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Mr. Tyrie: Will the right hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Beckett: I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon; I really must get on. [Interruption.] With respect, he did not give way to me.

My hon. Friends the Members for Harlow (Mr. Rammell) and for Basildon (Angela Smith), like my hon. Friend the Member for South Thanet (Dr. Ladyman), accepted the compromise, although with some reluctance, as did the hon. Members for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls), for Sevenoaks (Mr. Fallon) and for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth).

The right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) was pretty rude about everyone else who accepted the amendment, although it turned out in the end that he accepted it, too, because it retained the position of some of those who sat as hereditary peers.

Mrs. Laing: Will the right hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Beckett: I am reluctant, but I will give way to the hon. Lady because she did not speak in the debate.

Mrs. Laing: I am extremely grateful to the right hon. Lady for her courtesy in giving way. On the point that she has just made about those who accept or do not accept the amendment, I recall that on 15 February 1999, when I was trying to elicit from the right hon. Lady whether she would accept an amendment in very similar terms that I had proposed that day, she said to me:

Will the right hon. Lady now concede that I was not wasting the Committee's time? I was then urging it to vote for the very measure that she is now urging the House to vote for.

Mrs. Beckett: I apologise if I hurt the hon. Lady's feelings, but it is possible that she misunderstood what I

10 Nov 1999 : Column 1204

was saying. I accused her then of wasting the Committee's time because she kept asking us to explain why we were not going to accept her amendment, even though that had already been explained several times. I have enough respect for the hon. Lady's intelligence to think that she understood the explanation the first time that it was given.

However, the hon. Lady's intervention is perfectly timed, because I was about to mention the right hon. Members for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) and for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), both of whom have taken exactly the same stance but from opposite points of view, in that they supported her amendment but appear to be saying that they will reject a similar one tonight. That is obviously because of the way in which the Bill's passage has been conducted, and our recognition that we might be prepared to accept the amendment at this stage but were not at an earlier stage.

My hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Bradley) quite properly asked what the Conservatives had done to advocate and promote reform in the 18 years during which they had the opportunity. The right hon. Member for South Norfolk(Mr. MacGregor) suggested that although the Labour party had talked about needing to break the logjam of reform and hence passing the legislation in two stages, previous Labour Governments had not taken action to bring about reform. I believe that I am right in saying that the 1945 Labour Government developed the reduction in the powers of the House of Lords, which was one step towards reform; that the 1964 to 1970 Labour Government famously attempted, and failed, to reform the House of Lords; and that it would have been an act of crass folly for the 1974 to 1979 Labour Government to attempt such a step, given that they hardly had a majority. It has therefore been a consistent theme of Labour Governments to seek reform of the Lords.

The right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir G. Young) suggested that the Conservative party had in fact progressed towards reform because it had invented the notion of life peers. He was reminded several times in the debate that, having invented the concept of life peers, the Conservative party has consistently used it to reinforce and expand its already substantial majority in the House of Lords.

Throughout the debate, issues have been raised that are familiar to those who have participated in these discussions. There was the usual dismissal of the concession made by the Prime Minister, for the first time in our history, to reduce his power of patronage--as though it were illegitimate for that to be done by a Labour Prime Minister. The notion continued to be trumpeted that, by consistently supporting Conservative Governments and attacking Labour ones, the House of Lords has shown its independence. That notion was amply discredited during the debate, if only by statistics revealing a very different picture.

As he came to the end of his remarks, the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire, expressing the Conservative party's attitude to the proposals and the amendments, said in one sentence that the way in which the House of Lords had been dealt with was charmless, and in the next that the transitional House would become inferior as a result of the removal of some 659 hereditary peers.

10 Nov 1999 : Column 1205

We have had a re-run of many of the arguments that we heard previously, but a consistent feature--and one that is to be regretted--has been the tendency of Opposition Members to denigrate life peers in order to praise the role of hereditaries. That is wrong; we should not denigrate either. Both groups have given service to our country and to our Parliament, and it is right to recognise that. As the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack) let fall in an inadvertent remark at the end of our exchanges, for the whole of its history the Conservative party has resisted reform, in particular reform of the House of Lords, although some Conservative Members have reluctantly accepted the amendment.

Today, we are discussing a further dramatic and historic step in our constitutional development. The proposal enshrined in the amendment is not the Government's proposal--it came from the Cross Benches. However, we regard it as offering a prudent and sensible route towards the early removal of all hereditary peers. It ends the hereditary principle as the basis of a seat in the legislature. It means that 659 hereditary peers will leave their House when the Bill is passed. To have incurred potential delay would have meant that 750 hereditary peers would have retained the right to sit and to disrupt the Government's legislative programme for a further year.

We are taking an historic step tonight. After 89 years, I suggest to the House that it is time that it was taken.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) wish to press his amendment to a Division?

Mr. Mackinlay: No, Sir. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Tyrie) wish to press his amendment to a Division?

Mr. Tyrie: No, Sir.

Motion made, and Question put, That this House agrees with the Lords in said amendment.--[Mrs. Beckett.]:--

The House divided: Ayes 438, Noes 22.

Division No. 318
[8.12 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Baldry, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Beggs, Roy
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blair, Rt Hon Tony
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Body, Sir Richard
Borrow, David
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brazier, Julian
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burns, Simon
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Cash, William
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chaytor, David
Chope, Christopher
Clapham, Michael
Clappison, James
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Collins, Tim
Colvin, Michael
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cran, James
Cranston, Ross
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Curry, Rt Hon David
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donaldson, Jeffrey
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Drew, David
Duncan, Alan
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flight, Howard
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Fyfe, Maria
Gale, Roger
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Garnier, Edward
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibb, Nick
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
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)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
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
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hunter, Andrew
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jamieson, David
Jenkin, Bernard
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Leigh, Edward
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Letwin, Oliver
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
Luff, Peter
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McIsaac, Shona
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Madel, Sir David
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Malins, Humfrey
Mallaber, Judy
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Maxton, John
May, Mrs Theresa
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Moss, Malcolm
Mountford, Kali
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Nicholls, Patrick
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Palmer, Dr Nick
Paterson, Owen
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickles, Eric
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)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prior, David
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Jeff
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
St Aubyn, Nick
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sayeed, Jonathan
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Singh, Marsha
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
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
Spring, Richard
Squire, Ms Rachel
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
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, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Walter, Robert
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Waterson, Nigel
Watts, David
Wells, Bowen
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Whittingdale, John
Wicks, Malcolm
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Wilshire, David
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wyatt, Derek
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Jim Dowd and
Mrs. Anne McGuire.


Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Blunt, Crispin
Brady, Graham
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Fisher, Mark
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Gill, Christopher
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Hancock, Mike
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Loughton, Tim
Randall, John
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence
Ruffley, David
Shepherd, Richard
Taylor, Rt Hon John D (Strangford)
Viggers, Peter
Whitney, Sir Raymond

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Eric Forth and
Mr. Andrew Tyrie.

Question accordingly agreed to.

10 Nov 1999 : Column 1208

Lords amendment agreed to.

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