HL Deb 26 October 2000 vol 618 cc545-57

(".—(1) In this section— NATS employer" includes NATS, any designated company which succeeds to the business of NATS and any employer other than a designated company which succeeds to or acquires any part of the business of NATS; NATS" is National Air Traffic Services Ltd whose air traffic services are to be transferred under the provisions of this Act; protected beneficiary" includes—

  1. (a) any person who, on the transfer date, is employed by NATS and is an active member of the Scheme;
  2. (b) any person who is employed by NATS on the transfer date, but is then too young to join the Scheme, and who subsequently joins;
  3. (c) any person who is not an active member of the Scheme on the transfer date but who is subsequently entitled to rejoin as a NATS employee without a break in their continuity of employment;
  4. (d.) any person who is not an active member of the Scheme on the transfer date, but who is entitled to accrued pension rights under the Scheme at that date; and
  5. (e) any person who is prospectively or contingently entitled to benefit under the Scheme on the death of a person covered under (a) to (d) above;
relevant scheme" means the Scheme or any other scheme of a NATS employer that covers protected beneficiaries, and that provides benefits in respect of the protected beneficiaries which are at least equivalent in value to those applicable to the protected beneficiaries as at the transfer date; Scheme" means the Civil Aviation Authority Pension Scheme; transfer date" means the date of the transfer of NATS to the public-private partnership.

(2) NATS (or, if appropriate, the designated company) shall, subject to the consent of the Pension Schemes Office of the Inland Revenue, participate in the Scheme as a non-associated employer.

(3) If NATS (or the designated company) does participate in the Scheme as a non-associated employer, a proportion of the total assets of the Scheme shall be segregated for the benefit of the protected beneficiaries and the share of assets so segregated shall be equal in proportion to the proportion that the Scheme liabilities in respect of the protected beneficiaries bears to the Scheme's liabilities as a whole.

(4) If NATS (or the designated company) is unable to participate in the Scheme, that NATS employer shall instead make available a relevant scheme for the benefit of the protected beneficiaries.

(5) If the shares or business of NATS (or the designated company), or any part of that business, is transferred to a NATS employer other than NATS or a designated company, that NATS employer shall become a non-associated employer in the Scheme and if that is not possible that NATS employer shall instead make available a relevant scheme for the benefit of the protected beneficiaries.

(6) For the purposes of subsections (4) and (5), if a NATS employer is to make available a relevant scheme other than the Scheme, a share of the assets of the Scheme (or of the previous relevant scheme if not the Scheme) shall be transferred to the receiving relevant scheme, calculated on the basis described in subsection (3).

(7) If a protected beneficiary transfers to the employment of another employer that also participates in the Scheme but which is not a NATS employer, that beneficiary shall remain a protected beneficiary for the purposes of the benefits to be provided to and in respect of him under the relevant scheme and if that beneficiary subsequently transfers back to the employment of a NATS employer he shall still remain a protected beneficiary.

(8) For so long as a NATS employer remains as a participating employer of the Scheme in respect of protected beneficiaries, one trustee of the Scheme shall be a member representative selected from amongst the protected beneficiaries, and one trustee of the Scheme shall be an employer representative of the NATS employer.

(9) The NATS employer shall contribute to the relevant scheme at no less than the rate recommended by that scheme's actuary as being sufficient to secure the accrued rights from time to time of the protected beneficiaries in full by the purchase of annuities and the NATS employer shall not he entitled unilaterally to suspend or terminate its contributions to the relevant scheme except upon its insolvency.

(10) On the full winding-up of a relevant scheme, or on a partial winding-up which involves protected beneficiaries, any shortfall in the assets required to buy out the accrued rights at that time of the protected beneficiaries shall be met in full by the relevant NATS employer and shall be treated as a debt on the employer.

(11) If, on the full or partial winding-up of a relevant scheme, as described in subsection (10), the trustees wish, rather than securing benefits by the purchase of annuities, to pay a bulk transfer to another scheme, that other scheme shall be a relevant scheme and the transfer value payable in respect of the protected beneficiaries shall be sufficient to secure a buy out of their accrued rights if the receiving scheme were to be wound up immediately following the transfer.

