§ 1 Clause 1 page 2, line 3, after ("date") insert ("subject to subsection (3A) below").
§ 2 Page 2, leave out lines 5 to 7.
§ 3 Page 2, line 13, at end insert ("and").
§ 4 Page 2, leave out lines 14 and 15.
5 Page 2, line 21, at end insert—
("(3A) A person does not qualify as an overseas elector in respect of a constituency on the qualifying date for those purposes unless—
(4) The reference in subsection (3A)(b) above to a person ceasing to be resident in the United Kingdom is, in the case of a person relying on registration in pursuance of a service declaration, a reference to his ceasing to have a service qualification or, if later, ceasing to be so resident.
(4A) For the purposes of this section and sections 2 and 3 of this Act, the appropriate date for qualifying as an overseas elector in respect of a constituency, or for qualifying under section 3 of this Act in respect of an Assembly constituency, is the date by reference to which the register of parliamentary
electors or, as the case may be, the register under section 3 of this Act for the constituency concerned is prepared.")
6 Clause 2, page 3, line 19, at end insert—
("(4A) In the case of a person relying on paragraph (b) of section 1(3A) of this Act, his overseas elector's declaration must in addition—
(4B) In the case of a person relying on section 1(3A)(c) of this Act, his overseas elector's declaration must in addition state—
§ 7 Clause 3, page 4, line 21, after ("date") insert ("(subject to subsection (4A) below)").
§ 8 Page 4, leave out lines 23 to 25.
§ 9 Page 4, line 31, at end insert ("and").
§ 10 Page 4, leave out lines 32 and 33.
11 Page 4, line 39, at end insert—
("(4A) A peer does not qualify under this section in respect of a constituency on the qualifying date for those purposes unless—
(4B) The reference in subsection (4A)(b) above to a person ceasing to be resident in the United Kingdom is, in the case of a person relying on registration in pursuance of a service declaration, a reference to him ceasing to have a service qualification or, if later, ceasing to be so resident.").
§ 12 The Commons disagreed to the above amendments for the following reason:
§ Because it is not appropriate to extend further franchise for overseas electors beyond the five year period by reference to a person's occupation.
§ Lord Tordoff
My Lords, I beg to move that this House do insist on their Amendments Nos. 1 to 11 to which the Commons have disagreed for the Reason numbered 12.
For those who do not know the long history of this series of amendments, it amounts to one amendment and a number of consequential amendments. The noble Baroness, Lady Elles, moved an amendment at the Committee stage of this Bill in which she explained to the Committee that she wished British citizens 561 working for the European Community to have the same rights as diplomats serving overseas and members of the Armed Forces serving overseas—namely, that they could vote in elections in this country and in elections to the European Parliament.
At the Report stage the noble Baroness sought to move an amendment which would include spouses, and at that point the Government said that they would pick up these two amendments and, together, bring them back at Third Reading, which indeed they did. Therefore, the amendments which were first agreed—the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, at the Committee stage which was agreed by your Lordships, and the Government's substitute for that amendment and for the other amendment about spouses—are the ones with which the Commons have disagreed. It is not some nasty, violent, Left-wing, anarchist amendment from these Benches, but a Government amendment with which the Commons have disagreed.
At this stage I should also point out that when the amendment of the noble Baroness was first agreed to it had the support of the Front Bench of the Labour Party in this House in the shape of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, who I am sorry not to see in his place tonight. However, doubtless the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, will be substituting for him—poor chap!
When the Bill returned to the other place the Labour Party apparently did not like that amendment. As noble Lords know, the Labour Party believes that many people who live and work overseas are criminals and tax dodgers, and although it does not actually say that to the Members of the European Community, it does not believe that the franchise should be extended to those people who do not pay tax in this country. That is a curious concept because I am quite sure that a number of Labour Party supporters in this country do not pay tax in this country, and I hope that the Labour Party will not suggest that in future those people should be disfranchised.
We have this extremely curious situation where an arrangement was reached by the Government Front Bench and the Opposition Front Bench in another place in order to remove from this Bill the franchise which your Lordships had granted to people working for the European Community. Therefore, we have to consider whether we ought to send the Bill back again to the Commons.
