§ 11.34 a.m.
§ Mr. James Wellbeloved (Erith and Crayford)
Those hon. Members who were in the House at 10 o'clock last night will understand the circumstances in which I am speaking today. I started my speech a few minutes before 10 o'clock, and the debate was stopped on the Adjournment. In view of the serious issues which I know the House wishes to debate in connection with Ulster, it is not my intention to pursue the many points which I had in mind to raise on the Gracious Speech. However, there are one or two matters to which it is necessary for me to refer.
The Prime Minister and I share the honour and the privilege of representing constituencies within the same local authority boundary. Yesterday, the Prime Minister seemed disinclined to 202 answer many of the points which were put to him by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. Although the Prime Minister may hedge and fudge on many issues, he cannot hedge and fudge on those issues which affect him as the Member of Parliament for Bexley and on those problems which occur within the local authority area which both he and I represent.
Because of the gravity of the situation which we are all waiting to debate, I will not refer to the questions of housing and education. I shall return to those topics on future occasions. The Prime Minister must be aware that there are many thousands of citizens within the borough who are anxious to know what freedom of choice in housing and in education will mean to the people he and I represent. Will parents have freedom of choice within the Borough of Bexley to choose the school to which they wish to send their child? I hope that eventually we shall have a very clear statement from the Prime Minister on that matter.
It is clear from the Gracious Speech and from what the Prime Minister said yesterday that it is the Government's intention to implement the recommendations of the Boundary Commission. The Report of the Boundary Commission as it affects the London Borough of Bexley affects very marginally my own constituency but affects the right hon. Gentleman's constituency to a considerable degree. The right hon. Gentleman will know that there are rumours already circulating in the area, and have been for some considerable time, about what his position will be when the report is implemented and his constituency of Bexley is therefore adjusted and substantial parts of it go to another area.
During the General Election campaign the people of the parliamentary constituency of Bexley stood by the right hon. Gentleman. That was their democratic right. Will the right hon. Gentleman now stand by the people of the constituency of Bexley? This is an important issue. I have received correspondence expressing concern that this part of my borough may be deprived of the services of the Prime Minister because he may fly to a safer seat. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will share my wish to allay the anxieties of his constituents and 203 give reassurance to those members of his own local Conservative Association who worked their guts out to get him reelected.
I would willingly give way this moment to the Prime Minister so that he could tell the House and the people of Bexley that he intends to stay there after the Report of the Boundary Commission has been implemented. I give way to the right hon. Gentleman—or is he going to leave his constituents with doubt and anxiety in their hearts? [Laughter.] The House treats this as a laughing matter. I assure the House that in Bexley it is not a laughing matter. People worked and sacrificed so that the right hon. Gentleman can sit there. They are entitled to know that he does not intend to desert them. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell them? I take it by his silence that he is undecided whether he can give that pledge to those he represents. I am sure that the people of Bexley will note, they having so unwisely stood by the right hon. Gentlemen, that he is in doubt whether he will stand by them in the years ahead.
Having made that gentle point in my normal, non-controversial way, I will reserve to some future occasion all the other points which I wish to take up in relation to Conservative policy and particularly how it will affect the right hon. Gentleman's constituents and mine.
I believe from reading the Gracious Speech and from searching through the policy documents issued by the Conservative Party that we are entering upon a period in which the nation will be divided—divided in education, in housing, and in all the other great social issues. Far from creating a nation of progress and prosperity, the same sort of problems born of intolerance and injustice as now torment Northern Ireland could start to torment the rest of the United Kingdom, because the policy of hon. Members opposite is a policy of social injustice, a policy which will lead to intolerance, and a policy which will lead to a divided nation.
§ 11.39 a.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Reginald Maudling)
I am very glad that we should have this early opportunity of discussing the problems of the Home Office, particularly because 204 of the urgency of the Northern Ireland situation, to which I shall devote most of my remarks.
I would not pretend to the House that I had mastered in the course of a few days all the details of the manifold duties of the Home Office. When I was Colonial Secretary I remember having to take part in a debate within a few days of my assuming that office, and my predecessor at the Home Office was also speaking from the Opposition benches on that occasion. It is a difficult task so early after one has assumed office.
May I say two general things of a personal character about what seem to me to be the principles that I should follow in administering the Home Department. First, I believe that so many of the problems of the Home Office—crime, demonstrations, penal policy, prisons and so on—which are enormously important, are of a negative character. I wish the Home Office—and I know that my predecessor strove for this as well—to try to be positive and eradicate problems rather than cure them when they have taken place. Secondly, I want to get away from the phrase "law and order" and to use the phrase "freedom under the law". This problem is one which has concerned me all through my political career, from the very moment when I began, and it has always seemed to me that this is the fundamental problem. The purpose of order is freedom. Without order there cannot be freedom, and the reconciliation of those two elements in our society is the biggest task that we can have before us.
May I come straight away to the urgent problem of Northern Ireland and talk first about my visit, which, I am afraid, was very brief, but inevitably in order to return to this House I had to cut it short. I saw in the course of about 36 hours many people, including members of the Northern Ireland Government. Here I wish to pay a tribute to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland whom I met on that occasion for the first time and who impressed me immediately with his staunchness, steadfastness and sturdy determination to serve the people of his country. I saw also the politicians, the Members of Parliament at Stormont, people of all points of view, who put to me their own points of view with great frankness, though not with unanimity.
205 I also saw the trade unions. May I say how much I was impressed by the attitude of the trade unions and by the steps that they are taking to avoid sectarian disputes in their own field. I am very glad to hear that there is encouraging news at Harland and Wolff. I am sure that both the management and the trade unions deserve congratulating on the sturdy stand that they have taken in the matter.
I also had the privilege of meeting the leaders of the religious communities and hearing from them at first hand some very wise and human advice. The one impression that I gained was that of unanimity in their desire for a peaceful future. I met no one who did not want a peaceful future. I left with the conviction that there is a solution, and that there is politically the will to find a solution. We must keep hope alive. There is no reason why hope should die, but if it begins to flicker, then desperation will take its place. That is the nature of the challenge which we are facing in this Parliament.
What is the reason for this situation that is so difficult for Englishmen to understand? Why is it that decent people behave in some of the ways that we have seen recently? What is the fear that impels them?—for it is really fear in most cases that impels men to actions of violence of the kind that we have seen. Why is this happening when almost everyone in Northern Ireland desires peace? There are, I think, some who do not. There are some small groups certainly whose aim is anarchy, and there is plenty of evidence in recent events of an organised desire to disrupt the State by violent methods. Some of the examples, such as arson and shooting, and some of the developments, particularly in Belfast, were not a spontaneous eruption of popular feeling but a calculated attempt to do damage to the whole State. These small groups cannot succeed unless they can enlist the support of a wide range of the people generally.
I think the problem is: what is it that could possibly give fertile ground to the people who really want to use and develop violence? I think it is a mixture of factors—once again very hard for Englishmen to analyse, and a situation 206 which one should not analyse solely in terms of logic. If we talk in terms of logic alone, we get the wrong answer. We must try to understand the human emotions as well which underline the situation. Partly the situation arises from a feeling of grievance and discrimination in practical matters of everyday life. A part of it, too, surely arises from traditions of strife, sectarian and nationalistic, which have very deep roots in the history of Northern Ireland. It is this mixture with which we have to compete, and I think our policy in doing so must be twofold, as was the policy followed by my predecessor. I should like to pay a personal tribute to him for the efforts he made to deal with this dire problem, for the standing that he has in Northern Ireland and the sincerity of his efforts in this matter.
Our twofold policy must be, first, to see that grievances are dealt with, and secondly, to maintain impartially public order and freedom under the law. We must emphasise—and I do so with all the vehemence at my command—that force will not triumph, that the rule of law, and not the rule of the gun, will be maintained throughout every part of the country for which this House is responsible. The principles of fairness and justice will be established. Above all, we shall need patience coupled with determination and understanding supported by strength.
Our first necessity, I believe, is to support the authority of the Northern Ireland Government in their programme of reform. I attach the highest possible importance to this programme and to the continuing authority of the Government to follow it through. It is an ambitious, bold and far-reaching programme. It ranges from tackling the housing problem right the way through to the excellent Measure dealing with incitement to hatred. It covers a whole wide range of problems that must be dealt with. In my short visit to Northern Ireland I met no one who would deny that once this programme has been completed any grievances arising from discrimination in these matters would really have been dealt with. That is the importance that we attach—and which I believe my predecessor attached—to the fulfilment of this programme of reform. That is why 207 I repeat that we shall support this programme up to the hilt.
Secondly, economic progress. This, clearly, is absolutely essential. It was for this reason that we promptly accepted, and in full, the development programme which our predecessors had before them and handed on to us, which will be very expensive in terms of public expenditure but which we entirely agree was essential for the prosperity and, therefore, the long-term peace of Northern Ireland. But, of course, no economic assistance, no amount of money, can guarantee economic progress unless there is confidence, so that business can come to Northern Ireland and expand.
This brings us to the second part of our policy. The two must go together. With the reform programme must be the absolute determination to see that violence will not succeed. I must make it clear once again that we shall not flinch from any measures which may be needed for the maintenance of peace and the protection of life and limb. The troops will remain as long as they are needed in adequate force to do what is needed. There will be no change in the status of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom without the consent of Northern Ireland. Let there be no doubt whatsoever that this is the view of the Government, and I am convinced that it is the view of this entire House of Commons.
Much has been achieved in maintaining freedom under the law, but the difficulties, of course, are very large indeed. The difficulties facing the security forces immediately on the ground are enormous, as one can see. Here may I pay a tribute to the remarkable spirit and understanding of the troops who are over there at the moment and whom I visited in Belfast. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear] There is no army in the world that could begin to do the job that they are doing with the understanding that they show, the tolerance and good humour which they have in a situation which is obviously of the greatest difficulty. Of course, they have not solved all the problems, and there is criticism. I heard a lot about what the Army had done and had not done. But people must recognise the enormous difficulty of young soldiers arriving in a situation which is wholly unfamiliar to them, a situation of great human difficulty where short-term 208 decisions might cause serious consequences.
This is a very serious problem, and it is also a problem for the Royal Ulster Constabulary, to whom also I pay my tribute. It is a situation for them in many ways novel, involving the difficulties caused by people who throw stones and run away, the difficulties of being in an unfamiliar city in the dark where one cannot distinguish people. These are problems which the security forces are facing in a fine spirit, and it is our job to help them as much as we can.
More is still needed. I was glad to see the passage of the Bill in Stormont insisting on minimum sentences for offences in riots. This is wise, for I believe that there is a feeling on the part of both the Army and the police that often, when they have made arrests, at considerable danger to themselves, the penalties imposed by the courts have been pretty light. I think that there will be a considerable contribution to the morale of the security forces now they know that, when arrests are made and convictions are achieved, punishment will be severe.
There is need to improve even further the liaison between the police and the Army. Much has been done, and much is being done at the present moment. I discussed this with the G.O.C. and the Inspector-General; they know the need for it, and they are urgently determined to improve liaison and make absolutely clear what are the relative functions of the two arms, as it were, of the security forces at this time. This is an urgent task, and I know that it is being tackled.
Now, a purely practical problem. We must, if we can, provide better weapons, short of rifles, to deal with the problem of people who hurl boulders and rocks from a distance and then run away, being able to run faster than the troops encumbered by their weapons. This is a difficult problem. Obviously, no one wants it to be dealt with by the use of gunfire. If we can find some means short of gunfire to provide the security forces with the means of defending themselves and the public from this type of riotous behaviour, we shall make considerable progress. But let us be clear 209 on the use of firearms. Firearms will be used by the Army against people who use firearms themselves. This is right for the protection of the public, and the G.O.C. has made that quite clear.
On the other side of the matter, we must try to cut down on anything which may provoke violence. Here again, this is something which I find difficult to understand without a lifetime's familiarity with the scene in Ireland. It seems very difficult for an Englishman to understand why anyone should contemplate in these circumstances doing things which might give rise to violence. It is easy not to understand. It is easy to be impatient. But I am sure that we must not be impatient; we must aim at understanding.
Parades, for example, are part of the traditional life of Ireland. In each case, decisions must be taken on the advice of the security authorities in the light of all the circumstances and in the light of what may be the possible consequences of action one way or another. I attach special importance to the re-routing of marches. Progress has been made on rerouting, and I saw one example in Belfast myself. In discussions with those responsible for these marches, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland has made progress both in cutting down the number of marches and in getting their agreement that in the immediate future, which is what we are dealing with at the moment, marches will be re-routed in accordance with the requirements of the security authorities.
As I say, progress has been made, but more progress is still required, and I assure the House that I intend to give this my close and urgent personal attention.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
I welcome much of what the right hon. Gentleman has said about re-routing, but will he take into consideration also the question of dispersal points, so that there is not a clash of varying interests at the point of dispersal?
§ Mr. Maudling
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. It is partly a question of assembly, but dispersal also can create a real clash point. I have discussed this at length with the security authorities. They are well aware of the problem, and, 210 as I say, this is a matter to which I am giving my urgent personal attention.
I believe that in this way, with our combined programme of containing violence while allowing the reform programme to expand, we can make progress in Northern Ireland. I see no other way whatever in which progress can be made. Anyone who tries to divert us from this course must ponder deeply the likely consequences of his actions.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
The right hon. Gentleman has dealt with Belfast in some detail, and we followed closely many of the points which he made. Londonderry, however, is rather different in many respects. Has the right hon. Gentleman any observations to make about that, and as to the eventual control of that city, which will come under the nationalists when the reforms go through? Can he say whether this can be speeded up?
§ Mr. Maudling
I would rather not say anything explicit today about Londonderry, which, I agree, is a different problem. I was concentrating on Belfast because that is the most urgent, and the important date this year is 13th July, which I have very much in mind. But I am well aware of the different nature of the problem there.
I do not wish to take up too much of the time of the House, knowing that many hon. Members wish to speak, so I turn now to my second main subject, immigration, which, I understand, the Opposition wish me to discuss.
Here we have two clear principles. First, there must be no first-class and second-class citizens, and no discrimination. All who live in this country must be equal before the law, and all who live in this country should be equal in all social terms as well. Second, we believe that any further large-scale immigration will be bad for everyone here, including immigrants already among us. Whatever the statistics may say, the strain really arises, first, because of the concentration of immigrants in certain areas, and second, because of the speed with which this concentration has transformed the whole social nature of parts of our community. There are those two factors, the speed and the concentration.
How do we intend to act on these principles? I shall put the negative side 211 first, not because I think it more important but because it is more convenient to put it in that way. The measures which we propose will have no effect on those already here. They will continue to live as they do, with the same freedoms as they now enjoy, and entitled to bring their wives and young children here to live with them. We shall assist those who wish to be repatriated, but not in any way compel them to be repatriated. That is the first point.
For the future, we intend to make changes and introduce, as is said in the Gracious Speech, a Bill to give effect to the general policy of ensuring that there is no more permanent large-scale immigration. The intention is that for the future a Commonwealth citizen who wishes to come here to work will have to obtain a work permit for a particular job in a particular place. Permits will be granted only where local labour is not available, and for a maximum of 12 months in the first instance. Extensions of stay thereafter will be considered on merits and will be granted only if the applicant remains in the approved employment or obtains other approved employment.
There will be no right of permanent settlement here and, as with people outside the Commonwealth, applications for permanent settlement will be considered on merits at the end of four years in approved employment.
That is the change which we intend to make. At the same time, I stress, as my predecessor has often done, the need to improve community relations. We shall continue to—
§ Mr. Ivor Richard (Barons Court)
If the Home Secretary intends to put Commonwealth citizens in that alien category, is there to be any right for dependants to join the breadwinner who is working in this country?
§ Mr. Maudling
We have made absolutely clear that it is wrong to divide a man from his wife and young children—
§ Mr. Richard rose—
§ Mr. Maudling
We shall discuss these details when the Bill comes forward. I am setting out the principles underlying our proposal.
§ Mr. Richard
This is not a detail; it is a matter of fundamental principle. One of the great arguments which has taken place in the right hon. Gentleman's own party has turned on the right of dependants to join the breadwinner, the man with the voucher, the head of the family in this country. If a man comes to this country, under the right hon. Gentleman's new scheme will his dependants have a right to join him or will they not?
§ Mr. Maudling
Not as of right. They will be treated in just the same way as people coming to this country at present from America, Sweden and other places outside the Commonwealth. That is the position now.
At the same time, we will continue to stress the need to improve community relations, and we intend to continue the expanding urban programme. I would stress that the urban programme does not refer entirely to areas where there are many immigrants. It would be quite wrong and damaging to relations between communities if that special help to areas of special social need went only to areas where there are immigrants. It will go to areas where there is social need regardless of whether immigrants are there. It is important to make that clear, or there may be accusations of unfair discrimination against the non-immigrant part of the population.
There is a special problem of United Kingdom passport holders in East Africa, a problem of which the House is well aware. I do not think that any of us is happy about the situation, which arises from conflicting duties—duties to the passport holders themselves and to the community here, including the immigrants already here, in the light of the potential numbers involved. It was for these reasons that my predecessor introduced the policy of the limited quota, and I supported it and we supported it. We supported it with regret, but did so as it was the best policy in the general interests of all concerned.
There has been a problem recently arising from a certain number of people 213 jumping the queue, and we had to deal with a certain number of cases on an ad hoc basis. What we are doing is to tighten up by ensuring that people cannot come directly to this country in advance of their places in the queue under our arrangements with the people carrying them—the airlines. As to people coming indirectly through other countries in Europe, we have been able to reach agreement with pretty well all the Governments concerned. They will not permit people to jump the queue who do not have the right to enter this country. In this way we can handle the problem for the time being, but I intend to give special personal attention to this, and particularly to ways and means, if we can find them, of mitigating the pressures to which these passport holders may be subject in the countries in which they are living. It is the pressure there which is creating this problem.
