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4 Mar 2009 : Column 876

Sammy Wilson: Like the on-the-runs legislation. The Secretary of State’s argument about the demands from the Assembly cannot be used to back up the urgency with which this measure is being pushed through.

The Secretary of State said that we want to have this measure in place so that we can have the devolution of policing and justice when the Assembly is ready. The Assembly is clearly not ready. Leaving aside the whole issue of trust, the Assembly and Executive Review Committee is still considering aspects of policing, not least the police budget and whether we want the devolution of policing and justice when there is a £170 million hole in that budget.

Dr. McCrea: Members of that Committee have acknowledged that the further they go into this issue, the deeper and blacker the hole becomes. That matter must be dealt with forthrightly.

Sammy Wilson: That is the point. If the Secretary of State’s argument is that we want the legislation in place for when the Assembly is ready to accept the devolution of policing and justice, there is no indication of that being a cause for urgency from Northern Ireland.

My next point was raised by the right hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Hain), the former Secretary of State, who is not in his place now. He went even further in making the case for why what I have mentioned was essential. He talked about the commitments given at St. Andrews, the fact that Sinn Fein had come on board on policing and supported the police only because of certain commitments on the devolution of policing and justice, and the fact that in the past that kind of method had been used because it was an absolute necessity for progress. If we take the right hon. Gentleman’s argument to its logical conclusion, we reach the point mentioned by the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey): it all becomes tantamount to blackmail—“If you do not do this, somehow or other the commitment that Sinn Fein has given to policing will evaporate. It will no longer be prepared to sign up to policing. This is necessary for progress.” I am not accusing this Secretary of State of employing that argument; nevertheless, it was employed by those who support the pushing through of this legislation as the Secretary of State is seeking to push it through.

By and large, we are content with the thrust of this legislation. We are also content that other legislation put in place in this House addresses the fears of people in Northern Ireland and ensures that a Member previously associated with a terrorist organisation, even with acts of terror, could not be the Minister for policing and justice. We are content with all that, but I accept that some Members have difficulty with this legislation, wish to move amendments or, in the case of the hon. Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay), want to use the mechanism available to probe the legislation and ensure that there are no mistakes or weaknesses in it and that any changes to improve it can be made. All that requires that there be proper debate and a proper system to deal with the issues.

I make one last point, which was also made by the hon. Member for Vauxhall. As a Unionist, I wish Northern Ireland to be treated in the same as any other part of the United Kingdom. That means that Northern Ireland legislation—technical or not, politically important
4 Mar 2009 : Column 877
or not, ordinary and mundane or not—should be treated in the same way as legislation for the rest of the United Kingdom. We deserve that. In the past, there were excuses. There was what was described as “temporary direct rule” and we used Orders in Council. Those days are past; the Northern Ireland Assembly is dealing with most of the legislation that we were told had to go through in that form.

The House has no massive time commitments on Northern Ireland legislation. Indeed, what makes it more galling is that there is plenty of time. It is not as if we are being squeezed out because the House has to deal with other issues of such national importance that Northern Ireland has to be dealt with differently. Yesterday the House finished early, and I do not know how many times this Session we have not used up the full allocation of time. It is even more insulting for people in Northern Ireland to find that, when there is time, it cannot be allocated for important legislation that will put in place structures for the administration of policing and justice when it is time for those to be devolved to Northern Ireland. I hope that the Secretary of State will rethink the position for that reason, because the arguments have been weak and spurious, and because he owes the people of Northern Ireland the same treatment as that received by those in other parts of the United Kingdom.

2.14 pm

Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills) (Con): Everyone who has spoken and everyone present in the Chamber wishes Northern Ireland well and hopes that the processes will continue and bring about an ultimate solution that is satisfactory to all the people who live in Northern Ireland.

I commend the amendments tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone). They are essential, de minimis amendments—the very least that could be done. The Secretary of State and my hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson) saw the position as merely a technical reissuing of previous guillotine motions.

Mr. Paterson: May I clarify the issue again? I am just being brutally practical. Sadly, the Government have control of Parliament; the Executive have the power to decide time. We have some important amendments that we want to introduce and we bitterly regret the position, but the fact is that we will not be able to explain the amendments in this democratically elected House if we do not have the time. I entirely endorse my hon. Friend’s beliefs, and he knows perfectly well how I feel about this. However, I am just being practical this afternoon—as we speak, the Executive have control of the time. I have not said how we will vote on the issue; I have been clear about that. I am just being absolutely practical about the time that could be spent speaking to the amendments.

Mr. Shepherd: I do not know whether that is a clarification, but I will accept it for what it was.

I was not going to come to this point immediately, but the former Secretary of State referred to it and it was explicit in what my hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire said, although not in what the Secretary of State said. Normally, these three-and-a-half-page constructed guillotines are taken automatically by the Executive, who have become so accustomed to them.
4 Mar 2009 : Column 878
The guillotine motion has been included in the time for the Second Reading debate. This has been a long-argued case—in respect of almost every Northern Ireland Bill, too. It behoved the Secretary of State’s predecessors to say, “If you discuss the process of Parliament and scrutiny, you are taking away from the consideration of the substantive issue before the House.” That is an entirely artificial construct. What does it suit? The Secretary of State made no case that this was an absolute emergency that demanded delivery on this day. When asked, the former Secretary of State got perilously close to stating the need for “hit you on the head” guillotine motions in emergency legislation.

