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I am certain that wise counsel on both sides of the House will enthusiastically support the Bill. It has the support of the workers I have met from Lindsey and
2 Mar 2010 : Column 807
Staythorpe, and of their unions as a way forward out of the disputes. Morally and economically, they are in the right and their employers are in the wrong.

Question put and agreed to.


That John Mann, Mr. Jamie Reed, Mr. Lindsay Hoyle, Mr. Frank Field, Bob Spink and Mr. Robert Flello present the Bill.

John Mann accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 12 March, and to be printed (Bill 80).

2 Mar 2010 : Column 808

Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill (Money) (No. 4)

Queen's recommendation signified.

Mr. Speaker: I call the right hon. Member for East Ham (Mr. Timms).

The right hon. Gentleman looks distinctly quizzical. For his enlightenment, let me explain that I was referring to the money motion relating to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill. I was advised by those in the know that the right hon. Gentleman would be moving it, but if the Secretary of State for Justice wishes to do so, we look forward to that with interest.

3.50 pm

The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): Even Homer nodded, Mr. Speaker.

On behalf of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham (Mr. Timms), I beg to move,

The motion, which adds to previous money resolutions, relates to two matters: the establishment of regional counting officers, which will be necessary for the proper administration of the referendum on voting systems to which the House has already agreed; and the provision of funds for the implementation of the Dacre report. Some extra costs will be involved in connection with that as the period within which official records must generally be released will be compressed from 30 years to 20.

3.51 pm

Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) (Con): I am sorry to disappoint the Secretary of State. If he had moved a money motion merely to deal with the Dacre proposals, I would have had no difficulty accepting it. However, the motion is also intended to facilitate the referendum on the alternative vote system, which we believe will prove both costly and utterly unnecessary, so we intend to oppose it.

3.52 pm

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD): I feel a little sorry for the right hon. Member for East Ham (Mr. Timms), who, despite being in the Chamber and despite having put his name to a motion, was clearly entirely unprepared to speak to the motion that he had apparently tabled.

Having heard from the Lord Chancellor, I am a little at a loss to understand why this motion is needed in addition to the money resolution that was agreed before our last discussion on the Bill with regard to the referendum,
2 Mar 2010 : Column 809
although not in respect of the National Archives, which is being raised for the first time today. Perhaps the Lord Chancellor will explain why the previous money resolution was incomplete or improper in some way, and why we need this motion to deal with a matter that I thought the House had already determined, by means of a Division, when we last discussed the Bill.

3.53 pm

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): When a Government are as deeply in debt as this Government-when they are building up so much taxpayer debt-it behoves a senior Cabinet Minister at least to extend to the House the courtesy of explaining how much additional money is in question, why the expenditure represents value for money, and what action the Government have taken to try to ensure that the sums spent would be the minimum necessary for their purposes so that they may allay the fears of some Members that they are committing huge sums for any purpose, on any whim or in respect of any press release that takes their fancy during this pre-election period, without proper and due consideration of the state of the public finances.

Of course there is political disagreement across the House about the main purpose: the setting up of a referendum on how voting systems should operate. We think that that is a totally unnecessary device, and most unwelcome. However, leaving aside the issue of principle-which is not the substance of a money motion-I think that we should at least be treated to some reassurance from the Cabinet Minister responsible that he has chosen the least costly way of proceeding, and that should be put in the context of the huge borrowing and huge financial commitments that the Government are building up. I cannot understand how any sensible Member of Parliament could possibly grant the Government their wish when such a low-priority item is uncosted, when there are no sums of money in the motion on the Order Paper, and when no sums of money were mentioned in the Secretary of State's opening remarks.

3.55 pm

Mr. Straw: I am pleased to respond to this brief debate. The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) asked why the first limb of the money resolution is required, given the fact that a previous one covers the proposals for a referendum on the alternative vote. The answer is that this money resolution provides for regional counting officers. I know that that gives rise to a question of why that was not in the previous money resolution. All I have to say is that it was not, and I think that it is appropriate to ensure that there is modest provision for the regional counting officers to be appointed and paid.

