§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, Central)
On a point of order. I am sorry to interrupt the Secretary of State. Will you inform the House, Mr. Speaker, whether it is your intention to let the debate continue until 11.30 p.m. and whether we are taking both orders together?
§ Mr. Speaker
The Minister would probably have wished to indicate that for the convenience of the House both orders be discussed together. That will enable a very wide debate. It is possible for the debate to continue until 11.30 p.m. but it does not have to do so.
§ 4.13 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Humphrey Atkins)
I beg to move,That the draft Northern Ireland Act 1974 (Interim Period Extension) Order 1979, which was laid before this House on 14th June, be approved.I intended to propose that the two motions in my name on the Order Paper be taken together. I take it from the exchange that has taken place that that is agreeable to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the House.
May I first say a word of welcome to the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Mr. John), who has been appointed to shadow me on Northern Ireland matters? I wish him well in his task and assure him that I shall be happy to extend to him and his colleagues all the facilities for becoming more closely acquainted with Northern Ireland that were made available to us by the right hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason), who worked so hard for the people of the Province during his two and a half years as Secretary of State and whom we shall miss from these debates.
The hon. Member for Pontypridd and I bring to our respective tasks one common quality; neither of us has had previous direct experience of the affairs of the Province. I hope that this will mean that we can both approach these problems with open-mindedness and a willingness to learn.
926 As you have said, Mr. Speaker, the two draft orders offer scope for a wide-ranging debate. I hope in the course of my remarks to touch on all the main strands of Government policy in Northern Ireland. I shall do this not merely because it is customary but because those strands—political, economic, and security—are as closely interwoven as the strands of a rope. They cannot sensibly be considered in isolation from one another. Each of them contributes to the totality, which is the life of the people of Northern Ireland, and I am acutely aware—not without humility—that that life is something for which I now bear a special responsibility.
I realise that the House will wish particularly to hear what I have to say on the security situation, which is of such deep concern to us all. I propose to deal with this at some length a little later in my speech. I should like to begin with the political and economic prospects as I see them.
The effect of the first of the two orders is to extend the period of direct rule by 12 months, until July 1980. The legislation that we shall be extending specifies the arrangements for governing Northern Ireland pending the establishment of a new Assembly in the Province. As there is no immediate prospect of establishing such an Assembly, it seems to me right that I should ask the House for the maximum further extension of one year.
Direct rule is not the best way of administering the affairs of Northern Ireland. It was designed only as an interim arrangement, a stop-gap, and that is how I see it still. The Government do not want direct rule to continue any longer than is strictly necessary. It is my earnest wish to see it replaced by a form of government which will, in the words of the Gracious Speechgive to the people of Northern Ireland more control over their own affairs.I have noticed a tendency, particularly among those with no responsibility for dealing with the problems of Ulster, to call for some "initiative." some movement, on the political front. Too often, when one examines their words more closely, one finds that, like King Lear, they know not what it should be. What perhaps they fail to notice is that the initiative is already under way. The moves 927 do not have to be eye-catching or dramatic. In a situation such as prevails in Northern Ireland, they are more likely to succeed if they are quiet, patient and persistent. I have begun talks with politicians in the area, and I propose to continue this process. It will take time, and I most earnestly ask the House to recognise that fact. Too often calls for an "initiative" are really calls for a solution, but solutions cannot be bought off the shelf. They have to be put together with care and perseverance.
I shall therefore pursue my search for some governmental arrangements with the political parties in the Province. We have to find ways that can be accepted as fair and just. I shall be patient, but I am determined to make progress. Judging by the past, I think that a Conservative Government have excellent credentials. Our efforts before may not have been rewarded with complete success, but we tried and we shall try again.
My talks so far, and my own assessment of the political atmosphere, leave me in no doubt that it is no mean task which confronts the Government. I have to recognise, as my predecessors did, that there are two political traditions, two cultures and two sets of aspirations in Northern Ireland.
There is, I believe, much to admire and respect on both sides of this divide, and it is not my aim to ask either side to abandon its traditions or its cultures. But the divide is real, and its very existence means that we have to look beyond the systems of the past for a solution to the problem of an acceptable governmental structure.
If progress is to be made towards the creation of new forms of government in Northern Ireland, the answers will not be found by the Government. My role is not that of a conjurer who can produce rabbits out of a hat. Solutions will be found only by and with the people of Northern Ireland themselves.
In saying that I in no way underestimate the part that I, as the responsible Minister in the British Government, can and must play. But we cannot solve this one by ourselves. There will be no political progress in Northern Ireland unless each side recognises the sincerity of the point of view held by the other.
928 More than this, both sides must realise that their present aims in their more extreme form are not acceptable. Progress will require some movement—a readiness on their part to take up new positions. Furthermore, this Government will not seek to impose new arrangements which would clearly be unacceptable.
Northern Ireland, for reasons that cannot be undone, is not like any other part of the United Kingdom. New structures of government must be based on a recognition of that fact.
I very much hope that in my continuing talks with the leaders of the political parties in Northern Ireland we can face the political realities that confront us and agree some new modes of government that take full account of them.
Until that is achieved, direct rule has to continue. So long as I and the other Ministers are responsible for the administration of Northern Ireland we shall do our best to see that it is fair and impartial, and at the same time sensitive and responsive to the needs and wishes of the Northern Ireland people. That pledge applies across the board to the whole range of Government functions. It applies to the day-to-day administration of essential services; to the difficult problems of security; and to economic and social affairs.
Before I leave the political aspect, I should like to say that I recognise that the events of recent years have placed a particular burden on the 12 Members of this House returned from Northern Ireland constituencies. Whatever the strains and stresses on hon. Members from other areas—I know very well that they are many—I am sure that the House will agree that they could hardly exceed the difficulties of representing a Northern Ireland constituency. I shall do everything that I can to help all hon. Members from Northern Ireland as they seek to carry out their constituency responsibilities.
The possibility of future political development rests heavily upon the attitudes of the parties in Northern Ireland. The longer-term economic viability of the Province, however, is not, it seems to me, the subject of so much political disagreement in Northern Ireland as it is in the rest of the United Kingdom—it depends of 929 course, ultimately upon the ability to produce and sell at competitive prices.
As the House knows, it is the Government's view that to do this it is necessary to restore incentives and to raise the rates of return on capital employed, particularly in manufacturing industry. This is precisely what the Budget sets out to do. The cuts in public expenditure and the major shift from taxes on income to taxes on expenditure are intended to pave the way for a more expansionist economy. The role of Government will be reduced, and incentives and freedom of choice will be restored.
I am particularly conscious of the important role that small businesses in Northern Ireland can play in the generation of new employment in the private sector. The measures that have been introduced—such as reducing income tax and raising the qualifying limit for the small companies' rate of corporation tax—will, I hope, be particularly helpful to small businesses. In addition, my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer undertook in his Budget Statement to review the system of company taxation and to press ahead with a thorough review of capital gains tax and capital transfer tax.
Of course, if less money is raised or borrowed, less can be spent; and my right hon. and learned Friend announced reductions in public spending of almost £1,500 million for the United Kingdom as as a whole in the current year. The Northern Ireland share of this amounts to £35 million. But in making those reductions we have made every effort to ensure that any adverse effect on employment is kept to a minimum.
One particular area to which my predecessor, the right hon. Member for Barnsley, has referred outside this House, is that of the selective employment premium. We believe that with average earnings currently in excess of £90 per week for men and of £60 for women, a per capita payment of £2 per week now provides very little incentive to employers. The termination of the scheme, in our view, is therefore likely to have virtually no effect on the level of employment, and it achieves a considerable saving, amounting to £7½ million, in the current year.
930 By contrast, the decision to extend the meat industry employment scheme until further notice should be of great benefit to the agriculture industry and the Northern Ireland economy as a whole. I stress that expenditure on law and order—which, because of the security situation in the Province, has to be very broadly defined—is not affected by these public expenditure reductions.
