Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Lamont of Lerwick: I should like, first, to thank all noble Lords who have participated in this debate; namely, my noble friend Lord Cranborne, the noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux, the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, my noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew, my noble friend on the Front Bench and, of course, the noble Baroness, Lady Park.

I have to say that I have not found the Minister's responses to be remotely convincing. He has been extremely economical with his answers. I do not imply the phrase, "economical with the truth", but rather that he has been, quite literally, economical. He has confined himself to certain very narrow technical points and has not offered a political explanation of the clause. He has not put it into any form of political context that makes sense.

I recall a famous story about Lloyd George. He was travelling in a car in Snowdonia and became lost. He pulled down his window and asked a passer-by where he was. The passer-by replied, "You are in Snowdonia". This incident was later often cited by Lloyd George as an example of a perfect parliamentary answer: it was

6 Nov 2000 : Column 1267

short, brief, true and told no one anything of any use whatsoever. I am bound to say that I think that the noble and learned Lord is something of a master at that kind of response. In some of the debates which we have had on the Dome, the noble and learned Lord has given us responses that have been wholly accurate but not very helpful. On one occasion, I recall that I asked him directly whether he could tell us what has gone wrong with the Dome. The answer came back that, "There haven't been enough visitors". That, of course, was absolutely true. However, I am beginning to recognise a "Falconerism" when I hear one. All that we have had today are "Falconerisms": technical, factual and straight answers that do not explain anything. For that reason, I think that his speech was unconvincing.

The grounds on which he has chosen to defend the Bill are different from those on which he defended it previously, or at least his arguments have been put in a very different way. I do not think that the phrase "administrative tidying up" escaped his lips quite as frequently as it did during our previous debates. We were then led to believe that this was a matter only of tidying up. Nevertheless, it is true that we have heard a number of remarks along those lines today. Indeed, when my noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew pressed the Minister on this, he confirmed that this Bill did seek to tidy up an anomaly. In a technical sense we may be tidying up a legislative anomaly, but there are hundreds, not to mention thousands, of legislative anomalies on which we could spend time in an exercise of tidying up. The question is: why has this anomaly been singled out? There must be a purpose and a political reason for the exercise. Indeed, surely it would not be sensible to tidy up an anomaly until that anomaly had proved to be a problem or until someone said, "The law here presents an obstacle to what I want to do".

The noble and learned Lord has relied on the precedent of the Commonwealth. However, he has not been able to come up with a single example of a Commonwealth Member of Parliament who has wanted to sit in the House of Commons. However, in order to provide for Ireland the same privilege--of which no one has ever availed themselves--we have to have the Bill. Moreover, we have not been told who in Ireland wants to avail themselves of this opportunity by tidying up the anomaly.

In our debate at Second Reading, I do not believe that the noble and learned Lord mentioned Sinn Fein. Perhaps it is rather vulgar to wave documents in the Chamber, but I did show the document in my possession in which Sinn Fein has advocated something that fits in well with this proposal. Sinn Fein wants Members representing Northern Ireland constituencies elected to the House of Commons also to be Members of the Dail in order, I submit, that the Parliaments of Westminster and Dublin may appear equally legitimate and equidistant from the problems of Northern Ireland.

We know who does not want the Bill. I know that the First Minister does not want it. He has told me that. I should have thought that that was quite a

6 Nov 2000 : Column 1268

relevant consideration, given the delicate situation which pertains and the problems that he has to face. I know, too, from the document which I have just mentioned, that Sinn Fein does want it. The noble and learned Lord sought to justify what is being proposed on the ground that citizens of Ireland could vote in British parliamentary elections. He then sought to try to establish some symmetry between being able to vote in a parliamentary election and being able to stand for that parliament. However, I think that that argument was thoroughly demolished by my noble friend Lord Elton when he intervened to point out simply that the responsibilities of a voter are completely different from those of a representative.

Symmetry can be extended in many directions. If all we seek is symmetry, why has not the noble and learned Lord brought forward legislation to allow Members of the House of Commons to be elected to the Dail? That would further extend the symmetry being sought here. However, at present, a Member of the House of Commons cannot stand for election to the Dail unless he happens to be an Irish citizen. Only Irish citizens are eligible to stand for membership of the Dail.

Many of us object to this proposal because of the nonsense of someone being a representative in two sovereign parliaments. Of course Members of Parliament represent their constituents, but they are also there to further the interests of their country. As my noble friend Lord Cranborne pointed out, there may be times when the interests of the two countries conflict--not, I am sure, as dramatically as in the example given by my noble friend, but I can think of many examples in the field of taxation and cross-border matters where very different views probably would be taken by members of a British government and members of an Irish government. One would want a Member of Parliament to be free from undue and improper pressure, but certainly there would be a conflict of interest in some of those matters.

I have listened extremely carefully to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, but we have to follow the logic of our arguments. My judgment is that our arguments went unanswered. Despite the pleas of the noble and learned Lord, I propose to seek to divide the House. I do so consciously because it is an important matter and the arguments put against the amendment were profoundly unconvincing.

5.12 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 88; Not-Contents, 132.

Division No. 1


Ampthill, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor of Hever, L.
Bellwin, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Bledisloe, V.
Boardman, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Bridges, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L. [Teller]
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Courtown, E.
Cox, B.
Craig of Radley, L.
Cranborne, V.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Ferrers, E.
Flather, B.
Fookes, B.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Hanham, B.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hogg, B.
Holderness, L.
Howe, E.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hylton, L.
Jopling, L.
Kimball, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Laird, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Marlesford, L.
Marsh, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Monson, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Moynihan, L.
Naseby, L.
Noakes, B.
Northbrook, L.
Onslow, E.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Rawlings, B.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rogan, L.
Seccombe, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Strange, B.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Vivian, L.
Warnock, B.
Wilcox, B.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Chandos, V.
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Crawley, B.
Dahrendorf, L.
David, B.
Desai, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gale, B.
Geraint, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Goodhart, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grabiner, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hooson, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Islwyn, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Levy, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Maddock, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Mishcon, L.
Mitchell, L.
Molloy, L.
Morgan, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Paul, L.
Peston, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Redesdale, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Roll of Ipsden, L.
Roper, L.
Sandberg, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Serota, B.
Shepherd, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Warner, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

6 Nov 2000 : Column 1270

5.21 p.m.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page