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Mr. Roger Gale (North Thanet): Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Touhig: No, the hon. Gentleman has only just come into the Chamber.

The hon. Member for East Carmarthen and Dinefwr went on to insist that there were links between Mr. Mittal's donation to the Labour party and the Prime Minister writing a letter, but the hon. Gentleman then added that the evidence may be circumstantial. He cannot have it both ways. He ended his speech with every cliché known to man, save "God is love" and "Please adjust your dress before leaving the cubicle."

Adam Price: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Touhig: The hon. Gentleman has had his chance. He left the Chamber part way through the debate, perhaps to give another television interview, and I am having my say now. He had his earlier.

The hon. Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford congratulated Plaid Cymru on the choice of subject for the debate and said that Conservative Members would join Plaid Cymru Members in the Lobby tonight. That is nothing new. The Tories and the nationalists are always in the same Lobby.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the letter that the Prime Minister had written to the Prime Minister of Romania. When my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State spoke earlier, he referred to the fact that the Sidex sale was important to economic reform in Romania. In a written answer to a question tabled by the hon. Member for East Carmarthen and Dinefwr, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister referred to Romania and said:

5 Mar 2002 : Column 208

That is exactly the same message as we had from Corus more than a year ago.

Mr. Gale: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Touhig: No, I will not give way. Sit down.

If there is one thing that has characterised this debate, it is the remarkable similarity between the arguments deployed by the Conservatives and by their partners in Wales, Plaid Cymru. It has been a rerun of last week's debate on Welsh affairs, when we could not insert a cigarette paper between the arguments of the two parties. In Wales, Plaid Cymru Members say that they are socialists, yet night after night they troop through the Lobbies and vote with the Conservatives. They will do that again at 7 pm and they will do it again in the days to come. The Tories and their new partners, the daffodil Tories, are working together against the interests of the people of Wales.

Indeed, so similar were the contributions of the hon. Members for East Carmarthen and Dinefwr and for Maldon and East Chelmsford that they could go on the stage as a double act. We have had Laurel and Hardy; we have had Morecambe and Wise; now we have smear and innuendo—the typical way in which they sought to distort the real truth of this argument.

The debate has been very instructive. The fact that the Tory party has no understanding of our steel communities is not news to anyone—not to those in Gwent, Clwyd, Teesside, Corby or Lanarkshire. However, what constantly amazes me is the Conservatives' brass neck. These are the friends of Asil Nadir, Jonathan Aitken and Jeffrey Archer. They look more often like a remand centre than a political party, yet they come here to lecture us on standards in public life. The cheek of it! They have no shame. The Labour party and the Labour Government opened up scrutiny of political donations. We do not even know who paid the Conservatives' 1997 election bills, because they have not released that information.

As for the Welsh nationalists, they are silent as the grave when asked about their attempts to raise funds from foreign backers in the United States. We do not hear much from them about that. Those who thought that devolution might lead to greater maturity on the part of Plaid Cymru have been sadly disappointed, although few Labour Members will be surprised by that.

What has been surprising, however, is the complete lack of thought in Plaid Cymru's arguments in this debate. It tells us that it wants a Wales in Europe; that has been its whole theme. Until now, Britain has not existed. It has been the place that nationalists have wanted nothing to do with, but today they have argued against policies needed to strengthen Europe, to encourage trade within Europe and to help the European Union grow.

Plaid Cymru Members tell us that they want strong regional policies and structural funding in Europe, but apparently that must not apply to parts of Europe that are not called Wales. That point again emphasises their narrow, nationalist approach. They go on, as they did earlier, about their concerns about tariffs. We have concerns about tariffs, but Labour Members in the European Parliament are not arguing with their colleagues

5 Mar 2002 : Column 209

in support of tariffs. One cannot have it both ways. One is either for or against tariffs, but the nationalists clearly do not know what they are for and what they are against.

The nationalists did not stop to think about the issue that they were raising today. Like children going into a sweet shop, they thought that they had a good story with which they could knock the Government. They immediately sought to exploit it during the Ogmore by-election, but did that work? No, it did not, because a Labour Member—we won—now represents Ogmore in this Chamber.

At the heart of this argument is a letter sent by the Prime Minister to the Prime Minister of Romania. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has already referred to it, and it is not a secret that the Prime Minister wrote to the Prime Minister of Romania. I have the letter here that was published on 25 July last year by the Romanians at the signing ceremony. However, the Hercule Poirot of Plaid Cymru, the hon. Member for East Carmarthen and Dinefwr, now gives the impression, supported by the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy, that they have just discovered it.

The hon. Member for East Carmarthen and Dinefwr then sought to link the letter that the Prime Minister sent to a donation that Mr. Mittal made to the Labour party, but that donation has been known about since May and June of last year. It is not yet another great Hercule Poirot discovery, but just a sham. Both the letter and the donation have been in the public arena for eight or nine months.

As to the impact of the Prime Minister's letter to the Romanians, I refer to a comment made by the Prime Minister of Romania on 11 February when he was asked about articles in the British press that referred to our Prime Minister's letter. The Romanian Prime Minister said:

He said that the letter came as his Government were preparing to sign the contract. That is the truth of it; there is no link whatever.

After months of unending bad news, weak leadership and three electoral trashings in eight months, Plaid Cymru thought that it had a stick with which to beat the Government, but it has got it wrong yet again. We know the rotten nature of its policies. They are like so many decaying teeth; they are falling out in front of it.

At the end of the debate, Plaid Cymru will still have a second-rate leader and third-rate policies. As has been shown in the debate, the party is governed by narrow bigotry, a little Wales-ism and a hatred of anything that succeeds. It does not even qualify for a fifth-rate political party tag. Bankrupt of real policies, badly led, riven with divisions and afraid to tackle the language of extremists, this rag-bag bunch masquerading as a political party have failed Wales today. I invite my hon. Friends to come into the Lobbies with me and deliver it a resounding defeat in the vote.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 192, Noes 318.

5 Mar 2002 : Column 210

Division No. 180
[6.59 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John
Barrett, John
Beggs, Roy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Mrs Annette L
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, John
Cable, Dr Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Carmichael, Alistair
Cash, William
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clifton–Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Duncan, Alan (Rutland & Melton)
Duncan, Peter (Galloway)
Duncan Smith, Rt Hon Iain
Evans, Nigel
Ewing, Annabelle
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibb, Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hammond, Philip
Harris, Dr Evan (Oxford W)
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat–Amory, Rt Hon David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Holmes, Paul
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Knight, Rt Hon Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell–Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moore, Michael
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mark
Pugh, Dr John
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Salmond, Alex
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shepherd, Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (Mid–Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Thurso, John
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Trimble, Rt Hon David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyrie, Andrew
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Weir, Michael
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, David
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Younger–Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Simon Thomas and
Pete Wishart.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Banks, Tony
Barron, Kevin
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brown, Rt Hon Nicholas
(Newcastle E & Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, Rt Hon John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Field, Rt Hon Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foulkes, George
Francis, Dr Hywel
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hewitt, Rt Hon Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, Rt Hon John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Irranca–Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Kelly, Ruth
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luke, Iain
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall–Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Elliot
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
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'Neill, Martin
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pike, Peter
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Rt Hon Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Rt Hon Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
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, Geraldine (Morecambe)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, Rt Hon John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Rt Hon Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tynan, Bill
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
White, Brian
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Woodward, Shaun
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Nick Ainger and
Mr. Phil Woolas.

Question accordingly negatived.

5 Mar 2002 : Column 213

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments):

The House divided: Ayes 306, Noes 181.

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