HC Deb 31 July 1998 vol 317 cc633-52

Order for Third Reading read.

9.39 am
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Marjorie Mowlam)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

We are grateful for the overwhelming support that the House has shown for the Bill, following the substantial backing for the agreement in Northern Ireland itself. Once the Bill is finally approved, the requirement of the triple lock, which successive Governments have agreed should apply to any settlement, will be satisfied.

The Bill is the culmination of a great deal of work in Northern Ireland. We have put a number of Bills before the House this year. The key developments show how much the Northern Ireland political landscape, which is the context in which this Bill will operate, if passed, has changed in the past 12 months.

It is instructive to remember that this time last year the talks participants were still deadlocked on the decommissioning question. They had not addressed their substantive agenda; they began that only in October. Once they did begin, the pace accelerated, culminating in the Good Friday agreement on 10 April. Since then, we have had a referendum, an election, an Assembly, a policing commission, a criminal justice review and a decommissioning body, as well as passing the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act. We have also acted on our commitments on the Irish language.

Now the House is considering and, I hope, will shortly pass this Bill. It is major piece of constitutional legislation, which has been prepared in record time. We have been happy to acknowledge that further changes may be necessary, while still taking some pride in the Bill as it stands. It is, we believe, an essentially sound framework for the agreement institutions to operate within.

I crave the indulgence of the House for a moment as I want to thank the civil servants. The list that I have just given shows how much work has been done by Northern Ireland civil servants over past months. I also pay tribute to the many political party leaders, to the Prime Minister, to the Taoiseach and, above all, to the people of Northern Ireland who have given their support and encouragement to making progress with the Bill.

Of course, we respect the doubts that have been expressed about the agreement within the House and outside it. Those who doubt have often shown courage, too. However, I believe that people are ever more widely coming to the view, whatever their original reservations, that the agreement must be made to work. The Government will continue to do all that they can to ensure that the agreement comes fully into operation, in all its aspects. In doing that, we will listen to all shades of opinion, for the agreement or against it. We will work closely with the new authorities established in Northern Ireland. Those comments apply especially to the Bill, just as they do to other aspects of the agreement. We are anxious that the Bill should reflect the agreement as faithfully as possible and, within its terms, provide the most effective and flexible machinery possible.

We have always declared our willingness to look again at the provisions of the Bill to achieve those objectives. As a result, we made changes before its introduction on the basis of consultation, and we have made further substantial changes in Committee and on Report. For example, we have omitted a number of sections in the consultation draft that were questioned, such as the default powers of the Secretary of State; we have made the criteria for exclusion of Ministers and parties tighter, consistent with the agreement; we have sharpened many of the human rights provisions, so that, for example, all Assembly Bills will now go to the Human Rights Commission; the commission will advise the Assembly as well as the Secretary of State; the appointment criteria for commissioners better reflect the agreement text; and we have made clearer the scrutiny role of Assembly Committees, in line with the agreement.

While the debate has continued in the House, we have continued to listen. We shall reflect over the summer on a number of the points made in the House. In particular, we will look at the human rights provisions to see whether there are further ways in which the Bill can be strengthened, consistent with the agreement; we will look again at the criteria for early dissolution and for prorogation of the Assembly; and we will look again at some of the Order in Council-making powers. We will also consider audit arrangements. We cannot promise anything, but we will look at those and other areas carefully and with an open mind. My hon. Friend the Minister of State is already arranging further meetings in September with the parties to discuss their views. We shall then introduce any necessary amendments in another place.

I thank colleagues for their forbearance in accommodating the lengthy discussion of the Bill at such a late stage, and for the hard work they have put into it. It has been a civilised debate, for which I thank hon. Members—I know how strongly some of them feel. I hope that that bodes well for the future. On this last day of the Session, and after the intensive work of recent months, we all feel the need for a period of rest. I hope that hon. Members get a couple of weeks—but after that there is a great deal of work ahead both for the parties in the Assembly and for their lordships, who are to consider the Bill further.

9.45 am
Mr. Malcolm Moss (North-East Cambridgeshire)

I shall be brief, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I, too, want to contribute to the civilised nature of the debate. If the Secretary of State wants to find me in a couple of weeks, I shall be long gone—

Mr. Jim Dowd (Lord Commissioner to the Treasury)

But not forgotten.

Mr. Moss

It is kind of the hon. Gentleman to say so.

As the Secretary of State said, this is a major piece of constitutional legislation. It fits in with the rapid pace of change in Northern Ireland during her tenure of office. The Bill has gone through the House in record time. We know the reasons for that—commitments were given, and it has been part of a fluid and continuing process.

The Opposition have taken a bipartisan approach, while giving the Bill full scrutiny. We recognise the need to get the Bill on the statute book, because at the heart of the process is the agreement. Whether or not we like the agreement, or think it will work to fulfil expectations, is irrelevant at this particular time. The agreement was arrived at by the various parties in the talks in Northern Ireland, and in that sense it is a local agreement. We are simply giving a statutory framework to what was agreed on Good Friday. It therefore ill behoves us to try to rewrite the agreement, and that has been the theme throughout our discussions over the past week or two.

I, too, want to give some praise to the civil servants in Northern Ireland, who have pulled out all the stops to get the Bill to this particular juncture in record time. It builds on the framework of existing Northern Ireland legislation, even though that legislation may now be on the shelf for some considerable time. The Bill introduces considerable new powers that reflect the agreement.

The Secretary of State said that the Government still recognise that a considerable amount of tidying up remains to be done, and discussions need to continue over the summer months. The Bill has yet to progress through the other place. The Opposition certainly intend to table amendments then to try to improve the Bill.

There have been few areas of disagreement, for the reasons that I have already outlined. The two areas of disagreement that remain concern clause 23, relating to the exclusion of Ministers from office, and clause 60 and related clauses on the Equality Commission. As we said during our debate the other evening, clause 23 is closely related to the release of prisoners and proscribing—or specifying, as the Bill puts it—certain terrorist organisations.

