§ Mr. Stratton Mills
I beg to move, Amendment No. 20, in page 3, line 5, leave out paragraphs 1 to 3 and insert—A Committee of the House of Commons consisting of all Members of Parliament for Northern Ireland shall consider all Orders in 683 Council under section 1(3) of this Act and any proposals to make regulations under section 1(3) of the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act (Northern Ireland) 1922T.
§ The Second Deputy Chairman (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu)
With this Amendment it will be convenient to discuss also the following Amendments:
§ No. 21, in page 3, line 5, leave out paragraph 1.
§ No. 22, in line 7, leave out 'and assistance'.
§ No. 23, in line 9, leave out from 'them' to end of sub-paragraph (i).
No. 24, in line 12, after 'advice' insert
'and also to the Members of Parliament representing Northern Ireland'.
No. 28, in line 16, leave out from first 'of' to end of line 20 and insert
'the elected Members of the Parliament of Northern Ireland'.
§ No. 31, in line 29, leave out sub-paragraph 5.
No. 32, in line 31, leave out from 'allowances' to end of line 32 and insert
'as would normally be paid to members of Commissions by the Northern Ireland Ministry of Finance'.
§ Mr. Stratton Mills
Amendment No. 20 is probably one of the most important Amendments we have to deal with. It is fundamental to the whole scheme of government which is being introduced by the Bill. I regret that it comes at a very late hour. Nevertheless I make no apology for outlining the relevant arguments.
The effect of the Amendment would be to remove the Northern Ireland Commission from the Bill and put in its place a Select Committee of Northern Ireland Members of Parliament from all the constituencies of Northern Ireland in the House of Commons.
I outline my basic objections to the Commission. I appreciate that while the ultimate power will rest with the Secretary of State, the Commission will take on the rôle and function of acting as the voice of the people of Northern Ireland and replacing a democratically elected Parliament. But the Commission is not a democratically elected body but a body appointed by the Secretary of State. Its functions are twofold. Let us first examine its general advisory powers. Presumably 684 it could be asked to advise the Secretary of State on all matters relating to security. This is a vast area. But the Secretary of State will be being advised on this issue by a body which will not be responsible to an electorate and which will not have been elected by the people of Northern Ireland. Perhaps it will also be asked to deal with the whole range of economic matters. With high unemployment and immense economic problems in Northern Ireland, added to by the disturbances, again this is a vast area, but the Commission which will be advising the Secretary of State will not be responsible to an electorate.
There are many other matters in the whole ambit of things covered by Stormont, which sits for an average of 20–25 hours a week, on which this body will be asked to advise generally. I make no apology for repeating that the Commission will not be responsible to an electorate and is appointed by the Secretary of State.
The Commission's second function is even more far reaching. It will be asked to advise the Secretary of State on the whole range of legislative power he is taking under Clause 1(3). From what the Secretary of State designate has said earlier, this will cover most of the Bills before Stormont at present—that is, about 20 Bills. That is a vast area of legislation. I understand that only in exceptional circumstances will additional legislation be brought in by this method. There are many matters involving strong principle which were on their way through Stormont and which will be cut short and transferred to a body, no matter how eminent or effective, which will be an appointed body not responsible to the electorate of Northern Ireland.
I ask the Minister in his reply to answer the following detailed questions. What kind of persons will be appointed to the Commission? Will they be civil servants, politicians, people who are non-political, or non-civil servants, or will there be a kind of mixture of all these elements grouped together?
How many people will constitute the Commission? How often will they meet? How much time will they spend on their work? How will they gauge public opinion, particularly when it is remembered that Stormont Members are close 685 to the grassroots and spend much of their time at meetings, seeing delegations and attending advice centres. They are the kind of people who will be very much in touch with reality—much more in touch with ordinary people and their views than would any appointed body. I do not see how a commission could fill this type of rôle.
How much are the Commission members to be paid? Does it make sense to have people appointed and paid by the Secretary of State advising the Secretary of State on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland? I believe it does not make sense, and I have in mind the words of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) who said that the Commission was an abortion, and he was absolutely right. It is an inappropriate method of dealing with these problems.
Nevertheless a job has to be done. We cannot bury our heads in the sand and say that these matters cannot be considered by the people of Northern Ireland, because it is essential that they have a say. I am looking for a substitute—not an ideal substitute, but the best one can get. I have come round to the idea of a Select Committee of all the Northern Ireland Members of Parliament at Westminster. If the Bill goes through, we shall be the only people who are elected by the electorate of Northern Ireland. It would be a committee of eight Ulster Unionists, one Democratic Unionist and three hon. Members opposite—a committee with a variety of opinions. We are the people who are the most entitled in the new situation to speak for the people of Northern Ireland. I recognise that this would extend the function which we were elected to this House of Commons to fulfil, but it would be irresponsible not to recognise that there is a job to be done.
The committee would operate as a Select Committee of the House and it would have brought before it Ministers, civil servants and witnesses who would appear on an interrogatory basis to be asked questions about matters affecting legislation, enabling them to justify their view, and we would report accordingly. Such a committee would also meet to consider specific points of importance to 686 Northern Ireland. I recognise that this would be a heavy burden of work for us. We would also have to examine the Northern Ireland Estimates and various matters relating to Northern Ireland finances. We would probably also have to consider reports from Northern Ireland public bodies which are normally considered by Stormont—such as the tourist board, the housing executive and the police authority. These bodies have always been debated in Stormont, and to let this procedure lapse would be wrong.
This may have been covered earlier, but I am not quite sure about what happens to Statutory Instruments. Perhaps these might be grouped together. If we are to undertake this work it would be vital that we should be supplied, in these special circumstances as a small number of Members carrying this heavy burden, with an individual secretariat and research staff, unique to the committee, which could independently advise us and help us.
§ Mr. Chichester-Clark
I support my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills). It was I who used the expression yesterday that it seemed that the suggestion of a Commission was a kind of unhappy parliamentary abortion. If I had said that it was an unparliamentary abortion it would have been more appropriate. There are strong feelings about this and the Government must know this by now. No doubt those feelings will be reiterated by my hon. Friends, and I suspect by hon. Members opposite, when they return to the Committee. I see that the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) has gone to restore his credibility gap, which was developing politically and sartorially.
If the Government move at all, and I hope they will not, they should move very slowly. They are not bound to move fast. I agree with my hon. Friend that this proposal is to establish an undemocratic body to take the place of the elected representatives whose function—whether or not they carried it out well does not concern me, because I have no mandate for inquiring into that—was to examine legislation line by line and to scrutinise various provisions which went through Stormont. There is no question of elected representatives doing that under this provision. I do not believe that the 687 proposal will work and I was interested to hear that my view was shared by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) yesterday.
The right hon. Member said at the time that he was a little worried and doubted whether, with the best will in the world, the proposal would get off the ground. He went on to talk of somewhat extravagant phrases which have been used about people who might serve on the Commission. I used some words which some would perhaps call extravagant when I called it an abortion, but it is abhorrent to the majority in Northern Ireland at present.
When one wishes to be rude about anything one puts "para" in front of it, and this is a paralegislative rôle which is proposed. It is a body which would be appointed by the Secretary of State designate. If one was being rude about it, one would say that the Commissioners were his creatures. Somebody earlier described the Secretary of State designate as a Czar or Shah. I remember the remark by President Johnson about the Shah of Persia: "He is my kind of Shah". It may be that the Secretary of State designate is that kind of Shah, but we cannot be sure that he will be always in that position. That fortifies my objection to the proposal.
It would be far better if the Secretary of State designate were not to push this proposal. He would, as my hon. Friend has suggested in different words, do much better to consult whom he wants to and who will consult with him, more especially the elected Members of this House of Commons from Northern Ireland.
There are many questions. Some have been asked already by my hon. Friends, but many more could be asked about the Commission. It will be difficult for the Secretary of State to make up his mind on his course if he gets conflicting advice from the proposed Commissioners and elected Members of this House. I can see many other difficulties on which I shall not dwell at present. The Government will do well to go extremely slowly before making up their minds finally to take this step. They would also do well to consider the proposition put forward by my hon. Friend for a Committee or Select Committee of the 688 House, and they should not be deterred by the evident reluctance of the hon. Member for Belfast, West to serve on such a Committee.
It is true that hon. Members elected from Northern Ireland would be perfectly entitled to say that in such a committee they might be asked to deal with matters they were not elected to deal with, and some would modestly, and perhaps correctly, say that they were not experts by any means, nor do they pretend to be experts in some of the subjects with which they had to deal. A formidable task which would fall on those elected from Northern Ireland, but I hope the Government will pause before going forward with this initiative.
§ Captain Orr
I agree completely with my hon. Friends who put down the Amendment in the general opposition to the concept of the Commission. I will not repeat their arguments, but the Commission is the creature of the Minister designate and is appointed and paid by him. But it is rather worse than the usual kind of creature we have occasionally set up. We have all kinds of ridiculous bodies, such as the B.B.C. Advisory Committee, which is appointed by the B.B.C. and paid by the B.B.C, of which nobody takes any notice. But there is a difference between such bodies as that and the Commission, although it is a body appointed by the Minister and he need not necessarily take its advice. My hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark), advising the Government to go easy on the question of the Commission, has put his right hon. Friend in something of a difficulty, because this part of the Schedule lays upon the Minister the duty in almost every case to put before this body any proposal for legislation.
If the Minister has an Order in Council he has the duty to lay it before the Commission. Unless my Amendment No. 23 is accepted my right hon. Friend will have no option but to set up this curious body and to put before it his proposals for legislation. He may not have to accept its recommendations but it will be the only body to have the right of scrutiny of proposed legislation before it comes before the House of Commons here. As drafted, the Schedule is more dangerous than at first sight it would appear, because it is not empowering the 689 Minister to set up a group of his own advisers but to set up, to use my hon. Friend's phrase, a para-parliamentary body.
Unless my Amendment is accepted we shall be in very great difficulty. There is not the slightest doubt that the Minister will be able to get people to serve on his Commission; he can buy them; he will have power to buy people to come on to his Commission. They will be hopelessly unrepresentative, because nobody who believes in parliamentary democracy, nobody in Ulster who knows he has already voted for someone to represent him in Parliament, will be in the least impressed by anybody whom the Minister selects. Indeed, most people who believe in parliamentary government will not wish to serve on the Commission, unless the Minister sets his price pretty high.
It is obvious that this so-called Commission is not going to get off the ground, is not going to have any really useful function at all. It seems to me most extraordinary to put upon the Secretary of State a duty to lay his legislation before this extraordinary body. There is nothing in the Bill or in the Schedule which commands the Minister to lay his legislation before anybody who is at all representative; he is not commanded to consult anybody except this extraordinary body.
§ Captain Orr
My hon. Friend is perfectly right, but the duty is to lay before the House of Commons the order when it is a fait accompli and the House can only say "Yea" or "Nay". The Minister will have the duty to lay his legislation before the Commission long before that. It is only the Commission that will have the right to scrutinise. It is only the Commission that will have any authority to suggest amendments to the Minister.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State designate said yesterday:But it will not have any form of veto, and I am in no way obliged to take its advice."—[Official Report, 28th March, 1972; Vol. 834, c. 244.]
§ 5.0 a.m.
§ Captain Orr
I accept that, but it is the only body that has the privilege of tendering advice to the Minister at the stage when the legislation is in draft.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
Would not the hon. and gallant Gentleman agree that the Commission will have the mind of the Minister and know the way it is working on legislation, and can then advise, while Members of this House of Commons representing Northern Ireland will not know his mind?
§ Captain Orr
Yes indeed. My hon. Friend is perfectly right. They will not only have the Minister's mind, but if the Minister has paid them enough they will have every incentive to agree with his mind.
The point is that it is the only body that the Minister has any duty to consult. That is the only stage at which anybody sees the Minister's draft and has any possible chance of amending it. It seems to be a negation of everything that we believe in, preparing legislation by the consultative process.
If it were possible for the Government to accept Amendment No. 23 a good deal of the objection to the Commission would disappear, because if that mandatory command upon him disappeared he would be entitled to set up any advisory body he wanted. Then his body would be on the same footing as Members of Parliament, the trade unions or any other organisation he might wish to consult. But so long as this obnoxious duty is there, so long as this peculiar right is given to the Commission, so long will nobody who values parliamentary government in Ulster serve upon the Commission except those whom the Minister may buy. I hope my right hon. Friend will consider this Amendment. It is the way out of the difficulty.
§ Mr. Maude
I entirely agree with what my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) has said. His suggestion is clearly the right course for the Government.
I do not want to detain the Committee very long but I want to say exactly why I believe the Commission is a nonsense. I do not disguise my belief that the whole Bill, this initiative on the part of the Government, is based on a total 691 misreading of the situation in Northern Ireland and the possible benefits to be gained from it, and an ignorance of the possible damage and danger which can arise from it.
The Government are gambling on attempting to secure some support which the security forces and the Government of Northern Ireland do not now have, and which it is my belief they cannot secure in sufficient quantities to affect the issue, and they are risking at the same time the loss of the support of the majority, which has stood loyally behind the forces of law and order. If the Government have, as I believe, based their entire initiative on a misreading of the situation, it is particularly important that whatever they do should carry conviction and should at least seem to get somewhere in practical terms and to mean something.
It is perfectly clear that the Commission is a sham, must always be a sham and cannot possibly serve the end which the Government purport to be pursuing in bringing forward the Bill. Whom will the Commission represent? The whole idea is based on the fact that my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House hope to get the co-operation of people who are alienated from the Government of Northern Ireland. This can be done only if they secure the co-operation of genuine representatives of the minority in Northern Ireland. These are the only useful people they have to conciliate and whose co-operation they have to secure.
The doubt I have had in my mind from the moment talk of a political initiative started has been what goods and how much effective support can be delivered by the people whom the Government were hoping to bring into consultation and in helping them to run the country. The hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) represents constituents in Northern Ireland, and he is the leader of a party in Northern Ireland. He has up till now withheld his co-operation from the Government and Parliament of Northern Ireland. He has welcomed in slightly qualified terms the Government's initiative and what is in the Bill, and it is to be assumed that he will now co-operate with the Government. I do not know how much effective support for the security forces and the forces of law and 692 order the hon. Gentleman is able to deliver when he comes to a conference table, but at least he has been elected and he should be able to deliver some support.
But what support can be given by someone who is put on a Commission as a paid adviser? He may be put up as a symbol of certain people in Northern Ireland, but he cannot effectively represent from the grass roots the views of any substantial section of the minority or majority to the extent that can be done by an elected hon. Member of the House of Commons or the Northern Ireland Parliament.
If there is set up as a central feature at the beginning of a new initiative a Commission which is patently a sham and which will be composed of people who cannot be in the slightest degree representative of the people one wants to conciliate, not only will the minority not be conciliated and not give their support but the fears of the majority will be exacerbated rather than calmed. For all those reasons and many more, my right hon. Friend would be well advised to accept Amendment No. 23 which does not prevent him from having his Commission but would mean that the Commission would be less of a nonsense and less of a sham than it will be under the terms of the Bill.
§ Mr. Fitt
I believe that the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) has cast an unnecessary slur on those persons who may want to be members of the Commission. I hope that, in common with me and many others in Northern Ireland, he will be prepared to give the new initiative a chance to operate. No one can guarantee that it has any hope of success, but at least the die has been cast; Stormont has been suspended for at least one year. I hope that in the next 12 months steps will be taken to bring both communities together.
In any public pronouncement I have made, I have indicated that I will do all in my power to bring together the two warring communities. The hon. Gentleman has said that people will serve on the Commission only because they have been bought by the Secretary of State. I hope he will recognise that there are many people in Northern Ireland, including people from his constituency and from all the Six Counties, who want to 693 do all they can to bring about a better situation and who will serve on the Commission without recompense.
