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Community Charges (Scotland)

Volume 130: debated on Monday 28 March 1988

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10.13 pm

I beg to move,

That the Community Charges (Registration) (Scotland) Regulations 1988 (S.I., 1988, No. 157), dated 4th February 1988, a copy of which was laid before this House on 5th February, be revoked.
I am sorry that the Secretary of State for Scotland is not with us this evening to take part in this debate, for we have before us an extremely important measure. I fear that we shall be subjected to a rather colourless performance by the Minister of State—[Interruption.] I think that I am entitled to describe his characteristics fairly.

The regulations set out the basis of the administration of the poll tax system in Scotland. They define the register and give power to nominate the responsible person in each household and to gather information. Every house in Scotland will be installed with a tax gatherer, an ally for a hated and unwanted system. We protested on Thursday and we protested again earlier today, and we were justified in doing so, against the way in which the regulations are being introduced.

I believe that the Minister will concede that there is widespread anger in Scotland and only little support for the poll tax. The anger of the people would be compounded if they appreciated the cavalier and contemptuous way in which the House is being treated. A matter of extreme importance is being crushed into a debate of one and a half hours. There is no possibility of amending the regulations, and adequate debate is precluded.

Apart from the unpopularity of the issue, we have the comments in the 18th report of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. It is the considered view of the Committee that almost certainly the regulations are defectively drafted, and there are significant doubts whether one of the schedules is intra vires. This is not a pedantic point that has been thought up by barrack room lawyers that are to be found in the midst of every Opposition party. This is a view that has been accepted unanimously by a senior Committee with a Conservative majority. The Committee was properly advised by men of skill in this place.

I believe that I am entitled to protest at the way in which these issues have been brushed aside as matters of no consequence. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated instance. This is the third occasion in a short time in which the Scottish Office has decided cavalierly to ignore the advice that has been offered to it by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. I recall the housing support grant and the highly controversial education order that affected the boundaries of responsibility between local and central government. Thirdly, with the introduction of the administration for the poll tax, we are again watching advice being trampled upon by a Government who do not care. The issue was raised during business questions the other day. The Leader of the House swept it aside as being merely minor and technical. When pressed again he substituted "trivial" for "technical".

I do not believe that it is the over-nice conscience of somebody who once received a legal training to say that I do not consider this issue to be minor, technical or trivial. It is a sad comment on the bunker mentality that prevails in the Scottish Office that those concerned are riot prepared to redraft the regulations. If the provisions within the fourth schedule are used, others will examine their form closely to determine whether something can be done to amend them elsewhere.

The Opposition are not on their own in being upset by the way in which this business is being conducted. We received detailed and helpful briefs from the Scottish Consumer Council, the Scottish Council for Single Homeless and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. All these organisations have expressed anxiety and have pointed to the faults, flaws and difficulties that they anticipate. It is impossible properly to ventilate these issues in a short debate of only one and a half hours. The role of the Council on Tribunals, the differences in the appeal procedures between England and Scotland and the problems that attach to the range of information that is being gathered are all matters worthy of debate. It is unfortunate that we are not allowed in any real sense to canvas the issues that have been raised with us.

I believe that the complications and complexities of the system are their own worst enemy. I do not believe that it is in any real, genuine sense workable, or likely to be a credit to the Government or those who drafted the legislation. I have no doubt that, on occasions, we overstate our case in opposition, and that, on occasion, we suggest that the complexities of the system are worthy of Gormenghast or of Kafka. But, even if we leave aside any form of exaggeration, the reality is alarming enough. In these complexities is a threat to privacy, and a real danger that individual liberties will be undermined.

There has been some argument in the House—it was rehearsed in debate on the English legislation — about why we in Scotland are asked that every individual over 18 should produce his or her date of birth. I have not yet received any satisfactory explanation. In England, in the event of confusion over names, other systems will be used involving such terms as "senior" and "junior" to overcome the problem, and I feel that we are entitled to some explanation.

I should like to put to the Minister a specific point about the right of appeal arising under section 17(9) of the Abolition of Domestic Rates Etc. (Scotland) Act 1987, which provides for a right of appeal against designation as a responsible person. When will that arise? Will the Minister confirm that it will not arise on the issue of the inquiry form in schedule 3? There has been some confusion, but no doubt the Minister will be able to tell us the answer. Presumably, the right of appeal will arise at the point at which there is a formal designation, and not merely an inquiry form asking for information to he sent out.

Let me deal next with the complexity of the language in the form. Anyone who has taken the trouble to read its many pages will see how unsatisfactory it is. It has been heavily criticised by the Scottish Consumer Council. It seems reasonable to ask whether the notes, simply because they are in the regulations, are sacrosanct, or whether they can be varied. They strike me as a cautionary tale designed almost to prevent rather than facilitate communication. I hope that, even now, the Minister will consider the excellent advice of the Scottish Consumer Council that the whole thing should be taken away and he should start again.

In another place, Lord Glenarthur said that the objective—the end product—was clear and comprehensible language. If that is the test that the Government have set themselves, they have lamentably failed to achieve it. I can do no better than to quote the Scottish Council for Single Homeless, which has observed that the forms are
"unnecessarily cumbersome, confusing, very badly designed and written in legal jargon."
I do not think for a moment that anyone would dispute that. The system will be a disaster for the citizens who find the forms on their doorstep and must try to understand what is meant, and what their role is supposed to be.

As the Minister may know if he has had the courtesy to read the briefing material that has come in, the Scottish Council for Single Homeless tried this out on a number of people in shared accommodation. I do not know whether this is a recommendation, but they were all university graduates. They came up with some very acerbic comments about the incomprehensibility of the language — which was described, I think fairly, as "goobledegook" in another of our briefings. I believe that the whole thing is nonsense.

It becomes clear when one reads through the administrative arrangements that we have now stripped away finally, as the organisation starts to gather speed, any pretence that the electoral register is not involved in the poll tax system. It is becoming more clear daily that there will be close collaboration with and connection between the poll tax register and the electoral roll.

We know, and I am sure that the Minister is aware, that in Strathclyde — by far the largest local authority in Scotland in terms of scale and size of operation—the inquiry form will be distributed by hand but it will not be blank. The working documents prepared in Strathclyde make it abundantly clear that the form will be completed simply by lifting all the names available from the electoral register, putting them into the inquiry form for poll tax purposes and asking the responsible person to confirm or adapt the information on it. The starting point of the system — we now know this to be true — will be the electoral roll. That is the basis on which the whole crazy superstructure will be built.

I am not saying that in constitutional theory this is a tax on the right to vote, but it is self-evident that we are building into the system a disincentive to register to vote of a kind that makes the poll tax in the most simple and direct way an enemy of the democratic process. Sadly, but inevitably, there will be people who will fall to the temptation to try to avoid the poll tax by removing their names from the electoral register. None of us can look on this with any complacency, but it is built into the regulations.

The machinery will be expensive and inefficient and will create enormous problems and great trouble. Armies are being mobilised to try to get the system creaking into action. I am told that in Strathclyde, for example, home helps are offered 40p for every completed form that they can capture and bring home. It is, I suppose, an interesting reintroduction of the principle of bounty hunting, which most of us thought had died out long ago.

