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Relations With The Republic Of Ireland

Volume 26: debated on Tuesday 29 June 1982

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'The Assembly shall, by its Standing Orders, make provision for the establishment of a Committee of Members of the Assembly for the purpose of

  • (i) discussing such matters as it or the Assembly may consider necessary to improve relations between the Assembly and the Republic of Ireland;
  • (ii) entering into discussions with those authorities in the Republic of Ireland as seem appropriate with regard to (i) above;
  • (iii) reporting such discussions to the Assembly together with such recommendations as may have been approved by the Committee and the appropriate authorities in the Republic of Ireland.'.—[Mr. Soley.]
  • Brought up, and read the First time.

    3.56 pm

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

    It would be simple to present the new clause as just another attempt to achieve a united Ireland. The Opposition make no secret of the fact that we believe that there should be a united Ireland by consent. That is our policy and a clause such as this will do nothing to hinder it and could help it.

    However, the clause is necessary whatever view one has of the constitutional future of Northern Ireland. Today we shall discuss, as we have in successive debates for some days, the recognition that Northern Ireland's position in the United Kingdom is unique and results from the border between it and the Republic of Ireland. We cannot hide from that.

    By the new clause we wish to improve the relationship and the co-operation between Northern Ireland and the Republic and, in so doing, to improve and build on the relationship between the United Kingdom and the Republic. If we do not do so, the Opposition contend that the economic and political miseries in Northern Ireland will continue as they have continued for many years, especially since 1969. However, I repeat that the misery is nothing new. It has been there certainly since 1920. We must recognise that and respond to it if we are not to let down the people of Northern Ireland regardless of whether they are Unionists, Republicans, Catholics, Protestants or anything else.

    The new clause can assist in bringing about a united Ireland by consent. That is our long-term aim, but a reading of the new clause shows clearly that we wish to enable the Assembly to set up a committee to improve relations between the Assembly and the Republic of Ireland, to allow an interchange between the Assembly and various bodies in the Republic and to enable Assembly Members who take part in such an interchange to return with recommendations. It has been implicit in all our debates that such a proposal is necessary and we have advanced it for some time.

    Northern Ireland's unique position in the island of Ireland has a long historical background and I do not intend to delve into its roots. But the Opposition recognise that the border was drawn in 1920 and that since then two distinct communities have grown up in the North who feel that they owe their allegiance to two different States. We cannot ignore that fact and recognition of it enables us to discuss the problems that have pulled the communities apart, certainly since 1969 and for some time before then.

    We have talked of cross-community support and it is important to put on record what we mean by that because the words have sometimes been used loosely. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have talked about the two communities, cross-community support and many other such phrases. We recognise that there are two distinct national identities in Northern Ireland. One feels a distinct relationship, both culturally and politically, to the Republic of Ireland, the other has the same relationship with the United Kingdom. We are not alone in recognising that. It is reflected in various documents to which I shall refer.

    4 pm

    The key to the issue is that within each of the two communities there are, as is always the case in any community, some people who take a hard line and others who are prepared to compromise. It is a hard fact that for many years members of the two communities have been prepared to kill, torture and ultimately die to support their view of the future of Northern Ireland. That is the tragedy that has torn the people of Northern Ireland apart. That is what has brought so much misery to the people who live there. All hon. Members recognise that the special experiences of the people of Northern Ireland deserve our special and sympathetic consideration.

    The existence of the two communities is recognised in the recent White Paper. In paragraph 17, it says:
    "The difference in identity and aspiration lies at the heart of the 'problem' of Northern Ireland; it cannot be ignored or wished away."
    I wish at times that the Right wing of the Conservative Party, which has been doing its filibuster on the Bill, would speak to that aspect of the problem. We cannot pretend that it can be wished away. We must deal with it. We cannot continue to duck it. The existence of the two communities was also recognised in section 2(1)(b) of the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973 which says:
    "the Assembly and … the electorate on which that support is based, is likely to be widely accepted throughout the community".
    The problem was also implied in Sunningdale and has been covered in numerous debates in the House. The existence of two distinct communities along the lines of separate national identities has long been recognised.

    Attempts to encourage and allow closer relations between the Republic and Northern Ireland have been supported by legislation, White Papers and discussions. Paragraphs 22 to 24 of the White Paper deal with the special relationship with the Republic. Section 12 of the 1973 Act also deals with the relationship with the Republic. It was a major point of discussion at Sunningdale and at the recent Anglo-Irish talks. It is an important point. It will not go away.

    I have said before both in the House and elsewhere that we make a fundamental mistake if we try to pretend that the problem is merely one for the people of Northern Ireland. I have always argued that the people of Northern Ireland, whether Unionist or Republican, Protestant or Catholic, have just as much ability to govern themselves as do we or people anywhere else. The problem is that we have divided the island of Ireland in a way that has destabilised the island's economic and political development. In doing so, we have stepped back and said that the people of Northern Ireland cannot govern themselves, that they are always fighting among themselves, that they do not seem to know what they believe in but they are prepared to die for it.

    Such phrases are thrown around, and they reflect on the character and personality of the people of Northern Ireland. It is untrue and unjust. To a considerable extent, the problem lies here in London. The problem requires recognition in London that Britain has a responsibility and that the so-called problem of Northern Ireland is as much a British one as it is Northern Irish. It is ultimately a problem of British and Irish relations. If we grasp that point, if we start from that point, we have a much better chance of solving the problem in the long run.

    I have listened to the hon. Gentleman's argument. It appears he is talking about improving relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The new clause refers to a representative Assembly in Northern Ireland and a sovereign State. Surely it is impossible to achieve the objective that the hon. Gentleman desires through the medium of a device such as this. If a majority of the Members of the Assembly wish to consider any form of relations with, for example, a representative Assembly in the Republic, it is up to it so to decide. It would be quite wrong for us to impose upon it by statute a duty to establish any such machinery, especially as, constitutionally speaking, it is quite improper.

    I am glad that the hon. Gentleman recognises the problem. There is one element of compulsion in the new clause. We use the word "shall", saying that the Assembly "shall" appoint a committee. It is up to the committee thereafter to decide what it discusses and what groups and organisations it will consult in the Republic. The hon. Gentleman asked how that improves relations. A series of steps should be taken. The first is to bridge the gap between the communities in Northern Ireland. The second is to bridge the gap between the Republic and Northern Ireland and the third is to bring together Britain and the Republic. Those elements cannot be divided. They must not be regarded as separate components. They must be dealt with together. An increasing number of Unionists have been prepared to recognise the special link with the Republic. If we recognise that in statute we will encourage such a point of view.

    Just as some Unionists fear that the Bill will push them into a united Ireland—they fear new clause 1 the more so for the same reason—so some Republicans fear the Bill as they believe that it will simply restore Unionist rule without there being safeguards for the minority.

    It is worth looking back at the opportunities that we lost before 1969. Simply by examining the statistics, we know that there was a serious problem for the minority community in housing, employment and civil liberties. The result of missing those opportunities finally exploded into the violence of 1969. The lost opportunities were capitalised upon and developed by paramilitary groups from both sides of the divide. We tend to refer only to the Provisional IRA. We forget that there are paramilitary groups on both sides. They are both responsible for a terrifying number of deaths and acts of destruction. To fail to notice that is to demonstrate unacceptable partisanship.

    Recently, hon. Members notably the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell)—have said that the Bill gives hope to the Provisional IRA and that it will therefore result in further loss of life. Terrorism, the argument went, lives on hope. I dispute that. Precisely the reverse is the case. Terrorism thrives on and is born of despair. That despair emanates from the failure of the political process to enable sufficient numbers of people of good-will to join together and pronounce a resounding "No" to the acts of the paramilitaries on both sides of the argument. It is despair that breeds terrorism. If we are to eliminate paramilitary groups we must create political, economic and social institutions that are believed by an ever-increasing number of people to be fair and effective for both communities. Failure to do that—as we have failed for many years—will result in continuing acts of terrorism. They may decline, they may drop back to the level before 1969, but does anyone believe that that was then desirable?

    I remember being told in the 1950s not to go to certain parts of Belfast in uniform and not to talk about the Queen in some areas of Belfast and I remember seeing police officers armed. I remember our having to guard military bases both in Northern Ireland, and on the mainland. There were raids at the time to capture arms. Do we want to return to that? Was that the great golden age of Stormont? Moreover, do the people of Northern Ireland want to return to that?

    The hon. Gentleman has suggested that this is an aid to the Labour Party's policy of achieving a united Ireland by consent. How does he reconcile the compulsory nature of the new clause with the consent that is supposed to be the basis of his party's policy?

    The only compulsory aspect is the setting up of the committee. If I were to criticise my own new clause, it would be because it would not necessarily result in the committee being effective. I believe that an increasing number of people on the Unionist side of the community wish to improve relations with the Republic of Ireland because they know that, regardless of the future constitutional position of Northern Ireland, if they are to live in peace and to get over their appalling economic difficulties they need a closer and more sophisticated relationship with the Republic. We believe that if the committee is set up it will work after a period. It may be slower than I would like, but I believe that an increasing number of Unionists are coming to see the advantages of this way forward.

    The hon. Gentleman has not yet addressed himself to the use of the word "shall". In the debates on the Bill, the Labour Party has commendably and consistently supported the principle that this House should set up a framework for the Assembly and that the Assembly should then be left to organise its own affairs in the best way possible. The need for cross-community support is part of the framework that we have agreed.

    Why is the hon. Gentleman now departing from that principal of non-interference with the actual mechanisms of the Assembly? If what he says is true, as I believe it substantially is, the Assembly itself will come to this position. Is it not better, therefore, to stick to the framework as he has commendably and consistently done and to leave the Assembly to organise its own affairs rather than at this stage start to intervene in its standing orders?

    First, we should not ignore the fact that the minority community also needs to get something out of the Bill and that it, too, wants some safeguards in the Bill. As the hon. Gentleman knows and appreciates, the minority of the community needs some recognition that the links with the Republic will be real.

    The hon. Gentleman's argument about not interfering with the mechanics is difficult to sustain when there is already the 70 per cent. factor and the cross-community support, for which the Secretary of State rightly argued. If we intervene in that respect, we need to intervene also in others. We need to set up the machinery to enable the process that I have described to take place. If we used the word "may" instead of "shall", my fear is that no committee would be set up for a very long time. We cannot predict the result of the elections. If they reflected greater willingness by some Unionists to negotiate on this point, the hon. Gentleman might be proved right, but if it does not work out that way there may be great reluctance to do this, although a significant number of Assembly Members would want such a committee. It is to them that we wish to give this support. It should be remembered that some of them may be Unionists. It does not follow that they would automatically all be on the Republican side.

    4.15 pm

    I was arguing that only when people began to feel that the form of government available to them was both fair and effective could we undermine the paramilitary groups. The success of parliamentary groups depends not so much on the individuals who carry out the acts of violence as on the passive reluctance of the communities whom they seek to represent to give them away. Thus, the Provisional IRA can operate within its community without too much fear of betrayal. There is an element of fear, of course, but it receives significant passive support. Precisely the same is true of a number of the paramilitary organisations on the Unionist side. That is the problem. Paramilitary groups of this type could not function in the United Kingdom; people would not tolerate their activities because, with the exception of certain small minorities, the vast majority of people in this country have confidence in the political and economic institutions of the State. We must recognise that that is not the case in Northern Ireland.

    Only when that problem is solved will the power of the paramilitary organisations, both Unionist and Republican, be eroded. I therefore ask Unionists both in the House and in Northern Ireland to give this matter careful thought. The advantages of closer co-operation with the Republic can help the people on the Republican side of the divide, while growing confidence in the political system of the Assembly or whatever else grows up will give the Unionists greater confidence. Only when that confidence exists will the paramilitary groups be undermined.

    The hon. Gentleman asks the Unionist section of opinion in Northern Ireland to take a certain view. Does this mean that the Labour Party intends to approach those people in the proper manner in which the electorate is approached with propositions? Does it intend to put up candidates in Northern Ireland and to test the acceptability of those views in the proper manner? It is no use his saying in this House that he wishes to speak to Unionists in the Province. If the Labour Party wishes to speak to Unionists in the Province, it has the means to do so. Otherwise, the hon. Gentleman is talking humbug.

