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Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield): I have been listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman and I agree with him. A major part of the Mitchell principles, which were launched with a fanfare of trumpets, was decommissioning. Why, in the hon. Gentleman's opinion, has decommissioning been placed on the back burner when constructive talks leading to meaningful progress can be implemented and carried forward successfully only if terrorists of all political persuasions do not continue to be in possession of huge quantities of explosive, bullets and weapons? My question is, why have Her Majesty's Opposition and the Government not insisted on decommissioning?

The First Deputy Chairman: Order. The hon. Gentleman's intervention is far too long.

Mr. Robinson: I believe that the answer is simple. Decommissioning has been put on the back burner because the Government and the Opposition know that the terrorists will not give up their guns. Why do terrorists not give up their guns? Because they want to leave open the option that, if things do not go precisely as they have choreographed them, they will use those guns again.

There is a second reason why guns remain in terrorists' possession. The threat that brought the Government to their knees and caused them to sign this sordid agreement still hangs above their head. Those are the reasons that the terrorists hold on to their guns. That is why the Government were faced with that adamant refusal to hand them over and caved in to the terrorists.

It is a sad reality that the Government have been prepared to allow Sinn Fein through the process without making one concession.

Mr. Mallon: I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. Will he answer this single question? What does he believe is more important: that the paramilitary groups decommission their weapons or that peace as we know it now continues? What is more important to him?

Mr. Robinson: I do not believe that there will ever be peace while the terrorists hold on to their weapons. That is not an option. The terrorists are holding on to their weapons and are using them even now. When they do not want to be seen to be using them, they give them to someone else who pulls the trigger for them. That is the reality of the situation.

The hon. Member for Newry and Armagh should not ask people to choose between two evils. [Interruption.] I think that holding on to guns is pretty evil--perhaps some of you do not think so. When you are prepared to put terrorists in the Government of Northern Ireland and when you are prepared to open prisons and you think that it is peace--

The First Deputy Chairman: Order. The hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson) knows the rules of the House: he should not use the word you.

Mr. Robinson: I apologise, Mr. Martin. I do not wish to associate you with any of the suggestions that I am

22 Apr 1998 : Column 926

making to Labour Members. They describe what they have bought into as a peace process, but they will not get peace--it does not come by way of a peace process. No peace will result from this agreement. The IRA is pocketing the concessions and, as Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness made clear at the weekend, this phase is over and a new phase begins. The IRA's goal is the same: it does not intend to change its methods. It will return to doing what Francie Molloy described as what it does best--and we all know exactly what that happens to be.

I see no peace in this peace process. I see plenty of process, and I know where that leads: to a united Ireland.

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The Committee divided: Ayes 10, Noes 174.

Division No. 253
[10.56 pm


AYES


Beggs, Roy
Forsythe, Clifford
Hunter, Andrew
McCartney, Robert (N Down)
Paisley, Rev Ian
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)

Tellers for the Ayes:


Mr. William Thompson and
Mr. Peter Robinson.


NOES


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Atherton, Ms Candy
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Mrs Jackie
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F
Berry, Roger
Blackman, Liz
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Burnett, John
Byers, Stephen
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Canavan, Dennis
Cann, Jamie
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chidgey, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clelland, David
Colman, Tony
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cummings, John
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davidson, Ian
Dawson, Hilton
Dismore, Andrew
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Gapes, Mike
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gorrie, Donald
Grant, Bernie
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hanson, David
Harvey, Nick
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hinchliffe, David
Home Robertson, John
Hoon, Geoffrey
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Ingram, Adam
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Linton, Martin
Livsey, Richard
Llwyd, Elfyn
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFall, John
McGrady, Eddie
McGuire, Mrs Anne
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallon, Seamus
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Maxton, John
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Paul (Torfaen)
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Olner, Bill
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Quinn, Lawrie
Raynsford, Nick
Rendel, David
Rooney, Terry
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Savidge, Malcolm
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stott, Roger
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
(Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Timms, Stephen
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Vaz, Keith
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Willis, Phil
Wills, Michael
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. Robert Ainsworth and
Janet Anderson.

Question accordingly negatived.

22 Apr 1998 : Column 927

Mr. William Ross: I beg to move amendment No. 12, in page 2, leave out lines 35 and 36.

The amendment would simply remove the two lines of clause 4(3)(b) which state:


Any person who sits in a legislature owes it a duty of service and loyalty, and I do not know how one can sit in the legislatures of two different nations, both of which claim the same piece of territory, and say that one owes loyalty to both. Therefore, the amendment is perfectly sensible and reasonable.

Perhaps the Government's policy is to cede authority over parts of the United Kingdom. If so, the Bill as printed is perfectly in keeping with that view. It is not my view, and I hope that the Government will show that they are serving Her Majesty properly by protecting the realm and all parts of it. I do not think that any anyone in this Parliament or in the New Northern Ireland Assembly, presumably with loyalty to the existence of Northern Ireland, can sit in another legislature that claims to remove part of the United Kingdom from the United Kingdom.

22 Apr 1998 : Column 928

We cannot serve two masters: we must serve one or the other. I have great pleasure in recommending the amendment.


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