HL Deb 22 July 1997 vol 581 cc1308-21

3.23 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel)

My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now further considered on Report.

Moved, That the Bill be further considered on Report.—(Lord Sewel.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 2 [Referendum in Wales]:

Lord Crickhowell moved Amendment No. 16:

Page 2, line 8, at end insert ("in accordance with proposals set out in a White Paper laid before Parliament before this Act is brought into force which shall also clearly set out the implications for England of the government's proposals.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to move Amendment No. 16 at a rather awkward moment as it directly addresses matters to be covered in a Statement that will be made to the House shortly after debate on the amendment has been concluded. It also relates to the contents of the White Paper which convention dictates will not be available in the Printed Paper Office until the Secretary of State sits down in another place. So in a sense I have to go blindfold into the debate.

However, we have had a good deal of prior information. I had the experience—I shall not say it was a pleasant one—of waking shortly before seven o'clock this morning, turning on the television and being confronted by a programme concerned with what was to appear in the White Paper and an interview with the Secretary of State. A constitutional expert, commenting on what would happen as a result of the White Paper—at least, if the vote is affirmative—said that it would be the most important constitutional change in our arrangements in this country since the passing of the Government of Ireland Act in the 1920s. So what we are about is particularly important.

I was prompted to put down Amendment No. 16, with which we shall take two directly related amendments, Amendments Nos. 31 and 32, by some reported comments of the junior Minister at the Welsh Office, Mr. Peter Hain. He said that if Wales were to vote against a Welsh assembly in the referendum, it might soon become one of the few regions in Britain still to be ruled from London". He went on to say that, political and business leaders in regionally-important cities such as Newcastle and Manchester will be encouraged to press for their own elected regional authorities if Scotland gets its own Parliament as widely expected". I am never sure what to make of statements made by Mr. Peter Hain. He made the remarkable assertion that the great Korean company, LG, which is to move to Newport, was only doing so because the Welsh assembly was about to be created. That shows a degree of ignorance about the way in which investment decisions are taken which is startling.

However, we must take such statements seriously. We have had hints that we may hear more about proposals for what will happen to England. We have received information that the central government structure is to be reorganised so that there are regional arrangements. But what I do not think we know is whether they will take the form of elected assemblies in due course or what the Government's future intentions are. We hear a good deal from the Government about the need to place decision-making closer to people in every part of the United Kingdom. We therefore have the rather remarkable situation that we are proceeding by a series of steps—a fairly major step in Scotland, and, as we shall discover later this afternoon, a significant step in Wales—without knowing how those steps relate to future proposals for the government of England. It seems to me that that is an odd way of approaching the whole business of constitutional change.

I conceded a case to the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, when we had a little exchange earlier at Report stage. I could concede the case for having elected assemblies if we had a totally different system of government in the United Kingdom. What worries me is that we have different systems of government in each part of the United Kingdom. I believe that that sets us on a road that is likely to create conflict. Therefore, when I put down the amendment, I simply sought to obtain further guidance as to what the Government's intentions are. I hope—though I have to say that the hope is limited—that we may hear more about it when we see the White Paper, but this House should insist upon knowing more about the Government's plans on the matter before we proceed much further with the Bill.

As to Amendments Nos. 31 and 32, one involves Scotland and the other Wales. Again, they have been overtaken in a sense by events. One subsection of Amendment No. 32 asks that the Secretary of State for Wales should publish a summary of the White Paper. In the weeks that have been given to us, we have been told that summaries of the White Paper are to be dispatched to every household in Wales. We have also been told that copies of the White Paper at a cheap price—namely, £3—are to be widely available to those who wish to read it. So perhaps we are making some progress on that point.

