§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ 10.0 a.m.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
Normally when we discuss these questions there are four matters on which the House concentrates, though not in any particular order. One is the frequency of redistributions; in other words, how often boundaries are to be changed. Second, that so far as possible there should be equality of votes. Third, that there should be a great reluctance not to implement recommendations of the Boundary Commission. Fourth, that local government boundaries and Parliamentary boundaries should so far as possible coincide. If one looks through the whole pattern of debates—not on this Bill, but at almost any other time when we have had a redistribution—that pattern can be seen.
It is fair to say this morning that the Opposition have concentrated on two of those principles and the Government have concentrated on the other two. The two upon which the Opposition have concentrated are, first, that we should in all circumstances, at all times and at all costs implement the Boundary Commission's Report; and, second, that we should ensure so far as possible equality of votes. They have failed signally on the second point because they have not been able to demonstrate that, even after this redistribution, there will be anything like equality of votes. However, I say that in passing.
The Government have concentrated on the need to avoid frequent redistributions and on the case for ensuring that local government and Parliamentary boundaries coincide. It is only in the series of debates of the last week that the Opposition have resiled at all from their position on those two principles. Up to this week 312 they have always been as convinced as those of us on this side of the House of the need for local government and Parliamentary boundaries to coincide. They have expounded it in speeches, which I could quote; they have ensured that redistributions took place on these lines. But this week we have heard them moving away from it, for the very obvious reason that it does not suit their argument on this particular occasion.
In the past they have been at one with this side of the House on the consequences of too frequent redistribution. But this week they have also moved away from that.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I will not give way now.
They have said that, in effect, they do not mind if the electoral map is torn up frequently, indeed twice in the next five or six years, although their own constituencies do not want it, as the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) was good enough to say last night. He said that his constituency was delighted that we were not going ahead with this redistribution at this time.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I will allow an intervention by way of preface. I have already had proposed attempts at intervention.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I am obliged to the Home Secretary for his characteristic courtesy. I am only asking him to assist the House. He speaks of these matters in absolute terms. Surely it is clear from the Schedules to the existing Act that this is a qualified principle so far as practicable taking into account certain other principles, including the avoidance of excessive disparity in the electoral pattern.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I would not deny that. All the principles I have quoted are qualified—certainly the one about equality of votes is qualified. When one looks at the results of the Boundary Commission's Report, that is equally qualified. As the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) pointed out last night, he represents a constituency of only 46,000 whereas other hon. Members represent constituencies of over 313 80,000, almost twice the value. All the principles are not absolute, and I agree that one must not particularise. It is not just the local government boundary principle which is not absolute; none of the principles is absolute in that sense. We must get as close to them as we can.
The consequence is that the Opposition by their refusal to face the practical consequences of redistribution, by moving away from the principle to which hitherto they have adhered that redistribution should not take place frequently, by their failure to argue the principle that they have argued hitherto that local government boundaries and Parliamentary boundaries should coincide, have failed to meet the Government's case. They have stuck blindly to their central point that in all circumstances the Boundary Commission's Report should be implemented.
§ Mr. Ridley
Would the Home Secretary not agree that another principle has been enunciated in this debate? It is that these matters are best left to impartial persons to fix and that they should not be decided upon by politicians?
§ Mr. Callaghan
I thought that was implicit in the fourth principle I have outlined, that the House should be very reluctant not to implement the Reports of Boundary Commissions. I agree entirely. That is why where that principle can be allied, as it now is, with the fixing of local government boundaries, the Government are proposing to the House that we should implement the Report of the Boundary Commissioners.
In the case of Greater London the boundaries are fixed. So far as I know, there will be no further tampering with them for some years, certainly not on a major scale. So here the two principles coincide: first, that the House should be slow to interfere with the Boundary Commission's Report; and, second, that the local government boundaries should coincide with Parliamentary boundaries.
This is a proper case in which we are implementing the Report of the Boundary Commission. As for the rest, I shall 314 comment on the fact that the equality of votes and the need for it is a very partial principle and is not one that I have noticed being argued very fully by the Opposition on earlier occasions. Indeed, I can remember occasions when it has been argued against most strongly.
I remember the City of London battle when there were two Members representing 4,000 constituents in the House. Some of my hon. Friends will remember how the Sheriffs of the City of London arrived in full regalia at the Bar of the House—very monumental and extremely decorative they looked as they stood there —and presented their Petition and sought to persuade the House that two Members were needed to represent 4,000 constituents in the City. I do not remember very much opposition on that occasion with arguments in favour of equality of votes, nor do I remember the Opposition arguing strongly in favour of equality of votes in the long debates on the abolition of the Business votes. There was no cry then about "One man, one vote, one value".
§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Fred Peart)
There were also the university votes.
§ Mr. Callaghan
The university votes, as the Leader of the House says, were yet another story. The plain truth is that the Opposition, and to some extent the Government, take up and embrace these principles or such as them as they think are appropriate to the particular case they are arguing.
It was not until late last night or early this morning that the mask slipped. We then saw why the Opposition were really insisting on the principle of early implementation of the Boundary Commission's Report, when the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for St. Marylebone said they were being cheated out of a number of seats. So all the cant—
§ Mr. Callaghan
I will give way in a moment. All the cant about principles is bound up with the fact that somebody has convinced the right hon. and learned Gentleman—and I do not know whether his arithmetic is right—that if the Boundary Commission proposals were implemented they would gain a number of seats. That is what it conies to.
§ Mr. Callaghan
On the other hand, the right hon. and learned Gentleman put it the other way round, as he often does. He started off with his high-flown sentiment, saying, "I would not dream of arguing this case on the basis of whether we shall gain or lose a number of seats." He went on, "But our deep resentment arises from the fact that we are being cheated out of a number of seats." That was the order in which he put it. I have a vivid recollection of it, and I thought at the time that it was very impressive.
The Opposition do not prove their case by illustrating that in Manchester the Labour Party will lose one seat because a seat is being abolished, or that a similar situation will arise in Liverpool. My hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Gardner) told us that in Nottingham we shall gain two or three seats. No balance sheet has been produced and nor will there he, because it is not possible. I have argued before that in a situation like that of the 1964 Election where 25 seats were won by less than 500 votes and where any slight tilting of the balance, any shower of rain, any television programme might have altered that result, it is impossible to say. Indeed, it is not only impossible to forecast the result; it is impudent to do so.
I do not accept the story which has been swallowed by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite that we necessarily gain a number of seats as a result of this redistribution. I admit that they have convinced the Press of this. However, most of the Press has hardly stated the case. It has swallowed the propaganda holus bolus, without any attempt at analysis. I have seen only one analysis in any of our journals, and I received a letter two days afterwards telling me that it was wrong. The plain truth is that the Press has never attempted to put the case that if we were to push through the proposals of the Boundary Commission as a whole we shall be indulging in two large-scale redrawings of the electoral map within a short period of time—a period of such a length that, 316 on the last occasion when it happened, Parliament said, "Enough. We will not have any more of this." That was the reason for the 1958 Act. This case has not been put at all, but it should be put and it will be put.
The Bill itself will operate in the circumstances that, as soon as the Redcliffe-Maud proposals begin to take shape and it can be seen what the boundaries are likely to be, the Boundary Commission will be empowered and enabled then to begin its work knowing that it will have only one set of boundaries with which to contend. I do not deny that any Bill on these matters including the implementation of the Boundary Commission's Report will have its disadvantages. There is no perfect course. We have to weigh the balance of advantages and disadvantages in a number of different directions.
Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have thrown language across the Floor which, although it has not hurt very much, I have resented since they have refused to face the fact that there are other arguments. They have failed to answer them. They have insisted on the implementation of the Boundary Commission's recommendations, and, as a result of what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said last night, we know why they think that.
The Opposition allege that we have not had enough time to discuss this Measure. I think that we have, despite the Guillotine. It was clear last night that the constituency cases being put forward, although very important, could not be decided and boundaries altered by means of exchanges across the Floor. It must he left to the Boundary Commission, and the Commission will be fixing the boundaries. If right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite do not accept that, they cannot understand the Bill.
The boundaries will be fixed by the Commission for the constituencies concerned. What Parliament has been concerned with is the timing of the introduction of the changes. It is that fact and the fact that the Conservatives believe that there is bound to be an election that have engendered the whole of their synthetic indignation. I can understand that, but it does not make for an atmosphere in which these matters can be discussed sensibly. Hence the 317 Guillotine. However, it became clear by two o'clock this morning that all the arguments which could be adduced had been adduced. Given the acceptance by the House of the principle that the Boundary Commission's proposals as a whole would not be implemented for the reasons given, it is clear that there has been sufficient time for debate.
For all those reasons, I commend the Bill to the House and to the country. As the argument goes on, if it goes on, I have no doubt that the case will become clear and that it will be seen by the country that what this is is a sheer naked attempt by the Conservative Party to grab seats. If that argument goes on in the country, there will be no doubt about the result.
§ 10.16 a.m.
§ Mr. Hogg
It is a tradition of this House that a Third Reading debate deals with the provisions of the Bill. The Home Secretary departed fairly widely from that tradition, but he need not think that he can get away with this Bill either by misrepresenting the facts or the provisions of the Bill or by misrepresenting the Opposition's case, which, owing to the incompetent way in which the Government have managed their business, is now becoming increasingly well known.
Let me deal first with the last claim, that the Bill has been adequately discussed. I give only one example to the contrary which I gave at half-past two this morning, namely, that none of the botched-up provisions relating to the periphery of London has been discussed —or, rather, has been discussed in order, because a number of disorderly speeches were made from the benches opposite when we debated an earlier series of Amendments.
Second, I want to put in its correct perspective the argument which the Home Secretary presented, I would like to think innocently, about the probable effect of what is now being done. I have always said—I said it at the beginning on the Motion, I said it on Second Reading, and I said it several times in Committee —that I do not know what the effect of the Bill will be electorally. What I do know and what is relevant is what all competent critics think will be the result electorally. As The Times was careful to point out, it made inquiries of the two Central Offices in order to discover what 318 they think will be the result electorally. The answer appears to be somewhere between six and 20 bonus seats to the Labour Party.
What matters is not what will happen but what people think will happen and, in particular, what the right hon. Gentleman thinks will be the result of his action. He knows, because he has been told more than once and because it is manifestly true, that if and in so far as the result of the non-implementation of the Boundary Commission's Report is to give this bonus to the Labour Party, it was at least incumbent upon the Labour Party if it was really acting honestly to act in accordance with constitutional precedent and to come here as soon as it knew what it planned to do.
The whole burden of our case on this part of the argument has been that, instead of doing it three years ago, as one hon. Gentleman opposite pointed out they could have done, when the terms of reference of the Redcliffe-Maud Committee were known, they deliberately allowed the Boundary Commissions, and each of them, to waste their time, to waste public money, and to deceive local authorities innocently into thinking that they were doing something worth while. Only when the result of the discussion was know, only when the report was delivered, and only when the results had been assessed by the two central party organisations did the Government think it proper to come to the House of Commons and say, "All this has been a waste of time. We must not do it at all. All this work must be thrown away."
§ Mr. Hogg
I will give way to the right hon. Gentleman in a moment. I want to put this argument still further in its perspective. We have never used this as an argument against the merits of the Bill. Having, as we believe, destroyed the merits of the Bill, we then point to this set of facts—what people believe will be the electoral consequence —as an argument demonstrating the bad faith of the Government.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am sorry that I did not deal with this point—perhaps I should have done—but there were interchanges. I want to make this comment, which the Opposition Chief Whip knows to be true, that if the Government had followed the course that the right hon. and learned 319 Gentleman is suggesting and had come three years ago, the Opposition would have taken exactly the same line then as they are taking today; namely, that the Boundary Commissions should go on and that their recommendations should have been implemented. That will not be denied.
§ Mr. Hogg
The right hon. Gentleman is really not doing himself justice. The merits of the argument probably would have been identical then with what they are now. But the Government, at any rate, would have been able to establish some vestige of respectability. They might have led someone to believe that they were acting in good faith. I am using this argument not to demolish the merits of the case, but, having demolished the merits of the case, to attack the Government's good faith.
The right hon. Gentleman has raised the subject again and sought to persist in his argument. He complains of what he describes as schizophrenia on my part because I have been treating him and his right hon. and hon. Friends in our deliberations on this Bill rather differently from what I have done in the past. The answer is that, like most of us, when I think I am dealing with honest men I behave in one way, and when I think I am dealing with people who are behaving dishonestly I deal with them in another. If that is schizophrenia, I can promise the right hon. Gentleman a great more of it.