I hope that it will be clear to the House that the Government are, and will continue to be, sensitive to the special problems of Northern Ireland. We recognised in our manifesto that Northern Ireland's industry would continue to require Government support, and it remains Government policy to promote the social and economic welfare of the Province.
The task of attracting new investment and creating new employment opportunities is not an easy one but is one to which we must and will give a great deal of attention and energy. I am all too conscious of the grave social and economic problems which exist in the Province; and I hardly need to remind the House that an unemployment rate of 11 per cent.—well over double that in some black spots—is not only a social evil in its own right; it has most serious implications for security policy.
The security situation is inevitably the facet of Northern Ireland affairs that gains most headlines in the press. It can, as a result, sometimes be given a disproportionate importance, and it is no bad thing to recall that peace and normality prevail for much of the time over much of the Province. Nevertheless, as the House is all too aware, the people of Northern Ireland and the Government in Northern Ireland are still confronted with a most serious terrorist threat. The Provisional IRA continues to attack, kill and injure men, women and children in the Province, and to launch explosive attacks both at police and Army installations and at purely civilian premises such as shops and hotels.
Hon. Members from Northern Ireland know better than any of us what this programme of violence means to the ordinary citizens of Ulster whom they represent. I, too, find myself deeply affected by the individual tragedies which lie behind the impersonality of security statistics or the callous inhumanity of the 931 Provisional IRA announcements of its responsibility. Lost limbs, lost lives and lost livelihoods, widows bereaved and children left fatherless, are all so much more than just figures in a table given in an annual report or the answer to a parliamentary question. It is those realities that underlie my concern about security in Northern Ireland.
But—to go to statistics for a moment—those which I gave in answer to the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) on 14 June are not at all encouraging, and all the information that I have been receiving about the operation of the terrorists is disquieting.
There is no doubt that until the end of 1978 violence was diminishing from the high level of two years earlier. Substantial successes had been achieved by the security forces against the terrorists, and their level of operations decreased. It is clear, however, that during that period the Provisional IRA was regrouping, retraining, re-equipping itself and rethinking its future tactics.
The first six months of this year have shown a marked increase in the level of terrorism and have demonstrated that we are up against a more professional enemy, organised on a system of self-contained, close-knit cells, which makes it difficult to gather information. Its weapons are more powerful and its operations have a different emphasis.
While civilians continue to be killed and injured, the number of attacks upon members of the security forces has noticeably increased. So far this year 26 have been killed, compared with 14 in the first half of last year.
The number of explosive attacks has also gone up, and it is clear not only that the size of devices has increased but that these attacks are more carefully planned. Less than a fortnight ago, for example, incendiary bombs were placed in five hotels throughout the Province on the same day, and great damage was caused to all of them. The obviously careful co-ordination of this sort of attack is a cause for serious concern.
At the same time, of course, the Province faces the same problems as does the rest of the United Kingdom in coping with other forms of criminal activity—robberies, personal violence, and so on. The forces of law and order have to deal 932 with a double burden, terrorism and other crime.
It is the Government's firm policy that we should continue in Northern Ireland to do our utmost to defeat terrorism, and to extend the pattern of normal policing throughout the whole of the Province. The implementation of these policies rests in the hand of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, assisted by the Army.
I see these separate aims as reinforcing each other. The expansion of normal policing is already in many parts of Northern Ireland helping the community to divorce itself from the terrorists. My wish is to see the police force accepted as what it is—an objective enforcer of the law for the benefit of all.
Continuing success against terrorists will in time relieve the police of the need to guard themselves against terrorist attack. This will make it possible for an even greater proportion of their time to be spent on the prevention and investigation of ordinary crime, and other normal policing activities. But until this is achieved the continuing presence of the Army is essential to support the civil police in dealing with terrorism. Police work has made, and is making, serious inroads into the crimes committed by terrorists, but the defeat of organised terrorism also calls for the strength, skills and weaponry that only the Army can deploy. It is not possible to work in Northern Ireland without immediately being impressed by the fortitude and devotion of the RUC, of the Regular Army and the Ulster Defence Regiment in the fight against terrorism.
The many awards for bravery given to soldiers and policemen are not only well-deserved rewards for individual acts of valour. They are also symbolic of the dedication of, and our admiration for, soldiers and policemen throughout Northern Ireland.
In dealing with the terrorist threat, I have referred so far only to the Provisional IRA. As members of this House have particular reason to know, the Irish National Liberation Army is also involved in terrorist activities, not only in Northern Ireland but here in London, where it has acknowledged its guilt for the assassination of our late colleague, the former Member for Abingdon, Mr. Airey Neave.
933 Although this organisation is smaller than the Provisional IRA and is of much less significance, it is, on its own admission, involved today in the commission of terrorist acts, and I do not believe that it should be countenanced by the laws. I have therefore today made an order under the Emergency Provisions Act proscribing the Irish National Liberation Army. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has decided to take similar action under the appropriate legislation for Great Britain.
I do not underestimate the seriousness of the threat that the terrorists pose, but the terrorists should be under no illusion about our determination to stand up to that threat and to overcome it. It is in this spirit that I have been reviewing our anti-terrorist policy in Northern Ireland. I have come to the conclusion that we need fresh progress on three important points.
First, we shall give special attention to the areas along the border with the Republic—on both north and south sides of that border. I went to Dublin last week to discuss with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and his colleague the Minister for Justice the activities of the Provisional IRA throughout the whole island.
I found that we were in complete agreement on three things—first, that the Provisionals represent a common threat to both our countries; secondly, that the defeat of the Provisional IRA will depend on the combined efforts of our two countries' security forces; thirdly, that the present results of these combined efforts could and must be improved.
It is, of course, the Garda who are best placed to deal with the activities of the Provisionals in the South, relating to the planning of their operations and the training of their members. Improved co-ordination and co-operation between the two forces is essential.
The authorities in the Republic have recently deployed an anti-terrorist task force in the border areas—a move that I warmly welcome—and they are now considering specific proposals by our Chief Constable for the introduction of improved modes of operation. The two Ministers whom I met expressed their genuine willingness to ensure that their 934 security forces play their proper part in the defeat of terrorism, and we agreed to meet again soon to review the position further.
Secondly, given the importance that I attach—and I know the last Government attached—to the police service in Northern Ireland, it is crucial that we continue to make available all the necessary resources for policing, and for the fight against terrorism. The immediate advancement of the final stages of the police pay award is one example of what I have in mind.
We have also exempted the police from both this year's public expenditure savings exercise and the recruitment freeze. However, we must not waste public money anywhere, and so we are looking carefully at all expenditure on law and order services in the Province to ensure that we get the best value for money and eliminate any extravagance wherever it occurs. But I can assure the House that sufficient financial resources will be found to fund the essential manning, equipment and accommodation of the RUC and enable the police to carry out effectively their role of law enforcement in Northern Ireland.
Similarly, we must keep under review the needs of both the Ulster Defence Regiment and the Regular Army. The very fact that about 13,000 Regular soldiers are deployed in Northern Ireland, at a time when the Services are sorely stretched, demonstrates the Government's determination not to let up in the continuing efforts to overcome the terrorists.
Thirdly, my assessment of the situation has brought into sharp relief for me the value of the present intelligence effort in Northern Ireland and the need to intensify it still further. Information obtained from intelligence is one of the main keys to further progress in penetrating terrorist organisations and activity.
In recent weeks the police and Army have had important successes against the Provisional IRA as a result of increasing efficiency in this area. I have instructed that further work should now be undertaken to maintain our impetus and continue to make the most effective use of our resources in this field. I am ready to sanction additional resources if this should prove necessary.
935 The areas immediately to the north of the border are not only areas in which much of the current terrorist activity in Northern Ireland occurs; they are the areas through which terrorist supplies pass, even if they are used in other parts of Northern Ireland.
