HL Deb 18 December 1984 vol 458 cc575-88

5.20 p.m.

Debate resumed.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, the very gratifying victory of England in the second test match was due, as we know, to the impatience of an Indian batsman who, having scored a six very early in his innings, tried to do it again off the next ball and was caught at mid-on. That impatience which often brings one to grief is I fear, on this subject of local government, shared by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, on the Front Bench opposite. Having, as she pointed out, helped to induce your Lordships to alter to some extent the shape of the original paving Bill, it now appears possible to bring forward an amendment which, if carried, would cast doubt upon the Government's procedures subsequently. Yet in so doing I feel that she has, perhaps inadvertently, given an indication of the line which the Opposition are going to take about the main Bill. The bulk of her speech was not about the order, which is a very simple matter, but about the Bill. The argument was that the Bill being unpopular and likely to be much amended, it was premature to take its passage for granted which to some extent the order does.

I should point out that these arguments are not as strong as they may at first sight seem. The alleged unpopularity of the main Bill so far as London is concerned was tested in a series of contrived by-elections which proved, as one might have expected, that despite the enormous sums of ratepayers' and taxpayers' money spent on propaganda, the voters of London remained profoundly indifferent.

The second point—and one might have expected this even without the speech of the noble Baroness— was to refer to certain divisions of opinion which exist on the Government side in another place. I thought, however, that the example which the noble Baroness took of the small majority on a particular amendment was ill-founded because, if I am rightly informed, that amendment had nothing to do with abolition or the cancellation of elections which would necessarily follow upon abolition but was concerned with the idea that there should at some future date perhaps be another body representing the whole of London for some purposes or in some manner.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord will give way. The noble Lord must agree that the indications do show what is going on. When a government with a major piece of legislation and with an enormous majority in the other place are able only to produce a majority of 23 on an amendment which has been moved by members of their own party, he cannot decry that. It was only one of the examples which I took. I only raise it with him because he is making such a fuss of it and turning it on its head.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, I do not think that it can have been one of many examples because, so far as I know, it is the only amendment which has been seriously pressed to a Division in another place, and as I said it is an amendment which itself presupposes the passage of the main Bill because it deals exclusively with plans for the future when the GLC will no longer exist. Furthermore, it does seem to take us from the object of this order which is, as I understand it, to carry out a quite specific pledge which was made in your Lordships' House and in another place that it would not be proper to proceed to cancel these elections until, by giving the Bill a Second Reading, the other place had indicated that it would find its way into law. It would indeed have been improper or remiss of Her Majesty's Government, I think, if having said that they were going to proceed in this fashion, they would not have proceeded in it because what has occurred since the original undertaking was given has altered the situation in this respect. It therefore seems to me that it would have been perfectly simple for the noble Baroness to have reserved her fire until the main Bill came before us and allowed this consequential order to go through without amendment.

As for the view that this will in some way inhibit our discussion of the main Bill, my noble friend Lord Nugent has already referred to it. I can even say that so loyal a Government supporter as I believe myself to be, I may well be moving an amendment to the main Bill, and I would not think myself precluded by the fact that these elections are going to be abolished. I think that this really was an occasion of trying for a second six, and that we should let the matter go and proceed as soon as possible to pass this amendment even though it is a more interesting subject than Welsh Estimates.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, I appreciate that there is pressure on time, I note the brevity of previous speeches and I intend to follow suit. I want to begin by congratulating both the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, and the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, for what I consider to have been two excellent speeches which were of course highly critical of the Motion before us. In my view, their cases remain unanswered.

Until the last speaker, I believed that there was a serious attempt to avoid the contents of the main abolition legislation. I think everyone understands that this procedure is unusual but not unique. The noble Lord, Lord Nugent, points out that it is unconventional and highly irregular, and that he himself would not have been party to proposing it. The alternative, if we are serious about the purposes of this Chamber, is to take the opportunities which are presented to us. At the end of the day of course parliamentary arithmetic will determine the issue. What we are endeavouring to do yet again is to take the opportunity in the light of events to persuade the Government not to go as fast as they want.

