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Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, does the Minister agree that it is a particularly shabby manoeuvre on the part of Congress to connect two issues which have nothing to do with one another, thus frustrating the strength and

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influence of the United Nations at a time when every day that institution becomes more necessary? It is surprising that the United States which provides the home for the United Nations should be doing that.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I agree that the connection which Congress has sought to make is unrealistic. I hope that we shall not indulge in name calling so far as concerns Congress. I believe that all that will do is to harden attitudes. We should be trying to persuade the United States Congress that, as a responsible member of the United Nations, the United States must pay its contributions on time, in full and without conditions.

I stress to your Lordships that it is not only the United States which is in arrears. I told your Lordships last week that 149 countries are in arrears. There has been some updating. The figure is now only 145 countries in arrears--a marginal improvement, but none the less an improvement. However, the difficulties that that has engendered mean that we expect a deficit on the important peace-keeping finance of 864 million dollars by the end of this year. And that is on peacekeeping, which is at the forefront of so many of your Lordships' minds through Questions in this House.

Lord Bridges: My Lords, will the Government bear in mind that any decision by the United States to pay its arrears will be preceded by a tough negotiation between Congress in Washington and the Secretary-General in New York? The Secretary-General will be under severe pressure to impose across the board reductions in staff and budgets of the United Nations. Will the Government do their best to ensure that those cuts do not damage the most efficient and vital parts of the United Nations secretariat and its agencies?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, we support Mr. Kofi Annan's effort to make the United Nations a more efficient organisation. I hope that I have been able to make that clear to your Lordships on other occasions.

However, I believe that we must also reject the call by the United States for a reduction of their regular budget ceiling to 20 per cent. from the existing 25 per cent. I suspect that much of the negotiations which precede the payment of arrears will not only focus on the United Nations and efficiencies there, but also on the desire of the United States to cut its budgetary contribution to the United Nations.

Working Family Tax Credit

3.12 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking in order to counter the possible increase in fraud, if the scheme for working families' tax credit is continued in the form at present proposed.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the working families' tax credit will build on and replace family credit

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from October 1999, legislation permitting. The working families' tax credit will help make about 400,000 more families better off in work than on benefit and the Government want the help provided by the working families' tax credit to go to all those who are eligible. It will be administered by the Inland Revenue which has considerable experience and expertise in detecting and combating fraud.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. Did the noble Lord note the reported comment by the former Minister for Welfare Reform, Mr. Frank Field, in his lecture to the Social Market Foundation that serious dangers were involved in those proposals because they offered large bonuses for dishonesty for both employers and employees? Are the Government prepared to be tough on fraud, and tough on the causes of fraud?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I indeed saw the report of the speech by Frank Field. Part of it can be explained by his long-standing and honourable opposition to means testing. However, I believe that there were a number of errors in the analysis. First, it is not true that employers will need to calculate the working families' tax credit. That will be done for them by the Inland Revenue and they will simply be required to make the payment. Of course, if there is collusion between employers and employees to falsify employment records, that will be serious fraud. But there is no reason to suppose that the vast majority of honest employers will do that any more than they do so with their other obligations under the tax laws.

Lord Ashley of Stoke: My Lords, is the Minister aware that it is damaging to disabled people when newspapers grossly exaggerate any possible fraud on disability benefits? Some articles refer to a figure of £1 billion, or £0.5 billion. A figure is plucked from thin air. But that is after Ministers, including the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, have said that after 30,000 investigations into the disability living allowance there was no evidence of one single confirmed case of fraud.

Is it not also disturbing that the Department of Social Security is responsible for some of those "leaks" to newspapers? The respected journalist, David Brindle, of the Guardian has said that the department is giving information about so-called fraud to journalists. Can we not stop that kind of practice?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the Question before us is about the working families' tax credit rather than disability allowances. However, I understand my noble friend's fear; and I understand that other people have the same fear. If there is any evidence of leaks in an inappropriate way by officials, I am sure he will bring that to the attention of the authorities.

Lord Higgins: My Lords, is the Minister aware that many people regard the Labour Party's promise to cut social security in order to spend more on health and education as a fraud as it has totally failed to do so? Will not the matter raised by my noble friend in his Question exacerbate the situation?

