HC Deb 25 October 1982 vol 29 cc833-53 10.27 pm
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. James Prior)

I beg to move,

That the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982, a draft of which was laid before this House on 14th July, be approved.

The purpose of the order is to bring Northern Ireland law into line with the law in England and Wales where, as in Scotland, where the law differs in some detail, private homosexual acts between consenting adults have not been criminal offences since the passing of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 or, in Scotland, since the passing of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980.

The House will wish me to say a few words about the developments that have led to the presentation of the order. In July 1976, the then the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland told the House that he would consider whether to introduce legislation to bring Northern Ireland law more closely into harmony with the laws in other parts of the United Kingdom in areas such as divorce and homosexuality and ask the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights to consider the desirability of doing this. The commission's report, which was published in 1967, recommended that legislation corresponding to the Sexual Offences Act 1967 should be introduced.

In July 1978, a proposal for a draft Homosexual Offences Order was published and an extended consultation period of three months was allowed. The response from the churches, politicians, religious and political organisations, professional bodies, voluntary organisations and individuals was extreme, both for and against changing the law. On one side was the view that homosexual acts were immoral and that the criminal law should prescribe standards of moral behaviour and, on the other, there was the view that adult homosexuals should not be prevented by law from exercising their private right of conscience among themselves. Although it was not possible to say whether either of those extreme views was that of a numerical majority, it was evident that a significant number of people were strongly opposed to reform. In the event, the previous Administration did not proceed with the order; and on taking office this Government decided to take no further action in relation to the draft order at that time.

In 1976, a homosexual living in Northern Ireland complained to the European Commission of Human Rights that the law on homosexual offences in Northern Ireland breached article 8, the right to respect for private life, and article 14, freedom from discrimination, of the European Convention on Human Rights. In 1980, the commission reported its conclusion that this law breached article 8, but that it was unnecessary to examine the case under article 14.

Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

Is my right hon. Friend saying that it is six years since the European Commission ruled against us and before we are legislating?

Mr. Prior

I did not say that. I said that in 1980 the commission reported its conclusion that the law breached article 8 but that it was unnecessary to examine the case under article 14.

The case was then referred to the European Court which came to the same conclusion. On 22 October 1981—my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) might be interested to know—the European Court issued its judgment to the effect that the law in Northern Ireland breaches article 8 of the convention. In its judgment the Court showed that it had given due weight to the argument put forward by the United Kingdom that the law in Northern Ireland was justified by the distinctively strong feelings there about the relevance of religious and moral factors to the law on social matters. Nevertheless, taking all that into account, it concluded that the interference with private life entailed by the present law was out of all proportion to the social need claimed for the law.

The United Kingdom has freely signed and ratified that convention and has thereby undertaken under article 53 to abide by the decision of the court in any case to which it is a party. The Government believe that they must stand by their international obligations and abide by the Court's judgment in this case. It was the will of Parliament that the United Kingdom should be a member of the Council of Europe; and our European connections, which Northern Ireland as a part of the United Kingdom shares, require us to comply with the rulings of the Court in Strasbourg, the authority of which we have freely accepted.

Consequently, a further proposal for a draft homosexual offences order was published on 18 March 1982 and the normal consultation period of six weeks was allowed for comments. Representations were received from several bodies. The comments covered, inter alia, the age of consent, the gradation of the revised penalties, the time limit on prosecutions, the burden of proof and the provision that homosexual acts in the Services and between merchant seamen would still be unlawful. There were other comments which were outside the scope of the proposal.

However, in order to rectify the breach of article 8 of the convention the Government are concerned only to bring the law on homosexual offences in Northern Ireland into line with that in England and Wales. Therefore, there is no scope for accepting any of the changes suggested during the consultation period. To do so would either have made the law in Northern Ireland more restrictive than that in England and Wales or taken the law further than that obtaining in England and Wales, which would create new inconsistencies between Northern Ireland on the one hand and England and Wales on the other.

Mr. Michael Latham (Melton)

Will my right hon. Friend say how he assesses the views of the people of Northern Ireland in the light of the representations that he received? Why is he bringing the order forward now when he has just selected a new Assembly?

Mr. Prior

I could have read out the names of those from whom we received representations. I suspect that the weight of representations was against the change in the law but that that would have been the case in many other circumstances, going back to the Sexual Offences Bill in 1966. I deliberately did not want to detain the House by reading out the names of all the people who had written in.

The order was published in the House some weeks before the Summer Recess. As it was an order that was already in the House for discussion, I felt that it was right that the House should discuss it and that the Assembly should start by discussing those matters which came afterwards. That is why we are discussing it tonight. It has now been on the Table of the House for a considerable time and I thought that it was the right time to discuss it.

Mr. Foulkes (South Ayrshire)

The Secretary of State rightly says that the Government's action will bring the law in Northern Ireland into line with that in the rest of the United Kingdom. However, what consideration have the Government given to the position in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, on whose behalf they have signed the European Convention on Human Rights?

Mr. Prior

I am sorry that I cannot give the hon. Gentleman that answer. If I may say so, I have enough troubles on my plate in dealing with Northern Ireland without getting too involved with the Channel Islands now. However, I shall try to find out the answer, if possible, during the debate.

Mr. Peter Robinson (Belfast, East)

The Northern Ireland Office, and particularly the Secretary of State, have made many comments on the European instructions. If those are the only reason for going ahead with the legislation, why did the right hon. Gentleman bother to have a consultation period?

Mr. Prior

There is a consultation period for every draft order. That is one of the ways in which the people of Northern Ireland have been able to become involved to some extent in legislation. For that reason alone, there would be a consultation period. I do not claim that the fact that article 8 was contravened was the only reason for going ahead, but it was the main reason.

I turn to the main provisions of the order. The main change to the present law is contained in article 3, which provides that a homosexual act, in private, between two consenting men aged 21 or over would cease to be an offence. Paragraph (4) of this article provides that Service men will still be liable to be punished under Service law for homosexual acts.

