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Mr. Woodward: I fear that I would be craving your indulgence, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I started to discuss on-the-runs. However, as I have said, we believe that it would be entirely appropriate to use the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee for close examination of the proposals through pre-legislative scrutiny. For the purposes of this Bill, we think that the present system remains the right one for the next few months, so I urge the House not to accept new clause 1.

Lembit Öpik: I thank hon. Members for their contributions to the debate. May I start by emphasising the importance of being consistent with Lord Carlile's advice? We are considering the words and judgments of the man who is paid to make independent assessments, so we should think seriously about recommendations and suggestions that he puts forward, even if the Government are not inherently disposed to support them from the outset. I assure hon. Members that my dedicated belief in Lord Carlile's contributions is not
30 Nov 2005 : Column 295
based on the fact that he was the Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire until 1997, although that is a consideration.

I understand the concern of the hon. Member for Tewkesbury (Mr. Robertson) about religious and community affiliations in a three-judge system. Nevertheless, it is fairly easy to show that we could find independent judges from across the community who would be trusted as faithful adherents to the standards and principles that we expect from the judiciary.

Mr. Woodward: Obviously, the Government have enormous respect for the work of Lord Carlile. However, when the hon. Gentleman makes his assessment of the matter, he must take Lord Carlile's 2003 report into consideration. Lord Carlile said that the fact that a three-judge court could work did not necessarily mean that it should be introduced.

Lembit Öpik: That is why this is a matter not of principle, but of judgment. The judgment of the Liberal Democrats is that it is appropriate to take the advice on board. I do not condemn the Minister, the hon. Member for Tewkesbury or others for holding a different view, but it is important to put down a marker today on where we should go.

Let me return to the question of the affiliation of judges. The hon. Member for Tewkesbury rightly pointed out that there might be some consideration of whether there were one Protestant and one Catholic judge. It was suggested that the third judge could be an Alliance party member, but perhaps one Baha'i could be the third member of the panel. The problem is not insurmountable. We faced it all the time when constituting the various organisations that have been set up in Northern Ireland in recent years and we got through it. If the system were coupled with a requirement for a unanimous verdict, we would ensure that we would get a cross-community verdict from the judges. We must also bear it in mind that Diplock courts have been frequently criticised for requiring one individual to make a judgment on an offence that would be made by a jury in normal circumstances, or in other parts of the United Kingdom, but I shall not labour that point because it has been made several times before.

As for the number of judges that we need, I am still not persuaded that we need 10 judges to make the change. I am disappointed that, in responding to a question from the Democratic Unionist party, the Minister could not tell us how many times a Diplock court has been used in the past few years, as such information would be helpful.

Mr. Woodward: As I have said, the Government fully respect Lord Carlile's advice. The hon. Gentleman regularly turns to that advice, and Lord Carlile suggested in his 2003 report that we would require

We are therefore also relying on that evidence.

Lembit Öpik: No doubt, Lord Carlile will learn how many times he has been cited in our debate and will have
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his own views on the matter. I will welcome that as the debate shifts to another place. However, circumstances have changed markedly in the past two years, and he was writing about the situation in 2003, not 2005. Nevertheless, this is a moot point because of the words that the Minister used only a few moments ago. I believe that he said that if it were to lead to a better system of justice for Northern Ireland, it would undoubtedly be a worthwhile thing to do. In my judgment, it would. The Minister is more cautious, and I understand why.

Mr. Woodward: I absolutely stand by what I said to the hon. Gentleman in Committee. We are asking him to refrain from dividing the House this afternoon. We have made it perfectly clear that later next year we will introduce proposals for pre-legislative scrutiny by the Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs, which will have all the evidence available to make a judgment on our proposals. That is a far more sensible way of proceeding, as it fully recognises the recommendations as well as criticisms and Lord Carlile's observations. Lord Carlile clearly thinks that it would not necessarily be a better system, but it could be. As he has such confidence in the present system, simply to tinker with it for the sake of a delay of 12 months or so would be a little foolish.