I am told—and let me say straight away that I have no evidence whatever for this—that one of the reasons the Government acceded to this was that the Opposition in another place (that is to say, the Labour Party Opposition) warned the Government that if they did not remove this provision from the Bill, they would get nasty on the Bill dealing with sports grounds and alcohol, and that they would not allow it to go through the other place in one day. Whether or not that is true I do not know, but I should be interested to hear whether that is the case from both the Government and the Labour Party.
Even if it is not the case, the fact is that there was an arrangement between the two Front Benches in 562 another place which has cost servants of this country working for the Common Market their vote, not only in elections in this country but also in European elections. As the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, pointed out at an earlier stage of this Bill, after the five-year period has come to an end they will remain the only people working in Brussels who will not have a vote in elections to the body for which they work. That is clearly scandalous and a mistake, and it is clearly the duty of your Lordships' House to put it right.
When it comes to the question of elections in this country, it might be said that the House of Commons is the place that should decide who are the people who shall vote for them. To my mind there is very little which is further from the truth at the end of the day. In the strange electoral system that we have at the moment—and I shall not go into that yet again—it is possible to have an elected dictatorship; and this Chamber remains the final backstop against a contrived decision, a cosy getting-together of two large parties determined to remove the rights of minorities to vote in elections to the Parliament in this country.
It is on those grounds that I beg to move that your Lordships resist this move from the Commons and that we insist on the amendment that we passed at the Third Reading stage, which I repeat, was a Government amendment.
§ Moved, That this House do insist on their Amendments Nos. 1 to 11 to which the Commons have disagreed for the Reason numbered 12.—(Lord Tordoff.)
§ Baroness Elles
My Lords, I was hoping that the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition would speak next so that we might know what the Opposition view is this time round. However, since neither the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition nor the spokesman on behalf of the Opposition has seen fit to speak, I thought that I would take the floor now.
We seem to have reached a rather farcical situation where a Government amendment is being resisted in this House. I totally accept that at no time did my noble friend the Minister give an undertaking that that amendment would be supported. In fairness to my noble friend I must make it quite clear that, although the Government took over the amendment, it was on the basis of drafting and not on the basis of policy behind the amendment.
In this case I have been given to understand from the Opposition Benches that, instead of them voting with us, they will be voting against restoring the amendment to the Bill. However, that again is hearsay, and of course we shall wait to hear whether the noble Lord on the Opposition Front Bench changes his mind, as they changed their minds in the Commons. Therefore, there is no reason why he should not change it this time.
On the other hand, this situation may be farcical in constitutional terms, but it is a disaster for those officials who have seen their right to vote, which was passed in this House by quite a large majority, being taken away for reasons which, frankly, are not serious or do not have a solid foundation. I consider that this is disrespectful to those officials who are working in the Community.
563 What surprised me more than anthing else were—if I may use the word without any disrespect to Members of the other place—the fatuous arguments which were put forward when the amendment was rejected. The arguments were that it was not fair to discriminate against British citizens working as officials in the Community as opposed to those working for ICI or other companies. However, the fact of the matter is that both your Lordships' House and another place had an opportunity to vote to give those people the vote in national and European elections, and in both Houses that was rejected. Therefore, that argument is no longer valid.
Those of us who daily or quite frequently have to work with British officials in the institutions of the Community, from the President of the European Court of Justice downwards to the last clerk in the Commission, are continuously having to consider vital British interests. That seems to have escaped most people.
These servants of Britain are working in Community institutions, and not of course entirely for Britain because they are international civil servants. But I would ask: which French, German, Italian, Dutch, Danish or other official is going to work all night and all day to do their best for British interests? The only officials who will be doing that will be British officials. I therefore find it lamentable that this vote should not be given to them.
It is not a question of discrimination. This was recognised in the British Nationality Act. Their position as servants was recognised within the context of being put on a level with serving diplomats outside this country, and with those in the services overseas. That was recognised in the British Nationality Act, and I cannot see why any grounds have been put forward to deny similar rights in the case of voting.
The issue of voting is fundamental. I am sorry that British citizens other than British officials did not get the right to vote. It was a Labour Government which ratified the international covenant on civil and political rights in which it clearly says that every citizen shall have the right to vote in elections—and that does not state whether they happen to reside in the country of their nationality or any other. Every citizen of a country has a right to vote. This was one of the covenants ratified by a British Labour Government. I am sorry to see that they are reneging on an undertaking which I should have thought was fundamental to democratic rights.