(12) The NATS employer shall provide future benefits in the relevant scheme which, in respect of the protected beneficiaries, are at last equivalent in value to those available tinder the Scheme at the transfer date.

(13) No amendment may be made to a relevant scheme which would result in a reduction of the accrued or future rights of protected beneficiaries, nor in an increase in the contributions payable by protected beneficiaries who are active members.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I should explain that this amendment is simply a rather clearer version than Amendment No. 70, which we originally tabled.

I shall begin my remarks by quoting my noble friend Lord Whitty on Second Reading, who said that, the staff [of NATS] are absolutely key. The future of NATS depends on the quality and commitment of its staff".— [Official Report, 5/6/00; col. 1027.]

The noble Baroness, Lady Thomas of Walliswood, moved an amendment in Committee, the terms of which were similar to those in our amendment. The express purpose of both amendments is to protect the pension rights of such vital and committed staff. When responding in Committee, my noble friend told the House that the amendment was "not justified", and went on to present a detailed explanation in support of that contention. He claimed that it would burden the PPP with an unnecessary framework. My noble friend also rejected comparison with the position of London Transport workers, whose pension provisions are protected in a later part of this Bill.

However, my noble friend offered to meet us and those other noble Lords who were concerned about the matter. Such a meeting has taken place. Alas, the Government's position remains that such a clause is unnecessary in their view. Accordingly, we now submit a similar amendment for your Lordships' consideration. We believe that such an amendment is required for two reasons. First, as my noble friend Lord Hoyle mentioned, there is a very real need to give confidence to the staff. Such confidence comes in many ways, but none more so than in protecting those pension rights that they have accrued over many years. We believe that there is a strong political reason for giving the staff confidence, if only because they see little merit in the overall PPP proposal as it stands.

Even if my noble friend the Minister were correct to say that adequate protection already exists within the trust deed, that, in itself, will not convince the staff as long as the Government refuse to provide equal treatment within the Bill as that provided for London Transport staff. Indeed, whether or not it is necessary, there is a very real belief in the minds of the staff that if such provision is not on the face of the Bill they will not be in a protected position.

This amendment is required for a substantive as well as a political reason. That is evidenced by the decision of the trustees of the CAA pension scheme, who have determined that they will pursue legal action against the Government if they fail to provide the assurances sought by way of this amendment. I understand that the authority has earmarked up to £1 million for that task, so it is obviously not a decision that it has taken lightly. However, staff also wish this amendment to be incorporated into the Bill because it would guarantee the following—and this is where I believe some misunderstanding may have arisen in Committee.

We wish to ensure that a new NATS employer, or a successor employer, would be required to contribute to the scheme at a level that would protect the accrued rights and benefits of members—not simply the level provided by minimum funding requirements; that future owners would have to provide benefits in the scheme that were at least as good as those in the present CAA scheme; that sufficient funds should be set aside within the CAA pension scheme to reflect its liabilities to pensioners; and that NATS employees be guaranteed the right to remain in the CAA pension scheme in the event of there being subsequent transfers of ownership down the track. In that sense, I believe that the Minister pointed out in Committee that the trust deed is a powerful document and one that is not easily changed. However, even though such matters are subject to the trust deed, the truth is that the employer has considerable responsibility for— and, indeed, considerable control over—the funding of any pension scheme.

Therefore, as I said on the previous occasion, if we are not able to secure an assurance on the face of the Bill, we shall have to divide the House on the issue. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will be able to consider the matter yet again. I trust that he will give us reason to believe that the confidence that we need to give the staff is the very same confidence as my noble friend Lord Whitty expressed on Second Reading when he spoke about the quality and the commitment of the staff being absolutely key to the future of NATS.

If we do not protect the pensions of the staff, we shall not get that confidence; and that quality and commitment will be at risk. I beg to move.

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe

My Lords, I support the amendment, as I did at Second Reading. However, I do not propose to repeat the arguments which I advanced then. I have considered many of the arguments proposed by my noble friend the Minister for Transport. I am sorry that he is not present at the moment to hear the points I make.

