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Interpretation

Northern Ireland Bill (Allocation of Time) – in the House of Commons at 4:09 pm on 22nd June 1982.

Alert me about debates like this

12. In this Order— allotted day" means any day (other than a Friday) on which the Bill is put down as first Government Order of the Day provided that a Motion for allotting time to the proceedings on the Bill to be taken on that day either has been agreed on a previous day or is set down for consideration on that day;the Bill" means the Northern Ireland Bill.

The debate is concerned with the allocation of time to the Northern Ireland Bill. Recently, however, interest has been expressed in the wider aspects of timetabling. I refer particularly to the speeches in support of a general timetable for all contentious Bills by my right hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Prentice), by the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) and by other hon. Members during the timetable debate on the Employment Bill on 20 April. In addition, this matter has received the attention of an Early-Day Motion in the name of the hon. Member for Rochdale and others, which has attracted the support of 23 right hon. and hon. Members.

This is not, of course, the occasion for debating the merits of general timetabling. However, the Northern Ireland Bill reveals an element and direction of opposition which makes pre-ordained timetabling through the Government and the conventional Opposition generally inappropriate. I do not need to argue that point. The Northern Ireland Bill will therefore add a new dimension and a new experience to such discussions on general timetabling as might take place at a later date.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

Is there a difference between Bills, however contentious, such as the Employment Bill, and constitutional issues, such as the Northern Ireland Bill and the Scotland and Wales Bills?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

It is precisely on that point that future debate will be focussed, in the light of the experience that we have had on the Northern Ireland Bill. That was my point. I was not seeking to lay down deductions of my own, but merely to point out to the House that this was a new factor in our deliberations.

I do not believe that anyone can reasonably contend that the time allocated to the Northern Ireland Bill has either been ungenerous or has not given due weight to its importance. So far, no fewer than six parliamentary days have been allocated to it, and the Committee has sat through the night on three occasions, and into the early hours on another.

We had a whole day's debate devoted to Second Reading, which concluded with an endorsement of the principles of the Bill by a majority of 291 to 29—a ratio of 10:1. That debate itself had followed a full debate on the White Paper which set out the principles of the Bill.

Since those debates, the House has spent over 24 hours in its consideration of clause 1; over 20 hours on clause 2 and schedule 1; and, finally, more than 9 hours on clause 3, which we have not yet finished considering. After five days and three nights spent in considering two and a half clauses and a schedule, four clauses remain untouched as well as two schedules, one of which is almost as long as all the clauses taken together, and 25 new clauses have been proposed for our consideration.

Thus, if the rate of progress so far is an indication of how matters will proceed in future, there can be no expectation that the Bill would be secured this Session. I make that assertion assuming the attainment of the Government's other legislative commitments, fulfilling the remaining number of Supply days and the rising of the House at a conventional time for the Summer Recess—important because both recent recesses have been affected by the Falklands situation.

During the course, therefore, of about 60 hours all told there has already been extensive discussion of the principles of the Bill. Nor can it be demonstrated that the Government are seeking to curtail further discussion because they are determined to force the Bill through unchanged. For example, amendments have already been tabled to clause 3 to enable the Assembly to discuss "reserved" matters of its own volition.

The eventide activities of the House in recent days have not centred on tactics to improve the Bill, or tactics to secure more time for the measured consideration of the Bill. The activities have centred on tactics designed to kill the Bill and effectively to reverse the Second Reading vote of 10 May.

About 30 hon. Members have conducted a persistent and skilful opposition to the Bill throughout the debate in Committee. I say again that the nature of the opposition to the Bill is not to secure its passage after proper and detailed debate. It seeks to force the Government to drop the Bill. The debate has not been about the time appropriate to the Bill; there is no will to secure agreement. On the contrary, the opposition has been based on an assessment of what is necessary to compel the Government to have second thoughts and to extinguish the Bill.

Photo of Mr John Gorst Mr John Gorst , Barnet Hendon North

What discussions have taken place about a voluntary timetable for the conduct of discussions on the rest of the Bill?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

I understand that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has undertaken discussions with various groups within the House, but that no formulated attempt has been made to secure a voluntary timetable.

It is a collision of will between the Government and a dedicated group of my right hon. and hon. Friends that has brought about this clash and this timetable motion. The Bill itself, and not its prudent consideration, is at stake. My right hon. Friend secured a clear majority on Second Reading. The interest of the House now turns on the strategy of those who wish to succeed by other means to compensate for their failure on Second Reading. For those reasons, the Government have sought to introduce the timetable motion.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

What will happen to those important amendments which have been tabled by representatives from Northern Ireland and which are all-important to them and their constituents? Will there be the possibility of voting on those amendments, if not of discussing them?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

The timetable motion sets out the broad divisions of time for consideration of the Bill, but I am sure that my right hon. Friend will have that point in mind when he replies to the debate.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Budgen Mr Nicholas Budgen , Wolverhampton South West

Before my right hon. Friend sits down, I hope that he will explain to the House how much time will be allocated to each of the 17 debates that have been selected by Mr. Speaker and to, perhaps, half of the new clauses that might be selected for discussion? It appears that there might be between a quarter of an hour and half an hour for each of the debates.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

My hon. Friend knows perfectly well that as yet there has been no selection of the new clauses, but his point will be well taken by my right hon. Friend when he replies to the debate.

The motion requires that the Committee stage be brought to a conclusion at 1 am on the Wednesday sitting and that the Report stage and Third Reading be concluded also by 1 am on the second allotted day. I do not claim that that amount of time is generous. However, I believe that it strikes an equitable balance, given all the other demands on parliamentary time. There has, as I have stated, already been extensive discussion of the main principles and, indeed, on the detail of the Bill.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

The discussion has been wide as well as long. It has weighed the merits of legislative and executive devolution. It has considered groups of amendments dealing with the formation of an Administration and has examined in the most minute detail the test to be applied to proposals for devolution submitted by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Budgen Mr Nicholas Budgen , Wolverhampton South West

Instead of dealing with the general oratory, will my right hon. Friend tell the House how much time will be allocated to each of the clauses at present in the Bill, and how much time to the new clauses that may be selected?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

I am sure my hon. Friend will appreciate that his contributions to the debates will, to some extent, be a determining factor in how long they last. His questions about the detailed working of the timetable motion will be dealt with by my right hon. Friend who is in charge of the Bill and will reply to the debate.

We have considered the merits of referendums, the contents of devolution orders and the progress from partial to full devolution. The list is not exhaustive. However, even leaving out of account the six and a half hours taken up on the first day of Committee by points of order and procedure motions, over 40 hours have been devoted to clauses 1 and 2, which, with schedule 1, form the heart of the Bill. In the Government's view, therefore, the time allocated for discussion of the rest of the Bill should allow for constructive and useful discussion of the remaining provisions of the Bill.

Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson , Belfast East

The basis of the right hon. Gentleman's argument is that hon. Members who wish to kill the Bill are seeking to prolong the proceedings. As I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will accept, there are other hon. Members who are achieving, and seeking to achieve, improvements in the Bill. Under the timetable motion they will not be permitted to have their amendments voted upon. Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that that is the correct procedure for the House?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

The hon. Gentleman is right in assuming that the Government's belief is that the opponents of the Bill are trying to secure its death and not its material improvement. Any timetable motion is disagreeable for minority parties such as the hon. Gentleman's.

I have set out the Government's intentions for handling the Bill. They constitute a response to the facts that the Bill has secured a clear Second Reading majority, but that, as things now stand, there is no prospect of the Bill receiving subsequent parliamentary examination and approval. The motion is essentially a towline for a Bill that has become becalmed by resourceful and determined opposition. Without the motion, there is no future for the Bill.

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield 4:22 pm, 22nd June 1982

It is right that I should respond immediately to the proposal for a timetable. If at the end of the debate my right hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin) feels that it is necessary to reply, he will seek to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

The Opposition could adopt the usual stance on guillotine motions. They could do the usual thing and shout "gag", they could be tempted to snarl up the Government's legislative machinery, but everyone knows that at this late stage of the Session there is nothing left to snarl up in the Government's machinery. It has either already been passed or is guillotined and is likely to be passed. There is one overriding reason why we are debating a motion to guillotine discussion of the Northern Ireland Bill. I can probably use stronger language than the Leader of the House. That reason is to prevent the Right-wing junta of the Conservative Party from destroying the legislation.

Over the past few days and nights when the House has been considering the Northern Ireland Bill in Committee some Right-wing Conservatives have made a mockery of the people of Northern Ireland, in using serious debate to conduct a personal vendetta against the Secretary of State. We now face a guillotine motion because of the orchestrated filibuster from the Government Back Benches. This is not a usual timetable motion. It is not directed against Her Majesty's Opposition, but against the Government's Members.

At every stage of the Bill the Opposition have taken a positive attitude. We have made no secret of our dissatisfaction with certain parts of the legislation. We have declared our intention to improve the Bill so that it matches some of the fine words in the Government's White Paper, entitled "Northern Ireland: A Framework for Devolution". One has only to read paragraph 13 of the White Paper to see how close it is to the Opposition's view. It reads: The Government adheres to the view that in any administration in Northern Ireland there must be reasonable and appropriate arrangements to take account of the interests of the minority which are acceptable to both sides of the community. In our discussion document on page 3 it is stated: The success of devolved government depends upon it receiving the confidence and support of a substantial cross-section of both communities.

When the White Paper was debated on 28 April, the Opposition agreed to take note of it. Much of the White Paper was in line with the Labour Party's policy document on Northern Ireland. We especially welcomed the Government's recognition of the unique problems of Northern Ireland and of the existence of two distinct national identities. On Second Reading the Opposition stuck to their line of not seeking to divide the House.

Photo of Mr John Farr Mr John Farr , Harborough

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why he keeps referring to the Opposition's point of view? In all the debates, and even today, the Opposition have been noted for the way in which they have boycotted the Bill. Most of our serious debates have taken place in the absence of members of the Opposition other than the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Soley).

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

That is typical of what has happened over the past five days and five nights. The only time when we felt we were in Committee was when amendments to improve the Bill were discussed seriously. I take the point that has been made by the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson). Some Members are trying to do the right thing. They are trying to ensure that the Committee does a proper job. The hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) must take pride in the fact that he has been involved in a filibuster that has led to the timetable motion today.

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

The hon. Gentleman has been springing up and down like a jackrabbit. If he wants to have a go, I ask him to make a good intervention.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Budgen Mr Nicholas Budgen , Wolverhampton South West

As the right hon. Gentleman is attacking the nature of the opposition to the Bill, might I remind him that every debate has been terminated by the use of a closure? If the discussion had been either irrelevant or repetitious, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the Chair would have allowed the closure motion to be considered earlier?

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

I assure the hon. Gentleman that I have had to sit here for five days and five nights and have probably been wooed more than my good lady wooed me when we were courting. I hope that the hon. Gentleman does not think that I shall miss a trick on my speech on the guillotine motion. In our opinion there is nothing in the Bill that will prevent Labour's policy from being furthered but, as I said on 10 May, there are a number of shortcomings in the Government's proposals that we should like to see amended. That is why the Bill has had the Opposition's tacit support.

Such was the attitude that we brought to the Committee stage. Our aim all along has been to ensure that the Bill achieves maximum support in Northern Ireland by offering something to members of each community. The two groups of amendments and the two new clauses tabled by the official Opposition were intended to work towards that end. In our view the Bill did not fully live up to many of the statements in the White Paper, particularly on the nationalist community and the Irish dimension. Therefore, we sought to strengthen and change the Bill. That is what Committees are usually for.

The intentions of the Secretary of State with regard to devolving powers to Northern Ireland are fair and honest. Our role over the past few weeks has been to point out the weaknesses in the Bill that detract from those good intentions.

Two groups of amendments tabled by the official Opposition have received a good hearing. The first was to delete the subsection allowing all devolution reports with at least 70 per cent. support in the Assembly to be automatically debated in the House. It was tabled because we believed that it could allow for devolution without the support of both communities in Northern Ireland. In response, the Secretary of State has said that he will reconsider the Bill with a view to introducing a Government amendment on Report. Again, that is what Committees are for.

It has become obvious in Committee that cross-community support is paramount and that the Government and Opposition can see no political progress without cross-community support in Northern Ireland. When our second amendment, which was designed to improve parliamentary control of devolution, was considered, we were given sufficient assurances to persuade us not to press it.

