fears domination by the more populous south, the east expects and fears favours for the west, and both English and Welsh speakers fear losing out to one another.

I think that we all realise that the north looks not to the south for its economic centre of gravity but to Merseyside and beyond. Monmouth feels more affinity with its erstwhile historic English county neighbours than with its quarter of a century of Welshness. There is fear, resentment and a feeling of a democratic voice being ignored. To turn a blind eye to that would risk storing up immense problems for the future and build in a destabilising factor of unacceptability in the assembly. That would serve nothing, least of all the concept of devolution in Wales.

Mr. Win Griffiths

I want to pull up the right hon. Gentleman on the travesty of history in referring to Monmouth and Wales being connected for a quarter of a century. He may recall that the only reason why Monmouthshire has any English connection is that the Laws in Wales Acts of 1535 and 1542 placed Monmouthshire in the Oxford circuit for judicial purposes—but that was all. One only has to look at the place names in Monmouthshire. In fact, in Herefordshire, the right hon. Gentleman will find a similar good dose of Welsh place names. It could be argued that Offa's Dyke should be moved a little east.

Mr. Ancram

I listen with great care to what the Minister has to say. However, judging by my visits to Monmouth and the correspondence that I have received from there, his view is not unanimously held. I shall be corrected if historically I am wrong, but I think that Monmouth was made a county of Wales in 1972, having previously been a county of England. [Interruption.] I shall certainly be corrected.

Mr. Grieve

My right hon. Friend may care to bear in mind when praying in aid the position of Herefordshire that, if questions of national identity are anything to go by, during the disestablishment of the Church of Wales, the parishes on the Radnorshire side of the border were offered the choice of whether to stay in England, and they chose to stay in England. The argument that, somehow, Herefordshire should always be viewed differently is complete bunkum.

The Second Deputy Chairman

Order. The argument is straying into English matters. I should be grateful if the Committee returned to the new clause.

Mr. Ancram

I accept your strictures, Mr. Lord, and turn back to regionalisation in Wales.

Mr. Rhodri Morgan

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Ancram

Yes, I always enjoy giving way to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Morgan

On Wales and Monmouthshire, I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman has committed the most ghastly historical solecism. Monmouthshire was never in England. For centuries, legislation has referred to Wales and Monmouthshire, which clarified Monmouthshire's position. That is anything but Monmouthshire being in England. To say that, since Monmouthshire was not in Wales, it must therefore be in England is completely wrong. The right hon. Gentleman should withdraw that remark straight away before he receives letters from history teachers throughout Wales—and England.

Mr. Ancram

I said that I stood open to correction. The hon. Gentleman used a fair amount of what the right hon. Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) was accused of the other day: legalistic talk. The position is absolutely clear. The referendum results showed a marked difference in views between north Wales and south Wales and between east and west Wales". I do not think that any of us would deny that we need to do a lot more work to bring Wales together. We must continue to listen to what people in Wales tell us.

Mr. Ron Davies

The right hon. Gentleman is compounding his mistakes. First, he is making a grave error in trying to overemphasise the counts that were conducted on the basis of unitary authorities. They were merely the mechanisms for counting. The count itself was an all-Wales count. As history recalls, in that referendum, the people of Wales voted yes. The right hon. Gentleman's second error is to disregard the thousands of people in the unitary authorities of Monmouth, Wrexham, Flint and Conwy—the local authorities that voted no—by suggesting that they share a monolithic view that there should not be an assembly. That is just not so. There is a broad base of support right across Wales. He should also have regard to the fact that the swing in Monmouth from the 1979 vote was huge.

Mr. Ancram

The right hon. Gentleman says that, when I say that the referendum showed a marked difference in views between north Wales and south Wales and between east and west Wales and that we need to do a lot more work to bring Wales together"— [Official Report, Welsh Grand Committee, 18 November 1997; c. 12.] I am compounding my error; but those are not my words—they are his, spoken in the Welsh Grand Committee on 18 November. It seems strange that, when I quote them back to him, I am told that I am compounding an error and that I have somehow misunderstood the position. When I read his words of 18 November, I agreed with him and because I am repeating what he said, I hoped that he would agree with me, but that may be too much to hope for.

The point is that nothing in the legislation as it stands works to bring Wales together. Nothing heals the rifts or quells the fears that the Government have created by this legislation and which, as the Secretary of State admits, were reflected in the referendum result. In the setting up of regional Committees, there is a cosmetic attempt to assuage the fears of north Wales, but, in practice, that is a meaningless gesture, and north Wales knows it. The southern-dominated assembly gets to decide how many regions there will be; it draws up the boundaries for those regions; and, because the regional Committees are only advisory, they can simply be ignored by the southern-dominated assembly.

In short, nothing in the Bill addresses the fears and concerns of people outside south Wales. People in the north of Wales will have watched the cavalier way in which the Secretary of State cast aside their bids to home the currently itinerant National Assembly for Wales. The fear is not temporary: it is a fear of long-term, if not permanent, domination. In any democracy, the fear of permanent domination by a majority is a recipe for ultimate breakdown. We cannot allow such a democratic deficit to be built into the new National Assembly for Wales, first, because that would be a mockery of its name and, secondly, because it would create a long-term legacy of resentment.

I accept that our new clause might not provide all the answers, but it is designed to build in a safety net that would bring some much-needed comfort and reassurance to the Welsh people, both those who live outside the south and those who live in the south. Essentially, the new clause would ensure that any decision that might affect the vital interests of a particular region would have to be authorised by a vote of the assembly in which at least one third of the Members from the region affected—however they were elected—gave their approval. That is a variation on the principle of weighted voting, which is often used in cases of this nature to mitigate what would otherwise become an oppressive majority.

Mr. Rhodri Morgan

I am interested in the underlying principle. The right hon. Gentleman is right to say that south Wales is more populous than the rest of Wales: south Wales contains about 2 million people out of the 3 million living in Wales as a whole, and if industrial south Wales were compared with north Wales, the population ratio might even be 4:1. However, the right hon. Gentleman was always against devolution, even though Wales had only about 5 per cent. of the United Kingdom population, whereas England had about 85 per cent. of the population. Why was he not in favour of devolution if he believes that people worry about being dominated by a majority with different political patterns?

Mr. Ancram

The hon. Gentleman was obviously concentrating so hard on campaigning for the yes vote that he did not listen to the arguments made on the no side during the referendum campaign. We argued that the White Paper opened up the danger but provided no solution to it and that, unless a solution were found, it would be a fundamental flaw that could undermine the concept of devolution in the longer term. That fear was clearly shown in the way in which votes were distributed within Wales.

Mr. Morgan

indicated dissent.

Mr. Ancram

The hon. Gentleman may shake his head but, according to The Guardian of 20 September, the Prime Minister said in Downing street the day after the referendum: We must take account of the narrowness of the margin and that is why we carry on, allaying their fears, and making sure they know that this is about decentralising power. The Independent of the same day quoted the Prime Minister as saying: moves to create a Welsh assembly would carry on while the Government concentrated on 'allaying the fears of people that were expressed during the campaign'. The Prime Minister accepted that there were fears, that the margin was narrow and that something had to be done to address that; but, having waited since the referendum to find out what measures were to be taken to address those fears, we find that there is none. For that reason, we tabled our new clause. We are trying to supply what the Prime Minister inferred would be produced by the Government, but which they have singularly failed to produce.

6.45 pm
Mr. Morgan

It is the consistency of the right hon. Gentleman's argument that I am questioning. If that is what he believes, given the 4:1 ratio between the populations of industrial south Wales and north Wales, why was he against Wales being given any devolved powers, given that, in the United Kingdom, there is a 17:1 ratio between the populations of England and Wales?

Mr. Ancram

I am finding it difficult to understand whether the hon. Gentleman believes that it is healthy that one part of Wales may be able permanently to dominate another. Those who believe in devolution think that that is wrong and, if devolution is to work, we need to apply the sort of remedy that is contained in our new clause.

The one-third threshold is not a major hurdle and it is not obstructive—it is reasonable. The test of what decisions should be subjected to the threshold would be for the Presiding Officer to determine, having clear regard to the views of the regional Committee. It is right that the Presiding Officer should be able to exercise independent judgment as to whether to apply the threshold. I suspect that such decisions would most often involve economic and industrial issues, where fairness was essential to the future economic cohesion of Wales as a whole; or cultural or social matters, where parity of esteem was crucial to the smooth working of devolution. Given the nature of Wales and of the referendum result, it is surprising that Labour Members find it so difficult to accept our fairly modest remedy.

The overall intention is not to create gridlock, but to ensure that, in specific and important matters, the interests of any region cannot be overridden roughshod by a geographical majority. The provision would probably not be used often, but where and when it was used, it would work to bring Wales together. It would provide a protection that democracy would welcome, but that Wales's geography denies. It would give teeth to the concept of regions within Wales, which the current proposal for toothless advisory Committees singularly fails to do. It would remove the causes of the real concern and fear that have been expressed to me in my travels. It would reduce hostility by giving all parts of Wales the confidence to try to make devolution work, in the knowledge that it was no longer weighted to work against their interests.