Throughout my noble friend's comments in favour of the PPP he has spoken most passionately on occasion in favour of providing the strategic partnership with the opportunity to spread itself into the rest of the world, certainly into Europe. A number of people are therefore convinced that changes will come about through the European open skies policy and that there is a case on those grounds for a new structure to be put in place. It is interesting to note that every air traffic control organisation throughout Europe—the new PPP may wish to enter into partnerships with those organisations—is state owned. Indeed, one of the PPPs which is bidding to take over NATS is being advised by three state-owned organisations, all of which will have state funded pension arrangements.

If the organisation appears attractive from a business point of view, it may seek to link up, or merge, with other European organisations. Those European organisations will bring civil servants, or people who enjoy broadly Civil Service terms, to the negotiating table. Their employees will have pension arrangements backed by their respective state or country. I believe that we ought to have on the face of the Bill similar arrangements in the strategic partnership in terms of conditions of employment so that we present broadly comparable terms and a more appealing and attractive proposition for those employees in other European countries who might be reluctant to contemplate joining strategic partnerships or mergers. If we adopt a common approach on pension arrangements to include ultimately backing from the state if anything goes wrong, that would present a better business case with which to go forward in the future.

This is a new argument which I advance, having listened to the passionate and compelling points made by the Minister for Transport. I hope that in view of the points which I and the noble Lord, Lord Brett, have made, we shall receive a more sympathetic response from the Government than we have received hitherto.

Lord Hoyle

My Lords, my noble friend the Minister is normally extremely sympathetic to our arguments. However, his response to this matter on the previous occasion we discussed it contained much Treasury "double speak" rather than a consideration of the needs of the employees. The employees need to be reassured on this matter. I believe that my noble friend Lord Brett said that the trustees of the pension scheme are so concerned about the matter that they are prepared to go to the High Court and spend up to £1 million if the assurances that are sought are not included on the face of the Bill. That shows the tremendous concern that people feel about this matter. Nothing concerns people more than the prospect of losing the benefits of a good pension scheme. They have reason to be concerned because, despite all the assurances given by my noble friend the Minister on a previous occasion—he spoke of this agreement and that agreement which do not allow changes to be made—I must remind him that the National Bus Company pension scheme did not stand the test of time. The workers of that company were sold down the river. That experience must not be repeated.

We are not asking for the moon or for something that has not been granted before. All the relevant safeguards were put in place at the time of the electricity privatisation. People will not understand—not just Members present in the Chamber tonight—the fact that an undertaking is already on the face of the Bill for those who work on the Underground.

On the previous occasion we discussed this matter my noble friend said that there might be fragmentation and the employers might change. That is why we are trying to reassure the employees. I believe that he used the words "more complex". But what could be more complex than the open skies policy if we are to merge with organisations in a number of different countries? Some people think—the workers in the industry think this and that is the important point—that there might already be proposals to fragment NATS as it exists at present. I hope that my noble friend will agree that these are good and extremely logical reasons why the assurance we seek should be included on the face of the Bill. Those involved in the industry cannot understand why an assurance can be included on the face of the Bill for those who work on the Underground but not for air traffic controllers. That is beyond me. I hope that my noble friend will be sympathetic to my arguments and will agree that the assurance we seek should be included on the face of the Bill.

Lord Clinton-Davis

My Lords, I entirely accept the arguments put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Hoyle. If my noble friend adduces the argument that this proposal has been put forward without adequate consideration—although I am not sure that he will—I assert that that would be entirely wrong. The lawyers who have advised those who have tabled the amendment have said specifically that the proposal is perfectly all right. Therefore my noble friend puts forward that argument at his peril. I take the view that it is important that the employees should have confidence in the Government. The proposal is the way to ensure that. There is no other way. That being the case, I hope that my noble friend will accede to the arguments which have been forcefully made by my noble friends tonight.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Brett, in moving the amendment, reminded the House that in Committee a similar amendment was tabled in my name. I continue to think that he received rather better advice in tabling his amendment than I did. That is why I have not resubmitted it. It is right and proper that we should support him in his endeavour. I do so because it is a matter of justice. Those whose working conditions are altered through no desire of their own should have protected one of their most valuable assets; namely, their pension. That should be clearly stated on the face of the Bill. I hope that we can convince the Government that that is the correct approach to take in this case.