I cannot now say whether I or any of my party or any of the minority will be prepared to serve on the Commission, but I assure the right hon. Gentleman that if any members of the minority do agree to serve they will not be doing it from the point of view of how much they will get for their services. It is unfair of the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South and those who support him to say that people will only be serving on the Commission because they have been bought by the Secretary of State. The hon. Gentleman must know that there are many decent people in Northern Ireland who are not members of the Unionist Party or the Alliance Party of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, who have a true and abiding interest in the future of Northern Ireland and who will give their services in the fervent hope of bringing about a better community. It is opportune now for the hon. Gentleman to say that there will be people prepared to give their service, not because they have been bought, but because they believe in the future of Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Maginnis
I support the efforts of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) to bring some sense into the situation. The Commission will be non-parliamentary based. My hon. Friend is trying to give my right hon. Friend a way out of his dilemma. The Amendment gets to the kernel of the problem which will face Northern Ireland under the Commission. Hon. Members representing Northern Ireland constituencies will have to be consulted in any case, so I see no real problem in providing the necessary secretariat in the House of Commons to help my right hon. Friend in his decisions on future action in Northern Ireland.
I believe, despite all that has been said, that the proposal for a Commission amounts to nothing more than "instant whip" government. The House of Commons is supposed to be the home of democracy. To use the phrase of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), if we allow this thing to go through in its present form the very stones of this place will cry out against us.
§ Mr. Buck
It is important that my right hon. Friend should not make himself and his able Ministers look foolish when they take on this job but he is in danger of doing so if he pursues this part of the Schedule unamended. We surely must have an indication about who is to serve on the Commission. It will have to be set up in a few days. Paragraph 1 says:So long as section 1 of this Act has effect, there shall be a body, to be known as the Northern Ireland Commission…".It is getting late. Who is to serve on it? Surely my right hon. Friend has names in mind. If the Commission is not to be made to look ridiculous, they must be names which command respect. We have just heard from the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt). It had been my impression before he spoke that he had agreed to serve on the Commission. However, he has said that there is a possibility that he and some of his friends may serve on it. I hope that they will. I hope too that Stormont leaders such as Mr. Faulkner will.
It is absurd to make it obligatory upon my right hon. Friend to have to consult this body until it is constituted and until it contains people of worth who will command respect in the Province. That is why it is important that Amendment No. 23 should be considered with great care. It will make my right hon. Friend's task very much easier. He has the awful job of tackling the problems of the Province. In his own interest, I hope that he will consider the Amendment. He will make his life more burdensome if he does not and, frankly, he will make the Commission look ridiculous.
§ 5.15 a.m.
§ Mr. McMaster
I want to adopt all that has been said by my hon. Friends the Members for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills) and Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude). However, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck) that we should go the whole hog, and I invite the Committee to consider Amendment No. 28, in which I suggest that the Commission should consist of the elected Members of the Parliament of Northern Ireland.
I suggest this quite seriously. In his statement, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister detailed the disagreements that he had had with the Cabinet of Northern 695 Ireland, and why he had removed executive power from that Cabinet. But he said nothing to criticise the Northern Ireland Parliament.
I am concerned about the return to parliamentary government at the end of the year. Surely it would be wise to use the elected Members that we have already in the interim. It is unlikely that we shall ever get a better representative body. By their training and experience, elected Members of Parliament are used to gathering opinions from the people to whom they are responsible—[Interruption.] I notice the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) smiling. It may be that it is not a perfect body. This Parliament is not a perfect body.
It is certain that the volume of work which will be created by this Bill is far too great for the existing 12 Members of this House representing Northern Ireland to perform efficiently, along with their ordinary Westminster functions. I suggest that no other nominated body of persons such as those representing chambers of commerce and similar organisations would be as competent to debate Measures of the type covered by the Bill as the existing Members of Stormont.
I have some experience of chambers of commerce. I am sure that the body which my right hon. Friend will nominate will debate endlessly round and round in circles, but it will really hold responsibility to no one. I suggest that its debates and conclusions will not be particularly helpful to my right hon. Friend.
The Northern Ireland Parliament is in existence and its Members who have been elected are already being paid. Why not make use of them? At the end of the transition period, be it a year or longer, we hope to return to representative government in Northern Ireland. Because of the peculiar situation of Northern Ireland, its geographical location and distance from this country, I believe that a subsidiary Parliament is the most efficient, effective and best method of government in matters such as those which have already been covered. The Bill implies that we are to revert to that type of government at the end of a year. If the Bill is genuine, let us show the people in Northern Ireland that it is genuine. Let us make it easy for the transition back to parliamentary govern- 696 ment by using the Members who have been elected for this very purpose. It may be that their powers to debate, and so on, as a result of the passage of the Bill, will be reduced. But is not that a traumatic enough experience without sending them out into limbo?
The effect of the Bill in Northern Ireland has been dramatic. It is unfortunate that, just as enthusiasm on these benches gathers to support the Bill, there is an equal and opposite revulsion in political circles in Northern Ireland against the Bill and all that it intends to do. If progress is to be made in Northern Ireland, surely those who are politically conscious there must support my right hon. Friend in his efforts to restore law and order and efficient and effective government of the Province.
For this reason, I suggest that, as an important initial step, my right hon. Friend should show his confidence in the people of Northern Ireland by asking their elected Members to perform this important task.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to Amendments Nos. 22 and 24 standing in my name. I find myself in agreement with hon. Members who have spoken to Amendments Nos. 20 and 23. However, I should like to point out that, regarding this entirely undemocratic body which is to be set up, we are not told the types and numbers of persons who will be asked to serve on it.
This body isto give advice and assistance".I think that the words "and assistance" could be very dangerous. The Secretary of State designate will have the right to appoint people to head Departments. He will also have the right to appoint people to do the work which is at present done by the Governor of Northern Ireland. It seems to me that this Commission could be made into the kind of Government Cabinet not answerable to the House of Commons. The only person answerable to the House of Commons will be the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Therefore, I propose that the words "and assistance" should be deleted so that this Commission, if we are to have it, should advise only. I am opposed to the Commission, but if we are to have it I should like it to be a purely advisory body.
697 The Secretary of State should be obliged not only to ask the advice of this body, but to ask the advice of every Member of Parliament here who represents a Northern Ireland constituency. I do not refer to the Parliament which has been prorogued; I refer to the Westminster Parliament. Afterall, if an independent nominated body, paid by the Secretary of State designate, is to advise him on the future legislation and laws of the Province, the elected representatives of the House of Commons—to whom he is finally answerable—shouldbe put at least on the same platform. I think that they should be on a higher platform, but if we accept the Bill—and it is clear that the Government are going to force it through—the elected representatives of the House of Commons should at least have a place of equality.
In the interests of getting a true reflection of what the people of Northern Ireland are thinking, the idea of the Commission envisaged in the Bill is a very dangerous one. Instead of helping the Secretary of State designate it will be his greatest hindrance.
§ Mr. McManus
I oppose the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McMaster). He went to some length to explain why it would be advantageous simply to re-appoint all the Members of the Parliament that now stands prorogued. If that is to be the case I, for one, cannot see the sense in proroguing it in the first place. If we prorogue that Parliament one day and then appoint all its members the next day to a Commission, we shall succeed in making the Government look very silly.
§ Mr. McMaster
The hon. Member must realise that although I agree that this Amendment is something of a dog's dinner—[An Hon. Member: "A dog's breakfast."]—at any rate, it is a bit of a mess, there is a difference between the advisory functions outlined for the Commission under the Bill and the ordinary functions of a Member of Parliament. The greatest distinction of all lies in the fact that the Government of Northern Ireland are to be suspended for the time being. Surely that is sufficient.
§ Mr. McManus
I admire the tenacity of the hon. Member for Belfast, East. 698 He is making a gallant effort to get Stormont back in by the back door. Before 12 months are up he wants Stormont, or a body like it, back there.
The other Amendment, in the name of the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr-Stratton Mills) also confuses me. He wants to tie down the Secretary of State designate, saying that a committee of all Members shall consider Orders in Council. I am not against the idea of any Minister of the House of Commons or any other House consulting all the hon. Members involved, but there appears to be some compulsion implicit in the Amendment. The same hon. Member and his colleagues spent several hours debating the question why most matters should go before the House of Commons—that they should be thrown open as far as possible to debate on the Floor of the House. That appears to be at least contradictory, if not directly contrary, to the essence of the Amendment.
They say, on the one hand, "We must take power out of the hands of the Secretary of State designate and make him accountable to the House of Commons", and then, in the Amendment, "We must make the Secretary of State designate accountable to all the Members from Northern Ireland in the House".
The Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) is again a puzzling one, because no one knows what this Commission is all about. I am not particularly fond of commissions. The only saving grace that this one will have is that it will last for only one year. After that time it will not move back to Stormont; it will move on, when, in my opinion we shall have moved closer to what my hon. Friend and I recognise as the inevitable solution—the reunification of the country. I cannot see much sense in the Amendment.
§ [Sir STEPHEN MCADDENin the Chair]
§ 5.30 a.m.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I put my name to Amendment No. 23, but I shall speak in support of it only for a moment because the ground has been well traversed by other hon. Members. I object to the Commission proposed in the Bill. Northern Ireland is part of the homeland, not a colony. This Commission is the sort 699 of institution which one expects to find in a colonial territory.
I commend to the Committee the leading article in what now is yesterday's Daily Telegraph. It explained why Ulstermen who had resented having a Parliament forced on them—Mr. Craig described its acceptance as a supreme sacrifice—have since become attached to their Parliament. The writer of the editorial said:To an extent not always appreciated, the answer lies in the quiet efficiency with which that institution has operated in its handling of day to day business. It has been equally accessible to people; it has dealt promptly with individual grievances having no political overtones. Many desperately fear that this efficiency will not be reproduced by a commission of people who have no responsibility to the electorate, and who may be exposed to all kinds of pressures which their British masters will not understand.
§ Mr. Fitt
I have listened with a great deal of interest to arguments advanced in support of Amendment No. 23. I have mixed feelings at the moment. I am inclined to agree with the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) and entirely disagree with what was said with such vehemence by those supporting this Amendment.
I want to tell hon. Members who do not represent Northern Ireland constituencies the true facts. A member of the Conservative Party or a member of the Labour Party representing an English, Scottish or Welsh constituency is elected as a Member of Parliament and there is a local authority in his constituency. He may not have time to deal with his local authority's problems but if they are sent to him by letter he can refer them to the members of the local authority. Every Northern Ireland seat represented in this House has four representatives in Northern Ireland and there are 16 local authority representatives. By comparison with Conservative, Labour or Liberal Members, it would appear that the electorate in Northern Ireland is well served.
Until yesterday when the Stormont Parliament was prorogued the only things we could speak on in this House in relation to our constituents were the Post Office, income tax and defence. All other matters were reserved to the Northern Ireland Parliament. On many occasions I have gone to the Table Office in this 700 House and tried to ask Questions about unemployment and housing, but I have been told that those are matters for the Northern Ireland Parliament. We were precluded from raising them in this House.
§ Mr. Fitt
The hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McMaster) makes his own speech and then tries to interrupt everyone else. I do not know why I should give way to him now.
Hon. Members from Northern Ireland, including myself, have had an easy time in the House of Commons in comparison with other United Kingdom representatives. This is why there is this big squeal at the moment. Most hon. Members representing Northern Ireland constituencies do not want to have questions of housing, health, social services, pensions, and so on, dealt with here: they would far rather that any work in that regard were done at Stormont.
On the question of the Commission, from listening to the speeches which have been made one would gain the impression that hon. Members opposite were great democrats and did not want anyone to serve on a Commission unless he were elected. I could within the context of the Northern Ireland situation refer to the whole question of gerrymandered constituencies. Then there is the question of the Commission for Derry. The majority of people in that city did not agree with the way the city was being run. The Catholic majority were being run by the Protestant minority. The Northern Ireland Government under Major Chichester-Clark, as he then was, abolished Derry City Council and appointed a Commission for Derry. No one in Stormont raised any objections to that.
The Commission for Derry did an awful lot of good. It built more houses in one year than had been built by Derry corporation in the previous 20 years. The Commission for Derry carried out a herculean task in trying to rebuild Derry after all the disturbances and the wrecking that had taken place. Northern Ireland Members cannot in logic say that they are totally opposed to a Commission appointed by the British Parliament when they are members of the Unionist Party, to which Mr. Faulkner and Major 701 Chichester-Clark—he appointed the Commission for Deny—belong.
Hon. Members representing Northern Ireland constituencies have had a life which has been far too easy in comparison with other elected Members. I am prepared to undertake any extra burden that may be imposed upon me. I hope that Unionists Members are prepared to accept the same burden.
§ Mr. Biffen
My hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck) has succinctly and persuasively indicated the virtues of Amendment No. 23, and I hope that the Government will view it favourably. I wish to refer to the whole concept of the participation of a Commission in the administration of Northern Ireland in the months ahead. We are indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills) for initiating this debate, which will enable the Government to give to Parliament and to the wider public outside a view on exactly what rôle they foresee for the Commission.
Two kinds of Commission could emerge. One would be a purely technocratic Commission, composed of people qualified in the techniques of administration, who would not be presumed to have any particular significance, but whose assistance would be of considerable benefit in the arts of administration.
I suspect that the Government may hope that this will be used to represent a political influence which hitherto has not been evident in Northern Ireland. I think that this course could hold very dangerous consequences. A good deal of our approach to problems in Northern Ireland is bedevilled by the supposed existence of what people are pleased to call "moderate opinion". I am thinking particularly of the line argued by my hon. Friend the Member for Heston and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe) on Second Reading yesterday as though somehow or other this great, significant opinion exists in Northern Ireland but by one mishap or another it has never been allowed to reveal itself.
Therefore, the possibility is that this Commission will be used to give political expression to what many hopefully believe are forces which have widespread popular support in Northern Ireland, although it is a widespread popular sup- 702 port which, for some reason or other, has never been able to reveal itself whenever the matter has been put to the test of the ballot box, either in a general election or in recent by-elections. We have had ample evidence during the years of painful disimperialism when we have sought in colonial territory after colonial territory, usually by the device of fancy franchises, to encourage the manifestation of political opinion which was not popularly founded.
Therefore, I hope my hon. Friends do not proceed on the assumption that the Commission can be used to give voice to a political opinion in Northern Ireland which is in reality very narrowly based, even though it may be saying some of the things which to English ears would seem eminently reasonable but, none the less, in the context of Northern Ireland would seem wildly impractical.
§ Mr. Pounder
First, I would like to clarify a point made by the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt). who is the master of the misleading. He spoke of the Londonderry Commission, which is an executive body having assumed all the authority of the civic authority which it succeeded, and tried to dress up the abomination of the Commission in the Schedule as if it were a kindred spirit. He cannot get away with it, and I think he realises that, although it was a good try.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
When it was announced in the Northern Ireland Parliament that there was to be a Commission in Londonderry, the names of the members serving on that Commission were made available so that their talents and qualifications could be debated. We need houses in Londonderry, and yet the old Londonderry City Council in its housebuilding programme gave 92 per cent. of its houses to the Roman Catholic population.
§ Mr. Pounder
I was not aware of the statistics, and I am grateful to the hon. Member for that. On the first point, I entirely agree with him. When the Commission was announced, so were the names of the members. Here we have neither their names nor even a remote idea of the salary scales envisaged. This information would give us some idea of the calibre of persons being sought and 703 the time for which these persons would be expected to serve.
§ 5.45 a.m.
§ Mr. McManus
The hon. Member accused my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) of being a master of the misleading; but the hon. Member has strived to be equally a master of the misleading. He attempted to tell the Committee that the Derry Commission was an executive body. While it had certain powers, it was directly responsible to Stormont. The proof of that comes out clearly in a very well known case in which the Derry Commission appointed a man called Paddy Docherty to a highly paid position and the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Mr. Brian Faulkner, cancelled the appointment.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Sir Stephen McAdden)
Order. I do not think that we want to go into the history of what happened. We are looking to the future here. Although references to what has happened in the past are permissible, we ought not to go into the detailed history.
