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9.48 pm

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr. Graham Stringer): It would have been easy to respond to the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Tyrie) if he had bothered to give any facts in his statement, but it was almost pure rhetoric. We cannot, however, be surprised that we get almost pure rhetoric from him. He writes books and gives evidence in which he says that Select Committees should have more power in the House and that that is the way forward in ensuring greater Government accountability, whereas he has attended the Public Administration Committee--his own Select Committee--for only seven of its previous 36 sittings.

Mr. Tyrie: As it happens, a large number of Public Administration Committee sittings clashed each week with sittings of the Standing Committee considering the Financial Services and Markets Bill, which I attended regularly. The Labour party has for months been peddling the nonsense that I have not attended Select Committee meetings, and I am sick of hearing about it at every television studio that I go to. It is a load of rubbish.

Mr. Stringer: The hon. Gentleman does not contest the fact that he has managed to attend only one in five of those Select Committee sittings. It is not surprising.

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Stringer: No; I shall not give way again. I am not surprised by the hon. Member for Chichester. In his book,

3 Jul 2000 : Column 121

he mentioned the Prime Minister's attendance in this House at votes. He forgot to mention the fact that the Prime Minister has answered more questions and made more statements than any other Prime Minister.

Mr. Tyrie: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Stringer: No, I will not. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office gave way many times in his opening speech. We have 10 minutes left of an important debate and I shall not give way.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Benn) was characteristically precise in destroying the argument of Opposition Members. He pointed out, as others have done, that no evidence was put forward of the corrosive effect on the civil service that the Conservatives claimed existed.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cannock Chase (Tony Wright) made an interesting speech; his diversion was more interesting than many of the Opposition speeches. He reminded us of why the Nolan committee and the Neill committee existed. They existed because the Conservative party did not control sleaze; this House and the Conservative party were riven by sleaze in the mid-1990s.

All of us in the House owe a debt to the hon. Member for Tatton (Mr. Bell) for ridding it of the previous honourable, or dishonourable, Member for Tatton, Neil Hamilton. He made a characteristically independent speech. I could not agree with every word and every point, but there is no doubt that the hon. Gentleman has helped to improve standards in this House through his work on the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges. I pay tribute to him for that.

The hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) made a large number of points and there is not time to answer all of them. I will give the commitment again that it is the intention of the Government to produce a civil service Act. He would be surprised if I said when that will be, as that is a matter for the Queen's Speech.

I strongly disagree with the hon. Member for North Cornwall in his reluctance to support the idea of secondments from and into the civil service. The Government support the impartiality and objectivity of the civil service, but there is no doubt that it has developed insularity over the years which is not good for the governance of this country. Seconding people with experience of industry and the outside world into the civil service is an extraordinarily good thing, as is taking civil servants out and giving them experience of industry.

Mr. Redwood: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Stringer: No, I will not give way.

I was absolutely staggered by the intervention from the right hon. Member for South-West Surrey (Mrs. Bottomley) who complained about appointments to health bodies. Does she not recall Baroness Denton saying that she had never knowingly appointed a Labour person to a health body? That was the record of the previous Conservative Administration.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Stringer: No, I will not. The right hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. MacGregor) made a number of

3 Jul 2000 : Column 122

interesting points. He said that the number of special advisers had changed and that the role had changed. Like a lot of his right hon. and hon. Friends, the right hon. Gentleman failed to produce any direct evidence that the role had changed. He made one mistake when he said that it was not the role of special advisers to brief the press. I have to tell him that his successor had a special adviser who regularly briefed the press, so there has been no change between the previous Administration and this in the role of special advisers.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cannock Chase made the point that he was surprised that Opposition Members kept coming back to the Nolan and Neill reports. They kept returning to their party's appalling record of sleaze in the mid-1990s. Why did they do that? There is a simple reason that I am happy to explain to my hon. Friend. Opposition Members do not want to talk about this Government's record on jobs. Opposition Members are the spinners, because they do not want the public to know that a million jobs have been created in the past three years, at the rate of one job every two minutes. Nor do Opposition Members want to talk about the extra money going in to hospitals or the extra £40,000, on average, for every school. They do not want to talk about the working families tax credit, because they would abolish it.

Opposition Members have a straightforward right-wing agenda. They want to create fear by talking about immigration and asylum seekers. The hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) himself has not been afraid to advise on using the race card. [Interruption.] It is Opposition Members who are embarrassed by the facts--

Mr. Tyrie: On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker: I fear that it is a point of frustration, but I shall listen to the point of order.

Mr. Tyrie: As I understand it, the debate is about special advisers. We have just had five minutes of propaganda written by Alastair Campbell about every other area of Government policy. May we have answers to some of the points raised in the debate about special advisers?

Madam Speaker: As I thought, that is a matter for argument and not a point of order for me.

Mr. Stringer: Opposition Members do not want to talk about the Government's record. They want to keep the agenda away from the facts. What embarrasses them more than anything else is the detailed record of what they did in government. I can give the House a list of the names of Tories who were the reason for the Nolan and Neill committees. We all remember David Mellor, who left the House; Tim Smith, who was forced to stand down as the candidate for Beaconsfield; Neil Hamilton, who was defeated by the hon. Member for Tatton; Graham Riddick, who was defeated in Colne Valley and who accepted cash for questions; Jonathan Aitken; Michael Brown; and Angela Rumbold. They were the reasons why--

3 Jul 2000 : Column 123

Mr. James Arbuthnot (North-East Hampshire) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the original words stand part of the Question:--

The House divided: Ayes 165, Noes 295.

Division No. 247
[10 pm


AYES


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baldry, Tony
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Body, Sir Richard
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brand, Dr Peter
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Butterfill, John
Cable, Dr Vincent
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
(Rushcliffe)
Collins, Tim
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Day, Stephen
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan Smith, Iain
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Fearn, Ronnie
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gill, Christopher
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Keetch, Paul
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkwood, Archy
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Maples, John
May, Mrs Theresa
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Moss, Malcolm
Nicholls, Patrick
Norman, Archie
Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, James
Pickles, Eric
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
St Aubyn, Nick
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Townend, John
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Webb, Steve
Wells, Bowen
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:


Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and
Mr. Peter Luff.


NOES


Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Austin, John
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Caplin, Ivor
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
(Copeland)
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Denham, John
Dismore, Andrew
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Galloway, George
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hoey, Kate
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Laxton, Bob
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
(Makerfield)
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mallaber, Judy
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rogers, Allan
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
(Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. Mike Hall and
Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe.

Question accordingly negatived.

3 Jul 2000 : Column 126

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments):--

The House divided: Ayes 293, Noes 163.


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