Lord Berkeley

My Lords, I support the amendment. I pick up a point made by my noble friend Lord Hoyle about the National Bus Company employees. I recall that when my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister was an opposition transport spokesman he campaigned long and hard against the Tory plan which many of us felt sold the pensions of those employees down the river and allowed the fund to be raided on privatisation. The fact that it has taken my right honourable friend three years since the election to achieve anything in this regard shows how hard he has tried. My gut feeling is that is probably because the Treasury fought long, hard and perhaps "dirty" to stop that happening. I believe that employees are suspicious of the Treasury not wanting the measure we are discussing. However, as my noble friends have said, the amendment seeks to safeguard the pension; of a valuable set of employees at a time of great uncertainty and should be taken extremely seriously. As I say, I support the amendment.

7.30 p.m.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Brett, for explaining once again his amendment on this issue. I well remember the subject of pensions being discussed during every privatisation. I sat through a good many of them when I was on the other side of the House. Therefore, for the life of me I cannot understand why the Government are so resistant to putting an amendment such as this on the face of the Bill.

Furthermore, I am most grateful for some briefing that I have received from the IPMS, the union responsible for air traffic controllers, which, like the noble Lord, Lord Hoyle, and others, is so concerned about this matter. The trustees of the Civil Aviation Pension Scheme are prepared to make available up £l million for legal action as regards this issue. It must surely be an issue of major concern to the Government.

I do not intend to rehearse all their arguments, but I have received a detailed response rebutting many of the points made by the Minister in Committee. I look forward with great interest to what the Minister has to say in reply to this amendment. My inclination is to support the noble Lord, Lord Brett.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, my starting point now, as at Committee stage, is entirely consistent with what the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, said at Second Reading. Nobody can value the staff of NATS more than we do; nobody can feel more strongly than we do that they deserve proper treatment in every respect, not just as regards pensions. However, they deserve proper protection in particular for their pensions.

We have reflected on the points made in Committee. I can assure noble Lords that we have done so in great detail. Pensions affect us all. I can well understand why the issue is so important to NATS employees. We fully support the need to protect the pensions of NATS staff and we would not do anything to put them at risk.

I understand the issue of confidence to which the noble Lord, Lord Brett, refers; namely, that these fears were very real throughout the privatisations of the 1980s and early 1990s. If I were the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, I would not refer to them in quite such a cheerful way. During those years tens of thousands of public servants passed from the public sector to the private sector without adequate reassurance about how their pensions would be protected. Sometimes they were denied access to a pension scheme as good as the one they were leaving. Sometimes they were confronted by invidious choices about what to do with their accrued service in the public sector pension scheme, which meant that one way or the other they would loose.

In three privatisations—coal, electricity and rail—the previous administration used primary legislation to give statutory protected person rights to employees in those industries regarding their access to occupational pension schemes after transfer to the private sector. In every other case no such protection was given and the range of outcomes was extremely variable. Noble Lords will remember the privatisation of London Buses. I take that as a particular example of the bus industry generally to which the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, referred. London Transport staff were forcibly separated from their pension scheme with no effective safeguards as to the quality of its replacements.

That was the legacy we inherited in 1997. We set to work on reform. In 1998 interim new guidance was issued by the Cabinet Office under the title "Better Quality Services". This re-emphasised the importance of protecting staff pensions in restructuring involving private sector partners and required that the quality of that protection should be a factor in assessing bids for partnership. Then, in June 1999, the "wicked" Treasury issued definitive guidance under the title "A Fair Deal for Staff Pensions" which was subsequently incorporated into broader guidance on the treatment of staff by the Cabinet Office at the beginning of the year.

The object of these reforms was perfectly simple: to take the fear out of public sector reform and sales as far as pensions were concerned and to set a common standard of protection which all projects should pass. What we have now is a comprehensive framework of protection which represents a huge improvement in the standard of treatment of staff. It is a fair deal not only for the staff, but also for the private sector businesses bidding to enter into partnership to deliver public services.