Having said that, all is not lost. Although a majority voted on 28th March this year to deny British citizens their rights, and in another place on 26th June British officials were denied their rights, I am happy to say that on 28th and 29th June this year, at the Milan summit, the United Kingdom Government, as one of the members of the European Council, in fact supported the proposals of the People's Committee, which was set up after the Fontainebleau summit.
In that communiqué, which came out supporting the People's Committee, it says that every effort must be made by all member states to ensure that member states grant the right to their citizens within the European Community to vote in at least European parliamentary elections. I am therefore particularly 564 sorry that between 28th March and the 28th and 29th June the Government seemed to have changed their position and did not take up the opportunity to vote on the amendments which were before this House and which went back to another place.
In view of the fact that it was supported in the Lords and rejected in the Commons, I, personally, should like to keep it that way and make it known to the British officials that I work with that this House supported their democratic rights and that they were taken away in another place. I hope that the Government will see fit to introduce legislation which will give British officials and all British citizens resident in the Community a right to vote as British citizens.
§ Lord Howie of Troon
My Lords, I have no idea, either, how my Front Bench is going to vote in this matter, but I, for one, as a member of the Labour Party, voted for this amendment the last time round, and I propose to do so again. There is a simple issue involved here, and it is one which should be close to the heart of the Labour Party. It was close to the heart of the Labour Party in this House not so long ago, but we seem to have been overriden by our colleagues in another place. They are not going to override me.
As members of the Labour Party and socialists in a quiet way, we are democrats; and the essential feature of democracy is that as many people as possible should be entitled and enabled to vote. That is central and crucial to our democratic system. We should be trying to extend the franchise as far as we can.
Older members of the Labour Party will remember that this principle was of great help to us in 1945, when Mr. Attlee's great Labour Government were brought to power to a large extent on the strength of the overseas vote of the British forces. The same principle applies whether people are in the forces or whether they are servants of government in Brussels or elsewhere—or, incidentally, whether they work for ICI or anybody else, although that is not the question really before us tonight. The question is a simple one. We were right when we voted on this the last time around. The other place has been wrong to attempt to change this amendment, and I hope that we carry it again tonight.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Lord Monson
My Lords, I confess that I have no strong feelings either way about whether or not British officials working overseas for the EEC have the vote in United Kingdom elections. I have never been an enthusiast for Britain's membership of the EEC, as I have stated on earlier occasions. What I feel strongly about is horse-trading and back-door deals between the Front Benches of the two main parties in another place to the exclusion of representatives of all other parties and to the exclusion of Back-Benchers of all parties, and not least Conservative Back-Benchers, to say nothing of your Lordships. Unless we can be assured that there was no back-door deal, I hope that noble Lords will support the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, in the Division Lobby.
§ Lord Stoddart of Swindon
My Lords, it seems that I am in great demand this evening. That is something 565 quite new so far as I am concerned. I am certainly going to enjoy it while I can. I have listened to the arguments which have been put forward so far. I noted that the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, seemed to imply that these were Government amendments which the House passed. Of course, they were not. All that the Government were doing, as the noble Lord well knows, was tidying up what the first amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, did. The Government were putting it in proper order, and I think we should not complain about that.
The noble Lord also said that the Labour Party did not believe that the franchise should be extended to tax dodgers, criminals, etc. That is absolutely right: we do not. Who does? I hope that nobody in this House believes that people of that sort should be allowed to vote. But the argument is rather different. The argument was put by the Minister, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Mr. David Mellor, in another place on 25th June, when the House of Commons considered the matter. If I may quote from a couple of paragraphs, he said at col. 883:It is common knowledge that some Conservative Members wanted a more generous extension of the franchise to British citizens overseas than the five years contained in the Bill. It is equally clear that some Opposition Members would have preferred more modest proposals to succeed than those agreed by the House. In the proper spirit which I think should guide us when discussing issues relating to the electoral rules, a compromise was reached, and the five-year provision was agreed.A compromise was reached by the House of Commons, and there was no Division at Third Reading. He goes on to say, in the same column:Secondly, there is the question whether it is appropiate for the House to make further distinctions between officials and people working overseas privately.We honour what has been dignified by a historical position in our electoral arrangements—the privilege of voting accorded to members of the armed services and of the Diplomatic Corps".He goes on:I should be hard put to it to say that someone who works for the European Community and undoubtedly does valuable service, as do about 1,500 of our fellow citizens, is necessarily any more worthy of being permitted to vote in a British election than someone who represents in Brussels the interests of ICI, ICL or any of our other great companies".I will conclude here. He said:In logic, it is impossible to defend the Lords' amendment. If we are prepared to drive that wedge into the five-year proposal we should accept the hon. Gentleman's proposition".That, in fact, is what the Government said. I believe that there is logic in it and I hope that this House will agree that there is logic in it. It would be quite irrational, indeed absurd, to select a given number of people from among many thousands more and give them a privilege that the other thousands did not enjoy. I think that that is the rationale of the Government's position and the rationale of the Opposition's position. An agreement was come to. Make no mistake about that. There was an agreement and I believe that the Labour Party is honour bound to keep that agreement; and I shall make plain in a moment what we shall do this evening.
