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“if the Minister is satisfied that the Registrar is unable, unwilling or unfit to perform the functions of the office.”

So the Minister does not even have to have reasonable cause to dismiss the registrar. He does not have to have reasonable suspicion or reasonable belief. Under the Bill as currently drafted, the Minister appoints the registrar and can dismiss the registrar if he is “satisfied” of those things. That is far too weak.

We must remember that the powers of the registrar as set up under this Bill are quite extensive. More to the point, my constituents have lobbied me—written to me; “lobbied” is almost a bad word—on many topics, and it was not fair for the Leader of the House or for the Deputy Leader of the House to suggest on Second Reading that we were all alarmed because of trade union scaremongering. That is not the case. I have not received a single letter or e-mail from a trade union, but I have received them from charities, which want reassurance that the registrar will be independent of Government. The registrar will have the power to keep and publish the register. They must keep the register up to date, they have the power to monitor compliance with obligations, and they can issue information notices if they believe that consultant lobbyists have not registered.

There are significant penalties, including criminal conviction and civil penalties for non-compliance with the terms and conditions of part 1. It is essential for public confidence in the new register that, as the Leader of the House promised on Second Reading, the new system is independent of Government and the registrar enjoys independence. The amendments that I have tabled would require the Minister to allow the registrar to act independently. There must be an assurance in the Bill that the functions of the registrar will be exercised independently of any other person.

The Leader of the House suggested on Second Reading that the register would be funded by the lobbying industry via a subscription charge. Again, I urge the coalition Government to heed the lack of confidence engendered in the general public because of lobbying scandals. It is incumbent on all of us to do all that we can to restore that confidence. For the Leader of the House to suggest that the lobbying industry would pay for the register

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through a subscription is not helpful. My amendments would ensure that the independence of the registrar and of the register is guaranteed, and I hope that the Government will look at them sympathetically.

Mr Allen: I strongly support the points that have just been made, and I am happy to add my name to the amendments.

We should return to the point that I made briefly about pre-legislative scrutiny. It would have saved a great deal of grief if we had undertaken such scrutiny, and it is incumbent on all of us to consider how we do so in future, so that we avoid the mistakes and so that the Government—I do not mean just this Government but the one before and the one to come—listen to Parliament. As a result of that sentiment and the fact that Parliament has a contribution to make, the report that members of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee hurriedly put together after having returned early from the recess to take evidence made it clear that the Standing Orders of the House should be amended to say:

“No public Bill shall be presented unless a) a draft of the Bill has received pre-legislative scrutiny by a Committee of the House or a joint Committee of both Houses, or b) it has been certified by the Speaker as a Bill that requires immediate scrutiny and pre-legislative scrutiny would be inexpedient.”

Let us try to avoid, for the sake of all future Governments, getting into this sort of shambolic mess—a mess whereby people push through a Bill, do not discuss it with Parliament or with any of the relevant organisations before releasing it into the public and parliamentary domain a day before the recess, where it is then debated on the Floor of the House a day after our return from recess.

Mr Thomas: Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the many benefits of pre-legislative scrutiny might have been more time to go through the finances of the registrar and to understand which set of estimates on who would register—the estimates of the industry or those of the Government—was most likely to be correct?

9.15 pm

Mr Allen: There are so many possibilities where a contribution might have been made, and where no contribution could have been made, we would have been no worse off. We managed to accumulate a wealth of evidence. Let us not forget that in a period of about four working days, my Select Committee produced a report for the benefit of Members in all parts of the House. We worked very hard and received 81 organisations throughout the UK, which are listed at the back of the report—not just anybody, but people who had a real interest. It was surprising to see how much interest was generated among people who were a little afraid about what is in part 2, which we will consider tomorrow. I hope we will consider it tomorrow in a slightly more seemly way.

Today’s debate is to conclude at 10 pm and we have got through only two groups of amendments. That is an abuse and it is disrespectful to the House. There are eight amendments that I tabled or with which I am associated that we will not reach, and there are many, many others tabled by Members in all parts of the Committee. These are not trivial matters. They are not

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fillers, as though we did not have much to think about over the past few days so we bunged in a few odd amendments.

Those amendments relate to extremely serious issues, which will not now get an airing in this Committee—issues such as whether Ministers and permanent secretaries should be the only people who should count as being lobbied. It has been alluded to, but the group of amendments relating to that, which are the result of some solid work, may I say, by my Committee and by colleagues in all parts of the House, will not be taken seriously. They will not be listened to and colleagues will not be able to make those points, to have Ministers listen to them and to improve the Bill.

The rights of Members of Parliament are also a very important area. Are Members of Parliament lobbyists? Are they lobbied? Should they be registered? How does this relate to our interaction with constituents? I know that these issues are of great concern to the Leader of the House, the Deputy Leader of the House and the Government. That group of amendments, too, will not be reached tonight.

The Temporary Chair (Sir Roger Gale): Order. The hon. Gentleman is very experienced and he knows perfectly well that he may not debate issues that may or may not be reached later. We are debating a group of amendments.

Mr Allen: Therefore it is important that the issues in this group are debated. That is what I want to get to, as you kindly indicated, Sir Roger, after that preamble.

Mr Thomas: Is not one of the concerns about the short time that we have to debate even this group of amendments the fact that we will not be able to explore the case for a code of conduct, which so many organisations outside the House and so many of those on both sides of the House who have studied the Bill believe is essential if we are to give a registrar the teeth they need to make a difference?

Mr Allen: Sir Roger, my hon. Friend on the Front Bench deserves a severe reprimand for trying to mislead me again into talking about matters not covered by the present group of amendments. It is a matter of great regret that that issue is another one that, as he points out, will not be discussed. This is not to make a point for or against either Front-Bench team, but Members have a right to voice an opinion on key aspects of legislation. That will not now take place. I do not point a finger at anybody. I merely say that that is not an acceptable way to run a sweet shop, let alone a Parliament.

To describe the heart of what we are considering in the present group, I shall quote extensively from the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee report, which states:

“There was a significant degree of agreement that the additional information should include disclosure of the subject matter of the lobbying, and some agreement around the idea of including the purpose of the lobbying and a list of who had been lobbied.”

I talked earlier about an evidence base. However hurriedly it took place in the time frame we had to put our evidence base together, a wide variety of organisations, which are listed in the report, submitted evidence,

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quotations from which are included. Spinwatch said that the information required under the Bill was “wholly insufficient”, adding

“For a register to meaningfully allow public scrutiny of lobbying, it must include information from lobbyists on their interactions with government. In other words: whom they are meeting and what issues they are discussing. Members of the public wanting to see which outside organisations are exerting influence on a particular policy area, for example, will be unable to do so under this proposal.”

