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Dr. Fox: The amendment tabled in my name and those of my right hon. and hon. Friends would protect against central belt dominance, which was one of the great themes to emerge during the referendum campaign. Whenever one went outwith the central belt, people had a genuine fear that between Glasgow and Edinburgh the political parties and the cliques that dominated the parties in those areas would have a disproportionate say over what

28 Jan 1998 : Column 455

happened in the Scottish Parliament and over the Scottish agenda. That is not a figment of the imagination of the Conservative party. Other hon. Members have said that there is a genuine fear that the central belt will be unduly dominant.

The Bill already specifies special treatment for Orkney and Shetland. The Western Isles have the smallest electorate in Scotland. In our amendment, we merely extend the principle that they should have separate representation and that the numbers in directly elected Member constituencies in non-central belt areas should be smaller. Anyone who represents a rural constituency will know that there is a great deal more travelling and logistical difficulty in representing a rural seat than in representing an urban seat.

At the moment, many of the electorates in Glasgow and other west of Scotland seats are smaller than some in the highlands of the north-east. For example, Glasgow, Anniesland has an electorate of 52,955 while Inverness, East, Nairn and Lochaber has one of 65,701. Given the huge geographical area that needs to be covered in the latter, it seems only sensible that the electorates in the rural seats should be cut and those in the urban seats increased so that there is some sort of matching between the two.

Mr. Hayes: My hon. Friend is developing an interesting theme. Will he concede that much of the debate in Scotland has not been about isolation from this place and the supremacy of this Parliament, but about the separation of the people and power? It does not matter whether that power is vested in this Parliament or in the central belt. People in rural Scotland would feel just as remote in the exercise of political power if it was dominated by the central belt of Scotland.

Dr. Fox: There is a genuine worry about the exercise of power in the central belt. One of the worries that we dealt with in the previous set of amendments concerned the closed list, which the Minister mentioned in his reply, although, given some of the assurances, I am still not yet convinced that that particular threat has been removed.

However, it is important that the rural-urban split is dealt with early on, because it is extremely important to give confidence to areas outwith the central belt at the outset of the political process. We are seeing in general in the House a growing rural-urban split in our politics. It would be extremely unfortunate if that particular brand of politics, which seems to be seeping into the House and which was well displayed yesterday, was to poison the Scottish Parliament at the outset. Some of the arguments made earlier on that were important.

As the link between Westminster and the Scottish parliamentary seats is broken down under the system proposed by the Liberal Democrats, there would be a reduction in Scottish representation at Westminster, but what would then happen in the Scottish Parliament. Do they propose that even though Scottish representation in this House might fall, as the Government envisage, the number of seats in the Scottish Parliament would remain the same?

28 Jan 1998 : Column 456

Mr. Wallace: That is precisely what would happen, because the rule that there must be no fewer than 71 seats in Scotland would continue to apply when the Boundary Commission addressed the question of seats in the Scottish Parliament.

Dr. Fox: The problem is that the electorate may see that as simply jobs for the boys. When Scotland's representation was being cut at Westminster, why should Scottish taxpayers continue to pay for the same number of people in the Scottish Parliament? If there were less for Scottish Members to do in this House, why should they continue to pay for a vast new bureaucratic army to sit in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh? We could not support the amendment because of that. I understand what the hon. and learned Gentleman is seeking to do in terms of proportionality, but I cannot accept the amendment, because there would be a disproportionate cost later.

I am sorry that the Minister is being pushed on this, but I look forward to his answer. I hope that he will take extremely seriously the point that Liberal Democrat Members and I have made concerning the problems of rural seats and the disparities between the electorates. That problem was mentioned time and again during the referendum and the Government said that they would try to put it right as best they could. I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say.

Mr. McLeish: I shall try briefly to deal with amendments Nos. 113 to 117. The Government are committed to the maintenance of the United Kingdom. We believe that the integrity of the Union will be strengthened by having common constituencies for the Scottish and United Kingdom Parliaments, with the exception of Orkney and Shetland where separate representation in the Scottish Parliament will be guaranteed. The Bill provides that.

I know that the hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) has given considerable thought to the amendments and there are arguments on both sides, but we believe that the Bill strikes the right balance. I am mindful that he might not wish to press the amendments to a vote this evening; if that is the case, we shall have a chance to look further at the arguments involved.

I have listened with care to the arguments advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Davidson) in respect of amendments Nos. 233 and 240, but I cannot accept the amendments. The Government gave a commitment in the White Paper that there should be separate constituency Members for the Orkney islands and the Shetland islands and that the present UK Parliament constituency would be split for that purpose. The Government believe that such representation is important to ensure that the interests of the northern isles are properly reflected in the deliberations of the Scottish Parliament.

That embraces the points made by the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) that rural areas must be properly represented. That is the purpose of the Bill, and we can deliver on those options.

Mr. Davidson: I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

28 Jan 1998 : Column 457

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question put, That this schedule be the First schedule to the Bill:-- The Committee divided: Ayes 341, Noes 73.

Division No. 143
[10 pm


AYES


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Austin, John
Ballard, Mrs Jackie
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
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
Caborn, Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Canavan, Dennis
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chisholm, Malcolm
Church, Ms Judith
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Ms Jean
Cotter, Brian
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
(Copeland)
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Cunningham, Ms Roseanna
(Perth)
Dafis, Cynog
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)
Dawson, Hilton
Denham, John
Dewar, Rt Hon Donald
Dobbin, Jim
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Fatchett, Derek
Fearn, Ronnie
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Flint, Caroline
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Galbraith, Sam
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St Ives)
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Gorrie, Donald
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)
Hanson, David
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Heppell, John
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Home Robertson, John
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Jowell, Ms Tessa
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keetch, Paul
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye)
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kingham, Ms Tess
Kirkwood, Archy
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Leslie, Christopher
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McLeish, Henry
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Peter
Marek, Dr John
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Michael, Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Milburn, Alan
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Norris, Dan
Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pope, Greg
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Purchase, Ken
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Giles
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Rendel, David
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Ms Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salmond, Alex
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Savidge, Malcolm
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stott, Roger
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Swinney, John
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
(Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyler, Paul
Vaz, Keith
Wallace, James
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
Welsh, Andrew
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Willis, Phil
Wills, Michael
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:


Mr. David Jamieson and
Mr. Jon Owen Jones.


NOES


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, James
Beggs, Roy
Blunt, Crispin
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Cash, William
Chope, Christopher
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Day, Stephen
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Evans, Nigel
Fallon, Michael
Flight, Howard
Fox, Dr Liam
Gale, Roger
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Lansley, Andrew
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Norman, Archie
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Prior, David
Randall, John
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thompson, William
Tredinnick, David
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Wardle, Charles
Wells, Bowen
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. Oliver Heald and
Mr. Nigel Waterson.

Question accordingly agreed to.

28 Jan 1998 : Column 460

Schedule 1 agreed to.

It being after Ten o'clock, The Chairman proceeded, pursuant to the Order [13 January] and the Resolution this day, to put forthwith the Questions to be decided at that hour.


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