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Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd) : Order. I should be much obliged if the hon. Gentleman would relate his remarks to Third Reading. He is making quite a lot of what took place in Committee, but we are now on Third Reading. I ask him to relate his remarks to the Bill.
Mr. Robinson : I hear what you say, Madam Deputy Speaker, and recognise that that is the view by which you should like me to abide.
Madam Deputy Speaker : I am asking the hon. Gentleman to abide by the Standing Orders of the House.
Mr. Robinson : Of course, but all that I am doing is what others have done before me, which is to paint a backcloth against which we can consider this Third Reading. I am sure that no one would seek to deny me rights that others have enjoyed before me.
I was concluding my reference to the amendment that sought to establish that the Fair Employment Commission itself, which the legislation establishes, should be bound by law to abide by the very regulations that it would seek to force employers in Northern Ireland to accept. However, in Committee both Government and Opposition Members voted against that proposition. I cannot understand how people who really want to ensure that there is fair employment in Northern Ireland could find it offensive that a body that is to carry through fair employment principles in the Province should not be bound by the same strictures that it would seek to have regulated in Northern Ireland. However, the Government and the weak Labour Opposition did not decide to go down that road.
Column 1210Of necessity I must advise the House, lest its view is believed, that much of the argument of the Labour party is that discrimination is essentially against one section of the community. I do not see it that way. Indeed, that is not the history of Northern Ireland. Discrimination that any hon. Member would find offensive occurs in both sections of the community, but happily it does not occur to the degree that a debate such as this might suggest and it is not as rampant and as widespread as this measure might suggest.
Protestants are discriminated against just as much as Roman Catholics have been discriminated against. It does no good if people pretend that there has not been any discrimination in Northern Ireland. All hon. Members should want to end discrimination in Northern Ireland. Indeed, there is no difference in the House on that.
During the Bill's passage through Committee and the House a number of reports have been issued that suggested that discrimination is still taking place. I can recall that, much to the embarrassment of the hon. Member for South Down (Mr. McGrady), the council in his area was found to have an imbalance in its work force that favoured the Roman Catholic section of the community and discriminated against the Protestant community. Indeed, Protestants were again discriminated against in Strabane, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea) and, much to the embarrassment of the Minister and of Mr. Bob Cooper, the Fair Employment Agency itself had to confess that it was discriminating against Protestants--although I am sure that those are not quite the words that it used in its admission.
Discrimination does take place, and it is not confined to one section of the community. The question therefore is what we do to eliminate or at least to reduce it. The Government had a choice. They could have brought forward a measure with a stick-and-carrot approach, with heavy penalties for those found to have discriminated, and encouragements to employers to ensure that they advertised in such a way as to allow all sections of the community access to interviews for employment, and that they used the recruitment procedures of the various schools in the Province. That is the approach that I would have favoured.
I said in earlier debates that I would have been happier to see even bigger penalties than the Bill recommends, provided they were to be used against those who discriminated and we did not have what the Government call affirmative action, which is, in effect, reverse discrimination. Earlier, the Minister said that they would prohibit reverse discrimination and the use of quotas. The truth is that the Government have encouraged reverse discrimination. Through goals and timetables, they have set up a system of quotas. I was about to say that it is the thin end of the wedge, but quotas and reverse discrimination are well up the wedge.
The Government are giving a clear signal to employers in Northern Ireland that, if their books do not balance as to the ratio between Protestants and Roman Catholic employees, they will have to make them balance, whatever has to be sacrificed. If employers have to sacrifice the merit principle, so be it. The clear message from the Government is that employers should have the right balance. The Protestant community feels that the Government do not want the right balance Provincewide but only in certain parts of the Province. The Fair Employment
Column 1211Agency is not as concerned when it finds an imbalance which favours the Roman Catholic section of the community. I and others have gone to the Fair Employment Agency to ask for reports on various employers. If the discrimination is believed to be against Protestants, the same enthusiasm has not been evident in the agency. It was because of the lack of trust, faith and confidence in the Fair Employment Agency that I felt it essential that it should be bound by the same measures as it was seeking to impose upon others in relation to employment practices.