    I could not disagree more with the right hon. Member for Down, South. I have spoken to members of his party in Northern Ireland and I have spoken at public meetings of Unionists in Northern Ireland, and I shall continue to do so. The right hon. Gentleman knows why the Labour Party does not organise in Northern Ireland. It is because we have always held the underlying view within the Labour Party that Northern Ireland is not an integral part of the United Kingdom—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—in the way that some people would recognise. The Labour Party has always recognised the very close link with the Republic. Moreover, I put it to the right hon. Gentleman and to the House that if the Conservative Party were to come clean on the matter it would admit that it recognises exactly the same. That is why the Government are having so much trouble with the Bill. It is because the party has called itself the Conservative and Unionist Party but the Unionist element is concerned because the Unionists have in effect broken away from the party.

    I am not sure that this is covered by Labour Party declarations but if what the hon. Gentleman has said is true and the Labour Party considers that Northern Ireland is not an integral part of the United Kingdom, why does it not have the courage and the decency to come to Northern Ireland and tell the people there and test the proposition by putting up candidates who would stand for the proposition that the Province is not part of the United Kingdom?

    Again, the right hon. Gentleman is avoiding the issue. For some time, as we have said many times, there has been a recognition that Northern Ireland is unique in the United Kingdom. The right hon. Gentleman seeks to get away from that by arguing, as he is perfectly entitled to do, for total integration with the United Kingdom. That is an understandable position, but the very fact that he argues the case shows that there is considerable concern in both the Unionist and the Conservative Parties that that is not the reality of the political situation. That is the problem to which the right hon. Gentleman must address himself. If that is the recognition—in his view hidden, in my view explicit—that Northern Ireland does not fit into the normal picture of the politically integrated entity of the United Kingdom, we must face that issue and not buck it as some hon. Members have tried to do or seek to get around it, as the right hon. Gentleman tries to do by arguing, against the Conservative Party, for total integration with the United Kingdom.

    Is the hon. Gentleman saying that if the political parties were to be organised on both sides of the Irish Sea—the Labour Party, a party allied to the Conservatives and, perhaps, other parties because the Social Democrats are organising there—that would obstruct his purpose, which is to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom?

    We must look at this in the light of the hard reality of political life, which all of us in the House know. Members of the Conservative and Labour Parties have all canvassed. If a candidate knocks on the door of a house in West Belfast and asks whether the occupant will vote for his party—whether Labour or Conservative—he will be asked "Where do you stand on the border?" The response he receives will differ according to his reply to that question. In East Belfast the same question will be asked of the candidate, but the response to his reply would be the opposite to that in West Belfast. In other words, if one takes the Unionist view, one will get the Unionist vote. If one takes the Republican view one will get the Republican vote.

    The hard political reality which must be faced is that, sadly, the issue of national identity overrides the normal class and economic issues on which most of our elections are based. That will continue while we fail to recognise that there are two national identities living in Northern Ireland, and that there is a special relationship between Britain and Ireland.

    The hon. Gentleman might be interested to know what I do in my constituency, both during and between elections. I go to all parts of my constituency and tell all my constituents that I consider that they should have the same rights as are enjoyed by anyone anywhere else in the United Kingdom and that so far as it lies within my power I shall secure that for them. I am prepared to say that throughout my constituency.

    I know that, and I am sure many hon. Members in Northern Ireland do exactly the same, but the fact is that the right hon. Gentleman fails to get the Republican vote. The reason is exactly the same as applies to other parties. The right hon. Member knows that the Northern Ireland Labour Party has a different approach. Its members say to constituents that they will not address themselves to the problem of the border but will focus on economic issues. That is a brave approach, and I pay them that compliment in public. However, the Labour Party in Northern Ireland ceased to exist as an effective political party because it failed to face up to the issue of the border.

    Does the hon. Gentleman agree that he has some justification for the stance he takes? For example, in the two by-elections in Northern Ireland last year in the constituency of Fermanagh and South Tyrone, the Republican candidates were elected. One can take it that the voters may have been voting against the Government's attitude to the hunger strike, but it could also be taken that they were voting against the inclusion of the constituency of Fermanagh and South Tyrone within the Northern Ireland border.

    The hon. Gentleman is right. One of the tragedies of the Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election was that many people felt unable to vote for a Unionist candidate who said, properly and within his rights, what the right hon. Member for Down, South said. If we fail to face the fact that national identity, sadly—I say this as a Socialist—overrides class interest, we shall fail to solve the problem.

    We have made it clear that we want the Unionists to consider the benefit of closer co-operation with the Republic. That can take a number of forms. Although I do not want to go into the subject in depth, I refer first to economic co-operation. My argument, particularly to those who take a Unionist approach to the matter, is that the economy of Northern Ireland has been divided as much as the politics of Northern Ireland.

    Progressively, the economic problems of the Republic and the North have been made worse by the lack of co-operation across the border. They have been developing on competitive rather than complementary lines. To imagine that that can be beneficial in an island the size of Ireland is nonsense. The economic problems of Northern Ireland have become far worse than we have known them in recent times and the same applies to the Republic. Whatever we do in the House—speaking for the Labour Party, we will do everything possible—it will always be slightly undermined by the division between the two economies.

    There are many areas in which co-operation could be improved, or increased, because we must remember that some co-operation already takes place. Energy, agriculture and transport are all key areas. It is in the long-term interests of the people of Northern Ireland to have a closer industrial development policy programme with the Republic of Ireland so that the two countries are not vying for the same factories and the same developers and trying to undercut each other with different tax rates, and so on. There is a strong case for a coherent and growing economy for the whole of Ireland that benefits Northern Ireland and the Republic.

    Ultimately, I see no reason—indeed, I encourage it—why security should not be discussed by members of the Assembly with representatives of the Republic. [Laughter.] I hear some laughter. There is nothing funny about that suggestion. There are a number of ways in which that discussion can start. For example, a body from the Assembly could say to the representatives of the Republic of Ireland "We are dissatisfied with some of your measures and we want you to do something about them." Surely that is not unreasonable. The Republic might agree that something should be done or it might say that the Assembly has got it wrong. However, the Assembly has the right to take up such matters with the Republic. Not only does it have the right, but it is in the interests of the Unionist community that it should do so.

    The new clause does not set up final solutions to the problem. Nor does it impose final decisions on the Assembly about what issues it should co-operate on. That is for the Assembly committee to decide.

    There is, and always has been, a special relationship between Britain and Ireland. Sometimes that relationship is close. Their cultures and histories have intertwined over the years. It is easy to get the differences out of perspective, but difficult to solve the problems between them. We must begin a process between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and between the Republic and Britain, to restore the special relationship that we believe should exist—a good and productive relationship that benefits the people of Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic. We can achieve that, and the new clause is a step in that direction.

    The House is in the debt of the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Soley). He has made very plain how much the policy of the Labour Party has changed since the right hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. It is clear that the Labour Party—I presume that the hon. Gentleman was speaking for his party, athough there are not many members of it here to hear him—has established that if some day the people of Northern Ireland give their consent to a united Ireland, the Labour Party will support them, but the hon. Gentleman has gone beyond that and has actively pursued the removal of Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom. That is the message that he has clearly given to the House.

    4.30 pm

    I agree with the hon. Gentleman that there is a special relationship between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Clearly, within that, there is a special relationship between that part of the United Kingdom which is in Ireland and the Republic to the South. That relationship has existed ever since partition. It is imposed by history, geography, cultural exchanges and human movement. Today, there is a common travel area within these islands, which also extends to the Channel Islands. In a sense, there is a virtual common citizenship, some aspects of which give rise to strong feelings among some of my hon. Friends. They do not like the voting arrangements that exist between the two countries, whereby there is no reciprocity, although Mr. Haughey said that he would do something about it.

    I understand that in the Republic we may vote in local elections but not in parliamentary elections. However, there is this virtual common citizenship. As well as a common travel area, we should like to see a common security area. When we are considering the Irish dimension, which is the subject of new clause 4, we notice with regret that there appears to be some deterioration in security arrangements between North and South.

    Indeed, my noble Friend Lord Brookeborough has said that a large measure of surveillance against terrorist incursions from across the border, particularly in county Fermanagh and county Armagh has been withdrawn. He has also said that the Dublin Government have admitted that a fair percentage of the Garda Siochana manning border posts has been removed. There is, therefore, this disturbing development in security co-operation, which has been excellent so far as the police forces of the two countries are concerned.

    That is something to which we attach the greatest importance. If there is any usefulness in this special relationship—the Prime Minister has called it a unique relationship—we would expect a far larger measure of co-operation. We would expect extradition and the observance by the Irish Republic of its international obligations with regard to the suppression of terrorism.

    I said that there is nothing new in this relationship between North and South. Indeed, one of the reasons why the Northern Ireland Parliament was set up was that the unification of the island of Ireland could come about by means of a Council of Ireland that represented both the Northern and Southern Parliaments. It is interesting to recall that the Northern Parliament appointed its 15 representatives to the Council of Ireland but that the Oireachtas in Dublin did not. That should be remembered when we think about who is responsible for the lack of friendly relations between North and South.

    In recent years, down to the time when Brian Faulkner was leading the Unionists, the Council of Ireland was recognised as a reasonable aim for both parts of the island of Ireland. Businesslike co-operation has always taken place ever since partition. At the moment, that seems to centre on energy. The argument goes on about whether power should be delivered to the North from Kinsale or whether, which seems both economically and politically desirable, gas should be piped to Northern Ireland from Scotland.

    It is in those spheres of practical businesslike co-operation that the Irish dimension or the unique relationship is valuable. I do not particularly quarrel with what is said in paragraph 23 of the White Paper, which states:
    "The Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Council, which was established following the Anglo-Irish talks and Joint Studies which began in 1980, gives institutional expression to the unique relationship between the two governments without affecting national sovereignty".
    Paragraph 24 states:
    "Relations between the United Kingdom and the Republic will in general continue to be conducted within the ambit of the Council".
    I think that the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North was speaking about something different from relations between the United Kingdom and the Republic. He was speaking much more about relations between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. That is what makes Unionists so suspicious of the Anglo-Irish talks and the working of the officials in the service of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Council. They think that both the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Council and the Bill are designed to provide an Assembly that can be the northern end of an eventual fused institution for the whole island of Ireland. That is their fear, and the hon. Gentleman's speech reinforced every fear that a Unionist may have in that regard.

    What effect does my hon. Friend think the hon. Gentleman's speech has had on what I still understand to be the Labour Party's policy of a bipartisan approach to Northern Ireland? Time and again, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has reiterated that he is for the Union of Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. It seemed to me that the speech of the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Soley) tended to go in exactly the opposite direction. Does that mean the end of the bipartisan policy?

    My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State thinks that the Bill will reinforce the Union and make Northern Ireland more stable and peaceful and a more profitable area of investment. I am sure that my right hon. Friend believes that. On the other hand, the Opposition have been supporting my right hon. Friend because they believe that it will lead to a united Ireland. They mean not a united Ireland under the Crown or within the British Commonwealth, but a united Irish Republic. Either the bipartisan policy is at an end or it is in a state of some confusion.

    The Labour Party's policy is a united Ireland with consent, and we have been pursuing that policy for a considerable time. The fact that the Conservative Party is asking for unity within the United Kingdom is another matter.

    Everything that the hon. Gentleman has said so far has suggested that the Northern Ireland Assembly ought to have closer contacts with the Republic to discuss security and economic matters. Otherwise, he is implying that in some way it is happening secretively. We are arguing that it should happen openly.

    I shall answer the second part of the interjection first. I think that the correct way to proceed to build on the unique relationship, or to improve it, is for Northern Ireland Members to be associated with any contacts that there may be between parliamentarians of the United Kingdom and the Republic. That is something quite different from asking Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly to enter into a direct dialogue with a foreign State, and a foreign State that does not recognise the sovereignty of the United Kingdom in Northern Ireland.

    Did the hon. Gentleman say that the Labour Party had always stood for a united Ireland? In 1949, when Southern Ireland became a republic and left the Commonwealth, it was the view of Clement Attlee and his Cabinet colleagues that, even if Northern Ireland wished to leave the United Kingdom, it should not be allowed to do so. We should not go as far as that. We should say that if the people of Northern Ireland wish to leave the United Kingdom, that should be their right; but they do not wish to do so. The position of the Labour Party is different. As I understood it, the position of the right hon. Member for Barnsley, when he was Secretary of State, was also different.

