Mike Gapes (Ilford South) (Lab/Co-op): The content and tone of the Prime Minister’s statement spoke not just for the Government, but for the country. He referred to Mount Sinjar and the retaking of Sinjar by Kurdish forces supported by the international coalition. The all-party group on the Kurdistan region in Iraq visited the region and on Saturday I was with the Kurds on the frontline south of Kirkuk. Those Kurdish forces are

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brave and are putting their lives on the line every day; they did so at Sinjar, along with the Syrian Kurds. Can we do more to provide material support for the peshmerga of Iraqi Kurdistan and, pending a decision on whether we go into Syria, give more support from the air to the Kurds in Iraq?

The Prime Minister: I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he has said. The answer to his questions is yes. As he knows, we are already providing training and support to the Kurdish peshmerga forces. They are incredibly brave and incredibly dedicated, and they have done a brilliant job in liberating people from ISIL dominance. We discussed yesterday, with President Obama and the French, German and Italian leaders, what more we could do. Germany is already doing a lot in that area. We are doing a lot, and there is certainly more that we can do.

Helen Whately (Faversham and Mid Kent) (Con): I welcome my right hon. Friend’s commitment to defeating ISIL in Syria as well as in Iraq, and his commitment to continuing to make the case to this House and to the electorate, but may I ask him to do so as part of a long-term vision for stability in the region?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. People want to know that our response is not driven by anger, but is driven by resolve and is thoughtful and thought through, and that it will make us safer and the region more stable. I am convinced we can answer all those questions in the document I will put before the House.

Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP): May I associate myself with the comments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Moray (Angus Robertson) in welcoming the refugees arriving in Glasgow today? With regard to the Paris climate change talks, may I ask the Prime Minister what further discussions were held on that at the G20 and whether he plans to attend the talks in Paris as an act of leadership and solidarity?

The Prime Minister: Yes, I will certainly be there at the start of the talks on Monday. The discussions at the G20 were positive in that everyone again committed to the aim of a below 2° C rise in global temperatures. My concern is that there is still some opposition from some countries to some of the things necessary to make this agreement really meaningful, such as five-year reviews and the rest of it, and we still have not had every country’s independent proposal for how they will reduce their own carbon emissions. There is important work to be done, and we can use the Commonwealth conference for part of that. Britain is playing its part. There will be an agreement—I am confident of that—and it will involve Russia and China, but we are now battling for a good agreement, rather than just a mediocre one.

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that our overriding priority must be the security of our country and its people, and that we must recognise that the threat we face from terrorists today is not just about bullets and bombs,

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but about cyber-attacks? Will he ensure that we have the right funding and organisations to deal with this threat?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We face cyber-attacks not just from states, but from radical groups and individuals. We have made a lot of progress in recent years in funding our cyber-defences, but I think that should be a major feature of the strategic defence review we will discuss next week.

Mr David Hanson (Delyn) (Lab): The first duty of the Government is to protect their citizens. The Prime Minister has set out with absolute clarity the steps required to do that, for which his statement is welcome. Will he, however, say more about what steps he will take to secure action against those who are buying contraband goods from ISIL—not just the Syrian Government, but individuals and companies?

The Prime Minister: I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his remarks. There are of course sales of antiquities, to which he may be referring, as well as of oil. We are trying to crack down on all those things, and we are looking at what more we might have to do in this country to assent to some of the conventions in that area.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Order. I think it is reasonable to move on at 2 o’clock, not beyond, so I appeal for brevity. If colleagues help each other, that would be really useful.

Henry Smith (Crawley) (Con): Along with the hon. Members for Ilford South (Mike Gapes), for South Antrim (Danny Kinahan) and for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock), I was on the frontline against ISIL/Daesh south of Kirkuk in Iraqi Kurdistan last weekend. Indeed, we saw the amazing work that the peshmerga are doing in taking back territory and communities from that evil existence. We also visited some refugee and displaced persons camps, and saw the families affected. Does my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister agree that we need to ensure that we are protecting those minorities in the middle east?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Making sure that both Iraq and Syria are countries with Governments who represent all their peoples—Sunni, Shi’a and Kurd—is absolutely vital.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: A question perhaps? I call Chuka Umunna.

Mr Chuka Umunna (Streatham) (Lab): I agree with all the comments about the Government’s No. 1 priority being to safeguard the national security of those we represent, but that actually extends to every Member of the House. With regard to the use of lethal force by intelligence and police forces abroad and at home, it is of course important that they have the powers necessary to act, but it is also important that they act within a clear legal framework. I welcome the Prime Minister’s

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agreement to publish the advice on which he intends to act in Syria. Will he also ensure that the basis on which the police act on our streets is published and made known to those we represent?

The Prime Minister: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. Let me clarify something, because I do not want to mislead the House. I am not saying that I will publish the legal advice, because Governments have never done that. What I did as Prime Minister in the last Government and will do again in this is to provide a proper and full description of what that legal advice says. I know that that sounds like splitting hairs, but it is important. That is what I will do. As for the issue that the hon. Gentleman raises about the police, perhaps I will ask the Home Secretary to write to him directly about that.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Order. After his uninterrupted 28 years’ service in the House, I feel sure that the hon. Member for Bosworth (David Tredinnick) can put a question briefly and, very likely, in a single sentence. I call Mr Tredinnick.

David Tredinnick (Bosworth) (Con): Has my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister heard anything about the possibility of partition as a settlement, along the lines of Cyprus, leaving an Alawite, five-tribal area in the south and a free Syria in the north?

The Prime Minister: I have seen ideas put forward for these sorts of things, but I do not think it is the right idea. The idea of trying to carve up these countries into a sort of “Sunnistan” and a “Shi’astan” would be a great mistake. What we need to do is to build a Syria that can have a Government who represent all of their people as Syrians.

Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): I have met a number of Syrians during the past couple of weeks, including a very brave citizen journalist, who is about to return to Syria. They are unanimous in calling for a no-bombing zone in Syria to stop civilians being killed by Assad’s barrel bombs. Will the Prime Minister reassure us that he will ensure that the views of Syrian civilians are taken into account in relation to any UK military action?

The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. If we were to take action, it would be to save the lives of Syrian civilians. Of course, we all support no-bombing zones in terms of Assad stopping the practice of raining down barrel bombs, sometimes with chemical weapons, on his own people. That is why, while we should be very focused on ISIL, we cannot forget that President Assad has been one of the recruiting sergeants for ISIL and that his brutality keeps providing fresh recruits. The idea that you can just take sides and team up with Assad against ISIL is an entirely false prospectus.

Mr David Nuttall (Bury North) (Con): May I thank the Prime Minister for his statement? In the light of the terrorist attacks in Paris, I believe our police and security services urgently need the new powers set out in the

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draft Investigatory Powers Bill now. May I therefore urge him to consider speeding up the pre-legislative scrutiny procedure and bring forward the date when this vital Bill will reach the statute book?

The Prime Minister: I thank my hon. Friend for his question. We are looking at this issue, but I would reassure him that most of what the IP Bill does is to put on to an even clearer statutory footing practices currently carried out by our security and intelligence services. There is one particularly important element that is new, relating to internet connection records, which is probably the most controversial part of the Bill, and I do not want to jeopardise the Bill by rushing it. I hope he is reassured that we will look at the timing, but most of the Bill is about putting powers on a clearer legal basis.

Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) (PC): Arguably the more successful forces against Daesh on the ground in Iraq and Syria have been the peshmerga. What diplomatic pressure can the UK Government put on certain allies who are undermining their capabilities?

The Prime Minister: We are doing everything we can to help their capabilities—training, ammunition and logistical support are coming from us, from the Germans and from the Americans. Obviously, we need to work very hard with all the countries in the region to recognise that the Kurds are our allies in this fight, not least because they are taking it directly to ISIL and saving civilian lives.

Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con): As chairman of the all-party group on Kurdistan, I join the Prime Minister in praising the peshmerga forces for retaking Sinjar, with support from US-led air strikes. Does he agree that the Kurdish forces now need their fair share of oil revenues—promised from Baghdad—for them to be able to continue this fight on the ground against the evil ISIL/Daesh?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend has a lot of experience of working with and helping the Kurds, not least from taking part in delivering an earlier no-fly zone. There is an agreement in Iraq about the sharing of oil revenues, but it needs to be honoured. The Iraqi Government need always to make it clear that they are there not just for the Shi’a, but for the Sunnis and Kurds as well.

Sarah Champion (Rotherham) (Lab): Will the Prime Minister share his views and those of the G20 on the creation of a safe zone for civilians in Syria?

The Prime Minister: As I have said before at this Dispatch Box, we are always happy to look at such suggestions, but we have to remember that we cannot declare safe zones without making them fully safe. To do that, we might have to take severe military action against Syrian air defences, aircraft, command and control systems, and all the rest of it. We might also need troops to make the zone safe. There are therefore real problems with these suggestions. I look at them and have discussed them with the Turks a huge amount. There is another danger that it is worth thinking about.

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There are 2 million Syrian refugees in Turkey. If they felt that a safe zone was being created to push them out of Turkey and into Syria, it might hasten their move into Europe. All those things have to be considered. At the end of the day, safe zones are only proxies for what really needs to happen, which is the destruction of ISIL and the political transition in Syria.

Andrew Bingham (High Peak) (Con): There is an assertion that at least one of the perpetrators of the Paris atrocity came into Europe in the guise of a refugee. Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that as we welcome—I emphasise the word “welcome”—genuine refugees into our country, proper security checks will be carried out to ensure that ISIL supporters do not get in under the radar in a similar way?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend makes a good point and puts it in the right way. We must not confuse migration and terrorism, but we need to be clear that proper border controls and checks are necessary to make sure that the people who come to our country do not threaten us. That is one reason why we have never joined Schengen: we want to keep our own border controls. Taking Syrian refugees from the camps enables us to carry out the checks before they take off.

Jack Dromey (Birmingham, Erdington) (Lab): The Prime Minister is right that greater powers are necessary to thwart terrorist plots on the internet. He is also right to make available additional resources for our security services and special forces. However, does he not agree that this would be the worst possible time to proceed with the biggest cuts to a police service anywhere in Europe, which would have a serious impact on the neighbourhood policing that is vital to intelligence gathering, as it is the eyes and ears of counter-terrorism in local communities?

The Prime Minister: As I have said, we protected counter-terrorism policing budgets in the last Parliament and will do the same in this Parliament. The police have shown in the past five years how well they can find efficiencies and increase the number of neighbourhood police officers on our streets.

Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): Terrorists and their weapons can enter the UK through any point of entry. Ports that mainly handle freight, such as the Humber port, are particularly vulnerable. Will my right hon. Friend assure me that the staff levels at Border Force will be maintained and, if necessary, enhanced to combat this threat?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is right to raise this issue. We are very focused on preventing firearms from entering our country. That is one of the best ways to defend ourselves from these sorts of appalling attacks. We have an intelligence-led model, whereby we use intelligence to ensure that our border security is delivered in the right way at the right time. All the time, we are asking Border Force whether it has what it needs. I discussed that with the head of Border Force when he attended the Cobra meeting on Saturday morning.

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Ian Austin (Dudley North) (Lab): I agree with everything the Prime Minister said about Syria and terrorism. Does he agree with me that those who say that Paris is reaping the whirlwind of western policy or that Britain’s foreign policy has increased, not diminished, the threats to our national security not only absolve the terrorists of responsibility, but risk fuelling the sense of grievance and resentment that can develop into extremism and terrorism?