Mr. Beggs : Does the hon. Gentleman also agree that the Fair Employment Agency should have been using the same, consistent, procedures in all its investigations and should not have gone through all sorts of contortions in order to try to prove its point?
Mr. Robinson : Yes. In many ways the Fair Employment Agency was seen by the Protestant community to be touting for business from one section of the community. It is in the interest of the Government that all sections of the community should have confidence in fair employment procedures in Northern Ireland. They will not get that confidence if they refuse to make the Fair Employment Commission and the tribunal answerable to the same regulations that they are imposing upon employers.
The other essential point is that the public must have confidence in those who are in control of the Fair Employment Commission. People have no confidence in Bob Cooper, because they know his background. They know that he is a political animal and a political reject ; they know where he stood before. They have seen how he acted in his role as chairman of the Fair Employment Agency, and they have no confidence in him because of that. By making that man chairman of the new Fair Employment Commission, the Minister could not get the commission off to a worse start. Whatever pressures were applied to the Minister, he made a bad choice that will damage the working of the legislation.
The legislation will not be used just by the hon. Member for South Down. I have seen enough over the last few years as an elected representative to know that I will use the legislation on behalf of my constituents, just as the hon. Gentleman will use it on behalf of his.
Rev. William McCrea : Will my hon. Friend seek an assurance from the Minister that, when matters are referred to the agency, there will be a proper investigation into discrimination against Protestants? Until now, it has been absolutely impossible to do so.
Mr. Robinson : The Minister will have heard my hon. Friend's plea, and he will have an opportunity to respond to it. If the legislation had required the tribunal to act in a fair, balanced and impartial way, other legal measures would have been available. As the legislation stands, the tribunal can pick and choose and decide for itself. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) is shaking his head. We will see what happens.
Mr. McNamara : The hon. Gentleman will recall that, in Committee, the Minister gave an undertaking, and has since introduced an amendment, to enable any individual
Column 1212to apply to the commission, thereby placing an obligation on the commission to give correct and proper advice to the individual.
Mr. Robinson : Any individual could go along to the Fair Employment Agency today and get advice. Practice will show whether people get a fair deal from the Fair Employment Commission. As the person who has failed the community is part of the leadership of the Fair Employment Commission, the community and I have little confidence that they will get a fair deal from it.
In Committee, I started by not believing that the measure could be redeemed. I have seen the proceedings in Committee and the close relationship between the Labour party and the Government in the House this evening. However, there is no doubt that the measure--all hon. Members knew that it could probably have been sent by post--will become law. It will not do the job, if the job is to get fair employment in Northern Ireland. I fancy that the job is something else and that the Government did not do what they knew was right or best in fair employment. The Government did what was demanded of them in the Anglo-Irish Conference by their partners in the Republic of Ireland. Their own documentation shows that this measure was pressed through the intergovernmental conference. It is the product of Dublin rule in Northern Ireland. No wonder it is militating against the Province and the community in Ulster. I hope that people will see it for what it is.
Mr. Ashdown : One of the depressing aspects of dealing with Northern Ireland, either its politics, studying it, living in it or, from time to time, having to do such things as keeping the peace in it, is that, again and again, one is visited by the same old sad, sour predictability that hon. Members have heard in the speech by the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson). Not a word of it would have been of surprise to anybody who has studied or lived in Northern Ireland for the past 20 or 30 years.