The official Opposition have no quarrel with the way in which the Bill has been handled. We have had ample time to put our points, and they have received considered responses from Ministers. The blame for the introduction of the timetable motion does not lie with the Opposition. The Leader of the House did not try to make that point against us. There have been attempts by the Conservative Party junta to obstruct and delay the passage of the Bill. We have no complaint about that. It is the affair of the Conservative Party.

Photo of Mr Barry Porter Mr Barry Porter , Bebington and Ellesmere Port

The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the Right-wing junta. Does he accept that there are hon. Members who are part of that Right wing who dislike the Bill? They believe that it is ill-conceived and will not lead to what the Secretary of State wants. Equally, there are those on the Right wing of the Conservative Party who take the view that it is right and proper that consideration of the Bill in Committee should be on a proper and curtailed basis. It does no good to kill the Bill by a filibuster.

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

I accept what the hon. Gentleman says. He is a fully paid-up member of the Irish brigade. I exonerate him from what has happened. The Leader of the House has given the statistics regarding the Committee stage. It is obvious from those figures that members of the Conservative Back Benches—with the help of a few other hon. Members—have engaged in a filibuster. I have no quarrel with filibusters and other similar activities. After six years in the Whip's Office I well understand such activities. However, I do not remember ever having done it against my own party, which is what has happened in this case.

There have been a variety of reasons for the filibuster. If any one of the major Northern Ireland parties had not wanted the Bill, or part of it, it could have killed it stone dead. That has always been my opinion. If the position in Northern Ireland is as the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) maintains, why have we been here for five days and nights? If they have the support of members of their parties—the majority of Unionist parties will achieve about 66 per cent. of the seats in the Assembly—they can say that they will take in their bat and ball and that they will not play.

Almost all the Northern Ireland parties will fight the Assembly elections. We do not know what will happen, but we should give the people of Northern Ireland a chance to have their say. Most Northern Ireland parties—with a few exceptions—have demonstrated little enthusiasm for the Bill, but none of the party leaders wants to be responsible for killing it off. Most are prepared to go ahead with the Bill, for one reason or another, but no one party wants to carry the can for killing the Bill off.

There are those on the Government Benches who appear to have taken great exception to the Bill. The junta consists of those who, from the beginning, refused to recognise the Government's belief—as outlined in the White Paper—that Northern Ireland is politically and socially different from other parts of the United Kingdom. Within that opposition there was a mystifying sub-group consisting of some members who had never shown any interest in Northern Ireland matters. It confounded some of us for a short time, but their intentions soon became clear. They had not come to speak on behalf of the one and a half million people of Northern Ireland, who have put up with so much suffering and hardship; they were interested only the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

This sub-group could be called the "get Prior brigade". They have used the Bill to mock the people of Northern Ireland in a pathetic attempt to fight personal battles. Those battles are irrelevant to the real issues. Sitting on these Benches night after night watching such antics and such disgraceful treatment of the people of Northern Ireland has not been a pretty sight. One could not see the knives but the blood was running freely.

There was another diversion during the Committee stage. It was a shadowy, crouching figure who flitted across and around the Back Benches. Some might have thought that the term "supergrass" could properly be applied to the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr Gow). What his role has been remains one of the great unsolved mysteries. If there is any truth in the stories circulating in the corridors he has a great deal to answer for. I am sorry that he is not here to answer. I followed the usual courtesies of writing to and seeing the hon. Member for Eastbourne. I understand what he is doing this afternoon. The Opposition Benches have probably been able to see more of what has been going on than the Government Front Bench. It has been a nod here and a wink there, a tug at the elbow and a whisper in the corridors. The Committee ought to know at whose instigation the hon. Member has been doing it. Is it at his own or that of the Prime Minister? Those are the rumours that are circulating through the corridors.

The Northern Ireland Bill is presented by the Secretary of State and supported by the Prime Minister. I wish that she had shown her support for the Secretary of State in a material way. The behaviour of the Government Back Benchers has resulted in a position never before witnessed by me or many of my right hon. and hon. Friends. The Government Benches have been so divided that almost every amendment has had to have a closure motion moved by the Government Chief Whip against his own party. If it had not been for the effects of the Falklands issue that would have received the media cover it deserved. If it had happened in the Labour Party screaming headlines would have resulted even above the Falklands. It is my bad luck that today I have contend with a royal baby.

If the Government are to achieve this legislation they will need the timetable motion against their own members. It is a unique position and one that Her Majesty's Opposition could have exploited. We have resisted that temptation over the long days and nights. We do not envisage that this measure will bring the dire results to the people of Northern Ireland that many of its critics anticipate. The Labour Party has no wish to do the dirty work of those who want the Bill defeated. We believe—as our policy document states—that the people of Northern Ireland should be given the chance to set up an Assembly and move towards devolution. We have no intention of being blamed for denying them those rights. The best advice that I can give my right hon. and hon. Friends is to regard the timetable motion as part of a quarrel within the Tory Party. The motion is not directed against Her Majesty's Opposition. The opponents of the Bill—for whatever reasons—have tried to move the Labour Party into a position where its votes can be used to defeat the Bill. We should not assist them to do the dirty work. If the motion is defeated there will be only one outcome, as the Leader of the House said, and that will be the killing of the Bill.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Opposition Whip (Commons)

Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that support for a timetable motion in these circumstances is dirty work and that is why he is advising his right hon. and hon. Friends to abstain, or does he believe that the guillotine is a necessary measure to assist the Bill's passage? If he believes that it is a necessary measure, why does he not support it?

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

One has to make a decision. The Opposition had to decide what their attitude was on Wednesday or Thursday of last week. I had to make certain recommendations to my party. My recommendation was that the Opposition should not divide the House. If other hon. Members seek to divide it, that is entirely up to them.

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

I understand and appreciate why some of my right hon. and hon. Friends have consistently opposed timetable motions over the years. My advice to them is that we are faced with a unique situation. On the other hand, others of my right hon. and hon. Friends wish to support the Government if a Division takes place. There is a third group of hon. Members who favour the introduction of timetable motions before Bills start their passage through the House.

The Opposition have not been gagged. If I could have obstructed the "Tebbit Bill" or any of the other obstreperous and monstrous pieces of legislation that have now virtually completed their passage through the House, I should have had second thoughts about the advice that I gave to my party. However, I continue to advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to let this issue remain a fight on the Government Benches. I ask them not to help to camouflage a split on the Government Benches. In my view the Opposition should not divide the House. Let the junta have that privilege.

Photo of Mr John Peyton Mr John Peyton , Yeovil 4:42 pm, 22nd June 1982

In my experience guillotine debates are occasions for anger and opportunism. Of late years, the anger has become more and more synthetic and the opportunism more obvious. The right hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon), who spoke from the Opposition Front Bench, is to be congratulated on having resisted the claims of opportunism. He suggested that knives had been flashing, but confessed that no blood had been seen. I must congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on his almost miraculous survival. He does not appear, on the surface at least, to be suffering from the acutest form of anaemia, and I am sure that we are all pleased about that.

Photo of Mr John Peyton Mr John Peyton , Yeovil

It is just possible to question—a thing that I would never ordinarily do—the wisdom of the Government's timing in introducing a measure such as the Bill so late in the Session.

Photo of Mr John Peyton Mr John Peyton , Yeovil

I am obliged to my hon. Friend, but I do not know whether he will support what I am about to say. The Government should have learnt from long experience that the House is not at its best in mid-summer. I have sometimes been tempted into the belief that what is alleged to happen to hares in March happens to politicians in June. It seemed rather strange to entrust a rather delicate measure to the House at such a time.

I accept—I do not doubt that many of my right hon. and hon. Friends will be repeating this argument—that, on the whole, guillotines are devices designed for the convenience of Governments and, therefore, are to be looked at askance by the rest of us. That view applies especially when constitutional measures are involved. However, experience teaches that the quality of debate and discussion is infinitely improved after a timetable motion.

Photo of Mr John Peyton Mr John Peyton , Yeovil

My hon. Friend will allow me to have my opinion. I am bound to say that what he has been saying over the weeks has done nothing to dislodge that opinion.

As I understand it, the Bill is offered by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and his colleagues in the Northern Ireland Office not as a cure-all, but as a measure from which it is hoped some progress will be made against the background of a state of affairs that has endured too long, that is sombre in the extreme and that has manifested itself in cruelty, violence and bloodshed.

My right hon. Friend has one of the most unenviable tasks in the Government. After considerable reflection and some anxiety I find it difficult to deny him my support. I do not think that it is for me as an English Member of Parliament, who has never ventured to take part in a discussion on Northern Ireland affairs, to criticise the conduct of those who represent Northern Ireland constituencies. I feel that they must answer to their constituencies. They are not obliged to face my criticism. However, I think it unwise and dangerous for a handful of English Members to set out not to amend the Bill but to destroy it, and with it whatever chance the Bill may contain of making some progress for Northern Ireland. It is with considerable reluctance and, I must confess, with some surprise that I have decided to vote for the guillotine motion. I shall do so in the belief that the Government have been patient and are now justified, in the face of the opposition that they have met, in introducing it.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down 4:49 pm, 22nd June 1982

I take up directly the challenge which was issued by the Leader of the House. I accept that this motion represents a new dimension on the well-trodden ground of guillotine motions. The motion is unique because, unlike any other guillotine motion that I can recall, it involves in its fortunes the life and death of men, women and children; the predictable and certain death of more persons than would otherwise have suffered that fate in the coming months and years. In the light of that new dimension, I assert that it was not merely right but the duty of those who perceived that to be so to use all the powers available to Members of Parliament—I use the words of the right hon. Gentleman again—to force the House to think again. The House needs to think again about what it is doing in forcing through this legislation.

I understand that the Liberal Party will assist the guillotine. There is no particular surprise or significance in that. The Liberal Party is a great lover of guillotines. Indeed, if one scratches a Liberal, one will commonly find a dictator. They have voted for most of the best guillotines during the past 30 years. Nor is there much significance in the behaviour of the Labour Party in exile known as the Social Democratic Party.

There is great significance in what was said not just this afternoon, but consistently during the debates on the Bill by the right hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon) on behalf of the official Opposition. He and his colleague the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Soley) made no secret of the reason why they did not oppose the Bill and why consequently they will not oppose the measure which is necessary to its passage which is before the House today. It is because, in their opinion, the Bill will forward their policy for Northern Ireland, which is to achieve—achieve, indeed, by persuasion, although it is not persuasion in which they intend to take part—the detachment of Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and its embodiment in an all-Ireland State. There is no secret about this. They have made no secret about the fact that they regard the Bill as tending in that direction. That is the reason for the position that they are taking up today, as they have taken it up consistently since the White Paper was produced. They cannot have expected, as the duration of the debates enabled them, to obtain the confirmation of that belief which has been vouchsafed to us.

I make no apology for putting on the record again the remarkable document whose existence was, if not disclosed, at any rate brought to the recollection of many hon. Members by the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Sir J. Biggs-Davison). He referred to the notes for Conservative candidates issued on 25 April, a week before the general election at which the Conservative Party won a majority. After a statement of the policy as it stood in the manifesto of the Conservative Party, the document ran as follows: The next Government will come under considerable pressure to launch a new high-powered political initiative on Northern Ireland with the object of establishing another 'power-sharing' government in the Province which could pave the way for a federal constitution linking Ulster to the Irish Republic. It went on to indicate the elements which would lie behind that considerable pressure. They not only would be from within the United Kingdom but would include pressure from the Irish Republic and from the United States. The hon. Member for Epping Forest described it as prescient. That was over-generous. Whoever wrote those words knew perfectly well what was in preparation, for no more accurate a description of what was to follow in the subsequent three years could have been penned and certainly would not have been inserted where it was inserted except upon the basis of reliable knowledge, which has since been verified.

From the moment that the Government came into office in May 1979 the prediction contained in that document was fulfilled step by step. Step by step, efforts were made to establish in the Province an Assembly. Whatever initiatives failed, they were immediately succeeded by others, and at the heart of those initiatives was the intention to have a separate representative body in that part of the United Kingdom. I have quoted before in the House, with his assent, the revelation which was made to me at the earliest of these initiatives by the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) that there would be an Assembly. That had been decided upon, not by Ministers but by those who intended to bring it about. The Secretary of State can take the sneer off his face as it is his own fault if he is unable to perceive what goes on under his nose.

Step by step there was to be set up a representative body in the Assembly which could, in the words of that document, "pave the way" to what was the intention forshadowed.

Step by step also the federal—a word which has not been very popular during the last three years, but it is a fair constitutional description—arrangement was set up, first by the meeting between Premier Lynch and the Prime Minister, carried on with the meeting between the Prime Minister and Haughey on 8 December 1980 and then by the meeting with FitzGerald in November 1981.

