HC Deb 10 November 1999 vol 337 cc1241-59

Lords amendment: No. 4, after clause 2, to insert the following new clause—Voting rights of life peers: extension of duration of Parliament— . In respect of any proceedings in the House of Lords on a Bill providing for the maximum duration of Parliament to be extended beyond five years, no peer appointed to the House of Lords under the Life Peerages Act 1958 during the course of that Parliament shall be entitled to vote on such proceedings.

10.30 pm
Mr. Tipping

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

This amendment is unnecessary, nasty and will not achieve its objective. It is a mean little amendment that purports to provide an additional safeguard—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord)

Order. There is a general buzz of conversation. The House must listen to the Minister.

Mr. Tipping

The amendment purports to provide an additional safeguard against an attempt to extend the life of Parliament. Under the Parliament Act 1911, the House of Lords retains an absolute veto on any legislation to achieve such an effect. The Government made it clear in the White Paper and elsewhere that we think that that veto should be retained. We recognise the importance of that constitutional safeguard and have no intention of undermining it. We made it clear that it should be retained not only in the transitional House, but in the fully reformed House.

The amendment suggests that some Members of the House of Lords should not be allowed to vote on a Bill to extend the life of a Parliament, irrespective of their party, the reason for their nomination as life peers, or the quality of their contribution to debates. The only criterion to be applied is the date of their patent. Some Members of the House of Lords are always potentially to be considered second class and untrustworthy, at least until they survive a general election, when they miraculously become first class and honourable.

When this amendment was debated in the House of Lords, the Conservatives totally failed to explain why they thought that protection against the power of a Government determined to extend their life should be needed now. They tried only two justifications for their approach. First—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Will hon. Members who do not want to hear the Minister leave the Chamber and continue their conversations outside?

Mr. Tipping

First, the Conservatives argued that the hereditary peers are uniquely independent of the blandishments of party and the siren calls of short-term expediency. Secondly, they argued that the balance of numbers in the House now means that it is much easier for the Government of the day to pack the House. Neither proposition is true and both are deeply insulting to life peers, especially to those from this party.

Mr. Bercow

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We all take note of your exhortations, but would not our proceedings be greatly assisted if the Minister addressed the House without muttering into his notes so that his speech is inaudible?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The House would be better able to hear the Minister if we had fewer contributions from a sedentary position, including those from the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Tipping

It is no easier now for any party to achieve a majority in the House of Lords than it has been for the Conservative party—indeed, it is rather less so. Life peers are just as honourable, just as independent in their views and have just as great a sense of public service as hereditary peers. What is being suggested is an insult to the integrity of life peers and of those who might in the future be honoured with life peerages.

The amendment would not even achieve its desired effect. To a Government really determined on such a course, there are several ways round even this obstacle. For example, a Government reasonably confident of their position could pack the House first, call a general election and then repeal the Septennial Act. There is a strange paradox—

Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Tipping


The proposal in the amendment would be effective only in the context of a rational, law-abiding Government, and in that context, it is quite unnecessary.

I urge that this amendment be rejected.

Sir Patrick Cormack

I do not know about insults, but I think that that non-argument was an insult to this House. This is a very simple amendment to which I shall address very few words, and I will make sure that they are audible. It seeks to prevent life peers appointed in the course of a Parliament from voting in any proceedings that provide for the extension of the life of the Parliament beyond five years. That is an extremely simple proposition to which no democratic Member of this House ought to have any objection.

We heard earlier that when the House of Lords meets next week, on 17 November, a quarter of its members will have been appointed in the past two and a half years by the current Prime Minister—

Mr. Ernie Ross (Dundee, West)

Not enough.

Sir Patrick Cormack

That remark makes my case that the House of Lords could be packed and, at the Government's behest, vote to prolong the life of Parliament.

There is a precedent for the amendment being made. The Parliament Acts that are currently in force specifically and deliberately leave untouched the absolute power of the House of Lords to reject any Bill to extend the life of Parliament.

I cast no aspersions on anyone present this evening; nor do I doubt for half a second the integrity of the Parliamentary Secretary, whom I respect. I do not even doubt what the Prime Minister might do. All I say is that the amendment is not one that any democratically elected Government need fear. It is a simple and emphatic statement that ought to command the universal respect and support of this House.

Many dictatorships have begun with elected Governments, and we do not want one ever to be inflicted on this country. I do not suggest that there is one currently in prospect, but we are debating an upper House with an indeterminate life span. All we want is to write in a simple safeguard, which takes nothing away from the Government's proposals, but merely reaffirms something that every democratically elected Government ought to reaffirm. I urge the House to come to a quick decision and to vote emphatically in favour of the amendment.

Mr. Forth

The amendment deals with an important matter, because it touches on nothing less than the role of the upper House as a safeguard of our constitution. Few matters can be more important than that and anyone who has given the amendment even the most cursory consideration will fully understand its import.