I was brought up in the north of Ireland. I hope that I do not stray from the Bill, but this matter has a bearing on discrimination. I was brought up as the child of a Protestant Northern Irish mother and a Catholic southern Irish father. I was brought up in Comber. I remember, as a boy aged 13 or 14, walking the streets of Belfast and being absolutely certain that, coming at us like a dark spectre, was the evil of upsurge, rebellion and disruption as a result of the discrimination, deprivation and poverty that I saw visited against a section of that society. Again and again, we are now
blighted--cursed--in Ireland by a group of people who remember everything dating back to the battle of the Boyne but have learnt absolutely nothing.
I welcome this legislation. I do not pretend that it will be perfect. It will not be, and there will be imperfections. Hon. Gentlemen who wish it evil from the start will no doubt be able to pick out strange rulings and so on, but the key question is whether the measure will add to the sum of fairness and justice in Northern Ireland.
Rev. William McCrea : For whom?
Mr. Ashdown : For the population as a whole. Will it be an instrument to bring peace, reconciliation and some ordinary common form of living our ordinary lives? It will not achieve that by itself, but we must ask whether it will add to the instruments that are available to us to produce
Column 1213that kind of society. Those who have sought to block it all the way down the track are only seeking to plunge back into a system which has blighted a great people and a great Province with a great capacity to contribute.
I support the Bill. In many ways it lived up in Committee to all the hopes I had of it when I spoke and voted for it on Second Reading. At that time the Labour party decided to vote against it, and while I believe that its judgment was wrong, I wish at this stage to pay tribute to Labour Members. I also pay tribute to the Minister because he and the Government generally have shown great wisdom in the way in which they were prepared to accommodate the two matters that were brought before them. I pay tribute to Labour Members for the work they did in introducing, arguing and getting some amendments accepted. While I am paying tribute, I do as the Minister did and pay tribute to others who have been involved in the framing of the legislation, those outside the House such as SACHR and others who gave advice.
I strongly dissent from the miserable, blighted and mean words of the hon. Member for Belfast, East about Bob Cooper. I accept that Bob Cooper would not be welcome to everybody. Any person who stands up to the kind of evil and bigotry to be found in Northern Ireland will make some enemies somewhere. One cannot win new liberties and new justice in Northern Ireland in the face of what one experiences in that unhappy Province without making some enemies. But Bob Cooper's contribution, in his previous political life in the Alliance party and through his previous appointment, has been great, including his contribution to the Bill. I greet with great warmth the fact that he has been appointed to be head of the commission.
I said that in any legislation such as this there would be some imperfections. I agree with the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara). This is not necessarily the legislation that I would have brought forward. But in body and in sum, this is legislation the credit of which is worth more than its debits. If I were to pick out two areas of the measure about which I remain unhappy, one would be in respect of legal aid which will not now be available. The FEC will be made into something like a case work organisation, offering advice to those who seek it about whether their proposals are trivial or worth putting forward. Let us imagine that the FEC says to a Protestant or a Catholic, "You have a good case. You should be taking it forward." I dare say that many of the poor in Northern Ireland will say, "But I do not have the financial means to take it forward." That is bound to create bitterness and dissatisfaction. For want of a ha'porth of tar--because it would not cost much--the Government have taken a decision which will, I fear, undermine the effectiveness of the Bill.
Secondly, the Minister will realise that there is still some confusion over the case of the ecumenical and religious organisations and charitable organisations in respect of the way in which the Bill will apply to them. I understand that legal advice has been taken by organisations that, naturally, would wish to employ people who were religiously sympathetic to the views of the charity or ecumenical organisation. It would be helpful if the Minister would announce that he will be issuing guidelines
Column 1214to clarify their position, for I feel sure that it is not the intention of the Government to include those sort of organisations within the precise legal ambit of the Bill.
Of course the Bill will not be perfect. No Bill dealing with the difficult matter of intervening, on the one hand, in the free market, and, on the other, in the freedom of the individual will always be able to strike a perfect solution, but that is not the question before us. The question is whether, in sum, the Bill well help to alleviate some of the problems of discrimination that have occurred on both sides. I accept the point of the hon. Member for Belfast, East. Although I believe that, if we were to ask him where the weight of discrimination has lain, if he were to speak to himself honestly, he would know the answer, as I would.