We also had a joint submission from three eminent academics, Dr Hogan, Professor Murphy and Dr Chari, who argued for the inclusion in the register of

“the subject matter and purpose of the lobbying”.

The Royal College of Midwives said:

“It is hard to see how the information requested will add greatly to the transparency of the lobbying process…Would it be too burdensome, at the very least, to ask for the register also to spell out the issues on which clients are seeking to lobby (e.g. improved conditions for farm animals), and the nature of the lobbying that has taken place (e.g. an all-party group on road hauliers established)?”

The oft-quoted tonight Iain Anderson, the deputy chair of APPC, supported publishing information about the purpose and subject matter of lobbying, but suggested that this could be done most effectively and efficiently when details of ministerial and official meetings were published rather than in the register. That is a perfectly acceptable matter for the Committee to explore, but time will not allow us to do so, although we could make a serious contribution to the development of the Bill.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life also argued that information on the subject matter could be included, either on the register or in the details that were published of meetings. The difficulty with including the information in the data about ministerial and official meetings is that if the definition of lobbying is expanded to encompass contact with the rest of the civil service, special advisers and others who do not necessarily publish details of their meetings, such information would necessarily be quite patchy.

Lady Hermon: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr Allen: I will gladly give way.

Lady Hermon: That was said with great enthusiasm. I thank the hon. Gentleman for gladly giving way. That is very kind indeed.

Can the hon. Gentleman throw light on one particular aspect that I am genuinely extremely concerned about? We are talking here about oral and written communications with Ministers and permanent secretaries, described by the Minister as the key decision makers. Did the hon. Gentleman’s Committee and the witnesses comment on or even criticise the fact that “permanent secretary” is defined to include the Director of Public of Prosecutions? What we are aiming to look at here is what goes on behind the scenes of Government. The DPP should not be included. He is independent of Government and his independence should be guaranteed.

Mr Allen: Witnesses did indeed express great concern about the narrowness of the provision whereby those who can be regarded as falling into the category of being lobbied include Ministers and permanent secretaries only. There was nothing precisely about the DPP that

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I can immediately bring to mind, but I will go back over the evidence and make sure that I drop a line to the hon. Lady should there be anything along those lines.

Lady Hermon: I am not testing the hon. Gentleman’s memory at all. I am sure that his recall is clear and that he does not need to go back over the evidence. But does he himself think that it is proper that the DPP should be included within the definition of a permanent secretary?

Mr Allen: I do not feel competent to give an accurate and helpful answer to the hon. Lady’s point. She and those with a different view should participate in pre-legislative scrutiny and put their arguments and reasons to the Government, who then make a choice—they will execute, they will decide. At the moment, there is execution and decision without participation and consultation; it is blindfolded government not using Parliament as the effective partner it should be.

Alexandra Runswick, the director of Unlock Democracy, made points about the depth of the information required. Again, we go for black or white—either people want everything or do not want anything, but the truth is that we should have reasonable amounts of information that everyone feels is appropriate. Having discussed the issue with all parts of the lobbying industry and those interested in it, we got to a position of consensus. For example, Unlock Democracy said:

“We are not expecting a transcript of the meeting, but what policy area it is that is being lobbied on. There are already individual MPs who publish their diaries and say, for example, ‘I met Unlock Democracy about the Lobbying Bill.’ That is the level of information that we are looking at—the policy that is being lobbied about, not the exact information that was shared with the person whom you are lobbying.”

That led my Select Committee to table amendment 56, which we felt was appropriate, proportionate and helpful to the Government. Yet we are discussing it at the fag end of the sitting and many other issues will not even get an airing.

We suggested that the information that the register requires to be listed should be expanded to include the subject matter and purpose of lobbying when that is not already clear from a company’s name. To be clear, that should not involve the disclosure of detailed information about the content of the meeting, just a broad outline of the subject matter and intended outcome. For example, “Subject matter—lobbying; purpose—change the Transparency of Lobbying Bill.”

We also suggested in our report that there should be a financial threshold above which companies are required to provide information about the subject matter and purpose of lobbying. That is why we framed, as a Select Committee, an amendment that we felt was reasonable and helpful to the House and the Government.

I will conclude my remarks, as others wish to contribute. At the end of the day, we are trying to improve the Bill. It is a sad fact that if the House of Commons is not treated properly and if the process is cavalier and one in which Parliament’s view is neglected or not even regarded with respect, we sell the pass. When the public want an effectively lobbying Bill, we say, “We’re not even capable of discussing most of the groups of amendments on the agenda tonight.” As a House of Commons, we pass our

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responsibility over to the other place. That is not satisfactory to anyone in the House of any political description who feels that their role is to hold the Government to account and scrutinise legislation. If we do not do the job, the second Chamber will fill the vacuum. Any self-respecting Member of Parliament will feel that that is not a place where we should be.

Miss Chloe Smith: I want to respond to a couple of the amendments before we wind up. Amendments 3 and 4 would alter clause 1 and provide that lobbying was prohibited unless a lobbyist had both registered and signed up to the register’s code of conduct. Amendment 42 would establish a civil sanction in relation to breaches of the code of conduct. New clause 1 provides that the registrar must produce a code. However, there is little detail about what provision such a code would make other than that it would forbid inappropriate financial relations between registered persons and parliamentarians. The amendments reveal that, as we perhaps knew already, the Opposition intend not only a register of lobbyists but a full-blown regulator of the industry.

Mr Thomas: The hon. Lady says that the amendment makes no provision for a description of what might be in the code of conduct. I gently say that that seems a bit presumptuous. The point is that there needs to be wide discussion with the industry and those who watch its activities about what should be in a code of conduct. Why will she not allow provision for a code of conduct and then ensure that there is proper discussion across the industry on what might be in it?

9.30 pm

Miss Smith: It is interesting that the Opposition have spent a good four hours telling us to do what the industry wants and are now advocating something that the industry does not want, which is a fully statutory code of conduct. I will make further arguments as to why there is a problem with putting all this on to the statute book.

I have already dealt with what the Government are trying to do through the Bill, which is to shine the light of transparency on a specific element of the industry. In doing so, we recognise the industry’s efforts to improve lobbying practice by introducing its own codes of conduct, and we are confident that that would continue; we have no reason to believe that it would not. It is right that those codes then promote the ethical behaviour that we need for the integrity—

Mr Thomas rose

Miss Smith: It might be helpful if the hon. Gentleman allowed me to make a few points in response to his intervention.