We also now know, told to the world outside in advance of this debate—perhaps the Government have not yet begun to take much notice of the rather helpful statement made by the Speaker in the other place that such statements ought to be made to Parliament rather than elsewhere—that the date of the referendum in Wales is to be 18th September. Subsection (1) of Amendments Nos. 31 and 32 asks for further enlightenment on the constitutional implications of what is proposed and, in the case of Wales, why there should be no tax-varying powers. It appears that the only reason ever given as to why the situation in Wales should be different from that in Scotland is that the proposal did not appear in the Labour Party manifesto. We heard on previous occasions that the Labour Party manifesto was to be treated as a sacred document. Now, apparently, we have a new doctrine. Previously we understood that everything in the manifesto was guaranteed to pass through Parliament without any question or examination. But there is now the doctrine that we must ask why something was not in it. So we do not know very much about why the powers should be given in the one case and not in the other.

I think we shall discover, when we hear the Statement later and see the White Paper, that some rather important constitutional issues are raised. The old issue is the role of the Scottish and Welsh Members of Parliament. The old West Lothian question will not go away. I suspect that when we have heard what is said later, we shall want to ask more about that again. We shall also want to know more about the future role of the Secretary of State. On television this morning Mr. Ron Davies said quite firmly that the role of the Secretary of State would continue. I believe it was asserted during that programme that he was to be a conduit. I looked up the word "conduit" in the dictionary to make sure that I understood it. It is defined as, a channel or pipe for conveying liquids". I suppose that that is a role for the Secretary of State but there will be no regulatory body to make sure that such pipes are not polluted. A conduit is also, a tube or trough for protecting insulated wires". We can be quite certain that some electric shocks will pass up and down that particular cable as disputes break out between the assembly and the Government.

However, the Government declare and I expect will tell us later this afternoon that the role of the Secretary of State will not change. Interestingly enough, those who most strongly advocate change in Wales do not for one moment believe the assertion. The Western Mail is fighting a vigorous campaign on behalf of the assembly and has become a total advocate of it. But, in an article on 7th July, it declared: A reduction in the number of Welsh MPs is inevitable, given Wales's historic over-representation at Westminster. So is a workable redefinition of the role of the Secretary of State for Wales". It went on: The Welsh Secretary must retain a seat in Cabinet but will need to become more of an ambassador for Wales abroad and an effective liaison between the Assembly and Westminster". That is an interesting definition of the role of the Secretary of State. Whether it justifies a Cabinet appointment is perhaps a matter of considerable doubt and debate.

An even more interesting document produced within the past few weeks is entitled Wales in Europe: The Opportunity Presented by a Welsh Assembly. It is published by the Institute of Welsh Affairs and the principal authors are Sir John Gray, a former ambassador, and John Osmond. They have been advised by a formidable group of people who generally favour setting up an assembly.

Therefore, I turn to that document to raise the constitutional issues because those who favour the assembly may be thought simply to be stirring up a hornets' nest. I know that whenever I raise these questions, people say, "You are against the whole thing and, of course, you make these points and there is no validity to them." I find the document particularly interesting. It addresses those questions very frankly and openly.

In section 3.6, the document refers to the Labour Party's document published in 1995 called Shaping the Vision and says that, the paper did not refer to the problems the Secretary of State would face once the responsibility for, and the staff concerned with, devolved matters had been lost and consequently the ability to speak authoritatively on those matters in Cabinet". It is worth dwelling on the words: the ability to speak authoritatively on those matters in Cabinet".

The authors prefer the word "broker" to the word "conduit" which I have just used. They suggest that that should be the role of the Secretary of State. They openly concede that there is likely to be a change in the status of the Secretary of State for Wales. Indeed, they say: By the time [of] any change … (possibly abolition of the post and its incorporation into an Office for the Regions) Wales should have in place arrangements for influencing UK decision-making on EU matters which will survive the emergence of opposed majorities in Cardiff and London, and which will have confirmed that a nation like Wales should be treated differently within the United Kingdom to, say, an English region like East Anglia". That takes us back to the question that I posed right at the start about what will happen to the English regions.