The new clause would remove one of the deepest flaws in the Bill and the nature of devolution to the assembly as proposed. It is central to making devolution work constructively, rather than destructively. In that spirit, I commend the new clause to the Committee.

Mr. Dafis

I rise to speak in support of new clause 24, which stands in my name and those of my right hon. and hon. Friends. I should say first that the reference to Cardiff in the new clause is not based on any assumption about the location of the assembly; it refers to the relocation of functions that are currently at Cardiff. We want that sort of radical decentralisation.

New clause 24 represents an infinitely preferable approach to dispersing activities and power than that suggested in new clause 21, which would place a totally unreasonable constraint on the assembly's ability to develop national policies, and would make it difficult to take any strategic decision that could be interpreted as being to the disadvantage of any region. It is a curious idea that the final decision about whether the interests of a region were seriously threatened should be taken by the Presiding Officer of the assembly—I cannot imagine that the Speaker of the House of Commons would want, even after consulting hon. Members from throughout the United Kingdom, to decide whether a policy constituted a sufficiently serious threat to a region that it should be changed. The proposal is inappropriate and improper.

I despair of the Tory party. Centralists have always advocated the policy of divide and rule. The British empire was adept at it, and the Tory party is the remnant of the British imperial way of thinking. New clause 21 would entrench the purported divisions that Conservative Front Benchers say that they want to heal. Does the Conservative party intend to campaign for election to the assembly with such an appallingly negative agenda? If so, it will find it difficult to enter the assembly.

New clause 24 would create a presumption in favour of decentralising functions throughout Wales. There are various reasons for such an approach, including such elementary ones as the financial savings that would come from locating functions in areas of lower property values. More importantly, we must use the location of Government Departments, functions and arm's-length bodies—such as the remaining non-departmental public bodies—as an instrument of regional policy.

That policy has been widely used at the UK level to create employment: when the Employment Service was created, it was located at Sheffield, and one of the best examples in Wales is the establishment of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency at Swansea. I welcome the further moves in that direction in Wales. The Welsh European programmes executive will be based in the Cynon valley and in Machynlleth, bringing high-quality jobs to areas that need such a transfusion.

Unfortunately, the trend has largely been in the opposite direction. In 1993, I think, it was decided to transfer a section of the Welsh Office Agriculture Department from Trawscoed outside Aberystwyth to Cardiff, which led to significant job losses in an area where such jobs are scarce and getting scarcer. That was done on the spur of the moment. The decision was taken in June or July 1993 on the basis of short-term cost savings—it was certainly a short-sighted policy—and was a disgraceful example of the tendency to centralise for the most superficial reasons and in the teeth of strong opposition. I do not believe that it would have happened if a national assembly had existed, as the assembly—unlike the Welsh Office at the time—would have had a strategic view of the location of jobs. Another example was the removal from Aberystwyth to England of all but an outpost of the British Geological Survey.

I trust that both those actions will be reversed over time—soon, in the case of the Welsh Office Agriculture Department. The department would appropriately be located in rural Wales, particularly rural Ceridigion—although I would say that, wouldn't I? That would create high-quality, well-paid employment and the spin-off of other job opportunities.

The use of electronic communications would facilitate further decentralisation as the pattern for future activity in Wales, and we should consider the assembly's activities in that context. It has been suggested that there should be access points to the assembly in various parts of Wales. I hope and trust—that is the right word to use—that the National Library of Wales will, in effect, be the assembly's library. It would be absurd to try to replicate the massive resource at Aberystwyth wherever the assembly is located—electronic communications would make feasible the use of that tremendous resource.

Other Welsh Office departments, such as the one responsible for industry, could be located in the valleys, Swansea or even further west. The new Welsh Development Agency must operate in a much more decentralised way than before. It seems inevitable that a core headquarters, which will be responsible for strategic functions, should be located in the capital, but the regional offices should also be powerful, and should become centres for the development of expertise in some of the agency's functions. Business services, for example, could be located in one of the regional offices, as could the policy unit itself.

The regional office for the central region—the canolbarth, as we call it in Welsh—should certainly be responsible for rural policy for the whole of Wales. I also believe that the office should be in the west, which tempts me to utter the name Aberystwyth once again, although perhaps that would be to overstress my point. The location of the WDA office for the central region will be a live and real issue.

The new super-TEC—the new training and enterprise council—should be established in the south-east, but away from Cardiff and Swansea: in the valleys, perhaps. The Welsh Language Board or its functions—however they are to be delivered—would appropriately be located in Welsh-speaking areas, and why not move the Arts Council from Cardiff?

Mr. John Smith

I have much sympathy with the hon. Gentleman—

Mr. Rhodri Morgan

Does he want anything in Cardiff?

Mr. Smith

I think that there is case for rewriting the new clause to mention Ceredigion. Surely the location of those bodies is for the new assembly to decide; it is not our business to pre-empt it. The hon. Gentleman used the word trust—he should trust the assembly to make the right decisions.

Mr. Dafis

Yes, but it is our business to probe policy issues, consider the ways in which the assembly will operate and lay down some principles in advance. Decisions that may be made before the assembly is established could also benefit from the application of those principles.

Mr. Morgan

The hon. Gentleman is talking about the principles. I wonder whether he wants to leave Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, with anything at all. The last speech along those lines that I heard from a major political leader was by Pol Pot in Cambodia, who believed in getting rid of the capital city altogether and dispersing its entire population to the countryside. Is that really what the hon. Gentleman has in mind?

7 pm

Mr. Dafis

The hon. Gentleman is being untypically facetious. I see no danger of Cardiff being left with nothing; a lot is happening in, and concentrating on, Cardiff. No less a person than Mr. Russell Goodway, in his advocacy of locating the assembly at Cardiff, suggested that certain departments should be located well outside Cardiff, and mentioned the Welsh Office Agriculture Department as an example.

Spending on government is an important reality, and the dispersal of that spending is worth advocating seriously. In the new Wales that we want to create, we should certainly consider the dispersal of the high-status activity that is associated with government; of prosperity; of vitality; and of influence. We are devising a system of government at the very time when electronics is revolutionising communications, and when distance, however great, is becoming far less of an obstacle to the co-ordination of activities.

It is also important to overcome the perception that the government of Wales will be remote from the people. That is a similar theme to that of the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram), but I hope that I am being more constructive and positive about it. On the United Kingdom level, that perception has been influential in bringing about the devolution proposals enshrined in the Bill and in the Scotland Bill.

We must avoid the perception—however inaccurate—of a single centre where the members of the power elite socialise, drink coffee, wine and dine, and cobble together deals that serve their own interests rather than those of the people at large. Much of the debate about the location of the assembly has sprung from such concerns.

Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath)

I am following the hon. Gentleman's argument closely. Will he be more specific? When he talks about the perceived elite, is he referring to the Government party?

Mr. Dafis

When I think of elites, I normally think of Tories; that is deeply ingrained in the culture in which I was brought up, so I shall not apologise for it. Elites are people who, for various reasons, have power and influence and tend, if their power is not curtailed, to look after their own interests.

Mr. Grieve

Is that not a most compelling argument for new clause 21?

Mr. Dafis

I spoke about that new clause earlier, and I do not need to go over that ground again. It is an absolutely cockeyed new clause.

We have the opportunity from the outset to establish an approach to government that avoids the geographical imbalance that has disfigured Britain; that typifies the United Kingdom; and that people fear may be replicated in Wales.

Mr. Gareth Thomas

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that a programme to get civil servants, some of whom must necessarily be based in south Wales, out of their bunkers in Cardiff or elsewhere and into the regions, to educate them about how people live in other parts of Wales, is as important as permanently dispersing them around the country? Of course, that applies equally to civil servants in the mainstream United Kingdom civil service.

Mr. Dafis

I am sure that there are civil servants sitting not far from us at the moment who are keen to educate themselves about the needs of Wales in its entirety. Among Welsh Office civil servants, I have never come across anything but a desire to understand the needs of Wales as a whole; the problem has often been with their political masters.

New clause 24 was drafted to highlight at the outset the importance of the principle that I have outlined.

Mr. Livsey

The right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) made a divisive speech in support of new clause 21. He could perhaps have concentrated more on the advantages of having strong regional bodies within Wales. He talked about permanent domination and democratic deficits. None of us wants to be permanently dominated, but in 33 of the final 50 years of this century we have tended to be dominated in a certain way. The assembly will set us free from such domination.

We do not want to replicate that domination in the Welsh assembly. The regions are vital, and there is a great difference between all the regions in Wales. I often liken Wales to a jigsaw puzzle in which people in different parts of the country think entirely differently.

