§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Jack Straw)
I beg to move,That the following provisions shall apply to the remaining proceedings on the Criminal Justice (Mode of Trial) (No. 2) Bill—
§ 1. Proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading of the Criminal Justice (Mode of Trial) (No. 2) Bill shall be completed at today's sitting and shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion five hours after the commencement of proceedings on this Motion.
§ Questions to be put
§ 2.—(l) This paragraph applies for the purpose of bringing proceedings on the Bill to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph 1.
§ (2) The Speaker shall put forthwith the following Questions (but no others)—
- (a)any Question already proposed from the Chair;
- (b)any Question necessary to bring to a decision a Question so proposed;
- (c)the Question on any amendment moved or Motion made by a Minister of the Crown;
- (d)any other Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded.
§ (3) On a Motion made for a new Clause or Schedule, the Speaker shall put only the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.
§ (4) If two or more Questions would otherwise fall to be put under sub-paragraph (2)(c) on amendments moved or Motions made by a Minister of the Crown, the Speaker shall instead put a single Question in relation to those amendments or Motions.
§ 3. Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply at today's sitting to proceedings to which this Order applies.
§ 4. Proceeding to which this Order applies shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.
§ 5. No Motion shall be made to alter the order in which proceedings on the Bill are taken or to recommit the Bill.
§ 6. No dilatory Motion shall be made in relation to the Bill except by a Minister of the Crown; and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.
§ 7.—(1) This paragraph applies if—
- (a) a Motion for the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No.24 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) has been stood over to Seven o'clock; and
- (b) proceedings on this Motion have begun before then.
§ (2) The bringing to a conclusion of any proceedings which, under this Order, are to be brought to a conclusion after that time, shall be postponed for a period equal to the duration of the proceedings on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.
§ 8.Standing Order No. 82 (Business Committee) shall not apply to the Bill.
§ Supplemental orders
§ 9.The proceedings on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown for varying or supplementing the provisions of this 939 Order shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion one hour after they have been commenced; and Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply to those proceedings.
§ 10.If at today's sitting the House is adjourned, or the sitting is suspended. before the expiry of the period at the end of which any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under this Order, no notice shall be required of a Motion made at the next sitting by a Minister of the Crown for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order.
§ As hon. Members will recognise from the normal form of this allocation of time motion, it proposes that there should be a total, including debate on the guillotine itself, of five hours of debate on Report and Third Reading of this short but important Bill.
§ Guillotines are used by Governments of both parties. They are a regrettable necessity, but sometimes inevitable. Their use depends on the degree of contention of the Bill and whether agreement with the Opposition can be sought. It must however be added—history shows this to be so—that although Conservative Governments have certainly until now always enjoyed an in-built majority in the other place, a Labour Government, whatever their majority in this elected House, have never done so. The consequence, as statistics show, is that the number of occasions on which Government business is defeated in the other place is always much higher than it is here. Indeed, these proceedings would not be necessary had the Criminal Justice (Mode of Trial) (No. 1) Bill been allowed to proceed to this elected House, for us to debate it in the proper way.
§ Mr. Straw
I shall give way to the hon. and learned Gentleman in due course.
I said a moment ago that the criterion for determining whether Bills should be the subject of guillotine motions used to be almost exclusively contention. This is a contentious Bill—I am the first to concede that—but it must be accepted that, these days, the Opposition are so disorganised that they cannot even deliver on Bills that have the full support of the Opposition Front-Bench team.
The very best example that I can quote, of a huge number, is the Disqualifications Bill, which was before the House in late January. The right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) said that she would give the Bill a fair passage. So chaotic were the Opposition's tactics that, far from doing so, they talked the Bill through on the Monday night, the Tuesday night and on the Wednesday, thereby shooting their feet off in ensuring that Prime Minister's Question Time and, I understand, Opposition Days and other business that they wanted could not proceed.
We saw the same with the Football (Disorder) Bill, which apparently has the full support of Opposition parties. The Leader of the Opposition said in a speech outside the House that he and his party would support "any moves" to control football hooliganism, yet owing to the inability of the Opposition Front-Bench team to deliver its own Members, we had to introduce a guillotine in this House to get the Bill through.
If any further proof were needed of the incapacity of the Conservative Front-Bench team to ensure that its Members are in order, I draw attention to its extraordinary performance just now in putting up Tellers against a series of orders, which has wasted more than an hour of the 940 House's time. I cannot believe that Conservative Front Benchers would have voted against those orders had they read them.
For example, the Conservative Front Benchers voted against motion No. 4, concerning the local government finance special grant report in respect of Kosovan evacuees. Had they succeeded in defeating the motion—we shall not let them forget this—Conservative as well as Labour local authorities would have been denied grant aid from central Government in support of Kosovan evacuees. So petty is the Conservatives' approach that they even voted to deny the Data Protection Commissioner a salary, as on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham)
The Home Secretary has been justifying the guillotine motion on the basis of the Opposition's tactics. He is of course aware of the reasoned amendment to Third Reading that has been signed by 18 of his Back Benchers. Perhaps the truth is that the guillotine motion is to prevent his Back Benchers from articulating their opposition to the Bill.
§ Mr. Straw
That is utter nonsense. The debate will show that there is no suggestion or possibility that those who take a different view on this issue, whether on the right hon. and learned Gentleman's side of the House or mine, should not express their point of view.
What makes most synthetic the Opposition's demand for more time is the fact that they could not find sufficient matters to debate in Standing Committee.
§ Mr. Straw
I make an honourable exception of the hon. Gentleman. This great issue that the Opposition have raised could take up only four Committee sittings, and the Bill reported by agreement without ever a closure motion being moved. So the idea that there is now insufficient time to debate the issue—we have five hours altogether—is frankly fanciful.
§ Mr. Malins
The Home Secretary will be aware that there are four groups of amendments and that each is led by one that I have tabled. What evidence does he have that I would choose to filibuster, knowing as he does that all I have ever sought is to debate briefly and to the point? What does he have to say against me?
§ Mr. Straw
I made an honourable exception of the hon. Gentleman, in respect of whom I have no such evidence. However, I need only look at Hansard for 24 to 26 January to find evidence of the capacity of others among his erstwhile hon. Friends—including the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), who smilingly pleads guilty to the charge—to filibuster even matters that Opposition Front Benchers support.
§ Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)
I was a member of the Standing Committee. I cannot understand why the Home Secretary, with one breath, asserts that we will filibuster, but, with the next, says that those who were members of the Standing Committee were prepared to engage in serious debates, in which the former Attorney-General and others spoke, without filibustering. How can 941 the Home Secretary justify—to his hon. Friends, if not to us—restricting to an hour and three quarters debate on a matter as important as abolishing jury trial?
§ Mr. Straw
The hon. Gentleman makes my point that there has already been adequate discussion as far as the Opposition are concerned. However, having read the report of the Standing Committee, I know that he almost reached the point at which he agreed with the terms of the Bill. I am glad to know that he was persuaded by the eloquence of the Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke).
The hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Malins) makes my second point for me by pointing out that, although there are four groups of amendments to the Bill, encompassing 14 amendments selected by Madam Speaker, not one of the lead amendments has been tabled by the official Opposition Front-Bench team. There has never been such an incompetent Opposition—they are incompetent even by their own standards. We have moved the timetable motion because we know of the capacity of the current Opposition to attempt to talk out even measures with which they agree. They are complaining that there is insufficient time, so we should attempt to deal with the guillotine motion as quickly as possible so that we can get on to the amendments and Third Reading.
The Bill is not about abolishing the right to a jury trial, and I am flattered that the Opposition feel the need to parody and distort our proposal in order to oppose it. It is about following the practice of every other common law jurisdiction that we can find, which ensures that decisions on which sort of court should try cases should be made judicially by the court, not at the election of individual defendants. I remind the House that such proposals have been the subject of serious discussion for at least seven years. The royal commission report published in 1993 recommended:We do not think that defendants should be able to choose their court of trial solely on the basis that they think they will get a fairer hearing at one level or another. Nor in our view should defendants be entitled to choose the mode of trial which they think will offer them a better chance of acquittal any more than they should be able to choose the judge who they think will offer them the most lenient sentence.In a landmark speech on 21 July 1999, the Lord Chief Justice said to the judges assembled for the annual Mansion House dinner:In matters of most momentous criminal concern this right—that is, the right to jury trial—must at least in general be preserved, but it would be absurd to grant a right to jury trial in all cases, however trivial, and those who here in the City drafted the terms of Magna Carta would be surprised to find that intention attributed to them. In cases triable either summarily or by judge and jury I would at present in this country be very reluctant to accord the prosecutor an absolute right to choose the mode of trial, as is done in Scotland.
§ Mr. Swayne
It is, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Home Secretary's remarks are all very interesting, but what do they have to do with the timetable motion?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I knew that the hon. Gentleman did not have a point of order for me. The Home Secretary is in order.
§ Mr. Straw
I shall bring my remarks to a close as soon as I am able to do so. My point is that the matter has been the subject of considerable discussion both inside and outside Parliament for some time.
The Lord Chief Justice continued:But equally it seems to me objectionable to accord such an absolute right to the defendant, on whose list of priorities the reaching of a just and expeditious decision may not rank very highly. This is a judicial decision properly to be made by the magistrates court on consideration of all the relevant circumstances, but I think it vital, as the Government has happily accepted, that such decisions should be susceptible to immediate challenge to a Crown court judge to ensure that such questions are carefully and objectively considered with due regard to the perceptions of those who may regard themselves as vulnerable, and to provide redress against the occasional aberrant decision, should such be made.
§ Mr. Robert Marshall-Andrews (Medway)
Does my right hon. Friend accept that, when the Lord Chief Justice made those remarks, he was speaking in favour of the No. 1 Bill, not the current Bill; that when he talked about magistrates properly taking the decision, he knew perfectly well that there had been put into the No. 1 Bill the reputation clause, which ensured that magistrates would have to take into account matters of reputation and livelihood; and that that clause does not appear in the No. 2 Bill? That is what the Lord Chief Justice was talking about and, since he made those remarks, he has made it manifestly clear that he has serious concerns about the new Bill. In the circumstances, does not my right hon. Friend agree that it is entirely inappropriate for him to pray in aid the Lord Chief Justice?
§ Mr. Straw
My hon. and learned Friend is wrong in every particular. The Lord Chief Justice was speaking at this time last year, some months before the No. I Bill was published, and he was talking at large about the general principle of whether or not mode of trial in either—way cases should be determined judicially or by the defendant.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. We cannot have hon. Members shouting across the Floor of the House. The Home Secretary is entitled to a hearing and he must be heard.
§ Mr. Straw
The one point of principle that the Lord Chief Justice, entirely properly, raised in discussions with me before the publication of the No. 1 Bill, to which he referred in his speech on the Second Reading of that Bill late last year—five months after making his speech at Mansion House—was whether or not, in contrast to the royal commission's recommendation, the mode of trial should be simply for decision by magistrates without any right of appeal, or whether there should be a right of appeal. We agreed between us that there should be a right of appeal to an experienced Crown court judge against a decision to refuse to transfer jurisdiction to the Crown court, and that provision was put into the No. 1 Bill.
§ Mr. Straw
I shall give way shortly, but I want to answer my hon. and learned Friend the Member for 943 Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews) first. I have put the correspondence between the Lord Chief Justice and myself before the House, or at least it will be available very shortly.
My hon. and learned Friend's claims are both inappropriate and disingenuous. There was indeed discussion between the Lord Chief Justice at the time and myself about changes that we proposed should be made in the No. 2 Bill. My hon. Friend the Minister of State and I have always said that our reason for making those changes was to achieve a balance. We made them because of concerns expressed in the other place about the No. 1 Bill and on Commons Second Reading of the No. 2 Bill that the inclusion of criteria relating to reputation could lead to two-tier justice.
I shall give an example of the sort of representations that were made on Second Reading. It was said thatthe reputation clause is repellent because it creates a two-tier system. We have all argued against that and everyone on the Government Back Benches would make common cause on that.—[Official Report, 7 March 2000; Vol. 345, c. 920.]Who said that? None other than my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Medway. We changed the No. 1 Bill criteria to the No. 2 Bill criteria because of representations made to us, including those of my hon. and learned Friend. I will not accept any of the suggestions that he has made outside the House, which are disingenuous and without any foundation, about whether I was forthcoming to the House when I spoke to it.
I shall deal with the exchange of correspondence with the Lord Chief Justice. When we were discussing the issue over preceding months, the Lord Chief Justice made it clear to me that he regarded the issue of whether there was a right of appeal as one of principle. That became clear when he spoke on Second Reading of the No.1 Bill in December. However, unlike the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Medway, he is in favour of the principle of having the mode of trial determined judicially. My hon. and learned Friend must accept that he opposes not only the position in the No. 2 Bill, which I adopt, but the criteria that the Lord Chief Justice supported. He opposes any suggestion that the right to elect jury trial should be transferred to the magistrates, with a right of appeal, rather than being left with the defendant, as it is now.
What happened? I wrote to the Lord Chief Justice on 21 February to explain our thinking, picking up on the representations that had been made. The Lord Chief Justice wrote to me on 22 February to say that many different things might be relevant in answering the question, which is where the matter may be tried. He wrote thatthere are dangers in excluding consideration of anything which is relevant in the given case.Towards the end, he wrote:I am uneasy at requiring decision makers to ignore matters which reasonable decision makers might wish to take into account.That was the Lord Chief Justice's position.
I considered in some detail what he had to say and wrote to him on 21 March, providing him with what I 944 thought was detailed reassurance, as right hon. and hon. Members will see, on the two cases that he had raised. I concluded:I am very grateful to you for your advice on this. I hope what I say above is reassuring to you. If it is not I would be happy to add this to the agenda of our forthcoming meeting on 6 April, and could ask Parliamentary Counsel to attend as well. Charles Clarke will be listening carefully to the debate in committee to see whether, within our overall purpose, the wording can be improved, and I will consult you if there are amendments we are minded to accept or put down ourselves.That was the position on 21 March 2000. As it happened, the meeting on 6 April could not take place. I did not receive any further response from the Lord Chief Justice, and on 18 April it was announced that he would become a senior Law Lord on the Judicial Committee and that Lord Woolf would take over from him on 6 June as Lord Chief Justice. There was never the least suggestion that I was not forthcoming on Second Reading. It will be seen also from the correspondence that the matter had not been closed when I spoke in the House. As with so many other issues of exchange between the Home Secretary and the Lord Chief Justice, we were hoping to reach an accommodation on the matter.
§ Sir Nicholas Lyell (North-East Bedfordshire)
The Home Secretary told the House that the Bill, which does not allow either reputation or general matters to be taken into account, enjoyed the active endorsement of the Lord Chief Justice. Yet we know from what he has told us now that a fortnight earlier he received a letter from the Lord Chief Justice expressing his serious unease. He knows that on 20 January, the Lord Chief Justice, in supporting the No. 1 Bill in Committee, said:I respectfully think that it is better to give magistrates and circuit judges a wide and almost undirected discretion.—[Official Report, House of Lords, 20 January 2000; Vol. 608, c. 1254.]The right hon. Gentleman has done exactly the opposite. Can he explain himself?
§ Mr. Straw
I shall be delighted to explain myself. I shall do so by reading out the whole of the opening two paragraphs of my speech on Second Reading. I said:The Bill is part of the Government's programme to modernise the criminal justice system and to improve public confidence in it. Its purpose is to make the system more responsive to the needs of victims, witnesses and the public at large—and defendants.I then said:The proposal—not the Bill—has been considered extensively in the past seven years.It is obvious from that that I was talking about the proposal that the mode of trial should be determined not by individual defendants, but by magistrates. I continued:In 1993. it—the proposal—received the unanimous backing of the royal commission on criminal justice. Today, it—the proposal—enjoys the active endorsement of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham, and of the vast majority—[Interruption]—[Official Report, 7 March 2000; Vol. 345, c. 886.]The proposal did and it does. If the only issue between the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire and my hon. and learned Friend the Member 945 for Medway, and myself is whether we put the reputation clause back into the Bill, we can do business. However, the simple—[Interruption.] That will not apply to my hon. and learned Friend because he opposed the reputation clause. One of the reasons why I was persuaded—
§ Mr. Straw
If the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire, the former Attorney-General, and the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and something else—I can never remember the name of his constituency, but I am sure that it is a very nice place and that he represents it properly—
§ Mr. Straw
With great respect, I will not give way. As I have said, I wish to conclude my remarks.