Paragraph (3) of article 3 provides that a mentally handicapped person cannot validly consent to a homosexual act; and article 4 amends the Mental Health Act (Northern Ireland) 1961 to provide protection for men receiving treatment for mental disorder in a hospital, whether as in-patients or out-patients, against homosexual acts by any male member of the hospital staff, and also to mentally disordered persons cared for under guardianship arrangements. Article 5 deals with homosexual acts on merchant ships.

Article 6 sets out revised penalties for those homosexual acts which will still be offences. In particular, it increases the existing penalty for gross indecency by a man over 21 with another man under 21. For buggery with or without consent with a person under 16 years, the maximum penalty will continue to be life imprisonment. For buggery without consent with another man between 16 and 21, the maximum penalty will be 10 years' imprisonment. In the case of consenting parties, the maximum penalty for buggery is qualified by the ages of the persons concerned—it will be five years' imprisonment where the accused is over 21 and the other man is under 21, and it will be two years in all other circumstances. Article 7 deals with procurement and ensures that it will continue to be an offence to procure a man to commit a homosexual act with a third man, even though the act itself may be legal.

Article 8 provides that it will be illegal for anyone knowingly to live on the earnings of male prostitution

Article 9 covers premises used for lewd homosexual practices and provides that they shall be dealt with as brothels.

Articles 10 to 13 deal with the time limits for prosecutions, the procedure for prosecutions when an under 21-year-old is involved, the mode of trial and arrangements for prosecutions which may be pending. Article 10 will prevent proceedings from being commenced more than a year after the offence, except in the case of an offence with a boy under 16 or in the case of an assault. Article 11 will protect young people from needless exposure to court proceedings.

The Government recognise the very strong feelings held in Northern Ireland on issues pertaining to sexual morality. The Government defended the Northern Ireland law before the European Court in the Dudgeon case and argued that the differences between the law in Northern Ireland and the law in England and Wales were justified. However, the court did not accept these arguments. The Government therefore have to deal with the verdict of the court, which imposes an obligation on the Government to change the law. This Government believe in fulfilling their international obligations. The people of Northern Ireland, whether or not they approve of this particular change, will recognise that since Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom it is bound by the international obligations which apply to the United Kingdom. On that basis, I commend the order to the House.

10.40 pm
Mr. Clive Soley (Hammersmith, North)

The Secretary of State rightly drew the attention of the House to the strong feelings in Northern Ireland about the order. Any discussion about homosexuality at times raises, not only embarrassment but fear and anger. It is important to remember that that fear and anger is irrational. Often it mirrors society's ambivalent attitude to homosexuality.

As the Secretary of State said, there is no precise definition of a homosexual offence in Northern Ireland. It is worth bearing in mind that words of some existing laws. One reads: Whosoever shall be convicted of the abominable crime of buggery, committed either with mankind or with any animal, shall be liable to be kept in penal servitude for life. If we think about that we can understand that society is capable of getting itself into a difficult position because of its ambivalent and contradictory attitude.

Those who have read the newspapers recently will be aware of the abominable crimes in Northern Ireland and here, and yet we do not use words such as "abominable" or "heinous" when speaking of murder, burglary or other crimes which cause disruption and agony to individuals and society.

We are talking not about a tiny minority of the community but about a significant proportion of the population. No society has been able to legislate homosexual behaviour away. We should not try to do so, not least because we cannot.

It is significant and interesting that prior to the gay rights movement there was a tendency to regard homosexuals as people who needed treatment. The forms of treatment normally given were psychotherapy or psycho-analysis, behaviour therapy or behaviour modification. Many people in the medical and social professions know that one of the problems is that people, called patients, go for treatment because they are afraid of the social consequences of their behaviour, not because the behaviour itself causes them problems. That should make us think about society's contradictory attitude.

Regardless of the cause of homosexuality—and the House will be relieved to learn that I shall not go into detail about the four or five theories involved—one basic moral fact must be kept in mind. It is that homosexuals are people and deserve the same rights and protections as other people. Sometimes we talk about homosexuality as being abnormal behaviour. I am prepared to accept the definition of abnormal behaviour if it is based on statistics. I am prepared to concede that it is a minority behaviour and, therefore statistically less normal than usual. But a significant proportion of the population is involved.

Even such a definition causes difficulties because there is plenty of evidence that homosexual experiences are not rare to the average male at some stage in life, although the extent to which it is taken, of course, varies. If hon. Members wish to pursue that, they need to read not the Kinsey report but the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

The Labour Party welcomes such an updating of the law. I acknowledge that many homosexuals will still feel, with logic on their side, that they are treated differently from heterosexuals. The logic is that the age of consent should be 18. After all, that is the age at which one is considered old enough to fight and die for one's country and deemed to be old enough to vote. It seems logical that they should be brought into line with the position of heterosexuals. The House should bear in mind the fact that the real problem with homosexuality, as with any sexual behaviour, is consent. If the act is done without consent, it is an assault in the same way that rape is an assault.

We should recognise the stand made by Mr. Dudgeon who went to the European Court of Human Rights. That man suffered a great deal of unreasonable persecution and allegations, and was subjected to a great many jokes about him and his behaviour. He and nine or ten others were threatened with prosecution, and were not told for at least 12 months whether that prosecution was going ahead. The prosecution was subsequently withdrawn.

Society often creates problems for the individual. Homosexual behaviour has been present to a considerable degree in almost all societies at all times. Let us not pretend that we are dealing with something new or something that we can in some way stop. It is not healthy to suggest that we can. Those who approach the subject from a moral or religious position have a duty to question their own behaviour and remember and think about the phrase: He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. They also have a duty to respect and defend the principle of tolerance for minorities. Without that tolerance we may all find ourselves part of some minority. By some people's standards we may all find ourselves labelled "abnormal". That is a dangerous and difficult problem for society to face.

We welcome the order. It is a step in the right direction and the Secretary of State can rely upon our support.

10.46 pm
Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)

It will come as no surprise to the House to learn that I oppose the order. I shall seek to divide the House so that it can put its decision on the record.