In moving this Motion, the noble Lord, Lord Avon, said: "We cannot wait". What kind of a Government is it that cannot wait to do something as devastating as the abolition of elections? The noble Lord went on to say: "if Parliament enacts the abolition Bill". The whole issue is hedged with some uncertainty. I am not going to anticipate whether or not the main Bill becomes law, but I simply remind noble Lords of a sequence of statistics borne from the latest debate on this issue in another place.

The noble Lord, Lord Avon, gave us the first clue. With an overall majority nearer 200 than 100, the majority on Second Reading in another place was 135. Another issue which was never quite clear but wrapped up in the arguments was carried by 44. Another amendment was carried by 23. I simply say to your Lordships: it is possible to contemplate that if the weakness of the Government's arguments and the conviction of Government supporters prevails in another place, it is perfectly possible for large holes to be blown in the main legislation. If that happened, what would he the constitutional situation?

We are being invited by means of this Motion to abolish the elections. The Government have said previously that they have a mandate. They never had a mandate to abolish the elections. They are entitled to make play of the mandate they sought on 9th June about the abolition of the GLC but if they are real democrats—I say this without offence—they should take the opportunity of testing their convictions whenever possible.

The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, poured scorn on the by-elections that took place in September. The party of democrats opposite decided to run away from the opportunity of testing the will of the people of the metropolitan counties and of London. What would happen if the elections were to take place next April? The Government believe that the people of London want the abolition of the GLC. That belief would be tested. It will not be contrived out of an overall mandate. The people will be able to speak.

I have statistics from a survey. We all know how suspicious they can be, but 74 per cent. of the people polled recently on the question: "Do you wish the abolition of the GLC?" said "No". That figure can be suspect. I put it forward as no more than an expression of opinion.

If we are democrats we must believe in the ballot box. There is an opportunity for that to happen. This Motion and its amendment are not urging that those elections take place. We are debating tonight the stopping for a period of the abolition of the elections. The Minister says that we cannot wait. If the logic of the arithmetic I have stated—135, 44 and 23—prevails, is it possible that this Government will reflect and change course without having to be driven? Every move that the Government have made they have had to be driven to. They have never voluntarily offered a change of course of any substance. They have had to be driven by the force of the votes in this or the other place.

In supporting this amendment, what are we saying? We are saying to the Government that they must accept the stricture in the amendment. If, on the other hand, they decide to proceed, it will still be possible to bring forward another Motion, another instrument, later in the day but still in time if they insist upon abolition. If the Government supporters have so convinced or persuaded or frightened the Government to a change of course, they may have time to reflect by next February.

I keep completely away, as I believe have all speakers here tonight, from the arguments which are bound up with the value of the metropolitan authorities and the GLC. We are concerned with saying to the Government "For goodness sake, you have an opportunity to reflect and to decide whether you have this right". If this proceeds and the elections do not take place, I fear that democracy will have been brought into disrepute and by its decision tonight this House will have lent itself to that disgraceful procedure.

5.34 p.m.

Lord Bruce-Gardyne

My Lords, early in his speech Lord Graham congratulated both the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, and the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman. As I understand it, the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, made it clear that she intended to pursue her amendment to a division and the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, made it clear that she and her colleagues had no intention of supporting it. I cannot quite share the catholicity of endorsement which the noble Lord, Lord Graham, expressed.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, the noble Lord will forgive me for intervening. I congratulated both noble Baronesses on their speeches and their arguments. If at the end of the day they decide to take separate courses, while I regret that those on the Alliance Benches may not be coming into our Lobby, that does not detract one whit from what I believe were devastating arguments.

Lord Bruce-Gardyne

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that further explanation. I do not know whether one should declare an interest in this sort of debate as a ratepayer to the GLC, but as a ratepayer to the GLC I entirely share the belief of my noble friend Lord Avon in the desire for all speed to see it on its way.

