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Division No. 1

CONTENTS

Addison, V.
Ailsa, M.
Alexander of Tunis, E.
Ashbourne, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Beloff, L.
Blatch, B.
Bowness, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L.
Broadbridge, L.
Buckinghamshire, E.
Cadman, L.
Caithness, E.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Charteris of Amisfield, L.
Chesham, L. [Teller.]
Clanwilliam, E.
Coleridge, L.
Cranborne, V. Crickhowell, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Davidson, V.
De Freyne, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B.
Dilhorne, V.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Downshire, M.
Ellenborough, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.
Halsbury, E.
Hamilton of Dalzell, L.
Harding of Petherton, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Hemphill, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Hooper, B.
Keyes, L. Kingsland, L. Kinnoull, E. Kintore, E. Lauderdale, E. Lindsay, E. Liverpool, E. Lucas, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. McColl of Dulwich, L. Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L. Mackay of Drumadoon, L. Mayhew of Twysden, L. Merrivale, L. Milverton, L. Monckton of Brenchley, V. Monson, L. Mottistone, L. Mountevans, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L. Napier and Ettrick, L. Norfolk, D. Norrie, L. O'Cathain, B. Oxfuird, V. Pearson of Rannoch, L. Pender, L. Plummer of St. Marylebone, L. Prentice, L. Rankeillour, L. Reese, L. Rennell, L. Renton, L. Renwick, L. Romney, E. Rowallan, L. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly. Sanderson of Bowden, L. Seccombe, B. Shaw of Northstead, L. Strathclyde, L. [Teller] Taylor of Warwick, L. Trefgarne, L. Trumpington, B. Vivian, L. Wedgwood, L. Wilcox, B. Wise, L. Young, B.

NOT-CONTENTS

Addington, L.
Ailesbury, M.
Alderdice, L.
Allen of Abbeydale, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Birdwood, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Callaghan of Cardiff, L.
Calverley, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Clancarty, E.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
Dahrendorf, L.
David, B.
Dean of Beswick, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Diamond, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Eatwell, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Ewing of Kirkford, L.
Ezra, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Falkender, B.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Fisher of Rednal, B.
Fitt, L.
Gallacher, L.
Geraint, L.
Gilbert, L.
Glasgow, E.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hampton, L.
Hanworth, V.
Hardie, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Hooson, L.
Howell, L.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.] Jay of Paddington, B.
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Kilbracken, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Lovell-Davis, L.
McCarthy, L.
McConnell, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
McNair, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Methuen, L.
Mishcon, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Nicol, B.
Ogmore, L.
Parry, L.
Paul, L.
Perth, E.
Peston, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rees-Mogg, L.
Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal.] Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Robson of Kiddington, B.
Rochester, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Sainsbury, L.
St. Davids, V.
Sefton of Garston, L.
Serota, B.
Sewel, L.
Shepherd, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Strafford, E.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taverne, L.
Tenby, V.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thurlow, L.
Thurso, V.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Wallace of Coslany, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Wigoder, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

3 Jul 1997 : Column 320

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4.33 p.m.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Serota): In calling the next amendment, Amendment No. 9, I should point out that if this amendment is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 10 to 21.

[Amendment No. 9 not moved.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: I call Amendment No. 10. If this amendment is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 11.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 10:


Page 1, line 13, leave out ("local government election in any electoral area") and insert ("parliamentary election").

The noble Lord said: My name is also attached to this amendment and, in the absence of my noble friend Lord Gray, I will speak to it. I wish I could say that it is a novel experience to be beaten, but some of your Lordships will recall that on a number of occasions when I was on the Government side I was also beaten. So it is not a novel experience to be beaten. But I always win the arguments and that is the most important thing.

We discussed this issue on Second Reading. It concerns who should vote in the referendum. Essentially, the great bulk of people are on both the local government electoral register and the parliamentary register. However, there are some people who are on one but not the other. Your Lordships, for example, are on the local government register but not on the parliamentary register. I understand, thanks to research carried out by the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay of Cartvale--or, rather, the advice given to her--that there are 123 Peers resident in Scotland who are on the local government register but not on the parliamentary register.

Another group of people on the local government register but not on the parliamentary register are European Union nationals, other than citizens of the Irish Republic who are on both our registers. We very generously allow citizens of the Irish Republic to vote in our parliamentary and local elections. As a passing thought, I wonder if the Minister, when he comes to reply, can help me. If in a year or two's time angling becomes so politically incorrect that it is banned and I decide to move to the Republic of Ireland to carry on my sport--as probably many people have to do as the party opposite bans one innocent pursuit after another--will I be immediately allowed to register a vote in the Republic's elections? I want to know because I might need to start studying the political complexities of the Republic.

