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Mr. Dalyell: If I am no friend of this Bill, I am an enemy of lists--partly for the reasons that were eloquently given in an earlier debate by the hon. Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne).

I must be one of the few who has seen lists in action. It was when I was exiled to the indirectly elected European Parliament and had friends in the Social Democratic party. They were good politicians and good people, but whenever it came to a crunch issue, their judgment was determined by the reaction back home of Herbert Wehner, who was then the all-powerful floor leader of the SDP. I thought that it was absolutely humiliating for Members of the European Parliament to say, as they did, "Yes, we would like to vote one way, but we cannot anger Herbert Wehner." I know why they could not anger him--he was extremely tough. However, he had absolute power as to where individuals would come on the list next time around.

If there is to be a Scottish Parliament--it is possibly water under the bridge now--there should be142 or 143 Members, giving gender balance. There should be two Members in each constituency--taking into account Orkney and Shetland--and we should leave it at that. Lists will create endless difficulty and a lot of rancour.

8 pm

Mr. Gorrie: We have tabled a number of amendments, covering two particular points. First, we propose to make the closed-list system an open-list system. Under the Bill, after putting an "X" for their first-past-the-post constituency Member, the voters would put an "X" against the name of the party they support.

We propose that they should put the name of a candidate of the party that they support on the list. Candidates on that list would be elected in order of the number of votes they received from the electorate. The electorate would choose who got in from the party's list, rather than the party managers. We feel that that would be much more democratic, as a closed list gives too much appearance of manipulation by the party and leads to the sort of thing that the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) mentioned.

Secondly, we should consider having votes at 16, rather than 18. The age of voting has come down, and there was a time when women were considered suitable to vote only at 25. The age was moved to 21, and then to 18. There are some countries whose voting ages are less than 18. There is a greater rapidity of maturity among young people, many of whom show great interest in politics. The decisions of the Parliament will affect them greatly, and we should consider a voting age of 16. There is no doubt that our amendment will not be carried today, but it is a marker and we should pursue that issue. I hope that the Minister will consider both those matters favourably.

Mr. Hayes: The hon. Gentleman's argument about the greater maturity and understanding of young people is

12 May 1998 : Column 230

extremely interesting. Given the different rates at which men and women mature--young women mature much faster than young men--and given the fact that young women do much better academically at a much earlier age, would his party go as far as--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I must point out to the hon. Gentleman that this is a time-limited debate, and we should not go down that route.

Mr. McLeish: Unfortunately, I have one minute to deal with a number of outstanding amendments and I will have to write to individual Members to respond to the debate. I hope that the House will accept that proposition in good faith, rather than having me start and finish in roughly 30 seconds.

Amendment agreed to.

It being three and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on consideration of the Bill, Mr. Deputy Speaker, pursuant to the Order [13 January] and the Resolution [this day], put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour.

Amendment made: No. 27, in page 3, line 13, at end insert


'(but the list may include only one person)'.--[Mr. McLeish.]

Clause 7

Allocation of seats to regional members


Amendment made: No. 28, in page 4, line 29, leave out from 'list' to end of line 30 and insert--
'( ) For the purposes of this section and section 9, a person in a registered political party's regional list who is returned as a member of the Parliament shall be treated as ceasing to be in the list (even if his return is void)'.--[Mr. McLeish.]

Clause 9

Regional vacancies


Amendments made: No. 29, in page 5, line 22, leave out 'was' and insert 'is'.
No. 30, in page 5, line 22, leave out from 'list' to 'and' in line 23.--[Mr. McLeish.]

Clause 11

Power to make provision about elections


Amendments made: No. 31, in page 6, line 16, leave out 'and'.
No. 32, in page 6, line 17, after 'where' insert 'the poll at'.
No. 33, in page 6, line 18, leave out 'countermanded or abandoned' and insert
'abandoned (or notice of it is countermanded)'.
No. 34, in page 6, line 19, at end insert
'and
( ) for modifying section 7(6) to ensure the allocation of the correct number of seats for the region.
( ) The provision that may be made under subsection (1)(c) includes, in particular, provision modifying section 9(4) and (5)'.--[Mr. McLeish.]

Clause 14

12 May 1998 : Column 231

Disqualification from membership of the Parliament


Amendments made: No. 35, in page 7, line 13, leave out 'holds an office' and insert 'is an office-holder'.
No. 36, in page 7, line 15, leave out
'A person who holds an office'
and insert 'An office-holder'.
No. 37, in page 7, line 18, leave out 'that office' and insert 'the office-holder'.
No. 38, in page 7, line 18, at end insert--
'( ) In this section "office-holder" includes employee or other post-holder.'.--[Mr. McLeish.]

Clause 16

Effect of disqualification


Amendment made: No. 128, in page 8, line 6, at end insert--
'( ) Subsection (2) also has effect subject to section 141 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (mental illness) and section 427 of the Insolvency Act 1986 (sequestration etc); and where, in consequence of either of those sections, the seat of a disqualified member of the Parliament is not vacant he shall not cease to be a member of the Parliament until his seat becomes vacant but--
(a) he shall not participate in any proceedings of the Parliament, and
(b) any of his other rights and privileges as a member of the Parliament may be withdrawn by a resolution of the Parliament.'.--[Mr. McLeish.]

Clause 20

Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.

Mr. McLeish: I beg to move amendment No. 39, in page 9, line 18, leave out from first 'the' to end of line 20 and insert


'functions conferred on the corporation by virtue of this Act or any other enactment'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this, it will be convenient to discuss Government amendment No. 49.

Mr. McLeish: The Scottish parliamentary corporate body will oversee the administration of the Parliament. It will have a general duty to provide the Parliament with the property, staff and services it requires and it will have powers to appoint staff, to hold and acquire property on behalf of the Parliament and to enter into contracts, as well as representing it in legal matters. However, the Bill leaves scope for further statutory functions to be conferred on the body in the future both by the Scottish Parliament and by Westminster.

Government amendment No. 39 is of a technical nature which makes it clear that further functions may be conferred on the SPCB only by virtue of an enactment, including Acts of the Scottish Parliament and instruments made under such Acts. This is in keeping with its position as a statutory body. It also leaves it to the Parliament to decide whether it should be possible to confer functions on the body by means of a resolution to make provision in an Act to that effect. This will not, however, affect the statutory functions to be carried out by the SPCB under clause 20(3).

12 May 1998 : Column 232

Government amendment No. 49 is again a technical amendment which is intended to ensure that, in respect of salaries and pensions of Members of the Scottish Parliament and Executive, the Parliament still has the flexibility to make provision simply by conferring appropriate functions on the SPCB by resolution without having to pass an Act of the Scottish Parliament first.

Mr. Dalyell: I am rather curious about this matter. I think I am right in saying that the present Clerk of the House of Commons and the Clerk Assistant were earmarked to go to Edinburgh last time around to form part of the core and basis of those who would work in the Scottish Parliament. If we are to have a Parliament, we will need a lot of people who are extremely skilled in the disciplines of clerkship. These people do not come out of thin air. What is the Government's thinking on the number of Clerks and others with expertise of this House who will have to go to Edinburgh? Last time around, it was the present Clerk and the Clerk Assistant, and doubtless others. These are people of the highest calibre in their professional field. We ought to know the Government's thinking.


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