Despite that, the debate was given only the most superficial introduction by the Minister. I do not know whether he was ashamed of his argument, whether he did not fully understand his argument, or whether he was patronising the House in a manner with which we have become all too familiar. Whatever the reason, we have been given little to work on, so we shall have to use our imagination when trying to understand the issues. Therefore, the process might take a little longer than it might have taken had the Minister given us a proper explanation. A little detailed consideration will be required as a result of the Minister being unhelpful to the House, but I shall attempt to set the scene as best I can, so that the debate can run its proper course.

We are considering how the upper House is properly to fulfil its important role of safeguarding the constitution against any possibility of an extension to the term of a Parliament. Throughout history, that issue has arisen from time to time, often in extremely dramatic circumstances. Although it has not arisen in the recent past, the size of the current Government's majority in the House of Commons gives cause for anxiety about the possibility of an attempt being made to extend Parliament's term.

The irony is that the size of the Government's majority in this place brings the issue to the surface. We are entitled to be somewhat suspicious of the possible consequences. In a bicameral system, if one House comprises an overwhelming number of Members from the same party, we will rely more on the other House—in this case, the upper House—to provide vital safeguards against prolonging the life of a Parliament.

That is the background to this issue, and I turn to the details of the amendment. Paradoxically, the Minister gave us a clue—I do not think he intended to do so—when he used the phrase "pack the House". He obviously thinks that a future Government or Prime Minister could seek to— I use the Minister's words—pack the upper House with Members who would then influence votes in that place. If that is on the Minister's mind, it should certainly be on hon. Members' minds as we consider this amendment.

I may have come to this debate innocent of such matters; it may be that that point did not occur to me. However, even a cursory hearing of the Minister's comments would have alerted me to the fact that he thinks that the House of Lords could be packed by this or a future Prime Minister. That is why we must consider this amendment very seriously.

I thought it rather odd when the Minister went on to say that it would be an insult to life peers—he used those words—if we agreed to the amendment. A common theme has run through the debates tonight that I will characterise as, "Trust me, I'm from the Government; leave it all to me and don't worry". That is what the Minister implied in the previous debate when he resisted an attempt to put what amounted to his own proposals into the Bill to act as a perfectly natural, simple safeguard. When dealing with constitutional matters, what could be more natural than having on the face of legislation as important as this details of the mechanisms upon which we shall rely to settle future arrangements? That is a perfectly reasonable expectation. Yet in the previous debate, the Minister tried to persuade us that we need not—

Mr. Deputy Speaker(Mr. Michael J. Martin)

Order. I do not want the right hon. Gentleman to dwell on the previous debate because we have moved on.

Mr. Forth

Indeed, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I was trying to set the scene before exploring the details of my argument.

The Minister's comments in opening this debate were a reverberation of his previous remarks. He said that we do not need the natural safeguards and reassurances proposed by the amendment. He urged hon. Members to trust him, the Government and the Prime Minister because they would not dream of doing the sorts of things that the Minister himself suggested—that is, packing the upper House. This amendment seeks to guard against that eventuality.

In a sense, it is a simple proposition. We have reached a crucial stage in our consideration of this Bill, which introduces important constitutional arrangements. Those arrangements are even more significant because we have no idea how long the so-called temporary measures will be in place. If the Minister had given us a time scale or a point of reference, that might have provided the sort of reassurance that we seek. However, the absence of any commitments from the Government as to how long the temporary arrangements will last strengthens the argument that the Bill should include the reassurances that this amendment would provide. That argument applied beforehand, and it is even more applicable now.

10.45 pm

The Minister might even now be regretting the fact that he and the Leader of the House have persistently failed to give us any guidance, comfort or reassurance about whether the so-called temporary arrangement may be very brief. Instead, we have been led to believe that it could last for some considerable time. There is talk of the commission, which is at present considering the matter, and joint Committees of the House, and intriguing and tantalising references to the need for consensus and widespread agreement if we are to move forward. It seems to me that the possibilities for resolving the matter in the foreseeable future will be far fewer if the Government are seeking consensus or widespread agreement.

When one puts together all the factors, including the fact that we have been given no time scale and that the Government say that they are seeking a consensual approach to the next stage, that suggests that the time frame is likely to be much longer than we would have otherwise expected. That must surely strengthen the argument for the amendment.

I am afraid that I am not, on this occasion, prepared simply to trust the Minister, the Government and the Prime Minister. I believe that these matters transcend the simple act of faith that is being asked of us. It is our duty to provide the people of this country with a degree of reassurance and comfort and a safeguard of the kind that the amendment would give them, rather than expect them naively to trust the Government. I do not feel able to trust the Government, and I cannot do so on behalf of anyone else. I fear that unless the Minister is prepared, at the end of the debate, to give us much more information and reassurance, we must insist that the amendment is adhered to. We support it very strongly, and we send that strong message to the Government.

Mr. Fallon

Of the three debates that we have had today, this is the most important. It is, therefore, all the more disgraceful that the Minister put up no serious argument against the amendment. An argument was made against it in another place to the effect that it would not bite on section 2 of the Parliament Act 1911. That argument is wrong. The amendment would address a central weakness of that section, and I shall explain why.

