HC Deb 11 November 1998 vol 319 cc377-406

Lords amendment: No. 215, in page 57, line 5, after ("constituencies") insert ("of the Scottish Parliament")

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

I beg to move, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Madam Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to consider Lords amendments Nos. 216 to 220.

Mr. Dewar

Today, we continue a long saga that has become part of our lives over the past year or so. I offer hon. Members the consolation that we approach the end, as we are now dealing with Lords amendments to the Scotland Bill. Today and next Monday, the House will be asked to consider the formidable number of amendments made to the Bill during its passage through the Lords. The Government have taken, as is traditional and proper, particularly with such complex legislation, the opportunity to strengthen and improve the Bill against its drafting when it left the House last May. I hope to persuade hon. Members that many of the changes made in their lordships' House are both desirable and to be welcomed. I am sure that the Opposition Front-Bench teams will join me in the task, looking squarely, but, I hope, briefly in most cases, at the merits of each proposal as it comes along.

It is therefore perhaps a little ironic that I have to start by asking the House to disagree with the Lords on a group of amendments that relate to a matter of some importance: the size of the Scottish Parliament, and whether it should remain, irrespective of what may happen in other parts of Scotland's parliamentary representation, at 129 Members. Let me say immediately that I believe that there is a genuine desire among most hon. Members—and among Members in the Lords—who have debated the matter to ensure that the Scottish Parliament can operate effectively and on a basis that will inspire and command public confidence. To some Conservative Members, its size is the most important or determining factor of its ability to do that. I do not agree, and want to advance some arguments to support my point of view. We believe that quality is important and that the working methods of the Parliament are an important part of the process. In addition, the involvement of the wider community beyond Parliament is an element in the general process and in the preparations made to allow the Parliament to operate effectively.

I pay tribute to the consultative steering group, to the Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution and to the representatives of other parties who have joined him on the steering group. Great progress has been made: one or two ideas have been picked up and knocked about in the public press in a way that I regret, but that is the price one pays for innovating and producing ideas that are novel and depart somewhat from the precedents accepted here. We have always made it clear that we would take the best from this place, but that, if Scottish conditions made it necessary to think anew, we would not hesitate to do so.

There are points of principle involved in the Bill and in the amendments to it. One point of principle that those of us on the Government Benches think is of some significance and importance is that there is genuine virtue in a linkage between Westminster and Scottish parliamentary constituencies; and we see merit in coterminous boundaries. The White Paper "Scotland's Parliament", which is familiar to all hon. Members who have the staying power still to participate in these debates, spelt out clearly the importance that the Government attach to maintaining common boundaries for the constituencies at Westminster and in the Scottish Parliament.

Such an approach will strengthen the integrity of the United Kingdom. In addition, there are benefits from the point of view of constituents, because common boundaries will make representation easier to access. All of us know from our own experience the surprising amount of confusion that often prevails in the minds of our constituents about how the various branches and levels of government interact and interrelate. I am often more clearly recognised by my constituents as a surrogate local councillor than as a Member of Parliament. I realised early in my career that, when people approach me with problems, delivering a mini penny lecture on the fact that housing allocation is not my responsibility as a Member of Parliament, or that I am not responsible for some other aspect of local government work, does not go down well.

Mr. Donald Gorrie (Edinburgh, West)

In the light of what he has said, will the Secretary of State make sure that local government ward boundaries are coterminous with the proposed parliamentary boundaries? Currently, they are not.

Mr. Dewar

The hon. Gentleman raises a very different issue—local government reform. He is asking me to intervene and interfere with the work of the local government boundary commission in a way that I should be loth to do. If I did attempt to do as he asks, I suspect that I should quickly run foul of my legislative duties. I know that the hon. Gentleman enjoys pursuing that argument with the dogged persistence that is his trademark, and it may be that I shall have to sit and listen to a great deal on that subject at some point in the months ahead; however, today is not that day. I merely imported local government into my argument to illustrate that lack of clarity about function is common, as is lack of clarity about boundaries.

Dr. Liam Fox (Woodspring)

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland)

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Mr. Dewar

I shall give way in a minute, first to the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox), the Conservative Front-Bench spokesman, and then to the hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace), for the Liberal Democrats. If there are coterminous boundaries, that will encourage Members of Parliament and Members of the Scottish Parliament to work together. In addition, it will mean that we have a rational structure, which is in the interests of all. Now, I give way, with pleasure, to the hon. Member for Woodspring.

Dr. Fox

May I take the Secretary of State back to point raised by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Gorrie)? I accept that it would be quite improper to interfere with the local government boundary commission. However, if the right hon. Gentleman's argument is not a practical point but, as he said, a point of principle, would he not have to agree that coterminosity in respect of local government is as desirable as coterminosity in respect of Westminster constituencies?

Mr. Dewar

No, the hon. Gentleman has, perhaps understandably, got my points out of order. I started with a point of principle, which was the integrity of the United Kingdom and the advantage of coterminous boundaries in that context. I should have though that that was one of the few points in our long argument on which the hon. Gentleman might have been inclined to agree with me. I then moved on to an important practical point about clarity in the system and the ability of Members of the Scottish Parliament and Members of Parliament to work together. There were two points, conjoined in the text of my speech but clearly distinct in their ordering and how they were being made.

Mr. Wallace

Does the Secretary of State agree with the Minister of State? On 12 May, the Minister of State said: People are less concerned with maps and boundaries than they are with the quality of political contribution and of services. Yes, there is an issue, but we would do well to keep it in perspective."—[Official Report, 12 May 1998; Vol. 312, c. 224.] Is not the Secretary of State getting the matter a little out of perspective and adding to confusion in his announcements?

Mr. Dewar

No, I am arguing practical points about confusion, clarity and working arrangements which are relevant to the debate. If boundaries are being made an enormous sticking point and the issue is being blown out of proportion, I could—but I shall not—charge Liberal Democrat Members with doing so. We must consider the matter in proper proportion and in context, and it is worth pausing on it because it is important that we try to get it right, but it is not a breaking point in the passage of the Bill, as other hon. Members seem to think.

Sir Robert Smith (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine)

Why not?

Mr. Dewar

Because I do not believe in arranging matters to create barriers where no barriers need exist.

Sir Robert Smith

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Dewar

Very well, but I should have let the hon. Gentleman intervene on a more substantial point later.

Sir Robert Smith

The substantial point is that the Secretary of State was saying that the matter should not be a great sticking point, but it is within his power to avoid its becoming a sticking point by accepting the Lords amendment, the contents of which his party signed up to when it signed the constitutional convention agreement.

Mr. Dewar

I shall come to that argument, and I do not dismiss it lightly. To give the hon. Gentleman a hint and to rehearse a point, the matter was not a sticking point for the Liberal Democrats when they gamely and effectively campaigned for a yes vote for a White Paper that encompassed the Government's position, including the point that we are making in asking for the rejection of the Lords amendments. I shall return to that point in a moment.

The practical point is that MPs and MSPs will be better placed to co-ordinate their constituency work and make sure that local interests are properly represented at Holyrood and Westminster. We want contacts between MSPs and MPs to be straightforward and their constituents to be in tune with, and aware of, the organisation and the way in which the system works. Our position would help that process.

By contrast—this is a simple point that I shall not elaborate—if we were to accept the Lords amendments, a Westminster MP would in future find that he had probably more than one MSP with whom to work and, if the boundaries were out of alignment, there would be a patchwork of overlapping boundaries, which would leave room for confusion.

Dr. Fox

It would be difficult for MSPs to have other Members roaming around their constituencies, but how does that differ from the proposals to have top-up MPs floating around the Westminster constituencies which were made in the report that Lord Jenkins published last week?

Mr. Dewar

The hon. Gentleman is looking at me in a knowing way as though he has produced a knock-out punch. I know that that is a rare feeling for him, so I am sorry to have to spoil it for him. I am making two very different points. One is about overlapping boundaries for those who have a territorial responsibility. In this case, that means Westminster MPs and MSPs elected in the constituency section by first past the post. When the hon. Gentleman brings the Jenkins proposals into the debate, he is referring to a system that includes list members, which is very different. We are discussing the territorials, if I can use that somewhat dismissive term as a shorthand to explain the point.

Let me say to those on the Liberal Benches that the parliamentary boundary commission is already required to take account of local government boundaries. It may not have done so as completely as the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Gorrie) would like, but the commission is required to take account of local council boundaries as part of the statutory rules. That will be the position at the next review. I hope that we will therefore minimise the overlapping, even with local government boundaries, to which he pointed.