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Does the Minister recall that he set out Mr. Darling's great achievement as Chief Secretary as the setting in concrete of the spending plans for the next three years? As the Secretary of State for Social Security, how will he now change those plans?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, as the noble Lord has seen fit to accuse this Government directly of fraud, let me say that the undertaking by the Government was to decrease the proportion of public expenditure spent on welfare rather than to decrease the absolute amount. We have been consistent in that and have achieved that.

As regards Mr. Alistair Darling's role, the noble Lord knows that Mr. Darling has been consistent in the Treasury and the Department of Social Security, and he will see the results of that when the welfare reform White Paper appears.

Lord Addington: My Lords, can the Government tell us whether the levels of fraud in the benefits system are in any way superior to those of non-payment of legally charged taxes?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, that is a fascinating question and I should love to be able to answer it. I shall try to give an answer to the noble Lord, and make it more widely available. The noble Lord will understand that it would be extraordinarily difficult because both are "unknowable" statistics. If we knew where the fraud was, we would know how much there was; and if we knew where it was, we should be able directly to tackle it.

Lord Brooks of Tremorfa: My Lords, as the Government are prepared to consider introducing a registration scheme for dogs and to consult widely on that, will they be prepared similarly to consider introducing identity cards, and to undertake widescale consultation on that issue? It is understood generally to be the most efficient way of reducing fraud.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, in the 30th minute of Question Time I shall not be tempted into a question which is not only wide of that on the Order Paper but also, as my noble friend knows, of huge political controversy.

City of Westminster Bill [H.L.]

Read a third time, and passed, and sent to the Commons.

European Parliamentary Elections Bill

3.20 p.m.

Read a third time.

Clause 1 [Number of MEPs, electoral regions and electoral system]:

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 2, line 1, leave out ("a registered party, or").

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The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment and the three grouped with it seek to change the voting system for the European elections in a very significant way, in order to give the electorate more choice and the party apparatus less choice. We have been over this ground on a number of occasions, not just on this Bill but also on the Scotland Bill and the Wales Bill. However, I think it is worth rehearsing the Government's proposal and also that contained in my amendments.

We are moving from single-member constituencies in Europe, first past the post, to regional lists covering very large areas of the country, where a number of European Members of Parliament--sometimes as few as four, sometimes 10--will be elected on the basis of a list system. For example, in London there are 10; in Scotland there are eight. The order of the list is all-important because, depending on the number of seats a party gains on a proportional system, that will lead to a number of members on the list being elected. I do not wish to go into the various systems which will be used to determine how many seats each party will get. The d'Hondt system, if one has to have that kind of system, is as good as any other. I should put in my usual caveat and say that, although I am discussing how to improve this particular system of proportional representation, the whole thing could be properly improved by sticking with the first past the post. Having made that point, I go on to look at the system the Government have proposed.

When noble Lords go into the polling booths for the European elections next year, they will be confronted with the party names. Also on the ballot paper may be the names of the candidates selected by the party in the preferred order; no one will be able to alter the order of those names. All your Lordships and the voter will be asked to do is to vote for the party. Labour voters will therefore vote for the Labour Party; Conservatives for the Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats for the Liberal Democrat Party. That will be all. The votes will then be taken away; the d'Hondt divisors will be used and the number of seats for each party will be determined. The returning officer will then say that the Labour Party deserves three seats--though frankly I do not see why it deserves any--and the top three candidates will be elected.

The decision about that order of candidates is vitally important. As the Bill currently stands, that order will be determined entirely by the party itself. The three main parties represented in your Lordships' House have all chosen slightly different ways to decide on the order of that list. It would be fair to say that the Liberal Democrat Party has chosen the most open way in the form of a postal vote of its members. The Conservative Party has chosen the second most open way; that is, to hold general meetings of its members in each area. They come along, listen to the candidates, and then vote to determine the order of candidates. As I understand it, the Labour Party's decisions will be made by the powerful people who inhabit a certain floor of Millbank Tower, and so will be slightly less democratic and open.

