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Fiona Mactaggart: I do not want to spend any more time on the record of the right hon. Gentleman. I want to focus on what the House of Commons Commission should do. If its real job is ensuring good order and good management of the House, it needs to command the respect of the whole House. That has nothing to do with party politics. It is certain that many right hon. and hon. Members have real respect for the work that the right hon. Member for Fareham has done. It is not a party political issue, but involves working in a way that can command the consensus and respect of the House.

The third lemon was when people started talking about change and modernisation. The latter word usually produces a kind of huff-puff noise from the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst.

My biggest shock on entering the House was the 19th century way in which we go about much of our business. I know that the House of Commons Commission has tried to modernise certain things and that its members are sometimes frustrated by the pace of change. If we

2 Feb 2000 : Column 1174

were to appoint to the Commission another member who is committed to slowing the pace of change, we would do the House and the country a disservice. For that reason I find the lack of judgment shown by those responsible for putting forward the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst surprising. It shows a lack of care for the importance of the job; therefore we should throw out their nomination.

11.38 pm

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East): The speech by the hon. Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) sums up the way in which it is possible for a Labour Back Bencher completely to misread the mood of the House. Until she spoke, Conservative Members rather appreciated the irony, wit and good humour of Labour Members giving my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) what I am sure he would be the first to acknowledge is a taste of his own medicine. Instead of their wit, style and grace, she indulged in sour, humourless whingeing.

My right hon. Friend does not even have to open his mouth in a debate, as the hon. Lady attempts to interpret every twitch of an eyebrow and every flicker of expression. She is slightly living in a time warp--something of which I have occasionally been accused. She reminds me of those Kremlinologists who used to try to determine what was about to emanate from Moscow by judging the expressions of Brezhnev and Chernenko on the podium.

Mr. Peter Bradley: I am indebted to Andrew Roth's biography of the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth). I am sure that the hon. Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis) will be fascinated to learn that, while at school, the right hon. Gentleman was a communist. [Laughter.]

Mr. Forth indicated assent.

Mr. Bradley: Does the hon. Member for New Forest, East agree that once a red, always a red and will he be joining us in the Lobby tonight?

Dr. Lewis: I am delighted to have that piece of information. It only goes to show that, in order to rectify the terrible mistake of his youth, my right hon. Friend will need to go much further to the right than he has already done.

Mr. Bercow: Does my hon. Friend agree that one pre-eminent qualification of my right hon. Friend for the appointment is that, unlike the hon. Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart), he did not have a charisma bypass operation at birth? [Interruption.]

Dr. Lewis: I disagree with my hon. Friend only in that he takes for granted the outcome of the nature versus nurture argument. The operation may not have occurred at birth; it might have been when she realised that she was an inheritor of a great deal of money. That is always very embarrassing--[Interruption.]

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Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The debate is going downhill. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman return to the main point.

Dr. Lewis: Thank you for that guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I greatly regret the downhill contribution of my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow), which distracted me from the straight and narrow.

Ms Ward: Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will reconsider his support for his right hon. Friend--as may many of his colleagues--when they realise that, according to Andrew Roth, he campaigned for the entry of the UK to the European Community.

Mr. Forth indicated assent.

Dr. Lewis: I am indebted to the hon. Lady for pointing out that fact. I was not aware of it. I might seriously reconsider my support for my right hon. Friend, but for the fact that he still has time to make good that deficiency.

In conclusion, I make two serious points. The first is that, if my right hon. Friend does such a great disservice to the House as is alleged, why has he been selected as one of the final four in the competition for Opposition politician of the year? I am sure that that will be acknowledged on both sides of the House. [Interruption.]

The Government--

It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, Mr. Deputy Speaker put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 16(1).

The House divided: Ayes 87, Noes 108.

Division No. 61
[11.43 pm


Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Beggs, Roy
Bercow, John
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burns, Simon
Butterfill, John
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cash, William
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Clwyd, Ann
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cran, James
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Day, Stephen
Donaldson, Jeffrey
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, Iain
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Fabricant, Michael
Flight, Howard
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fraser, Christopher
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Nicholls, Patrick
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Pound, Stephen
Prior, David
Randall, John
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Ruffley, David
St Aubyn, Nick
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Townend, John
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Viggers, Peter
Wardle, Charles
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mrs. Eleanor Laing and
Mr. Peter Atkinson.


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Atkins, Charlotte
Ballard, Jackie
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Borrow, David
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Burgon, Colin
Cann, Jamie
Casale, Roger
Clapham, Michael
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Corston, Jean
Cotter, Brian
Cox, Tom
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Davidson, Ian
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Drew, David
Efford, Clive
Ennis, Jeff
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gerrard, Neil
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Harris, Dr Evan
Healey, John
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hope, Phil
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Iddon, Dr Brian
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keetch, Paul
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Kirkwood, Archy
Laxton, Bob
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Linton, Martin
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Merron, Gillian
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moore, Michael
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Neill, Martin
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prosser, Gwyn
Quinn, Lawrie
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Rendel, David
Roy, Frank
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Sanders, Adrian
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stunell, Andrew
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Tyler, Paul
Ward, Ms Claire
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
White, Brian
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Willis, Phil
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)

Tellers for the Noes:

Angela Smith and
Mr. Bill Rammell.

Question accordingly negatived.

2 Feb 2000 : Column 1176

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