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Having said what I have about the case in question, I also think that when we consider issues of privilege, it is worth reflecting that if it was the case—and I know that it will not be in this instance—that a Member of Parliament had entered into an arrangement with a civil servant to disclose information on a continuing basis for political reasons or if a Member of Parliament was paying a civil servant to send information across regularly, we would regard that as extremely serious. It would also raise questions about Members’ conduct. It might not occasion the criminal law, but it would lead us to define what we think is the proper conduct of a Member of Parliament. So yes, let us have a Committee: I rather like the Committee proposed by the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell) and I hope that the Government will be well disposed to such a Committee. I do not know whether the term “sub judice” actually covers the worry we have about police inquiries, but I hope that the right hon. and
8 Dec 2008 : Column 292
learned Gentleman can assure us that it does. Let us have the Committee; let the Committee decide where it is and where it is not proper for it to go; and let us put all that on the table in order to make some sense out of it all.

5.25 pm

Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con): I know that we are fast running out of time and I wish to cover just two main points. I agree with a number of right hon. and hon. Members who have spoken. I thought that the right hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Frank Dobson) made a very thoughtful speech and I also agreed with the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell), whose amendment I hope to support in the Lobby tonight. When it comes to the hon. Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay), I usually agree with him without having to think about it, but there is one area where I would disagree with him: if he is going to take this evidence in on rice paper, he will need to be more careful about which type of equipment the police will take in with them as they enter the House! I have to warn him there. [Laughter.] Let me focus quickly on two main points. First, it is absurd for the Government to insist on two points in their motion: that we have to give way to the process of what the police are doing, which means the Committee cannot carry out its inquiry; and that there must be Government superiority on the Committee. This is a House of Commons matter; it is not for the Executive. If we watch the guides going past that rather contrived picture in the Lobby with Speaker Lenthall on his knees in front of King Charles, we all pride ourselves on the idea that that was the moment when we broke from the Executive, who lost control of this place. The truth is that, in many senses, tonight has proved that the King actually won, because here we have the Executive deliberately misreading what Mr. Speaker wanted and tabling a motion that, as I warned the other day, is a debasement of Mr. Speaker’s own idea of what should happen. We do not need any superiority of the Executive on that Committee; what we need is seven or whatever number of the so-called wise men and women to sit on that Committee and deliberate. They do not need any push from the Government about which direction they should move in.

My second main point is about timing. As I said in an intervention, we are having a police inquiry into what went on and what was wrong, but why are the police allowed to carry on when they still might proceed against my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green)? The police can decide what was right and wrong, but this House cannot. Is there one rule for the police and another for us? We have said that we are not above the law, but neither are the police. The absurdity is in the idea that we in the House have no courage, yet the Government have no courage that this place can behave sensibly or that the men and women on this Committee can take a decision about the effects of a prosecution or a lack of one for my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford.

Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con): Is my right hon. Friend aware that, 10 years ago, the Government set up a Joint Committee of both Houses
8 Dec 2008 : Column 293
to deal with issues of privilege and have ignored it ever since? If the report it produced had been implemented, we would not be in the mess we are today.

Mr. Duncan Smith: My hon. Friend is absolutely right.

In addition, there has been an element of party political knockabout tonight, although some speeches have been very good. I simply put it to Government Members that irrespective of whether they agreed or disagreed with the previous Conservative Government, tonight’s true debate is not about who was right or wrong; the true debate tonight is whether the Executive or Members of Parliament should decide in this place what this place really needs.

We are discussing the serious issue of whether an MP has any form of protection in going about their natural duties. It may be that many are suspicious of what my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford was up to. It may be, as the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) said, that what he did was too persistent and too political. I do not know. But I do know that we cannot have a Member of Parliament, of whatever political colour or hue, being investigated under a criminal charge by the police as though what that Member was doing was somehow damaging to national security. That is an absurdity. Members of Parliament must be free to go about their job. I ask Labour Back Benchers to think about whether they would behave as they are behaving tonight if they were in opposition. They have a chance tonight to tell the Government that they do not have a say in this matter. When the Executive wish to have their way, Members should always behave as if they were in opposition.

