HL Deb 12 November 1998 vol 594 cc847-71

(".—(1) The Secretary of State shall appoint one or more persons—

  1. (a) to review the operation of the system of election provided for by section 3 of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1978 as substituted by section 1 of this Act, and
  2. (b) to make a report to the Secretary of State within six months from the day of appointment.

(2) The Secretary of State shall carry out his duty under subsection (1) within one month from the date of the first general election to the European Parliament which takes place after the coming into force of section 1.

(3) The Secretary of State shall lay a copy of any report received under subsection (1)(b) before each House of Parliament.")

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do insist on their amendments to which the Commons have disagreed and do disagree with the Commons in their amendment in lieu thereof.

The other place has debated this issue again and, as I forecast it would and could, has amended your Lordships' amendment by inserting another new clause into the Bill promising a review of the way next year's elections to the European Parliament work. However, that election will still be held on the basis of a closed list, and not the open list so clearly preferred by your Lordships and by just about everyone else outside the new Liberal Democrat Party, with a few noble exceptions, and 10 Downing Street. The review will be laid before Parliament. There is no word about whether we will have the chance to decide in legislation what system will be used in future elections and no guarantee that the report, if unfavourable to the closed list, will be allowed to do anything other than gather dust.

I intend to ask your Lordships to ask the Commons to think again and to come back with amendments which reflect the broad measure of support on all sides here in your Lordships' House and elsewhere for a fairer, more open system than the closed list system. Your Lordships are well aware of the case for the open list as against the closed list. I shall not weary your Lordships with repeating the arguments at any length which, both in debate and in Division Lobby, have proved more powerful than the arguments of the few believers in the closed list. It has been a debate between the people's choice and the parties' choice. Even the open list system gives the party the kind of poll position which the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, has been keen to give it. That is done openly by the Liberal Democrats and ourselves through votes of our members, or done by a small cabal in the case of the Labour Party. However, the party decides who goes on the list. Indeed, it decides even the order of the list on the ballot paper. But do we allow the parties' electors to decide who from the list goes to Brussels, or do we simply ask the electors to vote for a party and have absolutely no say on which of the eight or 12 will represent them in Brussels—not the electors' representatives but the parties' representatives?

I should not like to argue that case again—that argument has been won—but I would like to draw your Lordships' attention to some of the arguments put forward in the other place. I suggest that the debate in the other place, if not the vote, showed that the other place is divided on this issue and that the division is not on party lines. To show my fairness and balance—something which I know I am noted for—I will, first of all, quote from the Government's only Back-Bench supporter in the other place in the debate, Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours. He intervened and, with regard to the review which the Home Secretary had announced, he said: I welcome the review. It is very good news, and it will be greatly appreciated by people across the country".—[official Report, Commons, 10/11/98; col. 207.] Your Lordships will have noticed the bonfires last week in celebration.

Then came a procession of Labour Back-Benchers with something interesting to say, all of them opposed to the closed list. Let me pick but two. Mr. Rhodri Morgan—I cannot think why I picked him, but he seemed to have something sensible to say—asked the Home Secretary this question.

Lord Shepherd

My Lords, is it permissible for any noble Lord to quote verbally, accurately, from the House of Commons?

Noble Lords

They have changed the rules!

Lord Shepherd

My Lords, I beg the noble Lord's pardon. It would seem that I am out of date in that respect.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

My Lords, I have checked that and I believe that our procedures have been changed. Otherwise I would have had to attack this in a different way.

I return to Mr. Rhodri Morgan, known to all in Wales and favoured by all in Wales. He said: Is there not one way in which the internal processes of, let us say, the Labour Party intersect with the measure before us"— that is the amendment your Lordships sent there— in that the one advantage of an open-list system is that it prevents a party from slipping a Mickey Finn into the cocktail? Does it not thus prevent a party from putting a person who for some reason would not be popular with the electorate, high up the list, so that the voters can do nothing about it?".—[Official Report, Commons, 10/11/98; col. 216.] It is a pity that Mr. Rhodri Morgan had not been reading some of the Government's propaganda. That is the only defence of the closed list that the Government have really put forward; that is, that it allows them to slip in what, for some unknown reason, Mr. Rhodri Morgan calls a "Mickey Finn".

Then there was Mr. David Winnick. I never thought that I would pray in aid Mr. David Winnick, but there you are; he probably never thought that he would be prayed in aid by a Conservative Member of your Lordships' House. It is a funny old world, as somebody once said. Mr. Winnick said: Many of us are deeply uneasy about a system that gives too much authority to people in a party who have not necessarily been elected. It gives too much authority to people who will be able to decide whether or not a particular candidate's views are orthodox".—[Col. 224.] Interestingly enough, he made an important point when he said: I hesitate to speak for my hon. Friends, but it is doubtful—I shall put it no higher than that—that a majority of the parliamentary Labour party is in favour of the closed-list system".—[Col. 223.] So your Lordships, in voting with me this afternoon, will also be voting for the system which Mr. Winnick tells us is favoured by a majority of the parliamentary Labour party.

I received yesterday a letter from a Mr. Henry McCubbin. He was the Labour MEP for north-east Scotland from 1989 to 1994. During that time he was elected and re-elected as Whip of the Socialist Group of the Parliament. He still calls it the Socialist Group, and that is probably one of the reasons for his lack of success in being placed in a decent position on the list. He put his name forward to be considered in two seats for the election next May. In the first ballot he won nominations in both. Along came the panel from London and he was, to use his own expression, dropped out of the lists comfort zone". No doubt he will be in trouble for sending me this letter. In it he points something out to me which I would like to share with your Lordships' House. It is Rule 2 in the European Parliament's rules. It is headed the "The independent mandate" and states, Members of the European Parliament shall exercise their mandate independently. They shall not be bound by any instructions and shall not receive a binding mandate". Mr. McCubbin continues in his letter: To my mind the open list is the only way to meet this simple but important criteria". With the closed list the member only has to keep his party apparatchiks happy and he can be re-elected again and again, especially if he is number one. He does not have to please any other people—none of the electors; nobody bar the apparatchiks.

Mr. McCubbin concludes his letter by saying: I have written to you for the simple reason that I support the Lords amendment to provide for open lists. I hope that sufficient numbers of your fellow peers continue to show their support". It is not just Labour MPs who are branded "off message", or former MEPs who, having received votes from the party membership, are then dumped by a small cabal; it is a lot wider than that. The Government have very little support anywhere for their proposition of closed lists.

I will leave your Lordships with, for me, an unlikely source of comfort and succour; namely, today's edition of the Daily Mirror and the comments of Mr. Paul Routledge, the chief political commentator. I would like to read out the whole column but only one part of it is relevant to this debate. First, he discussed the way a "clique" of, as he calls them, "craven Blairite numpties"—I cannot imagine who he is thinking of—treated Dennis Canavan and how Ken Livingstone is to be stopped by, in his words, the control freaks in Downing Street". He then went on to the chaos in Wales and finally came to the issue of the closed and open lists. He says: Then there is the European election. The Lords have twice thrown out New Labour's notorious 'closed list' system which enables party bosses to choose who will represent us in Europe. Wherever you look, it is the same story. A handful of Millbank disciples is given the job of deciding who will he our parliamentary representatives and mayor of London. The Millbank Tendency has replaced the Militant Tendency. And it stinks just as much". I do not see why the country, the electors and the other political parties should be saddled with a voting system which has been designed entirely to suit the internal machinations of the governing party. I recommend my Motion to your Lordships.

