Departmental Select Committees

– in the House of Commons at 7:09 pm on 9th March 1994.

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Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree 7:09 pm, 9th March 1994

I beg to move, That Standing Order No. 130 (Select Committees related to government departments) be amended, by leaving out lines 5 to 8, and, in the Table, after the entry relating to National Heritage, by inserting the words—

"9A Northern Northern Ireland AffairsNorthern Ireland Office; administration and Ireland Affairs expenditure of the Crown Solicitor's Office (but excluding individual cases and advice given by the Crown Solicitor); and other matters within the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (but excluding the expenditure, administration and policy of the Office of the Direct or of Public Prosecutions, Northern Ireland and the drafting of legislation by the Office of the Legislative Counsel).134"

Photo of Mr Michael Morris Mr Michael Morris , Northampton South

I understand that with this it will be convenient to discuss at the same time the following motion: That Standing Order No. 99 (Northern Ireland Committee) be amended, in line 2 and in line 15, in each case after the word 'Ireland' by inserting the word 'Grand'. Madam Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

The purpose of the first motion is to establish a Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee within the existing framework of departmentally related Select Committees, as I announced to the House on 16 December.

As the House knows, since 1980 our Select Committee system has been based on links between individual Committees and one—occasionally more than one—Government Department. As the departmental structure has changed, the Committee structure has changed to reflect it, most recently in 1992 with the setting up of new Select Committees on National Heritage and on Science and Technology.

That pattern follows the recommendations of the Procedure Committee in 1978. The Procedure Committee did not recommend a departmental Select Committee for the Northern Ireland Office, but only because of uncertainty about the future constitutional arrangements for the Province.

In the last Parliament, the Procedure Committee, then —as now, I am happy to say—under the distinguished chairmanship of my right hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir P Emery), carried out a major inquiry into the working of the Select Committee system. The Procedure Committee found that it was anomalous from a practical point of view that no separate Select Committee exists to oversee the affairs of Northern Ireland". In principle, it supported the setting up of a separate Committee, but accepted that the time for it was not ripe —for various reasons somewhat similar to those pertaining in 1978.

The Committee did, however, devote some thought to the size and composition that such a Select Committee might have when circumstances made it appropriate to bring it into being. It recognised that it would be reasonable if not essential for the Government to have a majority on the Committee, and that the political parties based in Northern Ireland should have reasonable representation on it. For those reasons it saw that the Select Committee would need to be somewhat larger than the other departmentally related Committees, all of which at present have 11 members.

The Committee also recognised that the Committee of Selection's formula for determining the places available to minority parties would need to be amended to take account of the special factors involved. At the end of last year, in a further report, the Committee returned to those issues, and recommended to the House that the Committee should consist of either 13 or 15 Members and that all the Northern Ireland political parties represented in the House should be represented on the Committee.

For some time, then, the question has been not whether there should be a Northern Ireland Select Committee, but when.

I told the House before Christmas that, in response to the Procedure Committee's recommendation, the Government had come to the view that the time for a Northern Ireland Select Committee had now come. That judgment was made—I accept it was an act of judgment —taking account of all the relevant political considerations in Northern Ireland. I am sure that there will be a widespread welcome in the House for a move that puts parliamentary accountability in this respect on all fours with the arrangements in relation to other Government Departments.

Let me now say a few words about the details of our proposal. The first part of the motion paves the way for more effective scrutiny of Northern Ireland matters, along the lines that I have just sketched, by ending the present arrangements for the scrutiny of Northern Ireland matters whereby agriculture in Northern Ireland is looked at by the Agriculture Committee, housing in Northern Ireland by the Environment Committee, and so on.

The second part of the motion sets up a new Select Committee. Following the model of the Scottish Affairs and Welsh Affairs Committees, we propose that it should be called the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

The new Committee ought to be able to look at the full range of the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. For that reason we have included in its remit not only the Northern Ireland Office, which deals with security and constitutional and political questions. but what are described as other matters within the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland". Under the present administrative arrangements, that formula embraces the Northern Ireland Departments, such as the Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Economic Development, as they are subject to the discretion and control of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State. It is clearly desirable, however, to provide for the possibility of change if agreement should be reached on different political structures.

The form of words used in the amendment to the Standing Order would ensure that, once the Secretary of State ceased to be responsible for an area of policy, it would no longer fall within the terms of reference of the Select Committee. In other words, Westminster will oversee only those things for which Whitehall is responsible. Associated public bodies in Northern Ireland are also included in the terms of reference.

Photo of Mr Jeff Rooker Mr Jeff Rooker , Birmingham, Perry Barr

Can the Leader of the House confirm that the Comptroller and Auditor-General for Northern Ireland will continue to be responsible to, and to give his evidence and reports to, the Public Accounts Committee, as he does twice a year under the present arrangements?

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

My understanding is that that is the case.

A number of matters will be excluded from the Select Committee's remit at the outset. One—and I note that this is the object of the Opposition's amendment—is the expenditure, administration and policy of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland, which is excluded from the present arrangements for Select Committee scrutiny. It is important that that should be understood. The handling of individual cases by the Crown Solicitor's Office and advice given by the Crown Solicitor are excluded, and the drafting of legislation is also excluded.

I emphasise that, in each of those cases, the equivalent functions in respect of England and Scotland are excluded from the remits of the Home Affairs, Scottish Affairs and Treasury and Civil Service Committees respectively. Moreover, the wording that we have used in the motion replicates exactly the wording in the existing Standing Order No. 130(1) defining the remit of existing Select Committees.

Photo of Mr David Alton Mr David Alton , Liverpool Mossley Hill

I warmly welcome the announcement that the Leader of the House is making. Does he not accept, however, that the circumstances in Northern Ireland are very different from those prevailing in Scotland and Wales, especially in relation to the way in which legislation is dealt with—with so many orders and short debates in the House? The power to create legislation and frame Bills would be a very useful power for the Committee to have.

Will the Leader of the House undertake that, after six months or a year, he will at least look at the question again, and also at individual cases, such as that raised by the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) in an Adjournment debate a couple of weeks ago?

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

The hon. Gentleman raised two very different questions. The second was whether a Select Committee could look at individual cases. I would not want to excite expectations of that, because that would raise major issues throughout the field. No doubt my right hon. and learned Friends the Law Officers would want to look at its implications in the United Kingdom as a whole —in my judgment, quite rightly too.

The earlier part of the hon. Gentleman's question could at least be presented as more innocuous, enabling me to respond in what I hope is my characteristically reasonable fashion. That suggestion, too, would have quite wide implications. But I hope that I have shown by my general demeanour in the House over quite a long period that if people come forward with a reasonable proposition and can make a reasonable case for it, I will look at it in a reasonable way.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

I took up the matter of the exemption of the prosecuting authorities with the Journal Office, and the Journal Office informed me that that part of the Standing Order was added on 18 July 1991, at the same time that the remit of the Home Affairs and Scottish Affairs Committees was broadened to include the expenditure and administration of the prosecuting authorities in Britain and Scotland. Would the right hon. Gentleman care to rephrase what he said about the role of the Scottish Affairs and Home Affairs Committees in that regard?

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

It is certainly the case that the relevant part of the Standing Order was added at that time. The hon. Gentleman should understand, however, that the Opposition amendment would create a discrepancy between the remit of the Home Affairs Committee and that of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. The Home Affairs Committee does not look at individual cases or at legal advice—I accept that the hon. Gentleman's amendment allows for that—but neither does it look at the policy of the Law Officers' Departments.

The Opposition's amendment, while it exludes individual cases and legal advice, would allow the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee to look at the policy of the DPP's office. I do not seek to pre-empt the hon. Gentleman's argument, but I have to tell him that the exclusion of those legal matters from Select Committee scrutiny was carefully considered—it was carefully considered at the time and the decision was accepted by the House—and that the House would be ill advised to permit Select Committee scrutiny of matters in Northern Ireland that are not subject to such scrutiny in respect of Great Britain.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

Is the expenditure and administration of the Director of Public Prosecutions within the cognisance of the Select Committees on Home Affairs and on Scottish Affairs?

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

I think that that is correct. The hon. Gentleman can argue that there is some discrepancy, but his amendment would produce a significant discrepancy, as I outlined, which leads me to advise the House not to accept it.

Photo of Rt Hon David Trimble Rt Hon David Trimble , Upper Bann

The recent exchanges have clarified the matter. I accept the right hon. Gentleman's argument on policy, but it is clear that his proposal will create an anomaly. The Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs will not be able to consider the administration and expenditure of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, whereas the Select Committee on Home Affairs can consider equivalent matters with regard to the Crown Prosecution Service, which discharges similar functions. There is a discrepancy, and I am sure that the Leader of the House would agree that that is undesirable.

Operations should be on a common basis. Will the right hon. Gentleman therefore reconsider expenditure and administration and put the Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs on the same basis as the Select Committee on Home Affairs?

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

Perhaps I might revert to the words—without repeating them excessively—that I used to answer the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) when I described what I hoped was my reasonable approach. I would not rule out any further consideration of the suggestion of the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble), but I cannot give an undertaking on the matter. We need to consider it with great care. I cannot advise the House to accept the amendment, which attempts to deal with the problem, because it raises a significant point of principle about examining the policy of the Director of Public Prosecutions. It goes beyond what the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) intended, although I shall not attempt to speak for him, and it clearly goes beyond what the hon. Member for Upper Bann intended.

Photo of Frank Field Frank Field Chair, Social Security Committee

Does the Leader of the House agree that, although the amendment may or may not be important to hon. Members—depending on where they sit—both sides of the House support the establishment of the Select Committee? That is much more important to voters outside the House than the differences that appear on the Order Paper. The issue may involve problems of principle, but they are gnat's play compared with the principle of establishing the Committee.

