HC Deb 29 March 1973 vol 853 cc1551-668

Question again proposed.

4.22 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. William Whitelaw)

I start by thanking the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition for his generous personal remarks. He perfectly fairly continued to put forward various arguments and said that I may in the past year have made some mistakes. If there is any man who has ever dealt with the affairs of Northern Ireland or any part of Ireland who can say after a year that he had not made mistakes, he is a brave man, and I am certainly not that man.

I recognise at once that there may well have been mistakes—mistakes of timing and action. When important decisions come in as fast as they do, one would not be human if one did not make mistakes from time to time. I do not in any way resent that comment. I seek only to learn from the mistakes that I may have made and that others may have made in the past.

The right hon. Gentleman said that with the passing of this White Paper the response will be with the people of Northern Ireland. With that I agree, and I put one further point which I believe would be accepted by a large number of people in Northern Ireland and Great Britain. We in this House have also a clear responsibility to give a lead.

There may be those in this House who do not like the White Paper; there may be those who believe it will not work; there may be those who are determined for one reason or another to oppose it. Very well. That is their decision. But I believe that the people in this country and in Northern Ireland are entitled to say to those who think that the White Paper is wrong or who are determined to vote against it that it should be given a chance to work by the people in Northern Ireland who have to work it. I hope that those who oppose the White Paper will do nothing to discourage those who seek to work the White Paper. If they were to do that a heavy responsibility would rest upon their shoulders.

My hon. Friend the Minister of State will reply to some of the detailed comments that have been made during the debate and will speak on the issues for which he bears responsibility.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister outlined the basic background of the White Paper. In seeking to respond to the various trends that have developed in the debate so far, I shall naturally do so from the background of close firsthand experience in Northern Ireland during the past year.

Inevitably, some issues and some horrors loom much larger—perhaps sometimes too large—in one's mind if one has had to live very close to them. One's judgment of the broad scene can be impaired as a result. That is particularly true of Northern Ireland, where things often appear very different on the spot from the way they appear when viewed from Westminster or, indeed, on a television screen. Although my experience has left some indelible impressions and some very firm views in my mind, I welcome the opportunity of this debate to test them in the House. It is of importance that in this debate we should be able to stand somewhat further back from the scene.

It is clear from yesterday's debate that I should deal first with our major priority, which is the whole problem of violence. There was a reference in the House yesterday to the morale of the security forces, and I want to underline what my right hon. Friend said. Despite the extremely difficult conditions under which our troops operate, the state of their morale is very high because at present they are succeeding, and nothing succeeds like success.

The month of March, with two days to go, has been the most successful month ever in the campaign against terrorist crimes. In the last week alone, the Chief Constable has reported that 47 people have been charged. Of those charges, 24 were for firearms offences, 13 for explosives offences, one for murder, three for conspiracy to murder and six for armed robbery. That is in one week. For the month of March so far the total number of people charged is 158, and that brings the total since the beginning of the year to 409.

The courts have been handing out the most severe penalties to those who are pursuing violence. In Belfast courts so far this year 156 people have been sentenced to a total of 725 years' imprisonment, plus two life sentences and one death sentence. In the winter Assizes 13 people received sentences totalling 67½ years. In the City Commission 23 people have been sentenced to 136½ years. In the High Court four people were sentenced to 29 years.

These detailed statistics are important because they prove conclusively that the security forces are hitting the terrorists very hard. They need to be given, because often in the past the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Army have felt that insufficient recognition is given to their successes. Although I do not think the media present these facts on this side of the water with as much prominence as they might, though there are welcome signs of improvement, the facts are certainly getting through to the people of Northern Ireland. More and more people there are getting the message that violence is not paying off and that the chances of getting caught are now considerably greater. There is no greater deterrent to crime than the fear of being caught.

I should like to pay very special tribute to the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Army for all they are doing in this regard. It should also be said at this time—it is often said in troubles of this sort, whether of war or something approaching war as we now have—that relations between the civil power and the military and security forces can sometimes be difficult. I can only say that my own personal relationships with the two GOC's and with the Chief Constable have been first class. I am most grateful to them and sincerely hope that they would reciprocate that our relations have been very good in that time.

There are those in the House who think that the Army or the police should take further action. We are only too ready to consider any constructive proposals put forward by people who have been on the spot and to see whether further action can be taken. But let no one doubt that the problem of dealing with guerrilla forces in heavily populated areas is an extremely difficult one, as security forces all over the world have very well recognised.

The reason for the successes of our forces recently has been the increased co-operation and support for them from all parts of the community. This was becoming apparent before the publication of the White Paper, but has been most marked since that event.

It is too early yet to say for certain that the battle for public support is won, but the use of the confidential telephone is indeed most impressive and that must be an indicator. The Chief Constable tells me that the March figure for calls received is running at the rate of 15 a day. Yesterday there was a record for a 24-hour period of 100 calls. So far the March total is over 400.

The public desire to co-operate in detecting those responsible for the appalling, savage and inhuman murder of the three sergeants which has been condemned on both sides of the House has been most marked. Over 2,500 direct telephone calls have been received by the police working on this case. The material received is being sifted most urgently.

At this stage I should also like to recognise the considerable help we have had from the security forces in the Republic. In particular, I am sure the whole House will welcome the successful action of the authorities in the Republic last night in intercepting a very substantial quantity of arms which was being shipped into their country.

Further to combat terrorism, the Government hope within the next few Jays to publish a Bill which will deal with the recommendations of the Diplock Commission and repeal the Special Powers Act, re-enacting only those provisions in it which in the Government's view are essential. The intention is that such proposals will be in force only during an emergency and that this will be a matter for this House.

I regard the provisions of the Diplock Commission as complementary to the other proposals in the White Paper dealing with human rights. The Diplock Commission itself drew attention to the problems in Northern Ireland of preserving the rule of law. While there is intimidation and violence, the courts are in very real difficulty in dealing with terrorism. While there is terrorism, the normal freedom of the individual under the law is inevitably denied.

It is a sad fact that it is necessary for the time being to retain in the proposed legislation those provisions of the Detention of Terrorists Order which provide for extra-judicial processes. But the underlying intention of the recommendations of the Diplock Commission is to provide means by which more people could be brought before the normal courts of law rather than dealt with by extra-judicial processes. This, I am sure the House will agree, is a move in the right direction. But it would be a mistake to assume that procedural improvements of the kind proposed in the Diplock Commission will by themselves be sufficient to deal with terrorism.

There remain those people who intimidate and who kill, and, as the Diplock Commission itself says, so long as this is so, detention procedures are unavoidable.

The hon. Lady the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) asked about the sectarian breakdown of detainees.

Mr. Harold Wilson

While the right hon. Gentleman is still on the Diplock Report, first, would he confirm that the orders that may be necessary under the Diplock legislation will be subject to affirmative resolution in this House?

Second, would the right hon. Gentleman deal with the point raised by my hon. Friend yesterday? If, as we understand it, Diplock is coming in the earliest of the Bills before us and the human rights are to be enshrined in the second and major constitutional Bill, would it not be right, even if that is to be so, that at the time when he publishes the Dip-lock Bill he should publish the text of what he intends in respect of human rights so that we can look at the two together?

There will be anxieties about Diplock, and very deep ones. Obviously the right hon. Gentleman knows that. It would be very good if we could see the other side of the matter in the shape of what will be done to give effect to the human rights declaration.

Mr. Whitelaw

The answer to the right hon. Gentleman's first point is "Yes". They will be affirmative orders.

As to the second point, I am afraid I do not think that it would be possible to do that completely, but I note the point and I will see in what way we might be able to help in that procedure.

The hon. Member for Mid-Ulster asked about the sectarian breakdown of detainees, and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that I would deal with this point. The position is that a total of 389 people either have been detained by the Commissioners or are at present held on interim custody orders awaiting hearings. Of these, 367 are Catholics and 22 are Protestants. One hundred and four people have been released by the Commissioners and five on appeal from the Commissioners. Sixty-three of those released were formerly in internment, 31 were in detention and 15 were subject to interim custody.

These figures show clearly the extent to which the Detention of Terrorists Order operates completely independently of the Executive and of Ministers. I can only repeat to the House that, having had this particular responsibility over the year, I am utterly convinced that the Detention of Terrorists Order, which I believe is essential in the present circumstances, is an instrument removed from the executive and therefore quite different in kind from what internment was in the past.

Several hon. Members during the debate have raised the question whether persons holding Republican views or being members of Sinn Fein or Republican clubs can stand for election to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Although this appears to be a question about electoral law, it is really about something much wider. As to electoral law, anyone can stand for election, whatever view he or she may hold. There is nothing in electoral law to prevent an individual belonging to a proscribed organisation standing for election as a representative of that organisation. But frankly, left in that way, that would be a misleading answer. The fact that a person is so standing gives him no immunity from the criminal law, and that is the important point.

Her Majesty's Government will certainly consider most carefully the views put forward in the debate, but I must repeat what is said quite categorically in the White Paper—that no person or organisation can expect to be allowed to claim to be acting politically at one moment and then, given what appears a favourable opportunity, to turn to violence and subversion at the next.

The Leader of the Opposition, the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) and many other right hon. and hon. Gentlemen in the debate have raised the question of early elections.

Mr. Merlyn Rees (Leeds, South)

May I come back to the question of proscription in the way in which the right hon. Gentleman raised it? If it is the case— and of course the right hon. Gentleman is speaking with advice—that it would be possible for anybody to stand but that he or she would be subject to the criminal law, what, then, is the point of proscription under the Special Powers Act or any other existing legislation?

Mr. Whitelaw

In other matters than standing for election, proscription can be, and of course is, applied in the South to certain aspects of Republican activity and in the North it applies to the law relating to elections. I would not wish to go further at this stage because, as I have said, I will consider most carefully the views put forward in the debate.

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)

I realise the right hon. Gentleman's difficulties, but surely the point is that on the ballot paper will appear the name of the candidate's party or organisation. I understand that any individual can stand, but will the right hon. Gentleman say that if a candidate supports, for example, the Provisional Sinn Fein, the Republican Club, the Provisional UVF, or whatever in his political approach to problems, that fact will appear on the ballot paper?

Mr. Whitelaw

There will be opportunities to argue this on the whole basis of proscription and whether a particular organisation should be proscribed. I should like to go into these matters and come back to the House with a more complete answer, because they are detailed and complex issues.

Mr. Frank McManus (Fermanagh and South Tyrone)

On another point closely connected with this, am I right in thinking that the local government elections, if and when they take place this spring, will preclude persons who have recorded against them a sentence of three months or more? I am thinking particularly of the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) and myself. Is it a fact that all three of us, should we wish to stand, are precluded by regulation from so doing?

Mr. Whitelaw

I should have to look into that, but I do not think it is so. If it were so I should find it difficult to stop the two hon. Gentlemen concerned from standing if they so desired. I shall certainly look into the matter.

Perhaps I may now turn to the demands from all sides of the House for early elections. As the exchange between the hon. Member for Leeds, South and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister yesterday showed, there was a clear request for elections in June. It is only right that I should spell out very clearly what are the practical implications of such a decision from the administrative point of view. I owe that to the House.

First, if this course is to be taken two Bills will be needed. The constitutional Bill dealing with the legislative proposals must inevitably be a long and complicated measure. It is vital to get it right and therefore to avoid the ambiguities and difficulties which arose between Stormont and Westminster in the past.

The Bill will need to be very carefully drafted and very carefully scrutinised in the House. This inevitably takes time. It will be produced as soon as possible, and, even though it will need careful scrutiny by this House, I hope that it will make speedy and substantial progress. But it will certainly not make its way through Parliament to allow the organisation of elections in June.

The only way to provide for this— and bearing in mind the suggestions put forward by the Leader of the Opposition perhaps I should say that, although it is not the only way, I think it is probably the best way—is to have a Bill dealing solely with elections, which should come first. If this were not the right way, I should certainly look at the proposals put forward by the right hon. Gentleman.

Such a Bill would need to pass all stages in both Houses by the end of the second week of May to permit the elections to be held by the end of June. I can undertake that such a Bill will be presented to the House very soon. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, Hear."] If this is done it will be essential—and I emphasise that word— that the main constitutional Bill, on which the whole procedures of the Assembly will depend, should have made substantial progress through the House by the time the elections are held, so that the basis on which the Assembly will work will be clearly understood by those concerned.

There have been many suggestions that it would be wise to postpone the local government elections planned for 30th May on the ground that these elections will be fought not on local issues but on the substance of the White Paper. I must warn the House of the grave consequences of such a postponement. I do not regard the question of going back on my word as of any consequence. If it were right to do so, I should be prepared so to do. However, there are other grave and important consequences.

If we hold the Assembly elections in June it would still be possible to proceed with the local government elections on 30th May. These elections have already been postponed several times and the truth must be faced that local government in Ireland is running down very fast. The district councils and the area boards must be made to work properly. My hon. Friends and myself have appointed members to these area boards but we now need on the boards those who are to be nominated by the district councils when elected. Until this happens none of these boards can work effectively.

There was very widespread support in this House for the Macrory local government reforms when they were introduced. They have still not started to work in Northern Ireland because of the various postponements, and they cannot work until the elections are held. If the elections are not held on 30th May, the local councils cannot start in October. This would be a very serious postponement. I fear that if this were to happen there could be a considerable breakdown in local administration. I very much hope, therefore, that the House will accept that if the date for the Assembly elections is clearly fixed for the end of June, it would be reasonable to go forward with the local elections on the basis that these could be fought on local issues, bearing in mind that the Assembly elections would need to be on broader issues.

If it is argued that there is only a short time between the two elections, it must be pointed out that in the rest of the United Kingdom this sort of period frequently occurs between local elections and General Elections.

Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)

Can the right hon. Gentleman not see his way clear to compromise on this important point? All parties, in spite of their differences, feel that the Assembly elections should come first. Would it not be possible to bring them forward a little in June and hold local government elections afterwards? After all, the people elected to local government in Northern Ireland will not take up office until October.

Mr. Whitelaw

I do not think I can respond to the hon. Member immediately because, with the discussions about early elections and with the need to consult people in Northern Ireland, as I have been doing this morning, it would be unreasonable for me to commit myself on all these matters before I had an opportunity to consult the people most closely concerned. But it would be a very serious matter to go back on the decision if it meant that the local councils were unable to start in October.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

May I take the point further? Of course the right hon. Gentleman had to announce these elections, but nobody would hold it against him if he said that they were not now to be held because at the time that he proposed the date, details of the Assembly elections and the White Paper were not known.

Practically every party I can think of in Northern Ireland is in favour of delay. If it is a fact that the members of the new local government districts who achieve appointments to the area boards will not take office until October, would it still not meet the case to provide in the timetable for the Assembly elections to be held in June and for the local government elections to be held in September? In no sense would it upset the right hon. Gentleman's quite proper concern to get people elected for the local government areas.

Mr. Whitelaw

It is not as simple as that, but of course, if the House desires me to do so, I will look into it. It is not as simple because, once the councillors are elected, they have to go through the whole business of appointing their staffs before they can take office in October. The local authority organisations would be gravely upset from a staff point of view if such a postponement were made. This cannot be an overriding difficulty, but it is something which the House should know. I have had very strong representations from the local government staffing organisations that further delay would be very serious indeed.

One has to take all these matters into consideration, and I ask the House to take into consideration that the difficulties of running local government affairs have had very serious results. Whether it is impossible to have local government elections at the end of May on local issues when everyone knows that the Assembly elections will come in June, is something which I ask the House to consider very carefully, because I believe that it would be possible if one had definitely planned Assembly elections for June. One must obviously consider the views of the House, but I feel very strongly about this.

I turn to the future position of the Secretary of State under the settlement, which is spelled out very clearly in paragraphs 48 to 50 of the White Paper. I do not wish to go into detail, but some anxieties have been expressed in Northern Ireland as to that position following the election of the Assembly and the formation of the Executive. My right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) referred to colonial administration and so on.

In drafting the White Paper and the legislation it is our clear purpose that, while the Secretary of State will have his very proper responsibilities in matters of security and law and order, while he will have proper responsibilities as representing Northern Ireland interests and be responsible to this House, and indeed in the United Kingdom Cabinet, nevertheless it would be fatally wrong if he were to become enmeshed in matters which had been transferred to the Executive and which were properly matters for the Executive in Northern Ireland.

Of course he would have duties concerning discrimination and any impingement on subjects reserved to the United Kingdom Parliament. With those two reservations, he should be able to leave to the Executive the job of carrying out its functions and not get in the way. If he gets in the way the whole system will not work. There will be a great responsibility on the Secretary of State to retreat from the position which inevitably I have occupied through the period of direct rule. I believe that to be very important. I believe that the people of Northern Ireland will accept it from me that that is the right way of proceeding.

There has been some misapprehension about the taking of oaths in the Northern Ireland Assembly. The right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) and the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. Stallard) expressed anxiety lest a continuing requirement to take an oath after election might deter some people from standing for election to the Assembly. Paragraph 52 of the White Paper makes plain that Members of the executive will be required to take an appropriate form of official oath. It says that the Assembly will be precluded in any of its measures from imposing on members of an appointed body the making of an oath or a declaration as a condition of appointment for employment, except where such an oath or declaration is required in comparable circumstances in the United Kingdom. It may not have been wholly clear—in which case let me make it clear now—that there is no intention of requiring the members of the Assembly as such to take an oath on taking their seats.

As to the suggestion that there should be added representation of Northern Ireland at Westminster, I can add little to what was said yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes). As he pointed out, the proposed constitutional settlement will provide Northern Ireland with unique institutions of its own, exercising extensive governmental powers and with a real measure of financial independence. It is just not possible to sustain for one moment the argument that in some way Northern Ireland is to have a lower status than other parts of the United Kingdom. Further, there is the possibility that in due course more powers will be devolved.

If we were now to decide to increase the number of Members from Northern Ireland at Westminster, that would imply that there should be a limit to the extent of devolution. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashford pointed out, it could suggest that for all time the powers of the new Assembly would be limited to what is in the White Paper and that nothing further would be devolved. I cannot think that that is right at this time, and it constitutes a powerful argument against added Westminster representation.

Mr. McMaster

What about the matters reserved to the imperial Parliament? Is it not right that on such vital matters as taxation and foreign affairs representatives from Northern Ireland should have an equal voice with citizens of the rest of the United Kingdom?

Mr. Whitelaw

It is clear that, quite contrary to the position in England, Scotland and Wales, Northern Ireland, under these proposals, would have very extensive devolved legislative and administrative powers in the very important spheres of regional employment, education, health and agriculture which are not devolved to any other part of the United Kingdom in the same way. That makes a very powerful difference between the position of Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

On the question of power sharing, the Leader of the Opposition referred to the possibility of separate negotiations. I have made it perfectly clear to all the parties—I think the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) knows this—that of course I am prepared to explain as best I can various points in the White Paper to the parties, but that I must also make perfectly clear that the limits, for example on power sharing, laid down in the White Paper within which the Secretary of State could devolve powers to an Executive and the limits within which an Executive could be formed, are absolutely clear and must be kept absolutely firm. There cannot be room for negotiation on these issues on which we are absolutely firm in the White Paper.

Rev. Ian Paisley

Would it not then be right to say that no leader of any party has any right to demand negotiation on his policies and to say that he can change the basis of the White Paper, as has been done by the Unionist Party?

Mr. Whitelaw

I think all leaders of all the parties have an absolute right to say whatever they like.

Perhaps that would be an appropriate moment to seek to end what I have to say because I know that a very large number of hon. Members wish to take part in the debate. I hope that I have dealt with the main trends in the debate. I have done so in some detail because that was necessary on some of the issues which were raised yesterday, such as the question of early elections.

Perhaps I might leave the House with the thought which is uppermost in my mind after one year in Northern Ireland. It is something which the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) said to me when first I went there. It is that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland are both kind-hearted and generous. Like the rest of their fellow citizens in the United Kingdom, they wish only to live their lives in peace with their families. They are proud. They are determined. Quite rightly, they have no intention of being led in the long run by anyone who is, as they say, "from across the water". They want leaders of their own. They need them. They must have them.

We in this House can provide Northern Ireland only with a framework. Only Ulstermen can make it work. Political leaders will have to exercise patience and understanding if they are to work together successfully. As I have learned to my cost in the past year, destructive criticism will always be the easiest course and constructive leadership the most difficult. But there can be no doubt that those leaders in Northern Ireland who make up their minds to work together for the benefit of their country can do it. I am optimistic enough to believe that they will. I know that the broad mass of the people in Northern Ireland want them to do so, and I am convinced that the proposals in the White Paper give them a real opportunity.

5.2 p.m.

Mr. Gerard Fitt (Belfast, West)

First, let me congratulate the Secretary of State on having listened to some of the arguments advanced here yesterday and on having conceded to some of the views that we heard put forward. However, I hope that, on further reflection and having listened to further argument and debate in this House, especially when we consider the proposed legislation on the Floor of the House, the right hon. Gentleman will see his way clear to granting the requests which have been made that the elections for the Assembly should take place before the local government elections. This is a matter of major importance. It is we, the elected representatives from Northern Ireland who will have to fight those elections. It is we who will have to go out into the constituencies explaining what is necessary in local government and explaining our various attitudes to the White Paper. If we are prepared to accept that responsibility in fighting the Assembly elections first, at least that concession should be made by the Secretary of State.

In listening to the speeches which were made yesterday and will be made today putting forward various attitudes to the White Paper, I have had to ask myself one simple question: what is the alternative to the partial acceptance of this White Paper in trying to make it work, in trying to make it the basis for bringing real politics into play in Northern Ireland again? It was a very easy answer for me to give. It is an answer which I am certain will be given by the large majority of my constituents and others in Northern Ireland.

The answer to the rejection of this White Paper either here or in Northern Ireland would be a continuation of the violence and bloodshed and the heartbreak and despair that we have had to suffer through the nightmare of these past four years in Northern Ireland. I do not believe that anyone with a spark of humanity and compassion, irrespective of his political ideals or political ambitions, could in any way say or do anything which would prolong this agony for one minute longer than necessary.

Yesterday my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) gave us a clear, cold analysis of what violence has meant and how it has been perpetuated in the streets of villages and towns in Northern Ireland. If I were the representative of an English, Scottish or Welsh constituency, I should find it very hard to understand in depth just what she was trying to tell the House. It is only by living in a situation where violence is present for 24 hours of the day that one can understand how terrible it is.

I stand here today as the representative of West Belfast. I have seen the blood of Scottish, English and Welsh soldiers and of my own constituents on the New Lodge Road and on the Falls Road staining the streets of Northern Ireland. I should not like any other representative in this House to have to undergo that experience.

