HC Deb 11 November 1999 vol 337 cc1288-305

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That, at this day's sitting,
  1. 1. the Speaker shall not adjourn the House until any Messages from the Lords shall have been received; and
  2. 2. if the House has completed its consideration of any Messages received from the Lords and the Lords have adjourned their sitting, the Speaker shall adjourn the House without Question put.—[Mr. Allen.]
12.34 pm
Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst)

The motion is important because it sets out the relationship between another place and this House on a crucial but rather sad day, which may be the last of the Session—that remains to be seen. The motion refers to "Messages from the Lords" and to the fact that you, Madam Speaker, may adjourn the House. Before you can make that decision, you must consider the possibility that other matters may intervene. To follow on from the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne) a moment ago, you may be approached before the House adjourns by Ministers who want to make a statement. Beef on the bone and beef imports to France are subjects about which a Minister might want to make a statement and clarify the Government's position.

Mr. James Gray (North Wiltshire)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that foxhunting might also merit a statement at this point in the week? Does he agree that the Home Secretary might have cried off until now because such a statement would prove controversial for one side or the other?

Mr. Forth

My hon. Friend is right. Madam Speaker may wish to postpone the Adjournment of the House, which is the subject of the motion, to give the Home Secretary time to prepare a statement on foxhunting. The statement has been widely trailed but, so far, we have had no opportunity to hear it. Therefore, it would be appropriate to postpone the Adjournment of the House to give the Home Secretary time to clarify the Government's position.

Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that Madam Speaker might receive a request from the Chancellor to deal with the disgraceful error to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean) referred, or a request from the Prime Minister to apologise for his appalling abuse of Question Time yesterday, when he behaved like a bad vaudeville ham actor?

Mr. Forth

My hon. Friend puts those points so much better than I could. I propose to deal with that subject later, strictly in the context of the Adjournment of the House, which is the subject of the motion.

Sir Brian Mawhinney (North-West Cambridgeshire)

After my right hon. Friend has fully dealt with the good interventions of my hon. Friends, will he return to the possibility of a statement, before the Adjournment of the House, on the French attitude to beef? Does he agree that the House may also wish to hear a statement about the Government's view on the German attitude to beef, and the likelihood that, after the French have agreed to accept British beef, the Germans will continue to hold out? Ministers should make a statement on the steps that they are taking about Germany.

Mr. Forth

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for making that point. It is not too late for the House to deal with those matters. Today is a sitting day. The House must make a judgment, in the context of the motion, on whether it is appropriate to adjourn earlier or later, given the sort of developments that my right hon. Friend mentioned.

Hon. Members might believe that it is appropriate to consider other matters today. I have a few modest suggestions.

Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold)


Mr. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot)


Mr. Forth

I shall give way first to my hon. Friend the Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown).

Mr. Clifton-Brown

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, when considering the motion, Madam Speaker may wish to take into account the written question from the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his plans in respect of hunting with dogs. Would it not be a disgrace and an abuse of the House if we obtained a written answer tomorrow, after the House had prorogued? It is such a controversial matter that Madam Speaker might have expected a message from the Home Secretary to say that he would make a personal statement before the House prorogues today.

Mr. Forth

Those are the judgments that the House and Madam Speaker will have to make today. I cannot conceive that, with Madam Speaker's guidance, we could make the tragic mistake of adjourning unnecessarily early, and thus deny an opportunity for such statements to be made. It would surely be a tragic mistake if, at this stage of the Session, we were to adjourn without having given Ministers a proper opportunity to come to the House to clarify these matters and one or two others that I want to refer to. What would people think of us then? The House of Commons has all the opportunities in the world today—and perhaps tomorrow; who knows?—to give these matters proper consideration and to allow the Government to clarify their position, to the benefit of everybody, including the House. If we were to deny the Government and the House those opportunities, we would not be readily forgiven.

That is a serious matter, and one to which we must give consideration, but I want to return for a moment to the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Cambridgeshire (Sir B. Mawhinney). At Scottish questions the other day, I asked a question—which I thought was rather a good one, if I may say so—about a Minister's judgment on what would be more damaging to health: the consumption of beef on the bone or the consumption of beef produced from a food chain originating with human sewage. I thought that that was a perfectly reasonable question.

Mr. Barry Gardiner (Brent, North)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Are scripts being given out in the House? Might it be possible for all Members of the House to have them?

Madam Speaker

If papers are being passed around the House, that is not a matter for me.

Mr. Forth

I do not operate from scripts, as you well know, Madam Speaker. The only script that I have is a few handwritten notes to guide me and to ensure that I stay in order in terms of the motion before us.