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

I agree with the hon. Gentleman, especially since the administration and expenditure of the office in Northern Ireland is very small. When a similar point was raised in the 1991 debates, to which the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) referred, my predecessor advanced the argument that it made little difference in practice because of the minor scale of the expenditure. The point has been legitimately raised again, and I hope that I have responded in the best way that I can.

I am sure that the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) is right to say that the matter of overwhelming importance is whether we can set up a proper departmental Select Committee for Northern Ireland. The point of detail, while not insignificant, is small compared with the main issue.

Photo of Mr Anthony Grant Mr Anthony Grant , Cambridge South West

If the Select Committee is set up, it will have to move about and go to Northern Ireland, among other places. Has my right hon. Friend considered the composition of the Committee in the light of the problems caused to the Select Committee on Trade and Industry because of the lack of co-operation between Opposition and Government? Its members have been unable to travel and they have published a unanimous report, mentioned on the Order Paper, condemning the lack of co-operation. He will have to consider carefully whether the Select Committee will be affected.

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

My hon. Friend is a distinguished member of the Select Committee on Trade and Industry. As he knows, I am cognisant of the difficulties of that Committee, although I have not intervened in the matter. I have frequently expressed the hope that the Opposition will return to the normal usual channels dealings and pairing, but I hope that my hon. Friend will forgive me if I do not allow myself to be drawn by that line of that argument, which he was right to raise.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

Is the leader of the House aware that all Labour Members on the Procedure Committee voted against setting up the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee? Although my hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) is entitled to his view, it is not shared by the majority of Labour Members, as will be shown later tonight. One of the main reasons why we are opposed is that we believe that no such Committee should be set up until general agreement is reached among Northern Ireland Members. Bearing in mind what has taken place in the past few months, I believe that the proposal is most unfortunate. It is a sop to the Unionist party.

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

Not for the first time for all I know, the views of the hon. Gentleman are different from those of the majority of members of the Procedure Committee, whose Chairman is present and may wish to speak in the debate. It is also clear that the hon. Gentleman's views are not shared by a number of his hon. Friends. My view is with Birkenhead rather than with Walsall on this occasion and, probably, on many future occasions. [Interruption.] I shall not go further and risk being accused of pursuing a policy of divide and rule. The position speaks for itself.

While the other departmental Select Committees will cease to have primary responsibility for Northern Ireland issues, they will still be able to make their specialist knowledge available. The Standing Order already allows Committees to communicate evidence and other documents to one another and to meet concurrently to take evidence and for other purposes. Indeed the hon. Member for Birkenhead knows that because he is member of the Select Committee on Social Security, which held joint meetings with the Health Select Committee to discuss community care, when I was a Minister in the relevant field.

The Select Committee on Agriculture, might be carrying out an inquiry into a subject with a distinctive Northern Ireland angle. In such a case, that Committee and the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee could pool their expertise by sharing their written evidence and holding a joint meeting to take oral evidence or discuss the issues involved. In that way, the specialist knowledge of other departmental Committees could be called on for the benefit of Northern Ireland, if it were to the mutual benefit of those Committees. That benefit is not lost by the establishment of the proposed new Committee.

Photo of Frank Field Frank Field Chair, Social Security Committee

There are important differences between the administration of certain services on the mainland and in Northern Ireland. Because of the link between health and social services in Northern Ireland, the Select Committees on Social Security and on Health may profitably consider a link-up. Is the Leader of the House saying that the other Committees would not be welcome in Northern Ireland when they are pursuing evidence that is relevant to their wider inquiry?

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

No, I did not say that. I do not think that I even implied it. Perhaps through the Select Committee on Liaison or in other ways, Select Committees of the House normally tell each other what they are doing and find out whether there are ways in which they can fruitfully co-operate. There is no bar of the sort that the hon. Gentleman suggested.

On the size of the Committee, the Procedure Committee's first thoughts were for 16 members, but in its later report it recommended 13 or 15. The Government propose that the Committee should have a maximum of 13 members because, the larger the Committee, the more unwieldy it is likely to become. For example, it would be more difficult for all members to take part in evidence sessions. For those practical reasons, we thought that it was probably sensible to choose the smaller of the two figures suggested by the Procedure Committee.

How the available places should be allocated will not be an easy matter, but it is a matter for the Committee of Selection under Standing Orders. The Government strongly support the Procedure Committee's recommendation that each of the Northern Ireland parties should have a place on the Committee and that, in accordance with normal practice, the Government should expect to be able to command a majority on it.

I now turn briefly to the third motion on the Order Paper which is really a piece of housekeeping or tidying up. If the House agrees to the setting up of a Select Committee called the Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs, there is an obvious danger of confusion with the existing Standing Committee called the Northern Ireland Committee, under Standing Order No. 99. That Committee exists to debate matters relating exclusively to Northern Ireland that are referred to it from time to time by the House. As its closest parliamentary relatives are the Scottish Grand Committee and the Welsh Grand Committee, we propose to rename it —perhaps unimaginatively but sensibly—the Northern Ireland Grand Committee. That change should make the different character of the two Committees abundantly clear without in any way changing the powers, composition or function of the existing Committee.

I hope that I have said enough to outline the proposals to the House sufficient to provide a basis for the debate. I commend the proposals to the House.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North 7:30 pm, 9th March 1994

I beg to move, as an amendment to the motion, to leave out 'expenditure administration and policy of' and insert 'handling of individual cases by and legal advice given within Government by'. As the last chairman of the only departmental Select Committee that existed before the creation of the present system—the Select Committee on Overseas Aid—I am instinctively sympathetic to the Select Committee system. Select Committees plays a vital role in improving the accountability of the Government to Parliament. Indeed, as current cases and inquiries show, there is a clear case for Select Committees' powers of departmental oversight to be strengthened.

It is important, however, not to confuse concern for the proper scrutiny of Government with the decision to create a Northern Ireland Select Committee, for that is not the reason why the present proposal is before the House. It is not simply a procedural parliamentary matter. It has wide-ranging political ramifications relating to the Government's Irish policy.

The issues relating to the establishment of a Northern Ireland Select Committee are different from those relating to the establishment of any other Committee of the House. Northern Ireland cannot be treated as though it is the same as any other region of the United Kingdom.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where the population have a legally enshrined right to unite with another nation state if a majority so wish. That right reflects the divided allegiances that exist in Northern Ireland, with the nationalist community aspiring to a united Ireland, and the Unionist community aspiring to maintain —indeed, strengthen—the bonds that link Britain and Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where the legitimacy of the state is questioned. It is the only region of the United Kingdom where armed troops are deployed on the streets in support of the civil power, as they have been during the past 20 years.

Moreover, Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where the establishment of a Select Committee is an essential ingredient of one party's policy to seek steps towards greater integration of Britain with Northern Ireland. It is opposed by another party for just that reason. It has symbolic importance for both communities in Northern Ireland, which far outweighs its parliamentary significance.

In a briefing paper which I believe the Unionist party gave to the press and to others about the matter it says: The symbolic effects will be more immediate. This will be the first positively unionist move by the British Government since our Parliamentary representation was increased in 1979. It continues: The Northern Ireland Select Committee will probably want to sit regularly in Belfast. When we see a group of familiar parliamentarians again in Stormont with their doings reported in the local media". That is its significance for one particular party. For that reason, in the past, the Government, the Opposition and the Select Committee on Procedure have recognised that the establishment of a Northern Ireland Select Committee cannot be isolated from the political situation in Northern Ireland.

The original decision not to recommend the creation of a Northern Ireland Select Committee was made by the Procedure Committee in 1978, its reason being: The uncertainty about the future form of Government … for Northern Ireland. That uncertainty has not altered.

In its report in 1990 on the working of the Select Committee system, the Select Committee on Procedure concluded that there should be no Northern Ireland Select Committee while the inter-party talks on the future of Northern Ireland were in progress. The Committee accepted that the decision to create a Northern Ireland Select Committee is a matter whose implications go beyond the rights and responsibilities of the House to regulate its own affairs. It is therefore not a purely organisational or procedural matter.

In its last report, the Procedure Committee could see nothing to add or subtract from their previous views", and left it to the Government to decide when an opportune time occurred to establish a Northern Ireland Select Committee.

In the past, the Government have opposed the establishment of a Northern Ireland Select Committee. In 1990, the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland—the right hon. Member for the City of London and Westminster, South (Mr. Brooke)—in a submission to the Procedure Committee, asserted that the decision to establish a Northern Ireland Select Committee would need to command the support from elected representatives of both sides of the community in Northern Ireland. The Government until recently held to that approach. For example, as late as June 1992, the Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons, when asked about a Northern Ireland Select Committee, stated: the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland believes that this is one of a series of complex issues that are best left open for consideration in the broad context of the current political talks." —[Official Report, 25 June 1992; Vol. 210, c. 395.] It has now been taken out of the broad context of the current political talks.

On 11 November 1992, in response to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Ms Hoey), the Secretary of State again reiterated the Government's position that a Northern Ireland Select Committee would need the support of the broad community in Northern Ireland."—[Official Report, 11 November 1992; Vol. 213, c. 892.] It does not have the support of the broad community in Northern Ireland.

On 15 February 1993, the Secretary of State, in response to a parliamentary question, again cited the need to examine the extent of support from elected representatives from both sides of the community in Northern Ireland."—[Official Report, 15 February 1993; Vol. 219, c. 35.] It has no support from elected representatives from one of the communities in Northern Ireland.