I have dealt with the two main problems of Northern Ireland and immigration. There are many other problems I would like to talk about, such as boundaries and drugs. We intend to reintroduce the Bill on the misuse of drugs, which we thought was a good Measure. We may want to amend it in detail, but in principle we want to bring it forward.
There is the problem of prison accommodation because of the rapid rate at which people are being convicted, which is a tribute to the efficiency of the police forces. [Interruption.] It is a comment on the growth of crime in our society, but at the same time it is a comment on the efficiency of the police forces.
We have also to deal with the problems of penal policy and problems of demonstrations. But the overriding problems on which I have concentrated today are Northern Ireland and immigration, and particularly Northern Ireland, which to my mind is far the most important and far the most dangerous. Whatever rows we may have on many topics—and I am sure that we shall have them—the more we can present a united front on this problem, the better we shall serve our fellow men.
§ 12.3 p.m.
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)
This is a general debate, and no doubt some of my hon. Friends will want 214 to discuss other matters than those concentrated on so far.
I should like in general to make just three comments. First, I very much regret that we have had no reference in the Gracious Speech to the problems of the steel industry, which particularly affect South Wales and other areas. There was a general, half-baked comment in the Conservative manifesto about altering the structure of the steel industry, which has for the first time been reduced to a standard and sensible pattern of production. I very much regret the uncertainty the Conservative manifesto has cast the steel industry into. Certainly this is felt in South Wales where I suppose we are among the largest producers of steel in the country, but it is also felt in other areas. During the debate next week, if the Conservative Government have plans for the steel industry they should tell us at the earliest possible moment what they are, because the welfare and livelihood of many thousands of workers in Wales as well as Scotland and the North-East and North-West are affected by them.
The Government will be judged in the end by their own criteria of whether they cut prices and taxes. Those are the ambitions they have set for themselves. I have just listened to what the Home Secretary said about the need for additional expenditure on new prisons. I have no doubt that he will be fighting the Chancellor of the Exchequer for his allocation of additional expenditure to meet that problem. A great many other additional expenditures will fall to him when he introduces his new Commonwealth Immigrants Act. This will obviously require more civil servants, and we know that it is the policy of the Government to reduce the number of civil servants. It will require a great many other administrative officials too.
These are the early indications of the dilemmas that will face the Government once they try to reconcile their election pledges and promises with the reality of Government. It is not a novel development. The only difference is that this Government have given specific pledges on tax reductions and price reductions—[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]—Hon. Members opposite cheer now. They are ringing the bells now. They will be wringing their hands before very long. At least the Front Bench will, because 215 they will come up against the realities of the pressure of additional needs for resources in every field before any of the back-benchers do. It is they who will have to face these problems and gradually educate their supporters in the facts of life.
I turn to the immediate questions that the Home Secretary raised. I offer him my genuine congratulations on his assumption of that great office. The Home Office is very much what you make it. It is either a safety net for every problem that no one else wants to deal with or a dustbin—I will not say "waste paper basket"—and the Home Secretary can have very considerable influence on social legislation, the tone and temper of the nation.
I am satisfied that in the new Home Secretary we have a man who will carry on the great traditions of that office, and I am confident that he will endeavour to preserve freedom under the law, as he said. The right hon. Gentleman must understand that I heard him say that with a certain wry satisfaction. The phrase "law and order" was not invented by the Labour Government. It was invented at Selsdon, the famous conference which helped to win the election. I beg pardon; it was invented in the United States and taken over at Selsdon. It was a carbon copy of the American programme. The Home Secretary is a civilised man and I am sure that he has always believed in freedom under the law, but that is not what Conservative spokesmen were saying at the time. Remember the tone—all the asperities, how they would wipe the complacent smile off our faces on this matter of law and order, how we had neglected it. Hearing the right hon. Gentleman's speech this morning I thought it an encomium on the previous five years of the Labour Administration. But the law and order aspect of the Tory campaign has served its purpose. It has aroused the atavistic feelings of a great many people who never look beyond the headlines or the votes. But now, thank God, we have a Home Secretary who will revert to the traditional conception of freedom under the law.
It was extremely valuable to hear the right hon. Gentleman discuss the problems of Northern Ireland, because he 216 brings a new, fresh and acute mind to the problems that have to be faced there. I agree with his analysis that not only have there been real fears arising from discrimination against a section of the population. It is no use our dodging this issue. That has been a very real cause of the trouble. But as this discrimination is now being removed I equally agree with him that there are small, dark, evil forces at work, some of whom owe their allegiance to the I.R.A. while others owe their allegiance to extreme Protestant, so-called, bodies—both wearing their religion as no more than a badge—who are intent on ensuring that no civilised Government can be carried on and who are apparently ready to see innocent homes destroyed in the pursuance of those dark and evil objectives.
I was glad to hear the Home Secretary say what he did say about these matters, because I agree that once these discriminations have been brought to an end, there is no case for shooting and no case for petrol bombing, and perhaps there never was; certainly the excuse for it will have been removed once these conditions and these reforms have been put into operation. I very much welcome what the right hon. Gentleman and the Prime Minister said about the high importance which they attach to the fulfilment of the programme.
The first test—and I note and accept his words—which we should wish to apply in the early months will be the early establishment of the central housing authority, so that there may be no further allegations of discrimination in the allocation of houses. It was never universal; there was an element of discrimination. If there is now, as there must be—and I regard this as a test case—a central housing authority made up of a mixed commission of Protestants and Catholics who will be responsible for the building and allocation of houses, that will go a long way to remove both legitimate grievances and the grounds of those who wish to batten on those grievances for other purposes.
Secondly, I attach great importance to the reform of local government. The Northern Ireland Government must clearly be given some time to look at the Macrory Report which was published only in the last few days, but it has been considering these matters for some 217 months, if not years—and it is fair to say years—and there is no reason why it should not reach early conclusions on this. However, I do not want to be unreasonable about it. I regard this as a test case of its desire to carry the reforms into action.
The third is the responsibility of the Westminster Government. It is to provide sufficient resources to enable the development programme to be carried out. I am very glad that the new Government have accepted the development programme in its entirety. I do not think that it is the last word. I had and have reservations about it and about its form, but it was agreed by the Ulster Government. It met with considerable assent from the consultants and elsewhere and therefore I did not feel that it was right for me to stand in the way of its early implementation and acceptance, but there are aspects of it—and I say so straight away—about which I have substantial reservations and to which I want to come back and, more important, I hope that the Home Secretary will want to reconsider the form of this plan.
Its basic requirement is to provide jobs for people in Northern Ireland. Satan certainly finds mischief for idle hands to do, and many of the hands throwing rocks and bricks, if in full employment and if they had had a job, might have been employed in other things. I regard this as a very important aspect of our approach in this House.
Let it be clearly understood in Northern Ireland that this is a considerable charge on the British tax payer, that the funds to meet this programme will be basically raised here and that there is in Northern Ireland, as of course there is in the other regions, a great element of Government subsidy and assistance. This should be fully understood by anybody in Northern Ireland who believes that there is any possibility of going it alone.
It is for this reason among many others that Westminster has the right to insist upon certain standards being followed in Northern Ireland. I have never departed from that view and I know that it has been accepted by all responsible people in Northern Ireland itself. The Home Secretary referred to the position in Harland and Wolff. I, too, 218 have had messages this morning from the trade unions involved there, and I am told by them that there is a marked improvement in the situation. They have been able to get a full resumption of work. All men have gone back this morning and so far there have been no incidents. The work which was put in by the trade unionists and backed by the management is a lesson in good sense to everybody in Northern Ireland and I hope that the situation that they have been able to establish from this morning will continue.
I should also like—and this must sound like a carbon copy of the Home Secretary's speech, but I have been listening to carbon copies of my speeches for the last two years and I was grateful for it when I was Home Secretary and I shall do nothing to hinder the right hon. Gentleman's efforts—to make it clear that it will not be the policy of the Opposition to support one side against another. The job of the Opposition is to stand for certain principles and they should be universally effective and applied.
We have a particular difficulty and I will state it with such sensitivity as I can muster. It is that the right hon. Gentleman is supported by the Ulster Unionists, and they fight a party battle in Northern Ireland. It may be a little muted when it gets here, but the Ulster Unionists sit on the Conservative benches and accept the Conservative Whip and can become officers in the Conservative Party. I do not complain about this—I think that historically it is inevitable—but the right hon. Gentleman will understand that it makes for certain difficulties.
If hon. Members on this side of the House feel that it is their job, when the Ulster Unionists are so heavily represented in Government circles, to have a greater responsibility to the minority which is not so adequately represented, this, too, must be understood. Nevertheless, it would be a tragic misfortune if we were to get into the position in which one party seemed to be supporting the Protestants and another party the Catholics. This would be something which would worsen the situation in Northern Ireland, and the Labour Party does not intend to get into that position. We shall try to approach this from the view of how far—and I know that the 219 Government are quite sincere in their intentions—the standards in Northern Ireland approximate to standards in this country; how far discrimination, historically deep and divisive as it has been in Northern Ireland, is being rooted out; how far the Government are attempting to ensure that all citizens, no matter what their background or religion, have the same opportunities. This is the only approach that can lead to some peace in Northern Ireland.
This will be a difficult path. This problem will be with us during the lifetime of this Parliament. In an odd way, I welcome some of those—I welcome all of those—who have been returned from Northern Ireland to this House, because I believe that they will add an air of reality to our debates. Some of them, indeed, may show the House the deep extent of the divisions which exist in that country. It may be that we seem here to debate in an academic atmosphere, but there, as the Home Secretary will have seen, one is down to the naked reality of power politics where the gunman is a reality and not a shadow.
If the new Members who have come here point this out to us and show us this, they will do us a service. But they must understand, too, these new Members who come here in this way, whoever they are, that as long as Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, we shall insist that the same standards shall apply everywhere, that there shall not be a prerogative of one-party government, which has had a most deadening impact in Northern Ireland on the police, on the Civil Service and on the whole administration, that, because we are faced with a permanent one-party system, that shall not be allowed to deter us from insisting upon the standards which we know to be right.
The border is at this moment not in issue. I say "at this moment" deliberately. It will not be in issue until the people of Northern Ireland themselves—and by that I do not mean the minority; I mean the majority of people in Northern Ireland—want to call it into question, and I do not think that that will be for a very long time.
But one of the objectives of policy must be an improvement of relations between the Governments of the North and 220 the Republic. There can be no doubt about that. It is not in the interests of the Government of the Republic that gunman should be operating north of the border. It is certainly not in its interests, because the gunmen are the friends of neither the people of the South nor the people of the North.
If the new Members who have come here can add a sense of realism to our debates, they will have contributed something to our debates and it may be that we shall be able to contribute something to the solution of their problems. That, at least, is the manner in which the Opposition will approach the problems in Northern Ireland over the next few years during which we shall have to suffer the misfortune of a Conservative Government.
I pay my tribute to the work of the troops on all hands. I am told that it has been of the highest quality. This House should also not forget to express its sympathies to the families of those who have been shot in the most recent troubles. They are mostly Protestants but there are also Catholics among them. At any rate they are all dead, and their families mourn them because they are all human beings. Once we remember this then we start to have not only the logic that the right hon. Gentleman so rightly said was necessary but also the understanding and sympathy necessary in such a situation.
A final word about the parades. Everything is discussed in relation to these parades on the basis of whether they should be banned. Ban the marches, ban the parades, it is said. Why do we have to ban them? The people of Northern Ireland are, I hope, adult enough, sensible enough, and wise enough to know whether these marches will contribute to the peace and security of the ordinary people in that country. I have said this privately to the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr). He is the Worshipful Master of the Grand Order of Orange Lodges. Has he considered whether he ought not to call the senior officers of the lodges together, not so that the Home Secretary should ban the marches, but so that they should seriously consider how they propose to conduct themselves during this next serious fortnight?
221 I am not talking about banning. I am making an appeal to them, because I believe that this is the best way that these things work, that they should come together. I invite him to call them together and to say seriously whether they believe it to be in the best interests of good government and in the interests of the security of the ordinary people that they should march on 13th July. If they feel that they must have a demonstration to celebrate this 300-year-old victory over their neighbours and fellow citizens, can they not do it in some other way? Must it necessarily be a march of this sort?
I make this appeal to him. Let the hon. and gallant Gentleman see if he could not get them together. He may fail but no one will think any the worse of him if he does. At least let him try. If, however, this does fail, then I entirely agree with the Home Secretary—and the hon. and gallant Gentleman must convey this to his followers—that it will be the responsibility of Stormont Government, the security forces and the Home Secretary to see that the routes are specifically prescribed and that they do not march through areas where they could provoke antagonism, either before, during or after. If the security forces thought that they ought to be called off I hope that the House will back the security forces in taking that decision no matter what the consequences might be.
In the first place I should like to see it tried this way and I hope that the effort will be made. What seems clear is that these marches will certainly not help our forces in the discharge of their responsibilities over the next fortnight. I hope that serious consideration will be given to the point that I have made.
I have another suggestion to put to the Home Secretary in a helpful way. If, alas, wisdom does not prevail and these marches go on there is something to be said for a small party of observers from this House. We get a number of partial reports of what takes place—I am not looking for the opportunity of going there this weekend, I promise the right hon. Gentleman—but there could be a case for saying that a group of Members should attend, drawn from both sides of the House, with no particular position or responsibility in this matter. They could go there and see for themselves 222 the way in which the marches, if they come off, are conducted and the way in which the security forces conduct themselves. Whether anyone likes it or not, this House will be increasingly concerned with the affairs of that country. The problems will remain with us and it is important that we should try to be as well informed as possible.
§ Mr. Heffer
Would it not be a good idea if an all-party committee went officially from this House to look at the position?
§ Mr. Callaghan
I should be very happy to look at anything, although I have no longer any responsibility. I had not thought of that. No doubt the Home Secretary could take it into account. I was just the wall off which the ball bounced to hit the right hon. Gentleman and no doubt he will want to think about it.
A year ago people were throwing petrol bombs at the police. We have made tremendous advances in the last 12 months. I must say a word about the proposal to reconstitute a militia. I know not what truth there is in it. The Prime Minister said yesterday that the right hon. Gentleman had not been consulted when he was in Northern Ireland. The House will agree that to attempt to reconstitute a people's militia that looks like the old "B" Specials would arouse the worst possible consequences and would be a very bad beginning for the Conservative Party. I cannot believe that this is in the minds either of the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland or the Home Secretary, but I hope that someone at the end of the debate will make clear that this is the position. This suggestion would place the heaviest, perhaps an intolerable, strain upon the approach that I am trying to make to these problems, if we were to go back on the communiqué of last August.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am glad to have that from the brother of the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, but perhaps I had better have it from a responsible Minister in this Government too.
A year ago petrol bombers were attacking the police. Now it is Catholics attacking Protestants and vice versa. There is no way to deal with this unless 223 these are regarded as crimes and unless those who throw the petrol bombs are regarded as criminals. This is not a war. It is certainly not, despite the rather unwise words from the Grand Master of the Orange Order, even a civil war. These are and should be, and in my view the best hope is for them to be regarded as, criminal acts and as such those who commit them should be arrested and, if guilty, punished. This is the only way in which we can treat the situation.
A word now about immigration. We have discussed Conservative proposals before and I was sorry to hear such a thin statement this morning. There are some questions I should like to ask about it, because the Government have been thinking about this for a very long time. On 11th November last the Minister of State—
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Mark Carlisle)
§ Mr. Callaghan
Very well then, the Under-Secretary. No doubt he will rise if the Administration lasts long enough. I should like to congratulate both him and the Minister of State. There is a good team at the Home Office. He raised this question on 11th November and went into rather more detail than we have had today. I do not know why we have not had more details unless it is that the Home Office has been getting to work on them and they are beginning to see some of the difficulties about the proposals they are bringing forward. However, time will tell, when we see the Bill.
Let us take the propositions we heard this morning. There is to be an initial period of 12 months, then it may or may not be renewed, as I understand it. The first question which arises is, are we to have a turnover of labour every 12 months or every two years, with one group moving off and another moving in? If so, how will that help the immigrants and, just as important, how will it help the industrialists who employ them if they have to retrain a new batch every 12 months?
These people tend to come to the same jobs and they come here because they are wanted. Many are professional men such as doctors and we have not 224 been told whether this will apply to them. Others are those who do jobs that British workers are reluctant to do, for example, in foundries, at rates of pay I often think that the trade unions ought perhaps to interest themselves in a little more fully. I ask the question on purely practical grounds. If we are to have a turnover of labour every 12 months, will this help industry? It is worth an answer.
Secondly, does this mean that there will be more workers coming in, the same number or fewer? It can hardly be fewer, despite all the propaganda. The number of workers who enter this country every year is a little over 4,000. Are they to be assimilated into the same category as the foreign workers? I do not know whether the Government back benchers know this, but about 23,000 foreign workers come here every year for an initial period of 12 months or two years. Is the object of the policy to increase the number of Commonwealth workers coming here? Is the number to go up from 4,000 to 23,000? I take it that that is not the objective, because we are told that there is to be no large permanent immigration. If that is not the objective, is it proposed to maintain the same level? Will the number be 4,000? If so, what is the point of the exercise? What is it about? What is it all for?
§ Mr. Callaghan
If the cavemen, or lions, are to be satisfied by thin gruel of this sort, they will not be much good as lions or cavemen. This is a bit of persiflage, a bit of camouflage.
