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However, a greater problem is already on the radar. It appears as though a collision is looming between the
21 July 2009 : Column 782
Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority and the Committee on Standards in Public Life. Sir Christopher Kelly would appear to have been angered by the origin and the passage of the Bill. The battle lines already seem to be drawn between the Bill and the Kelly committee, which is studying so much of what we do.

Sir Christopher Kelly has said that he views IPSA as a transitional arrangement, against which he may come out strongly in his report in October. Far from being a great, lasting solution to a deep problem that has hit us all in the past few months, it now appears that we should be prepared for a substantial showdown between the new body that we are establishing to set and administer our expenses, and the old body that we set up to advise on them.

Mr. Straw: Does the hon. Gentleman acknowledge the point, which I made to Sir Christopher and his colleagues when I gave evidence to his committee last week, that his committee called for entirely independent setting and administration of allowances-and pay-and for having those arrangements well established before the election? As I explained to Sir Christopher and his colleagues, unless we put the legislation through now, there is no way we could have the arrangements in place and settled before the next election.

Alan Duncan: In the Secretary of State's intervention we see the seeds of the very confrontation that Sir Christopher Kelly has-if not predicted-at least suggested that he would have a view on. We would all like a solution to the way in which we are paid and the way in which our expenses are administered, so that all of us, with our honourable differences, can get on with our job of being politicians. In a few months' time, this Bill may or may not turn out to be a good start to that end. We must wait and see. In the meantime, we accept the amendments that were made in another place, and we want to press on.

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD): May I first concur with the views of my hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Sir Robert Smith)? It is ridiculous that so few Members will have the opportunity to speak about the Bill, which was so markedly changed in another place and affects every Member. It is simply not right.

Sir Patrick Cormack: Twelve minutes left.

Mr. Heath: It is not my fault that there are 12 minutes left-I wish it were otherwise.

The Bill initially had clear and admirable intentions. It was supported by the leaders of all the parties represented in the House as an urgent and necessary measure. It was then inflated to an unsustainable extent, and we went from a proposed parliamentary standards Act to an amazing vanishing act as provisions disappeared in the face of strong arguments adduced by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the Procedure Committee and many others, which looked at the matter and perceived the many difficulties. Essentially, we now have a Bill to set up the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority-IPSA is "facta" as a result of the Bill, but very little else is.

21 July 2009 : Column 783
5.30 pm

The Bill is emergency legislation. It does a key thing that Parliament has willed shall happen. In doing so, the Bill has stepped on the toes of parliamentary privilege to an unacceptable degree. That aspect has been improved by amendment in another place, but I very much regret the fact that we do not have a proper sunset clause, because it is right that Parliament should re-examine the legislation in the near future, for all the reasons that have been set out previously. That should be done on the Floor of the House, not in a Statutory Instrument Committee. The hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Alan Duncan) said that his right hon. Friend the Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory) could say something about the deficiencies of the legislation when the sunset clause came up, but unless he is selected to appear on the Statutory Instrument Committee, he will have no such opportunity. That is regrettable. A proper sunset clause should have been included in the Bill.

Let me deal with the three offences that were originally intended under the legislation. I have a difficulty with what is proposed, because- [ Interruption. ] The hon. Member for Rutland and Melton is saying something from a sedentary position that I must allow him to say in public.

Alan Duncan: Is it not the case that the hon. Gentleman's party voted against a full sunset clause-or at least argued against one-in another place?

Mr. Heath: The hon. Gentleman needs to look at Lords Hansard from yesterday, where he will find the amendment from my noble Friend Lord Tyler that precisely said that a sunset clause should come into effect after two years to deal with the clauses in question. The hon. Gentleman will find that my party supported that, while his did not. If he wishes to argue that case, I hope that he will read Lords Hansard. [ Interruption. ] He had better have a look before making another intervention.

Let me deal with the specific offences dealt with by the Bill. I am in some difficultly, because there are already clear offences on the statute book covered by the Theft Act 1968, the Fraud Act 2006 and the common-law offence of misconduct in public office. I accept that they are all English laws and do not apply in Scotland, but they are the laws that should be applied. The difficulty with creating laws that are specific to Members of Parliament is that it reduces the scope of those offences and provides a lower tariff than would otherwise be the case. The one offence that is left in the Bill as a result of the amendments in another place provides for a much lower tariff than the cognate offences in the Theft Act and Fraud Act. The other difficulty is that the offence in question does not require proof of either dishonesty or material gain, so it is almost an arbitrary offence.

There was a case for having a range of offences-the range of offences that we discussed earlier in connection with paid advocacy, which I accept may be covered by the draft bribery Bill or the offence of false registration. To reduce that range of offences to a single offence that is clearly covered by other offences that carry a higher tariff poses some questions. However, that is something that we can re-examine when the provisions come back.

21 July 2009 : Column 784

Let me finish by addressing the issue raised by the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash). I always listen with enormous care to what he says on such matters, because I know how well he researches his facts and I know the care with which he presents his case. I am pleased that we now have a clear declaratory statement about article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1689. I have looked carefully at his arguments for extending it in words to the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights, but I am afraid that I simply cannot see doing that anything other than otiose, nor can I find the circumstances in which it will make a difference.

As has been said, the European Court of Human Rights is a matter of international treaty. It is the right of any individual to make an application to the Strasbourg court, and nothing that we write into our statutes will prevent that from happening, unless we decide to withdraw from our treaty obligations. Therefore, the proposal will not affect that right. Indeed, in the case to which attention has already been drawn-A. v. United Kingdom of 2003-it is clear that the Strasbourg Court very much had regard for article 9 of the Bill of Rights, despite the fact that the Court is not bound by it, in the strong majority decision that was made. I cannot envisage any circumstances in which a British court would refer a matter to the European Court of Justice in this regard. If anyone could provide a clear case in which the measure might be appropriate, I would support the hon. Member for Stone's amendment.