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That is how the three parties will do it. As our parties are independent organisations, it is only reasonable that they should be able to do it in their own way. It is odd that the Labour Party, which proclaims so much faith in democracy, has chosen the least democratic method of deciding the list. I hear my noble friends say that it is not odd at all. They are probably right: it is part of the control mechanism which so inhabits the Government. The real point, whether it is the Liberal Democrat, the Conservative or the Labour method, is that the one person who has no choice is the voter.

My amendments would mean that when the voter goes into the polling station next June, the voter who wants to vote for the Conservative Party would do so by placing his cross against the person on the Conservative list he would like to see being elected above all the others. The same is true of Labour; the same is true of the Liberal Democrats; in Scotland, the same would be true of the Scottish National Party. At the end of polling, all the votes cast for the Conservative candidates would be totalled, as they would be also for the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Scottish Nationalist candidates. The total votes for the parties will then be determined. The d'Hondt divisor will be brought into play; the number of seats to be given to each party will be determined, and the returning officer--let us say that the Labour Party are to get three members--will then look at the list and pick the three members who have received the most votes from the Labour electorate; not the general electorate but the Labour electorate. Those people who vote Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat, will therefore determine not just the number of seats the party will gain, but who on the party's list will gain those seats.

Your Lordships may well wonder why the Government are against a proposal which is so open and democratic. We will know a little later whether or not the Liberal Democrats are also opposed to it. A number of arguments have been heard over the course of this and related Bills. One is that our European neighbours have closed lists. Yes, some of them do. Germany, Spain, France, Greece and Portugal have a closed list system. Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Austria and Ireland, however, have systems where the order of the names may be changed by casting personal votes for specific candidates. In Luxembourg and Ireland there can be cross-voting for people in different parties. The idea that, by moving to a closed list system, we are moving to one which accords with all our European neighbours is simply not true.

In any case, why do the Government seem to be so distrusting of our electoral system that they think that anything anybody else does must inevitably be better? That seems to be one of the themes that runs through it. I do not ask France and Germany to change their systems to our system, and I do not see why we have this obsession that what we have done for decades, in some cases centuries, is somehow worse than what some of them have done for only the blink of an eye when it comes to democratic elections this century.

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The Government will tell us that the ballot paper will be too complicated. That is simply not true. The ballot paper will be reasonably straightforward. Indeed the Electoral Reform Society has produced a ballot paper which makes that quite clear. In case the Government still think that and the noble Lord, Lord Mostyn, tries to tell us that, perhaps I may suggest that he looks at Germany and the ballot paper that they used there a few weeks ago? He will see that it is not a straightforward ballot paper. The ballot paper outlined by the Electoral Reform Society for the system I am proposing would be a good deal simpler. I do not believe that the argument that the ballot paper will be too complicated holds any water at all.

What would the electorate like? The Home Office set up a focus group. That will not surprise your Lordships: if in doubt, set up a focus group! It commissioned some research by NOP last February and found that voters felt that the proposed closed list system appeared to be depriving them of their right to select individuals. For some voters it raised the question as to whether party loyalty will precede constituency loyalty. Focus group research carried out for the McDougall Trust by NOP found that voters' reactions were immediately negative to closed party lists, as they believed that they were being deprived of their right to vote for individual candidates.

I should have thought that to be fairly reasonable and self-evident. An organisation called the Democratic Audit carried out some work based on an ICM poll commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. None of these organisations is a particularly a great supporter of the Conservative Party, but I believe that members of the Government and their friends on the Liberal Democrat Benches should be listening to what they are saying.

The poll asked people to vote on closed or open lists. The report stated that two-fifths used the opportunity to vote for individual candidates, while three-fifths voted for the party list. Charter 88 states that that is a significant majority, especially given that voters will never before have used a list system. The report states:

    "In real campaign conditions, we would expect up to half the voters to use the opportunity to support a particular candidate".

If somebody straightforwardly wishes to vote for the party he simply votes for the person at the top of the party's list--if the party can put names in order. It could be alphabetical order. I have no objection to the party doing that, but I believe that people should be allowed so to vote.