The document goes on to say that that relationship should be brokered by the Secretary of State for Wales. For 17 years of my life I was an insurance broker. It was a fairly basic principle that if you acted as a broker, you represented your client and could not be the underwriter at the same time. Here is a situation in which it is proposed that the person who is to be the broker will sit in the organisation which will either accept or reject the risk. That is not exactly a normal situation for a broker to be in. Apparently, he has to broke, general principles and practical arrangements between the Assembly and the Secretary of State, and between the latter and his/her Cabinet colleagues. This would allow the Assembly's concerns to be fed into the policy-making machine in Whitehall. It would also help lessen the likelihood of the Secretary of State losing the goodwill of either the Assembly or the UK Cabinet (or conceivably both)—something which, if continued over a long period, would put in jeopardy the whole devolution experiment". Those are rather frank admissions by advocates of the assembly of some of the difficulties inherent in the whole experiment.

The authors of the document go on to address the problem of the Civil Service. Again, I have not yet seen the White Paper. But if, as we are told, the Welsh Office is to be divided, with the overwhelming majority of its civil servants going to the assembly and a tiny handful left behind to advise the Secretary of State, that again produces some interesting situations to be resolved. Section 3.10 of the document states: To explore this issue exposes some of the problems which would face the Secretary of State under devolution: those officials who owed their first loyalty to the Assembly would have no prescriptive right of access to the Whitehall machine; and on the contrary side, those officials who served a Welsh Secretary sitting in the London Cabinet would owe no constitutional loyalty to the Assembly. And if, at some future date, the majorities in the Assembly and Westminster were different, the problem would only be aggravated".

Incidentally, it may be thought to be unlikely that for some time to come the majorities would he different. If we are to have some form of proportional representation it is at least a possibility that that might happen sooner than some people anticipate. It is not something to be kicked away into the long grass as though in Wales it could never happen.

The authors analyse the difficulty about how the assembly would get its way over important matters in relation to Europe. They declare that again it is something that the poor old Secretary of State has to broker. They declare: The Welsh Assembly should have the right to send officials as observers to any working group meetings in Whitehall where matters devolved to Wales were being discussed, and to participate fully in preparatory meetings of the UK delegations to European Union meetings in similar circumstances". They acknowledge that those arrangements may again create difficulties.

Finally, on the question of relationships with Europe, the authors say that the assembly should have access to the Council of Ministers; essentially, that it ought to be playing a key role in the deliberations of the Council. That is likely to cause great difficulty if the UK is taking up a negotiating position. There are real difficulties with Ministers having to bring into the process an assembly that may have different views. The unfortunate Secretary of State who will have been trotting backwards and forwards to Wales to listen to the assembly's views—he will apparently be entitled to sit in the assembly; whether or not he will be entitled to vote, I am not sure—will come hurrying back with the views of the assembly about European matters. The assembly may even have direct access to the Council of Ministers.

One can go on and explore other relationships. All indicate that we are going down a road where we can perhaps see the first bend but we cannot see round the corner. It is difficult to know what the long-term intentions of government are or what the long-time future is likely to provide. We are starting down a road which is very uncertain. I do not believe that the position of the Secretary of State for Wales—or indeed, the Secretary of State for Scotland—can conceivably survive for long. They will not have a credible or acceptable role.

I believe also that we will run into the difficulties that we debated at some length 20 years ago when it is discovered that virtually all the powers that the present Secretary of State for Wales has over the whole field of domestic government are to be transferred to the assembly. The assembly will be deciding crucial issues fundamental to the work of most Members of Parliament in their constituencies. The Scottish and Welsh Members of Parliament will not be able to decide those matters or have any great influence in Scotland or Wales—except when legislation is passing through Parliament—but will have a significant influence in England.

I return to where I started. If we are to go along a road where the bends are frequent and the future so uncertain, what will be the position in England? We need answers to that question as well as to the questions I have asked in relation to Wales and Scotland. I beg to move.