§ Mr. Callaghan
My hon. Friend is always so much more felicitous than I am in finding the appropriate word for the occasion.
I hope that the Home Secretary will think up some answers to these points before we get the Bill. Although we have been very kind to him this morning, I promise him that he will not get away with such thin and weak stuff as this when we discuss major matters in future. He knows that he will not increase the number of workers coming 225 into this country. He will keep the number at about 4,000, of whom at least 1,500, perhaps even a couple of thousand, are doctors. But he will introduce a huge administrative apparatus by which we shall have people coming into this country—[Interruption.] It will be a substantial apparatus. They will have to come to a particular job. That means that somebody will have to check to ensure that they are in that job. As a result, we shall get a semi-serfdom. These people will not be able to leave for fear of being deported. Employers will be given a hold over them which no employer has over any other worker in this country.
Alternatively, if they leave their jobs and move to others, the fact must be recorded and approved. Presumably the police will have to follow up the matter. If I am wrong, I shall be delighted to hear the answers, but I have not heard any yet. I asked this question last November and I received no answers from the Under-Secretary at that time.
What will happen at the end of 12 months? How will the Home Secretary ensure that he gets these people away on the boats and into the aircraft? What will the procedure be? Will a policeman knock on No. 17, Ascog Street and say, "Has Mr. Saleh gone home?". If he is told, "No. As a matter of fact, he has gone for a fortnight's holiday to Barry", will he in a fortnight's time, in carrying out these processes of law and order, solemnly go back to 17, Ascog Street and see whether he has gone home? What a lot of nonsense.
I warn the Home Secretary of the consequences. There will be the most widespread evasion that he has seen in his life, unless he gives an identity card to all the coloured people in this country to ensure that he can trace them and that people leave these islands on the day that they were supposed to have left 12 months after they came in. This is absolute rubbish. We shall see what happens when the Bill is presented, but I am willing to bet my 25 years' experience in the House that the situation will be very different from what hon. Members opposite expected it to be when they were espousing these problems and telling the country in their election addresses what they would do.
226 We shall have an interesting time. The Home Secretary has too much common sense to be taken in for too long by his party's propaganda. I dare say that we shall get back to the sensible and traditional powers which have been followed in this country in relation to people coming here and living here and the problem of maintaining freedom and keeping the balance between that and law and order. As long as the right hon. Gentleman remains in his office, I shall have every confidence in him. My only regret is that I shall never know, despite the polls, how many votes the Conservative Party won on its false prospectus on these issues.
§ 12.35 p.m.
§ The Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)
Mr. Speaker, when I came into this House on Monday last and heard you elected to your high office, you said:At the heart of all the tensions that exist, rightly, between free citizens and which rightly divide them, we meet to resolve those tensions by free and fair debate, respecting not only one's own right to hold an opinion but equally the right of the other man to hold diametrically opposed opinions and to express them equally freely …. And at the heart of that heart sits a neutral chairman, favouring neither side, except for his sworn duty to protect minorities".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th June, 1970; Vol. 803, c. 7–8.]The views which I shall be putting to this honourable House from time to time will be the views of a minority, and probably views which have never been expressed in this House before, concerning the situation in my homeland of Northern Ireland. I take your words, Mr. Speaker, as a charter for my individual right and freedom to express those sentiments.
There is another great principle which I believe lies at the very heart of democracy. It can be set forth in a question: Does our law judge a man before it heareth him? I am extremely happy that I am able to answer both for the people I represent and for myself in this House today.
I should like to make it perfectly clear that, although I sit on the Government back benches, I came to this House having smashed the 23,000 majority of a sitting Unionist Member of this House. Therefore, I am expressing the viewpoint of those Protestants who are against the present policies of the Ulster Unionist 227 Party, and I shall from time to time take the opportunity of putting as forthrightly as I can the views of the people who have sent me here to speak for them.
I have just come from Northern Ireland and from those very areas which suffered through the disturbances of last weekend. I have also come from another place where there has been a long and protracted debate on these matters and where contributions were made by every politician in that place concerning these very serious and tragic happenings. What is more, the main substance of the facts of the situation as I know them and as I would put them in this speech can be confirmed by the Army authorities in Northern Ireland. I use the phrase "main substance of the facts" deliberately, for it is a tragedy that when gunfire was being heard in the streets of the City of Belfast, and when people were being mown down by that gunfire, no personnel of the British Army were available to give the people who were being slaughtered any protection whatsoever. The police authorities who were there can confirm the facts of which the Army was not cognisant.
I noticed that yesterday the Leader of the Opposition mentioned that a solemn promise was given to people in every section of the community in Northern Ireland, irrespective of their political views and religious beliefs, that they were entitled to the same equality of treatment. It is a tragedy that the Protestant people of East Belfast should have to suffer gunfire in the early hours of last Lord's Day morning and that for two hours they were given no protection whatsoever. When I describe the scene which took place it will be clear to hon. Members—and if they want to confirm it they can do so with the Government of Northern Ireland—that no troops were available to give the necessary defence to these people who were being attacked.
What is meant by freedom under the law? It needs to be made perfectly clear to all citizens of Northern Ireland what that really means. Does it mean that there is freedom to throw stones, to use petrol bombs and to use guns, and to know that the more stones you throw, the more petrol bombs you use, the more 228 people are slaughtered, the more you will be heeded and hearkened to and the more the concessions which you want will be given to you? It is this pernicious principle which has bedevilled the scene in Northern Ireland. There are people who think that the more they agitate and the more they march and cause confusion, riot and anarchy, the more they will get from the Government of Northern Ireland and from the Government here in Westminster.
I will tell hon. Members of the type of speech which sets out the point which I am making. I refer to a speech made by the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) reported on 22nd July two years ago. It sets the pattern for the Northern Ireland theme.
It was reported that the hon. Member for Belfast, West said thatnothing could be gained from speeches at Stormont and Westminster. The time for action had arrived. By changing the situation in Derry, change would follow not only in the North but in the rest of Ireland as well." Mr. Fitt declared that it was not possible to get reform by constitutional methods. "People in Derry and all over Northern Ireland who are victims of this system will have to end these wrongs by any means at their disposal. I may not have a great deal of time to stay on the political scene in Northern Ireland," Mr. Fitt continued. "If constitutional methods do not bring social justice, if they do not bring democracy to Northern Ireland, then I am quite prepared to go outside constitutional methods".It is in going outside constitutional methods that the scene at the weekend has been enacted.
Three points have been made concerning the reasons for the outrages at the weekend. One is the imprisonment of the hon. Lady the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin). The second is the Orange processions—should they go on and should they be continued? The third is the particular procession which took place on Saturday of last week. I will first apply myself to the first of those reasons.
If any Members, no matter what their privileges may be in the community, set themselves out on a career of attack on the forces of the Crown, then, when they are apprehended, brought before the courts, tried and found guilty, no matter who they are, they must bear the full rigour of the law.
Here I take issue with the members of the official Unionist Party: for too long 229 the citizens of Northern Ireland have been brought to the courts not as citizens of Northern Ireland but in regard to their particular political affiliations and their relationships to the controlling Unionist Party. It is not only Roman Catholics who have felt aggrieved concerning injustice in Northern Ireland but also many Protestant people who refused to go by the dictates of the Unionist Party and who set themselves up in opposition, constitutionally, against the Unionist Party. These people, too, have suffered from the same thing. I need not remind this House, for this House very well knows, that twice I have been behind prison bars. When I listened to what was said by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland at the Dispatch Box the other evening I felt that it would not be very long before I, too, would be back behind prison bars.
The time has clearly come when every citizen in Northern Ireland, whether he be an Orangeman or a Hibernian, a Jew or a Hindu, or anyone else, should know that before the law he stands not as a person with certain religious affiliations or political affiliations but as a citizen of the country. No matter what his faith may be or his pedigree may be, no matter what the blood that flows in his veins may be, he should be treated equally in the eyes of the law. I have been in court cases in Northern Ireland in which certain citizens were summoned to appear as witnesses and in which the magistrates refused to allow them to come because those people who had been summoned had special privileges in the Unionist Party. Those things ought not to be.
I should like to make it clear to the House that, no matter what the Press may say and no matter what image may be painted of me, in my constituency both Roman Catholics and Protestants receive equal treatment from me as a Member of Parliament. It is because of this that the Unionist Party fear the Protestant Unionists more than they fear anyone else at the present time in the Province.
It is the duty—I need not tell hon. Members—of every Member of Parliament to treat all his constituents equally. That is something which the Unionist Party dread, for they would dread it if the Roman Catholics of the Province in a marginal constituency found out that a representative such as myself would give 230 them the equal treatment which they ought to receive. I make this clear not only here today but also in the constituency.
I want to talk about the imprisonment of the hon. Lady the Member for Mid-Ulster. If the law had been kept in the way in which it has been kept at other times, the hon. Lady would never have left the court. Her bail was up and it was a wrong move to give her the privilege even to leave the court where she had been sentenced. Other persons who have been sentenced in a court of law have been held there, some of them for six hours.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I hesitate to do what is most unusual—to interrupt a maiden speaker. But it is not in order to criticise by implication the special magistrates—unless by putting a Motion on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. Paisley
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If anything in my remarks tended to criticise the decision of the magistrates, I make it clear that that was not the intention which I was seeking. I was seeking to criticise the police authorities, who should have held the prisoner in the court, as they have others, until the warrant arrived for arrest. But I will leave that aspect.
The second aspect is that of processions. Both the Home Secretary and the former Home Secretary talked of the rerouting of processions. Let me say that the Orangemen who marched last Saturday accepted every ruling and re-routing required of them, and every proposal made by the Security Committee, by the Army authorities and by the police authorities. All those rulings were accepted, and the parade marched in a roadway agreed by the security forces. Let it not be said that these men refused to accept the rulings of the authorities.
So this was a legally constituted parade, but at Mayo Street, where it comes out to Springfield Road, for two hours before that parade reached the mouth of that road, preparations were being made to attack it. I must criticise here today, on behalf of those who suffered as the result of that attack, the Army authorities for not taking the necessary steps to ensure that stones, and potatoes in which were 231 inserted razor blades, were not gathered for an attack upon that parade. When that parade was at the mouth of Mayo Street it was savagely attacked, and the Army personnel there stood with their backs to those who assaulted the parade, and facing the Orangemen as they marched, and eventually they released tear smoke at those who were marching, many of whom were injured as a result of the release of the tear smoke upon them.
These are the facts. These facts have been put in another place and have been admitted by the Government in another place.
It has been said that this procession sparked off the trouble in the City of Belfast. Anyone knowing the geography of the City of Belfast will know that Springfield Road and the Whiterock Orange Hall are many miles away from the centre of the city. In the centre of the city there was a carefully connived scheme to cause explosions and burnings, and many of the large stores in the centre of the city, including Burton's, Woolworth's and Trueform, were set on fire, and this was going on at a time when the procession was not anywhere near the vicinity, where, within those buildings, the people were carrying on their legitimate occupations.
Let me say today that in East Belfast there was a very serious riot, as everyone is now aware. This happened because a tricolour was brought out of Seaforde Street and used to provoke the Protestants on the other side of the road, which happens to be the Protestant side of the road. When the people on the other side moved towards this tricolour, gunfire came from Seaforde Street, and many of the people were shot. At the same time two policemen were fired on further up the road as they attempted to control the crowd of people coming down to join in the fray, and, almost at the same time, from the Roman Catholic chapel on that road there came a burst of gunfire and it was as a result of this gunfire that almost 30 people were injured, and as a result of this gunfire a very serious situation arose on that road.
People came to my home on a deputation, and they said, "What can we do? The Army are not there. The 232 police have had to withdraw." Because the police are a civilian force now there they must be withdrawn when there is gunfire. I got in touch with the Prime Minister's secretary, and after listening to me he told me to get in touch with the British Army authorities, and after I got in touch with them they said they were sorry but the lines of communication were so far stretched they were not able to give protection to those people who were under gunfire at that particular time. The facts of this are already available to the Home Secretary if he will make himself available to the Government of Northern Ireland—these facts as I put them here today.
So here we have a situation in which the citizens of Northern Ireland—and it does not matter what religion they may belong to—should be given equal treatment. What matters is that they should be given equal treatment. I come back to what the former Prime Minister said, that every citizen is entitled to equality of treatment. At the very same time as the Protestant people were being slaughtered in other parts there were plenty of Army units to give protection to the Roman Catholic people who sought protection. The only thing that can bring peace in Northern Ireland is a sense of security, so that every citizen of Northern Ireland may feel perfectly secure.
Before I left my home I had a telephone call from a young lady who married a member of the British Army the other day. When she arrived at the church for her wedding she was attacked as she got out of the bridal car, and many of her friends were attacked and her guests were attacked and had eggs and tomatoes thrown at them, and someone called out "Orange b—" from the crowd which had gathered there. After the wedding was over her guests were again attacked.
It is this type of thing which is going on in Northern Ireland and which leads to the unrest and the troubles in the province. Every citizen is entitled to protection, and I want to say on behalf of the citizens of Northern Ireland that we demand that we get the protection which we need. Because of the arrangements between the Government of that day and the Government of Northern Ireland arms 233 were taken from the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and the Ulster Special Constabulary—a very fine force of men, irrespective of what any Member of the House may think—were disbanded, and as a result of their disbanding and the disarming of the B Specials there are parts of Belfast today which have no protection whatsoever.
I am speaking on behalf of those people. It is all right for the former Home Secretary to stand at the Despatch Box this day and say that now it is a matter of Catholics fighting Protestants. It is no such thing, for in Londonderry it is a matter of Roman Catholics fighting the Army at the present time, and there is no confrontation whatsoever at the moment between the Protestant people in Londonderry and the Roman Catholic community.
This House needs to hear first hand of these things. I know that there are others who take a view opposite from mine, and, no doubt, they will give their interpretation of what I see as certain facts, but what I want to say is that we should get away from mere academics today and realise that men and women are being slaughtered on the streets of Belfast and that this has resulted because adequate protection has not been given to the citizens of our province.
I want further to say in regard to processions that it seems strange to me that there is all the plea today that Orange processions should be put off. What about the processions—provocative processions—which took place at Easter? There was no clamour from the benches opposite then for these celebrations to be put off. What about the recent procession of the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. McManus) through the predominantly Unionist town of Enniskillen? That procession, carrying an Irish tricolour, marched through the area provocatively, broke the windows of the local Orange hall and pulled down the Union Jack from the masthead of the town hall. That is the sort of procession that leads to unrest. Yet the Protestant people of that town did not lift a stone or throw a petrol bomb at that procession.
These are some of the facts that I feel this House should hear. I know that many of them will be unheeded. I know that I shall stand alone in many of the 234 views that I have preached, but I will still continue to do my best to bring to the attention of this House from time to time the needs not only of the Protestant people of Northern Ireland but of all citizens who deserve full protection and security from the forces of the Crown.
§ Mr. Speaker
I remind the House of what I said at the beginning of the debate. Many hon. Members wish to speak, and reasonably brief speeches will help.
§ 1.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Roland Moyle (Lewisham, North)
We have a tradition in this House that maiden speeches should be reasonably uncontroversial. I see that the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Mr. Paisley) has already departed, and that relieves me from a very difficult duty.
I return to the Queen's Speech, which we are discussing. When a new Governernment take office it is normal to have a honeymoon period in which the actions of the Government are viewed with a certain amount of detachment whilst their policy unfolds. My predisposition to grant to right hon. Gentlemen opposite this honeymoon period is under considerable strain because it seems to me that they have won power on the basis of a false prospectus. They have indicated to the electorate that they intend to control the cost of living, whereas nothing is surer than that prices will be higher at the end of this Parliament than they are today.
The Prime Minister has already said that the economic crisis which was spoken about so freely during the election campaign is unlikely to exist for much longer. There are, of course, economic problems; this country always will have economic problems; but to talk of devaluation and an economic crisis a week or two before polling day and then to pretend within two days of the commencement of the new Parliament that they do not exist means that the Government were elected on the basis of an economic gimmick.
It was refreshing to hear the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling), the new Home Secretary, make such an excellent statement on the relationship of law and order and freedom, and place law and order in such an accurate context in our political life. All I wished was 235 that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite had discovered that relationship before the General Election campaign and not two days after the commencement of the new Parliament.
It was not our desire that the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) should hawk his honesty round the hustings; he chose to do that; and here within the first two days of the new Parliament there have been two admissions that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are sitting where they are because they won the election by appealing to the electorate on the basis of dishonesty and gimmicks.
The first few days have shown the Government to be a reactionary Government. Their decision to withdraw Circular 10/65 can only be described as reactionary. It means that within certain areas of our country a number of children will still be subjected to the indignities of the 11-plus examination, and in several areas grammar schools will be encouraged to exist alongside comprehensive schools, so that in practice, if not in theory, there will be selection, which is undesirable not only for the sake of the children but also because the nation cannot afford to see talent wasted wherever it may exist.
Then we have had the convolutions about arms for South Africa—indeed, the country is being spared nothing. Just as that other eminent Conservative, the Emperor Nero, was supposed to have fiddled while Rome burned, we have had the right hon. Member for Bexley diverting the nation with musical entertainment while Belfast was burning.
It is paradoxically with a sense of relief, therefore, that I turn to the problems of Northern Ireland, because here I believe that the two Front Benches are trying to work towards the same end. This is a great source of encouragement to all in the House and in the country. Far too often political divisions in this country have sought to feed upon the political divisions in Ireland. This has not been good for the United Kingdom as a whole, nor has it been good from the point of view of Northern Ireland; in fact, it has been disastrous in historical terms. We have in the new Home Secretary a gentleman who is sincere, 236 who intends to follow the course we adopted and who is working hard to do so. I wish him all the luck in the world in the course upon which he has set himself, and I wish him success.
