HC Deb 11 July 2000 vol 353 cc793-827 '.—(1) The Board shall establish targets for applications and recruitment to the police of Roman Catholics, women and ethnic minorities and other persons from underrepresented sections of society. (2) The Board shall monitor applications and recruitment to the police to ensure equality of access.'.—[Mr. Öpik.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

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Mr. Öpik

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: New clause 2—Affirmative action'.—The Chief Constable or any person appointed under the terms of section 42(1) shall pursue an active programme of affirmative action to increase applications from, and recruitment of, persons from underrepresented sections of society to the police.'. Government amendments Nos. 127 and 130.

Amendment No. 301, in clause 43, page 21, leave out lines 1 to 14.

Amendment No. 52, in page 21, line 1, leave out subsection (3).

Government amendment No. 133.

Amendment No. 323, in page 21, line 11, leave out "10" and insert "2".

Amendment No. 53, in page 21, line 18, leave out clause 44.

Amendment No. 324, in clause 44, page 21, line 39, after "(4)", insert— 'Save where subsection (4D) applies,'. Government amendment No. 135. Amendment No. 325, in page 21, line 45, at end insert— '(4C) Where subsection (4D) applies, the Chief Constable shall make appointments in accordance with subsection (4) as far as it is practicable to do so. (4D) This subsection applies where the number of vacant posts in the police support staff which are at the same level and to be filled at or about the same time is not less than two and not more than five. (4E) The Chief Constable shall each year publish information concerning appointments made by the Chief Constable where subsection (4D) applies. (4F) Information published under subsection (4E) shall be in such form as the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland may require.'. Amendment No. 54, in page 22, line 37, leave out clause 45.

Mr. Öpik

The Government took the benefit of our advice on a number of previous amendments, so we are rewarding them with more such advice.

The recruitment process proposed in the Bill involves quotas. I feel duty bound to raise this issue again because the Bill as it stands will not resolve the problem of differential recruitment of Catholics as opposed to non-Catholics. Moreover, it might introduce an additional injustice which is entirely out of keeping with what we are trying to do in the Bill.

First, I stress that the Liberal Democrats adamantly support the intent of ensuring that ethnically fair proportions are recruited to the police service—proportions that genuinely reflect those to be found in the Northern Ireland community. Incidently, that means that we also want a higher proportion of women in the police force, as well as of ethnic minorities such as the Chinese.

The solution of mandatory quotas that is laid down in the Bill would not, however, achieve what the Government want, for several reasons. First, quotas at the stage envisaged in the Bill tackle the symptoms rather than the cause of the problem. Traditionally, there has not been discrimination in the police at the point of selection. In fact, the internal recruitment process seems to have been fair to Catholics who have applied for a job. There has been so little Catholic representation in the police force because Catholics have not had the confidence in the police to apply, or they have been put off by local pressures and, occasionally, even by paramilitary pressure.

That being the case, we need to solve the problem of an under-representative police force in the application phase. Tackling the percentage recruited does nothing to tackle the percentage applying. In fact, it could lead to a serious distortion of the recruitment process.

What happens, for example, if 100 vacancies have to be filled and 200 non-Catholics and 50 Catholics apply? The rules state that recruitment should be 50:50. In this example, that would mean that one in four of the non-Catholics would be recruited, but every Catholic applicant would have to be offered a job. Basic recruiting practice will confirm to anyone that, in such a large group, it is unlikely that 100 per cent. of the people who apply for the job will fill the criteria. That has nothing to do with Catholics; it is to do with real-life, large-scale recruiting.

If one does not get 100 per cent. success from 50 applicants, there will be a shortfall, leaving open various options. Option A would be to drop the standard: give all 50 the job, whether or not they meet the normal qualifications that one expects from applicants. The Minister has made it clear that the Government will not pursue that path. They will not drop the standard that they expect from anyone, be they Catholics, Protestants or whatever. Option A is therefore not a runner.

Option B is to screen out from the 50 Catholic applicants those who make the grade, and give them the job. In my example, there would, by necessity, be a shortfall and one would not be able to fill the quota. What can one do? The Bill provides for dropping the quota. The system is inconsistent. It means that one is fitting the quota around what one can get. Surely the quota is not simply there to reflect reality; it is there to try to influence reality and to re-balance the police force. Obviously, therefore, one must increase the number of applicants to make up the shortfall. What is the point of having quotas for recruitment if, at the end of the day, the Government or the police force have to tackle applicant numbers?

If my logic is correct, the only way to maintain the standard is to ensure that Catholics have the confidence to apply in the first place. That is the crux of the new clauses and amendments that we have tabled. Recruitment quotas will not make people apply to the police force if they do not see police work as a legitimate and worthwhile career. The details must be right so that the reforms create a police service to which Catholics and others who do not have a tradition of joining the police have the confidence to apply.

If the measure is successful, leading figures and members of under-represented communities will endorse the police as a good career. That will encourage younger members of such communities to apply. It will be possible for the cross-community membership of the Policing Board to scrutinise the proposed targets and modify them if they are not working. More important, the barriers that stop people applying to the police can be tackled directly.

The demographics of Northern Ireland will help us to deal with applications. Among 18 to 30-year-olds—the most likely source of new recruits—there is already a balance; 45 per cent. are Catholic and 44 per cent. are Protestant. Others account for 11 per cent. If reform works, the natural rate of recruitment would act as a balance, so quotas would not be needed at that point. If I have lost a few percentage points in my calculations, I put it down to rounding errors.

It is more sensible to use targets than rigid quotas. They would allow the employer—the police service—to have flexibility so that we do not get hung up about injustice by trying to fill targets. Under the Bill, the quota is inflexible; it demands the recruitment from the community of 50 per cent. Catholics and 50 per cent. non-Catholics. That does not even represent the current cross-section of the Northern Ireland community; as I have pointed out, a certain proportion of people do not class themselves as belonging to either religion. The Bill acknowledges that weakness, because it allows the Secretary of State to vary the percentage; the patch-up job has begun before we have even implemented the measure.

Quotas could inadvertently cause more division in the police service. We do not want officers to be seen as members of one or other sectarian grouping rather than as individuals. Like people in any job, the police have to be judged as individuals. Under the current provisions for the implementation of quotas, there is a danger that that will not occur. We certainly should not introduce measures that create more division in the service.

The operation of the distinction between Catholics and non-Catholics may not help to achieve a balance with other members of the community who have always been under-represented. In Committee, when I pressed the Minister on the fact that everyone would be shoe-horned into those two categories, he replied: I use the phrase "both traditions". I hope that he appreciates that that shorthand description is most accurate. It represents the vast bulk of prevailing attitudes. People settle into one tradition or the other, although they may not be vehement about their views.—[Official Report, Standing Committee B, 4 July 2000; c.391.] That is a dangerous path to take; it would cause other under-represented groups to be ignored. However, that would be the result of the measure.

The legality of quotas is questionable. The Bill proposes amending fair employment legislation to make room for quotas. That would set a dangerous precedent. It underlines the fact that, in any other circumstances, the measure would not be regarded as fair legislation. I suspect that the Government would have something to say if such practice were extensive on the mainland.

That the proposals constitute positive discrimination is not in dispute. On 15 June, in The Irish News, the Secretary of State was quoted as saying that he was implementing Patten's 50:50 recruitment scheme, despite the fact that it would mean changing the law and persuading our European partners that it was a special case for reverse discrimination. Other hon. Members may offer further examples of that point. Apart from not delivering what we want, the quota could be illegal. Furthermore, it is not morally right to remove a present injustice by introducing a future one.

We must create a police service that will attract people from all sections of the community. New clauses 1 and 2 would allow the Policing Board to establish advisory targets for the application and recruitment of Catholics, women and others from under-represented sections of the community. They would impose a duty on the Chief Constable to pursue an active programme of affirmative action to encourage such groups to apply. I emphasise "affirmative action" because that is a world away from positive discrimination. Affirmative action means tackling the underlying reasons why people from certain communities and certain ethnic groups are not applying to the police. That is vastly different from simply setting a quota and expecting it to be filled; in our judgment, although it is harder, it will also tackle the problem at its root.

I wish to cite one last quotation on the matter. It dates from 12 November 1997, when Ronnie Flanagan gave evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. A member of that committee told him: I think you are absolutely right that positive discrimination is totally counterproductive, based on my experience in other areas. People have to be advanced on merit. The person who said that was the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), speaking about the Greater London council in the early 1980s. I am sure that, whatever the views of those in this place about that gentleman, he could hardly be regarded as a bastion of old ways or as someone who has opposed positive action to try to rebalance discrimination where he has found it. Taking that into account with the other concerns that I have voiced, my judgment is that—[Interruption.] I suspect that there is a subtext going on here, Mr. Deputy Speaker; I will not be drawn.

Combining all that with the sage advice—at which I see the Minister nodding—from the hon. Member for Brent, East, my judgment is that we are proceeding down the wrong path to achieve what I am sure we all agree is a laudable aim. However, if we do see this through—if we recognise that there is an issue here—the Government can still reconsider. They can still take on board the amendments and new clauses that we have tabled, and recognise that we are trying to do the same thing in a fairer way.

We tackle all the issues as we proceed through these debates, but this issue has real consequences for real people. It could actually cause new grievances instead of addressing the old ones. Positive discrimination also makes everyone either a Catholic or a non-Catholic when, from my own personal history, I can testify that there are individuals who do not categorise themselves in either of those groups.

I am asking the Minister to take these concerns very seriously. I am not alone on this issue, but even if I were, this is a matter of practice and a matter of principle—a principle that the Government should take very seriously, because at the moment they are trying to cure the symptoms rather than the cause, and so often when they do that, they cure nothing at all.