As the hon. Member for Brent, North (Mr. Gardiner) has raised the point, it has been drawn to my attention that a written question on foxhunting, tabled by the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster) to the Home Secretary, which has just been handed to me, is being answered today. The Home Secretary says: I am announcing today how the Government wish to proceed on this issue. That is exactly the point that my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, West was making. The Home Secretary normally prides himself on openness and, if I remember rightly, he is responsible for the Freedom of Information Bill, but the very man who will introduce that Bill to the House is trying to sneak out a grubby little statement in a written answer. He is not here today, although he has every opportunity to be so. If ever there were a good example of the need for the House to give him an opportunity to clarify the position, surely this is it.

Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that this is a sad day? His remarks and what is going on in the other place make it clear that the Government are savaging one Chamber and completely ignoring the other.

Mr. Forth

I am grateful to my hon. Friend because I wanted to come on to today's proceedings in the other place, which have direct relevance to the relationship between the other place and the House—do they not? In the context of what the House did yesterday—to the House of Lords Bill in particular—and their Lordships' deliberations on that Bill today, we have to make our own judgment about any Messages from the Lords", to which the motion refers, and whether to adjourn the House. We must give some thought to the possibilities that exist of their Lordships making further amendments to the Bill. [Interruption.]

Madam Speaker

Order. May I have one of the papers that are being passed around the Chamber?

Mr. Forth

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Mr. Clifton-Brown

Does my right hon. Friend think that the House ought to be suspended while the Labour party hands out its own scripts?

Mr. Forth

It seems—

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Worthing, West)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Can you confirm that it would be in order for a Home Office Minister—whether the Home Secretary or not—to apply to you to make a statement if he chose to do so?

Madam Speaker

If any Minister wishes to make a statement, he simply lets me know. In this case, the statement is being made by means of a written answer, and, as the hon. Gentleman knows, according to our procedures, that is perfectly in order.

Mr. Forth

Of course that is in order, as you, Madam Speaker, have just ruled. However, the House will be very conscious of the fact that, by using a written answer to reply to a question that Labour Members think is important and by not asking your permission to make a statement to the House, the Home Secretary has denied the House the opportunity to question him on what lies behind his answer. I am afraid that that is all too typical of the attitude that Ministers, including the Home Secretary, have repeatedly shown. I presume that the Home Secretary has something to hide, and I suspect that he has as much to hide from his own colleagues as from Conservative Members because he has not asked you for permission to make a statement and to be questioned by the House.

Mr. Patrick Nicholls (Teignbridge)

I have just had the opportunity to look at the Home Secretary's answer, and there may be another reason why, even now, he might feel embarrassed enough to want to come to the House to make a statement. He refers to the setting up of an inquiry into the consequences of banning hunting, whereas an honest approach would be to set up an inquiry and a royal commission into fox control generally. Will my right hon. Friend speculate as to why the Home Secretary is setting up a much more limited inquiry?

Madam Speaker

Order. I will not allow the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) to speculate on that. As the hon. Member for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls) knows, the right hon. Member is doing very well simply by making passing references to subjects, but I cannot allow him to discuss the details.

Miss Julie Kirkbride (Bromsgrove)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. For the new Members of the House, will you offer us your guidance as to when it is appropriate for a Minister to answer a question on a matter of considerable public interest via a written answer as opposed to making a statement in the House?

Madam Speaker

Ministers' choices are not a matter for me.

The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mrs. Margaret Beckett)

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. Am I right in thinking that it would be almost unprecedented for a Minister to make a statement to the House about the mechanism whereby an agreed policy was delivered?

Madam Speaker

The right hon. Lady is correct. I caution the House that we must not get into such details on this motion. The right hon. Gentleman who had the Floor was conducting himself quite properly, but I hope that he will not be led down the path by some of his colleagues.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. If the Government approach the House authorities about an issue on which a Minister had said that the authorities would not be approached until a particular inquiry had been completed, will the House authorities say that they will not talk to the Minister because he had said that he would not approach them earlier? The detail of the Home Secretary's answer says specifically that the House authorities will be consulted, but, in the next paragraph, it states that the inquiry will take place first. What responsibility do the House authorities have for carrying out the Minister's words?

Madam Speaker

That is totally hypothetical at this stage. I would like the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst to continue.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Would it not be in order, before the House adjourns, for the Prime Minister, recognising the inadequacy of one of his answers yesterday, to come before us to provide further and better particulars of his view and that of the Government on the matter in question?

Madam Speaker

Any Minister, including the Prime Minister, can come before the House when they have something to say.

Mr. Forth

I was considering the possibility of another place making further amendments to the House of Lords Bill. I was doing that in the context of yesterday's debate and considering whether we would benefit from a further amendment that would establish a timetable for stage 2 of the reforms. One of the things to emerge clearly from yesterday's debate was the widespread unease and dissatisfaction in the House about the fact that we are being asked to endorse an important constitutional change with no sign or commitment from the Government about the timetable for a further stage of that reform. That is a good reason for the House to be careful about adjourning prematurely, because we might want to give very full consideration to further changes that the other place might want to make to the House of Lords Bill.

