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Mrs. Gillan: Rarely have I heard such a load of rubbish from a Secretary of State. No wonder he did not take very long to reply to the debate—he had very few good points to make.
30 Jan 2006 : Column 126

The confusion that the Secretary of State says is suffered by the electorate is no such thing. The only confusion that we are seeing is confusion by the Government. They have found themselves with Labour Members facing a problem that has now been identified as the Leanne Wood problem. To deal with that, the Labour party has taken the heavy-handed approach and decided to change the electoral system in Wales.

Throughout this debate, we have asked for evidence of the confusion experienced by the electorate and the only evidence that the Secretary of State can give us is a quote from something from the, in his view, independent Bevan Foundation. That research has not been made available to any Members of the House and, when the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. David) introduced it, he did not even say who had commissioned it, who had paid for it and when it would be available to Members.

Mr. David rose—

Mrs. Gillan: I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman, so that he can answer the questions that he failed to answer when I intervened on him earlier.

Mr. David: The hon. Lady can have a copy immediately. It is in the British Library and the National Library of Wales; it is widely available. The foundation is entirely independent and it is an entirely independent report. Independence obviously hurts the hon. Lady.

Mrs. Gillan: Who paid for the report?

Mr. David: It was paid for by Members.

Mrs. Gillan: There we have it—an entirely independent report was paid for by Labour Members.

Mr. Salmond: I will be brief because I do not want to interrupt this. When the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. David) says, "Members," does he mean Members' allowances? What aspect of the word "Members" does he mean?

Mr. David rose—

Mrs. Gillan: I will take an intervention from the hon. Member for Caerphilly if he would like to answer that question.

Mr. David: Absolutely. I am more than happy to give transparency to hon. Members. The matter has been cleared by the House authorities. The report is independent. It was commissioned from an independent foundation—it is independent research.

Mrs. Gillan: I think that we have established that we are talking about a Labour party report that was commissioned by Labour Members—it is not independent at all. Although we have heard anecdotal allusions to people wishing to change the electoral system, not one scrap of evidence has been put forward.

Adam Price: Does not the hon. Lady find it absolutely astonishing that although we have heard repeated
30 Jan 2006 : Column 127
accusations from Labour Members about the abuse of position of an Assembly Member, we find that a Labour Member is using his parliamentary allowance—taxpayers' money—for a report that is clearly to the advantage of the party that he represents?

Mrs. Gillan rose—

The Second Deputy Chairman: Order. It would be helpful if the hon. Lady would return more directly to the amendment.

Mrs. Gillan: I will try to be helpful to the Chair, but I think that the intervention made by the hon. Member for Carmarthen, East and Dinefwr (Adam Price) is worthy of further scrutiny. Hon. Members have been flinging rather dangerous allegations around the Chamber and effectively accusing Assembly Members of abusing their allowances. If Assembly Members have abused their allowances, that is a matter for the Assembly and its Standing Orders. Such abuses should be catalogued and brought before the proper authorities. I am not entirely sure how the allowances of the hon. Member for Caerphilly are used, but there will be an opportunity—

Mr. David: On a point of order, Sir Michael. Serious accusations are being made on the Floor of the House. I want to state absolutely categorically that such accusations are deplorable. The report was an independent piece of research that was commissioned from an independent research institute—

The Second Deputy Chairman: Order. That is not a matter for the Chair; it is more a matter for debate.

Mrs. Gillan: Methinks the hon. Gentleman doth protest too much, Sir Michael, but it will be interesting to find out exactly who paid for the research, as I am sure that we will eventually.

I do not wish to detain the Committee for too long because we have had a long debate on the amendment. To be quite frank, I would be ashamed to be bringing forward such a proposal if I were Secretary of State for Wales. It has been established beyond all reasonable doubt that it is a party political move by the Labour party on behalf of Labour politicians, who have certainly had it all their own way, but now cannot face the competition. It is clear that there has been no demand for such a measure because otherwise evidence would have been put before the Committee, or at least placed in the Library. No other party in the House or the Assembly has demanded a change to the electoral arrangements. Most leading commentators—certainly the Electoral Commission—and many academics have spoken out clearly against the measure.

There is no doubt that the Secretary of State is putting forward a grubby little measure. He has not even had the decency to discuss it with the Presiding Officer of the Assembly. I wanted to discover how well and even-handedly the Secretary of State had consulted people in the Welsh Assembly, so I read the evidence that the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales
30 Jan 2006 : Column 128
gave to the Welsh Affairs Committee on 31 October 2005. When he was asked whether the White Paper represented the Assembly's view, he said:

The Secretary of State did not even bother to discuss the matter with the Presiding Officer and I understand from the evidence given by the Presiding Officer that he did not discuss it with the Assembly parliamentary service, either. The Presiding Officer said:

Mr. Hain rose—

Mrs. Gillan: The Secretary of State wants me to give way—and I am sure that he has discussed the subject with the Presiding Officer since that was reported on 31 October. However, it remains the case that there has been no proper consultation, of which hon. Members have seen any evidence, with the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly.

Mr. Hain: The hon. Lady is making an important point, so just for the record, may I say that I have discussed this matter with the Presiding Officer on a number of occasions over a number of months? It has been a live policy for a very long time.

Mrs. Gillan: In that case, the Select Committee evidence from 31 October 2005 must be incorrect. I expect that the Secretary of State will be speaking to Hansard to get the transcript altered, because that is all down in black and white at paragraphs 145 and 146 of the evidence.

As I have said, we have before us a grubby proposal that is not supported by the voters or by any party except the Minister's own, nor by any leading group of independent academics. The only people who say that they can stand the policy up are those who produced a piece of party-bought research. I invite Opposition Members, as well as any other Members from Wales who have respect for the people of Wales, to stop this gerrymandering and vote for our amendment.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 200, Noes 280.

Division No. 146
[9.56 pm


Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Amess, Mr. David
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Bruce, Malcolm
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Cameron, rh Mr. David
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Conway, Derek
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Featherstone, Lynne
Forth, rh Mr. Eric
Foster, Mr. Don
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Holmes, Paul
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Johnson, Mr. Boris
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McCrea, Dr. William
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Mr. George
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mr. Peter
Rogerson, Mr. Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Rowen, Paul
Ruffley, Mr. David
Russell, Bob
Salmond, Mr. Alex
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wright, Jeremy
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:

Michael Fabricant and
Angela Watkinson


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Balls, Ed
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Benn, rh Hilary
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Browne, rh Mr. Des
Bryant, Chris
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobson, rh Frank
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Mr. Jimmy
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Levitt, Tom
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh Mr. John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meale, Mr. Alan
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Short, rh Clare
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, Ms Rosie
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Alan Campbell and
Gillian Merron

Question accordingly negatived.

30 Jan 2006 : Column 132

It being after Ten o'clock, The Second Deputy Chairman put the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at that hour, pursuant to Order [9 January].

Clause 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 8 to 27 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Clauses 28 to 58 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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