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Mr. Raynsford: Those matters are dealt with inclause 11, which we are not considering tonight. I shall come to them when we debate clause 11 in Committee,

19 Jan 1999 : Column 809

and will thus avoid being out of order this evening. I shall certainly ensure that the right hon. Gentleman gets a full answer.

Mr. Forth: But not now.

Mr. Raynsford: No; I would give a full answer now were it not out of order to do so.

The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey welcomed the Government's openness to reform. He regretted the lack of a consultative group to consider the electoral system in London, but acknowledged that there had been consultation on the Green Paper. Indeed, I well recall speaking to him during the consultation period when we listened carefully to his views and those of his colleagues. I appreciate his recognition of our decision, following the consultation, to operate a proportional system which should allow proper representation of London's diverse areas and communities. I hope that he will not be too disappointed that we do not accept his amendment, which would take us to the wilder shores of anorakism.

The additional member system will allow a wide range of interests and points of view to be represented. It combines a Londonwide list element, to ensure that the assembly has a strategic citywide focus, with representation from all parts of London. It is likely to deliver broadly proportional outcomes. Of course there can be debates about the intricacies of any electoral system. If the Liberal Democrats had their way, those debates would be interminable. What we are proposing is a balanced system for electing the assembly, which will deliver a body that represents London's interests. I see no reason to change our proposals.

I am not convinced that the Liberal Democrats' plans to replace our proposals for a blend of constituencyand Londonwide representation with multi-member constituencies would be in London's best interest. Under our proposals, all parts of London will be represented in the assembly, working to ensure that a wide range of viewpoints from across London has a chance to be expressed. In addition, we are proposing a Londonwide component for the assembly elections, which is essential if the assembly is to have a strategic, Londonwide perspective.

If we were to adopt multi-member constituencies, the balance would be lost. There would be members for north London and some members from the south-west, but no overall Londonwide dimension. It would be necessary for the Local Government Commission to conduct a review of the constituencies and make further recommendations to the Secretary of State. That would entirely nullify all its work, which has led to the announcement that I made earlier this afternoon about the constituencies that will apply. It would also risk delaying the first GLA elections. We therefore believe that there is no case for reopening the issue.

On the specific proposals for STV and AV, I am unconvinced by the case made out by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey. The main argument advanced in favour of these systems is that they enhance voter choice because voters are able to rank candidates from different parties in order of preference. The AV-plus system was recommended by the Jenkins committee, as the hon. Gentleman mentioned. However,

19 Jan 1999 : Column 810

as he recognised, different systems can be adopted for different bodies. There is no reason why we should adopt the same system for different tiers of government. What Jenkins may believe is right for Westminster, he would not necessarily believe was right for other tiers of government in Scotland, Wales or London. The additional member system will give voters wide choice. A London voter will be able to vote for both a constituency candidate and a party or independent on a Londonwide basis. He or she need not choose the same party in the constituency and on the list; in my view, that represents a real choice.

Moreover, the single transferable vote would inevitably require very large constituencies--with, possibly, a million electors in each one, on the basis of the five constituencies that the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey mentioned, which will not necessarily provide a good and natural area and will not necessarily make it easy for electors to identify with their candidates. If we want to have representatives who are familiar with the area and accessible to the electorate, I am not sure that a constituency with an electorate of a million voters is necessarily the right way to do it.

As my hon. Friends the Members for Battersea and for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty) emphasised, STV may sound nice in the snow-white Liberal presentation, but the reality of STV as practised in certain parts of the world is very different. It may be a recipe for skulduggery and all sorts of malpractice that we do not want introduced into the political system. My hon. Friends the Members for Battersea and for Harrow, East made a forceful case for avoiding anything to do with the STV system.

On the issue of closed lists, I do not accept the argument that parties, rather than voters, will choose the 11 additional members. The order in which candidates appear on the list may well influence the voter's choice of party. Those lists will be accessible to voters in every polling station, and voters will pay attention to the identity of the leading personalities on the list.

The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey has tabled a series of amendments that would alter the method by which list members are elected. If those amendments were passed, voters would vote, not for a party or individual candidate, but for individual candidates on the party list--or, in the case of amendment No. 41, either an individual on the list or the party as a whole. That matter has recently been the subject of a protracted debate in another place, and I do not propose to re-open those arguments in detail today.

