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The First Deputy Chairman: Order. We cannot go into freedom of information on these amendments.

Mr. Evans: We all accept that 59 per cent. of the House of Lords is hereditary. The Government's rate of peerage creation has been higher than any since 1958, but I fully accept that they are trying to increase the number of peers representing the governing party in the upper Chamber. They have created 105, including the four Law Lords, since the Prime Minister took office.

Of the peers under 39, only two are there by appointment, so 36 are there by succession. We have always argued that it is good to get youth in Parliament and give young people the opportunity to have their say. That is one argument in favour of succession. [Laughter.] Hon. Members mock, but hereditary peerages are one way in which young people can get a say about the governance of this country. [Laughter.] It is amazing that Labour Members can dispute the fact that 36 of the 38 peers under 39 are there by succession.

Mr. Garnier: Would it not be easier to accept the mockery of Government Back Benchers if they had taken the time and trouble to contribute to the debate? I think I am right in saying that only two Labour Back Benchers have spoken this evening, but they now come in giggling and smirking, as though their giggles and smirks were of some intellectual value.

Mr. Evans: My hon. and learned Friend is absolutely right. We know that the Government are not prepared to accept facts.

The amendment would allow the Government to have the benefit of the current wealth of experience--I hope that Labour Members do not dispute the fact that such experience exists in the upper Chamber--without having to whinge constantly about being voted down. The amendment is designed to retain the voice, not the vote. We seek the quality of peers' minds, not the quantity of their votes.

What are the Government worried about? Successive Prime Ministers have used patronage to put people of experience from the House of Commons into the House of Lords to carry on with their role of scrutinising legislation. David Steel, Margaret Thatcher and other politicians have made that transition and, as other hon. Members have said, not only politicians go to the other place.

We are in favour of a transitional House, but we do not know to this date how long the transitional House will last. The Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office wrote to me on 9 February:

15 Feb 1999 : Column 673

    Our aim in setting up a Royal Commission to consider long-term reform of the House of Lords is to enable the widest possible consultation and debate on such a fundamental issue, with the aim of reaching a consensus with all the interested parties, not just the politicians."

There are no guarantees. We do not know what the royal commission will propose.

Mr. Tipping: If the hon. Gentleman is so keen to find consensus and a solution, when will we see the former Lord Chancellor's proposals? If we want to make haste, we must see the Conservative proposals.

Mr. Evans: The answer, as the hon. Gentleman knows, is soon. If he and his party had been so serious about second-stage reform, they would have set up the royal commission in May 1997, instead of waiting until a couple of weeks ago to announce it. There is more sincerity on this side of the Committee than has been displayed to date by Labour Members.

I shall pick out some of the points that have been made. My hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack) said that 40 per cent. of regular attenders were hereditary peers. That wealth of experience will be denied to the upper Chamber during what we hope will be a relatively short transition period. The hereditary peers' wealth of experience, in their voices but not their votes, would assist with the 2,000 amendments that the House of Lords passes every year. My hon. Friend mentioned the Countess of Mar and the third Baron Freyburg--the former a senior peer and the latter a new peer--as two examples of a number of peers who have been able to make considerable contributions in the upper Chamber.

The hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock), in a short speech, said that he was disappointed by the staging process, but was prepared to accept the fact that there would be two stages. One of the bones of the contention is that he is prepared not to allow hereditary peers to make a contribution to that process.

The hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Linton), in his speech and in an intervention, said that a House of 750 hereditary peers would throw up people of ability. Of course that is the case, and those people of ability should be given the opportunity, at least during the transition period, to contribute to debates. The retention of the voice, but not the vote, of hereditary peers would concentrate the Government's mind in considering the royal commission's proposals and encourage them to make stage 2 proposals to the House as soon as possible.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) talked about the need for checks and balances. They will be needed more than ever because of the ever-growing power of the Executive in Downing street.

The hon. Member for Braintree (Mr. Hurst) mocked the experience and talent that are available in the upper Chamber, which was rather a shame, given the commitment and dedication shown by peers over many years.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) was critical of the amendment, but, as I have tried to point out, there is nothing sinister about wanting to retain the hereditary principle during the transition period.Those peers would be there only to give guidance, advice

15 Feb 1999 : Column 674

and expertise during the transition. We do not know what the next stage will be--it could be a wholly elected Chamber, as we have heard many hon. Members suggest this evening, or partially elected and partially nominated. Some peers leaving the upper Chamber may want to stand for election. We shall find out when we reach stage 2.

My hon. Friend the Member for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls) said that the amendment was a practical mechanism to allow the peers' expertise to be retained in the upper Chamber. That is absolutely right. We must remember that the powers of the upper Chamber are totally different from those of a second Chamber. Nobody is saying that we want the upper House to compete with the lower House, but we want to ensure that there are proper checks and balances.

I could carry on for some considerable time; I am delighted that, as I speak, hon. Members are flooding into the Committee in the anticipation and hope that I will do so, but I must bitterly disappoint them. I shall not have the opportunity to consider many of the points made about the amendments. Needless to say, I hope that those hon. Members who have come in late and were unable to listen to the debate, which has been good and wide ranging, will at least consider that we have the opportunity to support the hereditary peers who have served the House of Lords and parliamentary democracy well for many years.

We can give those peers their voice, but not the vote that the Government have said, time and time again, caused them to introduce the Bill. The Government said that there was a need for legislation because they were continually outvoted in the House of Lords and democracy was eaten away by the fact that the Conservatives had a permanent majority there. The amendment would remove that majority, but it would not remove the commonsense voice of those hereditary peers who have served Parliament well for many years.

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The Committee divided: Ayes 131, Noes 332.

Division No. 67
[8.15 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baldry, Tony
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burns, Simon
Butterfill, John
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Colvin, Michael
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Day, Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodlad, Rt Hon Sir Alastair
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Moss, Malcolm
Nicholls, Patrick
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Ruffley, David
St Aubyn, Nick
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Townend, John
Trend, Michael
Tyrie, Andrew
Walter, Robert
Wardle, Charles
Waterson, Nigel
Wells, Bowen
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Woodward, Shaun
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. John M. Taylor and
Mr. Tim Collins.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Ashton, Joe
Austin, John
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Jackie
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Breed, Colin
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Butler, Mrs Christine
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Chidgey, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Fatchett, Rt Hon Derek
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Gapes, Mike
George, Andrew (St Ives)
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Gorrie, Donald
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hancock, Mike
Hanson, David
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hoey, Kate
Home Robertson, John
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
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, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kingham, Ms Tess
Kirkwood, Archy
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
Mackinlay, Andrew
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morley, Elliot
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Giles
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Rt Hon George
(Hamilton S)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
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)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stott, Roger
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
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)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyler, Paul
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Willis, Phil
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. David Jamieson and
Mr. Jim Dowd.

Question accordingly negatived.

15 Feb 1999 : Column 677

Mrs. Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest): I beg to move amendment No. 2, in page 1, line 6, at end add

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