But before I do that I should like to say to my noble friend Lord Howie that we believe that as many people as possible should be allowed to vote. I think that he drew a completely wrong comparison when he mentioned the forces overseas who were entitled to 566 vote in 1945. That is a purely false comparison to draw. Those people were resident in this country and would have been delighted to continue to have been resident in this country and did not want to go overseas to fight the Germans or anybody else. They were in quite a different position from people in the EC who have decided to make their residence, to pay their taxes, to make their way and make their earnings in another country and not this country. They decided not to reside here, many of them on a permanent basis. I think that the five-year period in which they are allowed to vote is a good enough test, and in fact a good enough concession.
§ Baroness Elles
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. He is aware that the services still have the vote. It was not only in 1945; they continue to have the vote whether they remain resident in this country or not. Secondly, is not the noble Lord aware that there are many people who are working in the Commission—indeed, to give one example, the President of the European Court of Justice—who are requested, earnestly requested, by the Government of the day to go and serve as the British representatives in the various bodies of the European Community? It is these people who are being deprived of the right to vote. They are serving British interests daily. It is not a question of being somebody in a business capacity who is there to earn a living and make a profit.
I proposed an amendment that these people should have had the right to vote. The Labour Party had the opportunity, if they thought that that was right, to vote; but it was the one case in your Lordships' House where the Labour Party were against that opportunity. So I think that that argument is not a valid argument for the noble Lord to use. But I would remind him again that there are people in the European Commission and in the European Court of Justice who are beseeched by the Government of the day to go and serve as Britons in these jobs. It is not quite the same as anybody going there to earn their living.
§ Lord Stoddart of Swindon
My Lords, that was a very long intervention by the noble Baroness and an interesting one. The position of the British forces is surely that they are serving Her Majesty's Government and, indeed, they are serving Her Majesty. They are not serving the Community as such or any other body. They are serving Her Majesty. They are in quite a separate and different position. In regard to the other officials, they serve the Community and they do so for their career purposes and prospects; but nevertheless they have decided to take that career, to earn their living in another country and have no intention of coming home to this country.
§ Lord Tordoff
My Lords, I wonder if the noble Lord will give way because I believe he is in error. Surely, the provisions in the Bill preclude people who have decided to live permanently abroad because people have to make a declaration that it is ultimately their intention to return to this country, within the terms of the Bill as it stands with or without the amendment. To say that these people have decided permanently to live abroad—which I think is what I heard the noble Lord say—is incorrect.
§ Lord Stoddart of Swindon
My Lords, the five-year limitation applies and they will be entitled to vote for five years. I think I am right. It is only if they decide to absent themselves from this country for a period of longer than five years that they would lose their vote. I think that that is the true position. I do not think that I have misunderstood it at all and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, agrees.
If I may continue to answer my noble friend Lord Howie, the Labour Party does believe that the franchise should be extended to as many people as possible who are in law entitled to vote. But that does not necessarily mean that we believe that the franchise should be extended to people who have decided to move their residence, almost permanently, or permanently, outside this country. Indeed, the Bill itself extends the franchise and in that respect and for that reason the Labour Party supported the Bill.
I can well understand that the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, was disappointed because her amendment has not been accepted by the other place. But I think that we have to accept that the provisions of the Representation of the People Bill are—and I repeat this—the result of an agreement between the Government and the Opposition without very much, if any, dissent from the other parties in the House of Commons.