The documents which followed from those meetings, all of them drafted before the meetings took place and all of them signed without a full understanding of the meaning and the intention which lay behind them, were steps towards the completion of the other element, for there were two elements which were necessary, as the Conservative Party was informed in its own notes for candidates by those who had been following these matters inside the party before the general election. One was a representative body in Northern Ireland and the other was an Anglo-Irish matrix into which that could fit.

I do not think, however, that those who laboured unsuccessfully for two and a half years up to last autumn could have believed their good fortune when the right hon. Gentleman arrived in the Department, for he put behind the high-powered political initiative his very considerable determination and standing in the Government. That is why what had not happened during the previous two and a half years is being forced upon Northern Ireland and upon the House now.

Photo of Mr Barry Porter Mr Barry Porter , Bebington and Ellesmere Port

I have tried during the Committee stage to elicit some information from the right hon. Gentleman and his friends. It appears that the future of the Assembly, in the terms of the proposal, is in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman and his friends and his quasi-friends. If they will not put forward proposals, the Assembly will fall. I asked in Committee what the right hon. Gentleman and his friends intended to do. I said at that time that the Committee was entitled to know. I think that the House is now entitled to know.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down

It is a pity that we are not to have the opportunity of examining the remaining clauses of the Bill when some of the answers to the question which the hon. Gentleman has posed could be more adequately explained. Let me content myself with pointing to the fact that after the third of the Anglo-Irish meetings to which I have referred the regret that was expressed by the Irish Prime Minister was that the parliamentary tier of the federal arrangement could not yet be set up because there was not an Assembly in Northern Ireland. He at any rate felt sure—and he is not innocent of the political composition of the population of Northern Ireland—that if once one could get that tertial quid, that separate Assembly, separate spokesmen of what is an integral part of the United Kingdom, the remainder would follow.

I am in difficulty at this point because I have no wish to say anything which would qualify my desire to accept entirely the integrity of the right hon. Gentleman's intentions. The right hon. Gentleman has more than once asserted that he believes that the effect of the Bill will be to strengthen the position of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom. Not only is that impossible to assert or to believe, and not only does it run contrary to all the evidence; it runs contrary to what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman—perhaps by inadvertence—from time to time. We were prepared for it by remarks that were made in a considered interview by the Irish peer who accompanied the right hon. Gentleman to his present office. He said: Greater devolved government is not the solution. It is an essential contribution to a new set of attitudes. It is one part of the strategy—co-operation with the Irish Republic is another. Whatever the pressures on us to drop it, we have to set our faces against that—like flint. That fits neatly like a hand into the glove that was displayed three years ago.

As recently as the end of last week, the right hon. Gentleman said on the radio in the Province that integration is not compatible with meaningful relations with the Irish Republic. Only a devolved structure could supply the necessary basis. It could not be put more tersely or more correctly. The purpose of the Bill, the purpose of the constitution that the Bill will enact, is to found one of the necessary pillars of a federal arrangement into which Northern Ireland will be moved, out of the United Kingdom and into a united Ireland.

However impenetrable those facts appear to be on this side of the water and in this House, they are plainly visible in the Province. There is no difficulty for the IRA to understand the purpose and tendency of this legislation. They say to themselves "Now we know and understand where Her Majesty's Government stand. They are engaged on an operation with the United States and the Irish Republic to take Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom and to put it where we want it to be—in a united Ireland. What is more, they will win. Just look at the forces that are assembled on their side. Here is the evidence of it."

Everyone in Northern Ireland who is opposed to the Union must draw comfort, satisfaction and assurance for the future from this legislation and the Government's determination to force it through. Conversely, those in Northern Ireland—they are the majority—who desire beyond anything else to retain their membership of the United Kingdom and their British status are discouraged and antagonised by the sight of their own Parliament and Government who, they believe, pledged themselves to that cause, enacting legislation whose purpose and intended outcome is only too clear not only to themselves but to their opponents.

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

The right hon. Gentleman started by making a serious allegation about the level of violence. He is now arguing that the Bill hands to the IRA and the Republican nationalist cause all that it wants. If he believes that, why does he say that there will be more violence in Northern Ireland? Surely the logical conclusion of his argument is that, if the IRA believes that it has what it wants, there is no need for it to resort to violence.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Somerset North

I remind the House that we are not discussing the Bill. We are discussing the allocation of time motion.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down

With great respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, we are discussing a motion that was moved to prevent the House from being forced to think again and the Government to drop the Bill at this stage. It is precisely to that contention of the Leader of the House that I am directing my arguments.

With regard to the Secretary of State's point, the legislation is a standing encouragement to the IRA. It is a standing encouragement to those who believe that by violence they can anticipate or ensure that the foreseen fate of Northern Ireland is in their hands. It is a standing encouragement to those who are sufficiently light-headed or unwise to believe that terror and the escalation of terror can be met with the escalation of terror. The right hon. Gentleman has taken my point and understood my argument.

Photo of Mr James Molyneaux Mr James Molyneaux , South Antrim

Did my right hon. Friend see the front page of yesterday's Belfast News Letter? It read: A senior police source last night linked the build-up in bomb and gun attacks on members and former members of the security forces with the Commons debate on the Devolution Bill.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I am not surprised.

For 10 years or more I have been saying that it is uncertainty that takes lives in Northern Ireland—uncertainty about the purpose, intention and determination of the United Kingdom. The Bill will undermine that determination. That is my demonstration of the assertion with which I began. It is not only by those who come here from Northern Ireland constituencies, it is not only by those whose bounden duty it is to understand and speak for all those whom they represent that these matters can be perceived from a distance.

I shall conclude by quoting from a leading article in the The Daily Telegraphof last week. It said: In the view of all considerable sections of Irish opinion and of most people in Britain who have any pretence to knowledge of the subject, the Bill could produce irretrievable disaster. On the most favourable estimate, it has no urgency. For all Mr. Prior says, it has nothing to do with economic recovery in Ulster or with the defeat of the IRA. It could not matter if it did not reach the statute book for another year; it would be far better if it never reached it at all. It would be far better for those whose lives the Bill will cost if the Bill were allowed to be killed in the place where it ought to die.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Kingston upon Thames Surbiton 5:07 pm, 22nd June 1982

In more than 32 years in the House I have never before tried to speak in a timetable debate. They are usually unproductive and repetitive. I do so today because the Government are well justified in tabling the motion and because the circumstances with which we are faced are unusual. The Bill has already kept the Committee sitting for four days and four long and weary nights. I understand that 63 hours have been taken and very little progress has been made.

I know that many Northern Ireland Members and some of my hon. Friends are genuinely convinced that this is a bad Bill and that it will do more harm than good. I should not wish to accuse them of filibustering. They have usually made legitimate points, although sometimes at great length and in rather unnecessary detail. But they have kept the Conservative Party in the House night after night to support the Government against a small number of my hon. Friends who oppose the Bill.

At the present rate of progress, we could all become completely exhausted through all-night sittings, or the House would have to sit well into August, or the Bill would have to be dropped. It is not reasonable to expect the Government to drop the Bill simply because about 20 of my hon. Friends dislike it. They are perfectly entitled to dislike it and to oppose it, but the Government and the rest of us are equally entitled to support it without the complete disruption of parliamentary business.

It has been suggested that the Government should not guillotine a constitutional Bill, but the European Communities Bill was guillotined 10 years ago, as were earlier Government of Ireland measures which were considerably more far-reaching than the present Bill, so I do not think that that argument has any validity. If the Northern Ireland political parties do not wish to work the Bill or to take the opportunities it offers, we can continue thereafter with direct rule and no great damage will have been done. Meanwhile, the maxim that the minority must have its say but the majority must have its way should apply.

The minority has certainly had its say so far. It is now time for the majority to have its way and I therefore support the timetable motion.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party 5:11 pm, 22nd June 1982

Contrary to what the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) has said, the line-up of Republicanism in Ireland is against the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that Mr. Haughey somehow sees in the Bill the attainment of his objective of bringing Northern Ireland into the Republic. In fact, Mr. Haughey is dead set against the measure. Indeed, he opposed it before it even saw the light of day.

The Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Carron), who has not taken his seat in the House, has also made it plain—and no one speaks for the IRA better than he—that he is utterly opposed to the Bill. The SDLP has declared itself opposed to the Bill, and the IRA has also declared that it opposes the Bill. So it is not right to say that the Bill is such a good measure from the Republican point of view that Republicans are welcoming it with open arms.

I take up the thesis of the right hon. Member for Down, South. He says that Her Majesty's Opposition have it as their objective to put the people of Northern Ireland into a united Ireland not by force but by persuasion. We know that. He also says that, according to the notes that he has read, the Conservative Party is secretly working for the same objective. Yet he then tells the people of Ireland not to put their trust in their elected representatives but to keep their trust in Westminster. It is because I have faith in the elected representatives of Northern Ireland that I want an elected Assembly, because the greatest hindrance to Mr. Haughey, the IRA and anyone in this House who wishes to destroy Northern Ireland as an integral part of the United Kingdom will be that Assembly, which will have a Unionist majority. For that reason, I believe that we can trust the people of Northern Ireland.

I have often said in the House, and I repeat today, that the destiny of the people of Northern Ireland will be decided not by the House, with all due respect to the House, or by Mr. Haughey, with all due respect to him, but by the people of Northern Ireland themselves. So long as the Unionist people are firmly resolved to abide by and defend their Province within the United Kingdom, they can attain that. That is my message to the people of Northern Ireland today.

The House should trust the people of Northern Ireland to elect their own representatives and to have their own Assembly. If it never brings devolved government to Northern Ireland, it will at least be a forum of elected representatives to which the House, whether it likes it or not, will have to pay heed—for how could the House turn its back on decisions made by an elected body set up in the way that the House intends to set up the Assembly?

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

There is no conflict. There was a Parliament in Northern Ireland for 50 years and there was no conflict between it and this House. Indeed, it was Mr. Churchill who said that the people of Northern Ireland had the right to act under the 1920 Act because those powers were given to them by this sovereign Parliament.

Another vital point must be answered. When the Prime Minister met Prime Ministers of the Irish Republic, there was no opposition to the sell-out from the right hon. Member for Down, South or his leader and hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux). Indeed, they lambasted me and said that I was the bogy man. They said that I was wrong about what was taking place and in the actions that I took at that time. The leader of the Official Unionists in the House even sent an agenda to the Prime Minister for her talks with the Irish Prime Minister—I have a copy of it—setting out the points that they wished her to discuss with Mr. Haughey. The right hon. Member for Down, South now says that those talks were the beginning of a betrayal. If that is so, as I believe that it is, the Official Unionists should have had no part in or truck with the talks, let alone help to draw up an agenda for them.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down

The hon. Gentleman says that he has a copy of the items that my hon. Friend said should be the subject of the joint study if it took place. If he will read them out, the House will see that they were inconsistent with any political arrangement between the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic and consistent with the union of Northern Ireland with the rest of the United Kingdom. Will the hon. Gentleman read them out?

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

On this, I completely deviate from the right hon. Gentleman's position.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down

Will the hon. Gentleman read them out?

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

Ulster Unionists have never believed that the Taoiseach should have any say whatever in or discuss the future of the people of Northern Ireland. I make it clear to the House today that I do not believe that any Dublin Prime Minister should discuss these matters. If the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) believes that the Dublin Prime Minister should discuss the intimate affairs of Northern Ireland and its relationship with the Republic, let him believe that, and if the Unionists believe that, let them say so, but I make it perfectly clear that I do not believe that there should he any discussions between the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the the Prime Minister of the Republic.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

No, I shall not give way. I want to finish this.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down

Will the hon. Gentleman read the agenda?

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

The right hon. Gentleman should not get so excited. He should contain himself and listen.

As a Unionist, I have never believed, and neither have the majority of Unionists in Northern Ireland, that there should be discussions with the Dublin Government about internal matters that concern the future of the people of Northern Ireland.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

I was completely opposed to the discussions. I go further. I met the leader of the Official Unionists, the hon. Member for Antrim, South, and pointed out to him the seriousness of these meetings between London and Dublin. I asked him to join other Unionists in opposing them. He said that he would not, because he was proposing an agenda for such meetings. Those are the facts and there is no doubt about them.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

There is no doubt that the thesis put forward by the right hon. Member for Down, South does not stand up to scrutiny. On behalf of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland I maintain, as they have always maintained, that they are entitled to remain within the United Kingdom and that they are the best defence of their own future.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down

If the hon. Member does not have the points on the agenda handy, perhaps I might give them. The first was the deletion from the constitution of the Republic its claim to part of the territory of the United Kingdom. That was the first point that my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, South said should be dealt with by any joint studies.