4 pm

The Government are committed to clause 81 and to undertaking a review of the number of Scottish Members of Parliament at Westminster. It is generally accepted that we cannot justify the above-average representation that Scotland enjoys in the House of Commons. It is anticipated, and I accept, that such a review will lead to a reduction in the number of Scottish Members of Parliament, and correspondingly a reduction in the number of constituencies in Scotland. In the White Paper, we made it clear that the size of the Scottish Parliament would change to take account of changes at Westminster so as to maintain common boundaries.

I should reassure the House that the Government have thought long and hard about the implications for the Parliament of a reduction in its size. We do not believe that such a reduction will make the Parliament less able to carry out its key roles of scrutinising effectively the Scottish Administration's work and enacting legislation.

We are not, on any realistic assessment, contemplating cutting the membership of the Parliament in half, or by a third, or even by a quarter. The reduction would amount to no more than 20 per cent. of the total numbers of seats, on most projections. Even after the review, the Scottish Parliament will still have significantly more than 100 Members.

Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West)

Does the Secretary of State agree that that is a dangerous path on which to embark? In the future, should the Government implement the findings of the Jenkins report, which foresees a 20 per cent. fall in the number of directly elected Members of Parliament. the Scottish Parliament would end up with only 48 directly elected MSPs.

Mr. Dewar

I know the hon. Gentleman. He is one of my favourite former bank managers. I am always amazed to think that he was once in charge of a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland, where I bank, which makes that a matter of anxious interest to me.

I do not have a crystal ball. The House will remember that Lord Jenkins made it clear that any changes that might emerge from his proposals, which are representative proposals to be tested in a referendum, could not be implemented for at least eight years. Although I recognise that the hon. Gentleman has an interest in those matters, his contention is, to say the least, hypothetical.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)

The parliamentary boundary changes could not be implemented until the election after next, either. The Secretary of State cannot have it both ways. Is he saying that the reduction in constituency size—the reduction proposed by the Jenkins commission for Westminster—will automatically follow through for the Scottish Parliament? Will he answer the question whether that could mean a reduction in the number of directly elected constituency members to 50 or so if the Jenkins recommendations were implemented?

Mr. Dewar

That is some way—and a referendum—away. There is plenty of time to consider those matters. We must start with a reasonably stable basis. We suggested—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) laughs, but we are speaking about practical politics. Let us assume for a moment that we reduce, as we will, the number of Scottish constituencies, so that Scotland is treated in exactly the same way as the rest of the United Kingdom in respect of the boundary commission criteria, and let us assume that there is a variation. There is no reason for thinking that that would result in a Scottish Parliament that was unable to carry out its duties properly and consistently.

If the hon. Gentleman likes to think about it, let me point out that we have 72 Scottish Members of Parliament at Westminster. That increase above the United Kingdom average is justified because Scottish Members have a large number of responsibilities deriving from the distinct and different Scottish legislation, which justifies that buttressed number. I think that we are all familiar with that argument. All that additional work will go to the Scottish Parliament. On that basis, it seems right that we should have—to use a term from another area—a "level playing field" between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom in terms of the boundary commission's considerations at the next boundary review.

My point is that, even on that basis, we shall have 129 Members of Parliament in Scotland. That will be a permanent feature, irrespective of what happens at other levels of government, if the other place has its way. Those 129 Members of Parliament will do the additional work—that which is over and above the normal work of Members of Parliament in the House of Commons—but will have none of the other responsibilities that lie with Members of the House of Commons in areas such as the economy, foreign affairs, level playing field legislation, company legislation, financial services regulation and so on.

Those 129 Members of Parliament will have a very much narrower remit than do the present 72 Scottish Members of Parliament in the House of Commons. If the current representation in the House of Commons is satisfactory, I do not see why it should suddenly be anathema to have in the Scottish Parliament—which will have a very much narrower remit—almost 50 per cent. more Members. Why should that figure be written into legislation and never altered? That seems to me to be a highly illogical view, and I recommend that argument to the House.

I understand entirely the point made by the Liberal Democrats. The hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland—I have discussed the matter with him on more than one occasion —takes the view that an agreement was reached in the constitutional convention and should be honoured. That is an understandable point of view. The hon. and learned Gentleman also knows—I rehearsed this argument a minute or two ago—that, subsequent to that agreement, a White Paper was published. If he looks at paragraph 8.7 of the White Paper—I am sure that he is very familiar with it; I hardly need to quote it—he will see that it clearly states: The integrity of the UK will be strengthened by common UK and Scottish Parliament boundaries. The rest of the paragraph argues that case. I think that the word "may", which is used in the last sentence, has misled some people. However, according to any reasonable interpretation of the text, it will be seen that the point about coterminous boundaries is well made and well founded. The last sentence states: Any changes in Westminster constituencies will result in changes to Scottish Parliamentary constituencies; and may also lead to consequential adjustments to the size of the Scottish Parliament so as to maintain the present balance between constituency and additional Member seats. The "may" refers to a possible variation in the corrective mechanism: the regional or top-up seats—however the House wishes to describe them.

The White Paper makes the clear point that coterminous boundaries are part of the scheme. While I do not necessarily wish to put it in terms of choice, if I were asked to choose, I would feel that the White Paper—which is of a later date, for which we all campaigned and which has been endorsed by the votes of the people—is the benchmark against which to measure those facts.

I do not wish to overdo those arguments, but I believe that there are no absolutes in such matters. None of us has an absolute view about the right size of a Parliament. We have no such idea about the House of Commons. This place comprises 659 Members, and many people think that there should be fewer Members. I do not suppose for a moment that there is unanimity on that point or on how much smaller Parliament should be.

The hon. and learned Gentleman will remind me—if he does not, I shall remind myself —that he thought at one time that the absolute right size of the Scottish Parliament was 144 Members. A special commission, chaired by Joyce McMillan, was established at the constitutional convention to examine this and related issues. It suggested that the Scottish Parliament should comprise 112 Members: 73 first past the post, plus 39 in the top-up. A compromise emerged at that point of 129 Members, and that is the starting point for the new Parliament. As I say, on top of that we have adopted the point that was made in the White Paper, which means that 129 is not just the starting point but is conditional upon the important point made in the White Paper about coterminous boundaries.

Mr. Salmond

I think that the Secretary of State is misinterpreting the Lords amendment. The purpose of the amendment is to allow the Scottish Parliament its own boundary commission and set its size on its own priorities, not to set, fixed in time, 129 as an absolute number. Can the right hon. Gentleman give any example anywhere in the world of a Parliament that judges its complexion and the numbers that should be in it on the basis of another Parliament's representations?

Mr. Dewar

I know that we have a fundamental disagreement because the hon. Gentleman naturally does not believe that a devolution settlement is a stable settlement or one that in itself is worth while. I understand that. I say naturally because, as a political point of view, he will always criticise and push for more, and ultimately wants to drive on to an entirely different political settlement. I do not think that he will carry Scotland on that, but I appreciate that that viewpoint is his.

My viewpoint is that we are looking for a new and strong voice for Scotland within the United Kingdom. We are handing over an unprecedented number of domestic areas of policy to a directly elected Scottish Parliament, where the writ of that Parliament will run unchallenged. We have retained—I think on a logical division—certain areas, which remain on a United Kingdom basis. The constitution and the boundary commission are preserved and fall into this category. That is the difference between the hon. Gentleman and myself. I accept that. I hold to the view that what we propose is sensible. That is how the White Paper was drafted and that is, in my view, how the Bill should go on to the statute book.

I do not think that this is something on which I shall be able to persuade the hon. Gentleman. I can assure him that, on this point, he will not be able to persuade me. We shall have to push on, on that basis, and agree to disagree, which is becoming something of a habit of a lifetime between us.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)

How does the Secretary of State believe that reducing the size of the Scottish Parliament in the way that he suggests will help that Parliament to act as a bulwark against those in the Scottish Nationalist party who would like to exploit the difficulties of devolution as a justification for moves towards independence?

Mr. Dewar

I said earlier and I say again that those are matters of judgment. My judgment is that there is genuine virtue—I think that it is a matter of principle—in having coterminous boundaries. It may be, although I would be surprised, that the hon. Gentleman disagrees with that. Will we satisfy the people of Scotland if we make a success of the Parliament that they endorsed with their vote? We shall have to produce the right positive policies. We shall have to attack the problems of unemployment, raise education standards and build on the excellence of the health service in Scotland. I think that we shall have to argue, as I believe that we can successfully argue, that a continuing connection with the United Kingdom, with our main market in economic terms, with an area with which we have many traditional ties, where we have intermarried and intermingled, where we have had challenges, disappointments and triumphs over 300 years, makes sense. However, that is an argument for the future. No doubt, it will be maintained over quite a lengthy period.