Those who oppose the Bill root and branch should have the courage to say that they oppose it in whatever form it exists. They should say that they disagree with the fundamental argument that was advanced by the royal commission. The argument about reputation and livelihood was a subsidiary one, as anyone can see. They disagree also with the fundamental argument which was advanced by the Lord Chief Justice, at large, well before either of the Bills was published, on 21 July. That is the issue—
§ Mr. Straw
No. I am about to conclude.
946 That is the issue before us. It is my judgment that there is quite sufficient time to debate the central issue this afternoon. It is a matter of record that the Opposition have been so hopeless that they could not find one constructive amendment to table that Madam Speaker could have chosen as a lead amendment for debate. Moreover, they could not fill the time in Committee for more than four sittings.
The guillotine motion is regrettable, but it is necessary because of the Opposition's failure to organise themselves so that we can do business instead of having endless and unnecessary votes. I recommend the motion to the House.
§ Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Home Secretary suggested that there was something inappropriate in the failure of one of the official Opposition's amendments to be selected first in the group. Can you confirm that the order of amendments selected corresponds to the order of the text of the Bill, as drafted by the Government, and does not reflect any judgment by Madam Speaker on the Opposition amendments selected for debate?
§ Mr. Hogg
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I apologise for rising to make a second point of order, but the Home Secretary said something rather important: that if the reputation clause were put back, it is possible that he could do business. It may be that the House is approaching a compromise. May I suggest that the proper way forward is to adjourn these proceedings so that the Home Secretary can have consultations with those on the Opposition Front Bench, to see whether a deal is possible?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
We are considering the guillotine motion, and we are now eating into the time for its consideration. It would be inappropriate for the House to be adjourned or suspended.
§ Mr. Alun Michael (Cardiff, South and Penarth)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Would it not be entirely inappropriate to adjourn the House in the casual way suggested by the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg), when the amendment removing the reputation clause meets points made in the other place and concerns expressed that consideration of the matter may be inappropriate—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. Those are matters for debate. It may be that the right hon. Gentleman can catch my eye and raise such matters.
§ Mr. Malins
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Having heard the Home Secretary say in relation to the reputation clause that we can do business, I seek your guidance. My amendment No. 6 deals precisely with that point, taking into account the circumstances of the accused. Does that mean that I must speak to the amendment later in the debate, or will the Home Secretary accept it?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
What the Home Secretary said was a matter for debate. It is up to the hon. Gentleman and others to make their case and, perhaps, to ask the Home Secretary for certain assurances.
§ Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough)
I beg to move, as an amendment to the motion, in paragraph 1, leave out "five" and insert "eight".
The past half hour or more has demonstrated that the Government have no idea what they are doing with the Bill or the timetable motion. A number of arguments—I use the term advisedly—were advanced by the Home Secretary in support of his timetable motion.
First, the right hon. Gentleman said that the defeat of the Bill in the other place was the reason for the timetable motion today. The first Bill never got to this House. It started in the other place and was defeated there, and the timetabling arrangements in this House for this second Bill have nothing whatever to do with the progress of a Bill in another place. If the Government cannot get their act together in another place, that is their look-out. If they must rely on a guillotine in the last week of the parliamentary year to get this Bill through, that also is entirely their own fault.
The second point to which the Home Secretary clung was that the Disqualifications Bill had been stopped in the Lords. Again, so what? I understand that the Disqualifications Bill has not been stopped. It is in the House of Lords and, if the Government want it to do so, it will go through the normal debating procedures. If they do not wish the Bill to be discussed in the other place, as appears to be the case, that is presumably why they have not brought it before a Committee or the full House in the other place. Again, that has nothing to do with the progress of the present Bill in this House.
Slipping a little further off his life raft, the Home Secretary attempted to argue that support for the Football (Disorder) Bill had been given unequivocally by the Leader of the Opposition. My right hon. Friend gave no such thing. He was speaking in principle about football hooliganism and how we all agree, on both sides of the House, that we do not approve of it. He said that if a Bill were produced which met our approval, it would receive our approval. The Leader of the Opposition in no way gave the Home Secretary or that shambles on the Government Benches a blank cheque.
§ Sir Nicholas Lyell
Is it not also the case that the Football (Disorder) Bill contained a series of flaws which were contrary to the European convention and required putting right, and that we tabled amendments to put the Bill right which the Home Secretary accepted?
§ Mr. Garnier
Yes. I do not attack the Home Secretary for being wholly unreasonable all the time. He sensibly took the advice of my right hon. and learned Friend during the remaining stages of that Bill in this House. However, the right hon. Gentleman cannot blame the Leader of the Opposition for the problem that the Government face with this Bill in the last week of the parliamentary year.
§ Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset)
My hon. and learned Friend will have noticed both that the Home Secretary would not give way to me, and his strange argument that the timetable motion was necessary for this Bill, although there are three Bills on the Order Paper. The timetable motion applies only to the Bill that is opposed by 948 Government Back Benchers. The other two Bills have no allocation of time motion. It is thus completely spurious to blame the Opposition for delaying matters.
§ Mr. Garnier
I do not always know whether the Home Secretary is waving or simply drowning. He is in enough trouble without having to take interventions from my hon. Friend.
The Home Secretary finally lost sight of the horizon when he tried to rely on the Lord Chief Justice. The hon. and learned Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews) has done the House and the debate on the Bill a great service by drawing to the attention of the public the correspondence which has, at this late stage, been provided to us by the Home Secretary. It is a pity that the right hon. Gentleman did not feel it appropriate to give us copies of the correspondence rather earlier in the day.
A close look at the correspondence demonstrates that the interpretation that the Home Secretary now wants to place on it does not accord with the thrust of the text. I dare say that the hon. and learned Member for Medway will draw our attention in some detail, in this debate or after the guillotine debate, to some of the more salient points in it.
The Lord Chief Justice does not support the Bill. The Home Secretary said at column 886 on 7 March:Today, it enjoys the active endorsement of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham.When he seeks to persuade us that that referred to the proposal, he does himself less than justice. If one reads the entire paragraph, one can see quite clearly that the sense that the Home Secretary attempted to give to the endorsement of the Lord Chief Justice was intended to give the House the impression that the noble and learned Lord supported the Bill.
The entire paragraph states:Today, it enjoys the active endorsement of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham, and of the vast majority of the High Court Bench of nearly 100 senior judges; of the Magistrates Association, representing 30,000 justices of the peace; and of all three police associations, representing more than 125,000 police officers, each of whom has to deal every day with the victims of crime and its perpetrators and who know that justice is not served, either for victim or defendant, by an antiquated and time—wasting procedure, which the Bill seeks to remedy.—[Official Report, 17 March 2000; Vol. 345, c. 886]
The paragraph was getting towards persuading the House on Second Reading that the Lord Chief Justice gave his unreserved and unequivocal support to the No. 2 Bill. We all know—and if we did not already know, the correspondence demonstrates—that the Home Secretary did not have the support that he thought he could persuade us he did have from the Lord Chief Justice.
We also happen to know that the Home Secretary is keen on the Bill for reasons quite other than those given to the House on that occasion or on this. On 26 February 1997, at a criminal justice system planning event held in St Martins lane in London, the right hon. Gentleman said:I was not sure for a long time but I have finally decided to remove the right of election for jury trial in either way cases and the reason is that I do not want defendants choosing jury trial to argue Human Rights Act points after the Act comes into force in October.
§ Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)
Although appendix 4 to the 1997 criminal statistics for England and Wales is helpful, is my hon. and learned Friend aware that 949 there are currently no readily available lists of offences triable summarily and triable either way; and is it not important that there should be adequate time in this debate for it to be explained to the House why that is so?
§ Mr. Garnier
I am sure that I can, if given a moment or two, provide my hon. Friend, who I know takes a huge interest in criminal justice, with a list of those offences which fall into the categories that he mentions. The Home Secretary probably has one in his back pocket. But if I may, I shall now come on to the arguments against this rather base motion.
The Opposition's amendment substitutes the word "eight" for "five" in paragraph 1, but even that is inadequate for the discussions that we should be having on the Bill. However, given the Home Secretary's approach to the guillotine motion, we shall have only one and three quarter hours to discuss the Bill's substance, if that. I hope that the other place will take that into account when it comes to consider it.
§ Mr. Leigh
The key amendment is No. 6, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Malins), which it is possible will not be reached. The Home Secretary said earlier that I was a member of the Committee and came close to supporting the Bill, but I will support it only if the point about reputation is dealt with. How does my hon. Friend think that we can proceed on that matter? Is he prepared to have discussions with the Government? This is a serious matter and we must find a way to debate properly the issue of the defendant's reputation being considered by the magistrates.
§ Mr. Garnier
If the Home Secretary is genuine in his intentions towards the Bill and in his claim to be putting a respectable Bill on the statute book, it is up to him to make the advances. This is his Bill, his Government, and his Government's time in which we are debating the Bill, and it is up to him and his team to ensure that the appropriate moves are made. I cannot negotiate with him across the Dispatch Box.
§ Dr. Nick Palmer (Broxtowe)
It appears from the hon. and learned Gentleman's remarks that he expects the debate on the timetable motion to run for three hours, as he says that there will be only one and three quarter hours for the substantive debate, so it is apparent from his and his colleagues' interventions that they are attempting to spin out time. Is that because they feel uneasy about grappling with the substantive issues, and perhaps hope not to reach the later amendments?
§ Mr. Garnier
For a man of the hon. Gentleman's intelligence, that was an unworthy and rather silly intervention, with which I shall not condescend to deal.
I should declare an interest which I declared on Second Reading. It is that I am a member of the Bar, and have been for 24 years, and a Queen's Counsel for just over five years. I appeared before juries in a few criminal trials at the outset of my career in the late 1970s, and I have appeared before a good many juries in civil defamation actions since. I am a recorder of the Crown court and have tried a good many criminal cases. I have directed juries in criminal trials on the law, and I have summed up the evidence to them. Like a number of hon. Members, I have direct and long-standing experience of the jury system. 950 I am sure that, if the Home Secretary has appeared before a jury in any capacity, he would have told us, even though he is a member of the Bar. The Minister of State, the right hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng), is a member of the Bar and used to practise in the criminal courts, but he does not have the conduct of the Bill. I also appreciate that another Minister of State, the hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke), told the Committee that he had appeared on his own behalf before Lord Devlin, but that was not before a jury.
§ Mr. Garnier
Not for the moment.
Second Reading took place on 7 March 2000. The Government suffered a humiliating defeat in Committee on the first Criminal Justice (Mode of Trial) Bill. It was mauled by Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Cross-Benchers, Bishops and Labour peers. I watched that debate from the Bar of the House of Lords. The Attorney-General made a good speech. He is an accomplished advocate with a sweet tongue, but even his powers of advocacy were insufficient to persuade the other place. Many noble Lords no doubt remember the Attorney-General's vehement opposition to the proposals in that Bill when he wrote and was interviewed on that subject in 1993.
The Government said that they would not let that defeat go unavenged. This Bill was introduced in the Commons. We were threatened that, if the House of Lords defeated the Bill after it had been through the Commons, it would become subject to the Parliament Act.
Clearly, the second Bill was to be a top priority. We see from the opening paragraph of the Home Secretary's Second Reading speech on 7 March thatThe Bill is part of the Government's programme to modernise the criminal justice system and to improve public confidence in it.— [Official Report, 7 March 2000; Vol. 345, c. 886.]If it was part of the Government's programme, one would have thought that they would move with some speed to push the Bill to the top of the list. But after Second Reading on 7 March—it passed with the lowest Second Reading majority in this Parliament—nothing happened until Tuesday 23 May, a delay of two and a half months.
The Standing Committee met on Tuesday 23 May between 10.30 and 11.25 am, on Thursday 25 May between 10.30 and 11.23 am, on Tuesday 6 June between 10.30 am and 1 pm and between 4.30 and 7.34 pm, so there was not a great deal of time wasting or filibustering; nor can the Opposition, of all parties, be criticised in any way for their handling of the Committee stage. There are no grounds for suggesting that, in Committee, the Opposition parties sought to delay the Bill unfairly, unnecessarily or improperly.
The Bill finally came before us in July, in this, the last week of the parliamentary term. Why was it not allowed to return to the House before now? There have been several days between the Committee stage and now when we have gone home early as a result of a light work load and when the Bill could easily have been debated. If the Government cannot manage to produce the business in the House on time and make good use of the available hours, it is no good their sneaking the timetable motion on to the Order Paper late last night.
§ Mr. Garnier
Of course they could, and the Home Secretary knows that, but he has not yet provided us with a reason for failing to do so.
§ Mr. Garnier
That may be so.
The real reason is that the Government feared that those Government Members who had principled objections to the Bill would cause trouble. There is no evidence of that, nor is there any evidence that any Opposition Member would cause trouble, yet last night, out of sheer terror and complete chaos, the Government tabled this motion to curtail time. Had the Government had even the slightest self-confidence in their arguments on the Bill, they would have advanced their case for it irrespective of the Opposition's arguments, either within the Government party or outside it. Even without that confidence, they might have had the decency to allow the Leader of the House at business questions last Thursday to alert us to the fact that time would be curtailed.
Although the measure is not a manifesto Bill, we know that the Government have the votes, if not the arguments, to get it through tonight. However, their guillotining of the Bill without prior reference to the need for a guillotine, let alone reference last week by the Leader of the House to Government anxieties about its likely progress, demonstrates a lack of confidence in its merits, and the fact that the Government care little for Parliament or the democratic process and even less for our constituents.
The second report of the Select Committee on Modernisation was published in July. Paragraph 5 on page v states:The basic requirements of a reformed system as identified in our First Report were:The Government of the day must be assured of getting its legislation through in reasonable time (provided that it obtains the approval of the House).The Opposition in particular and Members in general must have a full opportunity to discuss and seek to change provisions to which they attach importance.All parts of a bill must be properly considered.If the Government are as good as their word, why do not they accept that that could happen without a timetable motion? Despite the contents of the report, the Government have presented a half-baked and late timetable motion.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell) and I wrote to The Times at the weekend. Little did we know that the anxieties that we expressed in that letter, which was published today, would be so quickly realised. [Interruption.] I am sure that the noisy little fellow at the back will have read the letter. It stated:It is said that the Government is driving the Bill through without amendment, regardless of what one hopes will be the view of the House of Lords, in order that it may then use the Parliament Act to force it into law in the next session. How far away is tyranny?952 When we wrote that letter, we did not know that tyranny, in the shape of the timetable motion, was at the door. The Government have a great deal for which to answer on the substance of the Bill and on the timetable motion.
The Home Secretary tried to persuade us that the timetable motion was sad but inevitable. It is not. The Government have tabled numerous timetable motions to curtail debate. There have been 12 already this year, including four in July. The measures guillotined in July are: the Local Government (Lords) Bill, the Police (Northern Ireland) Bill, the Football (Disorder) Bill and the Criminal Justice (Mode of Trial) (No. 2) Bill. The Government guillotined those Bills because they cannot organise themselves properly to provide a timetable that fulfils the needs of the democratic process.
§ Mr. Garnier
If the Home Secretary wants to check the figures, he might care to look at page xxvii of the Modernisation Committee report. Annex C shows that the Government of my right hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major) tabled 17 timetable motions between 1991 and 1997. The Government have tabled 12 this year.
