Previous SectionIndexHome Page

5 Nov 2002 : Column 235—continued

Mr. Hogg: Too nice.

Mr. Letwin: Indeed. Tonight, however, I shall take it on trust that the Minister has behind her not her unpersuasive remarks but some genuine jurisprudence, some legal opinion that can be put before the House in rapid order, so that when the measure goes before the Lords tomorrow I can reassure my noble Friends that we have genuinely achieved a constrained and acceptable power. The matter is of some importance because the Bill could founder on it.

Mr. Blunkett: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way, despite his comments on the eloquence of my hon. Friend the Minister.

The hon. Gentleman asked whether the narrow interpretation was correct. The answer is yes. We do not seek to introduce parent legislation by edict, fiat or anything else. The hon. Gentleman asked whether we would introduce jurisprudence. We shall certainly look for examples for the Lords debate tomorrow, but I cannot promise that we shall be debating jurisprudence in the Lords, rather than what is before us, on a narrow interpretation that mirrors exactly what has been done, including under the last Conservative Government—not least in the Local Government Act 1992.

Mr. Letwin: That is immensely helpful, not merely because of the Home Secretary's words but because he said them at the Dispatch Box. As I understand the implications of Pepper v. Hart, that will have some influence in determining how a court reads the provision.

Mr. Hogg: Although it is gratifying to hear the words of the Home Secretary, it is important to keep in mind

5 Nov 2002 : Column 236

that he can bind only his own Government. He cannot bind his successors. We are thus thrown back on the language of the clause and the amendment.

Mr. Letwin: I accept my right hon. and learned Friend's point: the Home Secretary cannot bind anybody but himself. Indeed, the history of his relationship with his predecessor as Home Secretary amply indicates that one Home Secretary does not bind the next. However, I think that my right hon. and learned Friend will agree that the courts are likely to look at what the Home Secretary has just said when they interpret the statute, so the right hon. Gentleman's comments were most helpful. Let us hope, moreover—

Mr. Hogg: The Home Secretary did not give an interpretation, only a statement of his intent—

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Letwin: As I understand the matter, under the Pepper v. Hart doctrine, for a Minister—especially the Home Secretary in a measure that he has sponsored—to make a statement of his intent is to give something close to an interpretation, or something that has some force as an interpretation. However, I shall leave that point as we are in the hands of great legal experts on both sides of the House—I am not among them.

Let us hope that the point will be proved beyond doubt when the Home Secretary's gallant offer to produce some jurisprudential material is put before the House of Lords tomorrow.

Mr. Fisher: Like the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin), I was considerably reassured to hear the Home Secretary say that it was not his intention to interpret the provision as the hon. Gentleman suggested. Hon. Members on both sides of the House welcome that. However, the point made by the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) related not only to future Governments, but also to what is possible under the Bill.

The fact that the Home Secretary has given his word about his intentions and about what he will not do is extremely welcome and reassuring, but it does not change the fact that another interpretation of the Bill would be possible. I should be grateful if the Home Secretary or the Minister would answer the genuine question that I put earlier. That was not about whether the provision was useful in rectifying or clarifying, but about whether it could be used to add to the Bill. That is a crucial element.

My question was genuine, although the Minister seemed to think that I was trying to be clever and already knew the answer. Perhaps I am naive, but I do not know the answer. If weaknesses in the Bill are revealed later, does the word Xconsequential"—a consequence being a failing in the Bill—allow the present Home Secretary or a future Home Secretary to introduce completely new initiatives? They might shore up the measure—perhaps desirably so—but that is not the interpretation that either the Home Secretary or the Minister are trying to put on the matter. There is an enormous difference between the two interpretations and I genuinely seek an answer.

Beverley Hughes: I can give my hon. Friend the assurance that he seeks. The power would not allow

5 Nov 2002 : Column 237

either this Home Secretary, or indeed any future Home Secretary, to introduce a new provision of the kind that he has described. The words that the Home Secretary has uttered from the Dispatch Box apply not only to him but to any future Home Secretary.

Mr. Fisher: I am grateful for that clarification and reassurance. I suspect that that was heard on both sides of the House and I hope that other hon. Members will be reassured by it.

This exchange has been very useful because this practice is becoming far too common. The Minister referred to examples going back to 1992. Both Governments over the past 10 years have been guilty of using such provision. Too many pieces of legislation have opened doors. It is one thing, in the words my hon. Friend used in citing the Adoption and Children Bill, to give full effect to a provision. Of course, when that is so, the phrase Xconsequential and incidental" makes absolute sense. Every piece of legislation needs interpretation at the edge, but that is very different from opening a door in order to add substantively to the initiatives taken in a Bill. If the Minister and the Home Secretary say that Xconsequential" cannot be interpreted in such a way under this legislation, I shall be satisfied, relieved and happy. However, I remain worried; it will be interesting to see the matter considered at greater length.