§ Mr. Pounder
I shall take your guidance, Sir Stephen, and come to the two Amendments to which I wish to refer, Amendments Nos. 22 and 23. They are in no way contradictory one with the other. Yesterday the Secretary of State designate said that he was looking for men with experience, responsibility and knowledge to serve on the Commission. I take the same view as my hon. Friends, that it is an unworkable creation. That it should advise the Secretary of State is unattractive but fair enough. To give it assistance is going a little far, perhaps, in that, as I understand it, it could lead to the establishment in some form of some kind of mini-executive rôle for the Commission. This may not be intended. If it is not, why have such a word in the Schedule at all?
The Secretary of State-designate said yesterday, in answer to an abrasive remark of mine on the subject of the Commission, that he, as the future Secretary of State, accepts full responsibilities for any decisions that Commis- 704 sion may take, and one accepts this without reservation. At the same time, the Secretary of State-designate is adding to his already very considerable burdens by having this sort of creature but ultimately having overall responsibility for whatever decisions it may take. We do not know, for instance, how many people are envisaged as members of the Commission. Will it be very small, half a dozen, or midi-size, nine or 10? Or will it be quite a large structure of 15 or 16 members? We do not know. At present we are being asked in a sense to give blanket approval for the creation of this Commission without necessarily having much idea of what is involved.
I conclude on a point made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr). It is an immensely dangerous exercise to empower a Commission with the examination of any legislation which it is envisaged will come before the House of Commons by means of an Order in Council. I do not want to be too cynical about some of the people who I suspect may be invited to serve. It is unfair to use parliamentary privilege for that sort of exercise. It is tempting, but I shall resist temptation.
But there are three forms which a Commission could possibly take. The first is a Commission composed of politicians of some kind. We understand that this is not a starter. Secondly, there is the idea of a commission of civil servants, of heads of existing departments in the Northern Ireland Civil Service. This, at any rate, would make some sense. But, as one understands the Commission, it will be of eminent lay persons unrelated to politics or the Civil Service, and not only is the concept of a Commission throughly bad and undesirable but the form that it will take, in that it is unlikely to have politicians or civil servants as members, is the worst of all worlds.
I commend Amendments Nos. 22 and 23.
§ Mr. Channon
I wonder whether I might intervene in the debate at this stage. It has been an extremely important debate. There may have been some misunderstanding about what is suggested to be the rôle of the Commission set out in Schedule 1. I shall try to answer some of the points which have 705 been put forward on this matter, and shall seek to allay some of the anxieties.
The body which it is proposed should be set up is a small body to advise my right hon. Friend. It is not an executive body; it has no executive powers whatever. It is not a legislative body; it has no legislative powers. It is a wholly advisory body which is to be set up for a short period of time and to which my right hon. Friend can turn for advice. He will not turn only to that body for advice. My right hon. Friend has made it clear—indeed it is self-evident—that he will wish to seek advice from every quarter He hopes to go to Northern Ireland to start getting some of this advice at a very early date. There is no intention that the advisory Commission is to be the only or main source of advice for my right hon. Friend. I do not think a reading of the Schedule would lead one to believe that it would be the only source of advice, but I have heard that suggested.
My right hon. Friend will receive advice from civil servants as well; that will be one source of advice. There will be plenty of other advice from people in all walks of life who will wish to advise my right hon. Friend. I suspect that he may get too much advice rather than too little. What my right hon. Friend would like to do is to have a small advisory body with no executive functions and no legal functions to which he could turn for advice on a number of matters.
A number of hon. Members referred to what my right hon. Friend said yesterday on Second Reading. I should like to refer to the passage in which he said:I wish to make it clear that the Commission will assist by way of advice and consultation, but neither the Commission collectively nor individual members of it acting as such will discharge any executive functions in Northern Ireland.…But I think it is right that we should seek to get people of experience, knowledge and responsibility who can help us to help the people of Northern Ireland. Of course, I shall not look only to the Commission for help and advice. I hope to get it from many quarters, and I hope to make myself personally accessible to as many strands of opinion as possible."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th March 1972; Vol. 834, c. 243.]That remains my right hon. Friend's view. He feels it would be of assistance to him to have this small body which would be able to give him advice.
706 I shall deal with the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills) and will then deal with the Amendments in turn. My hon. Friend asked whether my right hon. Friend will receive advice from other sources, and I think I have already answered that point. He also asked how often the Commission will sit, what kind of persons it will contain, and how many.
My right hon. Friend's mind is open as to the number of people serving on the Commission. He has the idea that it should be a small body to help him. I would think that the number he has in mind would be about a dozen members, but he would not wish to be tied to any particular number. It would be small enough to allow ordinary discussion but large enough to get the advice he hopes to obtain.
How often will it meet? That depends on the work of the Commission and how much my right hon. Friend seeks its advice and how the whole thing works out. It is difficult to say with any great accuracy at this stage how often the Commission will sit.
How much will members be paid? There is a specific Amendment dealing with payment. The Committee will see that under paragraph (5) of the Schedule the Secretary of State has the power—he does not have to do this—to pay members of the Commission out of moneys provided by Parliament such remuneration and allowances as he may, with the approval of the Minister for the Civil Service, determine. I can assure the Committee that my right hon. Friend has no intention of making lavish allowances or paying lavish remuneration. I very much doubt whether the Minister for the Civil Service would allow him to do so, and that may well be a check imposed upon my right hon. Friend in the unlikely event of his being tempted to pay people vast sums of money. [Interruption.] I cannot promise that the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) will be invited to serve on the Commission. It is not for me to say. If the Commission is established it would be agreed that it must be right that its members should be paid reasonable expenses and allowances.
What kind of persons will be on the Commission? My right hon. Friend said yesterday that at this stage he was not 707 ruling out anyone. He wants to get the best advice, from as wide a variety of representative people in the community as possible, to help in what the Committee must consider to be an extremely important and difficult task. That is all the Commission is intended to achieve. The appointments are of people with a personal stake in Northern Ireland. They have to be people resident there. We will deal with that later.
I turn to the other Amendments—
§ Mr. Powell
Before doing that, would my hon. Friend clear up something puzzling me? It appears from the Schedule that there is a statutory requirement that this Commission shall be in existence from the first moment that the Statute is operative. It says:So long as…this Act has effect, there shall be a body".Presumably the Act starts to have effect when the Royal Assent is given. [Interruption.] Yes, it is right, it is not necessary for the hon. Gentleman to ask the Attorney-General. It is what the Bill says. What is puzzling is why, since this Commission has to exist from about tonight onwards or as soon afterwards as may be, the hon. Member should have so little idea of who is to compose it, what it is about, and what its members are to be paid. These people will have to be appointed and be in office today to comply with statutory requirements. The other alternative appears to be that my right hon. Friend has not divulged names to my hon. Friend so that he cannot enlighten the Committee. Could he clear that up?
§ Mr. Channon
I think my right hon. Friend misheard what I was saying to the Attorney-General. I was saying something quite different from what he has in mind.
§ 6.0 a.m.
§ Mr. Channon
I thought that was the purpose of my right hon. and learned Friend's presence. I am seeking advice, but my right hon. Friend thought I said something and used a form of words which I did not use. However, it is a small matter and perhaps I should not have mentioned it.
708 I am advised that what my right hon. Friend is entitled to do if Parliament passes the Bill is to appoint a body to be known as the Northern Ireland Commission. There is no requirement on him to have it in operation from tonight or from the minute the Bill comes into force. But once he appoints a Northern Ireland Commission, it should be in existence for so long as Clause 1 has effect, and we have earlier discussed how long that should be.
I am entitled to say to my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) that my right hon. Friend the Lord President has not decided these important matters and that he wants to go to Northern Ireland if the House will allow him, with a free hand to consider these matters, and what has been said here. That is one purpose of debate in the Committee, as my right hon. Friend knows better than most. I can assure him that the Lord President has made no decisions on this. If he had, I would convey them to the Committee and would not seek to mislead hon. Members. I am sure that he does not suggest that I have, but I have consulted my right hon. Friend about the terms of the Amendment and about the important Amendments which have been put forward by my hon. Friends. Amendment No. 20 is in the name of my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills). He suggests that as an alternative to the Commission there should be a committee of all hon. Members for Northern Ireland.
My right hon. Friend gave an assurance to the Committee that he would consult through the usual channels and also with hon. Members representing Northern Ireland constituencies on the proper way of handling our business and legislation in future in the present extraordinary circumstances.
I am not sure that the best solution would be a Committee of the House. It may, but all I say is that I will consider carefully the suggestion put forward and consult the Lord President and he will consult with those engaged in this matter on what should be a happy solution to deal with the problem with which we are confronted.
If we are to have changes along some of these lines, they can be done by legislation by the House and there is no need 709 for them to be incorporated into this legislation.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) raised the question whether it was right to place a statutory duty to consult about legislaion on this point. The statutory duty, as the Schedule says, is on a proposal for an Order in Council. The Secretary of State, however, does not have a complete statutory duty to consult the committee, and if it appears to him impractical, by reason of urgency, or otherwise, to do so, my right hon. Friend does not have the duty of consulting the Commission before coming to conclusions about legislation.
However, I do not seek to disguise from the Committee that it would normally be the practice for my right hon. Friend to wish to have their advice, but also the advice of other people. He wishes to consult very fully with people in the Province about legislation and everything else.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South also raised the question of Statutory Instruments passed by the Northern Irish Parliament. My right hon. and learned Friend will be dealing with the whole question of Statutory Instruments in debate on a later Amendment, and perhaps he will deal with the point raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South.
§ Mr. Channon
I have not completed my remarks on that point. I interposed the point on Statutory Instruments in case I forgot it. It is my right hon. Friend's view that he would like to have the opportunity of consulting this Commission, which he hopes will be a sensible and wise body able to give him good advice about legislation which may be put forward. He has given to the Committee an assurance that he will be very reluctant indeed to enter upon any new legislation, apart from the special categories he mentioned—legislation in the pipeline, or legislation for which there must be very special reasons.
Moreover, I must point out that there will be opportunities open to hon. Mem- 710 bers in this House of Commons to deal with legislation which comes before us, and there will be consultations through the usual channels and with my hon. Friends and other Members representing Northern Irish constituencies. My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) pointed out that in the final analysis it will be for this House of Commons to accept, or not, any legislation. The House will decide on the merits of the case whether or not it should pass any legislation which may be put before it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) said we should think very hard about this matter and about the consequences of the Commission and of the sort of effect it would have. I well understand the fears which have been mentioned throughout our debates today. I well understand the sort of reactions people initially had to the idea of the Commission. However, it would be very much better if, before coming to any final conclusion, people took a breathing space to consider the implications as a whole of the suggestion to have the Commission.
§ Mr. Chichester-Clark
My hon. Friend is very lucid and careful, but what I think he has not yet fully explained, and what I cannot quite understand, is the question, mentioned yet again a moment ago by my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck), why the Minister should so wish to have this mandatory Commission. It seems to us, in view of the reaction which has been manifested to this proposal, that he may be inviting humiliation. It would seem extremely unwise.
§ Mr. Channon
My hon. Friend, as always, puts his point very fairly indeed. It is my right hon. Friend's view that it would be right for him, before entering upon legislation, unless there are special reasons which I have outlined to the Committee, to refer it to the Commission, because he would like to have its advice. As I have tried to explain, he will be perfectly free to accept, perfectly free to reject, its advice. It is in no way binding upon him. The Commission is not a legislative body. My right hon. Friend can listen to the Commission, but he does not have to accept its advice, but, on the other hand, if he thinks its advice is sensible, he may accept it.
§ Captain Orr
My hon. Friend is taking a great deal of trouble to answer the debate, but I do not think he has really got the point. This Amendment is not seeking to deny to the Minister the right to put any proposed legislation or anything else for advice before this curious Commission. We are not seeking to do that. What we are seeking to do is to give him a free hand, for which he is asking. What we are trying to take from him is the duty of having to do so. He may not in the end want the Commission; he may not in the end trust the Commission; he may not in the end want the Commission to see his draft legislation. Why should the duty be put on him to have the Commission?
§ Mr. Channon
My right hon. Friend is very anxious that he should consult the Commission in cases of this kind, and he believes it is right that he should have this duty placed upon him to consult it. [Hon. Members: "Why?"] I understand hon. Members' feelings about the matter. I hope they will not necessarily make too much of this point. My right hon. Friend is free to reject or accept the Commission's advice according to what seems to him to be the correct course of action in any particular case. He has made it perfectly clear that he is responsible not to any Commission but to the House for any legislation brought before the House. It is this House that decides whether or not to accept the legislation. All that my right hon. Friend does is to consult the Commission; he is not bound by its views. He has made it very clear that he wants to take the House into his confidence, and he has indicated his willingness to enter into consultations as to how the House should be even better able to carry out this legislative process than under the present arrangements under the Bill.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
My right hon. Friend's motive is not in question. What is in question is the necessity of warding so that the provision is obligatory. There might be two good reasons. One is if, in order for my right hon. Friend to show the Commission a proposed Order in Council, it is necessary for him to have statutory power to oblige it to consider it. The other is the fear that, if he were not given this statutory power, members of the Commission might try to refuse to give him advice on some- 712 thing he had referred to them. If either of those was the reason, I can understand the necessity for writing the obligation in. Otherwise, I find it very difficult to understand why it must be in, when we know he will consult the Commission anyway.
§ Mr. Channon
I should be misleading the Committee if I told my hon. Friend those were the prime considerations in my right hon. Friend's mind in reaching this decision, but if such a situation as my hon. Friend has outlined occurred, my right hon. Friend would be saved by the statutory duty placed upon him.
Rightly or wrongly, my right hon. Friend takes the view that he would like to be placed under the duty to refer the proposals to the Commission for its advice. He is only under a duty to refer them to the Commission. He does not have to accept its advice. He can partially accept and partially reject the advice. It has no binding force upon him. The object is to provide my right hon. Friend with a sounding board of a small Commission, which I hope it will be possible to set up, of good people who can give him wise, sound advice.
I discussed the matter with my right hon. Friend, because I knew of the feelings of the Committee before the debate began. It remains his view that he would like to be under this duty in order that he may consult the Commission about all those matters that will have to come before it when there is new legislation, as there inevitably will be of some kind, which will eventually have to be brought before the House.
I will deal with a few other points which hon. Members have raised—
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
Under the terms of the Bill the Secretary of State will be obliged to consult the Commission. Knowing the way politics work in Northern Ireland, I ask this question. Suppose an unpopular decision were taken by the Secretary of State, it would be a tragedy if the Commission totally disagreed with what the Secretary of State did. Because the Secretary of State is obliged to consult the Commission, the Commission would feel that it had an obligation to society to make its position clear and might run into further difficulties. If the Amendment were accepted 713 the Commission would be only asked for advice and there would be no obligation on the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. Channon
I understand the point. There is a risk that occasionally the Commission may disagree with the course proposed. That is an inevitable risk with any advisory body.
I come to the point raised by the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Pounder) on the question of assistance and whether the words are so drawn as to give the Commission too great a power. The words "and assistance" do not make a great deal of difference to the sense of the Schedule, but if it will help hon. Members I shall be perfectly happy to remove the words "and assistance" to make it crystal clear that it is the duty of the Commission to give advice and that it has no executive rôle beyond the duty of giving advice.
I am sorry if I have not been able to convince all hon. Members of the Committee of the wisdom of the proposal. My right hon. Friend has considered the matter carefully and he believes it is right that there should be a Commission and that he himself should be placed under the duty to consult it.
§ Mr. McMaster
Before my hon. Friend leaves that point, will he reply to my point about using Members of Parliament on the Commission?