I believe that in sum the Bill is a decent measure which should be given a fair wind. It has been improved, because of the work done both in and outside of politics in the Committee stage. I am glad and proud that I voted for it on Second Reading, and, with all its imperfections--there are not many but there are some--I shall vote in favour of it for the same reason tonight.
Mr. McGrady : This is a unique occasion for the community of Northern Ireland, because it is the third, and I hope last, requirement of what was the civil rights campaign some 20-odd years ago. The three prongs of that campaign were : one man, one vote ; a house on need ; and a job on merit. The Bill before us is not the Bill it was when it started out. On Second Reading, I was extremely critical of it, and I laid down the benchmarks by which my party would measure the success or failure of the Government to provide a meaningful piece of legislation whose intent was the eradication of discrimination in Northern Ireland.
In listening to some hon. Members, I was reminded of an old saying from my part of the country--that one cannot hide behind a bush and shake it at the same time. We have heard hon. Members say that discrimination does not exist, and then the same hon. Members have given examples of where discrimination does exist. I want to put clearly on record--as I did in Committee--that I and my party are completely opposed to discrimination from whatever source and upon whomever it is visited. It is unjust, it is wrong and it cannot be countenanced, no matter where it may originate or who suffers it. As a Member new to a Committee considering such a Bill, I found it an eye opener. The Bill was complex and contained many phrases which were emotive and required great interpretation. I must endorse what other hon. Members have said--that the Minister and, presumably, his Department had an open ear to the arguments and debates in Committee. The Minister did not always respond in the way in which one would have wished, but there was a strong indication--we now have the proof--that the Minister often took on board the arguments and the suggestions in Committee. I record my party's appreciation of the Minister's attitude to the Bill.
One of our great worries at the start was that we would have a repetition of the Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act 1976, which was a pious hope that by persuasion and gentle coaxing the dramatic sectarian affliction of Northern Ireland, in terms of jobs, could be eradicated. I believe that, with the changes in the Bill on
Column 1215affirmative action, goals and timetables, substantial progress has been made to make it an effective weapon against that injustice. As the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) has shown, the Bill has a certain weakness. The Minister gave me an assurance in Committee that he would table an amendment that would enable individuals to have more meaningful assistance from the Fair Employment Commission. That hope has not been fulfilled, because the individual has only been promised advice.
I hope that the Fair Employment Commission in the other paragraphs of that section will be liberal in its interpretation, so that the case of an individual may be considered as a "policy matter", or of a "substantive nature", which would enable the commission to take that case--not at the individual's expense--to the tribunal. We are grateful that the Fair Employment Commission will be consulted before the code of practice is published and that the compensatory sums are more substantial than they originally were.
There are, however, a number of disappointments about the Bill. We have already spoken about section 42 orders and national security, which I believe are causing sectarian injustice in terms of jobs. I shall not pursue that argument, however, because we have already discussed it.
We fail to convince the Minister that, under clause 27, firms with fewer than 250 employees should be subject to annual monitoring. The economy of Northern Ireland is largely based on the small employer and the vast majority of its work force are employed in places with fewer than 250 employees. Those firms will escape such monitoring. I am also disappointed about the 16-hour rule on short-term or casual employment. Because of the numerous economic problems of Northern Ireland, many people take on part- time employment, but they will not be covered by the Bill. Unfortunately, those people are generally the least well-off and the lowest-paid in our society. With the endemic unemployment of Northern Ireland, employment prospects are limited, so such part-time jobs are greatly sought after. I asked the Minister to consider reducing the 16-hour rule to 12 hours if experience proved that the present rule was defective. The Minister either did not hear my question or chose not to respond, but I hope that he will refer to it later on.
