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Mr. MacKay: I am glad that, at last, it has dawned on the Minister that he might be the only person who is confused. For that I am grateful. Let me again from this Dispatch Box say clearly that we see a distinction between being a Minister in the Executive, responsible for, for instance, education or health, and serving on a police board or in a police partnership. We envisage severe security implications.

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We need an answer to the following question: is he not concerned that it would be dangerous and wrong for ex-convicted terrorists to have security-sensitive information? I think that he probably is concerned, because he has just admitted that the Chief Constable would be aware that he could give only certain information to the board and partnerships. That seems a great pity; I thought that we wanted the fullest possible information to be given.

Mr. Ingram: I have not cleared up the confusion in my mind. In the memorable phrase of my hon. Friend the Member for South Down (Mr. McGrady) in Committee, the Conservative party seems to hide behind the bush and shake it at the same time. That became a touchstone for those of us who were trying to understand the intentions of the right hon. Gentleman's party.

The Conservatives are prepared to accept the political settlement and to have--the right hon. Gentleman should be direct about this--Sinn Fein Members in the Government of Northern Ireland, who could interface with me as the security Minister on matters relating to, let us say, drugs or juvenile justice. There is a substantial interface. Is he saying that I should not talk to such Members about those policing matters? The more that we can encourage representative parties that hitherto have not done so to talk about policing or to talk to representatives of those who express views on policing or police officers, the more that we demonstrate considerable progress.

Mr. MacKay: Does not the Minister realise that there is a difference between what he refers to as the interface between him and any Minister in the Executive on one hand, and people sitting on the board or police partnerships, who will be more than "interfacing"? They will have considerable responsibilities. A proper relationship between the police and the board, which the Minister and I want, and proper relationships between the police and the partnerships can be created only by trust. There is no way that the police can trust ex-terrorist criminals. The Minister must know that. I know it and it is why our amendments should be accepted.

Mr. Ingram: We are talking about an interface between the police and the Policing Board or, indeed, between the police and DPPs, just as we are talking about an interface between representatives of, perhaps, more than one party about which the right hon. Gentleman has concerns and myself, given my responsibility for policing in prisons and criminal justice matters.

I can limit my discussions and the basis on which I seek to communicate information on our objectives. The wide parameters within which the Policing Board and the DPPs will have responsibility will not include responsibility for national security issues. Such issues are, of course, completely precluded not just under the Northern Ireland Act but under other Acts on the devolved Administrations that this Government have set up. [Interruption.] I cannot deal with the right hon. Gentleman's point if he is speaking to me from a sedentary position. If he wants to make another point, I will give way to him. He does not.

The right hon. Gentleman's fear simply does not hold water because such circumstances will not arise. The amendments fail to acknowledge the already extensive disqualification and removal criteria for board members.

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The Government have provided safeguards that we believe are necessary, strictly proportionate and measured given the political settlement with which we are dealing.

Unlike the existing Police Authority for Northern Ireland, members of the board will be required to pass a test of upholding the principles of non-violence and of commitment to democratic and exclusively peaceful means. If they do not, the Secretary of State will be able to remove them. I explained in Committee that there are many other safeguards--we do not need to go into all the details--such as character checks, which are based on the very highest standards of probity and integrity. There is a fundamental difference between the right hon. Gentleman's argument and the Government's view. I am not so sure that we will be able to clear it up; we tried to do so in Committee and on Second Reading.

We, from the Government's point of view, are prepared to look at the new political settlement, to move it forward progressively and to implement mechanisms, but let us remember, they will not be delivered as of this evening but at some future point, when, hopefully, the settlement will be further embedded and there will be an even more peaceful environment in Northern Ireland.

8.30 pm

We must also put the matter in a particular time scale. The right hon. Gentleman's argument is inconsistent with what the Patten commission sought to achieve--inclusivity, without risking respect for non-violence and the principles of democracy. Those safeguards will be applied rigorously. I therefore do not believe that more safeguards are needed.

This evening and on previous occasions, the right hon. Gentleman raised the issue of the relationship with decommissioning. We share some objectives, but decommissioning is a separate test. The Government believe that substantial progress has been made. The right hon. Gentleman's party may not be wholly convinced of that, but we are satisfied that progress has been made, and we want to build on it.

Finally, I shall deal with the two amendments in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington. Amendment No. 21 requires the council to satisfy itself on a number of fronts before putting nominations to the board. It requires the council to ensure that the district is aware that appointments are to be made, that applications have been invited from the district, that the applications have been carefully considered, and that the final nominations reflect that community.

Those are all objectives that the Government share and are exactly the type of issues that the code on appointments will cover. The code will provide guidance to councils on the advertising of independent posts and on interviewing and selection procedures. I said in Committee, and it is worth repeating, that there will be an independent element at both selection and appointment stages.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North): I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way, and I appreciate the way in which he is responding to the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and

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Harlington (Mr. McDonnell) and me. If those are the Government's objectives, as I am sure they are, what is wrong with writing them into the Bill?

Mr. Ingram: Those matters will be covered by the code on appointments. We do not want to clutter the Bill with the minutiae of the management of the system. We leave that for the code, which is flexible and amendable. That is the reason for our approach. I hope that my hon. Friends will accept my assurances that the code will cover the situation adequately and the amendment is not required.

Amendment No. 21 would require the Secretary of State to obtain the agreement of the board before providing that two or more councils may establish a single DPP for their district. I point out to my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington that the remainder of clause 16, to which the amendment relates, provides that the councils must agree to such an amalgamation. It cannot be imposed. We do not envisage the Secretary of State riding in to bring the councils together. If they want to amalgamate for more convenient management of the area through their interface as a DPP, we have provided for that, and the amendment is not necessary.

As I said at the outset, this is a comprehensive group of amendments. I am aware of the time that I have taken, but there are important issues under consideration. I hope that I have answered all the points raised during the debate. I ask the House to support Government new clause 3, and Government amendments Nos. 213, 215, 216 and 218, and to resist all other amendments.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:--

The House divided: Ayes 338, Noes 7.

Division No. 255
[8.34 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allan, Richard
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Ballard, Jackie
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Bennett, Andrew F
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brand, Dr Peter
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Butler, Mrs Christine
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chidgey, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Etherington, Bill
Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Fearn, Ronnie
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Fyfe, Maria
Galloway, George
George, Andrew (St Ives)
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gidley, Sandra
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gorrie, Donald
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Grocott, Bruce
Gunnell, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hancock, Mike
Hanson, David
Harvey, Nick
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hill, Keith
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hume, John
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Kirkwood, Archy
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Ms Chris
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGrady, Eddie
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mallon, Seamus
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Miller, Andrew
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moore, Michael
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle
(B'ham Yardley)
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Purchase, Ken
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Rendel, David
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Sarwar, Mohammad
Sawford, Phil
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Swinney, John
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Timms, Stephen
Todd, Mark
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyler, Paul
Tynan, Bill
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
Welsh, Andrew
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Winnick, David
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Don Touhig and
Mr. Graham Allen.


McCartney, Robert (N Down)
Maginnis, Ken
Paisley, Rev Ian
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Thompson, William
Trimble, Rt Hon David

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Roy Beggs and
Mr. Jeffrey Donaldson.

Question accordingly agreed to.

11 Jul 2000 : Column 782

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

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