Moved, That this House do insist on their Amendments Nos. 1 to 4 to which the Commons have disagreed and do disagree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 4A in lieu thereof.—(Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish.)

Lord Evans of Parkside

My Lords, can I—

Lord Shore of Stepney

My Lords, I find this—

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, there is obviously plenty of time for this debate. I believe my noble friend Lord Evans was on his feet first.

Lord Shore of Stepney

My Lords, I find this a disagreeable debate—and I have hardly been encouraged by what has happened in the last 30 seconds. As is well known, I shall be advancing a point of view which is not well received on this side of the House, but at least it will be listened to.

This is an increasingly disagreeable subject for me. On the whole, I like to be with my friends and colleagues in the voting Lobbies and in terms of general argument about political matters of importance. But I find it rather depressing, having studied the latest debate on 10th November in the House of Commons, that the argument is becoming increasingly petty and unserious. No new argument was put forward during that debate. One does not have to go over the whole ground because nothing new was said and we are now quite familiar with the old ground. In one way, of course, a very, very, old argument was put forward as being now the only remaining reason why the Government should be supported in these defective provisions in this Bill. The reason put forward was the old classic reason that the will of the House of Commons as the elected, democratic body should prevail over that of the unelected House of Lords.

I find that to be a serious argument and I would be the last to dismiss it. But it requires not just, as it were, bowing down before it; it requires serious examination. There have been many occasions when the two Houses have come into conflict and the will of the House of Commons has properly prevailed, particularly when the matter in question has been advancing a cause especially dear to the interests of the majority party opposite. I have looked carefully at the Bill from that point of view and I must say in all fairness that I do not see that the majority party in this House—the Conservative Party—despite its many other defects, has a particular vested interest or a particular gain or advantage to make from persisting in their rejection of these provisions. So the argument that it is simply a matter of elected Commons versus unelected Peers and that the unelected Peers, because they are dominated by hereditary Conservative Members, should always be brushed aside, is not in itself strong enough.

I have a second point to make which I referred to when last I spoke on this matter. In this House, particularly after it has been reformed, it will matter a great deal that independent voices are heard and listened to. We do not want a rubber stamp Chamber. We want, therefore, legitimate and serious objections to be properly considered. There is a slight indication of that independent opinion. I have looked at the voting on the previous two occasions, particularly at the distribution of votes as recorded by Cross-Benchers. I am not naive and if I was not sufficiently alert to this point I would be quickly corrected by my colleagues. There are many Cross-Benchers who have at least a small "c" commitment if not a large Conservative standing and bias. But when you are putting a serious issue of a constitutional nature, where no obvious vested interest, apart from that of the Liberal Democrats, is involved, and you find that among the Cross-Benchers 36 voted against and only one voted with the Government, it is at least some indication that people who have reasonable independence of judgment have not had sufficient information, argument and substance put before them to cause them to change their view. That should make noble Lords on this side of the House think; and think very carefully.

So I am not prepared to accept that it is a simple Commons versus Lords issue in the way that it has been put forward, I think rather speciously, because those who put it forward know that it will carry particular weight with people who support the Labour Government under normal circumstances. I say no; it is not Commons versus Lords; it is not democracy against autocracy in the sense that the advocates of the original closed system would like; it is something quite different. I shall sum it up in just a few words.

The issue is about the open list against the closed list. It is about an open democratic list against a closed party management list. It is about accountability to the electorate, to the voters, against accountability to a party committee—what we are now officially informed is a joint panel of regional representatives and members of the party's ruling National Executive Committee. It is indeed—I repeat the words I used on the previous occasion—the electorate versus the electorate.

I stand, and I hope the House will continue to stand, firmly on the side of an open list, remembering too—1 address this particularly to my friends and colleagues—that there is nothing in the Labour Party manifesto to indicate that we should be voting for one form of proportional representation rather than another. There is only a commitment to introduce a new proportional system, which I do not particularly like, for elections.

Earl Russell

My Lords, in the great days of Don Bradman, when he used to play in a Test in Sydney, once he got set the crowd on the hill would start chanting, "You'll never get him out". Well, of course, in cricket, "never" is an even shorter time than it is in politics. Usually, after two or three days, we did get him out, but during those two or three days he usually settled the destination of the Ashes. That is the answer to the riddle: What do Don Bradman and the closed list have in common? That is why I do not put very much weight on the review which the Home Secretary offered us.

So far, the discussion has concentrated on the issue of party discipline. Not enough attention has been given to the fact that the closed list presents the party managers of all parties with a pork barrel. Party managers are not in the habit of giving away pork barrels for nothing. So that is why I do not have very great faith in the review.

The Home Secretary appears to have had two arguments. The first is that the vote was carried by the votes of hereditary Peers. I would ask the Government to be wary of that argument because it might have the effect of making hereditary Peers rather more popular than they are at present. That is not an effect which I wish. I hope that the Government do not wish it either.

The other argument is that the voters are incapable of coping with the flow of information. That has been the classic anti-democratic argument for centuries. I give it no weight. In 10 years in this House I do not think I have ever thought quite so long or changed my mind quite so many times about what to do in one vote. In fact, yesterday I changed my mind no less than five times, each time on the basis of further, more up-to-date information. That is why I was not in a position to do any consulting about what I was going to do because my mind changed like the moon. It was not settled until I saw what was tabled and had considered everything at about lunchtime today.

Granted that the review is no good, we must consider the consequences of what we do. The closed list is a blow to democracy. But we on these Benches also believe that the loss of the Bill would be a blow to democracy. All of us, whichever way we have gone, have had to weigh one of those points against the other. I hope the House will bear that in mind. That is why I believe that my noble friends, although I believe them to have been mistaken, have been acting honourably, and I will not say anything to the contrary.

I found the question as to whether I prefer to assault democracy with a blunt instrument or with a pillow rather forbidding. Before anyone laughs at the pillow, Desdemona discovered that it was a lethal weapon. I did not succeed in answering that question to my own satisfaction. The question that I found more constructive was this. Which of those consequences is more likely if the amendment were carried or rejected? If the amendment is rejected, that we shall have the closed list is certain beyond any shadow of doubt; that we shall lose the Bill is far from certain and, in my opinion, highly unlikely.

I understand that matters always become very heavy when there is confrontation with another place in November. I took the precaution of taking advice before coming here today. The advice was that there is clearly time for one more round of ping-pong. That is confirmed in forthcoming business where the return of this matter from the Commons is scheduled for 17th November. Perhaps I may remind the House that the Third Reading of the Registration of Political Parties Bill is down for 18th November. The Government must have considered the hypothetical possibility that there could be an amendment carried to that Bill which would require the attention of another place. If that is manageable, so is this. The argument that time has run out is, in my opinion, not satisfactory.

