Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Elton: Does the noble Lord then accept my point that it is a political judgment and that it may be about a political question? That will then give an advantage to the party in the majority in Parliament at the time which could have the effect of silencing the expression of the views of the minority. If that is the case, this is yet another example of the increase of the powers of the Executive; and it is to be regretted.

Lord Bach: The power to make the final decision would not be taken away from Parliament. That would be another loss of Parliament's power. The noble Lord cannot have it both ways. The Secretary of State will make a recommendation and Parliament can either accept it or refuse it. As I have already said, the commission will have made its views publicly known. One can imagine the outcry there would be if the eventuality happened which the noble Lord fears. I think we can entrust it to Parliament.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: I do not think that the noble Lord fully understood the implications of what my noble friend Lord Mackay was saying about the possibility of four outcomes, as happened in Scotland. During that campaign it was very difficult indeed for people to work out the implications of the interrelationship between tax-raising powers and the devolved body. Those implications are only now beginning to dawn on people. Had there been a proper discussion during the referendum campaign that would have been understood from the outset. Perhaps I may suggest to the Minister that he should look carefully at what my noble friend said when he spoke to the second amendment and appreciate that the answer he has just given did not address the problem.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick: I support what was said by my noble friend Lord Mackay. Surely the whole purpose of the electoral commission is to take away from the Government, who, by definition, are an interested party, matters that are accurately politically sensitive. As has been demonstrated in this short debate, the Government could easily give themselves an advantage by taking the decision as to whether there should be one umbrella organisation or two umbrella organisations. That might be important in a referendum. It is fairly extraordinary of the Minister to say, "Ah, but the recommendation of the electoral commission will have been published. There will be an outcry if we ignore that". On various points the Government are ignoring the recommendations of the

24 Oct 2000 : Column 152

Neill committee. We have not had much of an outcry because everyone knows the Government can normally get their way. This is not an adequate safeguard.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My two noble friends are quite right. When, towards the end of his remarks, I heard the Minister say that it was up to the Government to decide and not the electoral commission, I began to wonder why we are to have an electoral commission at all. It was a little like saying we will have a referee--

Lord Bach: I believe I said it was for Parliament to decide, not the Government. Parliament will have the final say.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Bach: I see the difference. Do noble Lords opposite not see it?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I have been in Parliament for a long time. I know the distinction. But, when the truth is told, it is more imagined than real. The point is that, whether it is Parliament or whether it is the Government, I thought that the principle behind an electoral commission was that it was to be a kind of referee; especially when it came to referendums, as we are discussing now. You cannot say, "Let us have a referee", and then say "But all his decisions are subject to a decision and a vote by the players after he makes his decision whether they will go along with the referee". That is thoroughly unsatisfactory.

Like my noble friend Lady Carnegy of Lour, I do not think the Minister addressed the question of the four possible outcomes. He seemed to think that some of the outcomes would be so ludicrous as not to be worthy of contemplation. But the truth is that in Scotland the two umbrella outcomes were "yes, yes" and "no, no". In fact the Labour Party in Scotland actually chose the third option: to have a Scottish Parliament and not to have tax-raising powers because it said clearly that it had no intention of using those powers. So it campaigned for a "yes, yes". In fact it should have been campaigning for a "yes, no" because that is how it has turned out. That is what the Government will do. So the "yes, no" position was a perfectly legitimate one to argue and to be one of the umbrella organisations to get some of the money.

I started off this debate as a probe, but like all probes one begins to turn over stones that one did not realise were there. I must say that the Government's attitude to the electoral commission has rather appalled me. I wonder what this body is now worth. Indeed, I would suggest that between now and Report stage the noble Lord reads the Nairne committee's recommendations on the whole issue. Perhaps he will see how far adrift he is from reality. I am so appalled by that answer and by the idea that the electoral commission is just there for a bit of window dressing

24 Oct 2000 : Column 153

to allow the Government to get their own way through Parliament--that is what it comes to--that I shall test the opinion of the Committee.

3.39 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 233) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 98; Not-Contents, 160.

Division No. 1


Aberdare, L.
Ampthill, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Biffen, L.
Blackwell, L.
Blatch, B.
Bledisloe, V.
Boardman, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Brightman, L.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnarvon, E.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Cox, B.
Crathorne, L.
Crickhowell, L.
Cuckney, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Ferrers, E.
Fookes, B.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Freeman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Harris of High Cross, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Jopling, L.
Kimball, L.
Laing of Dunphail, L.
Laird, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
McConnell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L.
Marsh, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Noakes, B.
Northbourne, L.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Peel, E.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Plumb, L.
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rogan, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Ryder of Wensum, L.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Trumpington, B.
Vinson, L.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wilcox, B.
Young, B.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Ahmed, L.
Allen of Abbeydale, L.
Alli, L.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Avebury, L.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Blood, B.
Borrie, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Dahrendorf, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Desai, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Ezra, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Fitt, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Geraint, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Goodhart, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greengross, B.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hooson, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Islwyn, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lincoln, Bp.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Methuen, L.
Mishcon, L.
Morgan, L.
Newby, L.
Nicol, B.
Northover, B.
Orme, L.
Parekh, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Paul, L.
Peston, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rennard, L.
Richard, L.
Richardson of Calow, B.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Roll of Ipsden, L.
Roper, L.
Russell, E.
Sandberg, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Serota, B.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shepherd, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Simon, V.
Slim, V.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Tenby, V.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tomlinson, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Varley, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wigoder, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Winston, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

24 Oct 2000 : Column 155

3.50 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 233A:

    Page 66, line 12, leave out subsection (5).

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 103, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 104 [Applications for designation under section 103]:

[Amendment No. 234 not moved.]

Clause 104 agreed to.

Clause 105 agreed to.

Schedule 11 [Assistance available to designated organisations]:

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page