It is difficult to find a few consolations for having General Elections, but one of the great consolations is that a General Election allows a new Government to come in and take a fresh look at situations. It allows people who have been in Government to take a fresh look at what they did whilst they were in Government and, maybe, put forward a few new ideas. One thing which I regret was not done during our period in office was to take a new, closer look at the question of the Northern Ireland judiciary. I will not reiterate criticisms which have been made of the Northern Ireland judiciary by people in Northern Ireland. I am speaking here particularly of the lower ranks of the judiciary. All that it is necessary for me to say at this juncture is that there are a great number of people in Northern Ireland who suspect the integrity of the judiciary. I do not necessarily say that they do so on good grounds, but they suspect the integrity of the judiciary because the context in which the judiciary operates is bound, given the situation in Northern Ireland, to create suspicion amongst those who feel they are in a minority position.
In this country the judiciary is appointed by a Lord Chancellor who is an eminent lawyer and has the respect of the legal profession and of the community generally, and this goes all the way down through the judicial hierarchy.
This is not the position in Northern Ireland. The higher judiciary is appointed by the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, and I have found nobody in the Province who questions his integrity in making those appointments. The lower judiciary—I think they are called resident magistrates—are appointed by a political Minister in the Stormont Government, and, without going into detail, are answerable to him in a general sense. The result is that it is difficult to persuade people who are not of the predominant ruling party in Northern Ireland that resident magistrates are politically impartial. I am not saying that they are politically partial; please do not misunderstand me. All I 237 am saying is that, given the constitutional context in which they operate, it is difficult to persuade people that they are impartial, just as it was incredibly difficult to persuade people in Northern Ireland that the R.U.C. was politically impartial so long as it also was answerable to the Government of Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Stratton Mills (Belfast, North)
The hon. Gentleman will be aware that two of the Northern Ireland resident magistrates are former Nationalist Members of Parliament and one of them is a former Labour Party candidate for this House. So I think his strictures are very unfair.
§ Mr. Moyle
I take the point which the hon. Gentleman makes, but he is missing my point. I am not criticising any individual magistrate in Northern Ireland for being politically partial. What I am saying is that the situation in which resident magistrates operate automatically causes suspicion of political partiality to arise, and there is no guarantee that somebody who is a magistrate from a particular stable today will be a magistrate tomorrow or in a year's time, when he may be replaced by somebody from another political context. It would, therefore, be a good thing if the new Government took a look at this problem with a view to seeing what could be done about it and seeing whether the general line of appointment of resident magistrates in Northern Ireland could be put into commission instead of their owing their existence to a Government, whatever its virtues or vices may be.
I should like to raise another point on this matter. I should have followed this in the subsequent activities of the Labour Government, but the last few months' electioneering has distracted my attention from many of the points on which I should have been keeping an eye. Paragraph 3(d) of the communiqué issued by the Home Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), and the Northern Ireland Government in Belfast on 9th and 10th October, 1969, says that the Ministers of Stormontaccepted in principle that the police should be relieved of all responsibility for prosecutions, and that a system of independent public prosecutors should be adopted.238 I should like to know what progress is being made in applying that part of the communiqué.
Trying to look at matters as impartially as possible, it seems that after the whole of the civil rights reform programme has been put into operation, even if it includes the point about the resident magistrates which I have just made, the whole thing could go sour because of the economic background in the Province. This will not be an easy problem to solve. I urge the United Kingdom Government to keep a close watch on the way that the economic situation develops in Northern Ireland. It is not only a question of generally improving the economy of the Province. I believe that their advice should be constantly at the disposal of the Stormont Government to ensure that certain parts of the Province are given the feeling that their particular economic problems are being closely looked at and sympathetically treated. I appreciate that this is a difficult situation to reach in Northern Ireland.
The two outstanding areas are Londonderry and Newry. Neither impresses me as an area of considerable natural industrial potential. I may be quite wrong, particularly regarding Londonderry. But they have the feeling at the moment that they are being positively neglected. One of the misfortunes of the situation is that they are both areas with substantial Catholic majorities. Therefore, it is easy for the message to get around that they are being deprived of industrial development and the chances of economic development because the gentlemen in Stormont and Belfast do not want it.
Somehow the United Kingdom Government have to weigh in and encourage the Stormont Government to make sure that economic resources are directed to Newry and to Londonderry on a rational pattern and that overall the economy of the Province is improved. If the economy of the Province does not improve, even after the civil rights reforms have all gone through, people will still find themselves without jobs and destitute of hope. Against that background the reform legislation will fall on stony ground. That is my great worry. It will not be a simple problem to solve. We have learned that it takes a long time pumping economic resources into an area to lift it from a state of retarded development until it 239 becomes as well developed industrially and economically as the rest of the country.
Those are the two points that I wish to make on Northern Ireland.
I should like now to put one point to the Minister of State on the subject of immigration. Is the hon. Gentleman aware, before he embarks on the stormy sea of immigration legislation, that the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration has been advised that so low is the rate of immigration into this country at the moment that the only justification for dismantling the present system and re-erecting a new system would be a decision in principle that a larger number of immigrants should be allowed in? This would be the only practical justification for going through the process of setting up a considerably increased bureaucracy to deal with the new system and to dismantle the existing system. Has the attention of the Home Secretary been drawn to this advice which the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration received during the course of the last Parliament? It has not been published in a full report, although the proceedings of the Committee are available. If so, will this alter his attitude to future legislation? This is a point upon which we on this side of the House would like to be satisfied.
§ 1.15 p.m.
§ Mr. R. Chichester-Clark (Londonderry)
The maiden speech by the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Mr. Paisley) to which we listened a short time ago contained a particular omission, namely, a reference to the hon. Member's predecessor. I propose to remedy that omission now.
I wish to pay tribute to the courage and humanity with which the hon. Member's predecessor, Mr. Henry Clark, represented his constituency and, indeed, conducted himself in this House over many years. In making that tribute, I couple with his name the Marquis of Hamilton who, unhappily, is not with us. In his case, the loss of the seat was to a large extent to be expected. In Mr. Henry Clark's case, I hoped that good sense would prevail and that he would be returned to this House. I hope that we 240 shall see him back before long. I shall have something to say about his successor in the course of my remarks.
I remember not long ago saying in this House that the Englishman was not yet born who understood Northern Ireland and its problems. I should guess that today that statement has become uncontroversial, if it was very controversial. Therefore, I am not filled with the expectation that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will be any exception to that rule. But I know that he will bring to the task earnestness, warmheartedness and sincerity, which we all welcome. He has certainly begun his task well, and I congratulate him upon the success of his recent visit to Northern Ireland.
Of his predecessor I say, without impertinence, that he made mistakes, some serious. But I must pay tribute to the real sincerity with which he tackled his task when he was Home Secretary. I pay tribute to the energy with which he tackled that task and to the fact that he tried to understand.
That is flowers all round to date. But I have no bouquets for the Leader of the Opposition. I believe that his interventions in Northern Ireland affairs in this House during Prime Minister's Questions, on television, and recently during the election campaign, are contemptible, to say the least. I believe that his constant references to 50 years of Tory misrule, his remarks in an inflammatory situation—it has for some time been an inflammatory situation—his characteristically or uncharacteristically modest claims about how he put pressure on the Stormont Government and how the reforms came about because of his work, were like throwing matches into dry tinder, which is Ulster today.
"Fifty years of Tory misrule" is the right hon. Gentleman's favourite phrase. If only it was as easy as that. If only we could, with a phrase of that kind, banish the scars and the injustices, the triumphs and the disasters of 350 years of history—history made not just by Irishmen, but by Englishmen, too. If only we could sigh it all away on a breath of wishful thinking, which is what the former Prime Minister tried so often to do, how easy it would be. If only we could, in fairness, attribute blame to any one sector or section of the community. 241 Of course, we cannot. If we were to apportion blame fairly for all that has happened in Ireland over the years, we would have to go into Westminster Abbey and disinter one corner of it, because the blame is to be widely shared right back through history.
I am sure that there are people in Northern Ireland today who, looking at the present scene, would be prepared almost to take virtually all the blame on their shoulders if it would do any good. But of course it would not. It is sad that there are still people who are prepared to attribute the blame to one side alone. It is mischievous and, in the situation which has existed there for some months, it is wicked to do so, as the Leader of the Opposition did.
§ Mr. Callaghan
If the hon. Gentleman really wants to preserve some atmosphere of harmony, he had better drop that line of talk. I am not willing to listen to my right hon. Friend being attacked by the hon. Gentleman in that way. The hon. Gentleman cannot evade the fact that in Northern Ireland there has been one-party Government for 50 years with full control of the executive apparatus and the police and security forces. They have got themselves into a position where the only corner of this island where law and order has broken down is Northern Ireland. The hon. Gentleman and his friends had better share responsibility to the full for that. I hope that this is the last time that he will make these references, which I throw back in his teeth.
§ Mr. Chichester-Clark
It is interesting to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that, especially following my tribute to him. However, he did not make the mistakes which I attribute to his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. He understood the situation. For my own part, I am prepared to accept any reasonable share of blame. I have stood out against injustice for a long time in politics, and I propose to go on doing so.
Long before the Leader of the Opposition started thinking in terms of ethnic votes, the Irish vote and the rest of it, all fair-minded men knew of the desire to create an atmosphere of greater harmony in Northern Ireland and bring the communities together. That desire was there, and action was being taken 242 upon it long before the right hon. Gentleman's Government could claim responsibility.
In the light of all that has happened, it must be realised that community relations is a slow growing plant and one which has to be nurtured carefully. Anyone attempting it must reassure and carry with him the majority in Northern Ireland who, as even the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) will accept, have genuine fears of a take-over by the minority. I have said all this before. But, because it is right and expedient and because the survival of the State of Northern Ireland depends upon it, we must be ready to convince the minority that we mean to offer them the full benefits of our no doubt imperfect form of British society and the British way of life. If those at home who are recalcitrant in accepting these facts cannot see that it is right to have a society based on British justice and the British way of life, surely they can see that it must be expedient when they are living in a community where one sector of the population naturally is breeding faster than the other, and that if they want to remain part of the United Kingdom the only way in which they can do it is to show to the minority that the British way of life offers something better than any other way of life that is available.
In terms of legislation, the Northern Ireland Government have gone just about as far as they can. Legislation will not bring the problem to an end. The rest of it has to be unravelled in the minds of men and women in Northern Ireland. I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary virtually say this today. We have reached the stage when we have to recognise that what we can do by legislation has virtually come to an end. Now it is a matter of reason.
To those who claim that they have played a part in bringing on the reform programme more quickly, I would say that they should drop their claims. They say that pressure was applied to bring the reforms more quickly. It may be that the time scale was altered and that the reforms came sooner than otherwise because of pressure. But there was a price, and it was not paid by any of us here. It was paid by people in Ulster in blood, houses and jobs. It is better to 243 stop making these claims and get on with the job.
I have already given an idea of the attitude which I think that we in this Parliament should take to the present Northern Ireland situation. I welcome the attitude of the new Government, the visit of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and that of my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence, and the acceptance, almost within hours of taking office, of the financial responsibility for the development plan to which reference has been made already. The only other practical approach which I can see in the present situation is to keep the present troubles in their right perspective, as I believe my right hon. Friend is doing. They have nothing to do with reform. They have nothing to do with injustice, imagined or otherwise. They are just a matter of violence fomented and exploited in many cases by disciplined subversive elements working to overthrow the State. The task must be to show that there is a determination to restore law and order. That can be done only through the sole possible lasting source of law and order; that is, through Stormont itself, with the support of this House. That must now be done with absolute firmness.
That is why I found the words of the Gracious Speech and of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister reassuring, together with the reiteration by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary of the guarantees in respect of the constitutional position. They will help restore the confidence of the majority. I also agree with much of what was said about the parades. One of my hon. Friends will comment on these later, so I shall not dwell on them in detail.
I welcome what the former Home Secretary said about observers. It might be a very good idea for them to come and see for themselves. I am glad, too, that the Army has been strengthened in numbers and may be strengthened even further. I will not be a party to the criticism of the bearing of our troops in Northern Ireland. They have an immensely difficult and delicate task to fulfil. I may not always agree with the orders given to them but, over the months, they have shown as much valour and tenacity in doing their duty as the Royal Ulster 244 Constabulary did when standing alone against rioters in the past. That is the highest accolade that I can give to anyone, and I give it to the troops and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
However, the measures which our troops may have to take in the fast-moving situation in Northern Ireland should be fully understood at all levels. That is especially important when we come to the possible use of firearms. The declarations of intent by the G.O.C. in relation to gunmen must, if they are to be made at all, be put ruthlessly into effect, otherwise more harm than good is done by making them. I want to see rigorous searches for arms wherever these problems have arisen and, indeed, in other places, whatever the difficulties. The situation is now so serious that inconvenience, and even risk, must be taken in searching for arms in future.
I also want to feel absolutely certain that there is not any longer a tendency in certain areas—I am thinking in particular of the Bogside area of Londonderry—to make agreements with soidisant leaders of certain communities with a view to helping to restore law and order. By now it must be obvious to Army commanders that these same leaders are not in any position to make such agreements and that, if they make them, they are not in any position to carry them out. I hope that we shall have less of such "agreements" in the future.
There has been a lack of flexibility in the handling of the situation. I am not sure how this has arisen. I hope that every possible effort will be taken from here on to see that the G.O.C. has as much authority to act in any given situation on the ground as is necessary, without delays arising from his orders being referred back to London. Steps to ensure this may already have been taken. If they have, I welcome it.
One of the great difficulties is the bridging of the gap between the use of C.S. gas and the actual use of the gun when rioters are being dealt with. We shall begin to have a real answer to the problem when we have discovered what weapons exist between the two.
It must be said, with all the admiration which I have for the troops—it is a genuine one—that there has been in 245 the way they have been handled a certain lack of flexibility. This is perhaps inevitable, in view of the numbers which were required and the overstretching. I hope that no effort will be spared to ensure that more flexibility is brought to play.
There is one other element which would help in the present difficult situation. The Press and television media have a duty to report news, as everyone in the House accepts. However, it is perhaps not unfair to ask them to show a special sensitivity in their reports. One small error can make a terrible difference. I shall never forget—nor, I think, will the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara)—standing in a small group in Londonderry last year when the Apprentice Boys' march was just drawing to a close and the news came through that one of the great communicators in this country had given out over the air that the Apprentice Boys' march had walked into the Bogside. Of course it was not true. The effect within minutes on that small crowd was electric. I fear that that false report played it own part in exacerbating, at any rate, the riots which ensued, if not in fact in prolonging them.
I think that Press and television reporters should be very careful indeed. I know that they resist the invitations which are undoubtedly issued to the effect, "Bring your television camera to a certain area at such-and-such a time and we will show you a riot worth filming". I have no doubt that such improper, if not illegal, invitations are always resisted, but I know that such invitations are issued. The effect, too, must be borne in mind of reports, whether on television or on sound, that on such-and-such a night, because of such-and-such, there is likely to be trouble in a certain place. It may be true. Perhaps it is the duty of the communicators to report it; perhaps it is not. It is a matter of balance. It should be considered carefully. The presence of television in certain areas undoubtedly has a certain effect.
I know that the television companies must be under a tremendous temptation to put on television, when available, the hon. Lady the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) and the hon. Member for Antrim, North. Whatever else they may be, they are good television. However, 246 there are hundreds of thousands of other people in Northern Ireland whose views are not the same as those of either the hon. Lady the Member for Mid-Ulster or of the hon. Member for Antrim, North and whose attitudes are a very long way from those of either of those hon. Members. I hope this fact will be borne in mind by the television companies.
§ Mr. H. J. Delargy (Thurrock)
Does the hon. Gentleman think that he is doing his case any good by telling British newspaper reporters what to report, by telling television camera men where to go and what to photograph, and by thus interfering with the liberty of the Press and with the liberty of comment? Why can he not leave newspaper men and camera men to do their own job without any help from him?
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman was listening very carefully to what I was saying. I have been in the Press.
§ Mr. Chichester-Clark
I accept the duty of newspapers and of television to report, but this is an abnormally sensitive subject. The hon. Gentleman and I, perhaps more than almost any other two people in the House, know how sensitive and difficult this subject is. I was setting out how difficult it was both from my point of view and from their point of view. I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would have been the first to appreciate that.
I spoke earlier of the need to reassure the majority in Northern Ireland when moving forward in terms of social progress. Had she been here, I should have had something to say about the hon. Lady the Member for Mid-Ulster, because she and her kind are those who provoke fear in the breasts of one million or more people who form the majority in Northern Ireland. I have told her this many times, and I have told her many times what I think of her in this respect. The hon. Lady is not here today.
I turn, therefore, to the hon. Member for Antrim, North who is here; or who, if he is not in the Chamber, has every opportunity to be here. He and his kind are those who are responsible for the creation of fears and tensions in the minority who form about one-third of 247 the population. Indeed, they create fears and tensions among other communities as well, as many of us have reason to know.
I do not intend to descend to personal abuse or to waste time on the smears and the threats delivered to me and to others by supporters of the hon. Member for Antrim, North, during the course of the election campaign. The House may have read some of them. Hon. Members may know something about them.