I suggest that we face a timetable motion today partly because of the allegations against the Home Secretary in The Guardian this morning. They relate to the questions that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) asked your predecessor in the Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker, a moment ago. The article states:The home secretary, Jack Straw, seriously misled the House of Commons and Tony Blair over the extent of support among senior judges for his revised plans to restrict a defendant's right of trial by jury, a Labour MP revealed last night.The article continues:Mr. Straw told the Commons second reading debate on March 7 that his plan "enjoys the active endorsement of the lord chief justice, Lord Bingham, and the vast majority of the high court bench of nearly 100 senior judges".Yet exactly a fortnight earlier Lord Bingham had expressed his "unease" to the home secretary in a private letter about the "dangers" of the legislation which was amended after being thrown out by the Lords.The article goes on:In a letter to Mr. Marshall-Andrews yesterday, the home secretary appeared to bluff it out, claiming that Lord Bingham still supports the change while admitting in the next sentence—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord)
Order. I am listening carefully to the hon. and learned Gentleman. I hope that he will now relate his remarks to the allocation of time.
§ Mr. Garnier
Of course, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The article said that the letter claimed that Lord Bingham continued to support the change,while admitting in the next sentence that the law lord will only back it if it includes a safeguard that Mr. Straw has specifically rejected.
This morning, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire and I received a letter from the Minister of State, Home Office, the hon. 953 Member for Norwich, South. It is dated 25 July. The letter is addressed to my right hon. and learned Friend and copied to me. The second page states:You also referred to the Prime Minister's reply to the question from David Lidington on 5 July. It seems to me that the Prime Minister was fully justified in his response. Both the Royal Commission and the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham, supported the principle that defendants should not be able to choose to be tried by a jury in cases which magistrates have indicated that they would be content to hear. Lord Bingham is still. I understand. of the opinion that the decision whether an either way case should be tried in the Crown Court or by magistrates should be made by magistrates (subject to appeal to a Crown Court judge) and not, as now, by the defendant. He is, however, firmly of the view that in making their decision—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that he would relate his remarks to the allocation of time. I should be grateful if he would do it fairly quickly.
§ Mr. Garnier
Unfortunately, you were not here during the early part of the discussions, Mr. Deputy Speaker—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. and learned Gentleman must not challenge the Chair, however moderately. I have heard sufficient while I have been in the Chair to advise him. I should be grateful if he would now relate his remarks to the allocation of time motion.
§ Mr. Garnier
Not all arguments can be compressed. The Home Secretary is keen for the amount of time during which we can debate the Bill to be curtailed to prevent the hon. and learned Member for Medway and the 18 or 19 of his supporters of the Third Reading amendment from having sufficient time to discuss the Bill. We are all here to argue against limiting to five hours discussion, not only on Report but on Third Reading, of a Bill of huge constitutional importance. If the Government cannot recognise a huge constitutional matter when it stares them in the face, we are in trouble. On behalf of our constituents, Members of Parliament, regardless of party, have a duty to complain about an overweening, arrogant and overreaching Government.
It will not do for the Government, through the Home Secretary or the Minister, to claim the support of the former Lord Chief Justice in speeches in the House or in correspondence when we know that such support is qualified. The final passage of the paragraph that I quoted from the Minister's letter brings home to us all the slippery ground on which the Home Secretary bases his case. It states:Lord Bingham is still, I understand, of the opinion that the decision whether an either way case should be tried in the Crown Court or by magistrates should be made by magistrates (subject to appeal to a Crown Court judge) and not, as now, by the defendant. He is, however, firmly of the view that in making their decision magistrates should be free to take into account all the circumstances of the case which they consider to be relevant. I believe that Professor Zander holds a similar view. The difficulty with giving the courts such a wide-ranging discretion is that it would create a perception that defendants would be treated differently on the basis of their social or economic standing in society.That goes to the heart of the amendment that the hon. and learned Member for Medway has tabled. The Government do not want that amendment to be debated because they 954 know that they do not have the support of the former Lord Chief Justice or of most right-thinking people in this country for the Bill.
§ Mr. Hogg
My hon. and learned Friend has referred to the constitutional aspects of the Bill. Before he sits down, will he also give us the benefit of his views on another matter? Is it not an outrage that the Bill will be guillotined partly on the backs of Scottish Members of Parliament, given that it will apply only to England and Wales and that Labour Members whose constituents have nothing at all to do with it will vote?
§ Mr. Garnier
My right hon. and learned Friend is entirely right and anticipates my next point. In the Scottish Daily Express of Friday 21 July, the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) was quoted as saying:It is constitutionally abhorrent that Scottish MPs should vote on a matter concerning fundamental civil liberties in England and Wales while Westminster MPs have no right to vote on such legislation affecting Scotland.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. First, there have been enough remarks from a sedentary position. Such matters can safely be left to the Chair. Secondly, the hon. and learned Gentleman is, yet again, drifting into a general debate, and I should be grateful to him if he returned to the allocation of time.
§ Mr. Garnier
I was coming precisely to that, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
Not only does page 2453 of the Order Paper contain an amendment tabled by the hon. and learned Member for Medway and several other Labour Members, but it contains an amendment tabled by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham. That amplifies and reflects the point made by the hon. Member for Linlithgow in the newspaper that I have quoted.
§ Mr. Garnier
I am not in the least surprised that the hon. Gentleman does; he is an honourable and principled man.
The less time we have to debate the Bill at the Government's behest, the less likely it is that the aspects of the Bill that involve the West Lothian question and its effect on English and Welsh justice can be discussed. This is a grubby little Bill, and this is an even grubbier little timetable motion. It appears to me that the Government are fonder of the guillotine than Robespierre. The Government motion allows three hours of guillotined debate, after which Government or Opposition Members will be allowed only an hour and a half or an hour and three quarters to deal with the substance of the Bill. There is absolutely no reason for the House of Lords to feel in the least inhibited when, in its turn, it debates the Bill. I invite my hon. and right hon. Friends to throw out the motion or, failing that, at least to support the Opposition amendment.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I remind the House that we are dealing with an amendment to leave out "five" and insert "eight" in paragraph 1 of the motion.
§ Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West)
I shall be brief, but I believe that some issues that directly affect the Bill have not been aired. One group of people who will suffer seriously as a result of the Bill has not been mentioned in either House during the consideration of it. I referred to that group in a letter that I sent my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary several weeks ago, but I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer.
Lord Devlin defined the precise purpose of juries as follows:A jury is an insurance that the criminal law will conform to the ordinary man's idea of what is fair and just. If it does not, the jury will not be a party to its enforcement.In the past 18 months, juries throughout the country have refused to convict defendants who are manifestly guilty. Precisely those cases will be treated as involving crimes covered by the Bill. They will be tried by judges who will conform to the letter of the law and to what Parliament has told them, and the people involved will find themselves treated unjustly.
I have given the Home Secretary a long list of those whom juries are refusing to convict. They include those who are seriously ill, many of whom are suffering from multiple sclerosis. Many of them are terminally ill and suffering, in the main, from cancer and the effects of chemotherapy and the nausea that it causes. That is no ordinary nausea; it destroys the will to live. However, they have supposedly committed the crime of using a medicine of their choice. If they had used any medicinal drug, it would have been okay. If they had used heroin, and £11 million of heroin is involved—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I should be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would direct his remarks to the allocation of time motion.
§ Mr. Flynn
The point that I wish to make is that we need more time to present those cases. I said that I would be brief, but I want to explain why I am unhappy about the motion. I want to bring the precise cases that are dealt with in later amendments to the attention of the House, because it is not aware of the individuals involved. Such people have been convicted by magistrates and judges, not by juries, who are doing precisely what Lord Devlin said. They have found that the law is not just or fair, and they are acting with the common sense of ordinary people in refusing to convict those who have used cannabis for their illnesses. If the Bill is passed, such people will not have the chance to go before a jury.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey)
This is the 12th Home Office Bill this year; there were nine in the Queen's Speech, but this is the 12th. We are protesting about the guillotine as well as the Bill, because everyone knows that the Bill was never trailed in the Government's manifesto. It was never part of their policy and their candidates did not stand on a platform of supporting it. Indeed, the Government opposed such proposals in the past. 956 The Government changed their mind, collectively, miraculously and all at once, having strongly held the opposite view, collectively, only a few months before.
The Government have determined the timetable. They chose to introduce the first reduced jury rights Bill in the House of Lords—no one else made that decision—but the House of Lords said no. I remind hon. Members that the House of Lords said no having just been recast in the form that the Government wanted. It was a House of Lords recast in the image of Blair, with a new disposition, most hereditary peers removed and smaller numbers. It was the new Labour House of Lords, the new, much less Opposition-dominated House of Lords, that said no. The Government chose where to introduce the Bill, and they chose the composition of the House in which they introduced it.
§ Mr. Hughes
No, I will not. I am trying to take less time than the Home Secretary, who took half an hour to fail to explain why the guillotine was necessary, or the Conservative Front-Bench spokesman, who also took half an hour. I may give way in a moment if the right hon. Gentleman waits his turn.
When the Government introduced the Bill in the House, their majority was almost halved; a significant number of Labour Members did not support it. Since then, the Government have chosen to take all the time between Second Reading—which, as the hon. and learned Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) said, was in March—and now before considering the Bill again. There was no delay in Committee. I served on the Committee; it had four sittings and its debates were perfectly proper. We debated what we needed to debate. The reason why there were no significant debates on the amendments was the core issue—that the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats opposed the principle of the Bill. We did not tinker around the edges; we debated the principles and the clauses.
Since the Committee reported, on 6 June, the Government have chosen not to debate the Bill until now. They have waited until the very last week of term. Why the urgency? Because the parliamentary year ends in three days? No. Because the parliamentary year ends next week? No. There is plenty of time before the end of the parliamentary year. The Government decide the holidays, and when this House and the Lords resume, so they are in charge of the timetable. Last night, the Government, and only the Government, tabled a guillotine motion for a Bill of significant constitutional importance. When they did so, Madam Speaker had provisionally selected only four groups of amendments. The effect of the guillotine will be that there will probably be only a brief debate on Third Reading, or none at all.
§ Mr. Michael
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way, but are not these speeches taking up time that would otherwise be available to the House to debate the amendments? Also, has he not noticed that there is no Government majority in another place? He is opposing 957 not the guillotine or debate on the amendments, but the sensible proposition that the decision on mode of trial should be left to magistrates, not defendants.
§ Mr. Hughes
The right hon. Gentleman's party tabled the guillotine, not us. That is why we are having the debate. We would happily debate the amendments, although we oppose the Bill, for reasons that I believe to be self-evident. He opposed a similar proposal in 1997, so I am surprised that he—
§ Mr. Michael
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Bill embodies a principle that I, as an experienced magistrate, have always supported.
§ Mr. Hughes
That is absolutely true. The Government did not have to make such provision, and time could have been allocated for the guillotine and for the substantive debates. They are curtailing debate, and must take responsibility for that.
Although some amendments tabled by us and by the Conservatives were not selected, we want to debate the issues as much as possible because we believe that the case for not passing the Bill into law is overwhelming. We happen to believe that the Government's guillotine steamroller will make it much less likely that the Bill will become law. Bizarrely and paradoxically, it is the other place that perpetually has to slow the Government down when they use their artificial majority in this place to push measures through against opinion elsewhere, however well informed.
The Home Secretary, I hope not intentionally, led us to believe that the Bill would not take away a right. However, although it will not end jury trial, the right to choose trial by jury in England and Wales for charges such as making threats to kill, assault, possession of offensive weapons, child abduction, burglary, theft, handling, indecent assault, indecency between males, unlawful sexual intercourse with girls under 16, cruelty to children and violent disorder will be removed. If those are not important matters, on which people might want to choose who should try them, I do not know what important matters are.
The Government have never said that jury trial is not a good form of trial. On the contrary, they want to keep it for other offences.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman, too, is straying from the allocation of time motion. I should be grateful if he returned to it.
§ Mr. Hughes
I shall try to be very good and not stray from the motion.
958 My proposition is that the Government have no justification for guillotining debate on the Bill. What in the Home Secretary's remarks was new? Nothing. What new evidence is there for putting the Bill on the statute book quickly? None. Is the right to trial by jury more widely abused than before? No. The evidence is in the other direction. Fewer people than before elect to go to the Crown court. Fewer people than before who go to Crown court "get off'. Has the guillotine been tabled because we need to respond urgently to a royal commission? No, because the royal commission report was published in 1993. The Labour party described it as short-sighted then, and did not think it necessary to respond to it, either between 1993 and 1997 or between 1997 and 2000. Do we urgently need to respond to the Narey report? No. The report was published in 1997, before the election. The Labour party in opposition disagreed with it and said that its recommendations were wrong.
§ Mr. Hughes
All Government Members, including the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth, upheld the present position—the right to choose jury trial—at the election.
Do we urgently need to act because a past Lord Chief Justice or the new Lord Chief Justice has told the Government, "You urgently need to act." Not at all. Senior members of the judiciary have been asked their views, but have not proposed any initiatives. Much more importantly, do we urgently need to respond because an independent review of the law has just been undertaken? No. The Government asked Lord Justice Auld to carry out an independent review, and he has started work and produced a non-exhaustive list of issues on which he is basing that review. He is reviewing this question on behalf of the Government right now:If jury trial is to be retained for "either-way" cases, who is to determine whether the matter shall go to the jury and by reference to what criterion or criteria? If the main criterion is to be the seriousness of the charge, is there a case for changing the present level of seriousness? Should all cases destined for trial by jury start in the Crown court?Such questions are being asked of the judge who is currently carrying out the review. On 5 May, he produced his progress report to Ministers about which questions he is focusing on, including the simple question:Who should decide where a case is to be tried.The person who has been asked to produce a report has not reported, yet the Government are legislating before receiving the evidence. That represents bad legislation, bad timetabling and a bad argument for speedily moving in that direction.
§ Mr. David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Has not the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) wandered even further from the point than the two previous speakers, who were rightly called to order?
§ Mr. Hughes
I am grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
959 All the arguments for haste, urgency and the guillotine motion are contradicted by the facts. Any urgency that there might have been when the Government introduced the Bill at the beginning of the year has lessened. The plea before venue initiative, which requires a plea to be made before the venue is decided, has reduced the number of people who change their plea. Disincentives to changing a plea late—removing the sentence discount, for example—have been introduced. With every month that has passed since the Bill was introduced, those measures have meant that fewer people have changed their plea late.
What is the reason for the urgency? Are the Government desperately short of public money, so that they have to make savings? Even if the measure will achieve a saving, that argument falls. Last week the Chancellor said that he had £43 billion of public money and handed it out left, right and centre like Father Bountiful. Even if the argument for the Bill is that it will save money, as the Prime Minister often says, I cannot believe that that is the argument for acting so quickly now. Is there new evidence from Scotland? There is not. Scotland has never had a right to jury trial, so it is not a parallel jurisdiction. England had an automatic right to jury trial until the middle of the previous century. No, there are no new arguments about costings, savings or benefits.
Is there a case for less scrutiny? Are the Government performing in such a way that the public can be confident that Parliament ought to spend less time considering legislation? No such evidence has been provided by the Home Office legislative programme over the past few months. It is not as if the Government always get it right and introduce Bills so well drafted and so carefully prepared that they glide through this House and on to the other place. The scrutiny that this House and the other place have given Bills has been central to our ability to get right what would otherwise have been severely flawed legislation. After proper scrutiny of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill and the Terrorism Bill we were able to ensure that the burden of proof was clearly with the prosecution. In spite of the guillotine motion last week, after proper scrutiny in this House and in the other place we were able to get changes in the Football (Disorder) Bill. The House of Lords has voted on the timetable for further changes, and has now refused to proceed as quickly as the Government would like it to, because it wants time to scrutinise the Bill properly.
This House and the other place are insisting that we scrutinise legislation to get it right. The number of times that the Government have introduced legislation that has clearly been flawed and has had to be amended is evidence, if it were needed, that we should consider the Bill very carefully.
The Bill is about the most fundamental right of a person charged with a serious offence—to be tried by his ordinary fellow citizens. It is a right that enables the most vulnerable, the most ill educated and the most prejudiced against to feel that they have a chance to put their case fairly. We are not against magistrates; we are not suggesting that they do not do a good job. We are saying that juries do a better job. We want all our citizens to have the right to let juries decide.
960 If the Government are determined, against what they said in their manifesto, against all the indications, and against all the principles on which some of us thought the Labour party had come to office, to railroad the Bill through, against the evidence, against public opinion, against the advice of the House of Lords and against the view of many Labour Members, they must allow the House of Commons adequate time to stand up for the rights of the citizen.