I shall conclude by making four key points. First, our proposals for electing the assembly were set out in the White Paper and were well publicised before Londoners went to the polls in the referendum of May 1998. I do not believe that those who argue that the Government's position on this issue is undemocratic are on secure ground.

Secondly, the system that we propose is entirely consistent with legislation recently approved by Parliament for elections to the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. It would be odd if, having so recently agreed a system for those two organisations, we were to announce that we had to change the system because it was unsatisfactory for London.

Thirdly, the charge is often made that closed lists mean that voters can no longer vote for an individual, but, as I have stressed, the list is only one element, and voters in

19 Jan 1999 : Column 811

every part of London will have an individual constituency in which they can vote on a first-past-the-post basis for their representative in that constituency. It is a balanced system, which provides the voter with a high degree of choice, enabling them to vote for both the constituency candidate and the party.

Finally, with the open-list system, which the Liberal Democrats are proposing, there is a real risk that elections would become phenomenally complex and confusing, and we do not intend to have that.

The proposals that the Government have brought before the House are clear and consistent. They will deliver a proportional assembly, which combines a Londonwide perspective with geographical representation from all parts of London. They give voters genuine choice. They are relatively simple for electors and administrators to operate--a significant advantage over some of the alternatives proposed today. With that in mind, I ask the right hon. Member for South-West Norfolk and the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey to withdraw their amendments.

Mr. Simon Hughes: I have quite a few seconds left in which to speak. The Minister is obviously not yet persuaded. We propose a system that produces one type of assembly member; he wants two. We propose a system that has a more representative assembly member; his system has a less representative one. We want open lists; he wants closed lists. We believe that the case is made, and we should like to press amendment No. 19 to the vote. We believe that we are right.

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The Committee divided: Ayes 44, Noes 461.

Division No. 39
[9.59 pm


Allan, Richard
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Breed, Colin
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Chidgey, David
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gorrie, Donald
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye)
Kirkwood, Archy
Livsey, Richard
Llwyd, Elfyn
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Oaten, Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Rendel, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Swinney, John
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Tyler, Paul
Wallace, James
Webb, Steve
Welsh, Andrew
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Willis, Phil

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Andrew Stunell and
Mr. Don Foster.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Armstrong, Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Austin, John
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Beggs, Roy
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Paul
Borrow, David
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brazier, Julian
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Brown, Rt Hon Gordon
(Dunfermline E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burns, Simon
Butler, Mrs Christine
Caborn, Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Canavan, Dennis
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Cash, William
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chisholm, Malcolm
Chope, Christopher
Clapham, Michael
Clappison, James
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Collins, Tim
Colman, Tony
Colvin, Michael
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Corston, Ms Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cran, James
Cranston, Ross
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Day, Stephen
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dewar, Rt Hon Donald
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, Iain
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Etherington, Bill
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fallon, Michael
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flight, Howard
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fyfe, Maria
Galbraith, Sam
Gale, Roger
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Garnier, Edward
Gerrard, Neil
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Gunnell, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Heald, Oliver
Healey, John
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Home Robertson, John
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hunter, Andrew
Hurst, Alan
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jamieson, David
Jenkin, Bernard
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Ms Tessa
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Key, Robert
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kingham, Ms Tess
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Leigh, Edward
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Lidington, David
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Lock, David
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Madel, Sir David
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Malins, Humfrey
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marek, Dr John
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Mates, Michael
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morley, Elliot
Moss, Malcolm
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Nicholls, Patrick
Norman, Archie
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickles, Eric
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prior, David
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Giles
Randall, John
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sayeed, Jonathan
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shipley, Ms Debra
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Snape, Peter
Soames, Nicholas
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Squire, Ms Rachel
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steen, Anthony
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Streeter, Gary
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Rt Hon John D (Strangford)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Townend, John
Trend, Michael
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tyrie, Andrew
Vaz, Keith
Viggers, Peter
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Walter, Robert
Wardle, Charles
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Wicks, Malcolm
Willetts, David
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Wilshire, David
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. David Hanson and
Mr. Kevin Hughes.

Question accordingly negatived.

19 Jan 1999 : Column 815

To report progress and ask leave to sit again.--[Mr. Dowd.]

Committee report progress: to sit again tomorrow.

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