The basic case against the Bill is not its bad faith but the outrage which it inflicts upon our constitutional law. The situation which we now have in Clause 1 is that after 15 years we admittedly have, at the end of the tether provided by the 1958 Act, a number of grossly distorted constituencies, distorted in numbers, which in this context probably means more than any other factor, but equally grossly distorted in terms of local government boundaries, which have also altered during the course of 15 years. After four years of effort, which is now to be wasted, the Boundary Commissions have brought forward a series of proposals which will put an end to the distortions so far as the electoral rules demand that they should.
We have never denied that the rules demand that account should be taken, so far as practicable, of local government 320 boundaries—Rule 4—and that account should be taken of the electoral quota, numbers—Rules 5 and 6. Rule 6 states:A Boundary Commission may depart from the strict application of the last two foregoing rules if special geographical considerations, including particularly the size, shape and accessibility of a constituency, appear to them to render a departure desirable.So the reports of the Boundary Commissions, which have been laid before the House somewhat tardily, have taken into account every one of the factors which Parliament in its sovereignty has demanded should be taken account of, and it is the Government who are departing from those rules—their own rules —which they do not seek to impugn now and which the Boundary Commissions have taken into account.
Clause 1 provides that the distorted constituencies which the Boundary Commissions have proposed to rectify in accordance with the rules, whose distortion is not static but progressive, are to be continued indefinitely—and I shall come to the meaning that I attach to that phrase—simply because the Government claim an excuse which I will also proceed to discuss.
I say "indefinitely" because Clause 1(1) provides for fixed periods of a minimum of 10 or a maximum of 15 years from now, and these periods can be abridged only if the Home Secretary, in his unfettered discretion, chooses to put before Parliament draft Orders in Council abridging them. This is the recommendation that the right hon. Gentleman is making to the House when he proposes the Third Reading of the Bill.
When we are asked to consider the sovereignty of Parliament or of the House of Commons, as the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) asks us to do, we cannot but note that that is not what the provisions of the Bill provide. Under Clause 1(3) Parliament has no power to abridge the Home Secretary's discretion. The initiative throughout is to be taken by the Home Secretary on a purely subjective assessment, as to which he has refused even to agree that the Boundary Commissions shall be in a position to advise him. That is the provision of the Bill which we describe as a constitutional outrage. When we note that the effect of it, according to the experts, is to add eight to 20 seats to the Labour Party, can there be any 321 surprise that a Bill introduced with those provisions and at this point of time should be treated as a deliberate attempt to gerrymander the constituencies?
That is the point that we have reached. Nothing that has happened since the Bill was introduced has caused us in any way to modify our opinion about that. Nor, incidentally, has it caused the Press to modify its opinion about it. The only people who seem to be united in support of the Bill are the members of the Labour Party. It has caused me infinite pain to see hon. Members, with whom I have disagreed over many a long year as extremists upon the other side, but whom, none the less, I had respected up to this moment as experienced and effective and, I believed, sincere parliamentarians, coming forward with trumped up arguments which had neither relevance nor cogency to support the disreputable provisions which I have been trying to describe. Apparently the situation has now become such that the Labour Party can be united only when it is determined upon something discreditable.
Let me give one or two examples of what I mean. The right hon. Gentleman used some of them in his speech a few moments ago. He said, for instance, that we were saying that in all conceivable circumstances the Boundary Commission should be implemented. That is nothing like anything that I have said. I have only said that in these circumstances the Boundary Commission's Report should be implemented, and that is the view which I have sought to put forward. The right hon. Gentleman has attributed to us the view that every vote should always have numerically the same value, but that is not true. All we have asked is that the rules contained in the Schedule to the Act, which the Bill does not repeal or modify in any way, should be applied, and applied impartially after four years of serious work by the Boundary Commission.
Several hon. Gentleman opposite thought that they were scoring a point when they claimed that in 1951 the party of which I am a member succeeded in obtaining a majority in this House despite a minority of the totality of votes in the constituencies. The mathematical fallacy behind that was exposed last night by my hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. Gordon 322 Campbell), who has asked me to explain that the is unable to be present this morning as he is engaged in the Scottish Grand Committee.
But there is a constitutional fallacy in it, too. When we won in 1951 we won in accordance with the electoral law for the time being. If the Labour Party gains at the next election, whenever it may be, it will gain as a result of the law which the Government have deliberately rigged. Our complaint about the Bill is that the right hon. Gentleman, by utilising their majority, and even stifling discussion, has insisted that the next election shall be fought with loaded dice, and has provided that if by any chance he wins by a narrow majority, which I do not for a moment expect, he will insist on the dice going on being loaded until he tells us in his absolute discretion that we may start playing fair at last.
§ Mr. Molloy
The right hon. and learned Gentleman referred to the argument last night about the Labour Party winning the majority of votes but not winning the election, and claimed that the argument had been destroyed. What really happened was that for many years the Conservative Party had a built-in start of nine seats in Ulster, and this has been exacerbated over the years. Because of this, we have the ludicrous position of the Labour Party having to get nearly half a million votes before it can even be equal with the Tory Party.
§ Mr. Hogg
The hon. Gentleman excels himself in not seeing the point. The point that I was seeking to drum into his head was the simple one that no one has impugned the Parliamentary constituencies in Ulster, precisely because they are under the dominance of this House, under a Boundary Commission of which Mr. Speaker himself is the Chairman. The precise point which I was seeking to put into the hon. Gentleman's mind was that the law of the land, passed by the Labour Government in 1949, gave us whatever majority we got in 1951. What the right hon. Gentleman is seeking to do is to pervert the law of the land by this Bill and to play the game with loaded dice—dice which he has loaded.
When the right hon. Gentleman then goes on to put forward the Redcliffe-Maud proposals as some flimsy excuse for what he is proposing to do, I make 323 once more the following simple observation. We do not know whether the Government will implement any of the Redcliffe-Maud proposals. The only positive assurance that we have is that they will somehow abolish the distinction between town and country, which they called the main principle of the Redcliffe-Maud Report.
We do not know when the Government will do that. We do not know what the boundaries will be. What we do know is that the right hon. Gentleman gave us a number of extremely vague assurances yesterday afternoon, of which the newspapers this morning say that they will cause deep alarm in every local authority in the country. But the local authorities can be reassured, because they have no more reason to believe the right hon. Gentleman than we have, and it was only put in to lend verisimilitude to an otherwise implausible explanation.
The Redcliffe-Maud Report, in what ever form the proposals are ultimately implemented, by whatever Government, of whatever political complexion, cannot justify, in terms of any facts or any arguments which have been presented to us, the continuance indefinitely of a distorted electoral map which has already become archaic after 15 years, and which the Commission's impartial report, which the House was perfectly free to accept or reject if the terms of the law had been complied with, which they have not, has sought rather belatedly to catch up with and to rectify, and to rectify in accordance with rules laid down by Parliament when the Labour Party was in a majority.
We are being asked to perpetuate a distorted electoral map which continues constituencies in which the number of voters will shortly exceed 120,000, without any recourse to the Boundary Commission under the principal Act, and constituencies whose electorates are below 20,000, without recourse to the Boundary Commission under the principal Act. We are being asked to do that on the ground of proposals which relate only to England, and not to Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland, and when we have repeatedly shown, in individual instances, that the existing Boundary Commission's Report, even in the light of the Redcliffe-Maud Report, if we choose to take that as a criterion, will be far more realistic 324 than the status quo which the right hon. Gentleman, using the pretext of the report, wishes to continue indefinitely.
The result of it all will be, so we are told by those who are better qualified to state the matter than ourselves, to give an electoral bonus to the Labour Party, including the Prime Minister's own constituency. The right hon. Gentleman then has the effrontery to come to Parliament and to state publicly that it is the Conservative Party which is interested only in votes and seats. This is a constitutional outrage. The right hon. Gentleman complains that I have treated him roughly. I can only say that I have not treated him or the Government as roughly as they deserve.
§ 10.39 a.m.
§ Mr. Lipton
The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) seems to be making excuses to explain the failure of the Conservative Party to win the next election. That is why he is on the point of explosive indignation all the time. What he does not seem to understand, what he seems incapable of understanding, is that to the extent that the Government are implementing the recommendations of the Boundary Commission the Labour Party will lose a certain number of seats in the London area. Why he should be annoyed about that, I do not know. When he goes on to forecast that if the rest of the Boundary Commission's recommendations applied to the rest of the country it would inevitably mean a gain of seats to the Conservative Party, he is making an unfounded assumption, in support of which he has been able to deduce no substantive proof.
Through the gross misuse, by the Opposition, of the time allotted to the Committee stage, various useful Amendments could not be discussed. It was because of this prodigal waste of time, the constant repetition to the point of tedium, that one of the best Amendments, which the Chair had accepted and which I put down, could not be reached.
I have one substantial criticism of the Boundary Commission's Report, as embodied in the Bill. In paragraph 61, we read that the Commission considered:…that, in general, existing names—some of them traditional—should be preserved as far as possible…325 In the next paragraph, the Commission said:the assistant Commissioners who held local inquiries in the London boroughs gave particular attention to names.In paragraph 63, we read:We considered that it would have been wrong for us to propose names for which there was no local support, specially where there was a strong local desire to retain a well-established name.The recommendations of the Commission over Lambeth are that all the constituencies should be allowed to retain their accepted names except the Brixton division, which, through some strange quirk of the Commission, is to be known henceforward as Lambeth, Central.
I do not wish to be regarded as representing a railway station. There is ample and adequate historical evidence for the name of Brixton, which was first recorded in 1062 and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Nevertheless, despite those extracts from the report, the Commission has decided—up to now, the Government have agreed—that Brixton should be known as Lambeth, Central. The Norwood and Vauxhall divisions are to retain their names, as is Streatham. The only one of the four Parliamentary constituencies in the borough whose name will be scrapped is the one with the oldest name historically, which strikes me as very odd.
The provisional recommendation of the Commission was that the division I represent should be known as Brixton and Clapham borough constituency. That was not very satisfactory, but it would have been better than Lambeth, Central, which the Assistant Commissioner found preferable.
On page 22 the Commission refers to the fact that representations or objections had been made to the proposal that Brixton should be known as Lambeth, Central:Since both these matters have been covered by the local inquiry and there was no other evidence or dissatisfaction we adhered to our recommendations.What did the Assistant Commissioner want me to do? If I had known in time, I could have organised a petition with a few thousand names and also a demonstration outside Lambeth Town Hall while the Assistant Commissioner was sitting. But this was the final tribunal. This is 326 not the way in which decisions should be taken. The suggestion seems to be that there should be turmoil in the streets and that only then could a historical name be preserved. That is not a rational argument.
I make this final appeal to my right honourable Friend. The other place may be able to come to the rescue—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—but only in this respect, only by way of respecting the historical traditions associated with the name of Brixton. I hope that in the circumstances this one small departure from the holy writ of the Boundary Commission will be accepted by the Home Secretary. It will not bring the whole edifice crashing down in ruins if he makes this concession. I hope that he will find it possible to do so.
§ 10.47 a.m.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
The hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) flatters himself if he thinks that, had more time been allowed under the Guillotine and his Amendment called, it would have been agreed to. He is not allowing for the fact that the one objective of the Home Secretary throughout was to have no Amendments in Committee and therefore no Report stage. Therefore, the hon. Member lost nothing but the opportunity to air a grievance.
The true purpose of the Bill has not emerged from the Home Secretary's speech today, any more than it emerged from his speech on Second Reading. If the House were really to be asked to accept that this Measure was put forward for good, sound, administrative, reasons because of coming changes under the Redcliffe-Maud Report, there is one step which would have had to be taken to give even the smallest air of verisimilitude to that consideration. That is that it is the long-established convention in these matters that legislation affecting elections is not introduced by the Government of the day without adequate time for consultation with the other parties.
On Second Reading I asked the right hon. Gentleman whether there had been such consultations and he gave no reply. When I challenged him again, he appeared to accept that he had not attempted to consult.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) has said that no consultations took place. He has said so.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
I am obliged. That is also what I am saying. What I do not understand is the point of the Under-Secretary's intervention.
§ Mr. Rees
I will willingly come back to this point later. For now, is the right hon. Gentleman saying that he agrees that no approach was made to the Opposition? Let us get this clear. Statements have been made and are being made now. As a leading member of the Opposition, is he saying that no approach has been made to the Opposition?
