§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord)
We now come to the next motion, which concerns the implications for the Westminster Parliament of Scottish and Welsh devolution. Madam Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.
§ Dr. Liam Fox (Woodspring)
I beg to move,
That this House believes that the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales need to work not only in the interests of the people of Scotland and Wales but for all the people of the United Kingdom and calls upon the Government to address the imbalances and tensions introduced by the establishment of the devolved bodies; urges the Government to abandon plans for electoral reform at Westminster in the light of experience in Scotland and Wales; and calls upon all unionist parties to resist resurgent nationalism in every part of the UK.
The debate occurs against the historic backdrop of monumental changes in our constitutional structures. The period leading up to those changes has gone largely unnoticed in England, but I fear that that has now come to an end. As a result of last week's elections, the 83 per cent. of the United Kingdom population who live in England now find that their constitutional arrangements are very different from those that existed a few days ago.
It is worth pointing out that, five days after polling, there is still no government in either Scotland or Wales. Tonight, as we sit in the House of Commons, in Edinburgh, behind closed doors in smoke-filled rooms—well-protected from the prying eyes of electorate—the unseemly scramble for power has well and truly begun. The Liberal Democrats, pushed into fourth place both in Scotland and in Wales, are engaged in the greatest car boot sale of principles since their last car boot sale of principles over closed electoral lists.
The job of the Opposition is to ask the questions about devolution that have never been properly addressed by the Government. During the referendum campaigns, and throughout the passage of the Scotland Act 1998 and the Government of Wales Act 1998, Conservatives were criticised for pointing out flaws in the legislation. Despite our best efforts, many of those flaws remain and, unless they are dealt with, they will be a source of imbalance and friction within our new constitutional arrangements.
The simple fact is that the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly need to work not only for the people of Scotland and of Wales, but for all the people of the United Kingdom. If we allow those bodies to fail, the United Kingdom will be finished. Conservatives in the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly will work for the maintenance of the Union.
§ Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Inverclyde)
I thank the hon. Gentleman for showing his usual courtesy in giving way to me. I am not defending the Liberals—would not do that. However, I point out to the hon. Gentleman that those countries with long experience of electoral systems that are different from our own—I refer particularly to the Irish Republic and Germany—generally take some weeks over the negotiations for their Administrations. It would be foolish for those negotiations to be rushed.
§ Dr. Fox
I will in a moment.
During the passage of the Scotland and Government of Wales Acts, we said that failing to deal with those legislative problems would create dangerous tensions and anomalies. We were right. We said that devolution would result in a resurgence of nationalism in both Scotland and Wales. We were right. We said that allowing Scottish Members of Parliament to make decisions on English matters at Westminster, when English Members of Parliament had no reciprocal powers to make decisions on Scottish matters would create new tensions. We were right. We said that devolution could lead to the break up of the Union. I hope that we were wrong.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way at this critical point in his speech. Is he aware that the Procedure Committee, which I have the privilege to chair, is carrying out an in-depth inquiry into the procedural consequences of devolution? Has he read the Committee's first two interim reports? Will he accept from me that all members of the Committee will follow closely the deliberations and speeches in this debate, and that we shall bear them in mind before we produce our report in 10 days' time?
§ Dr. Fox
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for bringing that to my attention, as he has in the many Tea Room tutorials he has given me on the important work done by his Committee. We shall have to consider closely any procedural changes in this House: not only will we have to rebalance the interests of Welsh and Scottish Members here but we have to remember that this is a Union Parliament and that we all have a legitimate interest in what happens in all parts of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Beith
The hon. Gentleman might be a little more gracious. If the Liberal Democrats had not negotiated hard for their principles, his party would have not a single seat in the Scottish Parliament and only one in the Welsh Assembly. It is only because we stood firm for proportional representation that the Conservatives have any representatives on those bodies.
§ Dr. Fox
Just as they stood firm for the open list that they had cherished for so long. The Liberal Democrats stand firm for nothing except their own self-interest, and that is becoming increasingly apparent as the hours go by.
As in so many other areas of policy, the Government's plans on devolution are half-baked and ill thought out and, as usual, they have begun a process without thinking through how that process will end. That their plans are half-baked, there can be no doubt, for it was the Labour-dominated Scottish Affairs Committee that said:we hope that the Government will not be overtaken by events and that when the pace of reform slackens, it will be found that all of the separately constructed pieces of the jigsaw puzzle will fit together".176 The same Labour-dominated Select Committee said:if there is an overall grouping showing how all the pieces will fit together, none of our witnesses were aware of it".Seldom can such a damning condemnation of the intellectual basis of policy have been found in the pages of a report by a Labour-dominated Committee.
§ Mr. David Marshall (Glasgow, Shettleston)
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Select Committee—which is all-party, comprising Labour, Liberal Democrat, Scottish National party and Tory Members—unanimously welcomed the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and wished it every success in future, in contrast with his churlish remarks this evening?
§ Dr. Fox
There is no difficulty in the hon. Gentleman's remarks being entirely compatible with mine—they are not mutually exclusive. The report was an all-party report and all the parties damned the Government's proposals; nevertheless, they all welcomed the Scottish Parliament, wished it well and hoped that it would succeed.
The Select Committee came late in the day to issues that have been raised in the House over an extremely long period. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) is not present, for this is surely one of his nights, given that what he has predicted for such a long time has now come to fruition and the West Lothian question remains unaddressed. Scottish Members of Parliament will find themselves without a say on matters such as education and health within their own constituencies. Incidentally, the potential for turf war is immense, with voters being able to choose between two constituency representatives and several top-up representatives; in addition, voters are unlikely to have read the schedules to the Scotland Act or to understand which powers are reserved and which devolved. However, what is more important is that those Members who find themselves semi-redundant in their own constituencies will still have a say on issues in England that are denied to them in their own Scottish constituencies.
That is no longer a hypothetical question; it is the new reality of Labour's new politics and it requires new answers, so I am delighted that the Secretary of State in waiting—the Minister for Education, Scottish Office—is here tonight to give those answers. How is the West Lothian question to be addressed?
§ Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)
It is likely that there will be further anger arising from the fact that Scottish Members of Parliament will be able to come down here and decide England's education and health issues while English Members of Parliament have no control over such issues in Scotland. That is illustrated by the row over tuition fees. The English already subsidise Scottish taxpayers, but what will happen if English parents on modest or middling incomes have to pay full tuition fees while tuition is free in Scotland? That would be outrageous.
§ Dr. Fox
My hon. Friend makes the point extremely well. Now and again, the Government have to face up to one uncomfortable fact: they are the Government. They, not we, are the ones who have to deal with that anomaly, so it is up to the Secretary of State for Education and Employment and the Chancellor to fight it out with the 177 Secretary of State for Scotland so as to ensure fair treatment for all people in all parts of the United Kingdom.
The current position of the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Wales more closely resembles Whitehall farce than Whitehall competence. The Secretary of State for Scotland is at this very moment engaged in a shabby auction with the Liberal Democrats on the very issue of Scottish tuition, while remaining a member of a Cabinet which has collective responsibility for the imposition of student fees on English students. It is quite apparent that no politician can have two masters: the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Wales must resign from the Cabinet immediately on their appointment in Scotland and in Wales.
Who wins the trial of strength over tuition fees between the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Treasury will provide an interesting indication of where things stand within the Government. In the devolved Parliament, will the Labour party be allowed to follow any policy different from that commanded by the Treasury and Downing street? Will power be devolved in reality, or only on paper, as many of us expect? That issue will also provide an interesting test of the Liberal Democrats' commitment as they aspire to join a coalition in Scotland. Will they be true to their election pledge that they would demand the abolition of tuition fees? Anything less than an absolute commitment, and the Scottish electorate will see them for the chanters that they are.
There are anomalies here at Westminster that must be dealt with, the first of which is the tax and spend anomaly. Currently all Members of the House of Commons are able to questions the Ministers who are directly responsible for how the Scottish and Welsh blocks are spent. Under devolution, although all Members of the House of Commons will be responsible for raising taxes, we shall have no mechanism for scrutinising how a large proportion of those taxes are spent. That weakening of our scrutiny, coupled with the devolved Members' detachment from tax raising, provides one of the most potent sources of conflict between the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and Westminster. I expect the Secretary of State in waiting to tell us tonight how that is to be resolved, because failure to resolve the problem of tax and spend and scrutiny will not only betray the intellectual bankruptcy that lies at the heart of the Government's devolution policy but show the current Administration's callous disregard of the rights of the House of Commons.
One of the problems that must be faced is speculation as to the appropriateness of certain ministerial appointments. There can be no doubt about the legitimacy of the monarch appointing to her Government any Member of Parliament from any part of the United Kingdom to any post to represent any part of the United Kingdom. However, it must become difficult for any Member of Parliament representing a Scottish seat to hold ministerial office in, for example, health, education or—dare I say it—transport, for they would be responsible for matters of policy in England while having no say whatever in the same matters as they affect their own constituents in Scotland. That anomaly needs to be dealt with, because otherwise it will create unfairness and 178 uncertainty which are disadvantageous to the entire process of government and cannot help the process of devolution.
§ Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross)
Does the hon. Gentleman not recognise that the conventions of our constitution have allowed Scots to take part in decisions in Cabinet even in respect of matters in which the Scots had no direct interest and even—as in the case of Lord Mackay of Clashfern—when the individual concerned did not represent an English constituency?
§ Dr. Fox
It might have escaped the right hon. Gentleman's notice but, as a Member of the House of Lords, Lord Mackay did not represent any constituency at all. It is worth noting that the conventions that have applied in this House are conventions relating to a Union Parliament, not to a Union Parliament with a devolved Parliament and a devolved Assembly. We shall have to find new conventions to govern proceedings in this place and in the two devolved bodies, and those will necessarily differ from the conventions that have governed our proceedings in the past. In addition, the circumstances that the right hon. Gentleman mentions occurred when there were reciprocal rights between different parts of the United Kingdom, but reciprocal rights of representation have now disappeared under the system introduced by the Labour Government with the help of the Liberal Democrats.
We have had several debates in the House in recent months about proportional representation—in the context of Europe, devolution and the Jenkins proposals. It would be wrong of me not to thank the many Labour Members of Parliament who have offered their support in the past few days in the campaign to stop the Government introducing PR at Westminster. Many of them have said that they will have to do their duty and vote for their own side tonight, but that they are with us in spirit. They hope that we will effectively destroy any chance of introducing PR at Westminster. They can reciprocate by looking at the motions tabled for the various trade union conferences—which I believe are inspired by sources at Downing street—welcoming proportional representation. I hope that those who do not want PR at Westminster will put down motions at those trade union conferences ensuring that that view is made abundantly clear. They must not be used as puppets for Downing street as part of the Prime Minister's long-term plan to turn this place into a democratic poodle.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey)
The motion on the Order Paper asks hon. Members to vote for the proposition that the Government should abandon any plans to introduce proportional representation at Westminster in light of the experiences in Scotland and Wales. Can the hon. Gentleman clarify his party's position? Would the Conservatives have preferred to see last Thursday's elections in Scotland and Wales held under the proportional or the firstpast-the-post system?
§ Dr. Fox
If the hon. Gentleman had attended the devolution debates in this place, he would have heard that we clearly favour the first-past-the-post system. We have never voted for proportional representation. It is typical 179 of the Liberal Democrats that they cannot see beyond their party interest. Our main argument against PR—especially PR at Westminster—is that it would result in instability in Government. The purpose of Government is to govern, not to be some mathematical exercise.
§ Miss Anne Begg (Aberdeen, South)
I understand why the Tory party in Scotland put up candidates for the Scottish elections. However, having lost out on the first-past-the-post option, is the hon. Gentleman now saying that the successful Tory candidates will not take up their seats in the Scottish Parliament because a discredited electoral system was used? That is surely the only honourable position for them to take.
§ Dr. Fox
We all make mistakes by allowing certain interventions. That is clearly a ridiculous notion. If the hon. Lady thinks that, because we did not vote for a particular electoral system, we will not play a full part in the new democratic process, she has some lessons to learn. If it were a question of consistency, I suppose that an anti-European such as Neil Kinnock would never have ended up a European Commissioner.
Every one of our warnings during the debates on proportional representation—we warned of instability, a lack of stable government, the disproportionate granting of power to minority parties and, worst of all, Government policies being decided by politicians after the election rather than by voters at the election—has been vindicated. Those elements are readily on show in the great Dewar-Wallace extravaganza that is being played out in Edinburgh. We can be sure that, after the Liberal Democrats' selling out on closed lists last year, few, if any, Liberal principles will not be available at bargain basement prices to allow the Liberal Democrats a sniff at the inside of a ministerial car.
Throughout the devolution debates, Labour promised us that devolution would kill nationalism "stone dead"—that was the phrase used by the Secretary of State for Defence. However, neither the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) nor the right hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) looked exactly moribund on Friday morning—indeed, I have seldom seen them looking so rosy about their own prospects. Nationalism is resurgent and all those who wish to see this country held together—albeit belatedly—must embrace the unionist cause that the Conservatives have championed for so long. We never wanted devolution, but we accepted the results of the referendums. We have said that we will try to make it work—and we will. However, no one can make it work while the contradictions and instability at the heart of the legislation remain.
§ Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield)
Does my hon. Friend agree that one interesting contradiction that has not yet been touched on is the question of ministerial accountability? Many routine decisions with cross-border implications will be made by the First Minister of the Scottish Parliament. Although Westminster will have the power to intervene, the routine aspects of decision making will go to Edinburgh. The letter from the Prime Minister replying to my question of last week makes it clear that 180 the routine decision-making process regarding the Radioactive Substances Act 1963, for example, will lie with the First Minister of the Scottish Parliament.
§ Dr. Fox
The situation is exactly as my hon. Friend suggests. It is clear from the Prime Minister's reply that the House will not be able to scrutinise such decisions. We await with anticipation the announcement of the rather short job description of the Secretary of State for Scotland, and we look to that office to enable this place to scrutinise what goes on in Scotland.
I have been asked why the Conservatives asked for this debate now that devolution has happened and the process is over. It is not over: this is the beginning of a process that will continue for some time. It will take many months, if not years, for us to appreciate fully the impact of the Government's flawed legislation. Their constitutional proposals are piecemeal, are a recipe for conflict and are ultimately unstable. If the Government genuinely want to hold the United Kingdom together, they must deal with the glaring flaws in the plans that they have already introduced. If they simply pretend that those flaws do not exist, the nationalists—those who want to separate the United Kingdom—will be the beneficiaries. This Government would then be guilty of setting countryman against countryman, and the Prime Minister would be remembered as the man who sold the Union.
§ The Minister for Education, Scottish Office (Mrs. Helen Liddell)
I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:welcomes the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales, following the elections on 6th May, and the prospect of working co-operatively with these bodies and in particular the opportunity this presents to make government more democratic, accountable and inclusive within the context of a stronger Union.The Tory party may have lost its nerve in the past few years, but it has never lost its cheek. The party that opposed devolution root and branch comes unblushing to the House tonight with a carping, petty and point-scoring speech by the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox). He normally comes to this place with a leek in one hand and a Tam o'Shanter in the other. I notice that he sports the Union flag on his lapel tonight; yet behind him sits the hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) who wrote in today's edition of The Herald in Glasgow about the need for an English Parliament. The right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) described such calls as "English nationalism", which is every bit as dangerous to the union as Scottish, Welsh and Irish nationalism.
