Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Bill [Lords] — 4 Feb 1998
Order for Third Reading read.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
Before I make a few remarks about the Bill, I want to touch on some other, related, issues that are worthy of consideration.
I know that all right hon. and hon. Members will share my revulsion at the appalling series of sectarian murders that have heightened tension in Northern Ireland in recent weeks. Those terrible events cast a dark shadow over the Province. Those who carry out such acts speak for no one other than their own extreme factions. Their purpose is malign, but they should know that it will not prevent or distract the Government from achieving their overall objective of bringing about a peaceful and lasting settlement for all the people of Northern Ireland. The RUC and the security forces will do everything in their power to bring those who carry out such evil acts to justice. The Government, with the support of the vast majority of people across the communities in Northern Ireland, are determined to succeed, and the actions of a murderous few will not stand in the way of the wishes and hopes of the many. I know that I speak for all hon. Members when I make those comments.
The Bill was born out of the dramatic, damaging and dangerous events of recent years associated with what is termed the marching season. The previous Government put in place a mechanism to consider the causes of those events and to seek ways to deal with them. The result was the North report, which was an authoritative study of the problem and proposed a range of measures.
My party in opposition made it clear that, when elected, we would legislate for the implementation of the report. We have now carried out that promise in government.
The Bill, as originally drafted and presented for consideration to the other place, was constructed to take account of various representations made on certain key elements. It received full and detailed scrutiny in the other place. From the outset, we made it clear that we wanted it to reflect as best it could cross-community and cross-party views on these matters. Significant changes were made to the Bill in the other place as a result of the expression of such views. Certain matters were left for further consideration because of the complexities involved.
The Committee stage in this House proved very useful in exploring the issues and seeking the best way in which to deal with them. I thank all who served on the Standing Committee. The amendments that have been made to the Bill today reflect many of the views expressed by hon. Members in Committee and I thank them for their contribution.
If the Bill is passed, the Government will have fulfilled the clear commitment that they made on taking office to implement the recommendations of the North report. We said all along that we believed the report to be correct in its judgment that the problem of parades was the accommodation of competing rights. Our endorsement of the report's conclusions and their embodiment in law will ensure a new approach to a difficult and complex problem.
4 Feb 1998 : Column 1182
Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:--
The House divided: Ayes 121, Noes 9.
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|
|Lab||108 (+2 tell)||0||0||26.4%|
|UUP||0||6 (+2 tell)||0||80.0%|