It is in that Act that the Lords retain their absolute power of veto over any proposal to extend the life of a Parliament. That is sometimes referred to as their reserve power. Indeed, it is probably on everybody's wish list of residual, nuclear powers for the reformed upper House. However, it is important to understand—my hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack) put this point exactly—that the power to veto any attempt to extend the life of a Parliament is not an exception to the 1911 Act, but it is the rest of that Act that is itself the exception.

In the rest of the Act, the House of Lords delegates to this House its normal right to assent to public Bills. It does so in the particular prescribed circumstances in which the Parliament Acts are applied to insist on legislation, first within two years, and then within one year. However, it was always a gap in the 1911 Act that the reserve power was restricted only to the life of a Parliament and not to the composition of a Parliament. That is what the amendment seeks to redress.

There is a reason for that gap in the 1911 Act, which is that the Act was always designed to be temporary. The composition of Parliament was then subject to a separate report, and it was always envisaged that the 1911 Act would be rapidly replaced, so it did not occur to the draftsmen to state in the 1911 Act, or the 1949 Act, that any Bill affecting the composition as well as the duration of Parliament should also be exempted from the operation of the Act. The amendment would restore that protection. I assume that, when the Government finally make their stage 2 proposals, they will include a measure such that both Houses would in future have to assent to any Bill that affected Parliament itself; otherwise, we should reform the second House, but retain the right for this place to change it all again if we did not like it. It must be right to address that lacuna in the 1911 Act.

More than 20 years ago, when the Home committee examined these matters, it gave some thought to entrenchment. I was delighted to see that the amendment was moved in the other place by Lord Mancroft, whose father was a distinguished vice-chairman of the Home committee and played his part in its deliberations. Whatever criticism we might make of the amendment, we cannot claim that it is meaningless. It prevents the House of Lords from being packed for a purpose, and that purpose would be to extend the duration of Parliament. The amendment insists that new life peers cannot vote until a new election has taken place

In the other place, two arguments were made against the amendment by Lord Williams of Mostyn who, amazingly, is now the Attorney-General. He put two of the weakest arguments that I have ever heard. First, he said that the amendment could not of itself amend the 1911 Act. However, if it forms part of this Bill, there is a strong argument for including it in the major Bill that is to follow this one. We would thus be able to restore the gap in the 1911 Act.

Secondly, he said that the Government could still pack the House just before an election. That concedes the danger that we are trying to guard against. The Government are already considering circumstances in which a House could be packed. However, at least in those circumstances, there would be an election.

The Minister's rather garbled defence of his case rests on trust. He says, "We would not do it", and that the House can trust this Government and this Prime Minister not to monkey about with our constitution. For two and a half years, our constitution has been vandalised; the powers of this House have been given away to unelected bodies in Europe and to a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly. Later tonight, perhaps we shall see two thirds of one of our Houses of Parliament expelled, but the Government ask us to trust them on the constitution. If the amendment were accepted, we would strengthen the House of Lords and we put down a marker for the final reform to which the Government are committed.

Sir Peter Emery (East Devon)

I had no intention of speaking in these debates until I heard the unbelievably weak case put by the Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office. Why oppose the measure? If the Government want to carry out reform and they want to be trusted, why not put the measure into law?

I apologise to Members of the other place because we may be preventing them from dealing with the Bill when they had hoped to do so. However, the matter is one of great importance and they must realise that. They voted for the measure so we have a right to ensure that trust is best put in the law. If matters are part of legislation, they cannot be thrown away and there is no need to trust anybody—it would be the law. I need to hear better arguments than I have read in the reports of the House of Lords proceedings, or have heard from Members on the Treasury Bench. Why are Labour Members not willing to table measures in which they believe? If they believe that the Government should not be able to prolong their own life, they must surely have nothing against the amendment. It is only when one doubts or does not believe that what is being said is absolute that one can be against the amendment. We are asking that the provision be included in the Bill. I believe that their lordships would want us to do exactly that, however long we must debate the point.

Mr. Robathan

I support the arguments of my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front and Back Benches, but in doing so invoke the spirit of history. I remind hon. Members on both sides of the House that the reason why we have Acts that determine how long a Parliament should run dates backs to the mid-17th century and the Long Parliament. Since then, the length of a Parliament and whether a discredited Government could extend their time in office have been critical.

I tried to intervene on the Minister, but, unfortunately, his nose was so deeply buried in his speech that he would not accept any interventions. I ask him in his brief winding-up speech—I am sure that it will be brief—to answer this question: are there any circumstances in which he would support an extension of a Parliament? If there are no such circumstances, why is he opposing the amendment? The amendment is solely to stop the upper House being packed. I hope that he will withdraw his opposition to the amendment.

Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate)

When one sees a Minister put his nose in his notes, gabble his speech and ignore any interventions, one knows that he probably has a pretty weak argument and is somewhat ashamed of it. It was presented to us as though it was somehow an impertinence that we should be questioning the Government's good intentions. The provision is the most important democratic safeguard that our Parliament will have. It is extremely important that we spend time not only debating the point but making it clear to the Government and people outside the House.