On 22 July 1993, the Secretary of State was still concerned about the extent of support from elected representatives on both sides of the community in Northern Ireland."—[Official Report, 22 July 1993; Vol. 229, c. 323.] But by now, things were changing, and the matter was under review. The Government ceased to be concerned about support from both sides of the community. That means that the views and concerns of one section of the community in Northern Ireland—the minority community —no longer seem to have any relevance.

Unfortunately, the reasons for that change are all too obvious. Faced with the prospect of a defeat over Maastricht, the Government struck a squalid deal—or, as they prefer to call it, "an understanding"—with the Ulster Unionist party. The Government have put party interests ahead of the interests of all the people of the British Isles.

The primary reason why the Government have conceded a Northern Ireland Select Committee is not a high-minded concern for parliamentary democracy and the proper scrutiny of a Government department, but the need to maintain the "understanding" that was reached with the UUP before the summer recess.

Indeed, the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr. Molyneaux) was reported in a recent article in The Scotsman as claiming that part of his price for supporting the Prime Minister had been the establishment of a Northern Ireland Select Committee. The Prime Minister has not sought to challenge or deny that claim—I gave him the opportunity.

The Government have allowed that squalid deal to override the principles agreed in March 1991 for the three-strand talks process, whereby any measures that effected the institutional arrangements governing Northern Ireland would be discussed in strand one talks and under the principle nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. The Labour party maintains its support for the three-strand talks process and regrets the Government's decision to undermine the framework agreed in 1991 by unilaterally starting to unravel the arrangements governing strand one of the talks. The decision to establish a Northern Ireland Select Committee without the agreement of the representatives of both communities in Northern Ireland serves only to demonstrate that the Government are still prepared to allow short-term party interests to take precedence over the peace process.

The problem is this. The Government have two agendas: first, to secure and maintain their majority in the House by keeping their own right wing and the Ulster Unionists happy; secondly, to keep the peace process alive, as laid down in the Downing street declaration. Was it, I wonder, because the Northern Ireland Select Committee was being dangled before the Unionists that the Secretary of State could convince the Tanaiste that the Unionists would shortly return to the three-ring circus? The Government may consider their two agendas compatible, but I do not believe they are.

This unfortunate decision will hinder the peace initiative launched by the British and fish Governments with the publication of the Downing street declaration. It calls into question the Government's claim that their primary interest is to see peace, stability and reconciliation by agreement", as the declaration puts it. There is no agreement about the establishment of the Northern Ireland Select Committee.

Photo of Kate Hoey Kate Hoey , Vauxhall

Does my hon. Friend agree that thousands of people in Northern Ireland—indeed, the vast majority—will, if they are listening to this debate, be interested in one thing alone? They want us to ensure that legislation that affects their lives—legislation that the House passes every day—is properly scrutinised, as is legislation affecting other parts of the United Kingdom.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

Indeed: that is why legislative Committees are set up after the Second Reading of Bills. This Committee will have no power to investigate or alter legislation. My hon. Friend ought to know what the Committee is about.

Not only have the Government introduced their motion without the agreement of representatives of both sides of the community; they also intend to gerrymander the composition of the Committee. They propose that the Labour party should have only two seats out of 13.

In 1990, the Procedure Committee recommended that, if a Northern Ireland Select Committee was established, it should have 16 members, including three from the Labour party. That was unacceptable in 1990, when Labour had 227 Members of Parliament; proposing that Labour should have only two seats now, when we have 270 Members of Parliament, is an abuse of power and of parliamentary majorities—especially when we are to have parity with a party that has 30 times fewer seats.

Equally unacceptable is the proposed division of seats among the Northern Ireland parties represented in the House—

Photo of Jonathan Evans Jonathan Evans , Brecon and Radnor

How many votes has Labour in Northern Ireland?

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

The hon. Gentleman's party has no votes in Northern Ireland, but it is to have a majority on the Committee. [Interruption.] Well, it certainly has no seats in Northern Ireland.

The SDLP will have just one seat on the Committee, while the Unionist parties will be given four. The minority now makes up 43 per cent. of the population in Northern Ireland; yet its representatives are to be appointed to just 20 per cent. of the seats allotted to Northern Ireland parties. With a total population split of 43 per cent. to 57 per cent., there can be no excuse for such gross misrepresentation.

The Ulster Unionist party, with 34 per cent. of the Northern Ireland vote, will be given half the Northern Ireland seats on the Committee; the Ulster Popular Unionist party will be given one fifth of those seats, on the basis of one seventeenth of the number of Northern Ireland seats and a vote of less than 50 per cent. in one constituency. That cannot be right.

Photo of Martin Smyth Martin Smyth , Belfast South

Do I take it that the hon. Gentleman is confessing that Labour will never form a majority in the House, and therefore take the Government majority of seats? Will he also tell us when he will come to his amendment?

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

I will come to my amendment in my own time.

As for the hon. Gentleman's first question, I assure him that there will be a Labour Government. In a letter to the Secretary of State, we told him that—although we felt that our representation on the Committee would be dispropor-tionate—we would concede, for the sake of argument, that there should be four Northern Ireland seats. We then said, "On the balance of what is left, you may have five seats and we will have four."

We thought that a reasonable offer, and I hope that we will follow similar principles when we form the Government. That is of particular concern to us because, having reached an understanding with the Government, the hon. Gentleman and his party will be able to maintain their majority on the Committee.

Photo of Frank Field Frank Field Chair, Social Security Committee

So far, my hon. Friend has produced a powerful case against the establishment of a Northern Ireland Select Committee. I am puzzled: if this is such a principled stand, why has the amendment been tabled? Why do we not simply oppose the establishment of the Committee?

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

For two reasons. First, despite our principled objection, we are unlikely to succeed in the voting—although, as my hon. Friend has pointed out, we have such a powerful case that we are certainly winning the argument. Secondly, and more important—[Interruption.] I will deal with my hon. Friend's second point shortly.

The Government have also attempted severely to restrict the terms of reference for a Northern Ireland Select Committee: that is why the Labour party has tabled an amendment. The Government motion would exclude the office of Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland from the Committee's scrutiny. If we are to have a Northern Ireland Select Committee, it is vital for it to be able to investigate all matters of concern to the peoples of Northern Ireland.

Our amendment would allow the Committee to investigate the thrust of the policy of the Director of Public Prosecutions—his order of priorities, his attitudes to policy issues such as killings by the security forces, and his decisions not to prosecute in areas where the community has real fears.

Such problems have been raised in a variety of cases, affecting both communities, and we debated them only recently in an Adjournment debate. The failure to prosecute, and lack of knowledge of the policy behind that failure, can have an adverse impact on public perceptions of the role of the security forces, and can therefore affect both the administration of justice and the upholding of the rule of law.

We have not asked for any individual cases to be examined, or to be put to the Committee; nor does our amendment suggest that we should look into the various matters referred to by the Leader of the House. We believe, however, that the Government should, for the first time, be brought to book in regard to matters involving policy, in an area of such sensitivity as this.

It is significant that powers of administration, expenditure and organization—powers possessed by the Scottish and Home Affairs Select Committees—are being denied to the Irish Committee, if the House decides to proceed with it. It will not run pari passu with the English Select Committees; it will still be treated as a special case.

I hope that, if the matter proceeds, the House will accept the amendment. Even if it is carried, however, Labour will vote against the motion, because of its symbolism as a triumphalist integrationist measure. It does not have the support of both communities in Northern Ireland— something that the Government previously considered crucial. Instead of ensuring equality, it entrenches divisions that already exist, and hardens Unionist intransigence rather than encouraging compromise.

If the Secretary of State considers that this measure, the increased use of the newly named Northern Ireland Grand Committee and the partial change in legislative matters put before the House, will persuade the Unionists to sit down with Dublin, I believe that he is mistaken. They will want more and more—"As long as you pay the danegeld, you'll never get rid of the Dane".

The Government must recognise that there can be no purely internal solution to the problems of Northern Ireland. An integrationist solution will not work, because it fails to deal with the divided allegiances which exist there. The Government should not be jeopardising the peace process for the sake of a short-term political expedient, but working with the Irish Government and the parties in Northern Ireland to agree a just and lasting settlement that respects the rights and aspirations of both communities. They should not be favouring one community at the expense of the other.

For those reasons, we are opposed to the establishment of a Select Committee.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton 7:49 pm, 9th March 1994

I am sorry that the official Opposition are making this a party political debate. The weakness of their argument is evident when they have to drag in Maastricht, because this is a House of Commons matter about government.

I congratulate the Government and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on at last grasping the nettle and establishing a Select Committee on Northern Ireland which, as I shall try to explain, is something that has been recommended since the Select Committee on Procedure's report on Select Committees in 1978–79. Previous Secretaries of State have prevaricated, which has culminated in no action being taken, so my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State deserves great credit. I shall be brief, because I know that many other hon. Members wish to speak.

So that there can be no misunderstanding, I shall make it clear how the current situation with regard to a Select Committee on Northern Ireland has arisen. The Procedure Committee's report in 1977–78 said: the development of the system has been piecemeal and has resulted in a decidedly patchy coverage of the activities of government departments and agencies, and of the major areas of public policy and administration. It went on to say that although some Departments were subject to detailed scrutiny, other major departments have received scant or at least insufficient attention. It said that that was especially so in one case—Northern Ireland. The report continued: The House should no longer rest content with an incomplete and unsystematic scrutiny of the activities of the Executive merely as a result of historical accident or sporadic pressure and it is … desirable for the different branches of the public service to be subject to an even and regular incidence of select committee investigation into their activities and to have a clear understanding of the division of responsibilities between the committees which conduct it. The paragraph concluded that it was essential to have a means of scrutinising the activities of the public service on a continuing basis.

It will be noted that the report excluded reference to responsibility for Northern Ireland affairs because of uncertainty about the future form of government for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We recognise that the appointment of separate committees for these areas may need to be further considered in the light of future constitutional developments. That was way back in 1977–78.