I now touch on the consequences for the Prime Minister if he should abandon the Bill. I would not go as far as the Home Secretary, who described the situation as "chaos", but it is pretty serious. The organisational consequences of abandoning the Bill will cause him great difficulties, as will the political consequences. The impression would be given that the Government are prepared to accept proportional representation only in situations where they have a closed list, those being the only circumstances in which, to date, the Government have introduced it.

As the House knows perfectly well, my noble friend Lord Jenkins of Hillhead and his commission recommended a different system. Their views on the closed list are very close to mine. So were the Government to drop the Bill it would, in effect, pre-empt the debate on the Jenkins report and give a clear answer "No" at this moment. For all I know, it is possible that the Prime Minister may at some stage do that. I would be extremely surprised if he were prepared to forego all the advantages of delay by doing that now. In fact, "extremely surprised" understates the case.

I believe that loss of the Bill is extremely unlikely. Until 4 p.m. yesterday I was planning to abstain. Since then my thinking has been concentrated on the fact that much though I want proportional representation—I want it very deeply indeed—its achievement at the price of a return to the two-party system, which would be the result of concessions such as voting for the Bill in its present form is not a price worth paying.

4 p.m.

Lord Barnett

My Lords, I should make clear that I prefer the open list system. I am sure all noble Lords will have read the detail of the open list and closed list systems and will know that the open list system, as proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, would eventually entail determining something by lots. I am sure all noble Lords are aware of that and I apologise for reminding them again. But my view is that either system, or any system one cares to use, will be unfair at some point.

The noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, called in aid the report of the commission of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, on a single list—an open list. Of course, the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, is not in favour of that; he wants nothing to do with it. Nevertheless, he called it in aid. In practice it is a very different open list system from the one proposed here. I am sure all your Lordships are aware of that. On balance, I prefer the open list system. I believe that your Lordships are perfectly entitled to ask the other place to think again.

I ask my noble friend Lord Shore: how many times can we ask the other place to think again? This is the third time. I am bound to say that whether the other place puts forward a proposition that is good, bad, awful or just plain wrong, as I believe it to be in this case, after three times of our asking it to think again—and it is the elected Chamber—it is entitled to have its way.

The noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, enjoys himself too much on these occasions. I never begrudge him that because I know how much he likes to enjoy himself. As I have told him before, I hope he does so for many more years on that Bench. The plain fact is that he is opposed to the Government in principle. He is a very shrewd noble Lord. He uses the end of term situation to his and his party's advantage. I understand that only too well. All oppositions may have done it from time to time. I have no doubt we did it.

I say to my noble friends Lord Shore and Lord Stoddart that they too are entitled to vote against the Government. I understand that. However, I take exception to the constant use by my noble friend Lord Stoddart of the word "duty" that leads him to vote against the Government. The noble Lord did not tell us, of course—but perhaps most of us know—that he was speaking, as he always does on European Union matters, as a leading Euro-sceptic. My feeling is that Euro-sceptics like my noble friends Lord Shore and Lord Stoddart would vote against anything the European Union proposed, even if it proposed that we should all be given a gold bar as a present. I must say that I would be inclined to vote against that as well.

I can understand the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, and my noble friend Lord Shore, with whom I served for some years and whom I like. But I find it offensive and distasteful in the extreme when my noble friend Lord Stoddart implies that he is the only Labour Peer who cares, the only one who has a duty, and all the rest of us do not care. I take offence at that. I care and I also have principles, but after the House of Commons, the elected Chamber, has voted three times against this unelected Chamber—and I am not referring to whether noble Lords are appointed or hereditary—it is entitled to have its way.

I return to the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish. In my view, he does not care about the system because he knows that if he looks at the system which he has recommended, in practice the likelihood is that it and the closed system would have virtually the same result. Anyone examining the situation in detail will know that. The noble Lord, Lord Mackay, does not care. He wants, rightly and understandably, to frustrate the will of the Government and of another place.

I accept that situation. I recognise that the noble Lord is prepared to accept the support of Euro-sceptics on either side. I hope, however, that some noble Lords opposite and on the Cross-Benches will recognise this for what it is and will not vote with the Opposition.

Lord Alton of Liverpool

My Lords, in Committee and on Report I moved an amendment supported by the noble Lord, Lord Evans, which would have deleted closed party lists and inserted the single transferable voting system. I am not a Euro-sceptic and I am in favour of electoral reform. I do not suspect the motives of the Opposition Front Bench because it has advanced the same arguments at every stage of the Bill—arguments in favour of modifying what is a far worse system than first-past-the-post. I have some arguments that I wish to advance as to why we should stand firm in asserting the rights, not of this place, but of the public in the constituencies outside.

The first of those arguments is that the Home Secretary caricatures this as a set-piece battle between hereditary Peers and the House of Commons. It is clear to anyone who followed the debates that there was support throughout your Lordships' House and another place for genuine reforms which would improve our system but not at the expense of the accountability of the elected representative to his constituents. The argument was not about hereditary Peers. The noble Lord, Lord Evans, is the former chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party. If noble Lords read the record of our proceedings at Report stage they will note that the noble Lord set out the extremely democratic reforms that he introduced 10 years ago for the selection of candidates for European elections. It was he who told your Lordships' House, quite properly, that it should have nothing to do with a closed party list system.

Another specious argument is placed before us: that it is a manifesto commitment. The Labour Party manifesto states that they have supported a proportional voting system for elections to the European Parliament. The amendment to the Bill moved by the Opposition also refers to a proportional system. So there is nothing to choose in that respect. The noble Lord, Lord Barnett, said that the results would in any event probably be the same. That is an argument in favour of the amendment. If the results would be the same from an electoral point of view, then let us choose between the merits of the respective systems. My last point concerns the merits of the respective systems. The closed party list system ensures that the politicians produced come straight out of central casting at Millbank. That produces a politician who will merely be accountable to the party machine. It is about machine politics.

I find it tragic that my former noble friends—with the honourable exception of the noble Earl, Lord Russell, who has spoken in the debate today and speaks as the President of the Electoral Reform Society—said at Report stage that they had made a "deal", in the words of the noble Lord, Lord McNally, with the Government. The debate should not be about deals. It should be about creating consensus between the political traditions, about a system that can work to the advantage of the people in this country. Anyone who has been elected to public office in this country surely knows that there is almost a mystical allegiance between an elected representative and the people who voted for him. To sever that, and to replace it with an allegiance merely to party machines will give us a situation such as that which led to Mr. Canavan not being selected to fight for the Scottish parliamentary elections despite his extraordinary track record as a great Member of Parliament. He has given his constituents great service. It will lead to the kind of disputes that we see currently in Wales; and those that we see with Mr. Livingstone and the Labour Party over the elections for a directly elected mayor in London.

It is not desirable that the party should exercise that degree of discipline. Severing the umbilical cord which links an elector with the people in the constituencies is an act of folly. That is why your Lordships should stand up to the other place and on behalf of the people of this country who, when they examine the detail, I think will be extremely resentful that such a cynical system could be imposed upon them.