The Prime Minister: The hon. Gentleman kindly said that he agreed with me and I absolutely agree with him. We have to be very clear to people who are at risk of being radicalised that this sort of excuse culture is wrong. Not only is it wrong for anyone to argue that the Paris attacks were brought about by western policy; it is very damaging for young Muslims growing up in Britain to think that any reasonable person could have that view. I agree with the hon. Gentleman 100%.

Mr Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) (Con): Does the Prime Minister believe that any individuals living in the United Kingdom who have information about any of the activities of those who have been radicalised or become terrorists are silent accomplices to any carnage that might take place in this country and that they have a duty to pass on that information immediately to save the lives of many innocent people?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend makes an important point that speaks to the civil liberties that we have in our country. People who suspect that a friend, relative or someone they know has become radicalised or that their mind has been poisoned should come forward, secure in the knowledge that everything that we do in this country happens under the rule of law. We cannot send out that message clearly enough.

Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): In this age of terrorism, will the Prime Minister indicate to us how safe are the British people?

The Prime Minister: I do not set the alert levels; they are rightly set independently by a group of experts. The level is currently “severe”, which means that they believe an attack to be highly likely. The next step is “critical”, which would mean that a threat was imminent. That would not normally happen until there was intelligence that a threat was in some way imminent. I say to the British people that we should go about our lives and that we should be vigilant and work with the police and intelligence services where we can. We must never give in to the threat that the terrorists pose, because they want us to change our way of life and to live in fear—that is what “terrorism” means.

Christopher Pincher (Tamworth) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that for terrorists to pursue their evil trade as effectively as possible they require training, and that training requires territory? Action to reduce ISIL’s territory, whether it be in Iraq, Syria or anywhere else, is therefore a vital component to ridding the world of these evil people.

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is absolutely right and what he says relates to the point that the hon. Member for Dudley North (Ian Austin) made. Much of

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our policy over recent years has been about closing down the ungoverned spaces where terrorists are able to stay and train. That is why we cannot sit back from all these things. It is why we are engaged in trying to make Somalia into a proper, functioning country. It is why we took action in Afghanistan to try to stop that country being a haven for terror. It is why we cannot stand by while there fails to be a Libyan Government. We have to work harder to bring about some rule of law and order in that country. We do not do this because we believe in military adventurism; we do it because we want to keep people safe in our own country. That is what it is about.

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): May I join the Prime Minister in expressing cautious optimism that the Vienna process could advance the prospects for a sustainable peace in Syria? That is important not only because of the huge numbers who have died there and the millions who have been displaced; the horrors of Paris and Beirut remind us of its importance in defeating Daesh. May I emphasise the importance of there being a strategy when he comes back to the House with his response to the Foreign Affairs Committee report? I understand that he will want to advance the case for military action, but a lot of us will be looking at how that fits into an overall strategy, including the involvement of regional powers.

The Prime Minister: I hope that I am able to reassure the hon. Gentleman. There is a strategy, which we need to lay out more clearly, of combining the political settlement with the military action that I think is important and the involvement of neighbouring countries. In the end, we have to decide whether to take such action as part of a strategy. That is my aim in the document that I will produce.

Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham) (Con): I fully welcome the Prime Minister’s statement. President Hollande has used the exact words that France is “at war” with Daesh. In Vienna, John Kerry said that we have to “defeat Daesh”. This evil organisation wants us to call it Islamic State or ISIL to give it the legitimacy and appeal that it wants. Can we join our counterparts and use the word “Daesh” to ensure that we use the right terminology?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is slowly winning that battle. The use of the word “Daesh” is increasing with every issue of Hansard that is published. He is right about the evil we face. This group carried out the attack in Paris and they would be equally content to carry out an attack in Belgium, Sweden, Denmark or here in Britain. They do not not do it because they feel that we are somehow different; they just have not managed it yet and we have to stop it.

Ann Coffey (Stockport) (Lab): I thank the Prime Minister for his statement, which I fully support. Does he agree that the multiculturalism of our country is more likely to be destroyed if we do not take every possible action to defeat these murderous terrorists?

The Prime Minister: I absolutely agree with the hon. Lady, and as we do that, we need to take everyone in our country with us.

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Mr Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) (Con): May I direct the Prime Minister back to the alarming reports that 450 violent jihadists returning from the middle east have been readmitted to the United Kingdom? Will he give a firm undertaking to the House that he will not rule out any action against those individuals, however robust, tough or draconian, including revoking their passports in order to protect the British public?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is right to make that point. We have a system for trying to examine everybody who returns in such a way. As I said, some people will come home completely disillusioned with what they have seen, because it is an appalling regime with appalling practices, but there are people who we will have to keep a very close eye on, and use all the powers at our discretion.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): I congratulate the Prime Minister on his courage and leadership at this time. There is a clear need for a new strategy, and that must come from within this House. Is it time that right hon. and hon. Members took the decision to step out in support of the new strategy, and to protect all the people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

The Prime Minister: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he has said. I hope that the response to the Foreign Affairs Committee will be something around which Members of the House can rally, so that we can move forward in a way that supports our allies and keeps our country safe.

Jake Berry (Rossendale and Darwen) (Con): My right hon. Friend is aware that Lancashire constabulary is one of the UK’s leading forces in fighting radicalisation and terrorism. Will he update the House on what further steps we can take to ensure that our security services and police forces co-operate fully with each other?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend makes a good point. We have announced additional funding for our security forces, and I have said what I said about counter-terrorism policing. We must continue to work on the Prevent programme, and I am sure that that will be addressed by the Home Office in its spending review.

Mr Speaker: Last but not least I call John Nicolson.

John Nicolson (East Dunbartonshire) (SNP): May I raise with the Prime Minister disturbing reports of the firebomb attack that took place in the early hours of this morning against the Al Sarouk cultural centre in Bishopbriggs, which is used by my Muslim constituents? May I also alert him to the grotesque racist attack faced by my colleague, Humza Yousaf MSP, on social media? Will he join me in condemning some of the inflammatory statements in the press that attempt to link innocent Muslims with extremism?

The Prime Minister: I certainly join the hon. Gentleman in condemning those attacks. We should be equally clear that just as anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are wrong, right-wing extremism and attacking people for their religions is also completely wrong. It is vital that we are equally vehement about all those things.

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Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Order. I am sorry to disappoint remaining colleagues, but the statement has lasted for an hour and a half. I thank the Prime Minister for his brevity, and I say gently to colleagues who did not get called that if their colleagues who did get in had been a bit briefer, they would have been called. We must help each other.

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Points of Order

2.3 pm

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your guidance. This morning eminent academics published research in a peer-reviewed journal that estimated the mental health effects of the Government’s new work capability assessment process between 2010 and 2013. The research is the first population-level study that looked at more than 1 million work capability reassessments in 149 local authorities in England, and at trends in suicide, self-reported mental health problems, and rates of antidepressant prescription. The report found that there is independent association of an additional 590 suicides, 280,000 cases of self-reported mental health conditions, and 725,000 antidepressant prescriptions. Concerns about the work capability assessment process and other aspects of the Government’s welfare policy have repeatedly been made in this House. In view of the gravity, and the scale and range of impacts of Government policy on the health of its citizens, I seek your advice, Mr Speaker, on how best to get the Secretary of State to make an early statement on how he intends to address those appalling effects.

Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her attempted point of order. I know that she follows this issue extremely closely and carefully, but I am afraid that it is not a point of order for the Chair. I do not want to dilate on matters that take place outside the Chamber, but—forgive me for saying this, but it must be said—we cannot have a situation in which an attempt to raise a matter through an urgent question, for example, which is not granted, is then substituted by an attempt to deal with the matter via a point of order. If every Member did that, we could spend long periods each day with people who tried to get an urgent question but did not succeed thinking, “I’ll deal with this through a point of order instead.”

The hon. Lady asked me honestly for my advice, but I am afraid my advice is for her to table written questions through the Order Paper. If she remains unhappy with the answers—or, as she sees it, the lack of answers—she can try again to deploy the mechanism of an urgent question. It is for her to demonstrate why the matter is urgent for that day, rather than simply a matter of great importance and relative topicality. If she wants to apply for an Adjournment debate she can of course do so.

I think I have shown considerable readiness to grant UQs and hear points of order, and I do not intend any discourtesy to the hon. Lady. She is extremely assiduous in the execution of her duties, but I do not think that I can say more than that today if I am to be fair about it—well, I am being fair about it—[Interruption.] Well I think I’m being fair anyway—[Hon. Members: “Hear hear”] It is quite useful to hear the odd “Hear hear”. If there are other points of order we had better hear them.

Louise Haigh (Sheffield, Heeley) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Last year Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs outsourced some of its functions relating to tax credits to a US-based company, Concentrix. Many constituents have contacted me in desperation because mistakes made by that company have led to arbitrary cancellations of their much-needed tax credits.

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Timely correction of those mistakes is next to impossible, as there is no way for my constituents to contact Concentrix. The HMRC has a hotline for members, but its staff have told me that they cannot provide an update on the status of a case because they cannot speak for or to Concentrix. A cursory glance at


has shown that Members have been unable to get answers about that company from Ministers. Can you give me any guidance, Mr Speaker, about how we can best represent our constituents, given the obvious failings of a Government agency and its contractor in this matter?

Mr Speaker: First, it is an expectation that Ministers will provide answers that are both timely and substantive on matters that fall within their competence—I use that term in the technical sense. If that has not been the case, or if the hon. Lady judges it not to be the case, that is disappointing and I urge her to persist. I gently remind those on the Treasury Bench that answers to legitimate questions should be provided, and that those should not be alternatives to answers—they should be answers.

Secondly, it is sometimes necessary and to be expected that the Government will make certain urgent announcements when the House is not sitting—indeed, if they did not they would probably be criticised, and it is perfectly legitimate for them to do so. Having studied this matter in concert with advisers, I confess that I am sympathetic to the view that has been expressed—not least by the hon. Lady—that the announcement about HMRC closures is of a kind that might reasonably be expected to be made to the House. It is fair to say that over the last couple of days exceptionally important matters have naturally dominated, but I hope that those on the Treasury Bench will have noted what has been said. It is open to Ministers to come forward sooner rather than later with announcements to the House if they are so minded. If they are not, even though I have known the hon. Lady for only six months, I rather suspect that she will pursue the matter with the terrier- like intensity that she has thus far demonstrated to colleagues.

If there are no further points of order perhaps we can move to the 10-minute rule Bill that the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) has been waiting for with stoicism and fortitude.

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House of Lords (Parliamentary Standards Etc) Bill

Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)

2.9 pm

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 to make provision for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority to be responsible for determining, paying, maintaining oversight of, and adjudicating complaints relating to, the allowances, expenses and financial interests of members of the House of Lords; to amend the House of Lords Reform Act 2014 to provide for the compulsory retirement of members of the House of Lords under certain conditions; to make provision for the reduction of the number of members of the House of Lords; and for connected purposes.

The other place is too large, too political, too comfortable and too prone to political patronage. It is time to reform it. The Bill is sponsored by Members from several political parties, and it assumes that, for the time being, the House of Lords remains appointed. On behalf of at least one of the Bill’s supporters, who is in his place, I am not saying whether the House of Lords should be elected or appointed: we have had that debate for 100 years and opinion is divided. We are where we are. For the present and for the foreseeable future, the House of Lords is appointed and it needs reform.

