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Mr. Clappison: The Committee will be pleased to hear that I do not intend to engage in analysis of divisors and so forth. The Home Secretary was fairly brave to go once more down that route, but I prefer to deal with broad propositions which I can make with a reasonable degree of assurance.

The first of those propositions is that the Government have been proceeding on a mistake--that, seeking proportionality, they have mistakenly chosen a system that is less proportional than another. The Government have got it wrong. I make that proposition with a reasonable degree of assurance. My second proposition is made with complete assurance. It is that the Liberal Democrats will seek a system that benefits the Liberal Democrats' self-interest. I can say that with complete assurance.

With an equal degree of assurance, I can state that the constituency link is a far better system from the point of view of the interest of electors than the system proposed by the Government. The Government's system was not designed for the benefit of individual electors or of individual MEPs; it was designed for the benefit of the party machine, and we put that on the record. The Bill would be much better if it were amended to reintroduce a constituency link. We are in favour of such a link in principle and we are not persuaded by the Home Secretary's arguments, especially as even he did not go so far as to say that he was against a constituency link in principle.

26 Feb 1998 : Column 558

We are also deeply worried by the Government's approach to registration and by the way in which they have introduced the subject of registration at this late stage and with three major constitutional Bills on the go. We are concerned about that, especially given that the question of registration comes against the background of a Bill that is becoming increasingly tatty. The Bill shows all the signs of fraying at the edges and of mistakes being made. To be fair to the Home Secretary, I know that he is not the greatest enthusiast for the legislation and, to a certain extent, I acquit him of responsibility for it. Nevertheless, we think that this is a bad Bill and we shall support our amendments.

Mr. Trimble: It has been an interesting debate. Looking back, what stands out in my mind is the cowardice of the Liberal Democrats in not supporting what they said is their first preference.

Mr. Beith: If the right hon. Gentleman had listened to my speech, he would know that I praised his and said that we strongly supported his passionate commitment to STV.

Mr. Trimble: This was intended to be a short summing up, but if the right hon. Gentleman comes with that again, I might be tempted to push my amendment to a Division to see whether he will support it. That support should have been shown by signing the amendment and being prepared to vote for it and the Liberal Democrats' failure in that sense is what I was referring to.

I was astonished by the Conservatives' audacity in attacking a closed regional list system, without explaining why they had changed their minds since introducing such a system in the House less than two years ago. I must commend the Home Secretary on the open-minded approach he has adopted and I hope that he will move toward an open list system before the Bill completes all its stages. I should have liked to have a uniform system throughout the United Kingdom, but it is clear that there is no support for that in the Committee and there is business to be done. Consequently, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed: No. 9, in page 1, line 25, leave out from 'be' to end of line 26 and insert


'an open regional list system.
3A. An open regional list system is a system which complies with the following requirements, namely--
(a) each electoral region shall be divided into a number of constituencies equal to the number of MEPs to be elected for that region in accordance with subsection 2(4) above and Schedule 1;
(b) each candidate shall nominate on the ballot paper one constituency in the relevant region which he will represent, if elected;
(c) in the event of the same constituency being nominated by more than one successful candidate, the candidate elected first shall represent his nominated constituency;
(d) successful candidates unable to represent their nominated constituency for the reason given in sub-paragraph (c) shall, in the order of their election, choose another constituency to represent, and;
(e) if an elected candidate has nominated a constituency which no candidate elected before him has nominated, he shall represent that constituency even if a candidate elected before him, whose own nominated constituency has been taken, seeks to choose it.'.--[Mr. Clappison.]

26 Feb 1998 : Column 559

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The Committee divided: Ayes 100, Noes 274.

Division No. 180
[7.27 pm


AYES


Amess, David
Arbuthnot, James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Body, Sir Richard
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brady, Graham
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Butterfill, John
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Collins, Tim
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Day, Stephen
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan Smith, Iain
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Faber, David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Flight, Howard
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Gibb, Nick
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Heald, Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Loughton, Tim
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Major, Rt Hon John
Malins, Humfrey
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Moss, Malcolm
Norman, Archie
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Prior, David
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
St Aubyn, Nick
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Wardle, Charles
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Willetts, David
Woodward, Shaun
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:


Mr. Nigel Waterson and
Mr. James Cran.


NOES


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Ballard, Mrs Jackie
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Boateng, Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brake, Tom
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burstow, Paul
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Stephen
Cable, Dr Vincent
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Caplin, Ivor
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Chidgey, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Coaker, Vernon
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Yvette
Corston, Ms Jean
Cotter, Brian
Cranston, Ross
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ennis, Jeff
Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Fatchett, Derek
Fearn, Ronnie
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Fyfe, Maria
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Grogan, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harvey, Nick
Healey, John
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Home Robertson, John
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Iddon, Dr Brian
Ingram, Adam
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Love, Andrew
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
McDonnell, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Peter
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Maxton, John
Merron, Gillian
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Mudie, George
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pickthall, Colin
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Ms Joyce
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Rt Hon George
(Hamilton S)
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Ms Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Sanders, Adrian
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
(Dewsbury)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyler, Paul
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Wills, Michael
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. Greg Pope and
Ms Bridget Prentice.

Question accordingly negatived.

26 Feb 1998 : Column 561

Amendment proposed: No. 4, in page 2, line 8, leave out from 'number' to end and insert 'shown below.


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