The challenge to the assembly is to unify the regions and give them a common purpose. We need the generosity of spirit to reach out into all the regions of Wales and bind them together; but they also need their independent voices. I agree with the right hon. Member for Devizes that there is not much in the Bill to give us hope. Ministers must give us more meat on the bone—if I may use that phrase—for the regions of Wales.

The regional Committees must have real teeth. Ministers must prove to us that that will be the case. They have alluded to the matter in rhetoric, but they have not made any concrete proposals. I hope that they will not ride roughshod over the regions. That phrase was used by the right hon. Member for Devizes. No region of Wales would want to be ridden roughshod over by Swansea, Cardiff, Wrexham or anywhere else. The regions want a life of their own, but in close association with the assembly.

What are the vital interests referred to in the new clause? A definition would be most illuminating and would assist me in making a judgment on the new clause. Inclusivity is vital, but we need to ensure that the regions have a fair deal; after all, they have strong characteristics and individual needs. We need to be persuaded that the legislation will meet that challenge.

The notion of one third of the assembly's members having to support any decision that might affect the vital interests of a region is interesting, although I am not sure why it should be specifically one third. I have more confidence in new clause 24 when it provides that the assembly should decentralise functions from Cardiff. That provision is similar to an amendment that we have tabled recently. Functions should be decentralised from Cardiff—or Swansea, as the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Dafis) pointed out—to the regions whenever possible and we should encourage public bodies to do likewise. I totally agree with the hon. Gentleman about the importance of that point.

I was professionally involved in the work done by Trawscoed. It was obvious that the staff were doing a job that was relevant to rural Wales and accessible to a large proportion of the population—the farming community in particular. When I lived and worked in Aberystwyth, the administrative section of the Welsh Office Agriculture Department was removed to Cardiff and I did not think that that was an especially good idea. The assembly will need to consider such moves.

We want to enable more local people to become involved in the decision making in their areas. We all know about the difficulties in Wales of communication and transport and the inadequacy of the infrastructure. It is vital that the assembly appears inclusive; the regions must have adequate powers. The assembly must react to and accept proposals from the regions. Many people from the regions of Wales will have great confidence in an assembly that behaves like that, and I hope that the Minister will convince us that it will do so. Otherwise, we shall have to adopt the new clause to ensure that it does so.

Mr. Gareth Thomas

I oppose new clause 21. I understand the political motives behind it; it is clear that, in the speech of the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram), we have heard a rehearsal of the campaign that will be conducted by the Conservatives during the elections to the National Assembly for Wales in May next year. Their campaign will be based on divisiveness. We had a fascinating insight into it tonight.

The right hon. Member for Devizes struck a chord, however, because a rudimentary reading of Welsh history shows that the country has been prone to parochialism and regional tensions. One need only consider the history of the Welsh princes and the abject failure to establish any political unity in Wales until recently to see that. Wales is a parochial country and it is proud of its parochialism.

At St. David's day dinners such as those I have attended recently, the first question asked is not, "Which school did you go to?"—as Conservatives might ask each other—but, "Where do you come from?" People want to know exactly which part of the valley or which part of a community others are from because they take great pride in their locality. However, it would be wrong to institutionalise that diversity and to mistake the message of Welsh history and our rich patchwork of communities. It is pessimistic to believe that Wales is incapable of political unity; that is taking cynicism too far.

I reject the premise behind the new clause, which is typical of the patronising attitude of Conservative Members to the Welsh people. Conservatives think that the Welsh people are incapable of forming a political community: that is wrong. The Bill takes great care to address regional tensions in Wales and it is right to do so. The voting method is clearly designed to enable more inclusive debate in Wales.

The new clause raises practical considerations. The Presiding Officer would be in an invidious position if he or she had to decide what constituted the vital interests of a region. How should a region be defined? Extraordinarily, the official Opposition define regions as coterminous with European constituencies, but that definition is unworkable. The new clause is divisive and would be a disincentive to the constructive, bridge-building approach that the Welsh people need to improve their economic and social status. I reject the new clause and I deplore the sentiments behind it.

7.15 pm
Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West)

I shall speak in favour of new clause 21. I should have preferred the opportunity to speak in favour of new clause 17 but, unfortunately, it was not called for debate.

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

Order. The hon. Gentleman should not mention any clause or amendment that has not been selected by the Chair.

Mr. Swayne

I apologise, Mr. Martin. New clause 21 will do very well.

It is appropriate that the new clause provides a mechanism that would address the interests and outlook of the regions that are at variance with the Welsh mean. If we take Monmouthshire as an example, we find that in the referendum only 10,592 voters were in favour of the assembly, against 22,403—more than double—who voted against. That was true not only in Monmouthshire: it was mirrored all the way down the March. Such results should be set in the context of an overall majority in Wales for the assembly of only 6,700-odd.

The Prime Minister said that sensitivity would be exercised. New clause 21 would be evidence of such sensitivity, were it accepted. However, the sensitivity shown in the remarks made by the Secretary of State for Wales only two hours ago, when he said that the people of Wales won on the night of the referendum, leaves those of us who are anxious about the future of the interests of the regions I have mentioned feeling that our anxiety is well placed. Such regions are characterised by small market towns whose economic and political outlook is at variance with that of industrial south Wales, and our anxiety about them must be addressed.

The Secretary of State would do well to appreciate that Owen Glendower failed to take Monmouth and, shortly after that, he met his end. The Monmouthshire and Berwick-upon-Tweed Act 1756 specifically excluded Monmouthshire from the provisions of legislation pertaining to Wales except when it was explicitly included.

Mr. Rhodri Morgan

First, perhaps the hon. Gentleman could tell us more about how and when Owen Glendower met his end, because—according to the history books—nobody knows how he met his end. Secondly, what is the hon. Gentleman's definition of a region?

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman will not make any mention of Owen Glendower and how he met his end, because the hon. Gentleman is talking about new clause 21.

Mr. Swayne

I shall not pursue that matter. The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) asked about the definition of a region. We are constrained by the Bill and the new clause, but I acknowledge that another definition might have been more appropriate. To avoid being ruled out of order, I shall not pursue the subject any further. All I would say is that there must be a mechanism to address these issues.

I know that Labour Members dispute that because, on Second Reading, there was much talk of a new politics. It was said that the assembly would be very different; that it would have a gender balance; that it would be inclusive of all minorities; and that children would trip about in the aisles. In all, it was going to be an assembly for the new Jerusalem. I wondered where I had heard all that before—and then it dawned on me; we are back in Praise-God Barebones' "Parliament of the Saints" in the 1640s.

However, setting that aside, there must be a means of securing the interests of the regions that find themselves unsympathetic to the political outlook of the industrial areas in south wales that will dominate the assembly. New clause 21 provides such a mechanism.

Mr. John Smith

I strongly resist new clause 21, on the ground that it—if nothing else we have heard during seven days in Committee—blows the cover on the Tories. This is the new clause that proves that they have no intention of behaving constructively during the Bill's passage through Parliament or of campaigning during the assembly elections except in the divisive manner that we have heard tonight.

The Tories' hypocrisy is breathtaking. Theirs is the party that opposed devolution tooth and nail to the bitter end; and tonight they expect us to believe that they now want devolved regions within Wales—our country. What a nonsense; what hypocrisy.

Mr. Ancram

The hon. Gentleman has obviously not read our new clause. We do not set out what the regions are, other than to accept the definition of electoral region that is already given in the Bill and for which Members will be elected both directly and by the additional member system. We are not inventing those—they are in the Bill. They were created by the Government.

Mr. Smith

Yes—and let me tell you what else this ludicrous new clause does, Mr. Martin. It proves once and for all that its authors have no understanding of what it is to be Welsh and what it is to be part of one nation. The proposal that our new national assembly, the single voice for our country, should be undermined by this bureaucratic nonsense, exposes them for what they are. It is an appalling new clause.

Mr. Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire)

I am struck by the passion with which the hon. Gentleman speaks. Notwithstanding the known conversion of the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) to the assembly when the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) was not looking, does the hon. Gentleman accept that the new clause may be quite constructive? Taken at face value, it may be a constructive protection for regions within Wales. More to the point, there is genuine anxiety in the regions that a centralised southern assembly might discriminate against the regions.

Mr. Smith

I would draw attention to the different ways in which this issue has been dealt with—there is one approach in new clause 21, which is a nonsense, and another in new clause 24, which raises some serious issues about these regional anxieties. That is the difference. [Laughter.] Let the Tories laugh; they may laugh all the way to the next election, when they will be wiped out because of their behaviour during the Bill's passage and in this Committee.

Unfortunately, the new clause lowers the tone of the debate and the behaviour of the Opposition. Instead of constructively criticising the Bill and making realistic suggestions and proposals, they table wrecking new clauses such as the one before us and have no intention of giving the Bill principled support.

My final point is practical. We have already gone out of our way to set up the regional Committees. By doing so, we have recognised the differences within our country—one country, one nation, which is about to inherit its mature nationhood. We have restructured the powerhouse; we are recognising the differences that exist within our country by restructuring the training and enterprise councils. We are fully aware of the differences that exist in our country. The fact that the north-east Wales corridor—

Mr. Ancram


Mr. Smith

I give way to the right hon. Gentleman, but I hope that he will not mess about.

