Column 1222Shersby, Michael
Skeet, Sir Trevor
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Soames, Hon Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Townend, John (Bridlington)
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Twinn, Dr Ian
Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Waddington, Rt Hon David
Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Winterton, Mrs Ann
Young, Sir George (Acton)
Younger, Rt Hon George
Tellers for the Noes :
Mr. Alastair Goodlad and
Mr. David Lightbown.
Question accordingly negatived.
Mr. Corbyn : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. During the debate that has just ended, the Minister--due either to shortage of time or lack of inclination--was unable to give the House any idea of what is now going to happen in the ambulance dispute, or of whether the intention is to withdraw the troops and negotiate properly with the unions who wish to undertake the emergency services. Is the Minister able to say when the House will be able to return to this important matter so that representatives of the unions concerned--the National Union of Public Employees, the Transport and General Workers Union, the Confederation of Health Service Employees and the General, Municipal, and Allied Trades Boilermakers Union--will be able to put their concerns directly to Ministers?
Several Hon. Members rose --
Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax) : Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I withdrew my name from the list of those who wished to speak in the debate because time was short. However, to elaborate on the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), people could die tonight on the streets of London. The Secretary of State has said nothing whatever about what is going to happen--
[Mr. Harold Walker-- in the Chair. ]
Order read for consideration of Lords amendments.
Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You will no doubt have seen the report in tonight's Evening Standard that several leading persons in the City have been arrested and that one of the companies involved in the conspiracy to contravene section 13 of the Prevention of Fraud (Investments) Act 1958 was the National Westminster bank. Two people, who were respectively chairman and chief executive of County NatWest at the time of the Blue Arrow deal, have also been arrested.
Mr. Cryer : That is the very point that I wish to raise with you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In addition, the current finance director of County NatWest has been charged with conspiracy to defraud. You have raised the very point that I wish to draw to your attention--that as these cases are pending we might come into conflict with the sub judice rule if we were now to consider the International Westminster Bank Bill. In those circumstances, might it not be better to withdraw it? I am also wondering whether the promoters of the Bill have informed you about the newspaper report. As you rightly said, the sub judice rule influences our ability to debate certain parts of the Bill. I should therefore be grateful for your ruling.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : I have received no representations, nor am I aware of the matters to which the hon. Gentleman referred. I do not think that they need impede our consideration of what are, after all, very narrow Lords amendments.
Mr. Michael Welsh (Doncaster, North) : Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. A number of the amendments relate to the bank's directors. Presumably it will be possible for hon. Members to vote against amendments that relate directly to those directors. It is possible that a number of hon. Members on both sides would like to divide the House.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish) : Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I went into the Noes Lobby just before the Division and I could find no order of selection of amendments. Do you intend to take together all the amendments to the International Westminster Bank Bill and to have a separate vote on each of them, or do you intend to take each amendment separately and to have a vote after consideration of each amendment?
Mr. Deputy Speaker : I think that I can deal with both of the points that have been raised by the hon. Members for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) and for Doncaster, North (Mr. Welsh). Our usual practice is to take Lords amendments en bloc, but if hon. Members wish to deal with them separately, the Chair will have to take account
Column 1225of that wish. I would be willing to hear argument as to why particular amendments should be taken separately instead of taking them all en bloc.
Mr. Martin Redmond (Don Valley) : Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was a member of the Committee which considered the Bill. No objections were raised at that time, but subsequently I put my name to the blocking motion. That was because certain matters came to light. The sub judice rule means that it would be extremely difficult to say anything that did not conflict with what the police are saying. As that action has been taken today, would it not be more acceptable if you were to withdraw the Bill and allowed it to be considered on another occasion when the Director of Public Prosecutions might be in a position to bring charges?
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman and the House know that the Lords amendments before us are narrow and do not seem directly connected with the matters alluded to in these points of order. It might make sense to see how we get on. I remind hon. Members that, although the sub judice law does not apply when the House is considering legislation, the debate has to be confined to the narrow terms of the amendments before us.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I agree with the suggestion that we should debate the amendments together, but may we have the opportunity to vote on them separately if that is wished?
Mr. Deputy Speaker : The Chair will certainly be willing to give a sympathetic response to that, subject to the qualification that, when I consider the amendments carefully, some may be linked or hinge on each other and therefore it may not be appropriate to have a separate decision on every one. If it is appropriate and right hon. and hon. Members wish to have a separate Division, they will not find the Chair unresponsive.
Mr. Redmond : Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it possible to obtain a copy of the Lords amendments? I have only received the broad brush version from the parliamentary agents and unfortunately I do not have the amendments. I have been to the Vote Office several times. I am a relatively new Member of the House. Could you tell me whether it is possible to obtain a copy ?
Mr. Deputy Speaker : The hon. Gentleman's feigned naivety shocks the Chair. I understand that copies of the amendments should be available and are available in the Vote Office. I hope that the hon Gentleman will be able to get a copy.
Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We ought to re-examine the County NatWest affair and the arrests that have been made more thoroughly. There are hon. Members in the House who have clear connections with that bank.
Column 1226from the Vote Office. When he looks at them, he will realise that it is hard to see any link between the point which he is trying to raise and the Lords amendments.
Mr. Skinner : Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My point is not about the amendments that have come from the other place, but about the Bill. I am saying that there are so many Tory Members who have direct or indirect interests in the National Westminster bank and County Natwest, including the hon. Member for
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that hon. Members have an obligation to declare their interests. If a question of direct interest arises, doubtless the hon. Members concerned will make their interests known. That does not arise in the Lords amendments before us.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I am not prepared to allow the hon. Gentleman to give a long explanation of how he thinks Blue Arrow may be connected with it. The motion before the House is that we consider the Lords amendments. I beg the hon. Gentleman to obtain a copy of these amendments, then he will understand that it is difficult to link the matter he is trying to raise with the issue before the House.
Mr. Skinner : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Bill is faulty. Today the fraud squad is getting involved with people connected with the higher echelons of that bank, and the Bill was brought to the House by those same people. In view of that fact, I say that the Bill should be abandoned. Let us get rid of it, and bring it back when all this has been settled. Surely that is the point--we are to debate the bank when its top people are up to their necks in it. They have been making money hand over fist with leveraged buy-outs and Conservative Members are involved.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : These are not matters which are admissible in the debate on the Lords amendments. Doubtless right hon. and hon. Members will bear them in mind, but they are not relevant to the debate, or to the decisions which have to be made.