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Mr. Simon Hughes: As has been said, we are constitution--making. That is why we are on the Floor of

19 Nov 1997 : Column 382

the House and not upstairs in Committee. It is important to have this debate, although I did not expect a debate about whether we have a pre-legislative or a post- legislative referendum to be quite so extended. If I may make some observations about the style of participation, it is fair to say that the debate has been a little thin on Labour attendance, but equally a little thick on Conservative repetition. Conservative Members took 123 minutes to make two points over and over again.

I share with the Minister and the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) the view that it is a bit rich to hear from Conservative Members that there should be more time for consultation. Anyone who has been involved in local government, let alone the debate about the Greater London council--I served on the Standing Committee that debated the abolition of the GLC and the Inner London education authority--will remember that, first, there was not any real consultation, and secondly, when there was, the Conservative Government paid not a blind bit of notice to what anybody said.

I say seriously to the hon. Member for Brent, East that it would be wonderful if we had, for the first time in my political memory, a Government who, when they consulted, went by the results of the consultation. I do not refer to the issue that we are debating; the Minister knows that I share his view that the overwhelming majority of Londoners are in favour of Londonwide government. However, we are close to having a Government announcement about their views on the London health service. I sincerely hope that they have listened to the responses, that the consultation will mean something and that we do not have, with this Administration, consultation exercises that are then blithely ignored.

The hon. Member for Brent, East made a suggestion that the House will encourage. He said that the former Prime Minister, Mrs. Thatcher, was advised by everyone that she should not abolish the GLC, but she took no notice. It would be great evidence of openness of government if we knew civil service advice before we voted on Government proposals. To take a topical example, I do not think that the chief medical officer is terribly keen on back-tracking on tobacco advertising. If, on government and regional government, we heard civil service advice as well as the Government's view, we would be better informed.

I am looking forward to the document that the Government say they will produce in the spring. I do not know whether we ever get entirely factually neutral documents, but if the Minister seriously wants it to be a neutral as possible, we will happily collaborate and willingly say that, although we may not support all the proposals, they at least honestly represent the Government's view. It is important that electors are not misled and that they are given information.

I was amused by the Conservatives' suggestion that there might be funding for the yes and no campaigns--the Tories have not yet decided whether they will be on the side of the yes or the no vote. Perhaps we will hear tonight whether the Conservatives, having originally been against London government, will now say that they are in favour of some form of London government. The Liberal Democrats may not like the exact proposals, but some democratic London government is better than none, so we will be on the side of the yes vote.

19 Nov 1997 : Column 383

If the one or two London Conservative Members who are present decide to be on the side of the no vote, they will suffer in the ballot box in the local council elections. The prizes may well go to those on the side of the yes vote because it means being in favour of London government. Being in favour of democratic government is positive, whereas being against it is negative.

The hon. Members for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) and for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley)--the Conservative speeches were notable for the number of speakers who are not London Members--suggested that we should have a draft Bill. We are in favour of draft Bills, but I said that if we are to have the White Paper in March, we will not get a draft Bill in March. It will be a service to hon. Members if we can have a draft Bill after 7 May, but before we start the summer recess.

Establishing England's first proper regional government will not be easy, and the Bill creating that government will be long and complicated. As the Minister and colleagues who were Members when we abolished the GLC--under a Tory Administration--will know, there are many difficult issues. It would be helpful if we could first examine draft legislation.

The Minister made two concessions, for which I am grateful. He told us that, this week, we will be able to see the list of respondents. That represents progress. I did not quite understand--perhaps he will tell us--whether the documents or only the list will be placed in the Library this week. Nevertheless, that concession is certainly better than the original date of 1 December, because we will have the documents before the second day of the Bill's consideration in Committee.

Mr. Raynsford: I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that he seeks. The list will be in the Library, and copies of it will be available for inspection in the Department.

Mr. Hughes: That is very welcome. It would have been better to receive the list before today, but I will not be churlish about it. We will have a chance to see the documents before the second day of the Bill's Committee stage. We will at least know who said what, including what the right hon. Member for Beckenham--

Mr. Forth: Bromley and Chislehurst.

Mr. Hughes: Yes--so that we know what the right hon. Member for somewhere near Beckenham submitted.

The Minister said that the Government are now committed to producing the White Paper in the same week as spring begins--spring does not always begin on the same day--which is a firm commitment and represents progress. The Liberal Democrats should have preferred to have two months between the White Paper and the vote, because we think that that would be better. I gather that, by definition, civil servants always say that such matters will take a long time.

The Liberal Democrats take a different view from that of the Conservative party. We are not arguing that it is possible to produce the Bill before we have the referendum--which would slow down the proposals. We do not think that that would be an appropriate sequence of events.

19 Nov 1997 : Column 384

As only a matter of two weeks separates the Government's position from ours, we should move on to other aspects of the Bill. If the House wants to vote, it can do so once; but it will not be detained by a second vote. If you, Mr. Lord, are able and willing to select amendments Nos. 13 and 14, I will not press our amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Amendment proposed: No. 14, in page 1, line 8, after 'prescribe', insert

'(being a date not earlier than one month after the publication of the Government's bill for the establishment of that Authority)'.--[Mr. Ottaway.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The Committee divided: Ayes 118, Noes 339.

Division No. 90
[7.12 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baldry, Tony
Beggs, Roy
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brady, Graham
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Butterfill, John
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Cran, James
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodlad, Rt Hon Sir Alastair
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gray, James
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hayes, John
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Loughton, Tim
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacKay, Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Nicholls, Patrick
Norman, Archie
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Pickles, Eric
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Ruffley, David
St Aubyn, Nick
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Rt Hon John D (Strangford)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Temple-Morris, Peter
Townend, John
Tredinnick, David
Trimble, David
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Wells, Bowen
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Oliver Heald and
Mr. Stephen Day.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Mrs Jackie
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F
Bermingham, Gerald
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Boateng, Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Breed, Colin
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Stephen
Cable, Dr Vincent
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Canavan, Dennis
Caplin, Ivor
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chidgey, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Church, Ms Judith
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Connarty, Michael
Corbett, Robin
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Ms Jean
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dewar, Rt Hon Donald
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Fyfe, Maria
Galbraith, Sam
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Norman A
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Gorrie, Donald
Grant, Bernie
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hancock, Mike
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Harris, Dr Evan
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hoey, Kate
Home Robertson, John
Hood, Jimmy
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Keetch, Paul
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kirkwood, Archy
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
Mackinlay, Andrew
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
McNamara, Kevin
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Marek, Dr John
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Milburn, Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moore, Michael
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Ms Joyce
Radice, Giles
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Rendel, David
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Ms Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Tipping, Paddy
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyler, Paul
Vis, Dr Rudi
Wallace, James
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Willis, Phil
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. John McFall and
Mr. Jon Owen Jones.

Question accordingly negatived.

19 Nov 1997 : Column 387

Mr. Simon Hughes: I beg to move amendment No. 3, in clause 1, page 1, line 9, leave out from 'Authority' to end of line 10.

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