In 1989–90, the Select Committee on Procedure examined the scrutiny of Northern Ireland affairs and found that it was fragmented among many different Committees. It said that the scrutiny of Northern Ireland corresponded to the functions exercised by Departments shadowed by specific Select Committees. In other words, housing in Northern Ireland falls within the terms of reference of the Select Committee on the Environment, even though responsibility is exercised by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Could anything be more foolish?

On the same basis, the Committee found that the Northern Ireland prison system and the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the structure of secondary education and the health service in Northern Ireland could be examined by the Select Committees on Home Affairs, on Education, on Science and Arts and on Social Services. That is nonsense because a separate Secretary of State is responsible for each subject.

The Procedure Committee's report in 1989–90 said: All the same, it can hardly be said, on the basis of the evidence we have received, that Northern Ireland matters are receiving the attention from the departmentally-related Select Committees which they deserve". The Committee's second report concluded that a lacuna in the system of scrutiny has been the lack of a separate Committee to monitor the policy, expenditure and administration of the Northern Ireland Office … Like Wales and Scotland, Northern Ireland has its own Secretary of State with authority over a wide range of matters … In that respect, therefore, the powers of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland are more extensive than those exercised by his counterpart in Wales … It is therefore anomalous from a practical point of view that no separate Select Committee exists to oversee the affairs of Northern Ireland … It will be clear that we see a case for bringing the Northern Ireland Office formally within the system of scrutiny by Select Committees. It also stated that it did not believe that the uncertainties over the future administration of the Province can be allowed to preclude indefinitely the establishment of proper arrangements for the scrutiny by the House of the Northern Ireland Department". I have quoted from paragraphs 272 to 278 of the Select Committee's report—which, incidentally, was supported by all the Labour Members on it. No one voted against it.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, we concluded that we should not recommend a Select Committee on Northern Ireland at that stage because of the advice given to us by the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. We thought that that advice, given on political grounds, was all important and we made that clear in our report. We were advised that there should be a consensus of opinion in Northern Ireland before any such Committee was established. The Government have changed their mind for the reasons outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara).

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

The hon. Gentleman's comments go very much further than the report. Although it may be tedious, I read again from the Select Committee's report, which said that the Committee did not believe that the uncertainties over the future administration of the Province can be allowed to preclude indefinitely the establishment of proper arrangements for the scrutiny by the House of the Northern Ireland Department". The Select Committee's 1993–94 report concluded: The Committee see nothing to add or subtract from their previous views. The Committee believed that the House and the Government would decide when it was appropriate to set up a Committee. [Interruption.] It is the House that will decide. I think that the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North understands that.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

It is the Government who will table the motion.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

That is brilliant; I never realised that. That is the most outstanding piece of procedural information that I have heard in the House for many a moon. [Interruption.] That will not get the hon. Gentleman very far.

From a procedural point of view, it is absolutely right that every Department of state should be scrutinised by a Select Committee.

Photo of Dr Jim Marshall Dr Jim Marshall , Leicester South

The right hon. Gentleman is the Chairman of the Select Committee on Procedure. Clearly, the procedure that he is outlining is factually correct, but even he must realise that, although he is concerned mainly with procedure and the need for all Government Departments to be closely scrutinised, the Government's decision to table the motion was not influenced only by procedure—it was deeply political.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

Of course I accept—

Photo of Dr Jim Marshall Dr Jim Marshall , Leicester South

The right hon. Gentleman should not trivialise the issue.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

If the hon. Gentleman asks a question in the proper manner, I shall answer it. He should not put words into my mouth. There is of course a political factor in the consideration of Northern Ireland; no one denies that. It seems that the vast majority of Members of Parliament elected in Northern Ireland wish to have a Northern Ireland Select Committee.

If we are considering democracy, we do not need to consider the percentages that were cited from the Opposition Front Bench, but we should consider the Members who have been elected by the people. The people have a right to those who represent them being able to work in a Select Committee.

After all, we are granting powers to a Committee so that it can monitor, investigate, examine witnesses and act as a public and parliamentary watchdog for the work of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State, his Department and the Ministers under him. I have confidence in him, as I have confidence in all my Ministers, but I still believe that they need watching and that they need to have a House of Commons Committee on their backs. That is right and proper. I am sorry that the Labour party does not seem to agree.

The appointment of the Committee should not be interpreted as a political factor, as the Opposition have made out. The political difficulties in Ulster—

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

I am sorry—of course.

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

While I am touched by my right hon. Friend's confidence in me as one of his Ministers, may I say that it is not only the majority of Members of Parliament who support the Select Committee. Does he accept that it is my appreciation of the feelings of people throughout Northern Ireland that they want to see more parliamentary control and scrutiny over legislation in Northern Ireland as a mitigation of the effects of direct rule, however benificent that may be? They do not share the only substantive reason for opposing the Committee that we have heard—that the Unionists want it.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

I am delighted to be supported by the Secretary of State. He has added grace and charm to my few remarks as well as great factual substantiation. As well as the public being represented by their Members of Parliament, it is the width of public opinion in Northern Ireland, to which my right hon. and learned Friend referred, which is important.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Falkirk West

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

Yes, for the last time.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Falkirk West

I do not recall the right hon. Gentleman supporting the establishment of a Scottish Select Committee in the previous Parliament, when there was no such creature, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the people of Scotland wanted the establishment of such a Committee, as did the overwhelming majority of Members of Parliament who represented Scottish constituencies. The Government denied that during the entire Parliament, for political reasons.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

Whatever the hon. Gentleman may want to say against the Government, he cannot say it against me, because I, with the Select Committee on Procedure, recommended that there should be a Select Committee for Northern Ireland. As I was tutored by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara), the Government tabled the motion, not the Procedure Committee.

Therefore, may we consider the specific reasons why, on a political basis, the Committee will be useful in dealing with the difficulties in Ulster? I hope and believe that the new Select Committee will be able to ensure that the people in Northern Ireland can have confidence in what goes on in Westminster and in the dedication of Northern Ireland Ministers to look after the problems of Northern Ireland. They will know that the Members of Parliament whom they elect will have the power to ensure that the interests of Northern Ireland will be not only considered on the Floor of the House, but will be under close scrutiny and that Ministers will be cross-examined by their own elected representatives.

It will be good for Northern Ireland on political grounds to know that it will have an extra power through Northern Irish Ministers and Members of Parliament. I welcome the motion, and I believe that it is long overdue.

Photo of Mr James Molyneaux Mr James Molyneaux , Lagan Valley 8:04 pm, 9th March 1994

I trust that the Leader of the House will not mind my paying tribute to the Select Committee on Procedure and especially its chairman, the right hon. Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery), for the consistent and fair-minded approach to the desirability of extending the trend of comparatively new Select Committees, which was put in place in 1979 by Lord St. John of Fawsley, the then Leader of the House.

During the consultations leading up to that decision, which was not unanimously received in the House even in those days, I put in a bid for a Northern Ireland Committee. I was only partially successful and my pleas were heeded to some extent. The Government, who, we must remember, had a safe majority after the 1979 election, said on 25 June: we have thought it right to provide that they should be within the scope of the new Select Committees at Westminster."—[Official Report, 25 June 1979; Vol. 969, c. 40.] —as a temporary step.

That led to the beneficial visits of the existing Select Committees to Northern Ireland, which have given a great deal of encouragement and reassurance to all sections of the community. The visits illustrated in a flesh and blood fashion that their rights and privileges as citizens of the United Kingdom were not being overlooked in any way.

In the intervening 15 years, Northern Ireland has benefited greatly from the scrutiny of those specialised Committees and, if I heard the Leader of the House correctly towards the end of his speech, that valuable overview will continue with the same civilised degree of co-operation which exists, for example, between the Scottish Select Committee and the specialist subject Committees, which undertake, by invitation perhaps, by consultation, by agreement or perhaps through the Liaison Committee, the scrutiny of special matters in Scotland.

We are grateful to the Leader of the House for taking so much care to ensure that the terms of reference of the new Northern Ireland Select Committee and its relationship to those other Committees were set out so clearly in his speech. Will he confirm that the title of the Committee —I thought that he may have left out a word—will be the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee?

Photo of Mr James Molyneaux Mr James Molyneaux , Lagan Valley

I thank the Minister.

I pay tribute once more to the right hon. Member for Honiton and his Select Committee, which initiated in 1990 the process that has resulted in this motion. They have given careful consideration to all the submissions made five long years ago and they have updated their thinking at frequent intervals since the Committee made that decision in principle; we want them to know that their efforts are greatly appreciated.

While debating motion No. 3, I pay sincere tribute to two former Members who have been elevated to another placeLord Wilson and Lord Glenamara—who decided following the destruction of Stormont that Northern Ireland should have a measure of accountability as a temporary measure before they could progress. That resulted in the establishment of the Northern Ireland Committee. Lord Glenamara, then Ted Short, will be remembered by all Opposition parties with great gratitude for the scheme that he introduced to provide financial support to the Opposition parties which is enjoyed today and which has been recently increased. I pay tribute where tribute is due.

Another consultant, if I may refer to him in that way, in that process of consultation with Lord Wilson and Lord Glenamara, was my colleague Enoch Powell. During those consultations with the then Labour Government, I cannot ever recall a suggestion of a sordid deal being done, although the Wilson Government had a single-figure majority and eventually no majority at all.

It may be that, almost 20 years ago, Lord Wilson was aware of the consistent position of my party, which is that, provided that Her Majesty's Government of the day govern in the best interests of the United Kingdom in general and of Northern Ireland in particular, we see no reason why we should terminate the life of Parliament prematurely. That remains the position, and I hope that it will in some way reassure the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) and perhaps lower his blood pressure.