The Minister's arguments turned on the role of the hereditary peers in preventing the Government from extending their term in office beyond that of a Parliament. Those arguments are largely irrelevant. This House has just agreed the Weatherill amendment to leave only 92 hereditary peers. The vast majority of peers with whom we shall entrust the task will be life peers, so the only arguments in the Minister's speech were bogus.

The Minister asked us to believe that any rational, law-abiding Government would in no way wish to extend their own life by packing the House of Lords. At what point does a rational, law-abiding Government become a criminal, irrational Government? There is a continuum between those judgments. I believe that it is thoroughly irrational to ban beef on the bone, but the governing party thinks that such a policy is rational. I believe that bombing Kosovo was of highly dubious legality, as do a number of Labour Members. So one man's rational and law-abiding Government is another man's irrational and possibly criminal Government.

Amazingly, as a result, the only institution that is left to defend democracy against a Government who wish to sustain themselves in office by such means is the sovereign—what an extraordinary position. We are debating a Bill to remove the main hereditary element from our constitution, but managing at the same time to leave the defence of democracy in the only remaining hereditary part of it. That is the absurdity of the Government's position.

11 pm

Mr. Grieve

If anything characterises the extraordinary approach that the Government have taken to the whole Bill, it is the way in which they have reacted to Lords amendment No. 4. 1 tell the Minister, who got so worked up in presenting, at gabbling speed, the Government's position, that I believe that if the proposal had been suggested as an amendment to the Parliament Act 1949, without there being any reform of the House of Lords, it would have commended itself to the House, at least for serious consideration. Anything that strengthens our liberties, anything that ensures that this country could not, under certain circumstances, sink into dictatorship, is worth that consideration. I am amazed by the reception that it has received from the Minister and the complete absence of comment on it by Labour Members.

The amendment is perfectly straightforward and sensible. It must be judged against a situation, which I appreciate that the Minister will say is justified, in which the Government have been creating peers on an unprecedented scale. With that sort of instability introduced into our system, it is doubly necessary that we should consider such an amendment.

In the debate in the other place, the Baroness Park, not normally noted for her partisanship, had this to say on the matter: I greatly respect many of my friends on the Opposition Benches. I feel sure that if they think about it they will accept that we are thinking about the future of the country. It is all very well saying that the people would rebel. If there is one thing about the British, it is that they never notice anything that is happening to them until it has happened. That is why we always win wars at the last moment. We cannot afford to put this particular liberty at risk."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 30 June 1999; Vol. 603, c. 296.] I hope that the Minister, in closing the debate, will rise to the occasion as he has signally failed to do so far. The amendment is clear cut and sensible. It would stand the test even if the Bill were not being passed. With the changes that are being brought about, it is doubly necessary.

Mr. Tipping

With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

This important debate has focused on the historic safeguards that the House of Lords has given us for many years. This is an important and historic day. Many of our friends and colleagues in the upper House will be leaving us shortly. From the Treasury Bench, I want to thank them for their years of service. I wish them well for the future. I want it to be clear to them that my colleagues and friends on the Labour Benches acknowledge the years of service that they have been given. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker(Mr. Michael J. Martin)

Order. I will not tolerate this noise. The Minister is addressing the House.

Mr. Tipping

I am addressing those colleagues and friends in the House of Lords who have given us years of service. I place on record our thanks to them and wish them well. I wish the new life peers who will now dominate the upper House the same rights, the same traditions and the same responsibilities. Undoubtedly, the new life peers will continue to safeguard our constitution, and the amendment is unnecessary. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am about to put the Question. The right hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King) should not be shouting across the Floor.

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

The House divided: Ayes 355, Noes 130.