We recognise that the legislation is a matter of interpretation for the Secretary of State, and that it is her right to interpret it as she will, based on the information she possesses and her overall knowledge and perception of events in Northern Ireland. Occasionally, we will beg to differ on that interpretation. That principle has been the basis for the limited opposition that we have brought to bear.

I realise that clause 60 deals with a matter that is very dear to the Secretary of State's heart and that she would like, if at all possible, to proceed on it as stated in the Bill. However, she is aware, as are we all, of the disquiet that is still being expressed by some of the bodies that will be influenced by, and be party to, the change—particularly the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Commission for Racial Equality and the Northern Ireland Disability Council. Those three bodies are still very concerned at the implications of clause 60 and of the Bill generally.

We are pleased in some ways that the Minister, in his reply to the debate on those clauses, said that consultation and discussions will be continuing over the summer. We welcome that. It is important to try to arrive at a sensible compromise on which all parties can agree, rather than simply to push through provisions that currently seem not to have been subjected to the full range of consultation that was promised, or even expected.

The Opposition put down the marker that further amendments will be tabled in the other place, particularly amendments dealing with the matters that I have just adumbrated. On balance, we realise that the legislation gives statutory powers as agreed in the Good Friday agreement, and we shall be voting for it on Third Reading.

9.51 am
Mr. Eddie McGrady (South Down)

The House will be well aware that the great desire of the people of Northern Ireland is, first, to have a cessation of violence and to create the circumstances in which violence will not recur; and secondly, to provide a framework whereby economic and social development can occur. Northern Ireland Members will recall the euphoria that swept Northern Ireland on the morning of 10 April when the agreement was reached, and also when the referendum received the support of more than 70 per cent. of the people of Northern Ireland. That support is the reason why all Northern Ireland Members should be supporting the Bill. The Bill contains the agreement that was reached by the vast majority of parties and peoples and endorsed by those peoples.

I recall also the ceasefire of 1994—the great burden that was lifted off the shoulders of Northern Ireland, and the physical feeling of relief, which was to be dashed by a subsequent reversal—and then the renewal, in 1997. Surely the Bill, which embodies the agreement in its entirety, will give us an opportunity to develop constitutional political stability, economic development, new investment, confidence and social development. At long last, all those matters can now be administered locally and tailored to meet the needs of the people.

As I said in previous debates, after 30 years of violence it cannot be switched off overnight. Many people in our community have used violence—executed people in the most horrible way, maimed and killed people, and destroyed property—and they have been desensitised to normal modes of behaviour and acceptance of the rule of law. It is highly probable, however unpalatable it might be, that those people—if they are in some way thwarted, either personally or by events—will express their opposition in violence.

I make a plea, particularly to the family of Unionist parties, not to use those singular acts of violence as a reason to bring down the whole delicate edifice of constitutional and democratic institutions that we have so painfully built up over the past two years. It is a very difficult and sensitive matter. It is a matter of grave judgment, one way or the other, whether a person or party is involved in violence for the purpose of pursuing political objectives. We must not confuse that violence with personal violence, with implementation of personal vendettas, or even with group vendettas.

In an earlier debate, the right hon. Member for Strangford (Mr. Taylor)—I do not want to take his name in vain again—cited 58 incidents of republican violence and 53 or 54 incidents of loyalist violence. Such events will happen. I hope that, by working and growing together, our communities will be able to eschew such behaviour and develop an ethos of peace and co-operation. We can do that only by working together.

I know that some representatives of parts of the Unionist community have a fear of the agreement—that in some way it will overtake them and their aspirations and traditions. Nothing could be further from my mind. The agreement is, first, a matter of co-operation.

Unless there is co-operation—not only in the agreement itself and in the legislation, but in their implementation—the agreement will fall apart and nothing will happen.

The greatest strength that any Northern Ireland party has is the ability to say no—which I know is a rather dangerous thing to say in Northern Ireland politics. However, in the context of participating, there is always a veto for those parties. The Bill contains so much protection in ensuring that one will is not imposed on another, or that one group, community or tradition does not win a victory over another. That was the spirit driving the negotiations and the mechanisms embodied in the Bill, giving everyone enough confidence to participate.

This morning, even at this late stage, if there is a Division on Third Reading, I urge those persons and representatives who are opposed to the agreement—which has been endorsed by the people—to say, "Yes, we have reservations about this. We will continue to fight our corner and, from our viewpoint, to safeguard the views of the people we represent. But we will give it a chance." The Bill is one chance, in the centuries and decades of violence, to make progress, and it affords the confidence of knowing that protections are fully built into it. Furthermore, the people have clearly and unambiguously said, "Please do this for us."

I welcome the Secretary of State's mention for human rights, language and culture. I thank the Secretary of State and the Minister for their own openness in consultation and readiness to listen to what has been said by hon. Members on both sides of the House; and for their promises and undertakings to pursue further dialogue during the five short weeks until 14 September, when the Assembly will reconvene for very formal and important decisions. I thank also "the back office" people who constructed the Bill. Although it is very difficult to translate political terminology into statutory terminology, it was done reasonably well in the Bill, which can be amended later in greater detail.

Much has been said about the Bill. My main concern is that the people's will should be endorsed, and that—because of that will—an ethos of peace should be created. The violence that we have had must never recur, and at long last we will have an opportunity to strengthen economic development, inward investment, social advancement and a better standard of living. I sincerely believe that the Bill is a vehicle by which those goals can be achieved.

9.59 am
Mr. Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire)

What a marathon this has been. I congratulate Ministers on the pace at which they have moved the Bill forward. The Liberal Democrats welcome the Bill whole-heartedly and believe that it is the vital ingredient which will turn the agreement into reality.

During the past two weeks, the House has witnessed the transformation of the Belfast agreement into tangible legislation that will guide the new Northern Ireland Assembly, which is a good thing. It is also great to see some true innovations: Northern Ireland stands to lead Europe on a number of human rights issues, especially those challenging prejudice.