The hon. Gentleman may think that the argument will turn on the issue of the number of Members, but I think that he is mistaken. I believe that there is no necessary correlation between the size of the Parliament and its efficiency. It could be argued, certainly on the extreme, that if there were a larger and larger number of Members, efficiency would be more and more sacrificed. That is a matter for debate. We start from the point of view of principle —

Mr. Bercow

I concede the logic

Mr. Dewar

I do not know what the hon. Gentleman's views are and 1 do not think that I want to know. Let us say that there is considerable concern in the House about the size of the House. A local government example is that, in most parts of the country—certainly the part of it that I know well—there are many who would argue, although no doubt others would disagree, that we should reduce the number of councillors. Consider, for example, what is being done in the new form of London government, so those things are all matters on which hon. Members would argue, but I certainly protest against the argument that the more we have, the more efficient we are and the more beautiful the organisation. I do not for a moment imagine, although the hon. Gentleman may not be interested in beauty, that he would disagree with that proposition.

I shall hurry on because I am being unfair to the House and many hon. Members will want to speak.

4.15 pm

The amendments create, or try to create, a role for the parliamentary boundary commission for Scotland to undertake a separate review of the parliamentary constituencies in Scotland. As the House will know, the boundary commission is required to produce a report by June 2005. It is far from clear why hon. Members feel it necessary for such a report to be available so soon. It would mean that the boundary commission would be forced to conduct a separate review of the Scottish parliamentary constituencies at the same time as it was finalising its review of the Scottish seats at Westminster. That would be an onerous burden to impose on the commission and not one that would be necessary.

If, however, we leave that to one side, one difficulty with the detailed amendments is that they propose that the report of the parliamentary boundary commission should be submitted to the Scottish Executive for subsequent approval by the Scottish Parliament. That is a reasonable proposition if hon. Members take the view that this should be not a reserved, but a devolved matter. I do not take that view. It follows from that that the attempt to reverse that decision by means of this group of amendments is not one that I am prepared to support.

Schedule 5 makes it clear that elections to the Scottish Parliament, being a fundamental part of the constitution in the United Kingdom, are reserved. To be consistent with that approach, any review of the Scottish parliamentary constituencies should be a matter for the Secretary of State and for this Parliament. To split in the way that is suggested is not necessary or desirable.

The amendments' approach is not acceptable to the Government and is not compatible with the provisions in the White Paper. Therefore, we believe that the House should disagree with the Lords in their amendment. However, I stress that the amendments pay insufficient attention to the importance of maintaining common constituency links between Westminster and Holyrood. Again, the Government believe—I just state it briefly—that the maintenance of those links is important.

I have made it clear that we are prepared, obviously, and have thought long and hard about those matters. It is clear that, for a variety of reasons, it will be some time before there is a change. No doubt, there will be possibilities to revisit the arguments if we are convinced by experience that 129 MSPs are essential and that any reduction in numbers would be a democratic disaster. If hon. Members examine that proposition, they will see that it is unlikely to be tenable. I believe that experience will not teach us that lesson. If it does, because those changes—or any changes consequent on Westminster changes—will not come in for some years, that fact will no doubt become apparent and can be taken into account.

We shall have the opportunity to see how the Scottish Parliament works in practice before any changes are made to it.

Mrs. Maria Fyfe (Glasgow, Maryhill)

Before my right hon. Friend leaves this point, I should like to make a point about paragraph 8.7. Although it clearly states: Responsibility for Scottish Parliamentary electoral arrangements… will be reserved matters", it goes on to say that it will be a matter for the UK Parliament subject to consultation with the Scottish Parliament. Will he confirm that there is no change in that position?

Mr. Dewar

It would be odd of me, if, having rested heavily on paragraph 8.7 of the White Paper, I then announced a retreat from what it says. Of course there will be consultation. The point that is made by the amendments and by the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan is that there should be not consultation, but a transfer of power. In the context of the whole shape of the devolution package, that would not be sensible, wise or compatible with what we have been doing over the long periods of consultation and debate.

I say again that, over the next few years, we shall have experience of the Scottish Parliament in operation and can then assess how dependent it is on having 129 MSPs for its success. I suspect that that will not be a determining factor. What I believe will be the success of the Parliament will depend on its ability to deliver, to respond to Scottish public opinion and to involve Scottish public opinion in its affairs.

Dr. Fox

It does not seem long since we last debated the Bill. The difference is that now we have quite a different Bill before us. One point on which I agree with the Secretary of State is that many of the changes are desirable and should be welcomed.

I pay tribute to what are affectionately called the MacKay twins—Lord MacKay of Ardbrecknish and Lord Mackay of Drumadoon—who did a great deal of work in the other place. They were able to reach agreement with Ministers on many aspects, all of which improve the Bill that left this House. However, there is a point to be made: the Government introduced 180 groups of amendments to their flagship Bill in a House that they claim does not have proper democratic legitimacy and needs to be changed.

Mr. Swayne

Did not many of the Government amendments in the other place bear a striking resemblance to amendments originally suggested by the twins to whom my hon. Friend referred?

Dr. Fox

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, but I do not want to be ungracious at the outset of our debate. I am happy when the Government find humility and recognise when they are wrong. We will always welcome that. Indeed, I hope that they will do so again today. There has been a tight time scale for Opposition parties, with major amendments to Third Reading being tabled by the Government on Monday night, thereby giving us little time to assess their full impact. We said a long time ago that the time management of the Bill left something to be desired. The Secretary of State said on Second Reading, and it is worth reminding the House—[Interruption.] I know that the right hon. Gentleman finds it difficult to see and listen at the same time. His original approach was that the Bill would be framed against the background of a worst case scenario, in particular in a way that would not provide the nationalists and separatists with a wedge to drive between Edinburgh and Westminster. We have also taken that approach through the passage of the Bill; it has been a consistent theme. However, what the Secretary of State is defending today will have precisely the opposite effect to his stated intent. The first thing that will be required to make the Scottish Parliament work properly is stability, but what is guaranteed by what he is defending is instability.

We already know what changes will come about as a result of other parts of the Bill. We know that the number of Scottish Members of Parliament will be reduced from 72 to about 58, if we have the same size electorates that we have for the remainder of the United Kingdom. That is a generally accepted point in the debate. That will reduce the number of Members of the Scottish Parliament by 14 for directly elected seats and eight for top-up. It is not a good basis on which to start a Parliament—knowing that, very soon afterwards, possibly within its first term and certainly within its second, there will be a major redistribution. With the best will in the world, there will be division among Members. We know that from our experience in the House when there is a boundary review. People naturally want to defend their constituencies and continue to look after the interests of their constituents. It is not a proper basis for stability.

I do not accept the Secretary of State's argument—really just an assertion—that the matter should be left to his judgment and that we should accept that. I remember that, on Second Reading, we were told that only by accepting the Secretary of State's judgment could we stop a resurgence of Scottish nationalism. Since then, the Scottish National party, much to my deep upset, has been doing rather well; it is the Labour party which has been doing badly in Scotland.

The Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution, Scottish Office (Mr. Henry McLeish)

What about the Conservative party?

Dr. Fox

I can tell the hon. Gentleman about my party's success. In local government by-elections in Scotland, the Labour party has dropped the most votes, while the other three parties have gained, especially since the devolution referendum.

Mr. Dewar

By what percentage?

Dr. Fox

What matters most to the Secretary of State is by how much our vote has risen, rather than the fact that his party's vote has dropped. That says a great deal about a party that was pinning all its hopes on delivering the right hon. Gentleman's devolution package.

Far more important, the Secretary of State said that only by producing this particular package could we defend the Union. However, it seems now that the Union is more imperilled than at any time in our recent history. The Secretary of State's judgment therefore means nothing to Opposition Members.

I do not want to go into the breach of faith perceived by the Liberal Democrats, as it was not something to which the Conservative party was a party. However, if the Secretary of State was willing to amend some parts of the Bill—which was based on the White Paper—in the other place, why is he unwilling to amend other parts of it? Why should some parts be sacrosanct while others are not? A logical case has not been made to support that position, but then neither has a logical case been made to support any of the Secretary of State's other comments in this debate.

The most important point is that, if the Scottish Parliament is to fund arrangements through the Scottish block, surely it makes sense for the Scottish Parliament itself to decide on its priorities. It seems perfectly logical for the Scottish Parliament to want to reduce the number of those sitting in the Parliament so that it can spend more on something else. Conversely, if the Scottish Parliament decides that it wants to spend more money on the Scottish Parliament, why should it not have a chance to do so? It seems very strange to be unwilling to devolve any authority on the matter.

