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8.15 pm

Mr. Dismore: I wish to refer to the status of office holders who are not employees within the terms of employment legislation. For example, police officers who work for the City of London police are not employees, but hold the office of constable. Also, some of those who

2 May 2001 : Column 931

work for the Port of London Authority are, I suspect, office holders rather than employees. Throughout the City, one finds all these ancient offices--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Interventions are becoming far too long. An intervention should be brief. If hon. Members wish to develop arguments about this group of amendments, they should seek to catch my eye later.

Mr. McDonnell: Thank you for your protection, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My hon. Friend the Member for Hendon makes a valid point about office holders. I have sought in another amendment to delete the reference to office holders from the Bill, as that could produce a problem of corrupt practices. I understand that it might have a deleterious effect on others. The indirect form of election in the employees' electoral college mirrors that of the business electoral college, except in one instance.

Amendment No. 57 seeks to ensure that the employees' electoral college reflects the range of occupations operating within the City of London. My aim is to ensure that there is a balance between the occupations and the expertise that can be drawn upon in electing the employees' voters. I propose that the employees' electoral college be composed of occupational constituencies. Under the amendment, employees will be invited to register for their respective occupational constituency.

The constituencies that I have suggested are not geographical but occupational and should be based upon the Department for Education and Employment's standard occupational classification major groups. This classification categorises the various occupational groupings within our economy. These were recently changed. The changes received a fair amount of publicity because they were relatively contentious in terms of definition. Naturally, some of the groupings will be less relevant to the City of London or, in some instances, totally irrelevant: for example, agricultural occupations. If so, there will be either few or no employees registering in these categories.

As the amendment would ensure also that votes allocated within the employees' electoral college--the EEC; a provocative title if ever there was one--are to be in proportion to the number of employees registering for each category, set against the overall total registered, it can be seen that categories of no or low registration do not undermine the concept or structure of the electoral college. This goes back to the roots of the City of London corporation in the original guilds. Here we have occupations grouped within occupational constituencies; in fact, we are now re-establishing the guilds in all but name. It is a form of guild socialism developed by Pannekoek, the Dutch socialist, in the last century.

As with the business electoral college, I am proposing that the number of employee voters elected from the employees' electoral college be limited to no more than 2,000. This will mean, under the amendment, that the employees will not be able to swamp the residential voters or combine with the business voters to swamp the residents' interests. However, there will be opportunities of combinations between residents and employees versus business interests, or vice versa; that is the fair play of democracy.

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Rateable value is an issue addressed in the Bill, because qualification will be based on it, in some form.

Mr. Wareing: I am a little mystified about how some of the people who work in the City will be categorised. My hon. Friend mentioned those who work in banks and in transport, but what about cleaning ladies? Where do they fit in? For example, would a cleaning lady employed by a bank fit into the banking and finance section? What about academics who teach in colleges in the City of London?

Mr. McDonnell: I apologise to my hon. Friend, but I have left behind the note that I received from the Library which lists the major groups in the Department for Education and Employment's standard occupational classification. It classifies people not with regard to their business operations but in relation to their profession, such as solicitor or teacher. I can supply my hon. Friend with the information later, but I am not sure which category cleaners would come under. However, the categorisation reflects the intent of his comments. It ensures that the electoral college reflects comprehensively all those activities that the employees undertake and is grouped according to the work that they undertake, rather than the business that employs them.

Mr. Wareing: It seems to me that no matter what work is done by an individual in a bank, say, it would make sense for him to cast a vote in that section, because he would know the people involved. I gave cleaning ladies as an example, but there are many others who are spread out over diverse operations and should cast a vote within the operation that employs them.

Mr. McDonnell: That is exactly what the amendment will achieve. It will group people who have a commonality of interest as a result of the work that they do, not as a result of the company for which they work. However, my hon. Friend may wish to examine subsequent amendments on qualifying bodies that consider how other groups of employees could exercise their vote.

Mr. Dismore: How does my hon. Friend envisage the nationality qualification applying to employee votes?

Mr. McDonnell: The City corporation has been helpful on that point in the past--anyone entitled to vote in the City of London area also has to qualify under the national and local government legislation that applies elsewhere with regard to citizenship. It is open to debate, now that our society is changing, whether other forms of citizenship will arise at a later date, especially in relation to the European Union.

In terms of the business electoral college and the employees electoral college amendments, I have adhered to the requirement of the original clause in the Bill that the qualifying body should be ordinarily in occupation for relevant purposes as owner or tenant of the whole of or part of a hereditament situated in that ward that is shown in the local non-domestic rating list as having a rateable value of not less than £200. I have done that for simplicity's sake and in a spirit of compromise. My hon. Friend the Member for Leyton and Wanstead (Mr. Cohen) has criticised that level as too low in previous debates. However, my amendment, which caps the number of

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voters derived from each electoral college, would serve more effectively to balance sectional interests than a crude hike in the rateable value qualification.

Mr. Hopkins: I worry about the robustness of the democratic arrangements for the employees' electoral college. I am concerned about whether individuals will feel free to put themselves forward, lest they incur the displeasure of managers and those representing employers. When people cast their votes, will they feel genuinely free to do so, and will they feel that the secret ballot is genuinely secret?

Mr. McDonnell: There will be opportunities for abuse, as exist in any electoral system. That is why the City corporation should have opportunities to examine codes of practice by which companies, individuals and others will have to abide in the operation of the system. For the GLA elections, hon. Members will recall that we endorsed a set of electoral rules to apply to those elections--

Mr. Brooke rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now proposed.

Question put, That the Question be now proposed:--

The House proceeded to a Division.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Sylvia Heal): I ask the Serjeant at Arms to investigate the delay in the No Lobby.

The House having divided: Ayes 99, Noes 36.

Division No. 201
[8.26 pm


Amess, David
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Jackie
Beggs, Roy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bercow, John
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burnett, John
Butterfill, John
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Colman, Tony
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Day, Stephen
Donohoe, Brian H
Duncan, Alan
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Nigel
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Garnier, Edward
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gray, James
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hawkins, Nick
Hill, Keith
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
Jenkins, Brian
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lansley, Andrew
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Mates, Michael
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
May, Mrs Theresa
Moore, Michael
Nicholls, Patrick
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pearson, Ian
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
St Aubyn, Nick
Sanders, Adrian
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Timms, Stephen
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tredinnick, David
Tyler, Paul
Walter, Robert
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Willis, Phil
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mrs. Jacqui Lait and
Mr. Peter Bottomley.


Bailey, Adrian
Barnes, Harry
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Godman, Dr Norman A
Golding, Mrs Llin
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Iddon, Dr Brian
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Mackinlay, Andrew
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pickthall, Colin
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Salter, Martin
Skinner, Dennis
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Trickett, Jon
Vis, Dr Rudi
Wareing, Robert N
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Andrew Dismore and
Mr. John McDonnell.

It appearing on the report of the Division that fewer than 100 Members voted in the majority, Madam Deputy Speaker declared that the Question had not been decided in the affirmative.

2 May 2001 : Column 934

Mr. McDonnell: I am glad that we have been allowed to continue the debate on the amendment because it is so critical. I am a third of the way through my speech and wish to present my arguments to the House. I believe that they will enable me to engender sufficient support to ensure that the Bill will be amended in a suitable form.

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