4.15 p.m.

Lord Evans of Parkside

My Lords, I should like to start by putting the record straight. I was not the chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party. I was chairman of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party. There is a difference between the two bodies.

I think that most Members of the Government Front Bench are aware that since the Bill's inception over a year ago I have opposed sections of the Bill. In particular I have opposed the closed list; and I have been even more vehement against the party's methods of selecting candidates and placing candidates in a batting order on the electoral list.

It is the third time that the House has debated the issue. At Third Reading on 20th October, I spoke in favour of the opposition amendment and voted for that amendment. At col. 1322 of the Official Report I asked: Is this Chamber a revising Chamber, as has often been pointed out? I continued: An argument is being presented in relation to one aspect of the Bill. It is not an instruction to the House of Commons that it has to accept anything from the House of Lords; it is an opportunity for it to have second thoughts about this particular aspect". The amendment was carried. It was passed to the House of Commons which considered it and rejected the House of Lords amendment. While I was not impressed with the Government's simple flat rejection of the amendment, I nevertheless accepted the absolute right of the Commons to refuse to accept a Lords amendment. Indeed, at col. 282 of the Official Report of 4th November, I said I will not tonight vote for the Opposition amendment; I shall respect the Commons' decision. However, I must make it clear that I will not, indeed I could not, vote in the Government Lobby on this occasion". The Government were again defeated and the matter was returned to the Commons for further discussion.

The Commons discussed the Lords amendment on Tuesday of this week. I took the trouble to attend that debate and listened to the Home Secretary. I have to inform your Lordships that on that occasion the Home Secretary was in a more conciliatory mode than previously. While he referred to the hereditary Peers and their vote, he was not sneering in any way at hereditary Peers. In fact he said: The Government have carefully studied reports of the debates in another place … We therefore give proper consideration to any suggestion that it might make that a piece of legislation … ought to be revised. Having done so, I am moving an amendment to make one important change to the Bill which we hope will meet some of the concerns that have been expressed".—[Official Report, Commons, 10/11/98; col. 206.] He added a new clause to the Bill which ensures that a review of the new electoral system for European elections will be examined in detail and a report produced which will be laid before both Houses of Parliament, and debates will be held on the effect of that review. So, effectively, he put something into the Bill which was conciliatory. He also expressed his appreciation of the proper role of this House. I believe that that was a victory for this House in that context: that he recognised those two factors.

The noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, now invites the House to reject the new clause. I find that slightly surprising because in Committee on 25th June of this year the noble Lord moved an amendment to set up a review body to report on the workings of the European election. At col. 355 of the Official Report of 25th June he said, 1 am therefore being realistic in considering that next year's parliamentary elections will probably he done in the way the Government want. In that light, we ought to set in place now a mechanism for a review of what has happened". Although the noble Lord did not press the amendment to a Division, nevertheless he expressed himself quite forcefully on that subject on that occasion. And that is what the Government now propose.

As the noble Earl, Lord Russell, said, we now have to consider the effect and impact of what happens if this House again rejects the Commons amendment. It is obvious to all of us that the parliamentary clock is now ticking into its final hours. The Government have recognised the depth and strength of the arguments about closed lists. They have also recognised the role of this House. The new clause means that there will be an examination and there will be future debates.

We also have to recognise the rights of the House of Commons. When the House of Commons debated the issue on Tuesday night of this week—I have drawn attention to this, as have other Members of this House—despite the fact that there was no vocal support from the Government Benches from either this House or the other House, when the issue was put to the vote the Government had a majority of 182 in the Lobby. That is a significant vote. It has to be recognised that the House of Commons has put forward an amendment. It has also recognised our situation and has chalked up a huge majority in arriving at that conclusion. If this House tonight rejects the House of Commons amendment we shall create an unnecessary constitutional crisis.

I also ask noble Lords opposite: If this matter is returned to the Commons next week, as is possible, is it suggested that the House of Commons will realistically change what this House has already done? There is no chance whatsoever of that happening. Indeed, I suggest that the authorities in the House of Commons would ensure that another 100 votes would be added to that majority of 182 to let this House see the views of the elected Chamber.

Perhaps I may also point out that we also have a duty to the candidates who will contest those elections. Almost 300 candidates of all parties are now in place. I believe that their thoughts and views must be considered. It is essential that this Bill receives Royal Assent before Prorogation—indeed, after this debate, I hope.

I shall continue to oppose closed lists. I shall take up, through my party's machinery, the absolute necessity of getting rid of the appalling methods we have used to select candidates. However, that is for future debates; it is not the issue now before us. This is about respecting the House of Commons' majority and its right to be the main legislative Chamber in the British system. I shall oppose the Opposition's amendment and support the Government's new clause.

The Earl of Onslow

My Lords, I heard the Home Secretary give three reasons for opposing this amendment. The first was the hereditary peerage. The second was that John Major had done the same with regard to Northern Ireland. I cannot remember the third reason! However, under no circumstances did the Home Secretary oppose the merits of the case put forward by my noble friend.

I do not particularly like proportional representation because it may mean a permanent post for Paddy Ashdown—and that must be bad. I prefer our old and tried methods. However, I do not like the Government's present proposal. It is pure pride on their part not to be able to say, "We were wrong".

It strikes me that to use the argument, "Oh, the hereditary peerage voted for it", is on a par with, "Oh, they were Jews that voted for it", or, "Oh, they were blacks that voted for it". It is exactly the same. It is an argument without moral fibre. Is the Home Secretary saying that I am a half-wit? I may be, but not because I am an hereditary Peer. There are lots of half-wits who are not hereditary Peers and I accept that there are half-wits who are hereditary Peers. But that argument should not be used as a blanket case for objection.

As for the concept, "Oh, it's a good idea because the Conservatives did it", I thought that we had an election in 1997 when people said, "We don't like the Conservatives". If the Government are using the argument that something is a good idea because the Conservatives did it in Northern Ireland legislation, why do they not all resign and ask Mr. Major to go back to 10 Downing Street? It is as logical as that. Surely it has been established that that is a bad idea. Governments who can change their minds are great governments. It seems to me that on this issue the Government are copying the Conservatives, but they are copying Mrs. Thatcher at her most stubborn. I am sure that the Government would not like to do that. I shall certainly vote for my noble friend's Motion.

Finally, this is a perfect example of why this House should be properly reformed. When it is properly reformed, we can use the powers that we have with legitimacy and pride rather than be blackmailed because we are told that we are all idiots of hereditary Peers. I support my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Shore of Stepney put the arguments for continuing to support the amendments. I had not intended to speak in today's debate. Unfortunately, however, my noble friend Lord Barnett ascribed to me motives for continuing to support the amendments which, in fact, were untrue and completely unfounded. He implied—indeed, he stated—that the reason I oppose this legislation is because I am a leading Euro-sceptic. I have to tell him and the House that that has nothing to do with my motives. Indeed, as a leading Euro-sceptic, it would suit me very well to support this legislation because it divides and separates even further the Euro MPs from the electorate. At present, they have a direct link with the electorate which, in fact, is good for the European Parliament; for those who represent people in it; and for those who are represented. There is that direct link.