My personal view is that an elected Chamber would cause all sorts of problems that would have to be resolved. I do not see any point in the other place replicating this place. It should not be a place for ambitious 30 and 40-somethings who want to climb the greasy pole and become Ministers. There is no harm in ambition, but there is no point in having just another whole set of politicians in the other place. Arguments will rage back and forth on that point, but I do not want to get involved in that debate today. My Bill looks at the House of Lords as it is—an appointed body.

If the other place is not elected, it cannot replicate this House in terms of political dispute. It has to be a place of experts, distinguished men and women from all walks of life and all parts of the country, and mature people who do not want to get involved in politics any more. They may have been politicians, but they should now want to use the other place to improve legislation. There is no doubt that much of the legislation that leaves this place is hurried, has not been thought through and needs improving. There is a place for a revising Chamber, and I would like the Bill to achieve an agreement by convention that the House of Lords is not there to overturn manifesto commitments, or to get involved in taxation. The House of Commons was created all those centuries ago to ensure that the king could not tax the people without the consent of the people, and therefore taxation resides with this place. I would like to see the House of Lords established as a sensible, revising Chamber.

I return to my original point. The Lords is too large, too political, too comfortable and too prone to political patronage. I must make it clear that this is not a declaratory Bill. I wish to lay down some guidelines—and Lord Strathclyde is working on these matters now—but it is for the other place to decide how it meets those guidelines. My own view is that the House of Lords is too large: it does not need to be larger than the House of Commons.

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I would use the size of the Commons as a guide. We have 650 Members—perhaps after the next election it will be 600. How would we reduce a House of Lords of 850 Members to 600 or 650? I would leave it to the House of Lords to determine how to do it, but my own view is that we need some mechanism to ensure that the size of the political parties in the other place reflects the size of the political parties in this place after a general election. That is for the Lords to decide—they may have another point of view or they may wish to reflect voting strengths. They would also need room for Cross Benchers, so that no one party had a majority. That is important. Just because one party gets an overall majority in this place, it should not have one in the other place.

The House of Lords is overcrowded at the moment and we should reduce its size. We should also stop the absurd race, every time we have a general election with a change of party control, whereby the incoming Prime Minister feels that he has to create another 10, 20, 30 or 40 Members of the other place to try to increase his strength. We keep getting a larger and larger body. When I started in politics, it was hard to get into the House of Lords—usually new peers were of former Cabinet rank. It is becoming too easy to get in, and that gives the Prime Minister too much power. I do not really approve of the system under which the Prime Minister can just send up loads of people from this place: we need a limit on size.

Not everyone will agree, but perhaps we will have to reduce the number of bishops. There were 12 apostles, so perhaps 12 bishops would be enough, and there are also people of other faiths. Again, that is for the House of Lords to decide.

I do not think the House of Lords should have a set retirement age, because there are people aged 90 who are making a tremendously good contribution. If they are elected by their fellows in their political party or among the Cross Benchers to go on sitting there, let them do it. But one way of solving the problem would be to say that no one over the age of 80 should draw expenses or allowances, or be allowed to vote. That system works well in the Vatican. Cardinals can join discussions with

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their colleagues, but over the age of 80 they cannot vote. What is good enough for cardinals should be good enough for the other place. Again, that is for the House of Lords to decide, but to force people over 80 to be on the Whip, to come in and to vote late at night is rather demeaning for them and unnecessary. If they were not receiving expenses, it would get rid of any other inducements.

Let me deal briefly with expenses. Unfortunately, the House of Lords has increasingly been liable to criticism and scandal. We have to find a way forward. I think that Members of the House of Lords should be able to choose whether to be on an expenses regime and subject to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority—allowed to claim for a hotel and travel if their main home is outside London—or to receive a modest, flat-rate, taxable allowance. That would get rid of all the scandals that we read about in the newspaper of people coming in for just half an hour or an hour to claim their £300 a day tax-free allowance. We should have the same system here, by the way, with a choice between going on the IPSA regime, with all its complications, and getting a modest, taxable allowance.

If we want to recreate the conventions about making the Lords a revising Chamber, to have a modern expenses regime and to get really distinguished people in the other place who want to make a contribution—not necessarily all the time, but coming in a few times a year because they have a particular expertise—my Bill would fit the bill. It would be a modern, revising Chamber; after all, we are all modernisers now. It would also avoid scandals and create a House of Lords of a good size. It would make the other place fit for purpose for the 21st century, and I commend it to the House.

Question put and agreed to.


That Sir Edward Leigh, Robert Flello, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Mike Kane, Mr Andrew Turner, Philip Davies, Martin Vickers, Mark Menzies, Michael Fabricant, Daniel Kawczynski, Robert Neill and Norman Lamb present the Bill.

Sir Edward Leigh accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 4 December, and to be printed (Bill 95).

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Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill [Lords]

[2nd Allocated Day]

[Relevant Documents: Oral evidence taken before the Communities and Local Government Committee on 12 October and 10 November 2015, and written evidence to the Committee, reported to the House on 7 and 15 September and 12 October 2015, on the Government’s Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, HC 369, the Committee’s First Report of Session 2014-15, Devolution in England, the case for local government, HC 503, and the Government’s response, Cm 8998.]

Further considered in Committee

[Mr David Crausby in the Chair]

Clause 20

Governance arrangements for local government: entitlement to vote

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

The Temporary Chair (Mr David Crausby): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Clause 21 stand part.

New clauses 3 and 9.

2.20 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (James Wharton): I look forward to an interesting discussion this afternoon. I hope it will be similar in tone to the discussion we had on the previous day in Committee and that we are able to explore issues of concern to hon. Members. I hope that in the bulk of cases we find consensus, areas on which the House agrees, on the devolution agenda that I think many of us believe to be in the interests not just of this place but of our constituents—the people we represent who send us here to do the work we do.

I wish to oppose clause 20 and I shall also speak to clause 21 and new clauses 3 and 9. Clause 20 was inserted against the Government’s wishes following a lively debate in the other place. It amends section 2 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 by lowering the minimum voting age from 18 to 16 for the local government franchise in England and Wales. That means that 16 to 18-year-olds could vote in all elections based on this local government franchise. In England and Wales, those would include local government elections, police and crime commissioner elections, elections for the Greater London Authority and Mayor, and elections to the National Assembly for Wales. The amendment would also mean that 16 to 18-year-olds could vote in local neighbourhood planning referendums, council tax referendums and referendums on local authority governance arrangements.

I have considered carefully the arguments that have been set out in earlier considerations of the Bill, both here on Second Reading and in the other place. I am of course also aware of very similar arguments that have been made in relation to the franchise in Parliament’s

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consideration of the European Union Referendum Bill— a Bill that I follow closely for reasons of personal interest.

Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con): I agree with the Government’s view—I do not think the voting age should be lowered at all—but will the Minister give at least some consideration to the idea that there is a distinction between a normal election and a referendum, given the permanence or longer period for which a referendum would hold sway? Again, it is not a view I entirely agree with, but I think there are some colleagues even on this side of the House who would make a distinction between the two. Perhaps he could go into some detail on why the Government feel that that distinction should not be made.

James Wharton: My hon. Friend tempts me to go off topic. The European Union Referendum Bill has had a debate on this matter and has come to a conclusion to express the will of this place on the age of the franchise. I know this issue is of interest to a number of Members. Referendums are different from elections of other sorts, but I do not think that the difference is such that the concession should be made, certainly not through the vehicle of this particular Bill.

Norman Lamb (North Norfolk) (LD): The Secretary of State has at least indicated that there is a debate to be had about lowering the voting age and I wonder whether, secretly, he might actually agree with the proposition. Will the Minister explain what the dangers are of reducing the voting age to 16? The world did not cave in when people were given the vote at 16 in the Scottish referendum.

James Wharton: The right hon. Gentleman can speculate on whether the Secretary of State might agree or not. I can tell him that I certainly do not, but I recognise there is a time and a place for such matters as this to be debated. I will set out some of my thoughts on the appropriateness of the Bill or otherwise for that debate today in the comments I will now come to, although I feel that this is not necessarily that time and place, as I will explain.

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): Does the Minister understand that there is a lot of desire to see an extension of participation in our processes? My Select Committee produced a very fulsome report in the previous Parliament, which outlined proposals such as electronic voting and votes for 16 to 18-year olds. The Minister’s position is very clear: he does not want to do this at the moment. However, will he consider the possibility, as we devolve power to local government, that, in certain discrete pilot areas that request it, there could be experiments with the 16 to 18-year-old franchise?

James Wharton: I admire the creativity of hon. Members who wish to find ways to pursue this matter. I do not feel that it is appropriate to do so in this the Bill, for reasons I will go on to explain, but I recognise what the hon. Gentleman says. It is undeniable that there is a debate to be had on the issue. There are views on both sides of the argument. It is, I think, the view of nearly all right hon. and hon. Members that we would like greater participation and involvement in our democratic processes. Whether lowering the franchise is the right

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way of going about it is rather less clearly agreed across the House. Indeed, it is an area about which I have significant reservations. I have, however, considered carefully the arguments set out with regard to the Bill.

John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Will the Minister confirm that we did not place in our manifesto any wish to change the voting age, so we have no manifesto mandate, and that when Labour was in office for 13 years with big majorities it never thought it a good idea to change the voting age?

James Wharton: My right hon. Friend makes a very important point. Conservative Members did not stand on that proposal in the manifesto. Opposition Members from a variety of parties did so. It may be argued, therefore, that this issue has been decided by democratic processes already. However, I recognise, as I have said, there is a debate to be had. We may come to different conclusions, but my contention today is that, valid though that debate may be, the Bill is not the vehicle through which such a change should be delivered.

Several hon. Members rose

James Wharton: I would like to make a little progress and then I will give way to more hon. Members who want to have their say on this issue.

Lowering the voting age to 16 for local elections in England and Wales would be a major change to the fundamental building blocks of our democracy. The right starting point for making such change would be that those democratically elected to represent the people of this country should consider all the issues involved. Before such a step, we shall seek the views of those we represent. We should seek to recognise where public opinion stands on the issue, and how to maintain and strengthen confidence in ensuring that elections are free and fair. We should carefully discuss the issues and, having weighed the arguments and recognised where consensus and opinion lies across the country, only then would we decide whether or not to make such a change.

John Stevenson (Carlisle) (Con): Does the Minister agree that if we were to go down the route of 16 to 17-year-olds having the vote, logic would dictate that they should also be able to stand for Parliament, stand as a councillor or stand as an elected mayor? Is that something he would support?

James Wharton: My hon. Friend makes a very important point. There is a need for a joined-up approach in such matters. There is a need to ensure that any change is fully considered in the context of all the other things we place age restrictions on—all the other things that we do or do not allow people to do at different ages, often for very good reasons. Whether that is buying cigarettes or alcohol, using a sunbed, voting, standing for Parliament or driving a car, we have different ages for different things for long-established reasons. Those ages are not set in stone, but they are in place for a very good reason in principle. There is a debate to be had, but the conclusion of that debate is not foregone.

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Mark Field: I very much agree with what the Minister says, particularly the way in which he has enunciated it. Particularly in the past 10 to 15 years, in many areas—smoking, using sunbeds, drinking—the age limit has been raised rather than lowered. Insofar as we can try to have a sense of working together and agreeing a single age, if anything we are moving in an upward rather than a downward direction. This leads to the question—I say this only because my late mother’s first vote was in an East Germany election in the 1950s and the electoral age in that part of Europe at that time was 14—why not 14, 12 or 10, rather than 16, as is being proposed?