3.45 p.m.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie

My Lords, perhaps I can first say to the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, that the post of Secretary of State for Scotland was abolished in 1746 and re-established in 1885. Secretaries of State therefore can come and go.

The reality of Amendment No. 16 needs to be examined. In that spirit I drafted the following text, which may be of help. It reads thus: The Government's proposals for Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish devolution—the implications for England. The purpose of devolution is to meet the demand for a fairer system of government for the United Kingdom. The complaint is no less than the unnecessary domination of the United Kingdom by the English state. The pretence that the UK can only be governed as a unitary state has been finally exposed. It is now accepted that, in Hong Kong parlance, the UK is: one state—4 national systems. The Government recognise that the UK is a union state, and should be governed as such. In particular, it is recognised that the Scots Law has been altered, on many occasions, by the representatives of non-residents of Scotland, and without the consent of the representatives of Scottish residents. In a spirit of reconciliation, and with the future of the UK in mind, the Government are putting forward these devolution proposals to meet the needs of a renewed Union. The lesson of the past 461, 290 and 196 years is that a union with England is worthwhile, so long as it does not extinguish national democracy in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Recognising that change must be managed, the Government have decided to start the renewal of the UK in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The plans are asymmetrical, and may not be the final move towards a mutually beneficial Union settlement. The Government plan to extend the programme to London and the English regions". Perhaps that will commend itself to the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, and possibly—though I doubt it—to noble Lords on the Government Bench.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

My Lords, we shall not know what the White Paper relating to devolution for Scotland says until the day after tomorrow. There have not been quite so many leaks in relation to that paper to date as there have been about the Welsh situation. But what my noble friend Lord Crickhowell said in relation to the Secretary of State for Wales is probably even more true in the case of Scotland if Scotland is to have a legislative parliament. The role of Secretary of State for Scotland will be even more limited because presumably there will not be discussions in the other place relating to Scottish legislation at all whereas there will be in relation to Wales. Those same points therefore seem to apply.

The amendment suggesting that the implications for England in the Government's proposals for Wales should be clearly set out before people make a decision in the referendum also applies to Scotland. The implications for England of the proposals for Scotland will, if anything, be greater. It has been a difficult problem to discuss to date because the constitution unit, which produced the proposals on which the Scottish White Paper will be based, did not include the need to take account of the situation in the rest of the United Kingdom. The terms of reference simply asked the authors to think about a scheme for Scotland, sell it to the people of Scotland and sell it to the people of the day. That was the gist of it. The noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay, who is well versed in these matters nowadays, may be able to confirm that.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale

My Lords, perhaps I may interrupt the noble Baroness to say that I am a little confused. I wonder whether the noble Baroness is confusing the constitution unit with the Scottish Constitutional Convention, of which I am the co-chair. I have never been part of the constitution unit.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

My Lords, I am speaking about the Scottish Constitutional Convention's terms of reference which the constitution unit quoted in its material. That interested me very much because the Scottish Constitutional Convention was not asked to consider the relationship between the scheme which it produced and the rest of the United Kingdom. The body which the noble Baroness chaired has not made recommendations about how its scheme would fit into the rest of the United Kingdom. If that problem has been addressed in the White Paper, it will have been done subsequently, and we have not yet seen it. All I am saying is that this amendment relating to Wales has the same implications for the arrangements for Scotland. It is therefore of great interest with regard to the arrangements for the whole of the United Kingdom.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Crickhowell has put down an important marker here as we await the Statement on the Welsh White Paper and, in a couple of days' time, on the Scottish White Paper. I can perhaps shorten his contribution by saying that my noble friend has drawn the Government's attention to the law of unintended consequences—in this case, the unintended consequences for England and for the United Kingdom as a result of the proposals which we are about to hear for Wales and, in a couple of days, for Scotland.

