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4.30 pm

It seems to me, and I have heard nothing to the contrary, that if the amended clause is to mean anything it must imply an extension of Government regulation to this area. Although I do not think that that is the profession's intention, the Law Society has expertly promoted support for an amendment along those lines.

I repeat what I said in Committee: I have read some supportive submissions and although I have yet to be convinced that the Law Society gave anybody detailed and adequate reasons as to why they should back the amendment, it has managed to raise that support. Consequently, I agreed to invite the Law Society to meet me to discuss the points for which it has gleaned support. I did so, and we had a constructive discussion on a number of matters, including my concern that there may be unintended regulatory consequences, which it would not welcome, from such a statutory provision.

The Law Society confirmed to me that it jealously guards self-regulation of the profession and thinks that important to its independence, which I understand and support. I also asked it to consider why it seeks to restrict the statutory provision to its members, as officers of the court, thereby excluding other officers of the court. Why are its members in a different position from other officers of the court? I am not saying that I convinced it, but I am

4 Mar 2002 : Column 36

pleased to report that I was persuasive enough for it to agree to reflect on those points and come back to me with responses.

I have yet to receive a response or any further representations from the Law Society, however, so my discussions with the amendment's principal promoter are not yet concluded. I remain to be convinced by its or any other arguments, so I ask that the amendment be withdrawn.

Mr. Blunt: The Minister has not advanced the position at all since we discussed the matter in Committee. He says that the Law Society of Northern Ireland agreed to reflect and that he may have convinced it, but that, I fear, simply reflects its politeness. Indeed, had I been in discussions with the Minister, I might well agree to reflect on his point of view so as not to leave him with a disagreeable impression.

The Law Society of Northern Ireland put its points with singular robustness and force. Its submission says:

For precisely the reasons to which the Minister and the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) alluded, I shall not get drawn into individual cases. The very example, the suggestions and the accusations that have been thrown around relate to previous discussion of individual cases. We all know what we are talking about.

The Minister alluded to unpredictable consequences—unintended regulatory consequences—but did not identify any. The Law Society places great value on the amendment and has managed to convince every single party in Northern Ireland that it is the right thing to do. The Bill is to assert the independence of the judiciary in the Northern Ireland situation and there appear to be no concrete reasons for rejecting the amendment.

Lady Hermon: I want to tease out the hon. Gentleman's difficulty with the clause as drafted. Is his concern that people will not get a fair trial?

Mr. Blunt: No. The central purpose of the amendment is to protect the independence of the legal profession. The hon. Lady's party colleagues, along with all the other members of the Assembly ad hoc Committee, agreed the following statement:

the review group—

4 Mar 2002 : Column 37

Indeed, the second recommendation of that Committee, supported unanimously, was:

The Minister has not even begun to make a case against that.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 152, Noes 275.

Division No. 175
[4.36 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Mrs Annette L
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, John
Cable, Dr Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Carmichael, Alistair
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Clifton–Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cotter, Brian
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Doughty, Sue
Duncan, Alan (Rutland & Melton)
Duncan Smith, Rt Hon Iain
Ewing, Annabelle
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London)
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fox, Dr Liam
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James
Grayling, Chris
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat–Amory, Rt Hon David
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mark
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Liddell–Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
McGrady, Eddie
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Mallon, Seamus
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paisley, Rev Ian
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prisk, Mark
Pugh, Dr John
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, David
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (Mid–Norfolk)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swire, Hugo
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Trend, Michael
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Whittingdale, John
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, David
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Willis, Phil
Wishart, Pete
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Dr. Julian Lewis and
Mr. Desmond Swayne.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Beggs, Roy
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brown, Rt Hon Nicholas
(Newcastle E & Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Burnside, David
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Rt Hon Charles
(Norwich S)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corston, Jean
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Field, Rt Hon Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Francis, Dr Hywel
Galloway, George
Gardiner, Barry
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Hermon, Lady
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, Rt Hon John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Irranca–Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead)
Jenkins, Brian
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Kelly, Ruth
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luke, Iain
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Martlew, Eric
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moran, Margaret
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Diana
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr Nick
Perham, Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simon, Siôn
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, Rt Hon John
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Rt Hon Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Ivor Caplin and
Mr. Ian Pearson.

Question accordingly negatived.

4 Mar 2002 : Column 40

Mrs. Theresa May (Maidenhead): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Last week, on 26 February, the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions made a statement in the House in which he led Members to believe that personnel problems in his Department had been resolved. I learned this afternoon that Ian Jones, head of press at that Department, had been suspended. Have you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, received any indication from the Secretary of State that he wishes to come to the House and make a further statement about this worrying development?

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