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Mr. Thompson: Is not it hypocritical for the Government to speak in those terms when on 23 and 24 March, in a joint statement at the Lisbon European Council meeting, the United Kingdom and Irish Governments urged member states to


Is not it hypocritical to say that a change must be made?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman's words represent no slur on the Minister. The Minister is not a hypocrite--no hon. Member is.

Mr. Ingram: Thank you very much for that defence, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was about to respond robustly, but I simply say that of course the party that I represent has a proud tradition of fighting discrimination, in and out of government. I am not so sure that many of those who have raised these issues tonight would have stood in line against many of the types of discrimination that we have had to fight against. As we are dealing with exceptional circumstances, we will deal with friendly partners who understand the exceptional need. We cannot predict the outcome, but we will be progressive and constructive--not to undermine the principles of any future directive, but to place what we seek to do in Northern Ireland in context.

Government amendments Nos. 133 and 135 would require 50:50 recruitment to be applied in the recruitment of police support staff when six or more vacancies at a similar level had to be filled. The threshold figure was previously stipulated as 10. As the figure is to be reduced, it is reasonable to enable the Secretary of State to set aside 50:50 recruitment--after consulting the board and the Chief Constable--when it simply is not possible. We believe that to be a sensible precaution.

11 Jul 2000 : Column 808

The hon. Members for South Down (Mr. McGrady), for Foyle (Mr. Hume) and for Newry and Armagh tabled amendments Nos. 323 to 325, which would reduce the threshold to two with a proviso that the quota mechanism be applied where it is practicable to do so when the number of vacancies is five or fewer. The Chief Constable would also be required to publish information on such appointments annually.

The issue was debated in Committee when I said that the Government were prepared to be flexible. We have looked at it again and I am persuaded that the figure can reasonably be reduced to six. However, although we have moved from a threshold of 10, I am not persuaded to reduce the figure to two. To reduce it further would virtually set aside the merit principle. Furthermore, at such a low level, the quota mechanism would produce a minimal impact on overall composition and in practical terms could prove impossible to apply when such small numbers are involved, particularly if an odd number of posts--three, for example--had to be filled. I hope that the amended threshold figure of six will be seen as a workable solution and I ask the House to accept our amendment on that basis.

As to the publication of religious monitoring and composition information, the police service will continue to adhere to the terms of the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 and guidance, as appropriate, from the Equality Commission. I do not believe that there is any need to put any of those issues into the legislation.

Government amendments Nos. 130 and 127 rectify technical defects. Amendment No. 130 would require the Secretary of State to consult the Policing Board, the Chief Constable, the Equality Commission and the police associations in making regulations for the recruitment function. The Bill already requires the Secretary of State to consult those bodies when making regulations in respect of the recruitment agent. It appears entirely sensible that they should also have the opportunity to comment on the detail of the recruitment function itself--for example, advertising of vacancies, testing of applicants and so on.

Amendment No. 127 would enable the recruitment agency, under clause 42, to recruit all officers and support staff appointed by the Chief Constable rather than only trainee officers at constable level. Senior officers and civilians are not covered because, of course, they are appointed by the board.

I ask the House to accept Government amendments Nos. 127, 130, 133 and 135 and to reject all other amendments. Given the time scale, we probably will not debate new clause 6 and I give the House notice that the Government do not intend to move amendment No. 197.

10.30 pm

Mr. Öpik: Taken together, new clauses 1 and 2 and amendments Nos. 53, 54 and 301 achieve the Government's objective, but they do so fairly. They give everyone in Northern Ireland a fair deal by attacking the problem of applications rather than dealing with recruitment at the end of the process, which is the wrong target. The Minister said that there are deep divisions in Northern Ireland. Our concern is that the Government proposals will make some of those divisions worse.

11 Jul 2000 : Column 809

Look how far we have come, and how close we are to a new police service for Northern Ireland. The proposals are radical and ground-breaking, with some genuine human rights breakthroughs. We have had agreements, progress has been made and consensus has been reached between groupings that it was previously unthinkable could work together. We are offering a solution that achieves the strategy that the Government are trying to implement without introducing new discriminations in the process.

Are the Government so determined to do it their way, even if that goes against a sense of natural justice, contravenes European legislation--as it will do from 2002--and includes an element of positive discrimination, as the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has said? That is not the sort of fairness we are seeking.

The Minister says that affirmative action would take 30 years, as if it is outside our control. It should be within our control, and we should take our responsibility seriously rather than making a prediction and introducing an unjust system instead.

I have tried to be nice to the Government, and I have tried to help. I even supported the guillotine motion, because it seemed like a good idea at the time, but perhaps not any longer. This is a matter of practice and a matter of principle. The Minister has created an alliance between the hon. Member for North Antrim (Rev. Ian Paisley), the right hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble), the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) and me. It should seriously concern the Government that they have managed to bring the Democratic Unionists, the Ulster Unionists, the official Opposition and the Liberal Democrats together.

The Minister said that there has been much bombast and rhetoric in the debate. He is mistaken, because what bothers many hon. Members is a matter of principle.

Mr. Ingram: I asked hon. Members in presenting their amendments and justifying their arguments to tell me on which EU directive they based their case, and the hon. Gentleman has not done so.

Mr. Öpik: It is on a piece of paper that will come to hand in a moment. There is no doubt that this matter is being discussed by the European Parliament. The proposals relate to a Council directive establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation and the proposal for a Council directive implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin. I shall write to the Minister to give him a fuller reply.

The Government have done so well with the Bill, and they have listened, but this is the tough test. This is how the Government can prove that they are serious about working consensually towards a better Northern Ireland police service. The package on offer in the amendments and new clauses is proactive, sound and logical and takes into account discrimination not just against Catholics but against all the other minorities who are not properly represented in the Northern Ireland police force. It is not about cooking the quotas; it is about opening the doors to all those unrepresented groups in Northern Irish police life.

11 Jul 2000 : Column 810

My challenge to the Minister is to open the doors rather than slam them in other people's faces while trying to cure an injustice. My challenge to the House is for once genuinely to understand that this principle is all-pervading.

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

The House divided: Ayes 182, Noes 307.

Division No. 256
[10.35 pm


AYES


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Baldry, Tony
Ballard, Jackie
Beggs, Roy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Body, Sir Richard
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burstow, Paul
Butterfill, John
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
(Rushcliffe)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Day, Stephen
Donaldson, Jeffrey
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan Smith, Iain
Evans, Nigel
Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Fearn, Ronnie
Flight, Howard
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibb, Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gill, Christopher
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gorrie, Donald
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
McCartney, Robert (N Down)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
McLoughlin, Patrick
Maginnis, Ken
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Moss, Malcolm
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, James
Paisley, Rev Ian
Pickles, Eric
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
St Aubyn, Nick
Sanders, Adrian
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swinney, John
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thompson, William
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Townend, John
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Trimble, Rt Hon David
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Webb, Steve
Wells, Bowen
Welsh, Andrew
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:


Sir Robert Smith and
Mr. Peter Atkinson.


NOES


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Bennett, Andrew F
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Butler, Mrs Christine
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, 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
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Corbett, Robin
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dalyell, Tam
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
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
Fisher, Mark
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Galloway, George
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hood, Jimmy
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hume, John
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
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
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGrady, Eddie
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
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
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morley, Elliot
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
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
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
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Sawford, Phil
Shaw, Jonathan
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
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
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
(Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
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)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
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 Noes:


Mr. Kevin Hughes and
Mr. Robert Ainsworth.

Question accordingly negatived.

11 Jul 2000 : Column 813

It being more than six hours after the commencement of proceedings on the allocation of time motion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, pursuant to Order [this day], then proceeded to put forthwith the Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour.


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