Lembit Öpik: I could be wrong, but I see the look of fear in the Minister's eyes. He is afraid that he might lose the vote, but that is the cost of democracy. I encourage him to have the courage of his convictions if the House divides and lose gracefully if it comes to that.

There are two reasons why we wish to divide the House. First, it is appropriate to discuss the details of the Diplock court system, because they pertain directly to the legislation. Secondly, and more importantly, in recent years we have been assured of pre-legislative scrutiny, proper consultation, inclusivity and cross-party accord in Northern Irish matters. In the eight and a half years in which I have been Northern Ireland spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, there has been a movement away from bipartisanship and towards unilateral deals, primarily between the Government and Sinn Fein. I am concerned that the assurance of consultation that the Minister has given us today may not be carried through in future. As evidence of that, I cite the point made by the DUP not 10 minutes ago. There has been no more important piece of legislation requiring cross-party support and pre-legislative scrutiny than the on-the-runs legislation. We are not here to debate the detail of that legislation, but we can cite the failure of process that led to the debate on Second Reading as evidence of the need to be extremely cautious about any guarantees that Ministers offer us, both today and in future.

If we do not divide the House, we will fail to put in place a limited insurance policy that recognises the importance of cross-party support and pre-legislative scrutiny before further changes to the Diplock courts. I accept the Minister's views, and I welcome his offer on paper of extensive pre-legislative scrutiny of Diplock court reform. However, I do not trust the Government to follow it through, because we have been let down in the past. For that reason, I seek leave to divide the House.
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Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 46, Noes 370.

Division No. 110
[2.15 pm


Barrett, John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Brake, Tom
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Davey, Mr. Edward
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Foster, Mr. Don
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Holmes, Paul
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, David
Huhne, Chris
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Kramer, Susan
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
McDonnell, Dr. Alasdair
Moore, Mr. Michael
Öpik, Lembit
Pugh, Dr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rogerson, Mr. Dan
Rowen, Paul
Russell, Bob
Stunell, Andrew
Swinson, Jo
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Thurso, John
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny

Tellers for the Ayes:

Lorely Burt and
Greg Mulholland


Afriyie, Adam
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Baldry, Tony
Balls, Ed
Barker, Gregory
Barlow, Ms Celia
Baron, Mr. John
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benton, Mr. Joe
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Bercow, John
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blair, rh Mr. Tony
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brennan, Kevin
Brokenshire, James
Brown, Lyn
Browne, rh Mr. Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cousins, Jim
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curry, rh Mr. David
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Philip
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Donaldson, Mr. Jeffrey M.
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Etherington, Bill
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Field, Mr. Mark
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flynn, Paul
Forth, rh Mr. Eric
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Francois, Mr. Mark
Gale, Mr. Roger
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goodman, Helen
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Hanson, Mr. David
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Hayes, Mr. John
Healey, John
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Herbert, Nick
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hood, Mr. Jimmy
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Mr. David
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Ann
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Knight, Jim
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lammy, Mr. David
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Loughton, Tim
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luff, Peter
MacDougall, Mr. John
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCrea, Dr. William
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh Mr. John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh Mr. David
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Mr. Elliot
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Mundell, David
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Ottaway, Richard
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Prosser, Gwyn
Purnell, James
Randall, Mr. John
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mrs. Iris
Robinson, Mr. Peter
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Scott, Mr. Lee
Seabeck, Alison
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Short, rh Clare
Simmonds, Mark
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Simpson, David
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Stewart, Ian
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Mr. Don
Tredinnick, David
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, Keith
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walker, Mr. Charles
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Winterton, Ms Rosie
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Alan Campbell and
Mr. John Heppell

Question accordingly negatived.

30 Nov 2005 : Column 299

Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am one person who missed that vote. The reason was the irregularity of the lift in No. 1 Parliament street. I have
30 Nov 2005 : Column 300
reason to believe that it is sometimes used by people who should not be using it during a Division. It was hovering between the mezzanine floor, the basement and the ground floor, but never reached the higher floors. I do not know whether I was the only person affected. There were other people waiting for a lift, and when we got in there were so many of us that it became overcrowded and would not operate. I would be pleased if you could get something done about that so that it does not occur again.

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