I ask all hon. Members, especially Labour Members, who were elected to oppose such legislation, to give the Government the sharpest warning possible. The Government should await the Auld committee's recommendations, like the rest of us, so that we have some evidence and up-to-date opinion, and do not legislate in haste. It is perfectly reasonable to review the law, but we should ensure that if we consider changing it, we do so having listened to the voices and taken a free vote of the representatives, not a dragooned vote imposed by the Government against the clock.
This is a scandalous guillotine motion, and in our view, this is a scandalous Bill. I hope that the Government do not get it through the other place, even if they get it through this House. That would serve them right, and the public would, mercifully, be spared this bad legislation from—at least on this issue—an extremely illiberal, authoritarian and oppressive Government.
§ Mr. Robert Marshall-Andrews (Medway)
My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary spent a considerable part of his speech—over half an hour—dealing with the views of the former Lord Chief Justice, and the comments that he had made about those views on Second Reading. He plainly thought that that was meat for a guillotine debate, and so do I. The views of the former Lord Chief Justice and the other senior judiciary are critical to this issue because they will sway Members of the House.
On Second Reading, at the beginning of the debate, my right hon. Friend said:Today, it—not a single Member of the House had the slightest doubt that when my right hon. Friend said "it" he meant the Bill—enjoys the active endorsement of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham, and of the vast majority of the High Court Bench of nearly 100 senior judges.We never debated that assertion, because we accepted it implicitly from the Home Secretary. Had there been reason to doubt it, that debate would have been very different. If there is now reason to doubt that assertion, this debate should be very different. We now need to spend time considering, challenging and analysing that statement. My right hon. Friend obviously thought that it was right to spend such a long time on it and to deal with what I had said about it, and I agree with him.
I know that you will bear with me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I deal with the assertion that was made about the views of the Lord Chief Justice. It gives me no pleasure to say that there is not the slightest doubt that the Home Secretary's statement on Second Reading, either wilfully or otherwise, misled the House. There is not the slightest doubt that the Lord Chief Justice did not give—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. and learned Gentleman must be careful with the words he uses. 961 He cannot suggest, directly or indirectly, that the Home Secretary has misled the House. I should be grateful if he would rephrase his comments.
§ Mr. Marshall-Andrews
My right hon. Friend's statement was manifestly inaccurate. I shall spend a moment explaining how that came about, because I took down exactly what my right hon. Friend said. He spoke at length about my views on the Bill, and he knows perfectly well that I and many of my colleagues have always been completely against it. We believe fundamentally in the right to elect jury trial for all the reasons that have been so articulately set out.
In the opinion of some, including the much-respected Lord Chief Justice, the Bill was acceptable, but only because of the recommendation of the Runciman royal commission that it should contain a reputation and livelihood clause. That matter is not peripheral, as my right hon. Friend suggested; it is central to the Bill. It is so central that on 10 March, three days after my right hon. Friend made his speech on Second Reading, Professor Michael Zander, the chief jurist on the Runciman royal commission, withdrew his support and stated publicly that the commission's support for the Bill could no longer be relied on. That shows how critical the matter was.
If Professor Zander had withdrawn his support, it seemed to me that the Lord Chief Justice may have withdrawn his support too, so I wrote to him and I asked him whether he had done so. I received a reply by return saying that he was embarrassed because he had been in correspondence with the Home Secretary and he did not wish to breach confidence. He said that he would waive any confidence in that correspondence if I wrote to the Home Secretary, which I did on 4 July.
Between 4 July and Friday of last week I heard precisely nothing from the Home Office. I had asked for details of that correspondence, and in particular of the views of the Lord Chief Justice that had been so glowingly endorsed by my right hon. Friend. On Thursday of last week, when we learned that the Bill was to be sprung out, I got in touch with my right hon. Friend's private office asking as a matter of urgency that I receive a reply. I got it by fax yesterday.
I confess that I was surprised by the fact that the correspondence revealed that the Lord Chief Justice had written to my right hon. Friend on 22 February, two weeks before the debate on Second Reading. I shall quote a little from that letter—it is very short. It said:Thank you very much for your letter of 21 February.That letter had been entirely about the withdrawal of the safeguard of reputation and livelihood.
The Lord Chief Justice continued:But your conclusion … causes me concern.He went on to deal with the Bill, and, at the end of the next paragraph of his letter, said:I think there are dangers in excluding consideration of anything which is relevant in the given case.
He then gave two examples of actual cases in which injustice would plainly result, and went on to say—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I know that the hon. and learned Gentleman is responding in part to earlier remarks 962 by the Home Secretary, and I have therefore given him a little leeway, but he must direct his comments towards the allocation of time motion.
§ Mr. Marshall-Andrews
I entirely accept that, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I think that if you bear with me for a moment you will see why I raise the matter. There is very little more of the letter, and when I have finished quoting from it I shall end my speech.
The Lord Chief Justice wrote:Both men, for opposite reasons, rely on their records as a reason for seeking jury trial. Are the magistrates and the crown court judge to be obliged to ignore these points? If so, that is surely unsatisfactory.The Lord Chief Justice added—my right hon. Friend cited this passage—I am uneasy at requiring decision-makers to ignore matters of which reasonable decision-makers might wish to take account.
Not a word was sent to Lord Bingham before Second Reading; but, bearing in mind what Lord Bingham had said in his letter, my right hon. Friend said at the beginning of the debate:Today, it enjoys the active endorsement of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham—[Official Report, 7 March 2000; Vol. 345, c. 886.]That, in my respectful submission, constitutes a fairly strange construction of the words "active", "endorsement" and "enjoys".
It is plain that Lord Justice Bingham was extremely concerned about the Bill. That is what we need to debate. The concerns that he aired, from an immensely respected position, were precisely the issues that we were put off debating on Second Reading by the Home Secretary's assertion. I make no bones about it: that assertion was wrong, and because it was wrong we did not debate the issue adequately.
Many of my colleagues were moved intellectually—undoubtedly and understandably—by what they understood to be the imprimatur of the Lord Chief Justice. However, now that we know that that was wrong, we need to ventilate the matter in full, so that the House can proceed on the basis of knowing precisely what the senior judiciary are saying.
It gives me no pleasure to bring this matter before the House. I do not suggest for a moment that what happened was deliberate, and I hoped to hear my right hon. Friend say that it was an error. I am sorry to say, however, that his reply centred on the definition of the word "it", which Members may not consider entirely satisfactory.
Thank you for bearing with me, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Mine was a somewhat lengthy speech, given that this is a guillotine debate. For the reasons I have given, I urge Members to oppose the motion, so that we can engage in a proper and constructive debate on one of the most important issues that the House has debated in the new Parliament.
§ Sir Nicholas Lyell (North-East Bedfordshire)
I endorse what was said by the hon. and learned Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews).
An amendment tabled by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition suggests that we should have eight hours for tonight's debate. If the Home Secretary agreed now to allow those eight hours—it is open to him 963 to do so—I should be happy to say no more now, to sit down, and to allow the House to proceed with the debate on the substantive issues. However, there are important substantive issues to be discussed.
As is well known, I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Medway that the Bill is wrong in principle. That is an issue for Second Reading and Third Reading debates, which will rightly be dealt with on Third Reading tonight if we have time; but with only five hours we shall not have time for a proper debate, and I therefore hope that we shall have eight hours.
There are other important matters, even below the fundamental point of principle. That point was well put by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes). We are talking about an ancient right of the people of England and Wales, dating back specifically to 1855, but in fact dating back to the century or so after Magna Carta. As long ago as the 14th century, all serious cases were tried by jury; indeed, the penalty for not accepting trial by jury in the early years was to be crushed to death.
Jury trial is a great upholder of our liberties. It is a very important part of our democracy. We need time to convey that point—which is not widely understood—to the Chamber, and to the country at large.
Some, like Lord Bingham—whom 1 hold in the greatest respect—may disagree with me. They may believe that the question where a person should be tried is a judicial question, which should be decided by a court rather than by the individual citizen as of right. Even they, however, must accept that the Bill fundamentally transgresses what both the former Lord Chief Justice and the Runciman royal commission made clear was a fundamental condition—that the court deciding where a trial should be held should be able to take into account all relevant matters, and in particular the question of reputation.
§ Mr. Straw
The right hon. and learned Gentleman should read the details of what the royal commission said. It did not make the issue of reputation or livelihood a fundamental point of principle. Paragraph 18 of the relevant chapter refers to the issue of principle and proposes that reputation should be included, but the report continues:We see merit in the legislation specifically referring to the various matters (including potential loss of reputation) which the bench should take into account.There is no suggestion that the commission saw that as a fundamental point of principle at the time. What it did see as a fundamental point of principle was the question whether the judiciary—the magistrates, according to its recommendation—rather than the defendant should determine the mode of trial.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. Before the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell) responds, let me ask him not to be tempted to stray too wide of the mark again, and to confine his remarks to the allocation of time motion.
§ Sir Nicholas Lyell
It must be abundantly clear to you and to the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that this is a central point at issue, and that time is required to tease it out.
964 I have read the commission's report. With all respect to the Home Secretary, I think that when the commission says it sees merit in loss of reputation being taken into account it is using measured language—as Lord Bingham did when he said that he was not entirely enamoured of the conditional clauses in the first Bill. He said that the widest possible discretion should be given. I have tabled amendments to that effect, as have my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) and my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Malins). We need time to discuss those amendments, and to tease out the issues. We have also tabled amendments on other important matters.
If a person is to be tried not in the Crown court but in the magistrates court, it is essential for that trial to be as well conducted and as properly prepared as a trial in the Crown court now is.
I have great respect for magistrates, but those of us who have practised—I sit currently as a recorder and have practised as a member of the Bar in the magistrates courts and Crown courts—all know that, by and large, cases are not as carefully prepared when they come before the magistrates courts. Amendments have been tabled that we need to discuss this evening to provide that the same type of disclosure and legal representation by counsel and solicitor should be available in the magistrates court as in the Crown court.
§ Mr. Hogg
My right hon. and learned Friend raises precisely the point that I was going to make. It is important, if these serious trials are to take place in front of the magistrate, that there be full discovery and full pre-trial disclosure of the evidence—as there is before the Crown court—if the defendant is to get a proper trial.
§ Sir Nicholas Lyell
My right hon. and learned Friend emphasises that important point. It takes time to bring that out.
The Home Secretary, inadvertently no doubt, misled not only the House, but the Prime Minister. On 5 July, when the Prime Minister was asked in Prime Minister's questions if he would drop the Bill—which I would advise him to do; the wise thing is to pass the matter to Lord Justice Auld—he gave three reasons for continuing with the Bill. He prayed in aid the support of the former Lord Chief Justice and was thus led into error by the Home Secretary in exactly the same way.
The Prime Minister prayed in aid the Runciman royal commission, notwithstanding that, by that time, Professor Zander, a member of the royal commission and no doubt as fully familiar with its provisions and as fully able to interpret them as the Home Secretary, regarded the Bill to be fundamentally against what the Runciman royal commission had been prepared to recommend.
The Prime Minister made a third point that we need time to be able to tease out. He talked about the saving of money. We need time to draw to the attention of the House and of the country that that notion is bogus, or is based on something that the Government would not he prepared to avow. We need time to highlight that, in accordance with the Home Secretary's answers through the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke), who was on the Front Bench a moment ago, £84 million of the £120 million of supposed savings comes from shorter prison sentences. We need 965 time to dwell on the fact that it is to be supposed that regular thieves who transgress time and again, who are currently given sentences averaging 11 months' imprisonment in the Crown court—which is, of course, supervised by the Court of Appeal—would, in order to save money, get an average sentence of 3.6 months in the magistrates court. We need time to wonder whether that is not absurd and whether that does not run counter to practically everything for which the Home Secretary professes to stand.
Therefore, there are fundamental flaws in the Bill. If we do not have a reasonable number of hours to debate them, this proposal, which is of deep importance to every citizen and which is designed to take away a right that has stood for hundreds of years, should be voted down. I remind the House that that right was supported passionately by the Home Secretary as little as three years ago and by the present Attorney-General at the same date; they have now changed their minds for reasons that become more byzantine and intertwined by the minute.
§ Mr. Garnier
Just to add to the catalogue of supporters of the principle, the Prime Minister himself, as shadow Home Secretary, was a supporter of the jury system.
§ Sir Nicholas Lyell
I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend. With the time and opportunity for reflection which opposition gives—I hope that that chance will soon be given again to the Prime Minister—he thought more wisely than he does today. We need a chance to think wisely about the Bill. The guillotine in wrong in principle. Eight hours would be reasonable time for debate. It should be granted now.
§ Mr. Humfrey Malins (Woking)
I begin by declaring an interest, as always in these matters. I am a practising lawyer. I am a recorder of the Crown court and, I think uniquely in the House in living memory, I am also an acting metropolitan stipendiary magistrate. I think that I have presided over and taken part in more trials than any hon. Member in living memory. I apologise for appearing bumptious, but I speak from a nuts-and-bolts position.
Over the past three years, I have had rather a lot of respect for the Home Secretary, principally because I have found him to be a Minister who treats the House of Commons seriously, who comes to the House to talk to us, who is always ready to listen and, if not to accept, certainly to take on board ideas. That respect, I am afraid, has been heavily dented because, in the past fortnight, two guillotine motions have been put before us that are absolutely shoddy. The Home Secretary should be ashamed to be associated with them.
Indeed, such is my regard for the Home Secretary that I believe that, in this case, he was not the originator of the idea and probably had to be heavily persuaded to speak in its favour. He is a man who has hitherto encouraged open and full debate about important issues, but today that is not going to happen.
I, my hon. Friends, many Labour Members and many people out there listening to the debate will be furious that our time to debate some very important issues has been viciously curtailed by the Government. Was it ever necessary to guillotine the debate? I asked the Home Secretary that in an intervention.
966 The amendments for debate tonight are in four groups. My amendments have been listed in each of those groups. Mine is the lead amendment in three out of four of those groups. May I modestly say that I have never filibustered in the House or in Committee? Well, perhaps I have in Committee, but never in the House. The Home Secretary was good enough to acknowledge that he did not see any thought of a filibuster from me.
Let us look at the history of the Bill. It had its Second Reading on 7 March and went into Committee on 23 May. Was there a problem in Committee? There was not. The Committee spent a total of only some eight and a half hours debating the Bill. There were reasoned contributions from my hon. Friends, many of whom are here, so there was nothing during the Committee stage that suggested that Conservative Members were going to cause any difficulty. Now, for some reason, the Bill is brought before us, a matter of hours before the summer recess starts, with a guillotine motion that requires us, in effect, to debate every amendment and Third Reading inside two hours. It simply will not do.
We know why the Home Secretary has brought the guillotine motion forward—it is because he cannot control those on his own side of the House. It is nothing to do with what would be said by those on the Conservative Benches. Those of my right hon. and hon. Friends who would have contributed to the debates on the amendments would have made fairly brief, thoughtful, important points. They would have followed what they did in Committee, and the same goes for the representative of the Liberal Democrats, but the Government found today that they could not control their own Back Benchers, who were themselves determined to talk at great length.
§ Mr. Malins
My right hon. and learned Friend is right. The Government have been driven to move their guillotine motion by the very fact that so many Labour Back Benchers, who have behaved so honourably in this matter, oppose the Bill.
The former Lord Chief Justice's comments on the matter have already been mentioned. Although I have never spoken to the former Lord Chief Justice, I respect his views immensely. However, in past years, I have had the advantage of speaking to literally hundreds of those who sit in our judicial system—to magistrates across the country; to stipendiary magistrates, both in London and in the provinces; to recorders of the Crown court; and to Crown court judges, who daily administer justice. Although their views on the matter are divided, many of them share the concerns of Opposition Members. However, they would all be united in one opinion.
If I were to say to any one of those people that the House is going to spend only two hours debating all the remaining stages of the Bill, he or she would be horrified. They would not be able to understand how hon. Members can conduct our affairs so stupidly that we spend only two hours debating a Bill that affects the fundamental liberties of millions of people. The judiciary would be united on that one point.