James Wharton: My hon. Friend tempts me to go further down the path of debating the specifics of different ages, but he makes a fundamental and important point: we have different ages for different things. These matters need to be considered fully and in the round. Change should not be brought piecemeal or as an adjunct to a Bill. It would have to be done in a carefully considered way after proper and thorough debate.

Norman Lamb: rose

James Wharton: I will give way to the right hon. Gentleman, but then I really must move on.

Norman Lamb: How does the Minister, who accepts that there is a debate to be had, intend to facilitate that debate so that we can have it perhaps during this Parliament?

2.30 pm

James Wharton: I recognise what the right hon. Gentleman says, but this debate has been ongoing for some time in our democratic process. I said earlier that at least two Opposition parties stood with it in their manifesto, but they were not successful at that last election. I am talking today about the progress I want this Bill to make. His point is well made, but it is not going to tempt me to go further today.

A broader issue underlies the clause: the transition from childhood to adulthood; the interplay between the different limits, age ranges and restrictions, which we have discussed already; and the desire to further the cause of democratic engagement and how to do it. This complex issue deserves the most serious attention, but it should not be an adjunct to this Bill on devolution, the purpose of which is to meet our manifesto commitment and deliver for areas affected. For those reasons, we do not support the clause. It is not the right place to insert such a significant legislative and constitutional change.

After careful consideration, we have concluded that clause 21 should stand part of the Bill. It was also inserted in the other place, against the then wishes of the Government, and removes section 9NA of the Local Government Act 2000, which currently provides that, where a council has been required to hold a mayoral referendum under an order made by the Secretary of State, and where that referendum has been successful and a mayor has been duly elected, the mayoral model of governance cannot subsequently be changed except by a further Act of Parliament. This provision currently applies solely to Bristol.

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Karin Smyth (Bristol South) (Lab): On behalf of all parties in Bristol, I am grateful for the recommendation to retain clause 21, which, as I said the last time we discussed this in Committee, enshrines a fundamental democratic principle by giving the people of Bristol continued control over the system for determining their elected representatives.

James Wharton: Absolutely. That reflects the consensus we are trying to build around the Bill. Ours are the very actions of a listening Government working on a cross-party basis to deliver in everyone’s interests. Bristol was the only city to vote for a mayor in the mayoral referendums held in May 2012. We have considered the argument made, among others, by the hon. Lady—that the people of Bristol should have the same opportunity as those in other areas to petition for a change in governance arrangements. Clause 21 effectively places the people of Bristol in the same position they would be in had the mayoral referendum in 2012 been triggered by a resolution of the council or the receipt of a valid petition. Having carefully considered these arguments, we are prepared to see the people of Bristol in this position, and hence we support clause 21.

Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South) (Lab): The Minister has spoken about consensus. Of course, one issue, connected with the Bill, on which there is great consensus is the Government’s proposals to amend the Sunday trading laws—the great consensus being that we should not do it. Will he confirm that those proposals are not coming back, either in this Bill or in any other way?

James Wharton: I hear the hon. Lady’s comments, although I am not sure to which clause we are here to debate she refers. More generally, we always talk to hon. Members across the House and listen to the views of the public at large to determine the best course of action, but the issue she raises is not before the Committee this afternoon. As to what will happen in the future, she tempts me to go further than I can.

New clause 3, tabled by the hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen), would amend section 36 of the Representation of People Act 1983 to allow local areas to alter their systems for the election of councillors. His enthusiasm to push the boundaries of devolution, throughout our consideration of the Bill and more generally, has not gone unnoticed by Ministers or, I am sure, Opposition Members. When we last met in Committee, he flagged up the proposition that councils should be free to decide their own electoral arrangements in conjunction with their people. He suggested they should be able to have a debate and come to a decision.

I understand the hon. Gentleman’s interest in voter engagement, which, as I have said, we all share, and I note the devolutionary nature of his proposals, under which a council could decide its own electoral system. That said, he will be unsurprised to learn that I have some concerns about how such complex proposals would work in practice and whether there is an appetite for them. Local councillors are currently elected under the first-past-the-post system, which is a well-recognised and straightforward system, as we saw in the outcome of the referendum to change to the alternative vote system in 2011. I accept that that was in relation to UK

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parliamentary elections, but two thirds of voters chose first past the post over the alternative vote, suggesting there is no public consensus for change.

I have concerns about the potential confusion caused by the possibility of voting systems changing from one poll to the next. We can imagine the pressures that councils and councillors could come under in considering the systems they might wish to employ. There would be a natural desire to consider, or attempt to second-guess, whether there might be some political advantage in adopting a different set of arrangements or sticking with the existing tried and tested ones. Even if appropriate safeguards could be introduced, which themselves would add to the complexity of the arrangements, the practical processes of switching voting systems would still be complex and costly. For example, a change to the single transferrable vote could, in many cases, require a major re-warding of an entire local authority area.

These concerns might not be insurmountable, but the proposal represents a fundamental change to the building blocks of our democratic processes and would require significant consideration, development and consensus, and I am clear that the Bill, although both devolutionary and enabling, is not the right vehicle for such a change. On raising the proposal last time, the hon. Gentleman suspected that the idea might need to brew a little. He will sense from my comments that I believe it has brewed nowhere near enough. I therefore ask that he does not push it to a Division.

Finally, I turn to new clause 9, which would introduce a requirement through regulations for local government electors in an area to approve certain boundary and structural changes via a referendum. The boundary and structural changes involved relate to the establishment of new unitary local authorities, the merger of authorities or movement from one authority area to another. Clause 16 already gives the Secretary of State wide regulation-making powers regarding structures and boundaries. The regulations will allow modification of the existing processes, as provided for in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, for making changes such as merging councils or moving to more unitary structures. These regulations can be made only where all the affected councils agree. I doubt it would be right to include a requirement for a referendum, and nor do I believe referendums to be sound practically in this context.

Our democracy is founded on the traditions and principles of representative democracy, which have served us well and stood the test of time. In general, we believe that decisions on public matters are made most effectively by those democratically elected to represent the area affected. All past experience suggests that this is the case with changes to local authority boundaries and structures. The democratically elected local representatives are best placed to take local decisions on these issues. Of course, they will want to take account of the views of the electorate—of those who live and work there, of businesses, of those who contribute to the life of local communities. However, how they seek these views—the kind of consultation exercises they undertake—is a matter for them. It is not for the Government to tell elected representatives how to undertake their roles.

Hence, it would not be right to require referendums—to require a particular way of ascertaining the views of local people—or for the result of such an exercise to

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determine the decision on proposed boundary or structural change. The referendums envisaged by the new clause would not be sound in practice. First, it would only require a referendum in a part of the area—the part becoming unitary, for example—yet such a change would have implications for the surrounding areas, so I am not clear that this approach would be right in any event. Secondly, such boundary and structural changes are almost invariably part of some wider reform. To present the question as simply one about some council structure or boundary risks being misleading and oversimplifying complex arguments. With those explanations, I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight (Mr Turner), after what I am sure will be an interesting discussion, will not press his new clause.

In conclusion, I have explained that the Government cannot support new clauses 3 and 9. We are content for clause 21 to stand part of the Bill, but we are opposed to clause 20.

Liz McInnes (Heywood and Middleton) (Lab): I am glad to hear that the Government are in listening mode. I am pleased about clause 21, but I hope that the Government will now listen to the arguments in favour of clause 20 and reducing the voting age to 16 in local government elections.

More than 1.5 million 16 and 17-year-olds in the UK are denied any part in our democratic process. In recent years, pressure has developed to reduce the voting age from 18 to 16. The Electoral Reform Society has argued for it, and in 2006 the Power commission was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust to find out what was happening to British democracy and why people were disengaged from politics.

The commission drew up a set of proposals and recommendations to increase political participation and it presented them in a final report, “Power to the People”. One recommendation was to lower the voting and candidacy age to 16, with the exception of candidacy for the House of Lords. The Power commission explained its recommendation thus:

“Our own experience and evidence suggests that just as with the wider population, when young people are faced with a genuine opportunity to involve themselves in a meaningful process that offers them a real chance of influence, they do so with enthusiasm and with responsibility. We recognise that few people take an interest in a sphere of life or an area from which they have been deliberately excluded.”

John Redwood: Will the hon. Lady remind us why during 13 years in office up to 2010, Labour, which had big majorities, never wanted to do this?

Liz McInnes: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his question. Sometimes pressure needs to build up before change is made. It is correct to say that the Labour party did not make this change in 13 years in office, but I am going to talk about the build-up of pressure and the involvement of various organisations. We saw in the Scottish referendum that there is a real feeling that our young people are affected by the democratic process. To take the right hon. Gentleman’s arguments to their conclusion, we would never make any changes whatever, simply because we did not do so in a previous term of office.

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I was quoting the Power commission on young people feeling excluded and therefore not being interested in politics. The commission proposed that reducing the voting age to 16 would be an obvious way of reducing the extent of such exclusion for many thousands of young people. It would increase the likelihood of their taking an interest and participating in political and democratic debates if they actually felt that they could influence such debates.

John Stevenson: Logically, if 16-year-olds have the vote, they should clearly be entitled to stand as candidates as well. Is the hon. Lady comfortable with the idea of a 16-year-old being able to get elected to a position that has executive authority?

Liz McInnes: The Power commission did not recommend that 16-year-olds should become candidates, but rather that they should have the vote to raise their awareness of the democratic process so that when they reach an age when they are eligible to become a candidate, they will have played some part in the democratic process.

Imran Hussain (Bradford East) (Lab): During my election campaign, I spoke to hundreds of young people who were not only enthused by the political process, but actively wanted to engage in it. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is an absolute myth that young people are somehow not interested in politics, not capable of holding public office and not capable of voting? Does she further agree that the right thing to do is to give them that right to vote, so that we can bring about more engagement by young people, which is more actively needed than ever before at this time in politics?

Liz McInnes: I think my hon. Friend is absolutely right. The 16-year-olds I know and speak to are very keen on the idea of greater political involvement. We keep going back to the Scottish referendum, but it was amazing to see so many young people participating in that very important debate. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them on an issue that was going to affect them. I feel that we have some 16-year-olds who are engaged in the political process, yet we deliberately exclude them from it.

2.45 pm

Clause 20 will allow anyone over the age of 16 to vote in local elections. The amendment was won by Labour and the Lib Dems in the House of Lords; it was not in the original Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill. I believe it would be a retrograde step to remove this clause.

Clause 20 would have effect for all elections in England and Wales that currently use the local government franchise—for the Mayor of London and the Greater London Assembly, for police and crime commissioners, and for elections to the National Assembly for Wales and the European Parliament.

For years, there has been a consistent demand from young people for votes at 16. At 16, people become adults and take control of their own futures. They can leave school, work full time and pay their taxes, leave home, get married, join the armed forces—

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr Marcus Jones): Not without mum and dad.

Liz McInnes: I accept that young people cannot do all those things at 16 without the consent of their parents, but the fact is that they can still do them.

Contrary to popular myth, young people are interested in political issues—from climate change to racism, and from education to crime. I meet young people in my constituency, as I am sure do many of my hon. Friends, who are studying politics at A-level and are completely engaged with the political process, yet this country still denies them a vote.

In a democracy, voting is the fundamental way for our young people to express their opinions. As the Power commission report put it,

“it is worth remembering that we enlist 16-year olds into the armed forces and expect them to pay taxes if they are earning so they should be able to participate in the selection of those who govern them. We believe that any reform to encourage young people to engage politically will be very severely limited in its effectiveness while the current constitutional, party and electoral arrangements remain in force.”