The almighty struggle which will be needed to make the system work at all is wrong and misconceived. The end product is that Scotland will be lumbered with a tax that no one wants and that no one believes is just. It will be a laughing stock and a mockery. More seriously, it will be an offence, because it will produce a system which has no relation to ability to pay and which will bring about a massive shift against groups and communities which are already disadvantaged in the Prime Minister's world of popular capitalism. The system is sustained only by the prejudice of Ministers and the cowed loyalty of Conservative Back Benchers who know not what they do but trudge through the Lobbies at the crack of a whip. There is nothing here.

I have no doubt that there will be hon. Members in the Lobby for the Government who will be rebels on other occasions south of the border but will not even know what they are voting for on this occasion. There is nothing in the regulations or in the exchanges to date that reassures us about civil liberties, privacy and the safeguards that should be built into a system of this kind. We shall not have an opportunity to have those adequate assurances or to debate this measure adequately.

We shall oppose the regulations in the Division Lobby. We shall continue to campaign in other ways, taking the fight against this noxious tax to the community of Scotland which will suffer under the Government's imposition. On that, I give the Minister an undertaking and a promise.

10.29 pm

I found the speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) interesting in many respects. If I remember accurately what he had to say, he was complaining about the forms to which the regulations refer and saying that people in Scotland would find them difficult to follow and to' complete.

I have never found forms difficult to complete. —[Interruption.]

As ever, the hon. Member for Garscadden speaks with two voices. He also complained about the fact that the Government have put out a simple booklet to explain what the community charge is about, how it will work and how individuals will be required to complete the forms. The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. The Government are quite properly going through the process of explaining to the people of Scotlsand what paying 14p in every £1 of local government expenditure means. That is what the community charge covers for those who pay it in full, and many will receive rebates of up to 80 per cent., yet the hon. Gentleman complains. Indeed, no one, except Opposition Members who never can understand or complete forms, could describe 14p as draconian.

The hon. Member for Garscadden said that the community charge is unpopular, and he drew attention to the fact that the Select Committee had picked faults in it. Of course, that is what Select Committees do and there are precedents for that. Does the hon. Gentleman really believe that those, such as students, who wish to register appeals should be denied that opportunity? The defective area refers to those asking for an exemption or a reduction. The regulations refer to those people.

The hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) raised the case of those who are exempt. Do the hon. Gentleman and the Minister accept that people will not be exempt if they are widows with occupational pensions, pensioners with occupational pensions and a host of other people? Indeed, 99 per cent. of the population will not be exempt. In my constituency, those who are not exempt will have to pay £401 from 1 April, and those who are exempt will have to pay £98, or 25 per cent. of the poll tax, because they will have to pay the community water charge in full. Those are the people that the Government are penalising.

The hon. Gentleman's intervention is interesting because there is no such thing as a poll tax. It does not exist. People will not be paying anything towards a poll tax. Opposition Members cannot fill in, understand or read the forms because they do not know what is on the forms. If the hon. Gentleman's figures are accurate and if he was accurately reflecting what is to happen, those people certainly will not vote Labour in future when they realise how expensive Labour is.

Before the hon. Gentleman intervened I was saying that the supplementary inquiry form is intended to make it easy for people to make claims. It is intended for the individuals who believe that they will get some reduction. The hon. Member for Garscadden is taking the view of the Select Committee and objecting to that, yet it seems to me that we should be approving, not disapproving, this measure. After all, if the hon. Member for Garscadden is a democrat— I believe that he is — and accepts that the House determines what happens in Scotland at this time because a Conservative Government are in office, he will accept that the Government are going to make sure that the community charge comes into operation and will work.

The hon. Gentleman is shaking his head. Is he now joining his hon. Friends who are suggesting some way of stopping it illegally?

If something is ultra vires, is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that the Government should totally ignore it and go ahead without any proper basis of authority in the primary legislation? That is what the Select Committee is saying.

The hon. Gentleman is a lawyer and I have listened to him many times in Committee debating fine points of law. Lawyers frequently disagree. If the hon. Member for Garscadden believes that individuals, on his recommendation, will accept that it is ultra vires, it will be determined, as he said, somewhere else. I imagine that he means that it will be determined in a court in Scotland. The hon. Gentleman knows that lawyers make a fine living out of difficult areas of the law. I am not a lawyer, but I admire the marvellous incomes that they can receive for determining such things.

The Government's lawyers are convinced that what the hon. Gentleman and the Select Committee have said is wrong. There is nothing unusual about that. Having sat through many Committees and listened to many lawyers on different sides with differing views, I am certain of one thing: if there are six lawyers on a Committee, there will be six different views. That has been my experience. Fortunately, juries do not consist of lawyers. That is the one great safeguard that we all have.

Will my hon. Friend accept from a lawyer that, when the people of Scotland think about the point that was made by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Griffiths) about people in Edinburgh paying £401 for the community charge, they will probably realise that the rate support grant for Scottish local authorities is much higher than in England. Yet, in my authority in west Lancashire, the community charge will be only £215. How will Opposition Members square that when the people of Scotland realise what is going on?

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. That gets to the nub of the matter. I wish to stick to the regulations.

One reason why Opposition Members are so opposed to the legislation is that they know that for the first time the Scottish electorate will be interested in what is going to happen in terms of public expenditure at local level. It is true to say that, in the past, because so few people actually paid rates, the majority were happy to vote for increased expenditure. Of course, one can understand that if one does not have to pay, one will vote for increased expenditure.

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that in my constituency there are droves of people queueing up to sign the petition calling on the Government to stop the poll tax now`? Will the hon. Gentleman take into consideration the fact that throughout Scotland many people are clamouring for the poll tax to be stopped, irrespective of whether they will gain? They see that the poorer sections of our community will suffer dramatically, and they are pleading with the Government to stop the poll tax.

If people want to queue up to stop the poll tax, let them get on with it by all means. There is no such thing as a poll tax; it does not exist. If people seek to stop something that does not exist, it is because they have been misled by the gobbledegook put out by Opposition Members. If people are signing a petition to stop the poll tax, they must be living in another country, because there is no poll tax in Scotland. The hon. Member for Garscadden talks legal definition and clarity and seeks to explain to the people of Scotland why he thinks the legislation is faulty and flawed. Any argument that contains a reference to stopping the poll tax is so flawed it is not true, because it is based on no reality.

If the hon. Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mr. Graham) had said that people were queueing up to stop the community charge, there might be some sense in that. He does not like the community charge, and he might get people to queue up to support his view. I trust that he will accept, though, that I never apologise for my support of the community charge because I believe that it is just and fair. I happily stump around my constituency making observations and comments in its favour, and I do not find my constituents queuing up to sign documents opposing it.

When one of my constituents asks about the poll tax, I give the same answer that I gave the hon. Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde: it does not exist. I point out to my constituents that they have been misled—as the people of Dundee have been misled over Ford—by propaganda put out by the Labour party. The regulations have been misrepresented, and the Scots will realise, as the Dundonians realise, that they have been led up the garden path. We set up the Ford enterprise; the Opposition screwed it up.

Order. I must ask the hon. Gentleman to refer to the regulations.

The Order Paper refers to the setting up of the community charge register, Madam Deputy Speaker—

It does not refer to the screwing up of Dundee. The hon. Gentleman should confine himself to the regulations.

