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Mr. McDonnell: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Hill: Certainly, but I have to say that it is not the Government's Bill and I must not detain the House unduly by responding to my hon. Friends, however fascinating their interventions may be.

Mr. McDonnell: On that novel transformation of the principle of the few to that of the many, does that mean that the Government will introduce legislation to give the many businesses nationally the right to vote? That is the logic of my hon. Friend's argument. If we are now for the many, and that means many businesses, will that be the commitment that we give to the CBI this week?

Mr. Hill: My hon. Friend knows that it is not the Government's intention to legislate for a business vote. However, I ask him again to reflect on an interesting fact: the corporate franchise that the Bill envisages is based on electoral systems that were recently introduced in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia--as we know, a country of some constitutional innovation.

The changes must include the companies and institutions that are established in the City, the workers who are employed by them and the people who live there. The reforms will both widen the franchise and protect the rights of the 5,000 plus resident voters in the City.

2 Nov 1999 : Column 191

The carry-over motion should be supported. We believe that it is a worthwhile measure, as did the Committee that examined the Bill in detail.

Mr. Bermingham: I did not want to interrupt my hon. Friend's prepared speech too much, but perhaps he would explain one point. As it is not a Government measure, what on earth are the Government doing supporting it? If the House and the local persons involved are against it, what right have a democratic Government to try to steamroller it through in a private Bill? Government business yes; private Bills no. Perhaps he might take the opportunity to explain himself.

Mr. Hill: My hon. Friend is an old enough hand in this institution to know that it is normal and appropriate--indeed, it is requisite--for the Government to express their opinion on any issue of governance that passes through the House. All that I am seeking to do is to enlighten the House on the Government's position on the matter.

Mr. David Heath: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hill: No; I do not want to give way. Although it is deeply tempting to give way, it would be wrong for me to detain the House much longer on a private Bill.

The Government believe that the Bill should be given a realistic opportunity to become law. As the Committee pointed out in its special report, there is clearly much more that the City could do to improve and modernise the way in which it is governed. The Bill, however, is a significant measure that will steer the corporation firmly in the direction of reform and modernisation.

If the Bill is not allowed to continue its progress through Parliament, the electoral arrangements in the City of London will remain unchanged; the current franchise, which is clearly unsatisfactory, will continue; and the drive for reform from within the corporation will be stifled. I do not think that anyone really wants that.

By allowing the Bill to carry over to the next Session, the House will be giving further encouragement to the City to continue the reform process. I therefore hope that the House will support the motion.

Mr. Brooke: I sense that I am engaged in a duel that will verge upon eternity with the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell), who--today, as on some previous occasions--has said some mildly disobliging things about the City corporation.

Mr. Sawford: They were much worse than that.

Mr. Brooke: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. As he spends more time in the House, he will become a little more familiar with my prose style.

I neutrally remark that, on earlier occasions, the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington seemed anxious to prolong the debate. I did not on those occasions assist him by countering the arguments he made. On this occasion, I am very properly prevented by the rules of this debate from responding to the things that he said today.

The hon. Gentleman and I are like ships that pass in the night, sometimes seemingly in fog. I very much hope that, perhaps in the next Session, there will be an opportunity for me to animadvert on some of his observations.

2 Nov 1999 : Column 192

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Leyton and Wanstead (Mr. Cohen) for the kinder of his remarks on the City corporation. Although I know how the City spends its money on behalf of London as a whole, and even more widely than London, I would be ruled out of order if I were to dwell on that. I assure the hon. Member for Kettering (Mr. Sawford) that private Bills come very frequently to the House; I have been involved in sponsoring some of them, not least because of the nature of my constituency.

In his remarks, the hon. Member for Leyton and Wanstead mentioned the M11. In 1978, I promoted a Bill sponsored by the City of London to enable the M11 to pass through certain parts of Epping forest belonging to the City corporation, which the corporation saved in the 19th century. On that occasion, the great Arthur Lewis--the former Member of Parliament for Newham, whom some hon. Members in the Chamber will remember--said, and I am paraphrasing his remarks, "I do not trust the words of Government. I have always found it right to trust the word of the City of London." In that spirit, I hope that the House will give the carry-over a majority.

I was grateful to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) for his support. He and I were the only inner-London Opposition Members on the Committee considering the Greater London Authority Bill, and we got to know each other's minds even better perhaps than we might have wished. I am glad to have his support on this occasion.

The hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington quoted, "Set the people free", which he attributed to the leader of the Labour party--[Hon. Members: "No".] The hon. Gentleman alluded to the phrase, which has been used before, by the great Winston Churchill--to whom it was given by Geoffrey Crowther--when he was making a speech at a party conference in Blackpool. Sir Winston Churchill left the others who were preparing his speech and went off into his bath, and they could hear him rehearsing it. He gave several versions of the phrase, "Set the people free", emphasising different words each time. Therefore, the phrase is honoured in my party, as well--apparently--as in the Labour party.

I am not suggesting that the Prime Minister practises in his bath, but I hope that the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington and I will be allowed to continue our gentle duel in the next Parliament. Setting the people free is the process that will enable us to do so, and I hope that the House will vote for the carry-over motion.

Question put:--

The House divided: Ayes 215, Noes 81.

Division No. 281
[9 pm


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baker, Norman
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Betts, Clive
Blears, Ms Hazel
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burden, Richard
Burstow, Paul
Butterfill, John
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Cann, Jamie
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Clappison, James
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clelland, David
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Collins, Tim
Colman, Tony
Cooper, Yvette
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Cox, Tom
Cran, James
Cranston, Ross
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Day, Stephen
Denham, John
Dowd, Jim
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flight, Howard
Flint, Caroline
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Gardiner, Barry
Gill, Christopher
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Goggins, Paul
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Grieve, Dominic
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Hain, Peter
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hanson, David
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Heald, Oliver
Healey, John
Hill, Keith
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Howells, Dr Kim
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hutton, John
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jamieson, David
Jenkin, Bernard
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Key, Robert
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Letwin, Oliver
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Loughton, Tim
McAvoy, Thomas
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
McLoughlin, Patrick
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
Madel, Sir David
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Martlew, Eric
Mates, Michael
Merron, Gillian
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Mountford, Kali
Mullin, Chris
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Olner, Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paterson, Owen
Pearson, Ian
Pickles, Eric
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Rendel, David
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruffley, David
Ryan, Ms Joan
St Aubyn, Nick
Sanders, Adrian
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Snape, Peter
Spellar, John
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Squire, Ms Rachel
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tynan, Bill
Vis, Dr Rudi
Ward, Ms Claire
Waterson, Nigel
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
Wells, Bowen
Willetts, David
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Crispin Blunt and
Mr. Tony Baldry.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Canavan, Dennis
Cawsey, Ian
Chaytor, David
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Connarty, Michael
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Dalyell, Tam
Dawson, Hilton
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Etherington, Bill
Fearn, Ronnie
Flynn, Paul
Fyfe, Maria
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibson, Dr Ian
Golding, Mrs Llin
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hinchliffe, David
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Leigh, Edward
Lepper, David
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Livsey, Richard
Llwyd, Elfyn
McDonnell, John
McWalter, Tony
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sawford, Phil
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stringer, Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thompson, William
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Wareing, Robert N
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Wise, Audrey
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Kelvin Hopkins and
Mr. Harry Cohen.

Question accordingly agreed to.

2 Nov 1999 : Column 194


2 Nov 1999 : Column 195

    Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office not later than the day before the close of the present Session of their intention to suspend further proceedings and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid;

    That on the fifth day on which the House sits in the next Session the Bill shall be presented to the House;

    That there shall be deposited with the Bill a declaration signed by the Agents for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill presented in the House in the present Session;

    That as soon as a certificate by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office, that such a declaration has been so deposited, has been laid upon the Table of the House, the Bill shall be read the first and second time and committed (and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read and committed) and shall be committed to the Chairman of Ways and Means;

    That the Chairman of Ways and Means shall make such Amendments thereto as have been made by the committee in the present Session, and shall report the Bill as amended to the House forthwith, and the Bill, so amended, shall be ordered to be considered;

    That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session;

    That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.

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