The hon. Member for Woodspring comes to the House tonight purporting to speak for those people whom his party rejected and who have rejected his party. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Miss Begg) made a very valid point. She pointed out that the 18 Members who were eligible to sit in the Scottish Parliament would not be in that position if it were not for the PR system. The hon. Gentleman has not offered one word of thanks for the fact that, if it were not for this Government and the new proportional representation system—which was adopted for the elections to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly—there would be no lifeline to the moribund Tory party in 181 Scotland and in Wales. We have tried to give the Conservatives a lesson in democracy, but they have learned nothing and they know nothing.
§ Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East)
While the hon. Lady is giving lessons in democracy, can she explain to Conservative Members what is democratic about sharing power with the party that came not second or third, but fourth in the elections in Scotland and Wales?
§ Mrs. Liddell
The hon. Gentleman is showing some pique at the fact that his party is not included. If he is so opposed to proportional representation, he could urge his colleagues in the Scottish Parliament not to take up their seats, but they will take them up because the Parliament will give some of them in the dying stages of their careers an opportunity to hold high office. We have given the Conservatives a lesson in democracy, but they have learned nothing.
§ Mr. Michael Connarty (Falkirk, East)
Is my right hon. Friend amazed not only by the arrogance of the hon. Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis), but by his lack of humility? The Conservatives are five points behind where they were in 1997, when they lost all their parliamentary seats. They appear to have learned no lessons.
§ Mrs. Liddell
Before the Scottish general election, we saw a penitent Tory party in Scotland with the attitude, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." First, the Conservatives were against devolution; then they were for it; and now it seems, from what the hon. Member for Woodspring has said this evening, that they are against it again. Throughout its history, the Tory party has been unable to rise to the level of great events. Last week's events were great. They mean that the governance of Britain will never be the same again—not worse, but better. Yet another of the pledges that we made to the people of Britain at the election has been honoured. Keeping promises may still be a fairly novel concept for the Conservative party, but for us it is the point of being in government.
The hon. Member for Woodspring claims that there is no Government in Scotland. He made a list of errors in his speech. He seems incapable of grasping the fact that devolution takes place on 1 July, when the powers are vested in the Scottish Parliament. Five days into a Parliament that will last for four years, it is beginning to pick up the reins of power that it will take fully on 1 July. When the devolved powers pass to the new Parliament in Scotland and the Assembly in Wales, a new, more modern Britain will be born. It will be a new democracy where the priorities are the people's priorities—truly a democracy for the many, not the few. The Tories lack the vision to see that devolution means better democracy for all the United Kingdom, including England.
§ Mrs. Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest)
As the right hon. Lady is so keen on her party keeping promises, will she guarantee that Labour will keep its promise to charge tuition fees, or will it listen to its Liberal Democrat partners?
§ Mrs. Liddell
The hon. Lady seems to have forgotten the fact that the Government whom she supported set up 182 the Dearing committee. As usual, she is posturing on the issues. In Scotland, we have a new democracy which will be built on consensus. Last week, on the eve of the Scottish and Welsh elections, the House gave a Third Reading to the Greater London Authority Bill, which paves the way for an elected mayor and assembly here in London, so that those in the south will also be able to enjoy the benefits of devolution just as we enjoy them in other parts of the United Kingdom.
§ Mrs. Teresa Gorman (Billericay)
If the right hon. Lady's argument is that it is democratic for the Scottish people to have a referendum and choice in their government, why is it not also part of her party's democratic strategy to let the people in England have a referendum on whether they would like their own Parliament?
§ Mrs. Liddell
I should be interested to know whether it was the view of the Conservative Front Benchers that there should be an English Parliament. That would be revealing.
Last week, the House voted on the Greater London Authority Bill, which paves the way for an elected authority here in London. Throughout England, regional development agencies are up and running. At the general election, we made it clear that we were committed to directly elected regional government in England where there was a demand for it. We have said that, in time, we shall introduce legislation to allow the people, region by region, to decide in a referendum whether they want directly elected regional government. I stress the importance of local consent, because we know that some areas of England are less enthusiastic about devolution than others. Devolution is not about one-size-fits-all government. Already, some local authorities in England and their regional partners are setting up voluntary chambers.
§ Mr. John MacGregor (South Norfolk)
Is the right hon. Lady suggesting that the regional development agencies and assemblies in England—if they came about in certain regions—would have the same powers as the Scottish Parliament? Is she suggesting that they would be in any way equivalent?
§ Mrs. Liddell
There is no separate criminal law in the regions of England, but there is in Scotland. We shall build on the democratic will of the people in the regions of England to ensure greater accountability.
Much has been made of the role of the House in the new situation and of the alleged threat to it because of the changes that we have made. It is regrettable, but not surprising, that Conservative Members cannot see an opportunity to improve the operation of the House when they are confronted with one. They are so blinded by prejudice that they cannot see that the new governance of Scotland, Wales, Ireland and London will allow an opportunity to improve the business of the House. The Modernisation Committee will shortly be considering a proposal from my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to revive and adapt the Standing Committee on Regional Affairs. That would enable the House to debate the affairs of the English regions, along the lines of the Scottish and Welsh Grand Committees.
§ Dr. Fox
Having failed to answer the previous two interventions, will the right hon. Lady tell us, given that 183 she is committed to such a democratic solution and understands the problems here at Westminster, whether the Government intend to do anything to answer the West Lothian question, which was first raised by a Labour Member, not a Conservative?
§ Mrs. Liddell
I shall come to the West Lothian question. The decisions that we hope that the Modernisation Committee will take on issues such as the Standing Committee of Regional Affairs should give the regions of England an opportunity to have a voice. The hon. Member for Woodspring shakes his head. I seem to remember his one-time friend, Mr. Michael Forsyth, saying that the Scottish Grand Committee could be an alternative to a devolved Parliament. It patently is not. The same gentleman marched up the Royal Mile in Edinburgh behind a large stone, believing that that would give democracy back to the people of Scotland. I immediately think of the emperor and his new clothes.
I promise that we shall not pack the Standing Committee on Regional Affairs with Scottish Members in the way that, over nearly four decades, Conservative Governments under Harold Macmillan, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Lady Thatcher and the right hon. Members for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath) and for Huntingdon (Mr. Major) packed Scottish Standing Committees with English Members to vote down the will of the Scottish people. I remind the House of one case in particular—the poll tax. The hon. Member for Woodspring talks about the West Lothian question as though it were a new problem. It is not. We in Scotland suffered from the home counties question, the Devon question, the Cornwall question, the Norfolk question and the Suffolk question week after week as generations of Members of Parliament from the Tory shires, press-ganged into Committee service, marched into the Division Lobbies to vote down the Scots without ever having heard a word of the debate. That is what I mean when I say that they have not lost their cheek. Let them come here and confess how they treated the House and the Scots within it. I promise the House that this Government will not repeat the mistakes of the previous Government. We believe in the new politics and the new democracy, even if some Conservative Members give us cause to wonder whether they are worth it.
§ Mrs. Liddell
The hon. Gentleman is well aware that those are matters for the boundary commission, which is independent. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] Opposition Members are now challenging the independence of the boundary commission. I wonder whether the leader of their party agrees that the commission is not independent.
§ Mrs. Liddell
I should prefer to make progress, but I shall allow the right hon. Gentleman to intervene later.
The House is not the English Parliament. It has not been reduced to being a rump Parliament. It has been, is, and will continue to be, the Parliament of all the United 184 Kingdom. That is what the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland want. They are not separatists. Last week's votes in Scotland and Wales were votes against separation, not—whatever the Scottish National party or Plaid Cymru may claim—the first step towards it. The most separatist statements that have been made since last weekend were made by the hon. Member for Billericay in today's newspapers and, I understand, in a pamphlet that will be issued tomorrow.
The majority of people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have no difficulty in viewing themselves as British. It is clear from the reaction of ordinary people in England that the vast majority wish the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales godspeed. The English are not well served by the hysterical ranting of Conservative Members.
§ Mr. MacGregor
The right hon. Lady has not addressed any of the issues or answered any of the questions. She has made many bogus points, including a reference to the Standing Committee on Regional Affairs. Is she seriously suggesting that such a Committee is equivalent to the Scottish Parliament, and is she aware that there may be only one debate on the regions every two years? Is she further aware that no votes are taken in that Committee and it is simply a talking shop? That is why, when it was last tried, it was abandoned.
§ Mrs. Liddell
Perhaps we are witnessing the right hon. Gentleman's inability to accept the facts, which is part of the problem of the Tory party's collapse at the previous general election. The Standing Committee on Regional Affairs is not envisaged as an alternative to the Scottish Parliament. If the right hon. Gentleman is advocating an English Parliament, I would be interested to know the view of his Front-Bench colleagues on that matter.
It is necessary to take account of, and articulate the differences between, the various regions of England. We are anxious to find an opportunity better to address those subjects in debates in the House.
§ Mr. Grieve
If it had been suggested during our debates on Scotland that regional variations in Scotland should cause us to set up two Parliaments there, I am sure that the right hon. Lady would have been the first, followed by her many Back-Bench colleagues with Scottish constituencies, to cry foul. Why, therefore, does England have to be regionalised in the way that she describes when there is an English identity?
§ Mrs. Liddell
It is a matter of what the English people want. Even after all this time, the Conservatives have not caught on to the distinctive difference between Scotland and England on legislation. Devolution has existed for the better part of a century because we have had separate legislation for Scotland. The hysterical ranting of Conservative Members would put to shame the rivalry on football and rugby pitches.
§ Sir Teddy Taylor (Rochford and Southend, East)
Will the right hon. Lady try to resolve a problem which may arise? Would the Government and the Secretary of State take the view that they had the power to intervene if, for example, the Scottish Parliament decided to abolish tuition fees? I have friends in Scotland who believe that the Government could intervene under section 35(1)(b) of 185 the Scotland Act 1998. Would it not help to relieve present uncertainties if the Government made it clear whether they consider the Scottish Parliament entirely free to make a decision on tuition fees, or whether the Secretary of State would have the powers to intervene under section 35(1)(b)?
§ Mrs. Liddell
Those are hypothetical matters, which are under discussion at present. I remind the hon. Gentleman—who was once, I recall, the Member for a Scottish seat now represented by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton)—that devolution means devolution.
We have heard the sterile arguments of the separatists and the anti-devolutionists, and those have now been exposed. It is time now to concentrate on those English Tories—I say "English" deliberately, because at present there is no other kind—whose xenophobia about Europe has now developed into spite about other parts of the United Kingdom. Yes, devolution means a substantial transfer of power, but in no way does it mean that the responsibilities of the House will be reduced to matters that are reserved to it or, indeed, to matters relating to England. The Government will continue to be accountable for the activities of all the main Government Departments, and none of the UK Departments, apart from the Scottish and Welsh Offices, will have its activities reduced after 1 July.
§ Mrs. Liddell
No, I have given way to the hon. Gentleman already, and I want to make progress. Other hon. Members on both sides of the House want to intervene.
§ Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley)
Referring to the West Lothian question, the right hon. Lady said that it would be up to the English people to decide whether they wanted their own assembly or Parliament. Is she therefore stating that the English people—I mean those in the whole of England—will be offered a referendum to decide whether they want their own Parliament?
§ Mrs. Liddell
I wish that the hon. Gentleman would listen. I made the point clearly that it would be up to different parts of England to decide whether to have their own assembly. We shall introduce the necessary legislation to ensure that those assemblies could be set up if they were required.
§ Mrs. Liddell
No, I want to make progress.
The hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) does not want to acknowledge that the Government are prepared to listen to the people of the different parts of England, as we have listened to those in other parts of the United Kingdom.
§ Mrs. Liddell
I am intrigued by that question, which leads me to ask whether we are to assume that the view 186 of the official Opposition is that there should be a referendum for an English Parliament. That is a significant admission by the Opposition that they favour an English Parliament. Does the Leader of the Opposition accept that position? I think that we should be told. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Jimmy Hood (Clydesdale)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I cannot hear this important debate because of the Opposition's bantering.
§ Mrs. Liddell
I return to my point about referendums. We pledged in our general election manifesto—we have kept yet another of the pledges that we made to the people of Britain—that, if parts of England want a devolved assembly, we will put in place the necessary legislation to allow a referendum to take place. I am amazed that Conservative Members are confused by that point, given that London was one of the first areas to be dealt with, and the House was debating those matters as recently as last week.
I do not deny that the new arrangements will take some getting used to, especially for those English Tory Members who table questions to the Secretary of State about matters for which he will no longer be responsible after 1 July. However, I am sure that they will find another interest to keep them amused.
Let me make it clear that there is a legitimate role for Scottish members in relation to Government decisions relating to English spending proposals—and, indeed, vice versa.
§ Mrs. Liddell
The Barnett formula means that public expenditure decisions in England have direct consequences for Scotland and Wales, and vice versa. We have no plans to change those arrangements.
§ Mrs. Liddell
No; I want to make some progress.
Let me tell the House about the mailbag that I receive, as a constituency Member. I am sure that all my colleagues, as constituency Members, receive the same mailbags. The bulk of the casework received by Scottish Members of Parliament concerns pensions, benefits, the Child Support Agency, the new deal and immigration—and Scotland is not an insular community. Only yesterday, the general assembly of the Church of Scotland turned its attention to the problems of third-world debt, an issue that is raised with me during nearly every visit that I make to Scottish schools.
187 Let me also pay tribute this week to the people of Glasgow, Renfrew and East Lothian, who have opened their hearts and their homes to refugees from Kosovo. Many Scottish troops have served in the Balkans, both in flying missions and in helping refugees.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) must not shout from a sedentary position, or keep seeking to intervene, when it has been made clear to her that she will not be allowed to intervene.
§ Mrs. Liddell
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
As I said earlier, the English are not well served by hysterical rantings from Opposition Members. When the people of Scotland have experienced terrible tragedies such as those in Lockerbie and Dunblane, we have drawn great strength and comfort from the embrace of others in lands both far and near. That will not end with devolution. We are part of a partnership: we are stronger together, and we are weaker apart.
This will be an adaptable Parliament. When it is not debating United Kingdom matters, it is bound to address the concerns of representatives of English constituencies. Both the hon. Member for Woodspring and the right hon. Member for Devizes have themselves made it clear how difficult it would be to determine issues that are exclusively English, because so many English issues have an impact on other parts of the United Kingdom. Primary legislation for Wales remains the responsibility of this House. Most legislation has wider UK implications—and, as Opposition Members are fond of pointing out, there are European Union connections as well.
Let me say to those who advocate a purely English parliament, as does the hon. Member for Billericay—
§ Mrs. Liddell
No. I have made it clear to the hon. Gentleman that I wish to make some progress.
The fact that I say to the hon. Member for Billericay that this Government do not see a case for an English Parliament—I increasingly wonder whether that is now the stance of her party's Front Benchers—does not mean that they are not keen to find ways of dealing more effectively with issues affecting the English regions.