The Northern Ireland representatives have been lectured from time to time on the concept of widespread acceptability by all sections of the community. I am in the happy position of being able to make a statement that cannot be challenged by anyone in the House. There is widespread opposition to the order from all sections of the community.

Most Protestant Churches oppose the order and have declared their opposition. The Roman Catholic Church in Northern Ireland has also declared its opposition. The political parties have declared their opposition. More than 70 per cent. plus one are opposed to the order.

There are 26 councils in Northern Ireland, of which 23 are on record as opposing the order. That does not mean that the other three were not opposed to it, but they had a rule that they were not to accept resolutions for discussion from the other councils.

There is widespread opposition in Northern Ireland to the order. We are discussing this order because a European court, over which the House has no jurisdiction or authority, has decided that it is in the best interests of the Northern Ireland people that it should pass through the House. That remote body does not understand the widespread opposition felt in Northern Ireland, and that across the wide divide in Northern Ireland there is unity of opposition. I thought that the House would encourage such unity, because I have heard it said often "Why can you not get together? Why can you not agree on something?" Here is something on which they agree. They agree that this order should be opposed. There is a remote body sitting in Europe, and that remote body will dictate to what we are always told is this sovereign House.

Mr. Percy Grieve (Solihull)

The European Court of Human Rights, which the hon. Gentleman describes as a remote body, is one on which there is a British judge, and it is one which administers a convention to which this country is a party. It has decided that the law prevailing in Northern Ireland in this matter is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, to which the United Kingdom is a party. If the hon. Gentleman adheres to the idea of a United Kingdom, how can he advocate a United Kingdom in which the criminal law is radically different in one part from that which it is in another?

Rev. Ian Paisley

That might be a nice case, but it is not so in fact. This House knows that there is a difference between laws in Scotland and laws in England and Wales. The House also knows that there is a difference between laws governing Northern Ireland and those governing other parts of the United Kingdom. Ministers at the Dispatch Box have told us of their resolve and dedication to protect the statute book of Northern Ireland and to keep it separate.

If the hon. and learned Gentleman wants us to have a uniformity in law, let us have a uniformity in passing those laws. Tonight we have one and a half hours in which to discuss the order. I cannot move an amendment to it. I can only vote against it. The hon. and learned Gentleman is putting the case that there should be uniformity of law. Then there should be uniformity in making those laws, so that the representatives of Northern Ireland would have the same opportunity and the same rights to move amendments and have the matter discussed properly on the Floor of the House.

What do we find today? We suddenly find, although we were promised that there would be time for a full and proper discussion and that Northern Ireland Members would be able, without any limitation on time, to put their case, that at the end of this Session of Parliament the order comes before us at this late hour to subject us to the dictates of what I still maintain is a remote body and one over which this sovereign Parliament has no say.

I come closer now to the matter that the hon. and learned Gentleman raised. The Government could have taken a different line of approach. First, the Government could have noted the decision. They could have said that, because of the almost total opposition to it in Northern Ireland, they wanted a derogation to the application of our signature to this part of the Court of Human Rights. That course was open to the Government. Why did not the Government take into consideration the widespread opposition of the people of Northern Ireland, and take that course?

Next, the Government could have said, in noting the decision, that they were about to set up an Assembly. According to some quarters, the Assembly may not have much to do, so why not refer this matter to the elected representatives of Northern Ireland in that Assembly? Is not the reason that that Assembly would have had widespread unity in opposing this order? Having heard the strong opposition across the board and also from the elected representatives in an Assembly which was set up by this House, the Government would then have found themselves in more difficulty.

I, as a member of this United Kingdom Parliament, protest against a court sitting in Europe that does not understand Northern Ireland matters. I wonder how many members of that court ever were in Northern Ireland and how many know anything about the situation in Northern Ireland or anything about what is happening there. Why should they take a decision?

Mr. Keith Best (Anglesey)

Does the hon. Gentleman entirely reject the European Convention on Human Rights?

Rev. Ian Paisley

I do not. I have referred cases to it. I make it clear that those cases are on basic rights, which anyone who believes in those rights would accept. However, we are now coming to something to which there is intense opposition in Northern Ireland.

If the nations of Europe go further and say that points must be given for homes for those who enter into a homosexual relationship on marriage, what will the House's attitude be to that? What if they go further and say that sex between children should be legalised? I remind the House that those who advocated the provisions in Northern Ireland in Gay Youth of October 1981 said that there needed to be a revision of the law, and that it was unjust to children that their sexuality should be outlawed. How far do we go down the road that the House is inviting the people of Northern Ireland to go down this evening?

That matter causes grave concern in the hearts and minds of the people of Northern Ireland. Hon. Members can voice their opposition and say, as they are entitled to, that they will vote on the order and compel the people of Northern Ireland to accept it. Surely the House should be prepared to listen to the reasons why people in Northern Ireland are very concerned about what is happening on this matter.

Another matter needs to be considered by the House. There are some implications in the order. What concerns me in the order is the changing of the dates and the periods when the criminal offence charges can be brought and the court can adjudicate upon them. For most criminal offences the period of limitation dates either from the commission of the offence or from its detection, but under the order, which is significant, the limitation will relate only to the date of the commission of the offence. Therefore, if the offence is only discovered later, the law cannot take any charges against the person who has committed the offence. The House should pay attention to that matter.

If the time limit runs out before the offence is discovered, the order gives no power to the enforcing law officer to take action. Representations on that matter were made to the Secretary of State and the Minister of State. One would have thought that when they were made, the Secretary of State or the Minister of State would have listened to them. They were strong representations for a change in the order on those matters.

Article 6(1)(a) states that the penalty is disproportionate to the nature of the offence and should be set at 10 years. Strong representations were made to the Secretary of State about that. As the threshold age is 21, it is illogical and inconsistent to differentiate between age and sentence. Under article 7, the offence of procurement to commit an act of gross indecency should be retained rather than abolished completely, as proposed in the order.

