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28 Jan 2003 : Column 847—continued

Peter Bottomley: If the number of places is more than half the number of MPs, how can the Minister say that an independent Member does not justify a place? Surely one rounds up from half a place.

Mr. Bradshaw: Having had this conversation with officials earlier, I think I am right in saying that, given strict proportionality, the independents would have half the number of places. Obviously, that is impossible, but my point is that, statistically, the independents are generously represented in having one post.

In an intervention, the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) objected to the fact that, in their attempt to improve the representation of smaller parties, the Government bounced him into membership of the Standing Committee on the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill. I should say that I am in possession of an e-mail from the hon. Member for North Tayside, who is responsible for looking out for the interests of the smaller parties. According to that e-mail, he is requesting a place for that very Member on that Committee, so it is clear that there has been a breakdown of communication between them. When the Government try to do the right thing, we get it thrown in our faces.

Mr. Salmond: I hear that there are currently breakdowns in communication even within the Cabinet, never mind between anyone else. Let us get back to the key point of the arithmetic and the figures that the Minister read out. I want to introduce him to a little in the way of percentages. As I understand it, he said that the Liberal Democrats are over-represented by two—they have 40 places, instead of 38—and that the Scottish National party is under-represented by two: it has two places, instead of four. Does that not constitute a 50 per cent. under-representation for the SNP and a marginal over-representation for the Liberal Democrats? Let us accept for the sake of argument that the Minister's figures are correct. Does he not understand that, where a small number of places are involved, it is rather important to make sure that the party concerned has at least its full quota, if not considerably more?

Mr. Bradshaw: I have been totally up-front about this. I have made it absolutely clear that the Liberal Democrats are currently over-represented and that the

28 Jan 2003 : Column 848

nationalists are under-represented. In fact, the SNP is the most under-represented of all the small parties, but I agree entirely with my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr. McWilliam) that this is the very worst example of the case to be made for extra SNP representation—I understand that that is not what the amendment is asking for—because the nature of the Select Committee on the Lord Chancellor's Department means that, to a large extent, it does not deal with Scotland. Time and again, we have accepted the point that the SNP is under-represented.

Pete Wishart: I am grateful to the Minister for accepting that point, but does he also accept that the only reason the Democratic Unionist party, the Ulster Unionist party and the Social Democratic and Labour party are close to, or above, their accorded arithmetical representation is that they have to fill places on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee?

Mr. Bradshaw: The DUP is actually under-represented, even given that fact. Regardless of how one does the arithmetic, I was simply trying to give the House the figures on proportionality, and on representation on Committees.

Mr. Greg Knight: May I take the Minister back to the point made by the hon. Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay), who said that there is a case for the over-representation of minorities on Select Committees? Does the Minister not accept that a Government with a majority such as his ought to be a little more generous?

Mr. Bradshaw: As I have already pointed out, we are being much more generous than the right hon. Gentleman's party ever was when it was in power. If he will allow me, I was about to say how we hope to be even more generous in the future.

The hon. Member for North Tayside raised the specific issue of membership of Joint Committees. As he is involved in these discussions, he will be aware that the balances of such Committees are particularly complex, and that they must be approached case by case. However, discussions are under way through the usual channels, and although they are not complete, and although I would not want to pre-judge their outcome, the Government are confident that, in the right context, we can come up with a formula that can provide better representation for the smaller parties, while preserving those necessary balances. Such Committees might indeed need to be larger than normal, in order to achieve that.

I hope that the hon. Member for North Tayside will therefore feel reassured that the Government are trying to address the grievances that he raised. With that, I leave it to the Chairman of the Committee of Selection, if he wishes to, to reply to the debate.

8.14 pm

Mr. McWilliam: With permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall reply.

I have little to say save that it is a problem in a House of this size to make sure that everybody is represented, when some parties have four, three or two members here. As I said, we take it to three decimal places, and try

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our best to make sure that the ratios are accurate. We do our best to make sure that when representations are made to us, as they have been, we listen.

Regrettably, on occasion, we have to table a motion, but unless the House wants to overturn the system that it has used for a long time and introduce a system that may work in this Parliament but perhaps not in future, I suggest that it vote for tonight's motion. If it does not do so, what has been suggested could turn and bite if parliamentary proportions change dramatically.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 62, Noes 233.

Division No. 69
[8:16 pm


Amess, David
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Barker, Gregory
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Brady, Graham
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Burt, Alistair
Chope, Christopher
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Djanogly, Jonathan
Duncan Smith, rh Iain
Ewing, Annabelle
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Greenway, John
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Jack, rh Michael
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mackinlay, Andrew
Mercer, Patrick
Moss, Malcolm
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Randall, John
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Ruffley, David
Salmond, Alex
Simmonds, Mark
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Watkinson, Angela
Weir, Michael
Whittingdale, John
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)

Tellers for the Ayes:

Pete Wishart and
Hywel Williams


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allan, Richard
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Barron, rh Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, rh A. J.
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Borrow, David
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Breed, Colin
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burnett, John
Burnham, Andy
Burstow, Paul
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chidgey, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, hon. Ross
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Dawson, Hilton
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Donohoe, Brian H.
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Edwards, Huw
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Farrelly, Paul
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foulkes, rh George
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Heath, David
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Holmes, Paul
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Humble, Mrs Joan
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby)
Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lamb, Norman
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
Lyons, John (Strathkelvin)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCartney, rh Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
MacDougall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McNulty, Tony
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Merron, Gillian
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr. Lewis
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Oaten, Mark (Winchester)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Olner, Bill
Organ, Diana
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Prosser, Gwyn
Purnell, James
Quinn, Lawrie
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sawford, Phil
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh John
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stringer, Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Watts, David
White, Brian
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Winnick, David
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Jim Fitzpatrick and
Mr. Fraser Kemp

Question accordingly negatived.

28 Jan 2003 : Column 851

Main Question put and agreed to.


28 Jan 2003 : Column 852

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