Lord Ewing of Kirkford: If the noble Lord gives an absolute undertaking that he will move to the Republic of Ireland, I give him an undertaking that I will support his claim for a vote.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I thought that the noble Lord was going to say that he would back a ban on angling, but he was careful enough not to do that.

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Citizens of the Republic and citizens of the Commonwealth are on both registers, but one group on the local government register but not on the parliamentary register are citizens of the European Union who are resident for the moment in Scotland. According to the noble Baroness they number 12,000.

One group of people on the parliamentary register but not on the local government register are overseas voters. They are people who have moved abroad--within the last 20 years, it must be said--and who are able to vote as overseas voters, arrange proxies and so on. To adopt the local government register for the referendum means that those of us who are resident in Scotland will be able to vote, as will the 12,000 European Union nationals. But the overseas voters--there are 1,500 of them--will not be allowed to vote. I would imagine that, by and large, they are all Scottish. They have lived in Scotland, had a vote in Scotland and have gone abroad.

I give as an example the situation of my daughter, who lives in a little place called Bosisio Perini in Italy. I pose the question: why should my daughter and other overseas voters, who are entitled to vote at parliamentary elections, not be allowed to vote in this important election whereas the waiter from the Gelateria in Bosisio Perini, who is in Scotland for a short visit but long enough to allow him to register, will be able to vote about the future of a country which he intends to leave very shortly to return to the warmer and drier climate of northern Italy? However, it was not warmer or drier last week. So your Lordships are as well on holiday here as on the Continent.

It is a very good question, but I have not received a very good answer. The noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, tried saying that in the 1979 referendum the local government register was used. But there is this difference. I do not think that European citizens were on that register. The system had not yet arisen where, thanks to one of the various treaties we have made, European Union citizens are on each other's registers for European and local government elections.

I asked my daughter how easy it was to get on the local government election register in Italy as a non-Italian. She laughed and said "How easy do you think it is?", which probably means that it is excessively bureaucratic and not something that is openly encouraged. But that is by the by.

The point is that in 1979 such people were not on the register. Nor were overseas electors. So, rather unusually, the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, did not have a very good argument. The registers are quite different today from the registers in 1979. At that time the only difference between the two concerned the Peers of the realm and no one was actually disqualified from voting if the local government register rather than the parliamentary register was used. Everyone on the parliamentary register was on the local government register in 1979.

We have a situation which involves one very small group--frankly, not very many people. The Government seem to think that the referendum will be as close as 1,500. They are frightened that 1,500 largely young Scots living abroad may decide that they do not want to

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return to live in a rather more heavily taxed part of the United Kingdom. They may think that the referendum will be as close as that, but, the polls certainly do not show it. I am more than delighted at this stage, eight weeks out, when I remember how the margin narrowed during the eight weeks preceding the 1979 referendum.

I believe that it would be fair and reasonable for the Government to accept the amendment or to explain why 1,500 overseas voters from Scotland who would have been able to vote before they left and who received Labour Party documentation at the last election, as my daughter did in an effort to try to persuade her to vote for Maria Fyfe in the constituency of Glasgow Maryhill, should be deprived of a vote? Incidentally, that would probably have been an easier task, although I do not think a successful one, than persuading her to vote for the Labour candidate in Glasgow Govan where I live, but that is another matter. If my daughter was trusted to vote in a parliamentary election, why should she not be trusted to vote in the proposed referendum? Why should the privilege of deciding the future of her country--and, indeed, my country--be given to some European nationals, who are in our country for a short time? Why should it be taken away from some young Scots who were perfectly entitled to vote at a parliamentary election but who now seem about to be deprived?

That is fairly mean spirited, and I cannot understand the logic behind it. I know that I shall be told all about residency. But there will be people voting in the referendum who will have left Scotland and who will vote by post or by proxy. Therefore, to be logical about residency, the Government would have to prevent or take away postal or proxy votes from anyone who is now resident outside Scotland. If residency is the Government's basis for the proposal, it should be residency on the day of the referendum. That ought to be the test. It is not, and I understand why. All I ask the Government to do is to use the parliamentary election register. After all, they did pretty well with that register on 1st May; I do not know why they do not stick to it. I beg to move.


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