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the Committee, he must know that it is one that cannot be sustained publicly. He has not advanced any such argument at the Dispatch Box. He merely moved the motion. He did not deal with the issue of membership. Will he deal with it when he replies ? If he cannot deal with it in a way which justifies the Committee's membership, does that mean that Members will have to withdraw ? The only way to ensure that the Committee has credibility in the future is either to withdraw the motion or for Conservative Members to enter the Opposition Lobby this evening and vote against the motion. As it stands, it is nonsense.

7.55 pm

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Eltham) : I shall make some complaints in my relatively short contribution to the debate. First, I believe that there is an organisation which gets sponsored Members to meet, who exclude one Member at least who is fully qualified to join the meeting. These are the meetings of the sponsored Members of the Transport and General Workers union. A significant number of Members--they are all Opposition Members-- get cash for votes. They have their election expenses paid so that they can get into the House. I do not know how anyone can say that that is not a personal benefit because getting into the House is one of the greatest honours for any citizen of the United Kingdom.

The group of TGWU Members excludes a member of that union who entered the House without cash for votes. I put it to you, Madam Speaker, that you should refer to the Committee of Privileges the issue that any group which sponsors individuals to be elected to the House should give consideration to accepting people who have no disqualification.

I oppose the amendment of the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin), and I shall explain why. If one in three Opposition Members is sponsored--I think that virtually all members of the Opposition Front Bench are sponsored--we are beginning to see organisations buying people of influence, in so far as being on the Opposition Front Bench is a position of influence. I hope that the Committee of Privileges, with the membership proposed in the amended motion moved by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, will take account of the broader issues, which include cash for votes.

Mrs. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) : Does the hon. Gentleman pay the political levy as a member of the Transport and General Workers Union ?

Mr. Bottomley : Of course I do not. If I did, I would be qualified to vote for the Labour party leadership.

Madam Speaker : Order. I am sure that the hon. Member will now refer to the motion and deal with the names set out within it.

Mr. Bottomley : If you had asked me, Madam Speaker, whether I was qualified to vote as a member of the Co-op, I would have said yes. I am inclined to opt out of that as well. In fact, I did not vote. I want to know whether an Opposition Member--not only those who have spoken so far-- could have stood for Parliament without being a member of a trade union. Which Opposition Member now in the Chamber could have stood for election to this place, under Labour party rules, without being a member of a trade union ?

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Madam Speaker : Order. The hon. Member's argument hardly refers to the motion. He is a good debater, and I hope that he will follow the rules of the House and return to the motion.

Mr. Bottomley : The relevant rules require that, if someone is eligible to be a member of a trade union, he or she has to be a member to stand as a Labour candidate. If Opposition Members do not know that, they have not read Labour party rules.

If the House takes the view of the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell -Savours)-- [Interruption.] If the hon. Gentleman continues to interrupt, he will demonstrate that he feels that he is on dodgier ground now than when he was speaking. He spent 20 minutes saying, in effect, that if one Member was in a family who imported ormolu clocks from Italy and another was involved in a family wine business, if the one in the clock business gave up his interest in the business he would be qualified for membership of the Committee of Privileges, but the Member involved with the family wine business would be disqualified if he chose to continue to be so involved.

Let us say that the family who imported ormolu clocks sold the business and received £1 million for it, and had £100,000 coming in for doing nothing--that might be the Labour point of view--while the family with the wine business continued to trade. Would the continuation of the wine business disqualify the Member who was connected with it ? I disagree with that.

The biggest disqualification of the Committee of Privileges is to have on it people who can be told what to do by the Whips. Those who cannot be told what to do by the Whips are the chairman of the parliamentary Labour party, as he is elected by his fellows, and the chairman of the 1922 Committee.

As a Labour Member, the hon. Member for Sunderland, South, has decided to substitute his judgment for that of Tory Back-Bench Members who elected my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Sir M. Fox) to be chairman of the 1922 Committee. Had my hon. Friend continued as chairman of the 1922 Committee, the hon. Member for Sunderland, South would no doubt have objected to him. Had I become chairman of the 1922 Committee--I am not volunteering for the job--he probably would have objected to me as well. It is far better to say that, if the customary practice is to appoint the leaders of Back-Bench Members, it is not for Opposition Members to object. The kernel of the speech of the hon. Member for Workington was that people who earn money outside--directors, advisers and

consultants--should be disqualified. [Hon. Members :-- "That is not what he said."] The essence of his point was that hon. Members should withdraw from the Committee of Privileges in certain circumstances. If I have misdescribed what he said, he should let me know now ; if he remains in his place I shall presume that I am correct.