A few weeks ago at seven o'clock in the morning my wife went in the dark to a newspaper shop in an adjoining street. On her way she walked through a pool of blood where a young boy had been assassinated within 50 yards of my own home. I have seen the killings brought about by people referred to here as terrorists but whom people in Northern Ireland refer to as patriots.

In our approach to this problem to try to bring to an end to this awful violence, a great responsibility rests upon us in the attitudes that we adopt during this debate. I have never supported violence. I do not believe that violence has ever achieved or will ever achieve any political ends in Northern Ireland. I have made my position clear, and at some considerable political sacrifice. I do not support anyone in Northern Ireland who uses the bomb or the bullet to achieve political ends. In saying that, I am being honest. I would rather not be a Member of this House or of any other House—or, for that matter, of the new Assembly in Northern Ireland—if I felt obliged to attempt to solicit the support of anyone who had been using violence or who believed in the efficacy of violence to achieve political ends.

Over the past two or three months, over the past two or three weeks especially, the Irish people themselves have been absolutely appalled and horrified at some of the most brutal and vicious crimes that have ever occurred throughout the whole troubled history of Ireland. In a conventional war such as that which this country had to fight between 1939 and 1945 against the Axis Powers, German planes could come over London and drop their bombs on enemy territory and British planes could do the same over Germany. At the Battle of El Alamein guns could open up on enemy fortresses and concentrations. But the people engaged in those actions did not know the individuals whom they were killing. A height of 30,000 feet separated the planes and their targets of Hamburg or London.

The same is not true now in Ireland. The man who stands and fires a rifle at a young soldier taking children across a pedestrian crossing in the Ardoyne can go home that evening and listen to the soldier's name and address, marital status, the number of children he had and whether he was the son of a widowed mother. He can see it on television and read about it in the next morning's papers and know for the rest of his days that he was responsible for bringing that young soldier's life to an end. The man who places a bomb in Belfast will know to his dying day the names and addresses and the sexes of those whom he has killed. The people who carried out the ghastly murders referred to yesterday in the most compassionate terms by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster— the brutal and cowardly murders of the three soldiers last week—know the names and addresses, the marital status and the religions—they happened to be Catholic —of those whom they murdered so foully.

There are many people in Ireland who are now beginning to question what has happened to the Irish people, and how, in bringing about the unity of Ireland in the name of patriotism, they can sink to commit such foul deeds. I am certain that there must be many within the ranks of the Provisional IRA who now, after witnessing such callous acts, will begin to ask where such action has brought them and when it will end.

I cannot claim to echo the spokesmen of the Provisional IRA, but I can make an appeal. I ask it to desist from further actions of the type which have brought such misery to Northern Ireland. In making that request, I say to the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McMaster), who is so fond of standing in this House time and time again and blaming the IRA for every death that occurs in Northern Ireland, that it is politically dishonest to adopt that sort of action that he takes. Many deaths have been brought about by the activities of those who claim to support the Unionist Party. We have to think only of the horrible assassinations that have taken place over the last few months by Unionist extremists. We have only to think that no later than this afternoon not only were guns found on a ship coming into Waterford but a vast quantity of arms was found in East Belfast which was to be used, no doubt, against the Catholic minority population in Northern Ireland.

My condemnation of those using violence is a general condemnation. It is not specifically directed to the Provisional IRA or the Official IRA but to all of those who have been using arms and who have been trying to bring about their own political ambitions. It would be unfair of me if I did not say that the British Army has made some ghastly mistakes in Northern Ireland. Perhaps it was inevitable that in the situation that should happen. The Irish people will remember what happened on Bloody Sunday. The paratroopers who pulled the triggers of their rifles and SLR's in Derry on that Sunday know the names and addresses of the people who were killed. That is why both the British Army and the Northern Ireland people are becoming so brutalised. That is why it is necessary, if we are to bring about an end to the violence, that the White Paper must be given a chance.

I do not accept everything which is in the White Paper. On reading it when it was first published, I received many disappointments. On the other hand, there are contained in it many of the proposals which were made by my hon. Friends in 1966, 1967 and 1968. Had they been implemented then, it may be that the violence which we now have in our society would not have arisen.

The White Paper is a paper for discussion. It is an attempt to try to get the political representatives of the Northern Ireland people to discuss with each other what type of society they want. I regard it as no more and no less. The elected representatives will be at the Assembly having been elected by the franchise of the Northern Ireland people. I have no doubt that many hon. Members on both sides of the House will not like the type of representatives who are elected. However, they will have to accept them because they will have been elected by the voice of the Northern Ireland people. The onus will be on those representatives to agree on the points on which it is possible for them to reach agreement. It will be up to those representatives to try to make the Assembly work in the interests of the Northern Ireland people.

I am rather suspicious—and the Secretary of State did not allay my suspicions this afternoon—about power sharing. I recognise that the White Paper makes it clear that the old Stormont, the Stor-mont of repression and oppression, has gone for ever. That one issue would make it impossible for me to vote against the White Paper. Things have changed in Northern Ireland and we shall never again have to live under such a jackboot régime.

I should not like to think that the chairmen and members of the Executive will be given posts purely and simply because they are either Catholic or Protestant. That could only further institu- tionalise sectarianism in Northern Ireland. I want to see a form of Assembly, Government or Parliament, whatever it may be, in which there will be not only an Executive or a Government but an Opposition. If we are to try to create a new Assembly purely on the basis of sectarian attitudes—Catholics and Protestants—there will not be a real Opposition. The lack of a real Opposition is why we have had so much trouble in Northern Ireland. I want to see a real Opposition and a breakdown of sectarian politics. I want to see politics in Northern Ireland become what politics are here— namely a battle between Conservative and Labour Members, capitalism and socialism. I have no doubt that in the absence of a real Opposition I shall not be rushing into the Assembly asking for a chairmanship. I know what side I shall be on. I have always been on the side of the people.

I have no doubt that there will be many people elected by the minority who will be prepared to engage in power sharing and who will be prepared to use their energies to try to bring about a better society in Northern Ireland.

I welcome the Charter of Human Rights. It is a condemnation of all the Governments that have had office since 1920 and partition that in this year, 1973, we find it necessary to have to write into our legislation a charter of human rights. That is something which everyone in England, Scotland and Wales has had since the beginning of the century. But even when that charter is written into legislation, it will depend on the people who have been elected in Northern Ireland whether it can be made to be effective.

The border poll which recently took place in Northern Ireland proved to many people, among other things, that there was a majority—the result was 591,000 against 6,000—who wanted the retention of the link with Britain. I should have thought that that would ease the opposition from Unionist spokesmen against the White Paper proposals. However, far from that, we have seen an unholy alliance between the most extreme sections of the Unionist Party. That is not because they are afraid of the constitutional position or of being swallowed up in the Republic overnight but because they are afraid of losing the power, status and privilege which they have had for so long.

The Secretary of State will be under increasing attacks from the coalition of interests which has been formed in an attempt to restore the Protestant ascendancy class which has dominated and ruled Northern Ireland for so long and which has brought with it such disaster.

Whilst I welcome the Charter of Human Rights, I feel that it will have to be spelt out much more clearly. It is stated in the White Paper that the Assembly when elected shall not be permitted to legislate in a discriminatory way. That sounds very well at face value. But it will be unnecessary to do so in the initial stages as there will still be the remnants of the old Stormont—for example, sections of the Special Powers Act and public order legislation which was deliberately promulgated and used by the Unionist Party against the minority. There will still be the Flags and Emblems Act. I had hoped that the Secretary of State would be able to tell the House that that Act no longer had any place on the Statute Book of any so-called democracy. If that Act is allowed to remain on the Statute Book the Government are saying to the Unionist majority that it can use its flag—the Union Jack.

I know that in this country the Union Jack is not used as a party political symbol. It is in Northern Ireland. Symbols are important in Northern Ireland. If one section of the community is allowed to use a flag as its symbol, there is no reason why another section should be denied the same right. I would like to think that neither section would need to use flags as party political symbols, but that is not the reality of Northern Ireland.

The vast majority of my hon. Friends have asked the Secretary of State to allow the Provisional IRA or the Official IRA to take part in the forthcoming elections to the Assembly and the local authorities. This is a direct challenge which the Secretary of State must accept. I have never supported the violence of the Provisional IRA, but if the right hon. Gentleman maintains a ban on its political operations it will feel entitled to say that it was refused the means of engaging in the democratic process. Although I do not agree with this, it will be said that that provided justification for carrying on the campaign of violence.

During the run-up to the border poll, the Secretary of State repeatedly slated that the poll was necessary to discover what the people of Northern Ireland thought about the retention of the link. How much more valid is the same argument now in another direction? How much more important is it to take away all restrictions, obstacles and impediments from the path of all political parties so that we may know what the people of Northern Ireland think? We want to know who the people want as their elected representatives. If the Secretary of State can use that argument about the border poll, he can use it now.

The Republicans will also have to face this challenge. If no restrictions were placed on them, they could engage in elections. They would have to accept the challenge. Then we would see how much support they had. If they refused to take part, we could say with a great deal of justification that they were unwilling to put their policies and programmes before the electors. There would be no more sympathy for them because it would be evident that they were trying to impose their will at the point of a gun. There is something to be gained by all those who believe in the democratic process. I believe that the Republicans would avail themselves of the opportunity to fight those elections. The Secretary of Slate must know that there have been Republicans in Ireland since 1798, since Wolf Tone. Whatever legislation may be promulgated here to prevent people from using their voices or influence, they will not go away overnight. They will have to be reckoned with in any solution that seeks to bring peace to Northern Ireland.

The provisions relating to an Ombudsman are vague. I recognise that people in this country can put a great deal of faith in the activities of the Parliamentary Commissioner. However, there is a different background in Northern Ireland. It seems that the powers of that office will have to be extended rapidly. We have found, in the working of the Commissioner in this country, that there have not been the powers to investigate complaints with the degree of competence thought necessary.

Mr. Whitelaw

The powers of the Parliamentary Commissioner in Northern Ireland are in many cases more extensive than those of the Parliamentary Commissioner here. One of the problems of Northern Ireland is that not many complaints are submitted. If people want to make the point that there is inadequate complaints machinery, perhaps they will do so, but I must point out that complaints are not being submitted.

Mr. Fitt

I can quite understand that. It is like someone complaining to the Commissioner of the RUC about the activity of an individual policeman. I am glad that the Secretary of State is to set up an agency which will inquire into the "patterns of discrimination" as they have been labelled in Northern Ireland. It is hard to prove that a Catholic bus driver is less competent than a Protestant bus driver, but when one sees that out of 89 bus drivers employed by a local authority 84 are Protestants perhaps one begins to think that there might be a different structure with different tests.

The Secretary of State said that he had a first-class relationship with the Commissioner of the RUC, Mr. Shillington. I am not particularly concerned about what sort of relationship the right hon. Gentleman has with the Commissioner. I am more concerned about the sort of relationship which exists between the Commissioner and the people of Northern Ireland. The Government should make it clear that there will be a complete reorganisation or restructuring of the RUC. We cannot hope to have peace while the RUC exists in its present form.

I am not saying that every member of the RUC is a rogue, a rascal and a bigot. I know many members of the RUC who are decent men of integrity. What was said yesterday was that the incidents in which they were involved have brought about an atmosphere in which no one in the RUC can say. "I was not involved in those actions, therefore I am not to blame." The Government appointed Lord Hunt and Sir Arthur Young to look into the RUC. Lord Hunt made it clear that he was amazed and astounded that the RUC should have been allowed to operate in such a political manner over so many years.

Sir Arthur Young did his damnedest to try to reform the RUC. We remember the infamous occasion when the RUC was proved beyond all possible doubt to have been engaged in an incident in Derry which led to the death of a man. After months of inquiry Sir Arthur Young issued his verdict. He said that he had found that there was a conspiracy of silence in the RUC aimed at protecting those involved. On 14th and 15th August in Belfast the RUC opened up with sub-machine guns and Brownings. On that occasion a young boy died in my constituency. There have been other major incidents in which the RUC have been involved. It is this which has led the minority population in Northern Ireland to refuse to accept the RUC as at present constituted.

I recognise that hon. Members opposite representing the Unionist cause say that whether the minority likes it or not, it will have the RUC. They say that they will force us to have it. They want, and think they can have, total victory. That is not so. Before any legislation is introduced I ask the Secretary of State to examine carefully what he plans to do with the police force in Northern Ireland.

So far as the economic position is concerned, most of my hon. Friends on this side have said that they had hoped that the Government would be more explicit over this most important issue. I recognise that the Government could not have set up the Council of Ireland overnight. I hope that, with the recommendation in the White Paper, this item will be treated with the urgency which it deserves. If a Council of Ireland is created I have no doubt that representatives from the North and South will be able to sit down together. There will be many areas of disagreement but we are not two races: we are all Irishmen living in that island.

If I were to be a member of this Council of Ireland, with my colleagues, I would probably have much more in common with other people who were representatives from the Republic. But we would all be there under the one banner that we were all Irishmen. That could only be for the good of Northern Ireland.

I have welcomed the civil rights and social justice legislation proposed in this White Paper. The Government have attempted to resolve some of the terrible differences which are endemic to Northern Ireland's society and to the relationship between these islands. But I cannot support the White Paper, because it still contains—no matter how much the Secretary of State may apologise for it—provisions for internment and detention without trial. The White Paper retains some of the worst aspects of Northern Ireland legislation. It retains certain sections of the Special Powers Act and the Flags and Emblems Act. Until we are confident that we can repeal these powers, take steps to cast them into the wastepaper basket of Irish history, we can never hope to bring about a stable society in Northern Ireland.

The Minister of State referred last night to aid. I do not think that the economic aspects affecting Northern Ireland have been given the priority they deserve. The Minister of State will know that, in Northern Ireland, particularly in the minority ghetto areas where there has been high unemployment and bad housing, there is a great need for industrial development. In my constituency of West Belfast there are acres and acres of land available for industrial building. I do not think that the Secretary of State, or those who assist him in relation to Northern Ireland, can afford to maintain a doctrinaire Tory approach to economic development in the Province. Northern Ireland needs the sort of services which should not be hemmed in or guaranteed by the outlooks which prevail on this side of the Irish Sea.

Summing up my approach, I cannot support this White Paper because of its provisions relating to internment and detention. But I can support the fact that it goes a considerable way towards meeting the arguments which have been put forward from this side of the House since 1966 in relation to bringing about a society in which social justice is readily available to all the people. In those circumstances I intend to abstain from voting tonight.

I hope to have the opportunity to put down amendments when the proposed legislation comes before the House. As my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. Stallard) said yesterday, this is another stage in the legislation and the development which is taking place between these two islands. This is not the end of the story but I sincerely hope that it will provide a basis to make politics work in Northern Ireland.

Finally, I would appeal to all those engaging in violence to Northern Ireland to desist forthwith.

5.35 p.m.

Captain L. P. S. Orr (Down, South)

I beg to move the amendment, in my name, in line 2, at end add: but regrets that the White Paper does not provide for adequate Parliamentary representation for the people of Northern Ireland". I would first of all endorse what the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) said about the need for eschewing violence in anything we do. It is good to have it on record from both sides of the political fence that we do not believe violent methods are the right methods to use to achieve any political end.

It would be easy to think of this occasion as another landmark or as another critical stage in the story of the troubles of Ulster over the last three-and-a-half years. It is not, in fact, so critical as some of the things through which we have been and some of the occasions we have had to face. The next real critical day will come when the Assembly is elected.

The first day after the electoral battles have been fought and the people meet will be the moment when leadership will be needed and the moment of real critical decision. We are not in a critical situation at present because what we do in this House today is a foregone conclusion. The two major parties in the House are agreed on the matter and probably have behind them the great weight of public opinion in Britain.

It is important that it should be understood, as my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills) said, that the issue should not be fudged and that the aims of the White Paper should be clearly understood. It was interesting to hear both the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State pointing out that the purpose of election to the Assembly is not to negotiate a form of constitution that will take effect thereafter, but rather to work within the framework laid down in the legislation which it is proposed to put before the House in the constitutional Bill. It is important that this should be clearly understood by everyone in Ulster. It would not be honest for anyone to pretend otherwise.

On the eve of the publication of the White Paper—or rather, on the morrow of the referendum—I was impressed that the return to political activity had greatly improved the morale of the Ulster people. The activity leading up to the referendum and the result of the referendum, improved the morale of the Loyalists. I use the word "Loyalist" simply in this sense. I do not use the word "Unionist" because it implies a party label. Nor do I use the word "Protestant" because it is sectarian and implies that there are no Catholic Loyalists. There is a substantial part of the Catholic community which is Loyalist, just as there are also members of the Protestant community who are disloyal. Let us be plain about that.

There was a distinct rise in the morale of the Loyalist community during the referendum. This was for two reasons— first, political activity and second, united political activity.

I had a great concern to see that, if possible, we who represented Northern Ireland in this House could speak with a united voice behind us. Accordingly, I took to various methods of consultation, some more successful than others. The result of this, marrying together the blueprint of my party and what others had said to me, was to determine that there were at least four principles that I could discern to which the majority community in Ulster adhered.

First, they wanted to see in the White Paper a very clear undertaking that the defeat of the IRA was the first priority. That is plain in the White Paper and that undertaking, I concede, my right hon. Friend has met.

Secondly, they wanted it made plain that the proposals within the Irish dimension, for the Council of Ireland, would be based very firmly upon the need for recognition of the constitutional position and upon consent. In the White Paper that again—though, one might argue, with qualification—has certainly been met.

They wanted also the ultimate control over internal security to be based in Ulster and to be the responsibility of Ulstermen.

Some of my hon. Friends may deal with that matter. I do not propose to do so at this stage.

But one thing was plain. Whether the Ulster people disagreed about whether they wanted full integration with full parliamentary representation in this House or a devolved Parliament of their own with very meaningful devolved powers, they did not want something which fell between the two.

In the debate on the Green Paper, i had already made this very point. I said: There are really two broad propositions within the Union. The first is that one should see a Parliament and Government in Northern Ireland with powers which are broadly commensurate to those which the old Parliament and Government had, perhaps reformed as to membership and franchise … The other one is full integration, along the lines advocated by my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and his party, with more Members here at Westminster from Northern Ireland and a local Assembly … Either of those two propositions would be acceptable to the broad majority of the people of Northern Ireland … What would not be acceptable is a solution which is neither one nor the other. That would be a denial of democracy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November 1972; Vol. 846, c. 73.] The major defect in the White Paper is that it precisely falls between the two. I propose to argue the case a little further.

Perhaps it might help the House if we look back at 1920. In 1920 this House, prior to the passage of the Act of 1920, had 105 Irish Members. I can see by the smile on the face of the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) that he recognises the immense relief which the House felt when that number was drastically reduced, as it was by the Act of 1920. But what one must remember is the context then. In 1920 we were setting up two Parliaments, one in the North and one in the South. It was envisaged that both those Parliaments would have a very large measure of self-government and a good deal of financial self-government as well.

The Parliament in the South did not come into being. Had it done so, it was proposed that there would be 33 Members from Southern Ireland, and there were to be 13 from Northern Ireland. The removal of the university seat reduced the Northern Ireland membership to 12. That continued to be justified on the grounds of the extent of the devolutionary powers.

The great change took place from about the end of the war onwards, when the control of the Treasury began to become stronger and stronger, because of the extent of Government expenditure. The vast increases in Government expenditure, the erection of the Welfare State, social services, the subsidy systems, all the regional development systems, and the general acceptance of the principle of parity in the social services and the linking of the re-insurance funds brought about a position in which, as the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) quite rightly described yesterday, in effect, Stormont devolution in financial respects was illusory. That is quite true. I concede that to the hon. Member.

The tragedy was that with that diminution of the devolutionary power, we did not proportionately increase the Northern Ireland membership in this House from about 1948 onwards. It ought to have been done then. There was no argument left for the placing of Northern Ireland in an inferior position in respect of representation in this House.

What we now want to look at is the question whether these proposals make any difference to that position.

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

Does not the hon. and gallant Gentleman agree that at the time of which he is talking, of the old Stormont before it was prorogued and before the Speaker's Rules were changed in this House, Ulster Members had the best of all worlds? They had a Parliament of their own. We could not raise questions there. Ulster Members could come here and talk on any subject, ranging from a Manchester Corporation-sponsored Private Member's Bill to foreign affairs. There was a gross imbalance in the situation.

Captain Orr

The situation was simply this: Ulster was taxed in precisely the same way as the hon. Gentleman's constituents were taxed, but Ulster was under-represented in having its say in that taxation or in control over how the money was spent, because expenditure of the money was in the control of the Treasury. That is the fundamental of the argument.

We want now to look at whether these proposals produce a greater measure of devolution. My right hon. Friend has suggested that they do. I would concede to him that if the devolution goes as he hopes that it will go, if it goes to the full extent one will get greater financial freedom within what one might call the block grant which Stormont will be allotted. In that sense there is a greater measure of devolution, but in another sense there is less. First, the block grant is to be decided now not according to certain rules, which it used to be decided upon by the Joint Exchequer Board. The block grant is now to be determined by the Secretary of State in his bargaining power in the Cabinet. The control over the Secretary of State is control here in this House. Once again, the control over expenditure is here, as the control over taxation is in this House.

Secondly, the extent of the financial freedom and the determining of financial priorities in Ulster is still in the hands of persons appointed not by the Assembly but by the Secretary of State. The effective power in every sense remains at Westminster.

Therefore, on grounds of equity Northern Ireland should be fairly represented in this House. We can decide according to several considerations what that representation should be. On the Scottish pattern it would mean 20 extra Members. On the United Kingdom basis it would mean 18. On the English pattern we would require four extra Members for Northern Ireland. This House has asked the leaders and people of Northern Ireland to make concessions and compromises, but the House is not itself prepared to make concessions on this point.

In using the term "parliamentary representation" in my amendment I mean, first, representation in this House or, failing that, a form of devolution which is meaningful. The White Paper does not provide for meaningful devolution because it is based primarily on an illusion. I concede to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland—and I have rarely had as much personal courtesy from anybody in Government as I have had from my right hon. Friend—and the Government that they sincerely believe that this is a reasonable document which should be accepted by reasonable men. That is the view of the hon. Member for Leeds, South and I believe that he is sincere.