However, the Government have not accepted amendments that we would have liked. I know that there is strong concern on the Ulster Unionist Benches about the Assembly's ability to ratify important decisions made by the North-South Ministerial Council. The Belfast agreement clearly states that the council remains accountable to the Assembly. I am pleased that the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, the hon. Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy), gave a serious commitment in yesterday's debate to revisit that matter in another place.

I have also been concerned about the allocation of chairmanships. It is a drum that I have been banging during the Bill's long parade through the Chamber, and I hope that the Government will honour their commitment to examine that, too.

The summer provides an opportunity to fine-tune what is basically a very good Bill. The Northern Ireland parties know better than any others the aspirations of the people of Northern Ireland to make the Assembly work. It is important that the Northern Irish public are able to consult, through their parliamentary representatives, during the informal period of summer.

We need to remember what we are doing all this for. It is to normalise Northern Ireland and make it an even better place in which to live than it is already. From the point of view of tourism, Northern Ireland is probably Britain's best-kept secret, from the beautiful glens of Antrim to the mystery of Giant's causeway, from Strangford's character and its ferry—or is it a barge?—to the mountains of Mourne—

Mr. McGrady

What about South Down?

Mr. Öpik

There are many other areas that I shall not mention in order to prevent another lengthy debate. If one were to design a country for tourism, one would come up with Northern Ireland.

The point is that we have to turn the opportunity of Northern Ireland into a reality, for the people who live there and for those who visit. Many people who visit the Province return to it. Those who have not visited it do not know what they are missing.

Personally, I have learnt a few things during the passage of the Bill—something about our procedures, a bit about the problems faced by Northern Ireland representatives here, and a great deal about attitudes.

There is an old saying that you cannot talk yourself out of a problem that you have behaved yourself into. To some extent, Northern Ireland had behaved itself into a problem. The biggest problem is that people stop listening. I have to admit that I am thinking of myself the other night when I was a bit of a grumpy old hon. Member. I have learnt that people listen least when they are the least confident about their position or that of others, and when they feel threatened. Perhaps that is something to which we should be sensitive.

We have to recognise the enormous stress placed on Unionist and nationalist representatives here. They are the ones who have to make the process work. They are on the front line and have to face the individuals who are most affected by what we have decided.

I look forward to the Assembly meeting in September. I hope that it will be able to work with the Bill and that the review which has been promised will iron out any teething problems that we come across as the Assembly implements the procedures.

Scars run deep, and there is much bitterness and many tragic memories in Northern Ireland, but I hope that all the parties that have been so constructive in our debates will recognise that it is up to all of us to make this work. Let us not think of the future in terms of failure, but plan for success. By doing so, we shall make it much more likely that that success occurs.

10.5 am

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that the House had been very busy making sure that the Bill is passed. We may have been busy in the past 10 days, but we have been nowhere near as busy as she and her able team of Ministers, who, with single-minded determination, have made sure that an agreement was reached.

I shall make three brief points. First, since Northern Ireland came into existence, there has never been a satisfactory way of governing that part of the United Kingdom. Stormont was wrong, and I doubt whether any Unionist politician would now stand up and say that what occurred at that time could possibly be defended or justified in any way. Direct rule was necessary, but there was a tremendous democratic deficit. The agreement is the fairest possible way in which Northern Ireland can be governed.

Secondly, the position of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom has been reinforced. The idea that the agreement somehow paves the way for a united Ireland without the consent of the people who live there is simply paranoia. The notion that the North-South Ministerial Council is a halfway measure to a united Ireland without the agreement of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland is absolutely without foundation. Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution have been removed. On virtually every occasion, Unionist politicians have said that they should be removed, for reasons that we understand. There is no question of the agreement bringing about a unitary state in Ireland without the consent of the majority of the people. That fact is reinforced in the Bill.

Thirdly—I choose my words with care and speak simply as a Back Bencher—for more than a quarter of a century, the British people, like the House, refused to give way to terror or to accept terrorist aims and activities on the ground, either in Northern Ireland or on the mainland. We never accepted that we should surrender or say in effect that the IRA would triumph and that a united Ireland would be brought about without the consent of the majority of people in Northern Ireland. We have held that position for a quarter of a century, regardless of what happened in Northern Ireland—for example, at Enniskillen and many other places—or on the mainland in Warrington and in Birmingham, where so many people were butchered in November 1974. The British people refused to give in to terror. As far as I know, none of us—certainly not me—received any—

Mr. William Thompson (West Tyrone)


Mr. Winnick

No, I shall not give way. I said that I would be brief.

None of us received letters from constituents suggesting any course other than fighting terrorism.

However—I choose my words with care—one should not take the consent and tolerance of the people of Britain for granted. Had there been a referendum on the mainland about the agreement, there would have been an even larger majority in favour than there was in Northern Ireland. There is absolutely no doubt about that. If the agreement were destroyed, or if there were attempts to destroy it by influential sections of the Unionist community, I believe that the British people would take a rather different attitude to Northern Ireland.

As I said, the British people have stood up to terror. They have refused to give way under any circumstances for more than a quarter of a century. The agreement is the fairest possible way for representatives of the two communities to govern the people of Northern Ireland, and it has been endorsed by an overwhelming majority in Northern Ireland. Understandably, the British people would find it difficult to understand the agreement being destroyed by the very people who constantly say that they are part of the United Kingdom and that they accept the rule of law and parliamentary democracy. If those people are arguing as politicians who do not like the agreement, so be it. Many things happened in the past 18 years which we, in opposition, did not like, but the democratic process must always be observed. I hope that that point will be taken on board by all hon. Members, whether they are for or against the agreement.

This is an excellent measure. I hope that it will succeed and that the people of Northern Ireland can live in peace.

10.8 am

Mr. Jeffrey Donaldson (Lagan Valley)

It has long been the desire of the Ulster Unionist party to have proper democratic and accountable government restored to Northern Ireland, and we have worked hard over many years for a Northern Ireland Assembly that will give elected representatives a real say over local affairs.