I will make one recommendation to those in the House who are interested in the psychology of resentment. I recommend them to start to read the language used by the Protestant Telegraph, which is the mouthpiece of the hon. Gentleman who now represents Antrim, North. Not only is it full of the lowest and most vulgar ridicule of the religion of one-third of his fellow Ulster citizens, but it mocks and derides practically every person or institution committed to peace and stability in Northern Ireland, including the heads of the security forces, who are tackling their unrewarding task with great courage. We can disagree with what they do, but there is no reason why they should be attacked and ridiculed in the way which the Protestant Telegraph attacks them. It may be that the House should see some of these newspaper articles. Perhaps one day back numbers will be placed in the Library so that every Member of the House can read them for himself, because they are worth it.
The hon. Gentleman told us at some length in his maiden speech that he believed in equal treatment for everybody, whether they were Roman Catholic, Protestant or anyone else. In the Protestant Telegraph in terms of abuse and in terms of ridicule, in terms of language which I can only describe as disgusting, perhaps at times the hon. Gentleman has given equal treatment. He has given equal treatment of a kind which has been accorded not only to the religion of the minority but, as I have said, to most of those who have been working and striving for peace over the years in Northern Ireland, no matter what religion they belong to. To that extent, perhaps there was equality of treatment on some occasions
248 This is the same man who calls himself—or who would call himself, no doubt—the loyalist to end all loyalists. Perhaps one day he will explain, perhaps in this House, why he did not hesitate on one particularly shameful occasion to expose the Queen's own representative in the Province—the Governor—to abuse and indignity, because I shall not forget it.
I shall never attack the hon. Gentleman's church, the Free Presbyterian Church; nor indeed will I ever attack—nor have I—any other church in Northern Ireland. But here we are in the business of politics; and the hon. Gentleman has entered politics. Even in this field, he is the self-appointed spokesman of the Protestant people. We have heard him say that. I am a Protestant, but I for one utterly repudiate the hon. Member for Antrim, North as my spokesman in this House or anywhere else. I cannot see in his political behaviour the love, charity and forgiveness which I expect of Protestantism, whether it be in politics or anywhere else.
Perhaps to some extent all of us in Northern Ireland share the guilt that we have allowed this inflated bubble to expand to its present size without having pricked it long ago. There have been fence sitters and far too many who have held back for fear of offending one section or another. For my part, I want it known in this House and further afield that I will fight this man and what he stands for as long as I can and as hard as I have fought anyone who damaged the good name of the British people in Northern Ireland or elsewhere, whether they come from Mid-Ulster or North Antrim.
No doubt, there will be further smears and more intimidation, but I really do not care. I am one of those who have tried time and time again to explain to those in Northern Ireland just what would be at risk if they followed, through fear, a course which is alien to the whole British tradition of fairness and justice. I have told them that by doing that they will put at risk their constitution and their place in the United Kingdom which I have passionately defended for a long time in this House.
Although I have lost a decent and honourable colleague in the process, perhaps in one sense I can welcome here the hon. 249 Member for Antrim, North for he will see, and perhaps through him others will see, the mood and temper of the British Parliament. I have a confidence in the mood and temper of the British Parliament, which has absolutely nothing to do with party politics. I am certain that the hon. Member will come to learn that the disdain of this Parliament and of the British people as a whole for bigotry and intolerance is not just a fiction of my imagination but is hard fact. This man who talks daily of preserving Ulster's constitution must learn that it is a constitution of only part of the United Kingdom and that it is there for the well-being not of any one section of the people, but of all, and that it can be best preserved by firmness, yes, but also by love and charity among neighbours, and by showing everyone in Northern Ireland that these things are part of the British way of life which holds out that shelter for all.
When he was elected, the hon. Gentleman, in a much-publicised speech, told us that we were going to get a taste of the Ulster of Carson and Craigavon, or that we were going back to that period and that he was going to embody that tradition. So be it. But let me offer him these words:From the outset, let us see that the Catholic minority have nothing to fear from the Protestant majority. Let us take care to win all that is best among those who have been opposed to us in the past. While maintaining intact our own religion let us give the same rights to the religion of our neighbours.Those words are from the resignation speech of Sir Edward Carson. It is also the path taken, I am glad to say, by the Northern Ireland Government. That is the path which I would advise the hon. Member for Antrim, North to tread if he really wants to stand in defence of the constitution.
§ 1.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)
I listened with interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark), as I did to the speech of the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Mr. Paisley). If I do not immediately follow them it is because I wish to refer to my own constituency and to one or two items in the Gracious Speech.
250 I very much fear what may happen to B.B.C. Radio Humberside, which is well advanced and is to be situated in my constituency, if the plans, as outlined in the Gracious Speech, are to be implemented. Therefore, I should be grateful if whoever will be winding up the debate will indicate what is to happen to those radio stations which are almost now established.
Secondly, I want to know whether the cuts in public expenditure which are envisaged include the cutting-out of the Humber Bridge. Hon. Members who have been in this House for a fair length of time will understand that I have a vested interest in that proposed edifice for which the plans are well advanced and the major financial obstacles to which have been cleared under the last Government. But throughout the period of discussion when the Labour Government announced that they were going to build the bridge, and throughout the whole of the last election campaign, we have never had a clear, firm and categorical assurance from the party opposite that if they were returned to power they would build the bridge.
Therefore, I should like a firm assurance from the Government that the bridge will be built and that B.B.C. Radio Humberside will go ahead as planned.
Having said that, I should like to turn to the subject of the debate. I listened to what the hon. Member for Londonderry said about my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. It ill behoves him to make those statements about my right hon. Friend when the Government in Northern Ireland and the Orange Tories of Northern Ireland have a vested interest in maintaining this division amongst the people, which has built up for the Protestant working class an idea that somehow they are better off than and different from the Catholic working class and that their position can only be preserved by maintaining the Border, while the Green Tories say that if it were not for the Border they would be all right and would be as well off as the Protestants. This is the classic argument about the Green and Orange Tories in Northern Ireland. This has been the situation which has made so terrible the effects of what has happened in the Province in the past two or three years.
251 Hon. Gentlemen who represent Northern Ireland as Unionists know that from these benches in times past hon. Members, and in particular, for example, my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Delargy), have from time to time said that the situation developing in Northern Ireland was a prescription for civil disorder and unrest, for injustice would cause unrest. Therefore, when the hon. Member for Londonderry comes here and makes his nice pie-in-the-sky statement and refers to Carson, the first man who took to the gun and challenged the right of this Parliament to legislate for Ireland, it is up to us to rebut those statements and say that "half this responsibility is yours."
I now want to come to the existing situation. We have had, under the former Government, the pushing through of various forms of liberal measures which have created a sort of nineteenth century liberal Constitution, but the problems of the economy and of housing are the problems which are really going to matter in Northern Ireland. Everybody should have an opportunity for employment and should be decently housed. Therefore, I welcome the statements of the present Government that they will continue to follow the bipartisan policy pursued by the former Home Secretary, that they will push ahead with the development programme, the housing programme and the general improved financial inducements for industry to go to Northern Ireland. I approve of the general principles, although the detail and letter of the princiles will be open to a certain amount of criticism. I believe there is fear among people whether they should invest in a situation where there is this degree of civil disturbance.
That brings me to the more immediate problem in Northern Ireland, and, in particular, the problems of Belfast and of Derry.
A group of us from this side, when we were in Government, visited my right hon. Friend the then Home Secretary and warned him about what would happen in Derry on 12th August. We knew what the situation was and we were fearful at the prospect. On the advice which he had, he felt that the Royal Ulster Constabulary, as it then was, could control the situation. As events turned out, it 252 could not. We are now faced with the same sort of situation developing in Belfast, the same sort of fears, the same sort of difficulties, and the same problems created by processions.
I am concerned about this state of affairs for many reasons, but one of our basic concerns is that British troops are involved. Our constituents will be there as soldiers, bearing the brunt of the troubles from either section of the community. Our constituents, from Yorkshire, from Lancashire, from all over the United Kingdom, will be going in to separate the warring factions. Have we, or have people in Northern Ireland, the right to bring about the possibility of a situation in which our soldiers, and our constituents, will be subject to these grave difficulties?
I return, therefore, to the question of the processions. I should like there to be a ban on all processions, of the Hibernians, the Orange Order, the Apprentice Boys, and so on, for a complete six months' period. The policing of processions is always a difficult task. For example, I understand that the Orange Order had 1,342 separate processions in the whole of the Province in the year 1968, well over four a day, and that is without taking into account the processions of all the other factions, May Day, Easter parades, and so on. This creates tremendous problems, but it shows also the extent to which processions as such are embedded in the political tradition of the Province. Therefore, as I say, I should like there to be agreement for them all to be cancelled, although at the same time I appreciate the problems which such a cancellation would in itself create.
In my approach to the situation, therefore, I join in the appeal made by my right hon. Friend. We want the processions to be re-routed. This in itself would be valuable. Catholic processions must be taken away from Protestant areas, and Protestant processions from Catholic areas. It is terrible that we can still talk about ghettoes in our Kingdom in this way. But, more than that, the processions must be taken away from areas where there is a mixed population, from places where people could say that with 55 per cent. of one and 45 per cent. of the other they could have their procession because they were in a bare 253 majority. It is often in such areas that the problems arise.
I endorse what was said in this connection by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), that we must look at the points of dispersal just as much as at the points of assembly. An organisation or a lodge taking part in a procession may be going through a safe area, so to speak, but it starts on its way to the procession through a mixed area, or a lodge may come from the area of another community. It should be laid down that bands of people going to a procession must assemble away from such areas or not take part in the procession at all. They should not march as individual bands through certain areas. Problems are created when a large procession disperses over a wide area. No matter how safe the particular route agreed may be, if there is a branching off at the end, tremendous difficulties can arise. I feel that we could expect people to take that upon themselves as a proper self-denying ordinance in the circumstances.
In addition, the security forces should not have their burden even further increased by the usual contingents coming across from Liverpool or Glasgow into Belfast. On these occasions, almost because of their character as exiles, such people tend to be more vehement in some ways than the people living in Northern Ireland. I feel that we should put a positive appeal to these people that, because of the present difficulties in the area, which they love and for which they feel an attachment, it would be far better if they did not come. This also would go a long way towards helping to relieve the situation.
Now, the question of the Derry marches and what will happen there in August. One thing which the present Government could do is to say that there will be no Apprentice Boys' march in Derry in August. We know the situation there, we know what the population is, and we can see what is likely to happen. It would be far better to say, "No march in Derry at all this year". In that way, we could do much to prevent the onset of trouble in what may otherwise be the long hot summer of this year.
Unemployment is an important factor, I remember that behind one barricade on the night of 12th August there were about 254 a dozen people, and eight of them were unemployed young men. Where there are such people about, unemployed young men with a tremendous sense of injustice, to flaunt such a procession before their eyes is to ask a great deal of their restraint. It is asking a great deal to call upon the majority group there to give it up, but I feel that a demonstration of that sort would be such as could in many ways underscore the point which the hon. Member for Londonderry made at the close of his speech about the need for greater toleration.
I very much welcome the Bill directed against incitement to hatred now passing through Stormont. Many hon. Members will recall the speeches so often made by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) urging that this should be done. In many ways, I feel that if that legislation had been on the Statute Book two or three years ago some of the present problems would not confront us.
No matter how many statements are made by leaders of the Government and the Opposition about the Constitution of Northern Ireland, perfectly proper statements to make, there are nevertheless a considerable number of people in the north of Ireland who regard the situation in that island as wrong, as contrary to nature, contrary to what they believe, and contrary to what they have always understood. This is a proper attitude for them to take, just as it is proper and honourable for the majority of people there to want to be united to this country. These are proper political stances for both to take, and no one can complain about that. But one cannot separate the idea of the division of that island from the situation as it exists there at present. Therefore, I take up a point which was made by the noble Lord the present Lord Chancellor when he was speaking from the Opposition Front Bench as shadow Home Secretary. He spoke of some sort of rapprochement between North and South and the United Kingdom Government. Under the 1922 Act there is provision for this and the idea of a Constitutional Commission.
There must be a coming together, a sitting down and a discussion between South and North and the United Kingdom Government. We cannot go on for ever as we have for the past 50 years, 255 with gun-running, discrimination, upsets, riots and so on. We must sit down at some time and talk about it, trying to work out a proper system. Many of the older people who built up the barriers have now passed away. Many of the old wounds are wounds of history, wounds of mythology, stemming from all our backgrounds and upbringing and what we have been told to believe and not to believe.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite, just as much as I, show different sides to the attitude. We must sit down, talk about the problem and be reasonable. We must understand that we cannot continue to have events in the North that will continually inflame the minority or the majority. Therefore, we must take an opportunity, which could be seized on this occasion, to cut down the number of parades on 13th July. Those are supposed to be religious processions, so I do not see why they should not be held on 12th July, a Sunday, which would cut down the number of days on which there might be disorder. The weekend could be shortened rather than prolonged.
We must have a meeting of people, and I hope that we could perhaps have initiatives in this direction from the present Government, who might find it easier than our Government could have done, because of the tie between the Government party here now and the majority party in the North of Ireland. Things which were difficult because of the suspicions of us in a way should be easier because of those links.
But the links between the two are also the major difficulty facing the present Government from the point of view of the position of the minority. Therefore, it is important that the Government continually demonstrate their determination to be fair, to favour neither side but to favour freedom under the law for all. That will be the important thing for all.
The last time I spoke in one of these major debates on Ulster people said that I was rather more hopeful than perhaps they were. We must be hopeful. We cannot afford to despair, to throw up our hands. To deny that there is hope is to deny our humanity. To give way to despair is to give way to some of those dark forces which we know exist on both sides in this problem. Therefore, we must 256 be hopeful, but that will be helped by having a proper gesture from the Orange Order and the Northern Ireland Government on 13th July, and particularly 12th August, and then a meeting of the Governments of the North and South and the United Kingdom to try to work out something. These are important steps which must be taken.
§ 2.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley R. McMaster (Belfast, East)
I should like to take up immediately the last point made by the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Hull, North (Mr. McNamara). Of course we must approach the future with hope, but we must not in so doing give any impression of complacency about the present serious situation in Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. McNamara indicated assent.
§ Mr. McNamara
With the greatest respect to the hon. Gentleman, the whole point I was making was my concern about what might happen. I said that therefore we must take these positive actions. To suggest complacency on either side about this problem would be very wrong.
§ Mr. McMaster
I am glad to hear the hon. Gentleman say that. I know that he has made a study of these problems. I appreciate the part he has taken in our debates on the subject and the constructive suggestions he advances.
It is a most unhappy occasion on which we debate Northern Ireland. I should like to join the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), the shadow Home Secretary, in expressing sympathy for the relatives of those who have been killed in Northern Ireland within the past week. Six people have lost their lives and about 300 have been injured, 70 of whom suffered gunshot wounds. They included members of the Army and the police and almost 300 civilians. This is a terrible toll. It is only when one realises this terrible toll in one weekend of rioting that one can really appreciate the true seriousness of the matter.
The House has perhaps come closer today than in my 10 years here to appreciating the difficulties facing the 257 Government both in Westminster and in Northern Ireland. As my hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) pointed out, there is no easy solution for the problems facing us in Northern Ireland.
The true essence of the problem is not a religious division between Catholics and Protestants. The true root of the trouble, as I think most Members appreciate, is the division between Republican and Loyalist elements in Northern Ireland. This is an historic division going back many hundreds of years. There has been as a result of the riots a polarisation of the religious sympathies, which is very much to be regretted. Many leading Republicans in the past have been Protestants and very many good Loyalists are Catholics. This just confuses the issue.
The basic issue, as has become clear as a result of the developments over the past year in Northern Ireland, is that there is clear evidence of the work of a sinister group in Northern Ireland determined by unconstitutional means—that is, by force—to achieve what they cannot achieve by constitutional means. I have said this in the House before, and repeat it today. They are determined by force to overthrow our constitution in Ulster. The situation started with perhaps justifiable grievances which were protested and led to civil rights marches. But we saw a very unsavoury group, varying from extreme Socialists, Communists, and anarchists to just plain hooligans, the type of people who break up trains in England, gathering together under that banner and using it to stir up trouble, first of all in Londonderry.
The wild talk of Socialist republics, the appeals to the emotions for which the spokesmen of these groups have been responsible, were clearly designed to stir up hatred, fear and suspicion in the community. As a result we had the riots which we saw as recently as Easter this year, when one side of the population attacked not the other side but the Army. These people in Ballymurphy and Belfast were clearly not suffering from grievances because of poor housing. They were living in a good new housing estate.
At the same time, at Easter, collections were made by the I.R.A., the Republican Army, to provide arms to further the 258 ends of a part of this sinister group in Northern Ireland. Within the past 24 hours we have heard of arms being found in London which were suspected of being intended to be used for this purpose. Two Ministers were sacked from the Dublin Government. Ministers of State are not lightly or easily sacked. This is the clearest possible evidence of the deep, sinister nature of the plot to which I should like to draw the attention of the House.
§ Mr. McNamara
I do not wish to interrupt the hon. Gentleman's speech, but we have tried to give a balanced view of the situation from all sides. Would he like to discuss the question of members of the Northern Ireland Government who were dismissed for wanting to declare U.D.I. or for other reasons, people running in arms to blow up water mains and so on, and U.V.F. trials taking place in that way? The hon. Gentleman is doing himself and the cause he espouses a disservice if he continues to blame everything on sinister elements on one side and not another, and create a situation forcing still further those polarisations he has been regretting.
§ Mr. McMaster
I should make it quite clear to the House in reply that I would condemn sinister or violent methods on whatever side we find them. But I have a clear duty to the House, my constituents and this country to point out where I believe the true source of the trouble to lie.