Mr. Michael Fabricant (Lichfield)

My right hon. Friend will be aware that the Government say that the steps that they have taken so far for the House of Lords are merely interim measures.

Madam Speaker

Order. I have already cautioned the House, but perhaps the hon. Gentleman was not listening. Members must not go into the details of legislation. There is a motion on the Order Paper which, at the moment, the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst is debating quite correctly.

Mr. Forth

I believe that another possibility exists. Either an emergency Bill could be tabled in another place, or a statement could be made by a Minister—I accept that, as yet, none has been requested—on the matter of probity, openness and reliability of information given in the House of Commons.

One of the weaknesses evident in the House over the past few months has become even more critical recently. That is the ability of hon. Members—especially Labour Members—to make statements in the House that are demonstrably and patently unverifiable. I think that I am correct in saying that it would be possible for the House of Lords to introduce an emergency Bill even at this late stage in the Session—although some other mechanism may exist—that would allow us to give the National Audit Office or the Public Accounts Committee, for example, a role in ensuring the immediate correction of misleading and false information purveyed or peddled in this House. I feel that, given what has happened recently, the House is coming to the view that a proper mechanism to ensure that should exist.

I do not want to test your patience any further, Madam Speaker, and I know that this is a matter largely for your judgment. My intention was to give you an idea of why I believe that it is of the utmost importance that the House must not adjourn at this stage. Today is a parliamentary day, and proper opportunity must be given for matters to be considered for the benefit of all our constituents.

12.51 pm
Mr. Peter Bottomley (Worthing, West)

If the motion is agreed to, the hon. Member for North-East Derbyshire (Mr. Barnes) will not be able to introduce his Adjournment debate. Leaving party politics aside, I believe that an extra reason not to agree with the motion is that the names of hon. Members come to the top of the Adjournment debates lottery only infrequently. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be able to say a few words about buses in north Derbyshire if he chooses to explain why he supports the motion, or otherwise.

The matter that I raised in my further point of order, Madam Speaker, which you dealt with well—

Madam Speaker

Very well.

Hon. Members

Extremely well.

Mr. Bottomley

I have reflected on your judgment, and a slight ambiguity remains. You confirmed that there is an opportunity for the Home Secretary or another Home Office Minister to come to the House and ask to make a statement. I shall read the two relevant sentences from the written answer. The answer states: We shall consult the House authorities, as appropriate, on how this can best be taken forward. The Government has decided that there should first be an inquiry. There is a paragraph break between those two sentences, but a normal understanding of their meaning would be that the Government is committing them to delay consulting the House authorities until an inquiry has reported in the spring.

The first question that arises has to do with who the "House authorities" are. We have tiptoed around that problem on previous occasions when the House authorities instructed counsel to go to the High Court or to the Appeal Court. I shall take the phrase "House authorities" to mean a mixture of Murdo Maclean, the private secretary to the Government Chief Whip, and the Clerk's Office. That would probably give us the best group. Should Mr. Maclean or the Clerk's Office respond to the Government if, before spring, the Government ask for advice about how to execute a procedural move—what opponents might see as a wangle, and supporters as assistance—with regard to the Bill that failed in this House a year ago?

I hope, Madam Speaker, that you will be able to give guidance to the House authorities as to whether they should say to the Government, "If you want to talk to us before the inquiry has reported, there must be a further parliamentary answer, so that the House will know the basis on which we are proceeding."

There are other reasons for prolonging the debate until Ministers are able to come to the House. According to an argument that I shall not pursue at length, the subject to fill the gap between questions on a prorogation day and the expectation of a royal commission should be that of the last early-day motion on the Order Paper. I do not need to remind the House that early-day motion 1011 is about the conduct of the Prime Minister.

Unusually, there have been four early-day motions on that subject in this Session. The Prime Minister has chosen to respond to none of them, and neither has any response from him, either through the House authorities or the usual channels, been available for debate. I shall not go into detail, but early-day motion 1011 has been tabled as a consequence of answers that he gave at Prime Minister's questions yesterday, which he must have believed to be true.

I raise this matter now because it has not been picked up by the media. When I asked the BBC whether its correspondents had checked that the Prime Minister had got his facts right—

Madam Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is a very experienced Member of Parliament, but he is straying from the motion before us. I have been very tolerant, but I think that he knows that he must get back to the motion.

Mr. Bottomley

Your guidance, Madam Speaker, is that I should not further illustrate why the Prime Minister should not respond to the early-day motion.

Madam Speaker

Order. I bring the hon. Gentleman back to the motion before us.

