HC Deb 26 July 1989 vol 157 cc1118-23

Question again proposed, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Ross

I did not notice that we had approached the witching hour of 10 o'clock, but now that we are past it we can keep on going until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.

Anyone who knows what goes on in practice in Northern Ireland knows perfectly well what the Secretary of State was getting at. He was saying that some training centres would cater for the Roman Catholic population and others would cater largely for the Protestant population. That is his way of getting around the difficulties that the proponents of the Bill have identified. I largely believe in the market economy, but I believe that the Bill is nonsense. As we trundle towards the end of its passage through this place, the nonsense and humbug become more and more exposed.

I neglected to say a fond farewell to our departing Secretary of State. I say farewell, but without fondness, because he came to Northern Ireland and was handed the poisoned chalice of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which was created by his predecessor. From what the departing Secretary of State said on television the other evening, I thought that he was preparing the policy to be followed by his successor. That is a strange attitude for the Government to adopt, but no doubt the House and the country will get used to departing Secretaries of State always stating the policy to be followed by their successors. Let us hope that the right hon. Gentleman's successor enjoys rather more success. I am sorry that his successor will be trying to implement a policy that Members on this Bench will never accept.

Mr. Tom King

This is well-trodden ground. I appreciate the tribute that the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. MacNamara) paid to my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport (Mr. Viggars), but I do not appreciate the less than generous tributes that he is inclined to pay to officials. That is wrong.

I take responsibility for the policies put forward, but the hon. Gentleman chooses to seek to divide. He thinks that, if he pays tributes to me for what he thinks I am genuinely trying to do about employment, he can then try to suggest that officials are somehow trying to undermine me. That is grossly unfair to officials who have worked extremely hard on this Bill, which deals with extremely difficult matters. The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that those matters are not the most popular to pursue in certain quarters of Northern Ireland. Those officials worked on them extremely conscientiously and they have my great admiration and gratitude for the work that they have done—that is one of the closing statements I would like to make as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

The hon. Gentleman is a member of a party that has some aspirations to become the Government. If the hon. Gentleman shortly hopes to achieve that objective, I do not recommend the policy of vilifying the officials who could conceivably, forbid the day, work for him. I say that in all candour. I do and will take any criticism, often sometimes more than I enjoy, for policies that come from the Departments that I have the honour to represent in this House. I will not sit and listen to criticisms of officials and pretend that they are running a private war of their own or are not to be trusted in any way, especially when their work has been outstanding and most conscientious. If the hon. Gentleman becomes the instrument of lawyers who seek to argue with other lawyers and suggest that there is something unworthy about the opinions of other lawyers, that does not do him justice, either. I do not commend that course to him.

The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North raised a point of contrast between different advertisements. and asked how there could be an advertisement that appeared to favour one group. The hon. Member for South Down (Mr. McGrady) answered him: it is one thing to advertise and encourage representation from a minority under-represented group, but in no way does that exclude people from another part of the community from applying. The hon. Member for South Down was right. At the point of selection for the job, the merit principle will apply.

I have not taken part in the detailed examination of the Bill. I am glad that I have not had to listen to the explanations by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North about the difference between religion-exclusive and religion-specific. It sounds like a distinction without a difference. The idea that we go around Northern Ireland explaining to a lot of employers the subtle difference between the two is not an attractive course. I am afraid that it falls into the trap for which I have already chastised the hon. Member for Redcar (Ms. Mowlam)—losing that valuable quality of balance that is so important in this matter.

The hon. Member for South Down was worried about the protection for outreach training. I should like to confirm what I have already said. Amendment No. 70 has been carefully and expressly framed so that an employer who intends to benefit an under-represented group is protected from allegations of both direct and indirect discrimination, so long as members of the majority group are not expressly excluded. That is an attempt to strike a balance of protection for outreach training without the prohibition or exclusivity to which I take exception and which I believe, as would anyone who reflects on the situation, would be profoundly unwise.

Mr. William Ross

The Minister has just said that the majority group is not excluded. By that, does he mean the Protestant community, or the majority group in the much smaller area in which the training system exists?

Mr. King

I meant the latter.

Mr. McNamara

By leave of the House, I should like to make a few points.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Does the hon. Member have the leave of the House to speak again? [Interruption.]

Mr. McNamara

The Minister made a number of statements about me. Therefore, I think that I am entitled to reply to them with the leave of the House. After all, I have tabled an amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I assumed that leave had been given. I did not hear a dissentient voice.