§ Mr. Channon
As I have said, my right hon. Friend has not ruled out anyone from consideration as a member of the Commission. The idea that the whole membership of the present Northern Ireland Parliament should be appointed to the Commission is an entirely different proposition. What is being put forward is a small advisory body responsible for giving advice to my right hon. Friend. I do not think, with respect, that my right hon. Friend would wish the whole body of the Northern Irish Parliament to reform and take on a different function as a Commission. The Government have come to the conclusion to have this Bill and to have the new powers put upon the Government here. It would not be right just to "de-prorogue" the Stormont Parliament in order to re-create it in another form for a short term. I cannot 714 advise the Committee to accept my hon. Friend's suggestion that the Commission should consist of elected Members of the Northern Irish Parliament.
Having considered the matter carefully, my right hon. Friend remains firmly of the view that he would like to have put upon him the duty to refer to the Commission the proposals set out in this subsection. My right hon. Friend is anxious that the Commission should be set up in this way and the Committee may feel, in view of the terrible responsibilities he has to face, that it would be right to allow him to have the Commission which he feels may be of assistance to him.
§ Sir Elwyn Jones
I have listened carefully to the debate. One thing seems to me to be clear. It is that whether this Commission will prove to be a dog's breakfast or not will depend on the quality of the men who can be attracted to serve upon it. What the right hon. Gentleman is seeking is assistance from men of standing, ability and quality in Northern Ireland, and we know there are many there. I would have thought it the duty of Loyalists in this Committee and outside to rally to the side and support of the right hon. Gentleman in this situation, and, so far from decrying and making a nonsense of the Commission, encourage the idea of co-operation in this time of grave crisis in which Northern Ireland finds itself locked. Instead of their denouncing potential volunteers in advance as merely bought men attracted by the "lolly", one would have hoped for a different line in which they would have appealed to their colleagues of standing and quality to come forward and serve. That is my reaction to the debate. I am rather shocked by the approach of one or two hon. Members opposite from whom I would have expected a more responsible public approach.
I think that the addition of the words "and assistance" to the words "give advice" adds nothing and that the point taken in the Amendment is utterly trivial. However, if the Minister has seen fit to give way on it, that is a matter for him. But we are dealing with a triviality there and I am surprised that one or two hon. Members normally of considerable intellectual acumen should have lent themselves to such a debate at six o'clock in the morning in order to make a meretricious point of criticism. However, I had 715 better not be too meretricious myself, otherwise I shall be in trouble.
The other aspect of the matter is not trivial and presents problems. This concerns the latter part of paragraph 1(1) of the Schedule. I am sure that it has given concern to hon. Members opposite because on the face of it it begins with the phrase,…it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State…which clearly implies a mandatory duty. However, the mandatory nature of the matter is highly qualified because it goes on,…unless in any case it appears to him impracticable by reason of urgency or otherwise so to do, to refer to the Commission for their advice any proposal to recommend to Her Majesty the making of an Order in Council…So the Secretary of State is not really a prisoner of the mandatory provision to the extent that some hon. Members thought he was. In any matter of urgency he does not have to consult the Commission at all and in other circumstances he need not consult it. So he is not fully imprisoned by the language of the provision. I imagine that the purpose of including what I can only describe as a qualifiedly mandatory provision is to encourage the idea that this is not merely a dictator acting on his own whim and at his own discretion, but a Minister seriously concerned to seek and obtain the best advice available to him in Northern Ireland in regard to the appalling burden of responsibility that Parliament is inviting him to shoulder.
The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) conjured up the horrid situation that the Secretary of State could not start to operate until he had the Commission in being. It seems from paragraph 1(2) that the Secretary of State has abundant latitude as to when he may make the appointment. It says that he may "from time to time determine" who shall serve on the Commission. I should have thought that the opening words of paragraph 1(1),So long as section 1 of this Act has effect…were limiting words—[Interruption.] Apparently the right hon. Gentleman does not agree. He may have another view. For what it is worth, this is my view. It 716 is a limiting factor indicating that a point may come when it is decided that the Commission shall no longer operate and that the whole machinery set up in this Act, including the setting up of the Commission, shall be terminated. In other words, when the time comes for that machinery to be terminated, the appointment of the Commissioners terminates as well.
I do not share the anxieties which have been expressed about the language of paragraph 1, and I should have thought that in this extraordinary and unprecedented situation, it was desirable that the Secretary of State should be assisted by a Commission. Certainly a Commission is better than nothing.
I hope that it will not be regarded as impertinent if I say that the message should go out from this House appealing to all men of good will in Northern Ireland to rally to help in the situation in which Northern Ireland finds itself.
§ Mr. Powell
I will only revert to the point which I raised in an intervention in the speech of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary and to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has referred, namely, the meaning of the initial words of the paragraph. I do not think that it is entirely a triviality. As I understand it, my hon. Friend said that those words did not mean that it was necessary for the Commission to be in existence from the moment that Section 1 had effect. That was also the view, apparently, of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, who said that he thought that all it meant was that once there was a Commission, it must continue as long as Section 1 had effect.
I am afraid that that is impossible. Three of the operative provisions of the Bill are exactly in this form. Clause 1(1) says:So long as this section has effect, the Secretary of State shall act as chief executive officer…".Subsection (2) says:So long as this section has effect, the Attorney-General…shall…be Attorney-General for Northern Ireland…Subsection (3) says:So long as this section has effect, the Parliament of Northern Ireland shall stand prorogued…".717 Is my hon. Friend saying that it is a matter of choice when the Parliament of Northern Ireland starts to stand prorogued? This is very important. The interpretation which he places on the words on page 3 must presumably be the same as the interpretation of the identical words on pages 1 and 2.
If my hon. Friend, contrariwise, says that the meaning of the operative Clause is that, from the moment of the Bill having effect, those results follow—namely, the executive office of my right hon. Friend, the office of my right hon. and learned Friend, and the standing prorogued of the Northern Ireland Parliament—it follows that it is a necessary requirement which my right hon. Friend is imposing upon himself by statute that, from the same moment, there shall be a Commission. True the Commission can be of the form, size, and so on, that my right hon. Friend decides; but there has to be a Commission as from the coming into effect of Clause 1.
There is, therefore, a real difficulty here. If my hon. Friend leaves it as he has done, he will cast doubt on the effect of the substantive provisions of the Bill itself. This is not a trivial point, because it shows how right my hon. Friends have been to urge that the Secretary of State designate should not impose this upon himself as an obligation. My hon. Friend has got himself into the hopeless difficulty that he is in in the interpretation of this line by the insistence of his right hon. Friend in making this mandatory. It was quite unnecessary for this provision to be mandatory, as my hon. Friends have been arguing for the last hour or so. How unnecessary it is and how embarrassing is clear from the fact that the explanation given by my hon. Friend
§ cannot possibly stand in the context of the Bill as a whole.
§ Captain Orr
I had hoped that we might get through the business of the Commission without a Division, save perhaps on the Schedule as a whole. I thought that I had shown my hon. Friend the way out. However, we have now been told that the mandatory provision must stand. It surprises me that the only reason that we have been given for it is that the Minister wants it. We have not been told why the Secretary of State designate wants the thing to be mandatory.
Of course, this underlines the point and the reason for the observations I made, for which the right hon. and learned Gentleman chided me. No one would object to an advisory commission. All men of good will would seek to join an advisory commission if it were thought that it would be helpful. What is peculiarly obnoxious is the removal of an elected Parliament and its replacement by a Commission which only it is mandatory for the Minister to consult. This is why the Commission is obnoxious; this is why it has no hope at all.
With great reluctance, I advise my hon. Friends that we should allow Amendment No. 20 to go, but that we should proceed to a Division on Amendment No. 23.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Amendment made: No. 22, in page 3, line 7, leave out "and assistance".
§ Amendment proposed: No. 23, in page3, line 9, leave out from "them" to end of sub-paragraph (i).—[Captain Orr.]
§ Question put, That the Amendment be made.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 13, Noes 131.719
|Division No. 109.]||AYES||[6.35 a.m.|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Maude, Angus||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Braine, Bernard||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Buck, Antony||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Paisley, Rev. Ian||Mr. Stanley McMaster and|
|Kilfedder, James||Pounder, Rafton||Mr. James Molyneaux|
|Maginnis, John E.||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Boscawen, Robert||Butler, Adam (Bosworth)|
|Astor, John||Bowden, Andrew||Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray & Nairn)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Bray, Ronald||Carlisle, Mark|
|Benyon, W.||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Channon, Paul|
|Biffen, John||Bryan, Paul||Chapman, Sydney|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Hornby, Richard||Raison, Timothy|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Clegg, Walter||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Redmond, Robert|
|Cockeram, Eric||Howell, David (Guildford)||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Concannon, J. D.||Hunt, John||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Cooke, Robert||James, David||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Coombs, Derek||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Cordle, John||Jessel, Toby||Rost, Peter|
|Cormack, Patrick||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)||Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Jopling, Michael||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Kershaw, Anthony||Skinner, Dennis|
|Devlin, Miss Bernadette||Kinsey, J. R.||Spearing, Nigel|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Kitson, Timothy||Speed, Keith|
|Drayson, G. B.||Knox, David||Spence, John|
|Eden, Sir John||Lane, David||Sproat, Iain|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Stallard, A. W.|
|Eyre, Reginald||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Farr, John||Luce, R. N.||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.)||MacArthur, Ian||Sutcliffe, John|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||McManus, Frank||Tebbit, Norman|
|Fowler, Norman||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Thatcher, Rt.Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Fox, Marcus||McNamara, J. Kevin||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Mather, Carol||Trew, Peter|
|Goodhew, Victor||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Gorst, John||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Waddington, David|
|Gray, Hamish||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Green, Alan||Moate, Roger||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Money, Ernle||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Gummer, Selwyn||Morrison, Charles||Whitehead, Philip|
|Gurden, Harold||Murton, Oscar||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Normanton, Tom||Worsley, Marcus|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||O'Halloran, Michael||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Orme, Stanley|
|Havers, Michael||Page, Graham (Crosby)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Parkinson, Cecil||Mr. Tim Fortescue and|
|Peel, John||Mr. Paul Hawkins.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Mr. Kilfedder
I beg to move Amendment No. 27, in page 3, line 13, after 'and', insert:'after consultation with the police authority and representatives of the Royal Ulster Constabulary'I intend to deal with this matter briefly. [Hon. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad that hon. Members opposite—
§ Mr. Kilfedder
And on this side of the Committee—agree with that. One ought not to forget the rôle which the Royal Ulster Constabulary has played and can continue to play in the life of Northern Ireland. It is a force which since the creation of Ulster, despite all allegations made against it, has played a very noble rôle. One historian who is knowledgeable about police work in various parts of the world has said that the R.U.C is worthy of commendation and has the highest detection rate of any police force in the British Isles.
§ 6.45 a.m.
§ Much has been said about the R.U.C. It has suffered much by way of slander from Republicans. Members of the force have been shot at; they have been murdered. When my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland designate goes to Northern Ireland, he should remember the rôle that the R.U.C. plays. I think I speak for all my colleagues from Northern Ireland when I say that we have nothing but the greatest admiration for their work. I believe that this feeling is shared by right hon. and hon. Members opposite.
§ When the Secretary of State designate has to make regulations under this Schedule, he should seek the advice of the police authority. One of the failures of the last Administration in 1968–69 lay in the instructions which many people believed had been given—perhaps they had not been given—that the Army should ignore the police in Northern Ireland. The result was that the police were isolated. If the Army had sought the advice of the police, the trouble would not have escalated as it did, and we 721 would not now be in this situation requiring legislation which radically alters the democratic régime of a part of the United Kingdom.
§ Therefore my right hon. Friend, who goes with the best wishes of the House of Commons to undertake this task in Northern Ireland, should appreciate the importance of his consulting the police authority and the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Much has been said, and no doubt will be said, by way of attacks upon the R.U.C. None the less it is a force which, although it has taken so much in the past, is capable of taking much more and yet serving the community—not just one section, but both sections, of the community. It is right, before we pass from this part of the Schedule, to place on record our appreciation of the work of the R.U.C.
§ Mr. McNamara
When the Secretary of State designate visits Northern Ireland, he should ponder well the words just spoken by the hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder). I urge the right hon. Gentleman to remember the peculiar loyalties and traditions of the R.U.C. Regard has been paid to its high detection rate. We know exactly what happened the night that Samuel Devenney was bludgeoned. We have yet to find the policemen who bludgeoned him so badly that he eventually died.
§ Mr. McMaster
Inview of what has been said by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) and what was said earlier by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy) I feel that I must make a brief contribution.
The rôle of the police has been above commendation in the trouble and riots. It started nearly three years ago with continuous rioting, particularly in Londonderry. On 27th July, 1969, the rioters went through the centre of the town, damaging and looting and when the crisis came to a head on 12th August—
§ The Temporary Chairman (Sir Stephen McAdden)
I do not want to interrupt the hon. Gentleman more than I can help but I do not think we want on this Amendment to go back on the history of the past. This is a question of consulting the police about the future.
§ Mr. McMaster
I take the point, Sir Stephen, but this is relevant to what we are discussing and has a bearing on those who should be consulted. For three days the police were savagely attacked with petrol bombs. More than 400 policemen were seriously injured and many killed—
§ The Temporary Chairman
If the hon. Member starts a debate on this theme, he will invite other speeches from other parts of the Committee and the debate will be prolonged. It is better to get on with the debate that should be under discussion.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) made a serious attack on the conduct of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Surely that should be allowed to be answered on the Floor of the House.
§ The Temporary Chairman
I noted the brief remark by the hon. Member, and if he had gone on I would have called him to order as well. I am anxious to get on to the subject of the Amendment. I do not want to wander far from it.
§ Mr. McMaster
The rôle of the police is vital. Their attitude in the past has been above praise. They have suffered the gravest injuries and losses. Many have been killed on duty. They have not returned fire in Londonderry in spite of very vicious attacks—even in contrast to what happened on "Bloody Sunday".
With a record like this and with a high detection rate that is praised throughout the United Kingdom, I feel my right hon. Friend would do well to accept the Amendment and consult representatives of a body of men which, in spite of the attacks, has a tremendous morale.
§ Mr. Channon
I think the whole Committee knows well the gallant rôle that the police have played in Northern Ireland and the ghastly trials and tribulations they have undergone. I have a great deal of sympathy with the view expressed that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State designate should be required to consult the police authority and representatives of the R.U.C. about proposals to make regulations under the Bill. But I ask my hon. Friend to be kind enough not to press his Amendment because my right hon. Friend would wish to consult the appropriate bodies about such regulations. 723 There might be the need to consult still more bodies. I do not think it would be appropriate to make this a statutory requirement.
If the regulations are in prospect on matters in which the police can be expected to wish to express views, I can give an absolute assurance that they will be consulted in the normal way. A similar assurance would apply to the police in Britain on any occasion when they might be expected to have a view, and I shall certainly ensure that they are fully consulted.
§ Mr. Kilfedder
I am sorry that my hon. Friend cannot find it possible to accept the Amendment. However, in view of what he says I do not intend to press it. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Captain Orr
I beg to move, Amendment No. 29, in page 3, line 19, leave out from 'unless' to end of line 20 and insert:'he has been at the time of his appointment ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland for a minimum of seven years'
§ The Temporary Chairman (Sir Stephen McAdden)
With this Amendment it would be convenient to discuss Amendment No. 30, in line 20, at end insert:'and is prepared to swear an Oath of Allegiance'.
§ Captain Orr
Amendment No. 29 is a comparatively small Amendment and need not occupy the Committee for too long. We have been making fairly good progress.
The point of the Amendment is fairly simple. It deals with the membership of the Commission. As earlier Amendments have been rejected—and provided that the Schedule stands as part of the Bill—we shall have a Commission which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State designate has the mandatory duty to consult on all questions of legislation. Therefore, the membership of the Commission becomes exceedingly important. At present the only qualification for membership is that a person be at the time of appointment "ordinarily resident."
However, a man can take up ordinary residence fairly rapidly and it may be of 724 fairly short duration. The Amendment seeks to provide that the Commission is selected from persons who have been ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland for a minimum period of seven years. I admit that the period of seven years is arbitrary, but I have selected it because that is the qualification for the franchise for election to Parliament at Stormont. Therefore, that period has a highly respectable ancestry. One cannot appear on the electoral register to vote for the Parliament of Northern Ireland unless one has been a resident there for seven years.