Mr. Flynn : Will the hon. Gentleman give way ?

Mr. Bottomley : I shall give way, but I am not sure whether it is worth doing so.

Mr. Flynn : The hon. Gentleman may be surprised to find that it is educational to give way. The point that the Opposition are making is that money that comes into hon. Members' pockets for their parliamentary work and actions that they take within the House should be stopped.

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The hon. Gentleman is making a fair point-- that no Opposition Member should receive money directly from a trade union. The Register of Members' Interests, however, shows that 14 per cent. of Labour Members receive money directly from outside--from trade unions or consultancies--and 85 per cent. of eligible Conservative Members receive money from outside. The Committee should consist of Members who receive no money directly from outside for their parliamentary work.

Mr. Bottomley : The hon. Gentleman cannot have been paying much attention during the past Parliament. The Labour party's health spokesman is sponsored by a health union and its transport spokesman is sponsored by a transport union. I hope that the Committee of Privileges will decide that this is the last Parliament in which that will occur. Why cannot Opposition Front-Bench Members give up their cash for votes and their union sponsorship while they are on the Front Bench ? That is a challenge to them. Can they not get elected without the money ?

They say that it is of no personal benefit. Why will they not say, "I will not take the money while I am a Front-Bench spokesperson" ? If they intend to stand for the shadow Cabinet, they should give up the sponsorship. They may then be admitted to the Committee of Privileges in accordance with the prejudices of the hon. Member for Workington.

The critical issue is the fact that the Committee must produce a report on the newspaper aspect. I hope that the House will reject the amendment and accept the motion. I also hope that the Committee will produce a separate report on the newspaper aspect rather than an omnibus report dealing with membership, with the general circumstances to which you, Madam Speaker, referred, and with the newspaper aspect. I would like the chance to give evidence to say that Members who are appointed should take this final test : they should do only those things that they are willing to tell their local newspaper. If they are willing to say it, they can do it : they will then be in the clear.

8.3 pm

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan) : I support the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin), but I start on a point of disagreement. He said that no hon. Member had a vested interest in seeing the House brought into disrepute. I declare that I have an interest in seeing the House brought into disrepute. I spend a great deal of my political time trying to ensure that the House of Commons is brought into disrepute with the Scottish people. My modest efforts in that direction are often overtaken by Conservative Members who inadvertently do more damage to the House than I have yet been able to do.

Mr. Bill Walker : Will the hon. Gentleman give way ?

Mr. Salmond : I may give way to the hon. Gentleman later, if he will contain himself for a few moments.

I shall make three simple points about this motion, but I shall be happy if the House, in its wisdom, ignores my advice entirely because the Scottish people will then continue to hold it in ill repute. First, the right hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones), who has left our proceedings for the time being, said that he wanted the Committee to draw up a code

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of practice to include a full cross-section of the House, reflecting all its interests, activities and foibles. That is fundamentally incorrect.

If people with consultancies, whose parliamentary activities may be influenced by remuneration from elsewhere, want to justify their case to the Committee, they should do so to people without consultancies. With respect to what the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) said, the same should apply to trade union sponsorship of constituency parties. If that issue is considered by the Committee, it should be justified to a Committee whose members are not in the same position.

My second point refers to the two or more hon. Members whose cases the Committee may consider. How could a Committee report be credible if the Committee is stuffed full of hon. Members with consultancies, or Members whom the press could accuse of having a vested interest ? If any hon. Member believes that a Committee report of that composition would be credible, whether or not they read Sun editorials, he or she must be blind, deaf and pretty dumb. To believe that would seriously underrate the anxiety and contempt illustrated by the public's reaction to the events of the past few days. It is a simple point of logic that, if hon. Members want the Committee report to be credible, it should not be vulnerable to the attacks that we have already seen in the papers.

Mr. Bill Walker : Will the hon. Gentleman give way ?