§ Lord Stoddart of Swindon
My Lords, it is not totally untrue. If you read the record you will find that it shows that. As I said at Report stage in this House, it is far better that alterations to electoral arrangements are made with a large measure of agreement; and although your Lordships may very well have been perfectly entitled to express a view, as indeed you did, over votes for British employees of the EC institutions, it would in my view be unwise and perhaps improper to insist—
§ Lord Stoddart of Swindon
Yes, perhaps improper, to insist on that view in the face of the overwhelming opposition of another place.
As an unelected body we really cannot insist that the Commons accept our view of the electoral arrangements for election to the other place and to other assemblies. It seems to me that there might have been some case for pressing our view a little further, but only a little, if the voting in the other place on our amendment had been finely or more evenly balanced. But it was not. The Commons voted to disagree by 327 votes to 13. In face of such an overwhelming rejection of our amendment, it would be foolish, I think, and unproductive to insist upon it.
§ Lord Stoddart of Swindon
My Lords, the noble Lord wanted me to get up and to have my say. Now let me have my say. How about that? The noble Lord will have his turn in a minute. I have to say this. I have to remind the SDP and the Liberal Benches that during the Bill's passage through the Commons neither the Liberal Party nor the SDP proposed any amendment 568 to improve the voting rights of EC employees. They did not do that at all in the House of Commons. Neither in fact was there any discussion of the issue at any stage of the Bill in the other place, so that the House of Commons in fact had decided that this was not a relevant issue and the issue was therefore raised by the noble Baroness in this House. It was taken up by the Liberals and by the SDP Members here.
§ Lord Stoddart of Swindon
My Lords, it was responded to by my own party certainly, but we are talking at the moment about the Liberals and the SDP because the Liberal Party, in the form of the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, has taken up the cudgels tonight and therefore we are entitled to examine their record on the issue we have examined just one part of it. We know that in the House of Commons they sat back and did nothing about this great cause they are espousing tonight. I repeat: neither the Liberals nor the SDP did anything about it.
What did they do on the 25th June when the Lords amendment was voted upon in the House of Commons? There were only 10 Liberal Members present, including the tellers; about half their strength. There were only three SDP Members present at that time; less than half their strength. The issue was considered so important by the SDP in another place that the Leader of the SDP did not bother to turn up. That was how important it was to the SDP and the Liberals in the House of Commons when this amendment, which we passed in this place, was discussed. That showed the commitment of the Alliance to our amendment. So I hope that they will not attack the Labour Party, because in fact the Labour Party came to an arrangement and it now wishes to honour that arrangement, and that is what we propose to do tonight.
I have to say that if your Lordships insist upon the amendment tonight, there could be quite serious consequences, not only because there would be a deterioration in the relationships between ourselves and another place but also because I understand that if the Commons, too, decide to insist, the coming into operation of the rest of the Bill would be delayed. In that case the many very desirable parts of the Bill and the many desirable provisions in it, on which there is unanimity, would be delayed for up to a year. Do we really want to see that? I think not. I therefore hope that having made his point, and the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, having made her point, the noble Lord will decide this evening not to press his luck and not to press his Motion. I have to say to your Lordships that if he presses it, I shall recommend my noble friends to vote against it.
§ 7 p.m.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I think that was one of the most remarkable speeches I have had the good fortune to hear since I became a Member of your Lordships' House. The one thing the noble Lord did not explain was why he took exactly the opposite position when this matter was debated and voted upon on the last occasion. I see from the Division List on the "absurd" amendment (as described by the noble Lord, 569 Lord Stoddart of Swindon) that his name appeared as one of those who favoured giving the vote to officials of the Eurpean Community. Therefore what is absurd today was apparently wholly sensible on the last occasion when this matter was debated in your Lordships' House.
§ Lord Stoddart of Swindon
My Lords, I said that it would be absurd for this House to press its point.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, the noble Lord apparently did not take that view on the local government legislation that we were voting on a few moment ago. I notice that there has been a rather remarkable change in his position.
