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Column 361

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.

8.32 pm

Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire) : 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

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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.

8.35 pm

Rev. William McCrea (Mid-Ulster) : 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

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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--

Mr. Tim 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.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse) : My immediate predecessor dealt adequately with that point of order.

The House having divided : Ayes 240, Noes 298.

Division No. 158] [8.38 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane

Adams, Mrs Irene

Ainger, Nick

Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)

Allen, Graham

Alton, David

Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)

Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)

Armstrong, Hilary

Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy

Austin-Walker, John

Banks, Tony (Newham NW)

Barnes, Harry

Barron, Kevin

Battle, John

Bayley, Hugh

Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret

Bell, Stuart

Benn, Rt Hon Tony

Bennett, Andrew F.

Benton, Joe

Bermingham, Gerald

Berry, Dr. Roger

Betts, Clive

Blunkett, David

Boateng, Paul

Boyes, Roland

Bradley, Keith

Bray, Dr Jeremy

Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)

Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)

Burden, Richard

Byers, Stephen

Caborn, Richard

Callaghan, Jim

Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)

Column 364

Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)

Campbell-Savours, D. N.

Canavan, Dennis

Cann, Jamie

Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)

Chisholm, Malcolm

Clapham, Michael

Clark, Dr David (South Shields)

Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)

Clwyd, Mrs Ann

Coffey, Ann

Cohen, Harry

Connarty, Michael

Cook, Frank (Stockton N)

Cook, Robin (Livingston)

Corbett, Robin

Corbyn, Jeremy

Corston, Ms Jean

Cousins, Jim

Cox, Tom

Cryer, Bob

Cummings, John

Cunliffe, Lawrence

Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)

Dalyell, Tam

Darling, Alistair

Davidson, Ian

Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)

Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)

Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)

Denham, John

Dewar, Donald

Dixon, Don

Donohoe, Brian H.

Dowd, Jim

Dunnachie, Jimmy

Eagle, Ms Angela

Enright, Derek

Etherington, Bill

Fatchett, Derek

Faulds, Andrew

Fisher, Mark

Flynn, Paul

Foster, Rt Hon Derek

Fraser, John

Fyfe, Maria

Galbraith, Sam

Galloway, George

Gapes, Mike

Garrett, John

Gerrard, Neil

Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John

Godman, Dr Norman A.

Godsiff, Roger

Golding, Mrs Llin

Gordon, Mildred

Gould, Bryan

Graham, Thomas

Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)

Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)

Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)

Grocott, Bruce

Gunnell, John

Hain, Peter

Hall, Mike

Hanson, David

Hardy, Peter

Harman, Ms Harriet

Harvey, Nick

Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy

Henderson, Doug

Heppell, John

Hill, Keith (Streatham)

Hinchliffe, David

Home Robertson, John

Hood, Jimmy

Hoon, Geoffrey

Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)

Hoyle, Doug

Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)

Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)

Hughes, Roy (Newport E)

Hutton, John

Ingram, Adam

Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)

Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)

Jamieson, David

Janner, Greville

Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)

Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)

Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)

Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)

Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)

Jowell, Tessa

Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald

Keen, Alan

Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)

Khabra, Piara S.

Kilfoyle, Peter

Kirkwood, Archy

Lestor, Joan (Eccles)

Lewis, Terry

Litherland, Robert

Livingstone, Ken

Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)

Loyden, Eddie

Lynne, Ms Liz

McAllion, John

McAvoy, Thomas

McCartney, Ian

McFall, John

McKelvey, William

Mackinlay, Andrew

McLeish, Henry

McMaster, Gordon

McNamara, Kevin

McWilliam, John

Madden, Max

Mahon, Alice

Mandelson, Peter

Marek, Dr John

Marshall, David (Shettleston)

Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)

Martlew, Eric

Maxton, John

Meacher, Michael

Meale, Alan

Michael, Alun

Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)

Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)

Milburn, Alan

Miller, Andrew

Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)

Moonie, Dr Lewis

Morgan, Rhodri

Morley, Elliot

Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)

Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)

Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)

Mowlam, Marjorie

Mudie, George

Mullin, Chris

Murphy, Paul

Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon

O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)

O'Brien, William (Normanton)

O'Hara, Edward

O'Neill, Martin

Parry, Robert

Patchett, Terry

Pickthall, Colin

Pike, Peter L.

Pope, Greg

Powell, Ray (Ogmore)

Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)

Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)

Prescott, John

Primarolo, Dawn

Purchase, Ken

Quin, Ms Joyce

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