Mr. McGrady

On behalf of my colleagues and myself, I should like to propose for the approval of the House amendments Nos. 323, 324 and 325, which, under the heading of recruitment to the police, deal with the support staff for the new police service.

The present quota for civilian staff applies when 10 vacancies arise at roughly the same level at the same time. I am pleased to note that the Government, in Committee, reduced the number to 10. We believe that it should be two, and in that we are encouraged by the similar attitude of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

The reason for amendment No. 323, as for many of our amendments, is simply to achieve a full and faithful implementation of the Patten report. Patten said in this respect that the quota system should apply both to officer and civilian recruitment. However, at the moment clause 43(5) imposes that artificial limit for the quota for police support staff. It applies only when there are 10 vacancies at any time at the same level.

We believe that it is unlikely that 10 such vacancies will ever arise at the same time and at exactly the same level. The Government are proposing to reduce the number to six. We apply the same argument—that it is unlikely that six such vacancies will frequently arise in the same place, at the same time, at the same level. Amendment No. 323 provides instead that the quota shall apply where two similar vacancies arise at the same time—in line with the views of the Equality Commission. However, the Government have argued that such a provision would be too inflexible. We have tried to take that on board, and we believe that we have found a way forward that meets the Government's problem, our requirements and those of Patten and the Equality Commission.

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We believe that the Chief Constable should be under a duty as far as practicable to recruit according to the 50:50 principle for between two and five appointments, but if that is not practical in the narrow sense, it should not apply, and the Chief Constable should have the discretion to balance the need to apply the quota against competing needs. However, he would have to account for that course of action, presumably in his annual report. We believe that that is a sensible and practical resolution of the difference between us and the Government, it is a better and fuller implementation of Patten, and it adheres to the views of the Equality Commission. I should like to think that the Government consider the amendment appropriate.

Mr. Trimble

I wish to speak to amendments Nos. 301, 53 and 54. Taken together, the amendments would delete from the Bill subsections (3) to (6) of clause 43 and all of clauses 44 and 45. They would in effect remove the provisions to which objection has been taken by my party and by virtually all the parties in the House. The Government should realise that on this issue they stand alone. I am pleased to see that the Liberal Democrats have signed our amendments Nos. 53 and 54. I assume that they have not signed amendment No. 301 owing purely to an oversight.

Mr. Öpik

Administrative error.

Mr. Trimble

We of course have been happy to support the Liberal Democrats' new clauses 1 and 2.

We share with everyone in the House the objective of a police service that is broadly representative of the community. That should not be controversial. It was a stated objective when the RUC was created. About 900 officers of the Royal Irish Constabulary transferred to the RUC, my grandfather among them, and that group was representative of society in Northern Ireland. It was also the policy of the first Unionist Administration in Northern Ireland to achieve a police force that was representative. At one stage, they endeavoured to reserve one third of places for Roman Catholics. Unfortunately, recruitment never matched that target. We do not have the time this evening to go into the reasons why it did not, but the target was there. In that sense, we have no difficulty with the suggestion made by the Liberal Democrats of targets for recruitment and action to persuade people to come forward and join the police service. That is admirable, and I hope that, whatever arrangements are included in the legislation, they will be in those terms.

The Government are however profoundly mistaken in deciding to discriminate in the legislation. Let us not have any nonsense about it. It is not affirmative action, and "positive discrimination" is a mealy-mouthed phrase meaning: "We are going to discriminate and treat one section of the community unfairly." That unfairness is demonstrated in the figures that the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik) has mentioned. In the target age group—18 to 25—the numbers of Protestants and Catholics are roughly even. The figures that he gave were 44 and 45 per cent. However, 11 per cent. do not state their religion and the legislation will add that 11 per cent. to the Protestant side. So 50 per cent. of recruits will be taken from 45 per cent. of the population and the other 50 per cent. will be taken from 55 per cent. That is clearly discrimination.

Mr. Corbyn

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way on this important point. I have listened carefully to what he has said. He has admitted openly that objectives and targets in the past 80 years have not achieved parity within the RUC. Is there any reason to suppose that setting targets again without the force of law will achieve anything other than the continuation of the obvious imbalance in the RUC membership?

Mr. Trimble

The hon. Gentleman wishes to take me down a road that we do not have time to travel. It is a question of exploring why this has not succeeded and whether there is now a new situation. I hope that there is, and in that new situation there is every reason to expect that there will be a different pattern of recruitment. That will probably happen irrespective of what is enacted here, but what is enacted here is in danger of doing a serious injustice. I ask the hon. Gentleman to bear that in mind.

My view is that this arrangement will probably collapse, for a number of reasons, if the Government proceed in the way they propose. For example, in a situation in which the communities are roughly equally balanced, if there is an equal response from both communities of people wishing to join the police service, there will be roughly 50:50 recruitment. If there is not an even response, an unbalanced group of people will move into the pool, and then if we are drawing down on a 50:50 basis from a pool that is not 50:50, a significant number of people who will have been selected as suitable and qualified to join will go into the pool and remain there, month in, month out, for who knows how long.

That will give rise to a justifiable sense of grievance and injustice that no one will be able to defend. Any Administration with any element of conscience will have to address that situation. For that practical reason, I do not think the arrangement will survive.

There is another reason. As the Government know, it involves the consideration of other provisions. The Patten report says that human rights are at the heart of its proposals. Here, they are not. This is a shameful aspect of the Patten report, of the Government's proposals and of the parties that are supporting them. Human rights are at the heart of the proposals? On the one concrete issue where it counts, is anybody paying any attention to human rights? No. The position of hon. Members opposite who are lending the proposal their support is utterly shameful. They should address the matter.

Furthermore, European law will compel a new approach. Article 13 of the Amsterdam treaty, signed in 1997, provides for the introduction of provisions to combat discrimination. The equal treatment directive, coming into operation in December 2002, will have an impact.

In 1998 the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mrs. Fyfe) proposed amendments to legislation going through the House that would have tried to provide a degree of what she might have called positive discrimination for women. From a report by the constitution unit of University College London, entitled "Women's representation in UK Politics: what can be done within the Law?", I wish to quote two paragraphs, because they are quite important. They show why the provisions proposed by other parties are wrong; and they know they are wrong, because they rejected these proposals in 1998. The report says: On 3 March 1998…a memo was leaked to The Guardian newspaper of a high-level Government meeting where this was discussed. That is a reference to the hon. Lady's proposals for positive discrimination and other similar proposals. Allegedly the Secretary of State for Scotland favoured using the Scotland Bill to introduce an amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act. However, at this meeting the Lord Chancellor…advised other Cabinet colleagues that it would be unwise to accept such amendments. This was based on advice given to Government law officers by Patrick Elias QC. According to the leak, Lord Irvine reported that if the Sex Discrimination Act were amended, "the probability was that a legal challenge under the European Equal Treatment Directive would succeed…the law officers said that at each stage in the process—adoption of legislation, selection of candidates, and the election itself—the Government could and probably would be a respondent. Any Minister bringing forward or accepting an amendment would not be able to assure the House that it was ECJ-proof— that is, European Court of Justice-proof. This would put him in an impossible position and create handling difficulties." Lord Irvine concluded that the Government line should be that "amendment of the SDA would be pointless because of the substantial risk of successful challenge under the ETD.

Mrs. Maria Fyfe (Glasgow, Maryhill)

I am surprised that that particular event in 1998 should be remembered tonight. At that time, I was talking about having equal numbers of men and women elected to the Scottish Parliament. We received strong advice that the equal treatment directive had nothing to do with elected Members of Parliament, but that it had everything to do with people being appointed to jobs, which is what we are debating tonight. Since that time, however, a few studies have been carried out that show that my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor was wrong and that we would have been within our rights to amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1975.

I certainly agree with one point that the right hon. Gentleman has made—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Lady has made her point that the right hon. Gentleman might be wrong.

Mr. Trimble

I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention, which I pretty well invited by referring to her. Her proposal was about equal numbers of men and women and we are debating an analogous proposal relating to an equal number of Catholics and non-Catholics. She conceded that this issue deals with employment and that the provisions for elected Members do not apply in this case.

I would be interested to see the other reports that suggest that the Lord Chancellor got it wrong. The report that I quoted is dated June 2000, so it has been published within the last month. I am entitled to regard it as up to date and it does not refer to the other reports. The quotes from the Lord Chancellor are clear and authoritative and comply with the independent advice that we have received about the European directive.

The likelihood is that, within a short time, the Government will find that their proposal is struck down by the European courts. The question we must ask the Government is why they are proceeding with a proposal that they know will probably be struck down. They cannot assure the House that it is, in the words of Lord Irvine, "ECJ proof". In any event, the Government must know, without reference to the equal treatment directive, that it is wrong to discriminate in the way that they propose.

By all means, let us do what we can to encourage people to come forward and to ensure that we have a balanced and representative police force. The most significant action that can be taken to achieve that aim requires not legislation, but positive action by some hon. Members sitting on the opposite side of the House. I am thinking of those Members who represent the Social Democratic and Labour party who by their actions—what they say and what they do—in the days and weeks to come can do more to encourage and produce a representative police service than all the legislation put together. Rather than pursue something that is morally wrong and illegal under European law, let them use their voices and get out into the community to persuade people to come forward and join the police service as provided for by this Bill.

Rev. Ian Paisley

When the Democratic Unionist party had a meeting with the Minister of State the legality of the provision for having a police force made up of 50 per cent. Protestants or non-Catholics and 50 per cent. Roman Catholics was one of the issues that we raised. I pointed out, from some little knowledge of Europe, that there was a problem with that provision.

Will the Secretary of State come to the Dispatch Box and tell the House that the provision is legal under European law? Can he say unequivocally that what he is asking for is in complete agreement with European law—or is it not? If he were to refer to a derogation, that would be a different matter. That would mean that he accepted that the provision is not legal under European law and that he must go for a derogation.