I am also willing to concede that the country at large probably regards the White Paper as a reasonable document which should be accepted by reasonable men. But it is a document which is defective because it is built primarily on an illusion. The illusion is that one can hold elections to an Assembly which the parties will fight on various grounds and with various differences between them and that they will then meet in this Assembly and agree to form an Executive to which power can be devolved. To me that simply does not make sense and is an absurdity. I only wish that it did make sense.

I willingly accept the appeal which was made by the Secretary of State today. If Parliament passes legislation on this White Paper, then that legislation will become the law of the land. I would never be a party to breaking the law of the land. I want to see people operating within the law of the land and I would not countenance any other attitude. But the House should not enact nonsense. People of good will will try to work the legislation should it become law.

I believe that we should have elections as soon as possible. I agree with the Opposition that we should proceed to the elections as fast as we possibly can so that we shall know the view of the Ulster people. I dislike playing the part of Cassandra. I am getting very tired of it and it sounds unconstructive and unreasonable. I believe that if these proposals do not work, the failure will lie not at the door of the people of Ulster— because the people of Ulster are reasonable people and I believe that there is more good will on both sides of the fence in Ulster than anybody imagines; the proposals will fail because they have within themselves the seeds of their own failure.

5.54 p.m.

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)

The hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) said that if the proposals fail, they will fail because they contain the seeds of their own destruction. That may be true, but it is also true that if they succeed they will do so because they will provide the first real chance since the establishment of the Northern Ireland State for people to try to make the system work. The six counties, from their origin, were unstable in the way in which they were chosen and in the philosophy which imbued their establishment. The setting up of the Stor-mont Parliament was unstable. The surprising thing is not that the crisis came in 1969–70 but that it did not come earlier. Reasons, explanations and excuses can be advanced about why the crisis did not come earlier, but the surprising thing is that it did not come earlier.

Mr. John E. Maginnis (Armagh)

Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that the setting up of Stormont was not done by the people in Northern Ireland but by people in this House and that the mistake was made here? Let us not kid ourselves about this. The people of Northern Ireland did not want a separate Parliament, fought hard against it and accepted it only as a compromise.

Mr. McNamara

I accept what the hon. Gentleman said. However, this is surely a dangerous argument for the hon. Gentleman to advance, particularly when he and his hon. Friends have argued so long about democracy in the Six Counties. If there had been democracy in the 32 counties, the Stormont Parliament would not have existed. If, way back in 1912, the Unionists had not resorted to the force of arms and the threat of force in defiance of the sovereign Parliament of Westminster—a Parliament in which they are now asking for increased representation—we should not now be hearing this sorry story. I am sorry to say that but the hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. Maginnis) raised the matter. I thought I should reply to him. However, I want to try to look for hopeful things contained in the White Paper.

One reason why I cannot support the amendment lies in its application to taxation and representation. If we were to accept the argument put forward by the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South, we in Westminster should have greater representation if the matter were to be looked at purely in terms of taxation because we raise a greater sum for the national Exchequer than do the people of Northern Ireland per capita. Therefore, we should be entitled to ask for further representation. However, I do not put this forward as an argument.

Furthermore, I do not accept the case for increased representation for another reason. In the past although Ulster Unionist Members have been able to ask questions about the number of houses in my constituency, I have not been able to ask questions about Northern Ireland housing matters because of devolution of power. One interesting argument that will arise from the provisions of the White Paper deals with the extent to which we shall be able to ask questions about the use of devolved powers once they are granted to the Assembly.

My hon. Friends have spoken about the need for early Assembly elections. It seems to me that the argument advanced from the Conservative Front Benches about the reason the White Paper could not come before the border poll is exactly the reason why we should have the Assembly elections before the local government elections, despite all the difficulties. We were told that the border poll would settle one particular issue and that we need not have the White Paper beforehand to cloud the issue. Now we have the White Paper it is bound to cloud the issue for local government elections.

We must therefore urge the Government very seriously, despite all the arguments which have been deployed, to make sure that we have the Assembly elections before the local government elections. This is the point which nearly everybody in the House is prepared to accept, with the exception at the moment, as I understand it, of the Government, who can see the administrative problems. I realise that they are there, but in this case I think the Government will have to think again. After all, we have been waiting three years for Macrory. Another three months will not make much difference if it means having satisfactory elections.

Mr. Whitelaw

I appreciate what the hon. Gentleman is saying and I undertake to look into it, but I hope he will understand the tremendously strong feelings of all the staff associations concerned, which feel very bitterly and deeply about this.

Mr. McNamara

I accept that from the right hon. Gentleman. I had said just before he came into the Chamber that I understood all of the administra- tive problems and difficulties involved. Nevertheless, I hope he will try to do what he can.

I want to talk briefly about the Flags and Emblems Act, because I am not exactly sure what is the situation. I originally tabled a Question for answer last Friday to the Secretary of State and I did not get an answer until late yesterday afternoon. I put to the Prime Minister yesterday what were the Government's intentions about the Flags and Emblems Act and was given the reply, Perhaps we can wait until the legislation comes before the House."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 28th March 1973; Vol. 853, c. 1322.] But the answer I received from the Minister of State that day was, There are no plans at present to repeal this Act."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th March 1973; Vol. 853, c. 357.] Does that mean that we are to wait for the legislation, when the Act will be repealed, or that I must wait for the legislation to try to get the Act repealed? This is of considerable importance because we are dealing, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, with questions of symbols, and the Flags and Emblems Act is a particular symbol of discrimination and is regarded as such by people in Northern Ireland who are republican.

I do not feel, as many people do, that it is a weakness of the White Paper that part of the problem of power sharing and the rÔle of the Executive is vague. To me it is one of its strongest points that the Secretary of State is saying to people in Northern Ireland, "Come together and try to work it out yourselves. Come together and settle your own procedures. Come together and try to work out your solution to the problems in Northern Ireland." Far from being a weakness, this, I feel, is a strength because it is putting responsibility, once the elections have taken place, upon the people who will have to try to work the system.

I urge again that when we have the elections the representatives of the extremists groups should be allowed to stand for election, and that the proscriptions contained in the Special Powers Act should go, because if they go the extremists, wherever they come from, will not be able to say that they have not had an opportunity to use the ballot box and therefore have had to have recourse to the bullet. If the fear is that these extremists have the support of elements in the population strong enough to give them representation, at least we shall be aware of the degree of strength they have and will have a better idea of the nature of the problem.

While we do not know their exact strength—to what extent they have popular support, to what extent their support rests upon fear and intimidation, and to what extent some of them are just gun-happy hooligans—we are working in a complete void. It is better that they be allowed to stand and be beaten resoundingly, I hope, at the polls; or, if they get representation, that we should know it Far better that than that we give them an excuse to say that they were never considered, or allowed to have their say. If that were so there would always be people who would say that perhaps we drew our parameters of democracy too narrowly; that they were denied the right to have their say in a democratic manner; that they had been frustrated and pushed back. We must ensure that that does not happen. Then the majority of the people in Northern Ireland, to whichever community they belong, will be able to say that the extremists had had their chance and were either accepted or re-ected. Do not, for God's sake, give them the chance to say that they never had a chance of acceptance or rejection.

I turn to those parts of the White Paper which I regard as being particularly weak, not in a destructive sense, because there is so much in the White Paper with which I agree—so very much for which I have asked and urged, when my party was in Government and now, in opposition—that it would be churlish of me not to acknowledge that there is a lot in it which I like. If I turn to the weaknesses I trust that the House and the Secretary of State will understand that my reasons for doing so are that these are weaknesses that I fear could make the proposals fail, and I do not want them to fail.

The first and major respect in which the White Paper fails is the question of the police and the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Paragraph 70, dealing with the police, makes a valiant but weak attempt to recognise that there really is a problem of the acceptability of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in many parts of Northern Ireland. That it is seen as a sectarian force, a force of bigots, the armed extension of a political organisation, by people in Northern Ireland is not in any way to denigrate the heroism and gallantry which many policemen have shown in this tremendously troubled period. It is only to state a fact—that it is regarded in that way.

It is because the White Paper fails to tackle this problem that I have a real doubt about its success. If we consider the history of the past three or four years we see that it was with the police that the troubles started; there was a feeling that they were acting partially against civil rights marchers; a feeling that they were facing only one side when trying to separate riot mobs; an overall feeling that they were being used purely and simply as an extension of the arm of the Unionist Party. To achieve acceptability of the RUC by the whole of the community in Northern Ireland is not going to be just a major task; it will be a well-nigh impossible task.

Therefore hon. Members must cast around in their minds for the best method of trying to establish a police force acceptable in all the areas of Northern Ireland. I think that the only way in which that can be achieved is by not just a radical reorganisation of the force but a reorganisation based upon getting away completely from the heavily centralised organisation of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The White Paper talks about the equivalent of local watch committees— local authority organisations—trying to come into a relationship with the Royal Ulster Constabulary. It is attempting to deal with the problem, but I do not think it goes to the root of the matter. There must be local police forces, and a complete acceptance of the police force by all the people. That can be achieved only if we get away from the present organisation and structure of the police.

It is regrettable that the events which have taken place in Northern Ireland since the Hunt Committee reported have made it appear that the reforms which my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) sought to introduce have gone by the board. But he tried. We must completely reorganise the police force, so that there is a feeling in Northern Ireland that the police are a body which will protect the ordinary law-abiding citizen of whatever community in whatever circumstances.

Mr. Maginnis

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that when Stormont was established one-third of the places in the Royal Ulster Constabulary were left open for the Roman Catholic community? Is he now suggesting that we should have a sectarian division in the constabulary, with a Protestant police force for the Protestant community and a Roman Catholic police force for the Roman Catholic community?

Mr. McNamara

On the eve of the dis-bandment of the Northern Ireland Privy Council, I thank the hon. Member for casually throwing me a title to which I am not entitled.

Perhaps the biggest mistake made was to say that one-third of the strength of the police of the Royal Ulster Constabulary would be reserved for Roman Catholics—in other words, that there would be statutory Catholics in the force. I am certainly not suggesting two police forces in parallel—one for the "Prods" and the other for the "Tagues". I am asking for community police forces based on the older kind of police forces which we had in Great Britain before the massive reorganisation. It would mean local police forces.

I turn now to the Diplock recommendations and the Charter of Human Rights. It seems strange that at a time when the White Paper quite properly makes great play of the Charter of Human Rights the first piece of legislation we are to have is a derogation from those same human rights. It is a cockeyed way of proceeding. It is most regrettable that the House has never debated the Diplock recommendations.

Our freedom depends not only on the establishment by law of the facts but on the way in which those facts are arrived at. One of the greatest defences of our freedom is the procedures by which the facts are arrived at. The moment we weaken those procedures we weaken our liberties. Diplock proposes just that. He introduces some strange arguments and ideas.

For example, there is the new legal concept of inculpatory admission— presumably, Lord Diplock means confession, but did not want to use that word in case it had sectarian overtones. We find that inculpatory admissions which are short of torture or of inhuman or degrading treatment are to be accepted. But how short does one have to fall in order for such a confession to be accepted? It is a vague sort of phrase. There is no definition. Again, what are the minimum standards? Is a confession to be allowed if it is obtained by inducement, by threat of violence, by solitary confinement, by reduced diet, or by psychological techniques which fall short of torture but involve the threat of physical violence? The onus of proof on the balance of probabilities is to be placed on the accused, not on the Crown.

These are all very serious defects. We are to retain internment without really examining the reason for having it, or considering the resentments caused by it. It was introduced on a discriminatory basis, even though, as we have learned today, there are statutory Protestants inside. The operation when originally introduced went far beyond what was needed. Because of that, it was sordid, full of errors and inefficient. It was counter-productive. It had a terrible effect on the minority and has made Long Kesh a training ground for guerrilla graduates. When it was introduced, there was no proper attempt to set up special procedures for the hearing of grievances on behalf of those wrongfully arrested. The conditions of Long Kesh still leave a lot to be desired.

These are problems we have to deal with. I do not deny that in the long run there may, regrettably, be occasions when people have to be interned without trial, but is it right to weaken the criminal law in Northern Ireland to such an extent as has been proposed in Diplock? Is it right that the courts should be brought into even more disrepute, particularly after we have heard from the right hon. Gentleman the figures for the great number of convictions in the courts in Belfast in cases heard before juries? Diplock is very much at odds with the White Paper. I urge the right hon. Gentleman to consider the point made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition—that before the Diplock recommendations are introduced the Charter of Human Rights should be introduced to see at least what we are having derogation from.

There is a lot in the White Paper that I can support and have supported. I will not vote against it, although there are parts of it that I find not entirely satisfactory. I would certainly vote to have it rather than see it rejected by the House, and I would certainly vote against the amendment by the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr).

6.17 p.m.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)

Before I sit down, I will traverse some of the ground covered by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) in the earlier part of his speech, but I want to refer first to the amendment moved by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr). In any context except that of Northern Ireland, it would seem incredible that such an amendment should need to be moved. We are, after all, in this White Paper proposing to establish an Assembly which, as was made clear by my hon. Friend the Minister of State last night, will have approximately the same power of taxation as a local authority in Great Britain, and of which the power of supply, as we call it in this House, will be severely circumscribed—an Assembly of which, at any rate initially and foreseeably, the sphere of operation will be essentially the sphere of local government, though admittedly it will have subordinate powers of legislation not identical with those which can be sought by local authorities in this country.

In any situation other than this, the affront to the principle of representation on which this House itself is founded and constituted would be thought to be almost impossible. My hon. and gallant Friend would surely not have needed to speak or to move an amendment in order to establish that in such circumstances, our fellow citizens resident in the six counties of Northern Ireland were entitled to at any rate the same scale of representation in this House as any of their fellows on this side of the Irish Sea.

What then are the reasons given for so striking a deviation from the principle upon which this House itself is founded? My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State relied very largely upon the prospects for the future. He said he was anxious if parliamentary representation for Northern Ireland were increased, that this might be an obstacle to the subsequent enlargement, which he desired, of the powers of Ulster Assembly. If that is the best case that can be made, it is a very weak one indeed. There is no obvious difficulty, if and when further devolution takes place, about bringing in at the same time the corresponding adjustment—namely, that since greater authority would be given to the Assembly there, a less extensive representation would be required in this House. After all, if the two things—the status of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the representation of Northern Ireland in this House—belong together, as they clearly do, then, if the one is adjusted, so can the other be adjusted. We have certainly learned in this House in the last two or three years that there is nothing entrenched about the legislation governing Northern Ireland. What is done can afterwards be very quickly undone.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

If I may take up that point, I happen to agree with the White Paper on this but if it were the case that the Government of the day— if I can put it in that hypothetical way— wished to alter the representation of any part of the United Kingdom, is not it understood at least that no alteration should be made in the representation in this House at least until after the election after next? Then there is the 10- to 15-year rule, under the Act of 1956, at the very least, even on the fortuity which the hon. Gentleman brought up from the Front Bench. Should not there therefore be no change until 1979?

Mr. Powell

I am aware of these rules which govern our procedures in adjusting the parliamentary representation in this House, particularly the parliamentary representation of Great Britain. But I say again: I simply cannot believe that, if there was to be a substantial constitutional change again, endowing the new Assembly with a large range of powers which would make unjustified the full representation of the residents of Northern Ireland here, it would be thought unreasonable or impracticable to adjust that representation accordingly. I would have thought the very legislation envisaged in this White Paper, which makes profound constitutional changes in Northern Ireland at the very shortest notice, was evidence enough of that.

I want to come to what seems to me the much more significant and instructive reason that was given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. He said that such a change, such an adjustment, would be wholly unacceptable to a substantial element in the population".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th March, 1973; Vol. 853, c. 1326.] of Northern Ireland. I want to ask: what is this substantial element in the population to which the full parliamentary representation of the people of Northern Ireland would be wholly unacceptable? Of course, I can understand that many people in Northern Ireland have taken no particular interest—they have learned not to do so over the past 50 years—in the proceedings in this House until recently or in their representation here. I could understand therefore if they did not attach prime importance to an improvement in their representation here. What I cannot believe is that any element in the population of Northern Ireland, which wishes to see the Six Counties remain as part of the United Kingdom, or even willingly envisages that they should so remain for the foreseeable future, would have any objection at all to an improvement of the representation of that part of the Kingdom in this Parliament.

So what lies behind the stubborn refusal of the Government to do what, on the face of it, is manifestly fair, that is, to accord at least parity of parliamentary representation to our fellow citizens in Northern Ireland? There is here something very familiar and very significant. It is the desire to have things both ways at once, the desire to support incompatible opposites. It is the refusal to face, to admit and to act upon the fundamental reality of the politics of Northern Ireland, which is that there are two nations which contend for a single territory.

All the politics of Northern Ireland goes back to this fundamental division and clash: to which nation, to which state, is Northern Ireland to belong? The ambiguity, which we already trace in the matter raised by my hon. and gallant Friend's amendment, saturates the White Paper which is before the House. I want to come to it straight away, and to what the Government themselves say is the central issue in it, the point, on which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is absolutely clear and absolutely fixed—as he repeated in reply to the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) that the central element in this package is power sharing. The proposition is in paragraph 52: … it is the view of the Government that the Executive itself can no longer be solely based upon any single party, if that party draws its support and its elected representation virtually entirely from only one section of a divided community". Here is a proposition and a principle totally adverse to any conception of parliamentary or representative government with which we are familiar—the doctrine that in circumstances to be defined by another authority the majority, however large and however clear, shall not exercise the executive power. Since this is the centrepiece, we are bound to ask: what is the intention, what is the thought, behind an innovation so surprising and so paradoxical?

What is the nature of the minority with whom power is to be compulsorily shared by those who have been elected by a majority of their fellow citizens? Is it a minority which differs on domestic policy, which has stood on a different programme for health, welfare, industrial development, the social services? Well then, I say, not even a parish council could be conducted on the principle that after an election had been held on a series of different programmes, the execution and administration should be carried on not by those who had the majority but by some kind of coalition combining those who had been elected on not merely different but presumably opposing programmes.

Clearly, that cannot be. That, of course, is not the thought behind this striking central element in the proposals. The minority which the Government have in mind is not a minority which is committed for the foreseeable future to the administration of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom but a minority which is opposed to that—not necessarily opposed in any unlawful way, rather no doubt eschewing unlawful methods, but still a minority whose political object and whole political life is bound up with the intention that Northern Ireland shall not be administered as part of the United Kingdom but in some other way, as part of some other state.

So we have here a contradiction—my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South called it an absurdity, and such a contradiction is an absurdity— built into the proposals and made the centrepiece of them. The hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) at the end of a speech yesterday afternoon which contained what, if I may say so, was a brilliant dissection of this centre piece of the White Paper—I thought she exposed its inconsistencies and contradictions in a devastating way; [Laughter]—logic is the same, whatever intentions may be —found at the end of her speech a remarkably apt expression for what the Government are doing, a remarkably telling description of the future before us. She spoke of the Government being prepared to waffle their way on until terrorism succeeds in separating"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th March 1973; Vol 853, c 1385.] Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom.

There is the danger. There is the necessity for this centre piece of the proposals before the House to be brought out into the open, to be analysed and to be seen for the contradiction that it is; for in those words of the hon. Lady is expressed both the hope and the fear which the White Paper and the intent to implement it will create. There is the hope on the part of those who would wish Northern Ireland to be detached from the United Kingdom: here, they hope, is a yet further advance towards what they have in mind; here is a United Kingdom administration which is determined to oblige the majority in Northern Ireland to govern in combination with those whose objects are incompatible with their own. There is the corresponding fear on the part of the majority: somehow, they fear, after years of ambiguity and obscurity, of contradictory policies and double meanings—in short, of waffle —they will find that what they thought to be firmly held in the grasp of the majority has somehow been filched and taken from them.

I understand the temptations and the pressures under which hon. Members speak and vote in this debate. After weary years—weariness on this side of the Irish Sea, but weariness how much greater elsewhere!—how strong is the temptation, whatever may be the proposal which comes before us, to give it a trial. The concluding words—though HANSARD did not catch them—of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills) yesterday were "Give it a try". Let us give it a try, say hon. Members, and see if it will work. But we are not sent here to give things a try, to see if they will work. We are sent here to apply our judgment before the event. We are sent here to judge between what is likely to work and what is not likely to work, between what is absurd and what is rational. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend says "Rubbish". Evidently he thinks he has been sent here to sign on the dotted line. If so, others or not. We are sent here to avoid, if possible, misfortune coming upon our fellow citizens by taking thought in advance, however difficult or unpopular it may be.

Mr. Stratton Mills (Belfast, North)

My right hon. Friend referred to my speech. Does he appreciate that many of us believe that any course has great perils, and that many of us believe sincerely that these proposals have the best chance of operating? That is why I say, "Give them a try and let us see whether we can make them work".

Mr. Powell

I do not for a moment doubt—I could not imagine otherwise— that my hon. Friend has applied his mind as intensely as any other hon. Member to this very question, to search out what the future chances are. That I do not for a moment doubt; but I am saying that it is a washing of the hands and an abdication of responsibility for any hon. Member who is not satisfied of the practicability and the reasonable probability of these measures working to go with the crowd who will be forcing their way in hundreds through the entrances to the Aye Lobby tonight, murmuring as they do so, "Let us give it a try".

The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, in the most solemn part of a solemn speech, reminded us that every Member of the House bears a separate and personal responsibility not only for what has happened but for what is going to happen in Northern Ireland. Those who vote for this White Paper, either because they have not analysed and understood the contradiction at the heart of it, or because they say to themselves "Maybe we shall get by for another year or two in this way", are betraying the trust with which they were sent here and will bear the guilt of what will follow.

6.35 p.m.

Mr. Raymond Fletcher (Ilkeston)

I have no qualifications whatever to speak in an Irish debate except 18 months' intensive study of a phenomenon which is sweeping through the Western world and will loom ever larger in our political debates in future, namely, the increasing breakdown and ungovernability of Western States.

We have seen this phenomenon in an extreme form in the Province of Ulster. It is because I have been brooding on this problem for 18 months, projecting present tendencies into the future, scaring myself literally white in the process, that I thought it necessary that an English ignoramous representing an English constituency should say a few words in this debate.

First, I assure the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) that when I go into the Lobby tonight, as I intend to, it will be with no sense of elation, and it will not mean that my present respect and admiration for the Secretary of State has transformed itself into a total enthusiasm for his political ideas or his White Paper.

I am rarely presented in this House with a choice between good and evil— between black and white. Almost invariably I have to choose between two unsatisfactory courses of action on the basis of my own judgment. My contacts with the Whips Office are so tenuous and spasmodic that I receive little guidance on which is the least unsatisfactory course of action to adopt, and it is in that spirit that I intend to go into the Lobby tonight to vote for the least unsatisfactory course.