Mr. Salmond : I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman. My third point is simple, and refers specifically to the right hon. Member for Shipley (Sir M. Fox) and the subject of the amendment. I have heard the right hon. Gentleman described as the shop steward of Tory Back-Bench Members. I do not know whether it was his own description or one foisted on him. If the right hon. Gentleman is a shop steward, one would expect him, as in an industrial tribunal, to appear before the Committee for the defence rather than to be on the Committee.

I hope that the House continues to ignore those three simple points, and thus continues to be held in large-scale disrepute by the Scottish people. None the less, I suggest that the House pays attention to the amendment.

8.7 pm

Mr. Andrew Rowe (Mid-Kent) : Two assumptions underlie the amendment : first, that the only vested interest that matters is financial ; and, secondly, that it is impossible for hon. Members, no matter how experienced, honest or sincere, to suspend their personal judgment while considering a matter of national importance or significance to the House.

It is perfectly clear that some hon. Members have a passionate commitment to certain causes. In the view of most of us, those causes frequently blind their judgment when they consider important matters, whether they are deeply committed to a faith, have had an experience that has coloured their judgment, or are under pressure from relations or friends.

Let us take a hypothetical example. If a Member of the House who is either still a member of a firm of solicitors, or has been for many years a solicitor, speaks about legal

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aid, how do we know whether he is speaking about legal aid objectively, or whether his judgment is coloured by his experience ? It is, of course, impossible to know.

The reason why I believe that the House should be wary about trying to go down a path that, in effect, attempts to make people either saints or a type of eunuch, is that I believe that people want from the House the wide range of aspirations, beliefs, prejudices and occupations that they can find outside. It is a criticism of the House that, on the whole, the range of occupations in it is too narrow, and it is a great mistake for the House to go too far down the road of trying to define precisely what is and is not an interest that should be taken into account.

Secondly, I believe that it is common to hon. Members on both sides of the House that, when considering a matter, they suspend their personal view. How many Members of the House, for example, have been visited in their surgeries by people who, in their view, are despicable--unattractive, unpleasant people, with a cause to pursue of which they disapprove ? However, because, at some point in the game, those people have been subjected to injustice by the system, it is our duty and our privilege, and indeed our job, to try to ensure that, at least in that narrow respect, their injustice is rectified. The capacity to suspend one's personal view is therefore an integral part of being a Member of Parliament. I accept that some hon. Members have enormous difficulty in doing so, but, on the whole, the longer one spends in this place, the better one becomes at separating one's personal interests and the objective principle. I believe that hon. and right hon. Members of the seniority of those who have been proposed for the Committee, including my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Sir M. Fox), have arrived at a point where their objectivity can be relied on. If the sceptics on the Opposition Benches care to reflect, they will see that no circumstance is more likely to reinforce their capacity to be objective than the fact that they are under such intense scrutiny, and that their interests have been so widely declared and canvassed. For those reasons, I would reject the amendment.

8.12 pm

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South) : I have to declare a non- interest, in being a member of a trade union that is not affiliated to the Labour party, and I am not sponsored by any union. The hon. Member for Mid- Kent (Mr. Rowe) is right, up to a point. One of the qualities that Members of Parliament should have is that of being able to distinguish matters in which they might have a self-interest from those that affect the interests of their constituents. Madam Speaker, you have asked us to view this matter in relation to the names on a list before us. I hope that what I say is in order, because I shall ask the questions that my constituents will ask about that list--the questions that they have a right to ask--and about the criteria that should be applied to Members who are on it, or perhaps not on it. I hope that that brings all that I have to say into order.

The public outside, and indeed even the scribes, may have misunderstood that the matter before us is one of privilege. It is a question whether anything is being done that interferes with the proper privileges of the House to do its work, and a question of protecting the public and our citizens. That is, as I understand it, what privilege is about.

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It so happens that we have not had a matter of privilege in the current Parliament, and the customary procedures for appointing a Committee on Privileges have been followed through, even though the specific matter that has now been referred to it is unusual. My first argument, therefore, is that we have, in a sense, a difficulty in our procedures, because, when we look at the list, we are not specifically referring to the problem before us, which has arisen from the behaviour of two Members, but appointing a Committee to defend the privileges of the House, which intrinsically are the privileges of the public.

My second argument is that the problem is not new. In the late 1960s, a Member of the House was referred to the Privileges Committee, or another Committee that was set up, because he was involved in a foreign Government. That Committee, under the chairmanship of the then right hon. George Strauss, reported on remuneration for services arising directly out of membership of the House.