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The debate on this issue cannot proceed until the Secretary of State tells the House exactly what the position in European law is, and it is incumbent on him to know what that legal standing is. I hope that when he, or another Minister, responds to the debate, he will be able to state that clearly. He should not put us off by saying that the Government are looking into it or negotiating it. I will be interested to hear that reply because as the right hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) said, this is an important matter, and the House needs to know how European law affects what it is deciding tonight.

Under the terms of the legislation that we are being asked to support, it will be difficult to achieve the target of 50 per cent. of recruits being Roman Catholics and to ensure that the section of the community that is bracketed as non-Catholic gets the justice that it, too, deserves. How are we to do that? The Government must not duck these issues; they must tell us exactly what they intend to do.

Who will tell the House authoritatively that non-Catholics will join the police force envisaged in the Bill? I have not heard from SDLP Members that they will call on the people who support them to join as the Bill becomes law. Will it reach the standards that they have set? If the Bill is passed tonight, will they tell us that they will be able to stand up to their constituency and say, "Yes, you should join this police force"?

We know exactly where Sinn Fein-IRA stands: it says that it will not make any call to its constituency until everything else is completed. When will the process be completed? How far away is that date? It seems a very long way away, because when something is done, something else is asked for, and when that is done, something else is asked for. When will we have recruitment to the new force? If the Roman Catholic people are not urged by their leaders to join, they will not do so. The right hon. Member for Upper Bann is right to say that there must be a call from the leaders of that community, because people will decide to join the police not after reading the Bill, but when their leadership says that they may join.

The House could have a long debate about why Roman Catholic people have not joined the police force. I have constituents who are members of the RUC; they cannot go to their own homes, and their parents have to visit them in England. People who face such intimidation will not join the police force, no matter what it is called. The House needs to address those issues.

Mrs. Fyfe

When I said that the Lord Chancellor was wrong, I was referring to the question of selecting and electing Members of Parliament, not to taking on employees. The equal treatment directive is pretty straightforward and simply says that an employer is entitled to take positive action to bring into employment people who have been under-represented. I would be surprised if my colleagues on the Front Bench had not checked that out before presenting their Bill.

Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield)

The official Opposition share all the anxieties expressed by the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik) about the way the Bill stands. The amendments tabled by the hon. Member for South Down (Mr. McGrady) add to the categories that we believe fall foul of European law and of the European convention on human rights as incorporated into our law.

We considered this issue in great detail in Committee. When we considered whether these measures were compliant, it was noteworthy that the Minister was remarkably opaque on the subject. He said: The hon. Gentleman cannot have listened to previous explanations.—[Official Report, Standing Committee B, 27 June 2000; c. 307.] On checking the entirety of Hansard for that occasion, I found no explanations as to how this part of the Bill satisfies the Amsterdam treaty and the directives that are likely to arise. There is no evidence that it does. The maximum that the right hon. Gentleman was able to say was that "our European partners"—I think that that was the expression—would be sympathetic and would therefore find a way out for the Government from their dilemma. It was odd that the European Court of Human Rights and how it might interpret such a flagrant breach of directives, and the Amsterdam treaty, were never really mentioned.

My anxiety has always centred on the European convention on human rights. Article 9 is clear. It states: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance. How do the Government's current proposals match up to that?

The Government are proposing to create a pool. Into it will go those who are qualified to join the police service. However, they will not be allowed to join having passed on qualification. They will be obliged to wait until the Government consider that they are in the right place on the religious quota to be admitted. In this world there is discrimination both direct and indirect. There is no point in saying, "We are not interfering with the way that you exercise your religious belief", if by virtue of the way in which people exercise their beliefs they will be discriminated against in the workplace when applying to join the police service.

All the entrants who come forward to join the Royal Ulster Constabulary—or the police service, or whatever it may be called—will each receive an assessment. It beggars belief that a lawyer will not trawl through the assessments to point out the inconsistencies of one person being favoured as against another on the ground of his religion. As I said to the Minister in Committee, I hope not entirely flippantly, what happens if somebody having been admitted to the pool decides to change his religious faith? The Minister suggested that he thought the person might drown, out of uncertainty. However, that is a question that he will have to answer, because at some stage precisely that problem is likely to arise. When it does, how will that person be treated thereafter?

There are many other inconsistencies in the way in which the Bill is drafted. The most obvious and notable is that it divides the community into two equal camps of 50 per cent., which neither reflects society at large nor makes any allowance for any other minority group, or anyone not defined as Protestant or Catholic. It is difficult to imagine a criterion which would act as more of a red rag to a bull in a polarised community. It takes no account of other religious or ethnic minorities.

The Minister has the Opposition's support in the desire to see the number of Catholics in the RUC greatly increased. He knows that if there were to come a day when Catholics accounted for more than 50 per cent. of its numbers, that would not bother us one iota. We would not be concerned if they took advantage of the job opportunities and performed the service to the community that those allowed. However, the Government have chosen to introduce a measure that is discriminatory. The Minister admitted in Committee that it means positive discrimination, and rather gloried in it. As a principle on which this House should conduct its business and pass legislation, I find that extraordinary.

Mr. McNamara

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that, under the Fair Employment Act, it was his Government who introduced the concepts of perceived Protestant and perceived Roman Catholic?

Mr. Grieve

Neither this Government, the previous Government nor—I believe—any Government have passed a measure involving positive discrimination. The measures proposed by the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire, which are certainly affirmative in their help to the Catholic community, command support and are a tried and tested method that goes to the very limit of what in our view is possible and allowable under both international law and our European convention obligations. No previous Government have departed from that; I am happy to give way to the hon. Gentleman again if he thinks that some previous Government have done so. I do not believe that to be so.

Mr. McNamara

Will the hon. Gentleman answer my question? Did not his Government, under the Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act, introduce the concept of individuals as perceived Protestants and perceived Roman Catholics?

Mr. Trimble

That was in 1976.

Mr. Grieve

I do not know who introduced that legislation; the right hon. Gentleman says that it was in 1976. None the less, no measure involving positive discrimination has been passed by the House.

In the light of the Patten report, it is a little surprising that the Government should have so glibly passed over the seriousness of the issue, simply saying, "Oh, we think that it's perfectly all right." We do not believe that it is. The Minister wants to provide great reassurance and would like to give chapter and verse on the matter, which I must say he did not in Committee. I will listen with interest, but in our view, the principle is completely flawed and wrong.

Mr. Corbyn

Given that the hon. Gentleman accepts that there is a huge imbalance between Protestants and Roman Catholics in the current police service of Northern Ireland, will he please explain what he would do to ensure some fairness in future? There has been systematic discrimination throughout many decades against Roman Catholic recruits. This legislation is designed to try to correct that imbalance. Does he have any solution to the problem?

Mr. Grieve

I do indeed. To begin with, I recollect that on Second Reading, as has been pointed out, hon. Members representing the SDLP stood up one by one to say that if the Bill were passed and acceptable to them, they would go to the marketplace, even in west Belfast, and encourage—and succeed in encouraging—Catholics to join the police service. That is very close to the words of the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon); I remember them well because they were eloquent. Such action in itself would make a major contribution to breaking the ice, and the logjam. There is also affirmative action that could be carried out that would be proper, and would not offend against human rights legislation.

Mr. Seamus Mallon (Newry and Armagh)

Will the hon. Gentleman inform us who he thinks might speak best and most accurately for Catholics—a political party known as the SDLP or the Catholic Church?

Mr. Grieve

That is a question that I do not propose to answer. I raised the hon. Gentleman's position because I regard him as a man of complete integrity, and I listened very carefully to what he said on Second Reading. I took it that if he was satisfied with the Bill and said on behalf of the Catholic community that Catholics should join the police service, many who had previously been deterred would do so. Whether it is he who takes such action, or whether it is priests of the Roman Catholic Church or other members of the community at large, seems to matter very little.

Mr. Mallon

I thank the hon. Gentleman again for giving way. I note the points that he has made, and if I am lucky enough to catch your eye later, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I will deal with that matter. In the interests of whatever harmony is left, may I refer the hon. Gentleman, without being specific, to an article written on behalf of the Catholic hierarchy some weeks ago in the name of Father Tim Bartlett? I ask him to study it carefully. I will answer, as will my colleagues, for our political party and our political stance. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman read the article before he goes much further.

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Mr. Grieve

I will read the article. If it suggests that positive discrimination is the solution, I do not mind who it comes from—I will reject it.

We can leave aside the European Court of Justice and the European convention on human rights. It has not been a principle or practice in this country to engage in positive discrimination. That will bring in its wake every kind of resentment, which is the very thing that we want to break down. I cannot think of a worse way of starting a new police service on its course with the good wishes of the House, than to saddle it with such an incubus at the outset.

Mr. Ingram

In Committee, I paid many tributes to the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve). Not tonight. Many assertions have been made and points of view strongly expressed by the hon. Gentleman which seem to ignore the fact that, through the Bill, we seek to establish the principles that Patten identified and which the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) tried to make the hon. Gentleman understand.

I could ask a simple question of those who oppose what we seek to do. Which EU directive do they have in mind? None. There is no EU directive that prohibits what we seek to do through the Bill—not one.

Mr. Grieve

The Minister is correct that, as matters stand at present, there is no EU directive, and I did not suggest that there was. The Amsterdam treaty sets the framework, and there is a directive in contemplation from which the Government will have to seek a derogation or some form of accommodation, as I understand it, in order to allow the matter to proceed. As I pointed out to the Minister, the European convention on human rights and the Human Rights Act

Mr. Ingram

I know that the hon. Gentleman is used to being paid by the minute, but he answered the question in the first few words of his response. There is no EU directive that the Bill contravenes. He is right to say that the matter is being examined. We said in Committee, and I repeat, that with our European partners, we will look at the ways in which we can deal with the issue.