Having said that, I want to say in addition, in a speech that will itself be shot through with paradox, that I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that this White Paper is also shot through with paradox and contradiction. If this were presented as a constitutional document, to be accepted or rejected on its own constitutional merits, I could not possibly accept it, and certainly would not vote for it.

This is an abnormal document—if I may use that adjective—to deal with a totally abnormal situation, which has been with us not for just four years but for as long as I have been alive. It was three days after I made my entry into this world that the Anglo-Irish Treaty was accepted in Dublin. One month later the then Parliament of Northern Ireland contracted out and the whole of this turbulent and tragic history began.

The history itself is full of paradox. It is an astonishing thing that in Northern Ireland, the Province with which we associate many forms of violence, the community happens to be rather more law-abiding than in the rest of the United Kingdom. The statistics for 1963–67 for crimes against the person show that the figure for Northern Ireland was the lowest in Western Europe. The number of violent deaths—other than those occasioned by terrorist action—is half as many as in the United Kingdom as a whole, and in the United States of America there are 18 times as many. One set of statistics shows that the Northern Irish community is relatively peaceful and law-abiding. Why is there this violent explosion of lawlessness?

Here again, with infinite regret, I must go three-quarters of the distance with the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West. I do not accept the thesis that there are two nations in Northern Ireland—a thesis, incidentally, first presented in The Times in, I think, 1912, by a Mr. Moneypenny. We are accustomed to theories and bizarre ideas in the columns of that journal. I do not accept that there are two nations, but there are two nations potentially; the two communities in Northern Ireland are evolving to nationhood.

Mr. Powell

For correctness, I said that two nations are contending for the same territory. That is not the same as to say that there are two nations in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Fletcher

I accept the correction. I would not use the word "nations", but I cannot think of the term I need to express my concept of the situation—perhaps "three-quarter nations". By "nation" I mean a community with its own pattern of myths and legends, its own version of its history and a sense of distinct identity against all other communities and nations, and we have that in Northern Ireland.

It was exemplified yesterday in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Delargy), who can go over to Northern Ireland, move into the Catholic community and never have the slightest contact with the Protestant community. It was exemplified by the fact that his friend—and, incidentally, mine —Mr. George Currie, lately a Member of this House, got himself into serious political difficulties because he associated with my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock.

It is this separation, in which communities begin to think of themselves as quasi-nations, which causes political emblems and flags to acquire a significance in Northern Ireland which they never had in this country. The Flags and Emblems Act of 1954 would be a comparatively harmless and innocuous piece of legislation if it were enacted by this House for this part of the United Kingdom.

Mr. A. W. Stallard (St. Pancras, North)


Mr. Fletcher

I have voted for so many farcical measures that I would not mind one more. What would be relatively harmless and innocuous here, in the context of Northern Ireland becomes an offence and an affront to people's sense of identity and nationality. It becomes explosive and disruptive.

It is because of this fantastic situation, when the so-considered politically normal in Northern Ireland is totally abnormal by every criterion accepted by the rest of the United Kingdom, that we have a paradoxical White Paper presented to deal with the problem.

I agree, again, with the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West that the concept of power sharing in any other part of the United Kingdom—indeed, in any other part of the world— would be totally farcical. It is stupid to expect political parties to concentrate themselves in the course of an election campaign, in the sure and certain knowledge that after that campaign is concluded they will have to dissipate any power that they may have won during that campaign. It is a nonsensical proposition for any other country or any other part of the United Kingdom.

I have been looking for precedents. There was a time when that part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that we now call the Republic of Austria was detached from the wreckage of that empire and a similar system had to apply in Austria. There was an agreement between the two main parties—the Peoples Party and the Socialist Party—to allocate Ministries to themselves. The Peoples Party traditionally claimed control of the Ministry dealing with the Army and converted that into a power base for the Peoples Party. The Social Party claimed the Ministry dealing with the police and did likewise. It was a fantastic situation. In the post-Second World War situation it has altered. The anschluss finished it off, but it preserved the Republic of Austria for a time.

I am not suggesting that the White Paper will produce a political miracle in Northern Ireland. I do not see how it can. It may conceivably help to remove the connection between political power and a particular sort of religious belief. In other words, it may encourage people to fight elections on political issues such as, for instance, how rapidly and how effectively the people of Northern Ireland can get the 200,000 houses and the 40,000 extra jobs they need, instead of fighting the election on the proposition that King William III is still alive and kicking, or that the Earls of Ulster, who left in the early part of the seventeenth century, will come back and create an Elysium in the ghettos of Belfast.

It may conceivably produce a situation in which politicians in Northern Ireland are compelled by the electorate—which may in time forsake confessional politics —to address themselves to those subjects which are the proper concern of politicans and of all who are engaged in political conflict, whether or not they are politicians. It may. It was beginning to happen when the Republic of Austria was destroyed in 1938. There is that feeble, slender precedent but, whatever the paradoxes and contradictions, I am prepared to give it a trial with considerable scepticism and no degree of enthusiasm.

I wish the Secretary of State no ill. More political reputations have been buried in Irish soil than in the soil of any other part of the world. The traditional relationship between this Parliament and Ireland has been of reputations made in this Parliament being demolished and eventually buried over there. I am willing to give the Secretary of State my vote for his contradictory White Paper because every other alternative that I can conceive or that has been presented to me in the course of the debate—and I have been present more or less throughout— seems to me infinitely worse than the proposals outlined in the White Paper.

There is the military solution—a temporary military solution; we cannot produce solutions that last for thousands of years. Northern Ireland could be placed under martial law. If we imposed martial law we should have to put in more troops and so alter the character of the British security forces there that they would be unrecognisable to British eyes and to those who give them their support in this House and outside.

When our armies are forced to carry out police duties it means that they have to carry them out without the local knowledge in the hands of a good policeman. It means that they have to resort to punitive actions which are very unpalatable. It means that instead of bringing people to trial one is, in a sense, empowered to inflict punishment on whole districts, and there are many parts of the world where that has had to be done.

This I regard as a repellant solution. It is a solution of a kind to one particular problem out of the whole complex of problems to which we are trying to address ourselves in Northern Ireland. But the solution, if it be a solution, is to my mind so much worse than the disease that I cannot possibly entertain it.

The other semingly plausible solution is that advocated by the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Wellbeloved) in his more euphoric moments, namely, to say to Northern Ireland: "The guarantee given in 1949 and 1969 and repeated in the White Paper is meaningless. Since we gave it, we have the power to withdraw it, and if you do not behave yourselves we will pull out, and that means the security forces as well as the political apparatus."

There is no doubt—and this is part of the danger in the situation—that my hon. Friend speaks for a growing number in the country outside this House. It is not a view that has acquired formidable expression in terms of numbers in this House, but judging by my correspondence it is very strongly and increasingly widely held outside this House.

What if we were to apply that seemingly plausible solution? What if we were to leave Northern Ireland open to the kind of dismal future suggested by the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster that the two Irish communities who lay claim to the same territory fight it out? She pointed to the fact that in many parts of the world Governments have emerged as a result of that kind of conflict, though not precisely out of this kind of circumstance.

But if terrorists and terrorism—and terrorism breeds counter-terrorism—are to fight over Ireland and about the future of Ireland for the next decade, how much of the Province will be left at the end of that process? There would be victory of a kind, and it would be for the majority community.

Anyone who imagines that the Republic of Ireland would intervene militarily is, in my view, living in cloud-cuckoo-land. One fact of the situation is that the Republic of Ireland is no longer particularly interested in taking any part of Ulster into the Republic. I cannot see the Republic of Ireland intervening militarily on behalf of any guerrilla actions conducted by the minority community, and the result could only be one in which the two sides literally clawed themselves to destruction and destroyed the economy and the society of Northern Ireland in the process. Thus, that is not an alternative.

We are left with a contradictory and in many ways muddled and paradoxical White Paper and the two Bills which are to follow. One paradox about them is that right at the outset they assume so fundamental a change in attitudes in Northern Ireland to make them work as amounts to a reconstruction of the whole of Northern Irish society.

In fact, the right hon. Gentleman is now engaged in an enterprise the magnitude of which he may not understand himself. It is comparable to the enterprise embarked upon by the United States of America in the period of the reconstruction of the South, a political exercise that cost the life of one President and produced the impeachment of another, Andrew Johnson—an experiment that lasted 100 years, is still not completed, and is still not successful.

Yet, is spite of my scepticism, I am prepared to give the right hon. Gentleman the benefit of the doubt. He will go back to the Province of Northern Ireland with my support, because every other alternative of which I can think—I repeat myself, but it is necessary to underline this proposition—is infinitely worse than the one that has been presented to us in the course of the debate.

It is for that reason, and with no enthusiasm whatever, that I shall vote for the White Paper tonight.

6.56 p.m.

Mr. John Spence (Sheffield, Heeley)

I wish to make a few general observations, but first some particular observations, on the White Paper.

In my view there never was any prospect that the White Paper would meet with universal acceptance in Ulster. It never had a chance. Nevertheless, from a long connection with that Province, I congratulate my right hon. Friend on what I believe to be the most courageous effort yet made to guide Ireland in the direction of a solution of its centuries-old problems.

Having read the White Paper, I believe he has had the courage to go to the central and perennial issue in Irish affairs. What he is saying in the White Paper is, "You must work together". I am sure it is clear now to Ulster Members on both sides of the House that if they fail to work together the whole settlement outlined in the White Paper must fail.

To those who already forecast failure, I say that the possibilities that could flow from failure do not bear contemplation. From recent consultations with my relatives and friends—and there is a certain limitation on what a private Member can do in this regard—I find no reason yet to condemn the proposals of my right hon. Friend, or to imagine that they will necessarily fail.

I approach the White Paper with a confident assumption that failure will not happen but reason and moderate opinion will prevail.

I therefore apply my mind to areas in which we in this House can help, through constructive discussion and by analysis, the ideas and the philosophy behind the White Paper. How can we aid its success? I believe the first and essential aid to success is electoral speed. The elections to the Assembly must in my view be given top priority. My right hon. Friend said he had this in mind. I believe he is conscious of this and of how necessary these elections are. We welcome the indication he gave of when the elections would take place. His target date was somewhere about the end of June.

I put the Assembly elections by far above the necessity for local government elections. I believe it would be wrong to allow the local government elections to take place before the elections to the Assembly. Whilst there are several reasons for my advocating this course. I will confine myself to one only.

For the past 12 months at least, the political stage has of necessity been handed over to militants in the Ulster community. Moderates have had a poor platform and they have had little authority. Moderates exist in Ulster society and it is probable that they remain as a major force. The stage cannot be left any longer to the militants. Therefore speed in arranging the Assembly elections is of the very essence.

The second aid to success concerns the shades of political opinion that my right hon. Friend will feel able to permit to take part in the election. I know that I am on dangerous ground here and that I am touching on prejudice and emotion. But I would ask my right hon. Friend to extend the spectrum of political opinion as widely as he possibly can. To my Ulster colleagues on my side of the House, I say let them regard this situation with a sense of reality. Both Sinn Fein and Republican clubs exist. I should like to see both organisations brought out into the open and their real power base in population support put to the test. It could be as insignificant in the North as it was shown to be in the South in the recent general election.

The third aid to success concerns security. Security goes to the heart of any society and I welcome the emphasis placed on it in the White Paper. But will my right hon. Friend give a little more, and be a little more explicit about this and particularly about the police force? Will he examine his proposals again, bearing in mind that after the last four years of violence and intimidation, security has become a predominant issue in the minds of people in Ulster? From talking to these people, if I understand their feelings correctly, I believe that they wish for an effective and well-equipped police force in which the community has a real responsibility and a real involvement. This could be my right hon. Friend's goal once the Assembly is ready to accept its responsibilities.

There are two further aids to success with which I wish to deal. One is the question of Ulster representation in this House. Setting aside for a moment the degree of devolution to the Assembly that may be agreed ultimately, on a population basis the sending of 12 Members to Westminster is, as a matter of arithmetical fact, under-representation. That is beyond dispute.

What can be discussed however is the increase or decrease in representation which will be appropriate to correspond with the degree of devolution. As the degree of devolution has not yet been decided, and cannot be decided now, I suggest that the correct and appropriate decision to make now is that the representation in this House should not be decided. I should be happier if my right hon. Friend could respond to that by saying that representation, either more or less than at present, would be looked at afresh once the degree of devolution has been determined and seen to be operating satisfactorily.

The other point concerns the United Kingdom status of Northern Ireland, which is referred to in detail in paragraph 32 of the White Paper. The White Paper says that there will be no change in the status of Northern Ireland without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland. Perhaps my right hon. Friend will ex- plain how the people's wishes in deciding the issue will be obtained? Is it to be through the elected Assembly or by a referendum? I hope that a referendum will be the method adopted and that tests of opinion through elections would not be taken too frequently—I hope all parties will agree to this course of action—and that it perhaps should be once every 15 years. I believe that a period of constitutional stability is now needed both to restore confidence in the Province and to give the White Paper's proposals a chance of constructive operation on their merits.

I have endeavoured to pinpoint some of the areas where a little give and take might help the White Paper's chances and prospects for success. There are parts of it which could be improved and other parts on which I have not touched but in the last analysis we are left to judge the White Paper solely on its merits. Its outstanding merit, as I see it, is its purpose to provide a way forward out of the present violence and instability which will benefit the law-abiding majority in both communities.

We cannot say categorically whether it will work. But I believe it has an excellent chance of doing so providing that the law-abiding majority in both communities asserts its right to decide its future by the peaceful democratic means that the White Paper seeks to promote.

7.6 p.m.

Mr. Frank McManus (Fermanagh and South Tyrone)

In his opening remarks yesterday the Prime Minister referred to the past which failed. That blinding flash of insight, for the British Prime Minister to admit that fact, is most welcome even at this late stage. I regret, however, that that insight did not lead the Prime Minister to dispense a more accurate analysis of why it had failed. It behoves the Members of this House to examine once more what, I would suggest, is the basic reason why the past failed. It failed because an attempt was made to establish and continue an unnatural entity known as Northern Ireland.

The right hon. Member for Wolver-hampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) deliberated at great length and very expertly about what a Member of Parliament should do. He said it was not that they should give things a try, but should use their judgment. That is a valid point. But it is equally valid for me to say that over 50 years ago similar Members of Parliament came to this place and exercised their judgment on what was right for Ireland. Now 50 years later a British Prime Minister is talking about the past which failed.

If they were wrong then in their judgment, surely it is at least conceivable that they have been wrong again about what is basically at fault in Northern Ireland. It is for that reason that I believe the White Paper will fail like the past has failed, not because the people who wrote it wish it to fail, nor because the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland necessarily wish it to fail. It will fail because it cannot succeed because it attempts the impossible. It attempts to normalise what is basically an abnormal state, an abnormal entity. In simplistic terms it is like an attempt to redecorate a building or house which should have been demolished long ago.

I have no doubt that the team which drafted the White Paper wish earnestly that it will work. But earnest wishes unfortunately will not be enough. It is reasonable from a British point of view and it is well drawn up in the British dimension. But it does not work in the Irish dimension. My basic thesis is that this is an Irish problem and that it will be solved satisfactorily only in the Irish dimension.

It may well be that the White Paper will improve for a time, or ameliorate, conditions in Northern Ireland, but I fear that it will not solve the problem in Northern Ireland because that problem is essentially a problem of one community with two traditions opposed to each other through the lack of a common allegiance. The most radical defect of the White Paper is that it makes no attempt at all to seek, or to lay the basis for, accommodation between two opposing traditions. What is needed is an attempt to accommodate those two allegiances rather than to attempt to frustrate both. The power of the Unionists has been reduced slightly without in any way increasing the powers of the minority. Voices have been raised in the Unionist tradition about this notion of shared loyalty or shared allegiance, but the White Paper does not make any real attempt to foster or foment that sort of thing.

It also ignores what one might call the considerable developments which have taken place on both sides in the last year. It attempts institutions which may well look fair, but—this is where it basically falls down—it affirms a link repugnant, if we take the figures of the last referendum, at least to 42 per cent. of the population and makes them feel aliens in their own land. All that has happened in the last year in my opinion —and I believe there is ample evidence of this—has promoted suspicion in the other 58 per cent. that the link is by no means solid or inviolate. So while it has offended one side it has by no means satisfied the other.

Someone said the other day that if by some queer logic the British satisfy both sides we might make progress. Englishmen are fond of making patronising remarks like that about the Irish people, but it was not an intelligent remark because it showed an abysmal lack of understanding of what is going on.

The White Paper gives the minority certain rights to dissent from what they do not believe in. They can now dissent from the fact that they are part of the United Kingdom, but the White Paper does not give either community the right to assent to any new constitutional arrangement that may come about.

I ask my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) yesterday what his position would be if the new Assembly when elected—let us pose the hypothetical question to which the people of Northern Ireland have a right to have an answer—decided in conference before meeting the Secretary of State that it would be best for all concerned to negotiate some form of independence. My hon. Friend did not answer directly, but he indicated that if the Northern Irish are foolish enough for that sort of thing we should have to look at it again.

When he winds up the debate tonight, the Minister of State might give some indication of what British Government thinking would be in that case, because the Prime Minister has gone on record that the Assembly would be cut off without a penny and he scolded and wagged his finger. That is not the sort of language calculated to promote good relations in Northern Ireland. Whether or not it goes down well with the British public may be another matter. Without increasing any efforts towards shared allegiance, it has merely decreased the effectiveness of either side in the decision-making process. Finally, I suppose, one would say that it seeks a reasonable compromise from a British point of view but ignores all attempts at accommodation in the Irish dimension.

Another basic defect is very evident when one reads the White Paper. The British Government cannot make up their mind whether they are dealing with two communities or one community, which is divided. Paragraph 52 refers to either community and again to a divided community. It is this basic failure to understand and to come down on either side-either that we are one community which is divided or two separate communities— which the British Government have not solved in the terms of the White Paper.

The question is, which are we? I believe that we are one community with two traditions, two allegiances. I believe the beginning of the solution will be found when those two communities can meet and discuss as equals, and perhaps in this case the White Paper has something to recommend it. It will at least enable the communities to meet as equals. We shall be equally second-class citizens in the United Kingdom. There will be levelling down and all will equally lack power. But until the two communities can agree themselves on something to which they will give basic allegiance, this White Paper or any other White Paper cannot solve the problem.

There may well be in the community I represent, the minority community, a fairly widespread desire to look again or to look more deeply at this White Paper and to say, "Let us examine it a little more closely to see what is in it." But there are certain fundamental issues which prevent that closer look, certain issues which hinder or impede any real examination of the White Paper from where the minority stand. I will enumerate them.

The first, of course, is internment and the proposal to continue detention without trial. Following the remarks, which were similar, by the hon. Lady, the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin), whether English men like it or not, or whether they understand it or not, this is the way in which the minority views things. Ministers at the Dispatch Box can decide anything they like, but they will not change the opinions of the minority just by producing a White Paper or an Act of Parliament. The minority see that the continuation of internment means that even though there is to be a new structure and things will be called by different names, essentially the same old policy of repression is to be carried over into the new order. Until the slate can be wiped clean in this respect, a great proportion of the minority, who might otherwise want to look sympathetically at this proposal, are unable to do so.

Another matter quite rightly mentioned is the police. The Secretary of State says in the White Paper that to be effective a police force must be accepted. It must have a degree of integration with the community which it is protecting and within which it is operating. That makes he best of good sense. But on the other hand he says that the RUC must be strengthened in manpower and equipment, ignoring the most basic fact in Northern Ireland life, that the police force as now formed is not acceptable to the minority. They regard it, whether for good reasons or bad—and I think these are good reasons—as a police force basically sectarian, conceived as a political arm to defend a certain set of individuals in the ascendancy of power. There is no evidence to suggest that the nature of the police force has changed. To police the new order the Secretary of State envisages in Northern Ireland he should surely have had the breadth of vision and the political courage to say that the police force at the very least needs very drastic reform

As yet, not a word has been mentioned about how the police are to be reformed. I have specific ideas about how they should be reformed. But those will probably be matters for debate on the Bill—[Interruption.] The hon. and large Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) laughs. He thinks that I shall suggest that all policemen ought to be abolished. That is not my view at all. Certain policemen are a good idea. But they have to be policemen of a certain type and not the para-military arm of a political party.

The third matter to which attention must be given ought not to be important but is vitally important. I refer of course to the Flags and Emblems Act. The fact that flags and emblems mean a lot in Northern Ireland is self-evident. All that the British people have to do is to switch on their television sets, especially around 12th July, to see just how important flags and emblems are to the majority community. It is reasonable to assume also that flags and emblems are very important to the minority community. One of my Unionist colleagues said yesterday that flags of the Republic were banned only when they were used in inflamatory situations where they were likely to lead to breaches of the peace. That sort of language puts its finger on the problem. How is it that the flag of the Republic of Ireland could lead to a breach of the peace? The police say that it does and therefore that it cannot be carried, on the assumption that if the majority community are taunted by the flag they will resort to violence of some sort.

Mr. Maginnis

Will the hon. Gentleman also agree that the Union Jack is not allowed to be carried in certain areas in Northern Ireland for the same reason?

Mr. McNamara

Not under the Flags and Emblems Act.

Mr. McManus

It may be that the inhabitants of a certain area have grounds to hate the Union Jack, and it may be said that they have excellent reasons for doing so. But there is no statutory measure by which it is forbidden to carry it.

This offensive piece of legislation which has no great practical importance—or certainly should not have—ought to be removed. Any flag that anyone wishes to raise should be raised. If that change were brought about I believe that there would be a general falling off in all flag waving in Northern Ireland, which itself would be good.

My fourth recommendation to the Government is one which has been dealt with already. For that reason I simply refer to it. It is the need for full and free elections. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Spence) recommended that all persons who wished to contest elections should be free to do so. I agree with him passionately. In doing so I refer specifically to Sinn Fein and to the Republican clubs which are proscribed organisations.

There is a suggestion between the two Front Benches which will not wash. They wish to remove the restrictions but in some way or other to set up people so that they may fall into the trap of the British Government's making—

Mr. McNamara


Mr. McManus

It most certainly is not nonsense. It has been suggested that perhaps we can coax them out into the open so that they may be defeated at the elections and then we shall know who represents whom. That is not the way to go about business in a fair and open-minded way. It is not likely to encourage people of that nature to contest the elections.

I believe that not only should everyone be entitled to contest elections but that the elections should be free. A person standing for election ought not to have in the back of his mind the feeling that if he is defeated, after the election is over it is likely that the security forces will be knocking on his door because he identified himself and made certain statements in his campaign.