Two broad solutions were canvassed ; that there should be a register--which there was not then--and that there should be a code of conduct. The Strauss Committee came down on the side of a code of conduct, because it was felt at that time that the introduction of a register might not only be a safeguard, but be used as a means of license. Some people may feel that that may be occurring. I shall read part of the conclusions of the Strauss Committee, HC.57 69/70. The Committee advocated a code of conduct, and the second paragraph was as follows :

"That it is contrary to the usage and derogatory to the dignity of the House that a Member should bring forward by speech or question, or advocate in this House or among his fellow Members any bill, motion, matter or cause for a fee, payment, retainer or reward, direct or indirect, which he has received, is receiving or expects to receive (paragraph 110)."

That was not adopted.

It so happened that, after other problems in the early 1970s, the solution of a register was adopted. I confess that, as an advocate of that, I may have been a little too trusting in what the hon. Member for Mid-Kent properly pointed out, because I regarded a register as protection for Members, such as solicitors, who perhaps ought to be in a difficult position, and as a warning fence, so that, if that fence was transgressed, it would be visible.

Perhaps it might have been wiser to have a code of conduct. I believe that my constituents, looking at the list, would apply the Strauss Committee's criterion, and if they did so, the list would be considered unsatisfactory in many respects.

8.17 pm

Mr. Rupert Allason (Torbay) : In my judgment, the names on the Order Paper should be trusted to uphold the traditions of the conventions of the House. There is great anxiety outside the House about the events of the past couple of weeks.

Before I go any further, I should declare that, as well as having been a journalist in the past, I have no outside consultancies or sponsorships, and I am no longer a member of the National Union of Journalists, but I am a director of my own small publishing business, which helps to publish my own books.

There is anxiety outside the House about the conduct of hon. Members, and I think that it is up to the Committee to decide exactly what took place, and whether the conduct of those Members is as reported by the press.

In your wisdom, Madam Speaker, you decided, when you announced your decision, to ensure that the Committee

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would not be a hanging committee to sit in judgment on those individuals, but that you would take the issue as a much wider one, and examine the conduct of the newspaper involved. Only some of the transcripts have been published so far. There is considerable disquiet outside the House

Madam Speaker : Order. I take it that the hon. Gentleman is just getting into his stride, but I think that he has had long enough to do that. He must speak to the motion, which is very narrow. I hope that the hon. Gentleman has the Order Paper with him. The motion relates to the names of the members of the Committee. All we are debating tonight is whether those names are acceptable to the House or whether we should accept the amendment. That is the narrow motion.

Mr. Allason : I fully accept your guidance, Madam Speaker, as always.

I shall say a word in defence of my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Sir M. Fox), whose name has been somewhat traduced during the past few minutes of debate. As a Back Bencher, I can say that he is a doughty defender of Back Benchers' rights, and is widely respected on both sides of the House. Furthermore, he is no lackey of the Whips, and would be no part of a stitch -up by the Government Whips to whitewash this event.

There is grave disquiet about what has taken place, and it extends to members of the press, who are also extremely worried by the events of the past few weeks. I was trained as a journalist by, among others, Desmond Wilcox, and I worked with journalists like Barrie Penrose and Simon Freeman. We worked on exposing Whitehall cover-ups. If I have a criticism of the names on the Order Paper, it is that there is no journalist on the list. If there were, it would provide an opportunity to examine the conduct of the journalists who participated in the exercise. Maurice Chittenden, a former member of the staff of the News of the World , is the "Insight" editor of The Sunday Times . His role in the affair will have to be examined. Everyone in the House would agree that if, as claimed, six months ago an individual complained that he had been asked for a sum of money in return for a question, that would be a serious matter. Whether it is right that that occurred remains to be seen. If the list on the Order Paper included a journalist, it would be possible to examine the standards of journalism that The Sunday Times has exercised.

Dr. Spink : Does my hon. Friend agree that the members of the Committee would be well advised to consider the specific events first, and leave the general policy until later, because general policy made in the heat of specific events often turns out

Madam Speaker : Order. The House is not giving guidance to the Committee, but discussing the make-up of the Committee.