If anything that I have said conveys the impression that the regulations will not screw up Dundee—

Order. I think the hon. Gentleman has gone far enough. This has been a good-humoured debate so far. I should be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would preserve that spirit of good humour and refer to the regulations.

You will recall, Madam Deputy Speaker, that the hon. Member for Garscadden, who opened the debate, dealt with questions of language and complexity. If my language, or complexity, has in any way misled anyone — perhaps I am running true to form — I apologise.

Does my hon. Friend agree that, if the hon. Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mr. Graham) gave a copy of the petition to the community charge registration officer, it would greatly assist that officer in his task?

That may well be the case.

The hon. Member for Garscadden suggested that people would wish to give up their right to vote to avoid paying the community charge. I think that that is a fair interpretation of his remarks. If so, that would be very sad for democracy, because we want all the people to get out and vote. One of the great problems with local democracy has been the poor turnout at local authority elections, but one of the great advantages of the community charge will be that every person aged 18 and over will now have to take a direct and real interest in local government. No one knows how those people will vote, but when they see their money being spent they will certainly want to exercise their democratic right.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. According to "Erskine May", do you have the power at any time, when you know that dozens of other hon. Members wish to speak in a debate lasting one and a half hours, to interrupt an hon. Member who is drivelling on, not addressing himself to the motion, and repeating himself tediously, in the way that the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) is doing? Do you have any power to stop that abuse of the House?

Under Standing Orders, I have power to do that, but at the moment the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) is not repeating himself tediously. However, I remind the House that many hon. Members wish to speak in the debate, and I hope that all hon. Members will make short speeches.

I do not intend to speak at length. I had not intended to do so, but Labour Members intervened and I tried to answer.

I am sure that this is common ground among all hon. Members. We all hope that people will not give up their right to vote in local elections to avoid registering. We hope that people will recognise that voting is an essential part of local democracy. We believe that the community charge will result in greater interest and participation in local democracy. That can only be healthy for it. If greater numbers turn out to vote—no one knows how they will vote—and if they elect councillors who want to spend or who do not want to spend more money, depending on their point of view, that can only be good and healthy for the local community.

I should have thought that everyone would welcome any measure that made people more directly interested in local government. The community charge certainly will. I hope that every 18-year-old will go out and vote.

10.46 pm

Let me reply directly to the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker). The architect of this piece of legislation is the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth), now the Under-Secretary of State. In 1985 he wrote a pamphlet entitled, "The Case for a Poll Tax". —[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman called it a poll tax and the ingredients of the Act are on all fours with what he said in 1985. He gave it the title and we took it up. It is a poll tax, and it is a bloody poll tax.

What are we doing in relation to the regulations tonight?

We are not wasting time. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman has not read it, but let us look at the simplistic document issued by the Government, and what it says about the inquiry form, which will go to every household in Scotland. It states:

"The inquiry form is quite simple. Most people will only be asked :".
The booklet then lists the questions, including
"The name of anyone who may he exempt from the community charge. See page 14 for exemptions."
Page 14—[H0N. MEMBERS: "Can you read?"] Yes, I can read. The hon. Member for Tayside, North might be able to fill in forms, but Conservative Members should look at what people are being asked to disclose. The booklet states:
"Who will be exempt from the community charge? The main exemptions will be for:
  • —long stay hospital patients
  • —people living in nursing homes, residential care homes, and hostels providing a substantial level of care.
  • —severely mentally handicapped people"
Would the hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Forth) disclose a member of his family to anyone knocking at his door as being severely mentally handicapped? That is what people are being asked to put in the public domain. There is not even a proper definition of how people can register as severely mentally handicapped. The list continues:
"—prisoners in custody".
People are being asked to put that in the public domain. If that is not an infringement of individual liberty, I do not know what is. Conservative Members have been brainwashed by the Secretary of State for the Environment and by his simplistic statements of how smoothly the poll tax will operate. However, we have seen some rebellion. The former Leader of the House, who moved the guillotine motion on the poll tax Bill, is now rebelling.

In his pamphlet, the hon. Member for Stirling suggested that Scotland should be the guinea pig. If we are the guinea pig, God help democracy in this country. I have distinct reasons, which I shall not go into, for my repugnance to this measure. If my constituents ask me for guidance about how to fill the forms in I shall tell them to put them in the wastepaper basket.

10.50 pm

Following my hon. Friend's last point, it is a fact that these forms will end up in 1 million dustbins just as certainly as the poll tax will end up in the dustbin of history.

I have no intention of following the gomeril-like filibuster of the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker). The people of Scotland know that the hon. Gentleman's speech is typical of the quality of argument being put forward in support of this heinous legislation. It is despised and rejected by the people of Scotland, as it will come to be despised and rejected by the people of England and Wales, to an extent that is unprecedented with any previous piece of legislation.

I say to the Ministers, the Vichy regime on the Front Bench: go forth and sing the praises of the poll tax. When the poll tax was introduced at the behest of the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) in his little pamphlet in 1985 it commanded 39 per cent. support in Scotland. Since then the Government have issued pamphlets and booklets and have used the entire propaganda machine, but after three years the net consequence is that the poll tax, according to two authoritative polls that have been carried out in the past few weeks, now commands 15 per cent. support in Scotland. The Government have achieved the extraordinary political statistic that 15 per cent. of Scottish Tories want a campaign of non-payment against the poll tax.

I say, quite definitively, that my advice to people receiving the poll tax forms is, when they are asked to provide their date of birth on the forms they should not do so. Every Scot with an ounce of smeddum, when asked to provide their date of birth on the form, will not give it; they will send the forms back without it.

In Committee we had the authority of the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, who said that the date of birth is not needed to administer the poll tax. I believe that the date of birth is needed. If we want to know why we need look no further than the Library and the report commissioned by the Scottish Office from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, which states quite clearly that for the unworkable to be made semi-workable every individual will have to have a community charge personal identifier — which should not be confused with a state ID number—which will follow the person around the country. The question about date of birth is on the form so that that tag can be provided. Nobody in Scotland should fill in their date of birth, because in the English and Welsh legislation it has been clearly stated that there is no need for it.

I do not have the slightest interest in what the hon. Gentleman has to say and I have no intention of giving way. We have heard enough this evening of the quality of debate offered by Conservative Members, who snigger and sneer like overgrown schoolboys and neither know nor care about what they have imposed on people throughout the country with the poll tax. Some of the Conservative clowns had the temerity to laugh when my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) talked about the mentally handicapped.

One of the wickednesses of the legislation is that the Government, in their great magnanimity, have agreed to exempt the severely mentally handicapped—a category of people that apparently exists for no other purpose in society — from the poll tax. To display their civic backbone, the merely mentally handicapped must pay up like everyone else.

I wonder whether Conservative Members know what is involved in being defined as severely mentally handicapped for the purposes of the legislation? If they examine the legislation that they are nodding through, they will find that mentally handicapped people are to be taken to a general practitioner to be certified as severely mentally handicapped. There will be no reprieve for the physically handicapped, no matter how severely handicapped they are. Does the hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Forth) approve of the fact that they will not be exempted?