    It seems to me that there are two main obstacles to the improvement of relations between the two sovereign States within the British Isles.

    It should be placed on record that the Attlee Government did not lay down that if Northern Ireland wished to depart from the United Kingdom it should not be permitted to do so. The Ireland Act 1949 provided that if the Parliament of Northern Ireland—not the people of Northern Ireland—decided to leave the United Kingdom, that would be the overriding factor.

    I was speaking of the Cabinet views and papers that are now available in the Public Record Office, where the hon. Gentleman can consult them. The position of the Government of that day, like the position of the present Government, was that it rested then on the Parliament and now on the will of the people of Northern Ireland. The hon. Gentleman is formally correct, but he would do well to study the papers that have been published about the views of the Labour Government at that time.

    There are two impediments to the development of what should be a beneficial relationship between the two sovereign States within the British Isles. The first is the demand, or the claim, of the Southern Ireland Government to the sovereignty of Northern Ireland.

    The second is this Bill, because it is arousing so many fears among Unionists in Northern Ireland. They have heard about and read these debates. They have heard the interpretation of the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North that the Bill will lead to a united Ireland. They know that the Government are being supported by the Labour Opposition because of the belief that the Bill will lead to a united Ireland.

    I do not think that the hon. Gentleman should go that far in his interpretation. The Labour Party has made it clear that there is nothing in the Bill that will inhibit its policy. The Bill would be helpful in certain ways. The hon. Gentleman, the Unionists and other Right-wing Members of the Conservative Party have to face the fact that, if the Bill fails, they can rest assured that Labour Members will be back here arguing even more strongly that their policy is the real alternative.

    If we want to build a better relationship within these islands, we must reassure the people of Northern Ireland that there is no danger to their position within the United Kingdom. We must consolidate that position. Those of us who have expressed a view, which is contrary to that of my right hon. Friend, as to how that should be done believe that the Bill, as it stands, is injurious to the reassurance of the people of Northern Ireland that their position is secure.

    It is not possible to have a united Ireland. What is possible is to have united islands on the basis of the sovereignty of the two powers within these islands—the Republic and the United Kingdom. Perhaps I can modify that slightly. If, as is most improbable, Southern Ireland were to end its secession from the United Kingdom, a united Ireland would be possible. Meanwhile, we should strive for what is possible—the unity of the British Isles, recognising the sovereignty of the Republic and of the United Kingdom.

    4.45 pm

    I am happy to follow the admirable formulation that has just been offered to the House by the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Sir J. Biggs-Davison). This is the last day on which the House will be allowed to debate the Bill. As we enter upon the last day there is a certain piquancy in the House having before it a new clause tabled by the Labour Party. It has recently affirmed—going not so far as the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Soley) went this afternoon—that it would like to see a single all-Ireland State, provided that that comes about by the consent of the people of Northern Ireland.

    When the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North was asked why, as a democratic party, the Labour Party did not argue for and seek that consent from a majority of the electorate in Northern Ireland he said "You know perfectly well the reason why. It is that if we put up a candidate on that policy we should be beaten." In other words, what the hon. Member really wants—whether his party as a whole wants it or not I am not sure—is unification brought about without consent. He knows, and has said this this afternoon, that not only is that consent not available, but that he cannot foresee it. That was the result of the exchange between the hon. Member and myself.

    As the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson) pointed out, on the face of the new clause is written compulsion. What it means, if it were to be written into the Bill, is that there should be no such Assembly and no such constitution unless the Assembly does this thing. It is a "shall" clause and not a "may" clause.

    In putting this clause on paper, I do not know whether by a kind of tactlessness or clumsiness, the Opposition have done a service. They have reminded us in the most graphic form, by something placed on the Notice Paper, what is the underlying purpose and concept behind the Bill. Indeed, before I looked at the drafting of the clause, which is unsatisfactory in a number of respects, the thought crossed my mind that this might be one of the clauses that was originally in an early draft of the Bill and had been dropped out in case it should cause any difficulties in the passage of the Bill. However, I cannot believe that a clause drafted in these terms ever occupied that position, although, having regard to what is in it, it might have done. The genesis of the Bill lies in the successive stages of the evolution of an Anglo-Irish institution; the successive stages in the agreements—or the meetings, because there were more meetings than there was agreement—between the right hon. Lady the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic at the end of 1980 and the end of 1981.

    What was agreed upon, and what appeared in the latter communiqué, was not an Anglo-Irish council in the sense of an institution spanning the Irish Republic and the United Kingdom. It was not an institution, such as the hon. Member for Epping Forest was referring to, in which two sovereign powers, mutually recognising their respective rights and territories, would seek to co-operate on matters of mutual interest. It was not that at all.

    It was clear from the beginning that it was to be a tripartite arrangement. There was to be an element which was called the parliamentary tier in which the Irish Republic would be presented, in which the United Kingdom, as represented by the House, would be represented, but which would also embody a separate and third representation of that part of the United Kingdom which is Northern Ireland.

    After that meeting took place we were all able to read of the regret of the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic that his work was unfinished. Unfortunately, it could not be finished as there did not exist a representation of Ulster separately from the rest of the United Kingdom that could throw up the tripartite participation destined to lead to a dual participation, as between what is called the North and South, which had been envisaged as part of that plan.

    Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that written into the Sunningdale agreement was the power of veto by any of the three participating parties? Had any member of the Unionist Party in Northern Ireland felt that its position was endangered, that veto could have been used. The same veto could have been used by either the British or the Irish Government. Therefore, there was at all times a protection of the Unionist point of view in Northern Ireland.

    That is the Sunningdale member's defence of the Sunningdale constitution and the Sunningdale agreement. However, the essential point, upon which the intervention does not touch, is that from the start the arrangements deliberately treat Northern Ireland as an entity separate from the United Kingdom. It was envisaged, at any rate by one side of the talks that took place last November between our Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic, that the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland are to be separately represented in the parliamentary tier.

    The Opposition have put upon the Notice Paper, subject to any deficiencies, just such a clause. The hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) was right to point out the tell-tale fact that the relations referred to are not those between Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of the Irish Republic, but between the provincial Assembly inside the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

    Not only are the two "unequally yoked", in St. Paul's famous words, in that it is a combination of a State or nation—the Republic of Ireland is undoubtedly a nation—and an internal institution in another country, but the purpose of using the elected Assembly as a means to further the move towards a federal unification of Ulster and the Irish Republic appears upon the face of the new clause.

    It is a thousand pities that this is our last day together. Despite some rather late sittings, the Government and the House have been learning. We might even comfort ourselves with the notion, however remote from probability, that those out of doors have been learning.

    One of the most important forms of progress that has been made in our learning was due to the hon. Member for Epping Forest and the evidence that he produced, which has since echoed throughout our debates. Before the last election in 1979 an organ of the Conservative Party warned that a Conservative Government would be under great pressure to overturn the policy that it was offering to the electorate and promising to Northern Ireland, and—I quote the words again because they are of inestimable value—
    "to launch a new, high-powered political initiative on Northern Ireland, with the object of establishing another 'power-sharing' government in the province" —
    then followed the significant words—
    "which could pave the way for a federal constitution linking Ulster to the Irish Republic."—[Official Report, 8 June 1982; Vol. 25, c. 52.]
    Considering that that was written in 1979, it was not a bad shot at the contents of the communiqué of the Thatcher/Fitzgerald talks of November 1981. Many hon. Members must have been impressed, if not with the prescience, at any rate with the knowledge that was displayed by whoever wrote those words. They are clearly words not written without authority nor in detachment from the considerations inside the Conservative Party prior to the election as to what should be its attitude and policy in Northern Ireland.

    The Conservative Party has learnt that in the Bill it is witnessing that prophesied subversion or inversion of its policy towards Northern Ireland. It has also learnt the reasons for and the purposes of that. The information which the hon. Member for Epping Forest placed before the House in Committee, and its implications for the nature and purposes of the present Bill, are corroborated by information of which it is right the House should be put in possession. In doing so, I have no alternative but to implicate officials.

    The reasons why, in the general course, the actions and opinions of officials are not brought into question in the House are well understood. Ministers take responsibility for advice and information on which they decide to act, and it is the Ministers who are answerable to the House. However, there is one exception to that rule. It arises where there is reason to suppose that the advice tendered to Ministers has not been bona fide and that the information supplied to them has been misleading or incomplete. If that were so, it would be right and necessary for the House to look beyond the Ministers who answer to it directly.

    The Secretary of State will be familiar with the name of an official in his office, one Clive Abbott, who had a large part in the work leading up to the present Bill, and who, if not the "onlie begetter" of the Bill, has been closely concerned with its production and passage. It may well be that his was the briefing on which the Secretary of State assured the House of his belief that the Bill would promote political stability in Ulster and strengthen the Union.

    5 pm

    During the past year or two, Mr. Abbott has supplied to academic researchers information in response to questions put to him, and I wish to quote from the note of certain replies which, in the course of that activity, he gave on an occasion some 16 months ago, because they are particularly germane to the Bill and to the context in which it has been placed by the disclosures of the hon. Member for Epping Forest. I shall, of course, provide the Secretary of State with a copy of the whole text after the close of this debate and I have asked my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux) to furnish all necessary details to the Prime Minister forthwith, in view of her special responsibility for the Civil Service and of the investigation on security and as well as other grounds, which I anticipate will be ordered by her. The following question was put:
    "Is it true to say that between May and October 1979 there was consultation between the two governments"—
    the Government of the Republic and this Government—
    "on Northern Ireland and that after coming to power the Tory Party changed its policies on Northern Ireland?
    A. Before the Conservative Party came to power in 1979 it had promised that local government functions would be returned to local councils. We had to tell them that it was just not on."

    The hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity to cheer later.

    "We had to tell them"—
    hon. Members should note the word "we"—
    "that it was just not on. In terms of the future government of Northern Ireland integration is a non-starter for two main reasons. First, we would automatically lose the co-operation we are getting from Haughey over border security. Secondly, we couldn't break certain undertakings we have given to the Irish government over the constitutional future of Northern Ireland."

    Did not the right hon. Gentleman say that that document was concocted, or written, in 1979? In 1979, Haughey was not Prime Minister—

    I did not say that. The hon. Gentleman did not hear me. I said that the replies were given about 16 months ago. The hon. Gentleman should listen more carefully. As I promised, the Secretary of State will have every facility.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman repeat the second reason, as I did not quite get it?

    I shall gladly repeat it. As I promised, the Secretary of State will be given the text at the end of the debate. The second reason why it is "not on" to treat Northern Ireland as an integral part of the United Kingdom is that

    "we couldn't break certain undertakings we have given to the Irish government over the constitutional future of Northern Ireland."
    I pause before proceeding to further quotation. In the course of the proceedings on the Bill, the Secretary of State has repeatedly explained to the House why the fulfilment of the Conservative Party's election policy or indeed any instalment of local government is "not on". He said that it would run counter—I want him to hear what I say—to ingrained prejudices in the Province and that in any case there was in Northern Ireland the 50-year tradition of devolution of a different type.

    It is not the first time in our proceedings that I affirm that the Secretary of State was no doubt being completely sincere and candid. Had he known that any extension of local government
    "would automatically lose the co-operation we are getting from Haughey over border security"
    he would manfully and plainly have told the House and his party "This is what we had intended to do; but we cannot do it because we are being blackmailed by the Irish Government". He would also have told the House if he knew that his action was constrained because he
    "couldn't break certain undertakings we have given to the Irish government over the constitutional future of Northern Ireland".
    He would not have dreamt of concealing that. No Minister could conceal so vital a fact from the House.

    Is not the House entitled to an explanation of who "we" are? Are "we" the Government of the United Kingdom, or are they officials? Are we not also entitled to an explanation about what the undertakings are, or were, and under what circumstances they were given?

    I shall come to that point. I am sure that the investigation that cannot but follow the debate will cast light on the meaning of the first person plural pronoun in that sentence.