I always found that Lord Wilson, unlike some of his successors, had the ability to perceive objects not yet visible to the naked eye, and sometimes not even over the horizon. With its grand new title, the Committee's authority will be enhanced and its influence will be increased. I trust that, through consultation, we can find ways of making fuller use of that body, now the Northern Ireland Grand Committee.

For example, we need a clearer understanding of the number of sittings per Session, because that seems to fluctuate from year to year. We also need, not this evening but on another occasion, a clear definition of the procedure for adjourning a debate in Committee and returning to the same subject another day. We have had experience of being ruled out of order when we have suggested, as a result of unanimous agreement in the Committee, that we have not quite finished our deliberations. At about 12.55 we would decide among ourselves to adjourn and come back another time, only to find that some obscure rule made that impossible, although that used to be possible in the early days of the Committee's activities, under the original guidelines of 20 years ago.

On behalf of my colleagues, I have great pleasure in welcoming and supporting motions Nos. 2 and 3.

Photo of Mr Peter Temple-Morris Mr Peter Temple-Morris , Leominster 8:10 pm, 9th March 1994

I am grateful to be called, and I shall endeavour to be brief and to keep my remarks succinct. I must say straight away that I have sought to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because although I have no objection in principle to the measures and will support them, I have certain reservations. Having expressed some of those outside the House, I now wish to express them inside.

There are political ramifications here. I wholeheartedly agree with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery) and others said about the parliamentary context. But we are dealing with something that goes beyond Parliament. We are engaged in what may be one of the most historic endeavours ever to try to secure peace in the island of Ireland.

Northern Ireland is a special case that goes beyond purely parliamentary matters. A major effort for peace is being made and in comparison the measures before us, worthy as they are, represent a small endeavour. Nothing should be done to impede progress in any way on the joint declaration that has been worked for so hard by my right hon. and hon. Friends in Government.

This is a question of timing; it was, it is now and it remains so. The measures before us will be perceived by certain elements vital to peace to be an integrationist move, and they will see it as the wrong time to make such a move. I do not want to trivialise the matter, but as far as the nationalist community is concerned, in this whole great endeavour it takes two—indeed, more than two—to tango. The process cannot go on with one side alone.

The nationalist community—the 43 per cent. that we have heard about—is a vital part of the peace process and anything that we as a House do concerning Northern Ireland should have the rationalists' support. Certainly this measure should have both their support and that of their leadership before it is put into practice.

Of course Sinn Fein/IRA prevaricates. The Downing street declaration and the peace process are far from over. My definite view is that those people could still come in, and we must work with that process. The rhetoric of some of us has not helped in the early stages, in the vital context of getting them, or at least some of them, to come in. I hazard a guess that this measure will not help either.

The Government of Ireland—this is the last section of the pattern with which I shall deal—are also a vital component part of any settlement and of any peace on the island. By supporting what we are doing together through the joint declaration, they deprive Sinn Fein/IRA of any claim to political legitimacy and make it into what could be called a historical reject. While they are with us that will be the status of Sinn Fein/IRA. So if the Irish Government opt out in any way or diminish their efforts to implement the joint declaration the peace process would sustain a blow that it would not be able to survive.

I ask my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland—clearly, my remarks have little to do with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House —for a simple assurance that he has considered the matter in the greater context, that it is purely a parliamentary process, that it will not be perceived as an integrationist move, and that it will in no way hinder the all-important peace process, which should be our overwhelming priority.

Photo of Mr Harry Barnes Mr Harry Barnes , North East Derbyshire

There are some bad reasons for the introduction of the Select Committee and the hon. Gentleman has spelt out the problems, in terms of alienating the nationalist community and of the Government's simply using the idea to overcome their problems. However, there are some good democratic reasons, too, which will benefit the whole of Northern Ireland and everyone involved. Should not the House concentrate on the positive aspects of the proposals, pushing them forward and ensuring that they form the agenda, rather than concentrating on some of the underlying poor reasons? Perhaps the bad reasons are motivating people in various ways, but should we not turn that into a positive agenda?

Photo of Mr Peter Temple-Morris Mr Peter Temple-Morris , Leominster

I am glad that that remark came from the hon. Gentleman. I accept it, in the context that any judgment on the issue must be a matter of balance. We come down on one side or the other. We have not yet heard all the arguments from Northern Ireland Members, and it is a question of balance. I have come down, and have made my position fairly clear by expressing a serious reservation.

Photo of Dr Jim Marshall Dr Jim Marshall , Leicester South 8:16 pm, 9th March 1994

I do not wish to detain the House too long. I share most of the misgivings expressed by the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Temple-Morris), and I wish that he would have the courage to follow them and vote with the Opposition parties. Much of what he said expresses a fear shared not only by Opposition Members but by many people throughout Great Britain and the island of Ireland.

I must say at the outset that I am a fervent supporter of the Select Committee procedure. We certainly need parliamentarians overseeing Departments. That has been one of the most important constitutional changes over the past 14 years. Because of that background and that feeling, I wholeheartedly support the establishment of a Select Committee for Northern Ireland. If only I could be convinced that it was a purely procedural matter, I should follow the right hon. Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery). I heard what he said and I am sure that he is convinced that the matter is purely procedural. However, to me and to many other people the decision to establish the Select Committee seems not simply a procedural matter but a deeply political matter.

None of us would disagree that the present governance of Northern Ireland is totally inadequate. But as parliamentarians, most of us, except our colleagues from the Province itself, have accepted that position because we believe that the only possible solution would involve political institutions in the Province acceptable to both sections of the community there, and also a clearer definition of the triangular relationship between Belfast, London and Dublin. It is for those reasons that we have hitherto been prepared to accept the democratic deficit in the Province.

I am alarmed by the fact that the Government appear this evening to be undermining that approach. What the Secretary of State said about 20 minutes ago served only to fuel my fears that this action will be interpreted as a first step towards a purely internal settlement. After this evening's decision has been made, the Government will, without a shadow of doubt, come under increasing pressure to change the Order in Council method of dealing with Northern Ireland business—the very point that the right hon. and learned Gentleman made himself.

The Secretary of State will also come under increasing pressure to reorganise local government in the Province. After tonight's decision the Government will find it increasingly difficult to resist the proposals for change. Moreover, the Government's decision represents a total about-face. Before, they have always said that they will not support the establishment of a Select Committee for Northern Ireland until there is agreement between the elected representatives from both communities in the Province. They have also said that they will not support the establishment of a Select Committee until there is an outcome, successful or not, of the three-strand process. Neither of those conditions appears to have been met.

Reluctantly, I have come to the conclusion that tonight's decision is a cheap political fix—the victory of political expediency over political principle. It represents the payment of a debt owed by the Government to the Official Unionists. I do not blame the latter for exacting that price from the Government for having supported them in the Lobby over Maastricht last year. This motion has everything to do with the survival of the Government and nothing to do with the best interests or future well-being of Northern Ireland. I consider that a disgrace; the people of Northern Ireland deserve a great deal better.

Photo of Eddie McGrady Eddie McGrady , South Down 8:21 pm, 9th March 1994

If there were any integrity on the part of the Government in their dealings with both communities in Northern Ireland, this motion would not be before us tonight. If the Government genuinely believed that both communities should be dealt with equally, the motion would not be before us. By their action tonight the Government have forfeited the right to be regarded as even-handed—as honest brokers—in Northern Ireland affairs.

More than that, the Government have jeopardised the integrity of the inter-party talks, based delicately as they were on the six-party agreement of 26 March 1991. The Government have shattered that process. They have betrayed the trust given to them by the nationalist people of Northern Ireland and they have broken faith with the Irish Government, their partner in the cause of peace in Ireland.

The British Government have tried to dupe the Irish Government and others with their claim that this is merely a procedural matter with no repercussions beyond the confines of this House. It is no such thing: it never was. This is a political act; Unionist votes were bought at a crucial time last year—first, for the vote to kick miners out of their jobs, even though their sons were defending us from terrorism in Northern Ireland; and, secondly, to save the Government's bacon over Maastricht. This is a political decision; it has nothing to do with procedure.

Since 1978, the Procedure Committee has time and again said that it is up to the Government whether the process should go ahead. Time and again, that Committee has commented on the political aspects of the problem. I do not have time to quote all the Committee's recommendations over the years, but the most recent one, which appeared on 1 December 1993, stated: 'It should be remembered that the only reason given by the Procedure Committee in 1978 for its decision not to recommend the creation of a Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs was the continuing uncertainty over the future consultational arrangements for the Province' … However, the Committee accepted the advice of the then Secretary of State in 1990 that appointment of such a Committee at that time 'whilst attractive in principle, could cause difficulties for the initiative launched by the Secretary of State.'The Committee see nothing to add or subtract from their previous views. The appointment of the Committee must rest with the decision of the Government to propose to the House its appointment and its terms of reference. As I say, this has nothing to do with procedure and everything to do with Government politics.

I ask whichever Minister replies to the debate the following question: does this mean that the premise on which previous recommendations were made to the Select Committee by the Secretary of State no longer applies?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

I am entirely satisfied that the setting up of the Select Committee, if the House approves it, will have no adverse effect on the talks process, to which I attach great importance, as I know the hon. Gentleman does, too.

Photo of Eddie McGrady Eddie McGrady , South Down

I thank the Secretary of State for that information, but he and I both know that the principles of the 26 March 1991 agreement among the six parties to the talks, especially those pertaining to the three strands of the relationship between this Government and the Government of the Republic, clearly meant that nothing was to be agreed until all was agreed. As a party to that agreement the SDLP has never agreed with this proposed procedure.