I see no distinction between those who claim benefit from the state and must establish the basis for that claim and what is proposed in the regulations. Why the hon. Gentleman is getting so exercised about this part of the argument when, presumably for a long time, he has accepted that people who come to claim state benefits from the taxpayer must reasonably establish their claim, is beyond me.

As usual, when the hon. Gentleman attempts to be rational he digs himself deeper into a trough. The definition of severely mentally handicapped for the purposes of the poll tax is not the same as any definition for social security purposes. Furthermore, the caring relative of a person in this category will have imposed on him or her the indignity of taking that person along to a general practitioner to have him certified as severely mentally handicapped. That is the only way in which a person can be removed from the register.

We heard enough last week in Committee from the hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Devlin), who maintained that the physically and mentally handicapped should certainly pay the poll tax because they use local government services.

Tonight, the lie that there is no connection between the electoral register and the poll tax register stands exposed. The information from the electoral register will be put on the poll tax registration forms even before they go out. The hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) is a hypocrite to wring his hands and say that it is desirable that everyone should vote. Every Conservative Member knows that one of the by-products of the legislation that the Government relish is that many poor people, and footloose young people, will he deterred from registering to vote because they know or hope that that is one way of staying off the electoral register—

The hon. Gentleman is now giving the lie to the real position, which is that many people are being misled into de-registering for voting because his hon. Friends tell them—wrongly—that there is an association between voting and the payment of the community charge. Opposition Members must take the blame for that.

When Conservative Members are given a fig leaf behind which to hide, they gratefully accept it. The hon. Gentleman's remarks were the antithesis of the truth, which comes as no surprise. I know of no Opposition Member who has told anyone not to register for the vote in order to avoid the poll tax. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]

No.

Conservative Members reveal their ignorance when they point at my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West. I do not agree with some of the things that my hon. Friend has said about how to react to the poll tax, but he has never told people not to register to vote. People who know anything about it — a category that excludes almost every Conservative Member who will nod these regulations through—know that people will not escape the poll tax by not registering to vote.

The one defence against the poll tax and all the other legislation perpetrated by the Government is to retain the right to vote. The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy report tells anyone who cares to read it that in order to compile a poll tax register, access to every list of names in this society, in both private and public hands, will be needed to keep the register going. Anyone who thinks he can stay off the poll tax register by staying off the electoral register is severely underestimating the cunning and determination of the Government to impinge upon individual civil liberties.

I can think of few people that I would be less likely to give way to than the hon. Gentleman.

The statistics of the poll tax legislation are clear. Support for the poll tax in Scotland stands at 15 per cent., and opposition to it in England and Wales already stands at 70 per cent. The poll tax is the rock on which the Government will founder if they push it through. I am certain that there is a straightforward progression. The more people know about the poll tax, the more they turn again against it. The Government will blunder through the regulations and people will receive those incomprehensible forms. There is no doubt that a large number of the forms will be sent back — as they should be sent back. They insult the intelligence of the people of Scotland and the democracy for which people have voted.

In time, the process will be repeated in England and Wales. Conservative Members who intend to vote for these regulations should have the decency to read them and to look at the overall pattern of what they are supporting. I wonder how many Conservative Members took the trouble to go to the Library to read about the rebate system proposed by the poll tax legislation. How many of them know how this will hit the poorest people in our society? How many of them care? The answer is precious few. In their greedy little eyes this is another piece of legislation that will deliberately and shamelessly transfer wealth from those who have least to those who have most. That is not an accident; it is the purpose of the poll tax legislation. Any Conservative Member with an ounce of guts would vote against the regulations.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I did not want to interrupt my hon. Friend the Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) during his excellent defence of the rights of severely mentally handicapped people. During the course of his argument he effectively asked how one qualifies under the exemption clause as severely mentally handicapped. A Tory Member replied quite clearly and said, "By representing Cunninghame, North." I do not know the hon. Gentleman's name, but it is the character who sat with a leer on his face in the back seat next to the Door. It would be in order for him to withdraw his remark.

Order. Will the hon. Gentleman come to his point of order? We have very little time left.

I am asking you, Madam Deputy Speaker, to ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw what he said, because it is an insult to my hon. Friend, to the severely mentally handicapped, and to—

Order. I assure the hon. Gentleman that if I had heard the remark I would have been the first to rise to my feet to insist on a withdrawal. I did not hear it. [Interruption.] Order. Let us get on with the debate. I call Mr. Marshall.

11.47 pm

It is sometimes suggested that those of us who represent English constituencies should not speak in Scottish debates. May I tell the House that I am a former Aberdeen town councillor? It is pleasant to see in the House the hon. Member for Oldham, Central and Royton (Mr. Lamond) who was also an Aberdeen town councillor at that time. I am also a former parliamentary candidate for Dundee, East. It is with regret that I have noted what has happened in Dundee under the aegis of the Labour party, both recently and over a number of years.

I listened with some interest to the speeches of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) and for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson). In those two speeches there was a suggestion that some people were not registering to vote because they did not want to pay the community charge. Those who do not register to vote because they are frightened about the community charge are cheats on society, because they want to have the benefit of local government services without paying directly for the costs of those services.

Is the hon. Gentleman alleging that the right to vote is determined by the necessity to register for the poll tax?

No, I am not. The hon. Gentleman and his friends are alleging that some people are not registering to vote because they do not want to pay the community charge. Those who refuse to register for that reason are nothing but nasty little cheats. Opposition Members may laugh, but these individuals are cheats on society. They are seeking to get the benefit of local government services without paying directly for the costs of them. That is quite unfair.

Opposition Members have told us that nobody wants this tax. That is the cynical view that leads a cynic to say:
"To tax and to please, no more than to love and to be wise, is not given to men."
That is not true. Everyone knows that the community charge is a fairer system of raising local government taxation than the current system of rates. For example, the vast bulk of single-parent families will pay less in community charge than they pay in rates.

That is a fact, and the hon. Gentleman should know it. The vast majority of single pensioners will pay less under the community charge than they do under the rates system.

The hon. Gentleman shouts, "Rubbish." Unfortunately, that is a summation of the hon. Gentleman's view of this and most other subjects.

The only people who do not want the community charge are high-spending Labour councillors. The Labour party does not want the community charge because it knows that it will catch them out. The community charge payers will compare the community charges across Scotland, and will find—

Is not the important principle about these forms one that the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) pointed out—that if Labour Members advise their constituents to break the law by throwing away the forms, they must bear in mind that the only way that democracy can work is by obeying the law? Opposition Members, and the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West, must bear in mind that if they were to advocate disobeying the law, we could also advise disobedience of Socialist laws, and then there would be

My hon. Friend is right. Selective obedience of the law is a recipe for anarchy.

I shall come to the hon. Gentleman's speech in a moment.

When the Labour Government introduced the selective employment tax, Conservative Members said that it was a bad tax, and one that would hit Scotland and generate unemployment there. We told the taxpayers of Scotland to obey the law. Otherwise, we would have had a recipe for anarchy and chaos in this country.

Some hon. Members do not like the community charge because it will find them out and it will find out Labour councillors. The community charge will be at its highest in Labour councils. I have no doubt that when the community charge is in being—

Order. The hon. Gentleman is straying far from the regulations. I wish that he would come back to them and wind up his comments.

I apologise, Madam Deputy Speaker. I was going as wide as some other speakers who have taken part in the debate and I am sorry that I have followed their transgressions.