967 The guillotine is not even necessary. Why should we guillotine these four groups of amendments? No Opposition Member would speak to any of them at great length. Are the amendments so unimportant that they deserve not even two hours of debate? Indeed, after time spent on Third Reading and perhaps on a Division halfway through our debates, we might have only minutes to debate each group of amendments.
Labour Members know as well as I do that the workings of this place are such that, in all probability, most of these amendments will not be discussed at all. They will never be discussed. Why have we even attended the debate? Some Labour Members know about the subject, as do some Opposition Members. However, we will not be able to discuss the amendments. Is anyone proud of that? I am not.
The first group of amendments deals with committals for sentence—sending people to the Crown court for sentence after we have forced them to have a magistrates court trial. Is that not an issue worthy of debate?
The second contains a vital amendment seeking to have the accused's circumstances taken into account. Is not that what the Bill is all about? Are we not going to talk about that? Does it not deserve more time?
The third group of amendments deals with certain rights for the accused after a decision is made by the magistrates court, such as the right to have the reasons for that decision recorded in the register and given to the accused in writing. Are not those important issues that affect people's daily lives?
The fourth group of amendments deals with the appeals process. It is concerned not with giving the accused the right to appeal on paper, as I understand is being proposed, but with the accused's right to be represented and heard before a judge. Does anyone think that that is not worthy of discussion? Does anyone really think that we do ourselves justice by devoting only two hours of our time to debating issues of such importance?
There are other issues. However, no one will have a chance to address the disclosure of documents. Who will have the chance to talk about the costs—the so-called savings—of the Bill? Who will have a chance to discuss the views of the ethnic minorities, who have something to say about jury trial? We sit here simply waiting—waiting perhaps to vote.
In my view, this is a travesty of a parliamentary proceeding. This is not what I was elected for. I come to today's debates with some knowledge of the subject, and yet—for the second time in a fortnight—I may not be able to contribute. I could have contributed also to our debates on the Football (Disorder) Bill, and I am sure that other hon. Members could have contributed even more. Although I lack knowledge on many subjects, Labour Members and Opposition Members may well possess that knowledge. Let them have a chance to speak, rather than simply to go through the Lobby.
Here we are—we have let ourselves down again. We are facing a guillotine motion from an autocratic Government who do not seem to want to listen to Members of this House. Members of the public who regard the right to jury trial as one of most important rights, whether they are for it or against it, will look at us today and say, "Two hours to discuss all that? You should be ashamed of yourselves." We should be.
§ Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)
It is a great honour to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Matins). I feel that I can do no more than to adopt what he has said, because he speaks from such great personal experience. I should like, however, to make another point.
I am not necessarily opposed to timetabling Bills, which I think can be quite good if it is done by consensus. I should certainly not like it if, in any future reform, the Government were made solely responsible for timetabling Bills. I should like the Government to present their programme to Parliament, for both Whips Offices to make representations, and then for the Speaker and the Speaker's Deputies to determine the timetable. I think that that would be the fair way to go about it. Nevertheless, I am not necessarily opposed to timetabling.
I am also not necessarily opposed to guillotines. The Home Secretary was quite right to say that, since the passage of the government of Ireland legislation at the end of the 19th century, all Governments have been faced with determined Opposition tactics to delay Bills dealing with matters of high principle. As we all know, delay is the only weapon available to Oppositions. All Oppositions—including the previous, Labour Opposition, and the current Opposition—have resorted to perfectly legitimate time-wasting activities because that is the only weapon available to us. There is nothing wrong with using that weapon. Equally, however, as we all realise, the Government have to have their way, even if we are debating a very complex and long Bill and the Opposition are determined to go on talking. There is no argument about that.
Today, however, we are talking about a very different type of Bill. This is a rather strange Bill. Although it deals with a matter of high principle, it is not very technical, and it addresses an issue that we can all understand. It is very easy to understand the Bill's basic concept: whether those who are accused of dishonesty—or other offences, but primarily dishonesty—should have an absolute right to be tried by a jury of their peers. We are talking primarily about people of good character who are accused of crimes such as shoplifting. We are perhaps talking about a case involving a middle-aged housewife who has shoplifted and now faces a devastating moment in her life. The concept is quite easy to grasp and probably does not require tremendous time for debate.
Nevertheless, although the concept is simple enough, it is also very ancient. Last night, on a point of order, I said that the concept was seven centuries old, but I was wrong—it is more than eight centuries old. After a bit more research, I have found that the concept of trial by jury dates back to Henry II, and that it was given impetus by the fact that, in November 1215, the then Pope abolished trial by ordeal. People feel very strongly about that ancient right, and they want to talk about it. They do not want to talk about it at inordinate length—they simply want to have their say and to have their day in court. That is quite reasonable.
Interestingly, in 1275, jury trial was given another impetus by a form of torture called peine forte et dure, whereby people were placed between two planks with increasingly heavy weights placed on top of them.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman's comments are extremely interesting, but I am not sure that they relate to the allocation of time motion. Could he return to that?
§ Mr. Leigh
I was about to say that that form of torture was rather like a guillotine motion, but we will leave that on one side.
Although the Bill deals with a matter of huge importance, we could have dealt with it fairly. Reference has been made to the famous Committee stage. My hon. Friend the Member for Woking could not be a member of that Committee, but my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell) and I were the Conservative Back Benchers on it. We had some good debates. The whole thing was finished in eight hours. There has never been any question that we tried to delay matters unduly. Following what happened in that Committee, there was surely never any question that we would come here tonight to filibuster, time waste and the rest of it.
There is an honest difference of opinion in the House on the matter. Some take a principled stance and are opposed to any limitation of trial by jury. One can understand their view. The hon. and learned Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews) is a distinguished proponent of that view. Others like myself take a different view and would be prepared to accept some limitation on the right to trial by jury, but want the reputation of the accused to be taken into account.
My hon. Friend the Member for Woking went through the four groups of amendments. The first group is important. It deals with an issue that is perhaps of particular importance to lawyers—committal for sentence. We could debate it for an hour or so. One can see quickly that, once we had debated that group for an hour or an hour and a half, it is possible that on the crucial second set of amendments—on matters to be considered by the court when determining mode of trial—there would be no prospect of voting. There may not even be time to have a serious debate.
I keep hearing comments from a sedentary position that we could have had five hours of debate on the amendments if we had not spoken on the guillotine motion. I hope that the hon. Member for High Peak (Mr. Levitt) will forgive me if I say that that is rather an arrogant attitude. After all, if the Government introduce a guillotine motion on a measure to abolish a right that has been around since 1215, it is not unreasonable that a few Members of Parliament should debate it.
§ Mr. Garnier
Is not the word that links the debate, our objections to the guillotine, the substance of the Bill and the view taken by my hon. Friend, many Opposition Members and the hon. and learned Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews) the simple word "justice"?
§ Mr. Leigh
Yes, justice. That was put eloquently by my hon. Friend the Member for Woking when he went through the groups of amendments and asked whether we were doing justice to ourselves or to Parliament.
We have had a perfectly satisfactory guillotine debate. No one has sought to spin things out. We are coming to a conclusion now. There is just one more Back Bencher to speak. We have had a perfectly serious debate, but how 970 long will we have to debate the issues? What is so sad is that if the Government had not introduced the guillotine motion and we had started the debate two hours ago, we could have disposed of the four groups of amendments in about five hours. So what on earth are we playing at? It is not for me to defend the Government's reputation, but they would not have had egg on their face. No one would have gone to the other place and said that there was not adequate time to debate the amendments. We would have had a perfectly serious debate.
The Committee is supposed to be the place where one filibusters. Many amendments can be tabled and we have great freedom to manoeuvre. Apparently, we want to delay the Bill, but we delayed it for only eight hours in Committee. So what are the Government playing at? Why on earth have they introduced this timetable motion? That is absolutely germane to the debate.
The only conclusion that one can come away with is that the Government do not want to have a vote on the second group of amendments, which deal with the key issue. I remind the House what that key issue is. Many of us believe that the present system is being abused. I give credit to the Home Secretary. Many sensible people ask why an old lag with 20 convictions who is accused, as my hon. Friend the Member for Woking said in a conversation with me, of stealing a bottle of whisky from the local store should be allowed to waste the time of the Crown court. The public often come up with that point. Many people sympathise with what the Home Secretary is doing.
However, many people want to debate the issue back and forth. They say that in the case of the old lag, denial of the right to trial by jury is fair enough, but if the archetypal housewife of previous good character is accused of taking something out of the local store, it is a devastating moment in her life so her reputation should be taken into account. I remind the House that the Bill is explicit. It says in new section 19(2)(b) in clause 1 that the court can take account ofany of the circumstances of the offence (but not of the accused).That is the most important issue, and we will not even have a vote on it. That is what people outside will find so extraordinary.
Let us suppose that a person of good character who has never done anything wrong walks out of a supermarket in a moment of absent-mindedness carrying something. They are accused of shoplifting and their character is on the line, and yet the House of Commons has never voted on the key issue of whether that person's reputation should be taken into account, or even properly debated it. Is that not extraordinary? The House of Commons is supposed to be the guardian of our civil liberties. It is just not good enough.
Why are the Government so determined to prevent a vote? What would it matter if there was a vote? What would it matter if the Opposition voted for the amendments tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Woking after a debate of an hour and a half? What would it matter if 10 or 15 Labour Members voted against the Government? Would it bring the Government down? Of course not, but we would have had a proper debate and Parliament would have done its duty. The duty of Parliament is to scrutinise the Government and we are not doing that tonight. That is a shame.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham)
It is a great pleasure to follow my hon. Friends the Members for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) and for Woking (Mr. Malins) and the hon. and learned Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews), with whom I shared chambers for many years. The way in which they and other hon. Members have approached the debate surely confounds the arguments of those who have asserted that the timetable motion is necessary to prevent time wasting, prolixity or unreasonable frustration of the Bill. They have approached the matter in a serious and considered manner, and I believe that that would have been typical of the debate had we proceeded immediately.
One point that came out strongly from the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Medway is that many Labour Members voted for the Bill on Second Reading on a misunderstanding as to fact. That misunderstanding was about the opinion of the then Lord Chief Justice. That fact alone is an argument against the timetable motion because it is important that Labour Members who voted for the Bill on Second Reading on a misunderstanding should be aware of the nature of that misunderstanding, should have time to reflect on it and should have time to talk to Ministers. The way in which the Bill is being hurried through Report stage tonight means that they will not be able to do that.
My next point is one that I have made on previous timetable motions. It is regrettable that this should be the fourth timetable debate in as many weeks. The passage of legislation depends for its legitimacy on consideration of the detailed measures in this place. Let us remind ourselves that the Report stage of a Bill is the first occasion when the House as a whole considers what my hon. Friend the Member for Woking described as the nuts and bolts of a Bill. We cannot do that in Committee because, understandably, the membership of the Committee is constrained; nor can we do so on Second Reading because the House is concerned about the broad principles of a Bill.
The Report stage is the moment in legislation when the House as a whole has the opportunity to address specific issues. A timetable motion, such as this one, prevents the House from doing that. If the House is prevented from doing its business, the legitimacy that attaches to any legislation that comes from the House is undermined.
On a similar point, you will recall, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the intervention made by the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn). I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman is not in the Chamber because I am about to say something complimentary. What he was doing—albeit on the timetable motion, although I am sure that he would have wanted, and perhaps will try, to do the same thing either on Report or on Third Reading—is to articulate, within the context of the broader debate, particular constituency anxieties or policy issues. For example, he holds a particular view on drug taking. I do not share his view, but it is important that the House should so construct its legislative processes as to enable such views to be articulated. The effect of the timetable motion, however, is to preclude him from doing so and I deeply regret that.
My hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough talked about the importance of the second group of amendments. I agree entirely with the substance of his remarks. He said that it is greatly to be regretted that we are unlikely to 972 vote on that group. He is probably right and I share his view. However, the vote is not the most important part of the process. The vote is a foregone conclusion in this House today. What is important is the weight and balance of the argument and how many hon. Members express their anxiety about particular parts of the Bill.
It is essential to keep in mind the fact that 18 Labour Back Benchers have put their names to the reasoned amendment against Third Reading. In an ideal world, those hon. Members would be able to express their views as to the reasons they tabled that amendment, because the weight and diversity of opinion is relevant to the question of whether the Bill should make progress. Furthermore, it is extremely relevant to what their lordships' House will want to make of the Bill when it reaches them.
Is there a need for the motion? The argument for there being no need has been eloquently deployed by, for example, the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) and my hon. Friend the Member for Woking. No one has been filibustering the Bill. There were weeks during which this stage of the Bill could have been dealt with and the House could have discussed it at our leisure. As my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough pointed out, if we had made a clear start at 4 o'clock or half past 4, we would have finished by 10 or 11 o'clock at the latest.
If there is any doubt on that point, the House should bear in mind that we can move closures. There are only four groups of amendments, and the practice—although it is not universal—is to allow closure after two hours of debate.
§ Mr. Hogg
It varies a bit. In any event, we would have got through the business. There is no need for the motion.
I have two further points of substance. First, there is the question of Members who represent Scottish constituencies. I urge Labour Members not to approve a timetable motion when they will want such Members to go with them into the Lobby. The Bill applies only to England and Wales. What is the propriety of Members who represent Scottish constituencies, who will not be affected by the Bill, voting to guillotine a motion that Members representing English and Welsh constituencies want to debate? Some people would call that a scandal; I do call it a scandal.
Secondly, I hear hon. Members muttering, "Why are you debating the timetable motion and not getting straight to the substantive motion?" That way liberty falls. If it be true that a timetable motion truncates a debate in an improper way—which is my view—then we must say so. If we do not, we will be said to have acquiesced in the process. It will become yet another precedent on which the Government will rely.
The motion is an abuse and it is my duty to say so. The fact that this debate takes time from the substantive motion is part of the blackmail that the Government want to exert on us. It is wrong in principle. At the end of the 1970s, my right hon. and noble Friend, my father, Lord Hailsham, wrote an important article in which he referred to the elective dictatorship. In all seriousness, I tell the House that he was right. Not only was he right then—he is right now. A Government with a massive majority can 973 do whatever they please—unless their own Back Benchers tell them, "Enough is enough." The hon. and learned Member for Medway has struck out boldly and rightly. I commend him for what he did tonight. I very much hope that at least some of those with whom he sits will follow his example.
§ 8.6 pm
§ Mr. Peter Brooke (Cities of London and Westminster)
It is a privilege to follow my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg). On 9 March 1943, I paid my first visit to this Palace and my late, noble father, Lord Brooke, introduced me to Lord Hailsham, the noble father of my right hon. and learned Friend. Ever since, I have been aware of the role of the Hogg family in matters such as we are discussing.
I speak both in anger and in sorrow. I am not a lawyer. I declare that my brother is a lawyer and a senior judge, but I have not discussed the Bill with him. I also declare that I have been a friend of the noble Lord Bingham of Cornhill for nearly half a century. I have not discussed the Bill, in any of its manifestations or in any way, with the noble Lord.
Because I am not a lawyer, I can rely only on my instincts as a citizen. In the previous Parliament, I rebuked one of my right hon. Friends for seeking to end the life of a great hospital after 900 years, by way of a written answer and without direct report to the House. I have the same instinctive unease about the consideration of a right, which the citizens of this country have enjoyed for seven or eight centuries, being drastically amended under a guillotine of five hours of debate during the remaining stages of the Bill. Of course, I acknowledge that the Government have problems with their business programme. The deputy Leader of the House is sitting on the Treasury Bench and can confirm that.
I see almost all life through a filter of cricket. In cricket, the benefit of the doubt is a salient principle, but the right to the benefit of the doubt as regards the Government's programme is necessarily less convincing when two and a half months elapsed between Second Reading and Committee, and even less persuasive when a further seven weeks passed between Committee and the remaining stages. The salience of the business programme as the basis for the benefit of doubt has also been eroded by the substance of the detail revealed in the correspondence that, at a late date, the Government shared with the House.