There has already been a significant increase in the number of troops—not all overt or visible—allocated to border areas, and I shall be discussing with my security advisers what other steps are needed. Neither I nor they, however, will be looking for changes which merely look impressive.
The task of all of us is to get to grips with terrorism and we shall be looking for developments that will help us achieve that task. I have already referred to the crucial importance of the police effort in Northern Ireland. The Royal Ulster Constabulary now stands at a strength of 6,387, plus 1,245 full-time reservists and a further 3,300 part-time reservists.
The full-time strength of the force has been, and still is, growing at a net rate of about 400 officers a year. As I have already said, our aim is that, as and when the situation allows, the RUC should be able to take up the full weight of the policing burden, some of which, of necessity, is still borne in Northern Ireland by the Army. To ensure that our scarce resources are being used wisely, a special exercise is being mounted to scrutinise the RUC establishment, and to identify the areas where strengthening is needed.
It is not enough to strengthen the RUC by physical resources alone. We must also attend to its strengthening in terms of resolve and acceptability. On both these counts the Bennett report, laid before Parliament by the right hon. Member for Barnsley in March, is of special importance. The House will recall that the report recommended a number of changes in the administrative procedures to be observed during the questioning of suspects by the RUC. It also recommended some modifications of the present machinery for the investigation of complaints. My hon. Friend the Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) will deal with the matter in more detail in his speech at the end of this debate, but I should say now that action is in hand 936 to implement virtually all of the Bennett recommendations in an appropriate way.
The House will recall that we have already announced our acceptance of the recommendations relating to the installation of closed circuit television in interview rooms, and to access by solicitors to persons in custody. For the benefit of the House, I have arranged that as from now there should be available in the Library of the House a statement of my detailed conclusions, which is available for those right hon. and hon. Members who wish to make use of it. I am also making it available to the press.
In accepting and implementing the Bennett recommendations, I do not in any way accept the sweeping allegations made in some quarters about the RUC's conduct of interrogations. The successful interrogation of suspects is a vital weapon in the armoury of the security forces, and I will not see it needlessly blunted. What the Bennett report has done is to draw attention to certain standards which we must always maintain.
The House will recall that one of the Bennett committee's finding was that, on the basis of the medical evidence it had before it, there was a number of cases in which injuries were clearly not self-inflicted and were sustained while in police custody. Arrangements were made for the evidence in these cases—there were only 15 of them—to be drawn to the attention of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland to consider whether, as a result, he considered that any charges should be preferred against any member of the RUC.
As my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General announced in a written reply to a question on 29 June, in nine of the cases the DPP has already directed "no prosecution", since in his opinion there was not sufficient evidence to warrant the prosecution of any member of the RUC. That is still his opinion, and it is one with which my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General concurs. One case is still under consideration, and in five cases the DPP is awaiting the outcome of criminal proceedings that are still pending.
By implementing the Bennett report we shall be demonstrating to everyone that the RUC has nothing to hide, and 937 that its practices are well up to the standards of the best police forces in the country. If I may give the House a personal impression, from what I have been able to see of the RUC during the short time I have been in office, I would say that no finer police force exists anywhere in the world.
I know that there are some who have hitherto withheld their wholehearted support from the RUC. I hope that now they will give that force the full backing which it deserves.
§ Mr. Reg Race (Wood Green)
Will the Minister please inform the House whether the announcement that he has made regarding the Bennett report will extend its provisions to those who are held in custody in England under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and who, at the moment, are denied access to their solicitors? I am referring, in particular, to the case of Mr. Tom Macdonald who was detained in Liverpool yesterday while returning to Belfast from Bradford and has been held at the Cheapside police station incommunicado over the past few hours.
I have been in touch with Special Branch officers at that Police station and they have alleged that Mr. Macdonald has been informed that solicitors have been engaged on his behalf but that he has refused the advice of those solicitors.
Can the Minister tell us whether, in circumstances such as those that I have mentioned, it would be possible for an interview to be granted to the solicitors nominated by that person's family in order that Mr. Macdonald's own views can be ascertained by those solicitors?
§ Mr. Atkins
My responsibilities are wide and many, but they do not extend to the operation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act in Great Britain. I can only suggest that the hon. Member addresses his questions to the Home Secretary, who is responsible for this matter.
The second draft order will extend the Emergency Provisions Act in its entirety for a further six months. This is not a proposal that I put forward lightly. I have looked at the Act in considerable detail and have taken careful account of the development of the security situation over the past six months. I have taken the advice of the security 938 forces in Northern Ireland, and have also had the benefit of advice from outside bodies such as the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights.
I have weighed, as I am bound to do, all these views most carefully. I have decided that the present is not the right moment at which to allow any of the provisions of the Act to lapse.
Unhappily, in the last six months the security situation has not improved as we all hoped it would and so enabled us to justify such a step. In any case, I have myself been in office only a short time, and I think it is right to take more time to observe the working of the legislation before recommending changes to the House.
§ Mr. McNamara
Will the Secretary of State indicate to the House whether he received detailed representations from the Peace People community on this topic and whether they drew attention to the four major parts of the Act where they felt important changes could be made so as to improve community relations generally? Did the right hon. Gentleman give any consideration to that, and what reply has he sent to them?
§ Mr. Atkins
I did, indeed. These people were among those who made representations. As I said, and I repeat, I studied the representations most carefully and most anxiously. In particular, I considered the recommendations made by the Standing Advisory Commission that two sections of the Act relating to the power of detention and the power of the courts to grant bail should be allowed to lapse. I realise that the former is a most serious matter, affecting a fundamental human freedom. It is only after considerable thought that I ask Parliament to renew the section's validity.
As the House knows, the power has not been used for the last four years, but I do not think that we have yet reached the point at which we can be sure that we can afford to dispense with it for good. I hope that the Advisory Commission will continue to send me further suggestions that it wishes to make. I value its advice, even when I decide not to accept it. I shall keep it in mind against the day that 939 improvements in the security situation allow me to look more favourably at the Commission's proposals.
It is the fate of Ministers in general, and, I suspect, of Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland in particular, that nothing that they say will please everyone. I am aware that some people would like to see dramatic moves on the political front, more extravagant schemes to tackle Ulster's economic ills, and more extreme measures to combat terrorism, but it is my view that the long-term interest of the people of Northern Ireland is served by a more cautious approach to the question of political development; that the economic troubles of the Province will benefit most from the Government's general approach to the industrial malaise of the country as a whole; and that the policy of seeking to extend the rule of law, and to combat terrorism through the law, is the one best calculated to overcome those who seek to terrorise their fellow citizens into accepting political structures that they do not want.
There are no quick or easy answers to the complex of problems that beset Northern Ireland, and I would mislead the House if I pretended otherwise. But let no one mistake this deliberate and measured approach for a lack of will. The Government want to see peace and prosperity returned to Northern Ireland. We want its people to be able to control their own affairs through arrangements in which all can have faith. As I have said, we shall be patient, as the situation demands, but we shall also be persistent and determined. It is against this background that I ask the House to approve the two draft orders.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Brynmor John (Pontypridd)
I first express my gratitude to the Secretary of State, not only for his welcome to my attaining this position but also for his tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason), who preceded the right hon. Gentleman in office. I am conscious both of the importance of the subject and of its difficulty. I am particularly conscious of it today, because due to the exigencies of the parliamentary timetable I must speak on these two orders soon after taking up my own position, at a time which precedes any visit that I may make to 940 Northern Ireland in the near future. I hope that I shall make such a visit in the near future and that I shall be able to talk to all sorts of reasonable opinion there.
Against that background, it would be both arrogant and presumptuous of me to make any ringing declarations as to general policy and solutions which, as the right hon. Gentleman has already said, too often appear to be a mirage. However, it may be of interest to the House if I indicate my general approach as official Opposition spokesman on this subject.