Mr. Allason : The make-up of the Committee would be strengthened if it included a journalist, particularly somebody with access to Fleet street. I believe that, far from there having been research into a complaint that occurred six months ago, an investigation was conducted by The Sunday Times in a short time because Roger Cook's programme on Ian Greer Associates could not be shown. If

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the list on the Order Paper were properly to reflect the desire of the House to get to the bottom of all the events, there should be an opportunity to cast wider than the list.

The House has an important responsibility this evening. It has to protect its rights and privileges. It also has to ensure that its integrity is retained, and that there is confidence outside the House, not just in hon. Members on both sides, but also in the membership of the Committee. I believe that the Committee, as described on the Order Paper, will command that confidence.

I also believe that, if the report is published and if it is to gain widespread respect, it will certainly have to examine the conduct of The Sunday Times and its journalists with the same determination as it examines the conduct of the two hon. Members whose reputations have been so traduced.

8.25 pm

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) : I had better declare my interest from the start. I am sponsored by the National Union of Mineworkers. In fact, the Bolsover constituency was sponsored long before I came to this place. It should be put on record that in many cases, but not all, sponsored Members of Parliament inherit sponsored seats. I do not agree with the National Union of Mineworkers on occasion, and I vote against it in the House. Not long ago, Arthur Scargill said that the union was in favour of proportional representation. I said that I was not on board and I fought in the union to change the policy--and succeeded. When Jo Gormley got the National Union of Mineworkers to accept a pay policy under the Labour Government in 1974 and 1979, I told him to get stuffed and said I would not support a pay policy. He said that I would be de-sponsored if I carried on. I told him to get on with it. We must set the record straight about where some of us stand on this issue.

Way back in the 1970s, when the Maudling case and the Poulson scandal took place, we set up a Committee the same as the one proposed today, and had a debate about setting it up. It was set up with Members who belonged to the gentlemen's club--there were moonlighters and consultants. Some of them were from the Labour party, but the gentlemen's club decided that those involved should not be touched, even though councillors went to goal for lesser offences in the Poulson scandal.

We can hardly get anybody from the House of Commons to judge what the two hon. Members or others have been doing when relationships have been set up- -relationships where some people belong to one party and some to another. Those with consultancies could hardly decide that those two hon. Members should be condemned, for the good reason that they are probably tabling questions by the barrel-load all the time, and nobody knows how much they are being paid for that. It would be difficult for a Committee of the House of Commons to judge those two hon. Members. If a public inquiry can be set up to examine the conduct of Ministers in relation to the Scott inquiry, we should do the same on this occasion. It is not possible to have people in this cosy little place judging members of the same club. Although I shall vote for the amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin) with alacrity, and vote against the setting up of the

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Committee, I do not think that that is satisfactory. We complain all the time about the police examining complaints about the police. We complain about all the organisations that examine their own affairs--we say that of Lloyd's and the City of London. Surely it would be wrong to agree to set up a Committee of Members of Parliament--irrespective of where they stand, although many of them are right hon. Members--to look into the conduct of other Members of Parliament.

I am not arguing merely because of the money aspect--people form relationships one with another that might have nothing to do with money. During the Maudling case, people said that some Labour Members might vote to kick Maudling out of Parliament--not many of us did : I think it was about 20--but might vote to keep Albert Roberts, as he was sponsored by the NUM. Of course I did not, but that is what happens in this place.

That is why it is important to tell the public that it is not satisfactory to have Marcus Fox or anyone with consultancies on the Committee so that it is overwhelmed by directorships. However we frame it, if we here are to judge two other Members of Parliament, the result is bound to be tainted.

My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) is right to campaign to improve the Register and reduce payments, but I am clear that we cannot satisfactorily deal with the issue by setting up a Committee of Members of Parliament to judge other Members of Parliament. That Committee will not come up with the correct answer to satisfy the public.

8.29 pm

Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North) : The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) has demonstrated clearly and convincingly that he will do in this House what he believes to be right. I wonder why he is not willing to give the same credit to other hon. Members.

I oppose the amendment because, if I correctly understood the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin), and those speaking in support of it, they were basically saying that a Member could not sit on the Committee if he had an outside interest that arose directly from his membership of this House.