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
I asked the Home Secretary, who would have been responsible for such an approach, if one had been made, and he gave no answer. When I said that the absence of an answer on his behalf could be taken only to mean that no approach had been made, the right hon. Gentleman did not challenge me. It is not for me—I do not now sit on the Front Bench—to say whether or not any contacts have been made. It is for the right hon. Gentleman to do that, particularly since his own position is very much involved in all this. If the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to explain that position now, we shall be much obliged.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I do not wish to go further than repeat what I have said before, that if the Government had brought forward proposals to suspend the work of the Boundary Commission in 1966 we should have had the same opposition then as we are having today. That is all I wish to say.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
That amounts to saying, in a garbled way, that no approach was made. Is the right hon. Gentleman seeking to justify no approach having been made on the ground that it would have been of no use?
§ Mr. Callaghan
The right hon. Gentleman is not entitled to draw any deductions from or to put any more weight on the words I used other than to accept what I said.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
What the right hon. Gentleman said has, for him, been unusually lucid and clear. He has 328 sought to justify the making of no approach. If he had made an approach he would not now be needing to justify the failure to make one. Unless the right hon. Gentleman goes a great deal further, the House is entitled to draw this conclusion.
§ Mr. Callaghan
These are matters which go through the usual channels. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I did not wish to be drawn into discussing this matter. An approach was made to the Opposition in 1966. [HON. MEMBERS: "When? "] One was made on 8th August, 1966, and there is a record of the conversation. An approach was made asking whether, in view of the setting-up of the Redcliffe-Maud Commission, the Opposition would agree that the Boundary Commission's proposals should be suspended. The answer to that was "No." The Opposition did not wish to do so. I have attempted not to say this, but if, in spite of my carefully guarded words—the right hon. Gentleman is a lawyer and understands what I am saying—he persists in saying that an approach was not made, I must make the position clear. One was made.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
It has taken several sittings to extract the fact from the right hon. Gentleman that an approach was made—in 1966. Is he saying that when the decision was made to introduce this Measure this year an approach was made? The right hon. Gentleman is silent. Is he aware that this was the relevant moment for the Government to make such an approach —at the time when they were deciding to alter electoral matters?
The right hon. Gentleman knows this as well as I do. He knows equally well, whatever he may have done in 1966, that he had a duty to do so in 1969. He may say, "It would not have made any difference". But it would have made this difference; it would at least have given him an opportunity to suggest that he was behaving honourably and constitutionally.
The fact that the right hon. Gentleman did not do that and the fact, on his own showing, that he did not, before introducing this Measure in 1969, make any contact whatever with the Opposition, shows very clearly indeed that his pretext of this being to deal with the necessities of Redcliffe-Maud Report is a sham. He cannot 329 get away from that by abusing the Press, as he has done, because what I have said is the only possible conclusion that can be reached on the facts.
If the right hon. Gentleman had been acting in a constitutional way—in a way consistent with his pretext of the Redcliffe-Maud Report being the relevant consideration—would he have proceeded by way of the Guillotine? He knows that in most other countries constitutional legislation is not subject even to the ordinary uninterrupted processes of legislation. They are subject to a process which deliberately imposes a measure of delay, with certain constitutional procedures having to be gone through.
In this country we have always taken rather a risk by not having such a provision. It is the risk that we may get a Home Secretary who in a case like this will not allow even the ordinary processes of legislation to function and who, at the end of the first day in Committee—where we were faced with a Bill which he attempted to spring on us, information about which, from the point of view of the intentions of the Government, we were able to extract only after one of my right hon. Friends tabled a Motion a few weeks ago—brought in the Guillotine, which has prevented our discussing even Amendments relating to London on Clause 1. This even ruled out the possibility of his own hon. Friend's Amendments being discussed. This has been done to secure that there will be no Report stage.
Having done that, the right hon. Gentleman is rushing through the Third Reading at this hour of the morning in a limited morning sitting. None of these things is consistent with a Government who are trying simply to make an ordinary sensible administrative change because of the Redcliffe-Maud Report. Then the right hon. Gentleman has the brass face to say. "This is a sheer naked attempt to grab seats by the Conservative Party". Who is talking? Who is legislating? Who introduced the Bill?
My hon. Friends have accepted the full Boundary Commission recommendations for London; and, as a matter of party interest, it is well known that those changes go against us. It therefore does not lie in the right hon. Gentleman's mouth to make such allegations when introducing a Bill which applies the 330 Boundary Commission's recommendations to London, which benefit his party, and excludes its recommendations in respect of the rest of the country when he knows that this is an exclusion benefiting his party. For him then to say that this is a grab by the Conservative Party is a Freudian slip of unusual proportions, even for him.
The other disturbing factor is that the right hon. Gentleman does not seem to know what harm he is doing by this Measure. He does not seem to appreciate that Parliamentary democracy in this country is not all that secure and firmly rooted and that there are elements —for example, the students who told one of our Select Committees that it was "bloody irrelevant"—who are cynical about our Parliamentary institutions. He does not seem aware of the enormous strength that he is giving to such elements if he introduces the concept that our elections are rigged. [Interruption.] He does not seem to appreciate that a Government who have already, by every clear indication, lost authority to govern and whom the electorate want to get rid of must move somewhat carefully if they are not to undermine something far more important than themselves; that is, the acceptance of Parliament by the people.
Once the idea is allowed to arise that we are not here as the result of fair and free elections—that we do not derive our authority from fair election by our fellow men—the right hon. Gentleman need not look beyond these islands to see the kind of circumstances that can arise.
The right hon. Gentleman is doing what I can only call an evil thing. Has he contemplated the effect of this example on the nascent Parliamentary democracies of the emerging Commonwealth? Has he reflected what this example must have on countries which are trying conscientiously, decently and honourably to emerge from tribalism to democratic government based on the Westminster pattern? What are they to think if they are told that here, at the centre and birthplace of democracy, a Minister can seek to salve 8 to 20 seals by a unilateral gerrymandering of our constitution?
The right hon. Gentleman says that he does not know what the electoral consequences of this will be. I believe that 331 he is Treasurer of the Labour Party. I wonder whether he is really telling us that he never asked the chief agent, that he ignored the reports submitted to officers of his party. The right hon. Gentleman knows that those who are unbiased in these matters—the commentators; the expert psephologists—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—not necessarily friends of my party—are all unanimous in the view that the result of these changes must be between eight and 20 seats for the Labour Party. [An HON. MEMBER: "Which is right."] I accept that—which is right. That is why this is being done. It will avail the right hon. Gentleman nothing, because all that he is doing is to add to the disapproval which the electorate has felt for this Government's incompetence the contempt which is now feels for their dishonesty.
§ 11.1 a.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot
The right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) must know that his suggestion that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has introduced into these discussions about boundaries the charge of rigging is false, because the charge of rigging has been made on a number of occasions in the history of Britain. It was made against the party which sustained over so many years the seat of Old Sarum. It was made against the party which opposed the introduction of the Reform Bill of 1832. It was persisted in by Chartists and others through, out the 19th century.
It was renewed as recently as in the major debates that the House had on the boundary reports in 1954, when the charge of rigging was made against the Government of whom the right hon. Gentleman was a member and when the major boundary proposals of that time were rushed through the House with considerably less time than the House has been afforded for their discussion today. Therefore, the charge of rigging —whether false or true I will come to—has certainly not been introduced by any action of my right hon. Friend. It is one which has been thrown back and forth in the House for a long time.
The right hon. Gentleman ran away very fast—I think advisedly—from the revelation which was made that an approach was made to the Official Oppo- 332 sition in August, 1966. This was a revelation which was only dragged out of my right hon. Friend—even that was thought to be a very telling point on the side of the right hon. Member for Kingstonupon-Thames—because it is not the normal custom, as the right hon. Gentleman well knows, for matters which have been the subject of interchanges between the usual channels to be spoken of publicly in debate; for the very natural reason that, if all the discussions between the usual channels were made public, there would not be any point in having the usual channels.
Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman, the Tory Party and the country must understand that, as I understand it, way back in 1966 the proposal was made by the Government that some discussions should be initiated to consider whether there should be some amendment or alteration of the Parliamentary boundary position. Whatever charges hon. Members may make against me, I am interested in the prestige of the House of Commons. I think that it would have been much better for the health of democracy in Britain if that proposal from the Government had received a good response from the Opposition and if the matter could have been dealt with in that way. Further, I hope that following these debates there will be fresh discussions, perhaps in a different atmosphere, as to how in future we are to deal with some of these problems.
However, it should now be understood by the newspapers, which jump to conclusions in these matters so speedily, that the proposal for talks to deal with these matters in a much calmer atmosphere—not on the very eve of, or much nearer to, a General Election, but on the merits of the issue of co-ordinating the proposals and ideas relating to local government reform with proposals for parliamentary boundary reform—were initiated by the Government and were rejected by the Opposition, who now say that they would like these matters to be dealt with in a calmer atmosphere. This is an extremely important state of affairs.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
Will not the hon. Gentleman add, if he is suggesting—I have some sympathy with his suggestion —a method by which these matters should have been dealt with, that it 333 would have been better if the Government had come forward with specific suggestions when they decided to introduce the Bill—that is to say, earlier this year?
§ Mr. Foot
I appreciate that that can be argued, but it does not remove the importance of the initiative that was taken by the Government and which was rejected by the Opposition. The Government were perfectly entitled to come to the conclusion that, if a proposal of that nature which was made by the Government to the Opposition in a time of comparative political calm was rejected, it was all the more likely to be rejected if it had been made a few weeks ago.
§ Mr. Callaghan
My hon. Friend will recall that the propaganda barrage for the implementation of the Boundary Commission's Report started long before I was proposing to make any recommendations, because the Opposition knew what the Commissioners were proposing and they thought they could get something out of it.
§ Mr. Foot
The Opposition had been steaming it up for several months. My approach to the whole question has not been exactly the same as that of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, although I am glad that we reached generally agreeable conclusions about the matter. I am much more suspicious of the recommendations of Boundary Commissions than some hon. Members are, and I am much more insistent than some appear to be about the rights of the House of Commons to survey what parliamentary boundary commissions may report. I hope that we have made some approach with the Opposition on this question.
Last night, the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Chataway) made an extremely persuasive, most forceful, and well-argued speech, but the great part of it was devoted to saying that the Boundary Commission is a referee. If the Commission is a referee, not merely must its recommendations not be disputed, but they must not even be argued about; so, according to the hon. Gentleman, we should not even have had these discussions. So the ironic aspect of it is that, if the Opposition had had their way, we should have had a much more abbreviated debate than that which we have 334 had, which has been a much longer debate than the one which we were permitted to have in 1954.
The concept of the Boundary Commission being a kind of referee between the political parties on these matters is one that denies the supremacy of the House of Commons. This has been argued out on many occasions, but I return to the point. I know that the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) and others have poured scorn on my suggestion in this respect, because they have said, "We are not questioning the right of Parliament and of the House of Commons to examine or amend or alter the recommendations which may be made by the Boundary Commission. What we are concerned about is the statutory duty of the Secretary of State to present the Orders".
The more I hear that argument the more it makes me think, not merely that the operation of the Boundary Commissions needs to be examined afresh, but that the whole of the legislation within which we have been operating is very slipshod and extremely difficult to comprehend. If the theory of the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East, is correct, the Home Secretary, instead of presenting the Bill, should have presented the Orders. If he happened to be against them in some particular or altogether, or because of their timing, presumably he should not have communicated that to the House by so much as the flicker of an eyelid, and certainly not by anything so heinous as a wink to the Patronage Secretary. The constitutional position as argued by hon. Members opposite, or implicit in their argument, is that the Home Secretary should have said to the House, "Here are the Orders arising from the reports of the Boundary Commissions. You must do what you like with them".
That is what I would describe as a constitutional outrage. It is a situation that we never tolerate in the House, particularly from a party like the party opposite and a newspaper like The Times, complaining about all the other Measures going through the House and saying that they should be presented by the Home Secretary and that we should have the considered view of the Home Office on 335 these intricate matters. Now the constitutional doctrine according to the legal authorities opposite, deriving from the 1944 and 1948 legislation, is that the only course is for my right hon. Friend to say, "These are the Orders. If I happen to be against them, I must not tell anybody. Nobody must know my views on them. The House can pass judgment on them". That would be an outrage of our normal procedures. If that is the correct interpretation of the legislation upon which we are acting, the sooner we revise the whole of it the better.
What my right hon. Friend rightly did, in contradistinction to that, was a much more open and fair way of dealing with the House and the country. Instead of presenting Orders in that manner, as he could have done on the interpretation of the law of hon. and learned Members opposite, he said, "Let us have a new Bill, setting out the position simply and plainly, and let the House argue on that basis." That was a way which enabled him to state a perfectly reputable argument, that major changes of Parliamentary boundaries should if possible be coordinated with changes in local government boundaries.