Division No. 320] [11.4 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Corston, Jean
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Cotter, Brian
Ainger, Nick Cousins, Jim
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Cranston, Ross
Alexander, Douglas Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Allan, Richard Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Allen, Graham Cummings, John
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Ashton, Joe Darvill, Keith
Atherton, Ms Candy Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Atkins, Charlotte Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Ballard, Jackie Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Barnes, Harry Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Barron, Kevin Dawson, Hilton
Bayley, Hugh Dean, Mrs Janet
Beard, Nigel Denham, John
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Dismore, Andrew
Berth, Rt Hon A J Dobbin, Jim
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough) Donohoe, Brian H
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C) Doran, Frank
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield) Dowd, Jim
Bennett, Andrew F Drew, David
Benton, Joe Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Bermingham, Gerald Edwards, Huw
Berry, Roger Efford, Clive
Best, Harold Ellman, Mrs Louise
Betts, Clive Fearn, Ronnie
Blackman, Liz Reid, Rt Hon Frank
Blears, Ms Hazel Fisher, Mark
Blizzard, Bob Fitzpatrick, Jim
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul Fitzsimons, Lorna
Borrow, David Flint, Caroline
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Flynn, Paul
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Follett, Barbara
Bradshaw, Ben Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Brinton, Mrs Helen Foster, Don (Bath)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Browne, Desmond Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Fyfe, Maria
Burden, Richard Gapes, Mike
Burgon, Colin Gardiner, Barry
Butler, Mrs Christine George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen Gerrard, Neil
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Gibson, Dr Ian
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies (NE Fife) Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Goggins, Paul
Campbell-Savours, Dale Golding, Mrs Llin
Caplin, Ivor Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Casale, Roger Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Caton, Martin Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Chaytor, David Grocott, Bruce
Chidgey, David Grogan, John
Clapham, Michael Hain, Peter
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands) Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Hanson, David
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S) Harris, Dr Evan
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S) Healey, John
Clelland, David Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Clwyd, Ann Hepburn, Stephen
Coaker, Vernon Heppell, John
Coffey, Ms Ann Hesford, Stephen
Cohen, Harry Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Coleman, Iain Hill, Keith
Connarty, Michael Hinchliffe, David
Cooper, Yvette Hodge, Ms Margaret
Corbett, Robin Hoey, Kate
Hood, Jimmy Maxton, John
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Hope, Phil Meale, Alan
Howarth, Alan (Newport E) Merron, Gillian
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Howells, Dr Kim Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Hoyle, Lindsay Miller, Andrew
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford) Mitchell, Austin
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Moffatt, Laura
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Humble, Mrs Joan Moore, Michael
Hurst, Alan Moran, Ms Margaret
Hutton, John Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Iddon, Dr Brian Morley, Elliot
Illsley, Eric Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David Mountford, Kali
Jenkins, Brian Mudie, George
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield) Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn) Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N) Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW) Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak) O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S) O'Hara, Eddie
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa Olner, Bill
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald O'Neill, Martin
Keeble, Ms Sally Öpik, Lembit
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Organ, Mrs Diana
Keetch, Paul Osborne, Ms Sandra
Kelly, Ms Ruth Palmer, Dr Nick
Kemp, Fraser Pearson, Ian
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) Pendry, Tom
Khabra, Piara S Perham, Ms Linda
Kidney, David Pickthall, Colin
Kilfoyle, Peter Pike, Peter L
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth) Plaskitt, James
Kumar, Dr Ashok Pollard, Kerry
Ladyman, Dr Stephen Pond, Chris
Lawrence, Ms Jackie Pope, Greg
Laxton, Bob Pound, Stephen
Lepper, David Powell, Sir Raymond
Leslie, Christopher Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Levitt, Tom Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S) Prescott, Rt Hon John
Lewis, Terry (Worsley) Primarolo, Dawn
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen Prosser, Gwyn
Linton, Martin Purchase, Ken
Livsey, Richard Quinn, Lawrie
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C) Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Lock, David Rammell, Bill
Love, Andrew Rapson, Syd
McAvoy, Thomas Raynsford, Nick
McCabe, Steve Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian (Makerfield) Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Rendel, David
Macdonald, Calum Roche, Mrs Barbara
McDonnell, John Rooker, Jeff
McGuire, Mrs Anne Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
McIsaac, Shona Rowlands, Ted
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary Roy, Frank
Mackinlay, Andrew Ruane, Chris
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert Ruddock, Joan
MacShane, Denis Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Mactaggart, Fiona Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
McWalter, Tony Ryan, Ms Joan
Marion, Mrs Alice Salter, Martin
Mallaber, Judy Sanders, Adrian
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S) Sarwar, Mohammad
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury) Savidge, Malcolm
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Sedgemore, Brian
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Sheerman, Barry
Marshall-Andrews, Robert Shipley, Ms Debra
Martlew, Eric Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha Todd, Mark
Skinner, Dennis Touhig, Don
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E) Trickett, Jon
Smith, Angela (Basildon) Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S) Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale) Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch) Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Smith, John (Glamorgan) Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Tyler, Paul
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns) Tynan, Bill
Snape, Peter Vis, Dr Rudi
Soley, Clive Walley, Ms Joan
Southworth, Ms Helen Ward, Ms Claire
Spellar, John Wareing, Robert N
Squire, Ms Rachel Watts, David
Starkey, Dr Phyllis White, Brian
Steinberg, Gerry Whitehead, Dr Alan
Stevenson, George Wicks, Malcolm
Stewart, David (Inverness E) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Stoate, Dr Howard Wills, Michael
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin Wilson, Brian
Stringer, Graham Winnick, David
Stuart, Ms Gisela Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Stunell, Andrew Wise, Audrey
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury) Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S) Worthington, Tony
Taylor, David (NW Leics) Wray, James
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W) Tellers for the Ayes:
Timms, Stephen Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe and
Tipping, Paddy Mr. Tony McNulty.
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael Fallon, Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James Flight, Howard
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Beggs, Roy Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Bercow, John Fox, Dr Liam
Beresford, Sir Paul Fraser, Christopher
Blunt, Crispin Gale, Roger
Body, Sir Richard Garnier, Edward
Boswell, Tim Gibb, Nick
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Gill, Christopher
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Brady, Graham Gray, James
Brazier, Julian Green, Damian
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Greenway, John
Browning, Mrs Angela Grieve, Dominic
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Gummer, Rt Hon John
Burns, Simon Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Cash, William Hammond, Philip
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet) Hawkins, Nick
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Clappison, James Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Horam, John
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Collins, Tim Jenkin, Bernard
Colvin, Michael King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Cormack, Sir Patrick Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Cran, James Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Curry, Rt Hon David Lansley, Andrew
Davies, Quentin (Grantham) Letwin, Oliver
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice & Howden) Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Donaldson, Jeffrey Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Duncan, Alan Loughton, Tim
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Luff, Peter
Evans, Nigel MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Faber, David McIntosh, Miss Anne
Fabricant, Michael MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David Spicer, Sir Michael
McLoughlin, Patrick Spring, Richard
Malins, Humfrey Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Maples, John Streeter, Gary
Mates, Michael Swayne, Desmond
Maude, Rt Hon Francis Syms, Robert
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian Tapsell, Sir Peter
May, Mrs Theresa Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Moss, Malcolm Townend, John
Nicholls, Patrick Tredinnick, David
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury) Trend, Michael
Ottaway, Richard Tyrie, Andrew
Paice, James Viggers, Peter
Paterson, Owen Walter, Robert
Pickles, Eric Waterson, Nigel
Prior, David Wells, Bowen
Randall, John Whitney, Sir Raymond
Redwood, Rt Hon John whittingdale, John
Robathan, Andrew Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Robertson, Laurence Wilkinson, John
Ross, William (E Lond'y) Willetts, David
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham) Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Ruffley, David Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
St Aubyn, Nick Woodward, Shaun
Sayeed, Jonathan Yeo, Tim
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk) Tellers for the Noes:
Soames, Nicholas Mrs. Eleanor Laing and
Spelman, Mrs Caroline Mr. John M. Taylor.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords amendment disagreed to.