We welcome the opportunity to have a form of accountable government restored to Northern Ireland, but we have concerns which we have expressed. We make use of the democratic process, which is our right, and we are committed to exclusively peaceful means of pursuing our concerns. Let no one be in any doubt about that. However, it is legitimate and right in a democratic society that elected representatives of the people should voice concerns. It is true that the agreement was endorsed by a majority of the people voting in the referendum in Northern Ireland, but that does not mean that the almost 30 per cent. of people who voted against have no say in the future of Northern Ireland and how the institutions develop. It is significant that not one right hon. or hon. Member on these Benches who voted for the agreement is here today to defend it and to advocate support for the Bill. Where are they?

We are here representing the people who elected us, and we will continue to do that, but we will do it in a democratic fashion because, for 30 years, we have watched as terrorists have tried and failed to undermine democracy in Northern Ireland. We have watched as they have carried out their terrorist acts here in Great Britain, and our condemnation of those acts is equal to our condemnation of the actions of terrorists in Northern Ireland.

My party stands against terrorism and against those who would use violence for supposedly political objectives. The question is: can we fudge the lines between democracy and terrorism. Can we blur those lines in a democratic society? The chief reason why I personally voted against the agreement was that I believe that aspects of it blur the lines between terrorism and democracy. I reiterate that today. There are also aspects of the Bill that blur those lines. We have sought to clarify the lines—not to wreck the agreement and the institutions, as some hon. Members have suggested, but to ensure that adequate safeguards are built into the legislation to protect those institutions from people who have used violence in the past and who continue to use violence to further their political objectives.

I acknowledge what the hon. Member for South Down (Mr. McGrady) said. He argues that one cannot condemn an organisation simply because the actions of certain individuals, but he will know, as I do, that those individuals do not act in isolation. He will know that the Provisional IRA is the most disciplined terrorist organisation in these islands and to suggest that murders are carried out without some sanction from the leadership of such organisations is wrong and naive. Our responsibility is to ensure that the institutions that have been created are protected from those who have used violence and continue to use violence for political objectives.

When the Prime Minister came to Northern Ireland during the referendum, he promised the people of Northern Ireland that those who have used violence would not be allowed to hold ministerial office if they had not given up violence for good. He also promised that the prisoners would stay in gaol unless violence had been given up for good. In light of the decision taken by the Government in respect of the release of terrorist prisoners, it is highly legitimate to argue that the release of IRA prisoners, UVF prisoners and UDA prisoners in the wake of on-going violence by all those organisations demonstrates the point that we have made—that the provisions are inadequate and need to be strengthened.

If there is not to be a fudge between terrorism and democracy, we cannot have elected representatives holding ministerial office who are connected to, or are members of, a terrorist organisation that is continuing violence in the pursuit of its political objectives. That may well become a reality in the weeks ahead. It will not have my support. I will not support a system that places in government over me and my family those who continue to support or engage in terrorist violence. That is why we believe that the mechanisms in the legislation need to be strengthened to ensure that that cannot come about. I urge the Government to look again at that.

The hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) said that the Bill represents an opportunity for Northern Ireland to have a Government who have the support of the majority of the people. As he said, Stormont failed because it did not win the allegiance of a significant proportion of the population. I make the argument back to him that the agreement and the institutions created under it must command even wider support than they have to date. Up to 30 per cent. of the people have not so far given their allegiance. The same number withheld their allegiance to the Stormont Parliament for 50 years. I ask the hon. Gentleman to think about that and not to dismiss the legitimate concerns of people such as myself and simply say that because 70 per cent. gave their allegiance, the other 30 per cent. should do the same. Our allegiance also has to be won. Our trust and our confidence have to be created and it is the responsibility of those who engage in violence and terrorism to persuade us that they have given up violence for good and to do so in a tangible manner.

Violence must be given up for good. That includes the decommissioning of terrorist weapons, as provided for in the agreement. It also includes the dismantling of terrorist organisations and an end to the punishment beatings, as the Prime Minister said at Balmoral. None of that is happening in Northern Ireland. It must happen if we are to have any confidence that those engaged in violence have ended their violence for good.

In respect of north-south co-operation, we have asked for proper accountability and that the Assembly exercises its authority to ensure that those elected by the people of Northern Ireland control the rate and extent of co-operation. That is important because there is a view that Irish nationalists, in pursuit of their objective of a united Ireland, will cease to use the North-South Ministerial Council and the implementation bodies to create an all-Ireland framework that will be the basis on which the political unification of the island of Ireland will be built. That is not paranoia. It is simply a statement of concern by many Unionists. If co-operation is to take place, it must be on the basis of mutual respect and understanding, and not in pursuit of a political agenda that is about usurping the wishes of the majority. The only provision for real consent in the Bill is on the final question of Northern Ireland's constitutional position as part of the United Kingdom. Consent on the development of north-south co-operation can be exercised only through the Assembly and the elected representatives. That is why accountability is crucial. I welcomed the Minister's commitment last night to look again at the issue. I hope that he will strengthen the lines of accountability for the Assembly.

As a Unionist, I believe that Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom because that is the wish of the greater number of people who live in Northern Ireland. I hear what the hon. Member for Walsall, North says about the impatience of those who live in Great Britain. Perhaps one can begin to understand that, given the difficulties that we have had in Northern Ireland, but I hope that he accepts that although the people of Northern Ireland, who have endured 30 years of terrorist violence, long for peace, they want to ensure that democracy and the rights of all are upheld.

Constitutionally, only the people of Northern Ireland can determine whether they remain within the United Kingdom. It is unhelpful to imply that impatience could lead to a different outcome. It would not be right for the people of Great Britain to eject the people of Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom. It would certainly not be right under the Bill. My understanding—perhaps I am wrong—is that it is for the people of Northern Ireland alone to determine whether they remain part of the United Kingdom. I hope and pray that they will long continue to take that positive decision to remain within the United Kingdom, because that provides the best future for them.