First, there will be a broad maintenance of that support which the Opposition give to the Government, and which has hitherto existed, particularly in relation to security. But that does not mean that every facet of policy will meet with agreement. Conservative Members would not expect that, and neither would I. This could not be so, because in a developing situation one obviously cannot foresee what will happen and what will be the Government's response to it. However, we shall back the Government fully in their struggle against that tiny minority—namely, those from whatever section or community who by terror and murder seek to impose their will on the vast majority in both communities.
As the right hon. Gentleman has already said, the main principle in the struggle to preserve peace and restore normal standards of life in Northern Ireland—to which we as a Government were committed and which, I am delighted to note, the right hon. Gentleman has continued—is the progressive transference of the policing role in Northern Ireland from the Army to the RUC. As the right hon. Gentleman will know, as that was successfully done it was intended progressively to reduce the Army presence so that it could fulfil a normal garrison role. The speed of this transfer must obviously depend upon the diminution of violent crime in the Province, and its detection and prosecution by the police through the normal processes of the law. I agree very much with the right hon. Gentleman that it would be neither practicable nor desirable for any Army withdrawal to precede that position being obtained in Northern Ireland.
941 As to the security position, I think all of us were more hopeful and optimistic towards the end of last year and also in the first quarter of this year as a result of the figures that emerged. That can be said despite the fact that, with its experience of the death of the late Mr. Airey Neave, it is not easy for the House to be optimistic. However, I am sure the whole House will agree that every death that occurs in Northern Ireland through or by violence is as profound a tragedy as the death of our colleague.
Of course, we are now faced with a deterioration, and that was remarked upon by the right hon. Gentleman. In particular, recent events seem to suggest a specific targeting of the violence rather than the spasms of random and quite indiscriminate violence that we have seen. That targeting has been mainly concentrated upon those who maintain and enforce the law. All of us have seen, heard or read in the media particularly horrifying examples of that terrorism being visited upon people who, after all, perform a public service on behalf of the whole community in an attempt to deter them from carrying out their tasks.
I believe that this is the appropriate moment to echo what the right hon. Gentleman has said, and to pay tribute to all those in the Army, the Ulster Defence Regiment, the RUC and the prison service, which is a new factor, who work for the whole community and who face the threats and violence with a courage which commands the respect of the whole House.
In connection with the normalisation process, I was glad to note that the number of policemen is now hovering at or near the 6,500 mark. I think it was my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley who first promised an establishment review of that number. As the right hon. Gentleman indicated, I hope that there will be no undue delay in implementing any recommendations which the establishment review may produce.
Similarly, we ought to welcome the agreement apparently reached by the right hon. Gentleman with Mr. O'Kennedy about cross-border co-operation. This is clearly a vital and important point in checking terrorism in Northern Ireland. I 942 also agree that we must look at any police force in a modern society and view its acceptability. The right hon. Gentleman dealt with this purely in a Northern Ireland context. It is fair to say that recently there has been a tradition of a movement of Ministers from the Northern Ireland Office towards the Home Office. In my case, it is a reverse process—a movement from the Home Office to the Northern Ireland Office. But this has given me a chance to observe a fact which is spread wider than Northern Ireland—namely, that the acceptability of any police force in the Western world is under attack to some extent or another. Almost every police force in every country in the Western world has its bitter critics and has genuine members of minority communities living within a country who feel alienated from that police force. Those people and others are very ready to see isolated lapses and isolated misdemeanours as examples of a more general whole and to argue from the particular to the general.
We must reiterate that the police force is or should be completely impartial and dedicated to the protection of all citizens within its boundaries impartially and fairly. The publication of the Bennett report shows that fact and shows how thin a line must be drawn between the groundless criticism which undermines morale and inhibits peaceful operation, and the rightful uncovering of illegitimate behaviour on the part of a small minority who overstep the limits.
I want to make it quite clear, in viewing the Bennett report—as I am sure was implicit in the Secretary of State's remarks—that we can never hope to defend a civilised society if we turn a blind eye to breaches of civilised standards on the part of some who are slow to uphold the law. That is why I welcome very much what the right hon. Gentleman has said, and I welcome what the Bennett committee said at paragraph 20 in page 7 of its report:It is apparent that any misconduct by an individual member of the force concerned with the interrogation of prisoners affects the reputation of the force as a whole in the community, makes more difficult and dangerous the work of his comrades on the streets, and so defers the day of the return of peace in the community.That sums up admirably what we should all feel in this case. We must certainly 943 make clear that it is the work of a tiny minority, but, nevertheless, we must not be seen to condone or to wink at any such procedures.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley accepted the main recommendations of the report, and the Secretary of State underlined that today when he said—rather enigmatically, at any rate—that he accepted "virtually" all the recommendations. What I should like to know this evening from the Minister of State—he will know what a catalogue those who wind up have to face in the matter of questions—is which of the recommendations are not being accepted, Since "virtually all" are being accepted, it would probably be shorter for him to list the exclusions rather than the inclusions.
Secondly, I should like to know what the progress of implementation is in regard to those measures which have already been accepted, and, in particular, recommendations 35 and 36, which deal with the lenses and the television cameras. These were accepted by my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, and I understand that work has started on their installation. I think that the whole House would be interested to know what progress has been made towards completion of those installations, because we regard it as important that the RUC should be seen to be carrying out interrogation procedures which, while designed to achieve an object, are perfectly fair to those in custody.
Again, I should like to know what progress is being made as to the code of conduct for interrogation, which is mentioned, and something on which I place great emphasis—the training of members of the constabulary for undertaking the duties of interrogation. It is not hard for a person who has had inadequate training to view interrogation almost as a holy crusade and, therefore, to overstep the limits. It is right that even in the most disciplined force with the highest degree of standards, people should know perfectly well what is expected of them, what is tolerable conduct and what is not tolerable conduct.
Finally, perhaps I may end on this particular aspect of the matter with a plea to the Administration to give all the help that they can to trying to sort out the double jeopardy rule, which seems 944 to have a very inhibiting effect on the police complaints procedure in Northern Ireland. As far as I know, it has no such inhibiting effects in the rest of Britain. I am sure that there must be a perfectly simple explanation and reason why it is so inhibiting there, and one which a little discussion can remove, so that the police complaints procedure should again be looked upon as a fair safety valve rather than an impossible task.
I now turn to the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act. Everyone who has, like myself, been trained in the common law must realise and remember how sweeping and how wide are the powers given by this Act. There is no one in this House—or there ought to be no one—who would want to see an Act of this kind on the statute book for a moment longer than is absolutely necessary. When we are looking at this Act, I believe that the criterion that we should adopt as to whether we should reenact it, or modify it, is necessity. It is because I believe that necessity for it is still present that, on behalf of the official Opposition, I shall be recommending its renewal tonight.
But that said, however, it is certainly not a law of the Medes and the Persians which never requires alteration. Within the framework of the Act it is possible for provisions to be modified or even to be replaced if necessity for part of the Act were to cease to exist. Just as we are trying to encourage normalisation by transferring the policing functions back to the RUC, we ought also to be aiming for normalisation by transferring the law back to as normal and natural a code of criminal law as we possibly can.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley recognised this when he moved the renewal of these powers on 6 December last, when he stated—as reported in Hansard at colum 1506—that between that day and today the Act was to be kept under the closest review with a view to the recommendation of lapsing of some provisions or changes where those were appropriate.
The Act, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, and for the reasons he gave, comes before us in the same form as it then took. I accept what the right hon. Gentleman says about the fact that 945 he has been in the Government for less than two months. Therefore, I want to take no unfair points, in view of the shortness of his tenure of office. I am glad to note that he seems to favour a continuing review. I hope that he does, because this review ought to be broadened in scope and ought to continue within the next six months.
