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Mr. Skinner: My hon. Friend will write to me.

Mr. McDonnell: I will write to my hon. Friend.

Amendment No. 59 proposes that, for the election of voters to represent the business operational and occupational constituencies within the electoral colleges, the poll will be conducted under a single transferable vote system. It is put forward in a spirit of compromise to

2 May 2001 : Column 941

garner the consensus of the House. The amendment contains a description of a single transferable vote taken from the Northern Ireland (Elections) Act 1998 enacted by the House. I do not wish to give an elaborate description of the system; I included it because it more readily allows one to be confident that the people elected have the majority consent of the electorate whom they seek to represent.

In establishing a new system that seeks to balance interests and to bring together individuals, groups and organisations which have never worked together in such structures before, it is important to have an electoral system that garners majority support for the elected representative. The single transferable vote system set out in the amendment does just that by comprising a process which, by transferring preference votes as individuals either meet or fail to meet a quota for election, ensures that a majority is, in due course, as part of the process, assembled behind the elected representatives.

Mr. Barnes: I understand that the single transferable voting system in Northern Ireland that has been described applies to the multi-Member constituency. We are discussing not the single transferable vote which operates within a single constituency, but a complex system. Some would argue that it is a form of proportional representation, but I do not think that anyone can explain how it works in a proportionate way.

Mr. McDonnell: My hon. Friend obviously seeks to be constructive. For more detail on the system, I refer hon. Members to the House of Commons Library research paper 98/113. It was upon examination of that paper that I came to table the amendment. I would ask for a separate vote on the amendment. Amendment No. 29 is a consequential amendment.

I come now to the supporting arguments for the amendments--the meat of my speech tonight.

Mr. Dismore: I beg to move, That the House do sit in private.

Question put:--

The House divided: Ayes 2, Noes 109.

Division No. 202
[9.9 pm


Bailey, Adrian
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Andrew Dismore and
Mr. Jeremy Corbyn.


Amess, David
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Ballard, Jackie
Beggs, Roy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bercow, John
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burnett, John
Butterfill, John
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Collins, Tim
Colman, Tony
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Day, Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Nigel
Flight, Howard
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fox, Dr Liam
Garnier, Edward
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gray, James
Grieve, Dominic
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hanson, David
Hawkins, Nick
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Hill, Keith
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
McWilliam, John
Madel, Sir David
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Nicholls, Patrick
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pearson, Ian
Pike, Peter L
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
St Aubyn, Nick
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Timms, Stephen
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tredinnick, David
Tyrie, Andrew
Walter, Robert
Wareing, Robert N
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Dennis Skinner and
Mr. Harry Barnes.

Question accordingly negatived.

2 May 2001 : Column 942

Mr. McDonnell: Having dealt with the detail of the amendments in this group, I now turn to the meat of my speech and the supporting argument for the principle of the amendments.

I want to persuade hon. Members to support the amendments by showing how they fit in with the philosophy and principles of each of the major political parties represented in this House and how they are congruent with the manifesto commitments given by each of those parties at the previous election.

Mr. Pound: I shall be interested to see how my hon. Friend intends to win over the Ulster Unionists.

Mr. McDonnell: My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Pound) mentions the minority nationalist parties. I shall not deal with their philosophies in this debate, although we may wish to consider them at a later stage.

I also wish to convince hon. Members who support the Bill unamended, out of loyalty to the City Corporation, that the amendments are in line with the history of the City Corporation and with more recent statements by its senior representatives on the role of the City and on its future.

2 May 2001 : Column 943

First, let me address the Liberal Democratic arguments on these amendments. Liberalism has been the dominant ideology of this country for more than 300 years, from John Locke and J.S. Mill through to de Tocqueville. The liberal theory of what Macpherson described as possessive individualism has been the intellectual justification for the political and economic structures of this country. They have been adapted in support of the City corporation.

Mr. Corbyn: My hon. Friend is getting slightly carried away. There is a history of undemocratic practices in elections in and around the City in the not-too-distant past. Indeed, I draw his attention to the fact that John Wilkes was the last radical to represent the City. He was removed from the House.

Mr. Brooke rose--

Mr. McDonnell: I am not sure that an intervention can be made on a Member who is intervening, but one can be made on the main speaker. I give way.

Mr. Brooke: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who is most courteous, as he has been throughout proceedings. I hesitate to correct the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), but Wilkes, though a great man and though Lord Mayor, was never Member of Parliament for the City of London.

Mr. McDonnell: I suggest that my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North visit Hogarth house on the A4 to see the picture of Wilkes by Hogarth, which portrays a demon who did not necessarily support the democratic system overall.

Mr. Corbyn: I must insist on intervening again. The right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke) was hasty in attempting to intervene while I was intervening. Of course, he was not entitled to do so any way. My point was that Wilkes represented Middlesex and campaigned for a just electoral system, which did not apply, even in those days, in the City of London. Indeed, Wilkes represented the area that I represent, and the slogan was, "Vote for Wilkes and Liberty".

Mr. McDonnell: May I return to my appeal to the Liberal Democrat Members in the Chamber to support the amendment? My argument has at its heart the fact that liberal theory identifies the individual as the basic unit of society. To quote the excellent book "Using Political Ideas" by Barbara Goodwin, the

My amendment reflects the liberal philosophy of the primacy of the individual and it would recast the City corporation franchise not only by protecting and promoting the rights of the individual resident voters who

2 May 2001 : Column 944

qualify to vote by living in the geographical area of the City of London, but by establishing the democratic rights of the individual as worker or employee.

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