So, if I opposed this legislation strictly on the basis of my Euro-scepticism, that would not be an absurd thing to do. The fact of the matter is that I believe that this legislation is bad because it removes the link between the electorate and the elected. I have said that before; I repeat it today; and I hope that the House will accept that that is my motive and that it is a perfectly reasonable and honourable motive.

Noble Lords

Hear, hear!

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, while I am on my feet, perhaps I may deal with the question of duty. My noble friend Lord Barnett accused me of feeling that I have a duty. It is not a question of whether I feel that I have a duty; it is whether the House of Lords feels that it has a duty to insist on amendments in which it believes. If it does not believe in them, it should not pass them. Therefore, this House has a duty. That is the way in which I use the word "duty". This House has a duty, if it believes in something, to insist that its amendments should be agreed.

I have heard a lot today about the rights of the House of Commons. Of course, the House of Commons has its rights, and they are very serious rights because it is the elected Chamber. But the elected Chamber must operate within the constitution. The constitution says, quite clearly, that the House of Commons may pass a Bill or a measure; the House of Lords is entitled to scrutinise it and, indeed, according to the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, may insist on its amendments, in which case there will be a delay of up to one year. That is the constitution, whether or not people like it.

As I have already said, if this House feels that it is right, it has a duty to insist. People may not like that—even I may not like that—but that is the situation. Therefore, this House has the right—indeed, it may have the duty—to insist on its amendments. I hope that I have made my attitude and what I believe is our "duty" absolutely clear to my noble friend. I hope he will accept my comments.

In the last analysis, if this House is not prepared to do its duty, if it does not understand what its powers are, then there is no point in its being here. It is also no use my Front Bench and the House of Commons "going on" about the House of Lords when it exercises its powers. If they do not believe that the House of Lords should have those powers, or that a proper second Chamber should exist, they should say so; and they should bring forward legislation—it is to be hoped in the next Session of Parliament—to deal with that. If they believe in a unicameral system, which is being mooted, they should bring forward legislation to that end. In the meantime, this House has the right and duty to insist on its amendments if it believes that they are correct.

4.30 p.m.

The Earl of Carlisle

My Lords, it is a pleasure and a privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon. I entirely accept and understand his motive, and I share his sense of duty on this occasion.

I was unable to be present on 20th October, when this House last debated this matter. I was on an All-Party Defence Group visit. I read the debate, and I should not have had to think three times before knowing which way to vote. I should have voted against the closed list system because it diminishes democracy and in favour of the open list system because it enhances democracy.

Perhaps I may remind noble Lords of two sentences spoken during the previous debate by my noble kinsman Lord Russell. He stated: This Bill allows us to choose what party represents us; it does not allow us to choose what person represents us. That appears to be a fundamental blow to democracy".—[Official Report, 20/10/98; col. 1323.] He was speaking in the present. I wish to refer to the consequences in the future if we are to have a closed list system.

I wish to mention three points. First, at the previous European election, only 25 to 30 per cent. voted. The noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool, mentioned to me outside this Chamber that at the previous Euro by-election in Merseyside only 11 per cent. voted. If we go into the 1999 Euro election with the closed list, the percentage of voters will be down to 20 per cent. Surely the Government and all parties wish to see the electorate coming out to vote in that election. That will not happen under the closed list system.

Secondly, I believe that MEPs elected by means of the closed list, which will be a discredited system, will not enjoy the support of the electorate during their tenure as MEPs. That is a further matter of concern that needs to be considered.

The Government promise a review. There are questions that I wish to put to the Minister. We are told, if we accept the government amendment, that the review has to be on the Secretary of State's desk within six months. Who is to be on the review body—politicians; MEPs elected under the closed system; or lawyers? I wish to know more about the review body.

What will happen to the report when it lands on the Secretary of State's desk six months after he calls for it? We already have an example. On 25th October a different report landed on the Home Secretary's desk. It was The Report of the Independent Commission on the Voting System. That commission was chaired by my noble friend Lord Jenkins of Hillhead. We are now told that that report may never see the light of day. How can we be assured that the report promised us today will ever see the light of day or be acted upon?

In 1980 I was in the northern part of Hong Kong, on the Sunchong river. I understand that the noble Lord, the Minister, was in the south of Hong Kong. He is a jurist and was acting in court on behalf of clients. In the north, I was pulling out illegal immigrants who were crossing the Sino-Hong Kong border. I and my colleagues in all the services were doing our best to save their lives in the muddy water of the Sunchong river. As his colleagues from that time tell me, after the noble Lord left the court the lawyers decided to throw a party. They had a tug-of-war in the clean mud of Lantao.

We have been told by the noble Lord, Lord McNally, that in politics you sometimes have to get your hands dirty. This "closed list" Bill is a dirty Bill. Let us wash our hands of closed lists. I ask the Minister to do what his colleagues told him to do on the shores of Hong Kong—join in the clean mud tug-of-war and jump for the open list.

Lord Richard

My Lords, I hope the House will forgive me if I do not exactly follow the geographical and military wanderings and musings of the noble Earl, Lord Carlisle. He lost me slightly in the Hong Kong mud.

I am concerned about this debate. I am not concerned about the issue of open lists and closed lists, but I am concerned about what this House may be doing in respect of its constitutional relations with the other House.

Of course this House has the right—I even go so far as my noble friend Lord Stoddart did at one point in saying that it may have a duty—to ask the House of Commons to think again on an issue on which this House has views. How often are we to ask the House of Commons to think again—once, twice, three times, ad nauseam? Is there really to be a battle of attrition between this House and the other place?

Our constitution is a strange and rather fragile instrument. It is not written. It functions as a result of understandings between the two Houses and those who are in charge of them. If those understandings were to break down, the sensible constitutional relationship between the two Houses would also break down.

Last week, the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, urged us to send this proposal back to the House of Commons. He said that this House had a duty, if there was a new matter that the House of Commons had not considered, to send the Bill back. I listened with great interest to see what was new. The noble Lord's fig leaf last week, if I may put it that way with no disrespect, was the report of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead. He said that the House of Commons had not had a chance to consider the report and that we should therefore send the Bill back to the other place so that, in reconsidering the Bill, the other place could consider the report with it. It went back to the Commons, the Commons thought again and decided that they preferred their original opinion and not the opinion of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, or the opinion of this House.

I ask the question rhetorically: what is new this afternoon? What is it this afternoon that justifies, on the test proposed last week by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, this House sending it back to the House of Commons to ask the Commons to think again; to reconsider their position in the light of something fresh. There is nothing fresh.

The other side is going to break the understanding that has arisen over a number of years under successive governments as to the circumstances in which this House should insist upon its position. I believe it is wrong. That course is dangerous and is one that it will regret. I hope that those in this House who are capable of looking at and are prepared to look at the matter in its constitutional sense, as well as on the merits or demerits of the narrow issue, will support the Government on it.