The second was a demarcation of the international frontier between the two countries. The Republic has persistently refused to do that. The third was the removal of citizenship privileges enjoyed in the United Kingdom by citizens of the Irish Republic.

Those were three of the items on the agenda which the hon. Gentleman did not dare to quote. [Interruption]

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Somerset North

Order. I realise that these matters evoke strong emotions, but the debate is getting fairly wide of the motion.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

The right hon. Member said in the House today that these talks were the beginning of a conspiracy to sell out Northern Ireland. If they were, why should his hon. Friend draw up an agenda for the talks, no matter what was on the agenda? There should be no talks with the Taoiseach on matters concerning Northern Ireland.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

Matters relating to Northern Ireland should be the concern of the people of Northern Ireland and this House. It is clear that the House has decreed that the majority of the people of Northern Ireland will have the final say in their destiny. The House has said that the House will not have the final say. No matter what the right hon. Member for Down, South said about the agenda, if he maintains that the meeting was the beginning of a conspiracy he should have opposed it and not consulted about the agenda.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

I shall not give way again. It does not matter what was on the agenda, and it does not matter what the Official Unionists said. Although they now say that it was a conspiracy, they were prepared to tell the Prime Minister that she should raise these matters at the talks.

Photo of Mr James Dunn Mr James Dunn , Liverpool Kirkdale

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is with regret and reluctance that I bring to your attention the fact that the debate is straying far from the motion. If that is to continue, it will be a further misuse of the time of the House. I hope that you will bring this discussion to an end now.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Somerset North

Order. I must ask the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) to address his remarks to the motion.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

With due respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if an hon. Member is permitted to make certain remarks in the House I have the right to reply to them. If you do not want me to do so, I shall be happy to withdraw from the House today. I reserve the right to reply in the House to hon. Members who are held to be in order and to say what those whom I represent expect me to say.

The hon. Member for Surbiton (Sir N. Fisher) said that the minority should have a say but the majority should have its way. That is exactly what we are asking for in Northern Ireland. If this House were tied to a 70 per cent. majority, this motion would not be carried.

I now refer to the amendments. By no stretch of the imagination can the Leader of the House or the Secretary of State claim that the amendments tabled by myself and my hon. Friends are wrecking amendments. They were tabled in good faith, to improve the Bill. Will we have an opportunity to vote on those amendments? From page 3025 of the Order Paper it would appear that any motion or amendment moved by a member of the Government can be voted upon. Will the Government give the House an opportunity to vote on amendments tabled by Northern Ireland hon. Members? If there is to be only limited discussion on the amendments, surely an opportunity should be given for the House to vote on them. I hope that the Secretary of State will give the House that assurance. [HON. MEMBERS: "Sit down".] Hon. Members should not say "Sit down", because it will only encourage me to continue.

Whatever the procedures in the House, the Bill is important to Northern Ireland and should be fully discussed, particularly the amendments to which I refer, although I disagree with many of them. Some hon. Members have not sat through all our debates. They have come to the House only for this debate. Many interesting matters have been debated, and even the Secretary of State admitted that matters of the utmost importance had been raised and that he was glad to reply to them.

The debate should not be curtailed, but if it is I hope that the Secretary of State will give the House an opportunity to vote on amendments which we believe will strengthen the Bill.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Opposition Whip (Commons) 5:29 pm, 22nd June 1982

The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) concluded on an important point to which I shall refer later.

There are two internal arguments taking place in the House today—one within Unionism and the other within the Conservative Party. However, I do not want to become preoccupied with those. I want to put it on record that the Liberal Party is in favour of the Bill and wants it enacted. Nobody claims, not even the Government, that the Bill provides a certain solution to the problems in Northern Ireland. However, it is supported by many people in Northern Ireland. For example, in a poll in The Irish Times it received strong support in Protestant and Roman Catholic communities. The Bill gives people in Northern Ireland the opportunity to elect representatives to discuss and, if they so choose, to deal with a wide range of their own affairs. As such, both I and my party welcome it.

The passing of the Bill to achieve those objects is being prevented by a small group, primarily in the Conservative Party, that is determined to oppose them. They are quite entitled to do so, but the House is equally entitled to seek means of ensuring that in the end the majority will prevail. No credit will reflect on this House if it is seen to be unable to take a decision on the matter. People in Northern Ireland would disapprove of, and regret, the fact that the House of Commons was incapable of arriving at a decision, especially when hon. Members by a ratio of about 10 to 1 support a particular point of view.

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that the SDP forum in Northern Ireland of which, presumably, he approves is opposed to the Bill and to the Assembly that it proposes?

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Opposition Whip (Commons)

I do not approve of the view taken by the SDP forum in Northern Ireland, nor do I believe that view to be represented in the SDP in Great Britain. The view of that small group has, I believe, been influenced by the incursion of a small number of people of determined Unionist integrationist views who are not representative of the SDP in the United Kingdom as a whole.

The House of Commons must be seen to be capable of taking a decision on this matter. I acknowledge that hon. Members are entitled to oppose the Bill if they so wish, but before the end of the debate we ought to know whether they enjoy the tacit approval of the Prime Minster. That has been widely rumoured. There has been suspiciously little attempt to dispel that rumour, and I would hate Conservative Members to be confused about where their promotion prospects lie. The House should have a clear indication whether the Prime Minister supports the Bill. There has been no attempt, certainly by those who oppose the Bill, to dispel the suggestion that in some way she is lukewarm towards it.

The Bill seeks to achieve an essentially Liberal object of enabling people to elect representatives to deal with their own affairs within their own community. It is something on which the House of Commons is entitled to reach a judgment.

We must be clear that there is no principle that constitutional Bills cannot be timetabled. There has never been such a principle, and had there been it would have been honoured far more in the breach than in the observance. The principle that does exist is that constitutional Bills should be taken on the Floor of the House. That is a perfectly proper principle which has been observed in this case.

However, the operation of that principle puts even greater pressure on the achievement of sensible periods for the discussion of Bills. A constitutional Bill is not sent to a Committee that can sit for months on end before the Bill comes back on Report. Such a Bill occupies the time of the entire House and precludes other business until it is dealt with. That places an even greater obligation on us to ensure that there is orderly discussion within a reasonable time. There is certainly no principle that a timetable motion cannot be applied to a constitutional Bill, and I should reject such a principle if anyone sought to advance it today.

There are, however, problems about all timetable motions, and there are reasonable grounds of objection to the way in which many of them are framed. Indeed, some of those objections have not been noticed as much by some Conservative Members on previous occasions as they have been today. I take the case cited by the hon. Member for Antrim, North—that of amendments moved by parties other than the Government. Such amendments, once the guillotine has expired, can be put to the vote only if they are moved by a Minister of the Crown. I should be very surprised if the Secretary of State or the Leader of the House offered to move amendments on behalf of Opposition parties. They have never done so in the past, and I doubt whether they would be prepared to do so now.

It ought to be within the recollection of many hon. Members that in the past the Liberal Party has divided the House on the principle that amendments selected by Mr. Speaker ought to be the subject of a vote. A failing in successive guillotine motions has been that no provision has been made to vote on amendments, other than Government amendments, that Mr. Speaker has seen tit to select. The House has repeated that failing on many occasions, and it should be put right in all guillotine motions, not just this one.

We give Mr. Speaker and the Chairmen of Committees the responsibility for selecting which amendments need to be debated. Having allowed that discretion, it is surely sufficient to assume that Mr. Speaker or the Chairman will not select amendments that ought not to be the subject of a vote. In the past, I have tabled amendments to timetable motions to enshrine that principle in our procedures, but these amendments have never gained the support of a majority in the House. I hope that some day the House recognise that principle, and perhaps the experience of this guillotine motion will teach a larger group of hon. Members that it is an important principle.

We cannot claim that the timetable motion now before us is over-generous. However, that in part is a consequence of having spent so much time on the clauses so far. It calls into question the practice of moving a guillotine motion at a relatively late stage in the discussion of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Budgen Mr Nicholas Budgen , Wolverhampton South West

Bearing in mind that 17 different debates have been selected by Mr. Speaker, that there are 25 new clauses and one new schedule, and that we do not yet know how many of those new clauses will be selected for debate should the timetable motion fail, what would the hon. Gentleman describe as a reasonable time for 17 debates and perhaps another 10 on the new clauses?

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Opposition Whip (Commons)

The proper question to ask is: what is a reasonable time for discussion of the whole Bill? Much time has been expended to an unreasonable extent on that part of the Bill that has been debated so far. We could, of course, discuss the Bill for ever, but I am sure that most hon. Members would agree that it should not have taken many more days than have so far elapsed to discuss the Bill as a whole. Had the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends rationed themselves a little more carefully in the earlier debates, the allocation of time would have been rather better.

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Scunthorpe

The hon. Gentleman's argument is reasonable. However, had he attended the debates on the amendments he would know that in nearly every case there were on average only six or seven speeches, including the speech of the Minister. On the whole, most speeches lasted about 25 minutes. However, as the Patronage Secretary had to move a closure motion in each case, there was no opportunity for us to succeed in doing what the hon. Gentleman has suggested.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Opposition Whip (Commons)

On at least one occasion the hon. Gentleman exceeded the 25-minute average by a considerable margin. The only conclusion that can be reached by an outside observer is that an enormous amount of time has already been spent on the Bill. Had that time been better allocated over the Bill as a whole, reasonable discussion would have been achieved on every clause.

I do not claim that this is the best-framed timetable motion that I have ever seen. We could manage to produce better timetable motions which also gave proper opportunities to Opposition parties to have their amendments voted upon. As the issue that now confronts us is whether the vast majority of hon. Members shall have effect given to their desire for the Bill to pass or whether that desire should be prevented by a small minority of hon. Members, I am bound to advise my hon. Friends that remaining discussions on the Bill should be subject to a timetable, and that they should therefore vote for the motion.

Photo of Mr William Clark Mr William Clark , Croydon South 5:40 pm, 22nd June 1982

The House has heard a condescending speech from the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith). I do not know how he has the nerve to lecture my hon. Friends over the allocation of time and how long they speak. The arrogance and the impertinence of the hon. Gentleman's suggestion about my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the promotion prospects of some 20 or 30 hon. Members is perhaps an eye-opener into the workings of the Liberal Party.

The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) did himself a disservice and certainly confused me. The hon. Gentleman said that the Official Unionist Party had given an agenda for the talks but, having made the accusation, refused point blank to say what the Official Unionist Members had stated. If the three points about which the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) reminded the House had been taken into account, those talks would never have occurred. It was wrong for that accusation to be made.

Photo of Mr William Clark Mr William Clark , Croydon South

I shall be a little more courteous than the hon. Member for Antrim, North.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

The point I made was that, after the talks took place, a statement was issued that all relations between the islands would be discussed. That was repugnant to the Ulster Unionists who therefore should not take part in such talks.

Photo of Mr James Dunn Mr James Dunn , Liverpool Kirkdale

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I appeal to you again. There might have been some justification for two Northern Ireland Members to introduce this issue into the debate. There is no excuse for it now being introduced. We are talking about a timetable motion.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Somerset North

Order. I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's help, but I have heard nothing that is out of order.

Photo of Mr William Clark Mr William Clark , Croydon South

I am grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for your protection. If an hon. Member is trying to make up his or her mind about how to vote, and an accusation passes backwards and forwards, an hon. Member is surely entitled to try to get to the bottom of the accusation.

I think certainly that my hon. Friends will agree that I am not a natural rebel. I do not normally vote against my party. I have voted against my party twice. On both occasions I stood up in the House and gave my reasons. Having acted in that manner only twice during my 20 years here, surely it can clearly be seen to be a matter of extreme importance to me to rebel against my Government.

I voted for the Second Reading of the Bill in the forlorn hope that it could probably be altered in Committee and become a much better Bill. I am sure that I speak for many people in my party when I say that very few Conservative Members like the Bill. They are reluctantly voting in the Lobby for the Government out of sheer loyalty.

I should like to tell my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that two points justify opposition to the Bill among Conservative Members. The right hon. Member for Down, South referred to what had happened before the general election. I should like to remind my right hon. Friend of what was contained in our manifesto. For the sake of brevity, I shall not read out the words, which are probably imprinted on his mind. It does not look, however, as if we have followed them.

