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26 Mar 2003 : Column 361—continued

Mr. Quentin Davies: The right hon. Gentleman is making an absurd argument. We are faced with the Government's proposed new clauses and we have to respond, so we think about them and try to improve them—as we are doing. That has nothing whatever to do with the argument that I and others have been making this afternoon: it is a fundamental error to introduce these new clauses at present. Indeed, the Secretary of State conceded as much when he said in November that he expected there to be acts of completion. Unfortunately, they have taken longer than he hoped but he decided to make the concessions anyway. That is the fatal element in his tactics. None of the arguments that he has been making even begin to address that.

Mr. Murphy: I could not agree less. The hon. Gentleman is deeply wrong to suggest that. He and others have had the opportunity to consider the proposals and table amendments for the past four months if they really thought that their composition was fundamentally flawed. The hon. Gentleman has had the opportunity to think about them for four months. In addition, there has been an opportunity to table amendments since last week.

26 Mar 2003 : Column 362

That is not the issue, however. The hon. Gentleman asks whether this is the right time to introduce the provisions. I have already explained that this is not the ideal time, but that is why we decided to add another commencement order to the provisions, which my hon. Friend the Minister of State will refer to later.

The hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members are also wrong to say that our parliamentary safeguards are meaningless. They think that the procedures of the House are so inadequate that they could not cope with great issues such as those that we have been discussing. I do not agree. The commencement orders are so important that we should be dealing only with one issue: whether the clauses should be introduced—yes or no. They would be introduced on the basis of the acts of completion that we have discussed today.

The provisions were discussed in the other place. I take the valid point made by the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Lembit Öpik). The issue is so important that it should not go upstairs to a Committee. The hon. Gentleman was right to say that the whole House should have the opportunity to debate and vote on that single issue—whether the matter before us should go through. Such a debate would be meaningful. Indeed, it would be no different in substance from this debate, although it might be in time. Every Member will have the opportunity to make their points in this place and debate whether it is right or wrong to ensure that particular matters are discussed and agreed to.

Lembit Öpik: If the Secretary of State is expressly committing the Government to discussion of that matter in a Committee of the whole House both here and in the other place, that is a most welcome development.

Mr. Murphy: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. Members of this and the other place should be given the best possible opportunity to debate such matters. There may be disagreement about timing—I accept the points that have been made about that—but political peace processes are difficult and they take time. None the less, it is wrong to say that there is no opportunity for the discussion of commencement orders.

Mr. Quentin Davies: Can the right hon. Gentleman not envisage the possibility that, depending on what acts of completion take place or on what package, if any, emerges, the answer might not be yes or no—all or nothing—but something but not everything? In other words, we should be able to reconsider the matter in the light of whatever agreements, or actions, he can obtain from Sinn Fein-IRA. My objection to dealing with the matter through the statutory instrument procedure is that we cannot modify or amend anything afterwards. The House can no longer return to matters dealt with in that way. We should be unable to reconsider the substance of the provision in the light of the situation as and when the right hon. Gentleman achieves his package.

26 Mar 2003 : Column 363

Mr. Murphy: I am not sure what could be modified, in the sense that the amendments before us today seem to take things as far as they can go. We can choose a disqualification period of either five or 10 years. We can choose either the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for North Antrim (Rev. Ian Paisley), which refer to me doing certain things, or those tabled by the right hon. Member for Upper Bann, which suggest that the board do such things.

5 pm

Of course the House will have the opportunity to discuss those matters today, but the central issue is whether they should be accepted, and I am saying that we will have the opportunity now not only on the Floor of the House—I give that undertaking—but in the House of Lords to do so, using the affirmative procedure. There will be further debate and, above all, it will give us as parliamentarians the possibility to consider this issue again. When we vote on these clauses in a few minutes, we will not be voting automatically to allow the proposals to go ahead. We are voting for them, but also to ensure that they are held in abeyance until such time as we are satisfied that acts of completion have, indeed, been completed.

Mr. John Taylor: Does the Secretary of State accept that a statutory instrument is inherently unsatisfactory as a means of discussing these matters of great import, whether considered in Committee or on the Floor of the House? The virtue of the Bill and our debating process is that all the amendments can be tabled and, yes, hon. Members can choose between five and 10 years, or whatever the various options are. With a statutory instrument, we have to take it or leave it. For affairs of this importance, take it or leave it is not good enough.

Mr. Murphy: I understand the point and, ideally, the hon. Gentleman is right, of course. I repeat that, ideally, I would have preferred the debate to be held on another occasion, but it so happens that the timing has not worked. We have included further safeguards, such as the Belfast sub-groups, and hon. Members now have the opportunity to vote on various amendments and the different methods that they think might have to be used. We shall see how the House votes, but at the end of the day the essential point is whether or not those methods should be accepted.