§ Mrs. Liddell
The hon. Gentleman seems to be having difficulty in understanding what "No" means.
I remind hon. Members that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House is actively pursuing the matter in the Modernisation Committee. There may be a need for some procedural change once we benefit from the experience of devolution in practice, but there is no case for making such changes until we see devolution in operation.
188 The changes that were voted for by the people last week, and will be implemented within a very few weeks, are indeed momentous. Tonight, we have heard the same kind of sniping that accompanied the birth of these proposals. We have heard the bogus constitutional arguments, and we have witnessed the frenzied inability to comprehend the Government's arguments. But that will soon be a thing of the past. The proposals will come to be accepted by the House, and in an astonishingly short time—perhaps in a few years—the relevance and importance of devolution will hardly, if ever, be questioned.
Devolution is what the Scottish people have wanted, and they now have it. It was promised by the Labour party more than a hundred years ago. Far from worrying about the haste with which it has been introduced, I am only sorry that it has taken so long. On the eve of the fifth anniversary of John Smith's death, the unfinished business that was John Smith's unfinished business—I say this as his successor—is now completed. I commend the amendment to the House.
§ 8.5 pm
§ Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross)
It is a matter of some regret—but not, perhaps, of surprise—that the speech of the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) demonstrated neither great historical understanding nor any comprehension of the present satisfaction in Scotland with what has been done, and the conduct of the elections that have taken place in both Scotland and Wales in the past week. There has been great satisfaction about the fact that electors in both countries have grappled with unfamiliar electoral systems, and have put in place bodies that will start their lives with great good will.
In Scotland—in contrast with what happens in this House—all the political parties have made declarations of intent to make their Parliament work. Although it is recognised that there are matters still to be decided in regard to ways and means of doing business, there is widespread satisfaction about the fact that there, at least, the Scottish debate is concluded for the time being. Elected representatives can now get on with delivering what the public look to them to deliver.
§ Mr. Maclennan
No. I have only just begun my speech, and I do not intend to jump up and down like a jack-in-the-box in response to interventions from Conservative Members who seem to think that the proper way in which to conduct the debate is through a series of interventions disrupting the flow of argument.
Although it is recognised that there are matters still to be decided, there is satisfaction about the outcome. The focus of the political discussion therefore moves from the structures to the new directions of policy that are expected from the new bodies, and it is high time that it did so. As we in Westminster come to terms with those developments, we should remind ourselves that although—in conceptual terms—the new bodies are our creation, they will have a life of their own. Although we defined their powers, they will do things in their own way. It is right that they should, for their members owe their election to the people, and are every bit as legitimate as we are here.
189 The Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly have no need for the historical conventions that we have inherited in this place, and which we are usually too slow to transform. In particular, I believe that they will disappoint their public if they pay attention to our too adversarial ways—of which we heard a classic example earlier from the hon. Member for Woodspring.
Another observation can be made. Owing to a system of election that predictably denied any single party an overall majority, all parties will bear a continuing responsibility for the quality of the Governments of Wales and Scotland. Governments led by a party with only a minority of seats will have to heed the views of other parties.
§ Dr. Julian Lewis
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will address himself to a question that I put to the Minister of State, who significantly failed to answer it. What is democratic, fair or in any way an improvement in a system that allows a party—namely the right hon. Gentleman's party, which came fourth—to share power with the party that came first, to the exclusion of the parties that came second and third?
§ Mr. Maclennan
It remains to be seen whether there will be such a sharing of power. Furthermore, as all the parties are minority parties, whether or not any of them come to a formal agreement, those that are not within the agreement will still bear and share responsibility for the actions of the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament. The balance is quite different in the new bodies and it will not be possible simply to strike attitudes about the actions that are being taken, for, as no party has an overall majority, the other minority parties will be held to account if they, too, do not behave responsibly. That I believe to be a benign effect of proportional representation.
The other parties, whether in opposition or coalition, also have a responsibility to ensure that their criticisms are not captious and that their work is constructive. A minority party such as the Liberal Democrats must pay due regard to the fact that the Labour party in Scotland and in Wales has won more seats and more votes in the elections.
I do not doubt that there will be strenuous arguments within the new bodies in the future, but the happy difference between those debates and the ones with which we have become familiar at Westminster is that the protagonists in those Assemblies know that they may have to do business with each other, regardless of party allegiance. That, I believe, will lead to some tempering of the aggressiveness that was displayed by the hon. Member for Woodspring tonight.
§ Dr. Godman
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. As a frequent visitor to Northern Ireland, I can report that there is keen interest there in recent developments in Scotland and Wales. Even the Unionists who are opposed to the implementation of the Good Friday agreement are anxious for devolution to be implemented in Northern Ireland by way of an Assembly up and running.
§ Mr. Maclennan
The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point, which I hope that he will have a chance to develop later in the debate.
190 When British people criticise this House, they frequently express regret that our discussion is not more accommodating, more directed to seeking agreement and less to scoring points. The House of Commons may have something to learn from the style of the new bodies. In any event, I suggest that we stand back before we make any judgments about what is being done in Scotland and Wales.
It will not be too long before we can essay some comparison between our newly elected British parliamentary bodies and judge 'their openness, responsiveness and effectiveness in delivering what the British people voted for in those parts of the United Kingdom. For now, we would be wise to confine ourselves to making such procedural adjustments to our own ways of doing business as are necessary to take account of the existence and legitimacy of the devolved bodies.
We shall not need for much longer three separate territorial Departments, with their Secretaries of State coming before us to be questioned as frequently as before. Now is an opportunity greatly to slim the ministerial ranks, and, in the future construction of the House of Commons, to take account of the changed balance of responsibility between the Members.
The Government have already indicated that, in respect of Scotland, an approach is likely to be made to the boundary commission to reduce the direct representation of Scotland in the House. That is natural and just. I hope that, by the time that the boundary commission sits, the progress of devolution in other parts of the United Kingdom will have been sufficiently rapid and far advanced to make a general slimming of the House of Commons appropriate, as work is decentralised from the Palace of Westminster and Whitehall.
Although the case for separate territorial Departments is rapidly vanishing, it would be appropriate for the foreseeable future to retain a Minister of Cabinet rank with some responsibility for liaison between the United Kingdom Government and the devolved Governments—a Minister who can ensure that there is equity in the treatment of the various members of the semi-federal United Kingdom. Such a ministry could help to provide for the proper channelling of concerns and proposals about the developing relationships of the different parts of the UK to each other.
The House will wish to consider in due course how to effect liaison with the other elected Chambers in areas of overlapping and cognate responsibility. Similarly, we shall wish to consider how to concert our dealings with the European Union where it is desirable to find a common voice. Preliminary thinking is in train in our Procedure Committee about those matters. We should await the expression of views from the new Assemblies in Scotland and Wales before arriving at conclusions about how best to effect proper liaison.
§ Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills)
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. He is addressing some of the important issues. The Minister did not seem to think that Scotland was part of a democracy—that was one of the arguments that she advanced. Does the right hon. Gentleman, who represents a Scottish constituency, feel at least a little uncomfortable about meddling in transport or education—matters over which he has no 191 influence and into which he has no input in Scotland—and wanting to affect the balance of the argument in England and Wales? We are no longer a body corporate. That is part of the problem. The Liberal gung-ho about the future is all very well, but we have practical problems before the House. What is the standing of a Scottish Member of Parliament in relation to the business that relates exclusively to England and Wales?
§ Mr. Maclennan
By defining the problem in terms of what is exclusively related to England and Wales, the hon. Gentleman reveals the difficulty of accepting any proposition that would separate the Scottish representatives in the House from debate. There are few matters affecting the example that he gave—transport—that do not touch Scotland. In his book, future arrangements for servicing the channel tunnel, for example, might be a matter of concern only to English Members of Parliament. That is not how it is viewed from the north of Scotland. Similarly, within the United Kingdom—
§ Mr. Maclennan
I am dealing with one point. Intervention upon intervention is not necessarily helpful for carrying the argument forward. There are matters which, although they are predominantly of concern to those immediately affected, have a ripple effect on the whole of the United Kingdom.
I see us moving towards a federal Parliament in which there will be concurrent responsibilities for many of the matters that are at present regarded as exclusive. I hope that, in debates in that federal Parliament, there will be a full voice for Members from all the nations and regions of the United Kingdom. Until we have reached that happy outcome, we are bound to face some anomalies, but they are unlikely to be anything like as troublesome to the English as have been the anomalies of the oppressive use of their parliamentary majority in England to the Scots over at least two generations.
§ Mr. Brady
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. I hear his comments about the difficulty of defining precisely the items of business that would affect only England and Wales, without having any effect on Scotland. Would not one acceptable way forward, at least as an interim measure, be that Scottish Members might exercise a self-denying ordinance and simply refrain from voting on business in which they feel they should not be involved?
§ Mr. Maclennan
That convention would certainly run with the grain of my thinking about the undesirability of my voting in this place on matters with which I am not particularly engaged, but I do not know that the Whips in any of the parties would follow such a lead with great enthusiasm.
Another point needs to be made about the difference between Scotland and England in these matters. Effectively, the Scots and the Welsh have been in a minority for a long time; they always will be, because of demography. That minority has had to accept being trampled upon, over and over again. For demographic 192 reasons, I cannot for the life of me see how the Scots and the Welsh will ever be in a position to do the same in reverse—it baffles the imagination.
§ Mrs. Gorman
The right hon. Gentleman said that the Scots have been trampled upon by this Parliament in past decades. Can he explain why the Conservative majority in this House, throughout the past two decades at least, kept in place the Barnett formula, which greatly advantaged the Scottish electorate with additional expenditure of 23 per cent. on their health programme and 25 per cent. on their education? How is that trampling on Scottish feelings?
§ Mr. Maclennan
I do not want to go into the details of the Barnett formula, which was accepted across the parties and whose successors have built upon it for decades. The principle was broadly accepted that it was equitable. If the hon. Lady is saying that there should be some inequitable settlement imposed on the Scots, she is merely fortifying the point that I am making: in the tax-raising as opposed to the tax spending effects, we have suffered oppression. The Minister of State referred to the poll tax, which was deeply resented and could be the reason for the Conservative party's disappearance, to vanishing point, from Scotland's representation in this Chamber.
I am not saying that we should not in any way alter the proceedings of this place to take account of those developments in respect of English business and Welsh business. Serious consideration has to be given to that, but I believe that the Minister of State is right—I was particularly glad to hear her say so trenchantly tonight—that the ultimate solution to these problems lies in the Government's commitment to decentralisation in England, which we support. That is the key.
We have long advocated devolution all round. Gladstone, I believe, was the first to coin that particular expression and I am interested in the fact that the Labour party also had contemporary thinking on it. However, the disparity in power between Gladstone and Keir Hardie when that expression was first voiced was a little considerable.
§ Mr. Maclennan
It has to be said that neither party has been notably effective in bringing devolution to the statute book, but it was extremely encouraging to hear the Minister of State speaking as she did tonight, for I am quite sure that she is right to see devolution as the way to end anomalies.
We are not saying that a uniform system of decentralisation should be imposed on the whole of the United Kingdom. The Minister of State is right to say that devolution should reflect what people want in different parts of the country and that it should proceed at the speed that people want. We have seen that happen in other countries with great effect—notably in Spain, where devolution has not proceeded in an imposed form, but has grown from beneath. That is what will happen here, I think.
I particularly want to pay tribute to the Deputy Prime Minister, because he deserves a great deal of credit for having driven the process forward. What has been done, 193 sometimes in the face of opposition from those who are tidy minded, has taken the process of local decision making far further forward.
§ Mr. Maclennan
I see within England very great differences of identity. The north-east and Newcastle are not likely to respond positively to a London Government being imposed on them by someone who is devising a pan-English solution.
The thrust towards devolution is the desire to achieve decentralisation—not the desire to express national identity alone—and to adapt systems of government to the demands of the societies in which we live and make them fit our needs. Where those needs are different—they are patently different in different regions of England—they should be reflected in a structure that allows those differences to be expressed in different choices of priority, in different public expenditure priorities and even in different systems of taxation. That is the nature of a federal solution and the nature of the solution that I want this country to move towards.
§ Mr. Shepherd
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. The whole point about accountable government is that those who raise the money and determine how to spend it are accountable to an electorate. That function—the totality of central Government expenditure—will be determined in this Chamber, but it will be driven by priorities for which we will be held accountable by the local Parliament or Assembly. There will be conflict in that arrangement, will there not? Unless those authorities in Scotland and in Wales can raise money, how will that arrangement be justified? The Barnett formula will be under threat.
§ Mr. Maclennan
Thinking will develop on tax raising as on tax spending. In due course, there may be a federal funding response to the development of federal responsibilities, which I would certainly welcome. People in New York city pay income tax to three bodies—the city, the state and the federal Government. A development along such lines would be extremely rational and welcome in this country, but we are some way from that.
In the meantime, we must attend to the immediate task of overseeing the work of government in the regions of England. The Minister of State is right to say that that can best be entrusted to the work of Committees of this House, following the pre-devolution pattern in Scotland and other parts of the UK. That is entirely a matter for this House, and we look forward to the report of the Select Committee on Modernisation to see what recommendations may come from our colleagues.
I conclude by making a heartfelt statement of my satisfaction with the constitutional developments that have been marked by the elections in Wales and Scotland, 194 which have confounded the enemies of promise. There can be no turning back now. The British unitary state is giving way to a more complex and more flexible organism, in a settlement that I think is based on consent.
The new structures will draw their strength from that consent, and from the extent to which they embody the aspirations of the widely diverse societies within the UK. Although diverse, those societies are not opposed to each other. Each amplifies the awareness of the other, as in an harmonic progression. Each is enriched by its involvement with the other. Its shared assumptions as well as its subtly different values; that is the contemporary purpose of the UK—to offer its citizens the chance to live without constraints of conformity to a centrally imposed political order.
§ Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock)
I am pleased to participate in this debate, and I wish to draw the attention of the House to the fact that I was one of the only English Labour Back Benchers to contribute to the Committee proceedings on the Scotland Act. I regret the absence of hon. Members from England, particularly Labour colleagues. I am worried about that, because it betrays the fact that people have not realised that the legislation and tonight's debate relate to the UK. The Scottish and Welsh devolution legislation was UK legislation, which has a profound and irreversible effect on our relationships in these islands and on our entire constitution. I am worried about the absence of real debate in England about what is happening in the other parts of the UK.
I approach this matter as someone who was interested in, and advocated devolution for, Scotland in 1968. I was a disciple of John P. Mackintosh, the former right hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian. He—and I, in my humble way—advocated devolution long before it was fashionable in the modern Labour party. Although the party had advocated it in earlier epochs, it was not until after the 1974 general election that Labour became converted to it.
I remember those times, when Jim Sillars was absolutely opposed to Scottish devolution and the right hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Mr. Maclennan) was in the Labour party. I do not remember whether the right hon. Gentleman was a tremendous advocate of devolution, but I am sure that he was. I am sure that the Under-Secretary of State for Wales, my hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr. Hain), advocated devolution when he was in the Liberal party.
