Northern Ireland (Sentences) Bill — 10 Jun 1998
Order for Second Reading read .
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
The aim of the Bill is to bring into effect proposals in the Good Friday agreement dealing with prisoners. Prisoner issues are part of that agreement--the commitment given by both Governments was to put in place mechanisms for an accelerated programme of prisoner release. In our case, that applies to prisoners convicted of scheduled offences--that is, offences connected with paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland and those outside Northern Ireland convicted of similar offences. We gave a commitment in the agreement that we would seek to enact the appropriate legislation by the end of June.
The agreement is a package, supported by parties and the people, and it is a whole and not to be cherry-picked. The package won the support of more than 71 per cent. of the people of Northern Ireland on 22 May, in both communities. As we discussed in the House on Monday last week, I know that there is much concern among those who voted yes and those who voted no about the actual details. We have a duty to people to implement the people's wishes, but, at the same time, to do our best to address those concerns.
I believe that the agreement is the best chance that we have to bring an end to the vicious cycle of violence and murder in Northern Ireland and to ensure that new generations do not continue to suffer all the grief and pain of the past.
On 20 April, I placed in the Library of the House a paper that set out in detail how the Government intended to implement our commitment in relation to prisoners. That paper set out the rigorous safeguards for the protection of the public. Those safeguards are now on the face of the Bill. For example, prisoners who support terrorist groups that continue to engage in violence or return to violence will not be released. Prisoners will be released on licence and immediately recalled if they engage in any terrorist activity.
Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West):
The Bill actually states that prisoners will be released if they are not likely to be
unequivocal ceasefire. What is more, there is provision in the agreement for that to be kept under constant review."--[ Official Report , 6 May 1998; Vol. 311, c. 711.]
Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:--
The House divided: Ayes 343, Noes 10.
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||265 (+2 tell)||0||0||64.0%|
|UUP||0||4 (+2 tell)||0||60.0%|
|Mr Howard Flight||Arundel and South Downs||Con||no|
|Laurence Robertson||Tewkesbury||Con (front bench)||no|