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Mr. Bercow: Do not hold your breath.

Mr. Tyrie: I fear that we shall hear virtually no argument from the Minister, and I certainly shall not hold my breath.

I should be very interested to see whether the Minister has decided that he is prepared after all to concede the matter. If he is not, I should be grateful to hear some better reasons for not doing so other than those that he has given us so far.

Mr. Grieve: This has been a fascinating debate, and perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the lot is that, in presenting the Government's arguments, the Minister has been entirely unsupported by any intervention of substance by a Labour Member.

Mr. Bermingham: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Grieve: I shall in a moment.

It is impossible to escape the conclusion that the Government's intention today, once the Weatherill amendment had been debated, was that the appointments issue--which is critical to the future of the House of Lords, and to the future of freedom and democracy in the United Kingdom--should simply be wafted away with a wave of the hand.

I listened to the Minister's speech, and--it is customary to say this, and I join in saying it--I am completely satisfied about his own integrity and the assurances that he gave the House on the Government's good intentions. However, if the intervention of the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Dr. Turner) demonstrated the quality of the mainstream Labour party's input into the future of accountability and ending patronage, the House has something to fear from the Government.

10 Nov 1999 : Column 1236

In a series of interventions by Opposition Members--by my right hon. and learned Friends the Members for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) and for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg), my right hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke) and my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh)--what has shone through is that, regardless of how we view the ideal solution for the House of Lords, we are all deeply anxious about the matter of patronage, and that the future House, whether elected or appointed, should be free of patronage.

Mr. Bermingham: It would have been so much more pleasant if the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) had given way earlier. My point is very simple: we are waiting for Wakeham. Once the Wakeham commission reports, we shall know where we are going. It is far too early for Lords amendment No. 2.

Mr. Grieve: With respect, that intervention worries me rather a lot too. One of the central problems in all this is that we were invited to go through a temporary stage and were offered some permanent stage at a later date. However, the temporary stage is so flawed by the absence of safeguards that should be present--in particular, the appointment of members to the upper House--that it gives us real cause for concern.

We can go on waiting for Wakeham for a long time. When it comes, the safeguards will not be in place, so if the Government decide never to implement a second stage, as many of us strongly fear, these safeguards will never come into operation, or if they do, because they will not be in a statutory form, the Government will have every opportunity if they so wish to remove them with impunity and without so much as a reference to the House.

I do not want to take up the time of the House by repeating arguments, but a couple of points merit going over. There were three powerful interventions from Labour Members who, as I understood it, shared the Opposition's disquiet in this matter--the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) and the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher) and, although he may correct me, I also detected a considerable amount of anxiety in the hon. Member for Greenock and Inverclyde (Dr. Godman).

This solution may be imperfect. The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central correctly identified all the other areas where it might be desirable for an appointments commission to rule, not merely on the appointment of Cross-Bench peers but of all future peers if it is to be an appointed Chamber, whether it be temporary or--as we all fear--permanent. Which is the better--that we should not signal tonight at least an appreciation of what members of the House of Lords have tried to do or that we should simply say that we will wait on assurances from the Government for some future date?

It is a little difficult to criticise members of the other place for what one might describe as the conservative approach that they adopted in tabling the amendment, when all that they sought to do was to mirror the assurances that the Government had given. Had they gone much further, they would have been open to all sorts of criticism. Therefore, they were greatly to be commended

10 Nov 1999 : Column 1237

for the fact that they chose only to take a tentative step. However, if it is only a tentative step, it does not make it negligible. If we go ahead and put down a proper sign that that is the direction in which we ought to be going, it will be difficult subsequently for any Government to gainsay it. To await the assurances of the Minister in this matter appears a counterproductive step and one that risks the danger that the Government will say that it can all be dismissed because there was not real concern in the House about the matter.

I appeal to the Minister and his colleagues, who have given the matter a lot of careful thought and who joined a debate on the nature of the second Chamber that we all seek earlier this year, to reflect carefully whether the amendment tabled is not sufficiently valid that it ought to command support, even if it does not go as far as they would wish to ensure that all appointments to the second Chamber are in the hands at least of an independent commission, not of the Prime Minister alone.

The hon. Member for Greenock and Inverclyde expressed concern about the amendment in so far as it refers to Northern Ireland. I appreciate that concern, but in truth there is nothing in it that prevents the appointment of peers who come from Northern Ireland, if the Prime Minister so wishes. Of course, it might be more desirable that that, too, should be in the hands of an appointments commission. They will not necessarily be Cross Benchers, but, in itself, there is nothing to prevent that in the amendment and the hon. Gentleman should not be deterred from following his conscience, if that is what is troubling him in this matter, on that single issue.

Finally, it has been said that this is all temporary and that we should not spend so much time on measures that are only temporary. This House has spent hours on the Bill--a measure that we are told is to be temporary. If the Government had been willing to go to the trouble of framing some sensible amendments to the Lords amendment, it would have taken very little more time.

The Government's position is untenable. They indulge in pious hand-wringing about the good intentions of the House of Lords, but they refuse to do anything. It is for those of us who believe in accountability and reducing the powers of patronage to ensure that our message is brought home to the Government this evening.

10.15 pm

Mr. Tipping: I should like to reply briefly to some of the points that have been raised. I am conscious that I need to make rapid progress.

It has been said that this is the first opportunity that the House has had to discuss the matter, but it was discussed at length in Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Inverclyde (Dr. Godman) argued strongly with a Scottish voice, as ever. I am conscious of the points that he made and we shall ensure that they are taken forward.

Some Labour Members, particularly my hon. Friends the Members for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) and for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher), have argued that our proposals do not go far enough. They have radical views on the second stage. They were right to point out that the amendment is about only the Cross Benchers.

Several hon. Members have asked me what the Government's plans are. They are set out at some length in chapter six of the White Paper on reform of the House

10 Nov 1999 : Column 1238

of Lords. I ask hon. Members to look at that. Some have argued that the amendment is not very different from the Government's plans. They are right. The two are very similar.

That brings me to the key issue: why is there no such measure in the Bill? The answer is very straightforward. We want to go down a tried and tested route--one that has been set by Nolan and Neill and that we know can and will work. We are also conscious that the interim House will be a transitional and temporary measure. We do not want to give the impression that the interim stage will be very long.

Several hon. Members have asked us to make progress. We are determined to do so and we are happy to be judged on our record.

Question put, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment:--

The House divided: Ayes 353, Noes 133.

Division No. 319
[10.17 pm


AYES


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Ballard, Jackie
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Chidgey, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corston, Jean
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Fearn, Ronnie
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Fyfe, Maria
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keetch, Paul
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
(Makerfield)
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moore, Michael
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle
(B'ham Yardley)
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Rendel, David
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Jeff
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
(Dewsbury)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyler, Paul
Tynan, Bill
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:


Mr. Tony McNulty and
Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe.


NOES


Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baldry, Tony
Beggs, Roy
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Body, Sir Richard
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burns, Simon
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Clappison, James
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
(Rushcliffe)
Collins, Tim
Colvin, Michael
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Donaldson, Jeffrey
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Flight, Howard
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hawkins, Nick
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Moss, Malcolm
Nicholls, Patrick
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Ruffley, David
St Aubyn, Nick
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, Rt Hon John D (Strangford)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Townend, John
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Wells, Bowen
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Woodward, Shaun
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:


Mrs. Jacqui Lait and
Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.

Question accordingly agreed to.

10 Nov 1999 : Column 1241

Lords amendment disagreed to.

Lords amendment No. 3 agreed to.


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