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Mr. Fabricant: You are of course absolutely right, Mr. Martin. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that Members of the Dail will only be allowed to sit in this House if we are allowed to sit in their place.

Mr. Bercow: Some members have focused on the word "qualified"--rather as bees focus on a honeypot. Does my

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hon. Friend think that the critics of amendment No. 2 would have their concerns allayed if the word "eligible" were substituted for the word "qualified"?

Mr. Fabricant: My hon. Friend, as ever, not only plays with words but uses them to the advantage of the Committee. It is not for me to speculate on what members of the Front Bench might wish to do.

Mr. Hayes rose--

Mr. Swayne rose--

Mr. Fabricant: I will give way first to my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne), who tried to attract my attention earlier.

Mr. Swayne: The thrust of my hon. Friend's argument is that there is a lack of trust, which requires us to build reciprocity into the Bill because we cannot wait upon the expectation that reciprocity will be provided if we do not. What I cannot follow is whether that reciprocity is desirable or desired.

Mr. Fabricant: My hon. Friend asks a perceptive question. Is the amendment desired or desirable? Surprisingly enough, the amendment is not the question.

Mr. Hayes rose--

Mr. Fabricant: I will not give way immediately to my hon. Friend, who was so rude about my previous career, but I will give way to him in a moment. Surely the point is that we are putting down a marker.

Mr. Hayes: I meant no discourtesy when I referred to my hon. Friend's previous career. I bear him no grudges, as he well knows.

The intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) seemed to be deeply confused, although my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield claims that he is a master of the language. He talked about eligibility and qualification as though they were significantly different in specific regard to the amendment. I suggest that if he looks carefully at the 1920 Act, he will understand that there is no significant difference and that eligibility for membership of either the House or the Irish Parliament lies at the heart of the amendment. Rather than entertaining us lavishly with stories about dancing over rainbows and all sorts of other interesting things, my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield should draw attention to that specific point. I hope that he will do so with rather more speed than he has shown so far.

Mr. Fabricant: I am shocked, Mr. Martin. My hon. Friend is applying for your job. He may at least be trying to ingratiate himself and clearly wants to move on quickly, but he has missed the point and has not been following the arguments at all. As my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, West said, this is a question of trust. Why should we not trust those with whom we enter into a contract? That has everything to do with experience. I say to my hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. Hayes) that experiences, whether

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in business or negotiations over politics, colour one's mind as to whether one should enter into a contract with total trust. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst tabled the amendment simply because he has no grounds for trusting the other parties. Would it be right for the House of Commons to accept Members of the Dail to serve in it if there was no reciprocal agreement for Members of the House to serve in the Dail? The whole House would say that that would be wrong.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton: I am listening to my hon. Friend's argument with great care and ask for his interpretation of my view. It is possible that the amendment has been tabled to show that reciprocity is completely inoperable. If it is inoperable, the purpose of the Bill is unacceptable. Without reciprocity, it would be quite wrong for the House to grant to Members from another country and another Parliament the right and opportunity to sit in the House, and we have heard that reciprocity is out of the question and inoperable.

Mr. Fabricant: My hon. Friend raises a powerful point. He says that reciprocity does not exist, which is unacceptable to the House. Where has there been reciprocity so far? There has been concession after concession after concession, and they have all been one sided. I do not want to stray from the amendment, but I must say that although I was cautious at first about saying anything that I felt might damage the peace process, I see unfortunate parallels when I look back over the past few months and cast my mind back in history to what happened between 1936 and 1938. We have learned that if there is not reciprocity there will be defeat, cruelty and injustice.

I say to my hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings that it was perfectly valid to talk about my own experiences of negotiating in countries overseas. I believe that we have strong grounds to doubt the judgment and honesty of the other people in the negotiation and every reason to table and support amendments that ask for reassurance.

Mr. Hayes: I should like to make it quite clear that my attempt was only to bring my hon. Friend back to the confines of the amendment in respect of eligibility. I think he has moved with some speed on to that, and his final remarks clearly dealt with much of what I wanted him to cover. I did not mean any offence either to the Chair or to my hon. Friend, but that does not apply to the remarks I made about my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow).

Mr. Fabricant: On those very warm notes, and with a feeling of touchy-feely, huggy-kissy reciprocity--as far as my hon. Friend the hon. Member for South Holland and the Deepings is concerned at least--I will rest my case.

12.45 am

Mr. Fallon: It is a peculiar feature of this amendment that both its proposers, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) and the hon. Member for East Londonderry (Mr. Ross), not only supported it but introduced arguments opposing it. Perhaps they were saving themselves the trouble of winding up their own debate. Who knows?

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I hope that my right hon. Friend will forgive me for saying that I have exactly the same doubts about amendment No. 2 as I had about amendment No. 1. If one is opposed to the principle of the Bill, which my right hon. Friend signally is--he spoke against it with great distinction and voted against it not 24 hours ago--it is impossible to suggest to the Committee that it can somehow be improved by his amendment. If one is opposed to the principle that one cannot be subject to two sovereign states, that one cannot bear allegiance to two sovereign Parliaments, it is odd to suggest that that can simply be cured by reciprocity.

There is no logical limit to the point that my right hon. Friend makes. Let us suppose that the People's Republic of China offered us reciprocity. We could suggest one Member of this House who might well volunteer to be a member of the National Congress of China. But clearly that would be nonsense.

This leads me to wonder what motivated my right hon. Friend to propose this peculiar concept of reciprocity. I wonder whether there is some secret understanding that my right hon. Friend has negotiated with the Republic of Ireland, whether he has been given undertakings that the Republic of Ireland would welcome the candidacy of certain Members of this House. In tabling the amendment and advocating reciprocity, my right hon. Friend ought to come clean with the Committee and reveal any understandings that he has come to or that have been put to him about possible joint membership of the two legislatures.

I come, finally, to the crux of the amendment, which you, Mr. Martin, identified and about which there has already been some discussion: the whole question of qualification for membership. I would suggest to the Committee a further point, which lies not so much in the words "qualified for membership", although those words, as my hon. Friends have already pointed out, are fraught with ambiguity. There is also a problem with who is to be satisfied and the fact that it is the Secretary of State. In our system, the question of whether somebody is eligible to stand for Parliament is a matter of law, not a matter for the subjective judgment of a Secretary of State. It is a matter clearly set out in statute.

My right hon. Friend may have good and novel arguments for the reciprocity that he is putting forward, but I would ask him to address that specific point. Are we really right to leave to the subjective judgment of the Secretary of State--who is, whether we like it or not, a member of one political party--the decision as to whether candidates from other political parties are qualified to stand for membership of another legislature? That is a dangerous suggestion. The Chair has already indicated that it would be prepared to look kindly on manuscript amendments. I suggest to my right hon. Friend that, even at this late stage, he could table an amendment making it clear that the definition of qualification for membership should be set down in statute, and not left to the judgment of a Secretary of State.

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