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, I hesitate to intervene again but there is some feeling in the House that noble Lords would like the wind-up speeches. If they wish to hear another speaker, the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, has been trying to intervene for some time.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Bethell

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness and I am glad to have the chance to say a few words. The noble Lord, Lord Evans, reminded us that there are Members of the House who hope to stand for election for the European Parliament in June next year; on my side of the House there are four. All of us, as it happens, are hereditary Peers, so there may be hope for some of us yet.

As the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, is aware, I have supported him throughout this debate and believe that he is quite right to continue to support the idea of the open list. Since I was not selected but elected as a prospective candidate, I have seen some of the worst features of the closed list system: the idea that a job lot of candidates is available to be parachuted in, with no chance of people discriminating or differentiating between one candidate and another.

I hope that in the next few days the Government and the Opposition will consider a compromise solution. I have in mind the mixed system—the so-called Belgian system—which allows a voter to vote for a party or for a candidate, whichever seems most appropriate. I am not quite sure whether anyone has seen a possible ballot paper for next June. I have seen one for the London area where I am a prospective candidate: in fact, number three. Such a ballot paper will contain about 40 or 50 names. Hardly any of them will be known to more than 1 per cent. or 2 per cent. of the voters. On the London list one will see Villiers, Tannock, Bethell and seven more names. With the greatest respect to all of us, how many voters will be able to make even a vaguely informed value judgment about whom to put the cross against?

It would be good if the party leaders could get together at this stage and work out the mixed list which would enable voters to support a party for an individual candidate, if that seems most appropriate.

I have stood for the European Parliament four times. In each case my campaign had a personal as well as some party input. But in those days it was the simple majority system. We had 500,000 voters. That was enough. On the next occasion there will be 5 million voters in the constituency in which I hope to stand. Conservative, Labour and Lib-Dem candidates will not easily be able to put their names forward to a London public of 5 million voters. It is hard to see how the public will be able to judge between one or another members of a party.

Another problem that will arise under a wholly open list will be that candidates from the same party will be more in competition than candidates from opposing parties. This is something that occurs in Ireland. At the moment, 10 of us in London work harmoniously together against the Labour Party. This unites us. In particular, a fully opened list would throw us against one another.

I therefore hope that we will in the end decide—maybe not today but in the course of the next week—to adopt the half-way system which is the least bad of the many types of PR that have been thrown at us.

I have one final point. A move to a fully open list at this late stage will destabilise the practicalities of next June's elections. There are those in my party who, at our election—not selection—were given the right to stand in a closed list. They turned down that offer because they were low down in the ranking. If they now find that the law has changed and the list is open, they will feel cheated with the goalposts having been moved so widely so late in the match. They may even have a legal claim.

I do not wish to give the impression that I am at all in favour of the closed list system. One thing that this debate has done is to reveal the bizarre way in which candidates from the Labour Party were selected by the leadership. However, I very much hope that the Government can, at this stage, get together with the leaders of the other parties and work out a way in which candidates can be selected on a sensible basis of knowledge of the candidate and knowledge of the party; not on a matter of pure random selection on 10th June next year.

Lord McNally

My Lords, in an earlier life I remember attending a meeting of the national executive of the Labour Party. An old Scottish trade union leader was invited to join in voting with a certain faction, with many high principled arguments being put his way. He refused to do so. Afterwards, I asked him why he had not joined the opponents' side. He said: "They must have thought I came up the Clyde in a barrel". I have never worked out why travelling up the Clyde in a barrel made someone particularly gullible, but it seems to me that quite a number of noble Lords are being invited to join such a journey with the noble Lord, Lord Mackay.

In essence, we have a wrecking amendment to the Bill. Those who are prepared to go along with the wrecking amendment should fully consider the consequences.

Many of the criticisms we heard today have been about how one party—the Labour Party—has managed its internal affairs. The noble Lord, Lord Evans, put if perfectly correctly when he said that he would use the offer, breathing space and review from the Home Secretary to campaign within the Labour Party to repair such shortcomings as may be within that party's internal democracy. That is as it should be.

We in the Liberal Democrats have no such problems. We elect our candidates on one member, one vote. As I have said on previous occasions, some members of the awkward squad have ended up on top and some party loyalists have turned up on top. That is the way it is in the Liberal Democrats. From the beginning, we have joined with the Government not under any deal but on the basis that we both fought the general election to bring forward a proportional representational system for the next elections to the European Parliament. During the long course of this Bill through Committee and many other stages, we have argued various cases. At this stage, we view the Bill in its entirety. Elements of the debate have been like a revivalist prayer meeting, with various sinners getting up to confess. Those who today have advocated the open list system acquiesced for almost a quarter of a century in systems of election or nomination to the European Parliament that were not simply less fair than the open list system but much less fair than the system your Lordships are considering now.

Noble Lords


Lord McNally

Members of the Conservative Front Bench say "Rubbish." There is no doubt in my mind and in the minds of my noble friends as to why we will be with the Government tonight. What is on offer for the 1999 European elections is a fairer system than ever before. We know from previous elections that 60 Conservatives have won and some 20 Labour Members have been returned, but no Liberal Democrats or others.

Noble Lords


Lord McNally

At another election, some 60 Labour and 20 Conservative Members were returned, but again no Liberal Democrats.

Noble Lords


Lord McNally

"Ah!" indeed, for the 20 per cent. of the electorate who did not want to vote Conservative or Labour.

For the first time with this Bill, we will have a Labour representative from the West Country, a Liberal Democrat from the Midlands and a Conservative from the north east. That will produce by far the most balanced delegation in terms of votes cast and their geographic spread. I do not have to apologise for the Bill because it will be a good Bill. It will educate the British people in a new system of regional representation in which two or three Labour Members from the West Country will have a powerful voice in the European Parliament. Those changes are much different from constituencies of 70,000. That cannot be done—as the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, said—with constituencies of 8 million.

We are dealing with realities. What we have between ourselves arid the Government is a partnership of principle that is advancing the cause of fair representation in Europe. Ranged against that partnership is an unholy alliance of those who are first-past-the-post, those who do not like Europe and those who have other reasons for assembling that unholy alliance. I cannot do anything to influence Conservative Members. As we know, they can summon up—we know not from where—vast numbers to vote on certain occasions, when they are not here on others. But I say to Cross-Benchers, as they look to their responsibilities in this House and in a reformed House of Lords, and to those who want to see a proper role for Cross-Benchers in a reformed House of Lords, that they should carefully consider before getting into Lord Mackay's barrel and voting for such a partisan and wrecking amendment.

The government amendment has been little discussed this evening but it is a reasonable and reasoned amendment that will allow the various parties to assess the impact of the Bill. Meanwhile, we send forward the fairest system of election to the European Parliament that this country has yet experienced. As such, we do so with enthusiasm.