That is the background against which we have looked at the NATS employees. Our common goal is to reassure NATS staff about the pensions they have a right to expect in their retirement. I believe that I can give the reassurance which is needed without the need for amendments to the Bill.

Perhaps I may explain how. The Civil Aviation Authority Pensions Scheme is to be amended in order to make it possible for staff employed by the PPP to remain members of that scheme. Technically, the CAAPS is already a centralised scheme for non-associated employers because Highlands and Islands Airports Limited is a non-associated employer within it. Amendments to the scheme are necessary to reflect requirements such as the elimination of cross-subsidy which is now much more relevant given the much greater size which the NATS PPP section would have within CAAPS.

That means that staff will continue to enjoy the benefits that they currently receive. They will be able also to enjoy such new benefits as are agreed from future surpluses. They may also draw some comfort from belonging to an excellent public sector scheme, one that is very comfortably funded. For example, at the most recent evaluation of CAAPS on 31st December 1998, the minimum funding ratio was in excess of 190 per cent. Since the MFR represents what I might call the statutory floor for the funding of pension schemes, a funding ratio of 190 per cent represents a substantial excess. As regards benefits, pensions in payment are index-linked and pension benefit is calculated not just on base salary, but includes overtime and certain other fluctuating remuneration.

Perhaps I may digress to cover the position of current pensions and deferred pensioners. I can assure the House that the position of those two groups will remain unaffected by the PPP. They will remain in CAAPS; they will be in the CAA section of the scheme, which will also include current CAA staff. They will continue to receive benefits in the same way as they do now.

Returning to the NATS public/private partnership, we have made it very clear to all those bidding to be our strategic partner in the PPP that securing that current staff can continue to participate in CAAPS is a fundamental condition of being considered for that role. In addition, we will put into the strategic partnership agreement a binding commitment, enforceable at law, that guarantees the continuation of that right on terms at least as favourable as those now existing.

Then there is the protection of pensions that exists under the law of the land, such as the pensions Acts of 1993 and 1995. These provide, among other things, protection for accrued benefits and funding levels.

A further level of protection exists in the CAAPS trust deed and rules to which my noble friends have referred. These are unusually restrictive and protective of members' interests. Although it may not always have been the case, it is now universally accepted and buttressed by statute that accrued rights—that is to say, the pension which an individual has earned by each day at work—cannot be adversely affected by amendments to pension schemes. By contrast, it is entirely usual for the sponsoring employer of a pension scheme to have the ability to reduce the level of benefits for future service such as prospective benefits. However, no employer who participates in CAAPS has that power because of the restrictive power of amendment in the trust deed which provides that amendments cannot be made to reduce accrued or prospective benefits. When this restrictive power is allied to the continuing interest of the Government in the PPP as shareholder, quite apart from the express contractual provisions in the strategic partnership agreement, l believe that the House will agree that there is a very substantial set of protections for the current NATS staff.

Those who argue for statutory protection—additional protection on the face of the Bill—accept these points. But they go on to make two other claims: first, that it would have the value for NATS staff of offering them firmer assurances than those that I have just outlined; and, secondly, as has been argued tonight, that the proposal is precedented in past privatisations and indeed in Clause 243 of the Bill for Underground railway staff in London. That is true, but it is not the whole story. Let me deal with the issue of London Underground.

The case is much more complex than that of NATS. In the case of NATS, we are arranging for a once-and-for-all transfer of the company to the private sector. There is no break-up of the company. There is no reorganisation of the industry into a number of parts, so there is no need for provision to deal with the subcontracting that occurs in the railway industry. There is no provision for the return of some parts to the public sector. Nor are the trust deeds of the two schemes or the arrangements for changes to those deeds comparable—the power of amendment to the London Underground deed is not as restrictive as with CAAPS. In particular, unlike CAAPS prospective benefits could be adversely changed.