    The Secretary of State, it appears, has been placed in a false position, albeit a position foreshadowed from inside his own party organisation three years ago. The Prime Minister, with her repeated repudiation of any external influence, let alone binding obligation as to the constitutional future of Northern Ireland, has been placed in a false position. The Opposition have been placed in a false position because the "unbreakable undertakings" evidently existed before the change of Government, thus raising the question whether the Labour Government or any of their members were a party to them. The right hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) has as great a vested interest as the Secretary of State in knowing—I do not believe this—or declaring the truth of the matter.

    Finally, the House has been placed in a false position by having a Bill commended to it on premises that turn out not to have been the true ones. In case there is any doubt about the relevance of all this to the Bill, I shall proceed to a further—my only further—quotation, for the relative lengthiness of which I apologise. The quotation appeared in an answer similar to that which I have quoted. Mr. Abbott continued:
    "As I have said before, a devolved government with power returning to local councils is not on. But an assembly which controlled such things as housing, through our already established quango, NIHE, given preliminary powers which would be extended progressively, is a possibility."
    That is the Bill, is it not? That is what has been put before the House. "But", Mr. Abbott continued,
    "any such developments would have to involve close consultation with the Irish government."
    It is not possible—

    Is the right hon. Gentleman telling the House that he is in possession of a Civil Service document given to responsible Ministers, whether in the Labour Government or the present Government? Is he saying that he has in his possession a document that was the product of the Civil Service when advising the Northern Ireland Office at that time?

    I am telling the House exactly what I have put on the record and what I have told the House. The hon. Gentleman will recall that I have requested my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, South to ensure that all relevant particulars and identifications are placed at the disposal of the Prime Minister, as being primarily and personally responsible for the Civil Service.

    It is not seriously possible for the Bill to be presented for Royal Assent, whatever happens to it in another place, until these matters have been cleared up; until the House knows, in a manner about which there can be no dispute or prevarication, what were the undertakings which had been given on the constitutional future of Northern Ireland to the Irish Government; and until the House knows whether that briefing was the briefing on which the Secretary of State has commended the Bill to the House. Clearly it is impossible for the Bill to become law until then.

    The House, as well as the Government and their predecessors, are faced with the question that must be resolved publicly before we can proceed. It could just be that what has happened this afternoon was not entirely unforeseen when the attention of the hon. Member for Epping Forest was drawn to the singularly significant words that the Conservative Party itself wrote for its own candidates in 1979.

    The charges that the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) has brought are of such a grave character that I believe that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State would like to adjourn the debate until he is in a position to answer. It is difficult to see how we can proceed with any serious discussion after what has been said.

    The question is not strictly for me, although the right hon. Member for Brighton Pavilion (Mr. Amery) addressed it to me. The right hon. Gentleman will recall that the House passed a motion which forbids any motion interposing during today's proceedings. The Government have fully within their resources the ability to deal with the matter placed before them this afternoon. It is fully within their resources to ensure that the Bill does not reach the statute book until the matters that have to be resolved have been resolved to the satisfaction of those

    Unlike the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), I shall confine myself undramatically to what I believe will be the effect of the new clause on the working of the Bill. I shall leave aside the genesis of the ideas that may be construed in the clause. It is clear that if the clause is approved, it will be totally mischievous. It is a device that cannot possibly bring the communities in Northern Ireland together. It cannot help to make harmonious, devolved Government in Northern Ireland possible. If it is accepted, it will make the Bill, which was always likely to fail, a certain non-starter. The all-Ireland dimension was the explosive device in the Sunningdale agreement, and it destroyed it.

    5.15 pm

    A committee of the type proposed would be bound to underline the two different national aspirations which are at the root of the constitutional problem in Northern Ireland. The hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Soley) was right to stress that that is the underlying problem which causes us to be debating Northern Ireland today.

    The clause would ensure that from day one a clash could not be avoided over the one matter on which the two communities, by the nature of things, cannot agree—the relationship with the Republic of Ireland. The requirement to set up a committee would prevent that matter from being put aside so that those involved could concentrate on the more mundane matters on which common ground does exist.

    It is foolish to suggest such a clause here because the all-Ireland question is not directly or immediately relevant to the everyday government of or provision of services in Northern Ireland. The clause could almost have been planted by anti-devolutionist Unionists as a self-destruct mechanism.

    The most constant characteristic of the Bill is that it requires nothing over which there is no agreement between the two communities. Each national tradition has, in effect, a continuing veto that gives equal weight to the minority and the majority. That is one of the major reasons why the Bill will not succeed. But this clause provides for the minority to be granted an arrangement that the majority does not want. There is no equal weight, no veto and no agreement in that. The balance of the Bill would be destroyed over an item about which the majority's fears are strongest. The clause would help to make it absolutely certain that the Bill fails.

    It is no good saying, as the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North said, that there would be a Unionist majority on the committee, at least among Northern Ireland representatives, and that therefore the Unionists need fear nothing. The fact is that they do fear. The hon. Member for Hammersmith, North has enhanced, exacerbated and enlarged those fears. By what he said when he spoke, even in terms of the hon. Gentleman's federal objective, his speech rushed the fence which he cannot, in the nature of Unionist resistance, clear, but which he might have been nearer to clearing if he had been more patient.

    It is no good saying either that there are practical all-Ireland questions which should be discussed on an all-Ireland basis and that the only sensible way is to put the machinery in the Bill. The Bill is posited on the belief that there are sensible people in both communities in Northern Ireland and that if each is given a chance to feel the way to working together they will find common ground. If that is so—and it is—why does he not leave it at that and give the Bill a sprinkling of a chance with the majority knowing that it is not being hustled by the proponents of a federal Ireland into something that it does not like? If the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North is right when he says that more and more Unionists are coming to see that it would he useful, practical and desirable to discuss with the Republic some all-Ireland matters which they have in common, surely he should allow them to develop such links according to their merits and circumstances. Such a relationship will prove much more durable than the unwilling hothouse arrangement created by legislative prescription that is proposed in new clause 1.

    I take it that we shall hear more about the allegations of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) when the documents are produced. The serious allegation is that the Government entered into a secret undertaking with the Government of the Republic of Ireland of which this House ought to have been informed and was not. The word "undertaking" has many meanings—

    I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman but the implication is that a secret agreement had been entered into with the Government of the Irish Republic. It is not clear whether it was entered into by, or with the knowledge of, Her Majesty's Government at the time.

    I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman. I did not realise that he was alleging that a secret agreement had been entered into without the knowledge of Her Majesty's Government. That would seem to be a most extraordinary procedure. No doubt the Secretary of State will deal with that. I thought that the right hon. Gentleman was alleging that Her Majesty's Government had entered into some type of undertaking or understanding with the Government of the Republic of Ireland and that that was part of the genesis of the Bill.

    The word "undertaking" can be interpreted in various ways and it is not clear so far whether the Bill was founded on that undertaking or not. No doubt that matter will be cleared up.

    I turn now to what Mr. Abbott said. It appears that he expounded what was Government policy, for better or for worse. I am not certain that much blame can be attached to him, although he may have been indiscreet, but I am not averse now to having an investigation into how the Government receive their advice. Such an investigation will take place over the Falkland Islands and that may be a precedent to be followed in Northern Ireland. It may be that the bureaucracy is now so strong that we may have to forgo the old convention that was pointed out by the right hon. Member for Down, South—that Ministers are wholly responsible—and have an inquiry into where they receive their information from. However, the Secretary of State will deal with those matters.

    I come now to new clause 1. If the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Soley) had introduced the new clause to draw attention to an extremely important matter—the relationship of the Republic of Ireland to the House and to the Assembly—I would support him. He is entitled to say that that relationship has been neglected in our debates on the Bill. However, if he is asking the House to approve of the exact proposals in the new clause, I could not support him. I believe that there should be closer relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic. If I were a citizen of Northern Ireland, I should be in favour of much closer political relationships between the two pieces of Ireland, but I know full well that that is not the view of the majority in Northern Ireland. I do not intend to advocate a shotgun marriage.

    It is often overlooked that it is by no means certain that a closer relationship is wanted by the Republic of Ireland. In public the people of the Republic will all say that they want a united Ireland, but spoken to in private they recognise, not surprisingly, the great difficulties in which they will be placed if they were suddenly saddled with Belfast. There would be the upkeep of Harland and Wolff, not to mention De Lorean, and the enormous obligations that are inherent in taking over Northern Ireland. Therefore, at the moment, I do not believe that the marriage is possible but in the long run I would be in favour of closer relationships.

    New clause 1 brings us back to the nature of the Assembly, to which I have referred before. Surely it would be within the powers of the Assembly to enter into relationships with the Republic if it wanted so to do. I do not share the view that it should not. Local authorities on the mainland now travel to Brussels and other places to argue about fishing and other matters. Surely the Assembly, if it so wishes, can enter into relations with the Republic and should be encouraged to do so. It does not need our authority. I should be grateful if the Secretary of State would confirm that. I doubt whether a committee is the right way to set about it, but that is a matter of detail. It could set up a committee if it so desired.

    The Secretary of State examines the matter largely from the point of view of doing something to cure the violence in Northern Ireland and the division between the separate communities. That is the paramount matter, but is he not in danger of forgetting the lessons that we are now learning from local authorities, over which we have been led into great difficulties because their powers are ill defined? They can undertake all sorts of activities for which they are not bound to pay or accept responsibility.

    The Government are in constant trouble with local authorities because the authorities have become involved in all sorts of business for which they expect central Government or the ratepayers to pay, and which are not closely defined. I beg the Secretary of State to examine the problem with regard to the Assembly and before the Bill becomes law to be a little more precise about what it can do and who will pay for it. The Assembly may be faced with temptations such as conferences, hired consultants and negotiations with Southern Ireland. Who will pay and what authority will the committee have?

    The hon. Member for Hammersmith, North has conferred a favour on the House by enabling us to express our views about the relationship between the Assembly and Southern Ireland, which otherwise we would have been prevented from debating. However, having done that, I hope that he will withdraw his clause and leave this debate on the Order Paper to show that we believe that the Assembly is entitled to have contact with Southern Ireland and that we hope that that contact will grow fruitfully.

    The remarks that I intended to make in the debate on new clause 1 have been somewhat undermined by the revelations of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). I was going to oppose new clause 1 as strenuously as I could. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Soley), has curiously expressed astonishment at that statement. I am sure that if he pauses to think he will not be as astonished as he is trying to make out.

    The Irish dimension goes to the heart of the doubts of the critics of the Bill. No one on the Conservative Benches, and I suspect no one on the Opposition Benches, would doubt the good faith and good intentions of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. Indeed, those who have watched him, as I have during my short time in the House, could in no way impugn his motives with regard to the Bill.

    In the light of that assessment—perhaps rather an impertinent assessment on my part—the allegations made by the right hon. Member for Down, South become even more serious. In view of the high regard with which my right hon. Friend is held on both sides of the House, I hope that he will take the earliest opportunity possible to refute the right hon. Gentleman's allegations. If not, I hope that he will not only explain what transpired during the interview quoted by the right hon. Gentleman, but reply to those matters which have been raised as a result of the right hon. Gentleman's intervention.

    The terms of new clause 1 are in no way surprising coming, as they do, from the Labour Party. Looked at baldly and in spite of the obligation imposed by the word "shall"—an obligation to which the right hon. Member for Down, South drew attention—there seems to be nothing reprehensible in the clause in the sense that it seems to express good intentions of the type expressed in the White Paper and by my right hon. Friend. It is only when we have the benefit of the interpretation of the intentions behind the clause given by the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North that we begin to appreciate the motives behind its drafting. The motives go to the very heart of the doubts that many of us express about the Bill.

    5.30 pm

    I became doubtful about the Bill because, despite assurances to the contrary by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, its provisions seemed to undermine dramatically the strength of the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Everything that the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North said in introducing the clause confirmed the doubts that I conceived when I first read the Bill.

    Paragraph 23 of the White Paper "Northern Ireland: A Framework for Devolution" refers to an Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Council and to
    "the unique relationship between the two governments".
    It enters the caveat that that unique relationship which should be fostered, as I understand it, by Anglo-Irish talks and joint studies should not affect national sovereignty. In the context of the new clause, I find it difficult to reconcile what is likely to happen as a result of Anglo-Irish talks with the pious expressions of hope expressed in paragraph 23.