I said that I spoke in sorrow as well as in anger. I am not privy to the byzantine—indeed Florentine—memorandums that flow between members of the Administration, so I do not know how the decision was made not to announce this guillotine at business questions last Thursday. I am a perennial attender at business questions and have, on other occasions, made clear my respect and my admiration for the Leader of the House. I do not know whether she was aware last Thursday of the Government's tactical intentions in this regard. I recognise the importance of surprise as a military tactic.
However, I regret that the Leader of the House did not come to the Dispatch Box last night in the context of this guillotine. It was not that she was not about this place; I recall passing her in the corridor around about the time of the Government's business motion. She will have to live down her silence last night in her continuing quest for the 974 House's respect. But the fact that she did not march towards the sound of gunfire in fact increased my unease about these matters, and I support with calmness, but with quiet passion, the opposition of my right hon. and hon. Friends to this timetable motion.
§ Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills)
1 believe that, along with my right hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke), I am the only person present on the Conservative Benches who is not a lawyer. The Home Secretary should quake at the thought that the lawyers are on the march in the House and are contributing to this debate.
To my constituents, this is one of the few issues that comes before the House that they actually understand. Much of our legislative process is beyond the ken of most of us—indeed, most Members of the House—but this central issue runs through our society, as a beacon, revealing Britain, and particularly England, to be a country of liberty. We do not dispose of these matters lightly and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Malins) said so eloquently, does not each one of us want to express our views on the question of reputation? For many of us in the House, and certainly for those whom I represent, the question of reputation is central to their very standing and sense of themselves; and that that may be disposed of without reference to or the ability to argue that in front of a jury of their fellow citizens is something that cannot be passed away lightly.
I am grateful to the Home Secretary. I believe that he does attend on the House probably more than any other Minister—I make the observation that that reflects the fact that this is the 12th Home Office Bill that has come before the House this Session. When the right hon. Gentleman stood to justify this guillotine— [Interruption]—he justified it by reference to past Administrations. He said that the motion was no more than that which had been passed by other Administrations. I believe that he cited the Administration of my right hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major), in which 17 Bills were guillotined. I just point out that that was over seven years. It is true that Baroness Thatcher guillotined 34 Bills, but that was over more than 11 years.
The record of the present Government is that if the House passes this guillotine motion, this new Labour Executive will have had 38 Bills guillotined. It is on a scale that the House has never seen. It is more than a third of all Bills guillotined since 1945. It is unconscionable, and it represents the only tactic that the present Executive have in controlling the House. It is an instrument—with a vast majority—for ensuring that the House is obedient, because we can no longer express truths that we were sent here to express or have the perception that we were elected here to represent our fellows.
The whole focus of debate in the House must be, surely, to try to turn the opinions of others; to try, by reason, to reach out to them. We make our case, we lose it, but when a huge majority asserts that we may not even make our case, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) said, where is the legitimacy? Let us be clear, because the matter goes back a long time: a parliamentary majority is not just X divided by two plus one. It is the process—we say this 975 again and again—by which those in a minority may express, contrary to the view of the majority, that which they hold true; and the coming into effect of the majority's judgment has legitimacy because the majority has exercised the tolerance of allowing people to speak freely.
This motion cuts right to the heart of the very function of the House. It is shaming for a Government with such a huge majority to wheel out such a motion 38 times in order to assert that others may not speak in the House. It is wrong; and that is why the Government should not only he ashamed, but should be hanging their head.
We know what is behind some of this. The muddle of the legislative programme has now become so intense that even the constitution unit at University college has pointed out that something is going wrong at the heart of Government and its own Committees when—as I said, this is the 12th Home Office Bill in one parliamentary Session—there is no constraint on the amount of legislation brought before the House. There have been 2,500-plus pages in this one parliamentary Session. How does one get through the business without silencing Members so that they may not speak on it? It is pathetic legislation that is passed in this way. A guillotine is an instrument of control of the Executive to the disregard of due process and the legitimacy that they seek for the legislative purposes that they believe are essential to good government. We have a right in this House, on behalf of those that sent us here, to express our concern at this process.
I give praise to the hon. and learned Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews), on the Government's own Back Bench, who raises the banner—because that, in truth, is the question of conscience—and says, "This process is inappropriate." I do not doubt that the Home Secretary himself feels that as well.
We should reject this guillotine motion. I am bemused that Governments constantly table guillotine motions when there has been orderly, rational, intelligent debate, with no endeavour to filibuster—which used to be the traditional reason, when it became intolerable, why Governments, as a very last resort, sought to impose a guillotine. The Government now stand up and say, "All opposition without the time scale that we set is intolerable, and therefore we shall exert our control over the House, through our majority, to deny others the freedom of speech that is the purpose of the House."
§ Mr. Marshall-Andrews
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I apologise to you, and to the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd), for that very vulgar intervention earlier.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I understand. The House will have heard the interruption; I am not sure that hon. Members identified whence it came, but I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his apology.
§ Mr. James Clappison (Hertsmere)
It is a very great pleasure to follow the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd), as indeed it is a pleasure to follow the speeches of other right hon. and hon. Friends who spoke, including my hon. 976 Friends the Members for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) and for Woking (Mr. Malins), my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke).
I follow particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills in the remarks that he made about the guillotine procedure; I want to say a few words about that before I turn to the reasons why this legislation should have more time than it has been allocated under the motion.
Until I heard the reasons that the Home Secretary gave this evening, it was my belief that a guillotine was something that was applied for by Governments in extreme circumstances, when there was evidence that a particular piece of legislation was being resisted, and in order that the Government should get their way—which, as my hon. Friend conceded, is right, but after proper debate. However, having heard the reasons that were advanced by the Home Secretary this evening, it seems clear to me that the ground rules are being continually changed in this process, and always in favour of the Government's limiting debate to the utmost possible.
It would seem that, using the criteria that the Home Secretary gave this evening for applying this guillotine, any piece of legislation could be guillotined. The Home Secretary, in his opening remarks, gave as a reason for the guillotine the fact that the Bill had not been debated for very long—for long enough—in Committee.
The last time I was in the Chamber when the Home Secretary moved a motion to justify a guillotine was on the Bill that became the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. Then, according to my recollection, he gave as the reason for applying a guillotine the fact that the Bill had been debated for too long in Committee—not that that was a matter of complaint at the time the Bill was actually being debated in Committee, because the Home Secretary put a written answer in Hansard shortly afterwards, saying how constructive and helpful debate in Committee had been. None the less, and in short order, he imposed a guillotine on the Bill.
The Home Secretary referred to other Bills. However, as we have heard, there is no evidence that this Bill has been the subject of untoward debate or anything approaching it during its progress through the House. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster pointed out, there was a gap of about two months between Second Reading and Committee. The Bill came out of Committee on 6 June and there have been any number of occasions since then—at least four to my knowledge—when the House has risen early in the evening and it would have been possible to debate the Bill. However, the Government made no move to debate the Bill on any of those occasions, or to interpose the Bill in their programme at any other time to give it proper consideration.
I was here, for instance, on the evening of 26 June when we debated the Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate Bill. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) was present on that occasion and both sides of the House agreed that it was a short and straightforward measure. It even had the benefit of the in-depth scrutiny of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) but, even after that scrutiny, the House rose at 5.58 pm. That 977 debate took place a reasonable time after the Bill had left Committee and—if one can use the phrase—it was the normal time for such a Bill to have its Report stage. However, the Government decided not to debate this Bill on that day or at any other time since then. The biggest obstacle to its progress has been the Government's dilatoriness in providing time to debate it. There is no evidence that obstacles have been created during the House's deliberations on this Bill.
The Home Secretary's justification for the motion is not satisfactory. It will open the door to the guillotining of every Bill. However, there are three reasons why we particularly need more time to debate this Bill than the Government are prepared to give it. First, this is piece of criminal justice legislation and the House has traditionally taken the view that issues affecting the liberty of the subject and criminal justice should be tackled in a particular way. I served on the proceedings on the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and I recall how those Bills were often debated in a non-partisan fashion in Committee and on the Floor of the House. Members such as my hon. Friend the Member for Woking brought the benefit of their technical expertise to bear.
This Bill is a departure from the previous approach to criminal justice Bills. Figures on the number of Bills that have been guillotined under this Government and in the previous Parliament have been bandied about and it is a fair point to say that some Bills were guillotined in the previous Parliament—but not so many as in this Parliament. Furthermore, I do not remember a criminal justice Bill being guillotined in the previous Parliament, the first Parliament in which I served. If I am wrong, the Home Secretary will correct me. However, I believe that this is a new experience.
It has been pointed out in the debate why the Home Secretary and the House should take particular care with the technical aspects of this Bill. It will be a great shame if we do not reach the second group of amendments and debate whether someone's reputation should be taken into account when determining whether he has the right to elect for trial by jury. That is an important issue in itself.
I also believe that the Bill's drafting means that its purpose is likely to be self-defeating. The Government and the Prime Minister said that one of the reasons for introducing it was a desire to reduce abuses of the system by experienced defendants. However, it seems from the Bill that experienced defendants who have been before the courts before will be most likely in practice to be able to elect for trial by jury.
The Bill says that magistrates must take into account the circumstances of the offence and not the reputation of the offender. It is thus likely that magistrates will consider the most serious offences to have the most pressing call to be dealt with in the Crown court in a trial by jury. It is a fact of life that experienced criminals commit the most serious offences. Therefore, in practice, experienced defendants who know the system and who commit the most serious offences will appear before the magistrates courts and gain the benefit of the provisions in the Bill.
As has been ably pointed out by my hon. Friends the Members for Woking and for Gainsborough, the person who is most likely to lose out under the Bill is the man of previous good character—or nearly good character—who commits a lesser offence but for whom the allegation 978 is important and likely seriously to affect his reputation in the future. The allegation could affect his reputation at work and in the neighbourhood, the reputation of his family, and his own self-esteem. It could possibly have consequences for the rest of his life.
§ Mr. Gerald Bermingham (St. Helens, South)
I apologise for intervening, because I have only recently come into the debate. However, as there is a wide variation in sentencing between different Crown court centres, will the hon. Gentleman tell us how on earth we will achieve, under this ridiculous new system, uniformity of appeal procedures as between Crown court centres?
§ Mr. Clappison
The hon. Gentleman makes a reasonable point. He will be as disappointed as I am to see that the appeals process will be considered in the fourth group of amendments—the group least likely to be debated. I know that the Home Secretary sets particular store by the appeals process, so it is a shame that we will not have an opportunity to test in debate his arguments for that process. Many people in the legal profession, including the hon. Gentleman, are worried about the complexity of the process and the time that it will cause to be lost in the courts system, delaying cases with all the expense and inconvenience that will result. That is another issue that we shall not have sufficient time to debate.
The position of the man in the street in respect of the appeals process are issues that should be debated at length. I should have declared my interest as a member of the Bar at the beginning of my speech, but as I said on Second Reading, I feel strongly about the position of the man in the street. He will not face the serious allegations that will entitle him to a trial by jury, but may face allegations that may matter to him a great deal. He will not be able to turn up at the magistrates court with expensive solicitors and expensive counsel—I mean no disrespect to anyone present—with the impression that they would create. There will be interest in the cases of business men, famous people and celebrities and they will turn up at the magistrates court with their expensive counsel, who will be armed with all the legal arguments. Under the proposed system, such people will have the right to elect for trial by jury in a Crown court if they want it. The ordinary man in the street will not have that opportunity; he will lose out. I hope that I have made that point clearly, because I feel strongly about it.
The second reason for having more time to debate the Bill is its history in the House of Lords. The reasons for curtailing the debate sit uneasily with what the Government have said about the House of Lords. It has been partially reformed because the Government have got rid of some, if not all, of the hereditary element. The Government believe that that gives the House of Lords a more legitimate voice and they have also conceded that the other place's purpose, as a second Chamber, is to give this House an opportunity to think again about particular pieces of legislation.
This Bill came before the House of Lords and was defeated there. It was withdrawn and then reintroduced in this House—albeit with amendments. However, if debate on Report—the first opportunity that Members who were not on the Committee have to debate amendments to the Bill—is curtailed to just five hours, what does that say about our system of government and the way the 979 Government think about the constitution? It looks as if they are prepared to railroad the Bill through, whatever the House of Lords, this House or anyone else thinks.
I now come to my third reason for thinking that the Government need to give the Bill more time. It is for the Government themselves to justify the course that they are taking on trial by jury. Today, the Home Secretary sought to justify the Government's course by referring to the views of the former Lord Chief Justice. I do not want to go into that any further, but the Home Secretary owes the House and the hon. and learned Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews) an explanation—indeed more of an explanation than we have heard so far. I shall not pursue that, but want to deal with the other great support that the Government prayed in aid, namely, the views of the royal commission which the Prime Minister, as well as the Home Secretary, said were among the main reasons for introducing the Bill.
At Question Time on 5 July, the Prime Minister said:The mode of trial legislation was recommended by a royal commission, it is supported by the Lord Chief Justice, it will hugely increase the efficiency of the criminal justice system.—[Official Report, 5 July 2000; Vol. 353, c. 330.]
The Prime Minister therefore gave three reasons for supporting the Bill. We have already heard about the views of the former Lord Chief Justice, but I shall deal with the other two reasons. It is very well for the Home Secretary—and the Prime Minister on an earlier occasion—to have prayed in aid the views of the royal commission, and it was right for the royal commission to express its views—although, as we have heard, an eminent member, Mr. Zander, has since departed. However, what did the Prime Minister and the Labour party itself say about the views of the royal commission when its report came out? We will require a little more time to debate that, and would like an explanation of the view expressed by the then shadow Home Secretary to The Guardian, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. in 1993. An article in The Guardian stated:It is totally unsatisfactory to leave the decision on the right to a jury trial to magistrates, " Mr. Blair said. "Fundamental rights to justice cannot be driven by administrative convenience.So when he was shadow Home Secretary, the Prime Minister reacted in that way to the royal commission, which he is now praying in aid for the Bill. However, in those remarks, he clearly disposes of two of the principal arguments that are being made now—namely, the questions of whether it is a matter of principle that people should elect trial by jury, and of whether that is the best way of speeding up the court system. The Home Secretary owes it to the House to say a little more about why the Prime Minister expressed those views at the time.
The Home Secretary also owes it to the House to say a little more about the views that he expressed at the time of the Narey review, which he prayed in aid as another support for the Bill. He will remember that, in February 1997, when the Narey commission reported, he said that the proposal to cut down the right to jury trial, which is what the Bill amounts to, waswrong … short—sighted. and likely to prove ineffective.He also said:If a police officer, a Member of Parliament or even a Secretary of State were charged with an offence of dishonesty, would they not insist on being tried by a jury? If that is the case, why should others be denied that right of election?—[Official Report, 27 February 1997; Vol. 238, c. 433-34.]980 The Home Secretary should spend a little time explaining what has changed since then.
The change is not that there will be a right of appeal under the Bill, as that was part of the Narey review. Indeed, in 1997, the Home Secretary made his remarks on the basis that there was a right of appeal in the legislation that he was discussing. The Home Secretary is shaking his head, but my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard), who has taken a consistent line throughout, said quite clearly that there might need to be a right of appeal. Indeed, if the Home Secretary looks at col. 430 of Hansard for 27 February 1997, he will find that a right of appeal was mentioned.
What has made this difference to the Home Secretary's view? What circumstance has changed, and what has the Home Secretary become aware of now that he was not aware of in 1997? We need some time to debate that, and I hope that the Home Secretary will shortly have the opportunity to do that, as he owes it to the House to say a little more about why the Government are taking that course on a fundamental civil liberty. The Government need time to do that: to deal with the arguments of the hon. and learned Member for Medway and the question of reputation; and to explain the history of the Bill and the reason it has been brought to the House in a particular way. Frankly, time is needed if the Home Secretary is to try and save the Government's reputation on civil liberties.
I am a reader of The Guardian, and, as it said, civil liberty is this Government's poor relation; indeed, it is being trampled underfoot at great speed without sufficient justification. Government Members need to do more than harrumph, as they did a moment ago, and they must come up with better and more cogent reasons than they have so far.
