Disqualifications Bill — 24 Jan 2000
Order for Second Reading read.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
This Bill, inter alia, changes the anomaly created by section 36(5) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which permits a member of the Irish Senate to be a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, but not of any other United Kingdom legislature. It replaces that provision with measures that will bring about a broader and closer relationship between the United Kingdom as a whole and the Irish Republic, by treating Northern Ireland as any other part of the United Kingdom.
The Bill ends the prohibition against members of the Irish legislature--that is, of both the Dail and the Senate--being a member of any legislature in the United Kingdom. They will therefore be permitted to be Members of this House, the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Bill will place the Irish Republic in a position broadly similar to that of Commonwealth countries, whose legislators have been able to join legislatures here. It is a small step towards creating a closer relationship between the United Kingdom as a whole and the Irish Republic.
Mr. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot):
The Minister seeks to draw a parallel between the Republic of Ireland and Commonwealth countries, but Commonwealth countries have Her Majesty the Queen as their head of state.
Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:--
The House divided: Ayes 300, Noes 17.
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