It is a well-known law of physics that to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I certainly do not approve in any way of any part of the population taking the law into its own hands, whether for offence or defence. But the root of the trouble in this land of ours is not to be found with the U.V.F., not in the Protestant reaction. The root of the trouble is clear: the I.R.A. collections are made to provide arms, and Ministers are dismissed in Southern Ireland because there is a small group of people, who are even represented in this House, who have declared openly and publicly that they will use any means they can to overthrow our constitution. Unless one faces this and accepts it, one can never understand the problem in Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. McNamara
The hon. Gentleman said that these people had representatives in this House who had said that they would use every means they could. Is he accusing hon. Members of being prepared to take unconstitutional action, to defy the Oath which they have taken, to bring down the constitution?
§ Mr. McMaster
I do not want to be diverted too much. There is one Member of this House. I did not like to refer to her in her absence, but she has been convicted of using petrol bombs, which are fiendish weapons. Policemen have been injured in Londonderry. The hon. Gentleman saw for himself some of the riots and he knows what I am talking about.
§ Mr. McNamara rose—
§ Mr. McMaster
I have tried to point out what the reasons are. There has been no hiding of the reasons.
I come straight away to the aims of these trouble makers. Their aims are clear. They want first to discredit the police and then to discredit the Government, because that is the easiest and simplest way of achieving their end, which is to overthrow the constitution. If they can discredit the police force and then discredit the Government in Northern Ireland, they are more than half way home, and they believe this to be so.
Secondly and equally important, but perhaps much more mischievous, is their plain willingness to stir up religious hatred between the two sections of the community in order to further this end. I saw the results of this last weekend in East Belfast. It was mentioned by the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Mr. Paisley). I should like briefly to put on the record what occurred in my constituency last weekend.
During the afternoon, there were the ordinary processions which have already been mentioned. The processions were over, but there were still some people in the streets, when a tricolour was waved from the corner of a street at the bottom of Newtownards Road in my constituency. In the circumstances, this 260 attracted a crowd and as the crowd gathered, firing broke out.
In the course of an ordinary civil disturbance, the kind which we have unfortunately seen in Northern Ireland in the past, there may be some fighting and there may even be some bottle throwing or stone throwing, but that is not what happened in my constituency. There was a sustained burst of gunfire. This can happen only as the result of a premeditated plan. At the same time, fire bombs were released in the centre of the town and provided a diversion. Fighting was already taking place in the constiuency of the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt).
The shooting went on in East Belfast for six and a half hours. As a result, three people were left dead on the ground. They were civilians, men with children and families, innocent people going about their business. One man whose family I saw the next morning had been visiting his mother who lived in a neighbouring street. She asked him to stay the night, but he said that he had better get back to his wife who, incidentally, is expecting a baby; he was shot on his way home. This is quite terrible.
I am sorry that during his two-day visit to Northern Ireland the Home Secretary did not have the time to see the bullet marks on the buildings. They clearly show where the shots came from. One of the bullets had gone clean through the outside wall of 10 inch or 11 inch brick. That was not an ordinary rifle bullet. Although there were about 11,000 soldiers in Northern Ireland, none turned up for one and a half hours. When they came, I am told, they did not even give protecting fire. They did not even take what I would have regarded as the ordinary step of surrounding the church from where the firing was coming.
I do not say this is any prejudiced way. The next day I saw the Minister responsible for the church and I met the other ministers in the area. They gave me information as to the whereabouts of the families of the dead and injured. They all deplored these events. But there was a small determined group of what I can only call assassins who came to my constituency determined to create trouble in East Belfast and to further their end in Northern Ireland as a whole.
261 They went through the night until nearly 6 a.m., shooting at ordinary people's houses in an ordinary quiet part of Belfast, the centre of Belfast where there had been no disturbance before and where we were proud of the fact that even though we had been in the exciting time of an election just a week before, it had been a peacefully conducted General Election and, in spite of the disturbed state of Northern Ireland, not one stone had been thrown.
I am not in any way attacking the ordinary soldier in the street, but those responsible, those in charge, should have taken measures more quickly to bring the shooting to an end. The shooting should not have been allowed to go on for six and half hours in the centre of a city like Belfast without a man being arrested. How can that happen? There are about 11,000 troops in Northern Ireland and about 3,500 police while the Ulster Defence Regiment numbers about 2,000 men. This gives a total of 16,500 security forces in Northern Ireland. Some were not available that night, but I am told that those available and deployed in Belfast last Saturday night totalled about 11,500.
In the circumstances, there must be the strictest public inquiry into the incidents in East Belfast last Saturday night, an inquiry into the cause of the trouble and why it was not stopped quickly and why those responsible for causing it were not detected and arrested. I should like the Minister of State to deal with this subject when he winds up the debate.
I am told by people who were present that they could not even recover the bodies which were lying bleeding in the middle of the street because the soldiers would not give them any protection. When the soldiers were asked why they did not do so, they said it was because they themselves were not being shot at. I am not blaming the soldiers, but their instructions must be carefully looked at. They are there to protect life. The R.U.C. has been disarmed and so its members could do nothing in the face of this vicious cowardly attack by trained assassins, men who made every shot count. Can men be expected to stand by and see their wives and children shot at in the street and not want to shoot back? The Army must act and act 262 immediately and be seen to act to apprehend those responsible at once.
I am sorry to say it, but it is an indictment of the Government that stronger measures were not taken much more quickly on Saturday night.
I cannot speak as quietly as I should like to on this subject, because I have seen the relatives and attended the funerals of these people. I have seen those left behind and the sorrow that is caused. It was the Government's responsibility and I am sorry that the Home Secretary did not have time to go down and see this for himself. He was having talks within half a mile of the area, a mere stone's throw away. Photographs could have been taken, forensic scientists could go down to help establish the true cause. It is the Government's duty to come out now and clearly condemn those malicious elements behind this. If they fail, we will have other incidents in Northern Ireland.
Much stricter security precautions must be taken. Co-operation between the R.U.C. and the Army leaves a great deal to be desired. The Army and the security forces must have been on their guard. Extra men had been sent in. How on earth can this happen? If any more incidents like this occur, I can see the Special Powers Act being invoked. Although I would be very loth to see such a thing, what other solution is there to this problem?
I ask my hon. Friend in winding up the debate to make a clear and unequivocal statement condemning the sinister elements who planned and carried out the riots of the weekend, the acts of arson and murder in the centre of Belfast.
As was said, these are ordinary civil offences of murder, nothing else. This is not war; it is murder in our streets. As a result of the Government taking some action the great majority of the population will know what is behind this and will help to isolate the vicious elements and denounce them so that they may be arrested by the authorities. Furthermore, the Press and television should be warned that in the judgment of the Government there is a seditious, sinister element at work in Northern Ireland and that to give excessive publicity to these people is assisting those dedicated to overthrow our State by force. 263 This is the duty of the Government. I asked the Prime Minister in the last Government to do so. The then Secretary of State for Defence did so after Easter when he spoke to the forces and the G.O.C. spoke to them, but the then Prime Minister here refused to repeat this and to that extent he is guilty of contributing to these further outbreaks. These men must be condemned straight away in clear language.
§ 2.23 p.m.
§ Mr. E. L. Mallalieu (Brigg)
Since this is the first occasion on which I have seen you in the big Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker, may I say what immense pleasure it gives me, and, I believe, many others in the House. We have seen your work in Committee, and we know what to expect here.
The hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark), in what I thought was a statesmanlike speech in many respects, said that when English people began talking about Ireland they showed a great ignorance or took leave of their senses. He did not actually use those words. That is probably true to a large extent, except that the Englishman speaking generally thinks that he is the exception. Although I think that I know a little about Ireland, I am extremely modest about any prospects of a settlement and in suggesting that this can be easily obtained.
It is a tremendous thing to see both the former Home Secretary and the right hon. Gentleman opposite declaring openly, and again I am not quoting actual words, that their task is to win the confidence of both sides in Northern Ireland, irrespective of religion or politics. If we are talking about politics, it is not just two sides as we have seen here today. There are Roman Catholics who are nationalists in the sense that they want union with the South and there are other Roman Catholics who do not want it. There are all sorts—Unionists, Protestants and so on—as we have seen. It is not only two sides.
I agree with my right hon. Friend that the utmost must be done by the Government to show that they are there for the people in general, regardless of religion or politics. So many of them are unionists of different persuasions and so 264 many nationalists of different types, some of them utterly vicious, some of them not at all. These things have, unfortunately, to be accepted.
It is a wonderful beginning that we have all parties in this House saying that a real attempt must be made to win the confidence of all people. It is immensely important that none of us, whether we represent English or Northern Irish constituencies, should say anything that is in the slightest degree likely to be inflammatory but I am quite likely to use some words which some in this House regard as dirty words as applied to Ireland. I am certainly likely to express views which will not be acceptable to all sections of the House, perhaps be acceptable only to a very few. It would be extraordinary if anyone could speak on Ireland and obtain complete agreement everywhere. I shall certainly not be an exception to that general rule. Pursuing the question of obtaining the confidence of all sides, as one who has ever since his school days tried to understand the Irish question—still the same old Irish question, in my submission—it is surely obvious, at any rate to people outside Ireland, that it is not practical to abandon the Unionists by walking out with our troops or by abolishing their Senate.
I hope that we can give confidence to the Unionists if they feel that that is the case, and that is why I am saying this. If any such thing happened, there would be the most frightful civil war, far worse than anything happening now. There would be massacre on a ghastly scale unless someone other than ourselves intervened; and someone other than ourselves would intervene in those circumstances because no Government in Dublin could exist for a moment if it were thought that they were standing by and watching a massacre of people of their own faith and their own way of thinking in the North.
There are, therefore, two alternatives from which this Government in Westminster can choose in trying to reach a solution. First, we can continue as we are with our troops gallantly, against appalling odds, trying to keep the peace and separate the warring factions. I heard what the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McMaster) said, and I know that there are a certain number of people with some discipline and with some arms 265 who are out to keep the fires of enmity burning. I have no doubt about that. No one could study Ireland for a number of years without seeing that. They believe, mistakenly as most in this House think, that if they keep those fires burning they have some chance of extracting from the fires the unity of Ireland. It is clear—and I am not sure that I shall carry hon. Members opposite with me in this—that we are setting our troops an absolutely impossible task in even hoping that they will keep a semblance of the peace.
I come to the next alternative. Here I follow my hon. Friend and fellow Member for the Humberside, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara), who spoke in a most statesmanlike way. We must get together all the interested parties in this frightful affair to see whether an ultimate solution is capable of being found. I praise tremendously the fact that the Government intend to go on with the reforms in Northern Ireland. But that is not enough. Something beyond that must be done if we want a real settlement. It is, I think, indisputable that we must get all sides together if we want to achieve an ultimate settlement and prevent an increase in the present violence and bloodshed.
Who can deny that the people of the Republic of Ireland are interested parties, just as we in this country are, although it is sometimes denied? Although only a very small proportion of people in the Republic of Ireland want to have the turbulent North incorporated in their State, I am convinced that they cannot stand idly on one side and see the awful trouble going on in the North and their friends, their kith and kin, torn to pieces without doing anything about it. It is not reasonable to expect them to do that.
This is an international situation. I do not believe that any solution which comes from British interference in Ireland can succeed. Therefore, even if it is a dirty word, we must ask the world society to use the United Nations machinery in an attempt to find a solution and to hold the court while the attempt to find that solution is being made. I know that this is thought to be Utopian and impracticable, but has anyone 266 else a more likely solution? I doubt it very much.
I do not suggest that we should run away, take our troops out and leave things to happen. On the contrary, we should help the United Nations machinery by all the means in our power if we are asked to do so in an attempt to find a solution. But this is not purely a British question. I am entirely opposed to allowing our troops to be used in this extremely difficult and frustrating way from their point of view, especially as I do not believe that an ultimate solution can be found by doing it.
I think—and here I am being a little immodest—that I see ways of finding a solution without sacrificing the ideals of either side. We are singularly fortunate in that there are a people and Parliament in the Republic of Ireland who wish to see peace in Northern Ireland and yet who are practical in their approach and who know that they cannot, even if they wanted to do so, which they do not, impose the union of Ireland by force. We should take immediate advantage of this situation.
§ Mr. John E. Maginnis (Armagh)
Would the hon. and learned Gentleman suggest to the Government of Southern Ireland that one way of restoring peace in Northern Ireland would be for the Southern Ireland Government to recogwho would like to use violence.
§ Mr. Mallalieu
The best thing that they can do to restore peace in Northern Ireland is to do what they are doing; namely, to keep out of it and to show restraint and to give no support to those would would like to use violence.
I say to the Government that we should seize this opportunity. In view of the state of affairs in the Republic of Ireland—it has not always been thus and it may not be so in future—we should invite them to make a joint approach to the United Nations. Then world opinion, properly focused, might be given the opportunity possibly—and I would not put it higher—of eventually bringing peace, if not in our time, then at least in time. I see no hope of achieving a permanent settlement in any other way.
§ 2.36 p.m.
§ Captain L. P. S. Orr (Down, South)
I recognise the sincerity with which the 267 hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) put forward his proposal for a solution of an intractable problem. I should make it plain that I do not intend at this late stage of the debate to go over all the ground which has been covered. I wish to deal with only one problem which was put to me by the former Home Secretary.
I say to the hon. and learned Member for Brigg and to his hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) that it is not possible, by some magic stroke, by some conference, by some ingenious solution which one might think the United Nations or any other body would produce, suddenly to wish away the long legacy of history in Ireland. There is no immediate solution which would be acceptable to everybody in Ireland, and there is no use in looking for one.
There are not, as one might think from looking at the Press, two communities locked in deadly struggle. That is not the picture in Ireland or in Ulster. But it could become the picture if the situation were allowed to drift. In Ulster, 90 per cent. or more of the community have no wish but to live at peace with their neighbours and to go about their daily business in their own way. The majority community, who are British by birth and tradition, owe their past and their traditions and everything else to this country. The vast majority of them do not wish to treat their neighbours other than with justice, tolerance and fairness. I do not believe that the minority, who by history and tradition look to their kinsmen in the South, wish to do other than live in peace and harmony with their neighbours.
We are dealing with the effect of the events of the last three or four years which have sought to set the two communities about each other's ears. What is the reason and the cause? Debate on this question is probably arid. We must realise that in the north-east corner of Ireland there are two communities of different traditions and different religions and that they must learn to live together.
There are only two foundations upon which one can build a bridge of peace. The first is to ensure by every possible method that the Roman Catholic population, 268 the minority in Ulster, understand and have reason to understand that they have nothing to fear from the majority and that from the majority they will get fair play and fair dealing. I believe that the programme of reform which is going ahead in Northern Ireland ought to satisfy every reasonable person, provided that it is carried out, as I believe it is intended to be carried out, with good will and determination.
The second foundation upon which a bridge must be built is that the majority, the Protestant population, must feel that the security of the State and its institutions will not be undermined. It is essential, therefore, that time after time, almost ad nauseam, it is made plain—as my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and his predecessor made plain—that the security of Northern Ireland and its position within the United Kingdom will never be altered without the consent of Northern Ireland. That cannot be repeated too often. But that repetition must be backed by clear action. It must be backed by its clearly being seen that the arrangements made for the management of the security forces of the Crown are adequate.
I do not want to indulge in all the verbal street fighting which may have taken place. But it is necessary that whatever arrangements are made are seen to be satisfactory. Here I have every confidence in my right hon. Friend. I understand that the Chief of the Imperial General Staff is in Northern Ireland at the moment. I believe that there is a will to see that arrangements are made that people may go about the business of their daily lives in security. That is an absolute essential to peace.
Another essential is to make it plain that no act of violence, no act of propaganda, no demonstration and nothing else will create a situation in which the constitution will be altered.
Given that and given, on the other hand, the clear understanding among the minority that the majority in Ulster—and I believe it to be true with very few exceptions—have no wish to oppress them in any way and have no wish other than for tolerance, we may see that through such patience and understanding lies the only course upon which peace in Northern Ireland can be built.
269 I understand the sincerity with which the hon. and learned Member for Brigg put forward his proposals, but he is mistaken, because any suggestion that there might be a conference or a reference to the United Nations would immediately give rise to a sense of insecurity and a sense that something strange or new was liable to take place. I am sure that it would be a mistake and that it would contribute to unease rather than the opposite.
I said that I wanted to deal with one subject in particular. Both the Home Secretary and the former Home Secretary put to me a question about the parades, having in mind, in particular, the parade of 12th July. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North put the point very persuasively, too. As I told the right hon. Gentleman when he mooted this to me privately, it raises considerable questions.
The first is that of my own personal position. I am head of the Orange institution, but I am very much a titular head—in a sense a constitutional monarch. This is a worldwide organisation. For example, there are more members of my institution in Canada than there are in Ireland. In each country it is constitutionally managed by a Grand Lodge which is of democratic origins and with which I could not interfere even if I wished to do so—and I should not wish to do so. The affairs of the Order in Ireland are managed by the Grand Lodge of Ireland and only the Grand Lodge of Ireland could call any kind of a conference such as the right hon. Gentleman suggested. Let me put the point to him publicly as I put it to him privately. The 12th July is, I suppose, to Ulster what Independence Day is to the United States of America.
§ Captain Orr
I appreciate that. It is common knowledge. Nevertheless, to all those who believe in Ulster being British it is what Independence Day is to the United States of America. It is very deeply rooted. To say that one is celebrating a 300-year-old battle is no more 270 relevant than to say that the Americans are celebrating the Boston Tea Party. It is a national day. It is the great national day. It is a public holiday. It is woven into the very fabric of life, as the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North said. It would be as outrageous, in a sense, to say that it should be abandoned because of threats of violence as to say that the Durham miners should not hold their annual celebrations. It has the same kind of evocative connotations. It is a day on which we celebrate that which eventually led to our remaining British people.