While such codes contain laudable principles and good practice guidance, their translation into statute is not feasible or practical. The experience of regulators in other jurisdictions clearly shows that statutory codes of conduct for lobbying can be unworkable and unenforceable. That is what I seek to guard against in opposing the amendment. The question then hangs in the air of what provisions the Opposition would expect to see in a code of conduct. They have provided very little indication other than that it will, rather intriguingly, forbid any

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inappropriate financial relations between registered persons and parliamentarians. Can the Opposition give us an example of what an inappropriate relationship might entail? Can the hon. Gentleman explain whether it would not already be prohibited by Parliament’s own code of conduct or laws on bribery and corruption? He is silent, which is rather worrying. This is another example of the rather lazy and imprecise draftsmanship that we have seen from the Opposition today, and that is not good enough. He does not provide any notion about how the code’s provisions might be enforced and what resources the registrar would be required to use to monitor it. The Opposition are setting the registrar an impossible task in expecting them to do that kind of thing. I urge him to withdraw the amendment.

The Opposition’s amendment 31 would alter paragraph 3 of schedule 2 to provide that the registrar’s appointment must be approved by the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee. I think I heard its Chairman say that this was a new job that he had not necessarily asked for.

Mr Thomas: I intervened to give the hon. Lady an opportunity to correct the record. It is not true that the whole lobbying industry does not support a code of conduct, although it is certainly true that a number of people want a hybrid version. However, many within the industry do support a code of conduct. She is yet to explain why a code of conduct is not necessary.

Miss Smith: I have just gone to the lengths of providing the hon. Gentleman with an argument, with international examples, as to why making something statutory from a voluntary position can often be unfeasible. That argument stands. In fact, my reference to the industry relates particularly to the APPC.

The Opposition’s amendment 43 would amend the reference to the setting of the subscription charge from requiring the Minister to “seek to” recover the full costs to requiring them to recover the full cost. That seems unnecessary. I can assure the whole Committee that we are well aware of the importance of ensuring that the register is fully funded by the industry in order to protect the taxpayer. As I said earlier, the Canadian register costs £3 million to run. The Opposition have not fully considered how they would ensure that such costs would be recovered from, no doubt, the charities, playgroup volunteers and vicars whom they intend to register.

Amendments 136 and 138, tabled by the hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen), demonstrate his desire to secure the independence of the registrar. I share that desire and hope that I have reassured him. I was glad to hear the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon) refer to this point as well. It is important that the registrar will be independent of both the lobbying industry and the Government and will have a clear remit to operate independently. Ministers will be able to dismiss the registrar only if they are satisfied that he or she is unable, unwilling or unfit to perform the functions of the office. I urge hon. Members not to press amendments 136 and 138.

Lady Hermon: I have listened carefully and intently to the Minister. Where in the Bill is the independence of the registrar guaranteed? What justification can the

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Minister have for not putting it in black and white on the face of the Bill? I ask her, please, not to give reassurances that will be reported in

Hansard

. It should be put in the Bill so that people outside have a guarantee of independence.

Miss Smith: I appreciate the hon. Lady’s arguments in support of amendment 136. I regard the Bill and the explanations we have given as sufficient, but I am willing to continue to review the issue.

Amendments 34, 36, 37 and 152 would require lobbyists to disclose financial information. Amendment 56 would also alter the information requirements in clause 4 to require the disclosure of the purpose and subject of any lobbing. We have been very clear that the objective of the register is the identification of the interests that are being represented by consultant lobbying firms. Lobbyists should therefore be required to disclose their clients. We are not persuaded that the burden that would be imposed, on both the industry and the regulator, of requiring further information is justified by the fairly limited insight it will provide. It is not a proportionate approach to the problem identified. I urge hon. Members not to press the amendments.

The Opposition’s amendment 40 would alter clause 10 on self-incrimination and limit the information that persons are required to provide in response to an information notice. This unclear and oddly drafted amendment tops off the evening. Its unwelcome effect would be that, in response to an information notice, a person would not be required to provide any self-incriminating information including any offence committed in relation to the register. It would therefore entirely undermine the enforcement regime relating to the register. The registrar could still seek to investigate registration breaches using information notices, but the result would be that, where there had been such a breach, the lobbyist would be entitled to refuse to provide any information and only lobbyists that had not breached it would be required to provide information. I urge the hon. Member for Hemsworth (Jon Trickett) not to press that crowning glory of an amendment.

The purpose of new clauses 2 and 7 is unclear. They appear to require that, if a registered professional lobbyist is appointed to a role in Government or to work for a Government party, their appointment should be scrutinised by a Committee and restrictions placed on their activities. I ask the Opposition: who should such a Committee consist of and what would be their remit? What restrictions would be placed on the activity of such an appointee? The proposed new clauses clearly do not provide the answers. The Opposition are weak and muddled, and I urge them not to press the new clauses.

Mr William Cash (Stone) (Con): Business is proceeding in such a fashion that we may not even get to the very important questions of parliamentary privilege addressed by amendment 164, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin). The fact is that this is about this House of Commons. It is incredible that we should not be able to discuss the way in which this Bill interacts with the privilege question.

Miss Smith: I am exceedingly grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention, because it gives me the opportunity to look down the selection list. I am grateful to the

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Chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, who has worked with parliamentary counsel to produce amendment 151. The Government would like to support that amendment tonight because we believe that that important area of the Bill needs further clarification. Under the amendment, the existing MP exemption—

The Temporary Chair (Sir Roger Gale): Order. I think it only right to say that amendment 151 will not be moved because it will not be called unless the Government choose to move it.

Miss Smith: I will beg to move the amendment at the appropriate time.

Mr Allen: That is a wonderful precedent. I have a large number of other amendments on the Order Paper. I am very happy to be the midwife and to hand those over to the hon. Lady.

The Temporary Chair: Order. Nice try.

Miss Smith: I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman.

With that, I will finish speaking so that it is possible for another Back Bencher to speak.

John Thurso: Will the Minister give way?

Miss Smith: Yes.

John Thurso: As the Minister is in such a generous mood, would she like to look at my amendment 45?

Miss Smith: While we are discussing the topic of further amendments to support, I ought to add that the Opposition made no objection to the programme motion in July.

In concluding, I will turn briefly to amendment 137, which would require that details be provided about any communications between consultant lobbyists and Ministers or permanent secretaries, even if they were not in return for payment, not on behalf of a third party and did not concern Government policy or functions. That would mean that if a consultant lobbyist bumped into a Minister on the tube and spoke about the weather, not Government issues, that meeting would need to be recorded. Indeed, if a consultant lobbyist happened to be married to a permanent secretary, it would be necessary for the details of their communications to be disclosed on a quarterly basis, even if they never took work home, as it were.

I can see that hon. Members are attempting to ensure that inappropriate conversations about ministerial responsibilities do not take place in private, but this is another example of good intentions leading to unintended consequences through unclear drafting. The answer has to be a declaration by Ministers of any meetings that touch upon their ministerial responsibilities, the framework for which we have provided in government. That will form a central part of the transparency regime that we are introducing in part 1 of the Bill. I urge the hon. Member for Nottingham North not to press amendment 137.

