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Mr. Dodds: I understand that that is the legal position, which is precisely the problem. That is why we have tabled the new clause. While we understand that three or more people must be involved in an attack for compensation to be payable, the difficulty is proving that three or more people were involved. We are talking about buildings that have clearly been destroyed for sectarian reasons and as part of a wider campaign, as has been happening for decades in Northern Ireland. It was for precisely that reason that the Government introduced an exception for agricultural premises in
17 May 2006 : Column 1058
section 4 of the 1997 order, to which the Minister referred. That accepted that, for certain types of premises, it would be difficult to provide proof.

My party’s suggestion is that the same criteria should apply in relation to halls—primarily Orange halls, but also to nationalist halls such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians and others—so that they are not crippled in that way and that local communities are not deprived of an extremely valuable resource, in many cases for years and sometimes for ever. All hon. Members recognise the valuable and important role that such parish halls play in our communities up and down the land, day in and day out.

Lembit Öpik: In that context, does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Minister’s position seems to step against normalisation, as he has created a double standard in relation to the burden of proof in some circumstances? I cannot see why the Minister is making such heavy weather of accepting a fairly common-sense proposal that provides proper and sensible protection in a way that cannot realistically be abused.

Mr. Dodds: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman and I hope that his additional words, even at this late stage, will cause the Minister to think again. This short debate has illustrated a fairly strong consensus on the issue. Most people see the proposal as fairly modest.It is in line with Government policy, the recent announcement of a package of measures and the recent announcement on derating. It accepts that there are anomalies for certain types of premises. The proposal simply ensures that local communities will not be deprived.

Finally, the Minister asked whether the owners of such halls, and the Orange Order in particular, could go to the insurers and talk to them. No doubt the Minister will be aware—some of his colleagues should be, as the Orange Order has made this clear to Ministers in talks—that this matter has been the subject of years of discussion and negotiation with insurers. The trouble is that those discussions are not getting anywhere. As a result, halls up and down the land either cannot get insurance any more or any insurance that is available to them is so exorbitant that it simply cannot be obtained.

For those reasons, and in view of the expressions of support in the House, I shall press the new clause to a Division.

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

The House divided: Ayes 199, Noes 271.
Division No. 243]
[4.24 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Baron, Mr. John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Bercow, John
Binley, Mr. Brian
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David

Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Donaldson, Mr. Jeffrey M.
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Durkan, Mark
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, Mr. John
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holmes, Paul
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Johnson, Mr. Boris
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Leech, Mr. John
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McCrea, Dr. William
McDonnell, Dr. Alasdair
McGrady, Mr. Eddie
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Paisley, rh Rev. Ian
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pugh, John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mr. Peter
Rogerson, Mr. Dan
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, David
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spink, Bob

Spring, Mr. Richard
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wishart, Pete
Wright, Jeremy
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Lady Hermon and
Mrs. Iris Robinson

Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brown, rh Mr. Gordon
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Chapman, Ben
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Davey, Mr. Edward
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hanson, Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harris, Mr. Tom
Healey, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hood, Mr. Jimmy
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
MacDougall, Mr. John
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFall, rh Mr. John
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
Olner, Mr. Bill
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prosser, Gwyn
Purnell, James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Short, rh Clare
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack

Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, Keith
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, Ms Rosie
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Tellers for the Noes:

Tony Cunningham and
Mr. Frank Roy
Question accordingly negatived.
17 May 2006 : Column 1059

17 May 2006 : Column 1060

17 May 2006 : Column 1061

17 May 2006 : Column 1062

New Clause 4

Anonymous Registration: Northern Ireland

‘After section 9 of the 1983 Act insert—

“9A Anonymous registration: Northern Ireland

(1) This section applies if an application for registration in a register of parliamentary electors of local government electors is made in accordance with the requirements for the purposes of section 10A(1)(a) below and is accompanied by—

(a) an application under this section made in accordance with prescribed requirements (an application for an anonymous entry),

(b) a declaration made in accordance with such requirements for the purposes of this section, and

(c) such evidence in support of the application for anonymous registration as may be prescribed.

(2) If the registration officer determines that the person is entitled to be registered, he must also determine whether the safety test is satisfied.

(3) If the registration officer determines that the safety test is satisfied—

(a) section 9(2) does not apply in relation to the person; and

(b) the person's entry in the register shall instead contain letters in the prescribed form and his electoral number.

(4) An entry containing the matters mentioned in subsection (3)(b) above is referred to in this Act as an anonymous entry.

(5) If an anonymous entry is made in respect of a person, the registration officer shall remove any other entry in the register for that person.