I find it astonishing that those hon. Members could even make such comments, when everyone knows that numerous hon. Members write articles in favour of specific matters or in support of special interest groups. Hon. Members regularly write columns in national newspapers, and they are well paid for doing so. To try to convince me and others that that work is not a direct result of their membership of this House is incredible nonsense. The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) regularly writes vitriolic columns--I am sure that he is well paid for it--trying to denigrate this Parliament. He acknowledged that work, but he failed to acknowledge the fact that he is probably well paid for it.

I have never understood why, if someone is a company director for 20 or 30 years before he comes to this place, somehow, the minute that he enters the House, it is wrong for him to continue being a director. That is nonsense. It is no more wrong to continue being a director than it is to continue being a lawyer, a teacher, an economist or someone writing lengthy articles.

The plain truth is that we bring to the House all our different experiences, all of which are valuable. The

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members of the Committee should reflect that experience so that they can make their judgment on hon. Members knowing all the aspects of being a Member of the House.

8.31 pm

Mr. Nicholas Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne, East) : When the issue first came to the attention of the House, we had to decide three things-- should there be an inquiry, how wide should it be and who should conduct it ? It is the Labour party's long-established view that there should be a wide inquiry, and that it should be conducted by the House rather than being an internal inquiry by the Conservative party. Following the passing of last Wednesday's motion, that is also the view of the House. The issue we have to decide now is who should conduct that inquiry.

I was very keen--my motion on Wednesday reflected this--that the House should look not just at the serious issues dealt with in the article in The Sunday Times , but at the wider issues that arise from the article and from your statement a week last Tuesday, Madam Speaker. The Committee will examine issues such as the complaint raised more recently about the way in which our banqueting facilities are booked by those who have interests in public affairs companies-- [Interruption.] The matter is relevant, as I shall show later. We are considering, as the public would expect us to do, not just how to make progress, but who should serve on the Committee. The public expect us to get on with that, and to do so with integrity. If someone has a long-standing involvement with a public affairs company-- perhaps even one that regularly books the banqueting facilities--it would be difficult for him to consider with an open mind the rights and wrongs of providing the facilities of this place for what are essentially Conservative and business interests. I do not believe that the public expect hon. Members with extensive business interests to be judge in their own cause.

That point was very well made in the debate last Wednesday. My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) intervened on me while I was speaking to my motion in as neutral a way as I could. I responded by saying that I thought that the point he had made had been taken on board by both sides of the House. That was my understanding at the time. I must tell my hon. Friend that, as the person who moved that motion, I have taken no part and have had no involvement in even the selection of names from the Labour party, let alone the selection of names from the Conservative party. The issue that arises not just for the Labour party but for the Conservative party is to consider carefully who is to be appointed to the Committee. I have every confidence in the nominations from the Labour party. We have taken great care to nominate Members whom we believe the public will judge to be well qualified to serve, and who will be acceptable to the whole House. I have to say--this will not be popular with some of my hon. Friends--that it is not for us to choose the Conservative party nominees. We cannot pick each other's sides. Certainly we would not allow the Conservative party to say who the Labour nominees should be.

However, my saying that does not relieve the Conservative party of the obligation to behave in the way the public expect, which is exactly the way that the Labour party has behaved. It is important for the reputation of the

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House that the whole Committee is free of the charge of conflict of interests. The ultimate judge will be the public verdict on the Committee's report. Anything less than the most vigorous inquiry and review, untainted by any special pleading, will be very injurious to the reputation of the House.

8.36 pm

Mr. Newton : You, Madam Speaker, may appreciate that I find myself in a position which, if not unique, is certainly unprecedented for almost a quarter of a century. I am responding to a debate on the establishment of a Committee of Privileges, and I am advised that it is the first time since 1970 that a motion on the membership of such a Committee has not been put and accepted forthwith.

That did not happen last night. I make no complaint about that ; I am simply making the point that it is unusual for the House not to accept a motion along the lines of that tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Knight) and instead to want to debate the merits of the names contained in the motion.

Another reason that I make that point is that there is an added difficulty for me. For reasons of convention, which the House understands, the motion is not in my name--although it is appropriate that I should speak to it-- but in fact contains my name. I shall be a member of the Committee if the House accepts the motion, and even if it were instead to accept the amendment, because no one has been unkind enough to try to remove me from the Committee.

I echo a remark made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones) about the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) : "Although I sometimes find him tiresome, I have a very considerable respect for him." The hon. Gentleman put to me a considerable number of questions to which I suspect he knows I cannot properly respond tonight, for the reasons that I have given. Not only am I proposed as a member of the Committee, but if the normal conventions of such Committees are followed, I shall be its Chairman.