Lords amendments Nos 5 to 12 agreed to.

Lords amendment No. 13 disagreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Committee be appointed to draw up Reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to certain of their amendments to the Bill; that Mrs. Margaret Beckett, Mr. Ivor Caplin, Sir Patrick Cormack, Mrs. Eleanor Laing and Mrs. Anne McGuire be members of the Committee; that Mrs. Margaret Beckett be the Chairman of the Committee; that three be the quorum of the Committee; and that the Committee do withdraw immediately.—[Mr. Clelland.]

11.19 pm
Mr. Forth

This is a particularly important Committee, at this of all times. The matters that we have been considering this evening are of the greatest historical and constitutional importance. We should therefore pay particular attention to the motion, in a number of respects.

The first question that I raise is whether it is appropriate for the Committee to meet immediately. I should have thought that it would be more productive if there were a period of reflection between the completion of debate and the Committee's establishment. Many complicated matters have been dealt with during the debate. It might add to the quality of the Committee's reflection and deliberations were there to be a delay, perhaps until tomorrow, before it sat to reflect on that debate.

Mr. Swayne

Given that the Committee is specifically charged with drawing up reasons to be given to their lordships, and that no reasons were evident at all from Labour Members, it clearly needs plenty of time to dwell on the matter.

Mr. Forth

I am grateful to my hon. Friend because he has touched on a relevant matter. To the extent to which the Minister has failed to give adequate arguments to the House—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The right hon. Gentleman should speak strictly to the motion. If there is any deviation from the motion, I will bring him, and anyone who intervenes, to order.

Mr. Forth

I have no doubt of that at all.

My hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne) pointed us in a useful direction. He pointed out the relationship between the responsibilities of the Reasons Committee properly to put together the House's reasons to another place for our conclusions on the amendments, and the Minister's failure, which has been oft repeated, to give adequate reasons for the Government's attitude to the amendments; so there is a double responsibility on the Committee.

This would not normally be the case. If the Minister had properly discharged his responsibilities, the Committee would have had much less to do. As it is—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I do not want the right hon. Gentleman to revisit the debates that we have had. He should speak to the motion and to nothing else.

Mr. Forth

I am grateful.

That brings me to the membership of the Committee. Looking down the list of members that has been proposed, I find that some of them have, indeed, taken part in the debates this evening. Members who have participated in the debate, understand it, have been here throughout and can express its nuances and ambience to the House of Lords, would be particularly appropriate, but I notice that the list of members includes, by my reckoning, at least two who have not participated in the debate. That must raise a question. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name them."' I will not embarrass anyone. I raise the matter because it is relevant. Does the House consider it appropriate for members who have not participated in the debate to be part of the Reasons Committee? Can they fully give the flavour of the debate to another place?

Mr. Bercow

In view of the doubts about the credentials of some of the members of the Reasons Committee, does my right hon. Friend agree that it might be reasonable to suggest that the period of reflection for those members should be no less than that which the Government propose between stage 1 and stage 2?

Mr. Forth

I suspect that, if I were to pursue that matter, the Deputy Speaker would deal with me harshly. However, my hon. Friend's intervention brings another thought to mind.