The other grave area of concern relates to contract compliance. I do not mean contract compliance in the sense referred to by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara), but the withholding of Government grants and aids from firms which are found guilty of operating discriminatory practices. The clause of the Bill relating to this is purely permissive ; it says that the Government "may" withhold grants from the offending employer or firm. I find it almost inconceivable--I hope that the Minister shares my disbelief--that the Government would pay grants or monetary benefits to firms found guilty of discrimination. Although the Minister rejected my attempt to make the permissiveness mandatory, in the circumstances I hope that public funds will not be used to perpetuate discriminatory employment practices. Allied to the general contract compliance provisions, such funding is a matter of great concern to me.
The Bill can be applied across the board. Hon. Members representing the Democratic Unionist party have suggested that its application will be one- sided. I cannot see how or why it should be one-sided, because the
Column 1216legislation is obviously available to everyone who wishes to take it up. I certainly support the concept that, whether it be Catholic or Protestant discrimination, it is equally reprehensible and should be equally amenable to the law which we hope will be passed under this Bill. I have never made any secret of that.
I do not want to pick out examples, but one was thrown at me tonight, which it was alleged embarrassed me in Committee, about the Newry and Mourne district council. To set the record straight, the Fair Employment Agency did not find Newry and Mourne guilty of discrimination. It found that it had not discriminated in appointments but it did say there was an imbalance and that therefore it should be more attentive to promoting an outreach programme which would encourage members of the under-represented community to apply for jobs.
This is an area that has been called bandit country, and there is a concept abroad that it is dangerous for Protestants to work there. This is nonsense, but it is the concept that is promoted. Therefore, it is not surprising that there is a lack of response to advertising.
We are at a stage now at which the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. It is up to the Government, when the Bill goes through--we shall certainly be voting for the Bill in its present form, although we have some reservations about weaknesses in it and some caveats to enter about some of its provisions--to make this legislation meaningful in Northern Ireland. That means that they have to devote appropriate resources, in both finance and manpower, to the Fair Employment Tribunal to enable it to do the work more speedily perhaps than, according to criticism, the Fair Employment Agency has done in the past. It is up to the Government also to give a lead from their own departmental employment resources and show the way forward to proper recruitment, employment and promotional prospects. Great strides have been made, but many areas have yet to be properly looked at and adjusted.
When the Minister opened the debate, he mentioned a series of bodies, state and semi-state, which are to be engaged in voluntary monitoring. My ear may not have caught it, but it seems to me that one area which he did not mention--and it causes me great concern that it has not been addressed--is the whole area of local government in Northern Ireland, in both its district council and its area board sense. I hope that the Minister will say whether I am wrong about this and did not pick him up correctly or whether, indeed, none of the health area or education area boards or the 26 district councils has yet tried to engage in voluntary monitoring, as have the 400-odd firms in the private sector, which is very welcome.
I echo the sentiment of other hon. Members that, at the end of the day, the great problem, after solving that of the injustice of discrimination, is to try to provide jobs for everybody in Northern Ireland. I like to think that the Bill will not discourage investment from abroad, but will be an encouragement, showing that there is an earnest endeavour to create a fair and just society in which remedies for injustice can be obtained.
I do not fear that, as the hon. Member for Antrim, East (Mr. Beggs) suggested, this will scare off firms across the Atlantic. My experience, little though it be, is that firms across the Atlantic are used to much more severe penalties for discrimination against ethnic minorities than those contained in the proposed legislation. American firms are well used to the necessity to monitor, and even provide quotas for, ethnic groups, and do not see anything wrong
Column 1217with that, for some peculiar reason. Therefore, there would be no problem with investment from America coming to Northern Ireland. Hopefully, it will be a source of new investment.
The crux of the matter is to provide jobs for as many people as possible in Northern Ireland. I hope that the legislation, rather than preventing them, will enable firms to come to Northern Ireland confident in the knowledge that the discrimination problem, which is so widely known abroad, has been addressed and is in the process of being eliminated. That will give firms the confidence to come forward to set up their new investment and job creation ventures in Northern Ireland.