I was there, and I have been consistent. Being a disciple of John P. Mackintosh, I feel entitled to remind my Front-Bench colleagues that, while he advocated devolution to Scotland, he was also a United Kingdom federalist. He believed in devolving to the whole of the UK.
§ Mr. Mackinlay
I was going to entertain a presumption against giving way because of time, but seeing as it is one of my mates, I will.
§ Mrs. Liddell
I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend. He refers to John P. Mackintosh and to our commitment to 195 devolution in 1974, which was formalised in a party political broadcast involving John P. Mackintosh, Jim Sillars—and me.
§ Mr. Mackinlay
I remember that I first heard my right hon. Friend at a by-election in Berwick and East Lothian in 1978, following the sad and untimely loss of John P. Mackintosh. He advocated federalism throughout the UK, and that is the point that I want to make. He recognised, as I do, that Scotland had its own history, culture and law making. In a sense, it had its own separate Government, although not its own separate legislature. Those were compelling reasons for devolving to Scotland, but he advocated devolution throughout the UK—something we have not heard enough about tonight—on grounds of good governance and modernisation.
That is why I go along with the Government amendment tonight, although it does not go far enough. I am a moderniser and a radical, and I want to devolve real powers to other parts of the UK. I am fairly agnostic as to whether there should be an English Parliament or regional Parliaments within England. However, I believe in constitutional symmetry and, as sure as night turns into day, some day we will have to address ourselves to that. It may be a score of years down the road, and I do not know whether any of us will be in the House then. If we are, I will remind people that the matter was raised on this occasion.
I was proud of the fact that, in our manifesto, we said that we wanted to reverse remote government and to modernise government. The Government have a proud record of advancing constitutional change and reform. However, as someone who supports the creation of the Greater London Authority and the emergence of regional chambers, I say that they are good, but they are no substitute for proper, directly elected law-making bodies in the rest of the UK. We will have to tackle that matter for a raft of reasons, one of which is the need for constitutional symmetry throughout the UK. There may be variations on that theme, but the GLA will never be a legislative body, and the regional chambers—elected or unelected—will never be legislative bodies. We have to recognise that decision making has to be brought down to the most local level.
It is absurd that I was held on a two-line Whip to vote on the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill. I am sure that the Bill was extremely important, but it should have been a matter for our friends in Wales; it should not have been a matter for us here. Equally, if there is a London taxi Bill, it will not be the business of the right hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross. Those are matters that need to be dealt with sensibly by people at a local level. It would make for better decision making as well.
It does not matter how often my colleagues refer to the Greater London Authority and regional chambers. It will not overcome the lack of constitutional symmetry, so I urge them to reflect on the matter. I am reasonably comfortable at the present time because there is dynamism in our constitutional reforms. We cannot do everything overnight with the wave of a magic wand, but there are certain issues that we cannot sweep under the carpet.
196 The West Lothian question was raised famously by my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), who opposes devolution. I raise it as someone who is a passionate advocate of devolution and of a federal United Kingdom. It is an issue for us all; it will not go away.
I depart fundamentally from the view of Her Majesty's Opposition on this point. I think that the current position can be sustained in the immediate period because there is dynamism in the reforms and we have to make interim arrangements, but it is foolhardy in the extreme to suggest that, a score of years down the road, that can be sustained.
In any event, much as I love the Prime Minister and my party, we are not omnipotent. I suspect that, one day, there will be a change of Government. If there is a change on the worst possible terms and in the worst possible circumstances, things such as the Barnett formula, the scale of representation and the West Lothian question will be addressed. Therefore, it is much more important that we address ourselves to those issues now. If not, and they persist, there will be a constitutional perversity that will run contrary to our democratic principles and institutions. The situation is okay for the immediate period, but not for much longer.
I say to both sides: those of us in politics who have a long memory remember how my party used to complain about Northern Ireland Unionist Members holding Ministries. We found it unacceptable that Robin Chichester-Clark was a Minister in the Government of the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath). Also in those days, Northern Ireland constituencies had about 100,000 electors.
I do not think that artificially diminishing the number of representatives is a way of tackling the West Lothian question; it does not solve that question. I happen to believe that constituencies should be more or less the same electoral size throughout the UK. People might be given extra resources if their geographical area is large; that is the way we should be dealing with our representation. Altering the number of people whom Members represent here, so that there is a disparity between the constituencies of colleagues from Scotland and England, is not a good, modern democratic system.
Reference has been made to whether Ministries are English. I remind Ministers that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, said, rightly, when he was Opposition health spokesperson before the 1992 general election, that, if Labour won in 1992 and implemented its devolution legislation, it would not be possible for him to be Secretary of State for Health.
There is a powerful argument for the Prime Minister and my right hon. and hon. Friends in Cabinet to consider whether they need a realignment of the Ministries. I recognise that the Department of Health has a primarily English jurisdiction, but it has a United Kingdom dimension as well. The Minister with responsibility for education is primarily an English Education Minister, but has responsibilities throughout the United Kingdom as well. In any event, that Ministry is now coupled with the Employment Ministry, which demonstrably has an all-UK jurisdiction.
The Prime Minister needs to reshuffle the pack, so that we at least bring into line some Ministries that are demonstrably English and that could be filled only by Members of Parliament representing English constituencies, as against others that clearly have some 197 pan-British competence. Such a change would be a logical step—but only an interim one, as it would not answer the West Lothian question—toward dealing with some of the immediate oddities arising from devolution.
I hope that Ministers—who are undoubtedly listening intently to the debate—will impress on the Prime Minister the case for addressing the issue, particularly as it affects the Department for Education and Employment, which provides a classic case of the need for two separate Departments.
Although I know that it will not cheer one of our colleagues—the hon. Member for Rochford and Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor)—I believe that United Kingdom regional legislatures and governments will complement and advance our deliberations on Europe, which after all is composed of regions.
§ Mr. Mackinlay
Although I know my friend's views on the issue, I shall not give way.
I should like also to kill the ridiculous suggestion made by some hon. Members and some members of the press that the House of Commons has too many Members. It is true that, numerically, the House is one of the world's largest democratic legislatures; but we do too much in this place. All democracies of comparable size have federal arrangements. If we had a federalist system, we would be able to diminish our membership. In total, however, the United Kingdom has fewer Members than all the legislatures of the Federal Republic of Germany or of the United States of America.
Although I am very proud to be an hon. Member, I am not prepared to continue with the charade that we do things well in this place. We sit for longer than any other of the world's other Parliaments, and do so because we—like our Executive—deal with every issue from pavements to atomic weapons.
An absurd amount of stress and strain is placed on every British Prime Minister. Whereas the President of the United States and Germany's federal Chancellor deal with macro-economic policy, social policy, defence and foreign affairs, the British Prime Minister deals not only with all those issues, but with whether chess should be an Olympic sport, whether there is a problem in a Yorkshire canal, and with some other very important local issues besides.
We are simply trying to do too much. That fact becomes obvious when one examines other legislatures. In Germany, many of the most important issues of service delivery—in law and order, education, health and welfare—are addressed by the Lander in Munich, Bremen or Hamburg, for example. Elsewhere in the world, they are dealt with in Victoria, British Columbia, or in Sydney, New South Wales.
The federal Governments of those countries apply themselves to the real issues and to using better decision-making processes. In tackling modern government's extensive and increasing role, those federal legislatures sit less, but provide higher-quality deliberation and greater scrutiny and accountability than this overworked, under-resourced and inadequately prepared place can ever do.
I invite Ministers to consider another point. The Government's policy is that, if the English regions want them, we might have elected regional assemblies. Frankly, 198 people in Tilbury do not lie awake at night saying, "I'd love to have an East Anglia regional assembly." Then again, not many people in Wales were lying awake at night saying, "We want a Welsh Assembly."
§ Mr. Mackinlay
Not many people were, though.
On the grounds of good governance, however, it was right to establish a National Assembly for Wales. One old-fashioned virtue of government is called leadership. We should be arguing for devolution on the grounds of good governance. That was the purpose of establishing the Assembly in Wales—which I think should be a law-making Assembly.
§ Sir Teddy Taylor
I am fascinated and thrilled by the hon. Gentleman's speech. Does he agree that, irrespective of the views of all the people of Tilbury or Southend, and of his and my views as Members of Parliament, regional government is going ahead? Millions of pounds are being spent on setting up a regional government, based in Cambridge, affecting both Tilbury and Southend, but the people are not aware of it and we have not participated in it.
§ Mr. Mackinlay
That is why the hon. Member for Thurrock is saying that we should not be frightened of democracy. What is so dreadful about having elections? We should have elections to those bodies, because they are coming into being, as the hon. Gentleman recognises.
Before concluding, I have some other, minor points to make. Can there be some reciprocity of access between Members of this Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly?
§ Mr. Mackinlay
Indeed. That would be good, fraternal and healthy, especially in these early stages.
The previous Labour Government produced a White Paper, "Devolution: the English Dimension", at the time of the previous attempt to introduce Scottish devolution. It should be updated and we should have a full day's debate—instead of half a day—on the issue. Perhaps we could coax some English Labour Back Benchers to the Chamber.
I make no apology for raising the question of our overseas territories. In any federal assembly, the democratic deficit in respect of overseas territories should be addressed. Spain, the Netherlands, France and the United States all provide some limited representation for their overseas territories, no matter how small, in their legislatures. There is a compelling, overwhelming case for redress, especially for Gibraltar, which is part of the European Union but is currently disfranchised.
None of the issues to which I have referred will go away. The Government go on about being modern and radical—my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, 199 whom I love and support very much, does a lot of that—but radicalism means tackling all the issues and not being bogged down in the Conservative excuses, which suggest that there is nothing to be dealt with in the English dimension. There is much to be done if we are to maintain and promote the unity of the United Kingdom, which has been so dangerously prejudiced by the attitude of the Conservative and Unionist party for so many years.
Conservative Members are like members of the Flat Earth Society on this question; they do not realise that, if they sustain their view, they will further endanger the Union. Equally, my right hon. and hon. Friends still have not fully thought through our responsibilities for devolving democracy and local decision making to the English regions and for dealing with the wider constitutional aspects.
§ Mr. Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire)
It is always a great privilege to follow the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay), but it is a somewhat intimidating experience after that fine performance. I agree with almost everything that he said. As for his last few remarks, which were rather more partisan, I hope that I can persuade him that I, at least, believe that the earth is round.
If the hon. Gentleman spoke for Essex and for England, I will speak for Worcestershire and for middle England. This morning, in the paper that speaks for middle England, The Birmingham Post, the chief feature writer, Jason Beattie, wrote:When Labour embarked on its great devolutionary experiment like some mad scientist let loose in a chemistry laboratory it started a chain reaction which it has no idea how to stop.That reflects what my hon. Friend the Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) said so wisely today—we are not at the end of the story; we are not even at the beginning of the end; we are at the beginning of an experiment that leads we know not where.
Today, there has been a debate about tuition fees in Scotland. The tall oak of proper recognition of the English dimension is likely to grow from the small acorn of that debate. Today, we have heard that the Welsh Assembly is likely to vote to lift the beef-on-the-bone ban in Wales, and I say good luck to it, because it is the right decision. The long journey to a proper constitutional settlement for England is likely to begin with the English understanding of that single step of Welsh determination to do what is right for agriculture and for the people of Wales. Both those issues may dampen the enthusiasm of the Government for proportional representation. I certainly hope so.
I would not start from where we are. What I am about to advocate to the House is not my preferred solution. I would have approached the issue differently, but that is history and there is no point going over it again. We are where we are. English Members, and all Members of this United Kingdom Parliament, are left with a puzzling and complex conundrum—how to achieve two apparently contradictory aims. First, how do we give England a fair say in the new constitutional settlement and, secondly, how do we strengthen the United Kingdom? That is crucial, because the arguments for independence and separation did not die after the elections last week.
200 Many people who voted Labour in those elections still back independence, and we must respond imaginatively to ensure that the United Kingdom is strengthened, not weakened. In that respect, I was disappointed to hear the Minister of State and the right hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Mr. Maclennan) appear to say that there was no such thing as England, whereas Scotland and Wales were real countries. I assure them both that there is such a thing as England.
When devolution was proposed for Scotland and Wales, no one suggested for one minute separate regional bodies for the highlands and islands and for the lowlands. No one suggested separate bodies for north Wales, mid-Wales, south Wales or even for Swansea and Cardiff. However, the case for separating Wales into three component parts is just as strong as the one for separating England into its regions. The Government rightly rejected that route for Wales, and they should reject it for England for the same logical reasons. If the Government show such arrogant disregard for the views of the people of England, I predict that tensions will begin to mount.
§ Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy)
I respect the fact that there is a country called England, with great traditions. Should not the hon. Gentleman put all his efforts behind the movement for an English Parliament?
§ Mr. Luff
I do not wish to give away the dramatic conclusion to my remarks, but that is exactly what I am about to argue.
The article in The Birmingham Post continues:No one is happy now. Certainly not the Scottish who have tasted power and will want for more, nor the Welsh where the successful nationalists will want something better than the talking shop they have been given, and definitely not the English who are bewildered by the whole exercise which has left them in an anomalous and undefined position.In our new murky world, the Frankensteinian result of Dr Blair's mischievous meddlings, the English are the power without a decent throne. The incongruities are legion.I shall not go over those points again, because my hon. Friend the Member for Woodspring did that so well in his opening remarks. He talked about funding and over-representation. We have discussed the fact that the Cabinet is dominated by Scots Members. The hon. Member for Thurrock made some intelligent and interesting suggestions about how we could deal with the problem of English issues being decided by Scottish Ministers. Although the dry-as-dust constitutional issues still rightly concern the House, the bread-and-butter issues have now come to the fore. I think that I am supposed to say the "kitchen table" issues, which they are literally in the case of beef on the bone, and metaphorically in the case of university fees. Who knows what the next of those kitchen table issues will be? Whatever they are—and the two that I have mentioned took the Government by surprise this week—the English sense of grievance will grow.
To address Englishness is not, as the Minister seemed to suggest, an appeal to crude nationalism. The opposite is true. Anyone who reads the works of Stanley Baldwin, or even the recent book by Jeremy Paxman, can quickly knock that idea into touch. Try telling the Anglican church that to be English is in some sense crudely nationalistic. That is simply not the case.
201 The House must, however, understand that unless the mainstream political parties, represented in this Chamber, grapple seriously with the issue of how to address Englishness, other much less pleasant forces will do the grappling for us. In my home city of Worcester, we recently faced the prospect of a National Front march. The British National party has been campaigning on the issue already. Unless we address the question of Englishness and defuse it, the consequences could be extremely serious. That is why I am so pleased that the Conservative party decided to have this debate, which I predict will be the first of many on this important subject.
The Government know that there is a problem, and accept that the constitution is no longer balanced. That is why the Minister, in her opening remarks, offered the English the insulting idea of a Standing Committee on Regional Affairs, as if that were some sort of answer to the Scottish Parliament and Wales's National Assembly. I used to support the Minister's idea, but no longer.
