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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, dear, dear, dear! I suppose there is one thing we must be grateful for; namely, that the noble Lord, Lord Bach, managed to prevent the Minister having to answer the question of whether £8 million is more than £5 million. That was a most unconvincing reply. The noble Lord accused me of being schizophrenic when I said that there were two options at earlier stages of the Bill and that we wanted to consider which might be preferable to governments. To base his case on that argument is weak indeed.

I am not schizophrenic. Is the Neill committee schizophrenic? Before we finally leave the issue I remind the noble Lord of what the Neill committee stated at paragraph 12.46 of its report. It stated:

That is fine. Last night I think that I persuaded the Minister--because he did not answer me--that money would be spent from abroad over which the

22 Nov 2000 : Column 875

Government had absolutely no control. Here we have an attempt to impose limits which is, in my view, flawed--the Minister does not think that it is flawed--because it would not be equal. If the object is to achieve equality of arms, and the Government's proposals do not achieve that, surely the Government have failed in that regard. The Minister's answer seemed to be that the Government had failed to do that but wanted to place some controls on individual participants. The fact that--this is beginning to resemble the language used on the previous Bill we discussed--the balance may be heavily in favour of one side and not in favour of the other side at all is something that the Government will leave to one side.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am not saying that we can achieve equality of arms. I have not argued that this evening. I am saying that we need to have some controls on the arms race. I accept that there is a difference there, but I argue that we need to have at least some controls. That is the Government's position.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, but the other side of the argument on election spending is that we should have equality of arms between the two main parties. The Conservative Party and the Labour Party should have the same limits. It seems to me that equality of arms involves having the same limits. However, I leave that point because clearly the Minister has not even begun to address it. It is rather like sailing on the ocean in the fog in that one does not see the ship that passes five miles away, let alone worry about it. The Minister seems to take that view.

The point is that these limits could not be implemented. The Minister has not addressed the point that he made last night. It appears that, for the Minister, last night's proceedings did not take place. However, they did take place. I know that because I was present until a late hour. I have read the proceedings in Hansard. The Minister said rather amusingly that I was in danger of becoming an ace loophole spotter, a sort of green ink merchant of the loophole territory. That suggested to me that I had found a fairly large loophole in the Bill. He did not deny that for a minute.

Here we have a situation where the Minister is saying, "This is the best we can do and we think that you should accept it". If it cannot be implemented in reality, we should not pass legislation. This matter is important. I shall not attempt to argue my case further because I shall not engage the Minister in any discussion. He will simply stick by his brief. I am tempted to try what I used to call the "Hollis trick" which is to lean over and say to the Minister involved, "You are the Minister. They are the officials. Forget that the brief states 'Reject' and change that to 'Accept' if you think that the argument is worth it". I do not even think that that will work with the Minister. Therefore I seek the opinion of the House.

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6.39 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 182) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 80; Not-Contents, 154.

Division No. 1


Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Blackwell, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Byford, B.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Coe, L.
Colwyn, L.
Courtown, E.
Cranborne, V.
Crathorne, L.
Crickhowell, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Ferrers, E.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Glentoran, L.
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Greenway, L.
Hanham, B.
Harris of High Cross, L.
Henley, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Kingsland, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Laird, L.
Lawson of Blaby, L.
Lucas, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mancroft, L.
Marlesford, L.
Marsh, L.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Monson, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Moynihan, L.
Naseby, L.
Noakes, B.
Northesk, E. [Teller]
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Peel, E.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Rawlings, B.
Reay, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rogan, L.
Sandwich, E.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Selsdon, L.
Stewartby, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Trumpington, B.
Vivian, L.
Wilcox, B.
Young, B.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alderdice, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bach, L.
Barker, B.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Ezra, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grabiner, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greaves, L.
Greengross, B.
Grenfell, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Islwyn, L.
Jacobs, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Mitchell, L.
Molloy, L.
Morgan, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Newby, L.
Nicol, B.
Northover, B.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rennard, L.
Renwick of Clifton, L.
Richard, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Roper, L.
Russell, E.
Russell-Johnston, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sandberg, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turnberg, L.
Uddin, B.
Varley, L.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Warner, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

22 Nov 2000 : Column 877

6.48 p.m.

[Amendment No. 183 not moved.]

Schedule 14 [Limits on referendum expenses by permitted participants]:

[Amendments Nos. 184 to 186 not moved.]

Clause 116 [Control of donations to permitted participants]:

[Amendment No. 187 not moved.]

22 Nov 2000 : Column 878

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