Virtually every comment that has been put tonight and the specific questions raised seem to ask me to prejudge either the view that the Committee should take of its remit, the way in which it should work, or even, to a degree, the conclusions that it should reach. I simply do not think that it would be proper for me to attempt to respond to that against the background that I have described.

I simply wish to repeat what I said at the outset--that in my judgment the nominations reflect the established and accepted precedents, including the membership of both the chairman of the parliamentary Labour party and the chairman of the 1922 Committee. I believe that the proposed Committee--very much including my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Sir M. Fox)--is one in which the House can have confidence in the discharge of the responsibility that it has laid on it. I therefore hope that the House will reject the amendment, and accept the motion as tabled.

Amendment proposed to the proposed motion, To leave out "Sir Marcus Fox".-- [ Mr. Mullin. ]

Question put :

The House divided : Ayes 43, Noes 158.

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Division No. 302] [8.40 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane

Barnes, Harry

Benn, Rt Hon Tony

Byers, Stephen

Callaghan, Jim

Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)

Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)

Campbell-Savours, D. N.

Chisholm, Malcolm

Clapham, Michael

Clwyd, Mrs Ann

Corston, Ms Jean

Cox, Tom

Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)

Dafis, Cynog

Dalyell, Tam

Eastham, Ken

Etherington, Bill

Faulds, Andrew

Hain, Peter

Hanson, David

Hardy, Peter

Home Robertson, John

Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)

Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)

McAvoy, Thomas

MacShane, Denis

Mahon, Alice

Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)

Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)

Morley, Elliot

Mullin, Chris

O'Hara, Edward

Powell, Ray (Ogmore)

Primarolo, Dawn

Salmond, Alex

Simpson, Alan

Skinner, Dennis

Spearing, Nigel

Wigley, Dafydd

Winnick, David

Wise, Audrey

Wright, Dr Tony

Tellers for the Ayes :

Mr. Paul Flynn and

Mr. Eddie Loyden.


Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)

Allason, Rupert (Torbay)

Alton, David

Amess, David

Arbuthnot, James

Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)

Ashby, David

Aspinwall, Jack

Atkins, Robert

Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)

Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North)

Baldry, Tony

Banks, Matthew (Southport)

Bates, Michael

Batiste, Spencer

Beresford, Sir Paul

Blackburn, Dr John G.

Booth, Hartley

Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)

Bowis, John

Brandreth, Gyles

Brazier, Julian

Bright, Graham

Brooke, Rt Hon Peter

Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)

Browning, Mrs. Angela

Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)

Burt, Alistair

Butterfill, John

Carrington, Matthew

Cash, William

Chapman, Sydney

Clappison, James

Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coe, Sebastian

Conway, Derek

Coombs, Simon (Swindon)

Cope, Rt Hon Sir John

Cormack, Patrick

Davies, Quentin (Stamford)

Davis, David (Boothferry)

Dicks, Terry

Dover, Den

Duncan, Alan

Duncan-Smith, Iain

Dunn, Bob

Durant, Sir Anthony

Dykes, Hugh

Elletson, Harold

Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)

Fabricant, Michael

Fenner, Dame Peggy

Forman, Nigel

Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)

Forth, Eric

Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)

French, Douglas

Fry, Sir Peter

Gallie, Phil

Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan

Gillan, Cheryl

Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles

Gorst, Sir John

Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)

Greenway, John (Ryedale)

Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)

Hague, William

Hampson, Dr Keith

Harris, David

Hawkins, Nick

Hawksley, Warren

Hendry, Charles

Hill, James (Southampton Test)

Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)

Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)

Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)

Hunter, Andrew

Jack, Michael

Jackson, Robert (Wantage)

Jenkin, Bernard

Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)

Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)

Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)

Kilfedder, Sir James

Kirkhope, Timothy

Knight, Greg (Derby N)

Kynoch, George (Kincardine)

Legg, Barry

Lidington, David

Lightbown, David

Lord, Michael

Luff, Peter

McLoughlin, Patrick

Maitland, Lady Olga

Malone, Gerald

Mans, Keith

Marshall, John (Hendon S)

Martin, David (Portsmouth S)

Mates, Michael

Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick

Merchant, Piers

Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)

Monro, Sir Hector

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