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Miss Kate Hoey (Vauxhall): This is obviously a very important Bill, and it is very important for the people of Northern Ireland. Perhaps the Secretary of State should delay his speech a little, as no hon. Member from the second largest party in Northern Ireland seems to be present.

Sir Patrick Mayhew: I propose to proceed with the speech that I have been called on by Madam Speaker to deliver.

I must here make a most important point about participation. I take it from paragraph 9 of the Command Paper. Both Governments are agreed that participation of Sinn Fein in negotiations requires the unequivocal restoration of the ceasefire of August 1994. By the IRA terminating its ceasefire, and by its abominable attacks thereafter in London, it has totally excluded itself from political negotiations. I shall return to that.

Mr. David Wilshire (Spelthorne): My right hon. and learned Friend has stated again that Sinn Fein-IRA will have to reinstate their ceasefire. Will he make it clear that, this time, it will have to be permanent, that it will have to be declared to be permanent and that there must be no weasel words that fall short of saying that they will never ever return to violence?

Sir Patrick Mayhew: The Governments have agreed that there shall be an unequivocal restoration of the ceasefire of August 1994, but there is a difference, and that

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is the requirement for the removal of the self-imposed exclusion that exists at present on Sinn Fein entering negotiations. What is new is that the Governments also agree--this is set out in the communique--that, at the beginning of those negotiations, it, like every other participating party, must make it clear that it is totally and absolutely committed to the six principles of democracy and non-violence set out in the Mitchell report, and at the same time additionally address the proposals made in that report for decommissioning.

Mr. Wilshire: I apologise for pressing this point, but, although my right hon. and learned Friend rehearsed the general terms, he did not address whether or not this time Sinn Fein-IRA will have to make it crystal clear that any ceasefire is permanent, for real and for ever.

Sir Patrick Mayhew: I repeat the language of the communique and of the two Governments. There must be an unequivocal restoration of the ceasefire of August 1994. That, in the ordinary English interpretation of the language, means one that admits of no other interpretation. That is the agreement of the two Governments.

Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South): I note that the parties listed in the schedule as able to stand in the elections include Sinn Fein, while other Northern Ireland parties which have stood in elections--such as the Workers Socialist party and the Irish Republican Socialist party--are not included. Have they not been prepared to make an unequivocal statement that they are committed to Northern Ireland?

Sir Patrick Mayhew: Following the consultation paper, all parties that have asked the Government to include them have been included, along with those listed in the original Government paper. No party that has asked to be included has been excluded.

Rev. Ian Paisley (North Antrim): As the Secretary of State will realise, this is important to those of us who come from Northern Ireland. How will he decide that the IRA ceasefire--if it comes--is for real, if it comes only a few hours before he calls the meeting on 10 June?

Sir Patrick Mayhew: I appreciate the importance of the question, but I think it sensible to view the circumstances that prevail at the relevant time in their entirety. I do not believe that it is possible to give a hypothetical answer to a hypothetical question of that kind, or that it would be prudent to do so. I think that the participants will want to take into account all the circumstances that obtain at the relevant time.

Sir James Molyneaux (Lagan Valley): Can the Secretary of State throw some light on the list in the second part of the schedule? Are all these parties with funny titles of western European origin? Some of us support the Westminster Foundation for Democracy in Eastern Europe, but I had no idea that we had been quite so successful.

Sir Patrick Mayhew: I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman will discover that he has wrought better than he knew, but the organisations that appear in the second part of schedule 1 constitute, for the purposes of the Bill, the parties that will participate in the election.

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The agenda for the negotiations will be open, with no outcome either predetermined or excluded in advance. A meaningful and inclusive process of negotiation must be genuinely offered to address the legitimate concerns of all traditions and the need for new political arrangements with which all can identify. That language is taken from the communique of 28 February, and we hold to it.

The two Prime Ministers described that as a confidence-building measure, but two other confidence measures were also said to be necessary, and they bear importantly on the process of the negotiations. The Command Paper sets them out, stating:


Mr. Robert McCartney (North Down): One of the confidence-building measures that are required is that the parties address the principles of the Mitchell commission. What exactly does that mean? It clearly does not mean that they must decommission; it does not imply any executive action on their part. "Addressing" may merely be nodding. Could it be that certain parties could progress through the negotiations having addressed the principles for decommissioning on several occasions, but never having addressed them right to the end?

Sir Patrick Mayhew: Gently and in the interests of accuracy I shall correct the hon. and learned Gentleman's nomenclature. There are principles and proposals in the Mitchell report. The principles are those of democracy and non-violence: I think that they are in paragraph 20. Thereafter, there are proposals for decommissioning: they are in paragraph 34, and, I think, in paragraphs 39 to 45.

It will be necessary in relation to the latter, because I think that the hon. and learned Member's question centres on the proposals, for consultation to establish a means by which they are addressed. That can be done in more than one way, but it should be noted that both Governments stand four square on the ground rules in paragraph 12, which I have just read to the House, of the communique of 28 February.

Thereafter, those principles must be addressed. "Thereafter" does not mean that that will be done other than at the beginning of the negotiating process. We shall have to secure greater clarity about the way in which that will be implemented, and it is important that the consultation should take place, and should take place soon.

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North): The Minister spoke about the principles being addressed. Are those to form the first item on the agenda, and must they be overcome, or will they be addressed throughout the negotiations? I am confused by what the Minister said.

Sir Patrick Mayhew: Once again, I draw the distinction between the principles and the proposals. The principles are those of democracy and non-violence, and the proposals are about decommissioning. In the words of the communique and of the ground rules paper, the decommissioning proposals have to be addressed at the beginning of the negotiations along with the signing up to the principles that I have identified.

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How that is to be done is a matter for further consultation, and it will ultimately be a matter for agreement between the participants. In the light of the language that was agreed by the two Governments, it would not be sensible for me at this juncture to attempt to be more precise than that. It is a matter for consultation, which needs to take place soon. I have read to the House the passage from paragraph 12 of the communique.

Mr. Ken Maginnis (Fermanagh and South Tyrone): I am sorry to interrupt the Secretary of State again. He alluded to the section in Cmnd. 3232 which mentions participants in the election making an absolute commitment to the principles of democracy and non-violence. Does he not recognise that those have long been a requirement of people who are involved in local government in Northern Ireland, and that that commitment has not been worth the time that it has taken to sign the piece of paper?

Does the Secretary of State recall an incident that affected me, in which a Sinn Fein councillor on Dungannon district council, Martin McCaughey, was conspiring to murder those of us who sat in the council chamber with him? Martin McCaughey was ultimately killed by the security forces as he was about to commit a murder. Is it not time that there was something tangible in terms of these commitments? If that cannot be found, we may finish up with a procedure that is a mockery of democracy.


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