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7.15 pm

Mr. Andrew Lansley (South Cambridgeshire): I have sat through many of the 34 hours of debate, so hon. Members will not accuse me of coming new to the issue. Three myths are being propagated about this guillotine motion. The first was perpetuated by the hon. Member for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush (Mr. Soley). It is the idea that this is all about a debate between this House and the upper House. It is not; it is a debate on a guillotine motion strictly confined to the question of how much time should be allowed for debate of this Bill in this House before we send it back to another place. It is then for another place to determine how to deal with it in the light of the events of the previous Session.

The second myth is that the Bill had all the attention that it needs during previous debates. Let me instance two respects in which that is not true. Firstly, my right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Cambridgeshire (Sir B. Mawhinney) rightly pointed out that on Second Reading on 25 November 1997, the Home Secretary left his mind open on open and closed lists. Interestingly, it was on 9 March, before Report and Third Reading, that he told the House that he opposed open lists and favoured closed lists; the Committee had concluded its deliberations on 5 March. The Home Secretary came back to the House when only one day's debate was left for open and closed lists.

Although the Committee was able to examine the Bill, it was not examined on the basis of the Home Secretary's final decision on open and closed lists or of his explanation for the decision. Although lists were debated several times in this House, much of the debate was on whether we agreed or disagreed with the Lords in their amendments, not on whether this House wanted to substitute a different form of open list from that chosen in another place.

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

Mr. Lansley: I shall in a moment because the hon. Gentleman understands my point perfectly well. In Committee, the Liberal Democrats proposed a Belgian list system, which the Home Secretary wished to consider. That was not the system sent back to this House by their lordships, which was a perfectly viable alternative open-list system that was not then debated at length in this House.

Mr. Allan: The hon. Gentleman noted our amendment but there was a Committee in the other place in June in which the issue was debated at length. A vote on open

2 Dec 1998 : Column 945

lists was taken and lost. At that point, many sensible hon. Members realised that the decision had been taken and the argument lost.

Mr. Lansley: That is a weak argument with a weak defence. The Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition on the matter has moved to the defence that we do not need to debate it in this House because there was a debate in another place. That will not do. The debate on open lists has still not taken place to a satisfactory extent in this House for the simple reason that we have not had an opportunity to move a series of different amendments. Because of the way in which the debate on the amendments moved by the Lords took place, questions such as those that I raised about the form--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The only hon. Member who has kept to the guillotine motion was the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd). Every other hon. Member has gone on to matters that could easily be brought up on Second Reading. I ask the hon. Gentleman to take a leaf out of the book of the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills.

Mr. Lansley: My purpose is straightforward and I shall be as brief as I can. I want to show that there are valid reasons for allowing greater time for this debate because these matters have not yet been satisfactory debated in this House. I shall not dwell on open and closed lists because I have shown by reference to the timetable so far that debate has not taken place in this House in the open-ended form in which it should have.

The third myth--the Government's third false statement--was the Home Secretary's assertion that we are dealing now with exactly the same Bill. Earlier in the debate, I made the point, which was developed by my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd), that we are not dealing with the Bill that was sent back to the other place with an amendment on reviewing the electoral system. Although I realise that Ministers will say that we are not dealing with that Bill because of the requirements of the Parliament Act 1911, it begs the question--if the Government persist in their intention of using closed lists--in what form should the Bill be sent back to the other place? Should it be sent back specifying closed lists and no review, or with a review? What intentions do the Government have to amend the Bill further in the other place?

I hope to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on Second Reading to elaborate on the point that we are not dealing with exactly the same Bill that we debated for all those hours in the previous Session. Not only have recent events, for example, the European parliamentary by-election in Scotland, suggested a valid need for amendments on by-elections--and we have not debated such amendments--but attached to the Bill is an explanatory memorandum differing from that which applied to the Bill that the House considered in the previous Session.

The Minister will know that, with the enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998, Ministers must now make a statement in a Bill's explanatory memorandum on its compatibility with the European convention on human rights. The Home Secretary made such a statement of compatibility on 26 November--therefore, after the point at which the House could have debated the previous Bill.

2 Dec 1998 : Column 946

The point--which we shall debate subsequently, Mr. Deputy Speaker; I am merely trying to demonstrate that there is a point of real substance--is that article 3 of the first protocol of the European convention on human rights, which was brought into force by the Human Rights Act 1998, states:

so far so good--

    "under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature."

It is entirely debatable whether the Bill is compatible with that convention provision, and whether voters will be able to express an opinion on issues such as the moral stance taken by a party's candidates on issues of conscience or to express freely their opinions on the choice of candidate presented by a party. It is far from demonstrable that the Home Secretary is right on the matter.

After passage of the Human Rights Act 1998, the important issue for the House to decide is whether it is right for us to pass this legislation in the form in which the Government are proposing it. If I catch your eye on Second Reading, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I hope to elaborate on that argument.

In only a few moments, I have demonstrated that--in addition to the amendments that my hon. Friends have tabled, which should be debated, but for which the Government have allowed inadequate time--a range of issues should be addressed.

Question put:--

The House divided: Ayes 347, Noes 124.

Division No. 5
[7.23 pm


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Armstrong, Ms Hilary
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Ashton, Joe
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Jackie
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blizzard, Bob
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
Burstow, Paul
Cable, Dr Vincent
Caborn, Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Canavan, Dennis
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
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)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corston, Ms Jean
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Dafis, Cynog
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Denham, John
Dewar, Rt Hon Donald
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ennis, Jeff
Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Fatchett, Derek
Fearn, Ronnie
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Galloway, George
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St Ives)
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Gorrie, Donald
Graham, Thomas
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Home Robertson, John
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
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)
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, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Mon)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Ms Tessa
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keetch, Paul
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye)
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Kingham, Ms Tess
Kirkwood, Archy
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Livsey, Richard
Llwyd, Elfyn
Love, Andrew
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
McNulty, Tony
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Michael, Alun
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Milburn, Alan
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moore, Michael
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Norris, Dan
Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
O'Neill, Martin
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda
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
Radice, Giles
Rammell, Bill
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Rt Hon George
(Hamilton S)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Sanders, Adrian
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Squire, Ms Rachel
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Swinney, John
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
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)
Tyler, Paul
Wallace, James
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
White, Brian
Wicks, Malcolm
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Willis, Phil
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Kevin Hughes and
Mr. David Jamieson.


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Baldry, Tony
Beggs, Roy
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Brady, Graham
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burns, Simon
Butterfill, John
Cash, William
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Donaldson, Jeffrey
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, Iain
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fallon, Michael
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Horam, John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Malins, Humfrey
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Moss, Malcolm
Nicholls, Patrick
Norman, Archie
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prior, David
Randall, John
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Ruffley, David
St Aubyn, Nick
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Wardle, Charles
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Willetts, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Woodward, Shaun
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Nigel Waterson and
Mr. Stephen Day.

Question accordingly agreed to.

2 Dec 1998 : Column 949


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