Northern Ireland Bill — 20 Jul 1998

Order for Second Reading read.--[Queen's consent, on behalf of the Crown, signified.]

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The Bill has one simple overriding purpose--to implement the Belfast agreement. The agreement was negotiated by the Northern Ireland parties and agreed on Good Friday. It was supported by more than 71 per cent. of voters in Northern Ireland in the referendum on 22 May. The Bill represents the triple lock--people, parties and now Parliament.

Despite all the achievements of recent months, years of division in Northern Ireland cannot be overcome at a stroke. We have been reminded of the human cost of such divisions in recent weeks. The dispute over the parade at Drumcree and the violence that surrounded it has left a dark, sad cloud hanging over Northern Ireland. The funerals of the three boys--Mark, Richard and Jason--and the anguish of their family are terrible reminders of the hatred and division that lurk not far away from all the hope and expectation that we have for the future. We have recently been reminded of that by yet another appalling murder--that of Andrew Kearney--but the Good Friday agreement showed that, despite divisions, the parties and people of Northern Ireland can agree and can find an accommodation between their different views and beliefs and begin to chart a non-violent route into the future.

The Bill is all about implementing the agreement in full. We have had to fill in a number of practical gaps that were left by the agreement. In doing that, we have had the benefit of consultations with all the Northern Ireland parties. It is crucial that the momentum of the talks, the agreement, the referendum, the elections is maintained.

The agreement sets a tough timetable. The Bill has been prepared in record time, and I should like to express my appreciation to the civil servants who have worked so hard and to both Houses for facilitating the programme for the Bill when there are so many other important matters to be addressed.

There will, no doubt, need to be Government amendments to the Bill, mainly as a result of the urgency with which it has been prepared. As with previous legislation under the agreement, we will be flexible and sympathetic to other amendments intended to improve the way in which the Bill reflects what is in the agreement. However, I repeat what I have said in the House before; we cannot rewrite the agreement.

The agreement and the Bill look forward to a new future for Northern Ireland where all relationships are based on consent and mutual respect; where the people of Northern Ireland and their leaders take responsibility for their own government and their future; where government

20 Jul 1998 : Column 815

is an exercise not in domination, but in partnership; where all parts of the community work together to solve problems that affect everyone and where all the people--north and south on the island of Ireland and, indeed, among all these islands--can work together for the mutual benefit of all.

and that that will not lead to effective sexual equality. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for her earlier offer to look sympathetically at amendments that seek to strengthen the Bill, and draw to her attention the EOC's claim.

Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:--

The House divided: Ayes 322, Noes 9.

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Party Summary

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.

PartyMajority (Aye)Minority (No)BothTurnout
Con10 408.6%
DUP0 0 (+2 tell)0100.0%
Lab288 (+2 tell) 0069.4%
LDem18 0039.1%
SDLP2 0066.7%
SNP2 0033.3%
UKUP0 10100.0%
UUP2 4060.0%
Total:322 9051.7%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

Sort by: Name | Constituency | Party | Vote

James GrayNorth WiltshireConno
Mr Andrew HunterBasingstokeConno
Anne McIntoshVale of YorkConno
Laurence RobertsonTewkesburyCon (front bench)no
John TaylorStrangfordUUPaye
Rt Hon David TrimbleUpper BannUUP (front bench)aye

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