Instead of discussing those issues in this debate, we have had a deluge of invective from the Opposition. The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) says that it gives him infinite pain to see the Labour Party united on the subject. But a sense of common interest has been detectable on the opposite side of the Committee. Hon. Members opposite seem to stick together like a bunch of melting lollipops. They say that it is all right for them to act together in these matters, but wrong for us—this from a party which in 1954, when it had a Boundary Commission's Report that it saw was very advantageous to it, drummed the changes through the House in a much shorter space of time than we have had on this Bill.
One of the chief persons who assisted it to do it was the present Leader of the Opposition, then known as a Lord Commissioner—a very apt title. I do not know whether he is still behaving as a Lord Commissioner. Maybe he is having consultations with them now, and that is why he cannot attend this Third Reading debate. Maybe he is in full 336 consultation with the people who want to sabotage the will of the elected representatives of the people.
We have had a deluge of invective. Hon. Members opposite talked about our debasing the currency, debasing democracy. What they have done is to debase the English language. In the whole history of Parliamentary conflict, never have there been such wild accusations made upon such flimsy evidence.
My prophecy is that after all this commotion, when the General Election is fought and won, all will be forgotten. All the discussions we have had will possibly figure solely as a footnote in a book from the Nuffield College, or something of that sort. The footnote may read, "Students of the ironies of politics may be interested to observe that, despite the spectacular victory of the Labour Party at the polls, the result was completely unaffected by the boundary changes one way or the other. This merely proves that politicians, like pollsters and psephologists cannot foretell the swings and the roundabouts. It may be said that the only certain consequence of those debates which caused such uproar was that the Home Secretary limited his majority in Cardiff, but that as he still has a good, thumping, 10.000 majority no greater tribute could be paid to his characteristic altruism."
This will be the end of the matter—so long as there is no interference with the elected representatives. A letter in The Times yesterday said that it would not be possible for this House to secure its will in the matter, because even the 1949 Parliament Act did not sufficiently tilt the balance in favour of the elected representatives of the people, and that if the Government wished to get the Bill through they might have to resort to the Tory trick of 1711 of creating peers. If the worst came to the worst, we might have to do it that way. But I hope that the House of Lords will understand, as I believe the people will understand, that there are many hon. Members on both sides of the House who wish to protect the reputation of Parliament.
If hon. Members opposite wish to debate that issue in the House or in the country, we are prepared to debate it with them. Certainly, we do not need instructions from Tories, either in this place or in any other, on how to build 337 democracy, because democracy had to build against them. That is the reality of the matter, and the reality of this debate.
§ 11.17 a.m.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I want to start with a brief reference to the serious point made earlier in the entertaining speech of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot). The legal and constitutional position, if I may say so without immodesty, remains as I tried to explain it to the hon. Gentleman and the House on Second Reading. He now appears reluctantly to accept my explanation. He has shifted his ground and says that in that case we should change the basic code in the 1949 Act. That is quite a different question, and has nothing to do with what is proposed in the Bill. It is a legitimate proposition that that could be discussed sometime, but it is not what we are here to discuss today.
It can sometimes be difficult for an Opposition to decide whether to divide against the Third Reading of a Bill, more particularly if two conditions exist: first, where there has been a difficult decision as to whether to oppose it on Second Reading; and secondly, where there has been a substantial improvement in the provisions of the Bill in its passage through the House. Neither of those conditions obtains here.
The decision to vote against the Second Reading was easy, because it is a bad Bill in every way—bad in its motivation, bad in its content, and bad in its effect. There has been no improvement, substantial or otherwise. There has been virtually no opportunity for any. We have had a guillotined Bill with a Government deaf to argument, impervious to reason, and resolved to have the Bill, the whole Bill and nothing but the Bill, cost what it may.
Make no mistake, it will cost a lot. Its cost will be heavy in its immediate effect and heavier still in its ulterior consequence. Its immediate effect is that it will throw onto the scrap heap all the devoted labours of the Boundary Commission over four years. It will postpone for an indefinite period an opportunity to obtain the maximum possible equity in electoral representation as assessed by a body chosen for its competence and objectivity.
338 It will prolong and aggravate the electoral disparities between constituencies and make it possible, before redistribution is at last achieved, for the votes of some citizens, when evaluated here in the Division Lobby to be equal only to one-sixth or one-eighth of others. The immediate effect of the Bill is very great. It has taxed in its defence even those hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who, in their ingenuity and casuistry, are normally most adroit and adept at making the worst appear to be a better case. Bad as the Bill is in its immediate effect, its ulterior consequences will be far worse. The ultimate effect of the Bill will be to call in question the conventions of the constitution and put in peril the delicate mechanism which gears our parliamentary institutions to constitutional propriety.
It is indeed a delicate mechanism. Like so many British institutions, theory has to be interpreted, and can only be understood, in the light of practice. The theory is an unfettered sovereignty of Parliament. That, if I may remind the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, means Parliament as a whole and not a single Chamber. In practice, the sovereignty of Parliament is exercised in accordance with the conventions of the constitution, conventions designed to prevent abuse by the Executive relying on an acquiescent though transient majority in the House of Commons. These restraints are partly statutory and partly conventional.
The restraints on the perpetuation of Parliament are statutory, to be found in the original Septennial Act, passed in the early days of Parliament—because it did not take long to discover that the Executive could use a temporary majority in Parliament for an abuse of power—and now by the Parliament Act 1911. The restraints that operate during the lifetime of a Parliament are, however, primarily conventional.
They are part of the unwritten but important conventions which in turn are part of our unwritten constitution. More than that, they represent the conditions on which we in this country can exceptionally enjoy the privilege of an unwritten constitution. It is an exceptional position. Most countries have deemed it necessary, or at any rate prudent, to incorporate provisions in written constitutions, normally known as entrenched clauses, to safeguard the basic liberties 339 and constitutional proprieties from assault or erosion by governments exploiting their transient majority in the legislature.
These entrenched provisions are powerful for the protection of the constitutional proprieties and the prevention of abuse, but up to now they have not been thought to be more powerful than our unwritten restraints operating here which, in the words of Burke, in another context, are… light as air but strong as the links in a chain of iron.Now that these conventions, the constitutional proprieties, are, as a result of this Bill, endangered—whether because the Government are ignorant or insensitive or arrogant or avid for power, I know not. This I do know: these conventions and proprieties are put in jeopardy by the Bill; and the constitutional implications are grave and far-reaching.
It has fallen to me from time to time to be asked in my professional capacity as a practising Queen's Counsel to give opinions on electoral and constitutional questions arising under the laws of the younger nations of the Commonwealth. In each case I have been concerned with interpreting the provisions of a written constitution, to determine whether certain actions are lawful or no. When doing so, observing I hope the objectivity and detachment appropriate to my professional function, I have felt a thrill of pride that in this country and in this Parliament, in which I have had the honour to serve for a number of years, such questions do not turn on the legal opinion of counsel or on the interpretation of the written constitution.
In this country, such answers are to be found not in the written law, but in the unwritten convention that Governments play fair and do not debase the high currency of Parliamentary institutions by manipulation for party gain. The day on which this ceases to be so will be a sad day for Britain. The provisions of this Bill, with its cynical substitution of party advantage for objective and judicial assessment, inevitably brings that day nearer. How much nearer is now a matter for those in another place. They will, I know, approach their task conscious of the great constitutional responsibility that rests on them. We 340 in the Commons House, in parting with this Bill, can only do our final duty by condemning it with voice and vote for the abject thing it is.
§ 11.25 a.m.
§ Mr. Ben Whitaker (Hampstead)
I want to take the opportunity of expressing very briefly why I have reservations about the Bill. I believe that there are some issues more important than party, and first among these I number democracy, and in particular Parliamentary democracy. It is said that the Tories would do exactly the same thing as we are doing. This may be so, but I believe that the Labour Party must be better than the Tories and that that is why many people support and work for the Labour Party, especially because of its history of fighting for democracy and the right to vote in this country and elsewhere overseas. In short, I believe that whether or not any political advantage accrues to either party upon the implementation of these proposals, a more important factor is that their implementation should be seen to be above suspicion.
There are arguments against the terms of reference of the Boundary Commission, that the implementation of the report should have been synchronised with Redcliffe-Maud, and that there should have been all-party consultations about any difficulties likely to arise. I submit that if one is to do these things they should have been done before the report was published. If one is to object to the jurisdiction of the court the time to do it is before the verdict and sentence are announced.
But I hope that we will be spared Conservative hypocrisy on this issue. A party which has connived and condoned real gerrymandering in Northern Ireland for so many years, not to speak of the business and the City of London vote which was in their political interest, should, we hope, that the decency to keep silent on this matter. One also hopes that those newspapers who are fulminating against the Government about this will ask themselves why they remained totally silent about the gerrymandering in Northern Ireland for so many years, until it recently became newsworthy.
Many people were equally unimpressed by the synthetic and selective indignation exhibited opposite about the guillotine 341 Motion. It is a historical fact that both Liberal and Conservative Governments have proportionately made use of the guillotine Motions on far more occasions than the Labour Party. Another incident which detracted from the credibility of the party opposite in its espousal of the cause of democracy, was the occasion in the debate when, after the right hon. Member the Leader of the Opposition having made one of his more vehement speeches, my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) rose to reply to him, but he was filibustered out of his opportunity of speaking by bogus points of order from the Opposition's henchmen, the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) and the hon. and gallant Member for Down. South (Captain Orr). These came surprisingly from a party purporting that its sole interest in this matter is the furtherance of democracy, and it is also something of an insulting reflection upon the Leader of the Opposition that they seemed to think he cannot risk being criticised by a humble back-bencher without protection from the Orange Order and the Police Federation spokesman.
I also totally reject the right of a mainly hereditary body of peers to interfere with this or, indeed, on any other issue whatsoever. When the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) was speaking about countries emerging from tribalism, he might have remembered that the hereditary system of peers is a form of tribalism which we should have got rid of a long time ago.
But I believe that the tu quoque argument is irrelevant. In politics there is far too much of pots and kettles calling each other black. Many people are getting increasingly tired of such performances. The implementation of the boundaries should be taken out of party politics and put into effect automatically at fixed periods of perhaps seven-year intervals. Equally, I believe that by-elections should be held within a statutory time limit of perhaps three months of a vacancy occurring. If these matters are to be decided in the House, a minimum requirement is that there should be a totally free vote on both sides.
It would be illogical to vote against this Bill, because its faults are those of omission rather than commission: it is 342 good as far as it goes, but I believe that it should go further. Therefore, I shall abstain.
§ 11.30 a.m.
§ Mr. Sandys (Streatham)
The hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Whitaker), in his speech, clearly showed that he was deeply unhappy about, if not actively ashamed of, the way in which the Government are behaving. I thought that the Home Secretary also looked rather uncomfortable at the Dispatch Box this morning. There is no doubt that the Government and the Labour Party have every reason to be ashamed of what they are doing. During all the years that I have been a Member of the House, I cannot think of anything which has done more harm to the good name of Parliament and of politicians than this disreputable Measure.
The Bill has been described as squalid, dishonourable, dictatorial, fraudulent. The arguments which Ministers have advanced to justify the Bill have been described as dishonest, phony, and nauseating humbug. Every one of those epithets has been richly deserved.
In the face of this unrepresentative majority of political tricksters, there is nothing more that we on this side of the House can do. But, fortunately, there remains one institution which still has the power to safeguard our democratic traditions. Ministers are doing all that they can to intimidate the Upper House with threats, warnings and rumours. But we all know that it is nothing but bluff. The Government could never afford to risk a constitutional collision on this issue, in which the Lords would he defending not their own privileges, but the rights and liberties of the British people.
Finally, I wish to make it clear I am not opposing the Bill because that it will prejudice the prospects of my party at the next General Election. I am perfectly confident that, despite all their "fiddling", the Government will not be able to escape the fate which awaits them at the hands of the voters. I oppose the Bill because it is a barefaced swindle which perverts our constitutional conventions, defrauds the electors and brings discredit upon Parliament.
§ 11.35 a.m.
§ Mr. Laurence Pavitt (Willesden, West)
Since the debate started this morning we 343 have heard from the heavyweight team of opposers. The right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) should get full marks for being able to get in the most number of epithets in the shortest possible time. Last in to bat was the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith), who weighed in with all the legal knowledge he commands. I prefer him on the Common Market than on this issue. Then we had that ebullient character the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter), who is always well to the fore if the Opposition are attacking the Government. And we always enjoy listening to the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) because, against a drab and grey background, he brings a little colour to our proceedings. The noise and fury of political manoeuvring I leave to others to deal with.