That is perfectly proper. It prevents people coming to Northern Ireland and almost overnight appearing on an electoral register and voting. One ought to have some term of residence to qualify a person to serve on the Commission. I am not necessarily wedded to the period of seven years; I am simply explaining why I have selected it.
We need not make heavy weather of it. What kind of persons does the Minister envisage as members of the Commission? If advice is to be sought on this highly formal basis, it is important that it should be sought from persons who are Northern Ireland persons and not people recently brought in or who have recently moved there. It is exceedingly important that the members should come from what I might call the indigenous population.
§ Mr. Kilfedder
It is extraordinary that because my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) is putting before the Committee an Amendment about reasonable qualification, an hon. Member opposite should say that he does not want anyone on the Commission.
§ Mr. Kilfedder
Only a small percentage of people would be excluded because of the suggested qualification.
I come to the Amendment in my name, Amendment No. 30, which would provide that the members of the Commission should be prepared to swear an oath of allegiance. That is not unreasonable. The hon. Lady the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) laughs because she find an oath of allegiance amusing.
§ 7.0 a.m.
§ Miss Devlin
The hon. Gentleman is following the fine traditions of his party in continually referring to the fact that I take the oath of allegiance lightly. What amuses me is not the way in which I regard the taking of the oath of allegiance but the way in which hon. Members opposite take an oath of allegiance to their own prejudices and think of it as something entirely different.
§ Mr. Kilfedder
We know that the hon. Lady treats the oath of allegiance lightly, and I think that that is wrong. When an hon. Member takes an oath of allegiance he takes it sincerely. He subscribes to it as a Member of this Parliament, and a similar oath of allegiance is taken by hon. Members in the Stormont Parliament. I am saying that if the Commission is to take the place of a democratically elected body, its members should also take the oath. This does not present a stumbling block to anybody who wishes to serve Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom as a whole. I am sure there are hon. Members on both sides of the Committee who would agree that this is a reasonable request and I trust that the Government will accept the Amendment.
§ [Sir ROBERT GRANT-FERRIS in the Chair]
§ Miss Devlin
I wish to speak briefly on the question of the oath of allegiance. Many hon. Members in the House no doubt will be fooled by the hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder). We have only to look at events in Northern Ireland in the past two days to see the futile dichotomy which exists about allegiance when people say "God save the Queen", take the oath of allegiance and then say "We shall fight the British Army". That is the sort of mentality shown by any hon. Gentleman who raises this question of allegiance.
It happens to be an emotional question in the North of Ireland and I ask the Secretary of State designate to take it into account. He will not be aware of the extent to which the oath of allegiance permeates and controls the lives of people in Northern Ireland. A school teacher in the North of Ireland—unlike school teachers in this country—cannot teach in a school, cannot be paid a salary for the 726 work he does in a school, until he takes the oath of allegiance. Nor can a person even put a broom over the floor of any Ministry, or do any road relief schemes for a Ministry, until he has taken the oath of allegiance.
The way this works in Northern Ireland is not on the basis of its being a perpetuation of a monarchy or a particular system. To the majority of people in this House, it is a sincere pledge to do what one considers to be one's duty in the best interests of society as a whole. In Northern Ireland, however, it is regarded in a twofold way. It is an oath of allegiance not to Britain and the monarchy, but to the position of privilege of the Unionist Party. It is seen as a further means by which members, not of a majority Catholic population, but of the minority Republican population can further be humiliated in getting jobs as menial as sweeping the Ministry's roads.
§ Mr Fitt
The hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) seeks to place a restriction on the members of the Commission by imposing on them a seven-year residence qualification in Northern Ireland. It must be remembered that commissions in past years which have been set up to look into the affairs of Northern Ireland included people such as Lord Cameron who certainly had no residence qualification in Northern Ireland. Their reports have been a damning indictment of what has been happening in Northern Ireland.
One reason why there has been such trouble in Northern Ireland has been the different standards applied there as opposed to other parts of the United Kingdom. If a resident of the Irish Republic were to come and live in London no restriction would be placed on that person. He could have his name placed on the electoral register and take up whatever appointment was offered to him. Restrictions are placed on such persons by the Northern Ireland Government because they do not want persons coming from the Republic whom they suspect of being hostile to the Unionists.
§ Mr. John Farr (Harborough)
The hon. Gentleman is talking about the Republic of Ireland now, not London. He will be aware that a person can live in the Republic for a lifetime and not get a place on the electoral register.
§ Mr. Fitt
As I understand it there is an arrangement whereby they can be placed on the register if they so desire. The Secretary of State designate is to assume responsibilities for Northern Ireland affairs and it is highly unlikely that he will appoint Sean MacStiofain or Cathal Goulding to serve on this Commission. This is undoubtedly what is activating the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South. I do not think there is any possibility of the Secretary of State-designate going to such lengths. It is a spurious argument which should be rejected.
§ Mr. David Howell
The effect of Amendment No. 29 is to require that any person appointed to the Commission shall have satisfied the condition that at the time of his appointment he shall have been ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland for a minimum of seven years. It seemed appropriate to the Government that persons sitting on the Commission should have close links with Northern Ireland and we have therefore provided in the Bill that they should be ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland. This gives sufficient flexibility since it is still possible for someone to be appointed who may be living elsewhere, provided that Northern Ireland is his normal home.
The effect of the Amendment is to cut away this flexibility. It has the undesirable effect of making it appear that a person who has been ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland for less than seven years is thereby not the sort of person who ought to be closely concerned with Northern Irish affairs. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) was quite frank and open in admitting that this was a somewhat arbitrary limit and on reflection he will, I believe, recognise the truth, of that.
He asked what sort of people would be on the Commission. As my hon. Friend and I have said repeatedly through the night, my right hon. Friend wishes to keep an open mind on the precise nature and character of the people who will come on to the Commission. He and my hon. Friend have emphasised that we shall want wise people, of the highest quality and integrity, and we intend to seek them. To go beyond that would be to prejudge decisions which have yet to be made.
728 Amendment No. 30 makes it necessary for a member of the Commission to be prepared to swear an oath of allegiance. This can only make things difficult for Commission. As my hon. and gallant Friend knows better than I, there are a number of advisory bodies in Northern Ireland, and I know of no such regulation applying to them. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to devise a form of oath which was not bound to offend some section of the Irish community and thus to undermine the whole purpose of the exercise. Such a provision would make it difficult to persuade representatives of a wide section of opinion in Northern Ireland to help my right hon. Friend in the discharge of his onerous duties by serving on the Commission. In the light of those points, I ask both my hon. Friends to be so good as to withdraw their proposed Amendments.
§ Captain Orr
I am not entirely satisfied and I do not imagine that my hon. Friend expected me to be satisfied, with what he said about residence qualifications. Surely he could have considered some term of years which would have made it quite plain that those on the Commission really belonged to the indigenous population. Nevertheless, I said at the beginning that I did not intend to make heavy weather of this, and as we have made good progress, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ The Chairman
If the hon. Gentleman wishes to speak, I shall have to put the Question on the Amendment afterwards.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
I hope that the Government Front Bench realise that only those brought up in the Northern Ireland situation can make a valid contribution to what is going on in Northern Ireland. Many people come in who do not know but have hazy-crazy, airy-fairy ideas of ways in which to settle the problem. I hope that the Front Bench will keep that in mind.
Only those brought up in the Northern Ireland situation understand how it can be settled. The first consideration for the Secretary of State designate is not to concentrate on ways of getting a united 729 Ireland, as some would like, but to concentrate on how to get a united Ulster.
I do not know why hon. Members opposite are making such heavy weather of the oath of allegiance, because they have said over and over again that they take it as play actors. One of the most prominent members of the S.D.L.P., Mr. Austin Currie, said that he took the oath of allegiance as a play actor. If that is the way hon. Members treat the oath of allegiance, to ask them to take it is only adding irony to a bitter situation.
§ The Chairman
If an hon. Member rises to speak after that, debate must go on and I must put the Question—and it must be negatived, if that is what the Committee wishes.
§ Mr. McMaster
I have found this short debate unsatisfactory. A whole Parliament is being replaced by a Commission. We have no information about how many members are to serve on the Commission. It was indicated that it would be fairly small and perhaps some 20 are suggested. If we are to have only 20 members, with
§ the tremendous responsibility of advising the Secretary of State on which Orders in Council are necessary for the proper running of Northern Ireland in the interim period, it will be possible to find many ordinary residents—resident for some time—who will take an oath of allegiance, to the Queen and be prepared to stand and to fulfil the requirements suggested in these two Amendments. I suggest that my hon. Friend give more indication to the Committee of how many he expects will serve, for how many days a week and how many hours a day, and the volume of work with which they will have to deal.
§ 7.15 a.m.
§ Mr. Maginnis
I should like to ask one question only. Can the Minister give an assurance that those appointed to the Commission will not be members of illegal organisations?
§ Amendment negatived.
Amendment proposed: No. 30, in page 3, line 20, at end insert:
'and is prepared to swear an Oath of Allegiance'.—[Mr. Kilfedder.]
§ Question put, That the Amendment be made: —
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 8, Noes 114.731
|Division No. 110.]||AYES||[7.16 a.m.|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Molyneaux, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Mr. John E. Maginnis and|
|Kilfedder, James||Paisley, Rev. Ian||Mr. Stanley R. McMaster.|
|Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Pounder, Rafton|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)|
|Astor, John||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Howell, David (Guildford)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Devlin, Miss Bernadette||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)|
|Benyon, W.||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Hunt, John|
|Biffen, John||Drayson, G. B.||James, David|
|Body, Richard||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)|
|Boscawen, Robert||Eyre, Reginald||Jessel, Toby|
|Bowden, Andrew||Farr, John||Johnson Smith, G.(E. Grinstead)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.)||Jopling, Michael|
|Bryan, Paul||Fookes, Miss Janet||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine|
|Buck, Antony||Fowler, Norman||Kinsey, J. R.|
|Burden, F. A.||Fox, Marcus||Knox, David|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Gibson-Watt, David||Lane, David|
|Carlisle, Mark||Goodhew, Victor||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Channon, Paul||Gorst, John||Luce, R. N.|
|Chapman, Sydney||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||MacArthur, Ian|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Gummer, J. Selwyn||McManus, Frank|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Gurden, Harold||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Maurice (Farnham)|
|Clegg, Walter||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||McNamara, J. Kevin|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mather, Carol|
|Concannon, J. D.||Havers, Michael||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Cooke, Robert||Hawkins, Paul||Moate, Roger|
|Coombs, Derek||Hayhoe, Barney||Money, Ernle|
|Cordle, John||Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Morrison, Charles|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)||Hornby, Richard||Normanton, Tom|
|Dalyell, Tam||Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.DamePatricia||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Orme, Stanley||Russell, Sir Ronald||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Page, Graham (Crosby)||Shelton, William (Clapham)||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Parkinson, Cecil||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)||Waddington, David|
|Peel, John||Skinner, Dennis||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Percival, Ian||Spearing, Nigel||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis||Speed, Keith||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Raison, Timothy||Spence, John||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Sproat, Iain||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Redmond, Robert||Stallard, A. W.||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Sutcliffe, John||Mr. Tim Fortescue and|
|Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Tebbit, Norman||Mr. Oscar Murton.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Mr. Maude
I beg to move Amendment No. 37, in page 4, line 23, at end insert:4. So long as the Parliament of Northern Ireland shall stand prorogued in accordance with section 1(3) of this Act, there shall be, in accordance with an Order in Council made under this Act, additional representation for Northern Ireland constituencies in the Parliament of the United Kingdom.The Amendment is to some extent exploratory, to discover the Government's long-term intentions about NorthernIrish representation. I understand why the Ulster Unionist Members did not feel able to add their names to it. They felt that this would be underlining the disappearance and possibly suggesting the permanent disappearance of Stormont. The purpose of the Amendment is to provide for the enlargement of the Ulster Unionist representation in the House of Commons for so long as the Stormont Parliament stands prorogued. I fully understand the difficulties which the Government and hon. Members may feel about this—
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
The hon. Gentleman said that the purpose of the Amendment was to provide for an increase in the number of Ulster Unionist Members, but it may be that people of other political persuasions will be elected.
§ Mr. Maude
That was an accidentalslip—I meant to refer formally to my Ulster Unionist friends. Since it will be within the recollection of the Committee that I intervened on Second Reading to make sure that Ulster Members of all parties should be consulted by the Secretary of State designate, I think the hon. Gentleman will acquit me of seeking to make a distinction here.
Ulster Members here, of whatever party, will be faced with an enormous amount of work in the form of case work, dealing with legislation by Orders 732 in Council and consultation—whether or not a Select Committee of Ulster Members is set up here. It may be said that because Stormont will be prorogued for only one year it will be difficult to make these constitutional changes during that short period.
Why it is important that we should at least discover the intentions of the Government is that it was made clear in a debate on an earlier Amendment that the Government are not clear for how long the prorogation of Stormont by the Bill will last. The right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones) was first of the opinion that the Bill if it was renewed annually could only keep Stormont prorogued until the end of its life under the quinquennial Act. He then looked it up in a law book and thought again and came to the conclusion that the Bill might have the effect of prolonging the life of Stormont beyond its natural constitutional life under the quinquennial Act. I have put down an Amendment on Report to clarify this matter and make sure that the situation will not arise but I do not know whether it will be selected.
If there is a possibility that Stormont may go on in indefinite prorogation it is important for us to consider how the Ulster constituencies should be democratically represented and served. The hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) earlier referred to this question and said he thought that as there was only a prorogation there was no need for the boundaries to be changed. If my memory serves me, he also said that while there were a number of large constituencies in Ulster there were also some large constituencies in Great Britain and some small ones in Belfast. That is perfectly true. I do not think he or anyone could deny that if the people of Ulster were to be represented in the 733 Westminster Parliament in the same proportion as are the people of England, Wales and Scotland, the number of their representatives here—and one can work this out on different sets of figures—would probably be about 50 per cent. more than they have now. It might well be 16, 17, 18 or something of the sort.
I think it is reasonable that we should ask the Government whether they are prepared for a situation in which, if they do not manage to get a settlement, as some of us fear they may not, within a period of a year, the people of Northern Ireland are left inadequately represented here and not represented at all at Stormont; and whether they are prepared to see Ulster Members, of whatever party, carrying what may well be an increasing load of case work and finding it extremely difficult to represent their constituents as hon. Members for Great Britain constituencies try to represent theirs. It is at least reasonable to ask the Government in these circumstances what their intention would be if the suspension of Stormont was carried on well beyond a period of one year. I do not propose to carry this Amendment to a Division, but it should be an opportunity for the Government to say how they foresee the representation of the people of Ulster being carried out in the House of Commons if Stormont remains indefinitely in suspension.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
The electoral quota is higher in Northern Ireland, for the reason given by the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude). At the beginning, under the redistribution of seats Act of 1918, the Six Counties had 30 Members in this House of Commons. This was reduced first to 13 and then to 12, following abolition of the university seats Act of 1918, the Six Counties had reason for the first reduction was that there was a subordinate legislature taking over much of the work.
If integration were ever to be seriously considered in due course, we would have to put our minds to this question. The question of what is temporary has often exercised our minds. In the first instance, the Bill is for a year. But if ever we were to consider increasing the number of Members from Northern Ireland, it should not be done of itself but should 734 be considered in the wider United Kingdom context. It should be done not in a Bill of this kind but in a constitutional context in a constitutional Bill. This matter will therefore have to be left to the future, and I note that the hon. Member is not pressing the Amendment but intends it to be probing.