    I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest (Sir J. Biggs-Davison), who, in an intervention, said that he had no objection in principle to conversations taking place between the people of Northern Ireland and the people of the Republic about such matters as economic co-operation, energy and security. I am sure that that would be splendid. As has been observed in another intervention, that type of initiative is taken regularly by local authorities on this side of the water. Initiatives are taken by county councils and metropolitan authorities in Brussels. Loans are raised abroad. Local authorities seem to be able to do such things without acting ultra vires.

    We must be careful when we consider whether the talks that we have adumbrated will have an effect on national sovereignty. Let us suppose that new clause 1 had been bracketed with new clause 3, which stands in the names of the hon. Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux) and his right hon. and hon. Friends. If that had happened, new clause 1 might have been somewhat more innocuous than it is standing alone, backed by the explanation of the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North.

    I remind the House that new clause 3 refers to the
    "supreme authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom"
    remaining
    "unaffected and undiminished over all persons, matters and things in Northern Ireland and every part thereof."
    If such an expression as that is included in the Bill, it seems legitimate that conversations covering matters of mutual interest should take place.

    I am worried when we come to consider the explanation of the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North and the revelations of the right hon. Member for Down, South. I cannot quote from the document to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. However, he quoted from an answer given by the official to whom he referred. I intervened to try to understand exactly what the right hon. Gentleman was saying. His second reason for saying that Northern Ireland integration was a non-starter was that we could not break certain undertakings that we had given to the Irish Government over the constitutional future of Northern Ireland.

    Many questions arise in my mind—a mind that hitherto had been innocent of suspicions of the kind that the right hon. Member for Down, South has endeavoured to sow in the collective mind of the Committee that considered the Bill. One sentence released in my mind a Pandora's box of all the worst suspicions that Unionists have entertained about the motives behind the Bill.

    I could not possibly entertain these suspicions—I am not being sarcastic or disingenuous—about my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. Therefore, I entreat him, if we are to consider the Bill seriously, and even though we may disagree with it, to give us a full explanation of what led up to the extraordinary statement that was made by the official concerned, or to undertake to investigate as a matter of the greatest urgency the circumstances behind the statement.

    According to the right hon. Member for Down, South, the official said "We could not break certain undertakings". Who does the official mean by "We"? Does he mean the Labour Government before the 1979 election? Does he mean the present Government, who were elected in 1979? Does he mean—this I cannot believe in view of the tradition of probity of the English Civil Service—certain undertakings that were given sub rosa—under the table—by officials of the Northern Ireland Office or of the Foreign Office? I am reluctant to believe that the latter is a serious possibility. However, my right hon. Friend would be doing a service for all who hold him in such high regard if he were to clarify the matter at the earliest possible opportunity.

    Secondly, what were the undertakings about? What was the constitutional future of Northern Ireland that was envisaged by the official? Who thought of it? Of what did it consist? What plans were in train to bring it about? The sentence raises more questions than it settles. If the Conservative and Unionist Party is to remain the united force that it still is, we must have answers to these questions very rapidly.

    If my right hon. Friend is unable to give the answers to those questions, many of my hon. Friends and I will find it difficult to support the constitutional principles of the Conservative Party that we thought we had at least in part understood. Indeed, the wishes expressed so clearly by the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North, when he moved the new clause, would be shared by members of the Conservative Party. I am reluctant to reach the conclusion that the bipartisan policy that has been a feature of Northern Ireland policy for so long is intact but envisages a bipartisan policy that many Conservative Members would consider anathema and dangerous to the safety and unity of the Kingdom.

    I intend to vote for the new clause. I am not unmindful of the great difficulties that the new clause could cause in Northern Ireland.

    As I have said before in debates on the Bill, I was a Member of the Northern Ireland Parliament. I was also a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly—I was deputy chief executive—and a member of the constitutional Convention. I remember well the discussions that took place on all 21 points in the Sunningdale agreement. One of the most difficult questions with which we had to grapple was the question of a Council of Ireland. The clause relates to the setting up of a more diminished Council of Ireland than was envisaged at that time. I have already said that so far as I was able to see the Council of Ireland did not in any way endanger the Unionist position in Northern Ireland.

    A veto was written into the proposals, which could be made by one man, whether he be, on the Northern Ireland side, a member of the SDLP, the Alliance or the Official Unionist Party, as it was then, under the leadership of Brian Faulkner, or, on the other hand, a member of the British Government or a member of the Irish Government involved in the Council of Ireland proposals. It took only one man to disagree with any one proposal for that proposal to be subjected to a veto. I am ready to recognise that that part of the Sunningdale agreement on the Council of Ireland was not understood by the Unionist majority in Northern Ireland.

    Some members of the party that I led at that time made unfortunate remarks immediately after Sunningdale. One member was alleged to have said that the Council of Ireland was the vehicle that would trundle the Unionist Party from Northern Ireland to the Republic. That patently was not so. That statement, taken out of context, highlighted and exploited in all sections of the Unionist press in Northern Ireland, did much to create fear, hysteria and suspicion among the Unionist majority population in Northern Ireland. I freely admit that the gentleman who made that remark met with a great deal of opposition and wrath from me at that time. I do not believe that what was printed was what was meant by that member of my party but it had the effect of scaring the living daylights out of the vast majority of the Unionist population.

    The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) said that new clause 1 was a "shall" clause. He has moved a lot of "shall" clauses. I have been in the House when he has wanted to insert a whole lot of "shalls" and do away with a whole lot of "mays". There is nothing strange about that. The new clause says:
    "The Assembly shall, by its Standing Orders, make provision for the establishment of a Committee of Members of the Assembly for the purpose of
    (i) discussing such matters as it or the Assembly may consider necessary to improve relations between the Assembly and the Republic of Ireland".
    Throughout Irish history things have always taken place at the wrong time. I am not in the least inhibited by some of the things that will be said against me when I make these remarks. The Government in the Republic are not the most favourable Government who could be in power when we are discussing such a clause.

    5.45 pm

    I understand the Unionist fears. There is a Falklands spectre in attitudes in this country, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

    The Government in the Republic of Ireland have had a disastrous effect on Anglo-Irish relations, more so on North-South relations in the island of Ireland. I do not support the attitude taken by the Irish Government. Perhaps the newspapers in the Republic and Northern Ireland will say that the clause is telling us in some way to reach a deal with Charles Haughey, the present Taoiseach, and his Fianna Fail Government. However, the clause is saying nothing of the sort. It is saying that, whatever Government may be in power in the Republic, there is the reality that we live on one land mass. We must co-operate on security because of what is happening now. There is no reason why we should not co-operate industrially and economically, on gas and electricity. I do not think that there is any reasonable person, whether in the House or any political party in the island of Ireland, who would say that that co-operation should not take place.

    Many years ago when I sat on the Government Benches Sir Knox Cunningham, who represented Antrim, South, and I began to talk about co-operation on gas and electricity. He said that he did not want Republican gas in Northern Ireland. He did not want green gas, in other words. That shows the ridiculous lengths to which Unionist fears can go. If the Republic is happy to use the surplus of electricity in Northern Ireland, we should be prepared to use any surplus gas in the Republic.

    Is it not clear from the view that President Reagan has expressed recently that he has fears of Soviet gas? Does that fall into the same category?

    President Reagan is far removed from Dublin, Drogheda, Belfast and Newry. I wonder what the views of Unionist Members would be on the resignation of A1 Haig. I do not believe that in our politics we can go so far as to pass an opinion on that international event. Perhaps the right hon. Member for Down, South can be included in that.

    The island of Ireland is a small island. We are not connected to the Continent of Europe. We are an offshore island off another offshore island. I have heard Conservative Members talk about the fears of the Unionist Party, as if there were only one population or political party in Northern Ireland. There are many political parties in Northern Ireland. Essentially there is a great divide between the nationalist population and the Unionist population. This has nothing to do with the IRA, or the INLA—or the murdering gangsters who purport to represent that section of the minority.

    The Catholic population has fears that must be taken into account when considering the legitimate fears held by Unionist Members on behalf of their constituents. I recognise the difficulties inherent in the acceptance of the clause. I remember the dying days in 1974 of the Northern Ireland Executive. The Executive did not die because of power sharing. An increasing number of people in Northern Ireland, right across the political and religious divide, were—albeit reluctantly—beginning to accept that a one-party State had gone for ever and that there had to be power sharing if there were to be any hope of political progress.

    There now appear to be differences between the different sections of the Unionist Party. At that time there were 11 members of the United Ulster Unionist Council sitting on both sides of the House. There was an uneasy coalition between different sections of the Unionist population. That amity has since disintegrated. The fear that welded them together was that the Council of Ireland would in some way drag them into the Irish Republic against their will. However, the Sunningdale proposals gave an effective guarantee against that in the form of a veto. The clause does not in any way force Members of the Assembly to take part in discussions that they feel might endanger the constitutional position of Northern Ireland. After the committee was set up there could be a period during which those fears could be allayed or dispelled and agreement could be reached on other Northern Ireland projects—the setting up of an Executive or the appointment of chairmen of committees. When confidence had been built up among the elected representatives within the confines of Northern Ireland it would be seen that there was no danger in accepting this committee.

    Why not set it up at that time? I asked the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Soley) that question and he ducked the answer. Why this element of compulsion? Why not allow the Assembly to do what we require in every other area as confidence and trust is built up, allowing it to evolve its own committees and institutions? Why force the issue?

    I accept the hon. Gentleman's reasonable attitude. The Council of Ireland proposals were the most difficult that we had to discuss at Sunningdale. The same arguments were put forward. I was convinced by the opinion that was expressed—that opinion did not emanate from the SDLP or the representatives of the Republic—and that was fully supported by the majority of Members that there had to be a package that had to include the 22 Sunningdale articles. If it was done bit by bit, each proposal that was added would bring a good deal of controversy and would exacerbate the difficulties.

    My record clearly shows that I have never supported, and never would support, any move, whether by a clause in the Bill or by the armed intervention of the IRA, to force the Unionist population into the Republic against their will. I do not believe that is possible. Nor will I support the concept of bringing about a united Ireland by intrigue, coercion or armed force. That view may lead to my demise from politics in Northern Ireland. I am prepared to accept defeat in the belief that one cannot coerce, dragoon, bully, shoot or murder the Unionist population into a united Ireland against its will. I am convinced that the clause does not attempt to do the things that I have condemned.

    I was trying to follow the logic of the hon. Gentleman's argument. There was one inconsistency that the hon. Gentleman might like to clear up. He said that the clause—although diminished in value—was an Irish dimension. He then said that it was not the power-sharing element of the Sunningdale agreement that brought about its destruction but the Irish dimension. If it was the Irish dimension that destroyed Sunningdale and this—although diminished—is an Irish dimension, will it not bring down the Assembly?

    I believe I have been consistent. I am convinced that the Council of Ireland proposals led to a great deal of animosity and hostility being directed towards the Executive. This is a mark II Council of Ireland. The clause does not say that there must be seven members from the Northern Ireland Executive, seven members from the Republic of Ireland and seven members from the British Government. The clause does not mention numbers. It faces the reality that Northern Ireland is part of the island of Ireland. The Republic will not go away and Northern Ireland will not wake up one morning to find that it is part of the land mass of England, Scotland and Wales.

    The hon. Gentleman is making a good case. Can I pursue the question of "shall" and "may"? It is a delicate decision. The case for "shall" as opposed to "may" is that if there is a majority of 51 per cent. opposed to it, although 49 per cent.—including a significant number of Unionists—would like to compromise and make some progress that would be to the benefit of the people of Northern Ireland, such progress could not be made. That is the argument for "shall" as opposed to "may".

    My hon. Friend has drawn to my attention something that I have said in the House before. The Sunningdale agreement was reached in December 1973. Unfortunately, for reasons that had nothing to do with Northern Ireland, there had to be an election in the United Kingdom in February 1974. That was only six or seven weeks after the Executive had taken power in Northern Ireland. The election had nothing to do with power-sharing, the Irish dimension or the Council of Ireland. It had everything to do with industrial relations and the miners' strike at that time. In the election, 51 per cent. of the votes were cast against the Sunningdale agreement and 49 per cent. of the votes for pro-Sunningdale candidates. The 51 per cent. returned 11 UUUC candidates. One candidate was elected by the pro-Sunningdale vote. That was myself. I agree that a margin of 49 per cent. to 51 per cent. should not be allowed to dictate the future progress of political development in Ireland.

