Disqualifications Bill — Amendment of section 1(1)(e) of the Disqualification Acts — 30 Nov 2000
Oliver Letwin MP, West Dorset voted in the minority (No).
Lords amendments considered.
Lords amendment: No. 1, Leave out Clause 1
I beg to move, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment.
The other place agreed in Committee that this clause should stand part of the Bill, but it then voted to remove the clause on Report. Hon. Members will not be surprised that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has tabled a motion to reject the Lords amendment. The original clause 1 is the central clause of the Bill to which all the other clauses relate. Without it, the Bill is meaningless. Indeed, its only effect would be to repeal section 36(5) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which enables members of the Irish Senate to take seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly. That was not the Government's intention and I do not believe it would have the support of hon Members. The intention of the Bill, quite simply, is to enable Members of the Irish Parliament to stand for, and to take up seats in, the United Kingdom legislatures. That is precisely what clause 1 in its original form would achieve.
As we recognise that the aim of the Bill is to build on what has already been achieved in Northern Ireland, we will not oppose its Second Reading.--[ Official Report , 24 January 2000; Vol. 343, c. 34.]
The Bill is not part of the Good Friday agreement, but it is consistent with it. Separate development of direct interparliamentary links between the various legislatures was envisaged at the time of the Good Friday agreement.
It is time to build a sounder basis to our institutional relationships and to provide a basis on which we can proceed, as two islands just off the mainland of Europe, with many common links, historical and otherwise, between the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic--a basis for ensuring that those closer links are given some institutional background. I believe that that explains this fairly modest Bill.
I dealt with the question of whom we discussed the matter with on Second Reading, but let me make it clear that representations have been received from, and discussions held with, the leader of the Ulster Unionist party and the Irish Government. I understand that representations have been received by the Government from Sinn Fein. However, let me make it clear that the Government are not trading on issues. As always, representations are judged on their merits, and I believe that the measures in the Bill are justified on their own merits. The hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone will be aware also of the issue in relation to clause 2 and the right hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble).
We ban Members of the Irish Parliament from being Members of this House. There is no provision in Irish law similar to section 1(1)(e) of the House of Commons Disqualifications Act 1975. Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords--and, indeed, Members of the legislatures of other countries--are not disqualified on that account from membership of the Irish Parliament. To that extent, the reciprocity sought by the amendment already exists. Members of the Irish Parliament are, however, required to be Irish nationals.--[ Official Report , 25 January 2000; Vol. 343, c. 199-225, 305-09.]
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.--[ Official Report , 24 January 2000; Vol. 343, c. 25.]
Question put, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment:--
The House divided: Ayes 338, Noes 129.
Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.
What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.
What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.
What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.
|Party||Majority (Aye)||Minority (No)||Both||Turnout|
|Con||0||123 (+2 tell)||0||78.1%|
|Lab||321 (+2 tell)||0||0||77.6%|
|David Heath||Somerton and Frome||LDem (front bench)||no|