I should like the Minister of State to give us an undertaking this evening that, first, the review will be proceeded with and that any provisions which are thought to be capable of modification by the next occasion will be modified and that any provisions which need removal will be removed, and that he will report the results to the House during the next debate on renewal, in six months' time, in rather more detail than the right hon. Gentleman was able to do today, and give his recommendations.
The Government will be well aware, not only from representations from the Peace People but from many other sections of the community, of the parts of the Act which cause most anxiety. These include sections 11 to 20, in part II. But one simple recommendation which could be put into the Act so as to modify its present form would be the adoption of the Bennett recommendation No. 47, which concerns the presence of parents when children are being interrogated. If the right hon. Gentleman is recommending that that be included in the Act, it would be a major reassurance and the communities would see that we were progressing towards a more normal state of the criminal law.
The Government should be supported in the renewal of the Act providing for direct rule. Direct rule is not everyone's favourite child. All the parties in Northern Ireland in their election addresses appeared to favour a measure of devolved government, but sharp differences arose over what kind of government. In 1977 my right hon. Friend made proposals that were unfortunately not taken up. The right hon. Gentleman has understandably been cautious about the proposals and prospects for a devolved Assembly in the near future. I accept the right hon. Gentleman's analysis that we cannot expect quick progress, but I hope that the Government will redouble their efforts to reach agreement amongst the parties. We 946 shall do our best to see what common ground there is.
Even though the type of devolved government cannot be agreed in Northern Ireland, direct rule appears to be everyone's favoured second son. That is an uncomfortable position, but the way that direct rule is carried out is important. There must be accessibility of Ministers. They must visit the Province and participate in the life. That was the policy of my Government. I have a daily deluge of press notices from the Northern Ireland Office, and am glad to see that Ministers in this Government are also kept fully stretched. In any direct rule situation there is a problem of accountability, and that participation is necessary. Inaccessibility of Ministers would make direct rule less popular and less acceptable to the people of Northern Ireland than is demonstrated by the somewhat suspect opinion polls.
It is a great mistake to see politics in Northern Ireland exclusively in terms of constitutional differences. It is vitally important that we have policies to overcome unemployment, deprivation and lack of proper housing. Although we may agree generally on how Northern Ireland should be governed, the method of government will be disputed from these Benches. Northern Ireland has a lower average family income than that of Britain and is more heavily dependent on public expenditure than any other part of the country. The £35 million cut in public expenditure is an unhappy token of the way that the Government intend to proceed and I hope that the Secretary of State will protect Northern Ireland from the ideological itchings of his Cabinet colleagues.
Under the previous Secretary of State industrial development was given a tremendous boost, and that included major investment in Northern Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said that industrial development is at present protected from the cuts in public expenditure, but the climate for investment will depend on the sense of fairness felt by people in Northern Ireland. They will not benefit from the mythical and chimerical tax cuts but will suffer from the reduction in public services implicit in that £35 million cut.
947 The rate of unemployment this month is 11.1 per cent. Against that background one reads the right hon. Gentleman's speech on 21 June in Belfast—and the apparently authentic and fuller report in The Daily Telegraph of 27 June—about the future of Harland and Wolff. We know the Government's attitude to the shipbuilding industry in this country, but the necessity to protect jobs in Northern Ireland is of greater importance than in other regions—and I speak as one who comes from an area with a traditionally high level of unemployment. My hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) will, I hope, deal with that in more detail.
Although at times the economic and social fabric of Northern Ireland is submerged in arguments on how the Province should be governed, it must be of positive concern, and to many who live in the Province it is of vital concern. I repeat my advice to the House that the orders should be renewed. I look forward to a closer acquaintance with the men and women of Northern Ireland who yearn for nothing so much as a return to peace and an end to terror.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ Mr. John McQuade (Belfast, North)
Two weeks ago within a few days a cemetery attendant, a father of three, was shot dead on his way to work, a father of nine was cold-bloodedly gunned down in the street and a farm labourer was found dead, riddled with bullets. Such atrocities have become commonplace in my country, in an area corresponding to the size of Yorkshire. At the whim of a cowardly back-street gunman another family may be orphaned, another wife widowed, and this Government, the previous Government and the one before that seem powerless to stop it. A principal function, if not the principal function, of a State is to provide security for its citizens. This State has conspicuously failed to do that, and so Government after Government have caused hostility and bitterness among our people.
Never is that bitterness more apparent in Northern Ireland than when we see the fuss made in the press and on television when terrorist activity occurs in England that by our standards would be mild. We then realise that the Government are prepared to accept different 948 levels of security in this country. In displaying that the Government earn the contempt of all our people. One repeatedly hears in the streets and shops angrily expressed resentment that if one hundredth of the killings that we have to endure were to take place in England something would have been done about it long ago.
If the Government are not to forfeit their right to be called a Government, if the rule of law is to be anything other than a hollow mockery, if the Government are to be entitled to the regard and obedience of their citizens, it is their solemn duty to consider how these murders can be ended. What reassurance do the people of Northern Ireland have with the advent of a new Government? We were full of expectation that they would act with more urgent appreciation of the problems than their predecessors. Then we hear that the best that the new Secretary of State can think of, when discussing our problems with the Dublin Government, was to suggest that perhaps the RUC detectives should be allowed the right to interrogate in the Republic of Ireland. When we hear rubbish like that, we realise once more with a sickening heart that this Government are just not fit for the task of governing and for the responsibility that that implies.
This is not a problem that can be solved by petty diplomatic speeches and pleasant, inoffensive drawing room conversation. This is a matter of life and death. If the Government do not think of it as such they betray their own function and our community. Ordinary men and women look to the Government for protection. Children rely on them to preserve their fathers. We want only the right to go about our daily business in safety and peace. It is up to the Government to rid us of the scourge of these cowardly gunmen. In the long years of suffering all Governments have toyed with the problem when they have not actually ignored it altogether. Even at this late stage if the Government do not apply themselves with vigour and determination to saving citizens from slaughter, the blood of those citizens will be on their hands.
First, the Government must rid themselves of some of the myths that have been contrived by a superficial press, and 949 which they happily seem to accept as facts. They seem to think that these killers express the will of a significant section of the people in Northern Ireland. That is rubbish. Election after election has seen candidates of parties loosely associated with the killers humiliated at the polls.
The Government also seem to think that the gunmen are inspired by religious fanaticism. Religion in any of its aspects is not even considered by them. All religious denominations disown them. The Government seem to think that they are capable of political dialogue and that they have some genuine, if outlandish, political outlook. These thugs and corner boys have no political understanding. The Government seem to think that, if they harass them, the killers will react with even greater viciousness. But these are cowards and should be treated as cowards. Because they are cowards they will be deterred by only one thing—the realisation that if they kill they themselves will die at the hands of the State.
Long prison sentences have lost their deterrent effect. These men, rightly or wrongly, believe that they will not serve the whole of their term. They are convinced that there will be some kind of amnesty and there is no point in saying that Government statements have continually attempted to discourage such a belief. This belief will continue and, as a result, it has helped to rob long sentences of their fearsomeness. The lives of our people must be protected. Have the Government the moral courage to do what should be done? Or, for all their fine words to the country, are they secretly afraid that such action might agitate greater terrorist activity in London or England? My belief is that the Government's fear of this stays their hand and makes them compromise with evil. This belief is shared by huge numbers of my countrymen.
The Government must stop dithering and summon up their resolve. By their inactivity and stupidity they have perpetrated great wrongs upon part of their own country. Even at this late stage they should try to make amends by providing the security that is a necessary basis for ordinary social life. They must not be misled by the sentiment that if a terrorist is hanged he will become a martyr. So 950 what? Even if he were, he would be a martyr to only a small number of his fellow thugs. I would happily accept a couple of martyrs in return for the lives of thousands of innocent victims of these troubles.
