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Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, the Minister suggested that disagreement between the two Front Benches was masked by the amendments. That is not so. I and the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, have been perfectly clear about our decisions. It is not a question of masking disagreement but of reaching agreement as regards part of the process.

I shall not take up too much of your Lordships' time in responding. I sense that noble Lords would not be entirely tolerant of the arguments being rehearsed fully again. However, perhaps I may respond to points made by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and the Minister. It was suggested that there could be several outcomes to a referendum containing more than one question. I hope that I have made the position clear, but I shall do so again. I am not suggesting that if the votes do not produce the package that the Government are promoting they would then be bound to proceed immediately with one element.

It has also been suggested that this amendment is inconsistent with the one agreed by your Lordships at the previous stage--the question of publication of a Bill before the referendum. The Government immediately went on record as saying that they would reverse that amendment in another place. I recognise that that will not be the end of the process. However, I propose this amendment in the light of that history.

It has also been said that the will of the people can be clearly expressed by means of one question, but that more than one question would lead to a variety of results. I dealt with that point by explaining that I do not propose that the results would mean an immediate move to some other form of constitutional settlement.

29 Jan 1998 : Column 354

The matter can be simply summed up in this way. There are entirely different approaches to assessing the will of Londoners. We have heard the Government's approach. We do not agree with it. I seek leave to test the opinion of the House.

5.11 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 111; Not-Contents, 104.

Division No. 1


Addington, L.
Alderdice, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E.
Annaly, L.
Ashbourne, L.
Bath, M.
Bathurst, E.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Bethell, L.
Blaker, L.
Bowness, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Broadbridge, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L. [Teller.]
Calverley, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carnock, L.
Charteris of Amisfield, L.
Chorley, L.
Clanwilliam, E.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Crickhowell, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Dacre of Glanton, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Donegall, M.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Erroll, E.
Feldman, L.
Garel-Jones, L.
Gisborough, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gormanston, V.
Granard, E.
Haig, E.
Halsbury, E.
Hamwee, B.
Harding of Petherton, L.
Higgins, L.
Holderness, L.
Hood, V.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Kenyon, L.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Ludford, B.
Mackay of Drumadoon, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNair, L.
Maddock, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Merrivale, L.
Meston, L.
Methuen, L.
Milverton, L.
Monckton of Brenchley, V.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Monson, L.
Naseby, L.
Norfolk, D.
Norrie, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Ogmore, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Rawlings, B.
Razzall, L.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Robson of Kiddington, B.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Romney, E.
Rowallan, L.
Russell, E.
Seccombe, B.
Skidelsky, L.
Stallard, L.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Sudeley, L.
Swansea, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Teynham, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thurlow, L.
Thurso, V.
Tope, L. [Teller.]
Tordoff, L.
Trenchard, V.
Tugendhat, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Weatherill, L.
Westbury, L.
Wharton, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Young, B.


Acton, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Amos, B.
Ampthill, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Bledisloe, V.
Borrie, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carnarvon, E.
Carter, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Desai, L.
Diamond, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Fitt, L.
Gallacher, L.
Gilbert, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Hardie, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Haskel, L. [Teller.]
Hayman, B.
Healey, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Hutchinson of Lullington, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jeger, B.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Levy, L.
Lincoln, Bp.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Lovell-Davis, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Mallalieu, B.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mishcon, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Montague of Oxford, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Nicol, B.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Renwick of Clifton, L.
Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Rogers of Riverside, L.
St. Davids, V.
Serota, B.
Sewel, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taverne, L.
Tenby, V.
Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

29 Jan 1998 : Column 355

5.20 p.m.

Clause 4 [Referendum: supplementary]:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 2, line 30, at end insert--
("( ) Where the polls referred to in subsection (1) are taken on the same day--
(a) polling for the referendum shall be between the hours of 7 in the morning and 10 at night on the day of the referendum; and
(b) polling for the election shall be between the same hours and regulations shall be laid pursuant to section 36(2) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 accordingly.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this is an amendment to Clause 4, and I hope it is a less contentious issue. It returns to the question of polling

29 Jan 1998 : Column 356

hours and proposes that polling in both the referendum and in local council elections shall be from the hours of seven in the morning to 10 at night.

We previously focused on the hours of the referendum. I take the point that has been made that if the hours of the referendum and the borough elections held on the same day are different, there could be confusion. Noble Lords will be familiar with the argument over the need not to disenfranchise those who travel long distances and work long hours in London. At a previous stage, the noble Lord, Lord Tugendhat, commented on our becoming more of a 24-hour society. I accept what was said about encouraging turnout through other means and not only relying on the polling hours, although I suggest that that is not an adequate answer to the point which I and other noble Lords made.

I also understand the point about the costs, but there are costs to democracy. It was said that there could be administrative disruption, but that would not be the case if the hours of the two polls were the same. It was also said that the local election results would be delayed. Yes, but only by one hour.

Returning to the question of extended hours leading to higher turnouts, it was accepted that there was no evidence either way. The Minister said that if there was any evidence as to the effect of hours on turnout, then she would bring the matter back to the House. I know that very often in local elections there is a rush to vote between the hours of 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. when the polls close at 9 p.m. I also know that sometimes there is great difficulty in persuading people to turn out and vote straight away when they come home at 8.30 p.m. Because I live opposite a polling station, I have seen people turn up before 8 o'clock in the morning thinking that they can vote on the way to work but they find that the polls have not opened.

I believe it is likely that the referendum will be regarded as more like a general election than a local election and therefore the hours should be those of a general election. I realise that the hours are a matter for statutory instruments. So too are the hours of the local elections, but under other legislation. Hence my reference to the Representation of the People Act 1983. I hope that the amendment will give the Government the opportunity to convince us, with evidence, if there is any, that we will not disenfranchise--I use the word deliberately, knowing the argument on absent voting--those who wish to exercise their vote but who, for good reasons, find themselves unable to do so because of the pressures of work and other pressures in their lives. I beg to move.

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