There are radical changes in this legislation. The 12 months' statutory limitation during which prosecutions can be brought could mean intense difficulty either because of evidential problems or because of a delay in the commission of an offence becoming known. The House is obliged to think carefully about the implications of the order. It is not as simple as it may seem. Those who are opposed to the order have considered it carefully. The Labour Administration first proposed the change in the law. Representations were made to Labour Ministers and to the present Ministers, but there has been no movement towards helping those who oppose the legislation. The Government should have been more flexible, because the European Court of Human Rights did not decree that such matters should be included in the order. The Government added them to the legislation.

When the order is passed, we shall have renewed demands for the lowering of the age of consent to 16 or 14. We shall have the risk of the homosexual corruption of young children. I have already quoted from a newspaper published by the section of the population that is agitating for the order. They say we must now remove the deterrent of the law in regard to sexual practices among children. Let no one believe that this matter is not serious. An across-the-board voice is saying to the House tonight "The people of Northern Ireland do not want this legislation, arid some provisions of the Order need not have been included if the Government were conforming only to the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights."

I regret the fact that the Secretary of State and the Minister of State were not prepared to listen to the strong representations made to them by many deputations. Each person in Northern Ireland has a right to his own conviction and some people there believe that homosexuality is not only a defiance of human law but a defiance of divine law. [Hon. Members: "Oh"!] I make no apology. I shall maintain in the House, no matter what point of view shouts, the right to say what I think needs to be said.

The things that have been brought into the order that need not have been are matters that the Secretary of State, when he heard these strong representations, could have given in to. Instead of that, he was prepared to go on and present this matter as it has been presented.

The House should know the strong feelings in Northern Ireland, and that those feelings do not come from one particular party or one particular religion, but from across the whole strata of Northern Ireland society. The one thing that binds society together is the family unit. Those who say that the family unit is ignorance, are welcome to that sort of belief. I believe that the family unit is the basic cement of society. This order, legalising homosexuality, attacks the very cement of society. It weakens not only the moral but the social fibre of society. Those of us who believe in the sanctity of the home and in the strength and moral power of the home must voice their opposition to the order.

I should like to speak at length, but I shall not. Perhaps if I talked the debate out the people of Northern Ireland would be better served, but I do not propose to do that. All hon. Members wish to put their point of view. It is unfair of the House to take up this controversial subject and tell the representatives of the people of Northern Ireland that they have an hour and a half to discuss it. If we include the Front Bench speeches, how much time is there left for the people of Northern Ireland to have their say on this order?

I am very pleased to see so many hon. Members in the House. It is a pity that they were not here when we were discussing the Assembly.

11.7 pm

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)

It has been the almost invariable practice since we have legislated for Northern Ireland by Order in Council that when an Order in Council embodies matters that are controversial and are felt to be of deep importance for the people to whom they apply that steps are taken by the House to extend the time available to debate beyond the minimum hour and a half. However short our time tonight, a protest should be registered at the fact that the requests for an extension in this case were not acceded to by the Government.

It was not worth the Government's while, simply for convenience on a day when the business was under guillotine or to take a decision on this order tonight rather than two or three weeks ahead, to depart from the practice that has been observed hitherto, when the House remembers that it is legislating for Northern Ireland without any other opportunities to consider the contents of the order or its application to those to whom it is to be applied.

Those of us who vote against the order tonight will do so not only on behalf of those whom we represent in the Province, but on behalf of the House and Parliament, to which this order, as I shall show, constitutes an affront.

It has been the practice of the House to legislate on matters of morality, on matters of morals and on matters that are commonly regarded as matters of conscience, not upon Government motion, under the Whip which accompanies that which the Government put forward as the Government, but upon a free vote on the motion of a Private Member. It was upon the motion of a Private Member that the law on this subject in England and Wales was made in 1967, and that in 1980 the law made in 1967 for England and Wales was extended to Scotland. In each case it was not a Government motion. It was a free vote of the House. If it saves time later, I will say that in each case I voted for a change in the law. It has been thought right by this House down the years to deal with matters of this kind in that way and not to impose upon hon. Members the sanction of supporting a Government or opposing a Government.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)

There is no Whip imposed on this side of the House on this matter tonight.

Mr. Powell

I am obliged for that information. We are dealing, however, with something put forward on the authority of the Government as a Government motion. It cannot be denied that this is contrary to our normal practice in dealing with matters of this kind. It is not the manner in which the law was made in this respect either for England and Wales or for Scotland.

It has also been normal within the United Kingdom for differences in law between the various parts of the United Kingdom in exactly this type of matter to be accepted. On marital laws, there are still differences—they have been retained to the most recent times—between the law in England and Wales, the law in Scotland and the law in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Grieve

Does the right hon. Gentleman not consider that the existence of something as a major criminal offence is very different from matrimonal law? Does he not also consider it intolerable that within the United Kingdom a serious criminal offence in one part should be lawful in other parts?

Mr. Powell

I can only say that in matters of morality involving criminality it has been normal for us to accept, and even to cherish, differences in the law between the different parts of the United Kingdom. It would therefore be intolerable and unthinkable for the Government to seek by order, to impose upon one part of the kingdom law which, for the remainder of the kingdom, had been made not by Government motion but by a free vote of the House, with deliberate regard to the differing points of view held on the subject in different parts of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Robin F. Cook (Edinburgh, Central)

The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the vote in 1980, when the system applying in England and Wales was extended to Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman, who attended the debate, will be aware that one of the main reasons for the change was that the law in Scotland had become a dead letter, as indeed, it is in Ulster, where it is not enforced by the Government. It cannot serve the interests of the House to keep on the statute book a law which no Government are prepared to enforce.

Mr. Powell

I was dealing with the manner in which it has hitherto been thought right for the law to be made for different parts of the United Kingdom on this sort of subject and, indeed, on this particular subject. I take the point that uniformity could have been a consideration that weighed with hon. Members taking part in those debates. If the Government had proceeded of their own motion to impose upon Northern Ireland as Government policy what in the rest of the kingdom had been decided only by free vote on the motion of a Private Member, that would have been an intolerable breach of the custom of the House, but that is not what we are confronted with tonight.