Our people are crying out for a deterrent. Before anyone starts talking about the death penalty not being a deterrent, let him understand that that may be so when one is dealing with murderers who are mentally deranged, overcome with passion or roused in alcohol. These are not the sort of murderers that we are discussing now. We are talking about the animals who coldly and calculatingly plan the cutting down of a defenceless man or woman long before the event. At one fell swoop the power of the godfathers would be broken by the death penalty. Whatever threat they might use upon their subordinates would be more than matched by the fear of hanging.
I am not advocating the death penalty for murderers of policemen and soldiers only. This is a distinction without logic or principle. I am advocating death for the terrorist murder of any man, woman or child. In the name of goodness, the Government must not wait for the passing of more years and the loss of more lives before confessing, as the first Secretary of State for Northern Ireland did recently, that a terrible mistake had been made. Are we supposed to be gratified because he says publicly what every fool in Ulster knew at the time—namely, that he was wrong to institute the status of political prisoner? He was told that at the time, but he knew otherwise. His late conversion and confession may show that there is some salvation in him as a man, but it certainly does not excuse his stupidity at the time.
It is that stupidity which we do not want to cloud the issue. We have suffered long enough. Have the Government the intelligence to see how the trouble can be stopped, and the moral courage to carry it through? The people of Ulster pray that they have.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. James Molyneaux (Antrim, South)
It is a pleasure to be called to speak following the remarks of the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. McQuade) and to congratulate him. The House will have gathered from the hon. 951 Gentleman's remarks that, in common with his predecessor, Mr. John Carson, who represented that constituency ably and well, the present Member is also a man of the people. He has his roots in his constituency and has served the community to the best of his ability throughout many years. The hon. Gentleman and I have something else in common which I trust will emerge as I proceed with my remarks.
This debate is in the nature of an annual general meeting. On an earlier occasion we extended good wishes and our welcome to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and his colleagues. In this debate I wish to pay tribute to the right hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) and the team which he led in the Labour Administration. We disagreed with the members of that team on some occasions, but we always recognised that they tried hard and gave of their best. Whatever hard words may have passed between us, we want them to know that the Province is grateful for their services.
I wish to express satisfaction at the appointment of the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Mr. John) as the Opposition spokesman on Northern Ireland. We look forward to co-operating with him in future in dealing with the affairs of the Province.
In renewing the temporary provisions for the fifth time and direct rule for the seventh, we have on this occasion a fresh mandate from the electorate of Northern Ireland, and, for that matter, from the electorate of the United Kingdom. The printer's ink is only just dry on all our manifestos. So far in this debate, three parties have expressed their opinions. As they have stated their positions, I shall, briefly and concisely, seek to summarise the relevant sections of our Ulster Unionist manifesto, which was endorsed by over 250,000 votes.
First, foremost and transcending all other considerations is the maintenance of the Union and the avoidance of any action which might weaken or damage the unity of the kingdom. One such action would be the defeat of the order renewing the 1974 Act, which put and keeps in abeyance the provisions of the 1973 Act which were specifically designed and drafted to weaken the Union. One hopes 952 that Parliament, having at long last recognised reality, will remove from the statute book that useless clutter known as the 1973 Act.
Secondly, the Ulster Unionist Party says and means, and I quote from our manifesto:For Northern Ireland our objective, which we shall pursue unremittingly, remains the restoration of such a system of devolved government as will neither endanger the Union nor confer contrived privileges on any section of the community.But, although we shall pursue that objective unremittingly, we have to face the fact that neither the Government nor the Opposition share our commitment with the same degree of enthusiasm. The Labour Party manifesto states:for the present, direct rule remains the only viable alternative … We will work to make it more accountable and democraticThe Conservative Party, the party which now sustains Her Majesty's Government, said in its manifesto:In the absence of devolved government, we will seek to establish one or more elected regional councils with a wide range of powers over local services.I wish to direct attention to the opening words of that quotation,In the absence of devolved government.That phrase betrays no great sense of enthusiasm.
Those two manifestos, Labour and Conservative, were published many weeks before the voters went to the polls. In the face of those two declarations, it was a cruel deceit to encourage the Ulster people to believe that, given a certain computer print-out on the night of 3 May, the doors of Stormont would be flung open. The power-hungry can always claw their way to prominence by telling the people what they think they want to hear, but I submit that the need of the hour is for one brave enough to tell the people the truth.
The truth is that magic wands, with or without VAT, are in short supply and still more limited in their effect. Whether in the realm of economics, security or political advance, there can be no overnight transformation. Lest any should feel that my attitude has been moulded by the experience of two months of Conservative rule, let me quote from what I said publicly at Moy in the constituency of Fermanagh and South Tyrone, which 953 does not appear to be represented in this debate:We would be deceiving the electorate were we to convey the impression that Ulster's affairs would be transformed by the installation of a new Government after 3 May. Indeed, it would be unfair to Mrs. Thatcher to raise expectations that she could deliver significantly more than the Government she succeeded.That was not a criticism of the Conservative Party, but it was a note of caution. I admit that it would have been far easier and probably more popular to have heaped the blame for all our ills on five years of Labour government and gone on to proclaim that, with a change of Government, Utopia could be found just around the corner. Indeed, some yielded to that temptation and the price has been the disillusionment of a people who have suffered much and been given little.
My party's message to Ulster's people is that, while there are no instant remedies, there are grounds for solid confidence—confidence which will grow, provided that Parliament and the people of this kingdom also recognise the truth as it is, and not as some would have us believe it.
The struggle in Northern Ireland is not about civil rights, civil liberties, worker exploitation and all the rest on page one of the insurgents' handbook. We are now in the critical, and perhaps the final, phases of an armed attack on the United Kingdom and a murderous assault on those who defend the kingdom and do their best to protect us, its citizens. They risk, and all too often lose, their lives. Their self-sacrifice places on each of us a reciprocal duty. When Parliament and Ministers accountable to Parliament use the security forces as the cutting edge of Government policy, we have a clear duty—namely, to supply the political will to support and sustain those servants of the Crown. Indeed, we have to do more—and here I echo the words of the hon. Member for Belfast, North. We must cultivate a national will to resist an armed assault on this kingdom, launched mainly as it now is from the territory of a supposedly friendly State—with the connivance, if not the consent, of the Government of that State.
In times past, those who have stood between us and the aggressor have been 954 sustained by the nation's unreserved support. But in this present assault our guardians have so far been denied that backing, the understanding and the national will to win. I can never suppress a feeling of nausea when I hear publicity-seekers making capital out of what appears to their tiny minds to be a mistake or a miscalculation by a young soldier or policeman.
This takes me back—and here I have something in common with the hon. Member for Belfast, North—35 years to occasions when I led night patrols into no man's land. They were nerve-racking experiences—even a tuft of grass assumed a sinister appearance. Many times one had to decide whether approaching figures were the forward elements of the twenty-first Panzer division or a French farmer and his family searching for their cattle that had been dispersed in the clay's battle. It was a difficult decision—to fire or not to fire. Often I did not know what to do. However, what I did know was that my instructions came from a soldier named Montgomery who derived his authority from a Minister of the Crown named Churchill who was answerable to the House of Commons. Of one other thing I was certain—if my action proved to be a miscalculation, I would not be the subject of a Standing Order No. 9 debate or questions in the House of Commons, nor would I be dragged before a court like a common criminal at the behest of those who, only a week before, had demanded to know why the troops were not advancing faster.
Those in present-day Ulster—who call for the Army' hands to be untied and for tough and resolute action by the SAS should also be specific about the tactics that are to be employed. Then let them not shrink from their share of the responsibility for the consequences.
There have been improvements in certain areas of security—for example, in the provision of transport and weaponry. Nevertheless, there are aspects of the overall security effort which continue to give cause for concern. I am delighted that the Solicitor-General is here this afternoon to give his attention to these matters.