I wish to address myself to a very small point and to try to protect my interests. I had one of the four but important debates which were left when the Guillotine fell yesterday. Both parties claim to care for the little man and the debate on the matter which I wished to raise would have been the smallest in the whole course of the Bill. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton), I wished to put a constituency point. We all feel that our constituencies are unique, but I would claim that the fact that my debate was selected by Mr. Speaker as one of the four last debates yesterday proves that I have a valid case to put forward and I would further argue that it is unique.
My predecessor, the late Sam Viant, was a Member of the House of Commons for 35 years. My constituency at that time was like the fashions of the day. The ladies had a single entity above the waist which was a bust and the Willesden constituency he served was a similar unity. What will happen as a result of the Bill is that I shall be given a constituency like two breasts with a large cleavage in the middle and never the twain shall meet. It may be more fashionable, but in terms of trying to organise two separate, complete areas which have no houses contingent upon each other is almost practically impossible, whichever way one looks at it. There is one bridge the Harrow Road 344 joining the two separate halves. My contention is that my constituency in the London Borough of Brent will emerge quite unique because of this Bill. There is no other constituency like it.
I accept the general contention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that he must accept either all of the Boundary Commission's proposals for London or nothing. Therefore, to make a special pleading is a very difficult proposition. However, I hope that the matter with which I am concerned will be given further consideration before the Bill reaches the Statute Book.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Brixton, I quarrel on the question of names. Willesden dates from the year 983. The parish church was built at the same time as Westminster Abbey. One thousand years of history is to disappear when the title of Willesden is no longer used. I am not concerned so much about the name of my constituency, because whatever its title it remains a good constituency.… a roseBy any other name would smell as sweet.This is not a question of political advantage. Schedule 6 will remain unaltered because the debate on my Amendment was prevented by the Guillotine. All my Amendment would have done would have been to change one politically Tory ward for another. The Labour vote for the defeated candidates in each of the wards was precisely the same—1,719—at the last municipal election in 1968. There is no political advantage. With an area in which the dividing line is an arterial road and in which there are no houses contiguous to each other, I repeat that organisationally one has an almost impossible situation.
One difficulty which we have faced, and which the Bill will hamper, is that we have tried in my borough to build up since the London Government Act an area in which we are moulding into one community two separate areas, namely, Wembley and Willesden. In listening to the speech which has just been made by the right hon. Member for Streatham, and his charge of gerrymandering, I was reminded of the fight that we put up over the London Government Bill, which was designed purely so that the Tory Party should occupy County Hall, on the other side of the river. I remember a speech 345 very similar to that made by my right hon. Friend the present Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, who then led for us on that occasion and pointing out precisely the same arguments.
When the Home Secretary introduced the Bill to the House he made it clear that this was not a question of just putting a line on a map, but that we were talking in terms of living, human communities. I appeal to the House at this late stage of the Bill that in a constituency such as mine which has wide and varied aspects there should be an attempt to make the area with which we shall be left as a result of the provisions of the Bill a complete area, an entity.
On the social service aspect, I already have three hospitals in the constituency, and a fourth will come in as a result of the provisions of the Bill. The constituency of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Wembley North (Sir E. Bullus) will have no hospital at all. This is the kind of thing we should be debating rather than the sound and fury of the political arguments. The job of the House is to debate the issues in those kinds of terms. I regret that it has been necessary for the Opposition to find something to oppose—after all, it is their job to oppose—to make the maximum amount of political capital out of this legislation, rather than that the House should have debated the real issues, which would have been to its credit and would have been of great value to many Londoners.
§ 11.45 a.m.
§ Mr. Hordern
The Government cannot pretend that the Bill is anything other than a disgraceful piece of political chicanery. The Government are bound by law to bring the proposals of the Boundary Commission before the House "as soon as may be". They have interpreted this as sometime, and, with luck, never. The Government are changing the law to suit their own political purpose.
Not a single newspaper or commentator of repute has given a favourable interpretation of the Government's actions. It is a serious matter when a newspaper of the standing of the New York Times writes a hostile opinion of the Government's proposals. Foreign opinion is very conscious that the Government have lost control of the Indus- 346 trial scene and have handed over control to the T.U.C. It also knows that the Government are in the hands of the bankers and are shackled by the International Monetary Fund.
It is a very serious matter when the proposals in the Bill bring into such serious doubt the Government's integrity. I was impressed by what was said by the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Whitaker). The damage which will be done to this House and to Parliament will not be small. When the Conservative Party returns to power it will have to think seriously about introducing a Bill of Rights to remedy a great deal of the damage that has been done. But that is another matter.
What is much worse about the Bill is that discussion has been stilled by the Government's resort to the Guillotine. They have been afraid to face proper discussion; they have been afraid even to make sensible alterations in this noxious Bill. I would illustrate the point by referring to a comment made by the Home Secretary during the Second Reading debate. He said:…it would not be the intention to fetter the Commissions any more tightly than they are now. If they felt that, in trying to give fairly equal representation, they would fulfil their duty by fixing one constituency, as I have said, at 43,000 and another at 75,000, and took the view that this was not going beyond their discretion, I would not feel that the same limit of tolerance would be beyond their discretion in trying to achieve the ideal of the approximately equal."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd July, 1969; Vol. 786, c. 457.]Those remarks related to the provision in Clause 3 enjoining the Boundary Commission separately to consider my constituency and that of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Arundel and Shoreham (Captain Kerby) and providing that three constituencies should be made out of two of approximately equal size. We have never even reached Amendments dealing with this matter, and consequently this absurd proposal will remain in the Bill.
The Home Secretary has based such argument as he has been able to adduce on what he calls a principle. That principle is that we must await the implementation of the Redcliffe-Maud proposals. To rely on such a principle is similar to acting like a man caught with his hand in the till who says that he is simply there to mend the machine. There 347 is no principle in the Government's action on this Bill, except perhaps one, and that is to avoid, so far as it can be avoided, electoral damage.
The Government were conscious, however, that an effort must be seen to be made to reduce some of the alarming disparities and anomalies that have occurred during many years in which the Boundary Commission has considered the various constituencies in the country. It has sought to distract attention from the most serious anomalies, such as those in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mr. Speed), of Birmingham, Ladywood and of Huyton, by drawing to the attention of the Boundary Commission three pairs of constituencies, of which my constituency and that of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Arundel and Shoreham happen to be one. If there were anything in the principle that we should wait for Maud, then it would have been wiser to have looked at the total effect of the Maud proposals on West Sussex.
It so happens that the boundaries suggested by Maud are somewhat different from those which at present obtain in West Sussex. But it is also the case that the two constituencies which are not affected at all by the Maud recommendations for the whole of West Sussex are Chichester and Worthing, and the two constituencies which are very seriously affected are those of my hon. Friend and myself.
It is certain that our two constituencies will be affected at some time in the future by the local government proposals of the Maud Report. Yet we are to be specially examined by the Boundary Commission and proposals will presumably be laid before the House and debated so as to form three constituencies out of two. Those three constituencies can only be considered as twilight constituencies. They cannot last as they are bound to be altered by the Redcliffe-Maud recommendations.
The position is more serious than that. Not only will they be affected by the Redcliffe-Maud recommendations, but I wish to know from the Minister of State what will be the position about the recommendations concerning the three new 348 constituencies which will be created out of my constituency and the constituency of Arundel and Shoreham.
The Bill clearly says in Clause 1(3,a) that the Home Secretaryshall lay before Parliament a draft of such an Order in Council for any part of the United Kingdom as soon as it appears to him that it would not, by reason of the prospect of local government reorganisation there, be premature to do so".But the Boundary Commission is now being asked to draw three constituencies out of two. What will the Home Secretary do when he has the Boundary Commission's proposals before him? Will he at that time say, "I cannot lay the Orders before the House because they will be affected by the Redcliffe-Maud recommendations". If that is the case, what is the point of asking the Commission to examine the two constituencies at all? It is a serious matter to which I hope the Minister of State will reply.
Another matter in the Bill in connection with pairs of constituencies which seems to raise a vital constitutional issue is that the Government appear to be changing the Boundary Commission's terms of reference. Those terms of reference are laid down in the second Schedule to the 1949 Act, as amended by the 1958 Act, but this Bill allows only those sections which refer to the proceedings of the Boundary Commission in regard to the taking of public evidence, and so forth.
In other words, it appears from the Bill that the Boundary Commission is to have regard only to the approximate equality of electorate and nothing else. They are not to take into account those which may have been formed over many years and which are specifically mentioned in the Boundary Commission's report.
The Commission says:Ties of many sorts may exist within this local community, and we believe it to be proper for these ties, wherever they may be, to be taken fully into account before a constituency is disturbed.If the Bill is passed, they will not be allowed to take them into account, assuming that any understanding of it is right. Nor will they be allowed to take into account the prospect of future growth of the population. Here again, the Commission says in its report:We cannot, however, escape the fact that the intention of the present law is that a 349 general review shall form the basis of constituency boundaries for at least the next ten years and it would therefore be desirable to make recommendations that would, so far as possible, cushion the effect of gains or losses of electorate so far as they could be foreseen with some degree of certainty. We had in mind that New Towns had been a major cause of the growth of electorates in several constituencies since the 1954 review.In my constituency, I have the new town of Crawley. The recommendation of the Redcliffe-Maud Committee is that Crawley should go not into East Sussex, but into East Surrey. Yet, if the Bill is passed, the Boundary Commission will not be allowed even to consider that aspect of the matter. It will not be allowed to take into account the special report drawn up by the West Sussex County Council, which forecasts that the population of Crawley will be 81,000 in 1971 as a result of the crash housing programme. Nor can it take into account the fact that Crawley has a large proportion of young voters who, according to estimates which I have been given, already represent an additional 4,000 voters in the existing constituency. The Bill therefore hamstrings the Commission in the area which it has to examine, and it has tampered with its terms of reference.
The proposals for the dual constituencies are merely a desperate attempt by the Government to attain some sort of respectability for their overall proposals, in order to distract attention from the obvious anomalies such as Huyton and Birmingham, Ladywood. But they have failed to produce a convincing case even in this regard. It will be the epitaph of this Government that they have shown incompetence even in deceit.
For some years, I had the privilege of being assisted by the senior Conservative agent in the country. He retired a year ago. He told me that his experience of members of the Socialist Party was that however much he differed from their policies, and however much he felt they were misguided, he could not help having a sneaking respect for them as men. However, he said, about this Government, that he could not conceivably have any trust in them as men or in their proposals, and he added that he would not put it past this Government to try to extend their life. Nor would I.
§ 11.55 a.m.
§ Mr. Albert Murray (Gravesend)
A salient fact running through all our debates on the Bill is that we have not had any real argument from right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. We have had a lot of words, "sordid", "cheat", "fraudulent", "chicanery", "gerrymander", "sham", "tricksters", and "nincompoop". We have also seen that gamblers 's instinct of the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), who gambled on leaving the other place to come to this House, when he referred to "loaded dice".
I want to thank my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary because, apart from delivering to the House a very good Bill, he has given us an opportunity to see the best one-man show in town, plus supporting cast of paper tearers. The right hon. and learned Gentleman delivered a series of what might be described as "monohoggs", none of them with any serious argument to support it—[Laughter.] I am gratified for the right hon. and learned Gentleman's laughter, because he usually reserves his laughs for his own jokes, and quite rightly so, because it is the first time that he has heard them.
§ Mr. Murray
As usual, the right hon. and learned Gentleman speaks only for himself. He used his great knowledge of Robert Louis Stevenson and has referred frequently to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I feel that he resembles another character from Robert Louis Stevenson in that he is a bit like Ben Gunn, marooned on his little island, perhaps waiting for something to turn up, and runing when he sees real people.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has not produced any argument to show why the House should not accept the Bill. He dismisses the Redcliffe-Maud proposals. Anyone would think from his argument and those of his right hon. and hon. Friends, interspersed with abuse directed towards my right hon. Friends the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister, that the Boundary Commission had produced a magic document which would solve all our boundary problems. However, they have made no mention of the fact that in the Commissioners' proposals the present Isle of Thanet constituency would be roughly divided into 351 two, creating one constituency with an electorate of about 39,000 and another of 40,000, leaving untouched my own constituency which has an electorate of 78,000.