One of the arguments used on a number of occasions by the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, is that the first-past-the-post system is a closed list of one. That is significant and it is right, but in many regions when a voter votes for a party he will be voting for more than one person--he will be voting for two, three or four people. I suggest that in those circumstances a voter who does not like the names at the top of the list will be less likely to vote for another person or another party because he or she will realise that the vote counts for more than one person. However, we all know that in first-past-the-post elections a significant number of people say, "I put my hand over the candidate's name

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and voted for the party". There are a minority--not many--who say, "I am not voting for my party if that is its candidate". Therefore, I believe that the closed list of one is not a good argument because only one person is elected. One can decide not to vote for that person without endangering up to three or four of one's party's seats in a particular area.

I thought that the first-past-the-post system was a bit wobbly at the last election, and I even thought that it was a bit wobbly in 1987. But just because the result is not what I would have chosen that is not a good reason for changing the electoral system. I have always made that clear. However, the most important fact is that if the Government want to move away from the first-past-the-post system they should not hark back to some of its advantages in order to justify the closed list system, for goodness sake. If we are moving to proportional representation it ought to be not merely proportional representation; it ought to give the electorate more democratic control in terms of the people they elect.

Charter 88, in its handout on the issue, stated:

    "We believe that voters should be able to choose between candidates of the same party. We are especially concerned that voters are not given the impression that the new voting system is being introduced for party political benefit. We are concerned that if the Government insist on the use of closed lists voters may be left with the impression that the voting system has been manipulated for party political aims".
I could not have put it better myself. It is being manipulated for the political ends of the party.

We agree to differ on the principles of first-past-the-post, but when we get into the nitty-gritty of the systems we can make common cause. Mr. Ken Ritchie said today:

    "We are all for proportional representation and we give the Government credit for having moved so quickly in introducing PR for European elections. But there is more to electoral reform than PR. We want to see voters being able to exercise more choice, and certainly not less choice, over who their MEPs will be. Such a system [the closed list] is bad for voters, bad for candidates and bad for democracy".

I hope that at this last gasp your Lordships will agree that we ought to amend the Bill to ensure that the voters have some choice not just on the party colours of the people who represent them in the European Parliament, but also on who the individual who represents them should be. I beg to move.

3.30 p.m.

Lord Evans of Parkside: My Lords, last Monday at the Report stage I made it clear that the amendment we were debating, which was the same amendment as we are debating today, was superior to those that I had tabled giving the electorate choice of candidates. I stated that I would withdraw my amendments because I thought this amendment was better.

I have made it clear from the outset that I am hostile to the entire concept of the Bill in relation to closed lists as selected by central committees. I say to my noble friend the Minister that the amendment, if accepted by the Government, will not affect the Labour Party NEC's chosen list of candidates in any way whatever. Those chosen candidates will remain on the list. It will not

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affect proportionality in relation to the parties because, as the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, made clear, the total of the votes cast for all the candidates will be given to the party. However, the electorate will have a small say in the positions of the candidates, and in one or two circumstances there might be a difference between the party's list and the electorate's final choice. It is a modest amendment which improves what I believe is a thoroughly bad Bill.

I also draw the Minister's attention, and the attention of the Liberal Democrats, to an interesting article in the Daily Telegraph of 15th October by Mr. George Jones, the paper's distinguished political editor. He was writing about the proposals of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, for the reform of voting systems for the House of Commons. I am certain that Mr. Jones had received some interesting information from a good source. He states that during a series of consultation exercises around the country he had been taken aback by the hostility to the idea that introducing some form of proportional representation based on a list system would increase party control.

The article quotes the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins. Apparently, the initial proposal was that the names would be selected by the parties from a pre-set closed list. However, the noble Lord proposes that voters should be able to vote for individual candidates on the list. I am sorry that the noble Lord is not in his place, but I believe that that is an important article. I submit that the proposal sounds like the amendment we are currently discussing, which tries to remove some of the tight control held by the central executive over the party's list. I trust that the Liberal Democrats will give the matter further thought in view of the fact that we might have to deal with the issue again when we receive the final report of the noble Lord and his committee.