Given that Government decisions will naturally affect the future, it is arguable that the young are more likely to be affected than older people by some political decisions.

Preventing 16 and 17-year-olds from voting sends a signal to them and to society that their views are not valid or important. The next generation of voters are the first to have received citizenship education in schools, yet they are being denied their full rights as citizens. This seems particularly unfair and unjust. At a time when some people feel that politics is not relevant to them, young people need to be encouraged to take part in democracy, not kept out of it. The Scottish independence referendum showed once and for all that 16 and 17-year-olds are more than capable of taking important political decisions. If young people are registered early and get into the habit of voting, we will see lasting improvements in turnout.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Sarah Champion) secured a Westminster Hall debate on this very subject last year. She argued that the time was right

“to open the democratic system even further and to include 16 and 17-year olds among the people who are able to vote.”

She continued:

“We cannot expect 16 and 17-year-olds to contribute to our society through various means—economically, physically, intellectually or socially—in a capacity where we recognise them as an adult, but then give them the democratic rights of a child… We trust our young people to contribute to society in many ways, so we should start to give them their democratic rights.”—[Official Report, 6 May 2014; Vol. 580, c. 7WH.]

I fully support that. I urge all Members to support the retention of clause 20, and to welcome our 16 and 17-year-olds to the democratic process.

Let me now say a few words about clause 21. I am very pleased that, on this issue at least, the Government are listening. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol South (Karin Smyth), who is present, and who has done a great deal of work in connection with the issue of the Bristol mayor. As I am sure everyone knows, Bristol was the only city to vote “yes” in the mayoral referendum of May 2012. I think it fair to say

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that the current mayor has proved to be a somewhat controversial figure, but my hon. Friend has rightly said:

“This isn’t about whether you support the current mayor or would prefer a different person in that office, it’s about whether citizens of Bristol should be allowed a voice about the post itself.

It’s about democracy, and the right of Bristol people to decide how they are governed seems to be a fundamental aspect of democracy.”

She has also said that

“citizens of Bristol deserve the right to reverse that decision at any point”,

and that the Lords amendments

“offering Bristolians that opportunity are to be welcomed”.—[Official Report, 14 October 2015; Vol. 600, c. 372.]

I bow to my hon. Friend’s superior knowledge of the issue of the Bristol mayor, but I am very pleased that all Members seem to support clause 21, and I look forward to our giving Bristolians the same democratic rights as those enjoyed by the rest of the country.

Norman Lamb: I strongly support the amendment that was passed in the House of Lords, and I am very disappointed that the Government are proposing to remove it from the Bill. The Minister’s argument seemed to be “It is all horribly complicated, and this is not the right place to discuss it”, but I could not identify any particularly strong argument for why it is the wrong thing to do, and why 16 and 17-year-olds should not be given the right to exercise the vote like the rest of us.

I was interested by the intervention from the right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mark Field). Indeed, I was encouraged by it, because the right hon. Gentleman appeared to recognise that there was some argument for 16-year-olds to have a say on some issues. However, he drew a distinction between referendums and voting in elections on a continuing basis. I think that he should go with his logic. If there is a case for young people to have a say in the future of their country, or on other big issues that are put before the country in referendums, surely there is a case for them to have the right to a say on who is elected as their local councillor. How on earth can the right hon. Gentleman sustain the logic of allowing a vote on a big national issue of enormous import while denying a vote on representation in a local community?

Mark Field: In fairness, I think that I should clarify my position. I am against the idea of reducing the voting age, period, but I also think there is some logic that suggests that a referendum is a somewhat different sort of plebiscite from a routine election. It may happen only every 40 years, as in the case of the European referendum, and, although I suspect that we shall not have to wait quite so long for the next referendum in Scotland, there was at least the prospect of our waiting for a generation or more in connection with a referendum-related issue.

A broader point, however—and I thought the Minister had made it fairly clear—is that this would be a pretty important change in our franchising arrangements. It is not a measure that should be sneaked through as an additional clause in a Bill emanating from the House of Lords, or, indeed, from the House of Commons. It requires a broader analysis. I accept the right hon. Gentleman’s view—and I hope that we shall engage in

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some fertile discussion during the course of this Parliament —but the notion that a major change can be brought about simply by an amendment during the consideration of a Bill does not strike me as the right way to deal with the entirety of our franchising system.

Norman Lamb: I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that this is an important issue, but I hope he will understand that those of us who are convinced of the case for change should take every opportunity to argue that case, and this is one such opportunity. Because we recognise that the world will not cave in, and that many positive consequences will flow from the measure, we see no difficulty in including it in the Bill.

The hon. Member for Heywood and Middleton (Liz McInnes) referred to the Scottish referendum, which engendered an extraordinary level of engagement among young people. I do not think that any Conservative Member suggested that the young people who voted in that referendum did not know what they were talking about, or that they ought not to have the right to a say. If Conservative Members believe, on reflection—given what happened in the Scottish referendum—that it was right for those young people to have a say, they should stick with the logic of that, and accept the case for including the measure in the Bill.

It is interesting to note that the turnout among people between the ages of 16 and 18 was very high in Scotland. I understand that, according to an Electoral Commission report that was published in December 2014, the turnout among 16 and 17-year-olds was 75%, as opposed to 54% among 18 to 24-year-olds. Given the opportunity, they engaged in the democratic process very readily, and I think we should all welcome that.

Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton) (Lab): The right hon. Gentleman has made some fair points about the analysis of participation in the Scottish referendum, but does he not agree that that referendum was an almost unique event in terms of the enthusiasm that it engendered among all age groups throughout Scotland’s population, and that there is no immediate read-across from it to other elections and referendums?

Norman Lamb: I accept that it was a highly unusual event in terms of the degree of excitement and enthusiasm that it engendered across the population. I am simply making the point that the world did not cave in because 16 and 17-year-olds had had a vote in that referendum, and I do not think it would cave in if we gave people in the same age group the right to a say in who becomes their local representative on their local authority.

Mark Field: Perhaps we are more sanguine about the events of 18 September 2014 with hindsight. It might have been very different had the result been a close-run thing, and had there been any suggestion that a change in the franchise of this magnitude might have been decisive in the overall result. That clearly was not the case: lest we forget, I remind the House that the referendum was lost by 10.6 percentage points, although the SNP does not remind us of that very regularly. As the right hon. Gentleman says, the world has not fallen in, but I think that the referendum would have been a lot more

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controversial had the result been a very close-run thing, and had there been any suggestion that that franchise change might have had a distinct impact on the result.

Norman Lamb: I was on the same side as the right hon. Gentleman in the referendum. I am half Scottish, and I passionately wanted Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom. However, I am also a democrat. I accept the will of the people following a vote in a referendum of that sort, and I accept the right of 16 and 17-year-olds to be part of the decision-making process.

Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) (SNP): Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is precisely because 16 and 17-year-olds had the biggest stake in the future of the country that it was important for them to have a vote in the referendum?

Norman Lamb: I think that is absolutely right, and indeed that is why I also think they should have a vote in the European referendum, because it is their continent as well as ours. They have a larger stake than we do in terms of the number of years they have on this planet so I accept the case the hon. Lady makes.

I have long held the view that this is right in principle. If someone can marry, join the armed forces and, perhaps most importantly, be obliged to pay taxes, if working, at the age of 16, then surely they have a right to a say about the level of that taxation and how it is applied by Government. It is surely actually a democratic outrage that people can be expected in our country to pay taxes but not have the right to any say over the application of them.

3 pm

Guto Bebb (Aberconwy) (Con): Surely that argument makes little sense? My daughter, for example, is currently saving up to buy a laptop computer. She will have to pay VAT. She is 13; she will have no votes. Does the right hon. Gentleman propose a 13-year-old should have a vote on the VAT issue?

Norman Lamb: No, I am referring of course to the application of income tax to people’s employment rights. To take that argument to its logical conclusion, it would of course be ridiculous to suggest that a four-year-old should have the right to vote. I also made the point that someone who can join Her Majesty’s armed forces and defend this country has no right to vote on the critical decisions this country makes. The case is clearly very powerful.

This change would also have a beneficial impact. The shadow Minister talked about the extent of young people’s engagement in politics. I would draw a distinction. All my experiences show that young people are very interested in political issues, but they are totally disillusioned with, and disengaged from, the political process, and this would be one way of addressing that.

The problem goes further. David Willetts, a highly respected former Conservative Cabinet Minister, has made a powerful case about the broken generational contract. He talks about generational unfairness. As all of us in this House know, whether or not we are prepared to admit it, that older people tend to vote in greater numbers and that drives the manifestos of political parties, which in turn drives the deal that different

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members of our society get from the Governments of this country. I am pleased to see the hon. Member for Norwich North (Chloe Smith) agreeing with that point. That problem becomes worse if young people aged 16 and 17 are denied a say and political parties are not forced to listen and think about the interests of young people when shaping their manifestos. Their manifestos will consequently address the needs of older people, which, of course, have to be met, but we also have to ensure that there is, as David Willetts says, generational fairness. That is denied by not giving the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds.

Mark Field: I entirely agree that inter-generational unfairness is a major issue that all of us in the political class will have to face before too long, but is not the real problem one that would not be solved by clause 20 or reducing the voting age: the real trouble is that very few people under the age of 35 bother to vote? The turnout level, even in the Scottish referendum, for 18 to 35-year-olds is much lower than for others. The truth for any political party is that there are twice as many voters over the age of 55 than under the age of 35 and they are twice as likely to vote, so there is four times the bang for the buck, as some would say.

Norman Lamb: I think there is a progressive struggling to get out. I can tell that the right hon. Gentleman wants to support this. He sees the argument in favour and he rightly points to the low engagement of people under the age of 25, but we have to ask ourselves why. During their teenage years young people are denied any involvement in our political process. Perhaps, as happened in Scotland with the referendum, if we give them the opportunity to have their say at an earlier age and if we start to teach more about the political process in our schools, they might understand that by participating they get a greater say in society and their interests may be better met.

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab): I am sure that, like me, the right hon. Gentleman meets many sixth-formers when he visits schools and finds that they are often extremely well-informed. It is the older generation’s attitude to the younger generation that sometimes leads to young people becoming disillusioned. When knocking on doors during canvassing I often find that young people are very progressive-minded, certainly on matters such as climate change, the poor and poverty in the world.

Norman Lamb: I agree, and I think it is condescending in the extreme to suggest that someone aged 17 is not capable of making a decision about, for example—in the context of this Bill—who their local councillor should be, for goodness’ sake. Ultimately, that is what the Conservative party is saying—that they cannot be trusted to vote to elect their local councillor.

Mark Field: Perhaps this would-be progressive could have a stab at answering that point. I do not think that anyone denies that there will be a minimum voting age and therefore an arbitrary cut-off, and I guess all the Government are saying is that, all things considered, including issues such as the drinking of alcohol, driving and smoking, 18 seems a pretty sensible cut-off date, rather than 16. I fundamentally believe that, as well as

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having a right to vote, there is a responsibility to be engaged in politics. I suspect that, again, 18 is a slightly better arbitrary cut-off point than 16—or any other number we might wish to pluck from the sky.