Mr. Bottomley

Which is that this House shall adjourn.

Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours (Workington)

Shall not adjourn.

Mr. Bottomley

If we agree the motion quickly, there will be no further discussion in the House until notice of the Royal Commission is received. I think that I have got that right; I am grateful to the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) for his intervention. If, during that period of silence, a Minister asked whether he could make a statement on the written answer on foxhunting, on the early-day motion on the Prime Minister's conduct or on early-day motion 1007 on the conduct of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, could the House then resume? That is a question to which the House does not know the answer, but no doubt you will be able to tell us, Madam Speaker.

I believe that the arguments for using this time to hold the Government to account are good reasons why the debate on the motion to adjourn should continue. Of course, the Prime Minister could at this moment be on a plane on his way to South Africa, where he no doubt has international duties, and the Chancellor may have decided to leave because he would not give straight answers at Question Time.

I hope that, in the next Session of Parliament, if not in this one, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor will respond to the early-day motions on their conduct. If they think that criticism does not matter, they do not understand the role of a free Parliament in a free country.

12.57 pm
Mr. Simon Burns (West Chelmsford)

Last night, we discussed the proposals in another place that will fundamentally change the country's constitutional balance. I believe it important that, before we adjourn, there should be an opportunity for the Government to produce the regulations that they have so far failed to produce with regard to those Members of another place who, from today, will no longer have a right to attend the House of peers.

In our democracy, everybody who is a British citizen and fulfils certain requirements is entitled to a vote at elections. That is enshrined in our democracy, and is the critical part of our democratic process. As a result of the legislation on the arrangements for another place that will—today, I assume—be reaching the end of its passage through this House, there will be, if my mathematics is correct, just over 500 individuals who, until today, have been—

Madam Speaker

Order. I am listening very carefully to what hon. Members are saying, but they are now straying far from the motion that is before us. I ask them to look at it; I know full well what we are doing at this particular time.

Mr. Burns

I am grateful for your guidance, Madam Speaker, and do not wish to test your patience. However, I am worried that we may adjourn before the legislation that we have sent to the other place has been tidied up so that individuals are not disenfranchised.

Madam Speaker

The hon. Gentleman may make passing references, but he is getting into matters of great detail. Quite frankly, he should bring his remarks to a close rather than go into details discussed during the passage of the legislation.

Mr. Burns

Madam Speaker, I am again grateful and shall again seek not to try your patience. I remain bothered that, before we adjourn, the other place has time to discuss the Bill again and to make further amendments that would remove an injustice. A number of people from the other place happen to live in the royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The Bill, if unamended, will mean that former members of the other place will be disenfranchised at the by-election there on 25 November. Before we adjourn, the House should allow the other place to amend the legislation, because the Government have singularly failed to produce regulations to enfranchise the disenfranchised.

Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield)

Alternatively, the House should not adjourn until the business in the other place has been resolved. The Government could then introduce, if they wished to do so, the order necessary to rectify the problem. That must be done, because failure to do so would put us in danger of breaching the human rights convention and the Human Rights Act 1998.

Mr. Burns

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who is absolutely right. It is extraordinary that we should be asked to adjourn and to prorogue before next week's state opening when a group of individuals will be disenfranchised at an election in just two weeks' time. Those people are being stripped of their democratic right to cast a vote for a representative in this House, even after the Bill deprives them of their role in the legislative process.

Mr. Christopher Fraser (Mid-Dorset and North Poole)

Clause 4(3) of the House of Lords Bill, as amended, does not confer a right to vote on peers removed from the House of Lords by the Bill. Instead, it allows the Secretary of State to make an order to allow peers to vote. No such order has been made, and I am sure that my hon. Friend will shortly ask when such an order will be laid before us.

Mr. Burns

I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend, who is absolutely right. It seems inconceivable that the Government has not produced that order. It has always been likely that the House of Lords Bill would be on the statute book by the time that we prorogued. The Government has had plenty of time to prepare regulations and place them before the House. For whatever reason, they have not done so, and they seem relaxed about disenfranchising individuals. The other place should amend the Bill to do the job that the Government have failed to do.

Mr. Fraser

The Government argues that it is not possible to update the electoral register. In fact, the Lords are already on it.

Mr. Burns

My hon. Friend is quite right. It is not uncommon, if the Government finds an argument difficult, for them to give it a gloss that has little relation to reality. In fact, the other place could easily amend the Bill. The electoral register came into force in February. Members of the other place were given a vote for the European elections, and they can vote in local elections. That proves that there is no problem with the register. The Lords are already on the register, though far from voting at a general election. The other place could amend the legislation today and send it back to us. Then, if we had not adjourned, we would be able to endorse what it had done, so that peers who will no longer be in another place after today could vote in the by-election.