I accept entirely that we are not discussing the substance of that proposition tonight: we are discussing what might be described as modalities. The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, said that hers was not a wrecking amendment. She then went on to explain that if your Lordships carried her amendment the Government would have to consider revoking the order, so I suppose one could say that the purpose of the amendment is not to wreck the order but to lock the wheel so that the ship has to go straight on to the rocks, whereupon I imagine that the Government would be bound to take corrective action.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, I do not wish to prolong this debate, but it is important that we get this right. Under the Interpretation Act, which I quoted, the order can he revoked. I made it perfectly clear that it was up to the Government to decide, but what it means is that the Government's hands are not tied and, if enough expression of feeling came from this House that we were unhappy about this way of dealing with the elections, then it would be up to the Government to decide. The Government are not forced to do anything but at least they have the opportunity to think again about these elections.

Lord Bruce-Gardyne

My Lords, I understood the noble Baroness to point out that the order could be reconsidered. I still think that the whole tenor of her remarks and the purpose of this amendment must come close to tieing the Government's hands in the matter.

The noble Baroness also sought to make our flesh creep at the prospect of Government supporters in another place marching into the Lobbies against the Government. She thought that this was an exceptional event which demonstrated the weakness of the Government's case and the weakness of the substantive legislation. I can recall numerous occasions on many other matters when I was in another place when I took it upon myself to vote against the Government and my party. I think the noble Lord, Lord Graham, may have done the same in similar circumstances. It is not such a unique occasion.

To my mind, I thought that all we were about this evening was fulfilling what had been the wishes of your Lordships. It was my impression that it was the wish of the majority of your Lordships (which I am bound to say I personally do not share) that the GLC should be carried on without an interregnum.

I understand that the purpose of this order is precisely to make that possible. The only debate is about whether to have what I think would be rather fruitlesss elections for the final lifespan of this authority. For my part, the more I watch of the activities of the GLC and its dreaded minions like Mrs. Morrell apparently driving out the director of the North London Polytechnic because he declined to act in defiance of the orders of the courts: the activities of Mr. Wetzel, who apparently wants to deny London the means of receiving supplies by blocking off the access of lorries by night and the rest, the more I am bound to say that the sooner this body is swept away the better.

However, I cannot see that those who take a different view can be justified in supporting tonight an amendment which I should have thought ran counter to the whole purpose which your Lordships expressed when you voted in favour of the proposition that the life of the GLC should be prolonged rather than that an interim authority should take its place. So I cannot see any good reason why we should fail to give this order clearance in the vote this evening.

5.41 p.m.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, I am sorry that I was unable to be present in the House when the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, commenced moving this amendment. Unfortunately I was at a meeting of the Greater London Council, which is continuing at this very minute. I was sorry to have to leave because I lost the opportunity of voting against the majority party and the vote was just coming up. But I came because I consider this issue is very important.

The statement has been made that this is not a wrecking amendment. Presumably we are expected to consider it a reasoned amendment. I consider it anything but a reasoned amendment. I find it most unreasonable. In particular on the purely technical point, as I understand it this amendment will have no real effect, although it has been suggested by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk and the noble Lord, Lord Graham, that it will. As I understand it, even if this amendment was accepted—which I certainly hope it will not be—the order would still go through. So it seems to me that this is all a bit of window-dressing, and as such it is a waste of time.

But we should consider the important parts of this Act which will only be implemented when we have passed this order tonight. In particular, I should refer to Clause 5 which is about information. To me, there is no way that we can consider the full Bill for abolition unless we have all the information which is necessary from the Greater London Council. The powers under this Bill to seek information will mean that when this House in due course considers the Bill, we will be in a position to have available any and all information that is required. Unfortunately at the present moment I believe that there is an instruction issued that information should not be made available to the Government. This places officers in a most difficult and embarrassing position. To protect them as much as anything else it is very important that this should be enacted.

There is then the question of consultation with the constituent councils about any proposal involving expenditure in a subsequent financial year. It is very easy for the present authority to make all sorts of decisions which have great impact on those authorities who will follow them and take over responsibility if the abolition law goes through. It is most important that these authorities should be able to be consulted and to have the necessary information.

There are other important clauses. Even the one about the quorum may become desperately important. If you visit County Hall now you will find there is quite a different atmosphere; people no longer talk about, "if there is abolition", they talk about, "when the abolition comes in"; they talk about "after abolition". This means that any ploy to try to make London unworkable and impossible to transfer to any other body—these processes are being enacted now at County Hall—is something of which we must be very careful.