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Caroline Lucas rose—

The Temporary Chair (Sir Roger Gale): Order. The hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) will be aware that we are pressed for time and that the mover of the amendment must have the opportunity to respond. I am sure that she will bear that in mind.

Caroline Lucas: I associate myself with the comments of the hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen) about the way in which the debate has been organised and the high number of amendments that will not be scrutinised at all. Ironically, the Prime Minister brought forward the Bill saying that he wanted to avoid the next scandal. I am sure I am not alone in thinking that the way in which we are being forced to handle this debate is in itself a scandal.

I will speak briefly to amendment 152, the purpose of which is to bring depth to the Bill by focusing on financial disclosure. I believe that there should be a requirement to disclose a good-faith estimate of how much money has been spent on lobbying activity. The Minister said that the purpose of the Bill was to shine the light of transparency on lobbying. To my mind, we would be doing only half the job if we did not ensure that we had an idea of what was being spent on lobbying. I will try again to persuade her that requiring information on how much money is spent on lobbying on a quarterly basis would be proportionate and not burdensome.

The money being spent is the clearest indication of how committed an industry or organisation is to influencing a particular issue. It is also a clear indicator that Government decision making on an issue must be carefully scrutinised. Money also reveals the scale, disparities and trends in lobbying, and financial disclosure of the amount spent on lobbying would help us assess the spending gap between business and civil society groups, for example, or multinationals and non-profit organisations lobbying for Government contracts. Such a requirement need not be a bureaucratic burden. Work by Unlock Democracy on a mock filing showed that it would take about 20 minutes to prepare. That already happens in the US, and I have heard no good argument for it not to happen here. As a result, in the US it is much easier to see what is going on.

9.45 pm

Simply by looking at lobbying expenditures from the Senate Office of Public Records, we see that last year the US tobacco industry spent more than $26.5 million on lobbying. Those figures also reveal a long-term trend. Although exact levels have fluctuated, the industry has consistently spent more than $20 million a year for the past 10 years. By contrast, in the UK we know only that the Government have retreated from their support for plain packaging, amid rumours that multimillion pound lobbying contracts have been signed, from press reports or behind-the-scenes tip-offs. We have all heard the allegations that last November, after his appointment as the Prime Minister’s electoral strategy adviser, Lynton Crosby signed a contract between Philip Morris International and Crosby Textor for lobbying in the UK that could be worth many millions, but we have nothing the public can use properly to hold the Government to account. We should not have to pick our way through

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rumours, tip-offs, allegations and counterclaims to find the truth; it should be officially gathered and openly published for all to see.

Equally, we know that the taxpayer-funded Royal Bank of Scotland spent more than £2.5 million on lobbying Washington about financial regulation laws, but we know it from documents released by the US Government that list lobbying activity in the US and state the lobbyist, client, amount spent and the subject of the lobbying. Therefore, even though we have a stake in that bank we have no right to know how much it has spent in the UK; we have that information only because of financial disclosure requirements in the US lobbying register, and we have no idea how much RBS or any UK bank spends on lobbying the UK Government.

US rules also reveal lobbying trends or stories. For example, the oil and gas industry spent more than $140 million on lobbying in the US in 2012—well over double, and getting close to treble, the $52 million it spent in 2004. Therefore, an important story is revealed. We see climate change rising up the political agenda as science shows the risks to be even greater, and we see the economic benefits of cleaner renewable energy and the challenge that poses to incumbent utilities business models. We also see the oil and gas industry redouble its lobbying efforts and throw tens of millions of pounds into the process. Information about the industry’s spending tells us far more than just knowing that it has had certain meetings; it is a vital part of the equation.

Amendment 56, tabled in the name of the Chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, is linked to the money and financial disclosure provision. I will conclude by saying that I strongly support that amendment, and if we want the lobbying register genuinely to increase transparency and for the Bill to have genuine depth and purpose, the subject matter and the money must be recorded and revealed.

Mr Allen: The way we have dealt with the Bill has meant that much of today’s debate has been esoteric and about us, Parliament, and a tight group of lobbyists. Tomorrow, we will be debating a matter of great concern to charities and voluntary sector organisations, hundreds of which have spoken to Members from both sides of the House. Will the hon. Lady join me in hoping that the discussion tomorrow, particularly on key clause 27, is conducted in an open and honest way so that a decision can be made that links this House back to the broader civic society—or big society—tomorrow? That will be an important debate.

Caroline Lucas: The hon. Gentleman is right to say that after the mess of today, tomorrow is an opportunity to demonstrate that the House is able to debate the matter seriously, honestly, and in a way we can be proud of, rather than feeling—as I certainly do tonight—rather ashamed of the way the debate has taken place this evening.

Let me conclude simply by saying that the Government’s proposal of a mere list of consultant lobbyists and their clients does not go far enough. The point I have made in amendment 152 is that we need to know how much money is being spent. If the US can do it, surely the UK can. That would tell us a lot more about lobbying trends in this country.

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Mr Thomas: I indicated in my opening remarks that amendment 3 was a probing amendment. Even though the Minister has skipped over the concerns that led the Opposition to table it, I shall seek to withdraw it.

The shadow Cabinet Office Minister tried hard to cover up the weakness of the Bill and the absence of a case for a code of conduct—[Interruption.] I beg your pardon, Mr Hoyle; I meant to refer to the Cabinet Office Minister rather than the shadow Minister. The Government have given no proper explanation why a code of conduct is absent from the Bill, or why a code of conduct would not improve it. Without a code of conduct, the registrar will have no teeth and no ability to tackle poor or unethical behaviour by lobbyists. For that reason, I shall press amendment 4 to a Division.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed: 4, in clause 1, page 1, line 8, after ‘lobbyists’, insert

‘and

(c) the person has signed up to the Register’s Code of Conduct.’.—(Mr Thomas.)

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The Committee divided:

Ayes 210, Noes 280.