We said that we would seek to establish regional local authorities. This proposal was expanded in daily notes to which my hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest (Sir J. Biggs-Davison) has referred, pointing out clearly that the interpretation of the manifesto was that we would resist any devolution and aim for local authorities in Northern Ireland as they exist in this country. If Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, it should enjoy the same privileges and the same institutions as any other part.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg , Grantham

My hon. Friend is arguing the case for integration. If so, he has to tell the House why he voted for the Bill on Second Reading.

Photo of Mr William Clark Mr William Clark , Croydon South

I should like to say how I view the whole Bill. I am prepared to take the opinion of people who know something about Northern Ireland. I think that I go along with what the Official Unionists say. No one seems to like the Bill. I remind the House that my hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest was at one time, with the late Airey Neave, a Front Bench spokesman on Northern Ireland. It was on the basis of their advice, the daily notes and the manifesto that I fought the election, as did all my hon. Friends.

During debates on the Bill, alternatives have been proposed for the introduction of local government and complete integration with the mainland. I cannot see why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has decided upon the change. I would think, as an observer, that the first priority for action in Northern Ireland is security. I agree partially with the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed that the guillotine motion has been introduced at a very late stage during examination of the Bill. After 60 hours of debate, with more clauses, new clauses and schedules still to be discussed, it makes a mockery of the Bill to allocate one day on the Floor of the House for debating them and a further day for Report and Third Reading. Some hon. Members have tabled amendments that they will be unable to discuss or, probably, vote upon. Yet this is an important Bill for Northern Ireland. I cannot see why the Government have been so ungenerous in giving only two more days for the passage of the Bill. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will have second thoughts.

It is not my habit to rebel or to vote against my party. In these circumstances, however, I am doing so. I assure my right hon. Friend that I am not doing so out of personal animosity—

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The gaffer has told the hon. Gentleman what to do.

Photo of Mr William Clark Mr William Clark , Croydon South

What never surprises the House is the lack of information of the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner). Most times, in his interventions, he gets it absolutely wrong.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that when I was staying up all through the night on this matter—I did not see hide or hair of the hon. Gentleman—I came across a conversation involving the Prime Minister's parliamentary private secretary who was placating the rebels to the extent of saying—I paraphrase slightly—"It is all right if you carry on rebelling because the gaffer says so."

Photo of Mr William Clark Mr William Clark , Croydon South

It would not be a bad idea if the hon. Gentleman occasionally did his homework with more thoroughness. One of the reasons why I have not been able to be present—I am leaving again shortly—is that I am taking part in the Finance Bill Standing Committee upstairs. As hon. Members who have the pleasure or misfortune to serve on the Committee know, it sits until 1 am or 2 am. I am sure that the sittings would probably be improved by the attendance of the hon. Member for Bolsover.

My right hon. Friend must think again about this matter. It is nonsense to allow only two more days for this very important Bill. It should be radically altered so that we can go forward, united. Let us not have a half-baked Bill with Conservative Members reluctantly voting for it. I shall vote against the timetable motion.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North 5:50 pm, 22nd June 1982

Some of the earlier exchanges today gave us a glimpse of the debates to come in the proposed Northern Ireland Assembly. I do not accept that it is wrong to timetable a constitutional measure. The hon. Member for Surbiton (Sir N. Fisher) gave us examples of constitutional Bills that were timetabled, such as the EEC Bill, so principle is not involved.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Budgen Mr Nicholas Budgen , Wolverhampton South West

As the hon. Gentleman is in favour of the abolition of the House of Lords, would he expect the Tory Party to be in favour of some form of timetable motion in the event of such a measure being brought forward by his Government?

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

That is an interesting question, but I shall not speculate on what is likely to happen about Labour Government proposals, which I hope will come in the next Parliament.

I can understand the pressure of the majority of Government Members to see a motion such as this. Those Conservative Members who have no strong feelings about the Bill can hardly have been happy to be here night after night, spending most or all of the night here because of the attitude of about 25 or 30 of their colleagues. It is understandable that there has been great pressure on the Leader of the House from his party to bring in a guillotine.

I wish to explain my attitude to the motion and my disagreement with those who have been opposing the Bill, but I should like to pay tribute to the parliamentary skills and talents, and the staying powers, of those hon. Members who have been opposing the Bill. They have used all the machinery of the House, and they were entitled to do so, because one reason why we have a House of Commons is so that some hon. Members can try to oppose and obstruct a Bill which they believe will do damage.

One could argue that a guillotine motion is always a tribute to the persistence of the opponents of a Bill. In this case the opponents come in the main from the Government side of the House. When the Leader of the House introduced the motion, he rightly said that if there was no guillotine there would be no Bill. It is no great secret that the Government intended, almost from the beginning, to introduce a guillotine.

I hope that any praise from me will not cause any harm to those opposing the Bill, but I must say that it is never easy to oppose one's Government. There have been occasions when I have had to do so, with some of my hon. Friends, but to oppose a Bill in the way that Conservative Members have done shows their independence of mind. I have no criticism to make of what they have done.

However, I must say that had there been similar Back-Bench opposition when a Labour Government were in office, there would perhaps have been a few, more headlines than there have been in the past few weeks. When Conservative Members rebel, and do so in the way that we have been witnessing, there seems not to be as much desire on the part of the newspapers and the media generally to publicise it as there is when Labour Members of Parliament rebel against their Government.

I come now to what I should do this evening. My right hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon) said that he was in favour of an Assembly in Northern Ireland. I am not. I do not consider that the Bill has any relevance to the prevailing conditions in Northern Ireland. When we consider the tragedy and the devastation that occur in Northern Ireland, we must inevitably ask ourselves whether the Bill will do anything to help ease the problems. I do not believe that it will.

Northern Ireland Members should not take the view, as on occasions they may do, that those of us who represent mainland constituencies do not understand or appreciate what is happening, day in and day out, in Northern Ireland. It is sometimes said that when the terrorists bomb the mainland in London, Birmingham and elsewhere we are alerted in some sense, but that we still do not understand the conditions in the Province and what happens there every day, or virtually every day. We understand only too well what citizens of both communities have to endure from terrorism and intimidation in Northern Ireland. We have no illusions. Understandably, however, we come to different points of view on how the problems can and should be resolved.

Therefore, as I am not in favour of the Bill, I have to ask myself whether I should join the opposition to the motion. Would it not be logical to do so? It would certainly be easy to do so.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

My hon. Friend has indulged in a long preamble, but now we are on to the gist of the thing. As Members of Parliament, our job in Opposition is to make sure that we harass the Government in all ways. For example, the House of Lords now has the hated Employment—Tebbitt—Bill. Our job in Opposition is to ensure that we keep that Employment Bill and other obnoxious Bills that attack our working-class constituents as far away from the Government as possible.

One way in which to achieve that is to use the Tory rebels who are against the Bill. By getting all our votes together in the Lobby we can defeat the Government and, keeep the Bill going here. We hope that it will then carry on and the Employment Bill can be kept out for another week or fortnight. In that way, we shall be serving our class.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

As I attend various meetings with my hon. Friend, I am familiar with his point of view, which I respect and understand. However, on occasions we must disagree, although I do so with great reluctance. I am not convinced that it would be possible to defeat the guillotine motion, but that is not the issue. The issue is that each of us, as I am sure my hon. Friend will agree, should make up his own mind. I find that it is impossible to join hon. Members in the Lobby today to oppose the motion.

My explanation is simple, and my hon. Friend may or may not agree with me. It is that the views of hon. Members opposing the Northern Ireland Assembly Bill are so diametrically opposed to mine about the future of Northern Ireland that I should find it impossible, in all honesty, to go into the same Lobby.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

There are occasions, such as the Common Market, and, prior to the Common Market, the House of Lords measure, when different points of view are united against a Bill. They believed that it was right and proper to act jointly, because, although they had different reasons for so doing, they were united in believing that that legislation was unnecessary. I do not believe that the same is true of the Northern Ireland Bill.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Budgen Mr Nicholas Budgen , Wolverhampton South West

Will the hon. Gentleman not be convinced that many of us who want integration want it primarily—or if not primarily at least as one of the reasons—because we want to safeguard the minority community in Northern Ireland, which I believe is what the hon. Gentleman wants?

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

I hope that what I am about to say will satisfy the hon. Gentleman that that is one of the reasons why I cannot vote with him tonight.

Those who oppose the Bill are divided largely into two groups. There are those who want Stormont back, and their only regret is that Stormont was abolished. When the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) described what happened during the past 50 years in Northern Ireland, while Stormont existed, he did not give all the reasons that led to Stormont being so discredited that a Conservative Government introduced direct rule.

Then there are those, such as the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen), who do not necessarily argue for Stormont or for devolution as such, but for integration. That view is opposed to my own. I take the view that integration is no more an answer to the problems of Northern Ireland than the revival and restoration of Stormont. Both views are so different from mine that I cannot bring myself to vote with them.

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

Is the hon. Gentleman really saying that although he does not agree with the Bill—and I think he is saying that he does not agree with the guillotine—what will influence his decision in the Lobby is not his view on the rightness of the issue, but the company that he may keep there? Is that not a rather strange view to take?

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

I am coming to the answer to the hon. Lady's question.

The view that has been taken for so long—indeed, for more than 100 years—by the opponents of the Bill has caused much damage and bloodshed. It is not difficult to imagine some of the same hon. Gentlemen 100 years ago staunchly opposing any form of home rule for Ireland, and refusing to recognise that Ireland needed solutions quite different from those on the mainland. It would not be too difficult to imagine the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), long before he opposed votes for women, or payment for Members of Parliament, or any move to alleviate the lot of the working class in this country, getting up 80 or 100 years ago and opposing any concept of home rule, saying that if home rule were granted to Ireland it would be the end of the world.

That view, which is illustrated by those who oppose the Bill, has been responsible in many ways for the situation in Northern Ireland, which I deplore. It has been responsible for helping terrorism and, before that, for causing bloodshed, when people gave up any hope of the House of Commons resolving the problems of Ireland in accordance with the wishes of the majority of the people who live there in both the North and the South.

It is for those reasons that I make a distinction—even if some of my hon. Friends, with whom I normally agree, do not—between the House of Lords and Common Market legislation and this Bill. That type of view, which is so much opposed to this modest measure—which, as I said earlier, will do no good—has been responsible for what I have described in Northern Ireland. Of course I respect the sincerity of right hon. and hon. Members who hold that view, because they are acting in what they believe are the best interests of the United Kingdom. In many respects they want to roll back all that has happened in Ireland during the past 50 or 60 years. They imagine that, somehow, home rule can be thrown away as if we were debating the situation 100 years ago.

I have given the matter a great deal of thought. One does not normally give a great deal of thought to timetable motions. It depends on which side one sits. When one is in Opposition, it is quite simple. Three-line Whip or no three-line Whip, one opposes for obvious reasons. If one is on the Government side, one supports the Government.

However, I have reached my conclusion. I may be wrong, but, having reached that conclusion, I shall abstain tonight.

Photo of Mr Maurice Macmillan Mr Maurice Macmillan , Farnham 6:04 pm, 22nd June 1982

I shall be brief and speak entirely about the guillotine motion.

Perhaps I might suggest to the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) that his concept of duty as a member of the Opposition is a mistaken one—not according to my view, but according to that of the late Aneurin Bevan. When I was a very new Member, I congratulated him on the speech that he made opposing a Conservative guillotine. He said "I hope that you will speak as strongly against a guillotine when my party brings one in, regardless of the content of the motion concerned, because it is extremely important that every Opposition should oppose every Government timetable motion. Otherwise they will start to seek them too often, if they feel they are getting them too easily". If my words will not persuade the hon. Gentleman, perhaps he will be convinced by the example and words of the late Mr. Bevan.

I had not intended to speak in this debate, still less to urge my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote against the motion. However, although I have always opposed the Bill, and therefore the guillotine, I perceived quite clearly the Government's reasons for it, and why it might be not altogether unreasonable for them to seek to curtail debate on future amendments and new clauses. However, I am appalled by the way in which the Government have set about it. They are not merely curtailing debate; they are killing it. The cynicism shown by the Government in both the content of the motion and the arguments that have so far been put in its favour are quite deplorable.

We are told that the previous debates over many hours have been obstructive, that people have spoken for a long time, and that they have been filibustering. Assuming that that is true, was it not apparent a little earlier? Could that not have been deduced from the nature of the speeches after fewer hours, and this motion brought forward at an earlier stage, so that more time could be given to the remaining clauses? It might also have been possible for the closure to be moved and accepted at an earlier stage in each debate. Now, after what the Government consider an unduly long period on the earlier part of the Bill, we are to have one day only for the remainder of the Committee stage—with all the amendments, some of which have already been accepted, and new clauses—and one day only for the remaining stages.