The fundamental point is the position that will have to be taken if and when we get to the point of considering integration. I have been studying the report of the Boundary Commissioners for Northern Ireland. The electoral quota, based on 1965—the base year for all the last boundary changes—is almost 75,000 for Northern Ireland, and it must be up 2,000 or so on the previous redistribution. In England the norm is 58,000—we know that is out of true already—in Wales 50,000, and in Scotland 47,000.There are some larger constituencies, of course.
It seems that in Wales, taking the County of Glamorgan as it exists today plus the County Boroughs of Swansea and Cardiff with 1½million people, there are 14 seats. In Wales the greater representation is because of the rural areas. But Glamorgan and the two county boroughs which I have mentioned give about the same number of seats as Northern Ireland—
§ Mr. Rees
Scotland is different I agree. There are differences in England, Wales and Scotland which ought also to be taken into account were we making a constitutional change of this kind. What matters is whether we ever get to the point of integration. There have been times during the night when the discussion has been such that one could wish it would never happen, but that is as it may be. Already some of my hon. Friends have been saying "Stormont's revenge." But it might come to a discussion about integration, and that would be the time to consider what we should do about Northern Ireland. We should not do it now.
§ Captain Orr
My hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) has done us a service in raising this very important question. It must follow, if the Parliament of Northern Ireland were to cease to exist rather than be merely prorogued, that the membership 735 from Northern Ireland in this House of Commons would have to be increased.
My figures differ slightly from those of the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees), though they are not all that different. I do not recollect the source of his. If Northern Ireland were to be on exactly the same basis as Scotland, I reckon that would give us about 20 seats. If we were on the same basis as the United Kingdom average, which I make something like 62,000, that would give us about 16 seats. However, the United Kingdom average includes Northern Ireland, so perhaps the 16 is somewhat low. My hon. Friend's figure of 18 seats would be about the right number to consider.
However, this does not arise at the moment, as the hon. Gentleman says, and my hon. Friend is right not to press his Amendment to a Division. Plainly the Parliament of Northern Ireland has not come to an end. It has merely been prorogued by a temporary Measure. But it is important that this House of Commons should have before it the fact that, if it happens that the Parliament of Northern Ireland is brought to an end, it will mean that the representation from Northern Ireland here has to be increased, in ordinary simple equity.
§ Mr. Biffen
Though I appended my name to this Amendment, I was delighted to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) underline that it was only an exploratory Amendment. I suppose we might look upon it as a sort of pre-breakfast appetiser.
None the less, it is important that we should consider it. Whatever one might feel about this legislation, it has become apparent again and again during the long night's debates that the parliamentary rôle in law making is being substantially, though temporarily, diminished. But if the temporary nature of the diminution proves to be a great deal more protracted than we have thought hitherto, we shall have to turn our minds to the question of enhanced parliamentary representation and a far greater authority for the legislature in the law-making processes which apply to Northern Ireland. It touches on the question of a more equitable representation for Northern Ireland than is now obtained from the existing 12 Members.
736 I confirm the arithmetic of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) that, taking the 1970 General Election, comparing the electorate and the number of seats for the component nations of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland had an electorate which averaged over 84,700 per Member elected, whereas Wales had 54,400 and Scotland had 51,200. Our experience of the representation from Wales and Scotland confirms that there is a premium, to some extent—I think quite rightly—accorded to those two countries on account of their remoteness from the central area of decision-taking. This healthy premium should therefore be accorded to Northern Ireland. If Northern Ireland had the same electoral quota as is obtained by Scotland, it would come out with 20 seats. That would be equitable and would commend itself broadly to the House of Commons.
We must also consider another factor. On the whole, we may be given the choice between politics being conducted extra-parliamentary in Northern Ireland or parliamentary here. I fully take the point made by the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) that at various stages during the night we may have felt that our history had come back to haunt us. None the less, if it is a choice between extra-parliamentary or parliamentary action, I will always choose parliamentary action.
I think that as a House here at Westminster we have benefited by the presence of the hon. Members for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt). Suppose that their parliamentary activities had been confined to Stormont; suppose now, as a result of the events of the last 48 hours, that their voices could only be heard extra-parliamentary in Northern Ireland. In those circumstances, we would be confronted with a situation where practically every major public spokesman in Northern Ireland would be outside the House of Commons, and I think that we would count that a major disadvantage.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
If we were getting to the point of considering integration, taking account of the events of the last three years and the fact that a third of the population of Northern Ireland have indicated a wish to be in the South, with all the qualifications of that, we might 737 find ourselves considering a smaller Northern Ireland coming into the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Biffen
Yes. I note that the hon. Gentleman believes that the range of options considered by Her Majesty's Opposition includes that of a partition, which enables that part of Northern Ireland to be contained within the United Kingdom to be one which is ethnically and culturally more homogeneous than now. We can say that this small debate may have been of value in that we can take note of that statement from the Opposition Front Bench. [Interruption.] That statement was delivered from the Opposition Front Bench. I am not going to try to intervene in a row between the hon. Members for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) and Leeds, South We have soldiered through a fairly long night without getting distracted in this fashion.
I appreciate the spirit in which the hon. Member for Leeds, South has responded to the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon. Sooner or later, I suspect that we shall have to come back to this subject. We may think that our debates are going on at an absurd and protracted hour, but I suspect that the words spoken here will be read carefully by many people in Northern Ireland, and this debate will be read and carefully borne in mind for future reference.
§ Mr. Powell
There is one practical point, to which the exchanges between my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) and the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) drew attention, which has not been explicitly mentioned in any of the speeches and is worth recording in a few sentences.
I think that there is a feeling, shared in all parts of the Committee, that the probability is that the arrangements which we are making in the Bill will prove more durable than the initial year. The old French proverb has been more than once referred to. I doubt whether many hon. Members feel sure that it will not have a currency of several years.
It is easy for us now, at the inception of these new arrangements, to say, "Oh, they are only temporary; therefore, we can and ought to ignore the severe 738 anomaly that as long as they last our fellow citizens in Northern Ireland have a much lower scale of parliamentary representation than our fellow citizens in Great Britain". Our difficulty is that as the time lengthens there may never be a moment when we feel that it is right to correct this anomaly, tolerable for a brief period but increasingly intolerable as that period lengthens. Therefore, it is worth while putting on record the fact that we are conscious that we are using the temporary nature of these arrangements and their assumed brevity as our sole justification for denying to the electorate of Northern Ireland the scale of parliamentary representation that is enjoyed in the rest of the Kingdom.
That must be a reason for returning to this matter, not necessarily at the stage to which I admit that I look forward—some of us do not—when true integration falls to be considered. We have a duty in this House of Commons to keep this matter before us and to return to it much sooner than that.
§ Mr. Kilfedder
I intervene only briefly. When my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) introduced his Amendment he said that he understood that his Unionist colleagues could not put their names to the Amendment. I believe that the best future for Ulster is full integration within the United Kingdom. In my opinion the sooner it comes the better for Northern Ireland. But we are speaking about the present time. I feel that it is wrong that Northern Ireland should be under-represented in the House. The majority should have their voice here, but the minority should also have their voice.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) has said, we must allow the people to give expression to their feelings within Parliament itself. That is why the demonstration that took place in Belfast on Monday and Tuesday acted as a safety valve. In that sense it was very useful. We need to make sure that there is a full expression of opinion from Northern Ireland. The figures which the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) gave of the electoral quota for England, Wales and Scotland would seem to indicate that Ulster ought to have about 20 Members of Parliament. If one casts one's mind back to the Redistribution of Seats (Ireland) Act, 739 1918, one remembers that Northern Ireland then had 30 seats in the House. Thirty is not an unacceptable number.
I take the point made by the hon. Member for Leeds, South, that perhaps what has been experienced by the Committee through the night may put people off the idea of full integration. I hope not, because I believe that proceedings like this would take place in a sort of Ulster Grand Committee upstairs, as I outlined in an Amendment which, unfortunately, was not called. I am thankful to my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon for raising this matter.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
The hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) spoke of what he picturesquely called "the Celtic premium", and the same point was made by the hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder) in a different way. For the record it should be said that the Scots' representation in the central belt is very much that of the English average. I represent 70,000 constituents, but this is heavily weighed down by constituencies such as the Western Isles and Caithness and Sutherland.
§ Mr. Molyneaux
Speaking as a Northern Ireland Member with the largest electorate not only in Northern Ireland but in the whole of the United Kingdom—well over 150,000—I was greatly relieved to hear that the Stormont Members, of whom I have six in my constituency, will continue to have some of the work load and to channel their constituents' complaints through the Secretary of State. Had it not been for that arrangement, the work load would have been intolerable if those seats were abolished and we had to reach more workable arrangements.
§ Mr. David Howell
I am grateful to my hon. Friends and hon. Members opposite for the way in which the Amendment has been moved and discussed. As the mover and my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) reminded us, the spirit in which the Amendment was moved was exploratory. I doubt whether the explorers will feel at the end of what I say that they have discovered much treasure, but I will do my best to comment on the points that have been made.
740 It is, of course, a good thing that the Amendment is exploratory because as it stands on the Notice Paper it does not make much sense and it is defective in a major respect. If an Amendmenton these lines were to make sense there would be a need for substantial powers for such a procedure as is outlined and those powers do not exist, nor are they hinted at, except by implication, in the Amendment. So if the Government were to accept the Amendment it would make a nonsense of the situation. I accept what my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) said, that he had not that intention in mind when he moved it.
A great deal of arithmetic has been put around by hon. Members, by the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr), and a number of different views and hypothesis have been put forward. For what it is worth at this time in the morning, my brief gives the figure of 16 seats. I put that in the pool in the same spirit that other hon. Members have put forward figures. This is an argument about a hypothetical situation.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) put his fingers on the truth of the matter, that the Government's position is and must be that we are dealing here with legislation which carries the title "temporary". It would be hopelessly inappropriate to make enormous longstanding permanent changes in the representation of Northern Ireland at Westminster in this way in a kind of instant law form. This would not be the vehicle for that. Of course, it is perfectly easy to say, and I am saying it now with ease, that this is a temporary Bill. It is equally true to say—a good many hon. Members have said it—that only the provisional lasts. At five to eight in the morning it is easy to say anything, as the whim takes one, in terms of how long the legislation will apply.
As has been made clear by my hon. Friend and myself again and again throughout the night, these are matters on which, if we were to seek to crystallise them now, we would be anticipating the very discussions and issues to which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State-designate will be giving his mind and all 741 his energies over the coming weeks and months. These are points which are bound to arise then.
It goes without saying—this is no more than an academic observation—that if at the end of the day the constitutional arrangements were such that Northern Ireland had no provincial Parliament, obviously the representation at Westminster would need to be carefully examined. Arguments that it should be increased would be bound to be advanced.
For the time being, easy though it may be to say that this is temporary legislation or to predict, wisely or unwisely, that it will go on longer, the fact is that this is a Bill dealing with a temporary situation providing for temporary arrangements. That is the spirit in which it is put forward. Therefore, it would obviously be entirely wrong to accept at this stage that either speculation about this kind of constitutional change or discussion as to its desirability had any place.
I must therefore ask my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon to withdraw the Amendment, as I am sure he will, because he said that it is only exploratory. As I prophesied, my hon. Friend will not be satisfied with the discoveries from what I said, but I hope he will feel that I have commented fairly on the points which were raised.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Peter Rawlinson)
I beg to move Amendment No. 38, in page 4, line 26, at the beginning insert:4.—(1) Her Majesty shall not be recommended to make an Order in Council under section 1(3) of this Act unless either a draft of the Order has been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament or the Order declares that it has been made to appear to Her Majesty that by reason of urgency the Order requires to be made without a draft having been so approved.
§ No. 39, in page 4, line 26, leave out from 'Act' to end of line 28.742
§ No. 40, in line 29, leave out 'in the case of an Order relating to taxation'.
No. 41, in line 29, after 'Order'. insert:
(i) specified in the said Order as being an Order to which sub-paragraph (l)(a) of paragraph 4 of this Schedule applies or (ii).
No. 42, in line 29, after 'taxation', insert:
'or the preservation of the peace or maintenance of order or the establishment powers or composition of any court or the power or duties of any member (by whatever title designated) of any police force under the management and control of the Secretary of State'.
§ No. 44, in line 36, leave out from 'Order)' to end of line 38.
§ No. 45, in line 36, leave out from 'Order)' to end of paragraph 4.
No. 46, in line 37, leave out from 'be' to end of line 38 and insert:
'laid in draft before Parliament and not made until it has been approved by both Houses'.
§ No. 48, in page 4, leave out lines 39 to 44 and insert:
§ (2) The Secretary of State shall not make any regulations under section 1(3) of the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act (Northern Ireland) 1922 unless either a draft of the regulations has been approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament or the regulations declare that it appears to the Secretary of State that by reason of urgency the regulations require to be made without a draft having been so approved; and where any regulations are so made by the Secretary of State without a draft having been so approved, the last fore going sub-paragraph shall apply to them as it applies to an Order in Council under section 1(3) of this Act.
§ (3) An Order in Council under section 1(3) of this Act may, in relation to any statutory rules (including any such rules made by virtue of such an Order in Council), make provision corresponding to the last foregoing sub-paragraph or provision for the rules to be subject to annulmnt in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament in like manner as a statutory instrument and for section 5 of the Statutory Instruments Act 1946 to apply accordingly.
No. 50, in line 41, leave out from 'be' to end of line 44 and insert:
'made by statutory instrument and unless such instrument or a draft thereof has been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament it shall be subject to the like procedure as an Order to which sub-paragraph (1)(a) above applies'.
§ No. 52, in line 45, leave out sub-paragraph (3).743
No. 54, in page 5, line 2, leave out from 'but' to end of line 8, and insert:
'no such step shall be taken or thing come into operation unless an Order in Council has been made relating thereto and any such Order, other than an Order of which a draft has been approved by each House of Parliament shall be subject to the like procedure as an Order to which sub-paragraph (l)(a) above applies.'
No. 55, in page 5, leave out lines 6 to 11 and insert:
(b) subject to any provision made by virtue of the last foregoing sub-paragraph, any statutory rules so made or coming into operation shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament in like manner as a statutory instrument and section 5 of the Statutory Instruments Act 1946 shall apply accordingly.
No. 57, in line 16, leave out 'not apply so long as section 1 of this Act has effect' and insert:
'apply as if references to the Parliament of Northern Ireland or of either House thereof were references to the Parliament of the United Kingdom or the corresponding House thereof.'
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
On a point of order, Sir Robert. It might save the time of the Committee if you felt inclined to take the following: my Amendment No. 43, in page 4, line 31, leave out from 'days' to 'after' in line 32 and insert:'(being forty days Mondays to Fridays inclusive on which Parliament is sitting, and on which the Standing Orders and practice of each House, respectively enable such business to be taken in Orders of the Day)'.My Amendment No. 51, in page 4, line 43, leave out from 'instrument' to end of line 44 and insert:'during a period of forty days, being days Mondays to Fridays inclusive on which Parliament is sitting, and on which the Standing Orders and practice of each House, respectively enable such business to be taken in Orders of the Day'.And the manuscript Amendment to Government Amendment No. 55, at end insert:'save that the period of 40 days shall be confined to days Mondays to Fridays inclusive on which Parliament is sitting, and on which the Standing Orders and practice of each House respectively enables such business to be taken in Orders of the Day.'The argument on all three Amendments is exactly the same.
§ The Chairman
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. I am sure that that would be for the convenience of the Committee.
§ The Attorney-General
This batch of Amendments includes five Government Amendments and a number of other Amendments standing in the names of right hon. and hon. Members.