Lord Stallard

My Lords, would the noble Baroness kindly give way? She keeps referring to different clauses, Clause 5 and Clause 7. I am looking at the order but I cannot find them. Can she enlighten me as to where to find these clauses on this order?

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord. As I understand it, this order brings into force the Local Government (Interim Provisions) Act 1984 and therefore this order is all about the Act. Is that not correct?

Lord Nugent of Guildford

My Lords, no. Perhaps I can help the noble Lord and my noble friend. I think that the only part that will come into force is Part II. There is no doubt that my noble friend the Earl of Avon will put my noble friend right on this but I think it is only Part II. So I think the noble Lord opposite is right.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, I apologise to the House. Obviously, spending my time at County Hall and doing battle on other issues I have not had time to study that.

As regards the suspension of elections and the extension of the term of office, the noble Lord, Lord Graham, made what I thought was a very interesting point about the fact that there is no hurry. I think that there is every hurry to get on with this. The dismantling of the Greater London Council will be a long and slow process. I do think that time is needed and every day is valuable.

There has been much discussion in this debate about the by-elections. It is a very curious situation that for the expenditure of£5 million the Member who stood in Paddington only received 500 extra votes. So that shows how important these elections were to the people of London. They were very expensive: 500 extra votes. The party intended to have a rolling programme of by-elections, as we know, but the by-elections proved such a disaster that they are not bothering to have any more. In that case, I do not think these elections which are under Part II of this Act are particularly important to the people of London as an interim measure. And this is the matter that we are discussing. I hope I have this right this time.

So returning to the point, there will be plenty of time to reflect. The noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, suggested that we need time to reflect. We will have more than adequate time. We will be considering the full detail of the Bill when it comes before us. It is already being considered at great length in the other place. There will be plenty more time to do that. As I understand it, if that other Bill was not passed, then this Bill would also fall. So again there is no reason for delay. I ask the House to definitely reject the amendment and pass this order tonight.

Lord Sefton of Garston

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, expressed some concern about this amendment being moved on the grounds that it was in order but that it weakened certain conventions that exist in our parliamentary system. That concern is shared by a lot of people. Many Members on this side of the House and on the opposite side of the House well remember the tyrannies carried out in the name of single chamber government in other parts of Europe and value highly the nature of this Chamber. The convention that exists between this Chamber and the other, and in Parliament as a whole, should be jealously guarded. I share that sense of caution when we table amendments. But on this particular issue I do not think we go far enough. Coming from Merseyside, my feeling is that we should not just table an amendment to this order: we should vote against it and vote it out. That is my feeling.

The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, said that he could not understand what we were talking about; we should not be talking about the Bill, we should be talking about the order. What does the order say? The order cancels the elections of the Merseyside County Council. I do not profess to speak for any of the others. So I am very concerned that such an order should come in front of this House. Apart from the fact that it does prejudice the discussion which we shall have here on the Second Reading—and everybody knows this—it is a very sorry state of affairs that the noble Minister opposite has to be given the task of carrying this order through in the House today. But it says that we should, without any reference to the people of Merseyside or anywhere else, abolish elections for that Merseyside County Council.

Since we debated this issue in this House last time I have had more information. My information tells me that a survey carried out in Merseyside with 1,054 people in each constituency showed that only 1 per cent. of the people questioned really knew that the matter was referred to at all in the last general election. So much for the mandate. The survey showed that over 70 per cent. wanted the Merseyside County Council to remain as it was—I repeat, "as it was"—and that some even said it should be given more power. More than 80 per cent. do not want an increase in the powers of central government and, generally, those questioned in the survey thought that the services given by the Merseyside County Council were very good.