I do not think my noble friend actually thought that part of the law of unintended consequences was that the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, would intervene. Having listened to the noble Earl's speech, I sometimes think, when I hear the flavour of how he discusses these issues, that he would be more comfortable on the Cross-Benches representing the Scottish National Party. Perhaps he is able to square that circle better than I can.

There will be unintended obvious consequences for the Parliament of the United Kingdom, for this House and for the other place arising from these proposals. I shall certainly be measuring, as I have no doubt my noble friends will be measuring, these two White Papers not just against what they do to Scotland and Wales but what they do to England and to the rest of the United Kingdom.

We all know about the West Lothian question: the number of Scottish Members of Parliament and what is their role; the number of Welsh Members of Parliament and what is their role. To be fair to the Liberal Democrats, they acknowledge this position and have clearly stated that the number of Members of Parliament from Scotland and Wales coming to the United Kingdom Parliament should be reduced. When the legislation comes in the autumn I look forward to seeing them putting down amendments to achieve that. The problem could still arise of Scottish and Welsh MPs being involved in English matters when they have absolutely no say about the same matters relating to their own constituents. That is something that the White Papers ought to address.

I shall be pleasantly surprised—I shall go further: I shall be shocked and amazed—if the White Papers have a chapter in them saying "Consequences for the rest of the United Kingdom and how we shall resolve them". My noble friend has rightly drawn to our attention the need to have that chapter. If the Government are not prepared to write it, it will be up to some of the rest of us to write it for them.

Lord Sewel

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. He referred to Liberal Democrat Peers and their acceptance of a reduction in Scottish representation in the House of Commons. If he is correct, and amendments are put down to reduce the number of Scottish MPs as a result of the establishment of a Scottish parliament, will he support those amendments?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

My Lords, I shall have to look very carefully at those amendments along with other amendments which will be necessary to clarify the role of Scottish Members of Parliament. However, there is no doubt in my mind, and never has been, that there is a logic in the reduction of the number of Scottish MPs at Westminster. That, so to speak, narrows the angle for the problem of the West Lothian question coming to a head. There is an inescapable logic in doing that, just as there is an inescapable logic in the other point that my noble friend drew to our attention; namely, the role of the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Wales. Once again I understand the Liberal Democrats' position to be that those two offices will be abolished. I look forward to their amendments.

I have to say, because I do believe in the unity of the United Kingdom, that it would be a mistake to abolish those two offices as it would mean that the United Kingdom Parliament would contain neither a Welsh nor a Scottish voice unless some other members of the Cabinet were from Scotland and Wales. For the current Government, that might not be a problem. But it could be a problem in the future, as it might have been at some stages in the past. I am intrigued—I hope the White Papers will address this—as to what the role will be of the Secretaries of State. Will they be the Scotland and Wales representatives in the Cabinet? If they are, will they be excluded when the Cabinet discusses confidential information only relevant to the government of the United Kingdom? They will be there as representatives of another government. Everyone worries about what will happen if different parties are involved. We do not have to wait until then. What will happen if it is the same party?

In Scotland we have had an interesting picture for some years of Strathclyde Regional Council and Glasgow City Council. They were run by the same Labour Party. I have to tell your Lordships that they did not appear to be blood brothers. There was a fair amount of squabbling between them. I do not think that Glasgow City Council—Glasgow District Council as it was then—would have been too happy to have a Strathclyde councillor at its inner cabal; nor would Strathclyde have been happy to have a Glasgow City councillor at its inner cabal. So I really do not think that it is just a question of what happens if the political outcomes of elections in the United Kingdom, Scotland and Wales begin to diverge; because their politics, the people who run them and their objectives will also begin to diverge. That divergence will make the position of the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Wales hugely difficult if their roles in the Cabinet are merely to represent the interests of the Scottish government and the Welsh government.