A noticeable feature of our debate is that not a single speaker on either side of the house, whether from the Liberal Democrat party, the official Opposition or the Government Back Benches, has sought to support the course that the Government are taking in the Bill. The Government need to do much better in seeking to defend the Bill because, so far, they do not have a leg to stand on. They look as if they are prepared to use their majority just to drive through a damaging piece of legislation that will affect the civil liberties of the ordinary man in the street. They could not care less about parliamentary procedure, the views of the House, or anybody outside it.
§ Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath)
This has been one of the best debates that I have heard in my eight years in this House, although I except from that description the Home Secretary's opening speech. He began by trying to justify at great length his Second Reading speech, and to deal with the fact that the researches of the hon. and learned Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews) on the former Lord Chief Justice have blown his gaff. The Home Secretary's speech was convoluted, disingenuous and wrong.
In other speeches, including that of my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh), we heard something of the history of trial by jury, and the fact that it goes back to mediaeval times. The House will recall that in mediaeval times, theologians used to debate the 981 idea of angels dancing on the head of a pin, which was rather like the sophistry that we have heard from the Home Secretary tonight. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison) made clear in his thoughtful speech, the real opposition is to be found behind the Home Secretary, on the Government Benches. My hon. Friend was quite right to draw attention to the fact that not a single Government Back Bencher could be found to speak in support of the timetable motion or the guillotine procedure. The two speeches from Government Back Benchers both attacked the Home Secretary, as has every other Member who has spoken.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Garner) dismantled comprehensively the Home Secretary's specious arguments on this Session's first Criminal Justice (Mode of Trial) Bill, which the Home Secretary sought to pretend had been stopped in this House, even though he, like everyone else, knows that the Government chose to introduce it in another place, where it was stopped in its tracks, as this Bill will be when it gets there. My hon. and learned Friend pointed out that the Home Secretary was wrong in what he said about the Disqualifications Bill, which has not been proceeded with as a result of the Government's decisions in another place, and he dismantled comprehensively the Home Secretary's arguments about the Football (Disorder) Bill. The points that the Home Secretary sought to make were all specious.
The first attack on the guillotine motion came from the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn). Ingeniously, he attacked the Government for failing to provide enough time in this debate to consider the role of juries that fail to convict when the facts of the case might support a conviction. I often disagree with the hon. Member on his underlying arguments, but I agree with his criticism of the Government on the timetable motion. In a powerful speech, the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) pointed out that at the election the proposals were opposed, both specifically and in general terms, by the present Home Secretary and Prime Minister, as well as by everybody else in the Labour party. The Home Secretary himself set out his strong personal opposition, in the terms of which my hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere has just reminded the House.
The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey used the cogent argument that, both with the ill-fated Criminal Justice (Mode of Trial) Bill [Lords] and the present Bill, the Government chose all the procedural stages that they went through. They could have given time for proper debate at any of those stages, including tonight.
The hon. Gentleman rightly pointed out that the then Labour Opposition included their opposition to these proposals in their 1997 general election manifesto. The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) tried, quite wrongly, to deny his collective responsibility; he was on the Opposition Front Bench in the run-up to that election, but one would not have thought so from his intervention on the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey.
The hon. Gentleman then pointed out the lack of a need for urgency with these proposals. The Government have set up the review by Lord Justice Auld to consider possible changes to criminal procedure, so as the hon. Gentleman said, why not wait? He made a series of unanswerable points, including the most crucial point of 982 all, which so many of my right hon. and hon. Friends have reinforced—the fact that trial by jury is a fundamental civil right for all citizens.
The hon. and learned Member for Medway is one of the most distinguished members of the Bar whom I have ever had the privilege to hear, and he was a member of the same circuit as myself—I declare my past interest as somebody who conducted many jury trials in my early years at the Bar. The hon. and learned Gentleman spoke in particular on the views of the former Lord Chief Justice and the senior judiciary. If I may so put it, he comprehensively disembowelled the Home Secretary's utterly contemptible attempt to reinterpret his own remarks to the House so as to avoid the hook on which the hon. and learned Gentleman and The Guardian have impaled him for his terminological inexactitude on Second Reading.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell) set out why the Bill needs proper time, and why we need time to point out all the misconceived reasons behind the Government's change of heart. The Home Secretary, the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister took up their offices and immediately rejected all their previous strongly held views on the issue.
My hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Malins), as usual, made a powerful speech—one of the most powerful that the House has heard this evening. He pointed out how the Home Secretary had severely damaged his reputation with this guillotine. My hon. Friend's experience of the Committee proceedings on the Bill enabled him to point out how wrong the guillotine is. He said that, as we know, the real reason for it lies on the Government side of the House, and the reasoned amendment signed by so many of the Home Secretary's colleagues demonstrates that beyond peradventure. My hon. Friend also made it clear how horrified the judiciary would be by this curtailment of debate, and that factor is crucial.
My hon. Friend asked the relevant question: why are Members of Parliament here? He anticipated the remarks of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) about an elective dictatorship, and I feel strongly that that is the correct way to describe the Government's arrogant behaviour. The timetable motion is a paradigm showing what the Government regard with contempt: the House, parliamentary traditions and English civil liberties. My hon. Friend the Member for Woking went on to stress how increasingly authoritarian the Government are, and he was right to do so.
My hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough put forward his own interesting approach to timetabling issues. He set out his experience of the sensible Committee proceedings on the Bill, and the historical perspective that we need to have. In response to the intervention from my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough, my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough made clear the need for simple justice. He described the problems that the Government will have in another place because of the timetable motion and their attitude to the Bill—they now have egg on their face.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham concentrated on the fact that the Government's guillotine is denying Labour Members 983 the opportunity to ask questions about today's revelations concerning the true position of the former Lord Chief Justice and the inexactitude of the Home Secretary's speech on Second Reading. My right hon. and learned Friend also pointed out the need for analysis of the nuts and bolts issues on Report—the first time that the House can perform that analysis. He stressed the crucial need for our debates, rather than our votes, to inform another place, and the need to debate arbitrary guillotines rather than falling prey to Government blackmail.
My right hon. and learned Friend concluded by referring to his father, the right hon. and noble Lord Hailsham, the former Lord Chancellor, and his important article on the dangers of elective dictatorship.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke) used a happy cricketing analogy, with which I agree, about the need for the benefit of the doubt, but he rightly expressed concern about the byzantine and Florentine memorandums that pass between Ministers. He pointed out the unease about the failure of the Leader of the House to come to the Dispatch Box last night to attempt to justify this outrageous last-minute guillotine.
My hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd), who spoke as powerfully as he always does, is an admirable guardian of the traditions of the House and the real liberties of the subject. He talked about the need for proper debate, and the need to allow a case to be made. He pointed out that it is shaming for the Government, with their huge majority, to have wheeled out a guillotine 38 times in only a fraction over three years. He said that they were guilty of disregard for due process. My hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere, whose speech I have already referred to, also set out many of the problems that he has with what the Government are doing.
If any jury had sat in judgment on this Government and the Home Secretary's guillotine proposals, and had to decide whether the Government were guilty of intolerance, of arbitrariness, of arrogance, of contempt for the House, of stifling debate and opposition and, above all, of being wrong, it would decide that they were guilty as charged on every count. I urge all right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House to vote against the Government and support our amendment.
§ Mr. Straw
With permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I will respond to the debate. The last remarks of the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) show that he has a flawed understanding of the jury system. He thinks that there should be a guilty as charged system, whereby the prosecution brings in the verdict. We look forward to the further development of that idea.
The hon. Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison) made some hyperbolic remarks about the Government's subscription to civil liberties. I remind him that the Government have introduced two measures that will make a huge difference to civil liberties—measures that the Governments whom he supported failed to introduce. The first is the Race Relations (Amendment) Bill, which I hope will shortly become law, and the second is the Human Rights Act 1998, which is already law and is due 984 to come into force on 2 October. That shows that the balance of our approach is to strengthen the civil liberties of the individual and at the same time to seek to ensure that the criminal justice system, while continuing to be just, is more efficient and effective than it has been in the past. Although I had to leave the Chamber very briefly, I understand that the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) said that he accepted that the present system was being abused—and that is the truth of it.
I come to the central point raised by the right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke) and the hon. Members for Woking (Mr. Malins) and for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd)—that the guillotine motion is somehow an abuse of process. I have already said that I do not like guillotine motions. It is palpable that I have always sought to ensure that debate proceeds properly.
The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) cannot have it both ways. It is the job of this House and of the other place to dispose of the legislative proposals that are before them. I do not think that there has ever been a piece of legislation that has not been improved as a result of the legislative process; that is the job of this House. Given that, the hon. Gentleman cannot complain about the fact that the Bill has finally emerged in an improved form. Of course that is always the case; that is exactly as it should be. It would surely be an arrogant Government, whatever their majority, who sought to render the role of this House entirely nugatory by never being willing to listen to proposals to improve legislation. Making such proposals is the role of this House.
I return to the issue of guillotines. I served on the Opposition Front Bench in one capacity or another for sixteen and a half years—
§ Mr. Straw
If the hon. Gentleman looks at the chart, he will see that in the 1988–89 Session, for example, there were 13 guillotine motions—including, I say to the hon. Member for Hertsmere, three in respect of criminal justice; one was the Official Secrets Bill. At that stage, our tactic in opposition was to string things out as far as possible. Gradually, we learned, and in the 1990s there was a high degree of co-operation between Opposition and Government, which I thought was to the advantage of both Houses.
The truth of what has happened—it is on the record—is that it is currently virtually impossible to achieve agreement with the Opposition about any progress on any Bill. On one issue after another, even when they support the Bill, they cannot deliver their own side to vote for a sensible programme. It is for that reason, in sorrow not in anger, that we have tabled the motion.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made;—
§ The House divided: Ayes 170, Noes 311.988
|Division No. 289]||[8.51 pm|
|Allan, Richard||Hammond, Philip|
|Amess, David||Harris, Dr Evan|
|Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James||Harvey, Nick|
|Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy||Hawkins, Nick|
|Baker, Norman||Hayes, John|
|Baldry, Tony||Heald, Oliver|
|Ballard, Jackie||Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)|
|Beggs, Roy||Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David|
|Beth, Rt Hon A J||Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Bell, Martin (Tatton)||Horam, John|
|Bercow, John||Howard, Rt Hon Michael|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)|
|Blunt, Crispin||Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)|
|Boswell, Tim||Jack, Rt Hon Michael|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia||Jackson, Robert (Wantage)|
|Brake, Tom||Jenkin, Bernard|
|Brand, Dr Peter||Keetch, Paul|
|Brazier, Julian||Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles(Ross Skye & Inverness W)|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Key, Robert|
|Browning, Mrs Angela||King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)||Kirkbride, Miss Julie|
|Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Burnett, John||Laing, Mrs Eleanor|
|Burns, Simon||Lait, Mrs Jacqui|
|Burstow, Paul||Lansley, Andrew|
|Butterfill, John||Leigh, Edward|
|Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies(NE Fife)||Letwin, Oliver|
|Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)|
|Cash, William||Lidington, David|
|Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)||Lilley, Rt Hon Peter|
|Clappison, James||Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)||Loughton, Tim|
|Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey||Luff, Peter|
|Collins, Tim||Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas|
|Cormack, Sir Patrick||MacGregor, Rt Hon John|
|Cotter, Brian||McIntosh, Miss Anne|
|Cran, James||MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew|
|Curry, Rt Hon David||Mackinlay, Andrew|
|Davey, Edward (Kingston)||Maclean, Rt Hon David|
|Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen||Madel, Sir David|
|Duncan Smith, Iain||Malins, Humfrey|
|Evans, Nigel||Maude, Rt Hon Francis|
|Ewing, Mrs Margaret||Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian|
|Faber, David||May, Mrs Theresa|
|Fabricant, Michael||Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)|
|Fallon, Michael||Moore, Michael|
|Fearn, Ronnie||Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)|
|Flight, Howard||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Forth, Rt Hon Eric||Oaten, Mark|
|Foster, Don (Bath)||O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)|
|Fox, Dr Liam||Ottaway, Richard|
|Fraser, Christopher||Paterson, Owen|
|Gale, Roger||Portillo, Rt Hon Michael|
|Garnier, Edward||Prior, David|
|George, Andrew (St Ives)||Randall, John|
|Gibb, Nick||Redwood, Rt Hon John|
|Gidley, Sandra||Rendel, David|
|Gill, Christopher||Robathan, Andrew|
|Gillan, Mrs Cheryl||Robertson, Laurence|
|Gorman, Mrs Teresa||Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)|
|Gorrie, Donald||Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)|
|Gray, James||Ruffley, David|
|Green, Damian||Russell, Bob (Colchester)|
|Grieve, Dominic||St Aubyn, Nick|
|Gummer, Rt Hon John||Sanders, Adrian|
|Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie||Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian|
|Shepherd, Richard||Townend, John|
|Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)||Tredinnick, David|
|Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)||Trend, Michael|
|Spelman, Mrs Caroline||Tyler, Paul|
|Spicer, Sir Michael||Tyrie, Andrew|
|Spring, Richard||Viggers, Peter|
|Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John||Waterson, Nigel|
|Steen, Anthony||Webb, Steve|
|Streeter, Gary||Wells, Bowen|
|Swayne, Desmond||Whitney, Sir Raymond|
|Syms, Robert||Willis, Phil|
|Tapsell, Sir Peter||Wilshire, David|
|Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)||Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)|
|Taylor, Rt Hon John D (Strangford)||Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)|
|Taylor, John M (Solihull)||Yeo, Tim|
|Taylor, Matthew (Truro)||Young, Rt Hon Sir George|
|Taylor, Sir Teddy||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)||Mr. Stephen Day and|
|Tonge, Dr Jenny||Mr. Peter Atkinson.|
|Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)||Clelland, David|
|Ainger, Nick||Clwyd, Ann|
|Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)||Coaker, Vernon|
|Alexander, Douglas||Coffey, Ms Ann|
|Allen, Graham||Cohen, Harry|
|Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)||Coleman, Iain|
|Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary||Colman, Tony|
|Ashton, Joe||Connarty, Michael|
|Atherton, Ms Candy||Cook, Frank (Stockton N)|
|Atkins, Charlotte||Corbett, Robin|
|Austin, John||Corston, Jean|
|Banks, Tony||Crausby, David|
|Barnes, Harry||Cryer, John (Hornchurch)|
|Barron, Kevin||Cummings, John|
|Bayley, Hugh||Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack (Copeland)|
|Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)||Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)|
|Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)||Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire|
|Bennett, Andrew F||Datyell, Tam|
|Benton, Joe||Darvill, Keith|
|Berry, Roger||Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)|
|Blackman, Liz||Davis, Rt Hon Terry (B'ham Hodge H)|
|Blears, Ms Hazel|
|Blizzard, Bob||Dawson, Hilton|
|Boateng, Rt Hon Paul||Dean, Mrs Janet|
|Borrow, David||Denham, John|
|Bradley, Keith (Withington)||Dismore, Andrew|
|Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)||Dobbin, Jim|
|Bradshaw, Ben||Dobson, Rt Hon Frank|
|Brinton, Mrs Helen||Donohoe, Brian H|
|Brown, Rt Hon Gordon (Dunfermline E)||Doran, Frank|
|Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)|