That is the kind of argument upon which they would have been better advised to concentrate, and they might have put forward suggestions for alterations in the terms of reference of the Boundary Commission to find new formulae and examine new constituencies. With our two-party system, the boundaries of our constituences should be more clearly defined, because in many cases great difficulties are created by the re-warding of constituencies.
The hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Hordern) said that he had read an editorial about the Bill in the New York Times. As each of my 78,000 constituents opens the New York Times every morning to see what the Americans are now saying about the Boundary Commission, it is a constant source of excitement. To bring this sort of argument into our debate is ridiculous, and the Opposition know it.
They have tried to inflate the Government's proposals into some great electoral issue, and they have failed. I cannot speak for other hon. Members, but it would be interesting to know how many letters they have received on the subject. I have not received a single communication on this great constitutional issue which the Tories have tried to inflate.
They have brought in the Press, and spoken of that "great friend" of the Labour Party, William Rees Mogg, who has been writing such wonderful editorials about us. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite allege that they have taken note of everything written by the newspapers. They should try taking notice of the Press when they do their pools each week, because the papers are as right on these matters as they are in their football forecasts. I would suggest that the Press has been a little less than diligent in its approach to what is happening under these boundary proposals.
The right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) spoke about Parliamentary democracy, how the Bill was dragging it down, and people were becoming cynical about it. The 352 Opposition talk about Parliamentary democracy. After the display that we had within the last week or two in Committee, when we had hon. Gentlemen going hysterical on the Opposition Front Bench, throwing Order Papers, shouting, and practically foaming at the mouth, can they still talk about Parliamentary democracy? On the occasion when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity was replying to the debate on industrial relations, do they remember the Parliamentary democracy that they showed? They would hardly let my right hon. Friend string one sentence after another without constant interruptions. Do they remember how they raised countless bogus points of order in Committee to stop the debate on this Bill continuing?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harry Gourlay)
Order. The hon. Gentleman is straying a little from Third Reading.
§ Mr. Murray
I hope that I have not strayed too far. But I think that it needed saying. I apologise for straying a little.
With the Redcliffe-Maud proposals and the great changes that will take place in local government reorganisation within the next three or four years, it is absolutely necessary that these should run in line with changes in Parliamentary boundaries. Representing a constituency which will remain unaffected by boundary changes, it seems to me that if we are to change local government boundaries, with all that that entails, we ought to do it in a cohesive manner with changes in Parliamentary boundaries.
I shall give my wholehearted support to the Government on Third Reading.
§ 12.1 p.m.
§ Sir Lionel Heald (Chertsey)
I am grateful for the opportunity to briefly put forward the case for a considerable number of people who have not had any attention in the debate. That is largely due to the curtailment of the debate by our inability to reach, even by three o'clock this morning, a large number of Amendments, which were perfectly properly selected for discussion.
I ask the Home Secretary to consider the position of the 250,000 people who, in a year or two, will be the electors in West Surrey. At present, there are three constituencies there. First, Woking, 353 which has 85,000 electors, but will have over 100,000 in a year or two. Secondly, my own constituency, Chertsey, which now has 65,000 electors and will have 75,000. Thirdly, Esher, which will have the same number. Those electors have been told by the Boundary Commission that it is right and proper, in accordance with our parliamentary system, that there should be not three, but four Members of Parliament representing West Surrey. But they are now told that that is not to be. For how long? We just do not know. However, it seems clear from the discussions to which I have listened—and I have been here during the whole of the Committee stage—that it is likely to be for a considerable time.
I should like to explain why that is so. We are not affected in this connection by the Redcliffe-Maud proposals. On 27th June a statement was made in this House giving the constituencies which could be affected by the crossing of boundaries following the proposals of the Redcliffe-Maud Commission. None of these three constituencies that I have mentioned is affected. They will all go into one of these new areas of government. No one suggests the contrary.
The Title of the Bill states that it is toEnable the alteration of parliamentary constituencies … to be suspended until the submission of the next general reports of the Boundary Commissions".That is done in Clause 1, subject only to subsection (3), which states:No recommendation shall be made to Her Majesty to make an Order in Council … but the Secretary of State(a) shall lay before Parliament a draft of such an Order in Council for any part of the United Kingdom as soon as it appears to him that it would not, by reason of the prospect of local government reorganisation there, be premature to do so".I understood that the Home Secretary yesterday contemplated that that might be about 1972.
Let us consider how that affects those electors about whom I am speaking. It is not premature today to put into force those new boundaries which will enable them to have four Parliamentary representatives instead of three. Therefore, there is not the slightest reason in logic or in principle why it should not be done now.
With this marvellous principle that is supposed to apply, when we get down to 354 Horsham, which is not far away, we find that there will be no difficulty about doing it there, despite the fact that it has not got the advantage of the recommendations of the Redcliffe-Maud Commission. So the thing is hopelessly illogical.
If we were told that Clause 1(3)(a) would enable this matter to be dealt with right away by somebody saying, "Here are these Surrey constituencies; everybody is agreed; nobody raises the slightest objection; there is no complication or difficulty", then why cannot it be done? But, I do not think that it can be done, because it talks aboutany part of the United Kingdom as soon as it appears to him that it would not, by reason of the prospect of local government reorganisation there, be premature to do so".It is clear that the Clause has not been drafted with the intention of covering the kind of case about which I am concerned. I do not think that it can or that it is meant to do so. Therefore, we must not pretend that that is what is happening.
I do not wish to occupy too much time. I know that many other hon. Members wish to speak, and I am conscious that I must not take advantage of rights which are sometimes doubted.
We must not forget that there will be a large number of young electors who will want to exercise their votes in a constitutional and democratic way. There is no necessity and no desire on their part to wait for the Redcliffe-Maud proposals, and they do not want the country to be led down the garden by the Home Secretary.
§ 12.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Molloy
The Conservative Opposition have made an enormous gamble on this entire issue. It will probably have a nine-day wonder dividend for them, but that is about all. They have jettisoned and relinquished their proper rôle as an Opposition in this Parliament. They have been obsessed with trying to get some form of political advantage from a first glance at the Bill. They should have examined it more deeply and then dismissed the first attitude which they adopted of trying to play this up for some political advantage.
Even under the Guillotine the Opposition had a responsibility to see that the Amendments were organised in such a 355 way that as many of them as possible could be dealt with. But because of their myopia, and their blind fury, which started as a kind of synthetic fury but developed into a genuine fury because they could see that they were not putting forward a cogent argument, their position as a responsible Opposition deteriorated with each hour of the debate.
I have the greatest respect for a number of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and particularly for the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), but I think that they have tarnished their reputations to a remarkable degree. We have all admired the remarkable stand made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman on such issues as race and democracy overseas, and it is a great shame that he has departed from those high standards today. He did so merely because he was serving his party rather than his nation. That is a serious charge that I have to make against the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but I make it sincerely.
I hope, however, that I shall soon be able to recover my high regard for the right hon. and learned Gentleman. Today, he was gracious enough to give way to me when we were discussing the built-in advantage which the Conservative Party has always had, particularly in Ulster, but in departing from his usual standard in an effort to find a cogent reply to my comment he delved into what was almost personal rudeness, which is uncharacteristic of him on a serious issue.
There is a feeling among hon. Gentlemen opposite that they are really the champions of democracy. I regret that the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) is not in his place. Listening to the right hon. Gentleman this morning, one would have thought that he was a radical trade unionist fighting for the rights of the workers in the 19th century, rather than a member of a party which resisted any form of democratic change.
Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite know that the reason why we have taken so long to achieve real democracy in this country is that it has been opposed by their party and by people of their ilk. We sometimes tend to forget that we have had a form of Parliamentary 356 government for nearly 700 years, but that we did not get Parliamentary democracy until 1928. I am proud to say that that was the result of the great endeavours of the Labour Party and the trade union movement, to which I belong.
The Opposition have revealed the paucity of their case. They have been trying to show that they are unsullied democratic virgins who are being attacked by a vicious Government. We know that really they are a bunch of artful haggard harridans. They concentrated their attack on the Huyton constituency, the seat of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. It is noteworthy that the form of attack by the Opposition has been used by the Tory Party on only two previous occasions. Once was when they lashed and poured scorn on Winston Churchill, and the second occasion was when they did the same to Aneurin Bevan. Now it is my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
I believe that what we have seen is a lesson for the people of this country, because, as Winston Churchill would probably have said, what he have seen is the lashing of the "Imperial Tory pint" for the "Tory Preservation Society". When that sort of thing happens, we realise what people mean when they talk about the slops of politics.
There are some aspects of the Commission's report which ought to have been discussed, and which could have been had we had reasonably intelligent opposition from the party opposite. I discover from the rules set out in Appendix A, paragraph 3 of the Commission's Second Report thatThere shall continue to be a constituency which shall include the whole of the City of London and the name of which shall refer to the City of London.That is a rule. There is no argument, and no debate, about that. My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) referred to the absurdity of regarding the Commission as a sort of referee, and he was right. This is a daft argument, yet the Commission has taken on the rôle of referee which it has no right to adopt.
§ Sir D. Renton
The hon. Gentleman is wrong. The rule to which he refers was laid down in the Statute passed by the Labour Government in 1949.
§ Mr. Molloy
That is not so. Perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman will look at Appendix A of the report.
I wish to draw attention to the situation in Ealing. Both the minority Labour Party and the majority Conservative Party on the council—and these are people who are involved in local government and have a deep knowledge of the area and of the community—can show statistically, and from a community point of view, that there ought to be four Parliamentary constituencies in that borough. They are united in this view and for sound statistical reasons allied to realistic forecasts.
I turn now to draw attention to some remarkable statements in this report. One London borough which is credited with having a notional entitlement of 2.5 constituencies is to have three constituencies, whereas Ealing, with a notional entitlement of 3-54 constituencies, is also to have only three constituencies. It is this kind of thing which ought to be debated and examined by Parliament, instead of being accepted merely because it is suggested in the report.
The report says, on page 10:In deciding to allocate four seats to Bromley (entitlement 3.53), but only three each to Southwark (entitlement 3.56) and to Ealing (entitlement 3.53),—Ealing had 82 electors fewer than Bromley at that time—it has increased its electorate since—we took account of the fact that the electorates of Southwark and Ealing had been falling, whereas in Bromley the electorate was growing.I do not know the situation in Southwark, but I do know the situation in Ealing. This is not a criticism of the people who made the examination. For a time they were right. The curve dropped, then flattened, and then began to climb again. The forecast shows an increase in the Ealing electorate. The figures still are increasing. In paragraph 57, the Commission said:We recognise that forecasts of future population trends left plenty of room for speculation and debate.I will say it did. Before that, the Commission said:Planned development might produce some 2,000 additional electors.I believe that there is a cast-iron case for Ealing to have four constituencies. 358 I am joined in this by the Conservative Council in Ealing, the Labour opposition and many other people. So I hope that the seriousness of this situation will be considered earnestly by the Under-Secretary, and the matter put right.
§ 12.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Reader Harris (Heston and Isle-worth)
I hope that the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) will forgive me if I do not follow him in detail, but in principle I support him, since much the same situation as he has described applies to Hounslow. The most surprising words uttered this morning were those of the Home Secretary, that this whole matter was a naked attempt by the Conservative Party to grab seats. When I point out that the Bill would abolish my seat, hon. Members will agree that those words are ironical music in my ears.
I shall be voting against the Bill, but perhaps for the opposite reasons from those of the rest of my party. They are voting against it because it does not introduce enough of the Boundary Commission's proposals, whereas I am doing so because it introduces too many. I cannot believe that it is right to introduce these alterations in Greater London. Although that area is not affected by Redcliffe-Maud, I believe that, in the next five years, the Commission will have to consider the local government boundaries there. These have not been considered for a long time. Certainly, in South-west Middlesex, there needs to be a fresh appraisal of the local government boundaries, certainly those between Hounslow and Twickenham, where the present boundaries are anomalous and administratively inconvenient.
The unfortunate thing is that the Bill covers two separate items: first, the timing of the introduction of the Boundary Commission proposals; and, second, those proposals themselves. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) made great play with the fact that more time has been given on this occasion to the Boundary Commission alterations than in 1954. That may be technically correct, but in 1954 the whole thing was handled quite differently. Each alteration to a Parliamentary constituency was embodied in a Statutory Instrument, every one of which was laid before the House in the normal way. They were all considered 359 separately and I believe that we sat all night to do so. Although it was rather tedious, any hon. Member with a complaint at least was not denied the opportunity to make his views on the subject known.