Mr. Ancram

Under the hon. Gentleman's system, how many regions will there be?

Mr. Smith

They will be regions established to reflect the genuine differences and the genuine interests of our people, which do vary.

It is crucial that we throw out, and have nothing to do with, new clause 21. Any country, any democratic body, any democratic forum, must be able to take decisions that are in the strategic interest of the whole constituency. One of the terrible legacies of local government reorganisation in Wales is that the strategic county councils have been done away with and a tier of unitary authorities has been created. Those authorities do a damned good job in representing their own areas but they cannot represent the country as a whole.

Mr. Tim Collins (Westmorland and Lonsdale)

The hon. Gentleman is waxing lyrical on the importance of clarity in local government in Wales. He has had a moment or two to think about it; will he now answer the question? What number of regions does he favour?

Mr. Smith

This is typical of the behaviour that has characterised tonight's debate. The Tories are not serious; they are out to wreck this constructive Bill. It is vital that there is one voice for Wales: that one national body has the authority to speak for the whole country. For generations, if not centuries, the Tories tried to rule on the principle of divide and rule; they will not get away with it tonight.

Mr. Collins

We had a note of—perhaps unintentional—hilarity from the hon. Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Smith). Earlier, he waxed lyrical about how appalling, ludicrous and scandalous it was that there should be any suggestion of creating regions within Wales. When it was pointed out to him that regional Committees are in the Bill as proposed by the Government, he tried to change tack, but when he was asked—twice—how many regions or regional Committees he wanted, he was unable to say. That may show that there is some confusion on the Labour Benches just as, earlier, there seemed to be some confusion on the Labour Benches about whether Herefordshire should be inside the borders of Wales. Perhaps a new Welsh imperialist party is taking shape on the Labour Benches.

Mr. Win Griffiths

I was only saying that parts of Herefordshire used to be in the diocese of St. David's, that many place names in Herefordshire are Welsh and that at one time it would have been part of Wales.

Mr. Collins

The Minister is making my point for me. Earlier, he suggested that Monmouthshire was as Welsh as Herefordshire, which slightly undermined his argument.

Plaid Cymru Members rightly drew attention to what, from their point of view—and, I suspect, from that of many Labour Members—is the problem with new clause 21. It was said that new clause 21 is unacceptable because similar provisions will not apply in the Westminster Parliament. That slightly gave the game away, because we have been told throughout that the Bill will not create a Parliament and that the assembly will not have a power to make primary legislation. Nor will it have the power to introduce taxation. It is an assembly, not a Parliament comparable to Westminster. If it is argued that new clause 21 would not be accepted by Westminster, that gives part of the game away.

My primary concern, however, is to reveal the heart of the reason new clause 21 is needed. The argument has been voiced a little in this part of the debate, but not sufficiently during the Committee's consideration of the Bill. New clause 21 is needed to deliver on the clear promises given by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State the day after the result of the referendum, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) referred.

7.30 pm

The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State said that they would take on board the fact that the result was exceptionally narrow, that they would listen to the arguments advanced by the no campaign—which did far better than anyone expected—and that they would present new proposals that would take account of the fact that the referendum result indicated not a huge mandate in favour of change, as the Secretary of State said, but the fact that the Welsh population was at best split down the middle, if not split one quarter in favour and three quarters apathetic or opposed.

Where are those new proposals in the Bill? We have heard a little about the regional Committees, but if we do not know how many regional Committees there are to be, as has been amply demonstrated, it can hardly be said that they are a central part of the Bill or that a great deal of thought has been given to them.

Mr. Dafis

The right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) suggested that the regions referred to in the new clause are the electoral regions from which the additional Members will be elected. Are Opposition Members seriously suggesting that we should regard the Mid and West Wales electoral region, which extends from the coast in the north right down through the centre of Wales, including Llanelli, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, as a coherent regional entity for the purposes of the new clause?

Mr. Collins

I agree to some extent with the hon. Gentleman. He makes a powerful case against the Bill, which was not introduced by my party, and against the electoral system, which throws up such absurdities. That is what happens when the Government try to introduce a new system of elections—we heard in Home Office questions that five different electoral systems will apply in the United Kingdom during the next 24 months. That is absurd.

As my right hon. Friend said, we are proposing new clause 21 as a genuine attempt to get the Government to deliver on the promises that they made. They were not forced by us to make them. No member of the Conservative party was pulling the strings of the Prime Minister when he came out on the steps of No. 10 after the election and volunteered that the Government would listen and address the issues. The Secretary of State was not bullied or blackmailed into making the announcements that my right hon. Friend quoted earlier. He said that he recognised that the results showed that different parts of Wales had different attitudes towards the national assembly.

It has been suggested that Conservative Members are being divisive, but it was the Secretary of State who said that there were different attitudes in the Welsh regions. The new clause may not be the ideal way to deal with the problem, but no one has come up with a better way. At least there is some substance to the new clause— unlike the nebulous regional Committees, which seem to have only advisory functions, which can be overruled by the assembly and whose number is to be guessed at or plucked from the mind of the Secretary of State at some time in the future. Now, when the Bill is being considered by the Westminster Parliament, we are not to be told how many regional Committees there will be.

New clause 21 deals with a serious concern. We have heard from the Secretary of State and others who are in favour of the Bill that it is a major problem that needs to be tackled. The new clause deals with it in a responsible way. It provides that where there are to be decisions affecting the vital interests of a region, one third of the representatives of that region should vote in favour of that proposal. That is quite a low threshold by many standards.

The new clause is constructive and would enable the Government to deliver on their promises. It would reflect the fact that the referendum result did not indicate, as we have heard repeatedly from the Secretary of State, that the Welsh people are of one mind and one determination, for they were not, according to the referendum result. Parliament has a responsibility to deliver on the undertakings made from the doorstep of No. 10 that the Bill would be amended to take account of those differences.

We have the chance today, in the discussion on new clause 21, to make the Bill a great deal better and to give the Welsh people what they were led to believe, the day after the referendum, they would get. For that reason, I support new clause 21.

Mr. Rhodri Morgan

Despite the attempts at elegant advocacy by Conservative Members, new clause 21 remains, as I think was admitted by the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Collins), legislative junk mail. They know that it will not work. They are trying to tap into a wellspring of those who voted no, and to use them as a springboard for a modest electoral revival in Wales in the assembly election campaigns, the Euro-elections or the local government elections next year.

I am afraid that Conservative Members are sadly mistaken if they think that trying to balkanise Wales is a constructive way forward. To provide for blocking minorities implies a degree of split in Wales that was not the purpose of the regional Committees, which were proposed in the White Paper and are mentioned in the Bill. Admittedly, only one is specified to serve the northern part of Wales. That may well be a northern Committee, but the rest of the structure of the regions is a matter that can be left until a later date, possibly to the assembly itself, to take account of the views of those elected to the assembly on the question of how many regions are needed in order to administer Wales in an appropriately decentralised way.

To install blocking minorities as the new clause proposes is absurd. It is an attempt to balkanise Wales. It is a sound principle that any new legislative body should not attempt to run before it can walk, but this is a proposal to hobble the Welsh assembly before it can walk.

There must be a balance in a democratically elected Welsh assembly, with a proportional representation component as to a third of the seats, which will enable people who are not of the majority party in any of the Euro-regions of Wales to have a fair chance to give them an incentive to take part in the election, even though they may never win a majority.

That applies to Conservatives in the south Wales valleys and to Labour people in some remote rural parts of Wales. They may never win a majority, but their supporters have every incentive to vote because the party may have a candidate elected under the list system. It will be inclusive in that respect.

The adoption of a committee system rather than a cabinet system in the modus operandi of the assembly is another way of ensuring that those who may not be able to win a majority nevertheless have some share of power. That also is intended to cover the fact that in areas of Wales there may be people who feel that they are not part of the dominant political culture.

In democracies we always count heads—we count majorities, and majorities could conceivably oppress minorities. We accept that. The ways around it are those that have been proposed: proportional representation, the committee system and the establishment of regional Committees, with an obligatory northern Committee and others to be sorted out by the assembly or at a later date.

The Welsh assembly must be given room to breathe. It must be able to act and to take a strategic all-Wales view at the times and on the subjects where that is appropriate. It must disperse and decentralise where it can, but it must have the strength to make decisions and to deliver on manifesto promises, taking as many of the people along with it as it can. Democracy requires the ability to get decisions made. To tie the Welsh assembly's legs together before it has had a chance to take a few strides, as new clause 21 would do, is absurd. It is an attempt to say to the assembly, "You don't exist yet, but, before you do, we want to make sure that you will be as weak as possible in case you do something to those who voted no in the referendum or those who vote Conservative in general elections".