I wish to make one further comment with regard to the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas). The hon. Gentleman suggested that he would advise his constituents to throw into the wastepaper basket the forms concerning the community charge. That is a disgraceful piece of advice. How many of us would advise a constituent, given a form by the Inland Revenue, to tear it up?

I stand by that advice, because the form asks my constituents to disclose elements of their private lives about which no Government or hon. Members should ask. That information should not be put into the public domain in this form. The income tax form is highly confidential and the information given in it is circumscribed by a great deal of custom law and statute law. That is not the case with regard to the community charge. We are asked to put into the public domain highly sensitive material. The difference between the income tax law and this piece of legislation is that, in this case, one individual in a household is asked to disclose information for everyone else in the household. That is not the case in income tax law. Indeed, the Chancellor took the—

I was interested to note that the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West went on to talk about income tax law and said that the head of the household was not asked to divulge information about the rest of the household. That is still the case. It is only as a result of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor's Budget that there will be separate taxation of man and wife. I should like to thank the hon. Gentleman for giving me the chance to point out that a Conservative Chancellor has produced that change.

I want to point out to the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West what the consequence would be if his advice were carried out. What would happen in his borough if 10 per cent. of community charge payers tore up their forms and threw them into the wastepaper basket? The consequence would be very simple. The hon. Gentleman's borough council would be able to raise less money than it would otherwise be able to raise.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Would you not agree that it is outrageous that Conservative Members are voting on this legislation when they do not even know anything about the way in which Scottish local authorities are organised and have not tried to inform themselves about it? They are engaging in deliberate time-wasting and buffoonery, and the people of Scotland will note with bitter amusement that this was the best the Government could do to defend this legislation.

The hon. Member for Hendon, South has spoken at length. I am watching the clock.

I am coming to the end of my speech. I have had one or two interruptions, which I did not ask for, but to which I was courteous enough to reply.

If the community charge payers of Dunfermline follow the advice of their Member of Parliament, their council will provide a lower level of service than it would otherwise provide.

If the community charge payers in Scotland listen to the advice of those in the Labour party who say, "Do not pay the community charge," the result will be redundancies in local government. I advise the Labour party to look at what happened in Liverpool where, as a result of eventual financial sanity, there were redundancies in local government. That will also happen in Scotland if people do not pay the community charge.

I ask the House to support the Government.

11.15 pm

Unlike the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall) I should like to address my comments to the registration regulations.

I believe that the regulations present a major threat to civil liberties because they allow the registration officer and local authority poll tax canvassers to become snoopers. They will pry into people's private lives to keep the register correct and up to date. They will try to keep track of those entering and leaving the district to find out who is living where, when and for how long.

Date of birth has already been mentioned and I hope that the Minister will assure the House that it will not be included in that part of the register that is open to public scrutiny. I do not understand why that information has to be on the register and I hope that it will not be in the public domain; otherwise, unscrupulous people will be able to identify the very elderly or young, single women living alone. The Minister should make clear exactly what information will be placed in the public domain, what is private and what information is eligible to be sold.

The registration officers will run into enormous problems when issuing inquiry forms to so-called responsible persons. In the Abolition of Domestic Rates Etc. (Scotland) Act 1987, there is no obligation on the registration officer to designate a responsible person. In many shared flats and houses, such a responsibility may impose a burden on an individual who may not be in a position to fulfil the obligations. How will such a person be designated when husbands and wives are joint owners of houses?

I hate to think what will happen in student flats and houses. Often students are arbitrarily thrown together in university accommodation — they are not necessarily friends. I am aware of the trouble that can arise when they argue about paying the gas and electricity bills. They end up not talking to each other, so heaven knows what will happen when they have to pay the poll tax. The concept of responsible persons goes against the spirit of the Bill, which is about everyone being responsible for him or herself.

The restriction on social work and employment files is not enough. The gathering of information restrictions should also cover that information that local authorities hold on, for example, child care or mental health files. The regulations should specify that local authorities should not furnish any personal information about an individual without their permission. The implication of regulation of 11(a) is that, as soon as an individual approaches a social work department, their name and address will be passedon to the registration officer.

I am glad that the Government have recognised that certain political refugees and others at risk from violence—also, presumably, MI5 "safe houses" — may make representations to be removed from the public register. Surely there should be a question on the registration form to alert the registration officer to the need to keep the name secret to avoid bureaucratic bungling and so on. If the registration officer holds a list, of people who are removed from the public list, will all the registration officers be required to be positively vetted? I hope that the Minister will answer that question.

I know that you want us to be brief, Madam Deputy Speaker so I will bring my remarks to an end. The regulations show a complete lack of concern for the rights of individuals, for the poor and for the most vulnerable in our society. It is a centralising document which paves the way to the 1984 state. The least able to pay will be most affected by the costs of the poll tax and they will be threatened by its implementation. The poll tax attacks the poor and the weak. It also attacks the Church in Scotland and the crofting community.

In the final analysis the regulations once again point the finger at an unfair, regressive tax because that tax is not based on the ability to pay. It is a poll tax and in Scotland it is known as a Tory tax. The only good thing about it is that in the end the Conservative Government will reap what they sow.

11.20 pm

I was Chairman of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments which produced the 18th report. I should explain that only a very small proportion of the 2,000 statutory instruments that we examine every year are reported. We are advised by the Counsel to Mr. Speaker, so the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments receives entirely independent and objective advice.

As the Committee was established to safeguard and warn the House when abuses are being committed by a Minister, there is, equally, great responsibility on a Secretary of State not to use the powers by putting through legislation that is beyond the powers which the primary legislation has given him. We claim in the 18th report—there was a Conservative majority of both Houses on the Committee — that there is a strong case that the regulations that we are discussing tonight are beyond the powers that this House gave to the Secretary of State for Scotland.

I want to refer to another relatively minor matter because several hon. Members have raised it tonight. Reference has been made to the forms that are to be issued as if that was a trivial matter. Under schedule 4, the regulations sub-delegate powers to the registration officer and grant him or her virtually unfettered powers to ask any questions that he or she wants. The Scottish Office refers to section 12(2)(b) and states that the questions will be qualified by that section. However, the 18th report of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments refutes that. Therefore, in a very important area, there is clear sub-delegation to a civil servant effectively to make the law. I do not believe that the House approved that idea when it approved the original legislation.

My next and most important point in this respect is that the regulations suggest that the registration officer can ask for documents. That is not a minor or trivial matter. Reference has been made to dates of birth. Will the registration officer ask for birth certificates? From the regulations, it appears that he has the right to do that. However, as the 18th report states, there is no evidence in the primary legislation and no sign in the regulations that the registration officer has any power to ask for those documents. If he receives the documents under the terms of the primary legislation, the documents are transferred to this ownership because the primary legislation refers to giving information. In addition to the other burdens that this snoopers' charter places on the citizen, the citizen may find himself burdened with the cost of replacing birth certificates, deeds, leases and so on.

