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11.48 pm

Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Inverclyde): The hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) talked about difficult territory. The implementation of devolution puts

16 May 2000 : Column 283

us into difficult territory, because it is new territory for many of us. The hon. and learned Member for North Down (Mr. McCartney) talked about the erosion of the citizenship of pro-Union citizens in Northern Ireland. He was, if I may say so, using extreme language.

We must remember that the principle of consent is the linchpin of the establishment of democracy and the Assembly in Northern Ireland. Whatever the hon. and learned Gentleman may say, that holds fast, just as it holds fast for Scotland. If a majority of the people of Scotland said that they wanted independence, this or any future Government would have to accept the will of the people. The principle of consent is very important. At least the hon. Member for North Antrim (Rev. Ian Paisley) emphasised the importance of the principle of consent in his opening remarks in what was, for him, quite a brief speech. We all share his revulsion for those who commit murderous acts of terrorism. We also share his revulsion for those who acquiesce in such acts of terrorism. It must be exceedingly difficult to sit down in a newly constituted Assembly with the apologists for such people--on both sides of the fence, incidentally. That cannot be easy for hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is in every sense difficult territory. But at least these people are in a democratically elected Assembly.

The right hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) talked about custom and practice determining the question of the flying of the flag. Perhaps he will allow me to be facetious for a moment. The only time I see the two flags being waved almost side by side is at Ibrox or Parkhead when Celtic are playing Rangers. That is when we see it in Scotland.

The right hon. Gentleman says that the flying of the flag of the state should be a reserved matter and that this is a deficiency in the Northern Ireland Act 1998. I disagree wholeheartedly, because such a matter should be left to the devolved Assembly or legislature. I must admit that even though I took part in--

Mr. Grieve rose--

Dr. Godman: I do not have time to give way.

Although I took part in most of the debates on the Scotland Act 1998, I cannot remember whether the flying of the flag is a matter devolved to Scotland. [Interruption.] I learn that it is a devolved matter. I have visited the Scottish Parliament on a number of occasions, and I know one of its Members quite well, but I cannot remember whether I saw the saltire the last time I was there. We have people in Scotland who would like to see the saltire flying there, at the parliament of an independent Scotland.

Mr. Grieve rose--

Dr. Godman: Time is against me. The hon. Gentleman will have to accept my apologies for not giving way.

I wish to tell the right hon. Member for Upper Bann that I think tonight's debate is a precursor of a perhaps much livelier debate on a Bill that will come before us in the near future.

16 May 2000 : Column 284

I also disagree with the right hon. Gentleman on police reform. If I had the power with regard to the design of a new police uniform, which is badly needed, I would change the colour from green to blue. Saying that may lose me a few votes among some of my Celtic supporters, but I believe that blue, not green, is the colour of a police uniform. However, I will not go down that road.

I agree with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that the order is needed. The Union is strong. The Northern Ireland people are, in every sense of the word, citizens of this United Kingdom, but I have to tell right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite that it is a Union that is changing quite dramatically. The Union to which some of them pay such undying allegiance has largely disappeared, with devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

I disagree fundamentally with the right hon. Member for Upper Bann. As my right hon. Friend said, the Union flag remains the flag of the United Kingdom, and that is based upon the principle of consent. That must be determined by the representatives in the Assembly. If they fail to come to an acceptable compromise, I can well understand why my right hon. Friend feels that he needs the power to step in and sort things out, but it is better that the MLAs determine this than that we do it here in London.

Question put:--

The House divided: Ayes 240, Noes 8.

Division No. 198
[11.55 pm


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Austin, John
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blizzard, Bob
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Browne, Desmond
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Mrs Christine
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chidgey, David
Clapham, Michael
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Day, Stephen
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dobbin, Jim
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Etherington, Bill
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Fyfe, Maria
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St Ives)
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Grieve, Dominic
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hinchliffe, David
Hope, Phil
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Kemp, Fraser
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Luff, Peter
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McIsaac, Shona
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
McNulty, Tony
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meale, Alan
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Mountford, Kali
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Olner, Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd
Rendel, David
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Southworth, Ms Helen
Squire, Ms Rachel
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stinchcombe, Paul
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Mike Hall and
Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe.


Beggs, Roy
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
McCartney, Robert (N Down)
Paisley, Rev Ian
Robertson, Laurence
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Swayne, Desmond
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. William Cash and
Rev. Martin Smyth.

Question accordingly agreed to.

16 May 2000 : Column 286


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