§ Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome)
I beg to move amendment No. 33, in page 4, leave out lines 12 and 13.
Mr. Deputy Speaker
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: amendment No. 34, in page 4, line 14, leave out "or amending".
Amendment No. 35, in page 23, line 7, leave out clause 43.
Government amendment No. 63.
New clause 5—Power to remove exemptions by order—
- '.—(1) The Secretary of State may by order provide that—
- (a) information of such description as may be specified in the order is not exempt by virtue of any provision of this Act as may be specified in the order;
- (b) any provision of this Act specified in the order by virtue of which information is exempt shall be repealed or shall apply only in relation to information of the description specified in the order;
- (c)any provision of this Act specified in the order by virtue of which the duty to confirm or deny does not arise shall be repealed or shall apply only in relation to such information, or in such circumstances, as may be specified in the order.
- (2) An order under this section may make different provision for different cases.
- (3) No order shall be made under this section unless a draft of the order has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.'.
§ Mr. Heath
This group is extremely important. The amendments and the new clause deal with a provision that crept into the Bill rather late; it gave the Minister extraordinary powers retrospectively to exempt information from the Bill.
The House might think that the Bill was carefully considered in Committee; that is certainly the view of those hon. Members who served on the Standing Committee. We may hope that the Bill will be given proper consideration on Report and during its subsequent stages; that its checks and balances will be carefully examined and that there will be a consideration of what information should and should not be exempt.
However, if the Bill's current provisions remain, all that scrutiny will have little long-term effect, because it will be open to a Minister—to the Executive—to say, "We heard what Parliament said; we know what was included and omitted from the schedule, but we have changed our minds and we want to amend the measure by order." That might occur not only if circumstances change since the measure's inception, but as a response to a specific request for information. A Minister could say, "I don't want that information to be made available, so we shall now make it exempt". Amendment No. 33 would remove the power, in effect, to exclude any information from any organisation listed in schedule 1 by order.
Amendment No. 34 deals with a similar point. A Minister might want to ameliorate the Bill, not by removing a current exemption but by amending the measure. Again, 872 the capacity exists to invent a whole new protocol for a specific area of information, and to do it by order rather than to take what I believe is the right view—that, if a certain category of information is no longer appropriate to be exempt, it should simply not be exempt. The exemption should be removed.
In Committee, the Minister came up with no convincing argument as to why the Government should have the power to amend. He seemed to imply that the provisions were simply a matter of good housekeeping and that they would keep Bill's operation tidy. He said that, in any case, a benign Government and a benign Minister would judge what it was appropriate to amend, and asked why anyone should be concerned. I have real concerns, because I do not believe that every future Government and every future Minister are necessarily benign in their intent.
More importantly, I believe that the Bill is constitutionally important. We do not have a written constitution, so we must rely on legislation such as the Bill to provide our citizens with what rights they have. Those rights should not be fiddled around with at a later stage by a diktat from Government that would receive scant parliamentary attention if it ever came to the Floor of the House at all.
I want a one-way process of amendment. I accept that there will be occasions when information which it seemed right to exempt from the Bill will no longer appear as though it should be exempt. That is fair enough, so let us have a provision that allows a Minister to remove categories of information from the Bill. Let us have a semi-permeable membrane and a process of osmosis in one direction. Let us not have the capacity to tighten up a Bill whose provisions for genuine freedom of information are already far too unhelpful. If such a provision were available to a Minister, it could make the situation that pertains at the moment worse.
Amendment No. 35 deals with clause 43. We debated the clause in Committee and the tenor of the argument was, "We are all good chaps. We know how to operate these things. We can have substantial powers to amend legislation retrospectively because we will do the right thing, won't we? You will certainly know about it if we don't." I am sorry, but I think that clause 43 is bad. It will be slightly improved by Government amendment No. 63, which is a response to a point that I made in Committee.
§ Mr. Heath
The Minister has been generous in acknowledging that, and I appreciate that the Government listened to one point that was made. However, the change is such a minuscule movement in the right direction in the context of the enormity of clause 43 that it does not satisfy me. The House should not accept that the retrospective powers available under the Bill should stand.
I will not go into detail on new clause 5, because I imagine that the hon. Member for Cannock Chase (Dr. Wright) will wish to say something about it. However, everyone agrees that this is an important Bill. We must get it right and ensure that retrospective capacities are not built into it for no apparent reason. They have appeared since the draft Bill was published and they could be the avenue by which a wholesale rewriting of the Bill takes place at a later stage.
873 As I said in Committee, if I were a civil servant or worked for a public body and saw that a Minister had the capacity retrospectively to exempt information in my possession, I would beat a path to his door and tell him why all the information in my possession should, of necessity, be exempt. I would find any number of legal and other arguments to make that case. I do not think that it is necessary to have such a capacity in the Bill. It would be better without it. I urge the House to support my amendment.
Dr. Tony Wright
Clause 43 has been a cause of difficulty for a long time. It had a previous incarnation in the draft Bill as clause 36, where it caused no less difficulty.
The clause allows the Secretary of State to exempt information at short notice simply by order. That provision can be used to trump any request that the Government have received, but that they cannot refuse under existing exemptions. The Bill explicitly permits an order to apply to information that is the subject of an existing request—a request that has already come in. On any test, that is an unacceptable provision. Given the huge number of exemptions in the Bill, it is hardly necessary. It is not as though the Government lack protection. The restrictions are not so loose that they have to put a cover-all in the Bill. As many hon. Members have said, the Bill is narrowly drawn, so such a sweeping clause presents a difficulty.
When the Select Committee on Public Administration considered what was then clause 36, it found it unacceptable. It said:We believe that it is altogether inappropriate to insert such a provision into a Freedom of Information Act. There is no such provision in any other Freedom of Information Act of which we are aware. We recommend that clause 36 is removed from the Bill.