When we talk about Merseyside County Council, we are also talking about another convention—we are talking about the consent of the governed. There is no need for me to repeat the fact that Merseyside has gone through a pretty rough time. When people start playing around with local government, they should heed the words of Sir Kenneth Thompson, a member of the Government years ago, and knighted for his role in Tory politics. He said: Those who play about with the delicate instrument of government in this country should be very careful and be very sure of what they are doing or otherwise the consequences will be far worse than they even thought. We are managing to build on Merseyside a consensus, in spite of Brixton and in spite of Toxteth. We are managing to build once again a consensus between the police authority and the people of Merseyside. Merseyside people have just been hosts to the rest of the world. There has not been one single complaint and all one hears is praise for the work of the Merseyside County Council and for the welcome people received when visiting the Garden Festival, started ironically enough by the Merseyside Development Corporation, which was first proposed by the Merseyside County Council. This consensus is slowly beginning to build up. Merseyside is becoming a community once again. Anyone who went to the football match at Wembley will know this. Where else could you hear shouts not for Liverpool or for Everton?—both groups of supporters were proud of the fact that they came from Merseyside. This order intends to abolish those elections.

I do not think we go far enough. I am persuaded to vote for this amendment because I still value those conventions, despite my instinctive feeling that if I went back to Merseyside and said I did not vote against it, they would say, "To hell with that for a story, mate! We don't think the House of Lords has done the right thing". What is happening is that the distrust already existing between "them" and "us", between those who hold power and the people who are governed, will be made worse by the Bill. The Government may rush it through and carry it with their majority. When the noble Earl who introduced the order was speaking, he stressed the Govenment's tremendous majority in another place. Of course they have a tremendous majority in another place.

I should like to conclude on this note. It is a simple point but it illustrates the shallowness of the thinking opposite. The noble Lord, Lord Bruce-Gardyne, said that he was a ratepayer to the GLC and that he would like to see the great GLC on its way. Of course he would like to see it on its way. Why did he not persuade the Government to have elections in 1985 and then they could have seen whether the people of London wanted to see it on its way? He is not concerned about consulting the people of London.

The real truth is that the Government today have not got time. They cannot wait because if they do wait they know damn well that it will be so close to the next general election that a referendum or a vote on the issue of the abolition of these county councils would see the Government well and truly out—and the sooner that happens the better.

5.55 p.m.

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, perhaps briefly I may return to the order and say that both Houses of Parliament agreed that it was right to put on the statute book what is now Part II of the Local Government (Interim Provisions) Act 1984. That is of course a provision to suspend elections. The principle is therefore established. However, its application is subject to the approval of both Houses by way of an affirmative order. That is what we are asking the House to agree this evening, just as the other place did several days ago.

Perhaps I may pick up one or two points. The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, talked about precedents. I believe it has been the practice in previous reorganisations to cancel all elections to authorities which are being abolished. Section 2(1) follows this precedent but the fact of the matter is that the principle is just the same. The wording of Section 2(1) draws heavily on that used in the London Government Act 1963—that is, Schedule 3, paragraph 6—and the Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 3, paragraph 3.

The noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, talked about voters being disenfranchised, but of course the whole point of what we put through the House last year is that the electors will still have representatives. That has been done by extending the period of office of the councillors.

Timing was brought up by a number of noble Lords. I must confess that I find the aim of 1st April 1986—this has been no secret and was no secret when we passed the paving Bill—a good target, and I should be horrified if we were to extend it to a longer time. To have this hanging over our heads for any longer period would be quite exacting.

The noble Lord, Lord Sefton, says that this will prejudice our discussions on Second Reading. I am sure that it does not prejudice those discussions and I am sure that the order will in no way stop the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, saying exactly what he wants during the stages of the Bill. It was a manifesto commitment and I believe that people have already said what they feel.

The amendment tabled by the noble Baroness. Lady Birk, invites the House to do rather more than the order itself. I must say to your Lordships that I cannot agree to accept the suggestion of the qualifying amendment. The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, says that this House's consideration of the Local Government Bill is prejudiced by the order. Part II of the Local Government (Interim Provisions) Act has already been fully debated and approved by both Houses of Parliament. The principle of abolition has been approved by the Second Reading of the Local Government Bill in the other place. The noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, mentioned this. Moreover, the other place in a Committee of the Whole House has agreed by a substantial majority that Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill. That is the clause which provides that, as from 1st April 1986, the GLC and the MCCs shall cease to exist. The noble Baroness quoted the figure of 23 and called it a hare majority. I wonder, when we come to the Committee stage here, how often we shall get that sort of majority.

Viscount Whitelaw

I hope very often, my Lords.