I also refer to the comment made by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, when he dismissed my noble friend Lord Stoddart, who asked for an explanation of the system adopted by the Government in the Bill. The noble Lord rather loftily dismissed my noble friend by stating that election manifestos do not consist of the details of a Bill. I could not remember any mention in the manifesto, but that was probably my fault. Therefore, I searched through my copy and, sure enough, I found a reference towards the end of the document on page 37. There are 14 words in the manifesto, which state:

    "We have long supported a proportional voting system for election to the European Parliament".
Yes, but it offered no explanation whatever. However, it did offer an interesting explanation of the system to be adopted for both the Scottish and Welsh elections to their respective parliaments next year. When we hide behind manifesto statements of such a brief nature and then produce Bills subsequently which leave a lot to be desired as far as democracy is concerned, it tends to bring politics into disrepute.

I suggest to my noble friend that if the Government accept this amendment it may actually assist the party in Wales. I understand that there are considerable difficulties with sections of the Welsh party because of

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the selection of the candidates to contest the five seats in Wales. My information is that the three Welsh Labour Party members on the NEC selection panel completely disagreed with the majority's placement of the candidates but were outvoted by the rest of the NEC members.

There have been considerable problems in Wales, with protests from various constituency parties about the Welsh list of candidates. If my noble friend can accept this amendment it will solve the Welsh problems at a stroke. It would give the Welsh electorate the opportunity to decide the order of the candidates to contest the election in Wales.

Is this Chamber a revising Chamber, as has often been pointed out? I am not parting company with the Government on any particular or major piece of legislation. I am asking them to have second thoughts about a particular element in a particular Bill, as are other noble Lords. When it discussed this issue in Committee, the House of Commons did not spend long debating particular methods. On Second Reading, on 25th November 1997, there was a rather astonishing exchange between the Home Secretary and various Members when, introducing the Bill, he said:

    "To help hon. Members, I shall arrange for a brief description of how the Belgian system operates to be placed in the Library, alongside a greater description of how the system in the Bill is intended to operate, and I shall be interested to learn how hon. Members on both sides of the House perceive the system. This will therefore be a subject to which we can return at a later stage of the Bill's passage".

Hansard records that several honourable Members rose and Mr. Straw said:

    "I give way first to the right hon. Member for North-West Cambridgeshire (Sir B. Mawhinney)."
Sir Brian said:

    "I want to be clear as to what the Home Secretary has said. Has he just said that, having proposed the Second Reading of a major Government Bill, he is now signalling that he is willing to change one of the fundamental aspects of that Bill?"
Mr. Straw replied:

    "It may come as a surprise to the right hon. Gentleman, as a member of the previous Government, who did so badly, that we are a party and a Government who listen to argument".--[Official Report, Commons; 25/11/97, col. 814].
That is precisely what is being attempted on this occasion. An argument is being presented in relation to one aspect of the Bill. It is not an instruction to the House of Commons that it has to accept anything from the House of Lords; it is an opportunity for it to have second thoughts about this particular aspect. If the Home Secretary is correct that this is a government who listen to argument, and if the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, is correctly quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying that he has been taken aback by the hostility to closed lists which increase central party control over candidates, surely this is a timely and helpful amendment from the revising Chamber to the principal Chamber. I trust that my noble friend will give serious consideration to accepting the amendment.

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3.45 p.m.

Earl Russell: My Lords, I must declare an interest as president of the Electoral Reform Society. The society put out a press release at two o'clock today from which the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, has already quoted. I wish to quote the paragraph following the one mentioned by the noble Lord:

    "At present many candidates have been selected and put on lists in positions in which they have no hope whatsoever of being elected no matter how popular they are with the electorate. Others near the top of lists will almost certainly be elected even if the electorate thinks they are useless. Such a system is bad for voters, bad for the candidates and bad for democracy".

Having declared my interest, I have also read the Companion to the Standing Orders which says that noble Lords speak not for outside interests but for themselves. I am also aware that the attitude of my Front Bench towards this amendment is different from that of the society. That attitude has very great weight with me. But, faced with two conflicting pressures, I think that frees me to consider arguments of principle, of the national interest and of democracy. That is what I propose to do.