That seems to be a sensible way forward. The EU has been a tremendous supporter of the peace process in Northern Ireland. In our dealings with our European partners, we have found time and again that they are prepared to accept the ways in which the issue must be addressed to move the peace process forward. They live in world of reality, not bombast and rhetoric such as we have heard in the debate.

Let us deal with reality. I have heard it said that the Bill is not ECHR-compliant. It is ECHR-compliant, otherwise that statement would not appear in the Bill. I have said before from the Dispatch Box that no Minister can knowingly act illegally. That is the case. If there were any doubt, we would not make that attestation, nor would we stand here and defend that position. In dealing with the subject of our discussion, we have heard much rhetoric and many strong views, but let us tackle reality.

The purpose of amendments Nos. 301, 52, 53 and 54 is to remove from the Bill the provisions that allow for the so-called 50:50 recruitment arrangements. The hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik) has tabled alternative new clauses 1 and 2, which would provide for a programme of affirmative action to encourage a higher rate of Catholic application.

We debated the issue at considerable length in Committee. Perhaps the hon. Member for Beaconsfield was not happy with the result, but he cannot deny that we had a heavyweight debate in Committee. We trawled over the same ground that we are now discussing. Let me reiterate the Government's position. The parties to the Belfast agreement considered it imperative that the police service, if it is to be fully effective, should be representative of the community it polices. As matters stand, only 8 per cent. of the RUC is from the Catholic community.

The Government recognise that victimisation and intimidation have unquestionably played a significant role in depressing the rate of Catholic application to the RUC. As Patten said, we must address that. In paragraph 15.2, the Patten report stated: The key to making that police service representative of those communities—indeed the key to the successful implementation of nearly everything in this report—is that the leaders of those communities now actively encourage their young people to join the police service. That acknowledges that not only the Governments, but all parties and all parts of the community in Northern Ireland must address the problem.

Neither Patten nor the Government intend 50:50 recruitment to represent an alternative to affirmative action. Paragraph 15.8 states clearly that the recruitment agency, for which clause 42 provides, should advertise imaginatively and persistently, particularly in places likely to reach groups who are under-represented in the police. As at present the advertisements should make it clear that the police Service wants to attract more Catholics and women. But every effort should be made to get this message across, through local newspapers, magazines, club and community centre notice boards and any other way that can be found to reach the target groups directly. Paragraph 15.6 of the report recommends cadet schemes; paragraph 15.11 recommends flexible working and child care schemes.

The Police Federation, in its response to the Patten report, said that it would take 30 years to achieve a balance through affirmative action alone. I am therefore surprised, especially as the matter was debated in Committee, that the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire has tabled the amendment. I recounted the Government's firm determination to take forward affirmative action programmes. We also needed to move the whole process forward and introduce the 50:50 recruitment policy.

The policy is exceptional and deals with an unusual set of circumstances. We are not discussing Dudley, Bracknell or Montgomeryshire, but Northern Ireland, where there are tremendously deep divisions. Patten realised that that needed to be addressed. The signatories to the Belfast agreement gave that an impetus. The Government are delivering the policy. I therefore hope that the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire and the right hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) will not press their amendments.

Mr. Thompson

Is not it hypocritical for the Government to speak in those terms when on 23 and 24 March, in a joint statement at the Lisbon European Council meeting, the United Kingdom and Irish Governments urged member states to make early progress on the Commission's Article 13 anti-discrimination proposals? Is not it hypocritical to say that a change must be made?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman's words represent no slur on the Minister. The Minister is not a hypocrite—no hon. Member is.

Mr. Ingram

Thank you very much for that defence, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was about to respond robustly, but I simply say that of course the party that I represent has a proud tradition of fighting discrimination, in and out of government. I am not so sure that many of those who have raised these issues tonight would have stood in line against many of the types of discrimination that we have had to fight against. As we are dealing with exceptional circumstances, we will deal with friendly partners who understand the exceptional need. We cannot predict the outcome, but we will be progressive and constructive—not to undermine the principles of any future directive, but to place what we seek to do in Northern Ireland in context.

Government amendments Nos. 133 and 135 would require 50:50 recruitment to be applied in the recruitment of police support staff when six or more vacancies at a similar level had to be filled. The threshold figure was previously stipulated as 10. As the figure is to be reduced, it is reasonable to enable the Secretary of State to set aside 50:50 recruitment—after consulting the board and the Chief Constable—when it simply is not possible. We believe that to be a sensible precaution.

The hon. Members for South Down (Mr. McGrady), for Foyle (Mr. Hume) and for Newry and Armagh tabled amendments Nos. 323 to 325, which would reduce the threshold to two with a proviso that the quota mechanism be applied where it is practicable to do so when the number of vacancies is five or fewer. The Chief Constable would also be required to publish information on such appointments annually.

The issue was debated in Committee when I said that the Government were prepared to be flexible. We have looked at it again and I am persuaded that the figure can reasonably be reduced to six. However, although we have moved from a threshold of 10, I am not persuaded to reduce the figure to two. To reduce it further would virtually set aside the merit principle. Furthermore, at such a low level, the quota mechanism would produce a minimal impact on overall composition and in practical terms could prove impossible to apply when such small numbers are involved, particularly if an odd number of posts—three, for example—had to be filled. I hope that the amended threshold figure of six will be seen as a workable solution and I ask the House to accept our amendment on that basis.

As to the publication of religious monitoring and composition information, the police service will continue to adhere to the terms of the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 and guidance, as appropriate, from the Equality Commission. I do not believe that there is any need to put any of those issues into the legislation.

Government amendments Nos. 130 and 127 rectify technical defects. Amendment No. 130 would require the Secretary of State to consult the Policing Board, the Chief Constable, the Equality Commission and the police associations in making regulations for the recruitment function. The Bill already requires the Secretary of State to consult those bodies when making regulations in respect of the recruitment agent. It appears entirely sensible that they should also have the opportunity to comment on the detail of the recruitment function itself—for example, advertising of vacancies, testing of applicants and so on.

Amendment No. 127 would enable the recruitment agency, under clause 42, to recruit all officers and support staff appointed by the Chief Constable rather than only trainee officers at constable level. Senior officers and civilians are not covered because, of course, they are appointed by the board.

I ask the House to accept Government amendments Nos. 127, 130, 133 and 135 and to reject all other amendments. Given the time scale, we probably will not debate new clause 6 and I give the House notice that the Government do not intend to move amendment No. 197.

10.30 pm
Mr. Öpik

Taken together, new clauses 1 and 2 and amendments Nos. 53, 54 and 301 achieve the Government's objective, but they do so fairly. They give everyone in Northern Ireland a fair deal by attacking the problem of applications rather than dealing with recruitment at the end of the process, which is the wrong target. The Minister said that there are deep divisions in Northern Ireland. Our concern is that the Government proposals will make some of those divisions worse.

Look how far we have come, and how close we are to a new police service for Northern Ireland. The proposals are radical and ground-breaking, with some genuine human rights breakthroughs. We have had agreements, progress has been made and consensus has been reached between groupings that it was previously unthinkable could work together. We are offering a solution that achieves the strategy that the Government are trying to implement without introducing new discriminations in the process.

Are the Government so determined to do it their way, even if that goes against a sense of natural justice, contravenes European legislation—as it will do from 2002—and includes an element of positive discrimination, as the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has said? That is not the sort of fairness we are seeking.

The Minister says that affirmative action would take 30 years, as if it is outside our control. It should be within our control, and we should take our responsibility seriously rather than making a prediction and introducing an unjust system instead.

I have tried to be nice to the Government, and I have tried to help. I even supported the guillotine motion, because it seemed like a good idea at the time, but perhaps not any longer. This is a matter of practice and a matter of principle. The Minister has created an alliance between the hon. Member for North Antrim (Rev. Ian Paisley), the right hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble), the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) and me. It should seriously concern the Government that they have managed to bring the Democratic Unionists, the Ulster Unionists, the official Opposition and the Liberal Democrats together.

The Minister said that there has been much bombast and rhetoric in the debate. He is mistaken, because what bothers many hon. Members is a matter of principle.

Mr. Ingram

I asked hon. Members in presenting their amendments and justifying their arguments to tell me on which EU directive they based their case, and the hon. Gentleman has not done so.

Mr. Öpik

It is on a piece of paper that will come to hand in a moment. There is no doubt that this matter is being discussed by the European Parliament. The proposals relate to a Council directive establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation and the proposal for a Council directive implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin. I shall write to the Minister to give him a fuller reply.

The Government have done so well with the Bill, and they have listened, but this is the tough test. This is how the Government can prove that they are serious about working consensually towards a better Northern Ireland police service. The package on offer in the amendments and new clauses is proactive, sound and logical and takes into account discrimination not just against Catholics but against all the other minorities who are not properly represented in the Northern Ireland police force. It is not about cooking the quotas; it is about opening the doors to all those unrepresented groups in Northern Irish police life.

My challenge to the Minister is to open the doors rather than slam them in other people's faces while trying to cure an injustice. My challenge to the House is for once genuinely to understand that this principle is all-pervading.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 182, Noes 307.