I compliment the Minister once again on having a mind open to argument and persuasion, and for tabling many amendments which will make the Bill much more meaningful than it was on Second Reading. 9.47 pm
Rev. Ian Paisley : It is quite evident that the opinion exists in this House that discrimination is limited to discrimination against Roman Catholics. The leader of the Democrats became heated about the sad, dark wave of hatred that he experienced as a child. If that was so, why is the worst housing in Belfast not in the Falls road, but in Sandy row?
A leading Member of the House who was appointed to the Northern Ireland Office and who is now chairman of the Labour Party organisation in the House said to me when he came to Northern Ireland, "I have got my eyes open and here in this citadel of Protestantism, Sandy row, you have the worst and most deplorable houses in the whole of Northern Ireland".
Therefore, it is absolutely wrong to paint a picture showing the Protestants as the ones who have everything and the Roman Catholics who have nothing. I remember being at a press conference in Los Angeles where that view was put to me, and I asked the simple question, "How can you run a successful rents and rates strike if you don't have property?" There was no answer to that.
There was, has been, and may even continue to be discrimination between both sections of the community. The hon. Member for South Down (Mr. McGrady) finished his speech with the point that across the world it was viewed that there was discrimination, but that at long last it was being put right. Across the world the picture is painted that Protestants discriminate against the Roman Catholics, and that is it.
It is interesting that during the past few days the United Nations has produced a document saying that there is more discrimination against minorities in the Irish Republic than in any other country that it had studied. We have only to look at the population in the South. There was a time when the Protestants comprised 10 per cent. of the population, but now they form only 3 per cent. We are told that in a few years there will be such a breeding of Roman Catholics that Protestants will be in a minority in the North. I always remind people that Protestants also breed, so that will not happen. The legislation going through the House tonight makes an employer not merely an employer but a snooper who looks into the religion, the recreation and the schooling of
Column 1218those whom he employs. The Big Brother approach advocated in the Bill will not be at all healthy ; that is what the opposition to the Bill is all about.
It is regrettable that people with legitimate cases cannot be helped to fight them, although they are entitled to the money that they need to do so. Under the old system, a member of my Church who was discriminated against received the largest settlement that the Fair Employment Agency was able to obtain. And the Government say that Protestants are not discriminated against.
Mr. Bob Cooper has been praised to the heights for the work he has done. I once obtained a document which showed that a certain contractor was obtaining all the work commissioned by a certain Government Department--and he employed only Roman Catholics. I took the document to the Fair Employment Agency and showed it to Mr. Cooper personally. I said, "Bob, I want that investigated." Then I went home.
I had hardly crossed the doorstep when the police arrived. They asked me where I had obtained the document. I said, "That is my business. What did Mr. Cooper do?" The police said that he had called them in immediately. He had said, "This document must have been stolen. I want you to go and put pressure on Ian Paisley." I told the House about it at the time.
I referred the police to Mr. Speaker. I said, "If Mr. Speaker requests me to hand over the document, the police will get it." Needless to say, Mr. Speaker said that what I had received, given my parliamentary standing, I was entitled to use to the best advantage of my constituents ; and there it stopped.
What faith could I have in the head of the Fair Employment Agency, who was brought evidence and immediately referred it to the police? And we are told about fair employment. Mr. Cooper is known throughout Northern Ireland as someone in whom Protestants will not put their trust ; nor, indeed, will many Roman Catholics. For some time an organisation opposing him was run by Roman Catholics who had no faith in what he was doing.
The Bill will take us back to a time when people in Northern Ireland had no faith in the organisations. The Minister has told us that he will ensure that all cases are investigated. Well, we shall see. I trust that, when the public representatives knock at the door of a firm to find the evidence gone and an investigation is requested, a proper investigation will take place with immediate publication of the results.
