Previous SectionIndexHome Page

9.45 pm

The problem with unrepresentative local government--the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield missed this point--is that the lack of representative government inherent in the first-past-the-post system, combined with low turnout, produces appalling anomalies in local government. In my adult life, I have lived in two local authority areas, both of which illustrate in different ways the problem of the first-past-the-post system creating vast majorities for parties.

I served for some years on Glasgow city council, a privilege that I shared with you, Mr. Martin. Glasgow has many positive things to its credit, but 80 years of virtual one-party rule has hardly helped the city to provide representative and credible government. I now live in another one-party state, although, as it is Liberal Democrat controlled, I think that it is more competent and popular than others. However, it is clearly unrepresentative, and it is unsatisfactory that the borough has had virtually no Labour representation for much of the past two decades. It is unsatisfactory that turnouts of 40 per cent. in local elections, combined with narrow majorities, produce overwhelming results.

The argument applies not only to the assembly but to the formula for electing the mayor. It is not inconceivable that we could get three or four admirable candidates in the mayoral election, who each attract broadly the same number of votes. If the traditional pattern of local government election turnout is reproduced, the mayor could be elected with the support of barely 10 to 15 per cent. of the population. That would be profoundly unsatisfactory.

In considering the options, we must address two issues that were briefly mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes). First, we need geographical balance. It would be appalling if we reproduced the problem that existed throughout the history of the GLC, of an inner London dominated by Labour representatives against suburbs dominated by Conservatives, with the city polarised and resentment about the levels of rates and services. We want a system with better geographical balance.

The second objective is better ethnic balance. Only four of 74 London Members are from ethnic minorities. It is a credit to the Labour party that it has brought us this far forward. We and the Conservatives do not have any. About 16 would be more appropriate, given the ethnic distribution. I am arguing not for politically correct quotas but for a system that allows a choice of candidates.

We have our own formulation--large multi-member constituencies and candidate selection--but that is not the issue. We are not arguing for a particular approach, but for a process that allows consideration of representative government, with large constituencies that allow partnerships and cross-party alliances to develop.

To help the Government, we have chosen in the amendment the language used in the Cook-Maclennan process, through which we are trying achieve at national

24 Nov 1997 : Column 728

level a more representative system of government. That has opened up the possibility of dialogue between our parties on this subject. We are trying to reproduce the same spirit of consensus at London level.

Ms Glenda Jackson: The issues touched on by the hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable) are well known to us. Not only are they part and parcel of the Liberal Democrat ethos, but clearly they are valid in their own right. He presented them clearly and succinctly, and touched on many of the issues raised by his hon. Friend the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes).

Without in any way wishing to discount the argument of the hon. Member for Twickenham, the central point is the legitimacy of the system. Our Green Paper set out a section containing all the issues touched on tonight. We are now saying to the people of London, "We have asked you to consider our proposals. You have responded to us, and we are now in the process of considering your responses." Without genuinely giving those responses the due respect and consideration that they deserve, the legitimacy--which is essential as we move to a modern form of government--would be flawed. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw his amendment.

Mr. Hughes: I wish to press the amendment to a vote.

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The Committee divided: Ayes 33, Noes 298.

Division No. 96
[9.50 pm


Allan, Richard
Ballard, Mrs Jackie
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Cable, Dr Vincent
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Chaytor, David
Chidgey, David
Cotter, Brian
Dafis, Cynog
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Foster, Don (Bath)
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gorrie, Donald
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Kirkwood, Archy
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Öpik, Lembit
Rendel, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Stunell, Andrew
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Tyler, Paul
Wallace, James
Webb, Steve
Willis, Phil

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Adrian Sanders and
Mr. David Heath.


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)
Armstrong, Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Ballard, Mrs Jackie
Barnes, Harry
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Betts, Clive
Boateng, Paul
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Stephen
Caborn, Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Casale, Roger
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Ms Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Fatchett, Derek
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Galbraith, Sam
Galloway, George
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Godsiff, Roger
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Home Robertson, John
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Adam
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kemp, Fraser
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Liddell, Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Lock, David
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McFall, John
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McLeish, Henry
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Peter
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Alan
Miller, Andrew
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N)
Rogers, Allan
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruddock, Ms Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Willis, Phil
Winnick, David
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Jane Kennedy and
Mr. David Jamieson.

Question accordingly negatived.

24 Nov 1997 : Column 730

It being after Ten o'clock, The Chairman left the Chair to report progress and ask leave to sit again.

Committee report progress.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15 (Exempted business),

Question agreed to.

Again considered in Committee.

24 Nov 1997 : Column 731

Amendment proposed: No. 26, in clause 7, page 3, line 31, at end insert--

Next Section

IndexHome Page