Regionalism is wrong, for many reasons. I shall not run through the list, as I have done so at least twice before in the House. Regions have none of the sense of identity from which governance must flow. Democracy depends on that sense, but I have no identity with the west midlands. I accept that it is a useful administrative concept for the delivery of services, but it does not serve for the establishment of legitimate democratic institutions.
§ Mrs. Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside)
Does the hon. Gentleman accept that billions of pounds of public money is spent at a regional level on vital matters such as the economy, the environment, education, housing, and so on? Does he also accept that the previous Conservative Government recognised the importance of regions when they set up Government offices for the regions?
§ Mr. Luff
The hon. Lady obviously was not listening, although the people of Blackburn and Blackpool will have been aware of her mismanagement of the county council when they decided to opt out of its control.
Regional government is a useful administrative idea, but it is not a democratic concept. I do not belong to the west midlands and have no part in it, although I like Birmingham a lot. However, what about the south-west, bits of which lie further north than my constituency in Worcestershire? For example, the village of Willersey in Gloucestershire is well to the north of Broadway. Would Bournemouth, or the Isles of Scilly, be part of some south-west region? It is a ludicrous proposition that makes no sense at all.
In a shamefully loaded opinion poll by MORI, The Economist asked people whether they wanted regional government. However, people were not told what would go with it—the abolition of at least one tier of local government. The tier most at threat is the county council, but that is the one layer with which people identify. Counties have a thousand years of history.
§ Mr. Luff
I shall not get into a full debate about local government, which would risk being ruled out of order. 202 Suffice it to say that I believe that the idea of unitary authorities is good and sound, and I should quite like Worcestershire county council to be one. That is where I would put the power. I agree with the devolution of power away from the centre, but it should go to the genuine, respected and historic units of government in this country—the county councils. It should not go to those new monsters, the regions.
I shall surprise my hon. Friend the Member for Rochford and Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) by saying that the last of the dangers posed by regionalism is the real and lively one, that Brussels will be able to divide and rule. The ambition is to have a Europe of the regions, but I do not want my region to turn into a dreary outpost of the European Commission in Brussels.
Regionalism does not answer the problem of legislation. The Scottish Parliament is a legislative assembly that takes real decisions. I did not want the Welsh Assembly, but now that it is here, I want it to be a real legislative assembly, taking real decisions. The regions of England will not be able to do that. There will not be one law for beef on the bone in the west midlands, and another in the south-west. Clearly, that is not on: the Government should accept that the idea of regionalism is dead in the water, and that it does nothing to answer the West Lothian question.
England must not feel that it has become a second-class citizen in the United Kingdom. I am driven to conclude—with some reluctance and hesitation—that the only answer is some kind of English Parliament. That would provide the constitutional symmetry of which the hon. Member for Thurrock spoke so persuasively. I also support increased powers for Wales in—I hesitate to use a word that is so unpopular and so often misunderstood—a federal United Kingdom.
I find myself praying in aid strange allies. I never thought that I would quote Enoch Powell in the House but, in the 1976 devolution debates, he said of the United Kingdom thatit is not possible for the same electorate to be represented directly in two legislative Assemblies unless one of two things occurs: either the unitary State must become federal, with a pre-determined area within which the one set of elected representatives is sovereign and another area in which the representation of the whole realm is to be sovereign: or there must sooner or later as a consequence be separation and the recognition of separate sovereignties."—[Official Report, 19 January 1976; Vol. 903, c. 998.]It is precisely because I wish to avoid separate sovereignties that I am driven to agree that a federal United Kingdom is the only structure that will stand the test of time.
§ Dr. Godman
Am I right in thinking that more and more Conservative Members are coming to support a federal Britain? For some time, the more intelligent members of the Scottish chattering classes have been debating federalism versus separatism, and last week's election will not stop that debate.
§ Mr. Luff
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. Federation or separation is the choice that the United Kingdom must ultimately make. That is where we are being driven. I do not know how long it will take to get there, but that is the fundamental decision facing us. That is why I believe that it is crucial to have an intelligent debate, one not smothered in a blanket of regionalism that fails to address the fundamental question.
203 The motion calls for a fight against "resurgent nationalism". The only way to do that is to move as rapidly as we can towards a more stable United Kingdom. In her opening remarks, the Minister said that the Conservative party had shown an inability to rise to great events. On the basis of what she said, however, the Government do not understand the events that they have set in train. The Conservatives understand those events, and we are discussing them. I hope that we reach the right conclusion.
§ 9.1 pm
§ Miss Anne Begg (Aberdeen, South)
I have been disappointed by the debate, and particularly by Opposition speeches. The decision to debate devolution was taken by the Conservatives but, at a time of momentous events in Scotland, their debate has been sterile as they have raked over old coals.
Devolution in Scotland and Wales has serious implications for the rest of the United Kingdom. However, we have heard no positive questions, answers or practical propositions from the Opposition on how the two Parliaments might work together. Nor did we hear anything about how we could build on the success of the Scottish Parliament. Nor was there even a word about the lessons that we might learn from the way in which the Scottish Parliament does its business.
What we did hear from the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) was the same speech that he used during the referendum debate—on Second Reading of the Scotland Bill, at various stages during the Committee on that Bill, on Report and on Third Reading. I am surprised that when he reached into his drawer for his speech, no moths flew out—although I suppose that it has been in and out of the drawer so often that the moths have had no time to settle. Surely the debate has moved on. Devolution has happened, but the speeches we heard tonight have been disappointing.
My hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) looked into the future, and I agree with much of what he said about the constitutional make-up of the UK. I do not agree that there must necessarily be symmetry in our constitutional arrangements; Spain has operated happily with an asymmetrical system. However, issues about the better governance of England require to be addressed, and they are matters on which the English people must decide.
Some implications must be addressed in the short term. We must address the relationship between the two Parliaments. Little in the Scotland Act 1998 refers to that relationship but, if the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Westminster Parliament are to work together, relationships must be developed. It is important that we consider that.
I serve on the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs, the role of which is being examined by the Procedure Committee. I should like to see its role enhanced and developed. It will certainly continue to have a role in scrutinising reserved matters that will impact on Scotland. I should like to see the Select Committee become much more a Back-Bench liaison committee. There is no reason why a Select Committee of this House cannot meet with members of a Select Committee of the Scottish Parliament, 204 perhaps to consider issues that have implications for both Scottish and United Kingdom legislation. Perhaps one way of developing the relationship and ensuring that the two Parliaments work together is for the Westminster Scottish Affairs Committee and whatever Committee is set up by the Scottish Parliament—perhaps a United Kingdom Affairs Committee—to have joint meetings and investigations. We should develop such issues. They will change and they are not set in stone.
There may be lessons in the short and longer term that this House can learn from the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Parliament will do business differently. I hope that debates will not see the barracking that the Minister got from the Opposition tonight—to the extent that often it was difficult to hear what was going on. I hope that the Scottish Parliament will do things differently. It will be more consensual. There may be other things that it can do better than this Parliament. There is talk of its having pre-legislative committees, so that, by the time legislation reaches the Floor of the House, it will have been improved on the basis of evidence taken in a non-partisan, open, consensual way. Perhaps there are lessons for this place in that. Discussion of such ideas would have been a positive contribution to the debate, but we did not get much of that from Conservative Members.
We must also examine the role of the Scottish Grand Committee and Scottish questions. Earlier, someone said that a Committee for the English regions would not be a substitute for a proper Parliament. Yet I remember the previous Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Forsyth, saying that the Scottish Grand Committee would be a substitute for a Scottish Parliament. Of course, the Scottish people had none of it. I contend that the Scottish Grand Committee has lost its role. I do not know whether there is a need for it any more, provided that the Scottish Affairs Committee survives. There is a balancing act to be performed and, if one Committee is to survive, I prefer that it be the Select Committee.
The role of Scottish questions will inevitably change and they should perhaps be shorter. No one on the Government Benches has any problem with that, but there will also be a need for a Secretary of State for Scotland because Scotland will still be part of the Union. This is not separation; it is devolution.
The hon. Member for Woodspring said that Scottish Members of this House were semi-redundant. The horny old West Lothian question came up again. The hon. Gentleman asked how we could possibly have Scottish Members of Parliament debating and voting on purely English matters. I have been in this place two years and in that time there has been no debate on Scottish education, no debate on Scottish health and no debate on Scottish land reform in which I could have taken part because there has not been time for such debates. That is why we wanted devolution. As a Scottish Member, I have not debated those matters during the time that I have been a Member of the House. It is not suddenly wrong for Members representing Scottish constituencies to be involved in English matters; that is the business of the House. This is still the UK Parliament and, as long as it continues to deal with English matters, all its Members may perfectly legitimately debate them.
§ Miss Begg
On one occasion during Scottish questions, an important issue was raised in relation to Scottish education and I wanted to be called to speak. An Adjournment debate is a Back-Bench matter; I want something more important—a debate involving the whole House. The hon. Gentleman has not been involved in such debates because they have not taken place on the Floor of the House as part of Government or Opposition business. There has been no time. There has been time for plenty of other matters, but not for those Scottish issues.
As Members of Parliament representing Scottish constituencies, we hold a UK remit. There is no contradiction in that; there is no issue with which we cannot be involved. I disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock, who said that he believed that a Scottish Member of Parliament could not be the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, for Health or for any other departmental responsibility without a UK-wide remit—although the Department for Education and Employment does have a UK remit and does not deal only with UK legislation. Under the remit of the UK Parliament, if an individual is good enough to serve, it is irrelevant where that person originates from or where his or her constituency is located. The Leader of the Opposition used to be Secretary of State for Wales, but he did not represent a Welsh constituency. Why should that be different from what will happen post-devolution?
§ Mr. David Marshall
Does my hon. Friend agree that it is rather hypocritical for the Opposition to complain about Scots Members of Parliament voting on English matters when, for 18 years, from 1979 until 1987, we in Scotland had to suffer the unwanted, detested policies imposed on us by the UK majority of the Conservative Government when hardly any Conservative Members represented Scottish constituencies? As my right hon. Friend the Minister for Education, Scottish Office, pointed out, the Conservatives used the Scots as guinea pigs for the introduction of the poll tax. They also caused us to resist fiercely and successfully the possible privatisation of water in Scotland. Does my hon. Friend agree that the Opposition are being hypocritical? They like to give it out, but they do not like to get it; it is good to see them getting a dose of their own medicine.
§ Miss Begg
I would go further. If the Tory wipe-out in Scotland had happened in 1992 and not in 1997, I am sure that the 1992 Government would have imposed an English Member of Parliament as Secretary of State for Scotland. I have no doubt about that. I shall be interested to see whether any Opposition Member will challenge that. If there had been no Tory Members of Parliament in Scotland after the 1992 election, when the Tories were in power, would they not have imposed an English Member to decide on Scottish affairs? I would have had no problem with that, because, at that time, Scotland was part of the UK Government.
§ Dr. Godman
I have listened to my hon. Friend's remarks with a good deal of sympathy, but I disagree profoundly with her as to the continued existence of the Grand Committees, Question Times and 206 Select Committees. The House will have to face up to the possible elimination of the Northern Ireland, Scottish and Welsh Grand Committees, Select Committees and Question Times.
§ Miss Begg
I would not go as far as that, but the situation is developing. There is no doubt that the Scottish Grand Committee has a lesser role, but Scottish questions will continue on subjects that remain the responsibility of the Scottish Office: for example, the oil and gas industry is a reserved matter and, because it is pertinent to my constituency, I shall continue to ask the Secretary of State for Scotland questions about it. However, my argument is that the nature of the Select Committee should change, so that it is not a conventionally constituted Committee of the House, but becomes a liaison Committee and takes on a different, additional role. Whether or not we call the new Committee the Scottish Liaison Committee rather than the Scottish Affairs Committee, it should be able to scrutinise the exercise of those powers that have an impact on Scotland but are reserved to this place.
The Labour party identified the need for a Scottish Parliament because it listened to the people of Scotland, and it fought two general elections promising to deliver that. The Scottish Tory party decided to fight the 1997 general election promising to vote against a Scottish Parliament, and it was wiped out. If, as appears likely from tonight's debate, the Tory party is considering fighting the next general election with the establishment of an English Parliament as its number one promise, the electorate can decide—that is what democracy is all about. If the Tories want to do that, there is nothing to stop them, but I suspect that they will not do it because they believe that people in England are not yet ready for an English Parliament. I am not saying that people in England are definitely not ready for that, but I suspect that the Tory party will decide not to make an English Parliament one of their election pledges because they think that the people are not yet ready or because the policy will not be popular. It depends on whether or not "listening to Britain" has worked.
Devolution has worked in other countries. There is asymmetric devolution in Spain and it works well—Spain was one of the countries visited by the Scottish Affairs Committee when we were producing our report. Our report did not damn the Government's devolution proposals, as the hon. Member for Woodspring said; it welcomed them. If other countries can develop and have a changing, dynamic constitution, I do not see why we in the United Kingdom cannot. There does not have to be instability in a constitution that is changing; such a constitution can be stable, as it is in Germany, the United States and Spain. The UK has a great deal to look forward to—things will change in future, but the House should welcome that. We should be congratulating the Scottish people on their good sense in voting for a Parliament that will reflect their needs and desires, and wishing the Parliament every success.
§ Sir Teddy Taylor (Rochford and Southend, East)
I intend to speak briefly and raise a few points about which I want hon. Members to think.
The hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Miss Begg) made a delightful speech in which she spoke about her role in this Parliament and told us what questions she 207 intended to ask the Secretary of State for Scotland. I wonder whether hon. Members have thought about that. I have tried to find out: three weeks ago today, I tabled a question asking the Secretary of State on which subjects he would answer questions, and, as far as I can tell, the hon. Lady will be able to question the Secretary of State only about air sea rescue and ask him whether he will pay an official visit to Aberdeen.
To be frank, we have not thought this thing through. I speak as one who has always been opposed to devolution, root and branch, and as one who believes that it will all end up with a horrible constitutional shambles. My brilliant hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench are right to attack the Government's policy, but the older ones like me should have more humility. We should not forget that it was the Conservatives who, for the same devious reasons that motivate the current Government, introduced devolution back in the time when our superb leader was the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath). Our chief objective tonight should be not to decide whether devolution is rubbish or good, but, now that it has happened, to put some specific questions to the Government that they must consider if devolution is not to end in disaster.
First, will the Government state clearly, precisely and unambiguously in what areas they believe they have the power to overturn the decisions of the Scottish Parliament or of the Welsh Assembly? Student fees are a perfect example. The Scottish Parliament has the power to scrap them, but the Government, under section 35(1)(b) of the Scotland Act 1998, have the power to say to the Scottish Parliament, "Get lost, you have no such power and your plans will interfere with our arrangements." I may be wrong, but the Government have a duty to state clearly and precisely—particularly with regard to reserved powers—where they believe they can and cannot interfere.
Secondly, we must face the problems that will stem from proportional representation and from having two groups of Members of Parliament in the Scottish Parliament. Hon. Members should reflect on what has happened in other countries with PR systems—we should not pick out only those countries where the system has worked. In countries with pure PR systems, instead of majority rule, the mad, lunatic fringe parties always hold the balance of power and run the show. I would not think of referring to the Liberal Democrats as the mad or lunatic party in Scotland—far from it—but we must face the fact that, basically, they are in charge at present and, because of PR, will determine policy vehicles and their form and direction.
The hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) has a long-standing interest in this matter. What would happen if there were a Euro MP, a Westminster MP, a regional MP and other regional non-constituency MPs plus councillors in Tilbury? To whom would the hon. Gentleman's constituents turn? Hon. Members should realise that, when an army of politicians represents a single area, it is an absolute nightmare. If Conservative and Labour Members have not thought about that, we will face a disaster.
I used to be a Member of Parliament in Glasgow. What will happen if a Glasgow constituent has a problem with a school or a hole in the road? When a series of Members 208 of Parliament represents different parties in an area, the only thing we can be sure about is that they will blame each other for any problems.
Thirdly, we must consider the West Lothian question and find an interim answer. It is all very well for the Minister to say, "It doesn't really matter because Labour has a big majority." That is the case now, but it will not last for ever. What will happen if the number of independents grows or some freedom is allowed in the Labour party? I know that an issue will emerge about which Labour Members have strong feelings—many of them are decent people—and they will not want simply to follow the party Whips. It is not good for Parliament if Scottish Members are to be allowed to determine English issues.
There is an easy answer. We could change the Standing Orders to recognise that, until further notice, Scottish MPs shall not interfere in, or vote for, matters relating to England and Wales. Such a rule would be easy to administer and would not create a constitutional nightmare. We must face the inevitable.
Fourthly, what will happen to England? I was horrified to hear the reply of the Minister—who is a delightful lady—to a question about the possibility of establishing an English Parliament. She said, on the one hand, that the Government might consider the possibility of regional government for England if that was what the people wanted, but, on the other hand, that the Government would not consider establishing an English Parliament, although the people might want it.
The Minister, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are well aware that basic regional government exists in England. We do not have elected assemblies, because people do not want them. There may be a demand for such bodies in the north of England because the people think that, like Scotland, they will somehow get extra cash. The hon. Member for Thurrock and I have some experience of regional government. We yearned to escape from the brutal rule of the Essex county council because Chelmsford was too far away. However, we now find that, under regional government, we will be subject to the rule of Cambridge. If the Government have any doubts about that, they should go to Tilbury and Southend tomorrow and ask how many people there know that they are part of the east of England region. Nobody apart from the consultants who want to make lots of money by carrying out surveys for the expensive new authorities knows anything about it.
The Minister and the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South may be right. Perhaps this will turn out to be a wonderful, rosy, exciting constitutional experiment. However, I hope that they accept that there is just a possibility that the whole thing will turn out to be a costly and divisive flop, with non-stop, deeply felt rows between Edinburgh and London. I believe that devolution will develop in that way because the control of money will result in blackmail. Laws passed by the Scottish Parliament will be overturned by England by the front door or the back door.
Let us imagine that things go terribly wrong, as I fear that they will—I pray that I am wrong. Is there not a case for what we might loosely call a five-year review? After five years we should look at the issue again, see how the system has worked and see whether it is worth carrying on. If it is going to create tension, cause problems and create a lot of unnecessary extra expenditure with an army 209 of politicians creating a constitutional nightmare, should we not have some procedure to allow us to think again? I say in all sincerity that I am not trying to bash the system. I hope that it succeeds, but I fear that it will be a great disaster. Surely there should be a procedure to enable us to think again if everything goes wrong.
There is a real danger of a constitutional nightmare. I fear that there will be a wild increase in spending and regional government will be forced on England regardless of whether the people want it. That is surely wrong. I hope that the Government will show humility, accept that they might be wrong and agree to a five-year review. That is the right way forward.
Finally—I promise that I shall sit down after this point—many years ago, before most hon. Members here were in Parliament, I had the pleasure of being the leader of the Scottish Conservative party. That was not because I was good, but because there were not many of us around. The other reason was that our splendid leader, Lady Thatcher, had the same views on devolution as I did. Unfortunately, the rest of the Scottish party thought that devolution was wonderful. We fought the 1979 election on a policy of total opposition to all that nonsense. We took the nationalists head-on. We made people think about independence, which was their logical policy. As a result, they disappeared. We wiped them out.
Unfortunately, as I warned Lady Thatcher, making the SNP vote disappear meant that the then Member of Parliament for Glasgow, Cathcart had to disappear as well. However, it was a good bargain for Scotland to get rid of the SNP and devolution, even if it meant that I had to go as well. I hope that the Government will think again. They think that they are solving a problem with devolution. I think that they are creating more. I hope that I am wrong.
§ Mr. Gareth Thomas (Clwyd, West)
I regret that the debate has been so short, because there have been some interesting and stimulating contributions. I am pleased that some English Members have had the opportunity to speak. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) on his thought-provoking comments about the future constitutional position. I found his remarks about an asymmetrical settlement interesting, although I do not necessarily agree with them.
The hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Luff) also made some intriguing comments. He seems to be taking the argument about an English Parliament seriously, unlike the hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman), who sadly did not have an opportunity to speak. I hope that I am not being too disrespectful when I say that she is raising the possibility of an English Parliament as an act of provocation. She is raising the spectre of English nationalism in an inflammatory way, when the hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire looked on it as a possible solution to the anomalies in an asymmetrical system of devolution. As a Welsh Member, I am acutely aware that the UK has an asymmetrical system.
One of devolution's major implications for the House is that there will be an impetus towards further serious strategic thinking about the role of the regions in England and whether it is better to create a regional system or to consider England as having an identity in its own right. There are weaknesses and strengths in both arguments.
210 In the short time available, I shall deal with what I hope will be the exciting results of devolution. I am pleased that a partly proportional electoral system has been introduced for both bodies. It may be slightly controversial of me to say that, in many respects, the result was disappointing for the Labour party in Wales, but at least it has produced a body that is broadly proportional in terms of the votes cast.
I strongly believe that the balance of the parties in the Assembly is such that there will be an opportunity for more consensual and pluralist politics, and that is what the public want. It is possible to have consensus and pluralism and still have genuine scrutiny. One of the virtues of a more devolved system is that there can be more thorough scrutiny of how public money is spent and policy developed.
In contrast to my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton and Washington, East (Mr. Kemp), who over the weekend made derogatory comments in the press about the additional member system, I believe that, if the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales are seen to be working effectively and pioneering more pluralist, consensual politics, many people will recognise the strength of the Jenkins report, which offers a form of proportional representation that would maintain the constituency link while introducing a strong element of proportionality.
The existence of devolved bodies will serve as a substantial check and balance to our over-centralised system. Its reform is long overdue. The establishment of the bodies will engender diversity and a more competitive policy environment, which is to be welcomed. Profound changes are afoot and this is indeed an interesting time.
§ Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley)
I agree with the hon. Member for Clwyd, West (Mr. Thomas) that this is a short debate, but I am afraid that I can agree with him only on that point.
I was surprised to hear the suggestion that current events are giving Conservatives a dose of their own medicine. I hope that that is not why the Government are imposing devolution on us and failing to deal with the West Lothian question.
I could not pass up the opportunity to reflect on the new Labour Government's great achievements of the past two years, one of which is to have created two institutions that have breathed new life into nationalism and given it a home. So much for the promise to kill nationalism stone dead. They have created a system that has led to them losing some of their heartland seats. Coming from Swansea, I know Islwyn, Rhondda and Llanelli well. I never thought that I would live long enough to see them change their Labour party complexion, but they certainly did last week.
The Government are responsible for the improbable circumstance of the Secretary of State for Wales being the same person as the First Secretary of Wales. We have to concede that he just slipped into that position late on Friday as one of the regional list Members, but he will not be able to sustain his position as Secretary of State and First Secretary because of collective responsibility.
My hon. Friend the Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) mentioned the ban on beef on the bone. If the Welsh Assembly decides to lift the ban, the Secretary of State 211 for Wales will follow that route as First Secretary, but his own Government will wish him to follow a completely different route. I therefore believe that he should resign forthwith as Secretary of State for Wales.
The Government have also managed to split constituencies asunder. Seven constituencies in Wales are now served by politicians representing a different party from the party representing them at Westminster, and the same applies to three constituencies in Scotland. It will be interesting to see how those politicians work with each other. It is a great shame that the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Edwards), who was present at the beginning of the debate, is not present at the end. I would have liked to ask him how he would continue to work with David Davies. Interesting times lie ahead.
The lacklustre turnout has been mentioned. All political parties will need to address that. A 46 per cent. turnout cannot be acceptable in the election of a body for which, we are told, the Welsh people have been waiting for 300 years. We must do something to ensure that there is a better turnout in the future, but compulsory voting is not the answer. As far as I am concerned, the voters are never wrong—although I had my doubts about the last general election—but, when they decide to stay at home, that says something to all of us.
Then there is the wonderful system of proportional representation with which we have now been blessed. It has assured us of a minority Government in both Scotland and Wales. Two out of two cannot be bad on the first go, can it? Deals—some formal, others informal—are now being struck between the Labour party and the party with the lowest representation: the party that came fourth in Wales and Scotland. Deals are now being done behind closed doors, and we will never know exactly what will happen. We could end up with policies that none of the parties supported.
There is also the problem of the Prime Minister's role, and his relationship with the devolved bodies. It has been said thatThe Secretary of State's election was the result of a combination of old Labour vote-rigging and new Labour control freakery. Welsh electors last week expressed their anger at London's imposed leader. New Labour has created its own powerful opposition in Wales. It was a disaster, conceived in Downing Street and produced by a new Labour team in Cardiff. The party was judged to be unprincipled and undemocratic.Those are the words of a Labour Member, the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn)—and who am 1 to disagree with his views?
We have discussed policy differences. We have discussed the possibility that policies in Scotland and Wales will be different from those in the rest of England, and that we do not know what deals the Liberal Democrats will be able to extract from the Labour party in Scotland. I think that they will be a little more feisty than they were in the House of Lords when they caved in on the open-list system that they loved so much, and we ended up with a closed-list system for the European elections; but deals will be done. That is part of the present system of coalition.
Tuition fees have been mentioned. Irrespective of the system that is used, if tuition fees are abolished in Scotland, what will happen in England? Is it sustainable 212 to have no tuition fees in Scottish universities, but to have them in England—or for Scottish students to be given money amounting to the fees, so that they can go to any university in the United Kingdom, while English students are not given that opportunity?
§ Mr. Evans
The issues have been dealt by the Conservative party in Scotland, as the hon. Lady knows. What I am pointing out are the anomalies that will exist in Scotland as a result of devolution. The position on tuition fees will be completely different in Scotland and in England. Does the hon. Lady really think that that will be sustainable? Her Government's policy is that tuition fees should be imposed on all students in England, yet in Scotland there will be no tuition fees.
I shall be interested to see whether the Liberal Democrats stick to their guns in Scotland. One Liberal Democrat member said:There is going to be no backing down on this. If we roll over on this demand, we will he the laughing stock of Scotland.The Liberal Democrats do not seem to have noticed that it is the Government who are the laughing stock of Scotland.
Then there is the policy on beef on the bone in Wales. Tomorrow, Rod Richards will table the motion that that ban should be lifted in Wales. I shall be interested to see whether the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru stick to their guns. During the election campaign, they said that they would support that policy. When the Welsh Assembly meets and discusses the motion, we shall see whether they support it.
T-bone steak will be the national dish of Wales. We know that the Secretary of State for Wales likes beef on the bone, although he cannot always recognise it, even when he is eating it. The absurd image of the meat police at the Severn bridge, turning people back with their beef on the bone, does not bear thinking about. Whitbread inns in Bristol will have no beef on the bone on their menu, but Whitbread restaurants in Newport will have it on the menu.
We want to know what will happen in Scotland with regard to tuition fees, and what will happen if the ban on beef on the bone is lifted in Wales. The Government cannot continue to shy away from answering the questions, as the Minister did in her opening remarks. It is shameful.
There is the problem of England. The West Lothian question has always been acknowledged, but it has never been addressed. What will happen? The right hon. Lady said that referendums will be held in the regions. It is as though she recognises that Scotland is a country, Wales is a country, but England is not—England is made up of various regions. That is not a consistent line, and she knows it.
§ Mrs. Liddell
Can the hon. Gentleman confirm that it is the policy of his party to establish an English Parliament?
§ Mr. Evans
No, it is not. If the hon. Lady wishes to change places with me, I should be happy to sit where she 213 is sitting and make the real decisions that are necessary. When one is in government, one must make real decisions, but she is failing to do so. She is promoting referendums in the regions of England, but she is not prepared to accept that there is an English identity.
We know the views of the Liberal Democrats. I debated with one on Sunday, who said that they wanted English regions, and that the regions could have tax-raising or tax-varying powers. That means that the tax rate in the north-west of England could be 3p more than in the north-east or the south-west of England.
§ Mrs. Ellman
Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that there is growing regional consciousness in England, with the regional development agencies and the regional chambers, at least one third of whose membership comprises non-elected social partners? Does he recognise that central powers are increasingly going to regional offices, and that the only thing that is missing is full democratic accountability? Does he accept the importance of the English regions?
§ Mr. Evans
The hon. Lady obviously lives in a different part of the north-west from me. As I was going around at the recent local elections, people did not say that they wanted a regional assembly elected in the north-west. They are certainly concerned about what is happening in Scotland and Wales.
What will the hon. Lady say to her constituents if the West Lothian question is not properly addressed? There could be a time when Scottish Members of Parliament could outvote her on issues that are purely English and Welsh, whereas she could have no say in what was happening in Scotland. Indeed, even a Scottish Member could not have a say in what was happening in Scotland. She knows that there is a real problem. She has acknowledged it, but the Government are not prepared to deal with it.
§ Mr. Evans
I know that changes will be made to the methodology, to the structure of Committees and Grand Committees and to Question Time, but I repeat this: I am a Welsh Member representing an English constituency and English taxpayers who are paying taxes which are spent in Scotland and in Wales, and my constituents expect me to have the opportunity to question Ministers on how that money is being spent. We cannot have taxation without proper representation; we cannot have taxation without Members of the United Kingdom Parliament asking United Kingdom Ministers how that money is being spent.
We are told that devolution is a journey, not a destination. The pressure will no doubt grow for more powers to go to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. Indeed, the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) has already said that he, as a Westminster Member of Parliament, will push constantly 214 for more powers to go to both those bodies, but my biggest fear of all—in all this muddled thinking, incoherence and unjoined-up thinking—is that the very integrity of the United Kingdom is at risk.
We were told that devolution was a blueprint for a better Britain. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as we have seen from what happened on Friday and what has happened since. The whole mismanaged, ill-thought-out and piecemeal approach has led to instability and uncertainty throughout the United Kingdom. The alarm bells are ringing; the Government should take off their rose-tinted spectacles and wake up before it is too late.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Hain)
I was trying to count the number of clichés in the speech of the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans), but I should begin by responding to the other contributions that have been made this evening. First, the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) focused a lot of his criticism on proportional representation. I remind him that proportional representation in Wales gave him Rod Richards; maybe that is why he is so bitterly opposed to it. Proportional representation in Wales gave the Conservatives a lifeline into the Assembly and gave all the minority parties representation that they would not otherwise have achieved and which we believe they should have had.