Rev. William McCrea : Does my hon. Friend not find it strange that when members of investigating bodies are appointed there seems to be a continual leaning towards a particular political party? Is it not odd that the Minister can only find members of the Alliance party to appoint? Is that why the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) seems to have such a tremendous relationship with Mr. Bob Cooper--because he happens to be a member of the Alliance party?
Rev. Ian Paisley : Under the review that we heard so much about today, Dublin will have a say in who will be appointed. Not only that, but the review says that the little power that the local councils have now will have to be clipped as well so the majority section of the community will have very little representation. We will see who is appointed.
Column 1219It is interesting that we have had a lot of talk about the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights. Why is it that there is no nomination for that commission of an Official Unionist--the majority party in Northern Ireland? Why is that there is no nomination from the Democratic Unionist party? Why is it that there are no members of the Alliance party?
The Minister has to face up to those issues. Public bodies should cover the spread of the community. Of course there will be various views put by the Unionists on that point, but perhaps that will be helpful.
I do not agree with all that is said by SACHR, but it says a lot of good things and it does not always side with the Government. Let us have fair appointments. If we do, some confidence can be instilled into the Community. I hope that the people of Northern Ireland will take courage from the fact that the Opposition Front Bench and the Government Front Bench are saying, "This is for you." The Protestant employees must study it, and use it well and wisely. Perhaps then we will see whether there is fairness from the Government and those who have said that they want fairness for both communities.
Mr. William Ross : The hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) picked up some remarks made by the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson) and accused him of being willing to pick out cases to illustrate his point ; he described them as trying to caricature the real position. I had always thought that one of the outstanding characteristics of a caricature was that one recognised the individual portrayed. Had the hon. Gentleman thought of that point, he would not have been so anxious to use that analogy, because the caricature that is created in the minds of people about cases that are picked out reveals the reality of the situation.
When I first came to this House, a very old long-standing Member said, "Whenever the two Front Benches are in agreement"--the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) has made it perfectly plain that there is an enormous amount of bipartisanship between the two Front Benches --"watch out ; it is bound to be wrong." It was true then, and it is true today, and it was never more true than it is over this Bill.
The Government do not like to hear this. One of the things that has made me particularly sad today is the fact that the Minister thinks he has done a good job. God help him, and God help Ulster, which has to put up with the consequences of the legislation which the House will undoubtedly pass into effect this evening.
Moving the Third Reading, the Minister described the Bill as fair, objective and balanced. It was so balanced that, from the moment the Bill appeared, there has been no concession whatsoever to the Unionist point of view. It has been ignored. In fact, I was interested in the treatment given to the questions that have been put time after time today. We saw a galactic black hole in operation on the Government Front Bench. Things went into it, but nothing came out, or at least nothing that was of any use in explaining the effects of the Bill.
It has been an interesting but sad day. If the Minister stays in the Northern Ireland Office, he will live to regret the day that he, with the help of the Opposition, piloted this legislation through the House. It has come to the
Column 1220House for its final stages just before we rise for a recess and, unfortunately, few hon. Members have taken an interest. I wish more had done so. If they had, perhaps some
It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, at this day's sitting, the Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Bill may be proceeded with, though opposed, until any hour.-- [Mr. John M. Taylor.]
The House divided : Ayes 85, Noes 20.
Division No. 219] [10.00 pm
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)
Beith, A. J.
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Cope, Rt Hon John
Davis, David (Boothferry)
Fishburn, John Dudley
Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Lyell, Sir Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Maude, Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Moynihan, Hon Colin
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Twinn, Dr Ian
Waddington, Rt Hon David
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Winterton, Mrs Ann
Tellers for the Ayes :
Mr. Tom Sackville and
Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory.
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)
Bray, Dr Jeremy
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Pike, Peter L.
Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Wareing, Robert N.
Tellers for the Noes :
Rev. Ian Paisley and
Rev. William McCrea.
Question accordingly agreed to.
Question again proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.