Division No. 78]

[

9.51 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, Heidi

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Banks, Gordon

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Benn, rh Hilary

Benton, Mr Joe

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Campbell, Mr Alan

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Coffey, Ann

Corbyn, Jeremy

Crausby, Mr David

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

Darling, rh Mr Alistair

David, Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobson, rh Frank

Docherty, Thomas

Doran, Mr Frank

Doughty, Stephen

Doyle, Gemma

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Goggins, rh Paul

Goodman, Helen

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hamilton, Mr David

Hancock, Mr Mike

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harris, Mr Tom

Havard, Mr Dai

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mark

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hermon, Lady

Hilling, Julie

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hood, Mr Jim

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miller, Andrew

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Mr Jim

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Osborne, Sandra

Owen, Albert

Perkins, Toby

Phillipson, Bridget

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Robertson, Angus

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Shuker, Gavin

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Spellar, rh Mr John

Straw, rh Mr Jack

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Watts, Mr Dave

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Woodcock, John

Woodward, rh Mr Shaun

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Tom Blenkinsop

and

Susan Elan Jones

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldry, Sir Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, rh Gregory

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Mr Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, rh Paul

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Farron, Tim

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mark

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hancock, Matthew

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Horwood, Martin

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Huppert, Dr Julian

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kelly, Chris

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Moore, rh Michael

Mordaunt, Penny

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Patel, Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Mr John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, rh Hugh

Rogerson, Dan

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Sir Bob

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, rh Sir Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thornton, Mike

Thurso, John

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Jenny Willott

and

Nicky Morgan

Question accordingly negatived.

9 Sep 2013 : Column 793

9 Sep 2013 : Column 794

9 Sep 2013 : Column 795

9 Sep 2013 : Column 796

10.4 pm

Proceedings interrupted (Programme Order, 3 September).

The Chair put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83D).

Clause 1, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2

Meaning of consultant lobbying

Amendment made: 77, page 2, line 3, after ‘persons’ insert—

‘(aa) the person is registered under the Value Added Tax Act 1994,’.—(Miss Chloe Smith)

Amendment proposed: 9, page 2, line 4, leave out paragraph (b) and insert—

‘(b) in return for payment the person advises others how to make communications within subsection (3).

(c) in return for payment the person arranges or facilitates a formal or informal meeting within subsection (3).’.—(Jon Trickett.)


Question put, That the amendment be made.


The

Committee

divided:

Ayes 209, Noes 289.

Division No. 79]

[

10.5 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, Heidi

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Banks, Gordon

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Benn, rh Hilary

Benton, Mr Joe

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Campbell, Mr Alan

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Coffey, Ann

Corbyn, Jeremy

Crausby, Mr David

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

Darling, rh Mr Alistair

David, Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobson, rh Frank

Docherty, Thomas

Doran, Mr Frank

Doughty, Stephen

Doyle, Gemma

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Goggins, rh Paul

Goodman, Helen

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harris, Mr Tom

Havard, Mr Dai

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mark

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hermon, Lady

Hilling, Julie

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hood, Mr Jim

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miller, Andrew

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Mr Jim

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Osborne, Sandra

Owen, Albert

Perkins, Toby

Phillipson, Bridget

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Robertson, Angus

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Shuker, Gavin

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Spellar, rh Mr John

Straw, rh Mr Jack

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Watts, Mr Dave

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Woodcock, John

Woodward, rh Mr Shaun

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr David Hamilton

and

Susan Elan Jones

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldry, Sir Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, rh Gregory

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Mr Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, rh Paul

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Farron, Tim

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mark

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hancock, Matthew

Hancock, Mr Mike

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Horwood, Martin

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kelly, Chris

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Moore, rh Michael

Mordaunt, Penny

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Mr John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, rh Hugh

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Sir Bob

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, rh Sir Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Syms, Mr Robert

Teather, Sarah

Thornton, Mike

Thurso, John

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Jenny Willott

and

Nicky Morgan

Question accordingly negatived.

9 Sep 2013 : Column 797

9 Sep 2013 : Column 798

9 Sep 2013 : Column 799

9 Sep 2013 : Column 800

Amendments made: 78, page 2, line 28, at end insert

‘a person serving the government in’.

Amendment 79, page 2, line 29, leave out ‘a person holding’.

Amendment 80, page 2, line 31, leave out ‘a person holding’.—(Miss Chloe Smith.)

Clause 2, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 1

Carrying on the business of consultant lobbying

Amendments made: 91, page 50, line 18 after ‘not’ insert

‘, by reason of making a communication,’.

Amendment 92, page 50, line 19, leave out

‘(or, where the person is an employee, the person’s employer)’.

Amendment 93, page 50, line 20, leave out

‘is mainly a non-lobbying business’ and insert ‘consists mainly of non-lobbying activities’.

Amendment 94, page 50, line 22, leave out from first ‘of’ to end of line 24 and insert

‘the communication is incidental to the carrying on of those activities’.

Amendment 95, page 50, leave out from beginning of line 25 to ‘activities’ in line 26 and insert

‘In sub-paragraph (1) “non-lobbying activities” are’.

Amendment 96, page 51, line 9, leave out

‘(or, where the person is an employee, the person’s employer)’.

Amendment 97, page 51, line 12, leave out ‘(or employer)’.

Amendment 151, page 51, line 35, at end insert—

‘(2) But “payment” does not include any sums payable to a member of either House of Parliament—

(a) under section 4 or 5 of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 (MPs’ salaries and allowances),

(b) pursuant to a resolution or a combination of resolutions of the House of Lords relating to expenses and allowances for its members, or

(c) otherwise out of money provided by Parliament or out of the Consolidated Fund.

(6A) ’.—(Miss Chloe Smith.)

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.


Schedule 2

The Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists

Amendment made: 98, page 53, line 15, at end insert ‘or was an employee of a person who carried on that business.’.—(Miss Chloe Smith.)

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 4 to 11 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 12

Offences

Amendment made: 81, page 6, line 22, leave out subsection (1) and insert—

‘( ) If a person carries on the business of consultant lobbying in breach of section 1(1) (lobbying whilst unregistered), an offence is committed by—

(a) the person, and

9 Sep 2013 : Column 801

(b) any employee of the person who engages in lobbying in the course of that business.’.—(Miss Chloe Smith.)

Clause 12, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 13 to 21 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 22

Charges

Amendment made: 82, page 10, line 28, leave out subsection (3).—(Miss Chloe Smith.)

Clause 22, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 23

Power to make further provision

Amendment made: 83, page 11, line 13, at end insert—

‘( ) Regulations under subsection (1) may make provision permitting or requiring the Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to supply to the Registrar, on request, such information regarding any person who is, or is required to be, registered under the Value Added Tax Act 1994 as is specified in the regulations.’.—(Miss Chloe Smith.)

Clause 23, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 24 ordered to stand part of the Bill.


Clause 25

Interpretation

Amendments made: 84, in page 11, line 31, leave out from ‘lobbying’ to end of line 32.

Amendment 85, in, page 12, line 1, at end insert ‘of consultant lobbyists’.—(Miss Chloe Smith.)

Clause 25, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

The occupant of the Chair left the Chair (Programme Order, 3 September).

The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again tomorrow.

Business without Debate

Delegated legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Public Bodies

That the draft Public Bodies (Abolition of BRB (Residuary) Limited) Order 2013, which was laid before this House on 15 May, be approved.—(Anne Milton.)

Question agreed to.

9 Sep 2013 : Column 802

Spousal Visas

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Anne Milton.)