The Committee will recollect that on Second Reading it became evident to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State designate, and indeed had been in his mind earlier, that the parliamentary procedure which was proposed under the Bill as it then was and as it now is was not satisfactory to the House of Commons and that it could be and should be improved. It was for this reason that when winding up the debate on Second Reading I made it clear that Amendments would be tabled by the Government under which the Order could be made forthwith—but will lapse if not approved by affirmative Resolution…".—[Official Report, 28th March, 1972; Vol. 834, c. 361.]The effect of Amendment No. 38 is that the Government now will carry out that which I said that they would do. Under paragraph 4(1), therefore, in ordinary circumstances the Government will lay a draft Order in Council, and such a draft Order in Council, if it is approved by both Houses of Parliament, will come into effect—that is, it must have the approval of both Houses. If it is not approved, it does not come into effect and during the time it has been laying neither the Secretary of State nor anyone else can act under the powers contained in draft. Accordingly, only after Parliament—that, is both Houses of Parliament—has affirmatively approved can any acts be done or powers taken in such procedure.
As an exception, as the Committee will note from the second part of Amendment No. 38, if by reason of urgency an order is required to be made before a draft has been approved the order will be made. Acts then can be done under that order. It will be laid before Parliament. If within 40 days both Houses have not affirmatively approved the order, the order shall cease to have effect, without prejudice to anything previously done.
Amendment No. 38 therefore effects this major change. Amendments Nos. 40 and 44 in the name of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary are consequential. Amendment No. 48 substitutes 745 the affirmative procedure for the negative procedure which is at present in the Bill in respect of regulations made by the Secretary of State under the Special Powers Act. Under paragraph (3) of Amendment No. 48 any statutory rules, that is to say instruments, which are made under Stormont statute, which are defined by paragraph 7 of the Schedule, may be subject to affirmative procedure or provision may be made for them to be subject to the negative Resolution. This is for flexibility. For instance, if a matter is of minor importance then the negative Resolution procedure can be used.
Amendment No. 55 provides that the statutory rules requiring affirmative Resolution on a draft at Stormont can, by Order in Council, be by affirmative or negative procedure at Westminster. If silent it will be by negative procedure. The Amendments meet the points raised in Amendments Nos. 41, 42 and45 in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silkin) and Amendments 39, 45, 42 and 46 in the names of certain of my hon. Friends. But I turn to Amendments Nos. 54 and 57 in the name of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East(Mr. Callaghan). Amendment No. 54 provides that where under Northern Irish legislation a step cannot be taken nor a thing brought into operation unless there has been a resolution or motion of the Northern Irish Parliament, that step shall not be taken nor that thing be brought into operation unless there is an Order in Council. Amendment No. 54 calls for an Order in Council requiring an affirmative Resolution.
A wide range of matters may require a Stormont motion or a Stormont resolution. The Government consider that this would impose a quite unnecessary burden on the Houses of Parliament and therefore it is proposed to apply the parliamentary procedures only to Statutory Instruments or to Statutory Orders which are made under Northern Irish legislation. As I explained, Amendments Nos. 48 and 55 achieve this. So an Order in Council may make provision for a Statutory Instrument to be subject to affirmative Resolution or negative Resolution and, if it is silent, the negative Resolution will apply. This retains the flexibility for 746 deciding which parliamentary procedure should apply, dependent upon the importance of the subject matter. But in each case there will be parliamentary scrutiny for all Statutory Instruments or Statutory Rules which at present require a Northern Irish Resolution or Motion.
Amendment No. 57, in the name of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East deals with Stormont Instruments which do not at present require a Resolution or Motion but merely require to be laid, and the Bill does not envisage any need to require such Instruments to be laid. Amendment No. 57 would require such instruments to be laid before Westminster. It is unnecessary for those Instruments which Stormont did not make subject to either affirmative or negative procedures to be laid before Westminster, and it is better to retain the flexibility.
You indicated, Sir Robert, in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) that we would consider the two manuscript Amendments standing in his name because, as I indicated, in the affirmative Resolution procedure the period is a matter of 40 days. I regret the misunderstanding over this which was referred to earlier in our debates, which started on what is now yesterday. I apologise to the Committee for what must have misled my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton and other hon. Members, when in the course of winding-up the debate yesterday my hon. Friend interjected about what I had said about 40 sitting days when I referred to the Government's proposal over the Amendments to substitute the affirmative for the negative procedure and referred to 40 sitting days, as reported at column 361 of Hansard for 28th March. My hon. Friend intervened to say that 40 sitting days excluded Saturdays and Sundays, and he referred to the 1946 Act. I certainly gave the impression then that what was intended was 40 sitting days, but as the Amendments which I have commended appear, they refer to 40 days.
To alter this would be a departure from standard practice. It would defeat the objective of the 1946 Act, which afforded a standard system for calculating the period and for the setting of the period. A departure would set a precedent for different rules applicable to different Statutes.
747 I appreciate the dissatisfaction felt by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton, not only towards me for the misleading nature of my reply to his interjection, but also his dissatisfaction with the system. But he should appreciate that if we altered this it might mean that a court at some time would inquire into the validity of an Order in Council, and it would need to take evidence about days and times when both Houses of Parliament could have considered the Order. It would have to look not only at the Journals but also at each House's Standing Orders, and this could lead within courts to disputes, uncertainties and differences over sittings of Parliament.
Contrary to what I said when I misled my hon. Friend, the normal procedure in the Bill will be affirmative Resolution on a draft. The period will be 40 days. This is not so relevant when dealing with affirmative orders, because one can do nothing until the Order in Council is approved. It would be more relevant where the negative procedure was being applied. However, I am advised that this matter, about which my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton knows much and feels very strongly, is to be considered by the Joint Select Committee on Delegated Legislation, and I am sure that my hon. Friend's knowledge and feelings will be of great help to that Committee.
I anticipate that there will be a full examination of the matter and of the differences in opinion as to what is the best way of setting these periods of time. But in the circumstances of these orders, for all important matters the Government will require affirmative approval of an order by both Houses and will obviously make available Government time to ensure that there is parliamentary approval.
I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman's suggestion might assist the Government in extending the period of time, but the considerations of consistency, certainty and the knowledge that this will be considered by the Select Committee are of such importance that I could not recommend that the Committee should alter the 40-day period set out in the Amendment. I repeat my sincere apologies to the House for the misunderstanding in winding up the debate yesterday afternoon.
I suggest that the present sets of Amendments presents a realistic approach 748 to the problem which we have to face in framing the Bill. The Government's proposals effect the purpose that all important legislation shall be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure and the less important legislation to the negative resolution procedure. They make an important improvement in the Bill and strengthen the power of Westminster to scrutinise Orders in Council and so to control the Executive.
§ Mr. S. C. Silkin
During the debate yesterday and through the long night the Opposition have supported the Government.
We have done so because we believe the course they have taken is probably inevitable and right, and because we have accepted the fact that urgency has been the key to the operation on which the Secretary of State designate will base his future actions. For this reason we have not demurred at the totally unusual procedures of legislation by Order in Council which are enshrined in the Bill.
None the less, my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) during the Second Reading debate said that, even though we were taking an exceptional course, it was essential that Parliament should have as much opportunity as possible for scrutiny of the legislation which this Bill will enable to be passed by Order in Council and other means.
My right hon. Friend referred in particular to the provisions of paragraph 4 of the Schedule. He said that we would wish to table Amendments to enable Parliament to take a closer scrutiny of the legislation—particularly legislation arising out of the Special Powers Act, so long as it may last—than appeared in the Schedule. We have tabled Amendments to that effect, but the Attorney-General has also tabled Amendments to cover our points.
Amendment No. 50 is particularly important since it brings the regulations under the Special Powers Act within the affirmative Resolution procedure instead of the negative resolution procedure.
We are glad that the Government have adopted that in addition to several other of our proposals. The Attorney-General has mentioned two of our Amendments, Nos. 54 and 57, which the Government 749 have not seen fit to adopt. At this hour I do not wish to dwell upon those which in principle have been adopted, because we are prepared to accept the Government's drafting when it differs from ours, but where the basic principle which we sought to achieve has been given effect to.
I want to say a word about Amendments 54 and 57 and Government Amendment 48, which gives the Government an alternative method when dealing with statutory rules by allowing the use of either affirmative or negative procedure. The Attorney-General said that this is to give flexibility which is no doubt desirable. If he could help the Committee by giving some indication as to how the choice will be made, as the Amendment appears to leave it completely open and a matter for discretion, it would be a great help.
Dealing with Amendment 54, sub-paragraph (3) of paragraph (4) provides that at present under Northern Irish legislation for some step to be taken or some thing to come into operation a Resolution or Motion has to be passed or an Address presented. In other words, there must be some form of affirmative procedure. The Government are providing that instead of the affirmative procedure the negative procedure would be sufficient. Amendment No. 54 sought to revert to the affirmative procedure by using the same type of device as was provided in the earlier part of paragraph (4). The Government are not accepting that, albeit that in Northern Irish law these matters require the affirmative procedure. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said the negative procedure was sufficient but did not justify it. I should like to know why the change is made, particularly when the Government are rightly going out of their way in other matters to accede to our view that wherever possible the affirmative procedure should be used.
The effect of leaving the paragraph as it stands will be the well-known procedure whereby, if one is lucky, one succeeds in getting a debate at a late hour of the night, but that often one does not have that good fortune.
Amendment No. 57, our other Amendment which the Government have not accepted or accepted in substance, deals with sub-paragraph (5) of paragraph 4 750 to have the maximum amount of scrutiny, which provides that where at present, under Northern Irish law, it would be necessary for an Instrument to be laid before Parliament, it will not be necessary for a similar Instrument to be laid before this Parliament.
We find it difficult to follow why, if in effect, this Parliament is taking over from Stormont, the powers of Stormont through the Secretary of State designate and the procedure to which the Schedule gives effect, such Instruments should not be similarly laid before this Parliament and why this Parliament should not have the same opportunity of seeing it, as Stormont would have had, had it not been prorogued.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman, the Attorney-General, says that the Government do not intend to accept that, but he does not explain, other than by saying that there are many such Instruments, the reason this Parliament should not have an opportunity of at least seeing, and therefore scrutinising, these Instruments, however many they be, and however long they would have been laid before Stormont. We are not asking for any greater necessity for approval or possibility of annulment than in the case of similar Instruments laid before Stormont.
We are simply asking that they be laid before this Parliament so that we have an opportunity of scrutinising them and we should have thought, particularly with this dramatic change which we are having, that in matters previously dealt with by Stormont Parliament and now to be dealt with by the Secretary of State designate, and through him, by this Parliament, as much information as possible should be provided to this Parliament so that it can fulfil its function properly—of scrutinising what the Secretary of State designate does in future.
He says that he welcomes that scrutiny, and if the Government had felt able to give effect to this Amendment, or something similar, that could have been done readily and would help this Parliament to carry out its scrutiny.
Subject to those comments, we accept that the Government go a long way towards what we ask for and we think they are absolutely right, within the limits of what is possible, to allow Parliament to have the maximum amount of scrutiny.
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
The object of my Amendments is in each case the same. It is threefold: to say that hon. Members of this House of Commons should know what the 40 days actually mean, because it is manifestly the case that many of us, including the Attorney-General, do not.
It is evident that the real reason why the Attorney-General has advised rejection of these important Amendments is that he has inadequate knowledge of the Standing Orders and procedure of the House and dare not touch what he does not understand.
The 40-day period laid down in the Statutory Instruments Act, 1946, required that anybody outside the House should look to see when the House sits and when it does not. If the House is adjourned or if it is prorogued for more than four days, a search for the Adjournment dates has to be made anyway, since the clock stops counting the space in the 40 days in which those days fall. Incidentally, the Clerks advising the House of Lords interpret the 40 days differently from the Clerks advising the House of Commons, and examination of the Standing Orders of each House is, therefore, necessary anyway.
I find that most hon. Members of this House of Commons do not realise that 40 praying days include Saturdays and Sundays on which no Prayers can be entertained because the House is not sitting, and they also include those days at the beginning of a new Parliament when the House is swearing in new Members and, therefore, cannot entertain Prayers. Therefore, the number of days in the 40 days nominal on which Prayers can actually be entertained varies—leaving aside the first three days of a new Parliament, between 28 and 30,according to the day of the week on which the Statutory' Instrument was laid upon the Table. It is necessary, therefore, for any court outside to discover which day it was laid and to calculate how many Saturdays and Sundays there are in that period so that it may know how many days were able to elapse.
What, surely, we all want to avoid are several things. We all want to avoid hon. Members feeling that they have been cheated out of the right to pray against a Statutory Instrument because they have miscalculated the days on which they are able to pray. If my Amendment is accepted every hon. Member will know that it 752 is 40 days during which Prayers can be entertained from the day on which the Statutory Instrument was laid. That is a simple sum for anybody to do, unlike the alternative.
Something of which my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General may be quite unaware is that the rules according to whether or not one can take affirmative Resolutions on the one hand, or Prayers for annulment on the other hand, after 11.30 at night are different. So his observation that the 40 days are not really very important in the case of affirmative Resolutions shows that he is not seized of this point.
Another thing which I am sure the House will want to avoid is a plethora of orders on Irish business at four, five or six o'clock in the morning on some days because they are taken in addition to the normal work of the House. If we have effectively only 28 or 30 days, rather than the 40 days which most hon. Members believe we have, it will be necessary to pyramid them, taking them on top of other business, whereas if we have 40 real days we should be able to spread the burden much more reasonably, so that hon. Members will not have to sit in the Chamber till absurd hours. I would have thought that to be in the interests of good parliamentary government and in the interests of the House.
Thirdly, it is in the interests of the Government in making up their own programme for each week. They would have greater flexibility with 40 real, effective days rather than the alternative of 28 or 30, according to which day the Statutory Instrument was laid on the Table.
That these Irish orders should be subject to a real period of 40 days, as compared with the spurious period of 40 days laid down in the Statutory Instruments Act, 1946, is in no way unreasonable. We are legislating for the special case of the suspension of Stormont. We are loading on to ourselves an immense amount of extra work. We therefore owe it to ourselves to smooth this path as much as we can rather than tie ourselves to the 1946 Act.
When I tabled an earlier Bill on this matter in a previous Parliament, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, 753 who was Solicitor-General when the 1946 Act was passed, and one of its authors, authorised me to say that he had not realised the implications of the 40 spurious days. He thought that period required amendment into real days.
I should also point out, for the benefit of my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, who refers in his Amendment No. 55 to Section 5 of the 1946 Act, that that Section is circumscribed by the provisions of Section 7, which applies to it the same spurious assumption that Saturdays and Sundays are days on which business can be taken when everyone knows that they are not. The three or four days when new Members are being sworn in in a new Parliament also count in the 40 days, when everyone present knows that no such business can be entertained.
The net result is that if Parliament is dissolved just before a weekend the whole House loses its praying rights to the tune of five or six days. This may mean that Prayers which hon. Members wish to move disappear, and can by no dispensation be considered, because they will be outside the scope of the Act. That is why it is necessary for the Committee to adopt Amendment No. 43. Amendment No. 51 falls with the adoption of the Government's Amendment No. 44, and to Government Amendment No. 55 it is desirable to add the following manuscript Amendment:save that the period of forty days shall be confined to days Mondays to Fridays inclusive on which Parliament is sitting, and on which the Standing Orders and practices of each House respectively enable such business to be taken in Orders of the Day.I have discussed these proposals with a number of right hon. and hon. Members on both sides, including the Shadow Home Secretary. They have met with general approval in the cause that Members should know what the law is and should be able to calculate it themselves easily. So far from this making things more difficult for people outside the House, as was the absurd claim of the Attorney-General, it makes it easier for them just as it makes it easier for us.
On those grounds, quite apart from what should be the over-riding ground that the Attorney-General gave a definite assurance last night before the vote on Second Reading, and is therefore com- 754 mitted to supporting 40 authentic days rather than 40 spurious days, I must ask hon. Members on both sides to support the Amendments. Otherwise there will be a breach of faith by the Government with regard to their undertaking given last night, and the House will needlessly sit late into nights and mornings in the future, which it would not otherwise have to do, and hon. Members will occasionally find that owing to the complex, unreasonable and bizarre provisions of the 1946 Act they are done out of the right to pray when they believe that they have it.