Tonight the Government are acting under compulsion. It is true that they had some variety of compliance with that compulsion, but they have decided to comply with it by applying to Northern Ireland exactly the same law as holds good in England and Wales—[Interruption.] and Scotland now. They are acting under an external compulsion which has been accepted by this country in acceding to the European Convention on Human Rights. The result is that the Government find themselves not merely in breach of our own manner of legislation on these subjects but applying law which is strongly resented by a large body of opinion in the part of the kingdom to which it is to apply because they hold themselves to be under an external obligation to do so.

I believe that in the long run the House will find it impracticable and unacceptable to acknowledge that there can be an external court or legislature which can impose upon Parliament and upon the House of Commons a particular form of legislation. It is the more unacceptable because of the manner in which the obligation is formulated under the European Convention on Human Rights by the European Court.

We are not in the position of having acceded to a convention which laid down precise rules so that in advance we could have understood what it was that we were committing ourselves to accept. On the contrary, the human rights as defined in the convention are defined in such general terms that it is judge-made law that is being treated as mandatory upon this country.

The requirement which the Government plead for bringing in the Order in Council depends upon the interpretation of the right to the respect for privacy, from which only by a remote judicial reasoning could an obligation to introduce this legislation be argued. That is not the manner in which the House legislates.

This is not the manner in which law is made in this country. Law is made in this country by the utmost precision being sought by Parliament, and applied by judicial interpretation, carefully guarded, which remains within those limits. When we place ourselves under the obligation of the European Convention, all that is cast aside and our law stands to be made by a judicial interpretation, on the widest and most philosophical grounds, of provisions which are drawn in vague and general terms. So not only is the House legislating tonight under duress; the House is legislating to impose in this country judge-made law of a kind which it would not for a moment accept outside the scope of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr. Best


It is quite likely that the hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. Best) wishes to put to me the same question that he put to the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) .

Mr. Best

indicated dissent.

Mr. Powell

I gather that that is not the case, but I will answer whatever new question he has.

Mr. Best

I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for gibing way, especially as he anticipated a question that I was not intending to ask. The right hon. Gentleman makes the fair point that it is traditional in this House that matters of conscience are dealt with by way of matters brought forward by Private Members, and he makes the point that the present issue is brought before the House by an Order in Council from the Government. Perhaps he will inform the House how it would be possible for a Private Member to bring forward an Order in Council, bearing in mind that that is the way in which legislation presently pertains to Northern Ireland.

Mr. Powell

The hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension. A Private Member's Bill applying to Northern Ireland could be brought into the House and pass through all its stages. There is no particular difficulty in that. The provision could have been introduced by a Private Member's Bill equally with an Order in Council. That is the proper way in which it should and would have been done, if at al1, if we were not acting under duress.

That brings me back to the question that the hon. Member for Anglesey put to the hon. Member for Antrim, North. He asked whether he accepted the European Convention on Human Rights and the obligation to give of the right of access to the European Court to obtain enforceable judgments in this country. My answer is an unqualified "No". I do not believe that it is workable or tolerable that we should assign to an external body, even though there is a minority representation of the United Kingdom upon it, the power to legislate for this country—the power to enforce obligations upon the Government of this country to legislate or to alter the law.

We made a great mistake—

Mr. Best

It is the present situation.

Mr. Powell

Of course it is the present situation. I am not denying that. I shall vote against the present situation. Sooner or later the House will come to its senses and understand that it is intended to be, and can only function properly as, the supreme legislature of this country and not the recipient of orders from elsewhere as to what laws it should or should not make.

It is therefore in the person, as it were, of Northern Ireland that the House is experiencing the consequence of having abandoned its rights and responsibilities to the external interpretation of a vague and generalised document—the European Convention on Human Rights—so that tonight it is the House as a whole that is affronted, as well as one part of the United Kingdom. It happens to be that small minority to which that duress is being applied by the House tonight. But the ignominy of legislating at the behest of others applies to the House as a whole. The time will come when we shall see the necessity—as in other contexts, so in that of the Convention on Human Rights—of resuming the untrammelled sovereignty of legislation of the House of Commons and of Parliament.

11.22 pm
Mr. Matthew Parris (Derbyshire, West)

I wish to speak only briefly. and not on those constitutional issues on which other hon. Members are more competent to speak than I.

The subject of the order is adult male homosexuality in the last major part of this Kingdom where it is still outlawed. Seldom does so small a measure, debated in so short a time and brought at such a late hour, touch so deeply the lives of so many thousands of people in the United Kingdom. I do not believe that homosexuality is morally wrong or necessarily harmful, although I accept the fact that many hon. Members think of it as an affliction. But surely we can all agree that it is an impractical interference in the privacy of adult life to brand such people as criminals, as we still do in Northern Ireland.

Hon. Members luckier than I may find that personal conviction gives wings to their argument—the more powerfully they feel about an issue, the more powerfully they can speak. Unfortunately, that is not so in my case. I can happily argue the toss, but where I feel as deeply, strongly and personally as I do on this issue, argument altogether fails me. I support the measure with all my heart.

11.24 pm
Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)

Like my colleagues from Northern Ireland, I oppose the order. In answer to questions earlier, the Secretary of State said that it is being introduced now because, among other reasons, it was published a few months ago. The draft recreation order was also published a few months ago. The Northern Ireland Assembly is to be allowed to debate it. I should have thought that this matter is as important an issue to debate in that Assembly as the recreation order.

I am not satisfied with the explanations that have been given for bringing such an order before the House at this time of night.

I appreciate the fact that some hon. Members will profoundly disagree with me. Nevertheless, I and many other people are not happy that the House should change the laws that govern us at the behest of a European Court when we believe that that is contrary to the Judaeo-Christian ethic on which they have hitherto been based. We will suffer accordingly.

I share some of the views of the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Soley). I disagree with those who glibly speak of the problem as a sickness and often, in so doing, imply that there is no cure. We have only to remember that in the city port of Corinth, whence derives the name Corinthian, for those so listed, an obvious cure was provided. I refer the House to that lovely little passage in Corinthians I, chapter 6 verses 9 to 11. We have already been reminded He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone… It is when we face up to our basic weaknesses that we can find some hope in the grace of God.

