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2.42 am

Mr. Charles Clarke: Almost all the issues raised in this Third Reading debate were dealt with earlier, so I shall not speak to them in detail.

My hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Murphy) asked about UK citizens. We considered extending the Bill to citizens of all countries, but the complications involved persuaded us to go for the simplest option.

I think that the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) acknowledged that amendment No. 10 was not drafted perfectly, for reasons of which I have no criticism. However, she will also accept that we stated that we would try to take into account in later amendments the principles that she established in amendment No. 10.

The review process has been set out clearly. I do not accept the contention that there will necessarily be an increase in costs as a result of the amendments that we have accepted, but I shall monitor the matter carefully.

Questions were raised about the guillotine. I am advised that the Government's original proposal was for a seven-hour debate, which would have ended after 10 pm. However, we were happy to accept the Opposition amendment on that matter.

Points have been raised about the procedure, but I can tell Liberal Democrat Members that the House of Commons is the primary Chamber in our parliamentary system. They should accept that the law of the land is made in this House, and not take a provisional view, based on amendments that may be passed in another place.

It is not surprising, given the speeches of the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley) and the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) that the official policy of the Conservative party has been to abstain on the Bill. The hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) said a number of times that the Conservatives would not stand in the way of the Bill. In the words of the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague), the Leader of the Opposition, the Conservative party would give the Bill

Full support and co-operation is different from not standing in the way. The official Opposition are abstaining on the matter because they have no unity within their party, and a

17 Jul 2000 : Column 189

decision to vote for the Bill, as the right hon. Lady would have wished, would not have commanded the support of Conservative Members.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:--

The House divided: Ayes 171, Noes 42.

Division No. 274
[2.45 am


Ainger, Nick
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Banks, Tony
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Beard, Nigel
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burns, Simon
Butler, Mrs Christine
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Cohen, Harry
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Darvill, Keith
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dismore, Andrew
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Grogan, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Healey, John
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hoey, Kate
Home Robertson, John
Hope, Phil
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Kemp, Fraser
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McGuire, Mrs Anne
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Martlew, Eric
Meale, Alan
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Miller, Andrew
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Mountford, Kali
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pickthall, Colin
Pound, Stephen
Prosser, Gwyn
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ryan, Ms Joan
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Shaw, Jonathan
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Soley, Clive
Squire, Ms Rachel
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Watts, David
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woolas, Phil
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Robert Ainsworth and
Mr. Clive Betts.


Allan, Richard
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Jackie
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Breed, Colin
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Fearn, Ronnie
Foster, Don (Bath)
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gidley, Sandra
Hancock, Mike
Harvey, Nick
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Keetch, Paul
Kirkwood, Archy
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
McDonnell, John
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Moore, Michael
Oaten, Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Rendel, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Stunell, Andrew
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tyler, Paul
Webb, Steve
Willis, Phil

Tellers for the Noes:

Sir Robert Smith and
Mr. Donald Gorrie.

Question accordingly agreed to.

17 Jul 2000 : Column 190

Bill read the Third time, and passed.



17 Jul 2000 : Column 191

School SSAs (Cornwall)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.--[Mr. Mike Hall.]

2.56 am

Mr. Matthew Taylor (Truro and St. Austell): It is some time since I took part in an Adjournment debate at such a late hour. I had hoped that late sittings had been abandoned, but, during the past few weeks, they seem to have made a remarkable return. They are no better for their brief absence. I am sure that all of us who took part in tonight's proceedings would prefer that they had been handled differently--even those hon. Members who caused them to be so.

To make rushed changes in response to immediate circumstances is likely to result in bad legislation. It was for that reason that I voted against the measure in our earlier proceedings. However, the exact opposite applies to the subject of this debate: no movement at all has resulted in a bad situation and I hope that we can change it.

The problem is due to the distribution formula and it affects most rural counties--not only in education, but in policing, local government and health. However, it strikes especially at education. The formula was developed by the Conservatives in the 1980s and has never been substantially changed. Year after year, it has delivered a lower spend per pupil in schools in areas such as Cornwall than in other parts of the country. It discriminates against children in rural schools.

In counties such as Cornwall, a primary school of about 100 pupils receives about £10,000 less each year than the English average. A secondary school of about 500 pupils receives about £50,000 less. That was Labour's inheritance when they came to office. People in my county expected that the formula would be changed under Labour, but that has not yet occurred. As a result, our county and similar counties fall further behind every year, despite the fact that they face higher costs in delivering education.

Those counties have to bear the costs of supporting and providing for small rural schools and the costs of rural transport. Cornwall county council's transport budget was overspent by £1.2 million last year. The council and the county's head teachers analysed the shortfall facing Cornwall's schools. Under the present formula, there is a minimum shortfall of about £37 million, compared with the amount that is needed to deliver the basic national curriculum.

In April last year, when I initiated a similar debate on this issue, a rising number of Cornish children were in classes of 31 or more. Numbers had risen in Cornwall, although they had declined in the rest of England.

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