10.21 am
Mr. Kevin McNamara (Hull, North)

I understand and appreciate the pain and concerns that the hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr. Donaldson) feels as a member of a minority. I hope that he and the people whom he represents never have to go through the same abuse and fear that members of the other minority went through during the period up to the granting of civil rights and beyond. I do not wish that on anyone and I want to respect his position, his attitudes, his tradition and his ideas in a way that was not granted to other people in the past.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) has said, the Bill that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and her Ministers have successfully piloted through the House represents a moment of history. Like most moments of history in this place, it goes through in exactly the same way as if we were legislating for the width of a drainpipe. The aim of the Bill is to bring together two different traditions and to bring about understanding and compassion between them, overcoming past prejudices and promoting respect for different loyalties. Those who have been involved in seeking to achieve that deserve the support of the whole House.

I welcome the undertaking that the Government gave in Committee to look again at strengthening the provisions for the Human Rights Commission. I also welcome the undertaking to consider putting into the Bill the provisions in the agreement for statutory impact assessments by public authorities.

We were all moved by the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for South Down (Mr. McGrady). I should like to pay tribute to the leader of his party, my hon. Friend the Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume), who, for 30 years, has argued for peace, respect for traditions, the constitutional way forward and the acknowledgement and welcoming of diversity. At times, he has been pilloried, even in this House, when he sought to bring the men of violence away from the path that they were pursuing and into the constitutional system. We should note and honour his role in seeking to bring people together. The House should regard with shame the treatment that he was given in this place when he was working on the momentous task of bringing Sinn Fein away from the path of violence and into democratic dialogue.

The Bill is only the start and we must not be too euphoric. A lot will have to happen in Northern Ireland. Drawing up the procedures of the Assembly, and agreements on cross-border institutions will take a lot of hard negotiation, compromise and skill. Having seen the work done by the right hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) and my hon. Friend the Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon), I have confidence that, given the good will of the Assembly, they will be able to achieve that aim.

The position of the Unionists is guaranteed not by the Act of Union, which has now gone, but by the people of Ireland. It is guaranteed by all the people of Ireland under the agreement. I should like to read out the proposed changes to the Irish constitution. The new articles 2 and 3 are a fundamental change from the old attitude that nationality was based on the ownership of territory, not on a union of peoples. My hon. Friend the Member for Foyle has continually pointed out that a bit of land is not worth fighting about, but unity in diversity of peoples is worth seeking.

Article 2 says: It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish nation. That is also the entitlement of all persons otherwise qualified in accordance with law to be citizens of Ireland. Furthermore, the Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage. That is a fine statement and a great banner for the people of the Irish diaspora. Article 3 is a powerful statement of the attitude of the people of the Irish republic. It says: It is the firm will of the Irish nation, in harmony and friendship, to unite all the people who share the territory of the island of Ireland, in all the diversity of their identities and traditions, recognising that a united Ireland shall be brought about only by peaceful means with the consent of a majority of the people, democratically expressed, in both jurisdictions in the island. That could not be clearer. The threat of the old articles of the Irish constitution—which I always thought was an imagined threat—will be gone. The new articles give a ringing declaration of the nature of the Irish nation and the wish of the Irish people to achieve their aims by peaceful means only. We should all welcome that.

10.28 am
Mr. Peter Robinson (Belfast, East)

This is a sad day not just for Northern Ireland and the Union but for the House. Instead of crowing at the Despatch Box, the Secretary of State and her Ministers should hang their heads in shame.

This Bill is a victory for the men of violence. No matter what the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) says, terrorism caused the Government to bring forward the legislation. Some standing up to terrorism to give terrorists places in government; some standing up to terrorists to let them all out of gaol while they continue their violence! Everyone in Northern Ireland knows that the House did not stand up to IRA terrorism; it caved in to it and is bringing forward the Bill as a result of it in an attempt to buy off the terrorists.

I well understand how the conscience of the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, the hon. Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy), who does not like the words that I am uttering, may twinge. Everybody in Northern Ireland from the Unionist community will know that the Bill will become a broken pledges Act. It is not a settlement Bill; it is a recognition of and a monument to the Government's political immorality and deception.

The hon. Member for South Down (Mr. McGrady) said that the Bill is the enactment of the wishes of the people of Northern Ireland. It is far from it. The people of Northern Ireland voted on the basis of clear promises made by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the leader of the Ulster Unionist party. Those pledges indicated that there would be substantial decommissioning before any prisoners were released or any Sinn Fein-IRA terrorist representatives were allowed to participate in the government of Northern Ireland. The Bill breaks those pledges.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister and the leader of the Ulster Unionist party indicated that violence would have to be given up for good before terrorist representatives could benefit from the agreement. The Bill shows very clearly that terrorists can continue with their violence—continue killing and continue the so-called punishment beatings—and still benefit from the agreement both through the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Bill and this so-called settlement Bill.

The Prime Minister and the leader of the Ulster Unionist party told the people of Northern Ireland that north-south bodies would be wholly accountable to the Northern Ireland Assembly, yet that is not stated in the Bill. The commitments given by the Prime Minister and the leader of the Ulster Unionist party have clearly been broken; they are not honoured in the legislation. The people of Northern Ireland were conned, and I am glad that the majority of the Unionist community now realise that and are moving away from supporting the agreement.

Of course there were those in Northern Ireland who told us that the Union would be more secure as a result of the agreement. The hon. Member for Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) said that not only had the Government of Ireland Act 1920 gone, so had the Act of Union 1800. How can there be a more secure Union if the Act of Union is gone? The Bill states: The Government of Ireland Act 1920 is repealed", yet the Union is supposed to be stronger. The Bill fundamentally weakens the union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Anybody with a modicum of sense will recognise that.

There are those in the House who, although they supported the agreement and retailed it to the community in Northern Ireland, seek to distance themselves from its implementation. At one stage, they told us that they had a 40 ft barge pole with which they would not touch the agreement. But, within a few days, they signed up to that agreement. They went around the country advocating that people should vote yes in the referendum on the agreement, but now they are saying that they have misgivings, and are attacking the Government for implementing the agreement, the successful implementation of which they pledged to work for. No matter how much they wring their hands, the finger of accusation points at them. They are the guilty men, they are the ones who advocated support of the agreement when their colleagues and others in the Unionist community made abundantly clear that the agreement meant exactly what the Bill says that it means.