Therefore, to suggest that everything should somehow be called off is like saying to the English, "No more cricket", or something like that. The difficulties which could arise if anything like that were suggested are far beyond any good which might come out of it. In any case, I remind the former Home Secretary that he said,Satan finds some evil still for idle hands to do.Suppose all these people were not marching but were idle on the day. What would they do? To abandon the parade is not a practical proposition, as any sensible person realises.
§ Mr. Gerard Fitt (Belfast, West) rose—
§ Mr. Fitt
The hon. and gallant Member said that the Orange Lodges parade to commemorate the happenings of 1690—the Battle of the Boyne and so on. But is he not aware that the very provocative Orange parades which took place last Saturday on Springfield Road, outside the Ballymurphy Estate, an overwhelmingly Catholic estate, gave as a reason a celebration of the 14th anniversary of the opening of an Orange Lodge in a Catholic estate? Does he not concede that that was particularly provocative and insulting?
§ Captain Orr
I said when I began that what I did not want to do was to indulge in verbal street fighting. I am not going to bandy words about processions with the hon. Member. I was dealing with 12th July.
271 The leaders of the Orange institution, the Grand Lodge of Ireland, I was talking about recommended that no further of the small parades, with which the hon. Gentleman was dealing, should take place between now and 12th July. That was done because of a situation of tension and because it was felt that that would be helpful. But 12th July is a completely different thing. What I think any reasonable person would say is that since one is asking the security forces of the Crown to be involved in protection, then, where there is any real danger—real danger: not threatened but any real danger—then some re-routing might be achieved. That, I think, every person of good will would wish to see and bring about. I do not think anybody would object to that.
My right hon. Friend spoke at the beginning not of law and order but of freedom under the law. This is an ancient freedom, the freedom to celebrate our great national day. It is an ancient freedom. It would be not consistent with the concept of freedom under the law if, because of the events of the last two or three years, this had to be abandoned. The 12th July celebrations have gone on for a very long time in Ulster. They have not, until the last couple of years, been held to be a cause of provocation at all. It would be intolerable if this freedom were to be infringed because of threats of violence. Freedom under the law I would wish to maintain.
Now I promised that I would be very short, and I do not intend—
§ Mrs. Shirley Williams (Hitchin) rose—
§ Mrs. Shirley Williams
The hon. and gallant Gentleman made one very important point when talking about the possibility of re-routing, and I wondered if I might raise with him the question whether it might be possible for there to be a nationally understood agreement on rerouting, because, as he rightly pointed out, whereas one does not wish to prevent freedom under the law, one does wish to prevent provocation which might lead to more difficulty and disaster.
§ Captain Orr
I accept that entirely. I would say to the hon. Lady that it is not for me to decide. It is a matter for the Grand Lodge of Ireland in consultation with the Government of Northern Ireland.—[Interruption.]—No. I am not the boss. Our association does not have bosses. I am, as I explained at the very beginning, simply the titular head of the institution. What I would say to the hon. Lady on the serious point is that if the Government of Northern Ireland put in a proposition, so far as security and the maintenance of law are concerned, to the Grand Lodge of Ireland, I am perfectly certain that it would consider it, as it has always done, with the interests of the nation at heart. That is as far as I can go.
I should like to see some more of my hon. Friends taking part in the debate, so I shall now resume my seat.
§ Mr. Speaker
So far without conspicuous success I have appealed to the House to enable many hon. Members to speak. The Front Benches will intervene at 3.20.
§ 2.54 p.m.
§ Mr. F. McManus (Fermanagh and South Tyrone)
This is my first attempt to speak in this House, my maiden speech. I recognise that the House has many conventions with which I am not yet familiar. I hope that Mr. Speaker will waive the usual procedure if I step over any lines of convention.
I believe that it is a convention of this House that one compliments one's predecessor. The Marquess of Hamilton, who held the seat of Fermanagh and South Tyrone before me, represented Fermanagh and South Tyrone as well as he could, according to his lights, and I compliment him on representing Fermanagh and South Tyrone according to his lights. Unfortunately there are a great number of people in Fermanagh and South Tyrone who would not compliment the Marquess of Hamilton on representing the seat according to his lights.
It is my clear duty to point out to this House, and it will be my clear duty and my intention from now on to keep pointing out to this House, until it gets it into its head, that the partition solution for Ireland has obviously and evidently failed. Now after 50 years of partition 273 we have a situation where this House has been forced to send 11,000 troops to the Province where Protestants and Catholics are openly at war in the streets of Belfast and elsewhere.
I come here as an Irishman. I do not come here to beg favours or cadge concessions from this House. I come here to assert the rights of the minority in Northern Ireland, which, I will point out to the House, is an artificially created minority. These rights have not, unfortunately, been asserted in this House for a very long time; they have not been asserted for the people I represent in Fermanagh and South Tyrone. Therefore, I give notice to the House that on many occasions it will be my duty to attempt to instruct this House that the partition solution has been inevitably a failure and it is time this House changed its mind and looked for another solution.
The Home Secretary, earlier today, posed the question: why do the people not get on very well in Northern Ireland? Why is there all this trouble? Why is it that Englishmen have been noted for their lack of understanding of Ireland? These are very good questions. I propose to answer them briefly.
It is in Northern Ireland an oversimplification, certainly so far as the minority and a great proportion of the fair-minded members of the majority are concerned, to say that Stormont is the cause of unrest in Northern Ireland. For 50 years this House has had the chance, an excellent chance, in Northern Ireland, because there was a one-party Government all along, to solve the Northern Ireland problem; but the problem has got worse and steadily worse.
I realise that many hon. Members do not fully understand what Stormont is all about. Stormont is built on sectarianism the vast majority of the members of Stormont and of the Government of Stormont belong to the Orange Order. I am delighted that the Worshipful Grand Master, the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr), is present. To the Catholic majority the Orange Order is like a red rag to a bull because it was founded for the purpose of keeping the Catholics down. The Worshipful Grand Master has mouthed pious platitudes about reassuring the minority in Northern Ireland. He wants to impress upon the Catholic minority that they have 274 nothing to fear from a Government which is drawn completely from the Orange Order. Yet, if one of the Catholic minority who happens to be a friend of the Worshipful Grand Master dies, according to the rules of his institution the Worshipful Grand Master cannot go into the church where that man's funeral service is being held. Many members of the institution have done so and have been expelled from the Orange Order for entering a Roman Catholic church. That is the Order that is in control in Northern Ireland.
The Orange Order was bad enough, but another "ism" has currently taken over in Northern Ireland. It is clear from the last election that there has been a definite swing towards Paisleyism. The Orange Order was not staunch enough, and the civil rights movement came along and cracked the great edifice of the Orange Order. The most primitive unionism took heart and found a saviour and leader in the Rev. Paisley.
The tragedy of Northern Ireland is that there is no possibility of normal political development. The Unionist Government must see to it that Protestants and Catholics are kept apart, because if they are allowed to become friendly and united the Government's basis for power disappears and they are finished. Consequently, there is no political development of any sort along normal democratic right/left/centre lines. The Unionist Party cannot allow a left or centre policy but must depend at all times on religious bigotry.
Much has been said about the reforms, but I for one am not very impressed by the reforms which have so far been offered. Little or nothing has been granted. We did get "one man one vote", but that was a fundamental right which should have been granted 50 years ago, and no one deserves any credit for that. Other reforms have been drafted, but they are of such fundamental and basic significance in a democracy that no one should get credit for them; yet people are applauding the Unionist Government for being progressive and reforming. They are no such thing, and very little change of heart has come from Stormont.
The only House that can change things in Northern Ireland in the immediate future is this House if it will assume 275 more responsibility than it has previously assumed. Only if this House continues to breathe down the neck of Stormont and of the Prime Minister, the Government and the Cabinet in Stormont, will changes come, but then only grudgingly, as always.
I want to mention the much-discussed subject of parades. I will deal with only one parade which I witnessed. The town of Coalisland lies in my constituency and it is more than 90 per cent. Catholic. On Wednesday evening a parade which was supposed to commemorate the battle of the Somme took place in Coalisland. Despite numerous warnings of trouble which had been given by Mr. Austin Currie the Member of Parliament for East Tyrone, myself and various leaders of public opinion, this Orange parade in a most provocative fashion came through Coalisland, and it took the British military to escort the parade.
I defend the individual right of any persons to march and to protest. If they have a point to make they have a perfect right to demonstrate. But it cannot be said that the Orange parades are either protesting or making a fair point. That point was made 300 years ago, and all they are doing is to rub salt into the wounds of the poor minority in Northern Ireland.
There was trouble with this parade, as had been forecast. Earlier that day the R.U.C. in that area invoked the Special Powers Act and visited the homes of several of my constituents to search for arms. They did not find any arms. It is significant that no search was made in the New Mills area, which is near Coalisland. This was borne out by the fact that in the early hours of Thursday morning Mr. Austin Currie, M.P. for East Tyrone, was narrowly missed by three bullets which passed through the front part of his house. It is commonly believed in that area that the people who fired those shots, just as they did last August and have since thrown bombs at his house, came from the New Mills or Moygashel areas, which are staunch Protestant areas. No search for arms was made in those areas, but it was demonstrated later that there were sufficient arms there to mount an attack on Austin Currie.
276 I should like the House to note one point about the R.U.C. on which I make a strong representation. The Hunt Report recommended that the R.U.C. should change the colour of its uniform. I grant that this is a small point, but it is a prime example of the way that the Unionist machine works in Northern Ireland. The Unionists will hang on to every little thing. True indeed is the saying, "What we have we hold; no surrender." They are not prepared to surrender the colour of the uniform. For the people of Bogside and of parts of Belfast, that uniform holds nothing but terror and the most unpleasant memories. Therefore, the sooner the R.U.C. changes its uniform and attempts to assume its new look, the better for all in Northern Ireland.
I would speak on behalf of the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin), who, unfortunately, is incarcerated in gaol, but I understand that another of my hon. Friends will be speaking on her behalf. I deplore the complete injustice of the sentence imposed on the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster. I was then and I am still appalled at the sheer political stupidity of the Unionist Government in carrying out the sentence by putting the hon. Lady in gaol. They could not have picked a worse time. From their point of view, knowing their interests and inclinations, it is probably the best time. But, coming at a time of confrontation and unrest following our right-wing hard liner success in the recent election, coming up to 12th July and the provocative Orange parades, the gaoling of the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster, from the point of view of a great number of people in Northern Ireland, is the final straw. Now that everyone is suitably impressed that the law has taken its due course and nobody can claim that the courts have been interfered with, in the interests of peace in Northern Ireland, I appeal to the Home Secretary, in the interests of justice, in the interests of the hon. Member herself and of her 70,000 constituents, to exercise his discretion in the matter and to release her forthwith.
Hon. Members in this House know of the Border which divides the North from the South. But there is another border in Northern Ireland which perhaps many do not know about. I speak about a vicious economic border that exists in 277 Northern Ireland and separates the three counties of Derry, Tyrone and my native Fermanagh from the rest. It is known as the West of the Bann policy. This policy has been operated viciously by the Unionist machine in Stormont for 15 years. The reason is simple. In Derry, Tyrone and, especially, Fermanagh there is an anti-Unionist, Nationalist, Catholic majority. That is a dangerous set of circumstances for the Unionists. Therefore, it is their avowed intention to diminish that majority by the only method at their disposal—to force them either to leave the country, to emigrate to this country or further afield, or to go East of the Bann to new cities like Craigavon. Clearly, the attempt is to create in and around Belfast something like a modern city state, the prototype of which was established in Greece long ago. But it is not only Catholics West of the Bann who suffer. It is the unfortunate Protestants who, by accident of birth, find themselves in an area which is predominantly Catholic. They, too, suffer the pernicious results of this West of the Bann policy.
I come now to a subject which I know particularly well and on which I hope to instruct this House closely. In County Fermanagh, the son of the former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Captain John Brooke, is chairman of the county council. That is the new amalgamated council. It is the council which was to hit the headlines in Northern Ireland, the new, revitalised, efficient machine. Let me give the statistics. They can be checked anyway, and I have a number of booklets in my briefcase which I intend to distribute.
In County Fermanagh at the moment there is something of the order of a 55 per cent. anti-Unionist majority. The county council comprises 52 members, of whom 35 represent the minority and 17 represent us, the majority. That is arithmetically impossible, one might think. But it is not to anyone who knows Unionism and Northern Ireland. It is a simple operation at which the Unionists have become expert. It is pure gerrymandering. How else could a majority be represented by 17 councillors and a minority by twice the number? The present figures are 35 and 17. They were meant to be 36 and 16. 278 However, a certain gentleman got a seat that he was not supposed to win when he beat the Unionists.
The Stormont régime have now brought out their Local Government Reform Bill. It is intended to leave County Fermanagh centred on Enniskillen. Over the years, the Stormont Government have made a number of recommendations. We know to our grief never to count our chickens before they are hatched. Never have the Stormont Government done what they said they would do. A central housing authority has long been promised. It was to be scrupulously fair. Houses were to be let so fairly that people would not believe it. Already the Stormont Government are prevaricating and going back on their word.
The same applies to the county council. I want to appeal to Her Majesty's Government. Pressure should be brought to bear on Stormont. As I understand it, that can be done. By a stroke of the pen, the Minister of Development or whoever is responsible can abolish Fermanagh County Council and the Dungannon District Council where minorities of councillors represent majorities. We are told that reform will come in two years. Let us wait and see. In the meantime, let us abolish the rotten councils which exist and give the people a chance to see that democracy is on the way. Let us abolish Fermanagh County Council and set up machinery whereby justice can be administered in the County of Fermanagh. Nothing could be worse than the council that we have at present.
I represent one of the largest and most neglected constituencies in the United Kingdom. Please God, before this term of Parliament has finished I will have instructed hon. Members fully on all the details of the discrimination and neglect that we suffer in Fermanagh, South Tyrone and, speaking in the absence of the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster, also in Mid-Ulster. If there is to be a solution to Ireland and the Irish problem, the people West of the Bann must be redeemed from the economic wasteland in which they live. Money, from here or whatever sources, must be pumped into the area, and the people must be saved from the choice between starving and emigrating East of the Bann.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Stratton Mills (Belfast, North)
Time is short, but the House will wish me to congratulate the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. McManus) on the fluency of his speech and also on deciding to undergo the ordeal of making it on his first day in the Chamber. I disagreed with much of what the hon. Gentleman said, but it would be churlish of me not to congratulate him on his maiden speech. I was sorry that he was not a little more generous in his comments on his predecessor, who was much respected on both sides of the House.
I shall not be able to make a properly balanced speech today, but my position broadly is well known. In the election and before it I stood up constantly to Paisleyism. At the election I succeeded in knocking the Paisleyite candidate into a poor third place and he saved his deposit by only a few thousand votes. The election result at Belfast, North showed that, despite having had more trouble on the streets than in virtually any other constituency in Britain, nevertheless the people of Northern Ireland are sensible and will follow a strong and firm lead.
Over the last year the responsibility for the security of Northern Ireland has shifted from Stormont to the Army and hence to Westminister. The responsibility of the Army is to protect citizens, Protestant and Catholic alike, because unless there is peace and unless there is law and order on our streets, there can be no civil rights, no economic development, nothing.
It is time that we looked to see whether in the movement that has taken place this policy has been a success or a partial failure. I would describe briefly one incident which occurred on Saturday night. I was there within about an hour of the incident having occurred. At about six o'clock half a dozen gunmen moved out on to waste land at the corner of the Crumlin Road-Hooker Street area and fired shots 50 to 60 yards across the street into a Protestant crowd, leaving two men dead and a number injured from bullet fire.
I mention this terrible incident not to raise tension but to report it to the House. The tragic thing is that during this gun play across this major main road the 280 Army was present. I join in no criticism of the Army here. We in Belfast owe the Army a lot. What went wrong, that soldiers could stand by whilst guns were fired across a busy street and people lay dead upon the road? How can we explain that to our constituents? I am told that the Army says that it fires only if fired upon itself. I wonder whether that is a correct interpretation of the position. I believe that the orders have been changed since then. It gives us food for thought, if this can happen, whether the Army in its major security rôle is sufficiently flexible to deal with a fast-changing situation, because we are in a new phase in this situation.
Again I ask whether the Army is by its nature suitable to deal with street riots, or whether there is not a much greater need for co-operation by the Army with the R.U.C. I ask again whether the Army chain of command is not too long for fast decision-making. I ask again whether a four to six months' stay by each regiment in Northern Ireland is sufficiently long for them to get to grips with the problem that they are tackling, to know the area and to be trained in dealing with an immensely complex situation.
Again I was glad to hear what the Home Secretary said this afternoon, and I warmly welcome his speech from the Dispatch Box and his appointment. I can tell the House that his visit to Northern Ireland was a tremendous success. I was glad to hear him question whether the weapons which the troops have for dealing with rock throwers are adequate.
In this security problem, the Government and people of Northern Ireland have put their faith and trust in the Army and they look to them for protection—Protestant and Catholic alike. If the Army does not succeed in that job, polarisation follows inevitably and it is a fertile breeding ground for extremists. It is the fertile breeding ground for Paisleyism and Republicanism alike. A Paisley Ulster or an extreme Republican-dominated Ulster is an Ulster with absolutely no future. It is a bankrupt Ulster, an Ulster wedded to bitter sectarian strife.