    6 pm

    I wish to address some remarks especially to the Secretary of State. I am not particularly talking to hon. Members sitting behind me or to those on the Conservative Benches. Their attitudes are conditioned by the history of Northern Ireland and, so far as Right-wing Members of the Conservative Party are concerned, by other matters. I ask the Secretary of State not to reject the new clause lightly. It is an integral part of any political progress that may come about in Northern Ireland. I ask him to treat it with the seriousness that it deserves. It has not been put on the Notice Paper flippantly. It is a recognition that Ireland is an island and that one cannot attempt to govern six counties of that State in a spirit of total animosity and hostility towards the Republic.

    We have to be honest. I am not certain what would be the outcome if a referendum were conducted in Fermanagh. The fact is that the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Carron) does not sit in this House. He believes that his county should not be under the jurisdiction of this House. I disagree totally with all the political sentiments of that gentleman. However, he has the support, or would appear to have the support, of the people in county Fermanagh. The hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Mr. Dunlop) will, I think, agree that if there were a straight vote between a Unionist candidate and a Nationalist candidate in county Tyrone the result would be the same. I am not, of course, certain. No one can be certain. If, however, that happened, the Unionist majority in Northern Ireland would be left with four counties. If Derry and South Armagh were taken off, this would leave the Unionist majority with three or two and a half counties. One cannot therefore talk all the time about the Unionist majority and about Unionist fears and suspicions.

    The Unionist majority in Northern Ireland is an artificial majority. The Catholic nationalist minority in Northern Ireland is an artificial minority. The border was drawn in Northern Ireland without any reference to the people who live in Northern Ireland. Indeed, it was opposed by a significant section of Unionists in Northern Ireland. I understand that the Secretary of State is under considerable pressure not only from Northern Ireland but also from hon. Members in this House over the Bill. I do not wish to exacerbate existing tensions by naming names. I do not want to involve the right hon. Gentleman in more hot water. I can only say that I have found, at all times, that civil servants in the Northern Ireland Office, under both Labour and Conservative Governments, have acted as civil servants.

    I am not sure where the right hon. Member for Down, South got his information. I recall that when the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) supplied information to the House that could only have been given to him by a civil servant in Northern Ireland, hon. Members on both sides were most annoyed that he should have made the information public. I understand that many of those employed by the Northern Ireland Office do not intend to make the Civil Service their career. Many are confirmed academics who are asked at times, by whatever Government are in power, to put forward their views on a particular subject. It would be very inhibiting if a civil servant who had been asked, in the interests of the Government, to give his point of view, feared that at some time in the future he would be regarded as a traitor and that his name would be mentioned in the House.

    All civil servants do not have to agree with the policy of the Government in power. I believe that I have met Mr. Clive Abbott whose name has been mentioned. I think that I must have met him on a number of occasions when I have met a succession of Secretaries of State who are surrounded on such occasions by their Civil Service advisers. It is wrong to point the finger at someone who has given his career to the Civil Service in Northern Ireland. It is wrong that he should be called a traitor because he does not agree, or it is suspected that he does not agree, with the policy now being promulgated. It is also unfair.

    The right hon. Member for Down, South, when he reconsiders his remarks, may find that he has attacked a member of the Civil Service who has given sincere service to his Department. The fact that he may disagree with the right hon. Gentleman's views are not sufficient reason for the right hon. Gentleman perhaps to have put the career of that civil servant in jeopardy.

    There are many civil servants in Northern Ireland with whom I have disagreed. I have yet to stand up and place their careers in jeopardy. The right hon. Gentleman has made it imperative that the Secretary of State makes some response to what has been said about the civil servant. I believe, in conclusion, that the Secretary of State should not lightly reject the new clause.

    I wish to take up briefly the penultimate point made by the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt). I am sorry that the Secretary of State is now leaving. I can well understand that the Secretary of State feels that he has heard more than enough of my aggression and prolixity. I make no apology for that. Our wish to defeat this Bill made our conduct both proper and necessary. But the Secretary of State has now effectively got the Bill. I hope that my remarks will be treated as those of someone who accepts the present position and who suggests, almost as a detached Englishman, that there may be a way in which we Englishmen can look objectively at some of the lessons that have been learnt in the long hours spent considering the Bill.

    At one stage during our deliberations, we pressed and pressed the Secretary of State to say why he had abandoned the Tory Party promise that there should be substantial enhancement of local government in Northern Ireland. I was impressed by his argument that, while English logic might support the enhancement of local government, the myths of the Irish, and more especially the Northern Irish, were such that the enhancement of local government would create suspicion and mistrust, certainly within the minority community.

    Whether there is such a myth and whether it can be exorcised, I cannot say from my relatively detached, English position. However, I understand the power of the myth in politics and what we have seen today is a further example of that power. It is the deep suspicion that is felt by the majority community in Northern Ireland that they may be sold out. Every time we notice any sign of the myth becoming a reality, we see action and concern among the majority of the community and we see the sensitivity of the Secretary of State.

    I accept the stage that the Bill has reached and, without wishing to be ironic or funny, I shall be brief in examining the causes of the suspicion and misunderstanding that are felt by the majority community. The meetings that the Prime Minister had with Mr. Haughey when he was Taoiseach for the first time were unfortunate. The Prime Minister refused to answer questions in the House of Commons about what was said at those meetings.

    I do not suggest that misunderstandings have been created entirely by the Secretary of State. The refusal of the Prime Minister to answer questions in the normal way in the House of Commons was likely to be misunderstood and it was misunderstood. The behaviour of Mr. Haughey after those meetings in his first period in office as Taoiseach was entirely predictable to those of us who have observed his conduct from England. It was entirely consistent with his character that he represented his meetings with the Prime Minister as a personal triumph for him and the beginning of the road towards a united Ireland.

    Indeed. It was most unfortunate that the Prime Minister allowed herself to be put in that position. It was also unfortunate that, according to press reports, the Secretary of State, in his first attempt at a White Paper, made a clear commitment to a Council of Ireland and an Irish dimension. But, according to press reports that have not been denied, the Cabinet required the Secretary of State to remove those passages from the White Paper.

    6.15 pm

    It has also been the Secretary of State's misfortune that, in all significant respects, he has had the Opposition's support. It is plain that there is a considerable divergence of view between the right hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon) and the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Soley). The right hon. Gentleman represents the old consensus formed when the two Front Benches agreed on a policy for Northern Ireland. His support is the more unfortunate because there is more than a suspicion in many people's minds that, had he had the opportunity when he was a Minister for Northern Ireland, he would have presented a similar Bill with the support of similar civil servants. Yet we find that the Bill is supported by Labour Members because they, like Mr. Haughey, perhaps mistakenly, see it as a significant step—

    That may be so, but he may also be powerful. I am not talking about whether he is a nice man with whom to have a cup of tea but whether he is a repository of power, which he certainly is. It has been the Secretary of State's misfortune to have the Opposition's support on grounds that can only undermine his position.

    The misfortune has been increased today. I do not wish to exaggerate the information that the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) laid before the House. However, there is an understandable reluctance in Britain to accept without argument or debate the advice that all civil servants offer their Ministers. No one suggests that all civil servants are inclined to become a little too big for their boots, any more than it can be suggested that all policemen are bent. However, sometimes powerful and intelligent civil servants who represent the forces of continuity within their Department are more powerful and persuasive than their nominal political masters. There is more than a suspicion in Britain that the civil servants at the Foreign Office had an independent policy on the Falkland Islands that was never properly considered by their nominal masters. We shall discover whether that is true during later inquiries, but there is none the less a suspicion.

    The information and the evidence produced by the right hon. Member for Down, South raises that grave suspicion about the Northern Ireland Office. In asking that the Secretary of State should lay those fears at rest, I shall not prolong my speech to force him to do so. I cannot by further intervention persuade him that I have any leverage in the matter. However, I hope that he understands that I wish him well personally. He has paid great attention to the matter and has fought hard in difficult circumstances to secure the advance of the initiative. He would do well to attempt to lay the initiative upon firm foundations. There is too much of the myth to which he referred in another connection in an earlier debate. There is too much misunderstanding about that. Would my right hon. Friend not be right, although we cannot now force him to do so, to delay a little?

    The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) referred to the creation of political myths. One should be dealt with immediately. It is not true that the Labour Party has consistently supported the Secretary of State with the Bill. On the contrary, it has abstained at every stage. It has not taken any discernible line. It is entitled to do that. Nevertheless, neither the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, nor the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Sir J. Biggs-Davison), has the right to suggest that the Bill has enjoyed the consistent support of the official Opposition. It has not.

    The second myth, which may be created rapidly by the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Cranborne), is that Mr. Abbott is a civil servant in the Foreign Office.

    The hon. Gentleman referred to the possibility of there being some connection with the Foreign Office. I listened closely to the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). I understood him to refer, with great regret, to an official in the Northern Ireland Office. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), I believe that the phrases that the right hon. Member for Down, South quoted could bear a perfectly innocent interpretation as well as a much more worrying one. Both the present Secretary of State and his predecessors have stated several times that the Government are not in favour of a return, on the old form, to local government in Northern Ireland. That is no news. That has been the case many times when Northern Ireland has been debated in the House.

    There remains the understanding. Most hon. Members have understood for a long time that the Government would not move towards integration. I hope that the Secretary of State will say something about that. I do not find the quotation that the right hon. Member for Down, South made as portentous as he implied unless he was suggesting that a particular civil servant acted Napoleonically. In that case, I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland that that is unfortunate and it would be better if civil servants did not act in that way. I do not see why the right hon. Gentleman gave the quotation unless he places the most unfavourable interpretation on it or that it necessarily carries the significant interpretation that he made.

    I shall remind the right hon. Lady of the expression:

    "We"—
    whoever that is—
    "couldn't break certain undertakings we have given to the Irish government over the constitutional future of Northern Ireland."

    I did not mishear the right hon. Gentleman. He speaks so clearly that anyone who pays any attention can understand what he says. The phrase can be interpreted to apply to integration. The House has understood for some time that the integration of Northern Ireland with Great Britain in the way that the right hon. Gentleman has consistently expounded was not normally expected by the Government. Do I misunderstand?

    Yes. The natural meaning is that to treat Northern Ireland as part of the rest of the United Kingdom was contrary to an understanding that was reached with the Government of the Irish Republic as to the constitutional arrangements in Northern Ireland. That is what it says.

    I am sorry. I listened closely to the right hon. Gentleman but the quotation could still bear my interpretation. Constitutional arrangements would also include integration, unless I am unclear about the meaning of the word.

    Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland, the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Soley) has done the House a service by enabling us to debate this subject. I am sure that that was his intention. It is disturbing—Conservative Members have made this point clear—that almost any interpretation of an understanding on closer co-operation is often treated as grounds for suspicion as if it is in some way a commitment by the Government to reunification only by consent. That is to say that the views of the people of Northern Ireland must be paramount, to use a phrase that was recently used in another context. That remains the bipartisan element between the parties that have so far taken part in the debate here.

    If that is so, if all parties in this House accept the right of the people of Northern Ireland to determine their future, the attempt to find a major division between the parties falls to one side. The hon. Member for Hammersmith, North and the right hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon) have said repeatedly that unification must come by consent. That is a different interpretation. All parties have accepted that consent is the essental preliminary to any change in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. That is the basis of the House's tripartisan approach.

    The more often one talks about reunification in the Northern Ireland context the more often one creates suspicion. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West referred to that. It is feared that in some sense and at some stage the consent will be pushed away. I do not believe that, nor do I believe that the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North said that it was the case. He merely said that he would like that to happen.

    My party takes a firm stand on the consent of the people of Northern Ireland—it is critical. That consent might be more readily forthcoming, not through reunification but by co-operation, if suspicions of Northern Irish Unionists could be put at rest. The more certainly they believe that they will not be betrayed on consent, the more readily they will accept co-operation that in future might lead to a different relationship among the Republic, Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

    In that context, paragraph 23 of the White Paper is correct. It refers specifically to a parliamentary Joint Committee on which Members of this House and of the Dail might serve and of which Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly might be a part. That is the most reassuring formulation upon which closer co-operation could be built. On that point I more readily support the Secretary of State than the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North, because, as the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Lloyd) said, the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North is trying to move faster than he can, given the depth of the suspicion of the Unionists about consent.