Lord Brett

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. My question relates to the PPP a year or two down the track. A policy of the strategic partner of the PPP might be to shed responsibility for some of the airports on the ground that they are the less profitable parts of the NATS empire. If that related, for example, to Aberdeen, Edinburgh or Glasgow, the staff therein are likely to find themselves required to become employees of the new employer. Where would they fit? Thai is exactly the shedding the Minister described in respect of London Transport.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, I shall come to that. It is a significant point.

Let me deal with the issue of protection beyond the PPP and the TUPE issue, which I believe is what my noble friend refers to. Yes, there is ultimately the possibility of transfer of staff beyond the PPP. But, first, we fully intend to remain a partner in the PPP. Secondly, we are obliged to do so by the terms of the Bill. Thirdly, if that position were to be changed in the future it could be done only with the express authority of Parliament. In other words, it would have to be the affirmative resolution of both Houses. Finally, for as long as the Government remain a partner, the PPP remains intact and the protections on pensions remain intact.

Because CAAPS is a centralised scheme for non-associated employers it is perfectly possible—it would be our intention—that any disposal of the kind to which my noble friend Lord Brett refers would be on the basis of the new organisation being a non-associated employer on the same basis, and with the same terms and conditions, as exist at present. I hope that that is a full reassurance.

I turn now to what my noble friend Lord Brett said at the conclusion of his speech. I am sorry to take so long but it is clearly important and everyone is rightly concerned about this. He divided his arguments into the political and the substantive. He said that even if everything I said was right, it would not convince the staff. Everything that I have said is right and it is, of course, our responsibility and everyone's responsibility to seek to convince the staff.

He went on to say that even if everything I said was right, there are substantive issues. He talked about the fund of £1 million which the trustees have to challenge the issue in the courts. I understand that. It is a highly unusual procedure but they are entitled to do it. I do not for a moment say that they should not. I am not claiming that that would delay or hinder the delivery of the PPP. That is not my argument. My argument is that on each of the four points which the trustees challenge—my noble friend Lord Brett set them out rather quickly and I am relying on my notes— I can give an assurance that the existing Bill without amendment meets those points: first, that the employer contributions are sufficient to provide the protection which is required; secondly, that the benefits are protected—I have made that clear on existing and prospective service; thirdly, that the funds are available to meet the liabilities—I made that clear when I talked about minimum funding requirement—and, finally, that the rights would remain on transfer of ownership. I have made that commitment as well in what I have said.

So on what my noble friend Lord Brett calls the substantive points, as well as the political points, the Government believe that the employees of the National Air Traffic Service are fully protected. I have tried hard today to explain the Government's position. There is nothing between us on the aims of our policy. We all want to safeguard the pension entitlements. We have looked in detail at the statutory route as we promised the House we would do. We do not think that it is necessary to have an additional statutory protection on the face of the Bill because there are safeguards in existing legislation. Our commitment stands to the policy in the Fair Deal document, in the CAAPS trust deed and in the strategic partnership agreement. My noble friends have asked for a conspicuous and unambiguous assurance. I hope that they will feel that I have given it unambiguously.

Lord Brett

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that detailed explanation. I am grateful for his attempts to reassure the staff of NATS. As we speak there are probably some 300 NATS staff on duty at the West Drayton centre and Heathrow. As I listened to the Minister's explanation I tried to think how they would react. As the noble Lord rightly says, we have a responsibility to convince them, whatever the substantive arguments might be.

The Minister began by going through the litany of previous pension issues which had created this fear—and the fear is real. I apologise for having broken the flow of his contribution by asking what happens with sell-ons. It seems to me that that puts staff in a similar position to London Transport staff, who are being given on the face of the Bill protection not available to NATS staff. I heard the reassurances. It will clearly not cost the Government anything to put this provision on the face of the Bill given the strength of the assurances.