The right hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) said in the House many days ago that the legislation was something of a mess. He pointed his finger at the draftsmen, but said, "You should have seen the earlier draft; it was a greater mess." The draftsmen are not to be blamed because the greatest mess of all is the agreement of which he was one of the architects. I do not in the least blame the draftsmen for the difficulty that they have had in interpreting the agreement.

I say again in the House that the Bill faithfully represents what the agreement says and others have interpreted, but does not faithfully represent the pledges given by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the First Minister designate of Northern Ireland. The Bill is not what the people of Northern Ireland voted for. In such a form, it will not work.

10.35 am
Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Inverclyde)

We have just listened to a characteristically bleak and dismal speech by the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson). It was a speech of a politician whose world is changing radically. We share his detestation of terrorists—I have said that often enough in the House—but we part company dramatically and radically on our reaction to the Bill. I welcome the Bill. Over the past 15 months, we have seen the beginnings of a radical transformation of the United Kingdom. If one links the Bill with the Government of Wales Bill and the Scotland Bill, it is fair to say—on this I agree with the hon. Gentleman—that the United Kingdom will never be the same again; nor will these islands in which we live.

The three Bills have profound implications—both intended and unintended—for Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the United Kingdom as a whole, as well as for the House. Of the three Bills, the Northern Ireland Bill is the most remarkable, thanks to the people of Northern Ireland, their political representatives and our Ministers. I never thought that we would come this far in so short a time. For me, the statement on the Bloody Sunday tribunal was a defining moment. The legislation has gathered pace.

We understand some of the concerns of Opposition Members although to us the principle of consent holds in this context just as it does in Scotland. We have said to the people of Scotland in the context of the Scotland Bill that if a majority chooses to separate from the rest of the UK, we would not thwart that desire. Similarly, that holds in Northern Ireland. A majority of the people will determine the future of the nations that make up the multinational state that we call the United Kingdom.

I should like to make three brief points. First, every effort must be made by those elected to the Assembly to avoid the institutionalisation of sectarianism in that body and associated organisations. Secondly, the Government must examine clause 81 of the Scotland Bill, which removes in an honest and fair-minded way the flaw of future Scottish representation in this House. That is a very thorny question, but it must be understood, not only in Scotland but in Northern Ireland and Wales. There ought to be at least a discussion of that question in the other place.

Thirdly, perhaps also in the other place, the Government should seriously consider setting up a consultative council that comprises senior Ministers and senior representatives of Opposition parties in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and the rest of the UK.

The aim of such a council would be, inter alia, to establish harmonious and efficient working relationships and practices between the two Assemblies, the Scottish Parliament and Westminster. I know that the Procedure Committee is seeking to consult us on matters connected with what I have outlined, such as the continuing role of Select and Grand Committees, Question Time in this place, and legislation. There are still matters to be determined, and relationships need to be established on an harmonious basis.

The Council of the Isles has an utterly different role to play in the scheme of things, so I urge the Secretary of State to give serious consideration to the idea of a consultative council. I do not have time to go into detail about the idea now, but I believe that Ministers and the leaders of the opposition parties in all four bodies will need to come together so that we can avoid, among other dangers, references to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Our representatives, in both government and opposition parties, can establish a fair passage for the two Assemblies and the Parliaments.

I finish by offering my compliments to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and her colleagues, and others on both sides of the House, especially members of the Social Democratic and Labour party, for their work over the years. I have long admired those who argue in a peaceable and democratic way for dramatic constitutional change. That is why I have long admired my hon. Friends in the SDLP who sit on the Government Benches with me.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) said, this is a remarkable moment in our history. The legislation that we are passing will have profound consequences, both intended and unintended, and this United Kingdom of ours will never be the same again.

10.41 am
Mr. William Ross (East Londonderry)

The closing sentence by the hon. Member for Greenock and Inverclyde (Dr. Godman) was deadly accurate: the United Kingdom will never be the same again—because it will not exist. That is the inevitable consequence of the three constitutional Bills that have been passed in this Session of Parliament, and we had better come to terms with it. I think that the hon. Gentleman and some of his hon. Friends are now starting to realise, albeit dimly, what the consequences will be. It will certainly mean that, over the years ahead, the United Kingdom will cease to exist as we know it—or, indeed, at all.

I have to say to the hon. Member for Hull, North (Mr. McNamara), who is sitting grinning on the Back Bench, that when he talked about the changes in the Irish constitution and about uniting the diverse elements within Ireland, it would have been better if he had adopted the traditional Unionist position, which was that this archipelago of islands was one natural geographic, cultural and political unity, from which great good could flow, and did flow when it was united. It will be immeasurably diminished not only by the Bill before us but by the other constitutional Bills that have gone through the House this Session.

I remind those who have spoken from the Government Benches that the Social Democratic and Labour party, as an Irish nationalist party, walked out of Stormont—26 years ago, I believe—over the shooting of two persons in Londonderry. It then transferred its reason for withdrawal from that issue to bloody Sunday, whenever the issue arose. We need to look carefully at the history, and at the rewriting and revision of history that has taken place in some quarters.

Much of the debate about the Bill has revolved round the question whether the Prime Minister's criteria for membership of the Northern Ireland executive have been met. We have exposed the hypocrisy of the words and guarantees given. Although that debate was largely about whether the IRA and the other terrorists met the criteria set by the Government and the agreement, my objections—and, I suspect, those of many others—to the agreement and the Bill run far deeper.

I refer to the nature of the governing structure, which is far removed from the policies set out and followed by the Unionist party for many years. It is also far from the position set out by the Ulster Unionist party leadership on entering the talks. My right hon. Friend the Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) said on 20 July 1998, as is recorded in column 828 of the Hansard report, that, in order to reach agreement with the SDLP, we had to move towards a form of Executive—a massive shift from the position that the Unionist party had taken up.