Mr. Bercow

I am following the impeccable logic of my hon. Friend's thesis and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole (Mr. Fraser), but may I suggest another altogether more prosaic reason why the House should not adjourn yet? The other place will not meet and consider any messages that it might wish to send to us about last night's proceedings for about two and a half hours. In the light of the extraordinary ill grace with which the Government have treated the other place in recent times, is it not a matter of elementary courtesy that we should be here to deliberate upon, and respond to, any messages, rather than obliging noble members of the other place to wait at least six days to hear of our consideration and our response?

Mr. Burns

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who knows, as does every other Opposition Member, that sadly, over the past two and a half years, we have experienced a Government who have utter contempt for this Chamber. The Government would be more than happy if we adjourned immediately; we are considered a nuisance and an irritant, because we ask awkward questions and highlight the discrepancies and contradictions in what is, I gather, now known as "The Blair Project". The Government are so arrogant that they are not the slightest bit interested in anyone else's point of view.

Mr. Gardiner

Will the hon. Gentleman enlighten me? I fail to see the logic of his position and that of his hon. Friends. My understanding of the motion on the Order Paper—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hold it up; that is his script."] It is not a script, it is the Order Paper. My understanding of the motion before us is that Madam Speaker shall not adjourn the House"— [HON. MEMBERS: "Hooray, he can read."] Opposition Members seem to have confused adjournment with suspension.

Mr. Burns

I notice that, probably out of embarrassment caused by that inadequate intervention, the Government Whip, the hon. Member for Stirling (Mrs. McGuire), is moving along the Bench away from the hon. Gentleman. Clearly she briefed him but he did not fully understand—now, obviously, she feels that, out of loyalty, to save his face, she must return and sit in front of him.

The hon. Gentleman is right to say that the motion says that we "shall not adjourn". If I did not understand that, Madam Speaker, you would not have allowed me to continue to contribute to the debate. I shall spell it out for the hon. Gentleman. I am arguing that it is right that the House should not adjourn until another place has had the opportunity to amend the legislation that we sent back to it last night. Then, the members of the other place who are to leave it for good when we prorogue would be able to vote in the Kensington and Chelsea by-election. So far, the Government have failed to place the regulations before the two Houses.

Mr. Gardiner

So precisely what is the disagreement between the hon. Gentleman and the motion on the Order Paper? The motion says that the House should not adjourn, the implication being that it should suspend and therefore could be recalled at any time, should that become necessary.

Mr. Nick St. Aubyn (Guildford)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Is it in order for the hon. Member for Hove (Mr. Caplin) to wander around the Chamber, chatting to his friends and walking in front of those who are trying to address the Chair?

Madam Speaker

Members very often move around this House, but it is better not to move in front of the person who is being addressed.

Mr. Keith Bradley (Treasurer of Her Majesty's Household)

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House proceeded to a Division—

Mr. Hawkins

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Following earlier points of order about the Home Secretary's written answer this morning, I notice that it says: The inquiry will be chaired by the noble Lords,"— in the plural— Lord Burns. That may be the result of the extreme haste with which the written answer was rushed out, but it occurs to me that, given that the other place is still considering the House of Lords Bill and the statement goes on to say that the other members of the inquiry will be announced later, even at this late stage, the Government might decide to retain in office some noble Lords so that they might be members of the inquiry, and that is another reason why you might feel that the Home Secretary should make a statement, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker

I thought that the hon. Gentleman was aware of our new procedures whereby it is possible to raise a point of order during a Division, but it must relate to the Division. Had he given me some indication of his point of order, I could have saved him from making it.

Mr. Joe Ashton (Bassetlaw)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. The annunciator screen shows only the word "Closure", not "Division", and some hon. Members are not aware that a Division is in progress.

Madam Speaker

I take the hon. Gentleman's point. The screen does say "Closure" and that could be misleading. It should say "Closure motion. Division". I shall see that that is rectified for the next Session. Thank you for drawing that to my attention.

Mr. Shaun Woodward (Witney)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. As there was confusion over what the monitors said around the House, should we not declare the Division null and void and have a second Division, so that all Members can vote?

Madam Speaker

I am not prepared to accept that procedure. The Division stands.

The House having divided: Ayes 258, Noes 72.