Division No. 256] [10.35 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Gale, Roger
Allan, Richard Garnier, Edward
Amess, David George, Andrew (St Ives)
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael Gibb, Nick
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James Gidley, Sandra
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Gill, Christopher
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E) Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Baldry, Tony Gorrie, Donald
Ballard, Jackie Gray, James
Beggs, Roy Green, Damian
Beith, Rt Hon A J Greenway, John
Bercow, John Grieve, Dominic
Beresford, Sir Paul Gummer, Rt Hon John
Blunt, Crispin Hammond, Philip
Body, Sir Richard Hancock, Mike
Boswell, Tim Harris, Dr Evan
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Harvey, Nick
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia Hawkins, Nick
Brady, Graham Hayes, John
Brake, Tom Heald, Oliver
Brand, Dr Peter Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Brazier, Julian Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Breed, Colin Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Browning, Mrs Angela Horam, John
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Burnett, John Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Burns, Simon Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Burstow, Paul Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Butterfill, John Jenkin, Bernard
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies (NE Fife) Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Key, Robert
Cash, William King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet) Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Chidgey, David Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Chope, Christopher Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Clappison, James Lansley, Andrew
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh) Leigh, Edward
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Letwin, Oliver
Lidington, David
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Collins, Tim Livsey, Richard
Cormack, Sir Patrick Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Cotter, Brian Llwyd, Elfyn
Cran, James Loughton, Tim
Curry, Rt Hon David Luff, Peter
Davey, Edward (Kingston) Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Davies, Quentin (Grantham) McCartney, Robert (N Down)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice) MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Day, Stephen McIntosh, Miss Anne
Donaldson, Jeffrey MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen Maclean, Rt Hon David
Duncan Smith, Iain Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
Evans, Nigel McLoughlin, Patrick
Ewing, Mrs Margaret Maginnis, Ken
Fabricant, Michael Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Fallon, Michael May, Mrs Theresa
Fearn, Ronnie Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Flight, Howard Moore, Michael
Forth, Rt Hon Eric Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Foster, Don (Bath) Moss, Malcolm
Fox, Dr Liam Norman, Archie
Fraser, Christopher O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Ottaway, Richard Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Paice, James Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Paisley, Rev Ian Taylor, Sir Teddy
Pickles, Eric Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Prior, David Thompson, William
Randall, John Tonge, Dr Jenny
Redwood, Rt Hon John Townend, John
Rendel, David Tredinnick, David
Robathan, Andrew Trend, Michael
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E) Trimble, Rt Hon David
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne) Tyler, Paul
Ross, William (E Lond'y) Tyrie, Andrew
Ruffley, David Viggers, Peter
Russell, Bob (Colchester) Walter, Robert
St Aubyn, Nick Waterson, Nigel
Sanders, Adrian Webb, Steve
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian Wells, Bowen
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk) Welsh, Andrew
Soames, Nicholas Whitney, Sir Raymond
Spelman, Mrs Caroline Whittingdale, John
Spicer, Sir Michael Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Spring, Richard Wilkinson, John
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Willetts, David
Steen, Anthony Wilshire, David
Streeter, Gary Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Stunell, Andrew Yeo, Tim
Swayne, Desmond Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Swinney, John
Syms, Robert Tellers for the Ayes:
Tapsell, Sir Peter Sir Robert Smith and
Mr. Peter Atkinson.
Abbott, Ms Diane Clapham, Michael
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Ainger, Nick Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Atherton, Ms Candy Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Atkins, Charlotte Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Barnes, Harry Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Barron, Kevin Clelland, David
Battle, John Clwyd, Ann
Bayley, Hugh Coaker, Vernon
Beard, Nigel Coffey, Ms Ann
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Cohen, Harry
Begg, Miss Anne Coleman, Iain
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough) Colman, Tony
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C) Connarty, Michael
Bennett, Andrew F Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Berry, Roger Corbett, Robin
Best, Harold Corbyn, Jeremy
Betts, Clive Corston, Jean
Blackman, Liz Cousins, Jim
Blears, Ms Hazel Cox, Tom
Blizzard, Bob Crausby, David
Borrow, David Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Cummings, John
Bradshaw, Ben Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Dalyell, Tam
Browne, Desmond Darvill, Keith
Buck, Ms Karen Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Burden, Richard Davidson, Ian
Butler, Mrs Christine Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Davis, Rt Hon Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Dawson, Hilton
Cann, Jamie Dean, Mrs Janet
Casale, Roger Denham, John
Caton, Martin Dobbin, Jim
Cawsey, Ian Donohoe, Brian H
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Doran, Frank
Chaytor, David Dowd, Jim
Chisholm, Malcolm Drew, David
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey) Lammy, David
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston) Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Edwards, Huw Laxton, Bob
Efford, Clive Lepper, David
Ellman, Mrs Louise Leslie, Christopher
Etherington, Bill Levitt, Tom
Fisher, Mark Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Flynn, Paul Linton, Martin
Follett, Barbara Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Lock, David
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings) Love, Andrew
Foster, Michael J (Worcester) McAvoy, Thomas
Foulkes, George McCafferty, Ms Chris
Fyfe, Maria McDonagh, Siobhain
Galloway, George Macdonald, Calum
George, Bruce (Walsall S) McDonnell, John
Gerrard, Neil McFall, John
Gibson, Dr Ian McGrady, Eddie
Gilroy, Mrs Linda McGuire, Mrs Anne
Godman, Dr Norman A McIsaac, Shona
Godsiff, Roger McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Goggins, Paul Mackinlay, Andrew
Golding, Mrs Llin McNamara, Kevin
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E) McNulty, Tony
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) MacShane, Denis
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Mactaggart, Fiona
Hain, Peter McWalter, Tony
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale) McWilliam, John
Hall, Patrick (Bedford) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE) Mallaber, Judy
Hanson, David Mallon, Seamus
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Healey, John Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N) Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Hepburn, Stephen Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Heppell, John Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Hesford, Stephen Martlew, Eric
Hewitt, Ms Patricia Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Hill, Keith Meale, Alan
Hood, Jimmy Merron, Gillian
Hope, Phil Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Hopkins, Kelvin Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Howarth, Alan (Newport E) Miller, Andrew
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Moffatt, Laura
Hoyle, Lindsay Moonie, Dr Lewis
Humble, Mrs Joan Moran, Ms Margaret
Hume, John Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Hurst, Alan Morley, Elliot
Hutton, John Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Iddon, Dr Brian
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam Mountford, Kali
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough) Mudie, George
Jamieson, David Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Jenkins, Brian Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle) Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield) Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn) O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N) Olner, Bill
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW) O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Osborne, Ms Sandra
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak) Palmer, Dr Nick
Keeble, Ms Sally Pearson, Ian
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Pendry, Tom
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth) Perham, Ms Linda
Kemp, Fraser Pickthall, Colin
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) Pike, Peter L
Khabra, Piara S Plaskitt, James
Kidney, David Pond, Chris
Kilfoyle, Peter Pope, Greg
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth) Pound, Stephen
Kumar, Dr Ashok Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Prescott, Rt Hon John Stringer, Graham
Purchase, Ken Stuart, Ms Gisela
Quinn, Lawrie Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Rammell, Bill Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Rapson, Syd Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Raynsford, Nick Temple-Morris, Peter
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough) Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Roche, Mrs Barbara Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff Timms, Stephen
Rooney, Terry Todd, Mark
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Touhig, Don
Rowlands, Ted Trickett, Jon
Roy, Frank Truswell, Paul
Ruane, Chris Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Ruddock, Joan Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester) Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Ryan, Ms Joan Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Salter, Martin Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Sarwar, Mohammad Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Sawford, Phil Tynan, Bill
Shaw, Jonathan Vis, Dr Rudi
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S) Walley, Ms Joan
Skinner, Dennis Ward, Ms Claire
Smith, Angela (Basildon) Wareing, Robert N
Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale) Watts, David
White, Brian
Smith, John (Glamorgan) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Snape, Peter Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Soley, Clive Winnick, David
Southworth, Ms Helen Wood, Mike
Spellar, John Woolas, Phil
Squire, Ms Rachel Worthington, Tony
Starkey, Dr Phyllis Wray, James
Steinberg, Gerry Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Stevenson, George Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul Tellers for the Noes:
Stoate, Dr Howard Mr. Kevin Hughes and
Mr. Robert Ainsworth.

Question accordingly negatived.

It being more than six hours after the commencement of proceedings on the allocation of time motion, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER, pursuant to Order [this day], then proceeded to put forthwith the Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord)

With the leave of the House, I will put together amendment No. 44, the remaining Government amendments with the exception of Nos. 197, 212 and 299, and Government new schedule 1.

Question put, That the amendments be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 331, Noes 8.