The arrangement is far from the sort of local government structure on which we stood for election. It is a full-blown power-sharing structure. I have never been in favour of that: I never put it in my election manifesto, and I never will. My right hon. Friend also told us on 20 July that he supported the concept of an effective coalition with the SDLP in 1975. At least we can give him credit for being consistent in that respect. At that time, he was a member of the Vanguard party with Mr. Bill Craig, and went along with his concept of a voluntary power-sharing arrangement.

The arrangement in the Bill is very different, and goes much further. It creates a coalition not between the Ulster Unionist party and the SDLP, but between the Unionist party, the SDLP and Sinn Fein. The First Minister and his deputy are in effect Siamese twins, who must agree before any action is taken. I cannot see the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) allowing anything that would upset Sinn Fein, because those two Ministers, like the Ministers who are chatting on the Front Bench now, are intent on keeping the IRA aboard.

Given the practical workings of the power-sharing arrangement, I fear that my right hon. Friend the Member for Upper Bann, the leader of my party, has placed himself in a very weak position with regard to what he can actually do in the Assembly. In that classic form of power-sharing we have not rule by the majority, but rule by the minority, who can always wreck things by walking out if they do not get their way.

I believe that the whole edifice is not only an insult to normal democratic standards but unworkable. Indeed, not many years ago the power-sharing concept was described as unworkable by the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume). That is on the record. Because the arrangement is unworkable it will fail, creating misery that could and should have been avoided by setting our sights on achieving what is workable rather than trying to create what is inherently unstable and unworkable.

The House will recall that my right hon. Friend the Member for Strangford (Mr. Taylor) said during our debates that if no satisfactory amendments were made he would vote against. Unfortunately my right hon. Friend is absent this morning, but his is advice which, despite his absence, we are content to follow with regard to the Bill.

10.47 am
Mr. Peter Temple-Morris (Leominster)

I am under severe time pressure, although I would very much like to debate with the hon. Member for East Londonderry (Mr. Ross). Suffice it to say that as I listened to his speech, and one other speech that I have heard this morning, I saw but a continuation of the violence and the desperate situation of the past 25 years, rather than the cure to it, which the Bill gives us the best chance for years of bringing about.

I shall make three quick points. First, I reiterate and underline what the hon. Member for South Down (Mr. McGrady) said—that it would be a tragedy if we so construed events of violence, and went chasing after them to such an extent, that we excluded from the process those who can bring about its success.

We must look at violence as it occurs in the real world. The right hon. Member for Bracknell (Mr. MacKay) talked about the difference between so-called military activities and so-called civil—I prefer the word "criminal"—activity. We have to look at such activities in the light of what they actually are, and their intention. There is no naivety whatever in what I say.

Secondly, a continuation of the bipartisan approach is absolutely essential. The Opposition have handled the Bill admirably and the spirit in the Chamber has been very good. The Opposition were perfectly within their rights to move amendments to the legislation and it is significant that clause 23, the area of the Bill that refers to violence, is a central concern. When the Bill is passed and the Assembly is up and running, the House must stand back from the inevitable disputes that will occur within it. It will not help the Assembly if we involve ourselves in those inevitable internal disputes. We must let Assembly Members sort them out for themselves.

Lastly, the Minister made it clear that the British-Irish Council is a body with Executive membership. That leaves the way clear for interparliamentary activity and, as my hon. Friends the Members for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) and for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) have said, for a continuation of the British parliamentary body—a committee of which will meet in this building in 10 minutes. That body involves two sovereign Parliaments and that arrangement should continue. Further interparliamentary activity with the devolved Assembly is an admirable, but a different, thing.

10.50 am
Rev. Ian Paisley (North Antrim)

We have heard some amazing statements in this debate. The hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Temple-Morris) made the accusation that hon. Members on this side of the House will cause the same sort of violence in Northern Ireland that we have seen over the past decade. That is an outrageous statement for any hon. Member to make about his colleagues opposite, and of course it is completely and totally false. However, some of us would not expect very much more from the hon. Gentleman. He went on to say that we should not chase individual acts of violence, but I suggest that it is violent people who are chasing and killing the innocent. Thus it is outrageous to say that hon. Members should not expose acts of violence.

The hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik), the Liberal Democrat spokesman, also made an amazing statement when he said that the legislation will restore normalisation to Northern Ireland. There is nothing normal about this legislation. Even the hon. Member for Greenock and Inverclyde (Dr. Godman) conceded that it is an amazing Bill and he referred to its intended and unintended consequences. I do not know what the latter might be, but that was also an incredible statement.

The hon. Member for Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) said that the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume) should be congratulated. The hon. Member for Foyle told me at least 100 times that the first IRA ceasefire was for real, and then we had the Canary wharf bombing. When I talked to him about the second supposed ceasefire, I asked, "How are we expected to believe you when you told me 100 times that the first ceasefire was for real when it was not?" How can we believe that this ceasefire is for real?

We have seen the IRA continue with violence. Although it is an outlawed organisation under the terms of the legislation that we considered recently, it is immune from any judgment by the Government and its terrorist prisoners will be allowed out of gaol and on to the streets. The hon. Member for Greenock and Inverclyde referred to the bleak speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson). However, it will be a very bleak day when terrorists—some of whom have committed multiple murders—are on the streets of Northern Ireland inside 24 months.

If the people of Northern Ireland are supposed to support the legislation so much, why is there a plea about insensitivity? The right hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble), who advocated this position to the Unionist people, is not here to vote for the legislation. His deputy, the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon), is not here to vote for the legislation and the two Members of the Ulster Unionist party who support the right hon. Gentleman are not here either. However, all the other Unionists are present in the Chamber and they will vote against the legislation. That is the message that the House must wake up to: it needs a baptism of reality.

I have learned from my experience in the House over many years that hon. Members do not want to be told things that they do not want to hear. However, they need to hear that the people of Northern Ireland are not overwhelmingly behind this Bill or this Assembly. That might be a source of great glee to the Minister, who sits and laughs on the Front Bench. However, there will be little laughter when people are murdered on the streets and the Secretary of State excuses those murders at the Dispatch Box by saying that she has made a balanced judgment and that the murderers may stay on in the Government of Northern Ireland.