§ The Attorney-General
I repeat my apologies to my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop). He has given me a severe wigging. When I look again at what I said, I see that it was probably fifty-fifty. I had to toss up, either "Yes" or "No". If I had said "Yes" I would have been right; if I had said "No" I would have been wrong. I am not quite as ignorant as my hon. Friend asserts, but I was wrong on this occasion and I apologise sincerely to him. I hope his expertise on this matter will be available to the Joint Select Committee on Delegated Legislation. I know my hon. Friend feels strongly about this but, for the reasons I have advanced, I must commend the Amendments in their present form to the Committee despite what I said last evening.
In reply to what the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones) said about his Amendments Nos. 54 and 57, Orders in Council to which the affirmative procedure applies will replace the principal Irish legislation—that is to say, Irish Bill—and for Special Powers Regulations the affirmative procedure will also apply. They are in a special category. Statutory Rules are subordinate Irish legislation. I cannot give the exact categories, of Statutory Rules, but some deserve and will therefore be given affirmative procedure and the minor ones will be given the negative procedure. That is the procedure which I believe can give to the House within the limits of the Bill, which we all accept, the power to scrutinise the legislation which will come before it in the form of Orders in Council.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
Will the learned Attorney-General tell the Committee what he proposes to do about the legislation 755 concerning the Northern Ireland Finance Corporation?
§ The Attorney-General
I cannot say because I do not know about that legislation. The legislation which I know about and which concerns me very much is the prosecution of offences legislation which was nearly completed by the Stormont Parliament. After this Bill becomes law an Order in Council will be laid as a matter of urgency to carry out that proposal of the Stormont Government. I will certainly look into the matter the hon. Member has raised and bring it to the attention of my right hon. Friend.
§ Sir Elwyn Jones
Will the legislation to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman referred be introduced by a procedure which will give the House a full opportunity of considering it in view of its great importance?
§ The Attorney-General
Yes, it will be covered by the urgency provision in Amendment No. 38 so that it will be effective as soon as it is laid, but of course within 40 days—I do not want to get back on that fence—there must be an affirmative Resolution of both Houses of Parliament.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made: No. 40, in page 4, line 29, leave out 'in the case of an Order relating to taxation'.
§ No. 44, in page 4, line 36, leave out from 'Order)' to end of line 38.
No. 48, in page 4, leave out lines 39 to 44 and insert:
(2) The Secretary of State shall not make any regulations under section 1(3) of the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act (Northern Ireland) 1922 unless either a draft of the regulations has been approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament or the regulations declare that it appears to the Secretary of State that by reason of urgency the regulations require to be made without a draft
§ having been so approved; and where any regulations are so made by the Secretary of State without a draft having been so approved, the last foregoing sub-paragraph shall apply to them as it applies to an Order in Council under section 1(3) of this Act.
§ (3) An Order in Council under section 1(3) of this Act may, in relation to any statutory rules (including any such rules made by virtue of such an Order in Council), make provision corresponding to the last foregoing sub-paragraph or provision for the rules to be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament in like manner as a statutory instrument and for section 5 of the Statutory Instruments Act 1946 to apply accordingly.—[The Attorney-General.]
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. George Wallace)
The next Amendment is No. 53, standing in the name of the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), who will move it in a slightly amended form.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
I beg to move Amendment No. 53, in page 5, line 2, after 'address', insert:This sub-paragraph shall have no application to the consent required under subsection (2) of section 1 of the Ireland Act 1949 (which provides that in no event will Northern Ireland nor any part thereof cease to be part of His Majesty's dominions and of the United Kingdom without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland); and
§ Mr. McNamara
On a point of order, Mr. Wallace. Are we merely being asked to accept a verbal Amendment to the Amendment by the hon. and reverend Gentleman or the whole of the Amendment?
§ The Temporary Chairman
Amendment No. 53 has been moved in a slightly amended form and can now be debated.
§ Mr. McNamara
It is not our intention to make speeches on Amendment No. 53 but simply to divide against it.
§ Question put, That the Amendment be made: —
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 116, Noes 10.757
|Division No. 111.]||AYES||[8.43 a.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Bossom, Sir Clive||Chapman, Sydney|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Bowden, Andrew||Chataway, Rt. Hn, Christopher|
|Astor, John||Braine, Bernard||Chichester-Clark, R.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Churchill, W. S.|
|Benyon, W.||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Clark, William (Surrey, E.)|
|Biffen, John||Burden, F. A.||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Clegg, Walter|
|Blaker, Peter||Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray & Nairn)||Cooke, Robert|
|Body, Richard||Carlisle, Mark||Coombs, Derek|
|Boscawen, Robert||Channon, Paul||Cormack, Patrick|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Percival, Ian|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Jopling, Michael||Pounder, Rafton|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|Eden, Sir John||Kilfedder, James||Raison, Timothy|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Kinsey, J. R.||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Knox, David||Redmond, Robert|
|Eyre, Reginald||Lambton, Antony||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Lane, David||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Rost, Peter|
|Fortescue, Tim||Lomas, Kenneth||Scott, Nicholas|
|Fowler, Norman||Luce, R. N.||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Fox, Marcus||MacArthur, Ian||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Gibson-Watt, David||McCrindle, R. A.||Spence, John|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan||McMaster, Stanley||Sproat, Iain|
|Goodhew, Victor||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Gorst, John||Madel, David||Sutcliffe, John|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Maginnis, John E.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Gummer, Selwyn||Mather, Carol||Tebbit, Norman|
|Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Maude, Angus||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Hannam, John (Exeter)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Trew, Peter|
|Havers, Michael||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Hawkins, Paul||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Waddington, David|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Moate, Roger||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Molyneaux, James||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Holland, Philip||Morrison, Charles||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia||Normanton, Tom||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Paisley, Rev. Ian||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hunt, John||Parkinson, Cecil||Mr. Hugh Rossi and|
|Jessel, Toby||Peel, John||Mr. Oscar Murton.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.)|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||McManus, Frank||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Dalyell, Tam||O'Halloran, Michael||Mr. Kevin McNamara and|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Skinner, Dennis||Mr. Stanley Orme|
|Devlin, Miss Bernadette||Stallard, A. W.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
Amendment proposed: No. 55, in page 5, leave out lines 6 to 11 and insert:
(b) subject to any provision made by virtue of the last foregoing sub-paragraph, any statutory rules so made or coming into operation shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament in like manner as a statutory instrument and section 5 of the Statutory Instruments Act 1946 shall apply accordingly.—[The Attorney-General.]
§ Mr. R. J. Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, at end insert:save that the period of 40 days shall be confined to days Mondays to Fridays inclusive on which Parliament is sitting and on which the Standing Orders and practice of each House respectively enables such business to be taken in Orders of the Day.
§ Question put, That the Amendment to the proposed Amendment be made: —
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 6, Noes 107.759
|Division No. 112.]||AYES||[8.55 a.m.|
|McMaster, Stanley||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Maginnis, John E.||Paisley, Rev. Ian||Mr. R. J. Maxwell-Hyslop and|
|Molyneaux, James||Skinner, Dennis||Mr. James Kilfedder.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Drayson, G. B.|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray & Nairn)||Eden, Sir John|
|Astor, John||Carlisle, Mark||Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Channon, Paul||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)|
|Benyon, W.||Chapman, Sydney||Eyre, Reginald|
|Biffen, John||Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Churchill, W. S.||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Blaker, Peter||Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Fortescue, Tim|
|Body, Richard||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Fowler, Norman|
|Boscawen, Robert||Clegg, Walter||Fox, Marcus|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Cooke, Robert||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Bowden, Andrew||Coombs, Derek||Glyn, Dr. Alan|
|Braine, Bernard||Cormack, Patrick||Goodhew, Victor|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Gorst, John|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Gummer, J. Selwyn||Longden, Gilbert||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Luce, R. N.||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Hannam, John (Exeter)||MacArthur, Ian||Spence, John|
|Havers, Michael||McCrindle, R. A.||Sproat, Iain|
|Hawkins, Paul||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Madel, David||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Mather, Carol||Sutcliffe, John|
|Holland, Philip||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Taylor, sir Charles(Eastbourne)|
|Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia||Moate, Roger||Tebbit, Norman|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Morrison, Charles||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Normanton, Tom||Trew, Peter|
|Hunt, John||O'Halloran, Michael||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Jessel, Toby||Parkinson, Cecil||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Peel John||Waddington, David|
|Jopling, Michael||Percival, Ian||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Raison, Timothy||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Kinsey, J. R.||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Knox, David||Redmond, Robert|
|Lambton, Lord||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Lane, David||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Mr. Oscar Murton and|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Scott, Nicholas||Mr. Hugh Rossi|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Amendments made:
No. 55, in page 5, leave out lines 6 to 11 and insert:
(6) subject to any provision made by virtue of the last foregoing sub-paragraph, any statutory rules so made or coming into operation shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament in like manner as a statutory instrument and section 5 of the Statutory Instruments Act 1946 shall apply accordingly.
Manuscript Amendment, in page 5, line 17, at end insert:
5. So long as section 1 of this Act has effect, section 10(3), (4) and (5)(a) of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act (Northern Ireland) 1969 and section 11(3) of the Commissioner for Complaints Act (Northern Ireland) 1969 shall have effect as if any reference therein to the Parliament of Northern Ireland were a reference to the Parliament of the United Kingdom.—[The Attorney-General.]
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
I beg to move, Amendment No. 61, in page 6, line 8, leave out from 'thereof' to end of paragraph and insert:'other than an Order in Council, regulation or other instrument in relation to Irish services, as defined by subsection (8) of section 8 of the Government of Ireland Act 1920'.760 I am very glad that the Liberals have given place to me. I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to—
§ The Attorney-General
On a point of order, Mr. Wallace. Would it be convenient to discuss at the same time Amendment No. 62? That is, in line 10, leave out from 'having' to end of line 11 and insert:'effect or provision to take effect until the expiry of the section'.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
How I was expected to discuss my Amendment No. 11 at this hour of the night I do not know. I leave it to the Committee to consider who decided on that.
This is a Temporary Provisions Bill, yet paragraph 6 makes provision for laws which shall have a permanent effect. That is a contradiction. I know that it will be argued that laws made must be continued. I do not believe that duties or powers conferred should be continued. I do not want the Attorney-General to say that the laws must continue. I admit that, but there are certain duties and powers conferred. It is those that I do not want to see become permanent. If this is only a Temporary Provisions Bill, they should not be permanent.
The terms of the Amendment concerns the services which are transferred to the Stormont Government. I do not want those transferred services to be made permanent under the Temporary Provisions Act.
§ Mr. Pounder
The object of Amendment No. 62 is to delete the permanency which could emanate from an Order in 761 Council made during the period of the validity of the Bill and yet could still be effective on or after its expiry. The Amendment seeks to secure that anything which is passed by virtue of the Bill shall expire at the end of the period of validity of the Bill.
During the course of the night there has been repeated emphasis on the temporary nature of this Measure. It is rather incongruous that permanent decisions can be made under a Temporary Provisions Bill, bearing in mind that the object of the Bill is that at some stage at the expiry thereof, after one year or later, Stormont should b reconstituted. It is only right that when Stormont has been reconstituted it, as the elected assembly, should be allowed to make up its own mind about legislation which was passed during the period of its prorogation. That alone is what the Amendment means. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General will be able to offer some guidance on this subject.
§ The Attorney-General
The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Pounder) have told the Committee that these Amendments seek to delete any element of permanency in any of the legislation which will come before the House of Commons and be approved by Order in Council.
There certainly will be in the case of the establishment of the office of a Director of Public Prosecutions an intention to create a permanent office, an office which permanently should be part of the judicial criminal law administration in Northern Ireland, and it would be the wishes of the whole of the people of Northern Ireland that there should be such an office. It is proposed that the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will remain in being when the Temporary Provisions Act has come to an end. It would be a matter for the House to decide, when it saw what came before it, but this is an example of the desirability of being able to effect certain matters where there should be some permanency.
When the Bill, a temporary provisions Measure, expires a vacuum cannot be left. Some other legislative machinery will replace the machinery in the Bill and 762 different alternatives will suggest themselves to hon. Members. Whatever happens, there cannot be a hiatus as soon as the Bill terminates, as it will, at the due time. There will have to be some instrument for legislating, and that instrument, whatever it may be, will have the power, if it so wishes, if it disapproves of any legislation passed under the Bill, to repeal or to amend it.
If we agreed to the Amendment, there would be a hiatus. The law would be repealed and there would be nothing immediately to take its place. It would be wholly impractical and could create a chaotic or crisis situation. It would be better to leave the law made under this Bill for the successor, whatever the successor may be, for a legislature which will have authority to repeal or amend.
This is a very practical and sensible way to approach it rather than to leave a gap which would immediately have to be filled by some crisis legislation.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
The Attorney-General is not applying himself to the point that I sought to make. Everyone knows that the laws that are made must continue. They could not possibly be set aside from all other law on the expiry of the Bill. But Clause 1 could confer powers or duties upon the Secretary of State or any other Minister or Department of the United Kingdom Government. We should not give the Secretary of State the right to transfer these powers permanently.
§ Mr. Marcus Lipton (Brixton)
On a point of order, Mr. Wallace. An hon. Member on the Government side of the Committee is reading a newspaper or periodical.
§ The Attorney-General
My hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) forgets, I think, that I was also speaking to Amendment No. 62 which has this effect and upon which I have been asked to elaborate. Of course, powers under Clause 1 will fall with the Bill. It may be that under the legislation brought forward by Order in Council before this House there will be offices or law which will be thought should have a permanent effect. Let us take, for 763 example, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. There should be permanency so that when the temporary provisions expire the office of the Director does not suddenly disappear also but remains. If a successor Government decide that they do not want the D.P.P., they legislate to eliminate him, regrettable and unlikely as that may be.
Therefore it does not affect what concerns my hon. Friend, namely the powers to be given to the Secretary of State. These are temporary powers which will fall as soon as this temporary Bill ends.
§ 9.15 a.m.
§ Sir Elwyn Jones
It may be due to the lateness of the hour that I have not fully followed what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said. Do I understand him to say that where an Order in Council proposes to have permanent effect it will be so specified in the Order and that the House of Commons will then be seized of that fact?
In regard to the specific illustration of the office of Director of Public Prosecutions, I understand from the Attorney-General that the intention is that that office shall remain as part of the permanent fabric, in so far as anything ever remains part of any permanent fabric, but the intention is that it should remain as part of the continuing machinery in Northern Ireland, whatever may occur hereafter. In regard to that, does it mean that there will be a provision in the Order in Council expressly giving permanent effect to it, or does the Attorney-General contemplate that it will be necessary, when the powers under the Bill lapse, to introduce fresh legislation in Parliament to deal with that situation? Perhaps he would explain the matter, as I may have it quite wrong.
§ The Attorney-General
Using that example, no; that office will be established by the legislation which will take place under the Bill.
§ The Attorney-General
Yes, by the Order in Council, which will be approved by both Houses of Parliament. That will be setting up that office, for instance; it 764 will be legislation, and it will have the force of law until such time as it happens that there is legislation amending or repealing such legislation.
But what falls with the Bill will be the effect of Clause 1 in giving to the Secretary of State, for instance, all the functions of the Governor, the Minister or the head of the Department. That is what will fall with the ending of the Bill. But the legislation which is made, and properly made, under powers given in the Bill will still be legislation and law, and it will require some other amendment or repeal of the law duly made by whatever succeeds the powers of making a law under the Bill. So the law-making function under the Bill creates law, and it would have to be repealed or amended by any successor legislative power which the House of Commons sees fit to give.
§ Sir Elwyn Jones
Is the position that so far as any laws are made, whether by Order in Council or by enactment, the effect of those laws will be that they will continue in force until they are repealed or in some way amended?
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
§ The Chairman
Before I leave the Chair, I should like to announce to the Committee that the Amendments which have been submitted to Mr. Speaker for Report are available in the Vote Office now. Mr. Speaker is returning to the Chair now and will announce his selection.
§ Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended, considered.