    All hon. Members have said that there is scope for co-operation on economic matters. There is scope for co-operation on the economic infrastructure and on higher education, in which there is a Northern Irish surplus and a Southern Irish deficit. As my party, with the support of the Liberal Party, has said, there might also be cooperation on a Joint Committee to examine the application for EEC funds to benefit the island of Ireland. That is an obvious area in which co-operation might be developed. A lead has been given in that direction by Members of the European Parliament, whether they be Unionists, Paisleyites or even members of the SDLP. I should also welcome the development of a joint appeal court along the lines that were suggested by Dr. Garret FitzGerald, when he was Taoiseach, before Mr. Haughey replaced him.

    The right hon. Lady has talked with considerable reason about suspicion and the prevalence of that emotion in the politics of Northern Ireland. Does she agree that, if my right hon. Friend were to elucidate the circumstances lying behind the answer that was given in the interview that the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) quoted, to a large extent, if that explanation were satisfactory and laid the suspicions of the Unionist majority to rest, it would help the process that she advocates?

    6.30 pm

    It might, but I fear that the mistrust is so profound that even the evidence and the good will of the Secretary of State would have difficulty dispersing it. That has come out clearly in the debate.

    Clause 12 of the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973 provided a precise right for the Northern Ireland Executive to seek arrangements and agreements with the Government of the Republic, without any parliamentary accountability and without any reference to this House. If that was the position in 1973, it is rather sad—perhaps it is a sign of how far we have slipped back—that the suggestion of a link between the Assembly and the Parliament of the Republic should be the source of so much suspicion. That is why I think that the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North has moved too quickly. To be fair, however, the 1973 Act went a great deal further than anything that he or his right hon. Friend is currently suggesting.

    My final question to the Secretary of State concerns clause 4(4), which refers to the right of the Assembly to set up any committee that it wishes. Paragraph 23 of the White Paper states:
    "The Government would expect the arrangements"—
    that is, arrangements with the Republic—
    "to enable members of the Northern Ireland Assembly to participate if they so wished."
    The definite article is used. The reference is to "the" arrangements. Will the Secretary of State tell us a little more about the type of arrangement that he had in mind in the White Paper but to which there is no subsequent reference in the Bill other than in clause 4(4)? Secondly, does he envisage under clause 4(4) an arrangement of some kind which would involve the Assembly possibly in a link between this House and the Dail? It would be helpful to the House to have the right hon. Gentleman's observations on that point.

    It may be for the convenience of the House if I intervene at this stage. If other hon. Members wish to take part in the debate, perhaps I may be allowed the leave of the House to reply to them later. In view of the matters that have been raised, it may be for the convenience of the House if I speak immediately rather than allowing matters to develop in a way that I think would be wrong and most unfortunate for the people involved. An example of this was the intervention of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) in the speech of the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mrs. Williams).

    I begin by setting out once again the Government's position with regard to the status of Northern Ireland, as I believe that it has at times been forgotten in the debate. The status of Northern Ireland is clearly laid down in the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973. Section 1 of that Act reads as follows:
    "It is hereby declared that Northern Ireland remains part of Her Majesty's dominions and of the United Kingdom, and it is hereby affirmed that in no event will Northern Ireland or any part of it cease to be part of Her Majesty's dominions and of the United Kingdom without the consent of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland voting in a poll held for the purposes of this section in accordance with Schedule 1 to this Act."
    That remains the position of Her Majesty's Government. I wish to put that on record straight away.

    That does not mean that there are not fears, to which the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) drew attention, on both sides of the community—fears on the part of the Catholic population about their future just as much as fears on the part of the Unionist population about their future. It does us no good, however, if in this House we seek to erect fears and suspicions that are absolutely groundless in fact.

    That is why I seek to deal with the remarks of the right hon. Member for Down, South. I must say at the outset that I have yet to see the documentary evidence that he intends to produce. From what I have been able to discern so far, the right hon. Gentleman gave the impression that there was some official document by an official of the Northern Ireland Office—either a letter or a written set of answers to questions, or something of that nature. That is the only possible way in which we could begin to take the matter seriously.

    So far as I am aware, it was nothing of the sort. So far as I can identify the occasion, a researcher went to see a junior member of the Northern Ireland Office and asked him a number of questions. Presumably, the researcher took down his record of what he thought the junior official at the Northern Ireland Office had said. Generally on such occasions, if the researcher wishes to be precise in what he does, he checks back with the person with whom the interview took place. On this occasion, that did not happen. Therefore, so far as I can tell, there is no justification for the quotation produced by the right hon. Member for Down, South.

    This is very important. That is why I sought to intervene at this stage. When the right hon. Member for Down, South intervened in the speech of the right hon. Member for Crosby, it began to appear that what the right hon. Gentleman had produced was being accepted as an exact quotation. So far as I can ascertain, it was nothing of the kind. The right hon. Gentleman achieved a considerable sense of drama by the manner in which he produced this. As a result, for a short period, he caused far greater importance to be given to his document than was in any way justified.

    I wish to make it absolutely clear that there are no such undertakings as the right hon. Gentleman accuses the Civil Service or a junior civil servant or the Government of having given. There are no such undertakings at all. No civil servant could have given such undertakings and reported them as being Government policy, because only Government Ministers can make Government policy. I therefore refute totally any accusation that such undertakings were given. In this case, I do not even believe that it is correct to say that the gentleman concerned said those things, but even if he had said them it would have been quite wrong to believe that they were undertakings given by the Government, because they were not.

    With regard to the accusation that Mr. Haughey said that he did not like local government reform, the number of people who have told me in the past few months that they do not like local government reform is legion. I do not need Mr. Haughey to tell me that. The nationalists and a good many others can tell me that, and they have done so. The House may be interested to know that during the side meetings during the talks between the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of the Republic last November the then Foreign Minister of the Republic told me that he did not like my ideas of local government reform. He made that perfectly clear. I said that I accepted that he did not like them, but that I did not necessarily agree with him and that it was for me and for the Government to make up our own minds. Of course we knew that the Government of the Republic did not like our ideas.

    Where a State has a land border with another State, and where we have had so much trouble with security, it is not necessarily wrong to take the views of that other State into consideration when considering the importance of security aspects. We would be extremely negligent if we did not do so. On that point there is no problem.

    I ask the House to accept my absolute assurance that no such undertakings have been given and that no civil servant could have given those undertakings. If he did, they are meaningless because they are not ministerial undertakings. That is the constitutional position to which I strongly hold.

    I deplore the attitude of the right hon. Member for Down, South. He had no cause to name a junior civil servant in my Department. That civil servant—a fine young civil servant who has served the Government and myself extremely well—did not appear on the team dealing with the Bill until some time in February. I had never met him until then. Although by that time my mind and that of the Government were not entirely made up, many consultations had taken place. I had examined fairly and reasonably every possible scenario put to me about devolved government, local government powers, direct rule and integration.

    It is nonsense to suggest that anything that the civil servant said about relationships, or about undertakings given to the Republic that Ministers knew nothing about, had any effect on my attitude in presenting papers to my Government colleagues. It would not have made the slightest difference because I was making up my mind on what to present to Ministers. In no way was I influenced, nor could I have been influenced, by an undertaking supposedly given to the Irish Government by a civil servant. In any case, I believe it to be wholly erroneous.

    My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary and my other Cabinet colleagues have followed these matters through with the papers that are presented to Government and to the Cabinet. They would have had their say, and did so. The views put forward in the White Paper and in the Bill are those of the Government after considering all the issues.

    The right hon. Gentleman has been pursuing his theory of a conspiracy for a long time against members of my Department. He has been wrong to do so. He has not produced to my satisfaction or, I imagine, that of the House any evidence today to substantiate his allegations of the past few months. Having said that, I understand that he intends to let me have the documents concerned. I hope that they are signed and that the letter has Abbott's signature on it. I shall expect it to have; otherwise I cannot take these matters seriously. In any case, I believe that they are totally immaterial to the Bill and to the discussions that we have had over a long time. Unless the right hon. Gentleman can produce further evidence—

    I remind the right hon. Gentleman of what I actually said. I said that I wished to quote from the note of certain replies which were given. That is what I promised to put in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman. That is entirely consistent with what I said to the House.

    6.45 pm

    That was not the impression gained by Conservative Members. Were those notes written notes? Were they agreed notes? What were those notes?

    That is disgraceful. I hope that, on reflection, the right hon. Gentleman will apologise to a young civil servant to whom he is bound to have caused a great deal of distress. The young man has been trying to carry out his job properly, but he has been named. That is an unusual step to take in the House.

    The right hon. Gentleman has already admitted in his reply that the Government have been influenced in their constitutional proposals for Northern Ireland by what they regarded would be the effect on cross-border security.

    I am talking about security, and I am entitled to do that. Security dogs us in Northern Ireland day after day, as the right hon. Gentleman should know. I have an absolute duty to do everything within my power as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to improve security on the border. I shall always stick to that point.

    The rest of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was mostly concerned with a further argument for integration. We have had those arguments for a great deal of time over the past six days in Committee.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest (Sir J. Biggs-Davison) made a thoughtful speech. I hope that my hon. Friend will accept that, although we disagree on the Bill, I have nothing but admiration for his constant interest in Northern Ireland affairs. I respect his position. At one time he took a different view, but he has changed that. He tells me that in a few years I may change as well, but that is another matter. However, he has maintained a totally honourable position.

    My hon. Friend made a significant and interesting remark in saying that he was a supporter of a united Ireland within the sovereignty of the Republic and the United Kingdom. I hope that we can hear more about that in due course because that is an attempt to bring the Republic and the United Kingdom closer together.

    My right hon. Friend did not quote me correctly. I said not "within the sovereignty", but "recognising the sovereignty" of the two nation States within the British Isles.

    I apologise for misquoting my hon. Friend, but it is the beginning once more of the recognition that there are two identities, that there are two allegiances, and the need to see how those allegiances can be brought together.

    I return to the White Paper. Paragraph 18 clearly states:
    "The object of the Government's proposals is to point to a way whereby, in spite of their acknowledged and continuing differences, the two sides of the community may achieve sufficient mutual respect, and make sufficient mutual accommodations, to participate more creatively in the public life of the Province".
    That recognition exists there.

    The new clause seeks to recognise the fact that there are those who wish to have a closer association with the Republic. The right hon. Member for Crosby mentioned co-operation on economic matters, as did other hon. Members. It is perfectly right that we should have the closest co-operation on economic matters. I have been enormously upset by the fact that co-operation between North and South is now less than it was in the days of the old Stormont. It has got worse in recent years rather than better.

    Many years ago, when I was Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the corresponding Minister in the Stormont Government was Mr. Harry West, who for a time served in this House. I know that he had a far closer relationship with the Republic Government on a whole range of agriculture matters than we have today. Therefore, much more can be, and needs to be, done. At present, we are in competition on quite a few matters. It would make sense if there was not such a level of competition between us. Therefore, all that can be done to improve co-operation on economic matters is to the advantage of both the Government of the Republic and Northern Ireland itself.

    However, I believe that this matter is best left to the Northern Ireland devolved Assembly. One of my hon. Friends said that there were many fears and suspicions. One of the sad factors of the last two or three years, when there have been summit conferences, has been suspicion that machinations, decisions and agreements have been made between the Government in Westminster and Whitehall and in Dublin without consultation with, or the knowledge of, the people of Northern Ireland. That has been unfortunate, because it is untrue and it has led to great suspicion. That is one reason why I believe that an Assembly acting on its own is more likely to improve those relations, particularly on economic matters, than is the case at present under direct rule.