When the hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Luff), in an interesting speech, quoted The Birmingham Post in support of his case for an English parliament, he neglected to say that its top man on the board of directors is the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler). The hon. Gentleman's contribution was interesting—1 shall return to this point—because his Front Benchers were notably silent about whether they support his case for an English parliament, preferring to dodge the question.
The right hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Mr. Maclennan) made an interesting and thoughtful contribution. He referred to the importance of the English regions, which is a point that many of my hon. Friends who represent English constituencies would have made had they been called to speak. The Government's position on decentralisation of power and devolution of responsibility and decision making throughout Britain is that the English regions should be empowered as well. We have already begun to do that, through the establishment of regional development agencies for all nine regions of England—the statutory power came into force only a month ago.
We have already begun the process of achieving devolved bodies for the English regions by legislating for a Greater London Authority. Elections for the authority and for mayor of London will take place next year and we have already put in place regional chambers representing the nine English regions.
There are already signs—in the north-east, for example—that demand for regional government is building. As has been made clear, and my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) reinforced the point, if and when there is such demand in the English regions, as I hope that there will be, we will be able to 215 achieve elected regional government—under a Labour Government and after it has been sanctioned in a referendum.
§ Mr. Brady
The Minister referred to the possibility of a regional assembly for the north-west and other parts of the country. Does he realise that his message would carry more force if the regional development agency in the north-west were properly representative? After last week's results in the local elections, will he now agree to put a Conservative representative on the RDA in the north-west? It is a scandal that the Government have not done so before and, following last week's very good results for the Conservatives in the north-west, they should now do so.
§ Mr. Hain
I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman wants to emulate the experience of the old Welsh Development Agency, which was packed full of Conservative stooges, resulting in all sorts of shenanigans, which that the Labour Government have had to clear up. The answer to the hon. Gentleman's question will be found if—I should say when—Labour is elected at the next election, because there will be the opportunity for his area to have an elected regional government if the people wish it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) made an extremely interesting speech and said that devolution was not about Scottish, Welsh or—for that matter—English nationalism, but about good governance and the modernisation of government. I agree. I agree also with his comments about the House of Commons trying to do too much, and doing it badly. That is an additional reason why we are pressing ahead with the decentralisation of power throughout Britain.
My hon. Friend asked about the reciprocity of access between Members of Parliament with Members of the Scottish Parliament and Members of the Welsh Assembly. That is a good point which ought to be examined by all three bodies. He asked also about overseas territories and whether they should have representation, and he mentioned Gibraltar. I should say that I have enough on my plate with Wales without considering Gibraltar or any other overseas territory.
My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Miss Begg), by stark contrast with almost all Conservative Members, made a series of lucid points about the process of devolution upon which we have embarked.
The hon. Member for Rochford and Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) was good enough to remind us of 1979 and his venerable leadership of the Scottish Conservative party. I believe that he was referred to as "the leader of one" and that he subsequently lost his seat in the process. He asked specifically about tuition fees. That is a matter devolved to Scotland. It will be within the rights of the Scottish Parliament to take a different decision on tuition fees, but it then must take the consequences in terms of spending within the Scottish block.
The hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) made a series of familiar points—it was like listening to an old gramophone record that we heard during the passage of Government of Wales Act and the Scotland Act. My right 216 hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales has made it clear that, after the transfer order goes through on 1 July, he does not think it appropriate that he should stay in post much longer because the two roles will eventually be incompatible. [HON. MEMBERS: "How much longer?"] My right hon. Friend has answered that question specifically.
The hon. Member for Ribble Valley referred sarcastically to the current discussions between the Labour party and the other parties in the National Assembly. This is the new partnership politics that the Welsh Assembly was invited to project in Wales. It makes a difference from the old confrontational, elitist, centralised and dictatorial politics that we had during 18 years of Tory rule.
The real issue is that neither the hon. Gentleman nor his Tory colleagues can stand the idea of diversity. They do not like the idea that the Scottish Parliament may or may not decide to do something different about tuition fees. They do not like the idea that the Welsh Assembly may introduce free travel for senior citizens—something that does not exist as yet in England or Scotland. The hon. Member for Ribble Valley wants the uniformity that Thatcherism and Majorism thrust on all parts of the UK, to such disastrous effect.
What has characterised the debate is a series of illusions. First, the Conservatives claim to be speaking for England, but they are not. Only 31 per cent. of Members of Parliament in England are Conservative; just 165 out of 528. It is the Labour party that speaks for England. A total of 329 Members of Parliament in England—60 per cent.—are Labour Members.
The Conservatives do not speak for England. They do not speak for anyone but themselves. It is Labour that speaks for England. It is Labour that speaks for Scotland, Wales and indeed the whole of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Hain
The answer is simple: we designed an electoral system to ensure that the Opposition parties got fairer representation. Labour is by far the biggest party in both Scotland and Wales, but we are proud of introducing a fairer electoral system, which gave a lifeline to the Scottish Conservative party and to the Welsh Conservatives as well.
§ Mr. Hain
There are lots of explanations for that, but there is an important point, from which the hon. Gentleman's party has benefited. We won 27 out of the 40 single Member seats in Wales. We are by far the biggest party. If we had not had a fairer system, his party would not have got the representation that it has. Nevertheless, I congratulate it on its achievement.
The second thing that the Conservatives claim is that their policies will strengthen the Union. Their policies created the problems that resulted in resurgent nationalism, to which the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) referred. The Conservative leader admitted as much in an astonishing speech on 24 February last year, 217 when he confessed that, in the 1980s and 1990s, Tory Governments politically neglected Britain in not moving fast enough to satisfy demands in Scotland and Wales for a measure of self-government.
The third illusion concerns the West Lothian factor. I remind Conservative Members that the West Lothian factor has been eclipsed by the West Clwyd factor. The Tory leader in Wales could not even win his own constituency. Indeed, his vote fell by 5 per cent. compared with when he lost the seat in 1997 to my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd, West (Mr. Thomas), who, on the current trend, will certainly retain his seat next time.
The results in Wales were desperately bad for the Conservative party. I give figures on the seats that they held until 1997. In Cardiff, North, their vote was down 2 per cent. In Brecon and Radnorshire, it was down 5 per cent. In Clwyd, West, it was down 5 per cent. In Conwy, it was down 6 per cent. On the basis of such a mid-term performance, they are not in any position to make a comeback. Labour is poised to win the next general election in Wales, Scotland and, indeed, throughout Britain.
There is much confusion as to whether the Conservatives want an English Parliament. The hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire argued that case strongly. Many people in Wales and Scotland maintain that that is what they had under the Conservatives for 18 years: a Parliament representing England alone. One of the solutions to that problem is being provided by the Labour Government through devolution for Scotland and Wales.
In an article published today, the former Member, Michael Portillo said—
§ Mr. James Arbuthnot (North-East Hampshire)
rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
§ Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly, That the original words stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 121, Noes 358.221
|Division No. 170]||[9.59 pm|
|Amess, David||Davies, Quentin (Grantham)|
|Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James||Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||& Howden)|
|Bercow, John||Day, Stephen|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen|
|Blunt, Crispin||Duncan, Alan|
|Boswell, Tim||Duncan Smith, lain|
|Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)||Evans, Nigel|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia||Faber, David|
|Brady, Graham||Fabricant, Michael|
|Brazier, Julian||Fallon, Michael|
|Browning, Mrs Angela||Flight, Howard|
|Burns, Simon||Forsythe, Clifford|
|Butterill, John||Forth, Rt Hon Eric|
|Chapman, Sir Sydney||Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman|
|(Chipping Barnet)||Fox, Dr Liam|
|Chope, Christopher||Fraser, Christopher|
|Clappison, James||Gale, Roger|
|Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)||Garnier, Edward|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)||Gibb, Nick|
|Clifton—Brown, Geoffrey||Gill, Christopher|
|Gran, James||Gorman, Mrs Teresa|
|Curry, Rt Hon David||Green, Damian|
|Greenway, John||Prior, David|
|Grieve, Dominic||Randall, John|
|Gummer, Rt Hon John||Redwood, Rt Hon John|
|Hammond, Philip||Robathan, Andrew|
|Hawkins, Nick||Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)|
|Heald, Oliver||Ruffley, David|
|Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael||St Aubyn, Nick|
|Horam, John||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)||Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian|
|Hunter, Andrew||Shepherd, Richard|
|Jack, Rt Hon Michael||Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)|
|Jackson, Robert (Wantage)||Soames, Nicholas|
|Johnson Smith,||Spicer, Sir Michael|
|Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Spring, Richard|
|Key, Robert||Steen, Anthony|
|Kirkbride, Miss Julie||Streeter, Gary|
|Lansley, Andrew||Syms, Robert|
|Leigh, Edward||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)||Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)|
|Lidington, David||Taylor, Sir Teddy|
|Lilley, Rt Hon Peter||Tredinnick, David|
|Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)||Trend, Michael|
|Loughton, Tim||Tyrie, Andrew|
|Luff, Peter||Walter, Robert|
|MacGregor, Rt Hon John||Wardle, Charles|
|McIntosh, Miss Anne||Waterson, Nigel|
|MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew||Wells, Bowen|
|Maclean, Rt Hon David||Whiotney, Sir Raymond|
|McLoughlin, Patrick||Whittingdale, John|
|Madel, Sir David||Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann|
|Malins, Humfrey||Wilkinson, John|
|Maples, John||Willetts, David|
|Mates, Michael||Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)|
|Maude, Rt Hon Francis||Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)|
|Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian||Woodward, Shaun|
|May, Mrs Theresa||Yeo, Tim|
|Moss, Malcolm||Young, Rt Hon Sir George|
|Ottaway, Richard||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Paice, James||Mrs. Eleanor Laing and|
|Pickles, Eric||Mr. Tim Collins.|
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Bradshaw|
|Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)||Brake, Tom|
|Ainger, Nick||Brand, Dr Peter|
|Allan, Richard||Brinton, Mrs Helen|
|Allen, Graham||Brown, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary||(Dunfermline E)|
|Ashton, Joe||Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)|
|Atherton, Ms Candy||Brown, Russell (Dumfries)|
|Atkins, Charlotte||Browne, Desmond|
|Austin, John||Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)|
|Ballard, Jackie||Buck, Ms Karen|
|Banks, Tony||Burden, Richard|
|Barnes, Harry||Burgon, Colin|
|Barron, Kevin||Burnett, John|
|Bayley, Hugh||Burstow, Paul|
|Beard, Nigel||Butler, Mrs Christine|
|Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret||Byers, Rt Hon Stephen|
|Begg, Miss Anne||Caborn, Rt Hon Richard|
|Berth, Rt Hon A J||Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)|
|Bell, Martin (Tatton)||Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies|
|Bennett, Andrew F||(NE Fife)|
|Benton, Joe||Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Campbell—Savours, Dale|
|Berry, Roger||Cann, Jamie|
|Blackman, Liz||Casale, Roger|
|Blears, Ms Hazel||Casale, Martin|
|Blizzard, Bob||Casale, Martin|
|Blunkett, Rt Hon David||Cawsey, Ian|
|Boateng, Paul||Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)|
|Borrow, David||Chaytor, David|
|Bradley, Keith (Withington)||Chidgey, David|
|Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)||Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)|
|Clark, Dr Lynda||Hall, Patrick (Bedford)|
|(Edinburgh Pentlands)||Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)|
|Clark, Paul (Gillingham)||Hancock, Mike|
|Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)||Hanson, David|
|Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)||Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet|
|Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)||Harris, Dr Evan|
|Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)||Harvey, Nick|
|Clelland, David||Heal, Mrs Sylvia|
|Clwyd, Ann||Healey, John|
|Coaker, Vernon||Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)|
|Coffey, Ms Ann||Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)|
|Coleman, Iain||Hepburn, Stephen|
|Colman, Tony||Heppell, John|
|Connarty, Michael||Hewitt, Ms Patricia|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton N)||Hill, Keith|
|Corston, Ms Jean||Hinchliffe, David|
|Cousins, Jim||Hodge, Ms Margaret|
|Cranston, Ross||Hoey, Kate|
|Crausby, David||Hood, Jimmy|
|Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)||Hoon, Geoffrey|
|Cummings, John||Hope, Phil|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Hopkins, Kelvin|
|Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack||Howarth, Alan (Newport E)|
|(Copeland)||Howarth, George (Knowsley N)|
|Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)||Howells, Dr Kim|
|Darling, Rt Hon Alistair||Hoyle, Lindsay|
|Darvill, Keith||Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)|
|Davey, Edward (Kingston)||Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)|
|Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)||Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)|
|Davidson, Ian||Humble Mrs Joan|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)||Hurst, Alan|
|Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)||Hutton, John|
|Dawson, Hilton||Iddon, Dr Brian|
|Dean, Mrs Janet||Ingram, Rt Hon Adam|
|Denham, John||Jackson, Ms Glenda Hampstead)|
|Dismore, Andrew||Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)|
|Dobbin, Jim||Jamieson, David|
|Dobson, Rt Hon Frank||Jenkins, Brian|
|Donohoe, Brian H||Johnson, Alan Hull W & Hessle)|
|Doran, Frank||Johnson, Miss Melanie|
|Dowd, Jim||(Welwyn Hatfield)|
|Drew, David||Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)|
|Drown, Ms Julia||Jones, Mrs Fiona Newark)|
|Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||Jones, Helen Warrington N)|
|Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)||Jones, Ms Jenny|
|Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)||(Wolverh'ton SW)|
|Edwards, Huw||Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)|
|Efford, Clive||Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)|
|Ellman, Mrs Louise||Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)|
|Ennis, Jeff||Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)|
|Etherington, Bill||Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa|
|Field, Rt Hon Frank||Keeble, Ms Sally|
|Fisher, Mark||Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)|
|Fitzsimons, Lorna||Keen, Ann (Brentford & Lsleworth)|
|Flint, Caroline||Kelly, Ms Ruth|
|Follett, Barbara||Kemp, Fraser|
|Foster, Don (Bath)||Kennedy, Jane Wavertree)|
|Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)||Khabra, Piara S|
