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Mr. Mallon: As I said earlier, I have more than a passing interest in the change of legislation. In 1982, I was a member of Seanad Eireann and, for my sins, I was disqualified from the then Northern Ireland Assembly and had to pay substantial costs. It was the only time to date that I found myself in the dock. I admit that I took some pleasure from it, because one of the matters--

It being seven hours after the commencement of proceedings, The Chairman, pursuant to the Order [this day], put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Amendment negatived.

The Chairman then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour.

Clause 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 5 to 9 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule agreed to.

Bill reported, without amendment.

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Order [this day], That the Bill be now read the Third time.--[Mr. Dowd.]

The House divided: Ayes 178, Noes 10.

Division No. 254
[11.14 pm


AYES


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Atherton, Ms Candy
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Mrs Jackie
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F
Berry, Roger
Blackman, Liz
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Burnett, John
Byers, Stephen
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Canavan, Dennis
Cann, Jamie
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chidgey, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clelland, David
Colman, Tony
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cran, James
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cummings, John
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davidson, Ian
Dawson, Hilton
Dismore, Andrew
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Fisher, Mark
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Gapes, Mike
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gorrie, Donald
Gray, James
Grieve, Dominic
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hanson, David
Harvey, Nick
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hinchliffe, David
Home Robertson, John
Hoon, Geoffrey
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Ingram, Adam
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Linton, Martin
Livsey, Richard
Llwyd, Elfyn
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFall, John
McGrady, Eddie
McGuire, Mrs Anne
MacKay, Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallon, Seamus
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Maxton, John
Merron, Gillian
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Paul (Torfaen)
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Olner, Bill
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Quinn, Lawrie
Raynsford, Nick
Rendel, David
Rooney, Terry
Rowlands, Ted
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Savidge, Malcolm
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stott, Roger
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
(Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Timms, Stephen
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Vaz, Keith
Walter, Robert
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Willis, Phil
Wills, Michael
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Ayes:


Janet Anderson and
Mr. Robert Ainsworth.


NOES


Forsythe, Clifford
Hunter, Andrew
McCartney, Robert (N Down)
Paisley, Rev Ian
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. Roy Beggs and
Mr. William Thompson.

Question accordingly agreed to.

22 Apr 1998 : Column 929

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

22 Apr 1998 : Column 930

Northern Ireland

11.24 pm

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. Paul Murphy): I beg to move,


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord): I understand that with this it will be convenient to discuss the following motion:


Mr. Murphy: The first order provides for a referendum to be held in Northern Ireland on the outcome of the multi-party talks.

Peace in Northern Ireland has to be founded on a settlement, and this settlement is squarely based on the principle of consent. At the beginning of the talks, we made our commitment to the so-called triple lock. Consent was needed from the parties through the agreement; from the House of Commons and the House of Lords; and, of course, from the people of Northern Ireland through a vote in the referendum. It is through this triple lock that we can be sure that the agreement represents the future that everyone wants--that it is a way forward for the government of Northern Ireland that commands cross-community support.

Every home in Northern Ireland has been sent a copy of the agreement. Everyone will have the opportunity to scrutinise it. The order allows us to put a vital question to the people. Without it, the people of Northern Ireland could not make their voices heard on what was achieved by their representatives at Castle buildings. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said on Monday, the decisive judgment must come from the people whose daily lives will be directly affected by it.

The basis for the order was provided by section 4 of the Northern Ireland (Entry to Negotiations, etc) Act 1996. The legislation determining how and when the referendum will be held--this order--is straightforward and clear. Indeed, most of it is standard material.

Article 3 of the order provides that a referendum shall be held on Friday 22 May between the hours of 7 am and 10 pm. Article 4 sets out who is entitled to vote in the election--those who have been entered on the electoral register of parliamentary electors in Northern Ireland, excluding overseas voters but including peers.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has already expressed her gratitude to all those who made the agreement possible. In reaching a decision on this key issue, we believe that the most straightforward and fair method of determining the will of the people is for the people in Northern Ireland to exercise their franchise and vote in the referendum.

The second order refers to the cessation of the forum. As the House will know, the forum was set up as part of the talks process. Indeed, the life of the forum coincided with the life of the talks. If the Belfast agreement wins support in the referendum planned for 22 May, we shall have elections to a new representative body in Northern Ireland, which will, once the transitional phase is over,

22 Apr 1998 : Column 931

at long last permit those who have been elected by the people of Northern Ireland to take those decisions that are currently taken by me, by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and by ministerial colleagues. I hope that, for some of those who participate in the New Northern Ireland Assembly, experience in the forum will prove to have been valuable preparation.

We might take a moment to look back on the record of the forum since it was set up in June 1996. It was established with the central objective of discussing issues relevant to the promotion of dialogue and understanding between the communities in Northern Ireland. It was unable to discharge that role fully because not all parties took part in it. However, many of the people who took part did try hard to take account of as wide a spectrum of opinion as possible on the various issues. I want to place on record my thanks to the forum's chairman, Mr. John Gorman, for the commitment he displayed in guiding discussion through some very testing debate and for his efforts to act fairly and honourably in the discharge of his duties.

I should also like to pay tribute to the chairmen of the various standing committees for serving the forum in those capacities and to the members of the Business Committee for the role they played in managing the forum's business and events.

I believe that, controversial as the forum at times has been, there have been positive aspects to its collective work and that of individual members, and that that positive work is capable of standing Northern Ireland in good stead as we move forward to the implementation of the Belfast agreement. I commend the orders to the House.


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