Norman Lamb: I accept that where we draw the line is arbitrary to a degree, but I would tempt the right hon. Gentleman to be a rebel on this, because I think that deep down his instincts are with giving people aged 16 and 17 a vote. Where his party is choosing to place that arbitrary line will deny 16 and 17-year-olds the right to elect their local councillor in their communities. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks about that for more than a moment, surely he will agree that that is ridiculous.

I have gone on for too long, and I apologise for that. I urge the great right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster to have the courage of his convictions and I urge all Members to join those of us who will vote to retain clause 20 in the Bill.

Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): I am very glad to have the opportunity to raise the rights of local residents where there is some pressure for powers to be devolved. The kind of pressure I mean is where, for instance, a rural area finds itself under the control of an urban council, or an urban area is under a rural council. I am not going to raise the issue of the Isle of Wight as there is very little pressure now for a change—in fact, that change took place as long ago as 1996—but let us look at somewhere I am not so familiar with. Let us look at Lancashire-Yorkshire and where the county boundary was. Some areas have been part of Lancashire, but only since 1973. Before that, it was clear that the ancient boundaries were of Yorkshire.

Another example is Bradford and its environs. In Bradford there is quite a difference between those areas which are rural and those which are urban. Many would like to see changes to their own council, rather than the metropolitan council which is now in charge, and many others would not. It seems to me there would be almost no problem in allowing the more rural areas to have more responsibility for their own local affairs, for instance in planning, libraries and housing. They could take over all responsibilities for their area, but it seems to me more likely that they would want to take on the district responsibilities, leaving others, such as education, with their metropolitan brothers.

It used to be the case that it was necessary for effective metropolitan districts to have all their responsibilities over a reasonably large area to enable them to cut costs. Now, however, things have changed. It is possible now for a district council or a unitary authority to share offices so that, for instance, a chief executive could be the chief executive of two, or even three, councils. That is perfectly normal in rural areas, and I propose that the possibility could be made available in urban areas. So it would not be unduly difficult to introduce those benefits. It should be made possible to do so, but there should be no compulsion. To allow such a responsibility to be devolved, I suggest that a referendum should be held. If a majority of people in an area vote yes, the change should take place, giving them direct control over their local area. That would make it easy for local people to express their preference, and I am very much in favour of that.

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Alison Thewliss: I rise to speak in support of the comments made on this side of the House about votes for those aged 16 and 17. It is odd that the House of Lords, the unelected Chamber at the other end, should have become the defender of the right of young people to vote in this country. Its wise intervention should be maintained, however, because our experience in Scotland of having 16 and 17-year-olds voting has been very positive.

It is interesting that, since my election to this House in May, every opportunity to discuss the matter has been met with the comment that it is neither the time nor the place to debate it. I should like to ask the Minister when the right time and place would be, because we should seize every opportunity to have these discussions. There is always a good time to get people involved in politics and in voting. Starting at local level, where local services are delivered to young people, is a good way of getting them involved because their schools, youth services and other local services are relevant to them at first hand. They can see what local government does and get directly involved in it.

It is interesting that lots of Members have mentioned the referendum. In my experience, speaking to young people during the two years that we spent debating the referendum was incredibly positive for their engagement. Anyone who saw the debate that filled the Glasgow Hydro arena with young people will remember that it was one of the best in the whole referendum campaign, with incredibly engaged young people making incredibly valuable contributions.

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, has become converted to this argument. She has said:

“I’m happy to hold my hands up and say I changed my mind. I’m a fully paid-up member of the ‘votes at 16’ club now, for every election. I thought 16 and 17-year-olds were fantastic during the referendum campaign. I can’t tell you the number of hustings and public meetings I did, and some of the younger members of the audience were the most informed.”

That tells us everything we need to know about how young people ought to be engaged in politics and why they need to be.

John Stevenson: I am looking for a bit of consistency in the argument for reducing the voting age for 16 and 17-year-olds. Would the hon. Lady suggest that, if they had the right to vote and the right to stand for election, we should also consider reducing the age limit for alcohol consumption and for driving?

Alison Thewliss: There would be public health concerns relating to the alcohol question, and those are entirely different from democratic concerns. The right hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) talked about party manifestos. If 16 and 17-year-olds were able to vote, perhaps they would campaign on issues such as those, but we do not know whether that is the case because they do not have the right to vote in elections to this place or to local authorities, which have licensing powers.

The Minister mentioned that parties that included votes at 16 in their manifesto had not been particularly successful. I have to correct him on that. The Scottish National party had that proposal in its manifesto and we were very successful. I know that 16 and 17-year-olds welcome and respect the rights and responsibilities that

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we have placed on them. If they are going to be subject to taxation, it is perfectly reasonable that they should have the right to vote.

Turning to some of the other matters under discussion, I am a huge supporter of the single transferrable vote, the system under which I was elected as a councillor. The introduction of that system made a huge difference to the local authority of which I was a member. Before the introduction of STV in Glasgow, only four of the 79 councillors represented the SNP; when the STV election was held, we fielded 22 candidates and we got 22 candidates elected.

The result of these changes can be seen in the Electoral Reform Society’s report of 2010, entitled “Working with STV”. It used Glasgow as a case study and interviewed officers from that council, one of whom stated that Glasgow “has a council again”. There is proper debate and scrutiny. More recent work by the Electoral Reform Society on the need for electoral reform has found that councils that do not have a system such as STV can become one-party states with uncontested seats and, in the worst cases, there is a risk of corruption due to the lack of scrutiny of council decisions.

3.15 pm

My understanding is that England already has lots of multi-member wards, with officers elected on a rolling basis. Those could be retained while introducing STV, which could mean fewer elections—providing a saving to the public purse—while bringing a good element of local democracy, accountability and proportionality to those councils. There would not necessarily be a need to change any wards, but a great deal more democracy could be brought into them.

Mr Andrew Turner: May I ask what would happen in single wards? All but one of the wards in my constituency are single wards.

Alison Thewliss: I appreciate that English local government is complex and has lots of different examples. In Scotland, we had a boundary review which looked at ward sizes and shapes. My experience, having been elected under that system in 2007 and re-elected under it in 2012, is that it works very well for our constituents, because they always have three or four representatives to take their issues to. At the very best, they have a good team of people standing up for their local area. At worst, if they have a councillor who is not doing what is needed, people have an option to go to two or three others who can represent them. That is good for our constituents, and they see the value in that arrangement. A process whereby local councils could decide on this issue by themselves might need further thought, but it is an interesting idea. If the House is not going to take any action to introduce STV, we should certainly allow local government to do it if it wishes to. There would be great value in that.

I also want to talk about local referendums. They are a good thing for local democracy and responsiveness to issues involving a local demand. People should be able to have a say on the matters that affect them, and that could also include the question of revising the way in which local government is set up in their area. The local government arrangements might not be working well, for example, or there might be no clear lines of

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accountability. There has been a great deal of debate on those issues in relation to elected mayors and to how the rest of the process below them would need to change.

John Stevenson: On that point about elected mayors, does the hon. Lady believe that the great cities of Scotland should have the opportunity to hold referendums to decide whether to have an elected mayor?

Alison Thewliss: People are not generally calling for that in Scotland. There has not been that tradition there.

Mr Graham Allen: That’ll be a no, then!

Alison Thewliss: If people wanted to hold such referendums, that would be absolutely fine. Lots of councils in Scotland have petitions processes whereby people can submit arguments to the council for consideration, and if they wanted an elected mayor, that could be achieved through that process. The Scottish Parliament also has a petitions process that would allow areas that wanted an elected mayor to take a petition to the Scottish Government. So there are processes in place that would allow for that to happen, if there were a demand for it. However, there is no tradition of elected mayors in Scotland. In Glasgow and other local authorities, we have a political head in the leader of the council and a strong civic head in the Lord Provost or the local provost.

The hon. Member for Carlisle (John Stevenson) asked me the question about elected mayors in Scotland, but his own Conservative Government have acknowledged that we have no such tradition, because there was no suggestion of a mayor being imposed as part of the Glasgow and Clyde Valley city deal, as is happening in other parts of the UK. His own party does not seem to think that there is any rationale for elected mayors in Scotland. The Bill provides a good opportunity to try out a number of different measures that could improve local government and make it more democratic and accountable, and I support the principles behind these amendments.

Chloe Smith (Norwich North) (Con): I shall make a few brief points about this part of the Bill. I spoke in an earlier debate, in which I trailed what I am about to say now. I am one of those who believes that we should allow voting at 16, but I do not think that this Bill is the correct vehicle for achieving that.

This is perhaps a case of having the courage of my convictions. The right hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) also mentioned that. I have to tell him that people often confuse the names of our constituencies; I am often called the “Member for Norfolk North”, and I am sure the same thing happens the other way round. We are close geographically, and we also share a lot on the substance and the values in today’s debate, except that I see the courage of my convictions on engaging young people in politics as residing in doing the job properly, instead of doing it piecemeal. I shall therefore be speaking against clause 20.

As the Minister said, something coming merely by way of an amendment is not the way to do the job well. As other Conservative Members have said, omitting that much larger debate about the various ages of majority in this country does not do the job well either—and

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nor does failing to speak to young people as we take on this debate. After all, if it is about anything, it should be about them.

James Wharton: Although we do not necessarily agree on where this issue should go, I sense that we agree that if this step were to be taken—I do not necessarily support it—it should be after a proper process, in a way that will last the test of time and have real support across the House and from those affected by it. It should not be done via an amendment to a Bill that is about something altogether different.

Chloe Smith: I agree with the Minister, but perhaps I may put the question back to him, as the right hon. Member for North Norfolk did, by saying that perhaps we could discuss when we ought to have that debate. A natural follow-on from the various contributions that have been made today is moving on to have that debate properly. As I suspect the Minister will tell me, that is for another Minister to answer, but no doubt he will pass the message on.

The hon. Member for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss) cited comments by Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Conservatives in Scotland. I am a big fan of hers, as many people are, even if the hon. Lady is not among them. As she said, Ruth Davidson has changed her view on votes at 16. Like me, Ruth Davidson also comes to the conclusion that this ought to be done for all elections. It does a disservice to this important reform to do it piecemeal and not to give it the respect of a full debate.

Alison Thewliss: Does the hon. Lady accept that in the absence of any other Bill, strategy or proposals for bringing about votes at 16 and 17, this measure is the best we can do in the meantime and that we should support every step to move the issue forward?

Chloe Smith: I am interested in that argument. Although it is for the Minister to give the real answer on that, rather than for me to attempt to give it, I think we run a risk of creating a patchwork. I do not feel comfortable with 16-year-olds in one part of the country being able to do something that their counterparts in another part of the country cannot. I am not hugely comfortable with the inconsistency, and I would far prefer us to debate this in the round properly.

John Stevenson: I agree with my hon. Friend that this is not the right forum for the discussion on reducing the voting age to include 16 and 17-year-olds. Does she agree that if that other debate ever were to come forward, it would have to include things such as the alcohol age and whether 16 and 17-year-olds should be able to have executive power, so that there is consistency?

Chloe Smith: I agree entirely. In fact, the next section of my notes tells me to acknowledge the points made by my hon. Friend about executive power and standing for office. We should also go through all the points relating to marriage, joining the armed forces, taxation, the use of substances, criminal responsibility and the age of consent for sex. They are all items in that much longer list. Before the Minister looks at me with absolute horror for moving his Bill on to something that is not included here today, I should say that I merely make those points to make the broader debate a real one.

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As my right hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mark Field) said when he was in his place earlier, we need to have that debate, and we might hope to do so in the next couple of years, because the topic is important.