It would seem to make perfect sense for the Conservative party—and other parties, too—to campaign on reducing the costs of the Scottish Parliament, and therefore on being able to spend more of the Scottish block on other priorities. That is a matter of legitimate political debate in Scotland, and it would be stifled by the Secretary of State's proposals.

Today, we are witnessing another misjudgment by the Government, who are simply defending the stubbornness of the Secretary of State, or perhaps of those in Downing street. Regardless, the downside of such stubbornness will be unnecessary division and instability in the Scottish Parliament at a time when it most needs stability. That cannot be to the advantage of the United Kingdom, this Parliament or the Scottish Parliament, and it can act only in favour of those who want a wedge to be driven between Edinburgh and this place. It can help only the separatists. Even at this late stage, I hope that the Government will reconsider.

Mr. Wallace

It is not surprising that I disagree with the Secretary of State in disagreeing with the Lords amendments. The amendments are similar to those that I moved in the House in Committee and on Report, and were moved by my noble Friends in another place, where they were passed.

It should be remembered that, both in Committee and on Report, when I moved those similar amendments, the mood music from the Treasury Bench was relatively sweet. The Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution said that the Government were listening and would consider the arguments being made. On Report, he said that I had made a strong and very reasoned case to retain the size of the Scottish Parliament at 129 members", and confirmed that the Government would reflect carefully on the issues that he raised.

There was perhaps an expectation in another place that things might be changed. Therefore, there was profound disappointment when, in another place, albeit with not much conviction, Lord Sewel sought to defend the position. I wondered whether there was perhaps some confusion about what the Minister had said. He said: We are still considering the matter, and we hope to reach a conclusion by the time that the Bill goes to another place."—[Official Report, 12 May 1998; Vol. 312, c. 223-34.] But Ministers dug in their heels.

The suspicion—on which press speculation has dwelt—is that the Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution and the Scottish Office were very much persuaded by the arguments made in this place to retain the size of the Parliament at 129, but that No. 10 Downing street —the Prime Minister himself—has been the blocking factor.

The Scottish Constitutional Convention negotiations—which the Secretary of State mentioned—that reached the compromise figure of 129 were quite fraught. When the 129 figure was reached, my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Gorrie)—who was not then an hon. Member—sent me a fax which almost burnt my fax machine, as he thought that we should have stood out for 145. I say that to underline that it was not an easy negotiation. It was not simply an agreement between two parties, but reflected a broad base of Scottish civic opinion. The agreement stated: the system the Convention has devised is the outcome of long and detailed discussions, and is underpinned by fundamental principles including proportionality and the opportunity for equal representation. It should not be easily challenged or changed without careful and democratic scrutiny. Regrettably, the Government are departing from that today.

The Secretary of State argued the case on the basis of the White Paper, although, as the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) said, on other matters the Government are clearly prepared to move away from it. In fact, we shall be debating a significant change in the manner in which judges can be dismissed—a change with which we agree.

4.30 pm

In other cases, the Secretary of State has moved away from the convention agreement. For example, we are to have a system of reserved powers rather than detailed devolved powers. We welcome that as it was something of which we tried to persuade the Labour party in the Scottish Constitutional Convention.

I do not remember many speeches by the Secretary of State during the referendum campaign in which he referred to paragraph 8.7 of the White Paper. Nevertheless, he rests his case on that and it seems to be one of his best points. However, in earlier debates, the Government suggested that they might be prepared to negotiate, so they cannot pin too much of their argument to the White Paper.

We wish to retain larger numbers of MSPs because all parties agree—the Secretary of State rightly paid tribute to the work of the consultative steering group, a constructive working group of which I am pleased to be a member—that the Scottish Parliament should work very much on a committee basis and that committees will have an important role to play. Those committees must have sufficient numbers to make them worth while.

The figure of 129 is important, as it delivers a degree of proportionality that allows for a fair representation of all sections of Scottish political opinion in the Scottish Parliament. I know that the Secretary of State—I have had this discussion with him many times —believes that inserting the ratio of 73 to 56 in the Bill will mean that, when the Parliament is downsized, it will maintain the same degree of proportionality. However, I believe that, if there are fewer additional Members to correct, the level of correction must be lower; therefore, it will not be as proportional. I do not doubt the Secretary of State's good faith—he is just arithmetically wrong.

The Prime Minister's argument is based on the White Paper which talks about the need for coterminous boundaries. The Secretary of State suggested that not having coterminous boundaries might lead to confusion. That argument continued to be peddled on Report, and the Minister addressed it when he said: I do not think that the electorate are as confused as some hon. Members think. Because hon. Members are concerned about boundaries, we assume that the electors are also concerned. However, electors in my constituency are a very sharp, bright bunch-which they demonstrate at every election, by voting in a very superior way."—[Official Report, 12 May 1998; Vol. 312, c. 224.] I am sure that, even with non-coterminous boundaries, they would be equally sharp. The Minister put the argument into some perspective on Report.

Are the Government and the Secretary of State trying to persuade the House that the integrity of the Union depends on whether the boundary for Edinburgh, South runs up Warrender Park road or Marchmont road? If the Union is in such a perilous state that one road may make a difference, heaven help us. I think that the opposite is the case. If, in eight years' time, it is seen to be at the hand of Westminster that the number of MSPs is being cut, that could give rise to tensions between Westminster and Holyrood and undermine the Union. On that particular argument, the Government have got it wrong.

The agenda in relation to the size of the Parliament may be that the Prime Minister wants a reduced Parliament. We are always brought back to the obstinacy of a Prime Minister who legislates for devolution and talks about devolution, but does not seem to understand it, so today the Secretary of State has to come here and be his master's voice. This matter is important for the future of the Scottish Parliament. If the Labour party makes any agreement in the Scottish Parliament, will it have to be countersigned by Downing street in order to be delivered or will we be able to trust the Government, as we thought that we could when they agreed the constitutional convention?

Contrast that with my party, which already has devolution in its federal structure. I have made it clear to my right hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) that, regardless of agreements to extend the remit of Cabinet Committees or anything else that may happen at Westminster, the Scottish Liberal Democrats are sovereign on matters that are the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament. He accepts that.

Dr. Fox

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman accept that de-linkage does not necessarily mean that the numbers will be set in stone? The Scottish Parliament could change the numbers if it felt that that was appropriate. That is surely the best mechanism for defusing any potential tension between Edinburgh and here, which is what I thought that we were doing in removing what we called the wedge.

Mr. Wallace

In an effort to get some agreement, we have been willing to say that 129 was not sacrosanct, but, unfortunately, the Prime Minister has not been willing to show any sign of compromise. Last Saturday, my right hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil made a proposal, which I suggested to the Prime Minister, that when the boundary commission reviews Westminster boundaries, the electoral commission recommended by the Jenkins commission and the Neill committee—or a Scottish sub-committee of it—should examine the workings of the Scottish Parliament and consider how many Members were needed for its committee structure to work effectively, taking into account the relative proportionality on which the first elections would be fought and the geography of Scotland so that we did not have vast constituencies. The point about what might happen under the Jenkins proposals, which would leave only 48 first-past-the-post or alternative vote seats, is relevant. The commission should recommend the smallest number of Members that could deliver an effective Parliament, having regard to all those points.

That compromise proposal shows that we have the issue in perspective and are not tied to the figure of 129. The proposal still lies on the table. If the other place insists on its amendment—I shall urge my noble Friends to do so—and the Government have to come up with a compromise, the suggestion will still be there.

Lord Sewel said in another place that, some years down the line, perhaps the Scottish Parliament could say to Westminster that it needed greater numbers. I am sure that Westminster would think seriously about that, but if the measure were set in statute, primary legislation would be needed. All of us, from those who have been here as long as the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) to those as recently arrived as the hon. Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Alexander), have heard the Government say at some point that their timetable does not allow time for a particular measure. If this provision were taken out of the Bill, Westminster would at some stage be obliged to address the issue and legislate on it without any preconditions. Our proposal was put forward in the spirit of trying to find a compromise. It remains on the table.

That is why I say that we have the issue in perspective. Surely the Secretary of State did not expect us not to support a yes campaign in the referendum because we disagreed with one paragraph of the White Paper. On Second Reading, the Government said that they were willing to listen constructively to amendments and amend the Bill accordingly. It is disappointing that they have not accepted our arguments. The House may have to debate the issue again before the Bill receives Royal Assent.

Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State began the debate by warning everyone that the end was nigh. 1 hope that that apocalyptic warning will not apply to me, too, because I cannot join my right hon. Friend tonight in voting down the Lords amendment.