We are told that the order is being introduced to bring us into line with the rest of the United Kingdom. The dubiety and ambiguity that is used in debates in the House when it suits hon. Members is fascinating. When they want to do something differently, we are told that we are different. But when it comes to rationalising, we are told that we should be the same as the rest of the United Kingdom. Time and again we have asked to be legislated for and to act at the same level as the rest of the United Kingdom. When dealing with a moral issue, the House would do well not to castigate us because we are arguing for and representing the people of Northern Ireland.

I shall not go to Northern Ireland for evidence to support my argument that perhaps the law that the House introduced in 1967 has not worked as well as some folk think. A writer from England has said: In an age of moral confusion and religious doubt, many people can only take their standards of right and wrong from the law itself. `If there is not a law against it, it must be alright'. Hence, when we removed criminal sanctions from homosexual acts between adults over 21 who consented in private, we were introducing, for many people a moral ambiguity, and a serious doubt. The result in England has been a vast growth of militant homosexual propagandists. If hon. Members want evidence from within the confines of Parliament, I refer them to the Hansard of the House of Lords for 14 June 1977. It repays careful study.

Sir John Biggs-Davison (Epping Forest)

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that what was said by his correspondent from England was also said by the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Northern Ireland?

Rev. Martin Smyth

I was not aware of that specific link, but as the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) has said, the Roman Catholic hierarchy and many other people in the North of Ireland join most of the reformed Churches and the people of Northern Ireland in expressing concern about this matter. It is because of that concern that I oppose the order today.

I recognise that there is room for an amendment to be made to the 1861 Act. I recognise, too, as the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Soley) has said, that the way in which one describes and treats offences may arouse fears and prejudices. Having said that, however, perhaps when it comes to murder in the North of Ireland this House may be culpable, too, because it has not been prepared to provide the sanctions of law in dealing with terrorism in this age, so that people just snap their fingers in the hope that in a year or two there will be an amnesty and those guilty of crimes most foul will be released on to the streets again. The House itself must therefore bear some responsibility for the way in which it creates a climate of public opinion with regard both to terrorism and to offences of homosexuality.

We are being asked to change our law to suit Europe and to suit others who, if given their head, will continue to indulge in practices against which some have already said "We will not go down that road". But can we guarantee that we shall not go down that road? It seems to me that the markers have already been moved somewhat. Only this morning before I left Northern Ireland I was speaking to a person involved in the whole concept of care within our social services. At one level in our social services we must provide help and understanding for those who have homosexual problems, but we must also provide for young people who may be victims of such people. We are establishing a pattern as we yield to the gay rights lobby and cry out for equal opportunities. It has already been suggested that people have been victimised because of their attitude to this. In this context, I should put it on the record that if the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North has heard of names being used against Mr. Dudgeon, I can only say that Mr. Dudgeon is a constituent of mine and at no time have I heard any names so used, but that may be because we move in different circles.

We must recognise that the markers that the House is setting and has already set in this area have repercussions in other areas, particularly in the treatment and care of young people. There is no point in the House crying out with moral indignation about why this or that is allowed to happen, if we ourselves remove the sanctions that would at least remind people that there are standards that are unacceptable in our society.

I am not at all sure that imprisoning people with such inclinations is the best way to help them. Some judges already take the view that there should be fairly heavy monetary fines for the crime of soliciting. It seems to me that we might do better to change the law in that direction rather than simply say "It is all right if you do it in private". An attempt has been made to define privacy, but it is not easy to narrow the scope in that way, and it would be better to have the markers clearly laid down.

In an age when lifestyles, attitudes and values are changing, it might be worthwhile for the House to consider whether this is the lifestyle which we want to perpetuate in the United Kingdom, whether these are the attitudes which we want to develop and whether these are the values which we want to enshrine in our statute law. I believe that I speak for many in Northern Ireland when I say that these are not the values, this is not the lifestyle and these are not the attitudes that we wish the House to set for us. We want a better way for our children.

11.36 pm
Mr. Michael Brown (Brigg and Scunthorpe)

It is pleasing to see so many hon. Members present for a debate on a Northern Ireland order. I hope that those who will join me in voting for the order will think again about their refusal to be moved earlier this year by the arguments of those of us who said that Ulster should be legislated for in the same way as the rest of the United Kingdom.

I shall divide my speech into two parts. I shall consider, first, the constitutional way in which the order is being brought forward and, secondly, I shall consider the merits of the order. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that he was introducing the order because of a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights. He said that the Government had defended the existing legislation, so presumably he would not have introduced the order if the European Court had not issued its judgment. I regard that as a failure on the part of my right hon. Friend. The order should have been brought forward on its merits and because there is an inconsistency between the law in Great Britain and that in Northern Ireland. I take the point of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) on whether the change should be made in primary or secondary legislation, but the order should certainly not have been brought forward under duress.

It is intolerable that a person who is within the law in Britain is outside the law in Ulster and subject to prosecution.

Mr. Nicholas Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)

Does my hon. Friend agree that those of us who believe that, in general, Ulster should be ruled by the same laws as the rest of the United Kingdom should also be able to say that there may be regional variations, in the same way that, for example, licensing laws in Wales are different from those in the remainder of the United Kingdom?

Mr. Brown

There is a world of difference between drinking habits and the conduct of a person's private life. On the latter concept, I do not believe that there should be different laws in different parts of the United Kingdom.

I turn now to the merits of the order. It is not for politicians or churchmen to stand in the House, or anywhere else for that matter, and moralise about what people should or should not do within the privacy of their homes. The old-fashioned principle of personal liberty, which drove me into the Conservative Party as opposed to other political parties, should be paramount.

I ask all hon. Members, particularly those who have recently been elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly, to remember that homosexuals have votes. As candidates we are only too anxious to obtain the maximum number of votes, but we never question the personal character of anyone who casts those votes for us. There is an element of hypocrisy in the debate. We should consider whether this is the correct constitutional procedure to rectify the anomaly between England and Wales and Ulster. Nevertheless, that does not excuse us from considering the essential question as to whether it is fair that homosexuals in Northern Ireland should be discriminated against in a way that they would not be if they happened, by accident of birth, to be born in the rest of the Kingdom.