Is there any evidence to suggest that, under the proposed structure—given the absence of primary legislative powers and given the existence of an obligatory north Wales Committee, of a proportional representation voting system and of a modus operandi by committee—the assembly will oppress minorities in Wales? We do not know the answer to that question, so why should we assume that the assembly—which, unlike Parliament, will have all sorts of special features designed to prevent oppression of the minority by the majority—will do that?

If those protections are not built into the Westminster system, why should we assume—even before the assembly is established—that it will oppress minorities because many people happen to live in the industrial south and north-east of Wales? It is true that 50 per cent. of the Welsh population live within 25 miles of central Cardiff—that is not a sin, although the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Dafis) might think so. That is the population distribution in Wales that we have inherited as a result of the various economic factors that lead people to live where they live. That is the way it is in Wales: many people live in industrial south Wales. We are heavily outnumbered by sheep in Wales by a ratio of about 9:1.

Mr. Öpik

Sixteen to one.

Mr. Morgan

It is not as many as that—perhaps it is 5:1. The sheep to people ratio in mid and north Wales is different from the ratio in the industrial south. That is due to the nature of economic activities in different areas of Wales.

We cannot, on the basis of some absurd fears, hobble the Welsh assembly with leg-irons before it is established. There are many protections in place as a result of the voting system, the modus operandi, proportional representation, and the obligatory north Wales Committee and the assumption of other regional Committees. If we were to accept new clause 21, myriad other new clauses would be suggested to provide further protection for those who voted no in the referendum. Those people would be offered individual opt-outs so that they would not have to pay obeisance to the Welsh assembly.

Mr. Ancram

The hon. Gentleman referred to "absurd fears". Were those the fears to which the Prime Minister referred? If not, to which fears did he refer?

Mr. Morgan

The Prime Minister said that the narrowness of the majority in the referendum implied that the Welsh assembly would have to work very hard—and we would have to work hard in framing the legislation—to carry the people of Wales with us and overcome the apathy shown by 49 per cent. of electors who did not vote and those who voted no.

How will we carry those people with us? One thing we must not do is exaggerate their fears and extend the natural centrifugal forces in Wales that are created by the population distribution in industrial south Wales, with the mountains in the middle and another population belt along the north Wales coast. We must overcome those centrifugal forces.

We will not carry the people of Wales with us by balkanising Wales or—like the United Nations mandate in Bosnia—by installing blocking minorities for this or that and giving people the impression that they can opt out. That is not the correct way forward. We must generate enthusiasm for the new Welsh democracy that the legislation creates. We should not let people think that they can opt out in some way: they must opt into the new democratic structure. The Tories are trying to replay the referendum in an attempt to cash in on the high proportion of those who voted no and to create the impression that, in some way, the Tories are looking after their interests by helping them to opt out mentally, as it were, and not be part of the new democratic Wales.

That is an absolutely pernicious way of thinking, which is a reversion to the old Tory colonial mentality: when all else fails, try divide and rule. We will not allow that to happen in our proceedings tonight.

Mr. Grieve

The more I listen to the arguments advanced by Labour Members—particularly the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan)—the more convinced I am about the correctness of new clause 21. The hon. Gentleman manifested real anger and passion when it was suggested that the new clause might appeal to voters in many parts of Wales. It is extraordinary to suggest that new clause 21 is a wrecking measure and an Opposition conspiracy designed to exploit differences in Wales. That is rather similar to the suggestion that the countryside rally was a conspiracy planned by landowners who gathered together 284,000 forelock-tugging retainers. The two arguments have exactly the same lack of discernment.

7.45 pm

The fact is that tensions are currently present in Wales—the passion with which Government Members have opposed new clause 21 shows that they know that very well. It is a tribute to the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Dafis) that he recognises that those tensions exist. The question is: will those tensions be addressed?

Mr. Dafis

I did not mention tensions. I spoke about the need to develop a decentralised pattern of government in Wales, unlike the grossly centralised pattern of government that Britain has had for so long.

Mr. Grieve

I apologise to the hon. Gentleman if I have misquoted him. I took the thrust of his argument to mean that he recognised that there is immense diversity of view in Wales. We know that from the referendum result. Numerous regions of Wales do not want the assembly. One might infer that they are suspicious of the assembly for a host of different reasons, ranging from a lack of desire for another tier of government to the fact that their regional identity is so markedly different from the areas of south Wales that they believe will become dominant that they are seeking protection.

Those problems will not go away. Over time, the sense of national identity reflected in the comments about a "national assembly"—and descriptions of it as such—may prevail. However, one can only apply one's own experience and what one sees for oneself when one travels through Wales. When I visit Wales, I get the impression that there is immense diversity and a great sense of local identity. Many people are deeply suspicious of the Cardiff assembly.

Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East)

What about the Swansea assembly?

Mr. Grieve

I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman. The proposed new clause asks that those factors be recognised in order to prevent the regions from being trampled on by the Cardiff assembly. If that occurs, the consequences will manifest themselves—whether or not the new clause is part of the Bill—in hostility about the way in which the assembly operates. That is the reason why this is a sound and solidly based new clause.

Mr. Anderson

Is the hon. Gentleman privy to information that the rest of us are not in referring to the Cardiff assembly—or is that a general term of Conservative abuse for the Welsh assembly?

Mr. Grieve

I am aware that the assembly appears to be somewhat peripatetic as to its possible final location. I refer to it as the Cardiff assembly because, according to the hon. Member for Cardiff, West, it will be dominated by the area within 20 miles of Cardiff where the population is. Regardless of whether the assembly is located in Cardiff or in Aberystwyth, I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will agree that its composition will be dominated by south Wales by virtue of population distribution. I also thought that the Secretary of State wanted the assembly to be located in Cardiff—the fact that Cardiff does not want it, because Cardiff did not want an assembly in the first place, is another matter.

Fear of domination is something that the Committee should address. It is said that Conservatives believe in divide and rule. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have spent the past six months arguing that we do not want the United Kingdom to be divided, and that we would prefer to maintain a unitary system. It is hon. Members on the Government Benches who have been fermenting discord, but having done so they set up their own imperial entity and seek to dominate other regions within it. That is the fantasy that they have created in their minds as to the way in which government should be conducted. That is a bad principle.

As the Government have accepted, there is tremendous diversity of view in Wales, and the Prime Minister has said that it should be recognised. They should have the courage to accept that and accept the new clause, which protects the regions of Wales. Whether or not these are electoral regions, they are the only ones that we have at the moment. If the Government were creative, they would identify the different regions in Wales and include them by amendment in the Bill. The fact that they have not done so has put the responsibility back on us, and we have done our best.

Mr. Robert Syms (Poole)

I shall make a brief speech in support of the new clause.

The United Kingdom is the result of relationships that have grown up over quite a long time. The question is: what unites the Welsh? One feature that unites the Welsh is the English. There is a relationship between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Whether on the rugby pitch or trying to represent the Welsh nation, or whether one is making proposals, the reality is that there is a certain unity that the Welsh have had to have as 5 per cent. of the United Kingdom population. Once one devolves power to the Welsh assembly, one changes the nature of that relationship, and there is internal competition from within the Principality for resources. Ministers would be well advised to recognise that the debate, which so far has been in terms of Wales, England, Scotland, and the United Kingdom, will be different with a devolved assembly.

I have sat through the debates on almost all the clauses, and have been struck that whenever resources or the Welsh Development Agency is discussed, or even where the assembly will be based, hon. Members have jumped up to make bids for their respective regions. That is part of politics. We all like to represent our areas, but it is quite clear that there are different agendas in different parts of Wales.

There are worries. Fears have been expressed. None of us wants disunity in Wales. That is not part of the Conservative party's agenda at all. We wish people to work together. From what we have heard during the Bill's consideration, and from the result of the referendum, to which one must pay attention, we are concerned that many areas of the Principality had, and may still have, concerns about the way in which the assembly will be set up and how it will operate. What we on the Conservative Benches are trying to do, in our most helpful fashion, is to ensure that there is consent and consensus throughout the regions of Wales.

I agree that the regions chosen are not ideal, as they were set by the Government for electoral reasons. We should review the regions to see what interest there is. It is clear that there are differences between north and south Wales. If that were not so, there would not be a north Wales Committee in the Bill. There are differences between east and west Wales, with the exception of Pembroke. There is a diversity within Wales. All we are trying to do is to have that recognised by the assembly.

I hope that the Government will pay attention to the new clause. If they do not accept it at this stage, I hope that they will come back with proposals to ensure a great deal of unity throughout the regions for any proposal that they make.

We heard from hon. Members about the electoral system and the various methods of trying to create unity. My central point is that if one changes the relationship within the United Kingdom and ends up with a wholly Welsh assembly that deals with problems with a different agenda, the nature of the relationship within Wales will be changed.