Norman Lamb: The hon. Lady cautioned against creating a patchwork of rights, yet of course the process the Government are undergoing with devolution is creating precisely that across our country, with different deals in every part of it. What is the danger in her having the courage of her convictions and voting with us to retain clause 20, in order to enable 16 and 17-year-olds just to vote for their local councillor? That is all we are asking for. What danger is involved in that?

Chloe Smith: The right hon. Gentleman tempts me to join him in the Lobby, but I would only further trash his reputation in Norfolk if I did. Joking aside, there is a distinction to be drawn between rights that people might have in different parts of the country and public services that people might have in different parts of the country. I would describe the latter as the substance of the devolution Bill—it is about how public services can be better delivered.

I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman would permit me to extend this point to something the hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen) proposes in new clause 3, which could be argued also to create something of a patchwork. I make the distinction between rights and public services, but new clause 3 brings in another category: methods of voting. I have concern about having a patchwork in that area, too. We would want consistency there, just as we would on rights, but I can see value in having innovation in public services more locally, which is why I support the Bill overall.

Mr Steve Reed (Croydon North) (Lab): Does the hon. Lady recognise that it is in the nature of British constitutional reform that it tends to be pragmatic and incremental and that this opportunity in the Bill is at least a foot in the door towards what she is telling the House she believes in? Does she also recognise that this has already been done piecemeal—16-year-olds had the vote in the Scottish referendum, so she would not even be innovating with this measure?

Chloe Smith: Having been a Minister with responsibility for constitutional reform, I know well that it is often done in a pragmatic way. What I regard as pragmatic in this instance is to have this debate properly and thus respect the young people whom we seek to serve by looking properly at their rights and opportunities. That is the main thrust of my comments today.

I do not want to be seen as the champion in this House for votes at 16; I want to be seen as the champion for young voters. The technicality of the voting age is a very important signal, which we ought to be able to send to young people to say that they are valued in politics. That is the way I do politics and I am sure it is the way the hon. Gentleman does them; I would like to think it is how everybody else in this Chamber also approaches this crucial matter of democratic engagement. This important topic crucially affects a generation of

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people, who would indeed like to be involved in politics. It is not good enough to deal with it piecemeal and not to consider the full implications of what we are talking about.

I have a few brief points to make about what this younger generation is asking of us in politics. Political engagement has indeed changed. Demos carried out research for the National Citizens Service in which it says that we should roll up our sleeves, power up our laptops and get things done, rather than rely on the state to do things for us. My colleagues on the Conservative Benches will say, “Hear, hear to that”, because that is what we believe in. We are a centre-right party that believes in getting things done. We believe in local innovation, in individuals being self-reliant, and in helping people to take the opportunities that exist. I support this Bill in its entirety, because it promotes devolution for local areas.

What we can see in Demos’ research is a certain scepticism of the state. The state comes a fairly long way down the list—after individuals, charities and businesses—when it comes to getting things done. Young people do not look to the state alone to get things done. That can be seen in the Ipsos MORI research, “Generation Strains”, which demonstrates the scepticism with which today’s youngest generation views the welfare state, compared with older generations.

What we are seeing is an opportunity for us to embrace a whole new generation of voters; dare I say it, it is the generation to which the Minister and I belong. It is that generation that we need to be welcoming in to politics. What I am saying is that we should have the opportunity to do that properly; to change our campaigning styles to meet that challenge; and to embrace those values here in this House. We also have that opportunity in this devolution Bill, but let us respect our young people by treating their democratic rights properly in a debate that looks at the matter fully rather than off the back of a single amendment that has come from the other place without the chance to look at the issue in the round.

3.30 pm

Mr Graham Allen: I am surprised, but delighted, to follow the hon. Member for Norwich North (Chloe Smith). She is a very important performer in the democratic constellation, having been a Minister and given evidence to my Select Committee, the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, which could have been the perfect vehicle for bringing forward such proposals had the Government not abolished it—that probably tells us all we need to know.

I must say that the speed of reaction by Government to proposals from the Commons has not noticeably been a problem in my 20-odd years in the House. Some might feel that there has been a constant blur of democratic innovation in the House, but that has so far escaped me. Perhaps that happens when I am not in the Chamber. I might just be very unlucky.

I say to Members: when in doubt always read the title of the Bill. This one is Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill. It says “devolution” and not decentralisation. We are not saying, “Here is Whitehall handing out a bit of power, but it is on a string and we can pull it back when we like.” Nor are we saying, “Power should lie at the centre, but let us try a little

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experiment on a very strong piece of elastic should the simpletons who are out in the sticks be unable to administer their own affairs.”

Devolution is entirely a different concept. It is about giving power away to a more appropriate level. Therefore, devolving power is, by definition, going to create difference and best practice. Lots of people will experiment, or innovate, on how they do things to suit themselves better in areas in which it is appropriate for people in localities to do those things. A patchwork, or a differentiation, or lots of different levels of change, is at the heart of devolution in a way that decentralisation never can be. Let us read the title of the Bill and let us try to make the Bill do what it says on the tin, which is to devolve power down to the localities rather than to have the localities as a means of administration of what the centre wants. That is a very, very clear distinction, which all of us who want to talk about devolution should understand.

In essence, new clause 3 applies that principle to a number of fields, but most obviously to the electoral systems in this country. There is no longer one electoral system that applies everywhere in the United Kingdom. There is a massive diversity and plurality of electoral systems and we have decided that this is about horses for courses—I am talking about a typical British constitutional evolution. The last major one was around the way in which we elect people to the European Parliament. Then there has been change in our devolved Assemblies and Parliaments, and people are finding their way in different areas. They should be allowed to continue to change if that is what they wish to do in those areas, regions or nations. It should be a process of constant exploration. So why on earth can we not do that in the localities? With the consent of people in the localities, why cannot we try, if they so wish, to go for votes for 16 to 17-year-olds?

Given the immense power vested in the Secretary of State under the Bill—he could not be a better person to trust to use these powers, I am sure—he could use his discretion to try a pilot and see what happens and what the turnout is likely to be. Let us do a proper evidence-based analysis in a number of areas to see whether young people are interested in participating in that way. Trying to do that seems to be one of the benefits of devolution. Other places might be happy with first past the post and such a change might never occur there, but pressure might be brought to bear.

Some people say that it is wrong that there are one-party states in local government. I do not happen to be one of those people, but if we get enough momentum in a locality to say that the system should change and people say, “You know what? It might refresh us. We might do better if we had more challenge,” or whatever the logic of the argument and political debate taking place, they should try something else. Let them try an alternative vote. Let them try, if they wish, the single transferable vote. Let them be the arbiters and judges and jury about the electoral system that they want in their area.

Similarly on governance, if people wish to have a form of governance that includes a leader concept, a committee structure or a mayor, they should be allowed to try it. The imposition element—if people want to run their own affairs, they must do it in the way that the Government say and have a mayor—is one of the

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fundamental weaknesses of the Government’s proposal, and I do not list many. The Government say, “If you don’t want the mayor, you’re not going to get the powers.” That is unfortunate. It is counterintuitive to those of us, even the Secretary of State, who believe in devolution, and it has not done the cause any good.

If we genuinely, perhaps after one or two more Bills before 2020, get to a position where we trust local people to have the wit and creativity to devise their means of governance, they should decide whether or not they want mayoralty. The reason why only one city went for the mayoralty in the last round and the rest rejected it was partly that it was felt to be an imposition. It came close on the back of a number of elections where people had expressed a political view about who should run their locality. It was done in a clunky, clumsy way, and we can see the fingerprints from that exercise on the one that has been transposed into the Bill. That is unfortunate. Let us allow people to find a mayoralty if they feel that it is appropriate for their area. Let us allow them to test that or to experiment with it if they wish, rather than saying yet again, “You’re getting devolution, but only in the way that we in Whitehall say is appropriate.”

If, like me, hon. Members have had the opportunity to study a document about devolution, they will see that the Government are not doing any of us who care about devolution any favour at all in the way that these things are written. It is like a gathering of local officials and centralised, Whitehall officials with a very large lashing of LSD, and it is difficult for ordinary people, let alone politicians, some of whom are intellectually challenged, to understand what is meant by much of the documentation. That may be based on my errors, but I suspect, given the size of the smile on the Minister’s face, that he, too, realises that to an extent officials at local and national level have depoliticised the very thing that he and the Secretary of State have done so well in bringing the Bill to the House.

John Stevenson: I hope Members on the Government Benches are not intellectually challenged. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that when we look back at Governments of his party and of mine, we see that the present Government have done an awful lot to further the cause of devolution, and should be given credit for that effort?

Mr Allen: I know that the hon. Gentleman is an assiduous reader of my speeches, even more so than I am, and he will see that on Second Reading and a number of occasions subsequently I paid tribute to the Secretary of State for his determination to bring devolution to its present state. It is an extremely good foundation for my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon North (Mr Reed) on the Front Bench to build on in 2020.

I am surprised that we have got to this point in the debate today without anyone mentioning that devolution deals have been announced. I am surprised that the Minister has not mentioned that. I do hope word does not get back to the Chancellor about his omitting to mention the deals in Liverpool and the west midlands, in addition to the deals in Sheffield, the north-east and the Tees valley. I hope deals are rapidly on the way in my area—Nottingham/Nottinghamshire and Derby/Derbyshire. I believe there are 38 potential deals, covering up to 80% of the population.

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It may seem odd for someone on the Opposition Benches—I hope I am regarded as all-party on this issue—to point out that there are large areas, Conservative areas, rural areas, county areas, that have been left out of the party. If this is to be a genuinely democratic change of the order of developing national Parliaments and assemblies—a change that will lead to a federal United Kingdom, as my hon. Friends on the Front Bench said in The Huffington Post this morning—we cannot leave our friends in the rural areas, whether they are Conservative or not, out of the equation.

James Wharton: It is important to find areas of agreement. Although on the issue of devolution the hon. Gentleman tempts me to go further than I am currently predisposed to go, and he would no doubt go much further than I might want to, it is important to put on record that he is right about rural areas. We have the deal with Cornwall and we are working with many other areas to reach deals which will include many rural areas in county deals. This is a process of making bespoke deals for individual areas. That means that they will be different and it will take time, but we are determined to deliver them.

Mr Allen: I genuinely wish the Minister well in that. I am sure he has followed the debates in the Conservative councillors network over the past 36 hours as closely as I have. It is important that everyone shares in the benefits of devolution and is enabled to make the sort of decisions that they feel are appropriate, rather than those that Whitehall considers appropriate.

The Minister tells me that I am pushing the process a little too fast and a little too hard. We have had such debates since the 1830s, and people have argued that we should not rush things. Fancy giving working men the vote! Fancy giving women the vote! For heaven’s sake, if that ever happens to our democracy, what next? Now, my goodness, there is the brand new issue, which nobody has ever thought of before, of giving 16 and 17-year-olds the vote. We should revel in the fact that there are people in our country still desperate to use the franchise. It should be extended to them and that should be done sensibly.

I refer the Minister to the report of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee. I see a number of distinguished former members of the Committee, even sitting close behind the Minister. The report came up with an array of possibilities for extending participation and extending our franchise, such as online voting and 16 and 17-year-old voters. There were many other proposals, but Mr Crausby would rule me out of order, were I to venture into them. Sometimes in a political career there are moments of opportunity and they are very rare. The Minister is a young man starting out on his political career. He may not be the Minister on the next devolution Bill, which is sure to happen before 2020. I hope he is, because he will have gained massive experience from taking the Bill through on this occasion, but he should seize the opportunity to push it a little further than the officials might like. That is a political lesson that we could all share.