In the light of what I have just said about the Committee's membership, might it not be more appropriate if Hansard were available to the Committee members, so that they might consider our debate and better express the reasons to the other place? If the House were to agree with me on that proposition, it would lead very naturally to the conclusion that the Committee would do better to convene tomorrow morning, with Hansard available to it, to deal with a long and necessarily complicated debate.

I should like to move on quickly to the matter of the quorum. It was suggested that the Committee's quorum be three. Although that may be appropriate in normal circumstances, I really wonder whether, given the matter's complexity and importance, three is adequate. It would be possible, however theoretically, that the quorum could be composed entirely of Labour Members. The Committee could therefore deliberate with only three Labour Members, but no Opposition Members. Would that be acceptable or appropriate?

Mr. Fallon

If the quorum continues as three, would it not follow that two thirds of it could consist of hon. Members who did not participate in the debate?

Mr. Forth

My hon. Friend is right. If we pursue the matter to its logical conclusion, it would indeed be possible for the Committee properly to deliberate with the proposed quorum, which could be dominated by hon. Members who had not participated in the debate. I should have to question the validity of such deliberations, and ask whether the House would be satisfied with the type of account that such a Committee could give of our deliberations in another place, given the seriousness of the matters that we have been considering.

Mr. Michael Fabricant (Lichfield)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the composition of the Committee—which includes not only great men, such as my hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack), but new hon. Members who have no experience of constitutional matters and are merely placemen working for the Leader of the House—demonstrates Labour Members' contempt for the other place?

Mr. Forth

I cannot agree with my hon. Friend on that, as I regard the vote and view of all hon. Members as absolutely equal and of equal value. That is not my difference with the Committee's membership—which I explained in a different context—or with the quorum. However, I am worried about the quorum.

Before we approve the Committee, given the constitutional importance and sensitivity of the matters that it will be dealing with, we shall need a much more satisfactory explanation about the quality of its deliberations, and its ability properly to reflect the House's deliberations and conclusions. I should have thought that those were perfectly reasonable subjects of concern.

Mr. Fallon

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Forth

I shall, but I do want to draw to a conclusion.

Mr. Fallon

I know that my right hon. Friend wants to make progress, as do I, but, in view of the deficiencies of the proposed Committee, I wonder whether he has considered putting forth his own name for the Committee.

Mr. Forth

My hon. Friend is all too kind—and I would be prepared to volunteer. As he will know, I have sat through most of the debate and, in my modest way, participated once or twice. I think that I could make a contribution to the Committee's deliberations, but I shall leave that for others to decide. Nevertheless, the suggestion raises an interesting procedural point.

Given the reservations that I have expressed about the Committee, I wonder whether it is possible for us to amend its timing, composition or quorum—or whether it is a take it or leave it proposition.

If the House expressed its wish in a Division not to establish the Reasons Committee because it agreed with any of my arguments about the timing, the membership or the quorum, we would need guidance as to where we should go from here, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I hope that you will reassure me that we cannot simply be offered an off-the-cuff proposition on a take-it-or-leave-it basis about a Committee as important as this, without any opportunity to amend it.

I am asking for your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as to how the House can effectively express its opinion about the matter and how it might go about altering anything before deciding whether to approve the establishment of the Committee.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Has the right hon. Gentleman finished?

Mr. Forth

indicated assent.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I will then put the Question.

Mr. Blunt

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Further to the points raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), I seek guidance about our ability to amend the resolution of the House if we support him in the Division and wish to change the membership of the Committee.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) was taking part in a debate and, in any case, every word that he addresses is to the Chair. At this time of night, I am not here to educate hon. Members. It is entirely up to the hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Blunt) whether he wants to vote for or to support the motion that I am about to put to the House.

Question put:—

The House proceeded to a Division.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Would the Serjeant at Arms please investigate the delay in the No Lobby?

The House having divided: Ayes 331, Noes 28.