§ 3.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees (Leeds, South)
Mr. Deputy Speaker, may I congratulate you on your re-election. We all know that 281 you will carry out your duties in the high traditions of the past. However, I hope that in the ensuing polls the same thing will not happen to you as happened to your last four predecessors, but there may be reasons for that which are unconnected with the carrying out of the job.
May I also, as a former junior Minister at the Home Office, on behalf of those of us who worked at the Home Office, including my hon. Friend the Member for Hitchen (Mrs. Shirley Williams) who is sitting beside me, offer my congratulations to the Home Secretary and his junior Ministers. They will find the Home Office a first-class institution, which belies much of the feeling against it that one finds outside as being a regulatory Department and not concerned with wider issues.
Civil servants serve us equally. During the General Election allegations were made by a Privy Councillor about the loyalty of certain civil servants at the Home Office, and I can only assume that, in the traditions of this place, an inquiry will be held into those allegations. Civil servants are not to be bandied about like balance of payments figures. They are people who serve us all, and serve us honourably.
I have no wish to add a great deal to what my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) and others on both sides of the House have said about Northern Ireland, or to comment on the views of the Home Secretary. There is agreement, however, on what he said, that grievances must be dealt with and that there must be freedom under the law. Time and patience are required.
In this respect we have heard from two maiden speakers today that time and patience may have to last a long time. We heard the speech made by the new hon. Member for Antrim, North (Mr. Paisley) and the new hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. McManus). They both represent different edges of the spectrum in Northern Ireland. All I would say is that the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone at the very beginning acknowledged his lack of knowledge of the proceedings of the House, and did not offend them, so far as I can see. The 282 other hon. Member managed to come here, shout at us and depart. That is no way to win friends or to put over views.
On Northern Ireland, the position of this side of the House is clear. It has been made clear by the actions of the previous Government in the last two or three years, and the last year in particular. The greater interest now is on the actions of the new Government, and I am sure that we shall hear more from the Minister of State when he replies shortly.
I shall concentrate on immigration and race relations, one of the subjects of today's debate but one which, as I saw it, as someone who had responsibility for these matters over the past two years, under my right hon. Friend, loomed far larger in the General Election just passed than did the matter of Northern Ireland, though I accept that that may not have been true in certain parts of the country. In the last few days before the General Election, in my view—perhaps because my ear was attuned to it—there were undertones on this subject to be detected which it is as well for us to bring to the surface and discuss as much as possible in the House. I can only observe that some of those who discussed these matters on the hustings forbear to come and discuss them with us in the House.
There is no large-scale immigration into this country. The figures available in official Government statistics show that that is so. There are not large numbers of work vouchers being issued every year so as to swamp the areas of concentrated immigration in Britain. In 1963, the number of work vouchers issued was as high as 30,000. In the past four or five years, it has fallen to about 4,000. The number of dependants who followed that early rush of work voucher holders has fallen in recent years. There has not been a great inrush of people into this country in recent years, although, listening at the hustings, one would have thought that they were padding up every beach on the South Coast of England.
I suspect that it is because of this feeling, this mythology, in the matter of race relations that the Government have turned in the direction they have on the subject of immigration control. It is to give the impression that something is 283 being done. To equate aliens and Commonwealth citizens will bring a great deal of trouble to the Government when they look closely into the question. The overall factor which they are not taking into account is that there is all the difference on earth between the motivation of aliens coming to this country and that of Commonwealth citizens. Commonwealth citizens come here to settle. If they find but the meanest job, they have a much higher standard of living than anything they have enjoyed in their country of origin. This is why they are coming.
In terms of the actual control of aliens and Commonwealth citizens, the Government will find themselves running into a great deal of trouble. For one thing, the statistics show that the number of aliens coming to this country is far greater, and they return of their own volition. This is the basic difference between the two. If it is to be just a question of simple equation between the two, the Government's change of policy, I believe, is a prescription for an increase in the number of people who will come to this country.
At present, under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1962, dependants have a statutory right of entry into this country. Do I understand that the incoming Government will amend the 1962 Act? It is not just a question of amending the rules and regulations. The whole Act will have to be before the House. There will have to be a fundamental examination of the Act, no mere tinkering with the rules of control.
Already, the wives of aliens come into this country, although not as of right. Do I understand that the only distinction to be made under the proposed change, whether by statute law or by regulation, is that in future wives will be allowed in but not as of right? If that is so, and in the light of the assertions which have been made that dependants will still be able to come, I fail to see what basic difference is to be made. There will be great discussion on the legislation to be brought in by the new Government, though not because we disagree on the need to control; the argument will be about the methods of control.
I was glad to think, in the last few days before the election, that, if we 284 returned to power, we could look forward to the coming into effect of the Immigration Appeals Act which was put on the Statute Book in 1969. I suspect that the right hon. Gentleman will find that administering immigration into this country will be a good deal easier because of that.
My right hon. Friend and I always felt that at some time we would have to have a good look at the methods of control built up over the past eight years. Our very firm view was that we would first have to see how the Immigration Appeals Act worked out, because there will be a good deal of administrative case law developing. To rush in for electoral purposes to alter the rules now will not mean that the Government will not have to change them again very quickly in the years to come.
In the two years or so over which I dealt with this job there were times when I wondered about the statements made and the attitudes adopted. There is a deep-seated problem of race relations in this country, but it must be a great deal deeper in the United States, because our problem is numerically very small. I often wished that we could get away from talking about immigration control, about the mythology of immigration, and get down to the thing that really matters, the question of race relations in this country. For every 98 white people we have two coloured people. The most that could happen in the years ahead would be that for every 96 white people there would be four coloured people. We should be considering how people of different colours, creeds and outlook can live together in this country.
There have been problems before. I remember studying the political scene in the General Election of 1906, when the Jews were coming into the East End of London. That was not a very edifying thing to do. What worried me more was that 30 years later, in 1936 and the years after, there was still a festering sore of anti-Semitism in the East End of London, which showed itself with the rise of the Fascist movement. Things do not disappear very quickly, and the problem of people of different colours and cultures living together will not be wished away overnight. All of us in the House and the country must apply ourselves to the problem.
285 Some people talk as if the concentrations can be dealt with very easily. They cannot, because the reason for the concentrations is that the Commonwealth immigrants have gone to them on work vouchers to do a job, in the Yorkshire woollen industry or the foundries of the West Midlands, that white people will increasingly not do. They are concentrated because of the nature of the work they are doing. It will not be a question of picking out one or two Commonwealth immigrants and sending them to Harrogate or Cheltenham so as to say that we have dispersed them. Dispersal is a pipe dream for a very long time.
We must find ways of living together, and that is why I ask these questions of the new Government. They have spoken out on Northern Ireland. Do I understand that they support wholeheartedly the work of the Race Relations Board under Mr. Mark Bonham Carter? I have found its work excellent. Do I understand that they support the more longterm work of the Community Relations Commission under Mr. Frank Cousins? I hope that they will increasingly do what my right hon. Friend was beginning to do, because the legislation is quite young, in bringing the Board and the Commission together to discuss the wider problems, and above all to bring about discussions with local councils and between the community relations councils and the local authorities. Some of the co-operation between the local community relations councils and local authorities is first rate, but in some instances there is a great deal of suspicion. One of the jobs we were going to do had the election gone the other way was to apply our minds to seeing that there was more co-operatiton between people on the spot, between local councillors and officials, because it is in the areas where the immigrants live that much must be done.
One of the excellent innovations of the last Government was the expenditure, which was to total about £25 million—we announced just before the General Election that it was to be increased—in the down-town areas of our great cities, not just because there were immigrants there but because there are problems there. I was glad to hear the words of the Home Secretary and I presume that they covered Section 11 of the 1966 Act.
286 There is a positive side to race relations. Now that we have a change of Government, perhaps it will not be so easy to spread the mythology of immigration, such as that £200 is given to all immigrants when they enter the country. How many hon. Members have heard that rubbish, as I often have? It is said that all they have to do at the immigrant ports is to line up and get the money. Someone has written to me to say that he has seen an immigrant going into a television shop and buying a colour set with his £200 from the Government while the writer was buying only a black and white set. That is not an isolated example, but I hope that sort of rubbish can end.
I pay my tribute to the work of the police, the probation officers, the teachers and the health visitors. Much is being done in areas where immigrants are concentrated, and the work needs encouragement. Of course there is concern about illegal immigration, and one notices it in the Press, but I wish that the Press would give half as much attention to the positive side of race relations.
Some of us may have found it odd that Northern Ireland and race relations were to be discussed on the same day, but as one sat and listened to the views of both sides one realised that community relations were at the root of the problem in Northern Ireland. They are certainly at the root of the problem of race relations. Attitudes which all of us have picked up in different parts of the world, if we served as soldiers and airmen in the Middle East, remain, attitudes from the days of our imperialist past when there was so much red on the map, when the word "wog" was loosely used for all people whose colour was brown. We all had this inheritance, which makes it difficult to deal with race relations, just as the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) and my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt), who have different views about Northern Ireland, have the burden of history upon them.
The problems are linked. The Labour Government made an excellent start with race relations and dealt correctly with the problem in Northern Ireland. I wish the new Government well. When they have had time to settle, we shall 287 watch carefully to see what they do about Northern Ireland and race relations, but for now we wish them well.
§ 3.38 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Richard Sharples)
May I say from this side of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, how delighted we are to see you in your position? We congratulate you and wish you well in your arduous duties.
We are grateful to the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) for his kind words about those who now occupy the positions formerly held by his colleagues and himself. It is right to pay tribute to the work which they did and for the helpful way in which they replied to our debates and dealt with the many matters referred to them by hon. Members. We shall try to do the same.
I should like to refer to the two maiden speeches which we have heard today, that from the hon. Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Paisley) and that from the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. McManus). They brought to the House an impression of the deep feeling and even of division which it is difficult for those who do not know Northern Ireland well to understand. Both will have realised that the House is always prepared to listen to those who speak with sincerity, as they did, although we may disagree strongly with some of the views expressed. Perhaps it is important to realise that it is not only by speaking in the House but by listening to the debates, to the views of others, that one makes any contribution to the proceedings, which we all respect.
The greater part of this debate has been concerned with the affairs of Northern Ireland. Perhaps I may refer first to the question of immigration, touched upon in his opening remarks by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) and referred to at somewhat greater length by his hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South. We shall be announcing in due course the various steps which we shall be taking in accordance with the pledges we gave during the General Election campaign. It is not, therefore, possible for me now 288 to go into detail on the various matters which have been raised.
I would only say that the philosophy of this Government on these matters is absolutely in the right to equality of treatment before the law and in every other way irrespective of race, creed or colour of all those people who are in this country. For the future our policy is that there should be no absolute right of permanent settlement for anyone, irrespective of what country they may come from. That is the broad philosophy, and it is really as far as I am prepared to go this afternoon.
§ Mr. Sharples
Dependants of those already here will be treated in exactly the same way as they have been on the present understanding. We have made that absolutely clear. For those who come here in future there is no absolute right of permanent settlement, no matter where they may come from.
Returning to the subject which has occupied this House for the greater part of today I must refer first to the speech made by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East. He probably has as great an understanding of these problems as anyone in the House, and I pay tribute from this side for his very helpful and constructive speech. I join with him and the Home Secretary in the tribute to the work of the security forces. I was fortunate enough to accompany my right hon. Friend on his visit to Northern Ireland to see with him at first hand some of the work of the security forces and the very difficult conditions not only in which they have to operate but in which they have to live. It is not possible to pay too high a tribute to them.
I would also extend sympathy, as did the right hon. Gentleman, to the relatives of those unfortunate people on all sides who have been killed in the troubles. The sympathy of the whole House goes out to them. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that during the parades which are to take place on 13th July it would be a good idea for Members of Parliament to go out acting as observers. As he will appreciate only too well, there are difficulties which could arise over this suggestion, but it is a proposal at which my right hon. Friend will look 289 carefully, and I am sure that the House will accept his decision.
The hon. Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Moyle) mentioned certain matters which he said required looking into. One such point was the recommendation of the Hunt Committee on public prosecutions and the possibility of introducing the Scottish system. This proposal is being examined by a working party set up by the Northern Ireland Government, and we should await the recommendations of that working party, which will be made not to us but to the Northern Ireland Government.
My hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) asked whether the General Officer Commanding had all the powers he needed to deal with the situation. I can give my hon. Friend an absolute assurance that the General has all the powers for which he has asked. If he were to ask for further powers, the matter would be carefully considered by my right hon. Friend.
My hon. Friends the Members for Belfast, East (Mr. McMaster) and Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills) referred to the incidents which occurred last Saturday. A clear statement has been issued by the General Officer Commanding to the effect that anyone found carrying firearms will be liable to be shot. This would particularly apply in an area in which firearms had been used. Not only is it important that the instructions to the troops should be clear, but it is probably at least as important, if not more important, that the dangers which people indulging in this kind of activity will run should be clearly understood by the population of Northern Ireland, particularly in the difficult areas. If a further statement in this direction is needed, it will be made by the General Officer Commanding. It is important that if such a statement is made it should receive full publicity, and the consequences of taking action of this kind should be fully realised by those who contemplate it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, North also referred to the question of liaison with the police. I am very glad to say that steps have been taken to improve this within the last few days and that in future police officers of the R.U.C. will be attached at company level to give advice on local conditions 290 to the troops on the ground. This is particularly important in the event of a quick changeover of troops who are put into situations which they could not previously have anticipated and who do not know the area or circumstances with which they have to deal. It is important that experienced police officers should be available on the ground and able to give advice at short notice.
§ Mr. Stratton Mills
I am glad to hear what my hon. Friend says. Is he aware that in the past one of the problems has been that the police have felt that advice given to the Army on a local situation has not always been followed? Can my hon. Friend give an assurance that advice, when given, will be most sympathetically considered?
§ Mr. Sharples
This is a matter of both sides working together. The fact that police officers will be working with the troops directly at a very much lower level than previously will probably do much to help to get over some of the misunderstandings which may have arisen in the past.
My right hon. Friend and I returned from our two-day visit to Northern Ireland with a feeling that there can be no complacency about this grievous issue. I was particularly struck by, and agreed entirely with, these words used by my hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry—"What can be done now by legislation has virtually come to an end. What we can do now can be achieved only by reason". The only difficulty I see in dealing with the situation is that in certain areas reason seems to be a commodity which is in short supply.
Having said that, I believe that there are real signs for hope for the future. I will tell the House some of the hopeful signs which we saw during our visit. The first was the attitude of the trade union leaders. Before we went to Northern Ireland we had a talk with the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) and some of his colleagues. In the meeting which my right hon. Friend and I had with the trade union leaders, people who cut right across every strata of politics and religion, I was especially struck by the helpful and positive attitude which these trade union leaders and responsible people were prepared to take. We should pay a particular tribute to 291 them for the work which they did in resolving the very difficult situation which arose, and which might have been very much more serious than it was, in Harland and Wolff.
Another hopeful sign was the meeting we had with the church leaders. We had the feeling that on the Catholic side and on the Protestant side there were responsible people who were determined to use all their endeavours to find a solution to these problems. This was one of the most encouraging signs.
It was not only the church leaders. This attitude was to be noticed amongst people in all walks of life—people holding positions of responsibility in public life, in industry, in the trade unions. I might mention in particular Mr. Sandy Scott. We found amongst thinking people not only a willingness but a determination to find a solution to these problems.
I believe that special mention should be made in the House of the mothers of Ballymurphy who placed themselves between the troops and those who were throwing stones. If only some of this kind of attitude would spread amongst ordinary people, given firm leadership from those responsible at the top, we might go a long way towards solving the problem.
There has been a greater willingness on the part of those who arrange processions to vary the routes and try to keep the marches out of the troubled areas, a willingness to accept the advice of the Security Committee. If we are to avoid unnecessary troubles during these times of parades, it is essential that those responsible for the organisation of processions should accept the advice of the Security Committee. This applies particularly to those going to and from the assembly and dispersal points. These are the principal points of danger, as I understand it. It applies also not only to those taking part in processions themselves, who may be under some form of discipline, but even more to those who are followers and hangers on.
I think there is hope also, and I put this probably at the top of the priorities, in the determination of the Northern Ireland Government to press forward with the reforms to which they are committed and also to continue the economic 292 progress. In this they have, and they know they have, the assurance of the full support of Her Majesty's Government here and, I think I can say rightly, the full support of all Members of this House of Commons.
I do not think that any of these things, though, can really succeed unless we have peace, and unless we have peace in which there are conditions of freedom under the law. I believe myself, having talked to a large number of people, that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland want peace and want an end of the kind of conditions which they face at present. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr), whose speech I was very sorry to miss—I was out of the Chamber for a few minutes—said, I think, that 90 per cent. of the people of Northern Ireland want to live at peace. That is probably a fairly good estimate of the position, However, there are those—and we must face this—who have a vested interest in creating anarchy and destroying authority. There certainly are those, and I believe that the commodity in which they trade and upon which they build the trouble is fear.
One feels that on both sides—on all sides—the real enemy in Northern Ireland is fear. We have got to remove that fear from them. This is the contribution which the security forces can make. My hon. Friend, when he saw the security forces, the police and the Army, made it quite clear that the security forces in Northern Ireland will have the full support of Her Majesty's Government here in the resources which they need, in the manpower which they need, and in all the backing up which we can give them.
Perhaps I might finish what I have to say on a note which was struck by my right hon. Friend when we left Northern Ireland the day before yesterday. He said this:There is no problem that cannot be solved given good will and determination. The only danger is that people will lose hope.It is upon the hope for the future, hope for the young, the hope of the responsible people and of the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland, that we have to build, and by which we can solve this problem.
§ Debate adjourned.—[Mr. Goodhew.]
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.