(6) If the registration officer does not determine that the safety test is satisfied, no entry is to be made in respect of him in the register (whether an anonymous entry or otherwise).

(7) Subsection (6) above does not affect—

(a) any other entry in the register for the person;

(b) the determination of any further application for registration which is made by the person (including an application which is treated as having been made by him by virtue of section 10A(2) below).

(8) Any communication sent by a registration officer or the returning officer for any election to a person who has an anonymous entry (A) must be sent in an envelope or other form of covering so as not to disclose to any other person that A has an anonymous entry.

(9) The safety test is satisfied if the safety of the applicant for an anonymous entry or that of any other person of the same household would be at risk if the register contains the name of the applicant or his qualifying address.

17 May 2006 : Column 1063

(10) In this section, “determines” means determines in accordance with regulation.

9B Removal of anonymous entry: Northern Ireland

(1) If a person has an anonymous entry in a register, his entitlement to remain in pursuance of the application for registration mentioned in section 9A(1) terminates—

(a) at the end of the period of 12 months beginning with the date when the entry in the register first takes effect, or

(b) if the declaration made for the purposes of section 9A is at the time when the declaration is cancelled.

(2) Subsection (1) above does not affect the application of any other provision of this Act or of the Representation of the People Act 1985 which has the effect that the person's entitlement to registration terminates before the expiry of the 12 month period mentioned in subsection (1) or before the cancellation of the declaration made for the purposes of section 9A.

(3) If a person's entitlement to remain registered terminates by virtue of subsection (1) above, the registration officer concerned shall remove his entry from the register, unless he is entitled to remain registered with an anonymous entry in pursuance of a further application for registration accompanied by a further application under section 9A.”.'.— [Mr. Alan Reid.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Alan Reid: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments:

No. 17, in clause 3, page 2, line 29, leave out subsection (b) and insert—

‘(b) the year 2015;

(c) every tenth year following 2015;'.

No. 18, in page 3, line 2, leave out ‘2010' andinsert ‘2015'.

No. 19, in page 3, line 3, leave out ‘2010' andinsert ‘2015'.

No. 20, in page 3, line 4, leave out paragraph (c).

Mr. Reid: New clause 4 replicates the provisions of section 10 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006, which introduces anonymous registration provisions in Great Britain but does not extend to Northern Ireland. However, the principal justifications for anonymous registration in Great Britain apply equally well in Northern Ireland.

In Great Britain, people who fear that their security, or that of their families, will be put at risk if their names appear on the register are allowed to apply to register anonymously. Given that the principles behind anonymous registration were debated at length in Committee, where there was widespread support for introducing it in Northern Ireland, I shall not repeat all the arguments today.

We have tabled the new clause to elicit from the Minister an explanation of why the Government treat Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK. The Government do not intend to use the Bill to introduce anonymous registration in Northern Ireland, but instead will do so means of an Order in Council. As a result, people there will not be able to take advantage of anonymous registration until much later than their counterparts in Great Britain. I hope that the Minister will answer a few questions about that.

17 May 2006 : Column 1064

Will there be a consultation in Northern Ireland before the Government introduce the secondary legislation here? Secondary legislation cannot be debated and amended by this House, so consultation is even more important than with primary legislation.

Do the Government have a proposed timetable for implementation of the provision? When do they intend to bring the Order in Council before the House? Will it be in place before the annual canvass planned for next year? That is important because, if it is not in place then, people who might want to register anonymously will be forced to make a choice. If they decide not to register, they will give up their right to vote, but if they remain fully on the register, they could put themselves or their families at risk. The next canvass is not due until 2010, but it could be as late as 2016 if the Secretary of State uses his power of veto.

Lembit Öpik: The Minister is likely to stand up and give the reasons why the Government are not willing to accept this common sense proposal, and we have just had a vote on a matter in which he showed no interest at all. He did not take the DUP’s amendment at all seriously, but does my hon. Friend agree that the Minister would do a lot better if he showed some sympathy and empathy for what is being proposed?

Mr. Reid: I agree wholeheartedly. The Minister showed little sympathy for the earlier amendment. I hope that he will do better this time and at least answer my questions properly. People’s right to vote is a key element of a democratic society, but they are also entitled to exercise that right in complete security and in a way that does not put at risk their lives, or the lives of their families.

The right to anonymous registration has been introduced in the rest of the UK. I do not see why it should not be introduced in Northern Ireland, especially given the all-party support that the proposal received in Committee. I look forward to hearing the Minister answer my questions.

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