No one in Northern Ireland with any sense wants terrorists in the Government and we will have no truck with their governing the people of Northern Ireland.

10.55 am
Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

In the few minutes remaining before the House divides on the Third Reading, I want to record that this is an extremely historic occasion. Many congratulations are due to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on all that she has done since taking office to introduce the Bill and offer the hope of peace and reconciliation within the six counties of Northern Ireland. She has provided some hope to the young people of that Province.

Labour Members should also pay great tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) who has done much to promote the issue of Ireland in debates within the party, especially when he was an Opposition spokesman for Northern Ireland. He correctly drew attention to the role played by the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume) in securing the Hume-Adams accord, which I think has been the basis of the second ceasefire and, ultimately, the process of reconciliation in this very balanced, but very complicated, legislation. It encompasses economic, human rights and equal opportunities issues and many other elements that offer real hope for the future.

I have the honour to represent a constituency which comprises a large Irish community. Many of those people have come to this country in order to escape the poverty of Ireland, but they have often found poverty and discrimination here as well. They and many others look forward to a time when discrimination is behind us and there is real hope and equal opportunities for all the peoples of Ireland.

It occurs to me that the House has debated the subject of Ireland more than any other in the hundreds of years since the British invasion of that country. There have been many problems throughout that period and some people have claimed that Ireland has no future and have sought to promote sectarian divides. Last week, I was given a copy of the 1799 secret report on Ireland—another example of the long debate on Ireland—which reproduces the entire statement of the Founding Conference of the Society of United Irishmen. It sets out the aim of uniting Catholic and Protestant people in the hope of achieving a united Ireland that is equal and represented throughout the island of Ireland. In that spirit, I hope that the House will agree to the Third Reading of the Bill. We look forward to peace, hope and reconciliation in Ireland in the future.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 215, Noes 8.

Division No. 356] [10.58 am
Abbott, Ms Diane Cox, Tom
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Cran, James
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Alexander, Douglas Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Allen, Graham Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Armstrong, Ms Hilary Dean, Mrs Janet
Atherton, Ms Candy Denham, John
Atkins, Charlotte Dismore, Andrew
Austin, John Dobbin, Jim
Barron, Kevin Dowd, Jim
Beard, Nigel Drew, David
Begg, Miss Anne Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Bennett, Andrew F Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Benton, Joe Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Berry, Roger Efford, Clive
Betts, Clive Etherington, Bill
Blackman, Liz Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Blears, Ms Hazel Field, Rt Hon Frank
Blizzard, Bob Fitzpatrick, Jim
Boateng, Paul Flynn, Paul
Borrow, David Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Gapes, Mike
Brake, Tom Garnier, Edward
Brinton, Mrs Helen Gerrard, Neil
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E) Gibson, Dr Ian
Buck, Ms Karen Godman, Dr Norman A
Burden, Richard Golding, Mrs Llin
Burnett, John Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Butler, Mrs Christine Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Byers, Stephen Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Grocott, Bruce
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Hain, Peter
Canavan, Dennis Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Casale, Roger Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Hammond, Philip
Chisholm, Malcolm Hawkins, Nick
Clapham, Michael Heppell, John
Clelland, David Hodge, Ms Margaret
Cohen, Harry Hoey, Kate
Coleman, Iain Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Colman, Tony Hopkins, Kelvin
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Howells, Dr Kim
Cooper, Yvette Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Corbett, Robin Hurst, Alan
Corbyn, Jeremy Hutton, John
Cormack, Sir Patrick Iddon, Dr Brian
Corston, Ms Jean Illsley, Eric
Cousins, Jim Ingram, Adam
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead) Pond, Chris
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough) Pope, Greg
Jenkin, Bernard Pound, Stephen
Jenkins, Brian Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle) Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW) Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Jowell, Ms Tessa Quin, Ms Joyce
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Rammell, Bill
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Raynsford, Nick
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth) Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N)
Kemp, Fraser Robertson, Rt Hon George (Hamilton S)
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Key, Robert Rooker, Jeff
Kidney, David Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Kingham, Ms Tess Ryan, Ms Joan
Kumar, Dr Ashok Savidge, Malcolm
Ladyman, Dr Stephen Sawford, Phil
Lepper, David Sedgemore, Brian
Leslie, Christopher Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Livingstone, Ken Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C) Skinner, Dennis
Love, Andrew Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Smith, Angela (Basildon)
McAllion, John Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
McAvoy, Thomas Smith, John (Glamorgan)
McCafferty, Ms Chris Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield) Soley, Clive
McDonagh, Siobhain Spellar, John
McDonnell, John Spelman, Mrs Caroline
McGrady, Eddie Squire, Ms Rachel
McIsaac, Shona Starkey, Dr Phyllis
McNamara, Kevin Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
McNulty, Tony Stuart, Ms Gisela
McWalter, Tony Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
McWilliam, John
Madel, Sir David Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury) Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Meale, Alan Temple-Morris, Peter
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley) Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Mitchell, Austin Timms, Stephen
Moffatt, Laura Tonge, Dr Jenny
Moran, Ms Margaret Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway) Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Morley, Elliot Vis, Dr Rudi
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Ward, Ms Claire
Moss, Malcolm Waterson, Nigel
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie White, Brian
Murphy, Paul (Torfaen) Wicks, Malcolm
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton) Wills, Michael
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks) Winnick, David
Olner, Bill Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Öpik, Lembit Wise, Audrey
Palmer, Dr Nick Wood, Mike
Pearson, Ian Wyatt, Derek
Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda Tellers for the Ayes:
Pike, Peter L Mr. David Jamieson and
Pollard, Kerry Mr. Keith Hill.
Donaldson, Jeffrey Swayne, Desmond
Forsythe, Clifford Thompson, William
Hunter, Andrew
Paisley, Rev Ian Tellers for the Noes:
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E) Mr. Roy Beggs and
Ross, William (E Lond'y) Rev. Martin Smyth.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

It being after Eleven o'clock, MADAM SPEAKER interrupted the proceedings, pursuant to Standing Order No. 11 (Friday sittings).

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