I now turn to what is presumably intended to be a serious speech made by the noble Lord. I think the one thing we would all agree upon is that there was an agreement entered into by the Labour Party and the Government in the House of Commons. But, if I may say so, that was not wholly related to the merits of the proposition. What the Labour Party said in the House of Commons was that if the Government did not agree to make certain amendments to this Bill on the lines that they wanted, they would block progress on the Bill. That was a very powerful weapon in their hands because this was a constitutional Bill which had to be taken at all stages on the Floor of the House of Commons. And so that is what this great understanding and agreement is all about.
In fact, it was a piece of parliamentary pressure. One can argue, if one likes, that it was legitimate and no doubt the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, would certainly choose to use that language about it; but some of us might perhaps describe it rather differently. Certainly I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, were he here, would want to refer to it very differently. Unhappily, he is not with us this evening, just as was the case on the Third Reading of the Bill when the position of NATO officials was discussed. Their position of course is rather similar to that of EEC officials. Perhaps I may quote to your Lordships what the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, said, speaking from the Opposition Front Bench on this amendment. I quote from col. 1181 of the Official Report of 28th March:I have had the privilege when visiting various institutions of the European Community and its Parliament of meeting some of our officials in Europe who have brought great distinction to the Community itself and its service, and if I may say so, to this country. The more British people we can send to be officials in this institution while we continue to belong to it—and many of us are in favour of continuing our membership, while some of us are not quite so fervent—"—one can certainly say that again!—the better. I am only going to say that, having been in the Community for the number of years they have, to deprive them of a vote seems to me to be completely and absolutely wrong. I would put them in line, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, with the members of the Armed Forces and the Diplomatic Corps. This is an amendment to which the Opposition would give favourable consideration".570 How the Front Bench of the Opposition can pretend that those stirring words delivered by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, from that Front Bench represent now exactly the opposite of their true position really beggars the understanding of any person who adopts a rather balanced attitude to the question. Certainly, speaking for my noble friends on these Benches, we will vote in exactly the same way as we did on the last occasion. The implications of what the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, said about the EEC officials represented in my view one of the least happy parts of a very unhappy speech.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I certainly need not detain your Lordships with the history of these amendments. In their original form they were moved in Committee by my noble friend Lady Elles and they were carried, against the Government's advice, on a Division. As a matter of courtesy to your Lordships, as the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, said, I moved further amendments on Third Reading to make sure that the Bill was fully in order; rather complicated amendments, as it turned out. However, I did my best to make it clear that those amendments were entirely without prejudice to the advice which my right honourable friend might give to the other place when the Bill returned there, and I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Elles for acknowledging that.
I must say that I found the speech of the noble Lord opposite one of the most entertaining and revealing speeches for the noble Lord to make, speaking on behalf of his party, that I can possibly imagine. I admire his persistent batting on what, for him, must have been a very sticky wicket indeed. But it is not my task now to discomfort him any further.
The Government certainly mean no disrespect to British citizens working in the institutions of the European Community. There can be absolutely no doubt about their commitment to British interests or about the earnestness of their desire for the right to vote. But the same is true of so many other people who would not have the right to vote under this Bill. The way to make progress on this matter is to extend the period during which British citizens may qualify as overseas electors across the board, not to single out particular groups because we happen to think that they are especially worthy. If any of your Lordships should feel that these views are held only by Government Front Bench spokesmen I recommend that they look at the proceedings in another place—which clearly has been done—and there your Lordships will find that the same sentiments are expressed from the Back-Benches by those who had originally voted for an extension of the franchise to all British citizens resident abroad no matter how long they had been away.
My noble friend Lady Elles expressed the hope that further legislation might come forward in due course. She referred to the Milan summit; and the People's Committee. I can confirm that the Government backed the Milan agreement and that the Government remain committed to a further extension of the franchise at a future date. But that extension must treat British citizens in the public service and the private sector in exactly the same way. My right honourable friend has now made clear on several occasions his personal commitment to a further 571 extension of the franchise, but my noble friend will understand that in the nature of things I cannot put a timetable on that commitment this evening.
When these amendments were previously before your Lordships some felt that they would be given a fair wind if only because the matter had not been considered in another place. The view was also expressed—and I think I may say that it is the traditional view, despite what the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, said—that representation of the people is not a matter on which your Lordships' House has the final say, however important our role in revising and improving the legislation that comes before us. The matter has now specifically been considered in another place and its view clearly and decisively expressed.
