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Sir Edward Heath: I call Mr. Martin Bell to move an amendment in favour of Mr. Richard Shepherd.

8.37 pm

Mr. Martin Bell (Tatton): I beg to move, as an amendment to the Question, to leave out "Mr. Michael J. Martin" and insert instead thereof "Mr. Richard Shepherd".

Sir Edward, the hour calls for brevity. Brevity is in my nature, and the cause for which I rise is simply stated. It is to suggest that the name of the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) be inserted as an amendment, by nature of the quality of the man.

What a debate we have had. The speeches have been short and of high quality. The whipping was either non-existent or indiscernible. Would that it were always so. The challenges that the House faces have been widely stated. They include an erosion of its authority, reputation and influence by a more assertive judiciary, a more aggressive press and the burgeoning power of the Executive. If we wish to complain about that, the fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves. It is up to us. We can make a difference because in the end we do not represent parties; we represent people, every one of us. I think that this is a time when we can make a difference. I cannot imagine a more important debate and series of votes than those taking place tonight.

I honestly believe that we have an opportunity. I mention the name of the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills because he is the right man for this time. He is widely respected on both sides of the House. His proposer and seconder come from different sides of the House. For 18 years he has been a tireless champion of many causes of liberty and libertarian causes, such as freedom of information. The fight now is for the freedom of the people and of the House, which now has to be campaigned for as much as ever.

I shall mention something that Wentworth said in 1575, when he criticised the subservience of the House to the power of the Executive, which was then the royal family. He said:

23 Oct 2000 : Column 91

The cause is less conspicuous now, but the need is as urgent as it ever was to restore the dignity and reputation of the House. I believe that there is a man who, as Speaker, would be eminently well qualified to do the job. That man is the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills and I commend his name to the House.

8.40 pm

Tony Wright (Cannock Chase): It gives me great pleasure to second the nomination of the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd). If I may breach a parliamentary convention, I shall call him my hon. Friend, because we have campaigned together on causes that should engage everyone in the House. He is concerned about the rights of citizens, and he campaigns against official secrecy, to protect whistleblowers, and for the freedom of information.

I remember above all an occasion in the last Parliament when Sir Richard Scott had delivered his devastating report, alleging that Ministers had behaved as they should not have behaved. That produced a motion of censure in the House. It was a difficult moment because it required hon. Members to choose between Parliament, accountability, sovereignty--all those fine words that we use--and the pressures of party, Whips and discipline. On that day, two hon. Members in the Government party voted for Parliament, and one of them was the person whom I am seconding. He does not just talk about the rights of Parliament; he protects those rights and asserts them when it matters.

If one theme has been constant throughout the contributions, including those by all the candidates, it is that something is wrong with the House of Commons that must be put right. The question before the House is: how determined is it to put that right?

I commend my hon. Friend to the House because I believe that the moment has arrived for a shock to the system. Whatever else my hon. Friend would be, he would be a shock to the system. Either hon. Members believe that we have reached a point when a shock is required, or they believe that business as usual will do. That is the choice. This institution has arrived at that moment. It is no good saying that it will be the job of some future Speaker whom we may elect to put matters right. The job of putting them right rests with all of us in the House now. It is no good talking afterwards about the glories of Parliament and the need for reform, unless we are prepared now to administer the shock to the system that may produce that change.

I know that the person whom I am recommending is said to be an outsider. My goodness, he is. He is as far away from the usual channels as it is possible to get, and that is why I recommend him to hon. Members.

Sir Edward Heath: Mr. Richard Shepherd has been proposed and seconded. I now invite him to submit himself to the House if he so wishes.

23 Oct 2000 : Column 92

8.44 pm

Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills): In a sense, I am the least qualified of all the candidates who have stood in front of hon. Members today. In fact, my disqualifications fill a long sheet. I am one of the few Conservative Members to have lost the Whip. I have tried to vote against my party when I thought that it was wrong. It is claimed that I am emotional, and it is true that in Parliament I am emotional. I am emotional because I profoundly believe in the purpose of the House, and I think that that view is shared by many people. I hope that in that emotionalism I have used argument, reason, principle and conscience. Those are things that I think unite many Members.