Mr. Orme

I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. McManus) does not wish to misrepresent what my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) said about this matter. What he did was to ask whether it was possible to find means whereby the Republican clubs and Sinn Fein could be allowed to stand as parties and to put up candidates with no strings attached. There was no thought in his mind that this should be a trap which could be sprung at some future date.

Mr. McManus

I am delighted to have that assurance.

If all these conditions are met or an attempt is made to meet them, I believe that the White Paper can perhaps make a significant contribution. If they are not met, I fear that the White Paper cannot and will not make any significant contribution.

7.26 p.m.

Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)

The one announcement in this debate which will be very helpful to the situation in Northern Ireland is the announcement of a firm date some time in June about the elections in Northern Ireland.

For far too long the representatives of Northern Ireland have been asked for whom they speak. For far too long the people of Northern Ireland have had no opportunity at the ballot box to say how their country should be run and to whom they give their political allegiances. At this juncture in the affairs of Northern Ireland it is very important that the people of Northern Ireland be given an opportunity to speak through the ballot box. I cannot stress that enough.

I trust that all the very diverse forces in Northern Ireland—people who suffer from a sense of frustration, people who feel that this House has not been right in its attitudes and decisions; and they come from both sides of the political and religious fences—will at long last have an opportunity to express themselves by supporting those candidates who put forward views in which they believe.

I realise that there is one great difficulty, and it is one which must be faced in the light of the circumstances in Northern Ireland. It is impossible to have someone who has committed atrocities and advocated their committal finding himself suddenly standing at the ballot box to be tested. But there is no reason why people who have not engaged in subversive activities but who still believe in the principles of Republicanism and the declared policies of the IRA should not stand as candidates and voice the opinions of those to whom they look for votes.

I should welcome a full expression of opinion from every section of the community at the ballot box. Only by that will this House understand the feelings of the people of Northern Ireland. That is very important.

Let us suppose that the Government say, "Very well. The Provisional Sinn Fein will be made legal and its candidates may stand for election." They will stand on an abstentionist policy, in any event. They have declared that they will not sit in the Assembly or have discussions with representatives of the Assembly By recognising the Provisional Sinn Fein we should achieve very little since even if they were allowed to fight elections they would not take part in the democratic process.

There are a number of matters that this House ought to bear in mind. It may be that we are discussing today not Northern Ireland but the future of the whole of the United Kingdom. Perhaps hon. Members do not realise what I am trying to get over to them. In many senses we in Northern Ireland have been caught up in a struggle which goes far beyond the basic differences between two sections of the community.

There are other elements in Northern Ireland which do not want a settlement of any kind. They are elements that are purely and totally destructive. They want to see the destruction of Northern Ireland not merely as an entity in the United Kingdom but as part of the Western democratic system. All sorts of diverse forces are at work in Northern Ireland which seek to forward the forces of anarchy, revolution and finally the destruction of democracy.

Many of the people of Northern Ireland feel there has been a retreat in the face of that attack. That is their opinion. A year ago many hon. Members appeared to think that if Stormont were removed a settlement would come. Stormont was removed but the violence continued. Many hon. Members now take the view, "Let us give the White Paper a try." At the back of their minds they are saying the same thing—"Perhaps if we give it a try the violence will cease."

I am not at all convinced—no matter what test is made at the ballot box—that certain forces in Northern Ireland will not continue their terrorism. Some of the people who have committed some of the terrible atrocities which have blackened the pages of our history in the past weeks and months are not interested in the well-being of any section of the community. They do not care about the people who are homeless. They do not care about unemployment and the difficulties which face the people who have to live their lives and go to their places of work. All they care about is carrying on their murder and atrocities.

The House should take cognisance of the fact that the IRA will have to be defeated if it is determined to carry on its fight of murder, burnings and bombings. The only way to defeat it is with the strong arm of the law. I made myself unpopular for speaking about internment. I did not think that it was any solution to the problem. I was proved right.

The House must realise that there are forces in Northern Ireland which care not for the Government White Paper and the opinion of democracy. They are determined to go on with their policies. They believe that violence in the end will pay. It is a sad thing, but to some degree violence has paid off in Ulster. That is the sad story which is the result of retreating in the face of the urban guerrilla groups. It is tragic, when we read of guerrilla groups in other countries, to find that it is hard to discover an instance when the forces of democracy carried the day. Those are sombre thoughts for every hon. Member.

There are many people who make diverse comments on the White Paper. There are many people who say that it is sweet and reasonable and that anybody who votes against it is unreasonable. It is said that anybody who objects to it will bear a heavy responsibility. Surely it is our duty to voice our objections on the Floor of the House to what we think is obnoxious in the White Paper. There are some who have developed strands of intolerance and who object to us opposing parts of the White Paper. Surely we are entitled to object to it. Surely the people of Northern Ireland at the ballot box have the rgiht to say what they think about the matter.

I welcome the contribution made by the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees). He gave me what I would call a text for an address. He said that the future of Northern Ireland will be determined by the people of Northern Ireland themselves. Paradoxically, running through the debate there has been the suggestion that a very dangerous situation could develop if the elections throw up a group in Northern Ireland that this House does not like, with which it does not agree and with which it will not cooperate. It is possible then that with a stroke of the pen the Secretary of State on 31st March next year will say, " Fare thee well." I say that this makes us second-class citizens.

The Assembly will be democratically elected on a franchise which this House has approved but by a system of which many people in Northern Ireland do not approve. At present the best thing that the Government could have done was to have the STV system. That will help, it is believed, all groups to get into the Assembly and to voice their opinions. I am no advocate of that system as this House knows. However, the House has drawn up the franchise and has told the people the way in which they will vote.

What happens if Northern Ireland votes a majority of people that this House does not like? The majority may find that they would be happier agreeing with people with whom they disagreed before. They may prefer to choose their rooms in the house by mutual agreement rather than by this Parliament saying, "You will sit in the drawing-room and you will sit in the back attic". If there is an agreement across the Floor and the Assembly comes to the House and says, "That is what we want in Northern Ireland", what will this House do? Will it say, "We have a White Paper. You must abide by the terms of the White Paper. You must bow to the White Paper. You must accept the White Paper"?

The hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin), whose politics and mine are at opposite poles, made a very wise statement. She said that the people of Northern Ireland with whom she is allied now have an antipathy towards the South of Ireland. I should not like to see Northern Ireland ever going outside the Union. It would be my aim to keep it within the Union. However, there is a section of feeling in Northern Ireland that feels restless with the attitude of this House and with the Government. Maybe in these circumstances the Assembly would find itself coming to an agreement about what the future will hold.

What will the Government's attitude be on 31st March next year? Will it be, "We cannot have you. We will not wear you. Fare thee well"? Or will it be, "All right, let us sit down and see what agreement we can reach"? The Leader of the Unionist Party has told us that he will negotiate privately with the Secretary of State and that he will get an agreement on certain things. I am glad that it has been made plain that there will be no personal or private deals with the Secretary of State. So much for Mr. Faulkner's negotiations. Others have said that they will fight the election and that when they come to this House they will know what strength they have and that they will negotiate on that basis.

Mr. Hume, of Londonderry and of the SDLP, a colleague of the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt), has said that the SDLP looks upon the Assembly as an elected, negotiating conference.

Mr. Stallard

For 12 months.

Rev. Ian Paisley

Well, at the end of 12 months if the Secretary of State was not pleased, will he wipe the Assembly out by a stroke of the pen? We have been asked in this House, "Why can't you people agree?" There are some things on which we agree. We agree that there should be an election. The Secretary of State has met us on that and we appreciate the efforts made by the Opposition Front Bench about this. There is agreement in this House across the Floor that we should have elections. That is welcomed by everyone, except the Alliance Party which tells us that it will sweep the board. Time will tell.

We are all agreed that there should be further negotiations and some of us agree that the time to negotiate is not now. The time to negotiate is when the people of Northern Ireland have spoken.

The Prime Minister said that some of us were raising fears. We were told that when the plebiscite was over there would be no more discussion about the border. What does the White Paper say? It says that immediately there are Assembly elections this Parliament will call for a conference with the Southern Ireland Parliament and the people who represent elected Northern Ireland opinion. It does not say that they will be elected representatives of the Assembly. The first thing to be discussed will be the border—after telling us that the border was to be taken out of politics. The White Paper says that the discussions will be about the possibility of changing the status of Northern Ireland.

I know this White Paper almost like my Bible. I notice that the Secretary of State is looking up page 30, paragraph 112(a). This is the "Authorized Version". It says: the acceptance of the present status of Northern Ireland, and of the possibility— which would have to be compatible with the principle of consent—of subsequent change in that status Why put that first if the border were to be taken out of politics altogether? It should have been relegated to the background altogether. Even the hon. Member for Belfast, West says that there will not be a united Ireland overnight. Even he is prepared to put that into the future.

Mr. Fitt

The end of the month.

Rev. Ian Paisley

Then it will be a long month for the people of Northern Ireland. Those people have to face the fact that they will be having elections. The Secretary of State should spell out whether he believes that the elected Assembly could be an elected conference to discuss matters on which there is not agreement. If we can have an assurance about that we shall be taking a step forwards.

There are many things in the White Paper I could discuss and emphasise. If the right hon. Gentleman can tell us tonight that he will let the elections take place and will then be happy to talk with the people in the Assembly who reach some sort of agreement, that will be well and good. This House is saying, " We are tired of this situation. Let the Ulster people decide." The text from the hon. Member for Leeds, South is "The Ulster people will have final decision." Let the Ulster people decide. Will this House let them decide?

7.43 p.m.

Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)

The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) has recently shown some signs of backsliding, as I told him the other day, into the area of education and away from statesmanship. I want to put on record my disappointment that he has not made more of a direct contribution to the debate, as he could have done. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) gave him a welcome when the hon. Member was elected to this House. My right hon. Friend said that he looked forward to the important role that the hon. Gentleman would be able to play. The obligation upon him now is as great as ever it was.

The real test of working for democracy is not in debate but in the political work that is done in the constituencies. The hon. Gentleman referred to second-class citizens. He knows that there is no danger of my looking upon anyone in that light. I would humbly compare myself with him as an equal citizen but there is not much danger of my going beyond that.

We have seen so far in the debate a dangerous interplay of extremism which will lead us nowhere unless a third solution is found. I regret that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) is not now present. The way in which he used the argument put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) was wholly destructive and made no contribution to the debate. His counsel was dangerous. There are some obvious reasons why he, of all people, as a former Cabinet Minister, is not in a position to engage in this sort of dangerous attitude. He used his logic. Thomas Hobbes used his drastic logic. If this were an intellectual game the right hon. Gentleman would be free to do so. However it is not just a game.

It is possible to argue that we are facing one group which is concerned to coerce the people of Northern Ireland into a new political alignment and that that group is using the bomb in the process of coercion. That is true. We could equally well say that there are extremist groups at the other end of the political spectrum—I am sorry that the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) is leaving the Chamber because I am coming to his amendment. I have moved to his end of the spectrum. At that end of the spectrum we have his modest amendment talking about the number of representatives. Yet this is from someone who has taken part in extremist meetings in Belfast and joined in television interviews with Mr. Craig and others, when the attack on the White Paper was not to do with the modest point of the number of Members in the House but was rather a fundamental attack on the White Paper.

I expected the hon. and gallant Gentleman to repeat what he said in those television interviews instead of giving us a milk-and-water version of his attitude.

Captain Orr

With respect, I repeated precisely what I said earlier. I pointed to the four points on which I found agreement. This is precisely what I have said on television.

Mr. Mendelson

No. In those television interviews the hon. and gallant Gentleman was standing between the hon. Member for Antrim, North and Mr. Craig, taking part in a fundamental root-and-branch attack on this White Paper.

Captain Orr indicated dissent.

Mr. Mendelson

It is easy for the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West to say that because both of the propositions I have outlined are true we are thus faced with two extremist attitudes and that therefore the logic of events points to hostility towards the White Paper.

Mr. McManus

My hon. Friend is being a little unfair to the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) because as I remember the interview he did not manage to get a word in edge ways.

Mr. Mendelson

I must tell my hon. Friend that I am more diligent than he. It was only at one television interview that the hon. and gallant Gentleman did not get a word in. There were other occasions when he managed to join in. I saw them all. I stayed up late for the purpose.

I return to the speech made by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West. It was in many ways a dangerous and important contribution to the debate. I will vote this evening for this White Paper and respond immediately to the suggestion made by the right hon. Member that we all have a duty to explain why we do so. We have to explain to our own constituents whether we have accepted our proper responsibility this evening or whether we are merely doing this because we are saying, "Give it a go".

Whatever the views of hon. Members from Northern Ireland, there is one consideration which ought to make sense to the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West. Whatever constituency hon. Members in this House represent it cannot be a matter of indifference to the people of Penistone or the people of Sheffield what might happen in Northern Ireland. This point has not yet been made in this debate. Perhaps people do not want to make it too frankly. That is my first reason for voting for the White Paper.

We cannot allow a situation to develop in which military events take place in Northern Ireland which are completely beyond our control. We have no knowledge of what outside powers may decide to intervene or who may take over the supply of arms to either extreme. Nor do we know what would happen if we washed our hands and left Northern Ireland to be a battlefield. This is a consideration which brings in the direct responsibility of hon. Members, for whatever constituency in the United Kingdom they sit.

There are imperfections in the White-Paper, but it is trying to put an end to two attitudes that have been bedevilling public life in Northern Ireland for many years. In this matter I will get disagreement from hon. Members from Northern Ireland and from other Conservative and Unionists Members. On this side of the House at least we know that for more than 40 years one section of the people in the political life of Northern Ireland has had a monopoly of power. Those people have used this monopoly for a great deal of discrimination for many years. This is the starting point for many of my hon. Friends.

After the first violence in 1969, I went to Belfast as a member of a Labour Party commission for an on-the-spot look, before my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), who was then Home Secretary, went there. I interviewed a lady who worked in a post office. She said that, for more than 26 years, and up and until six weeks before we arrived, practically all the staff in the post office belonged to one section of the community.

On my visit I also spoke to Captain Anderson in Derry. He was then a member of Stormont. Before going to see Captain Anderson I had spent half a day visiting the section where most of the people are members of the minority religion. I spoke to Captain Anderson and members of the party which was in the majority at the time. I asked Captain Anderson whether there were any members of the Catholic minority on the staff of the town council. He said they did not have any Catholics employed in the administration. When I asked him whether there had ever been an opportunity to employ a Catholic, he said that 10 years before a man had applied to be deputy director of education and he had been turned down. This is the position and the starting point of many quite unbiassed hon. Members on this side of the House.

There are hon. Members who, under the pretext of modest amendments, are hoping to bring back that domination. We heard some semi-Marxism from the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin)—[Interruption.]—it has been echoed to some extent on the other side of the Chamber—which was regarded by the right hon. Member for Wolver-hampton,South-West as brilliantly logical. His standards are falling. There was a pretence by the hon. Member that there is a system of law and justice among many of her compatriots when she gave a shocking example of members of the Provisional IRA shooting people through the knee when they had committed a number of offences. That is not justice, it is not law, it is not even logic. It is the uncivilised kind of living that existed centuries ago. The majority of Roman Catholics in the Province do not share the attitudes of young hooligans who shoot people through the knee. It is slander for the hon. Lady to say that they approve of such conduct by members of the Provisional IRA. This is quite untrue, as many of us know who have spent days and weeks there talking to people on all sides.

Something different is involved. There are too many people playing at politics. Too many people are wishing, by following an extremist course, to make sure of their re-election either to this House or to the Assembly.

It will depend very much on the hon. Member for Antrim, North—for whom I am not alone in having a sincere regard —and others like him and the way in which they conduct themselves in this election campaign as to what can be done with the Assembly and by the Assembly when it is elected. I know he will agree with me on that point. If people start seeking firm assurances now from the Secretary of State on everything which may happen once the Assembly has been elected, they will condemn it to something far less fruitful than would otherwise be the case.

I suggest a slightly different attitude to the hon. Gentleman. There are suggestions in the White Paper to put an end by agreement to the throwing of bombs, the attempted assassination and the actual killing. That is my second main reason for voting for the White Paper..

I would say to those hon. Members on my own side who are within my hearing that they have a similar duty. Tonight, we are giving a signal in favour of the replacement of violence by an admittedly modest and imperfect attempt to reintro-duce politics into the life of the people of Northern Ireland. I appeal to hon. Members to vote with me for the White Paper so as to help to give that signal.

My third reason concerns the kind of things that the Assembly might do. I think that the hon. Member for Antrim, North has been rather harsh to Mr. Faulkner. I am not known as a one-man admiration society for Mr. Faulkner, but the hon. Member has been harsh on him. After all, anyone who faces the task of leading a political party in the face of the kind of combination of the "terrible three" who appeared on television the day after publication of the White Paper has his work cut out. I felt some compassion for Mr. Faulkner on the evening of the meeting of the Unionist Council when he had to prepare a policy.

It is essential that we should have agreement among ourselves in the House —not only those directly involved in the Province—to approach this election with the best possible will to see that it can be as democratic an election as could take place in any British community. Facing similar difficulties, I do not know whether, for instance, the part of the country that I represent would necessarily act more reasonably then some of the colleagues of the hon. Member back in Ulster. I have no attitude of superiority in this respect. I do not know what pas- sions may lead people to do in politics. Wherever we speak, wherever we run our campaign, we should all give support to the Secretary of State. I say this deliberately to the right hon. Gentleman, recognising that he is a member of another party. In our day-to-day conduct we should not try to catch him out with clever questions, such as, "Will you guarantee that if we elect the Assembly peacefully we can immediately proceed to destroy one of the central sections of the White Paper?".

In putting forward this document to the people of Northern Ireland the Government must say that they expect people to accept the basic principles. What would be the consequences if they did not? If the Government responded to one extreme view and said, "All right, we do not insist on this central section. This is just an exercise. You can do what you like afterwards and you do not have to be conscious of any political principles involved in the White Paper ", what would the minority say? Does not the hon. Member for Antrim, North see, as anyone else ought to be able to see, that this is a most carefully put together document and that it could not be anything else but that? I do not expect the document to give me all that I may regard as reasonable. By upsetting it before the election campaign has taken place, all the dangers which we are trying to exorcise would return in full force.

Rev. Ian Paisley

I am sorry that I did not get my point over to the hon. Gentleman. It was this. If the Assembly were elected and, by force of circumstance, there was a coming together of opinion by the main body in the Assembly, from both sides of the fence, and they agreed to say to the Secretary of State, across the board, "These are the things that together we are agreed that we should have", what would happen? That was the point. I was not saying that one section should dominate the Assembly. I was saying, surely the Secretary of State should be prepared to negotiate with them.

Mr. Mendelson

I understood the hon. Gentleman perfectly, and I object to what I understood. The hon. Gentleman is arguing that the people of one extreme point of view, the provisional IRA. the people of the extreme Protestant viewpoint, and some people in between, might find that in numbers they have 43 or 45 members in that Assembly and that they then agree to try to change the whole basis of the White Paper on which they have just been elected. The hon. Gentleman wants in advance a commitment from the Secretary of State. That is a most unreasonable and dangerous course.

The democratic course is to accept the White Paper as a basis, to work it, to have a democratic election campaign and to leave the future to the future, instead of trying to arouse suspicions as to what might happen after the election. I am trying modestly to advise the hon. Gentleman to desist and to adopt the alternative attitude.

The Division tonight will be quite as important as was indicated by the right hon Member for Wolverhampton, South-West. In a debate of this kind, naturally there have been quite a number of speeches which have rightly been critical of the political basis of the White Paper or of some of its details. That is what the House of Commons is for. The Chair is obliged and willing to call hon. Members who have views that are critical of the main proposal in a larger proportion than those who might say that they accept the general policy and agree with it. Otherwise, the views of critics would be very largely ignored and the general formation of opinion in the House would not take place.

But although that is so, there are considerable numbers of my hon. Friends, and hon. Members of other parties, who accept the political principle involved in the White Paper, although they may have reservations on particular points. Some of those reservations have been brought out. No doubt they will be mentioned again tonight from the Opposition Front Bench.

A considerable number of hon. Members know also that this document cannot be perfect. This is a most difficult attempt to reintroduce ordinary politics, as a substitute for the gun and the assassin, into the lives of the majority of law-abiding, sincere people of Northern Ireland. Some of them are terrorised by the activities of extremist minorities, which must be neutralised and defeated so that the majority can live freely a political life. How does one do that? It cannot be done by preaching.

The final reason why I shall support the White Paper in the Lobby is that preaching against extremists is futile. The only way to beat extremists and to provide a proper political basis for the majority of religions and sections of the community is to put forward a modest basis for political life after taking a great deal of advice. With the co-operation of hon. Members over the last 12 months, the Government have done this in this document. I shall vote for it with conviction.

8.5 p.m.

Mr. Harold Soref (Ormskirk)

The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson) objects to what he calls a monopoly of power in the former Stor-mont Parliament because it was a Unionist Government. I have not heard him criticise other monopolies of power which exist elsewhere in the world and which are wholly Left. On the other hand, surely it will be conceded that the power that was held by Stormont was held by majority rule. There was one man, one vote. That Government ruled by a democratic majority.

So far in the debate it seems that there has been unanimity on two matters. First, it is impossible to exaggerate the integrity, patience, courage and abstract fairness of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and his colleagues. It would be churlish not to admit that. Secondly, it would be impossible to exaggerate the heroic role of the Army in its unenviable task. Its discipline, tolerance and restraint has been unbelievable and unique in the face of insurrectionary violence and savagery.

Beyond that, there are differing views held on both sides of the House. There are those who, like myself, feel that while the constitutional proposals contained in the White Paper may be reasonable for reasonable people, many of the people in Ulster are not altogether reasonable and there is an impossibility of being able to apply these terms in order to change the heart of the people in that Province.

The White Paper presupposes the possibility of a political solution, which is questionable. The parties involved are irreconcilable. The only immediate solution, as I see it, is a military solution, because it is impossible to legislate fundamental differences out of existence.

The historic affiliations between political parties and religions are so deep-seated that I cannot see how, by a White Paper, they can be changed. However academically fair the White Paper may be, it cannot work. There is no evidence of that possibility.

On the other hand, we have been conditioned by the evidence which is forthcoming daily of the atrocities which are taking place in the Province. There is no atrocity so appalling so that we cannot anticipate it happening.