Mr. Mallon: Will the Secretary of Secretary confirm that, when we finish today, more time will have been given to these parts of the Bill than was given to its entire Second Reading, or to the consideration of the full Patten report?

Mr. Murphy: That is why I do not want another Bill, and why it is so important to ensure that we have the opportunity to deal with this issue now, rather than later, and that the Bill, to which my hon. Friend is so deeply committed, completes its stages and receives Royal Assent. That should happen.

Rev. Ian Paisley: I have listened carefully and the fact that we will have that debate on the Floor of the House is very welcome. We will have time to make a decision, but will the right hon. Gentleman please tell me—as one

26 Mar 2003 : Column 364

who suffered for the first 25 years of his life in the House, when the whole government of Northern Ireland was dealt with by such resolutions—whether it will be an hour and a half debate, with 15 minutes for the Government to have their say and 15 minutes for the Opposition to have their say and an hour for the rest of us to do the job? Will the debate be limited to that when the order comes before the House?

Mr. Murphy: I understand that the debate will be longer than that because a number of articles will have to dealt with, but, having said that, I take the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Newry and Armagh—it is a quite proper hint for me to shut up—that there is a limit to how far we can go in discussing these matters because we need to debate other issues. All Members, not just those in Committee, will have a chance to debate the matters. We have debated well for a long time. It is an important issue, and I commend the new clause to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put, That the clause be added to the Bill:—

The House divided: Ayes 364, Noes 10.

Division No. 138
[5:04 pm


AYES


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Baker, Norman
Banks, Tony
Barron, rh Kevin
Battle, John
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, rh A. J.
Berry, Roger
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)
Bruce, Malcolm
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Burstow, Paul
Byers, rh Stephen
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Cairns, David
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Carmichael, Alistair
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Chidgey, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Ann (Keighley)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, rh Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Doran, Frank
Doughty, Sue
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Etherington, Bill
Ewing, Annabelle
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul (Newport W)
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gidley, Sandra
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Harvey, Nick
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Holmes, Paul
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Kaufman, rh Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Keetch, Paul
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lamb, Norman
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
Lyons, John (Strathkelvin)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, rh Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mallaber, Judy
Mallon, Seamus
Mandelson, rh Peter
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury & Atcham)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meale, Alan (Mansfield)
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Alan
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Moore, Michael
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Elliot
Morris, rh Estelle
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, rh Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan (Wansdyke)
Oaten, Mark (Winchester)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salmond, Alex
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simon, Siôn (B'ham Erdington)
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Robert N.
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Watts, David
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Weir, Michael
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Winnick, David
Wishart, Pete
Wood, Mike (Batley)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James (Glasgow Baillieston)
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:


Mr. John Heppell and
Gillian Merron


NOES


Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)
Burnside, David
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Donaldson, Jeffrey M.
Hermon, Lady
Hunter, Andrew
Paisley, Rev. Ian
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Smyth, Rev. Martin (Belfast S)
Trimble, rh David

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. Nigel Dodds and
Mrs. Iris Robinson

Question accordingly agreed to.

26 Mar 2003 : Column 367

New Clause 2

Independent Members: Disqualification


'(1) In paragraph 8 of Schedule 3 to the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 (c.32) (disqualification for membership of district policing partnership) for subparagraph (2) substitute—
"(2) A person is disqualified for being an independent member of a DPP if—
(a) he has been convicted in Northern Ireland or elsewhere of any offence and has had passed on him a sentence of imprisonment or detention, and
(b) the relevant period has not ended.
(3) The relevant period is the period of five years beginning with the person's discharge in respect of the offence.
(4) For the purposes of subparagraph (3) the following are to be treated as the discharge of a person (whether or not his release is subject to conditions)—
(a) his release on licence;
(b) his release in pursuance of a grant of remission.
(5) Subparagraph (4) does not apply in relation to the release of a person in respect of an offence if he is required to return to prison or detention for a further period in respect of the offence.
(6) Subject to subparagraph (7), the reference in subparagraph (2) to a sentence of imprisonment or detention does not include a suspended sentence.
(7) Subparagraph (6) does not apply in relation to a suspended sentence that has been ordered to take effect.
(8) In this paragraph "suspended sentence" means a sentence of imprisonment or detention that is ordered not to take effect unless the conditions specified in the order are met."
(2) Subsection (1) comes into force in accordance with provision made by the Secretary of State by order.'.—[Jane Kennedy.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Motion made, and Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 312, Noes 189.


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