Division No. 321] [11.32 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Cummings, John
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Ainger, Nick Darting, Rt Hon Alistair
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Darvill, Keith
Alexander, Douglas Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Allan, Richard Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Allen, Graham Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Dawson, Hilton
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Dean, Mrs Janet
Ashton, Joe Denham, John
Atherton, Ms Candy Dismore, Andrew
Atkins, Charlotte Dobbin, Jim
Ballard, Jackie Donohoe, Brian H
Barnes, Harry Doran, Frank
Barron, Kevin Dowd, Jim
Bayley, Hugh Drew, David
Beard, Nigel Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Edwards, Huw
Beith, Rt Hon A J Efford, Clive
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough) Ellman, Mrs Louise
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C) Fisher, Mark
Bennett, Andrew F Fitzpatrick, Jim
Benton, Joe Fitzsimons, Lorna
Berry, Roger Flint, Caroline
Best, Harold Flynn, Paul
Betts, Clive Follett, Barbara
Blackman, Liz Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Blears, Ms Hazel Foster, Don (Bath)
Blizzard, Bob Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Borrow, David Fyfe, Maria
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Gapes, Mike
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Gardiner, Barry
Bradshaw, Ben George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Gerrard, Neil
Browne, Desmond Gibson, Dr Ian
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Burden, Richard Godman, Dr Norman A
Burgon, Colin Godsiff, Roger
Butler, Mrs Christine Goggins, Paul
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen Golding, Mrs Llin
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Caplin, Ivor Grocott, Bruce
Casale, Roger Grogan, John
Caton, Martin Hain, Peter
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Chaytor, David Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Clapham, Michael Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) Hanson, David
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands) Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S) Hepburn, Stephen
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Heppell, John
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S) Hesford, Stephen
Clelland, David Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Clwyd, Ann Hill, Keith
Coaker, Vernon Hinchliffe, David
Coffey, Ms Ann Hodge, Ms Margaret
Cohen, Harry Hood, Jimmy
Coleman, Iain Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Cooper, Yvette Hope, Phil
Corston, Jean Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Cotter, Brian Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Cousins, Jim Howells, Dr Kim
Cranston, Ross Hoyle, Lindsay
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley) Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch) Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan Motley, Elliot
Hurst, Alan Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian Mountford, Kali
Illsley, Eric Mullin, Chris
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough) Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Jamieson, David Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Jenkins, Brian Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield) Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn) O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N) O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW) O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) O'Neill, Martin
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak) Öpik, Lembit
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S) Organ, Mrs Diana
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa Osborne, Ms Sandra
Keeble, Ms Sally Palmer, Dr Nick
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Pearson, Ian
Kelly, Ms Ruth Pendry, Tom
Kemp, Fraser Perham, Ms Linda
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) Pickthall, Colin
Khabra, Piara S Pike, Peter L
Kidney, David Plaskitt, James
Kilfoyle, Peter Pollard, Kerry
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth) Pond, Chris
Kumar, Dr Ashok Pope, Greg
Ladyman, Dr Stephen Pound, Stephen
Lawrence, Ms Jackie Powell, Sir Raymond
Laxton, Bob Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Lepper, David Prescott, Rt Hon John
Leslie, Christopher Primarolo, Dawn
Levitt, Tom Prosser, Gwyn
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S) Purchase, Ken
Lewis, Terry (Worsley) Quinn, Lawrie
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen Rammell, Bill
Linton, Martin Rapson, Syd
Livsey, Richard Raynsford, Nick
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C) Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Lock, David Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Love, Andrew Rendel, David
McAvoy, Thomas Roche, Mrs Barbara
McCabe, Steve Rooker, Jeff
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian (Makerfield) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Macdonald, Calum Roy, Frank
McDonnell, John Ruane, Chris
McGuire, Mrs Anne Ruddock, Joan
McIsaac, Shona Russell, Bob (Colchester)
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Mackinlay, Andrew Ryan, Ms Joan
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert Sanders, Adrian
MacShane, Denis Sarwar, Mohammad
Mactaggart, Fiona Savidge, Malcolm
McWalter, Tony Sedgemore, Brian
Mahon, Mrs Alice Sheerman, Barry
Mallaber, Judy Shipley, Ms Debra
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S) Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury) Singh, Marsha
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Skinner, Dennis
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Maxton, John Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley) Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan Snape, Peter
Miller, Andrew Soley, Clive
Mitchell, Austin Southworth, Ms Helen
Moffatt, Laura Spellar, John
Moonie, Dr Lewis Squire, Ms Rachel
Moore, Michael Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Moran, Ms Margaret Steinberg, Gerry
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N) Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E) Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles) Tyler, Paul
Stinchcombe, Paul Tynan, Bill
Stoate, Dr Howard Vis, Dr Rudi
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin Walley, Ms Joan
Stringer, Graham Ward, Ms Claire
Stuart, Ms Gisela Wareing, Robert N
Stunell, Andrew Watts, David
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury) White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S) Wicks, Malcolm
Taylor, David (NW Leics) Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Temple-Morris, Peter Wills, Michael
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W) Winnick, David
Timms, Stephen Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Tipping, Paddy Wise, Audrey
Todd, Mark Wood, Mike
Touhig, Don Woolas, Phil
Trickett, Jon Worthington, Tony
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE) Wray, James
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk) Tellers for the Ayes:
Turner, Neil (Wigan) Mr. Tony McNulty and
Twigg, Derek (Halton) Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe.
Amess, David Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Beggs, Roy Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Loughton, Tim
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia Luff, Peter
Brady, Graham McIntosh, Miss Anne
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Paterson, Owen
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice & Howden) Robathan, Andrew
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Donaldson, Jeffrey Swayne, Desmond
Fabricant, Michael Viggers, Peter
Fallon, Michael Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Forth, Rt Hon Eric Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Gale, Roger Tellers for the Noes:
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Mr. Crispin Blunt and
Gray, James Mr. John Randall.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Reasons for disagreeing to certain Lords amendments reported, and agreed to; to be communicated to the Lords.

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Worthing, West)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If, tomorrow morning—after Treasury questions and after the Official Report for today is available—the Prime Minister asked to make a statement correcting his statement this afternoon that the married persons allowance would be available to someone retiring after April next year, would it be in order for that statement to be taken before Prorogation?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

That is not a matter for the Chair. It is entirely up to the Prime Minister whether he wishes to make a statement.

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