James Wharton: It is always a pleasure to listen to the hon. Gentleman’s wise and considered words on devolution issues, even if we do not always reach the same conclusions.

17 Nov 2015 : Column 578

I am particularly interested in what might be a glimmer of agreement between us on the issue of voting age. We may not agree on what the voting age should be, but he said that any change should be carried out in a sensible way. Does he think, therefore, that a proper process should be used rather than an amendment to a Bill such as this—in other words, that there would have to be full and detailed consideration, with proper consultation taking into account many of the issues that hon. Members have raised, so that any such fundamental change, were it to be made, would be long-lasting?

3.45 pm

Mr Allen: I am always searching for consensus. In an ideal world, we should do this thoroughly and properly, but we are not in an ideal world, unfortunately. Parliament is the creature of Executive power, and so occasionally, when an opportunity arises, parliamentarians of any political party should always seize the moment.

This may not be the moment, but perhaps the Minister should be thinking—as we all should, particularly Labour Members—of the opportunities coming up. Next time there will be further increments of devolution. We will write devolution packages that ordinary human beings and Members of Parliament can understand. We will want to share them. We will want to enjoy, across the whole democratic family, the fruits of devolution, which, as Lord O’Neill, the Minister in the other place, said on the radio this morning, give us not only democratic change but the most fantastic economic opportunities, which Manchester has so successfully led the way on, to build economic growth for our local communities in a way that only they can take forward.

I will not press my new clause to a vote, but I hope that, above all, the Minister and my Front-Bench colleagues will start to think about what should be in the next devolution Bill.

Graham Stringer: It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen), who makes the sensible but profound point that if services and economic development are devolved, we will not have consistency across the country. When, over the past 50, 60 or 70 years, people have argued for complete consistency in service delivery or in other parts of local democracy, it has been a cover argument for centralism, because a devolved system cannot be consistent across the ground without centralism. Consistency is never achieved because of the nature of different areas where services are delivered in different ways. Having said that, if my hon. Friend had intended to press new clause 3 to the vote, I probably would not have voted for it. I rarely disagree with him, but I will try to explain why.

I want to make two points on what has come up in the debate and two points on clause 20 and new clause 3. I cannot let it go that my hon. Friend and those on both Front Benches have said that only one city voted for an elected mayor in 2012. In fact, one of the two cities that I represent—the city of Salford—voted for an elected mayor, but the referendum on an elected mayor in Salford was not one of the 11 that were forced on people. There is a lesson there. The reason devolution to Greater Manchester is popular—an opinion poll came out this week showing 75% support—is that it is a negotiated agreement, not something that has been forced on the area. One of the reasons people in Salford

17 Nov 2015 : Column 579

voted for an elected mayor was that they had asked for the referendum by petition; it was not forced on them. It is not surprising that the other 10 cities that had referendums forced on them voted no. No constituency argued the case for elected mayors and, unlike under this Bill, they would not have been offered different resources and powers if they had agreed to an elected mayor.

The hon. Member for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss), who represents the SNP, said there is no desire for devolution in Scotland.

Alison Thewliss indicated dissent.

Graham Stringer: I am sorry. I will be precise: the hon. Lady said there is no desire for elected mayors in the cities of Scotland. In the context of this devolution Bill, I think that means the same thing. Obviously, I did not mean devolution to the Scottish Parliament. I suggest to the SNP that it should try it. In England, the Government have been proactive by asking the cities and, as we have heard, they have grabbed the opportunity because they have been offered more powers and resources. In essence, the hon. Lady’s argument is that of democratic centralism, which, sadly, is what is happening in Scotland.

Alison Thewliss: The hon. Gentleman may not be aware that the Scottish islands requested more powers from the Scottish Government, who are now considering how to facilitate devolving more powers to them. The issue relates to the Crown Estate, over which we have no powers, although we would like to have them.

Graham Stringer: I was making the opposite argument to the one made earlier by the hon. Lady. If Glasgow, Aberdeen or Dundee were offered more powers and resources, they would grab the opportunity, as the cities of England have done. That was the point I was making.

On clause 20, I have been agnostic on the voting age. Arbitrary lines have to be drawn somewhere and I have never been completely taken by the argument that 16 is so much better than 17 or that 17 is so much better than 18. The Labour party’s manifesto said that we would reduce the voting age, so had we won the election I would have voted for it, but not particularly enthusiastically, because there are a lot of rather complicated arguments associated with it. It seems to sit oddly with the Labour party’s commitment to a constitutional convention on major changes to the constitution, and I am wary—not just with regard to this Bill, but in relation to the European Union Referendum Bill—that people are making arguments in favour of lowering the voting age in order to alter results, not because they want comprehensively to win the argument. I will therefore abstain on clause 20 when it is put to the vote.

Another reason I am agnostic on the issue of the voting age is that the argument that there is a direct relationship between people’s age and whether they get involved in elections does not seem to be based on evidence. People vote for a whole series of different reasons, including financial issues, self-interest and principled arguments over how they view the future of society, and the older they get, the more they feel that they have an interest in society. I think that the Scottish referendum was a hugely different experience because it was the future of Scotland that was being considered, so people of different ages turned out in greater numbers than they had done in elections to the Scottish Parliament

17 Nov 2015 : Column 580

and to this place and in local elections. I once massively increased the voter turnout in Manchester, not by changing the voting age, but by putting up the rates by twice the level of inflation. Believe me, that created a great deal of enthusiasm for voting, much more so than any change in the voting age.

Although such arguments are appealing, it does not seem to me that the argument about paying tax is completely convincing. The hon. Member for Carlisle (John Stevenson) made the case that very young people pay tax by paying VAT, while many 16 and 17-year-olds do not pay income tax because they are at college or not earning money. Is the voting qualification just for people paying tax? Similarly, the functional argument for voting is that people can be in the armed forces, but most people do not join the armed forces. Does that mean they should not be allowed to vote? All I am saying is that there are big questions about arguments for lowering the voting age that appear immediately appealing. We need a discussion about when to enfranchise people, but that should not be done in a Bill to devolve power and resources to parts of this country; it should not be done in a Bill to determine this country’s relationship with the European Union either.

My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham North is an extraordinarily powerful advocate for devolving powers and resources. His new clause 3 makes the case for devolving to local government the power to decide on the voting system. I am very wary about that as a devolved function. Although the argument is sometimes made that with a proportional representation system—the single transferable vote or another proportional system—turnout will increase with people being more enthused by the different voting system, it seems to me that European elections give that the lie: the previous Labour Government had to put European elections with local government elections because the turnout was so embarrassingly low, and those are the only national elections held on a proportional system.

The real argument about whether we have PR—the alternative vote, additional Members or whatever system we want—is nearly always one of party political advantage for the party proposing a different voting system. When it started, the Labour party was in favour of PR; as soon as it got a significant number of MPs, it dropped the idea. The Liberals, who are back down to their normative level of eight Members of Parliament, are very strongly in favour of PR, as is UKIP.

Alison Thewliss: Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the exception to that argument? The Labour party in Scotland, as part of its coalition with the Liberal Democrats, brought in STV for local government.

Graham Stringer: I am sure the hon. Lady would agree that the Labour party brought in that system so that the SNP could never be completely in control of the Scottish Parliament, and it failed.

Alison Thewliss: Local government in Scotland, not the Scottish Parliament.

Graham Stringer: I am sorry. Yes, that is the one exception to my argument. In terms of local government in Scotland, however, it is fair to say that the Labour Government at the time were distrustful of the Labour

17 Nov 2015 : Column 581

party running some Scottish cities and thought that it would be healthier if its very large majorities in such cities were broken up. As it happens, I think that was a mistake.

Mr Graham Allen: Of course, the point about party political advantage is very strong in respect of the SNP, which no longer talks about proportional representation for representatives in this place because half the Scottish population is represented by three Members of Parliament and the other half is represented by 56. It has suddenly gone quiet on that point.

My hon. Friend said that the electoral systems will be decided by local councils under my new clause. I hope he will forgive me for pointing out that electoral systems may change only with the full consent of local people, rather than through a deal by the political parties.

4 pm

Graham Stringer: I accept that that is what my hon. Friend’s new clause says, but it would provide an opportunity for political parties. For example, if the Liberals unexpectedly gained control of a council they had not led before, they could immediately move to hold a referendum to try to change the system. It would be a mistake to allow that. I think that the electoral system for local government is better determined here. It is genuinely a central function. On that basis, if it were put to the vote, I would not vote for new clause 3.

Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

The Committee divided:

Ayes 188, Noes 283.

Division No. 125]


4.1 pm


Abrahams, Debbie

Alexander, Heidi

Allen, Mr Graham

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Barron, rh Kevin

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brake, rh Tom

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burgon, Richard

Cadbury, Ruth

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, Julie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Cox, Jo

Coyle, Neil

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dowd, Peter

Dromey, Jack

Durkan, Mark

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farron, Tim

Field, rh Frank

Flello, Robert

Fletcher, Colleen

Flint, rh Caroline

Fovargue, Yvonne

Foxcroft, Vicky

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Greenwood, Margaret

Griffith, Nia

Haigh, Louise

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harris, Carolyn

Hayes, Helen

Hayman, Sue

Hendrick, Mr Mark

Hermon, Lady

Hillier, Meg

Hodge, rh Dame Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hollern, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hussain, Imran

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Gerald

Jones, Graham

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Khan, rh Sadiq

Kinahan, Danny

Kinnock, Stephen

Lamb, rh Norman

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Clive

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Lucas, Caroline

Lynch, Holly

Mactaggart, rh Fiona

Madders, Justin

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maskell, Rachael

Matheson, Christian

McCabe, Steve

McCarthy, Kerry

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McInnes, Liz

McKinnell, Catherine

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morris, Grahame M.

Mulholland, Greg

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Onn, Melanie

Onwurah, Chi

Owen, Albert

Pearce, Teresa

Perkins, Toby

Phillips, Jess

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Pugh, John

Qureshi, Yasmin

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees, Christina

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rimmer, Marie

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Ryan, rh Joan

Shah, Naz

Sherriff, Paula

Shuker, Mr Gavin

Siddiq, Tulip

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Smeeth, Ruth

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Cat

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Smyth, Karin

Spellar, rh Mr John

Starmer, Keir

Stevens, Jo

Streeting, Wes

Tami, Mark

Thewliss, Alison

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thomas-Symonds, Nick

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turley, Anna

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

West, Catherine

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Mr Mark

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Woodcock, John

Wright, Mr Iain

Zeichner, Daniel

Tellers for the Ayes:

Jeff Smith


Judith Cummins


Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Heidi

Amess, Sir David

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Borwick, Victoria

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brazier, Mr Julian

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cartlidge, James

Cash, Sir William

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

Crabb, rh Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, Byron

Davies, Chris

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Dr James

Davies, Mims

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duddridge, James

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fernandes, Suella

Field, rh Mark

Foster, Kevin

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Boris

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kennedy, Seema

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, rh Dr Julian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Mak, Mr Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mowat, David

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Nokes, Caroline

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Pow, Rebecca

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robinson, Gavin

Robinson, Mary

Rutley, David

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, David

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Graham

Sunak, Rishi

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Throup, Maggie

Timpson, Edward

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Tredinnick, David

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wilson, Sammy

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Simon Kirby


Sarah Newton