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Mr. McDonnell: The reason for supporting the new clause is surely that it would place the onus on the Government; it involves a requirement, not a request. All we have been offered so far is a simple request to the promoters--a feeble solution. The new clause would specifically place a requirement on the Government's broad shoulders.
Mr. Corbyn: It would indeed put the requirement on the Government, but it would also provide them with a defence for the future. If they were called to Strasbourg to defend the Bill in future, they would at least know what they were defending. At the moment, they do not know that, because we have no idea how on earth the sponsor manages to conclude that the Bill is compatible.
When my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover intervened earlier, he made the serious point that we are keen on sending delegations all around the world to talk about democracy and independent, free and fair elections. How on earth do we explain to an audience in the Czech Republic that this is the mother of Parliaments and the centre of democracy if we pass legislation that represents the opposite of those principles?
Mr. Skinner: I am trying my best to fathom why the promoters have not seized on the incorporation of this new Human Rights Act. Is it perhaps because this Bill started on its journey before that legislation was passed?
Mr. Skinner: My hon. Friend says no. Is it possible that it would be better for the Bill to be dropped completely? Then, if it did come back incorporating the human rights aspect--none of us wants it to come back--at least the promoters would be on firmer ground? I do not want to give them any opportunity to do that, but what does my hon. Friend think? Is that part of the explanation?
Mr. Corbyn: My hon. Friend has put several points to me. I recall his Herculean efforts over the Felixstowe Dock and Harbour Bill. There is a strange procedure in the House that if Government legislation has not passed through all its stages by the end of a parliamentary Session, it is lost. If by the end of a Parliament, and surely we are moving towards one, all legislation has not been passed, that is the end of it until it is reintroduced. We lost the Criminal Justice Bill before the 1992 general election and then it came back. I rather wish that it had not, but it did. The peculiarity is that private Bills, provided that they have had a successful carry-over motion before the dissolution of the Parliament or the end of a Session may continue. That seems absolutely bizarre. This Bill has life after death.
Mr. Dismore: Will my hon. Friend give way?
Mr. Corbyn: I will give way in a moment.
My hon. Friend the hon. Member for Bolsover asked why there was no compatibility certificate. A year ago there was a whole day debate, which I did not attend, on the compatibility or otherwise of this legislation with the convention and the Human Rights Act. So the promoters have had fully one year to examine its compatibility and return with an appropriate certificate.
Mr. Corbyn: I give way to my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore).
Mr. Peter Bottomley (Worthing, West): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. We have to report that on the Division on the closure the numbers reported in the Aye Lobby should have been 100, not 99. May I personally say that I am sorry for the mistake? The hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Pound) has kindly said that he joins me in my apologies?
Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I will deal with the point of order first. Does the hon. Gentleman wish to continue?
Mr. Bottomley: No, I have concluded.
Madam Deputy Speaker: May I ask the Tellers please to resume their places?
In the circumstances reported by the Tellers for the Ayes I now direct in accordance with precedent that the numbers be corrected in the Votes and Proceedings. Furthermore, I now have no alternative but to put the question.
Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:--
The House proceeded to a Division.
Mr. Mackinlay: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I hope that you will understand my dismay and irritation. I explained earlier that I would be one of those who would suffer if the closure motion was passed. Ninety-nine people were reported to the House as having voted Aye, but you have just had a further report from the Tellers. May I draw your attention to the fact that during the Maastricht debate there was a reported drawn vote? On that occasion, the Government Whip was subsequently found to have erred, but that was on the following day and that fact allowed people to examine the written word. That is what I would call a Florida ballot. We have not been able to do that in this case, and I think that this Division is premature. I want to place on record my view that there should have been, at the very least, a re-calling of that disputed Division. We have here a travesty of a Parliament that has been rumbled by the inefficiencies of the hon. Member for Worthing, West (Mr. Bottomley).
Madam Deputy Speaker: I have no alternative but to take the word of the Tellers on this matter. Despite the
Mr. Skinner: Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. It should be placed on record that there were 99 Aye votes in the first Division--then there was either a hand recount or something else. It sounds to me as though those votes represented 99 bodies and a dimpled chad.
Madam Deputy Speaker: That may be the hon. Gentleman's view, but I am accepting the comments of the Tellers.
May I ask the Serjeant at Arms to investigate the delay in the Aye Lobby?
The House having divided: Ayes 22, Noes 90.
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Foster, Don (Bath)
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Iddon, Dr Brian
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Tellers for the Ayes:
Mr. John Cryer and
Mr. Jeremy Corbyn.
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Chapman, Sir Sydney
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Maclean, Rt Hon David
May, Mrs Theresa
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Pike, Peter L
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
St Aubyn, Nick
Spicer, Sir Michael
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Tellers for the Noes:
Mr. Peter Bottomley and
Mr. David Amess.
Question accordingly negatived.
Mr. McDonnell: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. In the light of the events of the 25 minutes since the previous vote was recounted, may I ask that some formal report be given to the House on the events that took place, how they occurred and how the situation can be rectified in future? I believe that yet another discrepancy has occurred: 99 or 100 hon. Members voted for closure, and suddenly the number voting has dropped to 90. There should be a precise analysis of what occurred today.