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Mr. Straw: I am not misrepresenting any situation; I am merely trying to explain why, with great sadness, I cannot accept my hon. Friend's amendment, and also to explain that we are taking steps to ensure that audio-recording is introduced as soon as possible and before the date previously marked down for it--1 January.

We are working hard to introduce the draft code of practice, on which there will have to be consultation. The draft code will then have to be approved by both Houses of Parliament as soon as possible within the time frame that has been laid down. We are also seeking to ascertain--my hon. Friend will understand that this has arisen only in the last two or three days--whether the administrative procedures that we can put in place will mimic the code before it becomes law, but once the draft code is available. I shall give hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, further information on that--not today, but as soon as such information becomes available.

I hope that the Committee will accept my explanation of why we cannot accept the amendment, and that we feel sadness and regret; but I hope that the Committee will also accept the determination of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, my hon. Friend the Minister of State and me to ensure that these arrangements are introduced as soon as humanly possible.

Mr. Mullin: I do not question the seriousness with which Ministers are pursuing this matter. I know that my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend the Minister of State have made a little progress even today--and we would not have made that progress if the amendment had not been tabled. I am confident that we can make a little further progress, because I think that the problem lies with the RUC. I accept that the present Chief Constable--the new Chief Constable--is signed up, but I do not think that many of his colleagues necessarily are. There has been great foot-dragging on that matter. The facilities already exist. Audio interviews already take place in Northern Ireland--they just do not happen to take place in terrorist cases. All we are talking about is using the same facilities, and perhaps the same people who do the interviews, in terrorist cases.

Even if those involved are not compelled to do that, there is nothing to prevent them from doing it voluntarily. The police on the mainland have done voluntarily many things that they were not obliged to do by police and criminal evidence legislation. I acknowledge the progress that has been made today, which I welcome. I thank my right hon. and hon. Friends for that progress. However, to move things on and to concentrate minds, I wish to put the amendment to the vote.

2 Sept 1998 : Column 878

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The Committee divided: Ayes 43, Noes 199.

Division No. 359
[2.49 am


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Allan, Richard
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Blunt, Crispin
Borrow, David
Breed, Colin
Burnett, John
Butler, Mrs Christine
Canavan, Dennis
Caton, Martin
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Dalyell, Tam
Davidson, Ian
Etherington, Bill
Fyfe, Maria
Gibson, Dr Ian
Harris, Dr Evan
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Iddon, Dr Brian
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
McAllion, John
McDonnell, John
McNamara, Kevin
McWalter, Tony
Mullin, Chris
Öpik, Lembit
Pollard, Kerry
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Rendel, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Skinner, Dennis
Stunell, Andrew
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Webb, Steve
Wise, Audrey

Tellers for the Ayes:

Ann Clwyd and
Mr. Donald Gorrie.


Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Beggs, Roy
Betts, Clive
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Paul
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Caborn, Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Cooper, Yvette
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Darvill, Keith
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Edwards, Huw
Ennis, Jeff
Fisher, Mark
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Heppell, John
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Home Robertson, John
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Adam
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Ms Tessa
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Laxton, Bob
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McDonagh, Siobhain
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mandelson, Peter
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Alun
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Mudie, George
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Paul (Torfaen)
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Raynsford, Nick
Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Ms Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sheerman, Barry
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Soley, Clive
Spellar, John
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vis, Dr Rudi
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Wills, Michael
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Woolas, Phil
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Mike Hall and
Mr. Graham Allen.

Question accordingly negatived.

2 Sept 1998 : Column 879

3 am

Mr. Öpik: I beg to move amendment No. 12, in page 2, line 24, at end insert--

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