I hope that the White Papers will address another point, which has not only constitutional but economic consequences. At the moment the Welsh Development Agency and Scottish Enterprise have a fairly good track record of which I know some parts of England are envious. Let us assume for a moment that the government of England—that is what it will be once the powers that it has currently for the whole of the United Kingdom are taken off to Wales and to Scotland—decide to be a little more robust about grabbing some inward investment. The Scots and the Welsh will promptly cry foul. I can assure your Lordships that they will promptly cry foul. They already do it. In the north-east of England the English grabbed Siemens. I use the word "grabbed" in the way it was portrayed in the Scottish press. If that happens in the future, who will hold the ring between the competing development agencies of the United Kingdom?

No one will be there to hold the ring. We shall not have a United Kingdom overview. Who will answer to Brussels if Brussels says that the Scottish and Welsh parliaments are going much further than they are allowed. They cannot, because they are not member states. Only the United Kingdom Government can do so. All these points require to be addressed.

As I said a few moments ago, I hope that there is a chapter in both White Papers addressing the questions about the knock-on effect on the rest of the United Kingdom and on England in particular. Frankly, I do not believe there will be, because the Government think that if they sweep this under the carpet everyone else will ignore it and nothing will happen. The trouble with dust swept under the carpet is that it remains there to cause problems in the years to come. That is exactly what will happen unless the Government face up to the consequences outlined by my noble friend in his introduction of these important amendments.

4 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn

My Lords, I shall, if I may, deal with the amendments. They require the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Wales respectively to publish White Papers. I cannot remember how often my noble friend Lord Sewel and I have given the undertaking that we would do so. The Welsh White Paper is to be published today and the Scottish White Paper in two days' time. Those dates have been known for some while.

The further suggestion is that summaries of the relevant White Papers should be delivered to every elector at least two weeks before the referendum is held and that the Welsh White Paper would have to set out why the Welsh assembly is not to have tax-varying powers. We believe that that last point makes no sense. The purpose of the White Paper is to set out the Government's proposals so that the people of Wales are adequately informed of them before they are asked to vote. The people of Wales are not being asked to vote on whether the assembly should have tax-varying powers. The White Paper will set out the Government's proposals for a Welsh assembly; it will not deal with matters which do not form part of our proposals.

As regards Amendment No. 16, the Welsh White Paper will deal with relationships between the assembly and its partners in Wales, in Westminster, in Whitehall and in Europe. It is the people of Wales who will be most affected by the establishment of a Welsh assembly and that is why the people of Wales are being asked to vote on our proposals. Therefore, these amendments have been overtaken by events. There has never been any doubt about our proposals. They were set out in the manifesto and we are delivering them on time today and on Thursday.

The new clauses also propose the publication of summary versions of the White Papers to be distributed to every elector in Scotland and Wales respectively. There is little between us on that. We plan to produce leaflets outlining the Government's proposals for Scotland and Wales. We propose to distribute them to all households in Scotland and Wales respectively and we intend that they should be with the voters in good time. Of course, one cannot guarantee a precise timetable given the vastness of the task that is to be carried out. We shall also be producing them in Braille, on audio tape, in Gaelic, Cantonese, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi and Gujerati. I hope that your Lordships will agree that we are making every reasonable effort—bearing in mind that all this costs money—to inform the electorate about the proposals on which they will be asked to vote. I hope that the noble Lords will be able to withdraw their amendments.

Lord Crickhowell

My Lords, once again we have had a non-answer from the Minister. It is quite extraordinary that when one puts questions, as we have, about arrangements for England and the other matters one does not get a single response that is relevant. I now have the White Paper. It has just been handed to me. I have had a moment to glance at it. It confirms that the Government intend to keep the position of the Secretary of State for Wales.

Lord Hooson

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. I hesitate to intervene, but the noble Lord was to speak to the amendments, but the whole of his speech was devoted to other issues and not the amendments.