10.21 pm

Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) (Con): I am delighted to have secured this debate on spousal visas, an issue on which the Minister has responded on a number of occasions. On one of the last such occasions, on 19 June in Westminster Hall, he explained that the spousal visa changes had three aims: dealing with fraud, namely, sham marriages; promoting better integration, including English language testing and tests on life in the UK; and preventing visa applicants from becoming a burden to the taxpayer. I do not necessarily have an objection to any of those aims. Indeed, I would like to see a tougher immigration system, but he also said in that debate that the changes are

“about preventing abuse and setting out sensible rules that people can follow.”—[Official Report, 19 June 2013; Vol. 564, c. 275WH.]

The question I wish to raise on behalf of one of my constituents is whether we are in fact following sensible rules, and whether the changes are affecting the people they are designed to impact upon.

This Government inherited the mess in the immigration system left by the previous Government. I, like all Conservative Members, was elected on the basis of having a tough immigration system and that is what I wish to see. In my constituency, however, the failure of the last Government was broadly around European Union immigration, which these rules do nothing to impact upon.

I pay tribute to the Minister, who has had to respond to issues around spousal visas on a number of occasions. He is a very competent Minister and I am sure he will be able to take on board my concerns, which I raise on behalf of one of my constituents, Gary Smith, who lives in Goole.

Gary is 43 and has been married for five years to his Cambodian wife Shantar. They have a three-year-old daughter, Aaliyhh, a British national of course, who currently resides with her mother in Cambodia; they have lived there for five years. Gary and Shantar have been married since 2008. Gary’s wife is a restaurant manager, a qualified teacher and a business partner in a local charity in Cambodia for which Gary used to work. His wife has been able to visit the UK but, unfortunately, because of these visa changes, she is unable to settle here.

Shantar’s visa application has been rejected on a number of grounds. Two of them were technical issues to do with some lost paperwork. The embassy in Cambodia apparently lost her English language certificate, which I have managed to get a copy of, and it is hoped that that problem will be solved. Another issue regards accommodation in the UK, which has been, or is being, resolved.

Unfortunately, Gary, a street sweeper with the East Riding of Yorkshire council, because of his income level, is unable to hit the £18,600 minimum income requirement to bring his wife of five years and the mother of their child to this country. With overtime, Gary earns £17,000 and, being a local government employee, he has had no significant rise for the last

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three years. He is currently supporting his family in Cambodia, sending out what will shortly amount to £200 a month just for school fees to educate his child, along with other support. That is as opposed to supporting his wife and child in this country. He lives in Goole, and the property in which he lives costs £450 a month. Council tax is less than £100 a month, and in our town there is no question but that on an income of up to £17,000 he could support his wife and child.

Moreover, Gary’s wife has been offered a job in the United Kingdom, and I have a letter from the employer—a very good employer—who says that the skills that she has as a restaurant manager would be greatly needed in the new project that the business is hoping to start in Goole. However, under the rules, the letter offering her a job means nothing and has no impact on the income threshold. Despite the fact that there are huge concerns in Goole about immigration, bearing in mind the fact that up to 25% of its population are EU migrants—that issue is raised regularly—800 Goolies have signed a petition in support of my constituents, and there is real support for Gary on the issue.

Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con): I thank my hon. Friend for introducing the debate. I have a constituent called Mrs Celia Elizabeth Parr who is married to a doctor from Ecuador, and they have a little child. Mrs Parr lives in Colyton, and she has enough self-employed income, but she has experienced huge problems getting her husband into the country. We very much support tighter immigration controls, but we seem to be stopping people who have a legitimate right to be here putting their family back together again.

Andrew Percy: I thank my hon. Friend, and I shall come on to the impact that that has had on decent people who just want to bring their family together and make a life here.

In relation to the income rule that has impacted on my constituent, I shall give the House the average incomes in our area, which has a low-wage economy. The average income in the East Riding of Yorkshire is £5 above the threshold. I represent the poorest part of the East Riding, and Gary lives in one of the bottom 25% most deprived areas in the country, so achieving £18,000 is something of which many people in our area can only dream. The average income in inner London is £34,749.

We may have low incomes, but we also have low house prices. The average house price in our area is £150,000, compared with the average in Greater London of £454,000, which is even more than my house cost. Gary could have the same job earning slightly more than that arbitrary £18,600, and he would be able to bring his wife in, despite the fact that he would have greater outgoings and a much lower disposable income than he has by virtue of the fact that he lives in Goole. I am grateful for a figure provided by the Royal College of Nursing to the all-party parliamentary group on migration, which has done a good job on this issue. The RCN points out that the majority of national health service care support workers earn a maximum of £17,253 a year. Anyone who is an NHS care support worker is not allowed to find love outside the country.

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Since this issue came to light and I secured the debate, I have learned of several examples of the problem around the country, two of them involving US citizens who have been caught by the requirement. That is what concerns me most. The measure was supposed to impact on sham marriages, but who is it really affecting?

Jane Ellison (Battersea) (Con): I thank my hon. Friend for introducing this Adjournment debate. He mentioned American citizens, and that is exactly the situation in which one of my constituents finds himself, having been caught by the rules. He lives in the much higher-than-average wage area, as my hon. Friend mentioned, of central London, but his background is in academia. He is going into a well-paid job in industry, but he has spent the past three years in academia with much lower wages, so he has been caught by the rules.

Andrew Percy: Indeed. I thank my hon. Friend for that. As her constituency is in central London, the rules probably hit even harder than they do in mine. I know she will be working hard on behalf of her constituent. The point that she makes about the US is relevant. The figures from the Home Office show that the largest decline in family visas has been among applicants from the United States. In the year to March 2013 such visas were down by just under 1,000. In evidence to the all-party parliamentary group, the Migration Observatory points out that 47% of the UK working population last year would not meet the income criterion. In my constituency that figure would be an awful lot higher.

Denying some of those people access to join their family is having a detrimental effect on the UK economy. When they come here their passports are stamped with the words “No recourse to public funds”, but they are often people who, if they were here working, as in the case of my constituent, whose wife has a job offer, would be paying tax and contributing to the UK economy. I make no bones about wanting, as my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Jane Ellison) said, a tougher immigration system. The English language testing is problematic for some, but I understand the importance of that in ensuring that people can come here and contribute. My constituent’s wife has a job offer, has a qualification in English, has studied with an Australian college and would be of benefit to our local community. It concerns me that we are affecting in particular immigration from countries that have a lot more in common with us than much of the EU immigration with which it is contrasted.

Fiona Mactaggart (Slough) (Lab): One of the things that has distressed me about the many cases that I face in Slough is having to say to one or two of my constituents who are dual nationals from another EU country that it would be in their interests not to use their British citizenship, but to go and work in the country of another EU citizenship—say, Irish—and then bring their spouse here. As an EU citizen this rule would not divide their family. Any EU citizen who is using the free movement of workers privileges can be joined by their spouse.

