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We should consider the reality of the Bill before us, including what are purported to be Government concessions. I repeat that giving a concession with one hand while including, in the same group of
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amendments, a new clause that provides for repeal of that concession, seems an extraordinary way of doing business.

Basically, this is a centralising Bill that concentrates power directly in the hands of the Secretary of State and his appointees. What clearer illustration of that could there be than the fact that the Home Secretary presented as a major concession the provision for probation trust chairmen to be drawn from the areas in which the trusts work. That is not a concession but local accountability—the chair should have a relationship to the area with which the trust is involved.

The Bill will result in a great failing in accountability. At the moment, if a mistake is made in the probation service, the service is publicly accountable, both locally and nationally. The Home Secretary can order an inquiry and the probation inspectorate can conduct an inquiry on its own initiative. We can raise such matters in the House, and remedy or improvement can be made. Under the contracted-out arrangements, if there are errors the best that can happen is a breach of contract, which is remediable under civil law. That is not the way in which such a desperately important service should operate. We face the prospect of newly appointed commissioners with no direct experience commissioning services from newly appointed operatives with no direct experience of providing such services. We opposed the Bill on Second Reading, and we have been entirely consistent in our view. We hoped that the Secretary of State would redesign the Bill to achieve the objectives that he set out today, but he has not done so. He has not taken the advice proffered in Committee and on the Floor of the House, and for that reason, we stand resolute, and we will oppose the Bill again this evening.

6.51 pm

Sir Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough) (Lab): I well remember a story about how Winston Churchill sat in the gardens of No. 10, dictating to his secretary the words, “I had not intended to intervene in this debate”. I certainly did not intend to intervene, but it is an important debate on an important subject. It is a matter for the Government, and it has been subject to consultation and amendment. It has been severely trawled by the media and it has attracted a great deal of attention in the country.

Stephen Pound (Ealing, North) (Lab): Like me, my hon. Friend will have listened with great interest to the contribution of the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath), in which he discussed local accountability. Will my hon. Friend tell us, on the basis of his considerable experience in local and national government, what knowledge he has of the marvellous world of local accountability which apparently exists in the probation service at the present time?

Sir Stuart Bell: I have worked for 23 years and more with the probation service in Middlesbrough. It is an excellent service, and it works extremely well with those with whom it must deal. As a Member of Parliament, I have the closest relationship with it. I listened with great interest to the speech by the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath), as I know that he had not mugged up on the subject before yesterday. He
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had to work extremely hard to gain the knowledge that he put before the House of Commons on a great parliamentary occasion.

Mr. Heath: As the hon. Gentleman referred to the subject, may I state that I have represented my party on home affairs for quite a few years? Before doing so, I was chairman of a police authority, and before that I was leader of Somerset county council, which had responsibility for the probation service, so I think I know one or two things about the subject.

Sir Stuart Bell: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, but I can reveal a secret. I was in the Tea Room yesterday when he stated that he was mugging up on the subject at the last moment. That may be one of the secrets of the Tea Room, which I overheard from him. I am sure that his knowledge of the subject is deep. I would not wish to stand in the House of Commons and say that a Liberal Member of Parliament making a speech on the Floor of the House did not speak with the utmost sincerity, based on the greatest possible knowledge of the subject.

Over 23 years in the House—24 years now—one of the things that I learned early on was sincerity. Are the speakers on both sides of the House speaking with the utmost sincerity? I have found, much to my regret, that on many occasions that has not been the case. I am sure that if there is a feeling that the Bill may give the Government some difficulty—

Stephen Pound: Nobody could doubt the utter sincerity of my hon. Friend. Is he implying by his comments that, heaven forfend, there may be an element of opportunism in some of the opposition to the Bill?

Sir Stuart Bell: I would not wish, after 24 years of never having been called to account—

Stephen Pound: It was 23 a minute ago.

Sir Stuart Bell: Time passes quickly, even in the House. It passes even more quickly when one is enjoying oneself, and more quickly still when one is able to make an impromptu speech. The best speeches come from the heart, as this one does.