§ Baroness Seear
My Lords, does the noble Lord the Minister not agree that this House does not have the final say on anything, and that this Bill is in no way different from any other?
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, at the end of the day, the matter of representation and election is more a matter for the other place than for your Lordships' House. I have nothing more to say. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, will agree that it would be inappropriate to press his amendment further.
§ Lord Tordoff
My Lords, I notice that I have not had a reply to the suggestion that this deal had something to do with the drink at football matches Bill. But we shall let that pass. Clearly the other place has the final say. Clearly on matters of representation of the people this House also has a say. Were it, for instance, to be decided between the Front Bench of the Government and the Front Bench of the Opposition to delay the period of voting in a parliamentary election, then this House would have a big say; and so it should. It would have the final say, as my noble friend reminds me.
I am not at all convinced that we have had anything to ameliorate the position of the people for whom we are arguing. I know that both the Government and the Opposition are painted into a corner. I know that they will march through the Lobbies together hand in hand. But, frankly, this is one of those occasions where I do not care by how much we are beaten because it is a matter of principle and we shall, therefore, divide the House.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ On Question, That this House do insist on their Amendments Nos. 1 to 11, to which the Commons have disagreed for their Reason numbered 12.
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 44; Not-Contents, 142.573
|DIVISION NO. 3|
|Airedale, L.||Burton of Coventry, B.|
|Alport, L.||Chitnis, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Crawshaw of Aintree, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Darwen, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Diamond, L.|
|Banks, L.||Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.|
|Barnett, L.||Falkland, V.|
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Feversham, L.|
|Broadbridge, L.||Grey, E.|
|Brockway, L.||Hampton, L.|
|Hanworth, V.||Ogmore, L.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L. [Teller.]||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Hooper, B.||Seear, B.|
|Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Simon, V.|
|Howie of Troon, L.||Stedman, B.|
|Hunt, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Kilmarnock, L.||Tordoff, L. [Teller.]|
|Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.||Walston, L.|
|Mackie of Benshie, L.||Whaddon, L.|
|McNair, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|Meston, L.||Winstanley, L.|
|Beaverbrook, L.||Kinloss, Ly.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Kirkhill, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Kitchener, E.|
|Bernstein, L.||Lane-Fox, B.|
|Biddulph, L.||Lauderdale, E.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Layton, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Lindsey and Abingdon, E.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Long, V.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Broxbourne, L.||Lyell, L.|
|Butterworth, L.||McFadzean, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Macleod of Borve, B.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Malmesbury, E.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Mancroft, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Margadale, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Marley, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.|
|Coleraine, L.||Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.|
|Cowley, E.||Merrivale, L.|
|Cox, B.||Middleton, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Craigmyle, L.||Montgomery of Alamein, V.|
|Crathorne, L.||Morton of Shuna, L.|
|Crawford and Balcarres, E.||Mottistone, L.|
|Crawshaw, L.||Mountevans, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Munster, E.|
|David, B.||Nicol, B.|
|Davidson, V.||Oram, L.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Peel, E.|
|Dilhorne, V.||Poltimore, L.|
|Donegall, M.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Dormer, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Rawlinson of Ewell, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Redesdale, L.|
|Dundonald, E.||Renton, L.|
|Eden of Winton, L.||Renwick, L.|
|Effingham, E.||Rochdale, V.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Romney, E.|
|Elton, L.||Ross of Marnock, L.|
|Ferrier, L.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Fisher, L.||Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Gallacher, L.||Savile, L.|
|Galpern, L.||Selborne, E.|
|Glanusk, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Glenarthur, L.||Shannon, E.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Sharples, B.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Silkin of Dulwich, L.|
|Greenway, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Grimston of Westbury, L.||Southborough, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Hanson, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Suffield, L.|
|Harris of High Cross, L.||Swinfen, L.|
|Harvington, L.||Swinton, E. [Teller.]|
|Henley, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Heycock, L.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Hives, L.||Thoraeycroft, L.|
|Home of the Hirsel, L.||Townshend, M.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Tranmire, L.|
|Ironside, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Irving of Dartford, L.||Trenchard, V.|
|Kaberry of Adel, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Kimball, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Vivian, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Wedderburn of Charlton, L.||Yarborough, E.|
|Westbury, L.||Young of Graffham, L.|
|Windlesham, L.||Ypres, E.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.