In this climate of behaviour, I believe that we have to act in a rather different way. Our record for imposing constitutions on our erstwhile colonies and dependencies has not been wholly successful or promising in recent years. Elsewhere we have destroyed multi-party parliaments and replaced them with totalitarian one-party Governments. Ulster had a genuine one-party Government democratically elected with majority rule. Hon. Members will recall that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, speaking in the debate on the Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Bill on 20th March 1972, stated: In the first instance it is temporary and will operate for one year. Stormont will be prorogued and not dissolved."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th March 1972; Vol. 834. c. 241.] In fact Stormont has been dissolved at a stroke and destroyed. I believe that the dis-establishment of Stormont and the disbandment of the B-Specials has not produced the peaceful conditions envisaged by the temporary euphoria which existed in the House on the establishment of direct rule.

During the period August 1969 to March 1973 729 men, women and children have been killed. Of that total figure 220 were members of the security forces and 508 were civilians. But since direct rule 318 civilians and 147 members of the security forces have been killed. This is surely evidence that direct rule has not had a satisfactory effect in restoring peace in Ireland. The situation in which irregular forces are capable of murderous behaviour is surely partly due to the fact that not enough strength was employed by the Government to wipe out the IRA at the time of their most serious atrocities.

What compensation will Ulster now have for the abolition of Stormont? Surely the Council of Ireland, proportional representation, and shared powers are likely to lead only to further instability. As I see the situation, the possibility that people who have been involved in terrorist offences may be able to stand for Parliament will be a serious matter. Is it said that they are to be allowed to stand for the new Assembly? One London newspaper contained a story in the last few days that an individual who is in the hands of the police in connection with the Old Bailey bombing is a potential candidate for the Assembly. Can Republicans, dedicated to a United Ireland and practising violence, serve in an administration that is determined to retain Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom?

The situation in Ulster as I see it is virtually a state of war, though few people are prepared to admit it. We are involved not only in the Province but in the real possibility of it spreading in this country, and there is a daily danger of an escalation of events from Ulster to Liverpool, Glasgow and London. Murder has not abated, and so long as the low profile exists I have every fear that this situation will continue.

It has been said by everybody who has the interests of peace and the future harmony of Ulster at heart that the UDA, the UVF, the Vanguards and other irregular bodies have committed acts which would not be countenanced by this House. Surely, in the light of the daily events in Belfast and elsewhere in Ulster, is it surprising that there has been retaliation? One would imagine that had events like the Old Bailey bombing taken place regularly in this country our people might have reacted in a most unfortunate but understandable way. Coming after the tragic events in Aldershot and the CS bomb that was thrown in this House only two years ago, there is a real danger— and we should recognise this as a future possibility—of an escalation of similar events in this country.

The other danger that I foresee is the spread of the philosophy on the lines of, "A plague on both your houses". There are many people in this country who feel that the Army should pull out because of the way which our troops have been treated by those who have been active against them. But this is unthinkable. It could only lead to a massacre in the Province and an inevitable escalation of events here.

We in this country owe a great debt to Ulster not least because of the loyalty during the last war of citizens in the Province, which can be compared more than favourably with what happened in the Irish Free State during the war. For that reason alone one would imagine that there would be a degree of understanding. But, apart from that, despite everything that has happened, we must remember that nearly 600,000 people voted in favour of Ulster remaining part of the United Kingdom. That also is something of which we must be proud. Although understandably there are people who have hopes that by pursuing the White Paper proposals a satisfactory result will be achieved, I would conclude by saying that when the wish is the father to the thought the offspring inevitably will be illegitimate. There is no reason to believe that the implementation of the White Paper will provide peaceful conditions in the Province—and. after all, peace is the aim we all seek.

8.18 p.m.

Mr. Dick Douglas (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)

I listened with interest to the hon. Member for Orms-kirk (Mr. Soref), but I would not go very far with him in his argument. He seems to be projecting a military solution to the problem. I come from a constituency in the heart of Scotland which has sent the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders three times to Northern Ireland. Some of the troops in that regiment have been back to Ireland on duty five times. I do not think we should ask our troops constantly to undertake more tours of duty in Northern Ireland. I do not say this because I believe the troops in Northern Ireland have not performed a useful function. I am in no way a militarist, but I have great admiration for the work of the British Army in Northern Ireland. No Army in the world could have done the job better.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said that morale among the troops was high. People in the United Kingdom are beginning to say to the people of Northern Ireland, "We do not think that any more of our young boys' lives should be lost in Northern Ireland for causes which we on this side of the Irish Channel do not understand."

The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) is correct to say that the struggles which are taking place in Northern Ireland relate to the future of the whole of the United Kingdom. We are trying to resolve in Northern Ireland whether communities which in some areas are poles apart can live together in tolerance.

I put this thought in the minds of those who see great deficiencies in the White Paper—and I must admit that there are certain deficiencies. Is it worth the life of a British soldier or of one citizen of Northern Ireland to right the deficiencies in that document? I have supported the cause of the civil rights campaign but I have never thought that pursuit of those rights should mean the life of one person.

We have heard arguments about what will happen if people who do not want the White Paper to work are elected. We have to live with that situation if it arises. I do not think it will arise but— if I may argue by analogy—if it happened that people in the 71 constituencies in Scotland chose 36 Scottish Nationalists who were determined to take Scotland out of the United Kingdom and they obtained a majority of the seats, I do not think the United Kingdom Parliament could do very much about it. The people of Scotland, having had put before them in clear electoral terms that that was what was going to happen, would have made their choice, for good or ill.

It is the responsibility of a politician to tell the electorate what his policy is and to be forced to explain to them at the hustings the consequences of that policy. If the hon. Member for Antrim, North or the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) want to fight an election on the basis of root-and-branch opposition to this White Paper and say, in effect, that we will have at the end of the day either a UDI for Ulster or a situation in which we are forced to negotiate or seek terms with our Southern partners, who do not really want us, let them stand in the elections, which I hope will be soon, and say so clearly and definitely, so that the electorate of Northern Ireland will know exactly who and what they are voting for.

With some of my parliamentary colleagues I attended the border poll. I have great misgivings about that form of plebiscite, and will continue to have misgivings about plebiscites, but one thing it proved in a negative form was that it is possible to conduct an election even in the situation in Northern Ireland. The security forces were greatly strained, and I would hope that in terms of the timing and organisation of an election, albeit on the basis of PR, we would pay great attention to trying to ease the role of the security forces in elections to the Assembly. I think that is an important function and I hope that all political parties in Northern Ireland will agree to participate in a free election.

I am not sure how one approaches this delicate area of ensuring that those groups —call them Republican clubs or whatever—are represented at the hustings. I argue very forcibly that they should be, if only on the basis of seeing in clear electoral terms what degree of support they have in the country as a whole. That is a very important consideration, but it is always important to ask people before an eleotion—and I hope that leaders of the political parties, whether for or against the White Paper, will themselves declare that they will not use the election in any way to stir up sectarian hatred— to make a unanimous declaration of their intent.

My concluding remarks relate to the Council of Ireland. As my hon. Friends know, I am a firm and dedicated European. We really ought to be thinking not about a Council of Ireland but about a Council of the two Irelands and Britain, which would take us both in the direction of a true union. One of the more startling things about our recent entry into the European Economic Community was some Southern Ireland politicians coming to me and saying: "We have discovered that our best friend in terms of the Community will be an Englishman". They were wrong: it is a Scotsman—George Thomson—but in saying that they jumped 200 or 300 years in thought and outlook.

I therefore suggest that as soon as possible after the elections—and they must come first, on an agreed time-scale, and I know that the Secretary of State has difficulties—we look, not just to a Council of Ireland to resolve the economic problems there, but to a council which will unite Great Britain and Ireland to see how we can get a fruitful dialogue with the members of the European Community.

8.25 p.m.

Mr. James Molyneaux (Antrim,South)

I have great pleasure in reinforcing what the hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Douglas) said about the wisdom of a council of the British Isles—if he will accept that formula. Within the context of the EEC or outside, it makes practical common sense. It is something that this House would do well to consider in the interval between the approval of this White Paper and the bringing forward of the legislation.

I also apologise to the hon. Member for the fact that he visited my own polling station in the town of Crumlin. I regret that I was not there to receive him, and hope that on another occasion I shall have that pleasure.

I hope that the hon. Member for Pem-stone (Mr. John Mendelson) will permit me gently to correct him. Whether he knew it or not, he was accusing the Westminster Parliament of discriminating in the matter of the Post Office in Londonderry. I think he will recall that the Post Office was always under the control of the Government here. Under no circumstances did the Stormont Parliament have any influence over its operations in Northern Ireland.

Mr. John Mendelson

This allows me to correct an important mistake. If I said "Post Office" that was an inadvertent mistake. I meant the placing section of the Ministry of Labour in Belfast. In that placing section, whatever the ultimate control, the lady who gave evidence told me that until six weeks before we arrived—and the two events were not connected, of course—there had not been one member of the minority in the placing section. It is easy to see the importance of that situation, because the officials in the placing section put people on to other jobs.

Mr. Molyneaux

That may well be. but the fact remains that ultimate responsibility rested here; it was under the supervision and direction of the Parliament in Westminster.

I am always irritated by evidence of wasted energy and effort. For that reason, I am delighted that there has been very little talk in this Chamber in the past two days of making the White Paper unworkable. In my view, the authors have already done just that. I would prefer a more constructive approach, and say that we will do our level best to improve it out of all recognition.

Some sections of the White Paper are so absurd that one is tempted to wonder whether they were written tongue-in-cheek by a group of civil servants, perhaps somewhat disgruntled and trying to make the Government appear ridiculous as a revenge for having salary increases stopped under the pay freeze mechanism.

Despite denials, the clear message of the White Paper is that violence does pay, and it is a message which, I am sorry to say, will not be missed by subversive groups on this side of the Irish Sea. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said yesterday, it is true that the terrorists have not succeeded in their main objective, which was the aim of unification. With respect, he should have said that they have not yet achieved that aim.

They have succeeded in all else. Their most spectacular achievement was, perhaps, the abolition of Stormont, because that was a primary aim. Direct rule conceded that objective and the White Paper gives it permanence.

For that reason, Parliament must produce significant alterations in the proposals when they come forward in legislative form—alterations designed to make the structure much more credible and much more in line with genuine democratic standards. It would be disastrous if the only lesson were that non-cooperation and violence were more effective, politically, than observance of lawful methods. Yesterday's speeches contained many references to restoring the democratic processes, but the real substance of the White Paper proposals has little in common with parliamentary processes.

Provision is made for the trappings of democracy. People will be allowed to vote in elections for the new Assembly. But in reality that Assembly will be a mere sounding board. It will not have effective powers to sustain or dismiss the Executive, since that body will be appointed by the Secretary of State. In- deed, the Secretary of State will have far greater power over a part of the United Kingdom than is exercised by any of his Cabinet colleagues, even the Crown itself. By combining the powers of Governor and political head in himself, he will occupy an authoritarian position resembling more closely that of a sultan, the one omission being the harem —and here one must accept a certain delay to ensure that the religious views of the concubines reflect a fair balance between the two communities which can be displayed on the sectarian Scoreboard featured in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister yesterday.

The Council of Ireland is not, as the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition suggested, a tripartite conference. Still less is it a meeting of three Prime Ministers. What is being proposed is a conference between two sovereign Governments and a collection of leaders of Northern Ireland parties, multiplied as they will be by proportional representation. I do not know whether right hon. and hon. Members opposite would welcome such a system of representation in the councils of the EEC, but one could hardly claim or expect that it would make for cohesion in the face of conflicting demands by various Governments in that body.

On the question of power sharing, my position is that no obstacle should be raised on religious grounds to any person who wishes to contribute to the good government of Northern Ireland. Some of the methods suggested and implied in the White Paper are so clearly seen to be unworkable that any resulting structure would be so unstable as to encourage the belief that it could be only temporary—perhaps it is only meant to be temporary—and that the terrorists and all the other troublemakers would simply regard it as a push-over.

One gets the strong impression that this Parliament has been caught somewhat off balance. I know that many hon. Members expected violent reaction to the publication of the White Paper. A few expected, not without a certain amount of relish, a spell of majority-bashing. Now Parliament is faced with a totally unexpected situation. On the majority side, all parties and groups have resolved to operate the democratic processes. That did not happen by accident, as has been pointed out.

The story will be told in due course, and I feel that history will be somewhat kinder to those of my hon. Friends who co-operated in this effort in bringing together people who had been threatening violence, seating them round a table and getting them to agree to operate the democratic processes to ensure any changes or modifications they thought desirable.

The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State agreed that tonight responsibility would pass from this House to the people of Northern Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said that power to decide would pass tonight from the Army on watch to the ballot box and those who would use it. I do not disagree with him. All of us who are electors in Northern Ireland welcome this opportunity and this responsibility. It has been further stated that the ballot box and not the gun should be used to give a verdict on the White Paper.

But here the House is in some difficulty, because the White Paper limits the choices and even states that certain verdicts will be unacceptable. It is this conditional democracy and not the Aunt Sallies of preserving Protestant ascendancy and majority domination which makes the White Paper unacceptable to me in its present form.

One encouraging feature of the debate has been the evidence that something has been happening in this House in the past 48 hours. There is a greater degree of realism than one has experienced in any previous debate on Northern Ireland. This was evident, for example, in the exchanges between the two Front Benches yesterday, in both what was said and what was implied. I get the impression that it is suddenly realised here that there is much more political maturity in Northern Ireland than observers had previously believed, and if the people of Northern Ireland—all of them; I do not refer to them as two communities, because they are all one community—can be treated in future as adults, and if limits are not set to their political development, they can be relied upon to work through the normal parliamentary process. Threats of making the proposals unworkable will become real only if it is shown that their clearly expressed will is to be ignored or defied.

8.36 p.m.

Mr. Robert Parry (Liverpool, Exchange)

Many speeches in this debate have favoured a moderate and tolerant approach to the proposals contained in the White Paper. I believe that it is right to keep the debate in as low a key as possible. Having said that, I fully support the condemnation by many hon. Members of violence from whichever source it may spring.

As a Liverpool Member, I speak with some knowledge of the Irish problem. The constituency which I represent has within its boundaries the Irish Centre, and it has long association with Ireland. I understand that the famous Irish trade union leader Jim Larkin first saw the light of day there. The neighbouring constituency of Liverpool, Scotland, which merges with my constituency and which I will have the honour of representing after the next election, also has a long historical association with Ireland. I understand that Mr. De Valera once hid there when he was on the run from the police after escaping from prison, and the Scotland Division was represented in this House by an Irish Nationalist, T. P. O'Connor, for nearly 50 years, from 1885 to 1929.

With this background in mind, following the publication of the White Paper last week I spent a considerable time over the weekend trying to get a consensus of opinion from people in my constituency. I visited the Irish Centre. I discussed the proposals with rank and file members, officers of the committee, a city magistrate, a prominent trade union official, members of my local Labour Party, Councillors and ordinary people in the street. I can assure the House that the overwhelming response I received was that we should give the White Paper and the proposals contained in it a chance.

I feel that the Irish people and the English people are really sick to death of the killing and the violence. I believe that the proposals are a possible blueprint on which we can eventually build a peaceful Ireland. I believe, too, that, particularly for the religious minority, this Bill has many proposals for which many hon. Members, particularly on this side of the Chamber, have been campaigning for many years—among other things election to the Assembly, on proportional representation, the Charter of Human Rights and the proposal to deal with job discrimination.

This is not, as Protestant extremists claim, a "sell out" to the IRA. The fact that the Provisional IRA has now rejected the White Paper proves the point. Perhaps I may be permitted to quote from the leader in the Liverpool Daily Post following the publication of the White Paper. Under the headline "A Lifeline for Ulster"—and that is what we are debating tonight—it said, Clearly, it is the Protestant majority who will have to make the greatest sacrifices. The new-style administration, with its 80-member assembly elected by proportional representation, means the end of half a century of built-in privilege and power. But the Unionists and their fellows to the right must have known that the Stormont Parliament would never come back. The leader goes on to point out that the White Paper has given them the guarantee they seek—a link with the United Kingdom for as long as the majority wish. It concludes by saying: But it is to be hoped that if the new administration comes into being—and that will depend upon the will and willingness of both sides—Britain will progressively be able to hand over more powers to the Ulster Government. It is a lifeline, and an ingeniously constructed one at that, which Mr. Whitelaw has offered. Both groups should consider what the alternative could be if they fail to grasp it. The crux of the problem is what the alternative could be. Without wishing to be alarmist, I think that it could lead to a tragic civil war and bloodshed on a scale that we have never seen before. Already too much Protestant and Catholic blood has been spilled. Far too much Irish blood has drenched the soil of Ulster, and too many British soldiers have been killed in the crossfire. Some of them were from Liverpool, including the young man who was so brutally and cowardly murdered last weekend.

Only the extremists have anything to fear from the White Paper, be they the Provisional IRA or the Protestant backwoodsmen. History has often thrown up little men with delusions of self-grandeur, and I refer now to the one I call King Billy Craig, the self-ordained Fϋhrer of the Protestant hardliners. Mr. Craig would still deny to the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland the human rights, the civil liberties and the natural justice which Hitler denied to Jewish people in Germany before the war. He has donned the mantle of Carson as the High Priest of Protestant supremacy and the Orange Order. There is little difference between his bully boys of today and Hitler's thugs in pre-war Germany.

It is to be hoped that the majority of Protestant people in Ulster will firmly reject the leadership offered by Mr. Craig and will accept the moderate proposals of the White Paper. I hope, too, that Catholics will accept the proposals as a constructive and positive effort to bring about a just and compassionate society in Northern Ireland.

I conclude by referring specifically to page 8, paragraphs 26 and 27 of the White Paper. Paragraph 26 deals with the serious lack of amenities in the Province. Paragraph 27 says: In any part of the world an inadequate social environment breeds boredom, aimless-ness, alienation from society, vandalism and even violence. In Northern Ireland all these evils may be compounded by high unemployment and deep political resentments. The need is to create a positive community life in such areas; to do everything possible to provide other outlets than violence for the energies of the people; to demonstrate that authority can be a helpful as well as a coercive influence on their lives. With this in mind, I sincerely hope that the Secretary of State will consider again the early ending of the Army occupation of Roger Casement Park. I have raised this subject in recent weeks in Oral and Written Questions, and I have received representations from the Gaelic Athletic Association asking me to make further representations to the right hon. Gentleman. I hope that it will be possible in the near future for the British Army to end its occupation. The GAA is not affiliated to any political party and does not support any one particular religion. I believe that encouragement and support for cultural and sporting activities in Northern Ireland will help in the present climate. I shall go into the Lobby tonight to support the White Paper, and I hope that it will lead to peace and sanity in Ulster.

8.45 p.m.

Mr. David James (Dorset, North)

I am happy to go along with the hon. Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mr. Parry). We have had a contrast in styles, between the common sense of the hon. Member for Ilkeston (Mr. Raymond Fletcher) and the cold logic of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolver-hampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). I come down unhesitatingly on the side of the hon. Gentleman. He made a first-class speech; indeed, he has saved me from saying a great deal.

I also agree with what the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson) said about the Catholic grievances, and what an eye-opener they were to him. There was an honourable tradition in the House of Commons that we should not interfere in the internal affairs of Northern Ireland, and that is why hon. Members were unaware of what had been swept under the carpet.

In the 1959–64 Parliament we had the most high-falutin' body, the all-party, all-religions, ecumenical affairs committee, of which, strangely enough, my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr)—an Orangeman— and I—a Roman Catholic—were joint secretaries. None of this information reached us. If it had, my hon. and gallant Friend would have been the first to let me know that there were sources of grievance.

It should be recognised both in the North and in the South that successive British Governments have gone to colossal lengths once the problem was made plain to them. The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) brought in the British Army—incidentally, at the request of the Catholic heir-archy—to protect Catholic lives and property, and the Army did much to see that the Catholics were looked after, although, I am afraid, this was sadly unrequited by subsequent events when the Catholic community started to shoot the British soldiers who had been brought there for their defence.

This Government had the great courage to suspend Stormont and start the search for a brand new formula to get away from the past. Both parties can legitimately claim credit for the White Paper which has been produced by my right hon. Friend and handsomely supported by the hon. Members for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) and Salford, West (Mr. Orme).

The White Paper represents to the Catholic community an enormous opportunity to make a go of it. The Catholic community must co-operate with this deal, because it may well be the last opportunity they have. To cooperate with this deal means not only supporting Westminster in what will be an overwhelming vote in favour of the White Paper; it will involve stopping petty pinpricks like rent and rates strikes for people who do not mind drawing supplementary benefit. It will involve leadership from the clergy and others in ensuring that the Catholic community gets out of its perpetual sulk and participates in community affairs. I do not care whether people are Republican—that is a perfectly respectable thing to be—or Unionist. No one can hope to see a United Ireland without a united Ulster, and no one can see a united Ulster unless both communities make the White Paper work.

This border talk is no longer relevant to the problems that Northern Ireland faces. We must pray to God that we can ensure that the White Paper works, that the Catholics take their rightful place in community, and that suspicion of them by the Protestants is thereby diminished.

As a convert, I can never underestimate the extent to which some people genuinely feel that the IRA is the armed wing of the Catholic Church. Of course, it is not true, but much has happened to give credence to that view. The only way the Catholics can make the community work is by giving the lie to that view, particularly if they can get much stronger leadership from the hierarchy.

I take a sanguine view of the White Paper. In my view it is a courageous White Paper. It demands the support, particularly, of the Catholic community, for whom so much has been sacrificed.

I thought that a most helpful suggestion was made by the hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Douglas), when he referred to a council of the British Isles. I suspect that, even though we are on different sides of the divide, my hon. and gallant Friend, the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) and I would agree on one thing, namely, that at the end of the day, and in EEC conditions, he would like to see a United Ireland united with the United Kingdom in the EEC. That, I believe, is a formula which could bring us all together.

8.52 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Latham (Paddington, North)

I preface what will need to be very brief remarks by associating myself with the tribute paid to the Secretary of State and to my hon. Friends the Members for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) and Salford, West (Mr. Orme) and, not least, to the Leader of the Opposition. I do so as I wish to make it clear that I am second to none in my admiration of what the Secretary of State is trying to do and how he is trying to do it. But it may well turn out, despite the generous speech to which we have just listened, that it will prove to be impossible. At the same time, sooner or later it seems to me that the kind of solution described in the White Paper had to be tried, and better it should be tried now than in another two or three years' time after more deaths, more violence and more destruction.