The House of Lords Select Committee spoke in similar terms. It said:We do not understand why, in a Bill with wide exemptions based on the class of information or the harm which its disclosure might cause, there needs to be a reserve power for a Minister to create a new exemption to deal with an unwelcome request for information, or why the new exemption should have retrospective effect to justify a refusal. In our opinion clause 36 should be deleted completely. If, despite this recommendation, the Government continues to believe that such a power is necessary, then it should be exercised in a specific situation only if the Information Commissioner agrees. At the very least the power should not be made retrospective.The Government have ignored those recommendations and, in so doing, have sought to explain that the provision is necessary to give them what they describe as the flexibility to deal with particular circumstances and problems that may come to light.
My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, told the Committee considering the Bill that the Government needed clause 43 in its present form becausethere may be some areas of information that have not yet been considered, but would legitimately need protection. The Government should also ensure that they are able to protect, in the future as well as now, all information that it would not be in the public interest to disclose.874 One cannot accuse the Government of being dishonest. In rejecting an amendment that was designed to restrict the scope of the powers, he said thatit would limit unacceptably the operation of clause 43. The Government would not have sufficient flexibility to respond to changes in circumstances.—[Official Report, Standing Committee B, 1 February 2000; c. 386.]
New clause 5 would introduce flexibility in another sense. One can proceed in two directions. One can remove the offending clause, which is the preferable solution as offered by an amendment. If the Government are not minded to do that, they should at least accept new clause 5, which simply provides the flexibility to remove restrictions. If flexibility is demanded, let everyone sign up to it.
Almost everyone who has spoken so far has argued that the Bill is laden with restrictions. If, in the fulness of time, Ministers discover that the sky does not fall in and realise that, in the new culture that develops, fewer restrictions and less onerous provisions are needed, it will be useful to have an order-making power that enables the gradual peeling away of some of the restrictions. New clause 5 allows the Secretary of State to provide that specified information is not covered by a specific exemption; it allows him to repeal a specific exemption, or to apply it more narrowly to specified information only; it enables him to replace a class exemption with a harm-test exemption; and it enables him to remove or restrict the right of authorities to refuse to confirm or deny the existence of information.
Were I in unworthy mode, I might say that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander; however, in worthy mode, I say that the new clause is cast in the spirit of flexibility that the Government say they want to introduce. New clause 5 will enable the Government to live up to their pledges and to strip away unneeded restrictions, and I commend it to the House.
§ Mr. David Davis
As the House knows, I do not approach the Bill as one who has a history of fanaticism about freedom of information. Given my periods of office in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Cabinet Office and the Whips Office—I would need only a period at the Home Office to have the full set of the most secretive Departments of State—my training has all been in the opposite direction.
I did not intend to speak on this group of amendments until I was provoked by the Minister of State's comments on the first group. He appeared to tell us that he disliked the idea of introducing uncertainty into the Bill—uncertainty in that context meaning allowing the courts to make decisions on the basis of the distinct purpose of the Bill. However, he is asking the House to accept precisely the same degree of uncertainty, except that it will be him or other Ministers making the decisions, not the courts.
Clause 43 is patently wrong and I shall not waste my time reiterating the powerful arguments that have already been made. Instead, I shall speak briefly about clause 6 and the amendments tabled by the Liberal Democrats that would remove certain parts of it. At first glance, the clause appears symmetrical, in that movement is possible in either direction; however, that is not how it would work. The first clue to that is that the power it contains is operated by order, not by affirmative resolution—not by a Minister coming to the House and asking whether we agree to changes, but by ministerial order.
875 That leads us back to one of the main forces that, in effect, gutted the legislation after the publication of the White Paper some time ago. That is the force toward secrecy prevalent in the Whitehall bureaucracy. I do not criticise individuals who work in Whitehall, because I believe that many talented, committed and public-spirited individuals work there, but I realise that the prevailing culture is such that it will lead clause 6 to become a one-way ratchet. I do not expect it to be used to extend freedom of information—quite the reverse. Let me give the House a brief example of such pressure.
Some years ago, my predecessor as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, the right hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon), attempted to bring into the public domain the massive overspends on the MI5 and MI6 headquarters. As the House will know, those matters were publicised only a couple of months ago; at that time, however, the right hon. Gentleman failed to persuade the Government of the day to allow those matters to be made public. I, too, tried and failed to persuade the Government of the day to do that. Eventually, the two of us, together with the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King), managed to persuade the Government to concede the right to publish National Audit Office reports on the matter.
One might have presumed that the secrecy arose from serious security considerations. It fell to me to approve the excisions from the two NAO reports: I can tell the House that they amounted to about half a dozen lines. Why did it take 10 years, three Privy Councillors, two ex-Ministers and three Select Committee Chairmen to get the Government to make the matter public? The reason was not political—it had nothing to do with which party was in power; it had to do with the interests of Whitehall. Those reports revealed that the Cabinet Secretary of the day, the permanent secretary to the Treasury of the day, the permanent secretary to the Property Services Agency of the day and the heads of the two secret agencies involved had all agreed, for two years, not to tell the Prime Minister what was happening. On that basis, they managed to resist publicity for 10 years.
I tell that story to illustrate my concern about this apparently symmetrical clause. The sort of pressures that, in the face of all our reasonable requests, combined to keep that matter under wraps for a decade by playing on the presumption made by most reasonable people on the other side of the argument that the reason was a security reason, whereas, in fact, it was an avoidance-of-embarrassment reason, will act to ensure that the effect of the clause is not uncertainty, but a one-way ratchet. For that reason, I commend the Liberal Democrat amendments.
§ Mr. Hawkins
I shall be brief. I entirely understand the concerns expressed by the hon. Members for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) and for Cannock Chase (Dr. Wright). Their amendments would remove the clause that gives the Secretary of State power to confer additional exemptions by order and to limit the legislation's application in respect of certain public authorities, and new clause 5 would give the Secretary of State the power to remove exemptions by order.