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, my noble friend says that he hopes very often. When I look at the majority of 121 in the other place for Clause I stand part, I am quite jealous.

The order we are debating today was approved in the other place on 10th December and the text of the Local Government Bill has been available since 22nd November. I must remind the House that it was drawn up after considerable consultation. I cannot agree therefore that this House's accepted role as a revising Chamber is in any way prejudiced or restricted by this order. The noble Baroness mentioned the scrutinising of all legislation. We can certainly continue to scrutinise this.

The other place has now made its intentions clear and in due course this House will have a full opportunity to exercise its knowledge and wisdom to review and revise the Local Government Bill as necessary. In no sense therefore does this order interfere with that process. Indeed we are not even committing Parliament irrevocably to the measures brought into operation by the order. As I have already pointed out, the means exist for repealing the paving legislation and reinstating elections, the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman. That would be done by an order which would also be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. The Government made clear during the proceedings on the Local Government (Interim Provisions) Bill that in such circumstances the elections would be reinstated as soon as practicable. I gladly repeat that assurance.

Having accepted the principle of cancellation, the timing follows. We have to give adequate notice for the elections. That is why 1st February 1985 has been chosen. The timing makes it impractical to delay your Lordships' consideration of the order. As a Government, I believe we have paid full and proper respect to this House as a revising Chamber. I do not believe that any government could be expected to go further. I therefore ask your Lordships to reject the amendment moved by the noble Baroness and to give the unqualified approval of the House of the order.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, I do not think that I am going to win this one, but I should like to remark on one or two of the comments made by other noble Lords. The noble Lord, Lord Bruce-Gardyne, said he could not wait to get rid of the GLC. He was answered so specifically and so vigorously by my noble friend Lord Sefton that I do not need to say anything more about that matter. So far as the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, is concerned, she made an excellent speech. Why she spoilt it with the comments she made towards the end, I do not know. Still, we are all entitled to our views and to freedom of activity.

With regard to the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, I was a little puzzled. Short of repeating everything I said in my opening remarks, it will he very difficult for me to answer the points she raised, because I had already covered so many of them. I very much appreciate the way she dashed across the river in order to be here. I cannot help wondering whether it would not have saved her a great deal of trouble, and would not have been better in the long run, if she had been fighting her corner on the other side of the river, because she always fights her corner so hard. Therefore, the noble Baroness will forgive me if I do not take up the points she made.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, if the noble Baroness will give way, I have just received a message that the adjournment motion in the GLC against the majority party was passed, so obviously we had sufficient numbers even without my presence.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, am I to congratulate the noble Baroness because her presence was not necessary in the GLC or because it was necessary here?

In his winding up speech, the noble Earl the Minister fell into the same trap into which so many others have fallen before him, when he spoke about the cancellation of elections and the precedent that had been set. His noble friend the Leader of the House, whom I quoted when moving the amendment, said on 16th July 1984, on those occasions the cancellation was done in the main Bill abolishing the authorities."—[Official Report, 16/7/84; col. 1185.] So this really is a precedent and the noble Viscount the Leader of the House was fair enough to concede this point at that time. I must repeat again that there was not a manifesto commitment to cancel elections; there was just a manifesto commitment to abolish the GLC and the metropolitan counties.

I feel disappointed that in this House, which now is even more looked upon as the protector of liberties and as the place where matters are put right, there seems to be among those noble Lords opposite who have spoken a flippant attitude towards elections. It seems to us that to cancel elections is a very serious step. I believe we have shown that this time it is only necessary because the Government set themselves an almost impossible timetable and have thus found themselves in this predicament. One can talk about numbers, but they do not alter the fact that everyone is aware that the Government are in difficulties with this Bill—it would be extremely strange if they were not because they have undertaken a mammoth piece of legislation without any proper preparation.

I do not wish to delay the House any further, and I must ask your Lordships to divide on my amendment.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Aylestone)

My Lords, the original Motion was, That the draft Local Government (Interim Provisions) Act 1984 (Appointed Day) Order 1985 laid before the House on 22nd November be approved—since when an amendment has been moved to insert at the end the words set out on the Order Paper.

The Question I have to put is, That the amendment be agreed to?