The one aspect of the White Paper that may be unique and the one success it already has is that it has enabled a group of politicians and people who have a justifiable and dreadful reputation for looking backwards to concentrate their minds upon looking forward at least a little in the context of the White Paper. It is quite possible that the proposals will not work. I personally am very doubtful whether they will. It is even more unlikely that they would deliver the goods many wish to see delivered.

I have never accepted the argument that all that was needed in Northern Ireland was to prevent violence. Violence has its causes, and had there been some earlier recognition of the justifiable demands of the civil rights movement I believe we would not be in the situation we are in today. One welcomes the fact that solutions are now forthcoming, but it is a great tragedy that they have come forward rather late in the day.

The House may recall that my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. Stallard) and I at an earlier stage sought the agreement of the House to the adoption of a Bill of Rights in relation to Northern Ireland. There is within this White Paper a similar proposal, though it goes by a different name, and that is welcome. But my doubts are that, even if there is a successful election to a more representative Assembly, the same people may tend to want to go on in the same old way. Even when one talks of power sharing, undoubtedly the majority view will prevail. If that majority shows the same determination to have things all its own way as it has shown over the past 50 years, obviously the proposals are doomed to failure.

I rise in particular to enter one caveat about the White Paper generally. I wish it success, and I have said that I believe that these proposals had to come. But I for one, and there are others of us, find it extremely difficult to go into the Lobby in support of the Government's proposals. Although the White Paper has been correctly described as a package, and it is right to say that one does not endorse it in every detail, there are two cardinal objections which some of us hold to what it contains.

Paragraph 58 envisages the introduction of the Diplock proposals in separate legislation. Many of us have made our views known about detention without trial and the abandonment of proper judicial processes. It may be said that this will be the subject of separate legislation, but the second and insuperable objection is the far-too-absolute and seemingly permanent declaration in paragraph 32. It seems to say that, come what may, whatever the events, whatever the developments, whilst the majority of the people want Northern Ireland to stay within the United Kingdom, that shall be the position.

Thus far I would accept some of the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Wellbeloved). While one wants to respect the majority wishes, there may well come a time when events have developed so seriously, where there is such hostility and concern throughout the United Kingdom as a whole, that it might be unreasonable to be held totally committed to Northern Ireland virtually for ever remaining part of the United Kingdom.

There could be a situation in which elected political representatives saw a better chance of solution with some form of independent Northern Ireland. I understand the dilemma of the Secretary of State, because if he had omitted any reference to this he would have been in difficulties. There is also the fact that the commitment is so total and absolute that I believe that in voting for the White Paper we are committing ourselves to something we may subsequently regret. We may feel that in the light of developments it is a pledge that cannot be honoured.

8.57 p.m.

Mr. Derek Coombs (Birmingham, Yardley)

When one looks back to the 1920s and realises that De Valera was once elected to the Northern Ireland Parliament for what is now part of the Down, South constituency one appreciates how close are the fortunes of both parts of that small island and how the divisions have developed and widened in succeeding years. Under PR in the 1921 General Election, Sinn Fein and the Nationalist Party won 12 seats, and roughly the same number in 1925. I wonder, if PR had continued, whether the divisions would have been as they are now or whether they would have healed.

Of course, the Unionist arguments against PR at that time were that it would lead to a multiplicity of parties, but it is precisely the consequence of one-party rule that has engendered such bitterness and strife. The fact that this has changed is to my mind the most important single contribution to peace and justice.

Nationalism will always rear its head where a substantial part of the population feels that it is not being treated fairly and lacks effective means of the democracy which is available in this country for changing that situation peacefully. Unity by consent is, of course, right but nationalism using force as its means, in the absence of consent, is fascism at its worst and utterly reprehensible.

Unlike some other hon. Members, I think the imprecision and vagueness of the White Paper is its strength for it lays down sufficient direction to encourage participation from all sides without the rigidity which would probably frighten off one group or another. This seems to me fair so long as the Government themselves know what they mean by power sharing, which I am sure they do.

I had intended to touch on many other points but we are short of time and many of them have been basically covered so I shall not detain the House by repeating some of the argument already made. Every hon. Member is entitled to argue the merits or demerits of the White Paper. I presume that no one would sit in this House if he did not accept the will of this Parliament once a decision had been taken.

Indeed, I would go further and say that, once it has been decided, everyone has a clear responsibility to make it work. This is directed at those who talk about participating only in the elections and then say that they will make the Assembly itself unworkable. If they do that, it will be a denial of this Parliament's right to legislate in Northern Ireland, and if they deny that right why in heaven's name do they declare their loyalty to the Crown? I live in hope. I believe that moderation and good sense will prevail.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

This has been a remarkable debate, an historic debate, a constitutional debate of great magnitude. It has matched the debates in the latter part of last century and early in this century on the Irish question. Yet, as we have seen from this debate, the problem is still with us in 1973.

It has come through from this debate, despite what has been said about support given to the military and so forth, that there is no military solution to this problem. I think Bloody Sunday and Bloody Friday made that very clear. It should also be made clear to those in Northern Ireland—and I name them—the Provisional IRA on the one side and the UVF on the other, who think that just a little push is necessary to resolve the matter in their own interests, that that little push will not resolve it politically in the way they want to see it resolved. It could push Ulster into anarchy.

It is with this attitude that the Opposition give their support to the White Paper, not uncritically—I have one or two critical things to say—but because we are facing a situation in Northern Ireland in which, despite the dangers, I have confidence that the challenge before us is hopeful. It perhaps cannot lead to a solution of the Irish question—I do not believe this White Paper presupposes that possibility—but it could give us political stability and some form of détente which could allow the normal political forces to operate within the war-torn six counties.

Sean O'Casey said, when referring to the Irish question many years ago in a famous play, that it is "chassis on chassis". I think we all agree that in many respects chaos still remains, but what encourages me—

Mr. Powell


Mr. Orme

That was the way in which it was pronounced in the play. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman has not seen the play.

Mr. Powell

I did not recognise the Greek.

Mr. Orme

One of the encouraging things in this debate is that we have been able for two days rationally to discuss the proposals in the White Paper some of which, I hazard the guess, it would have been very difficult to discuss in this House only 12 months ago, let alone four years ago. We have seen agreement across the Chamber not least between the hon. Members from Northern Ireland, such as unanimous enthusiasm for elections, for instance, by the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin). I would not say that one or the other has been seductive to one or the other, but they at least found similar arguments on the question of elections.

I want to deal with the contentious issues which have been raised in the debate. I deal first with the forthcoming elections. We welcome what the Secretary of State said about the Assembly elections, and we shall give all assistance possible to the passage of the necessary legislation within our parliamentary rules, allowing for the rights of hon. Members to express their views and to raise matters as they see fit. The Opposition will give as fair a passage as possible to that part of the legislation which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to bring forward first.

On local government elections, right hon. and hon. Members from all sides have had the point put to them very firmly that to hold local government elections at this stage will hamper the political parties and pre-empt certain questions. The view has been expressed that this is basically a political issue. I respect the problem with which the Secretary of State will be confronted about the effect of any postponement on electoral officers and local government officers. However, the Assembly elections are more impor- tant than placating local government officers.

In this regard I am sorry that in a television interview tonight the Prime Minister appears to have contradicted what the Secretary of State said earlier today. In reply to a question about the Assembly elections and whether the local government elections should be held before it, the Prime Minister said, "I think that we should adhere to the day which has been already arranged". I hope that the Minister of State will clarify the position. In view of what the Secretary of State said earlier today it is highly unfair to this House for the Prime Minister to be so firm on this matter in a television programme this evening. If these sensitive elections are to be given a fair wind and if it is a choice between the local government officers and the possibility of further bloodshed, clearly the Assembly elections must have priority.

I deal now with the Sinn Fein and the Republican clubs. We have raised this matter because we want it to be clear to all people in Northern Ireland that there is no barrier. The effect on the minority community will be extremely important. I am disappointed to hear that in the course of his television interview this evening the Prime Minister appears to have pre-empted this issue as well by giving a categorical "No" when asked whether these bodies would be allowed to stand in the elections.

We urge the people of Northern Ireland to accept that this is not a trap for those organisations. We do that not because we support them. We do not. We do it because we believe that if there is proper representation right round the spectrum we shall be able to see clearly who represents whom in Northern Ireland and because we believe that those people who carry and use guns will be brought to the reality of the ballot box if they are allowed to stand for election in open contest.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

To make this Assembly the success that we all wish it to be, does the hon. Gentleman agree that an abstentionist candidate, if elected, should be replaced immediately by the candidate with the next highest number of votes?

Mr. Orme

We ought to wait and see how many abstentionist candidates are elected before starting to judge what to do with them. Like everyone else, I can only guess what will happen. But I do not believe that abstentionist candidates will hold the balance in the Assembly. But again I am disappointed that the Prime Minister has pre-empted this matter in the course of a television programme this evening.

I move on to the problem of oaths. We all welcome what the Secretary of State said earlier today. I underline what some of my hon. Friends have said about the Flags and Emblems Act. Why cannot the tricolour or the Red Hand of Ulster be displayed if people want to display them? I am convinced that if we take away that restriction much of the clamour for display will disappear. We know that when a thing is banned it becomes a great joy or attraction. I saw that happen in the Bogside in 1969 when the cry was to bring out the tricolour and to march with it. Much of the heat of the situation will be removed if people can freely display the emblems and flags that they desire to display. I know that many people on this side of the Irish Sea do not understand the importance of this freedom in the Irish context. I urge the Secretary of State to reconsider the matter.

An issue which has dominated the debate is that of Ulster's representation. I think that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) went to the heart of the matter when he pointed out that increased representation would decrease the Irish dimension. He talked about two communities.

The right hon. Gentleman found himself very much in favour with the argument made by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster, who made a brilliant analytical speech yesterday. The right hon. Gentleman made such a speech this afternoon, but it was a speech of demolition. He put forward not one positive proposal in substitution of any section of the White Paper. He was a great deal more arrogant than one would expect. We expect his cold logic, but he appeared to tinge it with an element of arrogance which does not match the situation which we now face.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster did a similar demolition job. Both the right hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend must be asked what we put in its place if we destroy the White Paper before it is given a chance. Do we force people into a united Ireland? Do we impose a form of direct rule? Do we transfer people from parts of Northern Ireland into another community? These are questions that must be answered. The delicate issue of the balance of power that could arise in this House has been discussed. There is the further point that increased membership will only transfer the problem increasingly on to the Floor of this House.

We are creating a form of devolution and self-government far beyond anything that existed under Stormont. In consequence, increased representation will not resolve the problem. The hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) spoke about Stormont, but there were double standards before 1969 when the Ruling of Mr. Speaker prevented us from even asking a Question about Ulster. Many Ulster hon. Members can remember that. Ulster Members at that time could take part in any debate however small and however big, from the boundaries of local authorities to foreign affairs. That was accepted. However, when we tried to raise issues relating to Ulster we were bitterly opposed. It was not until my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) brought the other side of the story to the House that we began to have a more balanced picture.

The issue of the 12 Members is linked with the question of power sharing in the Assembly and the sort of Assembly it will be. Everyone wants elections yet we are told that some who want them do not want the Assembly to work. The hon. Member for Antrim, North gave us a brilliant discourse about how the two ends might come together to defeat the centre. He saw some form of alliance between my hon. Friends the Members for Mid-Ulster and Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. McManus) and himself. Things may be a little different. We may find that once this Assembly is elected there will be groups of people who will want to achieve things for Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland people have just voted in the border poll. It was a large vote. The minority abstained in a positive sense. Now we are to have elections for the Assembly. I am not sure that the people in Northern Ireland will allow anyone to sabotage the Assembly once they have been elected to it. I am convinced that they will say, "There are a lot of problems, economic and social, which are a disgrace in this part of the United Kingdom and have been a disgrace for 50 years". In these circumstances the Assembly can work. If these groups hold back, if they are destructive, they can make it unworkable. But when the problem comes back to this House the choice may not be a wide one for those who have made it unworkable. They will bear a heavy responsibility. The British people will not take kindly to this being sabotaged before it gets off the ground.

The 1949 Act was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford in a moderate and pertinent speech. It is linked with the question of the attitude of the British people. Throughout this emergency the British people have been extremely tolerant, indeed passive. They have allowed the politicians and the Army to get on with the problem Despite the casualties in the Army, which have affected many of us in our constituencies, the British people have stood back and said, "We will see whether there is some form of political solution".

Any further bombing episodes in London could bring about a change of attitude. I remember, as a young person in 1940, the effects of the terrorist attacks in Coventry and the resulting deaths. One of the first results of that was to turn the British trade union movement against the Irish cause which it had supported for many years. We were then involved in a major war. The same thing could happen again with disastrous results, not only for the North and the South of Ireland but for the rest of the United Kingdom. We cannot contract out. I do not believe that a vote on this issue is the solution. The Provisional IRA and genuine Republicans have also said that the people of all of Ireland should have a ballot. It is now recognised in Dublin, by both communities in the North, and by my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West, that the burning issue is not unification, however strongly and passionately feelings on that issue may be held. What is needed is some form of political activity in the Six Counties.

I turn to the question of the Irish dimension. This is left pretty vague— and I think this is fair. This has to be discussed. The hon. Member for Antrim. North said that the first thing which an Irish Government would want to discuss was the border. I am sure that he and his friends, if elected to the Assembly, can deal with that matter at an All-Ireland Council. I am sure the hon. Member for Antrim, North is not frightened by politicians from south of the border. I am not saying that they would be frightened of him either.

The Council should have an open agenda and matters should be freely and frankly discussed. There are a lot of arguments to be faced on economic, social, cultural and religious matters. Much of the present problem is due to these matters having always been in closed, confined communities. This has to be broken down. I can see this Irish dimension—this Council of Ireland—playing an important part.

The Council could discuss the question of policing. I appreciate the difficulties about those areas where police are not very welcome. This applies not only to Roman Catholic areas but to Protestant areas as well. The White Paper implies, in paragraph 112(c), that this issue could be raised within the confines of the Council. Could not policing at least be ex-amined by that body?

I am pleased that the Special Powers Act is going. Some of my hon. Friends are concerned about internment without trial and I am not happy about it. I also want to see an end to the civil rights problem as soon as possible and to have some political stability and peace in Northern Ireland.

So far as economic, social and cultural issues are concerned, I do not accept the argument that there are two nations. There are people with different cultural and religious backgrounds in Northern Ireland, but this applies in this country and many others. There are countries with far bigger problems, such as the United States and the southern States of Africa.

In Northern Ireland there are people who want unity with this country and those who want the Irish dimension of a united Ireland. But the economic undercurrent throughout the six counties is of bad housing, massive unemployment and job discrimination. The worst aspect of society in Northern Ireland is in job discrimination. People use the factor of which school they attended to protect their jobs. This has to be removed.

I am encouraged to see that things are breaking up in a political sense. The Catholic community is no longer a unified nationalist community, while the Protestant community is removing divisions and throwing up its own leaders. People will begin to look at things in an economic sense. When working-class Roman Catholic and Protestants get together, they will find that there is far more to unite them on social issues than to divide them on religious issues.

Not long ago I listened to my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Delargy), who speaks with great emphasis and knowledge on this matter. He talked about the divisions and the ghettos that exist in Northern Ireland as if they were there in perpetuity. But they are not. There are some mixed communities in Northern Ireland. They are middle-class communities. We have to mix the working class communities. A start must be made on massive rehousing, and not on the type of dwellings put up in Ballymurphy and Andersonstown. We want a far higher standard than obtains there.

The idea that the two cultures keep the people divided is a myth which we have to break down. We want work to go to Northern Ireland. Cannot we give the new Assembly more power in this respect? Why do we not give it power to run public industries on its own on an economic basis and to bring work to the areas which need it, particularly labour-intensive industries? Why cannot that be done? I say that unashamedly as a Socialist. It would provide an answer in the long run to the problem of coming together on economic and social issues, allowing for the difficulties and the time it will take.

We must get a regrouping and get rid of tribal parties. Hon. Members on both sides of this House have experimented with that idea. I ask peopde with responsibility, such as the hon. Member for Antrim, North for instance, not to group people together into these tribal cabals but to lead the people. The hon. Member for Antrim, North has discussed these issues with me. He appreciates the social and economic issues on which he has supported the Labour Party. Leadership is his job in Northern Ireland, as it is that of my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West, to try to build up, along with the Northern Ireland Labour Party, the Alliance Party and other parties, some economic links and growth.

Surely one of the most encouraging things in recent weeks has been the talk, however tentative, between the extremists, between prominent Catholic and Protestant politicians. That destroys the myth of two cultures, of separate entities which cannot be mixed. We do not want a division in society in which we have the statutory Catholic and the statutory Protestant, and one-third here and two-thirds there.

I remember, when as a youngster in Manchester, my parents saying that Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So were Roman Catholics. This sort of thing was said in Liverpool, Manchester, London and Glasgow, quite freely and openly. But what has happened since the war? With the redistribution of population a new feeling has grown. This sort of thing has altered the situation.

There is also another myth, as my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West will agree, that "never the twain shall meet". I do not believe that there is any family, on either side, that does not have a black sheep in it in the form of a Roman Catholic or a Protestant in reverse.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I saw someone of the Sinn Fein get into serious trouble over that not long ago.

It is this sort of approach to the White Paper, this type of new society towards which we are looking, that encourages me. It does not give me enthusiasm. I am in a sombre mood about this situation. We cannot take it lightly. What we are embarking upon in the White Paper and the subsequent legislation, the elections, the experiment with the Assembly and all the problems of the Secretary of State, will be of immense gravity. We have to give the White Paper a fair wind. Big trees grow from small acorns.

Tonight we are talking about political decisions and how they can be arrived at. We have been arguing for two days —not against one another, but about how the proposals will or will not work and about whether people will or will not apply them.

Everybody in Northern Ireland wants the elections to get started. They want to see the new Assembly set up and want once again to get the feel of politics, as I found on my visit during the border poll only a week or ten days ago. That is the hope for Ireland, and this is its chance. It is little more than that, but I hope that the White Paper and the subsequent legislation will have a fair wind. We can wish it no more than that. But a big responsibility rests on this House.

9.30 p.m.

The Minister of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. William van Straubenzee)

I feel sure that the whole House will want me to take up the closing words of the speech of the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Onme). We could ask no more than to adopt those words and we respect the manner in which the hon. Member expressed his views. I shall carry happily away with me the picture of a Protestant in reverse—a sort of ecclesiastical push-me-pull-me.

We felt that it would be most convenient during this two-day debate to divide the various subjects between the Ministers in the Department. Apart from the broad opening speech of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, many of the constitutional matters were dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and, at the end of yesterday's debate, my fellow Minister of State the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. David Howell) dealt with the important economic matters.

At the outset of my remarks I wish to deal with two matters which come within my responsibility and which have featured frequently in the debate. I refer to the question of job discrimination which the hon. Member for Salford, West, quite rightly mentioned in his remarks. This important subject was dealt with my the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) yesterday. He, understandably, wanted the subject of a Bill of Rights linked with consideration of the Diplock Report. My hon. Friend the Member for Armagh (Mr. Maginnis) also made an interesting and penetrating speech about this subject yesterday, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley).

Detailed proposals are beginning to emerge in terms of the White Paper, and since I have been fairly closely associated with them it might be helpful to say a few words about this subject in opening. The measures now proposed for the private sector will complement those already taken to promote equal opportunity in the public sector of employment in Northern Ireland. Those measures are contained in paragraphs 97 and 98 of the White Paper.

Put shortly, every public authority or body in Northern Ireland is required to declare its commitment to equality of employment opportunity without regard to religious or political considerations and to adopt a code of fair employment procedure approved by the Community Relations Commission.

Allegations of job discrimination on religious or political grounds have not been confined to the public sector. Such discrimination is said also to be practised in private employment. While most of the allegations are directed at the majority community, some are also levelled at the minority. This affects all sections in Northern Ireland. It is true, as so often in matters of this kind, that the evidence is difficult to come by, but the volume of complaint over many years shows how widespread is the belief that discrimination exists and how strong is the sense of grievance which this belief nourishes.

We have been concerned to make progress in a sensitive and difficult area, bearing in mind the many factors involved, such as the existence of segregated housing and schools, the location of factories in one community or another, and the understandable reluctance of some people to cross community boundaries in times of extreme tension and the risk of intimidation in various forms. These are all matters which, in an economic context, my hon. Friend the Minister of State commented upon last night. All these and other factors bear on the problem, and in their own way may be just as potent as discriminatory practices.

Nevertheless, the problem must be tackled, as the White Paper says; social justice must not only be done but be seen to be done in future, for the sake of all who live and work in Northern Ireland.

In the public sector the Government can operate directly on an issue of this sort but in the private sector, with its multiplicity of trades and industries, its great variety of plants and establishments, the Government, frankly, can make effective progress only with the active support and co-operation of both employers and employees, and particularly of the representative bodies of both sides of industry, which must give the necessary lead.

That was why a representative joint Working Party was set up—hon. Members will find it set out in detail in paragraph 100 of the White Paper—to consider and report on the problem. I am the present Chairman of that Working Party and will take a moment or two to report on the progress made so far.

We decided at the outset, very much in line with the spirit of this debate, not to investigate allegations of past discrimination so much, but, instead, to concentrate on measures to counter such discrimination from any quarter in the future. But the Working Party has not merely set itself the task—however important that task may be—of devising effective anti-discrimination machinery; its essential aim is positive rather than negative, namely to promote full equality in all aspects of employment, particularly within the private sector.

Against that background, let me comment briefly on each of the three measures outlined in the paragraph to which I have already referred, which constitute a single package.

First, as in the public sector, there will be a declaration of principle and intent which will be signed jointly by the representative bodies of both sides of industry and to which individual companies and trade unions will also be asked to subscribe. If hon. Members are interested in the full text of the declaration recommended by my working party, they will find it in the answer to a Question of my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Norman Lamont) on 22nd March. I regard this declaration as a significant step in itself. It is much more than a gesture. It is the essential foundation for the proposals which follow and a clear earnest of the intention of both sides of industry in Northern Ireland to tackle the problem of religious or political discrimination at root. I believe that a very short time ago such a declaration would not have been possible.

Secondly, as in the public sector, there will be a code of employment practice prepared by the appropriate Ministry in consultation with both sides of industry, then to be issued as a guide to those concerned with recruitment and employment in the private sector. Not of itself having the force of law, but its observance in practice will constitute prima facie evidence that the company concerned is implementing in good faith the principles of fairness and impartiality embodied in the declaration, just as failure to do so will constitute prima facie evidence to the contrary

Thirdly—and this is where the working party breaks new ground—a fair employment agency will be established. It will be given powers not only to investigate individual complaints of discrimination, which will be made unlawful, but also— and I say to the House that this is crucially important in Northern Ireland terms—to investigate patterns of employment in particular companies or industries or among categories of workers. In this respect the agency's powers will be more comprehensive than those possessed by many similar agencies elsewhere.