On the question of sentencing policy, I told the House on 6 March 1978 that 955 there remains a widespread view that sentences being imposed by the courts are wholly inadequate. I understand that large numbers of hardened criminals who were convicted in the early 1970s are now being released on to the streets and they are resuming their former undesirable occupations. At a time of mounting IRA violence that, in itself, is a matter for concern, but of primary concern must be the fact that sentences being imposed do not serve to deter the terrorist. Some take the view that the judiciary are responding to unseen pressures in an attempt to ease the problem of the H-block. Be that as it may, I remain convinced that, for as long as the violence continues, sentences should be mandatory and there should be no offer of remission.
Those who continue to perpetuate the war must be made to see that the Government mean business. We shall not achieve that either by treating the terrorist lightly in the courts or by inhibiting the police, whose task it is to bring the terrorists before the courts in the first instance. It has already been said that members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary have been subject to persistent denigration. It is regrettable that they have not always found assurance and support from the actions and attitudes of their political masters—by that I refer not only to Ministers but to all of us who are elected representatives. The Chief Constable and other senior officers of the RUC have been known to boast that the complaints and discipline branch is the fastest growing section of the police force. Perhaps that is an area to which the Secretary of State might look profitably for economies when he is ensuring that money is well spent.
It is curious that the Home Office document 63/1977 lays down the procedures for the investigation of complaints but that the extent of the official hang-up about such complaints is evidenced by the policy that is employed in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland. I am informed that when the DPP considers bringing a prosecution at the same time he reads both the police file and the file containing any allegations that have been made by the accused against the arresting officer. Moreover, I understand that the DPP insists on having before him a record of all the allegations that have 956 been made against that officer, whether or not they have been substantiated. I am sure that the Solicitor-General and his colleagues will want to examine that matter. That sort of practice demonstrates the sheer absurdity of the present position.
The acceptance of the recommendation of the Bennett committee will make the task of the RUC much more difficult. Of course there should be investigations into allegations of abuse, but my hon. Friends and I believe that the members of the RUC should be subjected to no more than the procedures that apply in the rest of the United Kingdom. It is important that the inquiries should be made after the police case has been processed in the courts.
As hon. Members well know, it is not only in Ulster that the law-enforcement agencies are weakened and undermined by political propaganda. As I study the developing situation in London and other major English cities, I cannot but reflect on the numerous occasions on which we who come from Northern Ireland have told other hon. Members that the Ulster experience is not unique and would not be unique. We said that they would see the same drama enacted on the mainland before their very eyes. It gives me no pleasure to say that the drama is now unfolding.
We are facing a crucial test of national will. As a nation we are fast approaching the point where society as we know it will depend upon our democratic structures and the mass of our people speaking and acting together in support of those whom we have entrusted with the defence of the nation.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ Dr. Brian Mawhinney (Peterborough)
I thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make my maiden speech. I am sure that you will not misunderstand me if I say that I am equally grateful to the people of Peterborough for giving me the opportunity to do so. I know I shall be grateful for the indulgence of the House during the next few minutes.
I echo what many of my new colleagues have said and express my appreciation of the helpfulness of the officers and staff of 957 the House. They epitomise the service which is the aspiration of us all.
It is traditional to speak kindly of one's predecessor. In my case that is not a difficult task. Mr. Michael Ward was a diligent representative of Peterborough. He concerned himself with constituency problems and he was marked by perseverence, having stood many times against Sir Harmar Nicholls before he succeeded in winning the seat. Before that time Sir Harmar served the constituency well for 24 years.
Michael Ward was a loyal party man and was liked—I have discovered—by hon. Members on both sides of the House. He was a conscientious Member whose voting record was substantially better than that of most of his colleagues. He can look back on his time in this place as the author of important consumer legislation through a Private Member's Bill—which success I hope to follow during the course of the parliamentary Session.
I represent a constituency of great diversity, with a beautiful cathedral, which is much understimated by the tourist industry, a city built on the railway line and now prospering as a great engineering centre, a farming fraternity whose productivity stands as a high water mark and a challenge to industry, and a great defence base, RAF Wittering, to which I shall refer later.
My constituency has a wide variety of ethnic groups—Asian, West Indian and European—and we are proud that we were among the first in the country to offer refuge both to the Ugandan Asians and to the boat people. We have good community relations and we intend to keep them that way.
If the rural areas of my constituency are marked by continuity, as represented by those great homes Milton Hall and the Burghley estate, the city is marked by change. I pay tribute to the work of the Peterborough development corporation in developing the new town in and around the city.
The constituency has more than a general interest in Northern Ireland. It has a political interest. As I have been speaking for a few minutes, it will not come as a great surprise if I tell the House that I was born, raised and educated 958 in Belfast. That makes me a rather rare Conservative Member and I hope that it will make it possible for me to contribute something that other hon. Members cannot contribute because they do not have my experience.
I have been searched by security forces, I have inadvertently been caught up as an innocent bystander in a riot, I have seen my home city devastated and my family have been evacuated from their homes because of bomb threats. I should like the House to know that I have an emotional, as well as intellectual, commitment to peace in Northern Ireland.
My constituency also have a security interest in Northern Ireland. In our debates, security is generally talked about in terms of the Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary, but we in Peterborough are proud of the work of the RAF Regiment in Northern Ireland in which my constituents based at RAF Wittering play an important part from time to time. That is an important part of the defence of the Province as well as of the country. We pay tribute not only to the work of the officers and men but to the fortitude of the families who have to be separated from their loved ones.
Despite the importance of security, it cannot, of itself, solve the problems of Northern Ireland. We need a political framework and an initiative. The apparent lack of progress in the political arena is not encouraging.
I know that in my maiden speech I am not meant to be controversial, though perhaps it is difficult not to be controversial in a Northern Ireland debate. However, I shall try. I am not being critical of the Government. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and his Ministers have been in office for only a short time and I shall be glad, therefore, if the House will construe my comments as general remarks and not as being specifically critical.
Alienation in our country is on the increase because of the problems of Northern Ireland. Time is not limitless and, although patience is a virtue, it is not a virtue endlessly. The hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. McQuade) has pointed out that there is a feeling in Northern Ireland that those on this side of the Irish Sea are not particularly 959 moved by the violence until it comes to their own doorsteps.
An Ulsterman recently contrasted for me the fuss made when a 5 lb. bomb explodes in England with a relative lack of fuss made when a 500 lb. bomb explodes in Northern Ireland. No one condones either occurrence, but there is a general impression that our caring is commensurate with our exposure to violence.
One of the emotional highlights of my election campaign was when I was stopped in Peterborough market by a man who has two sons serving in Northern Ireland. With tears in his eyes, he said to me "Why do you make such a fuss when one of your politicians is killed, but not when soldiers are killed in Northern Ireland?"
Like me, that man held Mr. Neave in high respect. I have particular reason for my feeling because, while I was nursing my constituency, Mr. Neave spoke on my behalf and I learnt at first hand that he was not only a courageous man but a courteous, compassionate and gentle man. Since coming to the House I have learnt of the love that all hon. Members had for him.
The point made to me was not a personal one in respect of Mr. Neave or myself, but the general point that our people perceive that the concern of the House is perhaps not as great as it ought to be. As a result, the standing of the House in the community is diminished.
The tragedy in Northern Ireland is also causing alienation between the people of Northern Ireland and the people of the rest of the United Kingdom, because the actions of a small minority rub off on all of us who are unable to disguise our accents. When I was selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate for Peterborough, the initial debate was not "Will he make a good Member?" or "What are his political views". but "Imagine choosing an Ulsterman to fight the seat." There may be good reasons for doubting my ability to represent the people of Peterborough, but the accident of my birth ought not to be one.
Those of us who were born in Northern Ireland find ourselves being tarred with a general, sweeping brush which puts strain on the union because it does not differentiate between one and another.