I almost felt sorry for the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) when hon. Members started to talk about shifting jobs out of Cardiff to other areas of Wales, with hon. Members suggesting that perhaps the assembly should be in Swansea, or elsewhere. No doubt there will be fierce competition for the £7 billion of resources that the assembly will spend. There is no doubt that many people in Cardiff and the surrounding areas have jobs, living standards and mortgages based on the fact that they work for the Welsh Office, and the Welsh civil service. That will be a real issue for debate. Our proposal is to ensure the greatest consent throughout the regions—north, south, east and west.

I would not say that I am wholly uncritical of our proposals, because given that the new clause has been selected for debate, and the electoral regions were not selected by us, in different circumstances one could probably have done a better job of drafting a better proposal. I hope that the Government will take on board our concerns for the regions of Wales: the change in the relationship of the United Kingdom will change the dynamics of the debate in Wales. After all the debate and all the concerns that have been expressed, and with the great investment that the Government—indeed, the people of Wales—will make in the assembly, I hope that it will be a success, and that there will be a great deal of unity in setting out its objectives. None of us particularly wants to see it fail, although we opposed it in terms of the referendum. The key point is that it has to have consent throughout every region of Wales.

Mr. Letwin

I, too, speak in support of the new clause, but from a slightly different angle.

Mr. Rhodri Morgan

A legalistic one.

Mr. Letwin

No, in contrast to the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan). I do not wish to dwell on what he would describe as a legalistic point.

Mr. Morgan

For the first time.

Mr. Letwin

This is not the first time.

I shall dwell on precedent and effect, because part of the duty of the Committee is to consider the effects not just on Wales, which have been much discussed, but on the United Kingdom as a whole. This is a major constitutional Bill, and the new clause is a major constitutional provision. Both the Bill and the new clause will affect how the rest of the constitutional development of the United Kingdom proceeds.

In particular, with entirely unified objections from Opposition Members, we are led to believe that there may come a time, alas, when Her Majesty's Government will introduce a subsequent Bill with a view to making the current hotch-potch arrangements of regional development agencies in England the basis of English regional government.

Mr. Syms


Mr. Letwin

I echo entirely the comments of my hon. Friend. It would be a shame, to put it mildly.

Nevertheless we must recognise that the Government have a significant majority. Indeed, they spare no pains to remind us of that daily. Having introduced such a Bill, the Government, with or without referendums—

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman is going wide of the new clause before us.

Mr. Letwin

I intend to return specifically to the effect that the new clause would have—

The First Deputy Chairman

It is not a question of when the hon. Member decides to return to it. I am telling him to return to it now.

Mr. Letwin

I shall do so immediately, Mr. Martin—forthwith.

If the new clause is not adopted, a precedent will be created in that there will be no protection for parts of the entirely arbitrary regions, which may be set up for England, from other parts of the same regions with the greatest voting power. That precedent would suggest precisely the need for such protection. Without straying from referring to the new clause, I shall use as an example my own region, the south-west, which some hon. Members present also represent. It is evident to us that in the absence of mechanisms similar to those which are suggested through new clause 21, there would be a grave danger—especially in the case of Bristol, which has a great weight of the votes within the south-western region—of certain areas becoming the overwhelming and dominant features of an arbitrary region. There are parallel cases throughout England in what are, perhaps in contrast to Wales, entities that have hardly any cultural homogeneity, hardly any real historical association and hardly any feeling of being conjoined except by arbitrary fiat of Her Majesty's Government and by a Bill produced in the House of Commons in an arbitrary and legalistic, if I may put it that way, fashion.

8 pm

There is a distinction between a country which has a real history and English regions which do not. The danger is—

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. We are not considering the Bill generally. Instead, we are dealing with a specific new clause. The hon. Gentleman must speak to the new clause, and he should know that.

Mr. Letwin

I accept your admonition, Mr. Martin. In one sense, I find it refreshing, having been accused throughout our consideration of the Bill in Committee of concentrating excessively on the precise words of each clause. In this instance, I am trying to relate my remarks to the new clause while illustrating what I think is an important precedent effect. If new clause 21 is accepted by the Government, or if any similar version is, the Government will be establishing a precedent that will provide protection of the sort that I have described for the English regions. That in itself would justify for many of my right hon. and hon. Friends the insertion of such a new clause.

Even if the Minister chooses not to take account of the new clause, and not to rephrase it in some way acceptable to himself and his colleagues, I would be extremely grateful if he were able at least to put on record that the Government accept the strength of feeling that would exist in a parallel case in English regions. I would be grateful also if the Minister would accept that where there are arbitrary collocations of particular places put under a single sub-national government, there is a need for protection of the sort suggested in the new clause.

Mr. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire)

New clause 21 is excellent, and I support it on the ground that it is clear this evening that not one Government Member has understood how delicate the opinions of many Welsh people are on the question of the assembly. It grieves them to be reminded, but they must be reminded yet again, that 75 per cent. of the Welsh people did not want the assembly. Labour Members have been grossly insensitive this evening towards those who do not want the assembly.

Mr. Öpik

I am generally sympathetic to the terms of the proposed new clause. However, is the hon. Gentleman not weakening his argument by using the tired old debating point about 75 per cent. yet again?

Mr. Paterson

If the hon. Gentleman allows me to develop my argument beyond the first four sentences, he might learn what I am about to say.

The referendum proved that Wales is not homogeneous politically, socially and economically.

Mr. Dafis

Is England homogeneous in the ways that the hon. Gentleman says Wales is not?

Mr. Paterson

Certainly not, but we are not putting forward such a measure for England. We believe in a sovereign Parliament for a United Kingdom, and not for one region.

Mr. Rhodri Morgan

Will the hon. Gentleman not rethink the repetition of the tired old line that 75 per cent. of the population of Wales did not want the assembly? His side lost the referendum campaign, and we on the other side won it. That is why the measure is before us. These are not just weasel words: I put it to the hon. Gentleman that they are a stoat's soundbites. Will he either rethink the tired old line or forget it? If he does not, his party, the Conservative party, will have no chance of ever reviving from the appalling position of zero Members in which it now finds itself.

Mr. Paterson


The First Deputy Chairman

Order. We must be careful. We must not return to the argument about the referendum. The hon. Gentleman was right to say that he wished to develop his argument. He has referred to the referendum, but we will not get bogged down by that. Instead, we shall deal with new clause 21.

Mr. Paterson

Thank you, Mr. Martin. I am delighted that hon. Members are so interested in my comments. I would like to progress beyond my fifth sentence.

I am delighted also that the great listener has resumed his place. I refer, of course, to the Secretary of State, who said: I am conscious that we need to do a lot more work to bring Wales together. We must address genuine concerns and I acknowledge the fact that we must listen and continue to listen."—[Official Report, Welsh Grand Committee, 18 November 1997; c. 12.] I revert to my argument. Wales is not homogeneous. There are major differences between those in south Wales round Cardiff, who believe strongly—[Interruption.] If hon. Members rise to make interventions, I may be able to respond to them.

South Wales has little in common with the rural areas that are represented, for example, by the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik). There is a Labour-dominated elite in south Wales. That economy looks to the east, to the M4. Montgomery and the hills of Powys and those of Denbighshire have little in common with south Wales. The areas of Wales that I know well are in the north-east, on the borders of Wrexham. There again, the borders are arbitrary. The nearest village to my house, Overton on Dee, was a bastide built by Edward I. It is very similar in design to the bastides that he was building in Aquitaine at about the same time.

Borders are arbitrary, but social and economic flows are not. Labour Members must recognise that there are real misgivings, especially in north-east Wales, about an assembly that may be in Cardiff or Swansea—much depends on how negotiations develop with the local estate agents. We do not know where the assembly will be, but it is almost certain that it will be built in south Wales.

As I have said, there is real unease. I beg the Secretary of State to take that on board. There is unease in the markets in north Wales as there is among investors, who are coming over the border from places such as Chester, Manchester and Liverpool. Those are the areas to which the economy of north-east Wales looks.

Socially, many of the people in north-east Wales have come from over the border and are all along the coast. There are those who have come from Merseyside. They have little in common with those who will dominate the assembly in south Wales, and they are nervous.

There is no transport system between north and south Wales. That is no one's fault, because there are mountains in the way. The hon. Member for Montgomeryshire knows full well that the way to get through from north Wales to south Wales runs through my constituency and on to Shrewsbury. There are no links, and there is little in common. That was demonstrated graphically during the referendum.

New clause 21 would give the regions a chance. As proposed, the Bill contains no reference to a revising chamber. There is nothing to resist the diktat of the south Wales majority. [Interruption.] The two Ministers are laughing, but we could not have been faced with a more graphic example yesterday. There were nearly 300,000 people on the country march. They demonstrated that we cannot run a parliamentary democracy if the majority abuses its temporary power.

Ministers must take that on board. Majorities cannot use their power to trample on substantial minorities. The referendum showed that. I know from the people in north-east Wales, whom I speak to every week, that there are those in north Wales with real doubts about the whole project.