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

I cannot allow that to pass—

Photo of Eddie McGrady Eddie McGrady , South Down

I have not given way to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. As the only representative of the nationalist community to speak in this debate, I have only a few minutes left in which to make the case against the motion.

We know, even from its timing, that this was a political decision. Within 24 hours of the Downing street declaration of 15 December, the Leader of the House had announced that a Select Committee would be set up. How could any sensible person conclude that that was not a sop to the Unionists to get them to acquiesce in the Downing street declaration?

I must move on quickly to the question of numbers. There can be no justification for the lack of equitable representation for the communities of Northern Ireland in this proposal. The recommendation was that those communities must be allowed to participate in the scrutiny of the business of this House, but that is not borne out by what has happened.

In public statements and letters throughout 1993–15 February and 22 July, to name but two such occasions—the Secretary of State reiterated the extent of the support from the elected representatives of both sides of the community that would be needed for such a move. These statements alternated with demands that procedures such as this must have widespread support. This procedure does not command widespread support among the representatives of Northern Ireland—a fact that will be illustrated when we divide on the motion tonight. Also, the motion has been put to the House on false premises.

I could go on to deal with the lack of consultation, even with my party, on the proposals before us, but I do not have the time to do that. I ask the House to reject the proposal and to support instead the inter-party talks in Northern Ireland and the peace process, against which the proposal will impact. There is no doubt about that.

The establishment of the Northern Ireland Select Committee is ill conceived, and it will have political ramifications. It would also be incorrect to proceed with such a Committee when the British and Irish Governments are currently working towards a peace settlement, and at a time when there is hope that inter-party talks will be re-established.

This sop given to the Unionist parties did not bear fruit. We understand that the Democratic Unionist party withdrew from the inter-party talks. The Ulster Unionist party withdrew from the talks, or at least agreed the basis on which they were to take part. Only my party, the Alliance party, and the British and Irish Governments have been willing to sit around the table. The Unionists did not get the prize for the price of their sell-out of the nationalist people of Northern Ireland.

Obviously, I have not been able to develop the arguments that I wished to develop tonight. It is a disgrace that such an important matter has been given so little time. I certainly recommend that, for the sake of the inter-party talks, community relations and peace in Ireland, the House throws out the proposal tonight.

Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood Liberal Democrat Chief Whip 8:32 pm, 9th March 1994

This has been an interesting debate, but the official Opposition—and the hon. Member for South Down (Mr. McGrady), who made a passionate and understandable speech on behalf of the Social Democratic and Labour party—may be in danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Admittedly, the bath water might be quite murky in some of its aspects.

I agree with the interesting speech made by the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Temple-Morris); I have doubts also. Certainly my party is in favour of setting up the Committee. Nothing is needed more in terms of Northern Ireland politics than the kind of working relationship which can often be achieved across party divides in a Select Committee context.

We have been at the forefront of the campaign during the past 10 years. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) has a distinguished record of arguing for the setting up of such a Committee as is being created this evening. It has been a long time coming, and it is not before time that we are having the motion.

The Leader of the House must understand that the fears and concerns mentioned by the hon. Member for Leominster are real. There are perceptions that the Government were in fact pandering to the Unionists, and that the motion and the Select Committee are rewards for services rendered during the Maastricht debate. The Leader of the House and the Government must do more; they must do everything they can to clear up that question, otherwise it may sour and prejudice the important work of the Select Committee in the future.

Has the Secretary of State received any representations from the Government of the Republic of Ireland? That question must be openly addressed to get it out of the road to allow the work of the Committee to start without the relationship being soured.

I wish to ask one or two questions about the membership of the Committee. The Leader of the House can no doubt confirm that shortly there will need to be another debate on the issue. I hope that it will be before Easter. The Committee of Selection will nominate members for the Committee, and those names will be in the form of a debatable motion. Indeed, the names would be amendable in terms of the constitution of that Committee as suggested by the Committee of Selection. Hon. Members will get a chance to look line by line and name by name at the constitution of the Committee. I certainly reserve the right at that time to make observations about the way in which the Committee is set up.

I do not think that a case has been made by the Government for a Government built-in majority. I would like to bid for a minority party and my party to be considered for a place on the Committee. I was surprised, and a bit disappointed, that consideration of the possibility of setting up a joint Committee with the noble Lords in another place had not been actively canvassed. There is a lot of talent there—Lords Fitt, Blease and Brookeborough have distinguished records, and they could make a contribution to the work of the Committee.

The question which has been addressed in terms of the need for a formal review after six months is a good one, and the circumstances to which I adverted earlier rather require that to be undertaken. The hon. Member for Leominster made a good point about the need for progress to be made on the objective of devolution, and further executive power sharing. Indeed, the work of the British-Irish Joint Parliamentary Committee is important and ought not to be prejudiced in any way by the decisions that we are taking this evening.

I think that the amendment should be supported. Northern Ireland has special circumstances, and Orders in Council are restrictive methods of legislation. I think that the work of the Department of Public Prosecutions certainly should be scrutinised. The Leader of the House must deal more adequately with allegations of political deals, but, that said, there should be no doubt that what is good enough for other departmental Committees and other state Select Committees should be good enough for Northern Ireland.

Photo of William McCrea William McCrea , Mid Ulster 8:35 pm, 9th March 1994

On behalf of my colleagues, I welcome the setting up of a Select Committee for Northern Ireland affairs.

I have had the honour of representing my constituency in this House since 1983, yet I do not believe that many hon. Members are aware of the lack of accountability and democracy in Northern Ireland. We need proper scrutiny on behalf of our constituents, and this debate certainly gives us an opportunity for that. I thank the Procedure Committee for making the recommendation, and I am delighted that it is before the House. I can assure the House that, if my party has a representative on the Select Committee, it will play a vital part in the scrutiny.

It is rather rich of the hon. Member for South Down (Mr. McGrady) to comment on the lack of cross-community support. He talks about the need for cross-community support for the Select Committee, and yet there was no need for cross-community support for the Anglo-Irish Agreement or for the London-Dublin deal.

The measure effectively restrains the Executive, and hands power to the representatives of the people of Northern Ireland. It is disgraceful that hon. Members representing Northern Ireland constituencies want to take from us that right of scrutiny of the Executive. Bearing in mind that all other Departments are brought to account, it is only right that the Executive in Northern Ireland—the Secretary of State, Ministers and the Northern Ireland Office—should be brought to account for some of the actions which they have forced upon people.

Hon. Members have talked a lot about the peace initiative. Many people in Northern Ireland believe that talk of a peace initiative is rather bogus. We were promised "Peace by Christmas" and "Peace within a week" by the right hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume), the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour party, on the basis of the Adams-Hume talks. I think that that was rather disgusting. They know that that is a bogus peace which will take us down a cul de sac. It will take us out of the United Kingdom—our rightful place—and towards a united Ireland. That has been the aim and object of all the terrorism that the United Kingdom has endured over the years.

My party has held a torch, as have other parties, for the Select Committee. I am delighted that we will have the right to scrutinise Ministers and the Department. Direct rule is remote and Ministers must be brought to book. If that is so for Ministers, it should certainly be so for the civil service in Northern Ireland. The civil servants have been ruling the Province for a number of years, and they are rather uncomfortable at the thought that they are to be scrutinised and held to account for some of the deals which they have done behind the backs of the people of Northern Ireland. Therefore, I certainly welcome the fact that we will have an opportunity to see the civil servants answer to the elected representatives of the people of the Province.

It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Order [4 March].

The House proceeded to a Division

Photo of Mr Timothy Devlin Mr Timothy Devlin , Stockton South

(seated and covered): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. With reference to the point of order raised earlier by my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman), may I say that I left my office at 7 Millbank, walked here and voted. The doors are not yet closed. In view of that fact, I wonder whether you are aware of the lack of difficulty in voting from 7 Millbank.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse , Pontefract and Castleford

My immediate predecessor dealt adequately with that point of order.

The House having divided: Ayes 240, Noes 298.

