Mr William Ross: No. I am sorry, but we each have only 10 minutes to speak. The hon. Gentleman may get a chance to make his own speech. Hon. Members have referred to the fuel allowance for the over-60s. No doubt the £150 is welcome, as are the concessions on television licences that were announced some time ago, but I do not favour that way of supporting pensioners. It would be much better if we lumped...
Mr William Ross: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?
Mr William Ross: I am curious about the way in which the right hon. Gentleman arrived at the figure of £6,000 savings. Has he simply applied indexation to take account of the inflation rate or earnings since 1988?
Mr William Ross: Will the Secretary of State see to it that regional television stations are not taken over by interests outwith the United Kingdom, but remain firmly in local hands?
Mr William Ross: The hon. Gentleman seems to think that all the amendments in my name relate to the concerns expressed by the hon. Member for Greenock and Inverclyde (Dr. Godman), but most of them relate to restricting the time for which the legislation can be permitted to run to one year or to a maximum of three years.
Mr William Ross: If the SDLP is receiving substantial support from the Irish Republic, why should that not be public knowledge when it would have to be public knowledge in respect of the Labour party?
Mr William Ross: Will the Minister give way?
Mr William Ross: The Minister is saying that it is possible to have regional legislation bearing on the registration of Northern Ireland parties. Will he withhold that benefit from parties that are regional in the sense that they contest elections only in Wales or Scotland?
Mr William Ross: Will the Minister give way?
Mr William Ross: May I turn the hon. Gentleman's argument around? If it is unfair to discriminate against small parties, is it fair to pass legislation that can only be described as discriminating in favour of a terrorist organisation?
Mr William Ross: Does the hon. Gentleman allege that the SDLP, for instance, receives money from the Irish Republic? Does he allege that any of the other small parties that he named are receiving money from America, the Irish Republic or anywhere else? Surely, they all raise their money in Northern Ireland, so the provision would be no great hardship to them.
Mr William Ross: I have tabled several amendments in this group and I have also added my name to the Conservative amendment No. 152. I listened to the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Walter) with interest. Like most others who talk about Northern Ireland, he referred to the peace process. I concluded long ago that it was not a peace process, but simply an appeasement process, which has gone on apace for...
Mr William Ross: The intention is to make it difficult for the terrorist parties. All the parties that the hon. Gentleman has named are not involved in terrorism, as far as I know. The Women's Coalition and the SDLP are perfectly legitimate parties. They would not be affected because they are not getting money from across the border. If they were, that would be interesting information.
Mr William Ross: I am not really concerned about those parties. The number of votes that those parties get is so small that it is doubtful whether they would gain election in a normal election. When everything settles down, those parties will almost certainly disappear. I am aiming at the one party that is the terrorist front.
Mr William Ross: I think that I have answered it. I am not all that concerned about the tiny parties, but I am concerned with the terrorist front and the IRA. The amendments are aimed at the IRA, and the hon. Gentleman is raising red herrings because he knows perfectly well what my amendments intend to do.
Mr William Ross: I recognise what the right hon. and learned Gentleman says. If the Northern Ireland Assembly were to disappear, the parties about which the hon. Member for Greenock and Inverclyde (Dr. Godman) is concerned would not be caught by the Bill's provisions in any case. If he wanted to protect them, he should have tabled his own amendments to prevent them from being swept away from the political...
Mr William Ross: The Minister knows that I have said that I am not all that concerned about those tiny parties. If an election were held tomorrow, they would have no representative in the Northern Ireland Assembly. I am trying to get at the terrorists' face, and I believe that my amendments would bear heavily upon that. The plain truth is that the Minister has not explained to the right hon. and learned...
Mr William Ross: I do not care particularly how we separate evil people from democrats, I just want it done. If my amendments do not accomplish that, the Government still have time, even so late in the Bill's process through the House, to table amendments to that end. Amendment No. 152 is the best solution of all. However, hon. Members might care to study starred amendment No. 183, which would take care of...
Mr William Ross: I must confess that I am always confused by the way in which the estimates are written. However, it seems that the class V estimate for the Lord Chancellor's Department is £1,625,000,000, so £1,000 will not keep the Department running for very long.
Mr William Ross: I am pleased that the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) initiated a debate on the motion, because it proposes certain changes to departmental expenditure in the Northern Ireland Office. The Northern Ireland appropriation order will soon come before the House, but the estimates before us deal with expenditure that falls outwith that order. This debate seems to offer us...