What the Government propose does not curtail debate; it effectively destroys it. As my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) pointed out in an intervention, there are a number of serious amendments, and in the course of the debates many differing points of view have been put forward both by representatives of Northern Ireland and other right hon. and hon. Members on both sides. The only people who have been wholly absent and shown no interest are members of the Labour Party. In these circumstances it seems that if the Government are punishing the Tory opponents of the Bill by trying to gag them, secure in the knowledge that in this enterprise they have the support of the Opposition.

As the Bill was brought forward late in the Session for such an important Bill and the closures were moved relatively late, for if there were filibustering, the closures could have been moved and would have been accepted earlier. The fact that the closure could not thus be moved is, in itself, evidence that the debates were real. Therefore, the fact that the Government did not seek to move a closure earlier is evidence that they regarded the debates as realistic.

The pattern of behaviour suggests to me that the Government are determined to get the Bill through regardless. Their tactic seems to be to give the rebels a run and then kill the debate on the rest of the Bill by a deplorable conspiracy between the two front Benches.

Photo of Mr Gerry Fitt Mr Gerry Fitt , Belfast West 6:10 pm, 22nd June 1982

Since the downfall of the Sunningdale Executive in 1974, successive Governments, Labour and Conservative, have tried to find a way to restore self-government to Northern Ireland. They have failed to do so.

The Secretary of State's attempt is worthy of support. There is no guarantee that it will be successful. That is one reason why I have not taken part in the debates so far. Had I and my hon. Friends taken part in those debates we would have succeeded in implementing the wishes of those hon. Members who are trying to kill the Bill. The argument that we have not taken part because we were uninterested is not valid. I am interested in the Bill.

If you, Mr. Speaker, had been in the House and listened to the cross-talk between the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), and the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) you would have been wholly convinced that the one has just as vivid an imagination as the other. The hon. Member for Antrim, North sees his bogy men in Dublin. The right hon. Member for Down, South sees his bogy men in the Foreign Office. They hold the belief that there are men in the Republic and in the Foreign Office who are intent on dragging Northern Ireland into the Republic. I do not believe that that is valid.

You were a Member of the House at the time, Mr. Speaker, although you may not have been in your august position, and I have read the reports of the debates and I have re-read the constitutional report from Northern Ireland. The arguments that were used at the constitutional Convention in Stormont were almost word for word those used subsequently by Opposition Members. Those Conservatives who were opposed to the Secretary of Stale for Northern Ireland when he was the Secretary of State for Employment are the same Conservatives who are opposing the Bill tooth and nail today. The hon. Member for Epping Forest (Sir J. Biggs-Davison) has been consistent. He was opposed to the Sunningdale agreement and to the abolition of Stormont. He has always put forward the argument for full integration. Although I disagree with his arguments, I accept his sincerity

As has been said before, the Bill is perhaps the last chance for Northern Ireland. There have been so many last chances for Northern Ireland. However, the Bill should at least be given the opportunity to see whether it can make political progress in Northern Ireland.

The hon. Member for Antrim, North has shortened my speech considerably. He said that the passing of the Bill will not be welcomed by extreme Republicans in Ireland. It will not be welcomed by the Provisional IRA which has already voiced its bitter opposition. It will certainly not be welcomed by the present Taoiseach of the Republic. The fear that the passing of the Bill will break the links that bind Northern Ireland to the United Kingdom and bring about a Republic has been deliberately built up, particularly by the right hon. Member for Down, South and his parliamentary colleagues, and it is not true.

I am the only hon. Member who was a member of the power-sharing Sunningdale Executive in 1974. I can honestly say that it is only that type of Government that has any hope of succeeding in Northern Ireland. That is why I support the Bill. I should like to see Sunningdale mark II. I should like to see a Bill that has all the guarantees of Sunningdale written into it. The Bill is much weaker than I want it to be. However, it is a step. It will create a forum in Northern Ireland where elected representatives of the Northern Irish people will be able to meet and discuss their differences. After a long period without the opportunity to govern themselves, the people of Northern Ireland will be able to find the ways, means and accommodation to do so.

The passing of the Bill will not lead to a cessation of violence. I am only too well aware that during the conflict in the Falkland Islands in the past few weeks the tragedy in Northern Ireland has continued. To be burnt to death by an Exocet missile in the Falklands is just as bad as being burnt to death by a petrol bomb thrown by a child on the streets of Derry.

The people of Northern Ireland are desperately hoping that concrete steps will be taken to set up an Assembly in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland people will then decide whether devolved power will be transferred to the Assembly of Stormont.

The hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) made a valid point when he said that if the predictions of the election results are accurate the Unionist parties of various shades should comprise the majority in Northern Ireland. We have already seen how, in 1974, when hysteria was built up, the Sunningdale executive was tragically defeated. No doubt the same thing can be done in this election. The right hon. Member for Down, South said that, because of the imposition of the guillotine, he would not be able to tell the hon. Member for Birkenhead why that could not be so. They can meet in the Corridor or elsewhere in the House or he can write a letter to say why that argument is not valid.

I have in the past, both in Northern Ireland and in the House, taken decisions that were not wholly popular with everyone. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon) that the Bill goes some way to support the Labour Party's policy statement, with which I am in full accord.

I should have hoped that the Opposition could have supported in the Lobby the Bill and the guillotine motion. I have never before voted for a guillotine in the House. I am open to correction, but I cannot remember doing so. I find such motions distasteful. However, I find even more distasteful the people who are creating such opposition to the Bill.

I should like to reinforce what has been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield and others. There seems to be an undercurrent among Conservative Members, who are concerned not so much about the Bill as with their animosity and hostility towards the Secretary of State—[Interruption.] I notice the immediate reaction that that remark brings. I am inclined to say that if the cap fits, wear it. Why are Conservative Members getting so excited if there is not a grain of truth in what I say?

Last Sunday I received a telephone call from a reporter of some distinction in Ireland. He does not believe every story that he is told, but he told me that he had had a tip that he suspected came from Downing Street to the effect that the Secretary of State was being removed from office in a reshuffle. All those rumours are designed to cause unease and confusion and to give support to those who have shown such venomous opposition to the Bill.

Photo of Mr Barry Porter Mr Barry Porter , Bebington and Ellesmere Port

I am not one of those who bears animosity towards anyone, least of all towards the hon. Gentleman. However, perhaps he will address his mind to the evidence that we have heard from the various factions in the Unionist Party, from extreme Republicans and from the Provisional IRA. On the evidence, if representatives of those bodies are elected to the Assembly there is no possibility that they will agree among themselves—particularly on a 70 per cent. basis—so that they can put forward proposals to the Secretary of State. We fear not the passing of the Bill—

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Order. The hon. Gentleman is making a very long intervention. Many hon. Members hope to catch my eye and the debate will finish shortly after 7.5 pm.

Photo of Mr Barry Porter Mr Barry Porter , Bebington and Ellesmere Port

I apologise, Mr. Speaker. Does the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) agree with me?

Photo of Mr Gerry Fitt Mr Gerry Fitt , Belfast West

I wish to limit my remarks. The hon. Gentleman is saying that if we create an Assembly and if agreement cannot be found it will lead to a continuation of the conflict. That is the gospel of despair. People say that they do not know when the right time will come to take positive steps to create the political structures that will lead to a cessation of violence. However, it is our duty to create the conditions that will bring the political impasse to an end and thus lead to a cessation of violence. That is what the Secretary of State is trying to do.

Although it is against my political instincts to support guillotine motions, I shall happily go into the Lobby tonight, together with any hon. Member who wishes to accompany me, to support the Secretary of State.

Photo of Mr John Roper Mr John Roper , Farnworth 6:23 pm, 22nd June 1982

I do not intend to detain the House for long. I must admit that, like the Leader of the House, I have not attended all the Committee's sittings. However, my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mrs. Williams) and my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Kirkdale (Mr. Dunn) have attended almost all of them. In c. 989 of Hansard of 16 June, my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby explained her attitude towards the protracted debate on the Bill's early clauses. She said that the filibuster had been "long and elegant" and she was right to use those words.

We have said that we should like to see the Bill on the statute book, and we voted for it on Second Reading. We recognise that those who represent Northern Ireland have a particular interest in the Bill's details and that that also applies to some of those Conservative Members who have taken part in the debates. However, as the right hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon) said, it would appear that opposition to the Bill has sometimes been mixed with opposition to the Secretary of State's general political stance.

Photo of Mr John Roper Mr John Roper , Farnworth

I attended the debate two weeks ago and listened to the venom expressed by Conservative Members. That venom made the nature of the opposition to the Secretary of State and his colleagues quite clear.

Obviously, we would have preferred a more generous timetable motion. We agree with what has been said by the right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) about the introduction of the motion. It would almost certainly have been better to have introduced it a week ago and for three days to have been allocated for debate on the Bill's remaining clauses. For example, clause 5 is particularly important but, as a result of the timetable motion, it will not receive the attention that it deserves.

Representations have been made to the Leader of the House about the relatively limited time allotted in the motion.

Viscount Cranbourne:

Does the hon. Gentleman recall that during our debates on schedule 1, frequent reference was made to the importance of clause 5, and that various points that could have been discussed in the context of that schedule were deliberately avoided by hon. Members on both sides of the argument because they were waiting to raise them on clause 5? It now seems as though we shall not have the opportunity to debate that clause fully.

Photo of Mr John Roper Mr John Roper , Farnworth

I just referred to the importance of clause 5. However, in rather less than an hour we shall have to make a choice. A genuine complaint can be made about the meanness of the motion, but given what has been said and the fact that the Bill will not reach the statute book unless a timetable motion is introduced, I recommend that my right hon. and hon. Friends should support the Government in the Lobby tonight.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg , Grantham 6:26 pm, 22nd June 1982

The House listened with considerable interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt). He must be among the convincing and powerful of the spokesmen for the minority community in Northern Ireland, and he gave a powerful argument for supporting the motion.

Of course I appreciate that there are many disadvantages to a timetable motion. Many of them have been referred to. Perhaps the most notable disadvantage is that the House will not discuss several clauses and amendments at any length. I say to those of my right hon. and hon. Friends with whom I disagree that it is particularly distressing for those of us who support the motion that they will be directly affected by its consequences. However, I am absolutely certain that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was right to introduce it. We have a choice: we can lose the Bill, save it at a disproportionate cost, or accept a timetable motion. Faced with that choice I am certain that we should accept a timetable motion. It is desirable to recognise what has been happening. Those who have attended the debates or who have read the Official Report will immediately understand that we face an orchestrated, concerted and deliberate attempt to frustrate the Bill's passage. The instrument that has been chosen is the prolongation of discussion in the hope that the passage of time will destroy the Government's resolve. I do not complain about that. I fully concede that a filibuster is a proper parliamentary tactic. It is equally proper, however, for a Government who are determined to bring forward a measure to impose a timetable. One cannot allow one without the other.

The Opposition often use such filibustering tactics, and I must concede to my hon. and right hon. Friends a similar right. I do not grumble because the tactics employed against the Bill have come from behind me rather than in front, but I grumble when hon. Members complain that they are not being fairly treated.

There are disadvantages associated with any timetable motion. Clauses and amendments will go undiscussed, but who is responsible for that? Surely those who have used the process of scrutiny to delay the Bill and deliberately to kill it are responsible. Among the most assidious of my hon. Friends who have tried to kill the Bill by the prolongation of discussion is my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen). Normally he is noted for the conciseness of his speeches, but not this time. An analysis of the Official Report revealed that in Committee he made no fewer than 16 major speeches and 97 interventions. We must be realistic about these matters. Hon. Members who make 97 interventions are in no position to grumble when a timetable motion is imposed. Although my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West has been the most talkative of my hon. Friends, his example has been matched by many of his colleagues. It is extraordinary that, on the first day in Committee, we spent more than 6½ hours on points of order before we even reached clause 1. Not one Division has been unmoved. Dilatory motions have succeeded one another, and the result was a filibuster. Those who are opposed to the proposed curtailment of discussion have no one to blame but themselves.