Division No. 322] [1.10 pm
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Bennett, Andrew F
Alexander, Douglas Benton, Joe
Allan, Richard Berry, Roger
Allen, Graham Best, Harold
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Betts, Clive
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Blizzard, Bob
Ashton, Joe Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Atherton, Ms Candy Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Atkins, Charlotte Bradshaw, Ben
Ballard, Jackie Breed, Colin
Barnes, Harry Brinton, Mrs Helen
Bayley, Hugh Brown, Rt Hon Gordon (Dunfermline E)
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield) Browne, Desmond
Burden, Richard Hesford, Stephen
Burgon, Colin Hill, Keith
Butler, Mrs Christine Hinchliffe, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Hodge, Ms Margaret
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Hood, Jimmy
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Campbell-Savours, Dale Hope, Phil
Caplin, Ivor Hopkins, Kelvin
Casale, Roger Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Caton, Martin Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Howells, Dr Kim
Clapham, Michael Hoyle, Lindsay
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands) Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Humble, Mrs Joan
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Hutton, John
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S) Iddon, Dr Brian
Clelland, David Illsley, Eric
Clwyd, Ann Jamieson, David
Coaker, Vernon Jenkins, Brian
Coffey, Ms Ann Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Coleman, Iain Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)
Connarty, Michael
Corbett, Robin Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Corston, Jean Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cotter, Brian Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Cranston, Ross Kelly, Ms Ruth
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley) Kemp, Fraser
Cryer, John (Hornchurch) Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Cummings, John
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Darvill, Keith Khabra, Piara S
Davey, Edward (Kingston) King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W) King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Kirkwood, Archy
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C) Kumar, Dr Ashok
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H) Lady man, Dr Stephen
Dawson, Hilton Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Dean, Mrs Janet Laxton, Bob
Denham, John Lepper, David
Dobbin, Jim Leslie, Christopher
Donohoe, Brian H Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Doran, Frank Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Dowd, Jim Livingstone, Ken
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey) Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Efford, Clive Lock, David
Ellman, Mrs Louise McAvoy, Thomas
Flint, Caroline McCabe, Steve
Flynn, Paul McDonagh, Siobhain
Follett, Barbara Macdonald, Calum
Foster, Don (Bath) McDonnell, John
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings) McIsaac, Shona
Foster, Michael J (Worcester) McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Fyfe, Maria McNamara, Kevin
Gardiner, Barry McNulty, Tony
Gerrard, Neil MacShane, Denis
Gibson, Dr Ian Mactaggart, Fiona
Gilroy, Mrs Linda McWalter, Tony
Godman, Dr Norman A Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Goggins, Paul Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Golding, Mrs Llin Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Gordon, Mrs Eileen Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E) Maxton, John
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Merron, Gillian
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Grocott, Bruce Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Grogan, John Miller, Andrew
Hain, Peter Mitchell, Austin
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale) Moffatt, Laura
Hall, Patrick (Bedford) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet Moran, Ms Margaret
Healey, John Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N) Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich) Mountford, Kali
Hepburn, Stephen Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Heppell, John Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood) Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
O'Hara, Eddie Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Olner, Bill Soley, Clive
Öpik, Lembit Southworth, Ms Helen
Organ, Mrs Diana Spellar, John
Osborne, Ms Sandra Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Palmer, Dr Nick Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Pearson, Ian Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Pendry, Tom Stinchcombe, Paul
Perham, Ms Linda Stoate, Dr Howard
Pickthall, Colin Stringer, Graham
Plaskitt, James Stuart, Ms Gisela
Pond, Chris Sutcliffe, Gerry
Pope, Greg Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E) Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Primarolo, Dawn Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Prosser, Gwyn Temple-Morris, Peter
Purchase, Ken Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce Todd, Mark
Quinn, Lawrie Touhig, Don
Rammell, Bill Trickett, Jon
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough) Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Rooker, Jeff Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Rowlands, Ted Vis, Dr Rudi
Roy, Frank Ward, Ms Claire
Russell, Bob (Colchester) Watts, David
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester) White, Brian
Ryan, Ms Joan Whitehead, Dr Alan
Salter, Martin Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Sarwar, Mohammad Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Savidge, Malcolm Winnick, David
Sedgemore, Brian Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Shaw, Jonathan Wise, Audrey
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Wood, Mike
Shipley, Ms Debra Woolas, Phil
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S) Wyatt, Derek
Singh, Marsha Tellers for the Ayes:
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E) Mrs. Anne McGuire and
Smith, Angela (Basildon) Mr. Robert Ainsworth.
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Hawkins, Nick
Bercow, John Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Horam, John
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Brazier, Julian Jenkin, Bernard
Burns, Simon Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet) Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Clappison, James Leigh, Edward
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Letwin, Oliver
Collins, Tim Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Cormack, Sir Patrick Lidington, David
Cran, James Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice & Howden) Loughton, Tim
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Duncan, Alan McLoughlin, Patrick
Duncan Smith, Iain Malins, Humfrey
Evans, Nigel Maples, John
Faber, David Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Fabricant, Michael Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Fallon, Michael Moss, Malcolm
Forth, Rt Hon Eric Nicholls, Patrick
Fraser, Christopher Norman, Archie
Gale, Roger O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Gill, Christopher Page, Richard
Gray, James Paterson, Owen
Green, Damian Prior, David
Greenway, John Randall, John
Grieve, Dominic Robathan, Andrew
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie Robertson, Laurence
Hammond, Philip Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Ruffley, David Wells, Bowen
St Aubyn, Nick Wilkinson, John
Soames, Nicholas Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Spicer, Sir Michael Yeo, Tim
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Syms, Robert
Tredinnick, David Tellers for the Noes:
Trend, Michael Mrs. Eleanor Laing and
Tyrie, Andrew Mr. Keith Simpson.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly,