Andrew Percy: I thank the hon. Lady for making it unnecessary for me to read out a paragraph of my speech. I am grateful for that as time is pressing. She made a point that I intended to make myself.

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As I said before the intervention, it concerns me that the policy is having an impact on immigration from countries such as the US, Canada, Australia and many other Commonwealth countries, from which immigration to the UK would probably cause the least impact. The people most likely to be able to integrate well here, who bring English language skills and similar levels of education, are excluded. It is timely that a Minister from the Canadian Cabinet is watching the debate. Her country’s citizens would be greatly affected by the rules.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. We may not refer to people outside the Chamber.

Andrew Percy: I apologise, Mr Deputy Speaker, in the same way as I should have apologised earlier for wafting my petition. This is not the appropriate time to present a petition so I offer my apologies to you for that.

There is huge concern in the country about immigration. I understand the Government’s response to the issue, as I said previously, but constituents in my town, Goole, cannot understand why they see EU immigration being dealt with differently from non-EU immigration. We understand the legal position. I understand that the Minister cannot do anything about that under the current terms of our membership. Fortunately, we are on our way out of the EU, but it is hard to explain to my constituents why a British citizen with a British child in Cambodia, who works hard and is paying tax in this country, is unable to bring his family into this country, whereas we see increasing numbers of citizens coming from any EU country, without any English language requirement. It may not be a comfortable thing for people to hear but that is what people in my constituency have been saying about the rules.

Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab): I echo the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart). I have a constituent who wants to be in Bristol to look after his sick parents. He has a Thai wife. They have moved to Spain so that they can take advantage of the laws there and eventually come to the UK. That is ludicrous. He has had to go and live in Spain with his wife and child although they have no connection with that country at all, as that is the only way round the rules. On the one hand we have EU-wide laws that apply to all EU citizens; on the other hand people in the UK are treated differently from people in Spain.

Andrew Percy: Absolutely. I thank the hon. Lady, who has campaigned on this issue and had a debate on it. She makes well the point that we have one rule for some people and a different rule for others. That option would not be available for my constituent, but perhaps those with a higher standard of education or more access to funds can get round the rules through another EU country, and that is a big concern to her constituents as it is to some of mine.

Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West) (LD): I thank the hon. Gentleman for his generosity and for the powerful speech that he is making. As he will know, another issue of huge concern is Syria. As he said, people cannot help whom they fall in love with. Does he

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agree that the case of Christine Gilmore, a constituent of mine who is trying to bring her husband, Ziad, over here, really shows that we have an extra need to prioritise those who are at threat in a war situation? Should not that be looked into as well?

Andrew Percy: My hon. Friend is a doughty campaigner for his constituents. The Minister will have heard that and I concur with what my hon. Friend said. I am conscious that I have only a couple of minutes before the Minister is due to reply, but my honourable neighbour is seeking to intervene, so I will give way to him.

Nic Dakin (Scunthorpe) (Lab): I thank the hon. Gentleman for allowing me to intervene. He, of course, describes a very common situation in the area that we share in northern Lincolnshire, where, sadly, these cases are too numerous to mention. Is it not the fact that at the heart of this is family life being unfortunately disturbed and great distress caused because of rules that are probably well intentioned but have unforeseen consequences?

Andrew Percy: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I do not disagree with the intention behind the rules. Wanting to cut down on sham marriages—absolutely. Wanting to put rules in place so that people come here and integrate better—absolutely. Wanting to make sure that people are not a burden on public funds—yes. But for my constituent, who lives in a lower wage area with a higher disposable income than somebody in the south of England, who is not able to bring his family in, and whose wife has a job offer that is not taken into account, the rules, well intentioned though they may be, fall down.

I am keen to hear the Minister’s response, so I end with a couple of points that I would like to see out of this. I have rebelled against my own party on the idea of regional pay, of which I am a passionate opponent, so I will just throw out for the Minister the idea of a regional variation and ask him to consider it without it necessarily being my idea. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) from a sedentary position may be offering it up as his own idea. We need to have some consideration of people’s disposable income and outgoings, for all the reasons that I have highlighted.

In a previous debate, the Minister, who is good and competent and cares about this area of policy, mentioned the possibility of considering whether job offers for applicants could be taken into account. Of course we need to ensure that fake job offers and so on are properly accounted for, but I would appreciate an update on that.

On behalf of my constituent, Gary Smith, I just make the plea to the Minister to look at this income-related element again. As I have said, this is a constituent with a wife to whom he has been married for five years, with a child whom they share. They are unable to come together at the moment. He does not want his wife to come here and claim benefits; he wants her to come here to work and to contribute to our local economy. I look forward to the Minister’s response.

10.38 pm

The Minister for Immigration (Mr Mark Harper): I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy) for the opportunity to discuss this issue. He said very clearly at the beginning of his

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remarks that he very much supports the Government’s general position on the immigration system and the desire to restore some sanity to it after the uncontrolled immigration system that we saw under the Labour party, and I wholeheartedly agree with him.

As my hon. Friend correctly said in his opening remarks, the family rules have three aims. The first, which I know he strongly supports, is to deal with abuse, which is why we have extended from two years to five years the probationary period before partners can apply for settlement, to test the genuineness of the relationship concerned, which should help to deter applications based on sham marriages. Secondly, we are promoting the integration of family migrants by requiring those applying for settlement from 28 October this year to pass the new “Life in the UK” test and demonstrate that they can speak and understand English to the intermediate B1 level. That means that those intending to live permanently in the UK can communicate in the wider community and have a basic understanding of British history, culture and democracy. My hon. Friend said that he supported that as well.

The third issue, about which my hon. Friend has concerns, is the aspect of the rules seeking to prevent burdens on the taxpayer by introducing the minimum income threshold of £18,600 a year to be met by those wishing to sponsor the settlement of a partner. He said that that was an arbitrary number. It was the Migration Advisory Committee, the independent body that advises the Government, that proposed a range of numbers based on its analysis of the problem; we adopted a figure from the lower end.

In talking about regional pay, my hon. Friend touched on the interaction between the welfare and immigration systems. As I said in the Westminster Hall debate, it is interesting that Members who, in the context of this debate, say that £18,600 is a high number, often suggest—I am not suggesting my hon. Friend does—suggest in the context of a welfare debate that it is not high. We selected that number because it is broadly the amount more than which a couple must earn if they are not to be eligible for income-related benefits.

My hon. Friend is right that in the period when the migrant spouse is in the UK before they get indefinite leave to remain, they are not entitled to benefits, but they will be once they are settled and their spouse may be entitled to income-related benefits because of their being here—housing benefit, for example. As he said, we do not have a regional benefit system and that is one of the complexities of the case.