I agree with my right hon. Friend that the size of the Parliament is not necessarily the most important issue at stake. Voters tend to favour fewer politicians rather than more if they are given the choice. However, the manner in which we arrive at the size of the Parliament is fundamental. My right hon. Friend did not address the fundamental point — which has been raised by the hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace)—that the figure of 129 was not plucked out of the air. It was agreed inside the Scottish Constitutional Convention.

Not only the figure but any future change to the figure was agreed inside the Scottish Constitutional Convention. As members of the convention, the Labour party agreed that any future reduction in the size of the Scottish Parliament would be carried out by a separate boundary commission for Scotland and on the advice of the Scottish Parliament. That was in the agreement. We gave our word that, were we ever to form the Government of the United Kingdom, we would implement that agreement. We are certainly not doing that here and now by opposing the amendment.

There was more than just cross-party agreement. The only political parties that were inside the convention were us, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and the Communists—or the Democratic Left, or whatever they called themselves at that time—but many other people took part. The trade unions—an essential part of our party—were separately represented, to give their agreement to any future change. The Churches and women's organisations were involved, as were representatives of the ethnic minorities. What we now call Scottish civil society was inside the Scottish Constitutional Convention. We agreed with them all about changing the size of the Scottish Parliament in the future. We should not break our word to Scottish civil society, or to the other political parties inside the convention, as lightly as we appear to be doing tonight.

My right hon. Friend referred to paragraph 87 of the White Paper. I must say, in all honesty, that I was not aware of paragraph 87. I suspect that a lot of people in Scotland were not aware of it. Perhaps I would not have welcomed the White Paper as warmly as I did when it was announced in the House had I known that that paragraph existed. It is a relatively obscure paragraph in the White Paper, and my right hon. Friend was at least honest enough to say that it does not actually say in the White Paper that the size of the Parliament will be changed —it says that it "may" be changed. Of course, that is a favourite parliamentary word for putting things off and not confronting them at the time.

My right hon. Friend reassured my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mrs. Fyfe) that any future reduction in the size of the Scottish Parliament would be subject to consultation with the Scottish Parliament. What happens if the Scottish Parliament says no? What happens if the Scottish Parliament says, "We do not want the size of the Parliament reduced—we want to retain 129 Members"? If Westminster consults and the Scottish Parliament says no, what does Westminster do then? Will it send the tanks up to surround Holyrood to demand that 20 Members get out, or else? We are getting ourselves into a ridiculous situation.

I, too, campaigned for a yes, yes vote in the referendum. My right hon. Friend may well remember that, along with a certain Mr. Phil Gallie—late of this House—I acted as the warm-up act for a big Scottish Television programme involving my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the leaders of the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National party taking on the Tories, my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) and the vice-chairman of Rangers. It was a tremendous debate with hundreds of members of the public present. Nobody referred to any possibility that the size of the Parliament might be reduced in future.

I never came across a single incident during the campaign in which that issue was shown the light of day. No one was aware during the referendum campaign that there was the potential for the Scottish Parliament to be reduced in size by Act of the Westminster Parliament. We must be honest and state that that is the case, and not try to hide behind the referendum result as if it were an endorsement of the Westminster Parliament being able to reduce the size of the Scottish Parliament. It certainly was not, and I know that my right hon. Friend would not pretend that that issue had anything to do with the result of 11 September.

Dr. Lynda Clark (Edinburgh, Pentlands)

I may be hallucinating, but my recollection is that it was headline news in some of the Scottish papers that such a reduction might be a consequence of the White Paper. Perhaps my hon. Friend did not read the papers at that time.

Mr. McAllion

I certainly do not read the same papers as my hon. and learned Friend does, and I did not see that reference. I am making a basic point which none of my right hon. or hon. Friends could deny: the Scottish people who voted yes, yes on 11 September did not do so on the basis that they wanted to see the size of the Scottish Parliament reduced by the Westminster Parliament. Anyone who argues that they did is not arguing in the real world.

I believe that the Westminster Parliament should not be imposing change on Scotland by giving effect to the doctrine of Westminster sovereignty or supremacy. Devolution in the form proposed inside the Scottish Constitutional Convention is opposed to the doctrine of Westminster sovereignty. My hon. Friends and I signed the foundation document for that convention, the Claim of Right for Scotland, which asserted the sovereignty of the Scottish people, setting that against the concept of parliamentary sovereignty, which this Parliament favours. We all signed up to it and stood by it. Having said that we think that the Scottish people are sovereign, we should not allow the Westminster Parliament to use its sovereignty to impose a change in the Scottish Parliament without any reference to the Scottish people or their Parliament.

What will be the response of my hon. Friends if the Scottish Parliament says no? What will be the response of the United Kingdom Cabinet if Scotland says that it does not want its Parliament to be reduced in size? Will we overrule Scotland's objections or will we seek to impose Westminster's will on Scotland?

4.45 pm

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State says that constitutional matters are a reserved area and therefore outwith the remit of the Scottish Parliament. The logic of that position is to say that that Parliament, like local government in Scotland, is a creature of statute —that it is what Westminster says it is and is not what Westminster says it is not. Again, I do not remember any Labour politician arguing that in Scotland in the past 10 years. They are arguing it here tonight, but they have not done so before and it is not an argument by which we should stand.

My hon. Friends understand that Westminster sovereignty does not in any case apply in the real world. Suppose that the Scottish Parliament decided to hold a referendum on independence and found the money within its budget. Even though that is a reserved matter, so it would not constitutionally be allowed to do so, how would anyone stop it? It cannot be stopped, so in reality it will be in sovereign control of its own affairs. The sooner we recognise that and stop trying to impose Westminster's will on the Scottish Parliament, the better we will get on with that Parliament.

Dr. Clark

I have been following my hon. Friend's tortuous logic, and it occurs to me that he would presumably say that the Scottish Parliament could take on defence or foreign affairs on its own say-so. Would that be correct according to his logic?

Mr. McAllion

I think that it is the position of the Labour party. If the Scottish people ever elected a sufficient majority of Scottish National party members to a Scottish Parliament, the SNP would hold a referendum and, if the people then said yes to independence, Westminster could do nothing about it. That is a reality and everyone accepts it, even the Conservatives. It may be tortuous logic to my hon. and learned Friend, but it certainly is not to the people of Scotland.

We are also told that it is important that we match the constituencies of Westminster Members of Parliament with those of Members of the Scottish Parliament. Why? The European constituencies do not match and nor do the local government constituencies—there are regular changes in their sizes. Also, the list MSPs have nothing to do with the Westminster constituencies, so why is it only the directly elected Members of the Scottish Parliament who have to be linked to those constituencies? The elections will be held in different years and will involve different individuals. The candidates who stand in the two elections will be different, so I do not understand why the constituencies cannot be different. That does not present any problems for me.

We are also told that the linkage between the size of the Scottish Parliament and the size of Scottish seats at Westminster will strengthen the Union because of the common boundaries. I think that it will have the opposite effect. It gives the impression that the Westminster Parliament is interfering in Scottish affairs—that it will bully Scotland into changes that it does not want. That will give succour to those people who want to present Westminster as constantly interfering with Scotland and who want the Westminster Parliament out of Scottish affairs altogether.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State says that the minds of the voters are confused. They will not be confused if Westminster forces a change in the Scottish Parliament that it does not want: the message will be clear, and it will be the wrong message—for the Labour party in particular.

Finally, we are talking not merely about a 20 per cent. reduction as a result of the changes that the Government are trying to force through tonight, but about a further 20 per cent. reduction that will take place thereafter because of the Jenkins proposals, which will also affect Scotland. The size of the Scottish Parliament will be constantly changing, and that is bound to lead to tensions between Members of the Scottish Parliament. I cannot think of any politician who would voluntarily fall on his sword because the number of seats was being reduced. There will be bitter fights not only between sitting Members of the Scottish Parliament who want to hold on to their seats, but between those wanting to be on the list or to be higher on the list. There will be constant crises and revolutions in the parties.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

Will not that bitterness start on the first day of the Parliament? My hon. Friend knows well my attitude to the whole scheme, but it is unfair on individuals that they will have to start with this recipe for bitterness.

Mr. McAllion

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. No one knows exactly how the number of constituencies will be reduced, but we can expect Glasgow and Edinburgh to lose seats. All the Members of the Scottish Parliament who are elected to represent constituencies in those cities will know that they will have to fight one another to hold on to their seats.

I know that some people will be retiring—such as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who is to lead the Labour party in the Scottish Parliament—but other candidates will be young. They will have a lifetime in politics ahead of them and will not want to lose their seats within four or eight years of being elected to the Scottish Parliament.

Dr. Clark

My hon. Friend's point, which he makes with passion, is perhaps at the root of the argument. As a Member representing an Edinburgh seat, I believe that one cannot expect a job for life in Westminster or in the Scottish Parliament.