Division No. 257] [10.51 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Barron, Kevin
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Battle, John
Ainger, Nick Bayley, Hugh
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Beard, Nigel
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Begg, Miss Anne
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Bennett, Andrew F
Ashton, Joe Berry, Roger
Atherton, Ms Candy Best, Harold
Atkins, Charlotte Betts, Clive
Ballard, Jackie Blackman, Liz
Barnes, Harry Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Borrow, David Foster, Don (Bath)
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Bradshaw, Ben Foulkes, George
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Fyfe, Maria
Browne, Desmond George, Andrew (St Ives)
Buck, Ms Karen George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Burden, Richard Gerrard, Neil
Burnett, John Gibson, Dr Ian
Burstow, Paul Gidley, Sandra
Butler, Mrs Christine Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Godman, Dr Norman A
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies (NE Fife) Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Campbell-Savours, Dale Golding, Mrs Llin
Cann, Jamie Gorrie, Donald
Casale, Roger Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Caton, Martin Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Cawsey, Ian Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Hain, Peter
Chisholm, Malcolm Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Clapham, Michael Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) Hancock, Mike
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands) Hanson, David
Harvey, Nick
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S) Healey, John
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge) Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Clelland, David Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Clwyd, Ann Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Coaker, Vernon Hepburn, Stephen
Coffey, Ms Ann Heppell, John
Cohen, Harry Hesford, Stephen
Coleman, Iain Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Colman, Tony Hill, Keith
Connarty, Michael Hood, Jimmy
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Hope, Phil
Corbett, Robin Hopkins, Kelvin
Corbyn, Jeremy Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Corston, Jean Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Cotter, Brian Hoyle, Lindsay
Cousins, Jim Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Cox, Tom Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Crausby, David Humble, Mrs Joan
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley) Hurst, Alan
Cryer, John (Hornchurch) Hutton, John
Cummings, John Iddon, Dr Brian
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S) Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Dalyell, Tam Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Darvill, Keith Jenkins, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston) Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W) Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry (B'ham Hodge H) Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Denham, John Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Dobbin, Jim Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Donohoe, Brian H Keeble, Ms Sally
Doran, Frank Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Dowd, Jim Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Drew, David Kemp, Fraser
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey) Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston) Khabra, Piara S
Edwards, Huw Kidney, David
Efford, Clive Kilfoyle, Peter
Ellman, Mrs Louise King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Etherington, Bill Kirkwood, Archy
Ewing, Mrs Margaret Kumar, Dr Ashok
Fearn, Ronnie Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Fisher, Mark Lammy, David
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Flynn, Paul Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David Purchase, Ken
Leslie, Christopher Quinn, Lawrie
Levitt, Tom Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Lewis, Terry (Worsley) Rammell, Bill
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen Rapson, Syd
Linton, Martin Raynsford, Nick
Livsey, Richard Rendel, David
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C) Roche, Mrs Barbara
Llwyd, Elfyn Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Lock, David Rooney, Terry
Love, Andrew Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
McAvoy, Thomas Rowlands, Ted
McCafferty, Ms Chris Roy, Frank
McDonagh, Siobhain Ruane, Chris
Macdonald, Calum Ruddock, Joan
McDonnell, John Russell, Bob (Colchester)
McFall, John Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
McGuire, Mrs Anne Salter, Martin
McIsaac, Shona Sanders, Adrian
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary Sawford, Phil
Mackinlay, Andrew Shaw, Jonathan
McNamara, Kevin Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
McNulty, Tony Skinner, Dennis
MacShane, Denis Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Mactaggart, Fiona Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Mahon, Mrs Alice Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Mallaber, Judy Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter Snape, Peter
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S) Soley, Clive
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury) Southworth, Ms Helen
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Spellar, John
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Squire, Ms Rachel
Marshall-Andrews, Robert Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Martlew, Eric Steinberg, Gerry
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael Stevenson, George
Meale, Alan Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Merron, Gillian Stinchcombe, Paul
Michael, Rt Hon Alun Stoate, Dr Howard
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley) Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Miller, Andrew Stringer, Graham
Moffatt, Laura Stuart, Ms Gisela
Moonie, Dr Lewis Stunell, Andrew
Moore, Michael Swinney, John
Moran, Ms Margaret Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N) Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Morley, Elliot Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Mountford, Kali Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Mudie, George Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck) Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood) Timms, Stephen
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen) Todd, Mark
Naysmith, Dr Doug Tonge, Dr Jenny
Norris, Dan Touhig, Don
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton) Trickett, Jon
Olner, Bill Truswell, Paul
O'Neill, Martin Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Öpik, Lembit Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Organ, Mrs Diana Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Osborne, Ms Sandra Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Palmer, Dr Nick Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Pearson, Ian Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Pendry, Tom Tyler, Paul
Perham, Ms Linda Tynan, Bill
Pickthall, Colin Vaz, Keith
Pike, Peter L Vis, Dr Rudi
Plaskitt, James Walley, Ms Joan
Pond, Chris Ward, Ms Claire
Pope, Greg Wareing, Robert N
Pound, Stephen Watts, David
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E) Webb, Steve
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Welsh, Andrew
White, Brian Worthington, Tony
Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W) Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen) Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Winnick, David
Wood, Mike Tellers for the Ayes:
Woolas, Phil Mr. Mike Hall and
Mr. David Jamieson.
Beggs, Roy Trimble, Rt Hon David
McCartney, Robert (N Down) Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Maginnis, Ken
Robertson, Laurence Tellers for the Noes:
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E) Rev. Ian Paisley and
Thompson, William Mr. Jeffrey Donaldson.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Order for Third Reading read.

11.2 pm

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Peter Mandelson)

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

The Patten report speaks to a very different Northern Ireland from that which we have known in the past. The Good Friday agreement provided the basis for ending 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland and the days when the pillars of the state in Northern Ireland failed to represent the society that those pillars served. Chief among them, in nationalist eyes, was the Royal Ulster Constabulary—the police service in Northern Ireland.

Like the Good Friday agreement that spawned it, the report of the Patten commission promised nothing less than a new beginning. It promised a modern, civic police service rooted in all parts of the community, drawing strength and legitimacy from all parts of the community. With this Bill, our task is to bring the vision of the Patten report to life—to reality—and to draw a line under recent history, but not to forget, and certainly not to disown, that history.

Three hundred and two officers of the RUC have lost their lives. Thousands more have been injured. Families and friends suffered bereavement. I know from my meetings, contacts and encounters with those friends and families how the terrible pain of that bereavement continues in the lives of those people—mothers, wives, offspring.

The courage of the RUC in the face of such sacrifice was immense; I think that the whole House will want to salute it. The professionalism of RUC officers was extraordinary, and we respect it. It is for that reason that, in the Bill, we will create the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross Foundation. That will mean that the name of the RUC, its proud history and record will live on in perpetuity and will be for ever honoured.

Over the last few weeks, and particularly over the last five days or so, in Drumcree and across Northern Ireland, in the face of bottles, bomb blasts, blast bombs, and acid squirted in the faces of RUC officers, we have seen that professionalism again and again and again, night in and night out, as hoodlums—thugs—have hijacked what I regard as legitimate protest. I believe that we will all want to pay tribute to the RUC for bearing the enormous brunt of that violence over the last week.

The RUC has paid a price in more than one way. Its members have certainly paid a price with their lives but, over the past 30 years, the fact that the RUC has been the bulwark against a brutal terrorist campaign has led to its being identified more with one side of the community than with the other. That identification may not be deserved—it has certainly not been sought—but that is the perception of a substantial section of the community, and it is a perception that, in the Bill, we are addressing and seeking to correct.

The Patten commission's starting point was that the police service must respect the values and reflect the pluralism of Northern Ireland's society as a whole, not just a majority of that society but the whole of it. The police service must enjoy widespread support from, and must be seen as an integral part of, the community as a whole. It must do that if it is to be an effective police service. That is very hard when there is a 9:1 religious imbalance in the composition of the police.

The hard reality of policing in Northern Ireland, and the reason why policing was remitted to the Patten commission in the first place, is that, while 80 per cent. of Protestants are content with policing, less than 50 per cent. of Catholics are satisfied. That is shown in a number of opinion surveys. Eighty-eight per cent. of the police are from one section of the community, in spite of the efforts of the Chief Constable and the Police Authority to achieve a more balanced service. Those efforts have been great and they have been sustained, but they have not been successful.

Of course, intimidation by the IRA has been a factor in preventing Catholics, and discouraging nationalists, from joining the RUC; but it is only one factor. Lack of community support and of identity with the Royal Ulster Constabulary, fear that they would lose contact with family and with friends, fear that they would have to submerge their Catholic identity or nationalist politics if they were to join the RUC, and fear of harassment in their community or within the RUC—all these have played a part.

I did not simply take the Patten report at face value. I looked behind it. I looked into it. I talked to people right across the community, and made my own judgments about what was right and what needed to be done. I was persuaded that radical changes were needed to redress that extreme religious imbalance that has resulted in the RUC's being unrepresentative of the community as a whole, and therefore all the less effective as a police service as a consequence.

The radical changes that needed to be made included changing the name. That is a difficult decision, and it is a painful decision for people right across the RUC family. Indeed, it was a painful decision for me, and one that I would not have taken if I did not believe that it was essential to the new beginning that Patten envisages. If I had felt that we could have gone ahead and created a new start, and created a new beginning for policing without changing the name, I most certainly would have done that.

I am also persuaded that widespread support means not alienating the Protestant and Unionist traditions in the community. Yes, they must accept change and, in this case, radical change, but we must be sensitive to the fears and concerns of all in the community of both traditions. Change must be built on consensus wherever we can achieve it. That is an important principle to apply to the implementation of Patten. Wherever it is possible to secure agreement and consensus, draw the traditions together and put them behind the changes that we want to see, we should strenuously seek to do so and we should not give up easily when at first we do not succeed.

Patten was clear that the RUC was not being disbanded. That argument was made strenuously by some in Northern Ireland, and it was rejected. Patten was also clear that the link between the RUC and the new police service must be recognised. It is in his report. For that reason, because I want to ease the transition in the best way that I can, because I want to build as wide a consensus for change as possible and because I want to address the fears and concerns of both traditions and people across the community, we have accepted a description moved in Committee by the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) which incorporates the Royal Ulster Constabulary, in effect, in the title deeds of the new service.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary, as Patten himself recommended—he wanted that link established between the RUC and the new police service—is being carried forward. The body of constables known as the RUC will form part of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and it will be incorporated in the new police service. At the same time, we have introduced a new name—the Police Service of Northern Ireland. We did that, having accepted the amendment tabled by the hon. Gentleman. The name "Police Service of Northern Ireland" will be used for all operational and working purposes, wherever and in whatever circumstances when the police interface with the public.

It is critical that we strike the right balance throughout in the way in which we carry forward the changes. People across the community must know and respect the officers in the new service. Both sides must feel that the service genuinely reflects their values, needs and traditions. They must emphatically not feel that, by joining the service, let alone supporting it, they are in some way betraying members of their tradition and their side of the community in Northern Ireland.

Ultimately, what the police do—how representative they are; how they are trained and equipped—matters more than what they are called. The Government are determined to ensure that the police have the necessary resources and capabilities to protect the community and uphold law and order.