In practice, the previous requirement for adequate maintenance meant that any sponsor earning, after tax and housing costs, more than the equivalent of income support for a couple—about £5,700—was deemed to have sufficient funds to sponsor a partner. That was not an adequate basis for sustainable family migration and did not provide adequate assurance—

Fiona Mactaggart rose—

Mr Harper: If the hon. Lady does not mind, I will try to address my hon. Friend, whose Adjournment debate this is. I want to deal with his issues.

The requirement provided little assurance of a sustainable basis over the long term. That is why we came up with the new financial requirement, based principally on the

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expert advice from the Migration Advisory Committee. It is the level of income at which a couple, once settled in the UK and taking into account children, generally cannot access income-related benefits. My hon. Friend said that his constituent had no intention of claiming benefits, but of course there is no way for us legally to enforce their not claiming benefits once they are in the United Kingdom.

We think that we have set out the right basis. The Migration Advisory Committee looked at whether there was a case for varying the income threshold across the United Kingdom, which is the substance of my hon. Friend’s point—I know that he did not want to make that point, but I will take it as a suggestion floating around that I can comment on. The Migration Advisory Committee looked at that approach but concluded that there was not a clear case for taking it. It would mean that sponsors, for example, could make an application when living in one area and then move around the United Kingdom. It would also penalise a sponsor living in a relatively wealthy part of a poor region; they would have a lower income threshold than a sponsor living in a deprived area of a relatively wealthy region. A single national threshold may not be more acceptable, but it makes things clearer for people than a much more complicated system of regional targets.

As my hon. Friend mentioned, I said in the previous debate that we would continue to monitor the impact of the new rules and make adjustments when appropriate. People who have raised issues with me—I see Members here who came to see me—will have noticed that in the immigration rule changes that I laid before the House on Friday last week, we set out changes in the flexibility of evidence, allowing details of electronic bank statements to be submitted. There will also be flexibility around the cash savings that people can have, to include net proceeds from the sale of a property owned by the applicant and a partner. That has been an issue in some specific cases.

We are also making provision for British sponsors returning from overseas to count future on-target earnings in some circumstances and to allow subcontractors under the HMRC construction industry scheme to evidence their income from that work as if it were from salaried employment. We have made changes.

On the change that my hon. Friend mentioned about taking account of the job offer of the migrant spouse, I have asked officials to look at that. The real challenge is how we could come up with a set of rules that were not liable to massive abuse. He highlighted that risk when he said that we would obviously have to deal with people being able to have fictitious job applications and people abusing those rules. I have asked for work to be done on that, and I will consider it. I know from the work that was done when the rules were introduced that it is not an easy issue to deal with, but we are looking at it.

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab) rose—

Mr Harper: I will not give way to the hon. Gentleman. This is a Back-Bench debate and he gets plenty of opportunities to speak.

I am conscious that in the specific case my hon. Friend raised, the gentleman concerned is not able to hit the income level. As I said, the real concern is about the interaction of the welfare system and the immigration

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system. That is why we have set the income level as it is. I suspect that a lot of Members who want us to reduce the income level would probably not support what would have to go with it—a reduction in the level at which someone could claim income-related benefits. Indeed, when I raised that in the Westminster Hall debate, many of those who were arguing for a lower level of income were rather silent in their support for a reduction in the welfare system. That is one of the interesting interactions that we have to deal with.

My hon. Friend said that people in his constituency have highlighted the difference between those coming from the EU and those coming from outside it. Several other Members who are present have raised that issue. I would say several things. First, it may not be the case in his constituency, but nationally EU migration remains the smaller part of immigration. About 30% of immigrants come from EU countries and over half come still from outside the EU. It is important to put that into context. It is also the case that if people coming here from the EU want to stay for more than three months they cannot just come here for no reason—they have to be working or looking for work, or to be self-employed, self-sufficient or a student. There are some rules around the treaty rights that have to be exercised.

The Government are concerned about the abuse of free movement whereby people may come to the United Kingdom simply to try to claim benefits or to get round the rules. My hon. Friend might be aware that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, together with her colleagues and her equivalents from Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, has written to the European Commission and demanded action on this. We are in the process of putting together evidence that will be discussed at a relevant Council meeting—I think in October or November—when we will look at how we can deal with the abuse of free movement, which I know from my hon. Friend’s remarks is a concern for a number of his constituents.

My hon. Friend suggested that this might be an area where a future Conservative Government may wish to look at detailed changes to our relationship with the rest of the European Union in order to deal with some of our constituents’ concerns. I know that he may well want to go a little further than the party’s policy, but whether it is leaving, as he would prefer, or having a robust negotiation, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister intends, either of those situations would improve the position that his constituents and many of mine are concerned about. We cannot apply the same rules to EU citizens because we are bound by our treaty obligations. It is important that we make sure that we enforce the

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rules that already exist. I completely understand that his constituents may find that a challenge.

Since I have three minutes left and I think I have dealt with my hon. Friend’s points, I will take a couple of interventions—one from my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Jane Ellison) and then one from the hon. Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart).

Jane Ellison: I am grateful to the Minister. I thank him for the flexibility that he has shown and his preparedness to look at the rules and make adjustments. He is aware of a very long-running case that he has been dealing with and about which we have spoken very often. Self-employment can be an issue, particularly for someone who has had periods of maternity leave. Obviously, that challenge particularly affects women. Will he remain open to looking to make adjustments on such issues?

Mr Harper: My hon. Friend mentions a case that she has raised extensively with me, including in writing, and I have set out a solution for her constituent. On self-employment, a couple of the changes we have made with regard to evidencing income will be helpful. We will continue to look at the detailed issues that are raised with us and we will, of course, deal with those that make sense and that we do not think are amenable to abuse. The rules have only been in place for a little over a year and we will continue to change them to make them more sensible where we think there are unintended consequences.

Fiona Mactaggart: I thank the Minister and am grateful for the changes he has made already; I think they are moving in the right direction. He has said that couples require a minimum income of £18,600 before they get benefits, but the problem with that is that the burden is placed on the British resident and citizen, not the couple. Will the Minister do more take into account the capacity of the migrant spouse to earn while they are here?

Mr Harper: The hon. Lady raises a perfectly good point, which was also raised in the Westminster Hall debate. The difficulty is dealing with the matter in a way that is not easy to abuse and to use as a way of driving a coach and horses through the system. We continue to look at the matter, but I know from the abuse we have seen in other areas of the immigration system that if we simply require, for example, a job offer without any detailed back-up, I am afraid there are plenty of people around who have—

10.51 pm

House adjourned without Question put (Standing Order No. 9(7)).