Mr. McNamara

The Minister said that I had sullied my tributes to him. In that case, if he is responsible, I withdraw what I said about him. All I would say is that frequently his Ministers came to the Standing Committee and contradicted what they had said earlier.

I am sorry that the Minister cannot grasp the distinction between religion-exclusive and religion-specific. He said that he had not paid great attention to the detail of the Bill. Perhaps if he had done so, we would have had a better Bill.

Question put, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 183, Noes 71.

Division No. 327] [10.8 pm
Alexander, Richard Currie, Mrs Edwina
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Davis, David (Boothferry)
Alton, David Day, Stephen
Amess, David Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Amos, Alan Dover, Den
Arbuthnot, James Durant, Tony
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Dykes, Hugh
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Fallon, Michael
Ashby, David Fenner, Dame Peggy
Atkinson, David Fishburn, John Dudley
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Fookes, Dame Janet
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Forman, Nigel
Baldry, Tony Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Batiste, Spencer Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)
Beggs, Roy Forth, Eric
Bellingham, Henry Franks, Cecil
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Freeman, Roger
Blackburn, Dr John G. French, Douglas
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Gale, Roger
Boswell, Tim Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Glyn, Dr Alan
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Bowis, John Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Gregory, Conal
Brazier, Julian Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Bright, Graham Ground, Patrick
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Hague, William
Buck, Sir Antony Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Burns, Simon Hampson, Dr Keith
Burt, Alistair Hanley, Jeremy
Butler, Chris Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Butterfill, John Harris, David
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hill, James
Carrington, Matthew Hind, Kenneth
Carttiss, Michael Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Cash, William Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Chapman, Sydney Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Chope, Christopher Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Hunter, Andrew
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Irvine, Michael
Cope, Rt Hon John Jack, Michael
Couchman, James Janman, Tim
Cran, James Jessel, Toby
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Rossi, Sir Hugh
Kennedy, Charles Rowe, Andrew
Kilfedder, James Ryder, Richard
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Sackville, Hon Tom
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Shaw, David (Dover)
Latham, Michael Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb)
Lawrence, Ivan Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Shersby, Michael
Lightbown, David Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lilley, Peter Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Speller, Tony
McCrindle, Robert Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Stanbrook, Ivor
Maclean, David Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
McLoughlin, Patrick Steel, Rt Hon David
Meyer, Sir Anthony Stern, Michael
Miller, Sir Hal Stevens, Lewis
Mills, lain Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Summerson, Hugo
Morrison, Sir Charles Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Temple-Morris, Peter
Moss, Malcolm Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Moynihan, Hon Colin Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Nelson, Anthony Thurnham, Peter
Neubert, Michael Tredinnick, David
Nicholls, Patrick Twinn, Dr Ian
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Viggers, Peter
Oppenheim, Phillip Waddington, Rt Hon David
Page, Richard Walden, George
Paice, James Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Paisley, Rev Ian Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Patnick, Irvine Wallace, James
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Waller, Gary
Porter, David (Waveney) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Portillo, Michael Wells, Bowen
Raffan, Keith Wheeler, John
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Widdecombe, Ann
Winterton, Mrs Ann Tellers for the Ayes:
Winterton, Nicholas Mr. Stephen Dorrell and Mr. John M. Taylor.
Wood, Timothy
Armstrong, Hilary Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Ashton, Joe Lewis, Terry
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Loyden, Eddie
Battle, John McAvoy, Thomas
Beckett, Margaret McCartney, Ian
Bell, Stuart McGrady, Eddie
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) McNamara, Kevin
Blunkett, David McWilliam, John
Boateng, Paul Madden, Max
Bray, Dr Jeremy Mahon, Mrs Alice
Buckley, George J. Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Caborn, Richard Meale, Alan
Callaghan, Jim Michael, Alun
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Clelland, David Mowlam, Marjorie
Cohen, Harry Nellist, Dave
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Patchett, Terry
Cousins, Jim Pike, Peter L.
Cryer, Bob Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Cummings, John Richardson, Jo
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Rogers, Allan
Dixon, Don Short, Clare
Duffy, A. E. P. Skinner, Dennis
Eadie, Alexander Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Fatchett, Derek Steinberg, Gerry
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Flannery, Martin Vaz, Keith
Flynn, Paul Wall, Pat
Foster, Derek Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Galloway, George Wareing, Robert N.
Godman, Dr Norman A. Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Gordon, Mildred Wise, Mrs Audrey
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Wray, Jimmy
Haynes, Frank
Hinchliffe, David Tellers for the Noes:
Home Robertson, John Mr. Nigel Griffiths and Mr. Allen McKay.
Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Ingram, Adam

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 71 after clause 52, insert the following new Clause—

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