These are not trivial matters. The regulations go to the root of the poll tax. It is said that they provide a civil penalty, but they virtually impose criminal sanctions. The Secretary of State has a responsibility to make the regulations clear beyond peradventure, and he has failed to discharge it. It is not good enough for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to talk about going to court. Why should tenants' organisations and ordinary citizens be forced to go down that expensive road when we in Parliament have a duty and an obligation — especially the Secretary of State—to make legislation as clear as it is humanly possible to achieve? The Secretary of State has failed on this occasion, and the Committee drew attention to his failure. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has failed the House and he has failed the people.

11.26 pm

I shall advance five reasons why the people of Scotland are entitled to send back any form that they receive from the registration officer under the regulations.

First, regulation 12 makes it clear that the registration officer will hold on magnetic tape a wide range of information on members of the public such as we have not known in Britain hitherto. In addition to our ID tag numbers, the information will include the type of charge that is payable, which will identify who is in the property, joint and several liability, students who are in residence, and those who are physically handicapped. Under regulation 16, this information is for sale. Someone with enough money could buy a complete picture of any household in Scotland. For that reason I believe that the people of Scotland are entitled to send back the form to stop snoopers and those who wish to buy information.

Secondly, under regulation 15, although the register is open for public viewing, some concession has been made towards those who operate refuges for battered women, but only if they are managed by a voluntary organisation. What is the position of premises that are managed by a council or an association? The women will be exposed to anyone who wants to examine the register. I believe that they will be entitled to return the form.

Thirdly, schedule 2 sets out the procedure where the register is to be amended. One of the circumstances when an amendment is necessary is when a person dies. Under section 15 of the Act, it will be necessary for the registration officer to send a form to a dead person. That is inhumane and insensitive, but that is what the regulations provide. Those who have been recently bereaved will be receiving a form from the registrar. The Government should pay some attention to that.

Schedule 3 sets out the regulations that provide for the forms that will fall through the letter boxes of houses in Scotland during the next week or so. They are incomprehensible. For many, the dense type will be unreadable. Those reasons are sufficient in themselves to entitle everyone who receives a form to return it. If an individual does not understand what is required of him or her, surely the Minister will accept that he is entitled to return the form and ask for an explanation.

The definition of a "responsible person" is in section 17(6) of the Act. The subsection states that if
"the premises are not occupied by the owner or by a tenant, the owner"
or any tenant who has a lease of the premises
"of 12 months or more"
is the "responsible person". The subsection provides that any other person may be designated to be the "responsible person". If that is done, the designated person must be notified of the designation and that person has the right of appeal. There is right of appeal to the sheriff.

How is an ordinary member of the public supposed to understand that? How many people in the United Kingdom, let alone Scotland, have a handy companion volume of the Abolition of Domestic Rates Etc. (Scotland) Act and the accompanying regulations so that they can interpret that which is required of them?

I hope that when the Minister replies he will agree with me—I hope that he will listen just for once — that if someone does not understand the form he will be entitled to return it without question. Does he agree with me that the regulations are drawn in such a disgraceful manner that members of the public are entitled to return the forms without further question?

Schedule 4 is quite draconian. It purports to allow a registration officer to send out a form to anyone in Scotland and ask whatever he wants. That is a gross infringement of civil liberties, and quite unacceptable. It represents the fifth reason why those who receive such a form should be entitled to send it back, and I believe that they would have the support of the vast majority of people in Scotland.

This evening's debate, truncated as it is, represents the tragedy of Scotland. The only voices in favour of the regulations have been those of people who are completely uninterested in what goes on there. They will be interested in the next 12 months: they will be interested when the regulations apply to them

The regulations impose powers unheard of in this country—powers that, if they had been imposed during the occupation of the continent during the war years, would have been opposed. People in Scotland must be quite clear about this: if they disagree with the poll tax, or do not understand what is required of them, they must send the forms back without question. If they do so, they will have universal support.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Scottish National party is the only Scottish political party that has not been allowed to make a contribution to tonight's debate, but it certainly wishes to make its contribution. It is disgraceful that longwinded interventions by hon. Members from English constituencies have prevented Scottish Members from making their contributions. May we seek the protection of the Chair to prevent this from happening on future occasions?

I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. Unfortunately, the debate has been a short one. The length of speeches and interventions is not in the hands of the Chair. I regret that it has not been possible tonight to call a number of hon. Members who I know wished to comment.

11.31 pm

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) and his hon. Friends have tried hard to imply how deeply unpopular is the community charge in Scotland and how much concern there is about it. When my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State met the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities last Friday, the issue did not arise once in over half an hour of questioning. That, I think, is a measure of the concern in COSLA. I prefer the approach of my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker), who, in a realistic and perceptive speech, recognised the merits of the community charge and the greater accountability that it will bring.

The hon. Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mr. Graham), in a telling intervention, asked what was the point of all the petitions that he and his hon. Friends have been submitting. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Devlin) pointed out, they could be a useful source of names and addresses for the community charge registration officer.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling) and others have talked about the Labour party's secret weapon of gumming up the works of the community charge registration officer by returning forms to him with real or bogus queries. The concept of responsible persons is not so very complex or difficult. It may help the Opposition if I say a word about the identification of responsible persons, which has been the subject of much ill-informed and mischievous comment.

In the vast majority of cases, it will be entirely clear who is the responsible person. He or she is the owner-occupier, or tenant-occupier, of the premises—usually the present rateable occupier or, as it used to be, the head of the household.

Is the Minister saying that from now on the names and addresses on petitions will be used for purposes of gathering the poll tax?

That is broadly what I suggested.

In the vast majority of cases — over 80 per cent., according to some community charge registration officers —it will be quite clear who is the responsible person; it will not be a matter for decision. Owner-occupiers and tenant-occupiers are clearly identified in the Act as responsible persons, and there is no need for any appeal mechanism. In the limited number of cases in which the responsible person is not automatically identified, the provision exists for agreeing with the community charge registration officer, or, if necessary, the provision for designation by him.

The Minister used a strange phrase. He said that in many cases there should be no right of appeal. There is a right of appeal. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will answer the specific question which I asked him: when does that occur? Does it occur after the issue of the form as it appears in schedule 3, or at some later stage?

I think that the hon. Gentleman misheard me. I said that there is no need for any appeal mechanism. In many cases—[Interruption.]—it is automatic. There is provision for an appeal, but there is no need for it in that situation. On the hon. Gentleman's specific question as to when the time scale for appeal under section 17(9) against designation becomes effective, the answer is, at designation.

It does not help to say, "at designation." I shall rephrase the question: does the arrival in someone's house of the form which is set out in schedule 3 amount to designation, and does the right of appeal—if there is a wish to exercise it—arise at that point?

The right of appeal arises within a period of 28 days from the time when the designation is made by the community charge registration officer, when the form is issued by him, either by post or by hand.

The hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) asked about information on exemptions being in the public domain. The hon. Gentleman's comments about prisoners and the severely mentally handicapped were equally applicable to the electoral register. The concept is similar to the compilation of the census and the completion of income tax forms. Information about exempted people will not appear either in the full register or in the parts of the register available to the public.

The community charge register will record each individual's date of birth so that there can be no doubt about people's identity when there are several names for one address. For the internal purposes of a local authority, the system may generate reference numbers—

Order. The Minister has made it clear that he is not giving way.