5.30 pm

Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): This has been an important debate, with constructive speeches from my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz), my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock Chase (Dr. Wright) and the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke).

In a sense, I would like to split the difference between the motion and the amendment. I must say to my dear right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House that the motion is poorly worded. The amendment makes it clear that the Committee can investigate all that happened inside the Ministry, and call to give evidence those who appear to have systemically organised a breach of confidence on a party political basis inside the Home Secretary’s private office—not merely a civil servant seeing some document and being so outraged that he must put it in the public domain, but a continuing breach of confidence and act of disloyalty at the heart of our democratic government. My right hon. and learned Friend’s motion does not allow such an investigation to take place.

We have had too much partisanship in this matter. Last week, all we heard were criticisms of the Prime Minister and Home Secretary. This weekend, we have heard some unacceptable remarks about the Speaker. Some offices in our state—one thinks of the monarchy and senior judges—are in a sense fused with their
8 Dec 2008 : Column 294
occupants, and that may also be the case with the Speaker. If one makes an ad hominem attack on the Speaker, one attacks the Chair itself. The Conservative party must stop that now.

I agree with the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe that people should have said no much earlier. Sir David Normington should have said no, the Metropolitan police should have said no, and the House authorities should have said no. It is not sergeants who are required to fall on their sword but officers, and we should take some responsibility in that matter. We cannot put the matter off until the full police inquiry has taken place.

The argument about the composition of the Committee—whether party political, regional or gender—is a red herring. I have confidence in the Speaker, under the terms of his statement, my right hon. and learned Friend’s motion, and the amendment proposed by the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell), to choose seven colleagues who will carry out their activities independently, without fear or favour. To encourage that to happen, I have to say with regret, as a serial loyalist to my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House, that I cannot vote for the Government tonight, and I hope that the amendment carries the day.

5.33 pm

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD): As a non-Privy Counsellor, it is a privilege to be able to participate, however briefly, in the debate. I support the amendment tabled by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell) and other Members from both sides of the Chamber. This matter is of great importance to many in the House, and must be addressed without pomposity and self-regard, because it is about our constituents, not our privileges. It is right—

5.34 pm

Three hours having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on the Business of the House motion, the Speaker put the Question s necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at that time (Order, this day).

Amendment proposed: (e), leave out from ‘action’ to end and add

Question put, That the amendment be made:—


The House divided: Ayes 281, Noes 285.
Division No. 2]
[5.34 pm



AYES


Abbott, Ms Diane
Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael

Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Cameron, rh Mr. David
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clegg, rh Mr. Nick
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Cook, Frank
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farrelly, Paul
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Field, Mr. Mark
Fisher, Mark
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Mr. Don
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Galloway, Mr. George
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Grogan, Mr. John
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Havard, Mr. Dai
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hoey, Kate
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Holmes, Paul
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Howell, John
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Glenda
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Jones, Lynne
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg

Kramer, Susan
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
Maclean, rh David
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Mason, John
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McDonnell, John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rogerson, Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, Mr. David
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Short, rh Clare
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Alan
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Geraldine
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Timpson, Mr. Edward
Tredinnick, David
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Vaz, rh Keith
Viggers, Sir Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Walter, Mr. Robert
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wishart, Pete
Wright, Jeremy
Wright, Dr. Tony
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Richard Younger-Ross and
Mr. James Gray

NOES


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Beckett, rh Margaret
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, rh Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Chapman, Ben
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Healey, rh John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.

Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, rh Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, rh Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purnell, rh James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Roy, Lindsay
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Spink, Bob
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Watson, Mr. Tom
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, Mrs. Betty

Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Dave Watts and
Helen Goodman
Question accordingly negatived.
8 Dec 2008 : Column 295

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8 Dec 2008 : Column 298

8 Dec 2008 : Column 299

Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This is a point of order for you, because the motion that the House has so narrowly approved was very different from what you suggested last Wednesday. Will you please reflect on that and come back to the House with another statement tomorrow?

Mr. Speaker: The House has not agreed to any motion; it was an amendment that was put forward.

Main Question put.


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