I shall not spend long on the case against the closed list. I have been outlining it since the Second Reading of the Bill. The basic point is that democracy involves the right to choose both what party and what person will represent us. This Bill allows us to choose what party represents us; it does not allow us to choose what person represents us. That appears to be a fundamental blow to democracy. It is bad for the candidates; it is even worse for the elected members. It destroys the accountability of the member to the voters. In doing so it destroys one of the very cardinal principles of democracy. All members of elected assemblies--or of any other assemblies--will try to please those from whom their title to sit comes. It is human and it is inevitable. This Bill creates an incentive to please a party machinery and not to please voters.

We on these Benches have always upheld two principles of electoral reform. One is the principle of proportionality, which this Bill meets. The other is the principle of accountability to the voters, extension of voter choice and the use of the injection of democracy to control unaccountable power. The one principle has always been as important to us as the other. The second principle this Bill does not meet at all. It is not a representation of the people Bill; it is a representation of the parties Bill.

The contrary case must rest almost entirely in terms of the appeal to loyalty. My loyalty to my party is one of the strongest emotions that I possess. It is a greater loyalty to a collective group of people than I ever believed myself capable of. I agree--we all do--that all political effort is and must be a team effort. In my actions so far I have tried to give effect to that principle. I had been here 10 years before I voted against the party Whip. Indeed, I was once reproved by Lady Seear, as deputy Leader, for insufficient willingness to vote against the Whip. Since then I have done it twice, on both occasions on this particular issue--three offences, if you like, but all on the same point, so I might ask for the sentences to run concurrently.

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The need for a team effort necessarily goes both ways. There is sense in what I am told is a disciplinary maxim in the American army: never give an order which is not going to be obeyed.

Loyalty is something about which I have thought in many contexts. It takes many forms. Loyalty can be loyalty to a person or it can be loyalty to principles. The distinction is most classically made in the famous "Saturday night massacre" in the United States when Richard Nixon ordered the Attorney-General to sack the Special Prosecutor. Al Haig said to the Attorney-General, "Your Commander-in-Chief is giving you an order". The Attorney-General replied, "I am sworn to obey the constitution". There you have the two principles of loyalty. Your Lordships will have no difficulty in guessing which is mine.

Loyalty can also be a loyalty to a person or to a group. When I think of my loyalty to my party, I think of the people with whom I ran up steps in Oldham in a heat wave or who held the torch for me when I looked for numbers in Winchester Cathedral Close in the rain and in the dark. If I were to vote with this Whip, they would not understand me. That, of course, is not an insuperable argument. Occasionally, one has to do things which they do not understand. What is much more important to me is that I could hear myself, if I tried to answer them, getting to the point where my voice faltered and I had no argument.

I have listened to my Front Bench on this issue many times. They argue that there has been a deal. I do not know what deal; when it was reached; where it was reached; or for what inducement. I would need to know those things. I do know that when this Bill was first announced. It certainly was not known to those who managed the business for us that it was to introduce a closed list. I do know that my honourable friends in another place voted against a closed list. If we carry this amendment, I would expect it possible that many of them might do so again.

The other argument is simply in terms of the loss of the Bill. I argued last week that I do not really believe that that is a particularly large danger. All three parties have now chosen their candidates. If the Bill were to be lost, we would have to go back to the old constituencies and to the old candidates. I do not believe that the Prime Minister wants Mr. Ken Coates returned as a Labour MEP. Therefore, I believe that the danger of the loss of the Bill is small.

We must consider always, especially when in trouble with our parties, what the effect of our vote is. I do not believe that a vote for this amendment is just a gesture. I believe there is a possibility that the amendment might carry. If it carries, I believe it will attract support in another place. I believe it is not impossible that it might be accepted. The chances of course are slim, but if we do not try to change legislation where there is a slim chance, then, my Lords, what are we doing here?

I must of course listen, and will listen with the greatest care, to what my Front Bench says in reply to what I have said. I owe them that. But I must say to them that, as I see things at present, I am minded to

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vote for the amendment; and any argument that persuades me otherwise would have to be a very good one indeed.

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