For the internal purposes of a local authority, the system may generate reference numbers for each individual, but they will not be numbers that a person is required to memorise or to quote when he moves from one authority's area to another; nor will identity cards be issued. I am happy to reassure the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Mrs. Michie) that the dates of birth will not be on the public part of the register. Only the names and addresses and the community charge multiplier, except for women's refuges, will be on the public part. We are considering whether any further restrictions should be placed on the public information.

Hon. Members have referred to the place of the electoral register in respect of the community charge register. In contrast to some prophecies of doom, the actual drop in the number of names on the electoral register has been very small—less than 1 per cent. on the 1987 register. A number of factors could account for that, including scaremongering by the Labour party about the community charge system. As yet, it is too early to say what part of the reduction might be attributed to any of those factors.

The electoral register is a public document, available to anyone for any purpose. It will, of course, be available to the community charge registration officer when he makes up the community charge register, but it will not be a primary source of information. The 1988 register will be out of date anyway by the time the community charge register is made up.

I shall not give way. I have only five minutes left.

The hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) said that no Opposition Member had told people that the community charge register would affect their right to vote. I have a leaflet issued by the "Stop It" poll tax campaign, of which I understand the hon. Gentleman is chairman, which says:
"The only way to avoid paying is to give up your right to vote!"

I would certainly be interested to look at that leaflet. [Interruption.] The Minister, deliberately or accidentally, has misled the House. The words at the top of that leaflet and, I suspect, the address at the bottom of it have nothing to do with the "Stop It" campaign. An important point was lost in his flow of gobbledegook—[Interruption.] As I understand it, the Minister said that dates of birth were to be used in the compilation of a number. Will he explain why that is the case when the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment said quite specifically that no such system is needed for the legislation for England and Wales? Who is misleading the House?

It is really rather touching to see how keen Scottish Labour Members are that Scottish legislation should be brought into line with English legislation. It so happens that the two Acts differ in that respect.

I shall be happy to show the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North the document from which he is so anxious to depart. It bears the logo of the "Stop It" poll tax campaign.

I have another document which states:
"There is a country where the right to vote was won after years of long and hitter struggle. The present Government wants to change that right."
That is totally and blatantly untrue. That document is published by the Labour party. I invite the hon. Gentleman to stand up and disown the document.

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. If he looks at the documents produced by the Labour party in Scotland, he will find that they are entirely accurate on all those points.

Is the Minister genuinely holding to his point about there being no reliance on the electoral roll? I have a guidance note for staff, issued by the Strathclyde regional council, which, when referring to the inquiry form that is to be sent out under schedule 3, says:
"In the first issue in the spring and early summer of 1988 the names of householders and persons believed to be resident at the premises will be extracted from the electoral register and pre-printed on the forms."
It is quite clear that the electoral register will be used for that purpose.

I knew that I should not have given way to the hon. Gentleman. I gave him the opportunity to disown this document, which says:

"The present Government wants to change that right"—
referring to the right to vote. The hon. Gentleman has not taken the opportunity to withdraw that.

The way in which the Opposition parties are flirting with lawlessness over the introduction of the community charge represents the height of irresponsibility.

It being one and a half hours after the motion was entered upon, MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to the order [25 March].

The House divided: Ayes 211, Noes 301.

Division No. 236]

[11.43 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms DianeFoulkes, George
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Fraser, John
Allen, GrahamFyfe, Maria
Alton, DavidGalbraith, Sam
Archer, Rt Hon PeterGarrett, John (Norwich South)
Armstrong, HilaryGarrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Ashdown, PaddyGodman, Dr Norman A.
Ashley, Rt Hon JackGolding, Mrs Llin
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Gordon, Mildred
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Gould, Bryan
Barron, KevinGraham, Thomas
Battle, JohnGriffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Beckett, MargaretGrocott, Bruce
Benn, Rt Hon TonyHardy, Peter
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Harman, Ms Harriet
Bermingham, GeraldHattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Bidwell, SydneyHaynes, Frank
Blair, TonyHealey, Rt Hon Denis
Boyes, RolandHeffer, Eric S.
Bradley, KeithHenderson, Doug
Bray, Dr JeremyHinchliffe, David
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)Holland, Stuart
Buchan, NormanHome Robertson, John
Buckley, George J.Hood, Jimmy
Caborn, RichardHowarth, George (Knowsley N)
Callaghan, JimHowell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Canavan, DennisHughes, Simon (Southwark)
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)Illsley, Eric
Cartwright, JohnJanner, Greville
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)John, Brynmor
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)Johnston, Sir Russell
Clay, BobJones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Clelland, DavidKaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Clwyd, Mrs AnnKinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Coleman, DonaldLambie, David
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Lamond, James
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Leadbitter, Ted
Corbett, RobinLestor, Joan (Eccles)
Corbyn, JeremyLewis, Terry
Cox, TomLitherland, Robert
Cryer, BobLivsey, Richard
Cummings, JohnLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Cunliffe, LawrenceLofthouse, Geoffrey
Dalyell, TamLoyden, Eddie
Darling, AlistairMcAllion, John
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)McAvoy, Thomas
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)McCartney, Ian
Dewar, DonaldMacdonald, Calum A.
Dixon, DonMcFall, John
Dobson, FrankMcKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Doran, FrankMcKelvey, William
Douglas, DickMcLeish, Henry
Duffy, A. E. P.McNamara, Kevin
Dunnachie, JimmyMcTaggart, Bob
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs GwynethMcWilliam, John
Eastham, KenMadden, Max
Evans, John (St Helens N)Marek, Dr John
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Fatchett, DerekMartin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Faulds, AndrewMaxton, John
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)Meacher, Michael
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)Meale, Alan
Fisher, MarkMichael, Alun
Flannery, MartinMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Flynn, PaulMichie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelMillan, Rt Hon Bruce
Foster, DerekMitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)

NOES

Moonie, Dr LewisSkinner, Dennis
Morgan, RhodriSmith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Mowlam, MarjorieSmith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds)
Mullin, ChrisSnape, Peter
Murphy, PaulSoley, Clive
Nellist, DaveSpearing, Nigel
Oakes, Rt Hon GordonSteel, Rt Hon David
O'Brien, WilliamSteinberg, Gerry
O'Neill, MartinStott, Roger
Orme, Rt Hon StanleyStrang, Gavin
Patchett, TerryStraw, Jack
Pendry, TomTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbur)
Pike, Peter L.Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Powell, Ray (Ogmore)Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Prescott, JohnTurner, Dennis
Primarolo, DawnWall, Pat
Quin, Ms JoyceWallace, James
Radice, GilesWalley, Joan
Randall, StuartWarden, Gareth (Gower)
Redmond, MartinWareing, Robert N.
Rees, Rt Hon MerlynWelsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Reid, Dr JohnWelsh, Michael (Doncaster)
Richardson, JoWilliams, Rt Hon Alan
Robertson, GeorgeWilliams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Robinson, GeoffreyWilson, Brian
Rogers, AllanWinnick, David
Rooker, JeffWise, Mrs Audrey
Rowlands, TedWorthington, Tony
Ruddock, JoanWray, Jimmy
Salmond, AlexYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, BarryTellers for the Ayes:
Sheldon, Rt Hon RobertMr. Adam Ingram and
Shore, Rt Hon PeterMr. Nigel Griffiths.
Short, Clare