Division No. 158][8.38 pm
AYES
Abbott, Ms DianeBenn, Rt Hon Tony
Adams, Mrs IreneBennett, Andrew F.
Ainger, NickBenton, Joe
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Bermingham, Gerald
Allen, GrahamBerry, Dr. Roger
Alton, DavidBetts, Clive
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)Blunkett, David
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)Boateng, Paul
Armstrong, HilaryBoyes, Roland
Ashdown, Rt Hon PaddyBradley, Keith
Austin-Walker, JohnBray, Dr Jeremy
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)
Barnes, HarryBruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Barron, KevinBurden, Richard
Battle, JohnByers, Stephen
Bayley, HughCaborn, Richard
Beckett, Rt Hon MargaretCallaghan, Jim
Bell, StuartCampbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Canavan, DennisHutton, John
Cann, JamieIngram, Adam
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)
Chisholm, MalcolmJackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)
Clapham, MichaelJamieson, David
Clark, Dr David (South Shields)Janner, Greville
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)
Clwyd, Mrs AnnJones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Coffey, AnnJones, Lynne (B'ham S O)
Cohen, HarryJones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Connarty, MichaelJones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Jowell, Tessa
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Corbett, RobinKeen, Alan
Corbyn, JeremyKennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)
Corston, Ms JeanKhabra, Piara S.
Cousins, JimKilfoyle, Peter
Cox, TomKirkwood, Archy
Cryer, BobLestor, Joan (Eccles)
Cummings, JohnLewis, Terry
Cunliffe, LawrenceLitherland, Robert
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)Livingstone, Ken
Dalyell, TamLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Darling, AlistairLoyden, Eddie
Davidson, IanLynne, Ms Liz
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)McAllion, John
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)McAvoy, Thomas
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'I)McCartney, Ian
Denham, JohnMcFall, John
Dewar, DonaldMcKelvey, William
Dixon, DonMackinlay, Andrew
Donohoe, Brian H.McLeish, Henry
Dowd, JimMcMaster, Gordon
Dunnachie, JimmyMcNamara, Kevin
Eagle, Ms AngelaMcWilliam, John
Enright, DerekMadden, Max
Etherington, BillMahon, Alice
Fatchett, DerekMandelson, Peter
Faulds, AndrewMarek, Dr John
Fisher, MarkMarshall, David (Shettleston)
Flynn, PaulMarshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Foster, Rt Hon DerekMartlew, Eric
Fraser, JohnMaxton, John
Fyfe, MariaMeacher, Michael
Galbraith, SamMeale, Alan
Galloway, GeorgeMichael, Alun
Gapes, MikeMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Garrett, JohnMichie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Gerrard, NeilMilburn, Alan
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr JohnMiller, Andrew
Godman, Dr Norman A.Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Godsiff, RogerMoonie, Dr Lewis
Golding, Mrs LlinMorgan, Rhodri
Gordon, MildredMorley, Elliot
Gould, BryanMorris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
Graham, ThomasMorris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Mowlam, Marjorie
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Mudie, George
Grocott, BruceMullin, Chris
Gunnell, JohnMurphy, Paul
Hain, PeterOakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Hall, MikeO'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Hanson, DavidO'Brien, William (Normanton)
Hardy, PeterO'Hara, Edward
Harman, Ms HarrietO'Neill, Martin
Harvey, NickParry, Robert
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyPatchett, Terry
Henderson, DougPickthall, Colin
Heppell, JohnPike, Peter L.
Hill, Keith (Streatham)Pope, Greg
Hinchliffe, DavidPowell, Ray (Ogmore)
Home Robertson, JohnPrentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Hood, JimmyPrentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Hoon, GeoffreyPrescott, John
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)Primarolo, Dawn
Hoyle, DougPurchase, Ken
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)Quin, Ms Joyce
Radice, GilesStevenson, George
Raynsford, NickStott, Roger
Redmond, MartinStrang, Dr. Gavin
Reid, Dr JohnTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Rendel, DavidTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Robertson, George (Hamilton)Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)Tyler, Paul
Roche, Mrs. BarbaraWalker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Rogers, AllanWallace, James
Rooney, TerryWalley, Joan
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Ruddock, JoanWareing, Robert N
Sedgemore, BrianWatson, Mike
Sheerman, BarryWilliams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W>
Sheldon, Rt Hon RobertWilliams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Short, ClareWinnick, David
Skinner, DennisWorthington, Tony
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)Wray, Jimmy
Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)Wright, Dr Tony
Smith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E)Young, David (Bolton SE)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Spearing, NigelTellers for the Ayes:
Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)Mr. John Spellar and Mr. Dennis Turner.
Steinberg, Gerry
NOES
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey)Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)
Aitken, JonathanCoombs, Simon (Swindon)
Alexander, RichardCope, Rt Hon Sir John
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)Cormack, Patrick
Allason, Rupert (Torbay)Couchman, James
Amess, DavidCran, James
Arbuthnot, JamesCurrie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv)Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Aspinwall, JackDavis, David (Boothferry)
Atkins, RobertDay, Stephen
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E)Deva, Nirj Joseph
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)Devlin, Tim
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North)Dickens, Geoffrey
Baldry, TonyDicks, Terry
Banks, Matthew (Southport)Dorrell, Stephen
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bates, MichaelDover, Den
Batiste, SpencerDuncan, Alan
Bellingham, HenryDuncan-Smith, Iain
Bendall, VivianDunn, Bob
Beresford, Sir PaulDurant, Sir Anthony
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnDykes, Hugh
Blackburn, Dr John G.Eggar, Tim
Booth, HartleyElletson, Harold
Boswell, TimEmery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Bottomley, Rt Hon VirginiaEvans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Bowden, AndrewEvans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Bowis, JohnEvans, Roger (Monmouth)
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir RhodesEvennett, David
Brandreth, GylesFaber, David
Brazier, JulianFabricant, Michael
Bright, GrahamFenner, Dame Peggy
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterField, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)Fishburn, Dudley
Browning, Mrs. AngelaForman, Nigel
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)Forth, Eric
Budgen, NicholasFowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Burns, SimonFox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Butler, PeterFox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Butterfill, JohnFreeman, Rt Hon Roger
Carlisle, John (Luton North)Fry, Sir Peter
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Gale, Roger
Carrington, MatthewGallie, Phil
Carttiss, MichaelGardiner, Sir George
Churchill, MrGarnier, Edward
Clappison, JamesGill, Christopher
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Gillan, Cheryl
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Clifton-Brown, GeoffreyGoodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Coe, SebastianGorman, Mrs Teresa
Colvin, MichaelGorst, John
Conway, DerekGrant, Sir A. (Cambs SW)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Mills, Iain
Greenway, John (Ryedale)Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW)
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynMoate, Sir Roger
Hague, WilliamMonro, Sir Hector
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir ArchieMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Hampson, Dr KeithMoss, Malcolm
Hanley, JeremyNeedham, Richard
Hannam, Sir JohnNelson, Anthony
Hargreaves, AndrewNeubert, Sir Michael
Harris, DavidNewton, Rt Hon Tony
Haselhurst, AlanNicholls, Patrick
Hawkins, NickNicholson, David (Taunton)
Hawksley, WarrenNicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hayes, JerryNorris, Steve
Heald, OliverOnslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidOppenheim, Phillip
Hendry, CharlesOttaway, Richard
Hicks, RobertPage, Richard
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.Paice, James
Hill, James (Southampton Test)Patnick, Irvine
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Horam, JohnPawsey, James
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir PeterPeacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)Pickles, Eric
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)Porter, David (Waveney)
Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)Rathbone, Tim
Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)Redwood, Rt Hon John
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)Richards, Rod
Hunter, AndrewRiddick, Graham
Hurd, Rt Hon DouglasRifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm
Jack, MichaelRobathan, Andrew
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Jenkin, BernardRobertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Jessel, TobyRobinson, Mark (Somerton)
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyRoe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelRyder, Rt Hon Richard
Kellett-Bowman, Dame ElaineSackville, Tom
Key, RobertSainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
King, Rt Hon TomScott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Kirkhope, TimothyShaw, David (Dover)
Knapman, RogerShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Knight, Greg (Derby N)Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)Shersby, Michael
Knox, Sir DavidSims, Roger
Kynoch, George (Kincardine)Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lait, Mrs JacquiSmith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lang, Rt Hon IanSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lawrence, Sir IvanSoames, Nicholas
Legg, BarrySpeed, Sir Keith
Leigh, EdwardSpencer, Sir Derek
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Lidington, DavidSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lightbown, DavidSpink, Dr Robert
Lilley, Rt Hon PeterSpring, Richard
Lloyd, Rt Hon Peter (Fareham)Sproat, Iain
Lord, MichaelSquire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Luff, PeterStanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir NicholasSteen, Anthony
MacKay, AndrewStephen, Michael
Maclean, DavidStern, Michael
McLoughlin, PatrickStewart, Allan
McNair-Wilson, Sir PatrickStreeter, Gary
Madel, Sir DavidSumberg, David
Maitland, Lady OlgaSweeney, Walter
Malone, GeraldSykes, John
Mans, KeithTapsell, Sir Peter
Marland, PaulTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Marlow, TonyTaylor, John M. (Solihull)
Marshall, John (Hendon S)Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)Temple-Morris, Peter
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)Thomason, Roy
Mates, MichaelThompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr BrianThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir PatrickThornton, Sir Malcolm
Merchant, PiersThurnham, Peter
Townend, John (Bridlington)Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)Whitney, Ray
Tracey, RichardWhittingdale, John
Tredinnick, DavidWiddecombe, Ann
Trend, MichaelWiggin, Sir Jerry
Trotter, NevilleWilkinson, John
Twinn, Dr IanWilletts, David
Vaughan, Sir GerardWilshire, David
Waldegrave, Rt Hon WilliamWinterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Walden, GeorgeWinterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Walker, Bill (N Tayside)Wolfson, Mark
Waller, GaryYeo, Tim
Ward, JohnYoung, Rt Hon Sir George
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Waterson, NigelTellers for the Noes:
Watts, JohnMr. Sydney Chapman and Mr. Timothy Wood.
Wells, Bowen

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question Put:—

The House divided: Ayes 324, Noes 221.