Lord Williams of Mostyn

My Lords, we should not forget for a moment nor doubt for a second that we are here on a very serious occasion. That was most notably identified by my noble friend—as he presently remains—Lord Shore of Stepney, who referred to "the old classic reason." Yes. It means justified supremacy after due consideration of the elected Chamber. We revere that principle and we propose to abide by it. It is a fact, not an abuse, to point out that on earlier occasions in this House the Government were defeated by the block hereditary vote. Had there been no hereditary vote, the Government would have won on the first occasion by 119 votes to 72, and on the second by 119 to 90.

The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, in a phrase that I for one, for reasons your Lordships know, found particularly offensive, spoke of Jews and black people. I say this. No Jew that I know sits here because of his ancestral faith, nor any black woman by virtue of her skin.

We have voted twice already to amend the Bill. It has gone back to the Commons. Last Tuesday—and allow me to permit fact to intrude for just a second—the Commons voted 307 to 125. The Home Secretary introduced his own amendment to have a review, which is intended to be speedy, to be established within one month and to report within six months. And that report will be placed before Parliament. That is a reasonable outcome, offered by way of a genuine desire to accommodate your Lordships' views. Not, I appreciate, to capitulate but to accommodate and offer what I regard as a decent, acceptable, compromise—if compromise is in the air at all.

The Home Secretary said that the review would be wide. If it concluded that the closed list system was the wrong system, there would be huge pressure on the Government to change. Open lists have defects. No one on any occasion has disputed my proposition that with the open list system some candidates can be elected with fewer votes than those who fail to be elected. It is worth bearing in mind the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Bethell—who is number three on the London list—that we will have on an open list internal, internecine party squabbling. In other words, it will be the uneasy illegitimate offspring borne out of a sort of sub-primary system and a sort of general election.

It is a fact that political parties bring forward candidates. It is not ignoble for a party to put forward a slate of candidates any more than a slate of policies. It is not improper or constitutionally illegitimate for us to say, if we wish, that we want particular expertise in Europe and a fair geographic spread within a specific European constituency. Above all, no longer do we want ethnic minorities and women to suffer the disabilities that they presently suffer. That is why we want a closed list system. Questions about internal party choice and whether or not one party air-brushes out rather more vigorously than another are utterly not to the point and I waste no time upon them.

It is a fact that cannot be disputed that this system was first introduced, not by the then Mrs. Thatcher, but by Mr. Major's government in the context of Northern Ireland. It was perfectly acceptable then. Both Houses voted for it. The Government of Wales and the Scotland Bills have passed through your Lordships' House with a closed list system. I ascribe no ill motive to anyone, but the question that offers itself to my mind at least is: what is the real purpose of this long drawn-out trench warfare?

We are a revising Chamber. I do not believe anyone can say that we have not discharged our duty at length, in detail and in depth by putting forward, on two distinct occasions with different emphases, the request that the Commons should think again. The proposition put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, was that the Commons had not had the benefit of the report of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead. I can tell the noble Earl, Lord Carlisle, that that is not being hidden. It has been published and was the subject of a full debate in the House of Commons.

Your Lordships know the issues and I hope that I have faithfully defined them as the Government see them. The elected House has a moral legitimacy that we do not. It has considered the matter not once but twice and the majorities have been overwhelming. We shall use every means at our disposal to ensure that the clearly expressed will of the elected House is carried through and put into effect. We propose to stand fast.

5 p.m.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, has again suggested that in the open list system members can be elected by fewer votes than others, but that is not so inside the same party. I do not believe that electors will fail to understand that distinction. They will understand that inside the same party those with the most votes will be elected. That is the point about an open list. I do not pray in aid Northern Ireland; it is neither for nor against because it is such a uniquely difficult place in which to advance democracy and peace. But what was done in Northern Ireland was for the forum, not a parliament, and was a precursor of the peace process that we hope will move towards success.

The review that we have been promised is fine. The noble Lord, Lord Evans, rightly chided me with the fact that I had asked for the review. I suppose that if I push at the door for long enough I shall get something. The review was not in place of voting systems but was designed to look at whatever one chose to adopt in place of first-past-the-post. All one gets from the Government's promise of a review is what noble Lords have just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn; namely, if the review comes out against the closed list there will be huge pressure on the Government to change. We should expect a little more than that before we are able to agree with the other place.

It is interesting that at least in this debate we have managed to get a few government Back-Benchers to their feet. However, I noticed that they did not defend the closed list. They said, perfectly justifiably, that the Commons had been asked to think again, had responded and we should accept what we had been given with good grace and not go back. But I could not fail to notice that no one defended the closed list. As always, it was left to the noble Lord, Lord McNally, to defend it. I shall not go into the various points made by the noble Lord, save that I do not believe the correct expression to be "coming up the Clyde in a barrel" but rather "coming up the Clyde in a banana boat". I did not do that either.

We should address the argument about the rights of this House to ask the other place to think again. As to being up against the wire, that is not my fault. This Bill started in the other place as long ago as last November. A good question to ask is where the Bill has been dilly-dallying on its way. It is not exactly a long Bill but it has been around for a very long time. It is not my fault that the wire is there next week.

The noble Earl, Lord Russell, said that there was time to ask the Government to think again. It is a serious matter for your Lordships' House to ask the Government to think again. But we are not shutting the door on the Bill. Over the weekend the Government have every ability to come up with something else and to make another suggestion. As the noble Earl said, we are detailed to be here again next Tuesday to see what the Government bring. That tells me that the Government are already working out what they have to bring if the arguments of the Minister have not carried the day.

This House should say to the Government that it is not convinced. The Government have put forward no arguments in favour of the closed list over the open list. Frankly, a review is not sufficient. Think again about how to accommodate the views not only of the Conservative Party, a few members of the Liberal Democratic Party, the majority view of the Cross-Benchers and the views of a good part of the press—I could have quoted a good deal more—but also the views of a good number of the Government's Back-Benchers down the corridor. I believe that we should ask the Government to think again. I beg to move.

5.6 p.m.

On Question, That this House do insist on their Amendments Nos. 1 to 4 to which the Commons have disagreed and do disagree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 4A in lieu thereof.

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 237; Not-Contents, 194.