Hon. Members have referred to what they sometimes call the mafia society in Northern Ireland. It is certainly a society that carries the legacy of 30 years of conflict and the operation, persistence, and contamination of paramilitary organisations. Under the new political dispensation, we have the opportunity for society as a whole and its policing service to unite in standing up to, and facing down, each and every one of those paramilitary organisations. If we do not, we will never succeed in creating the decent, civic society in Northern Ireland to which we all aspire.

The Government are determined, therefore, that the policing service that is being created is not simply rebadged or renamed, but is a truly effective, capable policing service. It is true that, in a sense, the Patten report was an important part of conflict resolution in Northern Ireland—quite rightly. That is why it was spawned by the Good Friday agreement.

Equally, what the Patten report and its implementation must be about is, above all, efficient and effective policing, to cope with the threat and the dangers that persist in Northern Ireland. In some cases, some interpretation of the Patten report has been needed. Patten did not give a detailed blueprint for everything. In some cases, also, we have been able to move forward and implement Patten without legislation; not every change, alteration, modification, needs to be provided for in law.

Indeed, Patten himself did not contend that his report spelled out every particular, and in parts he deliberately avoided being too prescriptive on the detail, so as to allow other voices to be heard. Those other voices have been heard since the report was published, and they will continue to be heard as we proceed along the path of its implementation.

So when we introduced the Bill on 16 May, we acknowledged that it would need some changes and adjustments. I never said at the time that the Bill was the last word. It was the first stab—I happen to think that it was a good, honourable and faithful stab—at implementing the Patten report. It does not deserve some of the descriptions made of it, in many cases—not all—for straightforward ulterior political purposes by some individuals in Northern Ireland who never had, and never will have, any intention of supporting the police, reformed, renamed, rebadged or otherwise.

I have listened to constructive comments on the Bill and have made, and shall continue to make, where the argument is persuasive, necessary changes to meet legitimate concerns. Indeed, on a number of points, as will be known to hon. Members who followed the Bill's progress through its Committee stage, we have acted: in relation to the Policing Board, its objectives, its planning, the code of ethics and other codes of behaviour and operation, and on reports and inquiries by the board. I have shifted the balance since the Bill was published to reflect concerns that there were too many safeguards. I think that I struck the balance in the wrong place. There were too many limitations. I have listened and I have moved.

The wording of the oath is now more in line with Patten, and all serving officers are required to understand the new oath and the need to carry out their duties in accordance with it. Those who made that case were right, and we have moved to accommodate their view. We have also removed the 10-year cut-off for 50:50 recruitment. I, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary have been, and remain, open to argument, to further debate and change, which no doubt will take place as the Bill leaves this House and moves on to the other place. That is because I recognise the historic importance of this opportunity and of this legislation that we have been considering in Committee and again today.

This is perhaps the best chance that we shall have to create an outstanding modern police service, one that will be a model of its kind for the rest of the world to emulate, and to allow the police to change and develop in a way that they have wanted for years. The RUC did not want to be trapped in the identity, the character, of a security force. The RUC members and officers themselves, led by an able and outstanding Chief Constable, wanted to evolve into a community-based partnership policing service as circumstances and conditions allowed, to make the transition from an anti-terrorist security force to a community-focused and community-based police service; in other words, a new police service for a new political dispensation, a new society, that is emerging, with difficulty, in Northern Ireland. That is Patten's vision and I believe that the Bill is entirely faithful to it. It is a full, honourable and faithful implementation of every part of Patten's recommendations. That is why I commend it to the House.

11.20 pm
Mr. MacKay

When I opposed the guillotine motion a few hours ago, I described this as a sad day for Parliament and a sad day for Northern Ireland. I deeply regret that everything that I said has been borne out in the course of the debate.

We have managed to debate only three groups of amendments, and seven groups were not debated at all. On the first significant group of amendments that was debated—it was on the Policing Board and district policing partnerships—no votes were taken on important amendments moved by myself, my colleagues and the Ulster Unionists because we did not reach them on the amendment paper. That is not a proper way to scrutinise a Bill.

The guillotine motion was debated briskly by everyone who took part in the debate on it.

Shona McIsaac (Cleethorpes)

It took two hours.

Mr. MacKay

The hon. Lady, who was not present for one moment of the debate—[HON. MEMBERS: "Apologise."] She was not present, and I have no intention of apologising. She says that the debate on the guillotine motion took two hours. It took marginally less than that, but the truth is that many Members wished legitimately to express their concern that a Bill that had moved briskly through Committee in 11 sittings was being guillotined. They legitimately said that there was not sufficient opportunity in the guillotine motion to debate the legitimate amendments that were on the amendment paper in the names of right hon. and hon. Members from a variety of parties on both sides of the House. We have been proved right, because only three of the seven groups of amendments were discussed.

Mr. Jim Dowd (Lord Commissioner to the Treasury)

I wonder why.

Mr. MacKay

The Northern Ireland Whip says that he wonders why. I shall do my best to answer him by returning to the point that I was making when I was interrupted by a sedentary intervention from the hon. Member for Cleethorpes (Shona McIsaac).

Debate on the guillotine motion proceeded briskly with each Member speaking briefly. We then moved on to the first group of the amendments on what you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and the rest of the House will agree are serious issues, such as who should sit on the Policing Board and on the partnerships. Rightly, the Minister of State nods his agreement. In that debate, everyone spoke briefly with one exception—the Minister took 51 minutes to reply. [Interruption.] I do not object to the fact that he took 51 minutes to reply, but there were relatively few interventions.

The Minister took 51 minutes to respond—I respect him for doing so—because many amendments had been debated. He had to respond to the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell) who, with the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), had tabled a significant number of amendments about which they feel strongly. The Minister had to respond to the amendments that I spoke to on behalf of the official Opposition and to those that were spoken to by the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis). The Minister also responded to significant interventions from other Members representing constituencies in Northern Ireland.—[Interruption.] There is no point in the Secretary of State tapping his watch: this is not our timetable, it is his. The Minister of State took 51 minutes to respond because significant issues had been raised and he was doing his best to reply properly. That illustrates why more time was necessary for debate on Report.

Mr. McDonnell

The right hon. Gentleman has missed the historic moment of today's events in that this is the first time that I have moved an amendment that has been accepted by the Government.

Mr. MacKay

It would be remiss of me not to congratulate the hon. Gentleman on that because I know that his colleagues on the Treasury Bench do not often accept his amendments. Indeed, I suspect that this might be a unique occasion.

We had a response to only three groups of amendments, and the deeply significant amendments in the fourth group concerned the name of the RUC. I noted that the Secretary of State, in what were, by and large, sensitive and thoughtful remarks on Third Reading, spent most of his time discussing the name, and I suspect that that was the speech that he would have liked to have made in speaking to his amendments, which he was not able to do because of the guillotine motion moved by his Minister of State.

The trouble is that the Secretary of State said many things about the name—many of which I agree with and some of which he knows, from the amendments in my name, I do not agree with—but no Member is now able to discuss the name or the amendments relating to it. The guillotine chopped off all the remaining amendments, and there has been no discussion of them whatsoever.

When the other place receives the Bill, it will wish to scrutinise it in great detail, not least because this House has been unable to do so. That is a great pity, because if we had been given two days for Report and Third Reading, which legislation of this significance deserves, the Bill would have gone to the other place having been fully debated. I do not particularly blame the Secretary of State because he is not one of the business managers. I blame the business managers because they have completely lost control of Parliament. They are trying to thrust far too many Bills through the House in this Session and there cannot, therefore, be proper consideration of serious Bills such as this.

This has been a very sad day for Parliament and a very sad day for Northern Ireland. I hope that the other place will be able properly to debate amendments that we were unable to debate. [Interruption.] I think that the Parliamentary Private Secretary, the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Helen Jackson), is saying that I do not mean that.

Helen Jackson (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

indicated dissent.

Mr. MacKay

I could not quite hear what the hon. Lady said, relatively loudly, from a sedentary position, but I will be happy to let her intervene. She does not want to intervene. Clearly the remark was not worth your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

This has been a sad day and it is important that the other place properly debates the Bill and votes on it. Many Labour Members, particularly from the new intake, have not been present during most of the proceedings. The hon. Member for Luton, South (Ms Moran), who takes an interest in Northern Ireland matters from time to time, did not turn up once during the earlier debates, but has been chattering away from a sedentary position. She seems to think that debate is wrong and rubber-stamping is right. One day she might learn otherwise, although I suspect that she will not because I doubt that she will be a Member of the next Parliament.

It is important that the other place takes careful note of what has happened tonight and of the lack of debate and votes. I look forward to returning to these deliberations when we eventually consider Lords amendments well into the autumn.

11.29 pm
Mr. Mallon

I have sat in this House for about 16 years—right through Thatcherism, Majorism and the type of approach that ignored the political position of a very substantial section of the community in the north of Ireland. Tonight, I have heard that approach repeated. Tonight, I have heard the type of Majorism, Thatcherism and the ignoring of a position of people in the north of Ireland in a way that I never believed I would hear from these Benches. So be it.

Hearing such a speech is a matter of regret to me and to my party, because I and my colleagues know what its effect will be. I do not have to tell the House what the effect will be—the House knows—but it will come about because the Secretary of State will not persuade people to join the police service. He is not able to. I can tell him that, after tonight, he stands very little chance. The right hon. Member for Bracknell (Mr. MacKay) will not be able to persuade people to join the new police service—not through any defect in himself, but because of the points that were made previously this evening.

Let us put the issue into context, in the sense that the Secretary of State focused on the change of name. Perhaps right hon. and hon. Members are not aware that the clause before us on the name of the new police service is draft No. 3. Draft No. 1 was ditched after Hillsborough. The Government's first draft was in accord absolutely and totally with the new clause that I and my colleagues tabled in Committee. The Government voted against a new clause on the new name that they had themselves written. That is on record for anyone to read.