The good old-fashioned adage of "There but for the grace of God go I" should apply when a politician or Churchman seeks to moralise on this issue. We should recognise that on this issue politicians have no right to interfere in the personal life of an individual as long as that does not impinge on the individual rights of others.

Rev. Martin Smyth


Mr. Brown

I am drawing to a conclusion, so I shall not give way.

I urge the House to take advantage of the free vote 'to vote according to its conscience. I hope that it will cast its vote in favour of the order.

11.42 pm
Mr. Leo Abse (Pontypool)

The right hon. Member for Down, South, (Mr. Powell) has presented the House with constitutional arguments which prompt him to vote against the order. I am aware, as he has frankly said, that he was a keen and urgent supporter of the efforts that I made consistently during the 1960s to bring in the measure which I finally steered through in 1967. The right hon. Gentleman is on record as having supported me as early as 1965.

Therefore, I find it somewhat strange that in his passion for constitutional proprieties he dismisses so easily that minority within his constituency and all Northern Ireland who must now be suffering severely, and have done so for years, the discrimination of the existing law of 1861. The weakness of the constitutional argument that he advanced surely has some relation to the pressures which clearly are being put upon him by the electorate in Northern Ireland, where we gather from the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley)—whatever else we do not gather—there is great indignation about the order.

It is not correct, as the right hon. Member for Down, South suggested, that there is a pure doctrine that in matters of this kind it is always the Private Member who introduces the Bill. Historically that is not true. The Bill that I introduced was in collusion with the 1966–70 Labour Government, to their credit. It was done on the initiative of a Ten-Minute Bill when the House expressed its view, following which the Cabinet made the decision that full time should be given so that in accordance with the wishes of the House the Bill could reach the statute book.

The Home Secretary actively participated in every stage and there was full co-operation from the Government. The right hon. Member for Down, South has a notoriously manichaean frame of mind. Therefore, he would like to say that everything always depends on the initiative of a Private Member's Bill. That is not the position in relation to that Act. If he is relying on that to justify trying to vote down an attempt to give relief to a minority in Northern Ireland, he is allowing himself to be diminished.

The other argument of the right hon. Member for Down, South is that he must defy the European Convention on Human Rights. Such an infantile reaction to the whole weight of international law has naturally aroused on all sides a suspicion that the right hon. Gentleman might be seeking a pretext to justify his actions to his constituents. We well understand his difficulties and the boundary changes touching his constituency, but he could have sought more stature on such an occasion instead of engaging in a sententious exercise that involved lecturing us on constitutional proprieties so that he could sweep his real reasons for opposing the order under the table.

We must face the fact that the order represents the end of a miserable saga of humbug and hypocrisy on the part of successive Governments and on the part of Northern Ireland Members. It is to the shame of the House that it is only after the stern admonition of the European Court of Human Rights that the Government feel that they have been left with no alternative but to enact an order that will stop the sword of Damocles dangling over the heads of thousands of our fellow citizens. Because, in their private lives, they do not share our sexual predilections, they find themselves threatened by an ancient statute that has, as a penalty, life imprisonment.

The Government sought in vain to persuade the civilised court in Strasbourg that the present barbaric law should remain. They pleaded: There were profound differences of attitudes between Northern Ireland and Great Britain in relation to questions of morality. That argument was vigourously put forward in court; and no one could dispute it. Those in a position to end the appalling violence in Northern Ireland by being prepared to power share with a minority flamboyantly continue to refuse to do so and thus display an immoral intolerance that is, happily, alien to the mainland.

Tonight, 15 years after I sponsored the measure that this order follows, the same intolerance is being shamelessly displayed to another minority. Northern Ireland Members continue to resist according respect to the private lives of our fellow citizens and that for me yet again corroborates the fact that the continued subsidising of Ulster at more than £1 billion each year represents the foolish squandering of my constituents' money on a Province whose destiny can be determined only by its inhabitants.

Whatever the House does will be met by near paranoid reactions such as those displayed by the right hon. Member for Down, South. Last Thursday he extravagantly accused the Leader of the House and the Government of a cold and unremitting hostility towards the Province and its people because they had not provided more time for discussing this measure. This measure in fact has been discussed in the House for years. It was discussed in detail at every stage. The minutiae and the question raised by the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) of not allowing stale offences to be prosecuted were exhaustively examined by hon. Members. Yet this is not a case of a measure without fault being presented. An old and out-of-date provision is now being presented to the House. It could not be otherwise. Grudgingly, because he has no alternative and is aware of opinion in Northern Ireland the Secretary of State has rightly said that he has followed what was done 15 years ago in an Act that had to concede to the prejudices of those days.

How absurd it is to say that the age of consent must be 21. How absurd it is that we should pass an order under which a ménage à trois can take place between a man and women but be outlawed when all men are involved. How absurd it is that the law should say that a man on a merchant ship can have a relationship with a passenger but that he cannot have such a relationship with a fellow sailor without an offence being committed. Absurdities are buried in the 1967 Act: that was the consensus of that time.

But to the hon. Members for Antrim, North and Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth) I say that I do not believe that the men of Ulster are so diminished, so lacking in heterosexual drive and desire that ending the criminality of private, adult homosexual conduct will mean that Belfast will become a modern Sodom. I am sure that Ulster men have more robust and confident heterosexual appetites than their representatives in the House who seek so absurdly to persuade us that without criminal sanction Ulster men would prefer to go to bed with men than their beautiful and attractive women. Hon. Members do an unjustice both to the vigorous men of Ulster and to their delightful women.

I am sure that the House understands why the order is presented in such an unfortunate manner. It will understand, however, that, nevertheless, we are taking a step to ensure that a man who can live his life freely and privately in Wolverhampton cannot, as long as we control the destinies of Ulster, be metamorphosised into being a heinous criminal in Belfast. The right hon. Member for Down, South should have had the courage to express that view tonight, instead of dodging behind spurious constitutional niceties.