Simon Hughes: I am conscious that we are on the last lap: we have considered 311 amendments in six and a quarter hours; 20 Government amendments were tabled late last night; and the Government also wanted us to overthrow 22 Lords amendments today. In this last group, there are three important matters, but we shall hardly be able to touch on two of them.

There is a significant issue in Lords amendment No. 98, which changes the law retrospectively. Had we the time, we would have moved our amendment to omit the retrospective nature of the provision, but in the absence of that I ask the House to vote against the Lords amendment because of that fundamental breach of principle.

There is a significant issue to do with the extension of powers outside the United Kingdom. Let us consider that we have immigration control at Sangatte, for example. We have argued that the same rights should apply to people whose asylum cases are processed there as they do in the UK. We therefore ask Members to refuse to assent to the proposed provision.

The final issue that has occupied us is the amendment to the so-called Henry VIII clause. Both the Minister and the Home Secretary have given reassurance on the point, but the amendment should not have been tabled at the last moment and only in the Lords. Even as amended, we are not satisfied that the provision will not allow some risk of further major legislation. I therefore hope that the House will stand up against anything that allows the Government to take power for the Executive that has not been expressly authorised by Parliament.

This Bill is full of new Executive powers. It takes away rights of appeal; it does not allow some people to appeal in this country; it leaves to Ministers decisions that were previously taken by the courts. On the Liberal Democrat Benches, we have tried for months in both

5 Nov 2002 : Column 238

Houses to resist such proposals. We have put up a good fight in the other place and the Lords have done a very good job. As a commentator in the press made clear today, our job is to stand up to such Government usurpation of power. We shall do so, and I hope that colleagues join us in the Lobby when we have our last opportunity to vote against what are several steps too far and several powers too many in dealing with some of the most vulnerable in our society.

It being Ten o'clock, Mr. Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Lords amendment disagreed to.

New Clause

Lords amendment: No. 225, before clause 137, to insert the following new clause—Consequential and incidental provision.

Amendment made to the Lords amendment: (a), leave out

and insert 'consequential or incidental provision'.—[Beverley Hughes.]

Motion made, and Question put, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment, as amended.—[Beverley Hughes.]

The House divided: Ayes 301, Noes 62.

Division No. 353
[10:00 pm


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Hilary
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, rh David
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Byers, rh Stephen
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, hon. Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clarke, rh Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, hon. Ross
Cruddas, Jon
Cummings, John
Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack (Copeland)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Donaldson, Jeffrey M.
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hain, rh Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Heppell, John
Hermon, Lady
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hood, Jimmy (Clydesdale)
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Ingram, rh Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Kaufman, rh Gerald
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCartney, rh Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
MacDougall, John
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mahmood, Khalid
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, rh Peter
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, rh Michael
Merron, Gillian
Milburn, rh Alan
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Mole, Chris
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Elliot
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan (Wansdyke)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Paisley, Rev. Ian
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Pollard, Kerry
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prescott, rh John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, rh Dr. John (Hamilton N & Bellshill)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike (Batley)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James (Glasgow Baillieston)
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Charlotte Atkins and
Mr. Jim Murphy


Allan, Richard
Barrett, John
Beith, rh A. J.
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Bruce, Malcolm
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Campbell, rh Menzies (NE Fife)
Carmichael, Alistair
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Doughty, Sue
Drew, David (Stroud)
Ewing, Annabelle
Foster, Don (Bath)
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gerrard, Neil
Gidley, Sandra
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Harvey, Nick
Heath, David
Hogg, rh Douglas
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness)
Kirkwood, Archy
Lamb, Norman
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Llwyd, Elfyn
McDonnell, John
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury & Atcham)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Oaten, Mark (Winchester)
Öpik, Lembit
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Pugh, Dr. John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sedgemore, Brian
Soames, Nicholas
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Stunell, Andrew
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Wishart, Pete
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:

Sir Robert Smith and
Tom Brake

Question accordingly agreed to.

5 Nov 2002 : Column 241

Lords amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 45, 88, 126, 192, 216 and 224 disagreed to.

Motion made, and Question put, That this House agrees with the Lords in their remaining amendments.—[Beverley Hughes.]

The House divided: Ayes 299, Noes 57.

Next Section

IndexHome Page