Draft No. 2 represented the Government's adoption of a Unionist motion, which I gravely suspect the Government also wrote a considerable time ago when the Hillsborough virus first set in. At least they tried to amend it with amendment No. 197, which they withdrew with inordinate haste tonight. The clause before us is mark 3 of the Government's statement on the name of the new police service. That would be a serious business in any piece of legislation, but it is much more serious in this one.

I shall briefly—I know that I have to be brief—refer to some of the allegations and accusations that have been made across the Floor tonight. I simply remind the House who Chris Patten was. He was not a Catholic nationalist from Northern Ireland; he was chairman of the Conservative party, a Cabinet Minister, a Minister in the Northern Ireland Office, a European Union Commissioner and the Governor of Hong Kong. What did he say about the very essence of the matter—the joining of the police service? He said: if you are going to get a police service which young Catholics as well as young Protestants…are going to join, then it can't be identified with the central political argument in Northern Ireland and it is as simple as that. Those are not my words, but Chris Patten's. Yet the very basis upon which the Government propose to implement the Bill is a Unionist amendment.

I have my own views about the use of the terms "Catholics" and "Protestants" in relation to the Bill and the issue. I happen to believe that people are people, not religious tags. I referred to Chris Patten and who he is because I want to avoid that.

I believe that what has happened in the House tonight has done irreparable damage to the prospect of a new policing dispensation.

Mr. Tony McWalter (Hemel Hempstead)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Mallon

I do not have time to give way. In fairness, I have been sitting in the Chamber since 4.30 pm, waiting to make a contribution.

In an earlier intervention, I asked the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) who he would regard as the primary authority on what Catholics might do—a small political party such as the SDLP or the Catholic Church, through a spokesman and its hierarchy. I admire the hon. Member for Beaconsfield. At least sometimes, most times, almost always, he is honest, if honestly wrong on many issues. I believe that with regard to the terms in which Patten's comments are couched and also the objective of the Bill, we should consider what the Catholic Church has said through a spokesman, Father Tim Bartlett. It is on record, and I know that it represents the view of the Catholic hierarchy—[Interruption.] I will face any challenge on that.

I will amend the quote slightly, because I do not like being hurtful. Father Tim Bartlett stated: The failure— I put in the words "of this Government"— to remain faithful to key elements of the Patten Report in the current Policing Bill and the willingness to subject a fundamental issue of civic justice—the right to representative policing—to the "spin and win" of politics, has provided one of the greatest obstacles to encouragement for young Catholics to have emerged in recent years. Not my words, not a politically biased position, but the words of those who, with the SDLP, will have to try and ensure the involvement and the inclusion of the community that we represent in a new policing dispensation.

Why ignore those words? Why treat them as though they were never said? Why treat the issue as something that is clever in Westminster terms, but irrelevant in terms of persuading a divided community to be part of a policing dispensation?

I referred to the Hillsborough virus. It is a matter of record that the first clause of the Bill was exactly what we presented as a new clause in Committee. All of a sudden, when it looked as though decommissioning had at least begun to be resolved, what appeared on the table? Patten. No sooner was it on the table—within 10 minutes of acquiescence in the position on decommissioning—there was an immediate movement by the Government. What they had written was no longer relevant. What they had written was torn up. The Secretary of State shakes his head.

Mr. Mandelson

I am sad.

Mr. Mallon

So am I. As I said at the beginning, I have seen much political chicanery on the issue. This is the third time that the Secretary of State has made deals, and on the name of the new police service—

It being seven hours after the commencement of proceedings on the allocation of time motion, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER,pursuant to Order [this day], put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

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

The House proceeded to a Division.

Mr. Tom King (Bridgwater)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Is the right hon. Gentleman's point of order to do with the Division?

Mr. King

Yes. Three hon. Members spoke on Third Reading on a hugely sensitive and important issue. The Secretary of State is in his place. He acknowledged in his speech the sensitivity of the issue. He also recognised, as did other hon. Members, that it has been impossible to comment on several important issues. We are currently holding a vote, but something will have to be done, or the people of Northern Ireland will not feel that the serious subject of our discussion has received the attention from this Parliament that it deserves.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I hear that point of order, but the right hon. Gentleman must appreciate that our arrangements this evening were made under an Order that was agreed by the whole House.

The House having divided: Ayes 307, Noes 16.

Division No. 258] [11.40 pm
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Dalyell, Tam
Ainger, Nick Darvill, Keith
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Davidson, Ian
Ashton, Joe Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Atherton, Ms Candy Davis, Rt Hon Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Atkins, Charlotte
Barnes, Harry Dawson, Hilton
Barron, Kevin Dean, Mrs Janet
Battle, John Denham, John
Bayley, Hugh Dobbin, Jim
Beard, Nigel Donohoe, Brian H
Begg, Miss Anne Doran, Frank
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough) Dowd, Jim
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C) Drew, David
Bennett, Andrew F Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Berry, Roger Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Best, Harold Edwards, Huw
Betts, Clive Efford, Clive
Blackman, Liz Ellman, Mrs Louise
Blears, Ms Hazel Etherington, Bill
Blizzard, Bob Fearn, Ronnie
Borrow, David Fisher, Mark
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Flynn, Paul
Bradshaw, Ben Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Foster, Don (Bath)
Browne, Desmond Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Buck, Ms Karen Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Burden, Richard Foulkes, George
Burnett, John Fyfe, Maria
Butler, Mrs Christine George, Andrew (St Ives)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies (NE Fife) George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Campbell-Savours, Dale Gibson, Dr Ian
Cann, Jamie Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Casale, Roger Godsiff, Roger
Caton, Martin Goggins, Paul
Cawsey, Ian Golding, Mrs Llin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Gorrie, Donald
Chaytor, David Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Chisholm, Malcolm Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Clapham, Michael Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) Hain, Peter
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands) Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S) Hancock, Mike
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge) Hanson, David
Clelland, David Harvey, Nick
Clwyd, Ann Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Coaker, Vernon Healey, John
Coffey, Ms Ann Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Cohen, Harry Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Coleman, Iain Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Colman, Tony Hepburn, Stephen
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Heppell, John
Corbett, Robin Hesford, Stephen
Corston, Jean Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Cotter, Brian Hill, Keith
Cousins, Jim Hopkins, Kelvin
Cox, Tom Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Crausby, David Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley) Hoyle, Lindsay
Cryer, John (Hornchurch) Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Cummings, John Humble, Mrs Joan
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S) Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John Mudie, George
Iddon, Dr Brian Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough) Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Jamieson, David Naysmith, Dr Doug
Jenkins, Brian Norris, Dan
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle) O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn) Olner, Bill
Jones, Helen (Warrington N) O'Neill, Martin
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW) Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Mrs Diana
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Osborne, Ms Sandra
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak) Palmer, Dr Nick
Keeble, Ms Sally Pearson, Ian
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Pendry, Tom
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth) Perham, Ms Linda
Kemp, Fraser Pickthall, Colin
Kennedy, Jane (Wavetree) Pike, Peter L
Khabra, Piara S Plaskitt, James
Kidney, David Pond, Chris
Kilfoyle, Peter Pope, Greg
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth) Pound, Stephen
Kirkwood, Archy Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Kumar, Dr Ashok Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Ladyman, Dr Stephen Quinn, Lawrie
Lammy, David Rammell, Bill
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie Rapson, Syd
Laxton, Bob Raynsford, Nick
Lepper, David Rendel, David
Leslie, Christopher Roche, Mrs Barbara
Levitt, Tom Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Lewis, Terry (Worsley) Rooney, Terry
Linton, Martin Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Livsey, Richard Rowlands, Ted
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C) Roy, Frank
Lock, David Ruane, Chris
Love, Andrew Ruddock, Joan
McAvoy, Thomas Russell, Bob (Colchester)
McCafferty, Ms Chris Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
McDonagh, Siobhain Salter, Martin
Macdonald, Calum Sanders, Adrian
McFall, John Sarwar, Mohammad
McGuire, Mrs Anne Sawford, Phil
McIsaac, Shona Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary Skinner, Dennis
Mackinlay, Andrew Smith, Angela (Basildon)
McNulty, Tony Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona Smith, John (Glamorgan)
McWalter, Tony Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
McWilliam, John Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Mahon, Mrs Alice Snape, Peter
Mallaber, Judy Soley, Clive
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter Southworth, Ms Helen
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S) Spellar, John
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury) Squire, Ms Rachel
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Steinberg, Gerry
Martlew, Eric Stevenson, George
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Meale, Alan Stinchcombe, Paul
Merron, Gillian Stoate, Dr Howard
Michael, Rt Hon Alun Stringer, Graham
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley) Stuart, Ms Gisela
Miller, Andrew Stunell, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura Swinney, John
Moonie, Dr Lewis Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Moore, Michael
Moran, Ms Margaret Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway) Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Mountford, Kali Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen Watts, David
Todd, Mark Webb, Steve
Tonge, Dr Jenny Welsh, Andrew
Touhig, Don White, Brian
Trickett, Jon Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE) Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown) Winnick, David
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk) Wood, Mike
Turner, Neil (Wigan) Woolas, Phil
Twigg, Derek (Halton) Worthington, Tony
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield) Wray, James
Tynan, Bill Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Vis, Dr Rudi Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire Tellers for the Ayes:
Wareing, Robert N Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe and
Mr. Kevin Hughes.
Body, Sir Richard Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Cash, William Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Donaldson, Jeffrey Swayne, Desmond
Gill, Christopher Townend, John
Gray, James Trimble, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Maginnis, Ken Tellers for the Noes:
Paisley, Rev Ian Mr. Roy Beggs and
Robertson, Laurence Mr. William Thompson.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.