Tom Levitt: My hon. Friend will have noticed that the Back Benches of the official Opposition were empty throughout the major part of this afternoon’s debate, and that that party had no view on the key amendments and clauses that the House was discussing. Does that not suggest that, having not been present for most of the debate, opposing the Bill on Third Reading is indeed opportunist?

Sir Stuart Bell: I am not entirely sure whether the word “opportunism” is unparliamentary or otherwise, but opportunism in a debate such as this on a matter such as this would indicate a great deal of opportunism.

I am told that many of my own hon. Friends intend to vote against the Government on Third Reading. I have to tell them with the utmost sincerity that they were never sent to the House to vote against a Labour
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Government. They will get no thanks from their supporters in their constituency. I surmise that at the end of the day they will get no support from the probation services. They will certainly get no support from their right hon. and hon. Friends who have supported the Government and who continue to support the Government.

Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend recognise that a number of us who voted against Second Reading and for an amendment this afternoon work closely with our probation services and are genuinely concerned about how the knee-jerk privatisation of part of the service will follow through to improving reoffending rates? We have not heard that argument made.

Sir Stuart Bell: What is proposed is not a privatisation. The essence of Parliament and of debate is for all those points to be made, as my hon. Friend made them, but at the end of the day the Government must make a decision and must expect that, as they have a majority, the House will support that decision. If my hon. Friend intends to vote against Third Reading, he ought to reconsider. He should ask himself whether he has made the points sincerely on behalf of those who have approached him—

Mr. Betts: Will my hon. Friend make clear an important point that the Home Secretary made earlier, which all our colleagues may not have heard? He made it clear that services will not be required to be put out to the private or voluntary sector. What will be required is a test of which would be the most suitable provider, whether that be in the voluntary, private or public sector, according to the same principles of best value as most of us supported in respect of local government.

Sir Stuart Bell: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point.

Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con): Is the hon. Gentleman really advocating party before conscience?

Sir Stuart Bell: I am sorry—I did not hear the hon. Gentleman’s point. Would he like to repeat it?

Sir Patrick Cormack: I am delighted to repeat it. Was the hon. Gentleman, in his reply to the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Paul Farrelly), advocating party before conscience?

Sir Stuart Bell: If the hon. Gentleman, who has sat in this place for longer than I have, wishes this Parliament to become an Italian Parliament where anyone votes in any way they like on any issue—

It being Seven o’clock, Mr. Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair, pursuant to Order [this day].

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 293, Noes 268.
Division No. 062]
[7 pm


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blair, rh Mr. Tony
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Mr. Gordon
Brown, Lyn
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burnham, Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Creagh, Mary
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hermon, Lady
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hood, Mr. Jimmy
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian

Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Lucas, Ian
MacDougall, Mr. John
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, Dr. Alasdair
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mountford, Kali
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
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Seabeck, Alison
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, rh Keith
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire

Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woodward, Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Frank Roy and
Jonathan Shaw

Abbott, Ms Diane
Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Bacon, Mr. Richard
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
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burgon, Colin
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Caton, Mr. Martin
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clark, Ms Katy
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Conway, Derek
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice and Howden)
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Drew, Mr. David
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Farrelly, Paul
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr. Mark
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Mr. Don
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Galloway, Mr. George
Garnier, Mr. Edward
George, Andrew
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Grogan, Mr. John
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Havard, Mr. Dai
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holmes, Paul
Hopkins, Kelvin

Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Johnson, Mr. Boris
Jones, Mr. David
Jones, Lynne
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Key, Robert
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McDonnell, John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rogerson, Mr. Dan
Rowen, Paul
Ruffley, Mr. David
Russell, Bob
Salmond, Mr. Alex
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Alan
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, David
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Tredinnick, David
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Walter, Mr. Robert
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
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

Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wishart, Pete
Wood, Mike
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Crispin Blunt and
Andrew Rosindell
Question accordingly agreed to.
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Bill read the Third time, and passed.

Mr. Richard Benyon (Newbury) (Con) rose—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I remind the House that there is other business to be done, so if hon. Members are not staying for the petition and the debate on maggots, please leave immediately.

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