Lord Crickhowell

My Lords, I suggest that if the noble Lord reads the amendments he will see that they specifically deal with the matters that I raised.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for giving way. Does he agree with me that a reading of the amendments shows that, in the third line, Amendment No. 16 states, clearly set out the implications for England of the government's proposals"? That is also shown clearly in the fourth line of Amendment No. 31, which states, indicating the potential constitutional implications of the establishment of such a Parliament". Amendment No. 32 states,

including the reasons why it should not have tax-varying powers and indicating the potential constitutional implications of the establishment of such an Assembly". I believe that my noble friend will agree with me that he did address these issues, as I did. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, has not read the amendments. Nor has the Minister read the amendments. He is clearly of the view that one does not need to answer the debate at all and all that one needs to do is to answer the amendments, but he did not even do that. If my noble friend says that he believes that to be totally inadequate, I absolutely agree with him.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

My Lords, I understand that the noble Lord is replying to the amendment. Perhaps I may respectfully remind your Lordships that this is Report stage.

A noble Lord

A speaker can give way.

Lord Crickhowell

My Lords, I was observing that I have had only a moment to glance at the White Paper, which refers to the intention of the Government to keep the Secretary of State, but does not have a section—as my noble friend suggested that it would not—as to what the future constitutional arrangements and their effect on England might be.

Lord Parry

My Lords, I am a little baffled. I have been several times to the Printed Paper Office in order to obtain a copy of the White Paper and it is not on release. Are we not subtly disadvantaged by having one Member of the House who has it, good friend of mine though he is?

Lord Lucas

My Lords, I passed the White Paper to the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell. It was released as soon as the Minister sat down in the other place. If the Printed Paper Office has not provided it then I have not followed the regulations.

Lord Crickhowell

My Lords, that is perfectly correct. The White Paper was embargoed until 15.30 hours and we are now well past that. It has been handed to me and I believe that I am entitled to refer to it. I have not had a chance to read it, but it does not address the issues referred to in the amendment.

I know that the Liberal Democrat Party now believes that its principal role is defending the Government. Indeed, sometimes during debates it appears to be its only role now. The Liberal Democrat Party defends the Government much more vigorously than anyone on the Labour Benches now defends them. Before he takes that line, the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, should read the amendments. It is positively insulting that the Minister should get up—

Lord Thomas of Gresford

My Lords, —

Lord Crickhowell

My Lords, no, I am not going to give way again because I want to get on. I want to make one particular point. The noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, who replied to this debate, replied to the two points that I acknowledged at the start had been dealt with, because we are to have a Statement this afternoon. He did not address the other issues at all. It is an outrage that this House should be treated in that way. Therefore I press my amendment.

4.7 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 16) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 107; Not-Contents, 134.