In fact, when my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough was speaking, a piece of paper fluttered on to the Bench, and he kindly allowed me to read it. It said, “Peter—would be helpful if you start to wind up. You’ve had 20 minutes, eating into debate time.” I cannot imagine which Government Whip could have gone as far as to suggest that an hon. Member may not make his case. But that case was not used by the Secretary of State. All the arguments have been presented—in my speech, in those of Labour Members and in those of Members who represent Ireland—[Hon. Members: “Northern Ireland!”] Northern Ireland, I should say. Those arguments have been about why this motion should not constrain the debate on Second Reading.

Mr. Heath: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, not least for exposing the collusion between Conservative and Government Front Benchers on this issue. May I take him back to something that he said earlier, which is very important? The amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone) is de minimis: the minimum. If it were passed, our proceedings would not represent normal consideration of a Bill in this place. The amendment proposes streamlined emergency consideration put into just two days of parliamentary debate. We should not see it as a normalisation of the treatment of Northern Ireland legislation, but merely as something that is not as bad as what the Government are proposing.

Mr. Shepherd: The hon. Gentleman has provided the emphasis on which I was going to build up to a conclusion. He is absolutely right.

There is no opposition to the substance of the measure before us. As the former Secretary of State said, it is a largely technical matter involving some very important issues that need consideration. It is fairly safe to say that most English and Scottish Members will wish it good will and let the debate take its form, for this is the Parliament of us all. I was hoping not to abuse anyone in this, but simply to ask the Secretary of State to have an urgent word with the business managers. We did not need this motion; it is not necessary. He did not make a case for it, in all fairness, and he knows it. The only person who tried to argue for it was the former Secretary of State, who elided the concepts of technicality, process and emergency in such a way as to try to give a certain sense of urgency. As has been said in this Chamber before, anyone who studied law, as quite a few of us did, will remember from Maine’s “Ancient Law” that justice lies in the interstices of procedure. Nothing is a merely procedural matter. It is very important to justify this to those whom we represent, and especially to those who represent the Province that will have to bear this legislation.

4 Mar 2009 : Column 879

I implore the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to withdraw this motion or, if he cannot do that, to take the de minimis approach proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough.

2.22 pm

Mr. Bone: This has been an interesting debate on the amendment. As my hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson) said, we are in a Catch-22 situation: the more time we take, the less time there is for the Second Reading debate. However, if my amendment were successful, we would be able to continue a Second Reading debate for the rest of the day. I hope that when I press it to the vote Government Members will agree to it so that we can move forward.

Mr. Woodward rose—

Mr. Bone: If the Secretary of State wants to agree to it, it may not have to go to a vote; otherwise, I will press it.

2.23 pm

Mr. Woodward: I fear that I will have to disappoint the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone). I hate also to disappoint the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd).

Of course, this is more than a procedural matter, albeit that it contains a number of technical issues. I say in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) that of course we are serious. There is no question but that this is a very serious issue; that is why we are setting about it in this way. I would say to the Conservative shadow spokesman that nothing in the Bill is a surprise. If he had read the report of the Assembly and Executive Review Committee, which was published six weeks ago, and followed its work, he would have seen that the legislation reflects that work. He would also have noted that the Assembly itself managed not only to pass the debate motion, but to do so with a full debate in a little less than two hours.

Sir Patrick Cormack: I made my argument today in sorrow, not in anger. Why cannot the Secretary of State accept the validity of the points that have been made time and again from all parts of this House—all the Northern Ireland parties represented in this House appear to agree on this—and give us a little more time? We will have two hours to debate the Second Reading of an important Bill. He could make himself a real reputation if he allowed us to continue that debate until 7 o’clock tonight.

Mr. Woodward: Again, I am afraid that I am going to disappoint the hon. Gentleman and resist acquiring that particular reputation.

I ask hon. Members not to divide the House on this issue. I fear that they will do so, but it is obviously a matter for Parliament. My hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay) suggested that it would be a bad day for Parliament if we proceeded in the way proposed. I would qualify that by saying that this will be another day when Parliament will have played its part in helping to build a very different Northern Ireland—a Northern Ireland based on peace and prosperity. Even
4 Mar 2009 : Column 880
if there are disagreements in the House on procedure, this will be a very good day for Parliament. I thank my hon. Friends.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The House divided: Ayes 213, Noes 276.
Division No. 53]
[2.26 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Donaldson, rh Mr. Jeffrey M.
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Nadine
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Durkan, Mark
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Christopher
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Green, Damian
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hoey, Kate
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holmes, Paul
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Howell, John
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter

Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
McCrea, Dr. William
McDonnell, Dr. Alasdair
McGrady, Mr. Eddie
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moore, Mr. Michael
Mulholland, Greg
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, rh Mr. Peter
Rogerson, Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Rowen, Paul
Ruffley, Mr. David
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Short, rh Clare
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, David
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Taylor, Matthew
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Timpson, Mr. Edward
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Sir Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wishart, Pete
Wright, Jeremy
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Stephen Crabb and
Bill Wiggin

Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, rh Hilary
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, rh Mr. Liam
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David

Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Healey, rh John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, rh Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Knight, rh Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miller, Andrew
Moffat, Anne
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot

Mudie, Mr. George
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, rh Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Rammell, Bill
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Roy, Lindsay
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, rh Keith
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Watson, Mr. Tom
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Noes:

Ms Dawn Butler and
Ian Lucas
Question accordingly negatived.
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