Mr. Wallace

A Rifkind gain.

Dr. Clark

Perhaps at some other time.

It is important that democratic change is possible. We cannot set up the Parliament with the argument that it will be terribly sad if—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord)

Order. The hon. and learned Lady will remember on whom she is intervening.

Dr. Clark

I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I got carried away.

Mr. McAllion

My hon. and learned Friend is reasonably new to parliamentary politics. Of course none of us can expect to have a seat for life, but most of us will try to have a seat for life. If she looks around her, she will see an awful lot of hon. Members who have been here a long time and intend to stay for a long time—they will fight to the death to retain their right to be the Member of Parliament for whatever constituency they come from.

We know from experience that the panel system, which may have sounded like a good idea on paper, has led to bitter recriminations not only within the Labour party— although perhaps particularly the Labour party—but within other parties. There is ill feeling and bitterness, dividing party member from party member. The Government's proposals are a recipe for future bitterness in all the political parties.

I object to the fact that the measure is being imposed through Westminster sovereignty. If 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament say no, what will happen to the Government's proposals? Will Westminster assert its right, because the constitution is a reserved matter, to force the change down the Scottish Parliament's throat? I certainly would not support that, and I doubt whether many people in Scotland would do so.

Dr. Fox

It has been obvious in the debate that both those who welcome devolution with open arms and those who are sceptical about it think that the Government's proposals are bad. Will the hon. Gentleman speculate on why his party leadership is clinging to the proposals so desperately?

Mr. McAllion

I would rather speculate on why the hon. Gentleman, who is very sceptical about devolution, thinks that the proposals are bad. He defeats his own argument.

I am talking about a matter of principle. Some people believe in principle that the Scottish Parliament should be subservient to Westminster; they believe that authority, supremacy and sovereignty rightly rest in Westminster. Those people are entitled to believe that, but I am not one of them. I passionately believe that the idea behind devolution is that sovereignty should be shared between the different democratic institutions in the United Kingdom.

That sharing of sovereignty means that the Scottish Parliament and the boundary commission should decide on future changes in constituency sizes. Indeed, I am not convinced that they will not reduce the size of constituencies anyway, and I would love the number of Westminster Members of Parliament to be drastically reduced. As hon. Members know well, ordinary Back Benchers get to speak only once or twice a year, or perhaps every three months—unless the debate is about an issue such as Scottish devolution, on which no one else wants to speak. There are too many Members of Parliament. The House of Commons could easily do its work with about 200 or 300 Members, although that is another argument, and I am well behind with my hon. Friends already.

I appeal to my right hon. and hon. Friends: if they persist with this course of action, they will only bring this Parliament into conflict with the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people. That is in no one's interest, least of all the Labour party's. We should not be trying to push through a measure that will have that effect.

Mr. Salmond

In his usual engaging way, the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) said that the public would probably agree with him in preferring a Parliament with fewer Members. I suspect that the popularity or otherwise of such a move would depend on which ones we got rid of.

Those on both sides of the argument have asserted that the case to which they are opposed would jeopardise the essential integrity of the United Kingdom. I feel as though I have to act as an umpire and decide which is the true Unionist case. If I am to act in that capacity, I will have to blow for no side. Neither argument will determine the fate of the United Kingdom, which I believe is already determined.

Neither argument will save the United Kingdom, so let us consider them both on their merits. The Secretary of State said that he did not think that the integrity of the United Kingdom would turn on numbers in the Scottish Parliament, so why is there such fierce resistance to what is, remarkably for the House of Lords, a reasonable amendment? I have been a Member of Parliament for more than 10 years, and I certainly would not have to take my shoes off to count the number of reasonable amendments that I have seen from the House of Lords. Perhaps this commonsense amendment should be considered according to commonsense criteria.

It was suggested that the Parliament's efficiency might be improved if the number of Members were reduced, but proportionality would certainly be jeopardised. When the hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) argued that proportionality would be compromised by reducing the number of Members, I saw some Labour mathematicians shaking their heads, but it is true that, the lower the number, the more difficult it is to use a top-up to bring about a proportionate parliament. Even the figure of 129 does not guarantee a proportionate Parliament, although it guarantees one that is more proportionate than under first past the post.

The Minister's expression seems to offer an endorsement of what I am saying. The lower the number, the more difficult it is to get proportionality. If proportionality is a key argument behind the figure of 129, it should be a key argument not for a static position but for having no fewer than 129 Members.

The Secretary of State told us that he thought that coterminosity—I think—was crucial, and that it was a point of principle, connecting the Westminster and Scottish Parliaments; but that is not in the Bill. There are separate Members for Orkney and for Shetland in the Bill, but there is only one hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland in the House of Commons: more than enough, some of his colleagues might say. There is no coterminosity now.

It has already been mentioned that European and local government boundaries have often not been perfectly aligned with parliamentary boundaries, so the idea that people in Scotland will be fashing themselves about trying to work it all out and will be hopelessly confused if the Westminster and Scottish Parliament boundaries are not exactly parallel is absolutely farcical. People are entirely able to find their MSPs, their MEPs and their list MSPs in the new structure, without that being adduced as a serious argument in defence of an indefensible position.

I do not for a second believe that deciding whether to allow a separate boundary commission to determine the optimum number of Members for the Scottish Parliament would make the essential difference between an independent and an a devolved Parliament, but it is one criterion by which to judge the difference between a devolved Parliament and what is in effect a super-council. There are few, if any, examples of a legislative body— which is the definition of a Parliament—anywhere in the world allowing another legislative body to set the number of members that that Parliament should have.

The idea that one can judge the appropriate number of MSPs in Edinburgh on the basis of the possible reduction in the number of Members of the Westminster Parliament to reflect the population balance of the United Kingdom, and the possible further reduction if the Jenkins commission has its way, is absolutely farcical. There is no argument for allowing other people, on other criteria and with other motivations, to set the appropriate number of Members for the Scottish Parliament.

5 pm

The debate is about not the integrity of the United Kingdom, but about a commonsense amendment that should be accepted. However, running through the debate is what the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan)—in a robust interview on Radio Scotland this morning —described as the control-freak tendency. Substantial suggestions have been made, partly sourced from the attitude of the Minister of State to the amendments at earlier stages, that the hon. Gentleman does not support the Government's position. The hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland has suggested that even the Scottish Office does not support the Government's position.

The control-freak tendency is affecting a number of issues at the moment. The Government appear to say, "Have a Welsh Assembly, as long as we can decide who might lead it. Have a mayor for London, as long as we can exclude one of the more popular contenders. Have devolution for BBC Scotland, as long as it is not allowed to have a Scottish six o'clock news. Have a Scottish Parliament, but Westminster will still retain the absolute right to determine the number of its members." The background to the debate is that the Government have suddenly realised that the consequences of the policies they have been pursuing are not as they intended. They are trying to draw back under centralised control some of the ability of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, the London mayor and the BBC to respond to the implications of the Government's proposals. That is not a commonsense approach and it is much later than the Government think for the implications of their policies. They are defending the indefensible in rejecting a commonsense amendment from the Lords and it will not secure the fate of the United Kingdom. In fact, it will accelerate the strong suspicion in Scotland that centralised control from the Labour party should be rejected next May.

Mr. Dalyell

I understand that 129 separate offices are to be built for the Members of the Scottish Parliament. That takes us to 2001. If my calculations are right, the next elections will be in 2003, so some offices will receive only two years' use. Will not that be a matter for ribaldry and what will be the effect on the construction of the building?

Mr. Robert Syms (Poole)

I shall make only a brief contribution. I listened carefully to the Secretary of State's arguments about coterminous boundaries, but they would have more force if we had 72 Members of this House and 72 Members elected on the first-past-the-post boundaries for the Scottish Parliament, without a list. Accountability would be muddied by the list Members in a ward, especially if it had several Members from different political parties. That would cause tremendous confusion. The argument for coterminous boundaries for Westminster and the Scottish Parliament is marginal, given that the waters have already been muddied by the list system.

Boundaries have diverged in several instances. At the moment, Members of the European Parliament are elected for constituencies that include six or seven Westminster constituencies, but because the cycle of elections for the European Parliament and Westminster does not match, parliamentary boundary reviews have meant that Members of the European Parliament have represented constituencies with slightly different borders to the constituencies of those elected to this House. The world has not collapsed because that has happened. We have heard many examples of local government boundaries that are not coterminous and of councillors with wards that span more than one parliamentary constituency. The slightly bizarre proposals for London suggest that boroughs should be linked. In August, the Local Government Commission suggested splitting the City of London from Westminster, so that the City of London joined Tower Hamlets and Barking, and Westminster joined with western boroughs. There is substantial inconsistency in the Government's position. I would have more sympathy with the argument that the integrity and coterminosity of parliamentary boundaries are important if it were applied consistently across the Government's constitutional programme.