Division No. 1
Aberdare, L. Brougham and Vaux, L.
Anelay of St. Johns, B. Burnham, L.
Ashbourne, L. Cadman, L.
Attlee, E. Campbell of Alloway, L.
Barber of Tewkesbury, L. Campbell of Croy, L.
Beloff, L. Carew, L.
Birdwood, L. Carnegy of Lour, B.
Blatch, B. Carnock, L.
Boardman, L. Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Brentford, V. Charteris of Amisfield, L
Brightman, L. Chesham, L.
Clanwilliam, E. Macleod of Borve, B.
Clark of Kempston, L. Marlesford, L.
Crickhowell, L. [Teller.] Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Cross, V. Milverton, L.
Cuckney, L. Monckton of Brenchley, V.
Cumberlege, B. Monson, L.
Dacre of Glanton, L. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Davidson, V. Mountevans, L.
Dean of Harptree, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Dixon-Smith, L. Nelson, E.
Eccles of Moulton, B. Norfolk, D.
Elles, B. Norrie, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. O'Cathain, B.
Fisher, L. Oxfuird, V.
Forbes, L. Park of Monmouth, B.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L. Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Gainford, L. Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Pike, B.
Gisborough, L. Plummer of St. Marylebone, L
Goschen, V. Rankeillour, L.
Gray, L. Reay, L.
Gray of Contin, L. Rees, L.[Teller.]
Harding of Petherton, L. Renton, L.
Harrowby, E. Renwick, L.
Holderness, L. Rotherwick, L.
HolmPatrick, L. Saltoun of Abrnethy, Ly.
Howe, E. Sandford, L.
Johnston of Rockport, L. Savile, L.
Jopling, L. Sharples, B.
Kenilworth, L. Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Kinnoull, E. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Lane of Horsell, L. Stodart of Leaston, L.
Lauderdale, E. Strathclyde, L.
Lindsay, E. Swinfen, L.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Taylor of Warwick, L.
Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, E. Terrington, L.
Long, V. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Lucas, L. Torphichen, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L. Tugendhat, L.
Lyell, L. Vivian, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L. Wedgwood, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L. Westbury, L.
Whitelaw, V.
Addington, L. Evans of Parkside, L.
Alderdice, L. Ewing of Kirkford, L.
Annan, L. Ezra, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L. Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Falkland, V.
Berkeley, L. Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Blackstone, B. Fisher of Rednal, B.
Blease, L. Gallacher, L.
Blyth, L. Gilbert, L.
Borrie, L. Gladwin of Clee, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Glasgow, E.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L. Gould of Potternewton, B.
Callaghan of Cardiff, L. Graham of Edmonton, L.
Carlisle, E. Grantchester, L.
Carter, L. [Teller.] Gregson, L.
Castle of Blackburn, B. Grenfell, L.
Chandos, V. Grey, E.
Clinton-Davis, L. Hampton, L.
Craig of Radley, L. Hamwee, B.
Dahrendorf, L. Hanworth, V.
David, B. Hardie, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Harris of Greenwich, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B. Haskel, L.
Desai, L. Hayman, B.
Dixon, L. Headfort, M.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Donoughue, L. Hollis of Heigham, B.
Dormand of Easington, L. Hooson, L.
Eatwell, L. Howell, L.
Elis-Thomas, L. Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L. Prys-Davies, L.
Hughes, L. Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.] Rea, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal]
Jeger, B. Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L. Robertson of Oakridge, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Kennet, L. Rochester, L.
Kilbracken, L. Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Kirkhill, L. Russell, E.
Kirkwood, L. Sainsbury, L.
Leathers, V. St. Davids, V.
Lestor of Eccles, B. Sandwich, E.
Lester of Herne Hill, L. Serota, B.
Lockwood, B. Sewel, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L. Shepherd, L.
Lovell-Davis, L. Simon, V.
McConnell, L. Simon of Highbury, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller] Slim, V.
Mackie of Benshie, L Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
McNally, L. Stallarad, L.
Mallalieu, B. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Mar and Kellie, E. Strabolgi, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L. Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Milner of Leeds, L. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Mishcon, L. Thomas of Gryfe, L.
Mishcon, L. Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Molloy, L. Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Monkswell, L. Thurso, V.
Morris of Castle Morris, L. Tordoff, L.
Nathan, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Nicol, B. Varley, L.
Ogmore, L. Wedderbum of Charlton, L.
Parry, L. Whitty, L.
Peston, L. Wigoder, L.
Plant of Highfied, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winston, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

4.16 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 17 and 18 not moved.]

Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 19:

Page 2, line 14, at end insert— ("But an alteration in a register of electors under section 11(1) or (2) or 56 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (correction of registers and registration appeals) shall not have effect for the purposes of the referendum unless it is made before the start of the period of eleven days ending with the date of the referendum.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 20 not moved.]

Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 21:

Page 2 line 21, after ("with") insert ("paragraph 11 of Schedule (Conduct of the referendums, &c.) and").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 22 and 23 not moved.]

Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 24:

Page 2, line 28, at end insert— ("() An order under this section shall be made by statutory instrument.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.