I turn briefly to new clause 24. The hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Dafis) told us that he wants to reduce traffic. I cannot understand how traffic will be reduced if parts of the administration of the assembly will be dispersed around Wales. We have the horrendous example of the European Parliament. I think that about 80 trucks go up and down between Brussels and Strasbourg once a month. We do not want to see that in Wales, if it is to remain a green and unpolluted land. I shall vote against new clause 24, and strongly support new clause 21.

Mr. Win Griffiths

We have had an entertaining and, at times, passionate debate on the new clauses. New clause 21 would place on the assembly procedural limitations in decision making on the vital interests of any region. Decisions could not be made without the support of at least a third of the Members of the Assembly from that region.

The right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) specified five electoral regions: I shall not cavil at what regions he could justifiably use for this purpose. The assembly's Presiding Officer would determine when a region's vital interests were likely to be affected by a particular proposal. In reaching that conclusion, the Presiding Officer would have to have regard to the views of the regional Committee, which would be binding unless the Presiding Officer certified that they were without reasonable weight.

The assumption behind the new clause should not go unchallenged. My hon. Friends the Members for Clwyd, West (Mr. Thomas), for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Smith) and for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) considered the new clause typical of the Conservative party's cynical and patronising attitude to Wales. My hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Glamorgan saw it as hypocrisy: the Conservative party was opposed to devolution for Wales, but now seems to want devolution within Wales.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West said that the new clause was an attempt to balkanise Wales and to hobble the National Assembly for Wales. The Bill provides for proportional representation, and, through the regional Committees, for the views of all parts of Wales and of all parties that gain reasonable support across the whole of Wales to be taken into account.

The hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) may know that the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs has suggested that regions could be based on the four areas used by the Welsh Development Agency, or on those to be used by the new powerhouse. The national assembly advisory group has been considering seven regions, but there will be consultations, on the basis of which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will decide on the best way forward. The principal point is that advisory committees will be set up.

It takes unprecedented gall for Conservative Members to discuss the worries of people in Wales. Only the hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson) can claim to have regular contact with any part of Wales. We should remind ourselves that, of the 40 Welsh constituencies, 34 returned Labour Members of Parliament, in industrial and rural areas; four returned Plaid Cymru Members; two returned Liberal Democrat Members; and not one elected a Conservative Member of Parliament. Conservative Members should approach with humility the matter of what they know about what the Welsh people are thinking.

The Opposition assume that the assembly will in some way ride roughshod over the interests of particular regions of Wales in a malign conspiracy to promote one area over another. Labour Members represent 34 of the 40 Welsh constituencies, and are always in a majority in Wales.

We reject the nightmarish picture painted by the Conservative party. The National Assembly for Wales will work for the whole of Wales, not just for parts of it. The electoral system that we are providing will ensure that the voices of all parts of Wales will be heard in the assembly, and that the interests of the whole of Wales are taken fully into account. New clause 21 would place an artificial and bureaucratic constraint on the assembly in the proper discharge of its functions. We cannot accept it.

We have heard much about the referendum and yes-voting and no-voting areas. I remind the Opposition that the distribution of yes and no votes—the so-called green and red areas—is artificial, and does not sufficiently represent how the votes were cast. Nearly 40 per cent. of the yes votes were cast in areas that voted no. The 10,000 yes votes cast in Monmouthshire were as crucial to the majority as the yes votes cast in Carmarthenshire. Wales voted for the proposal in a national referendum. We can forget about the concept of yes and no votes: there was a substantial yes vote in the no areas.

8.15 pm

The new clause is inconsistent with the Opposition's championing of a cabinet system for the assembly, because it would hobble such a system and make it difficult to operate. The Opposition have suddenly come up with a regional system, which would hobble the National Assembly for Wales. Why on earth did they not think of it years ago, when they were considering the electoral make-up of the United Kingdom? They could have given Members of Parliament from Wales, Scotland and the standard planning regions of England a vote on proposals that had an impact on everybody—a far greater impact than a national assembly with its own powers will have—and, if more than a third of them were opposed to a proposal, such as the poll tax, it could have been shelved or imposed only on those parts of England that voted for it. The story told by Conservative Members is ludicrous.

New clause 24 was spoken to by the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Dafis) and supported by the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire (Mr. Livsey). The proposal for a National Assembly for Wales is aimed at bringing government closer to the people, and is at the heart of devolution. I look forward to the assembly making itself visible and accessible to all the people of Wales. However, the proposal in new clause 24 is not the best way forward.

Although the hon. Member for Ceredigion advocated devolution from Cardiff, it sounded like devolution to Aberystwyth. I shall put that matter aside for the moment, and point out that 25 per cent. of the executive quangos in Wales have headquarters outside Cardiff. There is also a substantial Welsh Office presence in a number of parts of Wales. We have no objection in principle to administrative devolution, but it is a matter that the assembly should consider. Significant extra costs would be built into the operation of the assembly in its early years if Parliament imposed an artificial timetable for devolution.

We must accept that the assembly may want to take up the theme of new clause 24, and will decide whether to undertake administrative devolution from Cardiff in its own time and in its own way. It is not, however, the job of this Parliament or this Bill to provide for such a set programme of administrative devolution. I hope that the hon. Member for Ceredigion will accept that.

Mr. Paterson

What reassurances can the Minister offer people in north-east Wales who have real doubts about the whole project? We have heard bluster from him, but so far we have heard no answers.

Mr. Griffiths

I realise that it is difficult for the hon. Gentleman to get to grips with the concept of the whole of Wales. Let me explain the point of our proposals. At present, no Conservatives represent north-east Wales, but under the additional member system, there is a chance that a few may do so. That will give an opportunity to some of the voice of north-east Wales that is not now heard in this Parliament to be heard in the national Assembly for Wales.

Similarly, the regional Committees will have an opportunity to give advice to the assembly. I have every confidence that the whole assembly will want to consider the views of its constituent parts. I realise that it is difficult for Conservatives to understand that any institution will listen to advice, because for 18 years they rejected advice consistently.

We will reject new clause 21 if the Opposition have the temerity to press it to a vote. As for new clause 24, I hope that it will not be pressed.

Mr. Evans

We always thought that this would be a significant debate. It has proved to be so, but it does not behove the Minister to talk about "listening", given that we have listened to what he just said about new clause 21.

I thank my hon. Friends the Members for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Collins), for South Dorset (Mr. Bruce), for Poole (Mr. Syms), for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve), for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne) and for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson). They proved one thing, at least: that they have listened to what the people of Wales have been saying.

New clause 21 is intended to allay the fear of people in the regions that they will be dominated by Cardiff and the south-east. If we look at the result of the referendum on 18 September—[Interruption.] I was waiting for the Secretary of State to start huffing and puffing. This is the one thing that he does not want: he does not want people to talk about the result of the referendum on 18 September. I understand why—it was an embarrassing result for the Secretary of State—but we will not allow history to be airbrushed in such a fashion.

Mr. Win Griffiths

Let me remind the hon. Gentleman that, if the swing of opinion between 1979 and the referendum had been the same as the swing between then and the general election, there would not have been a Conservative Member in the House.

Mr. Evans

That comes from the same school of thought that told us a moment ago that it was Monmouthshire that "won it for us". It is ridiculous to use statistics in such a way. The result in Monmouthshire was appalling—more than two to one against the measure.

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. Hon. Members must not dwell on the results in Monmouthshire, or in any county of Wales; they must debate new clause 21.

Mr. Evans

I went down that route, Mr. Martin, in response to the Minister, who presented a particular proposition.

New clause 21 refers to the regions. We must not ignore the fears of Wales, and we must not ignore the result of the referendum. We must take it on board. We must accept that there was a low turnout and that the result was split, and we must not kid ourselves, or con the Welsh people, that it was otherwise. At least on the morning of the result, the Prime Minister—instead of flying to Wales to pat the Secretary of State on the back and say how wonderful the result had been—

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. We must not go into the history of the referendum, which is past and done with. What is won is won, and what is lost is lost. We must deal with new clause 21.

Mr. Evans

New clause 21 is intended to address the fears of the people of Wales, who, in the regions, did not whole-heartedly support the proposals. The result proved that Wales was split down the middle. New clause 21 is aimed to deal with the result of the referendum. The Government—along with the Prime Minister—said that they would listen to the fears of the Welsh people, but they have not done so. It is the same sort of listening as their "listening" to the countryside. That is why 284,000 people marched on London yesterday.

The Government said that they would listen to the sensitivities of the people of Wales. What have they offered the people of Wales in the Bill? They have offered clause 62. I do not know whether Labour Members have read clause 62, but it could be called the sop clause.

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman must not start quoting from clause 62. We are discussing new clause 21.

Mr. Evans


The First Deputy Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman must listen to me, even if he listens to no one else in the Chamber. [Interruption.]

Mr. Evans

I will certainly ignore sedentary catcalls from the Secretary of State.