Air traffic controllers speak even more quickly than I do but with rather less volume; they talk to pilots in clipped sentences. The phrase "He protesteth too much" comes to mind. I am sure that my noble friend will say that this is a piece of legislation of no cost to the Government and of reassurance to the staff. The only element of cost arises from the £1 million set aside for a legal challenge, the response to which is bound to cost the taxpayer several million pounds. Air traffic controllers are very logical individuals. I am not convinced that they would not say in sum total that there is no problem in putting such a provision on the face of the Bill. I heard no reason why it should not be on the face of the Bill. I feel, therefore, that I should be doing a disservice—

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, before my noble friend finally makes a decision, I hope that he will do so on the content of the argument rather than on the issue of confidence. He will recall—I spared the House this today—that his amendment contains a series of conditions included in subsections (1) to (13), previously annotated (a) to (m). I went through those in Committee and demonstrated one after the other why each was unnecessary. Does my noble friend want me to repeat that as an intervention in his speech? Let me assure my noble friend that that argument is as true now as it was then.

Lord Brett

My Lords, if the Minister were to do so, my colleagues on these Benches, or noble Lords from the Opposition Benches, might wish to quote extensively from a document in rebuttal which has been circulated. That would simply extend the debate considerably.

The Minister's final two sentences persuade me that we have to take the opinion of the House.

7.49 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 70A) shall be agreed to?

*Their Lordships divided: Contents, 78; Not-Contents, 77.

Division No. 3
Addington, L. Lyell, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B. McNally, L.
Astor of Hever, L. Maddock, B.
Attlee, E. Mar and Kellie, E.
Barker, B. Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B
Berkeley, L. Monson, L.
Blatch, B. Newby, L.
Brabazon of Tare, L. Northbrook, L.
Bradshaw, L. Northover, B.
Brett, L. [Teller] O'Cathain, B.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L. Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Onslow, E.
Burnham, L. Park of Monmouth, B.
Byford, B. Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Clement-Jones, L. RazzalLL, L.
Clinton-Davis, L. Redesdale, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L. Rennard, L.
Colwyn, L. Renton, L.
Cumberlege, B. Roberts of Conwy, L.
Evans of Parkside, L. Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Falkland, V. Roper, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Russell, E.
Geddes, L. Scott of Needham Market, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B. Seccombe, B.
Goodhart, L. Sharp of Guildford, B.
Goschen, V. Shaw of Northstead, L.
Greaves, L. Shutt of Greetland, L.
Hamwee, B. Smith of Clifton, L.
Hanham, B. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Hanningfield, L. Swinfen, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Harris of Richmond, B. Tordoff, L.
Hogg, B. Trefgarne, L.
Howe, E. Turner of Camden, B.
Hoyle, L. Vivian, L.
Jacobs, L. Waddington, L.
Jopling, L. Walmsley, B.
Lea of Crondall, L. [Teller] Watson of Richmond, L.
Luke, L. Williams of Crosby, B.
Acton, L. Desai, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Donoughue, L.
Amos, B. Dormand of Easington, L.
Andrews, B. Eatwell, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L. Elder, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B. Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Bach, L. Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L. Filkin, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L. Gale, B.
Billingham, B. Gilbert, L.
Blackstone, B. Goudie, B.
Borrie, L. Gould of Potternewton, B.
Bragg, L. Grabiner, L.
Brennan, L. Graham of Edmonton, L.
Brookman, L. Greengross, B.
Burlison, L. Grenfell, L.
Carter, L. [Teller] Harris of Haringey, L.
Chandos, V. Harrison, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B. Haskel, L.
David, B. Hayman, B.
Davies of Coity, L. Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Davies of Oldham, L. Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B. Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Hughes of Woodside, L. Rendell of Babergh, B
Hunt of Kings Heath, L. Renwick of Clifton, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor) Sainsbury of Turvilie, L.
Sewel, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B. Shepherd, L.
Kirkhill, L. Simon, V.
Lipscy, L. Simpson of Dunkeld, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L. Stone of Blackheath, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller] Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Tomlinson, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B. Turnberg, L.
Mallalieu, B. Warner, L.
Massey of Darwen, B. Whitaker, B.
Nicol, B. Whitty, L.
Pitkeathley, B. Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Prys-Davies, L. Young of Old Scone, B.

[*The Tellers for the Contents reported 78 votes; the Clerks recorded only 77 names.]

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

Lord Bach

My Lords, I beg to move that consideration on Report be now adjourned. In moving the Motion I suggest that the Report stage begin again not before 8.57 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.