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Lord McNally: My Lords, the noble Lord uses hard words. In the north west, which we both know well, under the system we are likely to pass today, it is likely that Chris Davis and Flo Cluckas from the Liberal Democrats would be elected. No Liberal Democrat has been elected in the north west. Liberal Democrats in the north west have effectively been denied representation in the European Parliament. I believe that this deal gives parties the opportunity to be represented in all regions. I do not call that selling it short or selling our soul. I call that a real, positive advance for proportionality.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, the noble Lord reveals his hand in talking about a deal that has been made. We should be talking instead about constitutional principles, the fashioning of our democracy for the next century and the links between constituency representatives and their voters. With massive voter disillusionment, it is crucially important that voters should be able to vote for named candidates. Under this system, they will be unable to do so. They will be able to vote for the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrat Party or the Conservative Party, but not for named candidates. That breaches an important constitutional principle. It is a fearsome breach. I genuinely appeal to the noble Lord: even if a deal has been made, that should not be a reason for imposing a Whip on his noble friends requiring them to follow a particular line on this issue. That in itself is indicative of the sort of politics I have been describing, which will be entrenched by closed party list systems.

The noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, reminded us of the need for dissent and diversity. We heard similar sentiments from the noble Lords, Lord Evans and Lord Stoddart. Those are voices of considerable experience in both this House and another place. Voters' rights are being abrogated by a sleight of hand and allegiance to the people is being displaced by allegiance

12 Oct 1998 : Column 734

to a party. It is for that reason that I seek to test the mood of your Lordships' House. People may accuse me of fighting the wrong battle in the last ditch, but I think that in politics today too many people say, "These are my principles and if you don't like them, I'll change them".

5.35 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 2) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 28; Not-Contents, 122.

Division No. 2


Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alton of Liverpool, L. [Teller.]
Biddulph, L.
Blatch, B.
Bridges, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Carlisle, E.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
Dearing, L.
Evans of Parkside, L. [Teller.]
Halsbury, E.
Holderness, L.
Kitchener, E.
Lawrence, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Monson, L.
Moran, L.
Naseby, L.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Russell, E.
Shaughnessy, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Swansea, L.
Tenby, V.
Weatherill, L.
Wharton, B.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.


Addington, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Charteris of Amisfield, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Crawley, B.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Beswick, L.
Dholakia, L.
Diamond, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Eatwell, L.
Elibank, L.
Ewing of Kirkford, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gallacher, L.
Geraint, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hacking, L.
Hardie, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollick, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Islwyn, L.
Jacobs, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Lovell-Davis, L.
Ludford, B.
McCarthy, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
McNair, L.
McNally, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mishcon, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Montague of Oxford, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Paul, L.
Perry of Walton, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Renwick of Clifton, L.
Richard, L.
Russell-Johnston, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sandberg, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Serota, B.
Sewel, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taverne, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Varley, L.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Whitty, L.
Wigoder, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

12 Oct 1998 : Column 735

5.43 p.m.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 3:

Page 1, line 26, at end insert--
("(1A) The names of each of the candidates of a registered political party, and of each individual candidate, in the electoral region shall be printed on the ballot paper.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a small amendment so perhaps I may explain it briefly and then the Minister can give me the assurances which I seek and all will be well.

Essentially, there seems to be a great deal of disagreement within the Government about how the regional list votes are to be conducted. In this Bill, the Scottish Bill and the Welsh Bill there are regional lists. In the Scottish and Welsh Bills they are devised in order to get top-up members but in this Bill they are devised in order to get all the members.

We shall all be entitled to vote in the European elections. We started from a position where we thought that we would all be given a ballot paper on which there would be our parties' names--the Conservative Party, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrat Party and perhaps the Green Party, if they decide to stand--and independents' names would be on it. Along with the party name, there would be a logo. It is a pretty poor reflection on how the Government view the electorate that they have decided to put pictures on the ballot paper.

There are some complications arising because I understand that the Labour Party, for example, may not be allowed in Scotland--on my personal ballot paper--to put the "Scottish Labour Party". That is causing a great deal of trouble in Scotland. The Labour Party feels it quite strongly, the Liberal Democrat Party feels it quite strongly and the Conservative Party feels it strongly. The Scottish Nationalists feel it strongly as well because they will be the only party which will be allowed to use the word "Scottish" on the ballot paper. Perhaps that is a matter for the legislation on the registration of political parties, although I believe that it is important when one considers what the electorate will see when voting.

12 Oct 1998 : Column 736

That is where the matter started. There has been a great deal of discussion about whether candidates' names would be on the ballot paper. We started off with a great debate on the Welsh Bill. It so happened that the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, who seems to take part in almost all of those pieces of legislation--he has not appeared on the Scottish Bill yet but there is time and he could make a star appearance for 10 minutes on some of these subjects--after a bit of prompting by my noble friend and myself, conceded that the list of candidates' names might be put up in the polling station and it might be published, but certainly the names would not be on the ballot paper. In the Scottish Bill we are at the stage where the list of candidates' names will not be on the ballot paper.

This list is of vital importance. It will tell the individual elector for whom he or she is voting--not just singly but maybe the first half dozen. The Welsh Bill has gone and we shall be returning to the matter on the Scottish Bill, but we have it here in the European Bill. The Minister assured me in Committee that it is intended that there should be a list of candidates', names and I quote from col. 336 of Hansard. I was left scratching my head, thinking that of course there has to be a list of names, but will that list of names be published in newspapers and put up in polling stations or will it be on the ballot paper?

I have a firm view about that. I do not think much of this system, but I shall think even less of it if members of the electorate cannot see in front of them when they vote for whom they are voting when they vote for the Conservative Party, for whom they are voting when they vote for the Labour Party and for whom they are voting when they vote for the Liberal Democrat Party. I am absolutely sure about that.

I read the debate in Committee in Hansard carefully and I believe the Minister was telling me that I should not worry because the secondary legislation will deal with that and the list will be there. I have put down this amendment because I want to be absolutely sure. That is not the position that the Government are taking in Wales, and to date--although I suspect we shall force them to change their mind at the next stage--it is not the position that they have taken on the Scotland Bill.

As regards this Bill, I want to narrow the issue to this election to the European Parliament. My amendment would make sure that the list of candidates decided by the party will appear on the ballot paper. In due course we shall come to the question of the names decided by the party. I beg to move.

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