New clause 21 addresses the deficiencies of clause 62, which deals with regional Committees. Clause 62 provides for the establishment of a regional Committee in north Wales—[Interruption.] Will the Secretary of State listen for a moment? This is his Bill. The Government have decided to set up a Committee in north Wales, and other Committees in other regions of Wales. When the hon. Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Smith) was talking about the Committees, we asked how many would be set up. He could not tell us, because he did not know. I suspect that he had not read the Bill properly. Clause 62 clearly states—

Mr. Win Griffiths


Mr. Evans

I have no time to give way. I have only four minutes left, and I am trying to follow the Chairman's guidance as far as possible.

The Government refer to north Wales and the other regions. In subsection (5), they state that the members of a regional Committee should be the Members representing regional constituency seats and also regional seats. We have taken the new clause from clause 62, to try to be helpful and to deal with the fears of people in the regions. [Interruption.]

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. Those on the Government Front Bench must be quiet.

Mr. Evans

Thank you, Mr. Martin.

The fact is that clause 62 does not address the fears of people in the regions, for instance in north Wales, who feel that they will be dominated by a Cardiff-based, or Swansea-based—certainly a south Wales-based—assembly. We tabled new clause 21 to allay those fears.

The Secretary of State and the Minister have talked about being inclusive, and listening to what the people have said. If they want the will of the Welsh people to be settled, they will accept new clause 21. It will provide real presence and structure; it will address the fears of the regions in vital respects that affect parts of Wales outside Cardiff and the south-east. They will have a blocking vote that will give the whole structure some teeth. Our new clause is intended to be constructive rather than destructive. We have tried to include the people of the regions outside Cardiff and the south-east. The new clause is straightforward, but if the Secretary of State is unhappy with it, he can prepare one of his own.

We want to listen to the people of Wales, but the Government have shown that they are not interested in anything other than spin, soundbites and cheesy smiles, and they are not enough to assuage the fears of people in the regions. That is why we will divide the Committee. We have listened to the people of Wales, and Labour has not. We shall speak up for all the Welsh people.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes 144, Noes 271.

Division No. 186] [8.29 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Grieve, Dominic
Amess, David Gummer, Rt Hon John
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael Hancock, Mike
Arbuthnot, James Harris, Dr Evan
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E) Harvey, Nick
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Hawkins, Nick
Baker, Norman Hayes, John
Baldry, Tony Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Beith, Rt Hon A J Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Blunt, Crispin Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Brand, Dr Peter Horam, John
Brazier, Julian Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Breed, Colin Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Browning, Mrs Angela Hunter, Andrew
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Burnett, John Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Bums, Simon Jenkin, Bernard
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife) Johnson Smith, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet) Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Chidgey, David Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Chope, Christopher Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Clappison, James Letwin, Oliver
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington) Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Livsey, Richard
Collins, Tim Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Colvin, Michael Loughton, Tim
Cormack, Sir Patrick Luff, Peter
Cotter, Brian Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Cran, James MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Curry, Rt Hon David Mclntosh, Miss Anne
Davies, Quentin (Grantham) MacKay, Andrew
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice) McLoughlin, Patrick
Day, Stephen Malins, Humfrey
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen Maples, John
Duncan, Alan Mates, Michael
Duncan Smith, lain Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Evans, Nigel May, Mrs Theresa
Faber, David Moss, Malcolm
Fabricant, Michael Öpik, Lembit
Fallon, Michael Ottaway, Richard
Feam, Ronnie Page, Richard
Forth, Rt Hon Eric Paterson, Owen
Foster, Don (Bath) Pickles, Eric
Fraser, Christopher Randall, John
Gale, Roger Redwood, Rt Hon John
Garnier, Edward Rendel, David
Gibb, Nick Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Gill, Christopher Ruffley, David
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Gorrie, Donald St Aubyn, Nick
Gray, James Sanders, Adrian
Greenway, John Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian Tyrie, Andrew
Shepherd, Richard Walter, Robert
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk) Wardle, Charles
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns) Waterson, Nigel
Spelman, Mrs Caroline Whitney, Sir Raymond
Spicer, Sir Michael Whittingdale, John
Spring, Richard Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Wilkinson, John
Steen, Anthony Willetts, David
Streeter, Gary Willis, Phil
Stunell, Andrew Wilshire, David
Swayne, Desmond Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Syms, Robert Woodward, Shaun
Tapsell, Sir Peter Yeo, Tim
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton) Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Townend, John
Tredinnick, David Tellers for the Ayes:
Trend, Michael Mr. Oliver Heald and
Tyler, Paul Sir David Madel.
Abbott, Ms Diane Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Ainger, Nick Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Cunliffe, Lawrence
Allen, Graham Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Dafis, Cynog
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Dalyell, Tam
Armstrong, Ms Hilary Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Ashton, Joe Darvill, Keith
Atkins, Charlotte Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Austin, John Davidson, Ian
Barron, Kevin Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Battle, John Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Bayley, Hugh Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)
Beard, Nigel Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Dawson, Hilton
Begg, Miss Anne Dean, Mrs Janet
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Denham, John
Bennett, Andrew F Dismore, Andrew
Benton, Joe Dobbin, Jim
Bermingham, Gerald Donohoe, Brian H
Betts, Clive Doran, Frank
Blizzard, Bob Dowd, Jim
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Drew, David
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Drown, Ms Julia
Bradshaw, Ben Edwards, Huw
Brinton, Mrs Helen Efford, Clive
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E) Ellman, Mrs Louise
Buck, Ms Karen Ennis, Jeff
Burden, Richard Etherington, Bill
Burgon, Colin Field, Rt Hon Frank
Butler, Mrs Christine Fisher, Mark
Caborn, Richard Fitzpatrick, Jim
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Fitzsimons, Lorna
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Flint, Caroline
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Flynn, Paul
Caplin, Ivor Follett, Barbara
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Chisholm, Malcolm Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands) Fyfe, Maria
Galbraith, Sam
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Galloway, George
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Gerrard, Neil
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S) Gibson, Dr Ian
Coaker, Vemon Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Coffey, Ms Ann Godman, Norman A
Cohen, Harry Godsiff, Roger
Colman, Tony Golding, Mrs Llin
Connarty, Michael Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Cooper, Yvette Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Corbett, Robin Grogan, John
Cousins, Jim Gunnell, John
Cox, Tom Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale) Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford) Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE) Morley, Elliot
Hanson, David Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Healey, John Mudie, George
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N) Mullin, Chris
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich) Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Heppell, John Naysmith, Dr Doug
Hinchliffe, David O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Hodge, Ms Margaret O'Hara, Eddie
Hoey, Kate Olner, Bill
Hoon, Geoffrey Organ, Mrs Diana
Hope, Phil Pearson, Ian
Hopkins, Kelvin Pendry, Tom
Howarth, Alan (Newport E) Perham, Ms Linda
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Pickthall, Colin
Howells, Dr Kim Pike, Peter L
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Plaskitt, James
Hurst, Alan Pollard, Kerry
Hutton, John Pope, Greg
Illsley, Eric Powell, Sir Raymond
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead) Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Jenkins, Brian Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle) Primarolo, Dawn
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn HaWeld) Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Jones, Helen (Warrington N) Quin, Ms Joyce
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW) Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Rapson, Syd
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak) Raynsford, Nick
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S) Robertson, Rt Hon George (Hamilton S)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally Rooker, Jeff
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Rooney, Terry
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Kemp, Fraser Ruane, Chris
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) Sawford, Phil
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth) Sedgemore, Brian
Ladyman, Dr Stephen Sheerman, Barry
Lawrence, Ms Jackie Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Leslie, Christopher Singh, Marsha
Levitt, Tom Skinner, Dennis
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S) Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Liddell, Mrs Helen Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Linton, Martin Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Lock, David Snape, Peter
Love, Andrew Soley, Clive
McAllion, John Southworth, Ms Helen
McAvoy, Thomas Spellar, John
McCabe, Steve Squire, Ms Rachel
McCafferty, Ms Chris Starkey, Dr Phyllis
McDonagh, Siobhain Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
McDonnell, John Stinchcombe, Paul
McFall, John Stott, Roger
McGuire, Mrs Anne Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary Stringer, Graham
Mackinlay, Andrew Sutcliffe, Gerry
McLeish, Henry Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis Taylor, David (NWLeics)
Mahon, Mrs Alice Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Mallaber, Judy Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S) Tipping, Paddy
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Touhig, Don
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Trickett, Jon
Martlew, Eric Truswell, Paul
Meale, Alan Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Michael, Alun Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Michie, Bill (Shefld Heeley) Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Milburn, Alan Vis, Dr Rudi
Miller, Andrew Walley, Ms Joan
Mitchell, Austin Ward, Ms Claire
Moffatt, Laura Wareing, Robert N
Moran, Ms Margaret Watts, David
White, Brian Wise, Audrey
Whitehead, Dr Alan Wood, Mike
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd Worthington, Tony
Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W) Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen) Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy) Wyatt, Derek
Wilson, Brian Tellers for the Noes:
Winnick, David Mr. David Clelland and
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C) Mr. David Jamieson.

Question accordingly negatived.

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