That, at this day's sitting,
  1. 1. the Speaker shall not adjourn the House until any Messages from the Lords shall have been received; and
  2. 2. if the House has completed its consideration of any Messages received from the Lords and the Lords have adjourned their sitting, the Speaker shall adjourn the House without Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 269, Noes 74.

Division No. 323] [1.25 pm
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Coleman, Iain
Alexander, Douglas Connarty, Michael
Allan, Richard Corbett, Robin
Allen, Graham Corston, Jean
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Cotter, Brian
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Cousins, Jim
Ashton, Joe Cranston, Ross
Atherton, Ms Candy Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Atkins, Charlotte Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Ballard, Jackie Cummings, John
Barnes, Harry Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Bayley, Hugh Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Beard, Nigel Darvill, Keith
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C) Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield) Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Bennett, Andrew F Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Benton, Joe Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Berry, Roger Dawson, Hilton
Best, Harold Dean, Mrs Janet
Betts, Clive Denham, John
Blears, Ms Hazel Dobbin, Jim
Blizzard, Bob Donohoe, Brian H
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Doran, Frank
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Dowd, Jim
Bradshaw, Ben Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Breed, Colin Effort, Clive
Brinton, Mrs Helen Ellman, Mrs Louise
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Flint, Caroline
Browne, Desmond Flynn, Paul
Burden, Richard Follett, Barbara
Burgon, Colin Foster, Don (Bath)
Butler, Mrs Christine Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Fyfe, Maria
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Gardiner, Barry
Campbell-Savours, Dale George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Caplin, Ivor Gerrard, Neil
Casale, Roger Gibson, Dr Ian
Caton, Martin Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Godman, Dr Norman A
Clapham, Michael Goggins, Paul
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands) Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S) Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Clelland, David Grocott, Bruce
Coaker, Vernon Grogan, John
Coffey, Ms Ann Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale) Mitchell, Austin
Hall, Patrick (Bedford) Moffatt, Laura
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet Moonie, Dr Lewis
Healey, John Moran, Ms Margaret
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N) Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich) Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Hepburn, Stephen Mountford, Kali
Heppell, John Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Hesford, Stephen Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Hill, Keith Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Hinchliffe, David O'Hara, Eddie
Hood, Jimmy Olner, Bill
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Öpik, Lembit
Hope, Phil Organ, Mrs Diana
Hopkins, Kelvin Osborne, Ms Sandra
Howarth, Alan (Newport E) Palmer, Dr Nick
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Pearson, Ian
Howells, Dr Kim Pendry, Tom
Hoyle, Lindsay Perham, Ms Linda
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford) Pickthall, Colin
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Plaskitt, James
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N) Pond, Chris
Humble, Mrs Joan Pope, Greg
Hutton, John Powell, Sir Raymond
Iddon, Dr Brian Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Illsley, Eric Primarolo, Dawn
Jamieson, David Prosser, Gwyn
Jenkins, Brian Purchase, Ken
Jones, Helen (Warrington N) Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW) Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak) Rapson, Syd
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S) Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Roche, Mrs Barbara
Kelly, Ms Ruth Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Kemp, Fraser Rowlands, Ted
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness W) Roy, Frank
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Khabra, Piara S Ryan, Ms Joan
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth) Salter, Martin
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green) Sarwar, Mohammad
Kumar, Dr Ashok Savidge, Malcolm
Ladyman, Dr Stephen Sedgemore, Brian
Lawrence, Ms Jackie Shaw, Jonathan
Laxton, Bob Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Lepper, David Shipley, Ms Debra
Leslie, Christopher Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S) Singh, Marsha
Lewis, Terry (Worsley) Skinner, Dennis
Livingstone, Ken Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C) Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Lock, David Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
McDonagh, Siobhain Snape, Peter
Macdonald, Calum Soley, Clive
McDonnell, John Southworth, Ms Helen
McIsaac, Shona Spellar, John
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary Starkey, Dr Phyllis
McNamara, Kevin Stewart, David (Inverness E)
McNulty, Tony Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
MacShane, Denis Stinchcombe, Paul
Mactaggart, Fiona Stoate, Dr Howard
McWalter, Tony Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S) Stringer, Graham
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury) Stuart, Ms Gisela
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Sutcliffe, Gerry
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Maxton, John Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Merron, Gillian Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley) Temple-Morris, Peter
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Miller, Andrew Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Trickett, Jon Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE) Wills, Michael
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk) Winnick, David
Turner, Neil (Wigan) Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Twigg, Derek (Halton) Wise, Audrey
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield) Wood, Mike
Tynan, Bill Woolas, Phil
Vis, Dr Rudi Wyatt, Derek
Wand, Ms Claire
Watts, David Tellers for the Ayes:
White, Brian Mrs. Anne McGuire and
Whitehead, Dr Alan Mr. Robert Ainsworth.
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Leigh, Edward
Baldry, Tony Letwin, Oliver
Bercow, John Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Lidington, David
Brazier, Julian Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Burns, Simon Loughton, Tim
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet) Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Clappison, James Malins, Humfrey
Collins, Tim Maples, John
Cormack, Sir Patrick Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Cran, James Moss, Malcolm
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice & Howden) Nicholls, Patrick
Norman, Archie
Duncan, Alan O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Duncan Smith, Iain Page, Richard
Evans, Nigel Paterson, Owen
Faber, David Prior, David
Fabricant, Michael Randall, John
Fallon, Michael Robathan, Andrew
Forth, Rt Hon Eric Robertson, Laurence
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Fox, Dr Liam Ruffley, David
Fraser, Christopher St Aubyn, Nick
Gale, Roger Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Gill, Christopher Spicer, Sir Michael
Gray, James Syms, Robert
Green, Damian Tredinnick, David
Greenway, John Trend, Michael
Grieve, Dominic Tyrie, Andrew
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie Wells, Bowen
Hammond, Philip Wilkinson, John
Hawkins, Nick Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David Woodward, Shaun
Horam, John Yeo, Tim
Jack, Rt Hon Michael Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Jenkin, Bernard
Kirkbride, Miss Julie Tellers for the Noes:
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Mrs. Eleanor Laing and
Lansley, Andrew Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.

Question accordingly agreed to.


That, at this day's sitting,
  1. 1. the Speaker shall not adjourn the House until any Messages from the Lords shall have been received; and
  2. 2. if the House has completed its consideration of any Messages received from the Lords and the Lords have adjourned their sitting, the Speaker shall adjourn the House without Question put.
Mr. Fraser

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. As you issued the writ for the Kensington and Chelsea by-election, would it be possible for you to speak to the appropriate authorities, so that peers who are on the electoral register and who, from tomorrow, will be legally entitled to vote will be able to exercise that right? In another place, Lady Jay promised that the enfranchisement of those peers would immediately follow the passage of the House of Lords Bill.

Madam Speaker

I had responsibility for issuing the writ for the by-election, and I did so; but I have no responsibility for the electorate in the area.

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. May I seek your guidance? I understand that, because we voted for the motion, we can now be summoned back at any time by the Leader of the House, whereas, if we had not voted for it, we would have had to wait until 7 pm. Am I right in thinking that we can be summoned back before 7 pm for any reason, not just because messages may have arrived from the other place—for instance, because of the screaming headlines in all today's papers about the crisis in the beef industry? The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food might want to make a statement about that.

Madam Speaker

If the hon. Gentleman had read the motion, he would know that only a message from the Lords can bring us back.

Mr. Hawkins

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You will recall that, during the first of the two Divisions that have just taken place, I sought to raise a matter arising from the written answer that the Home Secretary gave this morning, and you advised me that it would not be appropriate for me to make a point of order at that stage because a point of order during a Division could relate only to that Division.

May I now return to the written answer? According to the Home Secretary, the inquiry that he has announced will be chaired by the noble Lords,"— plural— Lord Burns. We all know that Lord Burns was the super-mandarin when he was permanent secretary to the Treasury, but I do not think that even he would describe himself in the plural.

The written answer continues: The names of the other members of the inquiry will be announced as soon as possible. Is it not possible, even at this late stage, that a Minister might make an announcement that, on reflection, he thought it important to recognise the historic service to this country given by many noble Lords who, even if they were not among the 92 retaining their seats, might—given their experience of country sports—be appropriate members of the inquiry? In those circumstances, might there not be a message from their lordships amending the House of Lords Bill to enable them to serve?

Madam Speaker

That is highly unlikely. As I said earlier, we are waiting only for Lords messages. I anticipate that the Lords will be dealing with the House of Lords Bill at 3 o'clock this afternoon. We must await the message that will come from the Lords at that time.

Pursuant to the Order of the House this day, the sitting is suspended. Before the sitting resumes, I shall see that the Division Bells are sounded so that all Members are made aware of it.

1.41 pm

Sitting suspended.

5.5 pm

On resuming—

Message to attend the Lords Commisioners:

The House went; and, having returned:

Forward to