My hon. Friend the Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) made the significant point that, with any constitutional change, it is important to have stability and some sort of settlement. To start with a proposal involving a drop from 129 Members is a recipe for instability. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) that it will feed resentment that the institution has been designed for a certain number, right or wrong, but that the number will start to be reduced soon after it is set up. That resentment will be used by those who wish to break up the United Kingdom to fan the flames of disunity. If we are going to get it right, why not get it right from the beginning? Why set off with 129 and then reduce the number?

I do not wish to fan the flames of division in the United Kingdom, but my hon. Friend the Member for Woodspring made a good point. We have to test the proposals against the worst case, not the best. This proposal will cause argument, disunity and difficulty, and I therefore support my hon. Friend.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Mr. Michael Clapham—I am sorry, Mr. Michael Connarty.

Mr. Michael Connarty (Falkirk, East)

I take that as a compliment Mr. Deputy Speaker, because I think very highly of my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, West and Penistone (Mr. Clapham) and the work that he has done for the miners. I should have thought that, since you and I spent some time together on a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association trip a while ago, you might recognise me.

Oddly, I found myself agreeing with the tenor of the remarks of the leader of the Scottish National party—that the Union and the future of devolution will not be affected by anything that we do on this matter. When compared with what devolution is really about the question of how many Members there should be is a case of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

I was worried that the hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) got so passionate. Is this really about numbers or only about the number of Liberal Democrats who might get in if there are 129 Members or more? Because of his past contributions, I had thought that it was usually quality rather than quantity that counted with the Liberal Democrats. This seemed to be a quantity argument.

I respect the principles of my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion). I recognise nationalist principles when I hear them, and his was one of the best nationalist speeches that I have heard in this House. I do not think much of the quality of the ones that come from the official Scottish National party.

Mr. Wallace

In some respects, my argument was about numbers—not only the number of Liberal Democrats but of Labour, Conservative and Scottish National party Members. It is about the principle of proportionality. On the referendum campaign, I am sure that the hon. Gentleman agrees that selling the case for proportionality was one of the key things that allowed every part of Scotland to deliver a yes vote to the principle of devolution. Diluting that proportionality, more than anything that could be said about the White Paper, could undermine the good faith of those of us who fought for the yes campaign.

Mr. Connarty

I will deal with proportionality later because 1 do not think that the Bill is a closed door on that. The words of the Secretary of State—tomorrow's Hansard will confirm it—show that it is not a closed door. There is a mechanism for looking at the number of Scottish Members of this House and the number in the Scottish Parliament.

The important thing is that the people of Scotland do not want to focus on what the Parliament will be. The worry of people outside is that they regard us as debating what we see as our fiefdom, our little Chamber, our sets of offices and our fancy potato or upturned boat or whatever it is that Members will meet in. People are beginning to worry that we have forgotten why we set out on this trail so many years ago. It was to do something for the Scottish people, not for the politicians of Scotland.

Mrs. Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest)

I understand what the hon. Gentleman is saying about the people of Scotland being worried. Does he consider that 23,000 people in Falkirk, West might be extremely worried that their democratic will has been totally ignored by the small committee of new Labour that has decided to ignore the fact that, for 24 years, they have elected the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) to be their Member of Parliament? Those 23,000 people are now being told that the hon. Gentleman is not fit to be a Member of Parliament. Of course, I am not suggesting that he is not.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West)

Is the hon. Lady trying to give me the kiss of death?

Mr. Connarty

I was about to say something similar. Until this evening, the star of my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West was buoyant, but I think it has just been shot out of the sky by that intervention. I am sure that the matter to which the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mrs. Laing) refers will be resolved in the fulness of time and we shall discover whether the people of Falkirk, West want to choose their current Member of the UK Parliament or some other person. I leave it to them and I respect the electorate's wishes. I just hope that the people who turned out to vote for me—who number slightly more than 23,000—will turn out and vote for whichever Labour candidate is picked to stand for the Falkirk, East seat in the Scottish Parliament.

Principle is important, but people should know that we are now looking at what we are going to do for them and what is the overall logic. The logic of partnership that comes out of having coterminous, or as near coterminous as possible, constituencies is extremely important. I know that there are exceptions, but it was disingenuous of the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) to use two constituencies in the islands to show that that exception means that there is no logic on the mainland in having coterminous constituencies.

I look forward to working with a Member of the Scottish Parliament for a coterminous constituency. We have all tried to build links with local government bodies and it is normal for groups of Members of Parliament from various areas to meet frequently in this place —the Glasgow group of Members of Parliament, for example. With my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West, I have worked with Falkirk council. Coterminosity of focus is important and it is something that the ordinary public will regard as being logical.

Mr. Swayne

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Connarty

I shall in a moment. The ordinary public would like to think that the service that we deliver to them, the way in which we deliver it and the way in which hon. Members have coterminous responsibilities is all done for their sake, but I believe that the people of Scotland will see the argument in which we are engaged as one between politicians who are trying to look after themselves.

I hope that the principle of proportionality, which was mentioned earlier, will be addressed in the numbers that come out of this Parliament and that that will be done in such a way as not to damage fundamentally that proportionality. As a supporter of the Labour campaign for electoral reform, I think that that is a good move forward, but we must not disregard the public's desire to be represented in a way that makes logical sense to them.

The public are not confused, but they are unhappy. They already manage to find their way to the right door or doors to get their problems solved, but it would be better if we did not make their path more complicated just because we have other agendas, whether getting more members of our party into the Scottish Parliament, or having a larger number of MSPs just for the sake of it. A dialogue is possible, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said.

Mr. Salmond

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Connarty

No, the hon. Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne) asked to intervene first.

I would argue that, if we can simplify the process of engagement with the public and the role we carry out, that will be welcome. Coterminous constituencies are part of that logic.

Mr. Swayne

Although I accept that coterminosity is important, does the hon. Gentleman accept that it should be a matter for consideration by the Members of the Scottish Parliament? They should be included in the decision on such an important matter, but, at the moment, a fait accompli is being imposed on them, before they have even taken their seats.

Mr. Connarty

We published the White Paper and we all got behind it; we got the people to support our proposals at the general election and in the referendum; and now we are carrying out what was proposed. In a sense, everything was set by that White Paper. I do not think that we should allow the Scottish National party, the Conservative party, or those who worry that the principle of sovereignty is more important than the delivery of service, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East seems to be arguing, to try to use the differences to their own advantage.

I believe that we have reached a point where the Scottish Parliament will talk to the UK Parliament and the response to the UK boundary review will take into account its impact on the Scottish Parliament. If things do not happen like that, we will have missed a chance for co-operation, and it is co-operation that will make devolution work, whereas conflict will deliver what the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan wants—independence for Scotland.

Mr. Salmond

Barring the party list, each elector will have one MSP and one Westminster Member of Parliament. The only possible confusion would be between the Members themselves. The hon. Gentleman has relationships with a Member of the European Parliament, who has relationships with another—let me rephrase that: he has an association with an MEP who has an association with seven other Members of Parliament. Does that MEP have any difficulty in having an association with eight different Westminster Members of Parliament whose constituencies fall within his constituency's boundary?

Mr. Connarty

In reality, at any time and in any part of the country, most people have great difficulty in grasping what a Member of the European Parliament does and for whom he does it. The hon. Gentleman's argument is a weak one.

Dr. Fox

Surely the point is that the Lords amendments do not prevent coterminosity; they give the Scottish Parliament the freedom to make up its own mind on the matter. It is the de-linkage that is the important point, because it allows the Scottish Parliament or the majority of Members of the Scottish Parliament to do whatever they think is best. What is wrong with that?

5.15 pm
Mr. Connarty

It is funny, but when the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) stands up and defends any part of devolution, the words "crocodile tears" spring to mind. I wonder why that is. We have only a short time, so I should like to move on. I am concerned—I believe that the people of Scotland are too—about how the new Parliament will interact with all the other parts of civic society that were mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East. We are concerned not about the number of Members in the Parliament, but about what it will do, which will not depend on the numbers. Apart from the safeguards necessary for proportionality and dealing with democratic deficit, the Parliament's size is not important, unless it can be shown that the Parliament cannot function properly unless the numbers are changed. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that he would listen to arguments on that point—

It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on consideration of the Bill, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order [this day], put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, That this House disagree, with the Lords in the said amendment:

The House divided: Ayes 303, Noes 173.

