HC Deb 16 October 1969 vol 788 cc590-1
24. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the progress made in Ulster on implementing the proposals agreed on after his visit there in August.

31. Mr. Rose

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement on his most recent visit to Northern Ireland.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. James Callaghan)

I would refer my hon. Friends to the communiqué issued on 10th October, following my latest discussions with the Northern Ireland Government, and to the account that I gave to the House on 13th October.

Mr. Hamilton

Can my right hon. Friend make any worth-while comment on the progress being made in getting rid of the B specials and reorganising the police force? Has he in mind visiting Northern Ireland again in the not too distant future?

Mr. Callaghan

The reorganisation of the police force is proceeding together with the resumption of policing in some areas which have remained unpoliced for a number of months, and I understand that on Friday the R.U.C. will resume joint patrols with the Army both in the Bogside and the Falls Road areas of Belfast. It has been announced that the Joint Security Committee is already considering the reorganisation of the B specials and that a representative of the District Commandant of the Ulster Special Constabulary is being co-opted to the working party. That work will proceed as speedily as possible and legislation will be laid before the House. At the moment, I have no plans for returning to Ireland.

Captain Orr

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the best atmosphere in which the implementation of the general programme of reform can take place is an atmosphere of normality and that the news that the Royal Ulster Constabulary is to return to duty in the areas mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman is welcome and that any influence which he himself has exercised to that end is also welcome?

Mr. Callaghan

I am much obliged to the hon. and gallant Gentleman. These things must march in step and it is important that policing should be resumed in the Bogside just as it is important that the B specials should find their new rôle acceptable to them as well as to the whole of the people of Northern Ireland.