NOES

Aitken, JonathanButler, Chris
Alexander, RichardButterfill, John
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelCarlisle, John, (Luton N)
Allason, RupertCarlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Amess, DavidCarrington, Matthew
Amos, AlanCarttiss, Michael
Arbuthnot, JamesCash, William
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Ashby, DavidChapman, Sydney
Atkins, RobertChope, Christopher
Atkinson, DavidChurchill, Mr
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Baldry, TonyClark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Batiste, SpencerColvin, Michael
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyCoombs, Anthony (Wyre F'REST)
Bellingham, HenryCope, John
Bendall, VivianCouchman, James
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bevan, David GilroyCurry, David
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnDavies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Blackburn, Dr John G.Davis, David (Boothferry)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterDay, Stephen
Bonsor, Sir NicholasDevlin, Tim
Bottomley, PeterDickens, Geoffrey
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaDorrell, Stephen
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Dover, Den
Bowis, JohnDunn, Bob
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir RhodesDurant, Tony
Brandon-Bravo, MartinEggar, Tim
Brazier, JulianEmery, Sir Peter
Bright, GrahamEvans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Brittan, Rt Hon LeonFallon, Michael
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterFarr, Sir John
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)Favell, Tony
Buck, Sir AntonyFenner, Dame Peggy
Burns, SimonField, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Burt, AlistairFinsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Butcher, JohnForman, Nigel

Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Lilley, Peter
Forth, EricLloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanLord, Michael
Fox, Sir MarcusLuce, Rt Hon Richard
Franks, CecilLyell, Sir Nicholas
Freeman, RogerMcCrindle, Robert
French, DouglasMacfarlane, Sir Neil
Fry, PeterMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Gale, RogerMaclean, David
Gardiner, GeorgeMcLoughlin, Patrick
Glyn, Dr AlanMcNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Goodlad, AlastairMcNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesMadel, David
Gorman, Mrs TeresaMajor, Rt Hon John
Gorst, JohnMalins, Humfrey
Gow, IanMans, Keith
Gower, Sir RaymondMaples, John
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)Marland, Paul
Green way, Harry (Ealing N)Marlow, Tony
Greenway, John (Ryedale)Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Gregory, ConalMarshall, Michael (Arundel)
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Mates, Michael
Grist, IanMaude, Hon Francis
Grylls, MichaelMayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynMellor, David
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)Miller, Hal
Hampson, Dr KeithMills, Iain
Hanley, JeremyMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hannam, JohnMitchell, David (Hants NW)
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Moate, Roger
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)Monro, Sir Hector
Harris, DavidMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Haselhurst, AlanMoore, Rt Hon John
Hawkins, ChristopherMorris, M (N'hampton S)
Hayes, JerryMorrison, Hon P (Chester)
Hayward, RobertMoss, Malcolm
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidMoynihan, Hon Colin
Heddle, JohnNeale, Gerrard
Heseltine, Rt Hon MichaelNelson, Anthony
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)Neubert, Michael
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Hill, JamesNicholls, Patrick
Hind, KennethNicholson, David (Taunton)
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Holt, RichardOnslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Hordern, Sir PeterOppenheim, Phillip
Howard, MichaelPage, Richard
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)Patnick, Irvine
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)Patten, Chris (Bath)
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)Patten, John (Oxford W)
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Pawsey, James
Hunt, David (Wirral W)Porter, David (Waveney)
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)Portillo, Michael
Hunter, AndrewPowell, William (Corby)
Hurd, Rt Hon DouglasPrice, Sir David
Irvine, MichaelRaffan, Keith
Jack, MichaelRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
Jackson, RobertRathbone, Tim
Janman, TimRedwood, John
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyRenton, Tim
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Riddick, Graham
Jones, Robert B (Herts W)Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelRidsdale, Sir Julian
Kellett-Bowman, Dame ElaineRifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Kirkhope, TimothyRoe, Mrs Marion
Knapman, RogerRossi, Sir Hugh
Knight, Greg (Derby North)Rost, Peter
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Rowe, Andrew
Knowles, MichaelRumbold, Mrs Angela
Lamont, Rt Hon NormanRyder, Richard
Lang, IanSackville, Hon Tom
Latham, MichaelSainsbury, Hon Tim
Lawrence, IvanSayeed, Jonathan
Lee, John (Pendle)Scott, Nicholas
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Shaw, David (Dover)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lightbown, DavidShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')

Shelton, William (Streatham)Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Shephard, Mrs G (Norfolk SW)Tracey, Richard
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Tredinnick, David
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)Trippier, David
Shersby, MichaelTrotter, Neville
Sims, RogerTwinn, Dr Ian
Skeet, Sir TrevorWaddington, Rt Hon David
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Waldegrave, Hon William
Soames, Hon NicholasWalden, George
Speed, KeithWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Speller, TonyWaller, Gary
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)Walters, Dennis
Stanbrook, IvorWard, John
Steen, AnthonyWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Stern, MichaelWatts, John
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)Wells, Bowen
Stewart, Ian (Hertfordshire N)Wheeler, John
Stokes, JohnWhitney, Ray
Stradling Thomas, Sir JohnWiddecombe, Ann
Sumberg, DavidWilkinson, John
Summerson, HugoWilshire, David
Tapsell, Sir PeterWolfson, Mark
Taylor, Ian (Esher)Wood, Timothy
Taylor, John M (Solihull)Woodcock, Mike
Tebbit, Rt Hon NormanYeo, Tim
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)Tellers for the Ayes
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)Mr. Robert Boscawen and
Thornton, MalcolmMr. Tristan Garel-Jones.

Question accordingly negatived.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. During the Division, the Minister of State was good enough to show me the leaflet that he mentioned towards the end of his speech. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will now want to inform the House that the leaflet is clearly marked as being published by the Morning Star youth campaign. I am sure that he will regard it as a point of honour, as well as a point of order, to make it clear that he sought to mislead the House.

No breach of order of the House has been committed and we cannot go back on the debate. We must now move on.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I accept your ruling, but if it is not a matter for the Chair, I think that the House will agree that it is a matter for the conventions, practice and honour of the House that it becomes a problem and a task for the Minister. If it is not your duty, Madam Deputy Speaker, it is certainly the hon. Gentleman's duty and responsibility. Will you give him a moment to make the necessary apology?

We cannot go back on the debate, unless the Minister wants to make a personal statement.

The House will recall that at Scottish Question Time last week, I quoted from the leaflet. I said that it bore the logos of the "Stop It" campaign and the Morning Star. The hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) had an opportunity to check the matter and repudiate the leaflet if he wished. Tonight he seeks to take the view that his organisation's name has been taken in vain. If he wishes to repudiate the Morning Star and attribute all the rubbish on the leaflet to it, I shall be happy to hear that from him.

Order. There is no way that I shall reopen the debate. We now have a petition.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. May I appeal to my colleagues not to expect the Minister to rise above the level to which he is accustomed? We are asking far too much of the Minister and should not—

Order. These points of order are now becoming an abuse of the House. The point has properly been made. Mr. Peter Shore. Petition.

I believe that it is. We have had a statement, properly, from the Minister. Some of us believe that that statement is quite untrue in intention—

Order. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will resume his seat.

No breach of order of the House has been committed. I have allowed points of order, which are bogus. We cannot resume a debate that has finished.