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Lord Molyneaux of Killead: My Lords, I have always taken the view that a rather more accurate description would be the "Irish Republic". I base my thinking on the wise words of a much respected former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the late Clem Attlee. When, after the Act had been passed in the Dail, he was confronted on the issue of what the international title should be, he said, "Call themselves what they like. They remain what they are". That was very wise guidance.

Lord Shutt of Greetland: My Lords, I rise to oppose this series of amendments. The advantage of a six-hour journey to your Lordships' House rather than one of fewer than three hours has meant that I have been able to read the entire Committee stage of the Bill. It is quite interesting that during the Committee stage the word "republic" was not used by any speaker. That begs another question as to where this series of amendments

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has come from. We all know that when we talk about Northern Ireland language is incredibly important. It is no less so in the South.

I have in my hand a copy of the constitution of Ireland. Article 5 states:


    "Ireland is a sovereign, independent, democratic state".

Nowhere between the pages of the document does the word "republic" appear. It seems to me that when other countries--other states--use English, whether as a first or second language, there is a certain courtesy in using the names of their states as they use them. I cannot believe--I have not looked this up--that in any double taxation agreements with the United States of America we refer to that country as the Republic of the United States of America. Therefore, looking at good accord with people nearby, we should stick to what they use. They use "Ireland" and in certain cases "the Government of Ireland".

Lord Laird: My Lords, I rise to support the amendments. Our problem is that the government of the Irish Republic always seek to have everything both ways. It is all very well saying in the constitution that they have a jurisdiction over the entire island of Ireland. As chairman of the Ulster Scots Agency, I talk to the people in Dublin about quotas for the Garda Siochana in the same way as the House approved the other day for the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Yet when I point out to them that, according to their definition--not my definition--20 per cent of the population of the island of Ireland are ethnic Ulster Scots and so we want 20 per cent representation on the Garda Siochana, we suddenly discover that when they refer to Ireland they are referring only to 26 counties; so it is then down to 2 per cent.

We need clarity and honesty on this matter. What we have is a government in the Irish Republic for whom words are cheap--words mean whatever you want them to mean. It is an Alice-in-Wonderland world. Therefore, I should like clarity and I support the amendments.

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): My Lords, the term "Ireland" is used correctly, is unambiguous and is in accordance with established practice. Since the conclusion of the British-Irish agreement in 1998 it has been the practice of both the British Government and Irish Government to refer to "Ireland" rather than "the Republic of Ireland" when the reference is in an international context. To accept the amendments would make the drafting of the Bill inconsistent with the practice of the Government in other legislation. Therefore, we oppose the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Cope, and the other amendments in the group.

3.15 p.m.

Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, before the noble and learned Lord sits down, how does he

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reconcile what has been said with the fact that new Article 2 of the constitution of the Republic of Ireland states:


    "It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish nation"?

Article 3 goes on to refer to the,


    "firm will of the Irish nation ... to unite all the people who share the territory of the island of Ireland",

and,


    "recognising that a united Ireland shall be brought about only by peaceful means with the consent of a majority of the people".

It seems to me that those phrases in themselves make it quite clear that the government in Dublin do not yet think that they represent the whole of Ireland. That is the point we are making. We are not raising any minor issue. It is an issue of whether we are talking about a part of a nation or a whole nation.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, with respect, there is no inconsistency between the extracts from the Irish constitution read out by the noble Baroness and the approach taken by the United Kingdom Government and, to avoid confusion, the Republic of Ireland Government that when in an international context "the Republic of Ireland" is referred to, it is referred to as "Ireland". That is the approach taken by both governments, including this Government, in legislation. It is right that that practice, having been adopted in legislation, should be continued; otherwise, there would be inconsistencies between this piece of legislation and other legislation. Whether that was the right or wrong course from the point of view of drafting is not quite the issue. From the point of view of a sensible approach to legislation, one should be consistent. I do not think that there is any inconsistency between that and the extracts from the constitution read by the noble Baroness.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, does he not agree that the real prize here is that, with the repeal of Articles 2 and 3, any constitutional claim by the Irish Government on Northern Ireland will pass; and as it passes so it ensures that the people of Northern Ireland have the right to continue to determine their own affairs? That is the prize at the end of the process. For those of us who claim to be Irish as well as British and hold passports from both countries, there is no conflict here. Following this debate, it is beholden on everyone to realise that you can love one country while refusing to hate another.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I quite agree with the sentiment of the noble Lord's remarks. I repeat, as I have done on every occasion and as everyone involved knows, the principle of consent remains enshrined in the relations between the countries.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, that it is some time since I looked at double taxation agreements or had to

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do so for any purpose. As far as I can recollect, those that involve what we know as America refer to it as the United States of America, which is a very precise description of part of that continent; just as "the Republic of Ireland" is a very precise description of part of that island. Therefore, the noble Lord's point is not effective in that respect. There is no double taxation agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and America--only with the United States of America or with other states on that continent.