Division No. 159][8.52 pm
AYES
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey)Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)
Aitken, JonathanClifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Alexander, RichardCoe, Sebastian
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)Colvin, Michael
Allason, Rupert (Torbay)Conway, Derek
Alton, DavidCoombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)
Amess, DavidCoombs, Simon (Swindon)
Arbuthnot, JamesCope, Rt Hon Sir John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Cormack, Patrick
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv)Couchman, James
Ashdown, Rt Hon PaddyCran, James
Aspinwall, JackCurrie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Atkins, RobertCurry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E)Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)Davis, David (Boothferry)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North)Day, Stephen
Baldry, TonyDeva, Nirj Joseph
Banks, Matthew (Southport)Devlin, Tim
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Dickens, Geoffrey
Bates, MichaelDicks, Terry
Batiste, SpencerDorrell, Stephen
Beggs, RoyDouglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bellingham, HenryDover, Den
Bendall, VivianDuncan, Alan
Beresford, Sir PaulDuncan-Smith, Iain
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnDunn, Bob
Blackburn, Dr John G.Durant, Sir Anthony
Body, Sir RichardDykes, Hugh
Booth, HartleyEggar, Tim
Boswell, TimElletson, Harold
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Bottomley, Rt Hon VirginiaEvans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Bowden, AndrewEvans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Bowis, JohnEvans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir RhodesEvans, Roger (Monmouth)
Brandreth, GylesEvennett, David
Brazier, JulianFaber, David
Bright, GrahamFabricant, Michael
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterFenner, Dame Peggy
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Browning, Mrs. AngelaFishburn, Dudley
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)Forman, Nigel
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)
Budgen, NicholasForth, Eric
Burns, SimonFowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Butler, PeterFox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Butterfill, JohnFox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Cariile, Alexander (Montgomry)Freeman, Rt Hon Roger
Carlisle, John (Luton North)Fry, Sir Peter
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Gale, Roger
Carrington, MatthewGallie, Phil
Carttiss, MichaelGardiner, Sir George
Churchill, MrGarnier, Edward
Clappison, JamesGill, Christopher
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Gillan, Cheryl
Goodlad, Rt Hon AlastairMans, Keith
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesMarland, Paul
Gorman, Mrs TeresaMarlow, Tony
Gorst, JohnMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Grant, Sir A. (Cambs SW)Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Greenway, John (Ryedale)Mates, Michael
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynMayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Hague, WilliamMerchant, Piers
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir ArchieMichie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Hampson, Dr KeithMills, Iain
Hanley, JeremyMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hannam, Sir JohnMitchell, Sir David (Hants NW)
Hargreaves, AndrewMoate, Sir Roger
Harris, DavidMolyneaux, Rt Hon James
Harvey, NickMonro, Sir Hector
Haselhurst, AlanMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Hawkins, NickMoss, Malcolm
Hawksley, WarrenNeedham, Richard
Hayes, JerryNelson, Anthony
Heald, OliverNeubert, Sir Michael
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidNewton, Rt Hon Tony
Hendry, CharlesNicholls, Patrick
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hill, James (Southampton Test)Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)Norris, Steve
Horam, JohnOnslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir PeterOppenheim, Phillip
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)Ottaway, Richard
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)Page, Richard
Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)Paice, James
Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)Paisley, Rev Ian
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)Patnick, Irvine
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hunter, AndrewPawsey, James
Hurd, Rt Hon DouglasPeacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Jack, MichaelPickles, Eric
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)Porter, David (Waveney)
Jenkin, BernardRathbone, Tim
Jessel, TobyRedwood, Rt Hon John
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyRendel, David
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)Richards, Rod
Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)Riddick, Graham
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelRifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm
Kellett-Bowman, Dame ElaineRobathan, Andrew
Key, RobertRoberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Kilfedder, Sir JamesRobertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
King, Rt Hon TornRobinson, Mark (Somerton)
Kirkwood, ArchyRobinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Knapman, RogerRoe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)Ross, William (E Londonderry)
Knight, Greg (Derby N)Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Knox, Sir DavidRyder, Rt Hon Richard
Kynoch, George (Kincardine)Sackville, Tom
Lait, Mrs JacquiSainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Lang, Rt Hon IanScott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lawrence, Sir IvanShaw, David (Dover)
Legg, BarryShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Leigh, EdwardShephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Lidington, DavidShersby, Michael
Lightbown, DavidSims, Roger
Lilley, Rt Hon PeterSkeet, Sir Trevor
Lloyd, Rt Hon Peter (Fareham)Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lord, MichaelSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Luff, PeterSmyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir NicholasSoames, Nicholas
Lynne, Ms LizSpeed, Sir Keith
McCrea, Rev WilliamSpencer, Sir Derek
MacKay, AndrewSpicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Maclean, DavidSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
McLoughlin, PatrickSpink, Dr Robert
McNair-Wilson, Sir PatrickSpring, Richard
Madel, Sir DavidSproat, Iain
Maginnis, KenSquire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Maitland, Lady OlgaStanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Malone, GeraldSteen, Anthony
Stephen, MichaelWaldegrave, Rt Hon William
Stern, MichaelWalden, George
Stewart, AllanWalker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Streeter, GaryWalker, Bill (N Tayside)
Sumberg, DavidWallace, James
Sweeney, WalterWaller, Gary
Sykes, JohnWard, John
Tapsell, Sir PeterWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Taylor, Ian (Esher)Waterson, Nigel
Taylor, Rt Hon John D. (Strgfd)Watts, John
Taylor, John M. (Solihull)Wells, Bowen
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)Whitney, Ray
Temple-Morris, PeterWhittingdale, John
Thomason, RoyWiddecombe, Ann
Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)Wilkinson, John
Thornton, Sir MalcolmWilletts, David
Thurnham, PeterWilshire, David
Townend, John (Bridlington)Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Tracey, RichardWolfson, Mark
Tredinnick, DavidWood, Timothy
Trend, MichaelYeo, Tim
Trimble, DavidYoung, Rt Hon Sir George
Trotter, Neville
Twinn, Dr IanTellers for the Ayes:
Tyler, PaulMr. Sydney Chapman and Mr. Timothy Kirkhope.
Vaughan, Sir Gerard
NOES
Abbott, Ms DianeCox, Tom
Adams, Mrs IreneCryer, Bob
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Cummings, John
Allen, GrahamCunliffe, Lawrence
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)Dalyell, Tam
Armstrong, HilaryDarling, Alistair
Austin-Walker, JohnDavies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Barron, KevinDavis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'I)
Battle, JohnDenham, John
Bayley, HughDewar, Donald
Beckett, Rt Hon MargaretDixon, Don
Bell, StuartDonohoe, Brian H.
Benn, Rt Hon TonyDowd, Jim
Bennett, Andrew F.Dunnachie, Jimmy
Benton, JoeEagle, Ms Angela
Bermingham, GeraldEnright, Derek
Berry, Dr. RogerEtherington, Bill
Betts, CliveFatchett, Derek
Blunkett, DavidFaulds, Andrew
Boateng, PaulFisher, Mark
Boyes, RolandFoster, Rt Hon Derek
Bradley, KeithFraser, John
Bray, Dr JeremyFyfe, Maria
Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)Galloway, George
Burden, RichardGapes, Mike
Byers, StephenGarrett, John
Caborn, RichardGerrard, Neil
Callaghan, JimGilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)Godman, Dr Norman A.
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)Godsiff, Roger
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Golding, Mrs Llin
Canavan, DennisGordon, Mildred
Cann, JamieGraham, Thomas
Chisholm, MalcolmGrant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Clapham, MichaelGriffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Clark, Dr David (South Shields)Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)Grocott, Bruce
Clwyd, Mrs AnnGunnell, John
Coffey, AnnHain, Peter
Cohen, HarryHall, Mike
Connarty, MichaelHanson, David
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Hardy, Peter
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Harman, Ms Harriet
Corbett, RobinHattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Corbyn, JeremyHenderson, Doug
Corston, Ms JeanHeppell, John
Cousins, JimHill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, DavidMurphy, Paul
Home Robertson, JohnOakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Hoon, GeoffreyO'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Hoyle, DougO'Hara, Edward
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)O'Neill, Martin
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Parry, Robert
Hughes, Roy (Newport E)Patchett, Terry
Hutton, JohnPickthall, Colin
Ingram, AdamPike, Peter L.
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)Pope, Greg
Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Jamieson, DavidPrentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Janner, GrevillePrentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)Prescott, John
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)Primarolo, Dawn
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)Purchase, Ken
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)Quin, Ms Joyce
Jowell, TessaRadice, Giles
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldRaynsford, Nick
Keen, AlanRedmond, Martin
Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)Reid, Dr John
Khabra, Piara S.Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Kilfoyle, PeterRobinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Lestor, Joan (Eccles)Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Lewis, TerryRogers, Allan
Litherland, RobertRooney, Terry
Livingstone, KenRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Ruddock, Joan
Loyden, EddieSedgemore, Brian
McAllion, JohnSheerman, Barry
McAvoy, ThomasSheldon, Rt Hon Robert
McCartney, IanShort, Clare
McFall, JohnSkinner, Dennis
McGrady, EddieSmith, Andrew (Oxford E)
McKelvey, WilliamSmith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
McLeish, HenrySmith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E)
McMaster, GordonSmith, Liew (Blaenau Gwent)
McNamara, KevinSoley, Clive
McWilliam, JohnSpearing, Nigel
Madden, MaxSquire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Mahon, AliceSteinberg, Gerry
Mallon, SeamusStevenson, George
Mandelson, PeterStott, Roger
Marshall, David (Shettleston)Strang, Dr. Gavin
Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Martlew, EricThompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Maxton, JohnWalker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Meacher, MichaelWalley, Joan
Meale, AlanWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Michael, AlunWareing, Robert N
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)Watson, Mike
Milburn, AlanWilliams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Miller, AndrewWilliams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)Winnick, David
Moonie, Dr LewisWorthington, Tony
Morgan, RhodriWray, Jimmy
Morley, ElliotWright, Dr Tony
Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)Young, David (Bolton SE)
Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Tellers for the Noes:
Mowlam, MarjorieMr. John Spellar and Mr. Dennis Turner.
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris

Question accordingly agreed to.

Ordered,That Standing Order No. 130 (Select Committees related to government departments) be amended, by leaving out lines 5 to 8, and in the Table after the entry relating to National Heritage, by inserting the words—

"9A Northern Northern Ireland AffairsNorthern Ireland Office; administration and Ireland Affairs expenditure of the Crown Solicitor's Office (but excluding individual cases and advice given by the Crown Solicitor); and other matters within the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (but excluding the expenditure, administration and policy of the Office of the Direct or of Public Prosecutions, Northern Ireland and the drafting of legislation by the Office of the Legislative Counsel).134"

DEPUTY SPEAKER then put the Question on the other motion requiring to be decided at that hour.