In a sense, the House is experiencing a crisis. With the redevelopment of our constitution, we are in a remarkable state--a state in which the House of Lords, no less, is more vital and more vibrant, and checks authority and the executive power more meaningfully than is done here. How can it be that we, the elected representatives of the people, no longer effectively challenge Government? That is what we are asking people to reflect on.

I sense a great discontent among ourselves, on both sides of the House. We do not discuss measures that are timely, or matters that are important. We had only one Standing Order No. 24 emergency debate during the eight years in which the previous Speaker was Speaker. How can we be timely? How can we reflect the needs of those who sent us here?

I am mindful that I can stand in this House on equal terms with anyone--with a head of Government, with a Minister--because I, like such people, have been elected by an individual constituency. We should never forget that that is the first trust that sends us here.

To whom do we owe our allegiance? My party is very vigorous in trying to get rid of people, and a long time ago when it was trying to get rid of Winston Churchill, he was asked to whom he owed his allegiance. He said first to his country, then to his constituency, and thirdly to his party.

When party becomes so aggressive that it consumes our conscience--when we no longer discuss the politics that are the laws that form the way in which we live; when we accept that the House of Lords will now be dealing with legislation and the points that we raise with regard to that legislation, and that ultimately the Executive will deal not with us, the elected representatives, but with the appointees who now sit at the other end of this Parliament--there is a crisis, in a sense. We ought to assert and affirm that our first intent is to represent those who sent us here.

I have seen Members on both sides of the House in both Lobbies--I have been through more than one Lobby on occasions such as this--whose tears have flowed, and whose conscience has been sensitive; yet they have voted against issues that they have stood for during their parliamentary careers.

The right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) said that he was leaving this place to take up politics. Most of us came here because we believed in politics. We believed that this was the fulcrum where we could dispose of the business of our country. If I am given the honour

23 Oct 2000 : Column 93

of representing this House, I want to ensure that each one of us--wherever we come from, and whomever we represent--is able to do just that.

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The House divided: Ayes 136, Noes 282.

Division No. 309
[8.48 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Jackie
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Bercow, John
Blunt, Crispin
Body, Sir Richard
Boswell, Tim
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burnett, John
Butterfill, John
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Cash, William
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Collins, Tim
Cooper, Yvette
Cotter, Brian
Curry, Rt Hon David
Dalyell, Tam
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Day, Stephen
Donaldson, Jeffrey
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, Iain
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Faber, David
Fearn, Ronnie
Fisher, Mark
Flynn, Paul
Fraser, Christopher
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gorrie, Donald
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Grieve, Dominic
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hayes, John
Horam, John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
McCartney, Robert (N Down)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Major, Rt Hon John
Maples, John
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Mitchell, Austin
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Mullin, Chris
Nicholls, Patrick
Oaten, Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Paterson, Owen
Pearson, Ian
Pickles, Eric
Prior, David
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Randall, John
Robertson, Laurence
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
St Aubyn, Nick
Salmond, Alex
Sayeed, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Spicer, Sir Michael
Steen, Anthony
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Thompson, William
Todd, Mark
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Townend, John
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyrie, Andrew
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Wells, Bowen
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Ayes:

Sir Teddy Taylor and
Mr. Eric Forth.


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Ashton, Joe
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Brown, Rt Hon Gordon
(Dunfermline E)
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burstow, Paul
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Cable, Dr Vincent
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Canavan, Dennis
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Cox, Tom
Crausby, David
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Neil
Gidley, Sandra
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Goggins, Paul
Graham, Thomas
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hancock, Mike
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hood, Jimmy
Hope, Phil
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keetch, Paul
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Martlew, Eric
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moore, Michael
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prosser, Gwyn
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Rendel, David
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Rogers, Allan
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Sanders, Adrian
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soley, Clive
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Timms, Stephen
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
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)
Tyler, Paul
Tynan, Bill
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Willis, Phil
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Peter Snape and
Ann Keen.

Question accordingly negatived.

23 Oct 2000 : Column 96

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