Division No. 1
Aberdare, L. Blyth, L.
Ackner, L. Boardman, L.
Addison, V. Bowness, L.
Ailsa, M. Brabazon of Tara, L.
Aldington, L. Braine of Wheatley, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Brentford, V.
Alton of Liverpool, L. Brigstocke, B.
Ampthill, L. Brougham and Vaux, L.
Anelay of St. Johns, B. Burnham, L. [Teller.]
Annaly, L. Buscombe, B.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L. Butterworth, L.
Arran, E. Byford, B.
Ashbourne, L. Byron, L.
Astor, V. Cadman, L.
Attlee, E. Caithness, E.
Balfour, E. Campbell of Alloway, L.
Balfour of Burleigh, L. Campbell of Croy, L.
Banbury of Southam, L. Carew, L.
Barber of Tewkesbury, L. Carlisle, E.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Carnock, L.
Bell, L. Carrick, E.
Beloff, L. Chalfont, L.
Bethell, L. Charteris of Amisfield, L.
Biffen, L. Chorley, L.
Blaker, L. Clancarty, E.
Blatch, B. Clanwilliam, E.
Clark of Kempston, L. Leigh, L.
Cochrane of Cults, L. Liverpool, E.
Cockfield, L. Long, V.
Colwyn, L. Lowry, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L. Lucas, L.
Courtown, E. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Cowdrey of Tonbridge, L. Luke, L.
Cranborne, V. McColl of Dulwich, L.
Crathorne, L. McConnell, L.
Crickhowell, L. McFarlane of Llandaff, B.
Cross, V. Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Cuckney, L. MacLaurin of Knebworth, L.
Darcy de Knayth, B. Macleod of Borve, B.
Dartmouth, E. Malmesbury, E.
Davidson, V. Mancroft, L.
De Freyne, L. Marlesford, L.
Denbigh, E. Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Denham, L. Merrivale, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B. Mersey, V.
Dilhorne, V. Miller of Hendon, B.
Dixon-Smith, L. Milverton, L.
Dudley, E. Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Eccles of Moulton, B. Monk Bretton, L.
Eden of Winton, L. Monson, L.
Ellenborough, L. Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Exmouth, V. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Feldman, L. Moran, L.
Fookes, B, Mountevans, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Freyberg, L. Moyne, L.
Gage, V. Munster, E
Gainford, L. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Newall, L.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L. Newton of Braintree, L.
Gisborough, L. Noel-Buxton, L.
Gladwyn, L. Norrie, L.
Glentoran, L. Northesk, E.
Gormanston, V. Norton, L.
Grantley, L. Norton of Louth, L.
Greenway, L. Nunburnholme, L.
Haddington, E. O'Cathain, B.
Halsbury, E. Onslow, E.
Hambro, L. Onslow of Woking, L.
Hanningfield, L. Oxfuird, V.
Harding of Petherton, L. Palmer, L.
Harmsworth, L. Park of Monmouth, B.
Hayhoe, L. Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Hayter, L. Peel, E.
Henley, L. Pender, L.
Hereford, Bp. Perry of Southwark, B.
Higgins, L. Phillimore, L.
Hogg, B. Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Holderness, L. Platt of Writtle, B.
HolmPatrick, L. Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Home, E. Poole, L.
Howe, E. Prior, L.
Howe of Aberavon, L. Rankeillour, L.
Howell of Guildford, L. Rawlings, B.
Hunt of Wirral, L. Reay, L.
Hussey of North Bradley, L. Rees, L.
Hylton-Foster, B. Rees-Mogg, L.
Inglewood, L. Remnant, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L. Renton, L.
Johnston of Rockport, L. Renwick, L.
Jopling, L. Rodney, L.
Kenilworth, L. Rotherwick, L.
Kinnoull, E. Rowallan, L.
Kitchener, E. Russell, E.
Knollys, V. Ryder of Wensum, L.
Knutsford, V. Saatchi, L.
Laing of Dunphail, L. Sainsbury of Preston Candover, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L. St. John of Fawsley, L.
Lane of Horsell, L. Sandwich, E.
Lauderdale, E. Sandys, L.
Lawrence, L. Seccombe, B.
Shannon, E. Teviot, L.
Shaw of Northstead, L. Thatcher, B.
Shore of Stepney, L. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Simon of Glaisdale, L. Trefgame, L.
Skelmersdale, L. Trenchard, V.
Slim, V. Trumpington, B.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L. Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Southwell, Bp. Wedgwood, L.
Stewartby, L. Westbury, L.
Stockton, E. Wharton, B.
Stoddart of Swindon, L. Wilcox, B.
Stafford, E. Willoughby de Broke, L.
Strange, B. Windlesham, L.
Strathclyde, L. [Teller.] Wise, L.
Sudeley, L. Wynford, L.
Tebbit, L. Young, B.
Acton, L. Gallacher, L.
Addington, L. Geraint, L.
Ahmed, L. Gilbert, L.
Alderdice, L. Goodhart, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Alli, L. Goudie, B.
Amos, B. Gould of Potternewton, B.
Annan, L. Graham of Edmonton, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L. Grantchester, L.
Avebury, L. Gregson, L.
Bach, L. Grenfell, L.
Barnett, L. Grey, E.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Hacking, L.
Berkeley, L. Hampton, L.
Blackstone, B. Hamwee, B.
Borrie, L. Hanworth, V.
Bragg, L. Hardie, L.
Brightman, L. Hardy of Wath, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L. Harris of Greenwich, L.
Brookeborough, V. Harris of Haringey, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L. Haskel, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Hayman, B.
Burlison, L. Headfort, M.
Burns, L. Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Callaghan of Cardiff, L. Hogg of Cumbemauld, L.
Calverley, L. Hollick, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Hollis of Heigham, B.
Carter, L. [Teller.] Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Chandos, V. Hooson, L.
Christopher, L. Hoyle, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L. Hughes of Woodside, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Clement-Jones, L. Inchyra, L.
Clinton-Davis, L. Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Crawley, B. Jacobs, L.
Dahrendorf, L. Janner of Braunstone, L.
David, B. Jay of Paddington, B. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L. Jeger, B.
Dean of Beswick, L. Judd, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B. Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Dholakia, L. Kirkhill, L.
Diamond, L. Leathers, V.
Dixon, L. Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Donoughue, L. Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Dormand of Easington, L. Lockwood, B.
Dubs, L. Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Elis-Thomas, L. Longford, E.
Evans of Parkside, L. Lovell-Davis, L.
Evans of Watford, L. Ludford, B.
Ezra, L. Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L. McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Falkland, V. Mackie of Benshie, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B. McNair, L.
Fitt, L. McNally, L.
Maddock, B. Sawyer, L.
Mallalieu, B. Scanlon, L.
Mar and Kellie, E. Scotland of Asthal, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L. Serota, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L. Sewel, L.
Meston, L. Sharp of Guildford, B.
Methuen, L. Shaughnessy, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B. Shepherd, L.
Milner of Leeds, L. Simon, V.
Mishcon, L. Simon of Highbury, L.
Molloy, L. Smith of Clifton, L.
Monkswell, L. Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Montague of Oxford, L. Stallard, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L. Stone of Blackheath, L.
Morris of Manchester, L. Strabolgi, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L. Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Newby, L. Tanlaw, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B. Taverne, L.
Nicol, B. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Northfield, L. Tenby, V.
Ogmore, L. Thomas of Gresford, L.
Parry, L. Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Paul, L. Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Peston, L. Thornton, B.
Pitkeathley, B. Thurlow, L.
Plant of Highfield, L. Thurso, V.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. Tomlinson, L.
Prys-Davies, L. Tope, L.
Puttnam, L. Tordoff, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B. Turner of Camden, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L. Uddin, B.
Razzall, L. Varley, L.
Redesdale, L. Walker of Doncaster, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Renwick of Clifton, L. Warner, L.
Richard, L. Weatherill, L.
Rix, L. Whitty, L.
Rochester, L. Wigoder, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L. Williams of Crosby, B.
Rogers of Riverside, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L. Williams of Mostyn, L.
Sandberg, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Motion agreed to accordingly.

Bill returned to the Commons with a reason.