Where, as a result of its investigation, the agency is satisfied that a company's policies and practices are not such as to promote full equality of employment opportunity, the agency will seek to have these policies and practices amended voluntarily by the company. It will initially rely upon conciliation. But if these procedures fail to secure the desired result—in what I trust will be only a few cases—it will have recourse, as a last resort, to the courts, which will be empowered to order a range of civil remedies.

These three interdependent recommendations constitute, I suggest, a comprehensive set of proposals. Details are now being worked out. The committee is at work on its draft report. There must follow urgent and widespread consultations on its recommendations, and in the light of those consultations the Government will present proposals to Parliament for legislation. In due course, therefore, the House will have the opportunity of considering them in detail. But the point I want to make is that the aim of full equality of employment opportunity which the working party has set itself rests on the concept of an open, free and just society in which no individual will be denied the opportunity of employment or of promotion because of extraneous considerations which have nothing to do with his personal capacities. That aim and that vision are fully compatible with determined steps through the programme of "affirmative action"—that is the phrase used by the working party.

In part, these steps will call for action by industry, and in part for action by the trade unions. It should not be overlooked that in taking part in these discussions the trade unions, too, have understood what responsibilities will rest later upon them. But they also imply action over a much wider area to redress the legacy of the past, so that true equality and true respect, among men of all faiths or of none, will take firm root and will flourish. Because these are practical proposals to fulfil some of the hopes rightly expressed throughout the debate, I thought it right to say a few words about them at the start of my speech.

I move now to another subject which has been mentioned many times in the debate. It started yesterday with the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Delargy) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) taking, from a common church position, diametrically opposite views. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition made reference to it today. I am referring to the question generally called "segregated education". It was also referred to yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winter-ton) although—if he will allow me to put it so—in rather less measured terms.

I do not for one moment underestimate the importance of creating in the young people of Northern Ireland a greater sense of community. But in that context it does sometimes seem to me that people over-estimate the contribution that education by itself can make. It is surely an over-simplification of a complex situa- tion to suggest that if segregated education—I take the phrase in common use— were to be abolished forthwith, this in itself would produce the answer we are all searching for.

The cruel facts of the present situation in Northern Ireland are that people are segregating themselves, not less but more. Measured in terms of where they live, people are drawing apart. The result of this movement is that the denominational character of a school in a particular area will be determined not by the organisational structure of the schools system but rather by the church allegiance of the area in which it is situated.

In theory, segregated schooling could be abolished tomorrow, but a school in the Ardoyne would as surely be attended by Catholic children taught by Catholic teachers as would its counterpart in the Shankill be attended by Protestants taught by Protestant teachers. To talk in these circumstances of "bussing" children, as is sometimes suggested in educational circles, is simply to misunderstand the realities of the situation on the ground.

Furthermore, it must be said that in other parts of the United Kingdom we both recognise and support church involvement in education. This church involvement, far from being limited to the Roman Catholic Church, includes major contributions by other churches. If we on this side of the water recognise the rights of parents to have their children educated in a school run by a particular faith, we cannot easily deny the same right to parents in Northern Ireland.

But, that having been said and that point having been made, there are surely important ways in which the education service in Northern Ireland can contribute greatly to the spirit of community of which I have spoken. First—and this has so far not been mentioned—it can do so in the training of teachers. It is encouraging that, for example, in the new University of Coleraine, teachers of both denominations are at present being trained alongside one another and are subsequently getting jobs in their respective schools. I greatly hope to see this develop in terms of in-service training. I think of a recent visit I paid to the Queen's University where a group of primary school teachers were having a month's sabbatical together.

Thirdly, the greater part of our further and higher education is already interdenominational in Northern Ireland, and personally I have hopes that in certain areas of Northern Ireland it will be possible to move towards a greater share of course provision at sixth form level, which itself crosses denominational lines.

I must deal with a point put forcibly by my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone who, as the House will recall, yesterday raised the question of nursery schools. There are at present 24 such nursery schools and 18 nursery classes in primary schools in Northern Ireland together catering for about 1,500 pupils. A recently introduced special capital programme in excess of £1 million will provide 50 additional such nursery schools. While for the same educational reasons as apply on this side of the water I should expect future provision to be concentrated largely on nursery classes rather than nursery schools. I share the view expressed in the debate that this considerable nursery school programme would be a useful way of crossing denominational lines. I hope that all who are involved will listen again to the arguments in this debate which have been expressed in this sense.

There is a development in education mentioned in the White Paper, and referred to at times in the debate, which is of far greater significance in the educational world than perhaps we have appreciated. Next Octover five Education and Library Boards—and the library part of that work in itself is important—will replace local education authorities in Northern Ireland, and for the first time representatives both of Roman Catholic land of Protestant schools will sit together as full members of the boards. The boards are as yet only partially constituted and will be completely so only when joined by representatives from district councils elected in May. I can tell the House, however, that immense trouble has been taken by the present Ministers in appointing the partially constituted boards so that they can be as representative and fairly balanced as possible.

This development may at first sight seem unimportant in the context of the White Paper as a whole, but as one coming to this work from the Department of Education for England and Wales, I noticed that one of the striking differ- ences was the comparative lack of contact on organisational education matters between local authorities, on the one hand, and church authorities on the other. This gap, I hope, will increasingly be bridged so that in a working situation men and women of different faiths with a common concern for educating young people will work around the same table.

It is not only in education that the area board organisation comes into force. It also comes into effect in health as well, where we bring together, in October, health and personal social services in a way which is ahead of other parts of the United Kingdom. Incidentally, it shows, in answer to some of my hon. Friends from Northern Ireland constituencies, that we do not necessarily automatically and slavishly follow what is done on the other side of the Irish Channel. The point I make is that both these developments —and there are others, but I take them from my own personal experience—show where reorganisation, and preparations for reorganisation, are very well advanced. The staff are moving into new positions and headquarters are being located and proceeded with. The fusing together of all the services moves ahead. The departmental reorganisations are in hand, and hon. Members will recall that there were at least as many criticisms in Northern Ireland as ever there were of Central Government.

When, therefore, my right hon. Friend points out to the House the problems of postponing the local government elections, he is not merely dealing with a situation which faces all hon. Members here of—if I may put it—straightforward local government elections. He has to face the suggested postponement of the entire Macrory reorganisation proposals, which depend for their support, on 1st October, on the infusion of local government representatives so that they may be effective. No right hon. Member is more entitled to have his anxieties listened to with respect, for no one is more receptive to other people's views than my right hon. Friend.

The problems which my right hon. Friend posed earlier in the debate, and which still have not been fully understood by the House, stem from the total reorganisation of the local government structure which, if it were postponed, would have the gravest consequences for local administration in Northern Ireland. It would postpone the kind of development which I have outlined and which is in line with the community work to which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition looked forward to in order to bring members of the different communities round the same table—something which I am anxious to see.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

We always listen to the right hon. Gentleman and his Ministers, and I agree that to postpone the elections would be difficult. Have the Government made up their mind on this issue? The hon. Gentleman is speaking as though he is considering the problems on behalf of his right hon. Friend. At six o'clock this evening the Prime Minister made a statement on television that he had made up his mind and that the elections would not be deferred.

Mr. van Straubenzee

I am asking the hon. Gentleman to read my right hon. Friend's answer in the whole. I give him the absolute assurance that we shall take account of the views expressed in the debate, but I am as entitled as he is to put counter-arguments before the House, particularly as no decision has been announced on this matter. My right hon. Friend is considering all the points of view that have been expressed in the debate.

Mr. Harold Wilson

We do not want what has been a good debate to degenerate into a farce. We understood from the Secretary of State that he would consider everything that was said. At 6 o'clock this evening what was obviously a recorded programme was put out from Downing Street to Ulster announcing firm decisions on things which we understood the Secretary of State proposed to consider. Does the right hon. Gentleman still intend to consider them and overrule what the Prime Minister said, or has the Prime Minister pre-empted the debate?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I should like the debate to continue in the way that it has so far, and I say categorically that no decision has been made. I say that with authority. We shall take note of the points of view that have been expressed, but I am entitled to put to the House the essential difficulty which is far more ex- treme than the simple one of local government reorganisation. This is not a narrow point.

Rev. Ian Paisley rose

Mr. van Straubenzee

I am sorry, but I must get on with my speech. I mean no discourtesy at all to my hon. Friend. I have given way twice in the last two minutes.

The proposals which have been put before the House in the White Paper should be looked at in totality. They rest upon no purpose more determined than the restoration of the rule of law at present upheld by the police and the Army. When I hear discussions in the House about the rule of law, I sometimes wonder whether we fully realise the professionalism that is needed by an army which has to fight a battle within the law.

If one has discussed these matters in what passes for a barrack room and has been out with men who can at any moment be shot in the street, one realises two things. First, we must make changes in the administration of the law to deal with intimidation, and secondly we must retain detention with trial. It is not detention without trial but detention with trial.—[HON MEMBERS: "No."]—Yes, indeed it is so, for all the reasons so strongly urged by Diplock.

The passage contained in the White Paper rests upon a declaration that Northern Ireland will remain a part of the United Kingdom so long as the majority of her people wish it. It rests upon the major constitutional Bill which is foreshadowed within it, leading to an Assembly elected by a method calculated to give all law-abiding opinion a chance of expression.

It follows, we trust, that consultations with parties in the Assembly will lead to the devolution of powers within the terms of the White Paper, including the concept that the Executive can no longer be based on a single party if that party draws its support and its elected representation virtually entirely from one community, and including the consideration of procedures of the Assembly which might in certain circumstances include weighted voting on certain matters. It includes a system of functional committees associating a representational cross-section of the Assembly with the work of the Department.

I have said before on the area board structure, and I say again on the central structure, that the importance of bringing people together in a working situation cannot be over-estimated. It is not government by committee. It is a functional committee structure. It rests upon a division. clearly defined as never before, between accepted, reserved and transferred powers. It rests upon a large measure of freedom to determine expenditure priorities such as has never before been seen in Northern Ireland. It rests upon the safeguards and promises of a

charter of human rights and the abolition of job discrimination in the private sector. It hopefully leads to institutional arrangements for consultation and co-operation between the North and the South.

No one of its authors would claim of the White Paper that it is perfect, but the proposals contained in it, taken together, are proposals that offer a constructive way forward whereby both communities can come together in peace.

Question put, That the amendment be made: —

The House divided: Ayes 13, Noes 332.

Division No. 92.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Bell, Ronald Maude, Angus Wilkinson, John
Biggs-Davison, John Mills, Stratlon (Belfast, N.) Winterton, Nicholas
Cordle, John Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Powell, Rt. Hn J. Enoch TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Soref, Harold Mr. Stanley R. McMaster and
Maginnis, John E. Mr. James Molyneaux.
Adley, Robert Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Fox, Marcus
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Concannon, J. D. Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford a Stone)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Cooke, Robert Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D.
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Coombs, Derek Gibson-Watt, David
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Cooper, A. E. Gilbert, Dr. John
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Cormack, Patrick Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)
Astor, John Costain, A. P. Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)
Atkins, Humphrey Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Glyn, Dr. Alan
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Crltchley, Julian Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Crouch, David Goodhart, Philip
Batsford, Brian Crowder, F. P. Goodhew, Victor
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Dalyell, Tarn Gorst, John
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Davidson, Arthur Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)
Benyon, W Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)
Bitten, John d'Avigdor-Goldsmid,Maj.-Gen. Jack Gray, Hamish
Blaker, Peter Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Green, Alan
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Grieve, Percy
Body, Richard Dean, Paul Griggiths, Eddie (Brightside)
Booth, Albert Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Griffiths, Eldon (Bury, St. Edmunds)
Boscawen, Hn. Robert de Freltas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Grylls, Michael
Bossom, Sir Clive Devlin, Miss Bernadette Gummer, J. Selwyn
Bowden, Andrew Digby, Simon Wingfield Gurden, Harold
Braine, Sir Bernard Dodds-Parker, Sir Douglas Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)
Bray, Ronald Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Hamilton Michael (Salisbury)
Brewis, John Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Hamilton, Willilam (Fife, W.)
Brinton, Sir Tatton Drayson, G. B. Hamling, William
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Driberg, Tom Hannam, John (Exeter)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Hardy Peter
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Dunn, James A. Harrison, Brian (Maldon)
Bryan, Sir Paul Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John Harrison, Col, Sir Harwood (Eye)
Buchan, Norman Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Harrison, Walter (WaKefield)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus,N&M) Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Haselhurst, Alan
Buck, Antony Emery, Peter Hattersley, Roy
Bullus, Sir Eric English, Michael Havers, Sir Michael
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Eyre, Reginald Hawkins, Paul
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Faulds, Andrew Hayhoe Barney
Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn) Fell, Anthony Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward
Carlisle, Mark Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Heffer Eric S
Carmichael, Neil Fidler, Michael Hiley, Joseph
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)
Channon, Paul Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.) Holland, Philip
Chapman, Sydney Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Holt, Miss Mary
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Hordern, Peter
Churchill, W. S. Fookes, Miss Janet Hornby, Richard
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Fortescue, Tim Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Foster, Sir John Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Cockeram, Eric Fowler, Norman Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)
Howell, David (Guildford) Mayhew, Christopher Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Silverman, Julius
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Mendeison, John Simeons, Charles
Hunt, John Meyer, Sir Anthony Sinclair, Sir George
Hutchison, Michael Clark Millan, Bruce Skinner, Dennis
hemonger, T. L. Mills, Peter (Torrington) Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Miscampbell, Norman Spearing, Nigel
James, David Mitchell, Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W) Spence, John
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Sproat, lain
Jessel, Toby Moate, Roger Stallard, A. W.
Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Money, Ernie Stanbrook, Ivor
Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Monks, Mrs. Connie Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Jopling, Michael Montgomery. Fergus Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith More, Jasper Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Judd, Frank Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Strang, Gavin
Kaberry, Sir Donald Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Kaufman, Gerald Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Sutclitfe, John
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Morrison, Charles Tapsell, Peter
Kerr, Russell Murton, Oscar Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Kershaw, Anthony Neave, Airey Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)
Kimball, Marcus Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) O'Halloran, Michael Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
King, Tom (Bridgwater) Onslow, Cranley Tebbit, Norman
Kinsey, J. R. Orme, Stanley Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Kirk, Peter Osborn, John Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Knight, Mrs. Jill Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Knox, David Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby) Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Lamborn, Harry Page, john (Harrow, W.) Tilney, John
Lambton, Lord Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Tinn, James
Lamont, Norman Parkinson, Cecil Tope, Graham
Lane, David Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange) Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Langford-Holt, Sir John Peart Rt. Hn. Fred Trew, Peter
Latham, Arthur Peel, Sir John Tugendhat, Christopher
Lawson, George Percival, Ian Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick perry, Ernest G. Urwin, T. W.
Le Merchant, Spencer Peyton, Rt. Hn. John Van Straubenzee, W. R.
Leonard, Dick Pike, Miss Mervyn Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Pink, R. Bonner Vickers, Dame Joan
Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) price, David (Eastleigh) Waddington, David
Longden, Sir Gilbert prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L. Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Loveridge, John Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Walters, Dennis
Luce, R. N. Raison, Timothy Ward, Dame Irene
McAdden, Sir Stephen Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Warren, Kenneth
MacArthur, Ian Redmond, Robert Watkins, David
McCrindle, R. A. Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.) Wellbeloved, James
Mackenzie, Gregor Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.) Wells, John (Maidstone)
McLaren, Martin Rees, Peter (Dover) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Rees-Davies, W. R. White, Roger (Gravesend)
McManus, Frank Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Macmillan,Rt.Hn.Maurice(Farnham) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Wiggin, Jerry
McNair-Wilson, Michael Richard, Ivor Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchln)
McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
McNamara, J. Kevin Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Maddan, Martin Roper, John Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Madel, David Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock) Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfietd, E.) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest Rost, Peter Woodnutt, Mark
Marquand, David Royle, Anthony Worsley, Marcus
Marsden, F. Russell, Sir Ronald Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Marshall, Dr. Edmund Scott, Nicholas Younger, Hn. George
Marten, Neil Scott-Hopkins, James
Mather, Carol Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Maudling, Rt. Hr. Reginald Shersby, Michael Mr. Walter Clegg and
Mawby, Ray Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Mr. Bernard Weatherill
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 329, Noes 5.

Division No. 93.] AYES [10.13 p.m.
Adley, Robert Batslord, Brian Bossom, Sir Clive
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Bowden, Andrew
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Braine, Sir Bernard
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Benyon, W. Bray, Ronald
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Bitten, John Brewis, John
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Blaker, Peter Brinton, Sir Tatton
Astor, John Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher
Atkins, Humphrey Body, Richard Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Booth, Albert Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Boscawen, Hn. Robert Bryan, Sir Paul
Buchan, Norman Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Maxwell-Hyslop, H. j
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus,N & M) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mayhew, Christopher
Buck, Antony Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Mellish, Rt Hn Robert
Bullus, Sir Eric Hamling, William Mendelson, John
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Hannam, John (Exeter) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Hardy, Peter Millan, Bruce
Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn) Harrison, Brian (Maidon) Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Carlisle Mark Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Carmichael Neil Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Miscampbell, Norman
Carr Rt. Hn. Robert Haselhurst, Alan Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Channon, Paul Hattersley, Roy Moate, Roger
Chapman, Sydney Havers, Sir Micheal Money, Ernie
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Hawkins, Paul Monks, Mrs. Connie
Chichester-Clark, R Hayhoe, Barney Montgomery, Fergus
Churchill, W. S. Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward More, Jasper
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Heffer, Eric S. Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hiley, Joseph Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.
Cockeram, Eric Hill, John E.B.(Norfolk, S.) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Cocks, Michael (Bristol. S.) Holland, Phillip Morrison Charles
Concannon, J. D. Holt, Miss Mary Murton, Oscar
Cooke, Robert Hordern, Peter Neave, Airey
coombs, Derek Hornby, Richard Noble, Rt. Hn.Micheal
Hornsby-smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Partricls O'Halloran, Micheal
Cooper, A. E. Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Onslow, Cranley
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)
Cormack, Patrick Howell, David (Guildford) Orme, Stanley
Costain, A. P. Howell Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Osborn, John
Crtichley, Julian Hughes, Mark Durham) Owen, Idris (stockport, N.)
Crouch, David Hunt John Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)
Crowder, F. P. Hutchison, Michael Clark Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Dalyell, Tam Iremonger, T. L. Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Parkinson, Cecil
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. Jack James, David Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Jenkin, Patrick (Wood(ord) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Jessel, Toby Peel, Sir John
Dean, Paul Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Percival, Ian
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Perry, Ernest G.
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Jopling, Michael Peyton, Rt. Hn. John
Digby, Simon Wingfield Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Pike, Miss Mervyn
Dodds-Parker, Sir Douglas Judd, Frank Pink, R. Bonne
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Kaberry, Sir Donald Price, David (Eastleigh)
Douglas-Home. Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Kellett-Bowman. Mrs. Elaine priOr, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.
Drayson, G. B. Kerr, Russell pym, RT. Hn. Francis
Driberg, Tom Kershaw, Anthony Raison, Timothy
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Kimball, Marcus Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Dunn, James A. King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Redmond, Robert
Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John King, Tom (Bridgwater) Reedi Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Kinsey, J. R. Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Elliot, Capt. Waiter (Carshalton) Kirk, Peter Rees, Peter (Dover)
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'lle-upon-Tyne.N.) Knox, David Rees-Davies, W. R.
Emery, Peter Lamborn, Harry
English, Michael Lambton, lord Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Eyre, Reginald Lamont, Norman Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Faulds, Andrew Lane, David Richard, Ivor
Fell, Anthony Langford-Holt, Sir John Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Lawson, George Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Fidler, Michael Lee, Rt. Hn. Fedrick Roper, John
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Le Marchant, Spencer Ross, Rt, Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Leonard, Dic. Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Rost, Peter
Fookes, Miss Janet Lioyd, Ian (P' tsm'th, Langstone) Royle, Anthony
Fortescue, Tim Longden, Sir Gilbert Russell, Sir Ronald
Foster,Sir John Loverridge, John Scott, Nicholas
Fowler, Norman Luce, R.n. Scott-Hopkins, James
Fox, Marcus McAdden, Sir Stephen Shaw, Micheal (Sc'b'gh & Whitby
Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'flord & Stone) MacArthur, Ian Sherby, Micheal
Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D. McCrindle, R. A. Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stephey)
Gibson-Watt, David Makenzie, Gregor Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N' c'tle-u-tyne)
Gilbert, Dr. John Mclaren, Martin Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Silverman Julius
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) McMaster, Stanley Simeons, Charles
Glyn Dr. Alan Macmlllan,Rt.Hn.Maurlce(Farnham) Sinclair, Sir George
Godber Rt Hn J B McNalr-Wilson Michael Skinner, Dennis
Goodhart Philip McNalr-Wilson Patrick (New Forest) Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mlngtom
Goodhew, Victor McNamara, J. Kevin Spearing, Nigel
Gorst, John Maddan, Martin Spence, John
Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Madel, David Sproat, lain
Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfleld, E.) Stanbrook, Ivor
Gray, Hamish Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Grieve, Percy Marquand, David Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Marsden, F. Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Marshall, Dr. Edmund Strang, Gavin
Grylls, Michael Marten, Neil Stultaford, Dr. Tom
Gummer, J. Selwyn Mather, Carol Sutcliffe, John
Gurden, Harold Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Tapsell, Peter
Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Mawby, ray Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart) van Straubenzee, W. R. Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Vaughan, Dr. Gerard Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.) Vickers, Dams Joan Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Tebbit, Norman Waddington, David Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret Walder, David (Clitheroe) Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.) Walters, Dennis Woodnutt, Mark
Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.) Ward, Dame Irene Worsley, Marcus
Tilney, John Warren, Kenneth Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Tinn, James Watkins, David Younger, Hn. George
Tope, Graham Wells, John (Maldstone)
Trafford, Dr. Anthony Wells, William (Walsall, N.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Trew, Peter White, Roger (Gravesend) Mr. Walter Clegg and
Tugendhat, Christopher Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William Mr. Bernard Weatherill.
Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin Wiggin, Jerry
Urwin, T. W. Wilkinson, John
Molyneaux, James Wellbeloved, James TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Winterton, Nicholas Mr, James Kilfedder and
Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Rev. Ian Paisley.

Question accordingly agreed to.


That this House approves the White Paper on Northern Ireland Constitutional Proposals (Command Paper No. 5259).