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9.22 pm

Mr. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot): I am delighted to follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean) in the debate. He rightly referred to the provenance of the Bill. Many right hon. and hon. Members who take seriously the principles of our democratic system will be concerned by the fact that the measure started out as a private Member's Bill. The Government made a mistake by introducing it in that way; they now realise that it would have been better to have presented it as a Government Bill. Private Members' Bill should be reserved for issues such as hedgerows, on which the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions might be anxious to introduce a measure that would not be appropriate as main Government business.

However, the debate has permitted us to have the pleasure of the company of the Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs. I echo the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow): the Minister is a most assiduous Member. I am sorry that I was not in the Chamber to hear his opening speech, or his explanation as to why the Government were unable to make a statement to the House on car competition policy. I pay tribute to his belief in the House and to the fact that he has listened attentively to all the arguments in the debate.

Mr. Bercow: May I echo my hon. Friend's tribute? The Minister is liked and admired on both sides of

10 Apr 2000 : Column 109

the House. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] As the Minister will have the burden of securing the Bill's passage, would it not be appropriate if he, rather than the significantly less popular Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, were to have the pleasure of attending the celebrated international conference?

Mr. Howarth: Enough of that--we have done the Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs quite enough harm already. I like him enough not to want to inflict further damage. Although I missed his opening remarks, I was able to study the words of Lord McIntosh of Haringey, who moved the Bill's Second Reading in the other place last November.

During that debate, a noble Lord described the powers in the Bill as draconian. Furthermore, he said:


That was said not by a Conservative peer but by Lord Wallace of Saltaire, who speaks for the Liberal Democrats. He is a professor of international relations at the London school of economics and a former director of studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. I make that point to demonstrate that he has made a lifetime study of international affairs, and he acknowledges that the powers conferred on authorities in the Bill are draconian.

Mr. Keetch: I think that my noble Friend said that although he considered the powers draconian, he thought the cause worthy of such powers. I would not want the hon. Gentleman to misrepresent my noble Friend by suggesting that he was critical of the powers.

Mr. Howarth: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, but I do not see in the noble Lord's remarks precisely where he said that he accepted the need for these draconian powers. He said:


I do not want to suggest that the noble Lord was not conscious that the powers were draconian. In so far as there was no Division in the other place, one might be entitled to assume that he accepted the need for them and did not think that they were so draconian that they warranted his voting against Second Reading.

It is important that we understand that we are being asked to vote for the Bill tonight because of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. I understand that the Bill is a means by which non-nuclear weapons states can be policed to ensure that they are not using civil nuclear programmes clandestinely to develop nuclear weapons and that they are not receiving support from nuclear weapons states.

That prompts the question of why, of the signatories to the non-proliferation treaty--which also include the United States, France, Russia and China--we should be required to expose our domestic civil nuclear programme to the arrangements that are being introduced principally to deal with rogue states such as Iraq and North Korea, which have been mentioned. Today we are faced with the historic prospect of a meeting between North and South Korea, and it may be that even North Korea will come

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into line. The Bill provides draconian powers of access to private sector companies and their civil nuclear programmes to deal with rogue states, and it is a substantial hammer to crack that particular nut.

Clauses 2 and 5 are the key parts of the Bill. Clause 2 provides the initial powers and details of the information that may be required from private sector companies. Extensive powers--

Mr. Thomas McAvoy (Glasgow, Rutherglen) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:--

The House divided: Ayes 219, Noes 13.

Division No. 156
[9.30 pm


AYES


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Atkins, Charlotte
Baker, Norman
Banks, Tony
Barron, Kevin
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Borrow, David
Breed, Colin
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnett, John
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clwyd, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dalyell, Tam
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Etherington, Bill
Fisher, Mark
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Fyfe, Maria
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Golding, Mrs Llin
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hancock, Mike
Hanson, David
Harris, Dr Evan
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howells, Dr Kim
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Iddon, Dr Brian
Jenkins, Brian
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
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kirkwood, Archy
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Linton, Martin
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Maxton, John
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moore, Michael
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Mountford, Kali
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Hara, Eddie
O'Neill, Martin
Öpik, Lembit
Pendry, Tom
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Pollard, Kerry
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prosser, Gwyn
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Rendel, David
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Spellar, John
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Touhig, Don
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyler, Paul
Vis, Dr Rudi
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Willis, Phil
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Wood, Mike
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Ayes:


Mr. Kevin Hughes and
Mr. Robert Ainsworth.


NOES


Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Gill, Christopher
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Leigh, Edward
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Maclean, Rt Hon David
Maples, John
Paterson, Owen
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. Edward Leigh and
Mr. Michael Fabricant.

Question accordingly agreed to.

10 Apr 2000 : Column 111

Question put accordingly, That the Bill be now read a Second time:--

The House proceeded to a Division.

10 Apr 2000 : Column 112


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