`(1) From 1st April 2003, paragraph (1E) of rule 37 of the parliamentary election rules applicable to elections in Northern Ireland, imported into schedule 1 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 by section 1(2) of the Elections (Northern Ireland) Act 1985 (c.2), is amended in accordance with sub-section (2).
(2) Sub-paragraphs (a) to (g) are omitted and the following are inserted:
``(a) the plastic photographic card which is, or forms the counterpart of, a current licence to drive a motor vehicle;
(b) a current passport issued by the Government of the United Kingdom or by the Government of the Republic of Ireland;
(c) a senior citizen's concessionary fare pass issued by the Northern Ireland Department for Regional Development;
(d) a current electoral identity card issued under section 13C of this Act.''.'.—[Mr. Blunt.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
Motion made, and Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—
The Committee divided: Ayes 4, Noes 10.
I am mindful that the hon. Members present may be the only people in Parliament who are still working, and I am anxious not to detain them any longer than necessary. However, it would be remiss of me to allow the proceedings to close without saying a few words—and they will be very few.
On behalf of the Committee, I thank you, Mr. Amess, for the humorous and helpful manner in which you have presided over the proceedings. I also thank the people who have assisted you, and Mr. Hood. The Committee is grateful to those who have recorded the proceedings and guided hon. Members in relation to procedure.
I also wish to record my appreciation of the manner in which the debate has been conducted, especially as it dealt with a complex issue. That has been of considerable assistance. All hon. Members will leave the Committee better informed.
I was glad that I was present on the one occasion when the hon. Member for Belfast, East had the opportunity to say no, but was the only person in the Committee to say aye. I look forward to re-engaging on these issues on the Floor of the House in the not too distant future.
I associate the Opposition with the Minister's remarks and express gratitude to him for the way in which he conducted proceedings. I hope that he continues in that vein when the Bill is on Report and Third Reading. I am sorry that we are here at a quarter to seven. If the majority had been persuaded by my timetable motion, we would by now be well home.
I also thank you, Mr. Amess, and all your staff for the help that has been provided to me and my party during our consideration of the Bill. I thank the Minister and his predecessors and those who are here from Northern Ireland for their help in formulating amendments, which I found confusing even after they were formulated—but that is another story. I thank all the members of the Committee for their participation and their kindness to me during the debate.
Not as a matter of form but as a genuine desire, I express my thanks to you, Mr. Amess, and to Mr. Hood in his absence, for your excellent chairmanship of the Committee. I, too, thank the Minister and all his officials for their assistance over the period leading up to our Committee sittings and for the information with which they provided us during those four sittings. The Minister has taught us well; I am not sure whether that will be altogether to his advantage when the next stage of the Bill reaches the Chamber, as we will go there better informed as to his position on the issues and as to the factual position—if, indeed, there is a difference between the two.
I thank hon. Members for their kind and generous remarks. I thank the Committee for its indulgence as I fluffed my lines on many occasions, and for keeping in good order. I thank all the staff but, most of all, I thank our Clerk for his wisdom and guidance.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill, as amended, to be reported.
Committee rose at twelve minutes to Seven o'clock.