The other major argument that is advanced against the motion is that this is a constitutional Bill. But that in no way excludes it from the operation of a timetable motion. I leave aside the issue of precedent—there are many good precedents—and advance the much more powerful argument that on 10 May on Second Reading the House supported the Bill with a massive majority of 262. In so doing the House declared its approval of the principle of the Bill. The House must now decide whether a small group of 20 or 30 hon. Members has any right to veto and frustrate the freely declared wishes of the majority of hon. Members. That is the constitutional principle that is at stake. When one realises the true constitutional position, one realises the desirability of supporting this motion.

We have three choices. We can let the Bill die, we can save it at disproportionate cost by sacrificing Government legislation or—does my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West wish to intervene?

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Order. It would be grossly unfair other hon. Members who are waiting to be called, if the hon. Gentleman were to intervene.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg , Grantham

You are quite right, Mr. Speaker. That would have been my hon. Friend's ninety-ninth or one hundredth intervention, which is five or six too many.

The choice is either to support the timetable motion or to let the Bill die. If we do the latter we shall allow a small group of Members to veto the declared will of the House, which would not be right.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest 6:35 pm, 22nd June 1982

May I assure the right hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon) and the House that we who oppose the Bill, and therefore this motion, have done so on public and not private grounds? Instead of listening to rumours and reading newspaper accounts, the right hon. Gentleman should consider those hon. Members who have taken a stand against the Bill. He will find that they are not likely to be indulging in a vendetta against my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, as he alleged. Indeed, some of us supported my right hon. Friend on earlier legislation that was intensely controversial within the Conservative Party.

On Second Reading I said: My right hon. Friend should not, by his understandable eagerness for his measure, divide his party and, what matters more, the country, on both sides of the sea."—[Official Report, 10 May 1982; Vol. 23, c. 492.] I begged my right hon. Friend to emulate the statesmanship of his predecessors in a home rule measure in 1914. There is, however, more resemblance between the Bill that this motion seeks to expedite and the second home rule Bill of 1893, because it too provided for extensive but partial legislative devolution with continued representation at Westminster. In reply to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, who gave us the ritual statistics, on that measure 459 speeches were delivered in favour of it and 938 were delivered against. It occupied 210 hours in the House of Commons. Have we really imposed an excessive delay upon this Bill?

My hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) is correct. There is ample precedent for guillotining a constitutional Bill. One such precedent—a bad one—was the guillotine imposed by the present Leader of the Opposition on the Scotland and Wales Bill. The right hon. Member for Mansfield said that he did not rebel against his own party and that he finds the spectacle surprising. I do not know why it should be surprising for such an experienced member of the Labour Party—

Photo of Mr Don Concannon Mr Don Concannon , Mansfield

The hon. Gentleman must not degrade me. I did not say that I have never voted against my party. If that gets back to my constituency, I shall be in trouble.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest

I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should express such astonishment. I recall that a Labour Member, Mr. Lomas, who is no longer with us and whom I miss, partly because of our regimental association, said that he would not vote for the Labour Government on the guillotine motion proposed by the present Leader of the Opposition. He said that his loyalty was to the United Kingdom. So there is a conflict of loyalty in the House today. Right hon. and hon. Members must decide in conscience where lies the higher loyalty.

There are precedents for the timetable motion, but what seems to me without precedent—I would agree with the adjective "unique" that was applied by the right hon. Member for Mansfield—is for the guillotine to fall upon the necks of Government supporters whose opposition to the Bill is firmly based on the Northern Ireland policy that was declared at the general election in the manifesto of the Conservative and Unionist Party.

I know that my right hon. Friend will say that before the words in the manifesto about one or more elected regional councils there are the magic words in the absence of devolved government", but my right hon. Friend cannot really say that there is a chance of devolution when we hear, every time there is a debate in the House, the opinions expressed by Unionist Members of different types of Unionism and contrast those views with the form of devolution upon which not only my right hon. Friend but also the House would insist. That was apparent at the time the House spurned the majority report of the Northern Ireland constitutional Convention. It is even clearer today.

The Assembly will come into existence. Politicians are people who observe the French maxim that the absent are wrong. They do not want to be left out to leave the field to their opponents. If I may be so offensive, the Assembly will be a locomotive which will haul a considerable gravy train. The Assembly may come into existence, but it will not do what my right hon. Friends hope. Even if it refrains from the bitterness and even the physical violence that disfigured the first Northern Ireland Assembly and the Northern Ireland constitutional Convention, it will not do anything for the security and stability of the Province or the employment and prosperity of its people. It will be more likely to give the impression that conditions are not such as to attract investment and foreign capital.

Sunningdale was mentioned by the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt). It was after Sunningdale that violence markedly increased. Why do we hurry the Bill? [Interruption.] A message has been given to me which says "Can you sit down?" I am not sure that I can sit down just yet. Why hurry a Bill which perpetuates sectarian politics? Why hurry a Bill which gives no encouragement to the many Roman Catholics who favour the Union to favour it more openly?

The debate on the appropriate amendments and new clauses should be longer so that the Secretary of State may rethink his position. It was alleged that we were not open to reason and that we have sought no agreement or accommodation. I suggested humbly to my right hon. Friend that if his Assembly could be turned in the direction of the regional council mentioned in our general election manifesto that would be very helpful to his hon. Friends. But he told us in Committee that he had made his private inquiries and that the result of those inquiries justified his virtual tearing up of the relevant part of our general election pledge.

I shall draw my speech to a close and considerably truncate my remarks. Perhaps my right hon. Friend would have been better able to justify shortening the proceedings had he not earlier in Committee ruled out the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Sir P. Goodhart) about a referendum. That would really have tested whether it be true that the people of Northern Ireland would welcome the proposals contained in the Bill.

My right hon. Friend's impetuosity is endearing but dangerous. Stability is not to be achieved by hyperkinetic Ministers insisting that something must be done, however futile or fantastic. The loyal and law-abiding people of Northern Ireland will be perturbed and flagging terrorist hopes revived by the recurring spectacle of political initiative. The impression given by the itch for initiatives and solutions is of a lack of confidence, a weakness of will, a lukewarmness towards the Union, an unwillingness to govern as though in fact as well as in law Northern Ireland were an integral part of the United Kingdom, and the appeasement of foreign powers.

The terrorists must say "With Brits like these and Bills like these, they may yet be blasted out of Ireland." So the terrorism goes on taking its toll of life, limb and hope.

Several Hon. Members:

rose

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Order. It is hoped that the concluding speeches will begin at 6.50 pm.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , County Londonderry 6:46 pm, 22nd June 1982

The Leader of the House, in opening the debate, said that the guillotine was necessary. I dispute that because, as the Government were able to move the closure whenever they needed it, no guillotine is necessary.

I find equally unconvincing the Labour Party attitude expressed by the right hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon). Since the purpose of the official Opposition is to restrict Government business I find much more to my liking the views put forward by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), who set out the true position with brevity and clarity.

The hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt), whom I consider to be the cleverest, most devious and most dangerous Republican of all, welcomed the Bill. That for me is sufficient reason to be against what the Bill contains.I draw that to the attention of the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), who was so anxious to attack the view taken by my right hon. and hon. Friends and me over the talks between the sovereign Governments.

I should like, for the record, to read what we proposed to the right hon. Lady the Prime Minister at that time. My hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux) said: We would respectfully remind you of your repeated assertions that the internal affairs of the United Kingdom and all its parts are exclusively a matter for this country and for its Parliament and Government, and we regret that the Dublin meeting and the communiqué will be widely misinterpreted as conflicting with those assertions. I find nothing there that conflicts with my attitude as an Unionist, nor do I find anything with which I would disagree in the list of subjects that we put before the Prime Minister: 1. Arrangements for extradition from the Republic of persons charged with serious offences in the United Kingdom. I should have thought that any Unionist would have been in favour of extradition and of seeking it by all means. It appears now that one of the larger Unionist parties is no longer of that view.

2. The removal from the constitution of the Republic of the claim to include in its territory a part of the United Kingdom.3. A review of the citizenship laws of the two countries with a view to eliminating (A) the anomalous position whereby nationals of the Republic possess the franchise in the United Kingdom … and (B) those provisions of the Republic's citizenship law which afford dual citizenship to unduly extended categories of persons.4. Delimitation of the international frontier in the Foyle estuary and Carlingford Lough and outwards to the two hundred mile or median limits. I note that the owners of the vessels that were sunk still have not got it right.

The document continues: 5. Modification of the 'Common Travel Area' with a view to

  1. (A) The enforcement of U.K. and E.E.C. law on movement and immigration and
  2. (B) Better identification and verification of persons moving between the two states.
6. Improved co-operation in the maintenance of customs and security surveillance on the common frontier.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , County Londonderry

I have no time to give way to the hon. Gentleman. I have promised that I would finish soon.

I should have thought that the views that we put forward at that time could be supported by any Unionist. If there must be discussions between the two sovereign Governments, let them deal with the problems that really affect us, above all the problem of extradition.

Photo of Hon. John Silkin Hon. John Silkin , Lewisham, Deptford 6:51 pm, 22nd June 1982

It is unusual for the shadow Leader of the House to wind up on a timetable motion rather than to introduce it. However, this is also an unusual, and perhaps unique, occasion. I cannot remember an occasion in the nearly 20 years that I have been in the House when a Government have introduced a guillotine purely against their followers. That is a little unusual, or possibly unique.

I make no complaint about that. Governments are entitled to get their business. Why should I complain? I am neutral in this affair, compared to those who have used their powers of eloquence and arguments in some 97 interventions to try to stop their Government from getting legislation of which they disapprove. That is respectable, responsible and well within parliamentary precedent. It is one of the things that makes Parliament interesting and exciting.

In my present position I have opposed four guillotine motions. The right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) recalled the late Aneurin Bevan's fine words. If I take slight exception to what is happening it is that the guillotine was introduced later in the proceedings than the four other guillotine motions that I had the honour to oppose. In other words, the Government introduced the guillotine a little too early in those four cases. I know that with few, or perhaps no, exceptions, only my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench intervened from the Opposition side during the long debates on the Bill. It seems that the guillotine has come later rather than earlier.

The hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) said that the Government had three choices. The first was to let the Bill disappear and accept defeat. The second was to see that the Bill got precedence over other legislation that the Government thought was important. The third was to introduce a timetable motion. With respect, the hon. Gentleman's second choice does not work. There is no other legislation that would be displaced. The Leader of the House and I see eye to eye on that.

That is the argument that I put to my hon. Friends the Members for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) and Bolsover (Mr. Skinner). I agree that we must strongly oppose the Employment Bill, as we did on the guillotine motion and throughout the other proceedings. However, because the Employment Bill has been timetabled, there is no hope of our being able to hold it up. It is cut and dried. I cannot believe that this Government, of all Governments, would scrap the Employment Bill in order to let the Northern Ireland Bill go through.

That is why I say to the hon. Member for Grantham that that choice is not on. Therefore, there are only two possibilities. One is that the guillotine should be allowed to lapse, in which case, as the Leader of the House properly and honestly told us, the Bill would disappear. The other possibility is that the Bill should be guillotined, in which case the legislation would come back to the Floor of the House after it had gone to the other place. If the Opposition opposed the Bill, we would not prevent the progress of the Employment Bill.

I cannot believe that it is the duty of the Opposition to support the Government. We cannot support the guillotine. However, my right hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield made an important and convincing case why we should not oppose the progress of the guillotine motion. It is unusual and unique. Our attitude to the Bill is not one of wild enthusiasm, but we are prepared to see that it has a run. It is in that context that I say to my right hon. and hon. Friends that the best course for the Opposition at this stage is neither to support the motion nor to oppose it, but to abstain.

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft 6:57 pm, 22nd June 1982

I am certain that my hon. Friend the Leader of the House will agree when I say that no Minister likes to stand at the Dispatch Box and impose a guillotine. That is always one of the more uncomfortable processes in the House, no more so than when one is proposing a guillotine that has the effect of curtailing the time for debate for one's hon. Friends. Therefore, it was an enormous disappointment to me when I had to ask my right hon. and hon. Friends in Government and in my party to allow a guillotine motion on the Bill.

I thought that I had tried to meet a number of points early in the Bill. On the first evening when we had spent a great deal of time on points of order and on what at other times would have been purely a procedural motion on the order of the clauses and schedules, I thought that I helped by conceding that we would make the notes on clauses readily available to my right hon. and hon. Friends and Opposition Members so that we could try to expedite the proceedings.

I also recognise that my right hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) has said only too forcefully that to introduce such a Bill at this time of the year is asking for trouble. I accept that. I shall try to explain why I had to be prepared to take that risk.