876 The Opposition have great sympathy with the amendments, because it would be wrong for the Secretary of State to have the wide-ranging powers conferred on him by the Bill to make information secret by order. We do not believe that the Government's concession is good enough: the Secretary of State should not enjoy such wide-ranging powers. I have no idea whether those who tabled the amendments intend to press them to a Division, but, should they choose to do so, the Opposition will support them.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
I, too, shall be brief in voicing my support for my hon. Friend the Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) and other hon. Members. I did not serve on the Standing Committee and, in that sense, I come fresh to the issue. I shall reflect on the importance of making the twin excisions to which the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr. Davis) referred: getting rid of clause 6(3)(a) and clause 43.
It is troubling that the Government want clause 6(3)(a) to remain part of the Bill and that we are contemplating allowing it to remain. It is drafted extremely simply:The Secretary of State may by order amend Schedule 1…by limiting to information of a specified description the entry relating to any public authority.So the Secretary of State can say that freedom of information does not apply to certain types of information relating to any public authority.
Schedule 1 lists the bodies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to which clause 6(3)(a) applies. It lists seven general public authorities: any Government Department, the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the National Assembly for Wales, an Assembly subsidiary under the Government of Wales Act 1998, and the armed forces. Then the schedule lists 29 varieties of local government body in England and Wales and one in Northern Ireland, ranging from councils to fire authorities. There are eight health authority structures covering England and Wales, and six in Northern Ireland. There are 10 school authorities covering pupil referral units, nursery schools, colleges, schools and halls of universities, and five similar authorities in Northern Ireland. There are nine police agencies—the British Transport police, the Ministry of Defence police and so on.
Part VI contains the greatest list of all. In an idle moment, I added up all the bodies. There are 341 public authorities in England and Wales, and 81 in Northern Ireland.
To go from the sublime to the ridiculous, the Government could suddenly excise the duty in relation to the armed forces, for example, which would be a huge matter, but they also seek to take to themselves power to restrict information relating, for example, to the Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances, the Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck Sites, the Apple and Pear Research Council, the Covent Garden Market Authority, the Expert Group on Cryptosporidium in Water Supplies, the Government Hospitality Fund Advisory Committee for the Purchase of Wine—
§ Mr. Hughes
Not yet—the Great Britain-China Centre, the Place Names Advisory Committee, Sir John Soane's Museum, and the Unlinked Anonymous Serosurveys Steering Group.
877 To discover that those bodies exist is extraordinary. To discover that the Minister wants power to give such bodies, including the Wine Standards Board of the Vintners Company and the Zoos Forum, the power to be exempted from freedom of information legislation, borders on the ridiculous. We must not allow the Government the power to keep the business of those bodies secret.
§ Mr. Hawkins
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that one or two of the bodies that he discovered in his detailed research deal with matters of great significance? When he considers the amount of taxpayers' money spent on Government hospitality, he will recall that grave concerns about that have been expressed from his Front Bench and from ours. Any Government are reluctant to be placed under scrutiny, so powers to exempt are extremely worrying.
§ Mr. Hughes
The hon. Gentleman's point applies to both ends of Government. The Government may want to cover up how much is spent on the drinks cabinet at No. 10, and they may want to cover up the advice given on BSE, drugs or international agreements. At both ends, it is dangerous. Of course there is a risk to the establishment, but there is no risk to good government, which is what the argument is about.
§ Mr. Fisher
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for allowing me to intervene in his delightful speech. Rarely do we hear a speech that is almost like a poem—a poem written by e. e. cummings, it seems. The House needed the light relief.
I imagine that the hon. Gentleman is not suggesting that the bodies that he mentioned are likely to be subject to deletion, as they do not have sufficient weight or seriousness. He will agree, as probably the only hon. Member who has studied the list and counted all 341 bodies, that many are likely to have crucial information that may be embarrassing for themselves or for the Government. I refer to bodies such as the Defence Nuclear Safety Committee, the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment, the Advisory Committee on NHS Drugs, and the Advisory Committee on Pesticides. Does he agree that those all deal with matters about which the Government may want to delete great swathes of information when it proves embarrassing?
§ Mr. Hughes
Both hon. Members who have intervened have made complementary points. We are asked to give the Government ridiculous powers to deal with information that is held by relatively unimportant bodies, but that may be embarrassing, and also powers to take away the citizen's right in relation to crucial issues, such as defence contracts, the Sellafield debate, genetically modified food, drugs labelling and food safety. Those are all issues on which the public send us cards and letters every day, telling us that they want to know what is going on. That is why I hope that having set off, as the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) said, down a road that promised transformation of the system, the Government do not suddenly get cold feet and behave in a way that will embarrass only themselves.
§ Mr. Tony McWalter (Hemel Hempstead)
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I have much sympathy 878 with his argument, but with regard to a body such as the Meat and Livestock Commission, which is also on the list, there may be an experiment going on that the animal rights people want to target. We should be worried about possible danger, quite apart from embarrassment.
The very length of the list means that the Government do not have access to the detailed daily functions of each body. That is the reason for clause 6(3)(a). However, like the hon. Gentleman, I should like some assurance from my hon. Friend the Minister that this is a provisional power which the Government will review some time in the future.
§ Mr. Hughes
In his last words, the hon. Gentleman may have touched on the rift. I would be comfortable with a procedure that allowed a Select Committee or a body of the House, at the instigation of a Minister, to look at the list each year and see whether bodies should be added or removed. I am troubled that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Somerton and Frome argued at the beginning, the power would be given to one Minister, without Parliament's approval, and without any checking mechanism, to make a decision not just prospectively, but retrospectively, and possibly after someone has asked for the information. I hope the hon. Gentleman will agree that that is several powers too far.
Of course there may be concerns that certain matters need to be kept secret. There are national interests and national security considerations. Let us provide for that in a way that makes clear the guidelines and the parameters. Let us not allow a Minister, prompted by an over-cautious civil servant or a rumour in a newspaper, to say that information will not be available in relation to any organisation defined in the Bill as a public authority.
§ Mr. Brian White (Milton Keynes, North-East)
In making his valid criticisms, has not the hon. Gentleman demonstrated one of the strengths of the Bill—the range of bodies to which it will apply, for the first time?
§ Mr. Hughes
Yes, if I felt securely that those were organisations about which I would have information, but no, if having given ourselves the right to get the information, we give the Minister the ability to take it all away—so yes if the information is secure, but no if it is insecure.
I did think that some light relief was needed. We have been here for four and a half hours, and we will probably be here for another four and a half hours tonight and again tomorrow. We are discussing serious business. The public should know the score. They need to know that the rights that they are getting in the Bill are not about to be taken away.
§ Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield)
I did not intend to speak in the debate, but it has become riveting. What provoked me to do so—I do not mean that pejoratively—was the intervention of the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. McWalter), when he said that this was a provisional measure.
That glorifies the nature of Government and ministerial knowledge. It will never be possible for Ministers to know what is going on in the 341 authorities listed, either now or until doomsday. That is one of the reasons why I 879 believe, putting myself for a moment in the shoes of government, there is such a tremendous desire to retain the capacity for secrecy.
Over the past 25 years, when secrecy has been blown for one reason or another, 99 per cent. of the time it has been of no account whatever, except in the positive sense of revealing to the public something that they ought to have known anyway. The number of occasions when such a blow to secrecy has led to consequences that could legitimately be said to have been damaging to individuals and their lives can be counted on the fingers of one hand. It seldom happens. That is why the obsession with secrecy needs to be challenged throughout the Bill wherever it appears.
We must accept that the nature of government in western society—not only in this country—has been built on the secrets of government. That goes back over generations and centuries. The Government have had the courage to say in one breath that they want to do away with that secrecy, but in the next, they cannot quite bring themselves to do it. I hope that the Minister will have the courage to reconsider the implications. I am convinced that once the provisions are in place, they will be invoked. Apart from anything else, when they are invoked there will be no mechanism to challenge them. They can be invoked at will. If we are conducting a sea change in the way we conduct our affairs, we are doing so in an odd way by pursuing this route.
It has been said that there will be certain categories that will always need to be exempt. I agree with that, and I do not suppose that there is anyone in this place who would disagree. However, if the view is taken that the Government do not know what is going on, so they must retain a secrecy clause in case something crops up that in their provisional assessment require them to impose secrecy, we shall never get anywhere. I hope that the Minister will reconsider. We are dealing with a serious flaw in the Bill.
§ Mr. Shepherd
I shall take up the spirited and encouraging speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve). However, in view of your strictures, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall speak particularly to amendment No. 35, the purpose of which is essentially to delete clause 43. I give a cheer for "delete" because I think that it is one of the finest words in the legislative process. I commend those who have put their names to the amendment and I follow in their slipstream.
I want the House of Lords to read clause 43. I want the whole of Britain to be aware of what it provides. I also want the Labour party to read and inwardly digest what it says. The clause is a monument to imperial self-righteousness. We have not thought about how we can contain information in all its manifestations. We have not yet encountered the spheres in which the ingenuity and imagination of the British public may make inquiries. It is a dreadfully uncertain circumstance to be in, when somebody has the audacity to ask for a piece of information for which we have not made provision in the Bill.
We must take unto ourselves the ability to make an order. It is like Henry VIII, who had a clause that enabled him to say, "Whatever I say is law." The Government 880 take clause 43—remember the House of Lords, Britain outside the House and the Labour party—that provides that the Minister may make an order. Furthermore, in case the wretch who has asked for a piece of information asked for it yesterday, it can be stated in the order that it pre-dates whatever is the date of the application for the information. That is clause 43 in all its magnificence.
We have joshed about the vigour and imagination of the Americans. I admire them for many things, but they have an obsession with psychology and psychologists. They have developed an expression that is deeply distasteful but that has moved into British public forms of expression: "This is anally retentive." Let us be clear, the entire Bill is anally retentive. If anyone wants an instance of that, it is in clause 43. The splendid amendment No. 35 that says "delete" should commend itself to the House, the House of Lords, the wider public and the Labour party. I cannot believe that we think so little of ourselves and our constituents that such a remarkable power should even have appeared in a Bill in a democratic country.
§ Mr. Mike O'Brien
I have seldom heard such great fear expressed about what seem to be fairly benign and sensible clauses. I shall give some examples, as I did in Committee. Let us take the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. We needed to create it, and if it had been a public authority, it would have been subject to the provisions of freedom of information if the Bill had been in place. We need provisions to enable public authorities to be created, to alter in terms some of their functions and for the Bill to apply. When they cease to exist, or parts of them, we need to be able to remove those public authorities from the Bill's provisions. If we do not have these provisions, we shall be in some difficulty.
I shall give another example that I gave in Committee. The BBC will be a public authority subject to the Bill's provisions. The BBC is particularly relevant here because its journalists will be able to claim an exemption from the provisions of freedom of information in respect of material held for the purposes of journalism, art or literature.
What if a court decision were to conclude that for particular purposes of definition areas that we might feel should remain the confidential prerogative of the journalists should be subject to freedom of information, and the journalists had to disclose their sources? I suspect that the BBC journalists would not be too happy about it and would want the Government to be able to act to deal with the situation. I suspect also that they would be mighty displeased if fears that the Government might misuse such powers had prevented the powers being in the Bill in the first place. That is my concern.
§ Mr. O'Brien
I shall give way when I have gone through some of the arguments. I recall that I promised in an earlier debate to give way to my hon. Friend, and I eventually did so. I shall do so again in due course. I shall run through the arguments so that we can properly debate the issue.
The effect of amendments Nos. 33 and 34 would be to deny the Secretary of State the power to make an order to limit information of a specified description in the entry in 881 schedule 1 relating to any public authority and the power to amend any such limitation. I understand some concerns. Some right hon. and hon. Members suggested in Committee that they were concerned that in future perhaps a less responsible Government, without our commitment to freedom of information, might abuse the order-making powers that are proposed in clause 6. The thrust of that concern was that large tracts of information might be removed at a stroke from the Bill by order, amending the entry in relation to a Government Department, for example, in part 1 of the schedule, or to any other entry or entries. The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) had a good time listing the possible changes. Some bodies may, in all innocence, be created, change, move on or be renamed. We should ensure that the Bill grants us the ability to do something about that. I understand hon. Members' anxieties.
§ Mr. O'Brien
If the hon. Gentleman will bear with me, I shall first set out my argument and then I shall happily give way to him and deal with his points.
I understand the anxieties but the fears on which some of them are based do not seem real. Amendments Nos. 33 and 34 would remove the power to limit or vary a limit in an entry in schedule 1. However, amendments Nos. 33 and 34 would go further than tackling hon. Members' anxieties. They would result in an all or nothing situation, with no scope for simple housekeeping changes to the small number of bodies listed in schedule 1 that are currently within the Bill's remit only because of the information that they hold. The amendments would also prevent future changes to existing entries in the schedule even when they were justified by a change in the circumstances of the public authority.
I shall give another example of the power's ability to vary or limit the description of information caught by the Bill. The Bank of England might decide to expand its financial activities to include insurance. The bank is already included in schedule 1 because of some of its functions. A decision would need to be made about whether to include the new business. Without the provisions, we could not make such a decision.
The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) said that orders under clause 6 to remove information from the scope of the Bill were retrospective. That is not the case. The order-making power should not be confused with that under clause 43, which I shall consider shortly.
The right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr. Davis) claimed that clause 6 provided for orders but not affirmative orders. Amendment No. 77 tackles that. I therefore hope that I have satisfied the right hon. Gentleman at least on that point.
The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome also suggested that the Government could retrospectively allow a public authority that wanted to keep a secret to do that. That is possible, but only by an affirmative order after consulting the commissioner, whose view will be published. An order to create an exemption can be made only when specified prejudice applies or when the public interest requires an exemption to be made. An order 882 cannot therefore be made on the quiet. The clause does not provide for a ministerial power but for affirmative order procedure. Members of Parliament will be able to maintain a clear check on the Executive.
We have tackled many anxieties about clause 6. Many of those anxieties are unrealistic. We believe that the restrictions for which amendments Nos. 33 and 34 would provide are too severe. The amendments go too far and are therefore unacceptable. The lack of a power to amend an entry by order to reflect changes in the functions of the authorities that schedule 1 lists would mean that the entries in that schedule would be fixed for all time. That would lead to inflexibility and undermine the basis of the Bill.
We have listened to the views expressed in Committee, especially by the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome and we have tabled amendments Nos. 77 and 81, which deal with parliamentary procedures for orders under clause 6. We shall have an opportunity to debate them later. We hope that they will allay some anxieties.
I shall deal with amendments Nos. 63 and 35 and then I shall take interventions. Amendment No. 63 was inspired by an amendment that the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome tabled in Committee. The Government agreed to consider the wording of that amendment and gave an undertaking to table an amendment on Report.
Clause 43(6) required the Secretary of State to consult the commissioner before making an order under clause 43 to create a new exemption. Amendment No. 63 would require the Secretary of State to publish any written representations to him by the Information Commissioner about the consultation before laying an order before Parliament unless the representations contained exempt information or information that would be exempt if the order were made. The Government accept that requiring the publication of the commissioner's representations would increase openness. The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome asked for such a provision and the Government have listened and acted.
However, there may be circumstances in which such publication would result in the disclosure of exempt information or information that would be exempt if the order were made. We believe that it is necessary to provide protection against such an eventuality. Amendment No. 63 would therefore achieve that.
Amendment No. 35 would delete clause 43. The clause enables the Secretary of State to create additional exemptions by order. The clause includes two distinct order-making powers, which relate to two distinct circumstances. First, the Secretary of State can make an order about specific information, but only if the public interest in creating a new exemption outweighs the public interest in its disclosure. Achieving that balance shifts the argument and tackles the anxieties. We must consider the public interest when creating a new exemption.
The Secretary of State can create a general exemption that does not relate to a specific item of information. In that case, the order must be so expressed that it provides exemption only if disclosure would be likely to have adverse effects on the public interest. In such circumstances, the adverse effects must be specified in the order.
883 The Government believe that it is necessary to retain a mechanism for creating new exemptions. There may well be information that has not yet been considered due to the number of authorities—up to 50,000—that the Bill covers—
§ Mr. O'Brien
I shall give way in due course.
The nature of information that will fall within the scope of the provision will be wide ranging and may legitimately require protection. The Government must ensure that they can protect that information in future as well as now.
Let us consider the sort of information that we are discussing. The commissioner will know the information that will be subject to an order under clause 43. Her representations may include references to the information when she determines her view. It is right for that information to be outlined. The power to confer additional exemptions can be exercised only if the Information Commissioner is first consulted. When amendment No. 63 is accepted, the Secretary of State will be required to publish any written representation that the Information Commissioner makes to him.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
The Government have considered their powers relative to those of the commissioner in other clauses. Is not there an overwhelming case that the commissioner should have the right not only to be consulted, but to have the final say? If the commissioner had the final say, everybody would be more reassured. However, the Government, backed by their party in Parliament, have the final say. The commissioner is simply an adviser.
§ Mr. O'Brien
We either have some respect for the House or we do not. The hon. Gentleman is trying to shift power away from those, like him and me, who are democratically elected to do our job in this place to those who are not democratically elected. There is a danger of enhancing an unfortunate democratic deficit. Enough already exists in this country. I am reluctant to accompany the hon. Gentleman down that road.
§ Mr. Mackinlay
I want to raise two police matters that relate to schedule 1. The Minister referred to the Stephen Lawrence case. I invite him to pause and consider that we passed the Greater London Authority Act 1999, which will remove from hon. Members the opportunity to probe what are deemed to be police authority matters. The Stephen Lawrence case is especially relevant in that respect. In the early stages, when hon. Members were arguing that something was wrong, they were able to table questions in the House by virtue of the fact that the Home Secretary is the police authority. If the incident had happened in Essex or Kent, they would not have been able to do that. We are losing that power under the GLA Act, and this Bill lists certain police authorities.
If the Stephen Lawrence case had occurred after the GLA Act and this Bill had come into force, we probably would not have heard of Stephen Lawrence, because we would not have been able to get some of those questions past the stewardship of the Table Office.
884 That is my first point. My second point is this.
Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. This is an extremely long intervention. The hon. Gentleman must be very brief on his second point.
§ Mr. Mackinlay
During both the Conservative Administration and this Labour Administration, I have expressed concern about the privatisation of some police forces. Some important police authorities, such as the Northern Ireland airport police, cannot be included in the schedule—it is neither in nor out. If it is good for police authorities to be included in the Bill, why has the Minister excluded some important police authorities that do not fall within the ambit of a public body?
§ Mr. Mike O'Brien
On my hon. Friend's second point, we need the power to extend the provision if we consider that to be appropriate. The Bill contains a power to extend and include provisions. I refer him to clause 74.
§ Mr. O'Brien
With respect, I have not answered the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay), so perhaps my hon. Friend will let me answer it before I give way to him. I was about to deal with the issues he raised on new clause 5. I shall be happy to give way if he wants to intervene later.
On the Lawrence inquiry, questions could be asked under the GLA Act. My hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock is wrong about hon. Members not being able to be ask questions about the Stephen Lawrence case. Our view is that the Bill would have substantially assisted the Lawrence family in dealing with that case.
New clause 5 will give the Secretary of State the power by order to remove or limit the application of any exemption in part II, or to remove or limit the exemption in respect of the duty to confirm or deny that that information is held. An order made under the new clause would require the affirmative resolution procedure.
I understand why my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock Chase (Dr. Wright) has felt it necessary to table this new clause, which could be seen as complementing the power under clause 43 of the Secretary of State by order to confer additional exemptions. However, I cannot support it for the simple reason that it is not necessary.
If a public authority wishes to release information to the general public or to any individual, nothing in the Bill prevents that. Clause 76 contains a specific provision that nothing in the Bill will prevent a public authority from disclosing information that it wishes to disclose. Nothing in the Bill requires secrecy. There may well be provisions in other legislation that prevent disclosure, but not in this Bill. I should point out to my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock that clause 74 provides an order-making power by which those other provisions may be repealed or amended. We are committed to considering such statutory bars and to introducing orders as appropriate.
885 The Bill provides the right of access to information, and specifies some circumstances in which the right will not apply. It does not serve to keep anything secret.
I do not want to cross swords on this point. My hon. Friend is confusing the issue of removing structural restrictions with a more general point.
My hon. Friend began to give us a treatise on the nature of democracy, and I am sure that we shall hear more of that later. Democracy has something to do with the wishes of the people. If people were offered a choice between the creation of additional exemptions by ministerial order and the creation of exemptions by ministerial order with the agreement of an independent information commissioner, which does my hon. Friend think the people would choose?
§ Mr. O'Brien
The people of this country want to ensure that those who are directly accountable to them are able to do the job that they are elected to do. I am personally very uncomfortable with some of the arguments that have been voiced about the need to give unequivocal power to the Information Commissioner. It worries me that hon. Members are anxious to convince the electorate so as to get elected to the House in order to do something, but are then desperate to hand over the power to do things to unelected people.
I accept that we give judges a particular role. As a result of clause 13, judges will have a strengthened role. That provides the right checks and balances in relation to freedom of information, and enables both those who are unelected but have an official role and those who are elected to do their job.
The order-making power proposed in new clause 5 is unnecessary. I ask the House not to support the amendments, but to support the Government amendment, which deals with the concerns of the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath). We have listened to his concerns, and have responded to them in so far as we are reasonably able to do so. However, I cannot promise that some future Parliament will not abuse or misuse the legislation. We cannot bind future Parliaments: that is part of the price of our constitution and our democracy.
The Government believe that the safeguards in the Bill provide constraints, and we would not seek to abuse them. The provisions that we are including in clause 43 and clause 6 are relatively benign. They are housekeeping measures, and we should not get overly worried about them. We should ensure that we have good laws that work, and that can accommodate changing circumstances as a result of the creation of new public authorities, or when bodies cease to exist or change their internal functions.
§ Mr. David Heath
The Minister ended by saying that he would not be able to prevent a future Government from misusing or abusing powers. I agree, but it does not seem entirely sensible to give a future Government the instruments that would enable them to misuse or abuse the very legislation that we seek to introduce.
We have had an extremely interesting debate. Most speakers have prefaced their remarks with the phrase "I did not intend to speak, but…". It seems that they 886 were moved either by a sudden burst of enthusiasm for the subject under discussion, or by the realisation of exactly what the Minister proposed. It is also instructive to note that not one felt moved to support the Minister's view, and the powers that he chooses to take.
I agree that amendment No. 63 is a move in the right direction, and I am grateful to the Minister for listening to the arguments, but the amendment represents the most minimal move that he could make. I thank the Lord that I have secured some movement from the Government on the Bill, which has been improved slightly by our proposals in Committee and by what the Government have brought back today, but the minimum has been done to give a veneer of respectability to a power that would otherwise have no respectability. I do not accept for a moment that the Government have gone far enough.
If I inadvertently suggested that retrospective powers applied to clause 6, I apologise. That was not my intention: when I referred to such powers, I was speaking to the whole group of amendments and the new clause.
What I considered to be one of the most interesting contributions was that of the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. McWalter), who suggested that this might be a provisional power. I would love it to be a provisional power. We would have no reason to table amendments if we could believe that the power would expire in a little while so that the Government could check that they had got the legislation right and bring it back to Parliament, but that is not the case.
§ Mr. McWalter
As my name has been taken in vain a couple of times, let me point out that—as I am sure the hon. Gentleman agrees—the powers in clause 43 could easily wither on the vine.
§ Mr. Heath
I would love to see a piece of legislation with a self-destruct gene built into it, allowing elements to disappear if they were not used after a while. Unfortunately, that is not the way in which legislation tends to work. Once the power is in place—once the hon. Gentleman has voted to support it, if he chooses to do so—it is there for Ministers to use until Parliament decides otherwise.
The Minister's defence was similar to his defence in Committee. It was that these were benign provisions, enabling him to ensure good housekeeping. He suggested that they were necessary because some of the bodies listed by my hon. Friend the Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) might need to be added or removed. In fact, that is done by clause 3; this section deals not with bodies but with the information that they hold, and with whether it is exempt from the provisions in the Bill.
The Minister was unable to give examples of his concerns—concerns that we could consider, and either include in the Bill or not. He wants to have an undefined power to pass, with the help of a docile House of Commons, an order restricting the power of the citizen to gain access to information that he or she wants, and even to frustrate the will of the courts. Let us suppose that a court reached a decision with which a Minister did not agree. Where would we be if that Minister could not change the law immediately, in order to frustrate the will of the court?
887 I am not sure that that is acceptable. I could have accepted it if the Minister had proposed a review that would enable the Houses of Parliament to do their job properly in discussing amendments that must be made to allow a review of the classes of information that are exempt, but he has not done that; he wishes to persist with provisions that give him or his successors powers to make retrospective legislation. I cannot accept that, and I therefore wish to test the opinion of the House.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 156, Noes 319.890
|Division No. 142]||[8.33 pm|
|Allan, Richard||Hague, Rt Hon William|
|Amess, David||Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie|
|Ancram, Rt Hon Michael||Hammond, Philip|
|Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James||Harvey, Nick|
|Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy||Hawkins, Nick|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Heald, Oliver|
|Ballard, Jackie||Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)|
|Beggs, Roy||Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David|
|Beith, Rt Hon A J||Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Bell, Martin (Tatton)||Horam, John|
|Bercow, John||Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)|
|Body, Sir Richard||Hunter, Andrew|
|Boswell, Tim||Jenkin, Bernard|
|Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)||Keetch, Paul|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia||Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness W)|
|Brand, Dr Peter||Key, Robert|
|Brazier, Julian||Kirkbride, Miss Julie|
|Breed, Colin||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Laing, Mrs Eleanor|
|Browning, Mrs Angela||Lait, Mrs Jacqui|
|Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)||Leigh, Edward|
|Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)||Letwin, Oliver|
|Burnett, John||Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)|
|Burstow, Paul||Lidington, David|
|Butterfill, John||Lilley, Rt Hon Peter|
|Chope, Christopher||Livsey, Richard|
|Clappison, James||Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)|
|Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey||Llwyd, Elfyn|
|Collins, Tim||Loughton, Tim|
|Cotter, Brian||Luff, Peter|
|Cran, James||Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas|
|Davey, Edward (Kingston)||MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew|
|Davies, Quentin (Grantham)||Maclean, Rt Hon David|
|Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)||Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert|
|Day, Stephen||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen||Madel, Sir David|
|Duncan, Alan||Malins, Humfrey|
|Duncan Smith, Iain||Maples, John|
|Evans, Nigel||Mates, Michael|
|Faber, David||Maude, Rt Hon Francis|
|Fabrteant, Michael||May, Mrs Theresa|
|Fallon, Michael||Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)|
|Fearn, Ronnie||Moore, Michael|
|Flight, Howard||Moss, Malcolm|
|Forth, Rt Hon Eric||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Foster, Don (Bath)||Norman, Archie|
|Fox, Dr Liam||Oaten, Mark|
|Fraser, Christopher||O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)|
|Gale, Roger||Öpik, Lembit|
|Garnier, Edward||Ottaway, Richard|
|George, Andrew (St Ives)||Page, Richard|
|Gibb, Nick||Paice, James|
|Gillan, Mrs Cheryl||Pickles, Eric|
|Gray, James||Portillo, Rt Hon Michael|
|Green, Damian||Prior, David|
|Grieve, Dominic||Randall, John|
|Gummer, Rt Hon John||Redwood, Rt Hon John|
|Robathan, Andrew||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Robertson, Laurence||Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)|
|Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)||Taylor, John M (Solihull)|
|Ruffley, David||Taylor, Matthew (Truro)|
|Russell, Bob (Colchester)||Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)|
|St Aubyn, Nick||Tredinnick, David|
|Sanders, Adrian||Trend, Michael|
|Sayeed, Jonathan||Tyler, Paul|
|Shepherd, Richard||Tyrie, Andrew|
|Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)||Wardle, Charles|
|Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)||Waterson, Nigel|
|Soames, Nicholas||Webb, Steve|
|Spelman, Mrs Caroline||Whitney, Sir Raymond|
|Spicer, Sir Michael||Whittingdale, John|
|Spring, Richard||Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)|
|Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John||Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)|
|Steen, Anthony||Young, Rt Hon Sir George|
|Stunell, Andrew||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Swayne, Desmond||Sir Robert Smith and|
|Syms, Robert||Mr. Tom Brake.|
|Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)||Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)|
|Ainger, Nick||Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)|
|Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)|
|Alexander, Douglas||Clark, Paul (Gillingham)|
|Allen, Graham||Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)|
|Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)||Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)|
|Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary||Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)|
|Ashton, Joe||Clelland, David|
|Atherton, Ms Candy||Coaker, Vernon|
|Austin, John||Coffey, Ms Ann|
|Banks, Tony||Cohen, Harry|
|Barnes, Harry||Coleman, Iain|
|Barron, Kevin||Colman, Tony|
|Bayley, Hugh||Connarty, Michael|
|Beard, Nigel||Cook, Frank (Stockton N)|
|Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret||Cooper, Yvette|
|Begg, Miss Anne||Cousins, Jim|
|Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)||Cranston, Ross|
|Benton, Joe||Crausby, David|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)|
|Berry, Roger||Dalyell, Tam|
|Best, Harold||Darling, Rt Hon Alistair|
|Betts, Clive||Darvill, Keith|
|Blackman, Liz||Davidson, Ian|
|Blears, Ms Hazel||Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)|
|Blizzard, Bob||Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)|
|Blunkett, Rt Hon David||Dawson, Hilton|
|Boateng, Rt Hon Paul||Dean, Mrs Janet|
|Bradley, Keith (Withington)||Denham, John|
|Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)||Dismore, Andrew|
|Bradshaw, Ben||Dobbin, Jim|
|Brinton, Mrs Helen||Donohoe, Brian H|
|Brown, Rt Hon Gordon (Dunfermline E)||Doran, Frank|
|Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)|
|Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)||Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)|
|Browne, Desmond||Edwards, Huw|
|Buck, Ms Karen||Efford, Clive|
|Burden, Richard||Ennis, Jeff|
|Burgon, Colin||Field, Rt Hon Frank|
|Byers, Rt Hon Stephen||Fitzpatrick, Jim|
|Caborn, Rt Hon Richard||Fitzsimons, Lorna|
|Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)||Flint, Caroline|
|Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)||Follett, Barbara|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Foster, Rt Hon Derek|
|Caplin, Ivor||Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)|
|Casale, Roger||Foster, Michael J (Worcester)|
|Caton, Martin||Foulkes, George|
|Cawsey, Ian||Galbraith, Sam|
|Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)||Galloway, George|
|Chaytor, David||Gardiner, Barry|
|Church, Ms Judith||Gerrard, Neil|
|Clapham, Michael||Gilroy, Mrs Linda|
|Godman, Dr Norman A||Macdonald, Calum|
|Godsiff, Roger||McFall, John|
|Goggins, Paul||McGuire, Mrs Anne|
|Golding, Mrs Llin||McIsaac, Shona|
|Gordon, Mrs Eileen||McKenna, Mrs Rosemary|
|Grant, Bernie||McLeish, Henry|
|Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)||McNulty, Tony|
|Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)||MacShane, Denis|
|Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)||Mactaggart, Fiona|
|Grocott, Bruce||McWilliam, John|
|Grogan, John||Mallaber, Judy|
|Gunnell, John||Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)|
|Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)||Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)|
|Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)||Martlew, Eric|
|Hanson, David||Maxton, John|
|Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet||Merron, Gillian|
|Heal, Mrs Sylvia||Michael, Rt Hon Alun|
|Healey, John||Milburn, Rt Hon Alan|
|Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)||Miller, Andrew|
|Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)||Moffatt, Laura|
|Heppell, John||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Hesford, Stephen||Moran, Ms Margaret|
|Hill, Keith||Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)|
|Hinchliffe, David||Morley, Elliot|
|Hodge, Ms Margaret||Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)|
|Home Robertson, John||Mountford, Kali|
|Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey||Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie|
|Hope, Phil||Mudie, George|
|Howarth, Alan (Newport E)||Mullin, Chris|
|Howarth, George (Knowsley N)||Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)|
|Howells, Dr Kim||Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)|
|Hoyle, Lindsay||Naysmith, Dr Doug|
|Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)||Norris, Dan|
|Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)||O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)|
|Humble, Mrs Joan||O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)|
|Hurst, Alan||Olner, Bill|
|Hutton, John||O'Neill, Martin|
|Iddon, Dr Brian||Organ, Mrs Diana|
|Illsley, Eric||Osborne, Ms Sandra|
|Ingram, Rt Hon Adam||Palmer, Dr Nick|
|Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)||Pearson, Ian|
|Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)||Perham, Ms Linda|
|Jamieson, David||Pickthall, Colin|
|Jenkins, Brian||Pike, Peter L|
|Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)||Plaskitt, James|
|Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)||Pollard, Kerry|
|Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)||Pound, Stephen|
|Jones, Helen (Warrington N)||Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)|
|Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)||Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)|
|Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa||Primarolo, Dawn|
|Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Prosser, Gwyn|
|Keeble, Ms Sally||Purchase, Ken|
|Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)||Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce|
|Kemp, Fraser||Quinn, Lawrie|
|Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)||Radice, Rt Hon Giles|
|Khabra, Piara S||Rammell, Bill|
|Kidney, David||Raynsford, Nick|
|Kilfoyle, Peter||Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)|
|King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)||Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)|
|King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)||Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)|
|Laxton, Bob||Roche, Mrs Barbara|
|Lepper, David||Rogers, Allan|
|Leslie, Christopher||Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff|
|Levitt, Tom||Rooney, Terry|
|Lewis, Terry (Worsley)||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen||Rowlands, Ted|
|Linton, Martin||Roy, Frank|
|Lock, David||Ruane, Chris|
|Love, Andrew||Ruddock, Joan|
|McAvoy, Thomas||Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)|
|McCabe, Steve||Ryan, Ms Joan|
|McCartney, Rt Hon Ian (Makerfield)||Salter, Martin|
|McDonagh, Siobhain||Sawford, Phil|
|Sedgemore, Brian||Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)|
|Shaw, Jonathan||Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)|
|Shipley, Ms Debra||Timms, Stephen|
|Short, Rt Hon Clare||Tipping, Paddy|
|Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)||Todd, Mark|
|Singh, Marsha||Touhig, Don|
|Skinner, Dennis||Trickett, Jon|
|Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)||Truswell, Paul|
|Smith, Angela (Basildon)||Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)|
|Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)||Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)|
|Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)||Turner, Neil (Wigan)|
|Twigg, Derek (Halton)|
|Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)||Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)|
|Smith, John (Glamorgan)||Vaz, Keith|
|Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)||Walley, Ms Joan|
|Snape, Peter||Ward, Ms Claire|
|Soley, Clive||Wareing, Robert N|
|Southworth, Ms Helen||Watts, David|
|Spellar, John||White, Brian|
|Squire, Ms Rachel||Whitehead, Dr Alan|
|Starkey, Dr Phyllis||Wicks, Malcolm|
|Steinberg, Gerry||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)|
|Stevenson, George||Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)|
|Stewart, David (Inverness E)||Williams Mrs Betty (Conwy)|
|Stewart, Ian (Eccles)||Wills, Michael|
|Stinchcombe, Paul||Winnick, David|
|Stoate, Dr Howard||Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)|
|Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin||Wood, Mike|
|Straw, Rt Hon Jack||Woodward, Shaun|
|Stringer, Graham||Woolas, Phil|
|Stuart, Ms Gisela||Worthington, Tony|
|Sutcliffe, Gerry||Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)|
|Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)||Wyatt, Derek|
|Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Taylor, David (NW Leics)||Mr. Jim Dowd and|
|Temple-Morris, Peter||Mr. Greg Pope.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.