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Rev. Ian Paisley: I was about to come to some quotations that need to be repeated in this House. We have heard a lot about what has been said in favour of the proposal, but we also need to hear what has been said against it by the various commissions.
How have we got to this point? We have had the Makro robbery, the Bobby Tohill abduction, and the robbery of goods from the Strabane branch of Iceland. Cigarettes with a market value of approximately £2 million were stolen from a bonded vehicle in Belfast, and there was also the Northern bank robbery. Those incidents form the background that shows why the money ceased to be paid.
None of the assets from those crimes have ever been recovered. The proceeds of the crimes are in the possession of the IRA, which has more money than it will ever be able to spend or launder. The Government are asking us to dip into our finances and give the IRA taxpayer's money, and something extra.
The people of Northern IrelandRoman Catholics, Protestants and those with no religionthink that the situation is desperate. They gather around public representatives and ask what is going on. They almost blame us, because they think that the proposal stems from individual MPs. The Government have to face up to that.
I opposed the setting up of the IMC. Indeed, the first time that we met it, we had a humdinger of a row. However, the IMC did its best to try to be fair to all. I do not agree with all of its report, and it would not agree with all my comments, but the fact remains that its report states:
"PIRA continues to raise funds and we also believe that it looks to the long term exploitation of the proceeds of earlier crimes, for example through the purchase of property or legitimate businesses."
There is a distinct difference between Short money and the money proposed in the motion, which is entirely separate new money. We do not know how the arrangement will be organised or run. We just know that we have to give those people new money. All of us who receive Short money know how meticulous the auditors are about the use of that money, and rightly so. It should be spent only on what this House voted for it to be spent on. But the money today is new money, and we do not yet knowthe Secretary of State cannot tell ushow the use of that money will be supervised.
I can tell him today that those organisations have not committed themselves to a peaceful process, and they have not become fully democratic. Therefore, they should not be given any money. I would like the Government to state clearly that those organisations cannot get on the train with a subsidised ticket until they are democratic. If we had all the democrats together round the table, one would hope to achieve a solution. Many people who do not take part in active politics would also beg for that to happen.
Dr. McCrea: Perhaps the House should bear in mind the fact that I am resident in a constituency that has a Member of Parliament who has never attended this House and never once made representations on behalf of his constituents since he was elected in 1997. There is more money for a representative role, but 60 per cent. of people in the Mid Ulster constituency did not vote for that Member. They are being denied representation. When will this House stand up for those who have no voice here at present, and say that a representative should speak here for his people?
Rev. Ian Paisley: My hon. Friend makes a vital point, and the time has come for the Government to say that if people do not abide by the rules of the club, they cannot be in the club. At the moment, the IRA is holding a gun to all our heads.
I cannot recall how many times I have received absolute assurances from the Prime Minister that as long as there are crimes there will be nothing for those people. Well, they are still committing crimes, yet we are making another move. What will be the next thingand the next, and the next?
We should be careful about giving money to those people. They do not need it anyway; they have more money than they can ever launder. There are many important things in Northern Ireland that need time for
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thorough discussionhospitals, education and water ratesyet we are debating whether we should pass money to the IRA. I say no: taxpayers' money only for those who are democrats.
Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock) (Lab): This afternoon, the Foreign Secretary will address the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs about the grave situation in Iran and I want to be at that meeting, so I shall mean no discourtesy to the House when I absent myself later in the debate
Andrew Mackinlay: Not during my speech, which I have patiently waited a long time to deliver. I want to address some of the comments made by the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) and my hon. Friends the Members for Blaydon (Mr. Anderson) and for Islington, North (Jeremy Corbyn).
I respectfully remind Members that we are debating not one motion but two, and that there is a major difference between them. I invite the House to oppose motion 3 but not motion 4. I can live with motion 4; it broadly restores what the House had granted Sinn Fein and removed as a sanction. I take the point made by the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham. I am a socialist and when I take the Oath I always preface it by telling the Clerkwho often gives me an old-fashioned lookthat my mandate comes from the people of Thurrock, not from either a monarch or a prelate. I then proceed to take the Oath, which I am pleased to do.
I take on board the point made by the hon. Member for South Antrim (Dr. McCrea) about the frustration experienced by constituents who are not represented in this place, but we have accepted the Westminster, first-past-the-post system and the electors of Belfast, West, Thurrock or south-east London have to live with whoever won. The next general election will determine the remedy. If Members choose to abstain from our proceedings, that is a matter between them and their electors.
Although I can live with motion 4, I cannot support motion 3. I invite my hon. Friends to address the fact that it would introduce a new, exclusive allowance for only one political party, which cannot be justified as it has been presented to us. I remind my hon. Friends that although the debate was not fully advertised as a House of Commons matter we have the unique opportunity of a free vote, which I shall be pleased to exercise in opposing motion 3, and I invite Members to join me in the Lobby.
It is difficult to ascertain when the decision to create the new allowance was taken, or when it was announced to the House. I became aware of it just before business questions last week, when a Whip phoned me about it, and I am grateful to her for her kindness in drawing it to my attention. I realised subsequently that the debate involved not only the restoration of moneys that had been removed as a sanction but the new allowance.
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My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North and I may disagree in many of our views about Northern Ireland, but given his intervention we may agree on one narrow pointthat there could be a case for state funding for political parties. We have all debated that and we hold various views. However, the allowance in motion 3 creates state funding for one political party to the exclusion of all othersthat is what I find unacceptableand it does so because the rules are written exclusively for that political party.
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