|Foster, Michael J (Worcester)||Kidney, David|
|Fyfe, Maria||Kilfoyle, Peter|
|Galloway, George||King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)|
|Gapes, Mike||Kingham, Ms Tess|
|Gardiner, Barry||Kirkwood, Archy|
|George, Bruce (Walsall S)||Kumar, Dr Ashok|
|Gerrard, Neil||Ladyman, Dr Stephen|
|Gibson, Dr Ian||Laxton, Bob|
|Gilroy, Mrs Linda||Leslie, Christopher|
|Godman, Dr Norman A||Levitt, Tom|
|Godsiff, Roger||Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)|
|Goggins, Paul||Lewis, Terry (Worsley)|
|Gordon, Mrs Eileen||Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen|
|Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)||Linton, Martin|
|Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)||Livingstone, Ken|
|Grocott, Bruce||Llwyd, Elfyn|
|Hain, Peter||Lock, David|
|Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)||McAvoy, Thomas|
|McCartney, Rt Hon Ian||Ruddock, Joan|
|(Makerfield)||Russell, Bob (Colchester)|
|McDonagh, Siobhain||Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)|
|McDonnell, John||Sanders, Adrian|
|McFall, John||Sarwar, Mohammad|
|McGuire, Mrs Anne||Savidge, Malcolm|
|Mackinlay, Andrew||Sawford, Phil|
|Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert||Sedgemore, Brian|
|McNulty, Tony||Shaw, Jonathan|
|MacShane, Denis||Sheerman, Barry|
|Mactaggart, Fiona||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|McWilliam, John||Shipley, Ms Debra|
|Mahon, Mrs Alice||Simpson, Alan (Notttingham S)|
|Mallaber, Judy||Singh, Marsha|
|Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter||Skinner, Dennis|
|Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)||Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)|
|Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)||Smith, Angela (Basildon)|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Smith, Miss Geraldine|
|Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||(Morecambe & Lunesdale)|
|Marshall—Andrews, Robert||Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)|
|Martlew, Eric||Smith, John (Glamorgan)|
|Maxton, John||Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)|
|Meacher, Rt Hon Michael||Snape, Peter|
|Meale, Alan||Soley, Clive|
|Merron, Gillian||Southworth, Ms Helen|
|Michie, Bill (Shefld Heeley)||Spellar, John|
|Miller, Andrew||Squire, Ms Rachel|
|Mitchell, Austin||Steinberg, Gerry|
|Moonie, Dr Lewis||Stevenson, George|
|Moran, Ms Margaret||Stewart, David (Inverness E)|
|Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)||Stewart, Lan (Eccles)|
|Morley, Elliot||Stinchcombe, Paul|
|Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)||Stoate, Dr Howard|
|Mudie, George||Stott, Roger|
|Mullin, Chris||Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin|
|Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)||Straw, Rt Hon Jack|
|Naysmith, Dr Doug||Stringer, Graham|
|Oaten, Mark||Stuart, Ms Gisela|
|O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)||Sutcliffe, Gerry|
|O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)||Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann|
|O'Neill, Martin||Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)|
|Öpik, Lembit||Taylor, David (NW Leics)|
|Organ, Mrs Diana||Temple—Morris, Peter|
|Osborne, Ms Sandra||Thomas, Gareth (Glwyd W)|
|Palmer, Dr Nick||Timms, Stephen|
|Pearson, Ian||Todd, Mark|
|Perham, Ms Linda||Touhig, Don|
|Pickthall, Colin||Trickett, Jon|
|Pike, Peter L||Truswell, Paul|
|Plaskitt, James||Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)|
|Pond, Chris||Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)|
|Pope, Greg||Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)|
|Pound, Stephen||Twigg, Derek (Halton)|
|Powell, Sir Raymond||Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)|
|Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)||Tyler, Paul|
|Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)||Vaz, Keith|
|Prescott, Rt Hon John||Ward, Ms Claire|
|Primarolo, Dawn||Wareing, Robert N|
|Prosser, Gwyn||Watts, David|
|Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce||Webb, Steve|
|Quinn, Lawrie||White, Brian|
|Radice, Giles||Whitehead, Dr Alan|
|Raynsford, Nick||Wicks, Malcolm|
|Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)||Williams, Rt Hon Alan|
|Rendel, David||(Swansea W)|
|Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)||Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)|
|Roche, Mrs Barbara||Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)|
|Rooker, Jeff||Wills, Michael|
|Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)||Winnick, David|
|Roy, Frank||Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)|
|Ruane, Chris||Wise, Audrey|
|Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)||Mr. Robert Ainsworth and|
|Wyatt, Derek||Mr. Clive Betts.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order NO. 31 (Question on amendments):—
§ The House divided: Ayes 349, Noes 118.224
|Division No. 171]||[10.14 pm|
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Clark, Dr Lynda|
|Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)||(Edinburgh Pentlands)|
|Ainger, Nick||Clark, Paul (Gillingham)|
|Allan, Richard||Clark, Charles (Norwich S)|
|Allen, Graham||Clark, Eric (Midlothian)|
|Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary||Clark, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)|
|Atherton, Ms Candy||Clark, Tony (Northampton S)|
|Atkins, Charlotte||Clelland, David|
|Austin, John||Clwyd, Ann|
|Banks, Tony||Coffey, Ms Ann|
|Bames, Harry||Coleman, Iain|
|Barron, Kevin||Colman, Tony|
|Bayley, Hugh||Connarty, Michael|
|Beard, Nigel||Cook, Frank (Stockton N)|
|Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret||C1orston, Ms Jean|
|Begg, Miss Anne||Cotter, Brian|
|Beith, Rt Hon A J||Cousins, Jim|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Cranston, Ross|
|Benton, Joe||Crausby, David|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)|
|Berry, Roger||Cummings, John|
|Blackman, Liz||Cunliffe, Lawrence|
|Blears, Ms Hazel||Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack|
|Blunkett, Rt Hon David||Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)|
|Boateng, Paul||Darling, Rt Hon Alistair|
|Borrow, David||Darvill, Keith|
|Bradley, Keith (Withington)||Davey, Edward (Kingston)|
|Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)||Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)|
|Brake, Tom||Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)|
|Brand, Dr Peter||Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)|
|Brinton, Mrs Helen||Dawson, Hilton|
|Brown, Rt Hon Gordon||Dean, Mrs Janet|
|(Dunfermline E)||Denham, John|
|Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)||Dismore, Andrew|
|Brown, Russell (Dumfries)||Dobbin, Jim|
|Browne, Desmond||Dobson, Rt Hon Frank|
|Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)||Donohoe, Brian H|
|Buck, Ms Karen||Doran, Frank|
|Burden, Richard||Dowd, Jim|
|Burgon, Colin||Drew, David|
|Burnett, John||Drown, Ms Julia|
|Burstow, Paul||Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)|
|Butler, Mrs Christine||Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)|
|Cabom, Rt Hon Richard||Edwards, Huw|
|Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)||Efford, Clive|
|Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)||Ellman, Mrs Louise|
|Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies||Ennis, Jeff|
|(NE Fife)||Etherington, Bill|
|Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)||Fearn, Ronnie|
|Campbell—Savours, Dale||Field, Rt Hon Frank|
|Cann, Jamie||Fisher, Mark|
|Casale, Roger||Fitzsimons, Lorna|
|Caton, Martin||Flint, Caroline|
|Cawsey, Ian||Follett, Barbara|
|Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)||Foster, Don (Bath)|
|Chaytor, David||Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)|
|Chidgey, David||Foster, Michael J (Worcester)|
|Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)||Fyfe, Maria|
|Galloway, George||Kumar, Dr Ashok|
|Gapes, Mike||Ladyman, Dr Stephen|
|Gardiner, Barry||Laxton, Bob|
|George, Bruce (Walsall S)||Leslie, Christopher|
|Gerrard, Neil||Levitt, Tom|
|Gibson, Dr Ian||Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)|
|Gilroy, Mrs Linda||Lewis, Terry (Worsley)|
|Godman, Dr Norman A||Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen|
|Goggins, Paul||Linton, Martin|
|Gordon, Mrs Eileen||Livingstone, Ken|
|Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)||Lock, David|
|Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)||McAvoy, Thomas|
|Grocott, Bruce||McCartney, Rt Hon Ian|
|Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)||McDonagh, Siobhain|
|Hall, Patrick (Bedford)||McDonnell, John|
|Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)||McFall, John|
|Hancock, Mike||McGuire, Mrs Anne|
|Hanson, David||Mackinlay, Andrew|
|Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet||Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert|
|Harris, Dr Evan||McNulty, Tony|
|Harvey, Nick||MacShane, Denis|
|Heal, Mrs Sylvia||Mactaggart, Fiona|
|Healey, John||McWilliam, John|
|Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)||Mahon, Mrs Alice|
|Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)||Mallabar, Judy|
|Hepburn, Stephen||Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter|
|Heppell, John||Marsdon, Gordon (Blackpool S)|
|Hewitt, Ms Patricia||Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)|
|Hill, Keith||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Hinchliffe, David||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)|
|Hodge, Ms Margaret||Marshall—Andrews, Robert|
|Hoey, Kate||Martlew, Eric|
|Hood, Jimmy||Maxton, John|
|Hoon, Geoffrey||Meacher, Rt Hon Michael|
|Hope, Phil||Meale, Alan|
|Hopkins, Kelvin||Merron, Gillian|
|Howarth, Alan (Newport E)||Michie,Bill (Shefld Heeley)|
|Howarth, George (Knowsley N)||Miller, Andrew|
|Howells, Dr Kim||Mitchell, Austin|
|Hoyle, Lindsay||Moonie,Dr Lewis|
|Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)||Moran, Ms Margaret|
|Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)||Moran, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)||Morley, Elliot|
|Humble, Mrs Joan||Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)|
|Hurst, Alan||Mudie, George|
|Hutton, John||Mullin, Chris|
|Iddon, Dr Brian||Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)|
|Ingram, Rt Hon Adam||Naysmith, Dr Doug|
|Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)||O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)|
|Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)||O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)|
|Jamieson, David||Olner, Bill|
|Jenkins, Brian||O'Neill, Martin|
|Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)||Öpik, Lembit|
|Johnson, Miss Melanie||Organ, Ms Diana|
|(Welwyn Hatfield)||Osborne, Ms Sandra|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)||palmer, Dr Nick|
|Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)||Pearson, Ian|
|Jones, Helen (Warrington N)||Perham, Ms Linda|
|Jones, Ms Jenny||Pickthall, Colin|
|(Wolverh'ton SW)||Pike, Peter L|
|Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)||Plaskitt, James|
|Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)||Pond, Chris|
|Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)||Pope, Greg|
|Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa||Pound, Stephen|
|Keeble, Ms Sally||Powell, Sir Raymond|
|Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)||Prentice,Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)|
|Keen, Ann (Brentford & lsleworth)||Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)|
|Kemp, Fraser||Prescott, Rt Hon John|
|Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)||Primarolo, Dawn|
|Khabra, Piara S||Prosser, Gwyn|
|Kidney, David||Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce|
|Kilfoyle, Peter||Quinn, Lawrie|
|King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)||Radice, Giles|
|Kingham, Ms Tess||Raynsford, Nick|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)|
|Rendel, David||Stringer, Graham|
|Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)||Stuart, Ms Gisela|
|Roche, Mrs Barbara||Sutcliffe, Gerry|
|Rooker, Jeff||Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann|
|Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)||(Dewsbury)|
|Roy, Frank||Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)|
|Ruane, Chris||Taylor, David (NW Leics)|
|Ruddock, Joan||Temple—Morris, Peter|
|Russell, Bob (Colchester)||Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)|
|Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)||Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)|
|Sanders, Adrian||Timms, Stephen|
|Sarwar, Mohammad||Todd, Mark|
|Savidge, Malcolm||Touhig, Don|
|Sawford, Phil||Trickett, Jon|
|Shaw, Jonathan||Turner,Dr Desmond (Kemptown)|
|Sheerman, Barry||Turner,Dr George (NW Norfolk)|
|Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert||Twigg,Derek (Halton)|
|Shipley, Ms Debra||Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)|
|Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)||Tyler,Paul|
|Singh, Marsha||Vaz, Keith|
|Skinner, Dennis||Ward,Ms Claire|
|Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)||Wareing, Robert N|
|Smith, Angela (Basildon)||Watts, David|
|Smith, Miss Geraldine||Webb,Steve|
|(Morecambe & Lunesdale)||White, Brian|
|Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)||Whitehead, Dr Alan|
|Smith, John (Glamorgan)||Wicks, Malcolm|
|Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)||Williams, Rt Hon Alan|
|Snape, Peter||(Swansea W)|
|Soley, Clive||Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)|
|Southworth, Ms Helen||Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)|
|Spellar, John||Wills, Michael|
|Squire, Ms Rachel||Winnick, David|
|Starkey, Dr Phyllis||Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)|
|Steinberg, Gerry||Wise, Audrey|
|Stevenson, George||Wood, Mike|
|Stewart, David (Inverness E)||Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)|
|Stewart, Ian (Eccles)||Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)|
|Stinchcombe, Paul||Wyatt, Derek|
|Stoate, Dr Howard|
|Stott, Roger||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin||Mr. Clive Betts and|
|Straw, Rt Hon Jack||Mr. Robert Ainsworth.|
|Amess, David||Evans, Nigel|
|Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James||Faber, David|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Fabricant, Michael|
|Bercow, John||Fallon, Michael|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Fallon, Howard|
|Blunt, Crispin||Forsythe, Clifford|
|Boswell, Tim||Forth, Rt Hon Eric|
|Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)||Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia||Fox, Dr Liam|
|Brazier, Julian||Gale, Roger|
|Browning, Mrs Angela||Garnier, Edward|
|Burns, Simon||Gibb, Nick|
|Chapman, Sir Sydney||Gill, Christopher|
|(Chipping Barnet)||Gorman, Mrs Teresa|
|Chope, Christopher||Gray, James|
|Clappison, James||Green, Damian|
|Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)||Greenway, John|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)||Grieve, Dominic|
|Clifton—Brown, Geoffrey||Gummer, Rt Hon John|
|Cran, James||Hammond, Philip|
|Curry, Rt Hon David||Hawkins, Nick|
|Davies, Quentin (Grantham)||Heald, Oliver|
|Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice||Heathcoat—Amory, Rt Hon David|
|& Howden)||Horam, John|
|Day, Stephen||Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)|
|Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen||Hunter, Andrew|
|Duncan, Alan||Jack, Rt Hon Michael|
|Duncan Smith, lain||Jackson, Robert (Wantage)|
|Johnson Smith||Rowe, Andrey (Faversham)|
|Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Ruffley, David|
|Key, Robert||St Aubyn, Nick|
|Kirkbride, Miss Julie||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Lansley, Andrew||Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian|
|Leigh, Edward||shepherd, Richard|
|Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)||Simpson,Keith (Mid-Norfolk)|
|Lidington, David||soames, Nicholas|
|Lilley, Rt Hon Peter||Spicer, Sir Michael|
|Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)||Spring, Richard|
|Loughton, Tim||Steen, Anthony|
|MacGregor, Rt Hon John||Syms, Robert|
|McIntosh, Miss Anne||Tapsell, Sir peter|
|MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew||Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)|
|Maclean, Rt Hon David||Taylor, Sir Teddy|
|McLoughlin, Patrick||Trend, Michael|
|Madel, Sir David||Tyrie, Andrew|
|Malins, Humfrey||Walter, Robert|
|Maples, John||Walter, charles|
|Mates, Michael||Whitney, Sir Raymond|
|Maude, Rt Hon Francis||Whittingdale, John|
|Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian||Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann|
|May, Mrs Theresa||Wilkinson, John|
|Moss, Malcolm||Willetts, David|
|Norman, Archie||Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)|
|Ottaway, Richard||Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)|
|Paice, James||Woodward, Shaun|
|Pickles, Eric||Yeo, Tim|
|Prior, David||Young, Rt Hon Sir George|
|Randall, John||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Redwood, Rt Hon John||Mrs. Eleanor Laing and|
|Robathan, Andrew||Mr. Tim Collins.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.
§ That this House welcomes the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales, following the elections on 6th May, and the prospect of working co-operatively with these bodies and in particular the opportunity this presents to make government more democratic, accountable and inclusive within the context of a stronger Union.