I turn to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Alton. Articles 2 and 3 have not quite been repealed. They have been modified, as my noble friend Lady Park pointed out.

The Minister accused us of wishing to see inconsistency. I do not wish to see inconsistency. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Laird moved Amendment No. 1A:


    Page 1, line 9, at end insert--


("( ) At the end insert "is a Minister in the government or chairman or deputy chairman of a committee of the legislature, of any country or territory outside the United Kingdom; or"").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I regard this as an important amendment. I do not believe that one person should be permitted to sit here at Westminster and in another sovereign legislature, or in any one of our devolved parliaments or assemblies. The issue of the inevitable conflict of interest was elucidated in Committee in this House. However, the Government continue to listen with deaf ears.

If the Government, for reasons they still have not disclosed satisfactorily, cannot accept that a person should not be able to sit in two sovereign parliaments, does the Minister accept that a person who is in government in another nation, or is the chairman or deputy chairman of a committee of another national legislature, should not be able to sit at Westminster or in any of the devolved assemblies?

That is the purpose of this amendment; namely, to exclude a government Minister of another nation from sitting here at Westminster or in one of our devolved assemblies and to exclude a committee chairman or deputy chairman of another nation's legislature from sitting here at Westminster or in any of the other devolved assemblies.

Why should a Minister of another state be permitted to take a seat in this legislature of the United Kingdom? As has been pointed out before in this House, members of the legislature of the Republic of Ireland have not demanded this piece of legislation. Indeed, in Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, informed the House of this when he said that he "went to Ireland" and "contacted all" his,


    "friends in the Irish Parliament, in Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, the two major parties, and in the Democratic Left".

He asked,


    "whether any of them put forward the idea of serving in both parliaments".

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The noble Lord clearly stated that he did not receive a positive response. He continued:


    "The members of Fianna Fail to whom I spoke were very cagey about this. Those of Fine Gael were very annoyed about it. Those in the Democratic Left laughed".--[Official Report, 6/11/00; col. 1257.],

I always attach great weight to comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Fitt. In this case, from what he has said, it seems clear that there is no demand for this measure from parliamentarians in the Irish Republic. Furthermore, opposition to this Bill is the more probable opinion.

As I sure noble Lords are aware, the Ulster Unionist Party has been vocal in its vigorous opposition to this legislation. That opposition has not lessened. I am not aware of any support for the measure from the Democratic Unionist Party or from the SDLP. However, some party or group may have prompted the legislation; or, in the case of the party I have in mind, it may be more accurate to say that it has demanded this legislation.

I should like to ask the Minister: of all the political parties consulted about the measure, how many were in favour of the proposals that appear in this Bill? Would the Minister consider a party to be a consultee if, in fact, it was the originator of the Bill? If a party puts forward a proposal, will it still be consulted? If it is, would the proposal be acted upon in full? Perhaps Sinn Fein/IRA was not a consultee as regards the proposals, but rather was the genesis of the measure.

Perhaps I may remind the Government that the Belfast agreement was designed to remove the latent influence of Sinn Fein/IRA on government policy and to create complete transparency. Undoubtedly, with the agreement, Sinn Fein/IRA has a transparent influence and is accountable. However, this legislation serves to confirm what many unionists suspect; namely, that the latent influence of Sinn Fein/IRA still exists. Furthermore, that influence is sufficiently strong to dictate to the Government that it wishes to see a Bill passed through Parliament for its sole benefit. How do the Government intend to bring about the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons when they permit Sinn Fein/IRA to maintain its latent influence? One can suggest only that the Government do not wish to ignore the demands of people who retain a paramilitary capability.

I stated my opposition to this Bill at the outset of our deliberations. However, it would be at least less offensive, if not more acceptable, if it could be accepted that the Ministers of other national governments and the chairman or deputy chairman of other national legislatures should be barred not only from holding office in the government of the United Kingdom, but should also be barred from membership of the assemblies and parliaments of the United Kingdom. I beg to move.


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