Mr. Jenkin: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Heath: I am sorry, but I do not have time to take an intervention. Other people still wish to speak, and we simply do not have enough time.

Mr. Jenkin: There are circumstances.

Mr. Heath: I cannot see any such circumstances; nor could the Attorney-General, according to her very full statement in the other place, and nor could other noble and learned Members of the other place whose opinions I trust. I therefore conclude that I cannot envisage circumstances in which the extra wording would be operative, and if it cannot be operative, it is not appropriate to insert it into the Bill. I support the Lords amendments in their generality, and I hope that the Bill will now make progress this afternoon.

Sir Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough) (Lab): I will be brief, Mr. Deputy Speaker. First, I would like to render the House's significant approbation for the work of the Clerk of the House, Dr. Malcolm Jack, and of Mr. Robert Rogers in dealing with the privilege question. They were aided and abetted by the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young) and others. The Bill, with the amendments before us, will end the cosy relationship between the Fees Office and the Members of Parliament-notwithstanding the sterling work that the staff of the Fees Office have done over the years. It should be placed on record that the Justice Secretary and the Deputy Leader of the House have shown extraordinary patience and forbearance in this matter, and started from scratch, as my right hon. Friend said. As we are celebrating the first landing on the moon 40 years ago, it seems appropriate to say that this might
21 July 2009 : Column 785
be one small step for Parliament, but it should be a more important step towards restoring public confidence in the institution of Parliament.

Sir George Young: In the very short time left, I want to have a final go at amending the Bill. I invite the Government not to press Lords amendment 12 to a vote. The amendment is a big mistake. It would remove the right of IPSA to refer a matter to the commissioner. The notes that the Government have circulated on the amendments state:

It is no such thing; this is an entirely free-standing proposal. The amendment represents a backward step. If we pass it, IPSA will be unable to pass any evidence of wrongdoing to the commissioner for investigation. It cannot be right for the House to proceed with Lords amendment 12.

There are other issues that I would have liked to explore, had more time been available. I want to protest that this is simply no way in which to handle constitutional legislation. When we debated the Bill before it went to the other place, we did not complete our consideration of all the clauses. It then had three days in the other place, but at least there were gaps between those three days, in which Members of the other place could reflect on the proposals and Ministers could make helpful suggestions. The Bill has now come back to us. The Lords did not mean us simply to take it or leave it, yet all these disparate amendments have been lumped together. Anyone who wants to vote against Lords amendment 12, as I do, will have no opportunity to do so, because of the way in which the motion has been framed.

Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP): Does not the right hon. Gentleman's point about Lords amendment 12 also apply to a number of the other amendments? Their net effect will be that we shall end up with an IPSA with less independence and less authority, and which will be concerned with fewer and lower standards.

Sir George Young: If there were more time, the hon. Gentleman would have an opportunity to make his case-

Sir Patrick Cormack: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I apologise to my right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young) for interrupting him. This is such a parliamentary farce. We have had just one hour in which to discuss all these important issues, and my right hon. Friend has just touched on a very important one. Would you be kind enough, Sir, to discuss with Mr. Speaker the way in which this Bill has gone through the House? He told us all that he was anxious for Parliament to regain its sovereignty, so would you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, be kind enough to ask him to look at the statements that he made just four weeks ago and compare and contrast them with the way in which the Government have treated this House over this supremely important Bill?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I am sure that Mr. Speaker will take account of what has been said in this debate.

21 July 2009 : Column 786

Sir George Young: Whatever peroration I may have been preparing-

5.40 pm

Debate interrupted (Programme Order, this day)

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair (Standing Order No. 83 F ) , That amendment (a) to Lords amendment 1 be made.

The House divided: Ayes 82, Noes 276.

Division No. 208]
[5.40 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Amess, Mr. David
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Binley, Mr. Brian
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Butterfill, Sir John
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clark, Greg
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davies, Philip
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Field, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Christopher
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Hayes, Mr. John
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Loughton, Tim
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Neill, Robert
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Ottaway, Richard
Price, Adam
Pritchard, Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mrs. Iris
Rosindell, Andrew
Simmonds, Mark
Stanley, rh Sir John
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Syms, Mr. Robert
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Wilshire, Mr. David
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

James Duddridge and
Mr. Rob Wilson

Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Baker, Norman
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz

Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, rh Mr. Ben
Brake, Tom
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, rh Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Chapman, Ben
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Cohen, Harry
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
David, Mr. Wayne
Davies, Mr. Dai
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Durkan, Mark
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gilroy, Linda
Goodman, Helen
Grogan, Mr. John
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harris, Mr. Tom
Harvey, Nick
Havard, Mr. Dai
Heath, Mr. David
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, rh Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, Simon
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Kidney, Mr. David
Knight, rh Jim
Kramer, Susan
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laws, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob

Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
Mason, John
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh Edward
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moore, Mr. Michael
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mulholland, Greg
Munn, Meg
Murphy, rh Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr. John
Purnell, rh James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Roy, Lindsay
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, Sir Robert
Snelgrove, Anne
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Swinson, Jo
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Matthew
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Todd, Mr. Mark
Trickett, Jon
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
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Willis, Mr. Phil
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wishart, Pete
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. John Heppell and
Mr. Dave Watts
Question accordingly negatived.
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