I have had to recognise throughout the long discussions on the Bill that the purpose of my hon. Friends, about which I make no complaint, was to seek to kill the Bill. They are perfectly entitled to take that view. In many respects they have been successful in that they have taken up much time.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) suggested that we could have brought the guillotine in sooner. I do not know where he can have been during those late nights to believe that that option was open to us. If we had moved the guillotine motion earlier, we would have met just as many objections. However, that was a matter of judgment. We had hoped against hope that we would not need a guillotine. That was why, night after night, we asked many Conservative Members to stay in the Chamber until dawn so that we might seek to get the Bill through in any way without a guillotine.

I recognise also that Northern Irish Bills, or Irish Bills, as they used to be, are always controversial matters. It is perhaps worth pointing out that the original concept of the guillotine and the closure came during the last century because of Irish legislation. We are repeating some of that today.

I should not have advised my Cabinet colleagues or the Government to go ahead with the Bill at this stage in the Session without an enormous amount of thought and an equal degree of belief that the Bill was necessary. I could not do it earlier. I arrived in the Province in September when the hunger strike was coming to an end and when feelings were running extremely high. I had a whole range of discussions with the political parties there. I recognised that there was no easy solution or answer to the problems of Northern Ireland. We have had a suggestion of that in the debate this afternoon where the differences between the Democratic Unionists, the Official Unionists, the SDLP and so on have been exposed. There is also a degree of difference within each of those parties. When people say to me "Nearly everyone is against your measures," that conceals an enormous difference in the range of opinions within the political parties.

The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) has opposed the Bill as hard as anyone. I congratulate him on his ability. He opposes it on completely different grounds from those of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). The hon. Member for Antrim, North and his party are in favour of devolution, but they want their own type of devolution. The right hon. Member for Down, South is an integrationist. They have joined together for the purpose of defeating the Bill.

There is no one better aware than I that violence, the economy and political stability are the pressing problems of the Province. The right hon. Member for Down, South said that the Bill would cause predictable and certain death. What is certain is that there have been more than 2,000 deaths from terrorism during the past years of violence. It is my duty—I cannot think of any way in which I should want to upset my own colleagues on the Back Benches unless I believed this implicitly—as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to do more than allow that toll to continue.

I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) that the Bill is no certain curb. It can only make a modest attempt to put politics in the place of violence or the vacuum in Northern Ireland. I cannot conceive why anyone in the House should be against that. The right hon. Member for Down, South is entitled to his view that the Bill will make things worse rather than better. That can only be his opinion. The Government's view is that the Bill offers a hope—perhaps an uncertain or qualified hope—by which Northern Ireland may move from its present miseries.

The Bill puts firmly and squarely on the people of Northern Ireland the responsibility for filling the political vacuum that direct rule caused and allowed to continue. It provides an opportunity for an elected Assembly to be set up where Members can test their opinions one against another. There is no way at the moment by which the opinions of one section of the community can be tested against those of another section in an Assembly or any democratic institution. I believe that that is an essential prerequisite before moving towards greater devolution.

Northern Ireland is not like other parts of the United Kingdom. There are the two traditions and the two identities. There are those who identify with the united Ireland approach and the majority who identify equally strongly with the United Kingdom. If we do not recognise that those two identities create differences that are not present in the rest of the United Kingdom, I do not believe that we have any right to suggest that Northern Ireland can and should only be governed in line with that which is possible in the rest of the United Kingdom.

The debates have concentrated on some of the hazards and problems of the Bill. I suggest to those hon. Members who have complained that there may not be time for their amendments to be discussed—that includes the hon. Member for Antrim, North—that, if we concentrate on those amendments which are constructive rather than on those which are destructive we may find that we can have proper and useful debates until 1 am Thursday morning and that that will provide ample time.

I wish that we could have had an agreement to timetable the debates without the need for a guillotine motion, but I do not believe that that has ever been a feasible proposition. When I talked to right hon. and hon. Members and suggested that six or seven days would have been a fair allocation of time, they suggested, rather jokingly, that they needed 15, 16 or 20 days. I have never believed that there was a manner in which that problem could be resolved. Not to have gone ahead with the Bill would have done less than justice to the continuing consequences of the present position in Northern Ireland.

I believe that the time has come for the Government to show their resolve to get the Bill on the statute book. That is an important factor in Northern Ireland. The hon. Member for Antrim, South says that there is reference in the White Paper to the effect of the Bill on security and other matters. The uncertainty that prevails in Northern Ireland about whether we shall proceed with the Bill is a factor which must be taken into account. I cannot promise that the measures the Government are putting forward will be crowned with success. We owe it to the people of Northern Ireland—to all those who have died as a result of terrorism, to those who suffer, to those who wish to see the unity of the United Kingdom—to push the Bill through and give Northern Ireland the chance of political stability and responsibility that it has not had for a number of years.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 298, Noes 44.

Division No 231][7.8 pm
AYES
Adley, RobertBevan, David Gilroy
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBiffen, Rt Hon John
Alton, DavidBlackburn, John
Arnold, TomBlaker, Peter
Aspinwall, JackBonsor, Slr Nicholas
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (S'thorne)Boscawen, Hon Robert
Atkins, Robert (Preston N)Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W)
Atkinson, David (B'm'th,E)Bowden, Andrew
Baker, Kenneth (St. M'bone)Boyson, Dr Rhodes
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Bradley, Tom
Banks, RobertBraine, Sir Bernard
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyBright, Graham
Beith, A. J.Brittan, Rt. Hon. Leon
Benyon, Thomas (A'don)Brocklebank-Fowler, C.
Benyon, W. (Buckingham)Brooke, Hon Peter
Best, KeithBrown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S)
Browne, John (Winchester)Hogg, HonDouglas (Gr'th'm)
Bruce-Gardyne, JohnHolland, Philip (Carlton)
Bryan, Sir PaulHooson, Tom
Buchanan-Smith, Rt. Hon. A.Horam, John
Buck, AntonyHowe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Bulmer, EsmondHowell, RtHonD. (G'ldf'd)
Butcher, JohnHowell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Cadbury, JocelynHowells, Geraint
Carlisle, John (Luton West)Hudson Davies, Gwilym E.
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Hunt, David (Wirral)
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n)Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Cartwright, JohnHurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Chalker, Mrs. LyndaIrvine, Bryant Godman
Channon, Rt. Hon. PaulIrving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Chapman, SydneyJenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Churchill, W. S.Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillhead)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Jessel, Toby
Clegg, Sir WalterJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Cockeram, EricJopling, Rt Hon Michael
Colvin, MichaelJoseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Cope, JohnKaberry, Sir Donald
Cormack, PatrickKershaw, Sir Anthony
Corrie, JohnKimball, Sir Marcus
Costain, Sir AlbertKing, Rt Hon Tom
Crawshaw, RichardKitson, Sir Timothy
Critchley, JulianKnox, David
Crouch, DavidLamont, Norman
Dickens, GeoffreyLang, Ian
Dorrell, StephenLangford-Holt, Sir John
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Dover, DenshoreLee, John
du Cann, Rt Hon EdwardLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Dunn, James A.Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Dunn, Robert (Dartford)Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Durant, TonyLloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)
Dykes, HughLuce, Richard
Eden, Rt Hon Sir JohnLyell, Nicholas
Eggar, TimLyons, Edward (Bradf'd W)
Elliott, Sir WilliamMabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)McCrindle, Robert
Emery, Sir PeterMacfarlane, Neil
Eyre, ReginaldMacGregor, John
Faith, Mrs SheilaMacKay, John (Argyll)
Finsberg, GeoffreyMcNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Fisher, Sir NigelMcNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Fitt, GerardMcNally, Thomas
Fookes, Miss JanetMcQuarrie, Albert
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanMadel, David
Fox, MarcusMagee, Bryan
Fraser, Peter (South Angus)Major, John
Freud, ClementMarland, Paul
Fry, PeterMarlow, Antony
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Garel-Jones, TristanMarten, Rt Hon Neil
Ginsburg, DavidMates, Michael
Glyn, Dr AlanMawby, Ray
Goodhew, Sir VictorMawhinney, Dr Brian
Goodlad, AlastairMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Gower, Sir RaymondMayhew, Patrick
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)Meyer, Sir Anthony
Grant, John (Islington C)Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Greenway, HarryMills, Iain (Meriden)
Griffiths, E. (B'y St. Edm'ds)Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Grist, IanMiscampbell, Norman
Grylls, MichaelMitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Gummer, John SelwynMitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)
Hamilton, Hon A.Monro, Sir Hector
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Montgomery, Fergus
Hampson, Dr KeithMoore, John
Hannam, JohnMorris, M. (N'hampton S)
Haselhurst, AlanMorrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Havers, Rt Hon Sir MichaelMorrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Hawkins, Sir PaulMudd, David
Hayhoe, BarneyMyles, David
Heddle, JohnNeale, Gerrard
Henderson, BarryNeedham, Richard
Heseltine, Rt Hon MichaelNelson, Anthony
Hicks, RobertNewton, Tony
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Normanton, Tom
Hill, JamesNott, Rt Hon John
Ogden, EricSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
O'Halloran, MichaelSproat, Iain
Onslow, CranleySquire, Robin
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.Stainton, Keith
Osborn, JohnStanley, John
Page, John (Harrow, West)Steel, Rt Hon David
Page, Richard (SW Herts)Steen, Anthony
Parkinson, Rt Hon CecilStevens, Martin
Parris, MatthewStewart,A (E Renfrewshire)
Patten,Christopher (Bath)Stradling Thomas,J.
Patten,John (Oxford)Tapsell, Peter
Pattie,GeoffreyTaylor, Teddy (S'.end E)
Pawsey, JamesTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Penhaligon, DavidTemple-Morris, Peter
Percival,Sir IanThomas,Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Peyton, Rt Hon JohnThomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Pink, R.BonnerThomas, Rt Hon Peter
Pitt, William HenryThompson, Donald
Pollock,AlexanderThornton, Malcolm
Porter,BarryTownend, John(Bridlington)
Prentice, Rt Hon RegTownsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)Trippier, David
Prior, Rt Hon JamesTrotter, Neville
Pym, Rt Hon Francisvan Straubenzee, Sir W.
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyVaughan, Dr Gerard
Rathbone, TimViggers,Peter
Renton, TimWainwright, R.Colne V)
Rhodes James, RobertWakeham, John
Rhys Williams, Sir BrandonWaldegrave, Hon William
Ridley,Hon NicholasWalker, Rt Hon P.(W'cester)
Ridsdale,Sir JulianWall, Sir Patrick
Rifkind, MalcolmWaller, Gary
Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)Walters, Dennis
Roberts, Wyn (Conway)Warren, Kenneth
Roper, JohnWellbeloved, James
Rossi, HughWells, Bowen
Rost, PeterWells, John (Maidstone)
Royle, Sir AnthonyWheeler, John
Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R.Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Sainsbury, Hon TimothyWhitney, Raymond
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.Wickenden, Keith
Sandelson, NevilleWiggin, Jerry
Scott, NicholasWigley, Dafydd
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)Wilkinson, John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Williams,D.(Montgomery)
Shelton, William(Streatham)Williams, Rt Hon Mrs (Crosby)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Shersby, MichaelWolfson, Mark
Silvester, FredWrigglesworth, Ian
Sims, RogerYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)Younger, Rt Hon George
Smith, Dudley
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Tellers for the Ayes:
Speed, KeithMr. Anthony Berry and
Speller, TonyMr. Carol Mather.
Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
NOES
Amery, Rt Hon JulianLloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnMacmillan, Rt Hon M.
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n)Moate, Roger
Budgen, NickMolyneaux, James
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Paisley, Rev Ian
Cranborne, ViscountParry, Robert
Cryer, BobPowell, Rt Hon J.E. (S Down)
Dalyell, TamPowell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Dixon, DonaldPrice, C. (Lewisham W)
Dunlop, JohnProctor, K. Harvey
Farr, JohnRees-Davies, W. R.
Fraser, Rt Hon Sir HughRobinson, P. (Belfast E)
Gardiner, George (Reigate)Shepherd, Richard
Goodhart, Sir PhilipSkinner, Dennis
Gorst, JohnSmyth, Rev. W. M. (Belfast S)
Hastings, StephenStanbrook, Ivor
Kerr, RussellStoddart, David
Kilfedder, James A.Stokes, John
Knight, Mrs JillThorne, Stan (Preston South)
Latham, MichaelTilley, John
Lawrence, IvanWalker, B. (Perth)
White, Frank R.Tellers for the Noes:
Winterton, NicholasMr. Christopher Murphy and
Mr. William Ross.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved,That the following provisions shall apply to the remaining proceedings on the Bill: