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Mr. MacKay: When I opposed the guillotine motion a few hours ago, I described this as a sad day for Parliament and a sad day for Northern Ireland. I deeply regret that everything that I said has been borne out in the course of the debate.
We have managed to debate only three groups of amendments, and seven groups were not debated at all. On the first significant group of amendments that was debated--it was on the Policing Board and district policing partnerships--no votes were taken on important amendments moved by myself, my colleagues and the Ulster Unionists because we did not reach them on the amendment paper. That is not a proper way to scrutinise a Bill.
Mr. MacKay: The hon. Lady, who was not present for one moment of the debate--[Hon. Members: "Apologise."] She was not present, and I have no intention of apologising. She says that the debate on the guillotine motion took two hours. It took marginally less than that, but the truth is that many Members wished legitimately to express their concern that a Bill that had moved briskly through Committee in 11 sittings was being guillotined. They legitimately said that there was not sufficient opportunity in the guillotine motion to debate the legitimate amendments that were on the amendment paper in the names of right hon. and hon. Members from a variety of parties on both sides of the House. We have been proved right, because only three of the seven groups of amendments were discussed.
Mr. MacKay: The Northern Ireland Whip says that he wonders why. I shall do my best to answer him by returning to the point that I was making when I was interrupted by a sedentary intervention from the hon. Member for Cleethorpes (Shona McIsaac).
Debate on the guillotine motion proceeded briskly with each Member speaking briefly. We then moved on to the first group of the amendments on what you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and the rest of the House will agree are serious issues, such as who should sit on the Policing Board and on the partnerships. Rightly, the Minister of State nods
The Minister took 51 minutes to respond--I respect him for doing so--because many amendments had been debated. He had to respond to the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell) who, with the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), had tabled a significant number of amendments about which they feel strongly. The Minister had to respond to the amendments that I spoke to on behalf of the official Opposition and to those that were spoken to by the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis). The Minister also responded to significant interventions from other Members representing constituencies in Northern Ireland.--[Interruption.] There is no point in the Secretary of State tapping his watch: this is not our timetable, it is his. The Minister of State took 51 minutes to respond because significant issues had been raised and he was doing his best to reply properly. That illustrates why more time was necessary for debate on Report.
Mr. MacKay: It would be remiss of me not to congratulate the hon. Gentleman on that because I know that his colleagues on the Treasury Bench do not often accept his amendments. Indeed, I suspect that this might be a unique occasion.
We had a response to only three groups of amendments, and the deeply significant amendments in the fourth group concerned the name of the RUC. I noted that the Secretary of State, in what were, by and large, sensitive and thoughtful remarks on Third Reading, spent most of his time discussing the name, and I suspect that that was the speech that he would have liked to have made in speaking to his amendments, which he was not able to do because of the guillotine motion moved by his Minister of State.
The trouble is that the Secretary of State said many things about the name--many of which I agree with and some of which he knows, from the amendments in my name, I do not agree with--but no Member is now able to discuss the name or the amendments relating to it. The guillotine chopped off all the remaining amendments, and there has been no discussion of them whatsoever.
When the other place receives the Bill, it will wish to scrutinise it in great detail, not least because this House has been unable to do so. That is a great pity, because if we had been given two days for Report and Third Reading, which legislation of this significance deserves, the Bill would have gone to the other place having been fully debated. I do not particularly blame the Secretary of State because he is not one of the business managers. I blame the business managers because they have completely lost control of Parliament. They are trying to thrust far too many Bills through the House in this Session and there cannot, therefore, be proper consideration of serious Bills such as this.
This has been a very sad day for Parliament and a very sad day for Northern Ireland. I hope that the other place will be able properly to debate amendments that we were unable to debate. [Interruption.] I think that the Parliamentary Private Secretary, the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Helen Jackson), is saying that I do not mean that.
Mr. MacKay: I could not quite hear what the hon. Lady said, relatively loudly, from a sedentary position, but I will be happy to let her intervene. She does not want to intervene. Clearly the remark was not worth your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
This has been a sad day and it is important that the other place properly debates the Bill and votes on it. Many Labour Members, particularly from the new intake, have not been present during most of the proceedings. The hon. Member for Luton, South (Ms Moran), who takes an interest in Northern Ireland matters from time to time, did not turn up once during the earlier debates, but has been chattering away from a sedentary position. She seems to think that debate is wrong and rubber-stamping is right. One day she might learn otherwise, although I suspect that she will not because I doubt that she will be a Member of the next Parliament.
It is important that the other place takes careful note of what has happened tonight and of the lack of debate and votes. I look forward to returning to these deliberations when we eventually consider Lords amendments well into the autumn.
Mr. Mallon: I have sat in this House for about 16 years--right through Thatcherism, Majorism and the type of approach that ignored the political position of a very substantial section of the community in the north of Ireland. Tonight, I have heard that approach repeated. Tonight, I have heard the type of Majorism, Thatcherism and the ignoring of a position of people in the north of Ireland in a way that I never believed I would hear from these Benches. So be it.
Hearing such a speech is a matter of regret to me and to my party, because I and my colleagues know what its effect will be. I do not have to tell the House what the effect will be--the House knows--but it will come about because the Secretary of State will not persuade people to join the police service. He is not able to. I can tell him that, after tonight, he stands very little chance. The right hon. Member for Bracknell (Mr. MacKay) will not be able to persuade people to join the new police service--not through any defect in himself, but because of the points that were made previously this evening.
Let us put the issue into context, in the sense that the Secretary of State focused on the change of name. Perhaps right hon. and hon. Members are not aware that the clause before us on the name of the new police service is draft No. 3. Draft No. 1 was ditched after Hillsborough. The Government's first draft was in accord absolutely and
Draft No. 2 represented the Government's adoption of a Unionist motion, which I gravely suspect the Government also wrote a considerable time ago when the Hillsborough virus first set in. At least they tried to amend it with amendment No. 197, which they withdrew with inordinate haste tonight. The clause before us is mark 3 of the Government's statement on the name of the new police service. That would be a serious business in any piece of legislation, but it is much more serious in this one.
I shall briefly--I know that I have to be brief--refer to some of the allegations and accusations that have been made across the Floor tonight. I simply remind the House who Chris Patten was. He was not a Catholic nationalist from Northern Ireland; he was chairman of the Conservative party, a Cabinet Minister, a Minister in the Northern Ireland Office, a European Union Commissioner and the Governor of Hong Kong. What did he say about the very essence of the matter--the joining of the police service? He said:
I have my own views about the use of the terms "Catholics" and "Protestants" in relation to the Bill and the issue. I happen to believe that people are people, not religious tags. I referred to Chris Patten and who he is because I want to avoid that.