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Mr. Quentin Davies: We have had a very interesting debate. For the sake of brevity, I will say nothing about the support for my amendment expressed by the hon. Members for South Antrim (David Burnside) and for East Londonderry (Mr. Campbell), for which I am grateful. Instead, I shall address the remarks of the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon) and of the Secretary of State, both of whom are unhappy with the amendment.

It may be entirely my fault and my inability to understand the remarks of the hon. Member for North Down, but even though I have been wrestling with the matter for the past half hour, I am at a loss to understand her agenda. She seems to want a modification that, as the Secretary of State said, is not essential in any way. Indeed, he said that he had some difficulty in discovering the substantive difference between the Bill as it stands and what her amendment proposes. I think that the word "upholding" is slightly stronger than "according to". If the clause in its current form were included at all, I would be very happy to change the wording to include the word "upholding", but surely, at very best, it is a secondary or tertiary issue.

The real issue is whether we should have a regime in Northern Ireland that is different from that which applies in the rest of the United Kingdom: one regime in Northern Ireland, and a different one the other side of the water. We must ask whether we want to send a signal saying that the same degree of allegiance to the Crown does not apply, and that justice does not appear to flow directly from the Crown or in exactly the same way on both sides of the water.

4 Mar 2002 : Column 94

That is the minimal effect of accepting the Bill in its current form, but the maximum effect is that of a republican agenda. I hope that the hon. Member for North Down will now concede that, as a change of wording is being made, this question is opened up: why does it have no substantive purpose? Is it merely to waste the time of Parliament? Is it to bamboozle somebody or to pretend there has been a change when one has not been made? That is what I call ambiguity and uncertainty, and a lack of clarity, frankness and candour. The Government are expert in all those things, and no doubt that hypothesis is close to the truth. The alternative hypothesis is worse, as it is that they have an overtly republican agenda. I do not think that there is any third, fourth or fifth possibility. I am very surprised that the hon. Lady appears to place herself in the same camp as the Government on this matter.

Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal): Will my hon. Friend admit to the possibility that there is another reason for making the change? It could be suggested that, where there are long-standing difficulties that are unconnected with the proper carrying out of impartial judicial activities, it is as well to be as soft with them as possible. Is it not more difficult to see the provision in that moderate way when one insists that there must be something much more extreme going on? On this occasion, I wonder whether it would be better to say that some problems are of such long standing that we have to find a mechanism that is soft enough to handle them, and that the suggestion that we are not doing that merely makes things more difficult for those who are looking for a moderate way forward.

Mr. Davies: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. I set out two possible explanations for what is going on: an intention either to introduce ambiguity or to make a substantive change. I said what I thought of both approaches. If he thinks about what he said, he will see that he suggested that there is some virtue in ambiguity. In other words, he chose deliberately and willingly—or would like us to do so—one of the two hypotheses that I advanced, and thinks that there is virtue in ambiguity in certain circumstances. However, he is still accepting that there is ambiguity in what the Government propose. I do not think it right that ambiguity should exist, especially in matters affecting the law of the land. I am sorry to disagree with him on that point, but at least he had the candour—other contributors have not shared it—to say, "Yes, there is ambiguity and that is what I want." That is a respectable point of view and I commend such frankness to the Secretary of State.

8.30 pm

The Secretary of State's first defence of the wording in the Bill was that it replicates the wording in the review. We covered that on Second Reading. I explained to the House—the point was well taken and nobody could contradict it—that as he appointed the chairman of the review body, who, like several of its members, is on the Government payroll, there is something more than a little incestuous in the Secretary of State's saying, "I have to do this because that's what the review decided." He packed the body in the first place and was in a position to influence the shape in which it turned out. There was nothing at all independent about the review. It therefore

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has no status, validity or legitimacy separate from the will of the Government, which it merely represents in a different form. Parliament will not be taken in by that. We must, as always, consider the actual substance of the Government's proposals and take a view on the merits of changing the oath of allegiance.

The points that I made in response to the hon. Member for North Down are equally valid in response to the Secretary of State. In changing the law in this way, the Secretary of State must address the dilemma of whether he is trying to change something substantively—he implied that he was not when he said that nothing in the Bill casts doubt on the status of Northern Ireland—or merely wilfully creating uncertainty. If the latter, he is doing a bad day's work for the law, for the Province of Northern Ireland and for the peace process. He will fuel precisely the kind of suspicion and concern in Northern Ireland that, as he acknowledged yesterday in his BBC interview, is in danger of upsetting and destabilising the peace process.

In the light of the debate, I have no doubt that we should press the amendment to a vote.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 137, Noes 311.

Division No. 177
[8.32 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John
Beggs, Roy
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia
Brady, Graham
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burnside, David
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, John
Cameron, David
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Cash, William
Chope, Christopher
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Clifton–Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dodds, Nigel
Donaldson, Jeffrey M
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan, Alan (Rutland & Melton)
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fox, Dr Liam
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Greenway, John
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heathcoat–Amory, Rt Hon David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, Rt Hon Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell–Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paisley, Rev Ian
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prisk, Mark
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (Mid–Norfolk)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Spink, Bob
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Swire, Hugo
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Trimble, Rt Hon David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyrie, Andrew
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, David
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Desmond Swayne and
Mr. Julian Brazier.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barrett, John
Barron, Kevin
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brooke, Mrs Annette L
Brown, Rt Hon Nicholas
(Newcastle E & Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Cable, Dr Vincent
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Cairns, David
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Carmichael, Alistair
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Rt Hon Charles
(Norwich S)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cotter, Brian
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Ewing, Annabelle
Farrelly, Paul
Field, Rt Hon Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Francis, Dr Hywel
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Healey, John
Heath, David
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hewitt, Rt Hon Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Jimmy
Hope, Phil
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hume, John
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, Rt Hon John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Irranca–Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Lamb, Norman
Laws, David
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Llwyd, Elfyn
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luke, Iain
McCabe, Stephen
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McGrady, Eddie
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mallaber, Judy
Mallon, Seamus
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall–Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moran, Margaret
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Rt Hon Estelle
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Diana
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Plaskitt, James
Pond, Chris
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr John
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Siôn
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, Rt Hon John
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stringer, Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Rt Hon Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyler, Paul
Tynan, Bill
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Wills, Michael
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wishart, Pete
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek
Younger–Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:

Jim Fitzpatrick and
Dan Norris.

Question accordingly negatived.

4 Mar 2002 : Column 98

Schedule 6

Office-holders Required To Take Judicial Oath

Amendments made: No. 25, in page 88, line 34, leave out "District Judge (Magistrates" Courts)" and insert "Resident Magistrate".
No. 26, in page 88, line 35, leave out "District Judge (Magistrates" Courts)" and insert "Resident Magistrate".—[Mr. Browne.]

New Clause 3

Discontinuance of proceedings: information for victims

'(1) Where the Director has the conduct of proceedings in relation to an offence against a person and he decides to discontinue such proceedings at any stage, he must inform the victim or victims of the offence, or in the event of their being deceased or incapacitated, their next of kin.

(2) If, following a court appearance, a person is acquitted at the direction of the court, the Director must inform the victim or victims of the offence, on in the event of their being deceased or incapacitated, their next of kin, of that action.'.—[Mr. Blunt.]
Brought up, and read the First time.

4 Mar 2002 : Column 99

8.45 pm

Mr. Blunt: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

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