On this occasion, of course, there has been no chance to consider the individual proposals. In my case, they are particularly bad, because the constituency of Heston and Isleworth is being abolished, despite the fact that, after a public inquiry in 1964, the Boundary Commission's inspector recommended no change in the number of constituencies in Hounslow. We managed to convince him that three should continue and he recommended to the Boundary Commissioners accordingly, making just a few small alterations in the boundaries. This recommendation has been overruled and, naturally, there is some small feeling on the subject.
The matter is made all the more ludicrous by the fact that when I was elected in 1950, I had a constituency of 74,000 and the present Boundary Commission proposals are that two seats should be set up, one of 70,000 and one of 75,000, despite the fact that the inspector accepted the evidence of the local authority and others that there would be an enormous amount of development in Hounslow in the next 10 years—£55 million development planned for Brentford, large developments in Heston and Isleworth and a large redevolpment in Feltham. I predict that, in 10 years, they will have to restore the three seats. I have here a cutting from the local newspaper which says that 8,700 new council homes are planned over the next 10 years.
This is a bad proposal. What makes it all the more extraordinary and makes us think that the Commission has not given it proper consideration, is that a strong case was made, if there were to be two constituencies for at any rate not calling them by the unwieldy names of, first Hounslow, Brentford and Isleworth, and second, Hounslow, Feltham and Heston. With full local support, it was suggested that these should be changed to Hounslow, East and Hounslow, West. I have something in common with the hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton), who complained about the name of his constituency being changed.
360 I do not know whether it is too late to ask whether this matter should be further considered—I suppose it is—but at least this does not have support in my borough and the decision has been taken against the advice of the Commission's inspector, after a public inquiry.
§ 12.26 p.m.
§ Mr. John Ellis (Bristol, North-West)
Whatever one may say about the speech of the hon. Member for Heston and Isle-worth (Mr. Reader Harris), at least he argued the case in his own locality. The rest of the debate has shown a tendency —I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) is not here, because he excels in this—to use as many epithets as possible. The main point of this is a political exercise.
An example is Bristol, a city with great pride. These proposals would reduce its representation from six Members to five. My constituency is not affected by these proposals, yet the Tory Party makes comments there. They have taken up the general gambit which has been offered. In the City of London, it is all right, because it has tradition. When the right hon. Member for Streatham prayed in aid the House of Lords, the debate sank to a new low. Members of the Party opposite are now the great democrats who, throughout their history, have stopped us often from even voting at all.
I will not go into the disgraceful scenes last Tuesday. This was a carefully arranged political fake. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite could have stopped that announcement being made at 10 o'clock. It was in Adojurnment time. I am just a humble back bencher. I do not listen to the Whips on both sides—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Member must try to show why he supports or does not support the Bill.
§ Mr. Ellis
I support the Bill if for no other reason than what I saw last Tuesday night. What I saw was a political campaign, which is entirely wrong. When I 361 saw the Chief Whip on the other side waving down points of order because the statement had to be made, and saying "Wait for it, boys; we have to have the rest of the statement of the Leader of the House first," I know that that was political fakery. That is what they have done today and throughout these debates. This is nicely timed and the so-called democrats will even pray in aid the House of Lords. I am not falling for it: neither will the country.
§ 12.30 p.m.
§ Sir D. Renton
Like nearly all his hon. Friends, the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Ellis) did not say a word to justify the Bill. He merely sought to attack the Opposition. Indeed, it is fair to summarise this morning's debate by saying that our attack on the Bill has been mainly a defence of the constitution while the Government's defence of the Bill has been mainly an attack on the Opposition.
If the Bill gets a Third Reading—which, with the help of the Patronage Secretary, it will no doubt do—this will be a sad and bad day for parliamentary democracy. As my hon. Friends—too few of whom have had an opportunity to speak in this short debate—have pointed out, the Bill must be considered in the light of the constitutional principles which have been created and accepted by all parties. Into the constitution, safeguards have been built by common consent to prevent politicians who have a temporary spell with a majority in this House from using that majority for their unfair advantage. These safeguards are intended to save us from ourselves when we happen to have a brief spell in power. It is through these safeguards that we are saved from the accusation that we become judges in our own cause.
This is my answer to the remarks of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), who I pick out not because of his fiery eloquence but because he was the only hon. Gentleman opposite who, in an articulate way, tried to deal with the constitutional point at issue. I ask him to bear in mind that it is essential for us to have a system under which Ministers not only clearly act constitutionally, but can be seen to do so. The Bill deliberately sweeps aside these safeguards and, by doing that, puts the clock back.
362 There are two Cabinet Ministers—one is in the House and the other would be here but for having to be absent because of a State occasion—who are, perhaps above all others apart from the Prime Minister, responsible for protecting the constitution. They are the Leader of the House and the Home Secretary, and each has failed us miserably.
The Leader of the House has introduced the meanest and toughest guillotine timetable in the history of Parliament. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale invited us to compare it with what happened when the Orders were being discussed in 1954. The position is clear. In 1954, four long days of Parliamentary sittings were allocated to, and were well used by, hon. Members on both sides. On this occasion the Committee stage was squeezed into two days, on one of which we were severely provoked, and there is not to be a Report stage. The circumstances are, therefore, not comparable.
§ Mr. Michael Foot
I entirely dispute that there were four days. There were two days and the time allotted on this occasion has been much more extensive than the time allotted for the last major boundary occasion.
§ Sir D. Renton
The record is clear on this matter. The hon. Gentleman may have overlooked the fact that there were two separate occasions of discussion in 1954. That may have confused him. I understand that a total of four days was available on the last occasion.
§ Sir D. Renton
The Bill begins by placing the Home Secretary above the law as he found it when the Boundary Commission's Reports were presented; and to that extent the Bill is retrospective and, therefore, to be deplored. By refusing to accept those reports, except in respect of London, the Government have made themselves judges in their own cause.
The excuse that the Redcliffe-Maud recommendations make it impracticable to follow the Boundary Commission's Reports is a transparently bogus afterthought. In a candid speech, in which he said that he would abstain, the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Whitaker) came close to saying this, but in kinder 363 words. I say it is an afterthought, because when the Royal Commission was appointed in 1966 the Boundary Commission had already started its recent general review, which was overdue. It was due to report this year, but nothing was said to Parliament in 1966 or later about postponing or not accepting the Commission's recommendations. These elaborate inquiries went forward, with all the cost and trouble which they entailed for all concerned.
The Home Secretary mentioned a private approach that had been made through the usual channels. I understand that such an approach was made, but let us consider its character. It was a suggestion that we, the Opposition, should in effect connive with the Government in ignoring the statutory procedures laid down for the Boundary Commission, procedures on which it had already embarked. In other words, were were asked by the Government to join with them in breaking the law. [Interruption.] We very naturally would not agree to do so.
I am told that no suggestion was made during those negotiations that a Bill might be presented. In accordance with the law, the Boundary Commission went ahead and reached conclusions in its general review. Then the Government considered the proposals. They found that the umpire's decision meant that the Government might not be able to go on batting indefinitely, so they would not accept the umpire's decision, with the result that we have this miserable Bill. That is why the Redcliffe-Maud excuse is a feeble afterthought.
This excuse becomes even more transparently bogus when we consider the certain effect of postponing the Boundary Commission's proposals, or ignoring them altogether, and the uncertainty which attaches to implementing the Redcliffe-Maud Report. It is in this context that one should remember that the Government have never said that they fully accept the Maud Report. Qualified statements have been made to the effect that they accept some of its broad intentions, but there is no certainty that this excuse will ever become valid.
The present boundaries are mostly 15 years old. If the Bill becomes law—the Home Secretary agreed with this yesterday—we will still have the present 364 boundaries, with all the anomalies, along after the next election. In this connection, I cannot help drawing the attention of the House to a revealing slip of the tongue made by the Home Secretary—I hope that it was only a slip of the tongue and that it did not reveal the true state of his mind—when he said, somewhat naїvely, "Conservatives believe that there is bound to be an election" —[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If hon. Members do not like that reference to what the Home Secretary said, they must talk it over with him. Slip of the tongue though it was, it could be regarded as a revealing attitude on his part.
The Bill ensures that the present boundaries, with all their anomalies, will remain until some time after the next General Election, and perhaps for a long time after, because, in accordance with the terms of the Bill, it may not be until the General Election after next at the very earliest, provided that the next Parliament runs for a fairly full course, that we shall have a general review which ends the present anomalies, which will meanwhile grow and grow.
Clause 3 and Schedule 2 give the Government's whole case away; they reveal the probable basic and true reason for the Bill. Despite the Redcliffe-Maud excuse, four pairs of constituencies which now have more than 90,000 electors each, plus Cheadle with over 100,000 electors, are to be considered forthwith by the Boundary Commission. My hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr. Hordern) asked some questions on this matter which must be answered. I hope that the Under-Secretary will answer them.
My hon. Friend, referring to Clause 3 (1)(a) and (b), said that the Government appear, by the wording of the Clause, which was never discussed in Committee, to change the terms of reference of the Boundary Commissions which were laid down by Statute in 1949. My hon. Friend points out in particular that future growth is to be ignored. The rules set out in the Schedule to the 1949 Act oblige the Boundary Commission to take various matters into consideration. There is nothing in the Bill which says that the Commission is to ignore those matters but there is no Amendment to the Bill which reconciles the contents of the Schedule to the 1949 Act with Clause 3.
365 What are the Government up to when, ignoring all that has gone before, they rule arbitrarily that the Commission is apparently to have regard simply to the question that the constituencies shall have "approximately equal electorates"? There are other constituencies which are just as large as those mentioned but which are not included. It would not be in order for me, in spite of this wide-ranging debate, to consider them in general, but at this late stage of the debate we should be told why a constituency of 92,500 electors is left alone instead of the Commission's recommendation being accepted?
There is perhaps, however, no need to press the Under-Secretary to say what will make him blush to do so, as it no doubt will; but it is a fact that these constituencies have been chosen in place of Huyton, and it would seem that the Prime Minister has so little confidence in the electors of Huyton or of any other constituency, as it is perfectly clear that the electors have no confidence in him; and that perhaps is the true and basic reason for this ignominious Bill.
§ Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)
On a point of order. I am sorry to intrude in the debate. I shall not take long, but I wish to raise a matter of some consequence. The Sessional Order of the House granting access to Members is being impinged upon this morning. It is no use anyone saying that there is a State visit involved, because it is at moments of inconvenience that we have to vindicate our rights here.
The origin of the Sessional Order was when the Crown kept parties of troops running round this place to stop Members from getting in. This morning, in Bridge Street, the police are trying to carry out a difficult duty, but they have stopped the approaches to Westminster Bridge. Members of Parliament have to get out of their cars and, by leave, are allowed to come through. The police are trying to do their best, but I want it to be perfectly clear by one o'clock that the access of Members of Parliament is guaranteed. At present, they are being re-routed up the Embankment to somewhere up towards Trafalgar Square.
This is what Parliament is all about. If there is to be talk about great constitutional principles, we had better vindicate one here this morning. Parlia- 366 ment has called itself together this morning. I have great respect for State visits and such things, but occasionally we should remind people that we are a sovereign Parliament.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harry Gourlay)
Perhaps I should deal with the point of order first. It may help if I clarify the position. The point which has been raised is not a point of order arising in this debate, nor is it a matter of privilege. Perhaps the best way in which the Chair could help hon. Members is by suggesting that they may raise the matter with the appropriate authorities, or with the Home Secretary.
§ Sir T. Beamish
Further to that point of order. I have arrived at this very moment. I came from Pall Mall. I was given every facility by the police to come straight to the House. As soon as I explained to a sergeant on several occasions that I had to get to the House, I was allowed straight through.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
On a point of order. Is not this a case where the Chair should intervene to stop the Leader of the House from jerkily altering the business for selfish reasons and upsetting everybody?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I should be obliged if the hon. Gentleman would not raise facetious points under the guise of points of order.
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
The right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell), who, we know, is well versed in procedure, has raised a most important point, namely, that Members have been obstructed from coming to the House, as I understood him to say. If that is so, surely that throws doubt on the validity of the debate that many of us have been here all morning for.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I have already ruled on the point of order and I cannot hear a further submission. The 367 facts are as I have stated, and the Leader of the House has given an assurance that the police have been instructed to facilitate the passage of Members to the Palace of Westminster.
§ 12.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
After much discussion, after a great deal of heat, after the expression of a great deal of personal spite against my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and after much use of words such as "gerrymandering" and "rigging", we have come to the end of the debate on the Bill. I am very glad that it emerged this morning that there were consultations between the Government and the Opposition in 1966.