    As a number of hon. Members have pointed out, the new clause would make it compulsory for the Assembly to set up this committee. Nothing in the Bill prevents such a committee being set up it if is the wish and the will of the Assembly. The hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) said that perhaps Sunningdale and post-Sunningdale—the Irish dimension—were pushed a bit too hard and that if time had been taken over this a better atmosphere might have been created. The hon. Gentleman ought to recognise that if we try to make such a committee compulsory we may put people's backs up and we shall not achieve any success or advance at all. The only way in which a committee of this nature can possibly succeed is if it is adopted voluntarily by the Assembly. It has the power, it can do so whenever it likes and I hope that in time it will do so.

    The right hon. Member for Crosby also asked about the arrangements that could enable Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly to take part in any Anglo-Irish body that was set up at parliamentary level. The White Paper is quite explicit about that. Paragraph 23 states:
    "The Government would expect the arrangements to enable members of the Northern Ireland Assembly to participate if they so wished."
    The arrangements one has in mind are that if and when this Parliament and the Dail decide that they wish to make progress on this matter and an Assembly is in being, it would be for the Assembly Members, if they so wished, to say that they would like to take part.

    When I have been tackled on this question by the SDLP, I have made it perfectly clear that I believe that this is not the great blueprint for the pan-Irish arrangement that it would like to see. I believe that any body of that nature would be much more akin to, say, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. I must make my view on this matter clear, because I do not want any misunderstanding. I do not believe that this will develop quickly into a body that has powers. It must be entirely voluntary. I would not wish to say anything that prevented participation by individual Members of the Assembly when that body is set up.

    It is not for me to say when that will happen. That is a matter for this House and the Dail. The Dail has made no move as yet so far as I am aware, and this House certainly has made no move. In fact, as the hon. Member for Belfast, West pointed out in what for him were quiet tones, relationships between the Government of the Republic and this House at present do not make it easy for such an arrangement to come into existence. That was the hon. Gentleman at his most responsible and quietest. It was the understatement of the week for him, if not for others. I therefore believe that the setting up of such a committee will take some time.

    That in no way prevents what we all hope to see—the development of good relations between the Republic and the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland. We shall continue to do everything we can to impress on the Republic the fact that not only does it have a responsibility to help us with our security problems, but that it is very much in its interests that it should deal with terrorism itself. I hope that the very good co-operation will continue, and I assure my hon. Friends that it is continuing at present. Nothing will be done in any way to stop that.

    In its first phase, the Assembly will have no powers as such. It can set up committees if it wishes to do so, but it will be controlled by the amount of money that it is voted. That remains under the control of this House, as do all money matters, while the Assembly is in its early phase. Therefore, the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) need not worry that at that stage the Assembly will spend money on a proliferation of committees and bodies of one sort or another, because it will not be in a position to do so.

    Anyone who knows the problems of Northern Ireland knows the suspicions that can be raised and the prejudices and fears that are ever-present on both sides of the community. A number of them have been raised this afternoon, and they are never far below the surface. The Government and I are seeking to achieve a difficult objective. A number of things could so easily go wrong. However, we wish to fill this political vacuum to try to give some opportunity for the people in Northern Ireland to test their debating skills and their arguments, the one against the other, as we do in the House. It may lead to a meeting point which over a time can lead on to the better government of Northern Ireland.

    7 pm

    We have to make a start somewhere, and we have decided to make a start with what I would term phase 1 of the Assembly. It will have the power to set up committees if it wishes to do so. It will take some time before committees are set up other than those provided for in the Bill. I hope that by setting up this Assembly and giving it an opportunity to debate we shall at least remove some of the suspicions that for a number of years have been held about the attitude of the House and of successive Governments. These views have enabled people such as the right hon. Member for Down, South to raise fears and to dwell on them in a manner that is extraordinarily damaging to the peace and future of Northern Ireland, which he represents.

    We have now had over three hours debate on new clause 1, and we have a long way to go. I should not wish it to be thought that the Opposition has started at this late stage to try to filibuster the rest of the Bill.

    I am amazed at the reaction of hon. Members to the new clause, which we shall be pressing to a Division. It has been said that the Opposition have done the House a service by tabling the clause so that hon. Members can have a chat about the issue it raises. However, this is a much more serious issue than one to have a chat about. This is the time when the Labour Party has to start putting its votes and sympathies where its policies belong.

    It is not good enough to say that we all know that in Ireland the South talks to the North and Ministers talk to each other. I know that this happens because I was involved in so many of the discussions. The talks, and the help that each side can give the other on the economy, security and many other issues are opportunities that should be grasped by both sides.

    The Labour Party has brought this issue—the Irish dimesion, if the House wishes to call it that—to the Floor of the House. We intend to keep it there so that the House can discuss it at every opportunity. This is a problem that will not go away, and the sooner that the House faces up to the issue, the better.

    The Labour Party believes that we must win the consent of the Northern Irish people, and of the Southern Irish people, if our policies are to be furthered. There will have to be co-operation and hard work if we are to win that consent. Nobody knows better than I do how difficult a task the Labour Party has set itself. We are not talking about next month or next year. We do not envisage any time scale. It is the policy of our party that we should work towards a peaceful solution in the island of Ireland.

    It is despicable that our new clause 1 has been the vehicle for what I regard, after 16 years in the House, as the dirtiest piece of political assassination I have yet witnessed. It must have been the Tory dirty tricks department that helped that assassination, because whenever the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) was speaking, I noticed the knowing grins on the faces behind the Ministers. That gave me the impression that there was collusion on this supposedly infamous "document", which turned out to be anything but a document.

    From my knowledge of the certain gentleman in the Northern Ireland Department, I know that he is a fine upstanding civil servant. The right hon. Gentleman gave the impression of having a signed and sealed document that he could place before us. The political assassination that took place this afternoon is on a par with what happens in Northern Ireland. It was like pulling the trigger of an Armalite rifle on this poor civil servant. It is despicable, and I despise the fact that the Opposition's new clause was used as a vehicle for this political assassination of a civil servant. There were no grounds for doing so, and I should back the Secretary of State to the hilt on that issue.

    We shall press the clause to a Division. The problem of the Irish dimension will not go away. We have to face up to it, and the sooner the House does so, the better.

    Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

    The House divided: Ayes 87, Noes 174.

    Division No. 249]

    [7.06 pm

    AYES

    Bottomley, Rt Hon A.(M'b'ro)McNamara, Kevin
    Bray, Dr JeremyMcTaggart, Robert
    Brown, R. C. (N'castle W)Marks, Kenneth
    Buchan, NormanMarshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
    Campbell-Savours, DaleMason, Rt Hon Roy
    Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
    Clarke, Thomas C'b'dge,A'rieMiller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
    Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S)Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)
    Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
    Crowther, StanMoyle, Rt Hon Roland
    Cryer, BobO'Halloran, Michael
    Davidson, ArthurPalmer, Arthur
    Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd)Park, George
    Deakins, EricParry, Robert
    Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
    Dewar, DonaldRace, Reg
    Dormand, JackRoberts, Albert (Normanton)
    Duffy, A. E. P.Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
    Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.Robertson, George
    Eadie, AlexRooker, J. W.
    Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)Sheerman, Barry
    Ennals, Rt Hon DavidSilkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)
    Evans, loan (Aberdare)Silverman, Julius
    Evans, John (Newton)Skinner, Dennis
    Ewing, HarrySnape, Peter
    Faulds, AndrewSoley, Clive
    Field, FrankSpearing, Nigel
    Fitt, GerardStallard, A. W.
    Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)Stoddart, David
    Forrester, JohnStrang, Gavin
    Foster, DerekSummerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
    Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
    Graham, TedWainwright, E.(Dearne V)
    Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)Welsh, Michael
    Harrison, Rt Hon WalterWhite, Frank R.
    Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire)Whitehead, Phillip
    John, BrynmorWilson, William (C'try SE)
    Jones, Barry (East Flint)Winnick, David
    Kerr, RussellWoodall, Alec
    Lestor, Miss JoanWoolmer, Kenneth
    Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Young, David (Bolton E)
    Litherland, Robert
    McCartney, HughTellers for the Ayes:
    McDonald, Dr OonaghMr. Frank Haynes and
    McKay, Allen (Penistone)Mr. George Morton.
    McKelvey, William

    NOES

    Alexander, RichardArnold, Tom
    Alison, Rt Hon MichaelAtkins, Rt Hon H.(S'thorne)
    Amery, Rt Hon JulianBaker, Nicholas (N Dorset)
    Ancram, MichaelBanks, Robert

    Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyLuce, Richard
    Benyon. Thomas (A'don)Lyell, Nicholas
    Benyon, W. (Buckingham)Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
    Berry, HonAnthonyMcCusker, H.
    Best, KeithMacGregor, John
    Bevan, David GilroyMadel, David
    Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnMajor, John
    Blackburn, JohnMarlow, Antony
    Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W)Marten, Rt Hon Neil
    Boyson, Dr RhodesMates, Michael
    Braine, SirBernardMather, Carol
    Bright, GrahamMawby, Ray
    Brooke, Hon PeterMawhinney, Dr Brian
    Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n)Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
    Bruce-Gardyne, JohnMayhew, Patrick
    Bryan, Sir PaulMills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
    Buck, AntonyMolyneaux, James
    Budgen, NickMorgan, Geraint
    Bulmer, EsmondMorrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
    Cadbury, JocelynMudd, David
    Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Murphy, Christopher
    Channon, Rt. Hon. PaulNeedham, Richard
    Chapman, SydneyNelson, Anthony
    Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Neubert, Michael
    Cockeram, EricNewton, Tony
    Cope, JohnNormanton, Tom
    Cranborne, ViscountOnslow, Cranley
    Critchley, JulianPage, Richard (SW Herts)
    Crouch, DavidPaisley, Rev Ian
    Dorrell, StephenParris, Matthew
    Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.Patten, John (Oxford)
    Dover, DenshorePattie, Geoffrey
    du Cann, Rt Hon EdwardPawsey, James
    Dunlop, JohnPink, R. Bonner
    Dunn, Robert (Dartford)Porter, Barry
    Eggar, TimPowell, Rt Hon J.E. (S Down)
    Elliott, Sir WilliamPrice, Sir David (Eastleigh)
    Eyre, ReginaldPrior, Rt Hon James
    Fairgrieve, Sir RussellProctor, K. Harvey
    Faith, Mrs SheilaRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
    Fenner, Mrs PeggyRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
    Fisher, Sir NigelRidley, Hon Nicholas
    Fookes, Miss JanetRidsdale, Sir Julian
    Forman, NigelRoberts, Wyn (Conway)
    Fraser, Peter (South Angus)Robinson, P. (Belfast E)
    Gardiner, George (Reigate)Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)
    Goodlad, AlastairRossi, Hugh
    Gow, IanRost, Peter
    Greenway, HarryRumbold, Mrs A. C. R.
    Grist, IanSainsbury, Hon Timothy
    Hamilton, Hon A.Scott, Nicholas
    Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
    Hampson, Dr KeithShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
    Heddle, JohnShersby, Michael
    Heseltine, Rt Hon MichaelSilvester, Fred
    Hicks, RobertSims, Roger
    Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Skeet, T. H. H.
    Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
    Holland, Philip (Carlton)Smyth, Rev. W. M. (Belfast S)
    Hooson, TomStanbrook, lvor
    Hordern, PeterStanley, John
    Howe, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreySteen, Anthony
    Hunt, David (Wirral)Stevens, Martin
    Hurt, John (Ravensbourne)Stewart, A. (E Renfrewshire)
    Hurd, Rt Hon DouglasStewart, Ian (Hitchin)
    Irvine, Rt Hon Bryant GodmanStradling Thomas, J.
    Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyTapsell, Peter
    Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
    Kellett-Bowman, Mrs ElaineThomas, Rt Hon Peter
    Kilfedder, James A.Thompson, Donald
    Kimball, Sir MarcusThornton, Malcolm
    Lamont, NormanTownend, John (Bridlington)
    Lang, IanTrippier, David
    Latham, Michaelvan Straubenzee, Sir W.
    Lawrence, IvanVaughan, Dr Gerard
    Lawson, Rt Hon NigelViggers, Peter
    Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkWaddington, David
    Lester, Jim (Beeston)Waldegrave, Hon William
    Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Walker, B. (Perth)
    Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Warren, Kenneth

    Watson, JohnWolfson, Mark
    Wells, Bowen
    Wheeler, JohnTellers for the Noes:
    Wickenden, KeithMr. Robert Boscawen and
    Williams, D. (Montgomery)Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones.

    Question accordingly negatived.