Division No. 375] [5.16 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Clark, Dr Lynda
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Ainger, Nick Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Alexander, Douglas Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Allen, Graham Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Ashton, Joe Clwyd, Ann
Atherton, Ms Candy Coaker, Vernon
Atkins, Charlotte Coffey, Ms Ann
Barnes, Harry Coleman, Iain
Barron, Kevin Connarty, Michael
Battle, John Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Beard, Nigel Cooper, Yvette
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Corbett, Robin
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Corbyn, Jeremy
Bennett, Andrew F Corston, Ms Jean
Benton, Joe Cox, Tom
Berry, Roger Cranston, Ross
Best, Harold Crausby, David
Blackman, Liz Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Blears, Ms Hazel Cummings, John
Blizzard, Bob Cunliffe, Lawrence
Blunkett, Rt Hon David Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Borrow, David Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Dalyell, Tam
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Brinton, Mrs Helen Darvill, Keith
Browne, Desmond Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Buck, Ms Karen Davidson, Ian
Burden, Richard Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Burgon, Colin Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Butler, Mrs Christine Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen Dawson, Hilton
Caborn, Richard Dean, Mrs Janet
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Denham, John
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Donohoe, Brian H
Campbell-Savours, Dale Dowd, Jim
Cann, Jamie Drew, David
Caplin, Ivor Drown, Ms Julia
Casale, Roger Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Caton, Martin Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Chaytor, David Edwards, Huw
Clapham, Michael Efford, Clive
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff Laxton, Bob
Etherington, Bill Lepper, David
Fisher, Mark Leslie, Christopher
Fitzpatrick, Jim Liddell, Mrs Helen
Flint, Caroline Linton, Martin
Flynn, Paul Livingstone, Ken
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings) Lock, David
Foster, Michael J (Worcester) Love, Andrew
Fyfe, Maria McAvoy, Thomas
Galbraith, Sam McCabe, Steve
Galloway, George McCafferty, Ms Chris
Gapes, Mike McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
Gerrard, Neil McDonagh, Siobhain
Gibson, Dr Ian McDonnell, John
Gilroy, Mrs Linda McGuire, Mrs Anne
Godman, Dr Norman A McIsaac, Shona
Godsiff, Roger McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Goggins, Paul McLeish, Henry
Golding, Mrs Llin McNamara, Kevin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen MacShane, Denis
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E) McWalter, Tony
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) McWilliam, John
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Marek, Dr John
Grocott, Bruce Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Grogan, John Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Gunnell, John Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE) Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Hanson, David Martlew, Eric
Healey, John Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich) Milburn, Alan
Hepburn, Stephen Miller, Andrew
Heppell, John Mitchell, Austin
Hesford, Stephen Moffatt, Laura
Hill, Keith Moran, Ms Margaret
Hinchliffe, David Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Hoey, Kate Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Home Robertson, John Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Hood, Jimmy Mullin, Chris
Hoon, Geoffrey Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Hopkins, Kelvin Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Howells, Dr Kim Naysmith, Dr Doug
Hoyle, Lindsay O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford) O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) O'Hara, Eddie
Humble, Mrs Joan O'Neill, Martin
Hurst, Alan Organ, Mrs Diana
Hutton, John Osborne, Ms Sandra
Iddon, Dr Brian Palmer, Dr Nick
Illsley, Eric Pendry, Tom
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead) Perham, Ms Linda
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough) Pickthall, Colin
Jenkins, Brian Pike, Peter L
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle) Plaskitt, James
Johnson, Miss Melanie Pollard, Kerry
(Welwyn Hatfield) Pond, Chris
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Pope, Greg
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark) Pound, Stephen
Jones, Helen (Warrington N) Powell, Sir Raymond
Jones, Ms Jenny Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
(Wolverh'ton SW) Prosser, Gwyn
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak) Purchase, Ken
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S) Quin, Ms Joyce
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Quinn, Lawrie
Keeble, Ms Sally Radice, Giles
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Rammell, Bill
Kelly, Ms Ruth Rapson, Syd
Kemp, Fraser Raynsford, Nick
Khabra, Piara S Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Kidney, David Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth) Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Kingham, Ms Tess Roche, Mrs Barbara
Kumar, Dr Ashok Rooker, Jeff
Ladyman, Dr Stephen Rooney, Terry
Lawrence, Ms Jackie Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted Sutcliffe, Gerry
Roy, Frank Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Ruane, Chris (Dewsbury)
Ruddock, Ms Joan Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Ryan, Ms Joan Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Salter, Martin Timms, Stephen
Sarwar, Mohammad Tipping, Paddy
Savidge, Malcolm Touhig, Don
Sawford, Phil Trickett, Jon
Sedgemore, Brian Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Shaw, Jonathan Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Sheerman, Barry Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Shipley, Ms Debra Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S) Vaz, Keith
Singh, Marsha Walley, Ms Joan
Skinner, Dennis Ward, Ms Claire
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E) Wareing, Robert N
Smith, Miss Geraldine Watts, David
(Morecambe & Lunesdale) White, Brian
Smith, Jacqui (Radditch) Whitehead, Dr Alan
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Snape, peter Wills, Michael
Soley, Clive Winnick, David
Southworth, Ms Helen Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Starkey, Dr Phyllis Wise, Audrey
Steinberg, Gerry Wood, Mike
Stevenson, George Woolas, Phil
Stewart, David (Inverness E) Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Stinchcombe, Paul Wyatt, Derek
Stott, Roger
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin Tellers for the Ayes:
Stringer, Graham Jane Kennedy and
Stuart, Ms Gisela Mr. David Clelland.
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)
Allan, Richard Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Amess, David Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael Collins, Tim
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James Colvin, Michael
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Cotter, Brian
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E) Cran, James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Curry, Rt Hon David
Baker, Norman Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Baldry, Tony Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Beggs, Roy Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Beith, Rt Hon A J Donaldson, Jeffrey
Bercow, John Duncan, Alan
Beresford, Sir Paul Duncan Smith, Iain
Blunt, Crispin Evans, Nigel
Body, Sir Richard Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Boswell, Tim Faber, David
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Fabricant, Michael
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia Fearn, Ronnie
Brady, Graham Flight, Howard
Brake, Tom Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Brand, Dr Peter Foster, Don (Bath)
Brazier, Julian Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Breed, Colin Fox, Dr Liam
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Garnier, Edward
Browning, Mrs Angela George, Andrew (St Ives)
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Gibb, Nick
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Gill, Christopher
Burnett, John Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Burns, Simon Goodlad, Rt Hon Sir Alastair
Burstow, Paul Gorrie, Donald
Butterfill, John Green, Damian
Cable, Dr Vincent Greenway, John
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife) Grieve, Dominic
Canavan, Dennis Hague, Rt Hon William
Cash, William Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Capman, Sir Sydney Hammond, Philip
(Chipping Barnet) Hawkins, Nick
Chidgey, David Hayes, John
Chope, Christopher Heald, Oliver
Clappison, James Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Horam, John Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot) Ruffley, David
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N) Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Hunter, Andrew Salmond, Alex
Jack, Rt Hon Michael Sanders, Adrian
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Sayeed, Jonathan
Jenkin, Bernard Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Shepherd, Richard
Keetch, Paul Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye) Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Key, Robert Spelman, Mrs Caroline
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Spicer, Sir Michael
Kirkbride, Miss Julie Spring, Richard
Laing, Mrs Eleanor Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Steen, Anthony
Lansley, Andrew Streeter, Gary
Leigh, Edward Stunell, Andrew
Letwin, Oliver Swayne, Desmond
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E) Syms, Robert
Lidington, David Tapsell, Sir Peter
Luff, Peter Taylor, John M (Solihull)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
McIntosh, Miss Anne Taylor, Sir Teddy
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew Townend, John
Maclean, Rt Hon David Tredinnick, David
Madel, Sir David Trend, Michael
Malins, Humfrey Tyler, Paul
Maples, John Tyrie, Andrew
Maude, Rt Hon Francis Wallace, James
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian Wardle, Charles
May, Mrs Theresa Webb, Steve
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute) Wells, Bowen
Moore, Michael Welsh, Andrew
Moss, Malcolm Whitney, Sir Raymond
Norman, Archie Whittingdale, John
Oaten, Mark Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Öpik, Lembit Wilkinson, John
Ottaway, Richard Willetts, David
Page, Richard Willis, Phil
Paice, James Wilshire, David
Paterson, Owen Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Pickles, Eric Woodward, Shaun
Prior, David Yeo, Tim
Randall, John Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, David Tellers for the Noes:
Robathan, Andrew Mr. Stephen Day and
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E) Mr. Nigel Waterson.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords amendment disagreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 216 to 220 disagreed to.

Lords amendment No. 1 agreed to.

Forward to