Mr. Grieve: With his characteristic skill, the Secretary of State has failed to enlighten the House as to why that item was omitted from the earlier money resolution.

Mr. Straw: Because it was a later entry into the consideration-that is the truth of it. The measure is none the less very good and to be recommended.

Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Ind): The regional counting officers would normally be the chief executives of local authorities, so they are already in receipt of very high salaries.

2 Mar 2010 : Column 810

Mr. Straw: This is about establishing regional counting officers better to co-ordinate the administration of the referendum and the counting of votes.

May I answer directly the questions asked by the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood)? In the debate on the previous money resolution, the hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) and many other Members referred, properly, to the estimates of the cost of the referendum, which had already been given by me and my ministerial colleagues in answer to parliamentary questions and in other ways. We estimate the cost to be similar to that in a general election, which would be between £80 million and £100 million-we cannot be absolutely certain. In part, the cost will depend on whether the referendum coincides with local elections in 2011, for example, or is a bespoke referendum. The first limb of the proposals would not add very much to the cost overall. Our hope is that, by having regional counting officers in place, we can reduce the totality of the administrative costs by better co-ordination. On any basis, that is a considerable sum of money, but I happen to think that its purpose is very important.

I do not share the view of Conservative Members that there is no purpose in spending this money. It is important to give the British people a clear choice through a referendum about the kind of voting system that they want, without in any way undermining the principle, which is generally agreed across the Chamber and the country, of single-member representation of constituencies. The argument on the merits-I will not go down that route-was made cogently by Labour Members and Liberal Democrat Members in a previous debate. However, we are considering a one-off cost. It is different from continuing expenditure, which we would get, for example, if services in an area were expanded.

Mr. Redwood: I would like to press my simple factual request. How much extra will the money resolution add? Presumably it will mean extra money, because otherwise one would not need additional permission. The House should be told how much extra will be added to the cost.

Mr. Straw: I will be very happy to write to the right hon. Gentleman about that. The amount is relatively modest, but authority is still required to pay it.

I apologise to the House with regard to the second item because I should have given information about the cost. We estimate that the cost of implementing the Dacre report, as proposed in measures to be considered on Report, from the start date-that will be subject to an order in both Houses beforehand, so it could be 2011, 2012 or later-will be £28 million over five years, or in other words about £5.5 million a year. With that, I hope that the money resolution will be widely endorsed by the House.

Question put.

The House divided: Ayes 331, Noes 161.
Division No. 91]
[4 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, Danny
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John

Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Bain, Mr. William
Baird, Vera
Baker, Norman
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barrett, John
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Bell, Sir Stuart
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
Brooke, Annette
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Burt, Lorely
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byrne, rh Mr. Liam
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clegg, rh Mr. Nick
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Davey, Mr. Edward
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Doran, Mr. Frank
Drew, Mr. David
Durkan, Mark
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Farron, Tim
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Don
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gilroy, Linda
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harris, Mr. Tom
Harvey, Nick
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Holmes, Paul
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hunter, Mark
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Jackson, Glenda

James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
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
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Kramer, Susan
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lamb, Norman
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Laws, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leech, Mr. John
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
Mason, John
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moore, Mr. Michael
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mudie, Mr. George
Mulholland, Greg
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, rh Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Olner, Mr. Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Sandra
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Price, Adam
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr. John
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, Mr. Alan
Reid, rh John
Rennie, Willie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rogerson, Dan
Rowen, Paul
Roy, Mr. Frank
Roy, Lindsay
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob
Russell, Christine
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simpson, Alan
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, rh Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, Sir Robert
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Swinson, Jo
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy

Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wishart, Pete
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Bob Blizzard and
Steve McCabe

Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Amess, Mr. David
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baldry, Tony
Baron, Mr. John
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Browning, Angela
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Cameron, rh Mr. David
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Clappison, Mr. James
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, David T. C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Field, Mr. Mark
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Christopher
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen

Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howell, John
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Osborne, Mr. George
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rosindell, Andrew
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Timpson, Mr. Edward
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Sir Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Walter, Mr. Robert
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Noes:

Angela Watkinson and
Jeremy Wright
Question accordingly agreed to.
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