As a relatively new Member of the House, what sparked me off last evening into believing that something should be said about the consultations was when my hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Gardner) said:When the decision to set up the Royal Commission was madeit was wrong not to announcethat the boundaries decision would be put off until after the Redcliffe-Maud Report.That is what my hon. Friend said. Then my right hon. Friend said this:In the light of those" Hear, hears, "it would be interesting to know whether the Opposition would have agreed at that time to it being put off.The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) said:The right hon. Gentleman never tried it, and the fact that he never tried it shows that he is in bad faith.I acquit the right hon. and learned Gentleman of knowing that the discussions took place with the Shadow Cabinet, but he should have known. To say that my right hon. Friend acted in bad faith when it has been revealed this morning that discussions took place goes beyond saying, "Nincompoop". That is good dormitory stuff, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman should apologise for saying that my right hon. Friend was acting in bad faith, in view of what was revealed this morning.
§ Mr. Hogg
The hon. Gentleman is perfectly right to say that I was unaware that there had been any conversations when I said what I did. But I have made inquiries, and since he has raised 368 the matter I must say that apparently there was a private conversation between the then two Chief Whips in which the simple inquiry was made whether we would agree to the postponement of the Boundary Commission. We said "No", and that left the Government free to legislate then. I therefore repeat my charge of bad faith.
§ Mr. Rees
In that case, it might be as well if I made clear what happened. Following the setting up of the Royal Commission on Local Government, in 1966, the then Lord President discussed with the then Opposition Chief Whip in August, 1966, the possibility of suspending the work of the Boundary Commission, because their recommendations would be based on local government boundaries which were liable to be altered as a result of the recommendations of the Royal Commission. On 8th August, 1966, the Opposition Chief Whip informed the Lord President of the Council that the Shadow Cabinet felt unable to agree to a standstill. To say that my right hon. Friend acted in had faith in the face of that ill becomes the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ Mr. Rees
There has been a great deal of discussion during the past two days about the first part of the Bill, under which no action is to be taken on the reports for England and Wales by the Boundary Commission, and no further reports will be made before the next general report. I would like to emphasise the assurance—I accept, as far as it can go—given by my right hon. Friend last night that when, in the early 1970s, the facts as to what is to happen in local government are known, with the aid of shadow local authorities, based on the experience we have had in the London area, after the London Government Act, the Government will move and the Boundary Commission will then be able to investigate and suggest boundary changes in accord with the local government changes which are to take place in the country as a whole.
The right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) asked about changes in North-West Surrey. The question is whether it is or is not premature to reactivate the Commission for any part of the United Kingdom on 369 account of the prospect of local government reorganisation. North-West Surrey is no different from any other area. We have acted in London because local government reform has been carried out there. We know that has to be done, but this is not the situation in North-West Surrey.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Malloy), others of my hon. Friends and the hon. Member for Heston and Isleworth (Mr. Reader Harris) raised the question of what will happen in their areas, because they felt that the Boundary Commission's recommendations had been wrong. The Report of the Boundary Commission is based on the figures of 1965, but the way in which we do things with regard to constituency boundary changes means that almost inevitably by the time the report is published the figures on which it is based are four years out of date. In the London area, the situation will be exactly the same as it would have been had the reports been implemented in the country as a whole.
That means that if any local organisation has any views to express about constituency boundaries in that area, they are entitled to approach the Boundary Commissioners, who are still in being. This applies not only in Ealing, but in other parts of the London area.
The hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Hordern) raised the question of his own area, and I am willing to discuss it with him later. Clause 3(2) provides for the recommendations contained in the Report of the Commission submitted under this Clause to be dealt with in the same way as under the 1949 Act. The Report is to be laid before Parliament together with a draft Order in Council giving effect, with or without modifications, to the recommendations of the Boundary Commissioners, which will be put to the House and be subject, I think, to the affirmative Resolution procedure.
The Government's conclusion in the face of the impending changes in local government was that outside the Greater London area, where the local Government changes are known, the recommendations of the Boundary Commission, with the exceptions of which the House is 370 fully aware, should not be implemented. The wisdom of the House today, in the full knowledge of that, is greater than in 1958, when the discussions took place before. It is fully in the power of the House to take account of this matter.
Throughout the debate and in speeches at the weekend, what have we had? Whatever the right hon. and learned Gentleman says, we have not had the argument that there might be local government changes, but that one should not deal with the matter in this way. Time and again we have had accusations of gerrymandering and abuse of my right hon. Friend from hon. Members opposite. No one has given figures—not even the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter), who is skilled in these matters. He has said that informed opinion believes it to be advantageous to the Labour Party to do it in this way.
Nowhere have the figures been published, because any figures that would be published are subjective. There is no objective analysis. It is like a review of an American book on the Civil War, which says "This is an objective account of the American Civil War from the Southern point of view". Whichever party office publishes the figures, it is a subjective valuation. My right hon. Friend has made it clear that there are other factors to take into account.
So what do we have? The number of seats quoted ranges from 20 to six. Nobody says whether it means three seats, meaning six on a 1964 basis. There is not a ha'porth of evidence to encourage right hon. Gentlemen opposite to use the word "gerrymandering" That is what they believe, but it is a subjective analysis and not the sort of objective analysis that can go to another place.
Compared with the great constitutional issues that have gone to another place over the past 100 years, what will happen now? We shall have a Conservative Central Office brief sent to the other place saying that there is gerrymandering. We have gone from the days of its being the poodle of Mr. Balfour. What the Opposition are asking is for another place to be the poodle of the Conservative Central Office.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—372
§ The House divided: Ayes 287, Noes 234.375
|Division No. 326.]||AYES||ll.0 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Albu, Austen||Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Lipton, Marcus|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Alldritt, Walter||Faulds, Andrew||Loughlin, Charles|
|Anderson, Donald||Fernyhough, E.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Finch, Harold||McCann, John|
|Ashley, Jack||Fletcher, Rt.Hn.SirEric (Islington,E.)||MacColl, James|
|Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw)||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Macdonald, A. H.|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||McGuire, Michael|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Foley, Maurice||McKay, Mrs. Margaret|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Ford, Ben||Mackintosh, John P.|
|Barnett, Joel||Forrester, John||Maclennan, Robert|
|Baxter, William||Fowler, Gerry||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)|
|Bence, Cyril||Fraser, John (Norwood)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Freeson, Reginald||McNamara, J. Kevin|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Galpern, Sir Myer||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Binns, John||Gardner, Tony||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Garrett, W. E.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Blackburn, F.||Ginsburg, David||Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||Manuel, Archie|
|Booth, Albert||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Mapp, Charles|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Gregory, Arnold||Marks, Kenneth|
|Boyden, James||Grey, Charles (Durham)||Marquand, David|
|Bradley, Tom||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Maxwell, Robert|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Brown, Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Mendelson, John|
|Buchan, Norman||Hamling, William||Mikardo, Ian|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Hannan, William||Millan, Bruce|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Harper, Joseph||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Milne, Edward (Blyth)|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)|
|Cant, R. B.||Haseldine, Norman||Molloy, William|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hattersley, Roy||Moonman, Eric|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hazell, Bert||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Morris, Alfred (Wythanshawe)|
|Chapman, Donald||Heffer, Eric S.||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Concannon, J. D.||Henig, Stanley||Morris, John (Aberavon)|
|Conian, Bernard||Hilton, W. S.||Moyle, Roland|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hooley, Frank||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Murray, Albert|
|Cronin, John||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Neal, Harold|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Newens, Stan|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Oakes, Gordon|
|Dalyell, Tam||Howie, w.||Ogden, Eric|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Hoy, Rt. Hn. James||O'Malley, Brian|
|Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn(Anglesey)||Oram, Albert E.|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Orbach, Maurice|
|Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Orme, Stanley|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek)||Hunter, Adam||Oswald, Thomas|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Owen, Will (Morpeth)|
|Delargy, Hugh||Janner, Sir Barnett||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Dell, Edmund||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Palmer, Arthur|
|Dempsey, James||Jeger, George (Goole)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Dewar, Donald||Jeger, Mrs. Lena(H'b'n & St.P'cras,S.)||Park, Trevor|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Dickens, James||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)|
|Dobson, Ray||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Doig, Peter||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Driberg, Tom||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Dunn, James A.||Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)||Pentland, Norman|
|Dunnett, Jack||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)|
|Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)||Judd, Frank||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg|
|Eadie, Alex||Kelley, Richard||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)|
|Edelman, Maurice||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Price, Thomas (Westhoushton)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Lawson, George||Probert, Arthur|
|Ellis, John||Leadbitter, Ted||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|English, Michael||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Randall, Harry|
|Ennals, David||Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)||Rankin, John|
|Ensor, David||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Rees, Merlyn|
|Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold (Cheetham)|
|Richard, Ivor||Spriggs, Leslie||Weitzman, David|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.||Whitlock, William|
|Robertson, John (Paisley)||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Robinson, Rt.Hn.Kenneth(St.P'c'as)||Swain, Thomas||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Symonds, J. B.||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Roebuck, Roy||Taverne, Dick||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Ryan, John||Thornton, Ernest||Willis, Rt. Hn. George|
|Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)||Tinn, James||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Sheldon, Robert||Tomney, Frank||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.||Tuck, Raphael||Winnick, David|
|Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)||Urwin, T. W.||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Short, Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)||Varley, Eric G.||Woof, Robert|
|Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Silverman, Julius||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Slater, Joseph||Wallace, George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Small, William||Watkins, David (Consett)||Mr. Alan Fitch and Mr. Neil McBride.|
|Snow, Julian||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Doughty, Charles||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Jopling, Michael|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Eden, Sir John||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith|
|Astor, John||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Kerby, Capt, Henry|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Elliott, R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Baker, Kenneth (Acton)||Emery, Peter||Kimball, Marcus|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Errington, Sir Eric||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Ewing, Mrs. Winifred||Kirk, Peter|
|Batsford, Brian||Eyre, Reginald||Kitson, Timothy|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Farr, John||Knight, Mrs. Jill|
|Bell, Ronald||Fisher, Nigel||Lambton, Viscount|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Fortescue, Tim||Lane, David|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Foster, Sir John||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Biffen, John||Fraser, Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Gibson-Watt, David||Longden, Gilbert|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Lubbock, Eric|
|Blaker, Peter||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Glover, Sir Douglas||MacArthur, Ian|
|Body, Richard||Glyn, Sir Richard||Maclean, Sir Filzroy|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Goodhart, Philip||McMaster, Stanley|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Goodhew, Victor||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)|
|Braine, Bernard||Gower, Raymond||McNair-Wilson, Michael|
|Brewis, John||Grieve, Percy||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Maddan, Martin|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Gurden, Harold||Marten, Neil|
|Bryan, Paul||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Mawby, Ray|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus, N&M)||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Burden, F. A.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.)||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Monro, Hector|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hawkins, Paul||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hay, John||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Clark, Henry||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Clegg, Walter||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Murton, Oscar|
|Cooke, Robert||Heseltine, Michael||Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Higgins, Terence L.||Neave, Airey|
|Cordle, John||Hiley, Joseph||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hill, J. E. B.||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Costain, A. P.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Nott, John|
|Craddock, Sir Berosford (Spelthorne)||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Onslow, Cranley|
|Crouch, David||Holland, Phillip||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Hordern, Peter||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Hornby, Richard||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Howell, David (Guildford)||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Dance, James||Hunt, John||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Iremonger, T. L.||Peel, John|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Percival, Ian|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Peyton, John|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Pink, R. Bonner||Scott-Hopkins, James||Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)|
|Pounder, Rafton||Sharples, Richard||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Price, David (Eastleigh)||Silvester, Frederick||Walters, Dennis|
|Prior, J. M. L.||Sinclair, Sir George||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Pym, Francis||Smith, Dudley (W'wick& L'mington)||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Quennell, Miss J. M.||Speed, Keith||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Steel, David (Roxburgh)||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Stodart, Anthony||Wiggin, A. W.|
|Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.||Williams, Donald (Dudley)|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Tapsell, Peter||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Ridsdale, Julian||Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Robson Brown, Sir William||Temple, John M.||Wortley, Marcus|
|Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Wylic, N. R.|
|Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Tilney, John||Younger, Hn. George|
|Royle, Anthony||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Russell, Sir Ronald||van Straubenzee, W. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|St. John-Stevas, Norman||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Mr. Jasper More and Mr. Anthony Grant.|
|Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Scott, Nicholas||Waddington, David|
|Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.|
|The Business having been concluded, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.|
|Adjourned accordingly at ten minutes past One o'clock, p.m.|