11.52 pm
Mr. Prior

The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) said that he considered that the House was acting under duress. I do not think that that is the mood of the House. We are asking the House to comply with an international obligation. That is a Government responsibility which we should not and cannot shirk. If the House wishes to change its mind about article 53, we must renounce it. The only alternative is to renounce article 25 which provides for the right of individual petition.

It is ironic that in 1980, when that came up for renewal and was renewed for five years, the only person who objected to it in the House was my Parliamentary Private Secretary. It was said that he objected because I wanted it objected to as it was that way that we would stop the railwaymen from going to court under the closed shop legislation. There is a curious irony about that. Nothing could be further from the truth. I had nothing to do with my hon. Friend's views on the subject, although they were attributed to me. I fully respected his views.

We have gone ahead because of the Government's responsibility, which we intend to fulfil.

It is uncorrect to say, as the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth) did, that there were other orders on the Order Paper that we were not taking. The only other order on the Order Paper relates to planning. I have made it clear that any further orders will be put as draft orders to the Assembly in the normal course of events, and the Assembly can then discuss them in full. It is neither fair nor correct to say that that applies to this order, which has been on the order paper for some months.

I should like to say to the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) that it is possible to derogate from the Treaty under Article 15, but, as he knows and has had explained to him, the only circumstances are in time of war or other public emergency, and I do not believe that that could be argued in this case.

He suggested that the European Court had not taken proper cognisance of the views of the people of Northern Ireland. In its submission to the Court the Government pointed out, and the Court accepted, that there was a strong body of opinion in Northern Ireland—stemming from a genuine conviction—that felt that a change in the law would be seriously damaging to the moral fabric of society. Nevertheless, the Court believed that the needs and rights of homosexuals had to be protected, and that was the decision that it reached. My hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) made a short speech that everyone will have admired for its courage and understanding.

I was present during the debates on the Sexual Offences Bill in 1966 when some courageous speeches were made. There are many people who believe that homosexual acts are wrong, but equally many of the same people have a feeling of justice and compassion for those who find themselves in that state. It is not a crime to be a homosexual in Northern Ireland. It is only a crime to commit homosexual acts. The House is right to fulfil not only its international obligations but to bring about the long overdue change in the law. I hope that the House will support the order.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 168, Noes 21.

Division No. 325] [11.57 pm
Abse, Leo Cope, John
Alexander, Richard Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g)
Alton, David Cryer, Bob
Atkins, Rt Hon H.(S'thorne) Dalyell, Tam
Baker, Kenneth(St.M'bone) Deakins, Eric
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Dorrell, Stephen
Beith, A. J. Dover, Denshore
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Dubs, Alfred
Bennett, Andrew(St'kp't N) Dunn, Robert (Dartford)
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Dykes, Hugh
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) English, Michael
Berry, Hon Anthony Eyre, Reginald
Best, Keith Fairgrieve, Sir Russell
Bevan, David Gilroy Faith, Mrs Sheila
Biffen, Rt Hon John Field, Frank
Blaker, Peter Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Forman, Nigel
Brittan, Rt. Hon. Leon Foulkes, George
Brown, Michael(Brigg & Sc'n) Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Campbell-Savours, Dale Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd)
Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Garel-Jones, Tristan
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Goodlad, Alastair
Cook, Robin F. Gow, Ian
Grieve, Percy Pawsey, James
Gummer, John Selwyn Pendry, Tom
Hamilton, Hon A. Penhaligon, David
Hannam, John Pitt, William Henry
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Prescott, John
Haselhurst, Alan Prior, Rt Hon James
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Proctor, K. Harvey
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hayhoe, Barney Rathbone, Tim
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Rees-Davies, W. R.
Hicks, Robert Rhodes James, Robert
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll) Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Home Robertson, John Rifkind, Malcolm
Hooson, Tom Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Robertson, George
Hunt, John (Ravensboune) Rooker, J. W.
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Rossi, Hugh
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Sandelson, Neville
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Scott, Nicholas
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
King, Rt Hon Tom Shelton, William (Streatham)
Knox, David Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Lamont, Norman Silvester, Fred
Lang, Ian Sims, Roger
Latham, Michael Skinner, Dennis
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Lee, John Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Soley, Clive
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Speed, Keith
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Stevens, Martin
Lyell, Nicholas Stewart, A.(E Renfrewshire)
MacGregor, John Stradling Thomas, J.
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Strang, Gavin
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Thompson, Donald
Major, John Tilley, John
Marland, Paul Townsend, Cyril D,(B'heath)
Maxton, John Trippier, David
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Mayhew, Patrick Waddington, David
Mellor, David Wakeham, John
Meyer, Sir Anthony Waldegrave, Hon William
Miscampbell, Norman Waller, Gary
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Warren, Kenneth
Montgomery, Fergus Watson, John
Morton, George Wheeler, John
Murphy, Christopher White, Frank R.
Nelson, Anthony Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Neubert, Michael Wilkinson, John
Newens, Stanley Williams,Rt Hon Mrs (Crosby)
Newton, Tony Woolmer, Kenneth
O'Neill, Martin Young, Sir George (Acton)
Page, Richard (SW Herts)
Parris, Matthew Tellers for the Ayes:
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Mr. Peter Brooke and
Patten, John (Oxford) Mr. David Hunt.
Ancram, Michael Porter, Barry
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Powell, Rt Hon J.E. (S Down)
Blackburn, John Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R.
Brotherton, Michael Skeet, T. H. H.
Budgen, Nick Smyth, Rev. W. M. (Belfast S)
Clark, Sir W.(Croydon S) Stainton, Keith
Dunlop, John Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
McCusker, H. Winterton, Nicholas
Marlow, Antony
Mawby, Ray Tellers for the Noes:
Molyneaux, James Mr. William Ross and
Morgan, Geraint Mr. Peter Robinson.
Paisley, Rev Ian

Question accordingly agreed to.


That the draft Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982, which was laid before this House on 14th July, be approved.