|Brown, Russell (Dumfries)||Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)|
|Buck, Ms Karen||Edwards, Huw|
|Burden, Richard||Efford, Clive|
|Burgon, Colin||Ellman, Mrs Louise|
|Butler, Mrs Christine||Ennis, Jeff|
|Byers, Rt Hon Stephen||Field, Rt Hon Frank|
|Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)||Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Flint, Caroline|
|Cann, Jamie||Foster, Rt Hon Derek|
|Caplin, Ivor||Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)|
|Casale, Roger||Foster, Michael J (Worcester)|
|Caton, Martin||Foulkes, George|
|Cawsey, Ian||Fyfe, Maria|
|Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)||George, Bruce (Walsall S)|
|Chaytor, David||Gerrard, Neil|
|Chisholm, Malcolm||Gibson, Dr Ian|
|Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)||Gilroy, Mrs Linda|
|Godman, Dr Norman A|
|Clark, Paul (Gillingham)||Godsiff, Roger|
|Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)||Goggins, Paul|
|Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)||Golding, Mrs Llin|
|Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)||Gordon, Mrs Eileen|
|Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)||McNulty, Tony|
|Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)||MacShane, Denis|
|Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)||Mactaggart, Fiona|
|Grocott, Bruce||McWalter, Tony|
|Grogan, John||Mallaber, Judy|
|Gunnell, John||Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)|
|Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Hall, Patrick (Bedford)||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)|
|Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)||Martlew, Eric|
|Hanson, David||Meale, Alan|
|Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet||Merron, Gillian|
|Heal, Mrs Sylvia||Michael, Rt Hon Alun|
|Healey, John||Miller, Andrew|
|Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)||Moffatt, Laura|
|Hepburn, Stephen||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Heppell, John||Moran, Ms Margaret|
|Hesford, Stephen||Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)|
|Hill, Keith||Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)|
|Hinchliffe, David||Morley, Elliot|
|Home Robertson, John||Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)|
|Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey|
|Hope, Phil||Moms, Rt Hon Sir John (Aberavon)|
|Howarth, George (Knowsley N)|
|Hoyle, Lindsay||Mountford, Kali|
|Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)||Mudie, George|
|Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)||Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)|
|Humble, Mrs Joan||Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)|
|Hurst, Alan||Naysmith, Dr Doug|
|Hutton, John||Norris, Dan|
|Iddon, Dr Brian||O'Hara, Eddie|
|Illsley, Eric||Olner, Bill|
|Ingram, Rt Hon Adam||Organ, Mrs Diana|
|Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)||Osborne, Ms Sandra|
|Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)||Palmer, Dr Nick|
|Jamieson, David||Pearson, Ian|
|Jenkins, Brian||Pendry, Tom|
|Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)||Perham, Ms Linda|
|Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)||Pickthall, Colin|
|Pike, Peter L|
|Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)||Plaskitt, James|
|Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)||Pollard, Kerry|
|Jones, Helen (Warrington N)||Pond, Chris|
|Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)||Pope, Greg|
|Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)||Powell, Sir Raymond|
|Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)||Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)|
|Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)|
|Keeble, Ms Sally||Prescott, Rt Hon John|
|Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)||Primarolo, Dawn|
|Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)||Prosser, Gwyn|
|Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)||Purchase, Ken|
|Khabra, Piara S||Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce|
|King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)||Quinn, Lawrie|
|Kumar, Dr Ashok||Radice, Rt Hon Giles|
|Ladyman, Dr Stephen||Rapson, Syd|
|Lawrence, Mrs Jackie||Raynsford, Nick|
|Laxton, Bob||Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)|
|Lepper, David||Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)|
|Leslie, Christopher||Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)|
|Levitt, Tom||Roche, Mrs Barbara|
|Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)||Rogers, Allan|
|Lewis, Terry (Worsley)||Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff|
|Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen||Rooney, Terry|
|Linton, Martin||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)||Rowlands, Ted|
|Lock, David||Roy, Frank|
|Love, Andrew||Roane, Chris|
|McAvoy, Thomas||Ruddock, Joan|
|McCabe, Steve||Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)|
|McDonagh, Siobhain||Ryan, Ms Joan|
|Macdonald, Calum||Salter, Martin|
|McGuire, Mrs Anne||Sarwar, Mohammad|
|McIsaac, Shona||Savidge, Malcolm|
|McKenna, Mrs Rosemary||Sawford, Phil|
|Mackinlay, Andrew||Shaw, Jonathan|
|McNamara, Kevin||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Shipley, Ms Debra (Oxford E)||Todd, Mark|
|Smith, Rt Hon Andrew||Touhig, Don|
|Smith, Angela (Basildon)||Trickett, Jon|
|Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)||Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)|
|Smith, Miss Geraldine(Morecambe & Lunesdale)||Turner, Neil (Wigan)|
|Twigg, Derek (Halton)|
|Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)||Tynan, Bill|
|Smith, John (Glamorgan)||Vis, Dr Rudi|
|Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)||Walley, Ms Joan|
|Snape, Peter||Wareing, Robert N|
|Soley, Clive||Watts, David|
|Southworth, Ms Helen||White, Brian|
|Starkey, Dr Phyllis||Whitehead, Dr Alan|
|Steinberg, Gerry||Wicks, Malcolm|
|Stevenson, George||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)|
|Stewart, David (Inverness E)|
|Stewart, Ian (Eccles)||Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)|
|Stinchcombe, Paul||Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)|
|Stoate, Dr Howard||Wills, Michael|
|Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin||Wilson, Brian|
|Straw, Rt Hon Jack||Winnick, David|
|Stringer, Graham||Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)|
|Sutcliffe, Gerry||Woodward, Shaun|
|Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)||Woolas, Phil|
|Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)||Wray, James|
|Taylor, David (NW Leics)||Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)|
|Temple-Morris, Peter||Wright, Tony (Cannock)|
|Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)||Wyatt, Derek|
|Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Timms, Stephen||Mr. Clive Betts and|
|Tipping, Paddy||Mr. Jim Dowd.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Main Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 306, Noes 180.991
|Division No. 290]||[9.3 pm|
|Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)||Buck, Ms Karen|
|Ainger, Nick||Burden, Richard|
|Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)||Burgon, Colin|
|Alexander, Douglas||Butler, Mrs Christine|
|Allen, Graham||Byers, Rt Hon Stephen|
|Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)||Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)|
|Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary||Campbell-Savours, Dale|
|Ashton, Joe||Cann, Jamie|
|Atherton, Ms Candy||Caplin, Ivor|
|Atkins, Charlotte||Casale, Roger|
|Austin, John||Caton, Martin|
|Banks, Tony||Cawsey, Ian|
|Barnes, Harry||Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)|
|Barron, Kevin||Chaytor, David|
|Bayley, Hugh||Chisholm, Malcolm|
|Beard, Nigel||Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)|
|Begg, Miss Anne|
|Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)||Clark, Paul (Gillingham)|
|Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)||Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)|
|Bennett, Andrew F||Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)|
|Benton, Joe||Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)|
|Berry, Roger||Clelland, David|
|Blackman, Liz||Clwyd, Ann|
|Blears, Ms Hazel||Coaker, Vernon|
|Blizzard, Bob||Coffey, Ms Ann|
|Boateng, Rt Hon Paul||Cohen, Harry|
|Borrow, David||Coleman, Iain|
|Bradley, Keith (Withington)||Colman, Tony|
|Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)||Connarty, Michael|
|Bradshaw, Ben||Cook, Frank (Stockton N)|
|Brinton, Mrs Helen||Corbett, Robin|
|Brown, Rt Hon Gordon (Dunfermline E)||Corston, Jean|
|Brown, Russell (Dumfries)||Cummings, John|
|Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack (Copeland)||Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)|
|Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)||Jones, RT Hon Barry (Alyn)|
|Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire||Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)|
|Darvill, Keith||Jones, Helen (Warrington N)|
|Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)||Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)|
|Davis, Rt Hon Terry (B'ham Hodge H)||Jones, Marlin (Clyde S)|
|Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa|
|Dawson, Hilton||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald|
|Dean, Mrs Janet||Keeble, Ms Sally|
|Denham, John||Keen, Alan (Feltham & Hesston)|
|Dismore, Andrew||Keen, Ann (Brantford & Isle worth)|
|Dobbin, Jim||Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)|
|Dobson, Rt Hon Frank||Khabra, Piara S|
|Donohoe, Brian H||King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)|
|Doran, Frank||Kumar, Dr Ashok|
|Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)||Layman, Dr Stephen|
|Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)||Lawrence, Mrs Jackie|
|Edwards, Huw||Laxton, Bob|
|Efford, Clive||Lepper, David|
|Ellman, Mrs Louise||Leslie, Christopher|
|Ennis, Jeff||Leavitt, Tom|
|Field, Rt Hon Frank||Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)|
|Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna||Lewis, Terry (Worsley)|
|Flint, Caroline||Liddell, Rat Hon Mrs Helen|
|Foster, Rt Hon Derek||Linton, Martin|
|Foster, Michael Jabez||Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)|
|Foster, Michael J (Worcester)||Lock, David|
|Foulkes, George||Love, Andrew|
|Fyfe, Maria||McAvoy, Thomas|
|George, Bruce (Walsall S)||McCabe, Steve|
|Gerrard, Neil||McDonough, Siobhain|
|Gibson, Dr Ian||Macdonald, Calum|
|Gilroy, Mrs Linda||McGuire, Mrs Anne|
|Godman, Dr Norman A||McIssac, Shona|
|Godsiff, Roger||McKenna, Mrs Rosemary|
|Goggins, Paul||McNamara, Kevin|
|Golding, Mrs Llin||McNulty, Tony|
|Gordon, Mrs Eileen||MacShane, Denis|
|Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)||Mactaggart, Fiona|
|Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)||McWalter, Tony|
|Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)||Mallaber, Judy|
|Grocott, Bruce||Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)|
|Grogan, John||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Gunnell, John||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)|
|Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)||Martlew, Eric|
|Hall, Patrick (Bedford)||Meale, Alan|
|Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)||Merron, Gillian|
|Hanson, David||Michael, Rt Hon Alun|
|Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet||Miller, Andrew|
|Heal, Mrs Sylvia||Moffatt, Laura|
|Healey, John||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)||Moran, Ms Margaret|
|Hepburn, Stephen||Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)|
|Heppell, John||Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)|
|Hesford, Stephen||Morley, Elliot|
|Hill, Keith||Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)|
|Home Robertson, John||Morris, Rt Hon Sir John (Aberavon)|
|Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey|
|Hope, Phil||Mountford, Kali|
|Howarth, George (Knowsley N)||Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie|
|Hoyle, Lindsay||Mudie, George|
|Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)||Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)|
|Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)||Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)|
|Humble, Mrs Joan||Naysmith, Dr Doug|
|Hurst, Alan||Norris, Dan|
|Hutton, John||O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)|
|Iddon, Dr Brian||Olner, Bill|
|Illsley, Eric||Organ, Mrs Diana|
|Ingram, Rt Hon Adam||Osborne, Ms Sandra|
|Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)||Palmer, Dr Nick|
|Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)||Pearson, Ian|
|Jamieson, David||Pendry, Tom|
|Jenkins, Brian||Perham, Ms Linda|
|Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)||Pickthall, Colin|
|Pike, Peter L||Stevenson, George|
|Plaskitt, James||Stewart, David (Inverness E)|
|Pollard, Kerry||Stewart, Ian (Eccles)|
|Pond, Chris||Stinchcombe, Paul|
|Pope, Greg||Stoate, Dr Howard|
|Pound, Stephen||Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin|
|Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)||Straw, Rt Hon Jack|
|Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)||Stringer, Graham|
|Prescott, Rt Hon John||Sutcliffe, Gerry|
|Primarolo, Dawn||Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)|
|Purchase, Ken||Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)|
|Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce||Taylor, David (NW Leics)|
|Quinn, Lawrie||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Rapson, Syd||Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)|
|Raynsford, Nick||Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)|
|Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)||Timms, Stephen|
|Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)||Tipping, Paddy|
|Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)||Todd, Mark|
|Roche, Mrs Barbara||Touhig, Don|
|Rogers, Allan||Trickett, Jon|
|Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff||Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)|
|Rooney, Terry||Turner, Neil (Wigan)|
|Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)||Twigg, Derek (Halton)|
|Rowlands, Ted||Tynan, Bill|
|Roy, Frank||Vis, Dr Rudi|
|Ruane, Chris||Walley, Ms Joan|
|Ruddock, Joan||Wareing, Robert N|
|Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)||Watts, David|
|Ryan, Ms Joan||White, Brian|
|Salter, Martin||Whitehead, Dr Alan|
|Sarwar, Mohammad||Wicks, Malcolm|
|Savidge, Malcolm||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)|
|Shaw, Jonathan||Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)|
|Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert||Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)|
|Shipley, Ms Debra||Wills, Michael|
|Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)||Wilson, Brian|
|Smith, Angela (Basildon)||Winnick, David|
|Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)||Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)|
|Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)||Woodward, Shaun|
|Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)||Worthington, Tony|
|Smith, John (Glamorgan)||Wray, James|
|Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)||Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)|
|Snape, Peter||Wright, Tony (Cannock)|
|Southworth, Ms Helen||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Starkey, Dr Phyllis||Mr. Clive Betts and|
|Steinberg, Gerry||Mr. Jim Dowd.|
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)|
|Allan, Richard||Burnett, John|
|Amess, David||Burns, Simon|
|Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James||Burstow, Paul|
|Ashdown, Rt Hon||Butterfill, John|
|Paddy Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies (NE Fife)|
|Baldry, Tony||Cash, William|
|Ballard, Jackie||Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)|
|Beith, Rt Hon A J||Clappison, James|
|Bell, Martin (Tatton)||Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)|
|Bercow, John||Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Collins, Tim|
|Blunt, Crispin||Corbyn, Jeremy|
|Boswell, Tim||Cormack, Sir Patrick|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia||Cotter, Brian|
|Brake, Tom||Gran, James|
|Brand, Dr Peter||Curry, Rt Hon David|
|Brazier, Julian||Davey, Edward (Kingston)|
|Breed, Colin||Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen|
|Browning, Mrs Angela||Duncan Smith, Iain|
|Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)||Evans, Nigel|
|Ewing, Mrs Margaret||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Faber, David||Madel, Sir David|
|Fabricant, Michael||Malins, Humfrey|
|Fallon, Michael||Marshall-Andrews, Robert|
|Fearn, Ronnie||Maude, Rt Hon Francis|
|Fisher, Mark||Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian|
|Flight, Howard||May, Mrs Theresa|
|Flynn, Paul||Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)|
|Forth, Rt Hon Eric||Moore, Michael|
|Foster, Don (Bath)||Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)|
|Fox, Dr Liam||Moss, Malcolm|
|Fraser, Christopher||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Gale, Roger||Oaten, Mark|
|Garnier, Edward||O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)|
|George, Andrew (St Ives)||Öpik, Lembit|
|Gibb, Nick||Ottaway, Richard|
|Gidley, Sandra||Paterson, Owen|
|Gill, Christopher||Portillo, Rt Hon Michael|
|Gillan, Mrs Cheryl||Prior, David|
|Gorman, Mrs Teresa||Randall, John|
|Gorrie, Donald||Redwood, Rt Hon John|
|Gray, James||Bendel, David|
|Green, Damian||Robathan, Andrew|
|Greenway, John||Robertson, Laurence|
|Grieve, Dominic||Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)|
|Gummer, Rt Hon John||Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)|
|Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie||Ruffley, David|
|Hammond, Philip||Russell, Bob (Colchester)|
|Harris, Dr Evan||St Aubyn, Nick|
|Harvey, Nick||Sanders, Adrian|
|Hawkins, Nick||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Hayes, John||Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian|
|Heald, Oliver||Shepherd, Richard|
|Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)||Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)|
|Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David||Skinner, Dennis|
|Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas||Spelman, Mrs Caroline|
|Hopkins, Kelvin||Spicer, Sir Michael|
|Horam, John||Spring, Richard|
|Howard, Rt Hon Michael||Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)||Steen, Anthony|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)||Streeter, Gary|
|Jack, Rt Hon Michael||Swayne, Desmond|
|Jackson, Robert (Wantage)||Syms, Robert|
|Jenkin, Bernard||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Keetch, Paul||Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)|
|Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness W)||Taylor, Rt Hon John D (Strangford)|
|Taylor, John M (Solihull)|
|Taylor, Matthew (Truro)|
|Key, Robert||Taylor, Sir Teddy|
|King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)||Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)|
|Kirkbride, Miss Julie||Townend, John|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Tredinnick, David|
|Laing, Mrs Eleanor||Trend, Michael|
|Lait, Mrs Jacqui||Tyler, Paul|
|Lansley, Andrew||Tyrie, Andrew|
|Leigh, Edward||Viggers, Peter|
|Letwin, Oliver||Waterson, Nigel|
|Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)||Webb, Steve|
|Lidington, David||Wells, Bowen|
|Lilley, Rt Hon Peter||Whitney, Sir Raymond|
|Livsey, Richard||Willis, Phil|
|Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)||Wilshire, David|
|Loughton, Tim||Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)|
|Luff, Peter||Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)|
|LyeIl, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas||Yeo, Tim|
|McDonnell, John||Young, Rt Hon Sir George|
|MacGregor, Rt Hon John|
|McIntosh, Miss Anne||Tellers for the Noes:|
|MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew||Sir Robert Smith|
|Maclean, Rt Hon David||and Mr. Stephen Day.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.