6.3 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 72; Not-Contents, 145.

Allen of Fallowfield, L. Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Ardwick, L. Collison, L.
Barnett, L. David, B. [Teller.]
Beswick, L. Davies of Leek, L.
Birk, B. Dean of Beswick, L.
Blyton, L. Delacourt-Smith of Alteryn, B.
Bottomley, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L. Denington, B.
Campbell of Eskan, L. Elwyn-Jones, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Ennals, L.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Oram, L.
Gallacher, L. Peart, L.
Glenamara, L. Phillips, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Gregson, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]
Hatch of Lusby, L.
Heycock, L. Prys-Davies, L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Rea, L.
Howie of Troon, L. Ross of Marnock, L.
Hughes, L. Sefton of Garston, L.
Ingleby, V. Serota, B.
Irving of Dartford, L. Shackleton, L.
Jacobson, L. Shinwell, L.
Jacques, L. Stallard, L.
Jeger, B. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
John-Mackie, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Kaldor, L. Stone, L.
Kilbracken, L. Strabolgi, L.
Kirkhill, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Lawrence, L. Underhill, L.
Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Lockwood, B. Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Lovell- Davis, L. Wells-Pestell, L.,
Milner of Leeds, L. White, B.
Mishcon, L. Willis, L.
Nicol, B. Wilson of Rievaulx, L.
Abinger, L. Glanusk, L.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Glenarthur, L.
Allerton, L. Gowrie, E.
Ampthill, L. Granville of Eye, L.
Arran, E. Gray of Contin, L.
Auckland, L. Greenway, L.
Avon, E. Gridley, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Grimston of Westbury, L.
Bellwin, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.
Beloff, L.
Belstead, L. Halsbury, E.
Benson, L. Hanson, L.
Bessborough, E. Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Brahazon of Tara, L. Henley, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Holderness, L.
Broxbourne, L. Home of the Hirsel, L.
Bruce-Gardyne, L. Hood, V.
Caccia, L. Hornsby-Smith, B.
Caithness, E. Hylton-Foster, B.
Cameron of Lochbroom, L. Inglewood, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Ironside, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Kaberry of Adel, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Kilmany, L.
Clitheroe, L. King of Wartnaby, L.
Coleraine, L. Kinloss, Ly.
Colville of Culross, V. Kinnoull, E.
Colwyn, L. Kintore, E.
Constantine of Stanmore, L. Kitchener, E.
Cork and Orrery, L. Lane-Fox, B.
Cox, B. Lauderdale, E.
Craigavon, V. Layton, L.
Craigmyle, L. Long, V.
Crawford and Balcarres, E. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Crawshaw, L. Lyell, L.
Dacre of Glanton, L. MacLehose of Beoch, L.
Daventry, V. Mancroft, L.
Davidson, V. Marley, L.
De Freyne, L. Marshall of Leeds, L.
De La Warr, E. Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.]
Donegall, M. Merrivale, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Mersey, V.
Ellenborough, L. Milverton, L.
Elles, B. Molson, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Monk Bretton, L.
Elton, L. Monson, L.
Ferrers, E. Mottistone, L.
Fisher, L. Munster, E.
Fortescue, E. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Gainford, L. Norfolk, D.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Gibson-Watt, L. Orkney, E.
Orr-Ewing, L. Stodart of Leaston, L.
Pender, L. Strathcarron, L.
Penrhyn, L. Sudeley, L.
Portland, D. Swinfen, L.
Rankeillour, L. Swinton, E. [Teller.]
Redesdale, L. Terrington, L.
Reigate, L. Teynham, L.
Renton, L. Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Renwick, L. Tranmire, L.
Robertson of Oakridge, L. Trefgarne, L.
Rodney, L. Trumpington, B.
Romney, E. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
St. Aldwyn, E. Vivian, L.
Sandford, L. Waldegrave, E.
Seebohm, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Selkirk, E. Whitelaw, V.
Shannon, E. Windlesham, L.
Sharples, B. Wynford, L.
Shaughnessy, L. Young, B.
Skelmersdale, L. Young of Graffham, L.
Somers, L. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.
Southborough, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

On Question, Motion agreed to.