960 One notices with concern an increasing alienation of the minority groups in Northern Ireland not only from the majority but from the rest of Great Britain. That alienation has caused at least pockets of the Province to be almost outside the rule of law and the orbit of the deliberations of the House. It is no good hon. Members, particularly my hon. Friends, saying that the minority groups ought not to be alienated or that, if they are, it is their own fault. Northern Ireland is blighted by its history. Those groups are alienated and it is on that basis that the House must move.
Similarly, one notices an increased alienation in the majority groups in Northern Ireland. That also is understandable, because they are seeing their heritage and traditions being challenged and undermined. It is no good Opposition Members saying that those groups ought not to feel alienated or that if they do it is their own fault. The fact is that they are and that the House must recognise that fact. That alienation is based on a number of activities and a number of premises—the poor political representative system that now exists, the decline in traditional industries despite Government intervention, the increase in unemployment despite Government aid, and the determination of a small band of terrorists to wreak havoc irrespective of the cost. We all know that the devil finds work for idle hands to do.
The argument is made that we cannot rush political initiative. In my not very long lifetime, the political rhetoric of Northern Ireland has never changed. I can cast my mind back over 25 years and remember similar people saying similar things to what is being said today. I must ask the Government, not in condemnation but as a spur to thought, what there is about the activities they are currently pursuing that will change the political rhetoric of Northern Ireland. Or does it have to remain the same through the lifetime of my children as well as myself? That political rhetoric and political activity will not change without a framework being established. That framework must be established by the Government on behalf not only of the people of Northern Ireland but of the people of the whole of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland is not simply a Northern Ireland problem. It is a 961 United Kingdom problem and must be seen in that context.
If cynicism and alienation are not to increase, if killing is not to increase, if the standing of Parliament and our democratic principles are not to decrease, and if the union of our people is not to be threatened, we must, of course, take action on security. These orders are necessary, and must be supported. But political action also is necessary. It can be cautious and sustained but must be action which progresses the situation beyond the stalemate and the political ruts in which we find ourselves. Without it, all of us will be damaged. I am grateful for the tolerance and the indulgence of the House. I shall try to merit it in the future, though my expectations in that regard are not as great as they were today.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Stephen Ross (Isle of Wight)
I have great pleasure in congratulating the hon. Member for Peterborough (Dr. Mawhinney) on a most excellent maiden speech. His accent did not prevent him being elected for Peterborough, which has been a marginal constituency for a long time. As the Member for a constituency that has nothing to do with Northern Ireland, I believe that the people of Great Britain have shown the patience of Job over the situation in Northern Ireland.
I remember vividly, three or four years ago going round the police department in New York, which is known to be well populated with Irishmen. After talking about the problems of policing New York, I noticed a flag in the corner of the room, saying "Up the IRA". I was accompanying the former Government Chief Whip, now the Opposition Chief Whip—the right hon. Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Cocks). We were asked before leaving "What will you do about the situation in Northern Ireland?" I replied that I had noticed the flag and the motto and that it was time people in the United States began to realise that whatever mistakes Britain had made in its relationship with Ireland, both North and South, we had displayed the patience of Job during the last 10 or 15 years. I visited the South of Ireland in 1966 during the celebrations of the 1916 uprising. There were television programmes every night. I have also read a lot of Irish history. 962 I do not believe that people are not concerned over what is happening in Northern Ireland. I am desperatety concerned. I do not believe that there is a feeling in England, Scotland—though perhaps less so there—or in Wales against people with Irish accents.
I was amazed when, the day after the bombings in Birmingham, a man with a strong southern Irish accent talked a dear old lady in the Isle of Wight into selling some priceless Geogian chairs. He had the ability to charm his way into the house. Irishmen always seem to go down well in this country. Long may that be so.
I once again congratulate the hon. Member for Peterborough. His speech gives me the courage to make my maiden speech on this subject of Northern Ireland. My only excuse is that I happen to have a half-Irish grandson and my second name is Sherlock. My ancestor was one Cornelius Sherlock, who came from Dublin and was the architect of the Walker art gallery in Liverpool. Like the Secretary of State and the Shadow spokesman for Northern Ireland, the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Mr. John), I intend to tread with extreme caution in making a contribution to the debate. But all is not gloom. Some quiet progress has been made on many fronts. I look forward to going back to the Province in the near future. I went twice during the last Session. We can look with some satisfaction on the relative success of responsibility-sharing at local government level in Derry. The community relations department of the RUC has also made progress.
I welcome the Secretary of State's comment that he hopes to come to some arrangement with the political parties in Northern Ireland which can enable progress to be made in breaking down barriers and perhaps to their taking over some responsibility in local matters. Any initiative must help the two communities to draw together. Any such initiative must assist the people of Northern Ireland to devise their own solutions to the related problems of how they are to live with each other and with their neighbours.
Earlier this year, some of my colleagues—not in this House but in the Liberal Party—visited the Province and came back with a proposal that we included in our election manifesto. The proposal was that we should take the initiative to elect 963 a small council of between 15 and 20 members in Northern Ireland. It might not be a bold step, but at least it would be a start in getting the political leaders in the Province together again.
The council would differ from previous elected bodies in two key respects We would like it to be elected by the single transferable vote system from one constituency covering the whole Province. Voting by PR should ensure that every significant point of view has a voice. Hon. Members may laugh, but it is at least a positive suggestion. The hon. Member for Peterborough himself said he felt that there should be some initiative. It would produce a collective elected leadership spanning all traditions and views in so far as the leadership wishes to exert itself. The small size means that all members could sit round one table with the Secretary of State and avoid much of the outside interruption that led to some of the breakdowns in the earlier attempts in 1973 and 1975.
We would like to see such a council given statutory rights to consider and advise the Secretary of State on any matters within his competence. If a certain majority—say, 80 per cent.—of the council members agreed that one or more aspects of local administration should become the executive responsibility of the council, we would hope that the Secretary of State would agree to hand over such functions to it. The legislative machinery could be reactivated without much difficulty. Such transfers could take place piecemeal, starting with the least controversial matters. The Secretary of State could wait to see how each change-over worked out in practice and use that experience to decide on subsequent transfers.
We should like such a council to be invited to work out the composition and agenda of a full constitutional conference to decide upon a more lasting system of government. I accept that that will take time, but we should put forward ideas in a debate such as today's.
By giving that responsibility to Northern Ireland's elected leaders we would throw a further onus on the people who should be governing. At present that onus lies with British Ministers and that encourages Northern Irish leaders to pass the buck to Westminster and Whitehall.
964 That was well illustrated by the speech made today by the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. McQuade).
Liberals have voted for the emergency provisions in the past. We intend to vote for them tonight, but that does not mean that we accept them blindly. Any provision that strikes at basic civil liberties and perverts the normal judicial process must be examined with care. The ends do not justify the means if the means cause too much political damage.
The Act removes the normal right to trial by jury. It limits severely the power to grant bail. The onus of proof in a number of serious offences carrying long sentences has been shifted from the prosecution adducing evidence of guilt to the accused adducing evidence of innocence.
Confessions can convict of themselves, so long as the accused did not suffer inhuman or degrading treatment or torture. But where is the line to be drawn? Periods of remand, notably on continuing offences such as membership of a proscribed organisation, can be so prolonged as to be unpleasantly reminiscent of internment.
The question is whether these provisions, which so undermine some of our basic civil liberties, are justified because of their contribution to the overall wellbeing of the Province. We should remember the propaganda value to certain groups abroad of the apparent unconstitutionality of these provisions—such as that emanating from the United States recently.
When does an emergency cease to be an emergency? Does the recent wave of killings begin a new trend, or was it just an outburst at election time? That does not seem to be so. We have a terrible record of passing emergency legislation which then becomes a permanent feature.
Does the existence of this emergency legislation justify violence on the part of some people? Does it reinforce the colonial relationship which sadly persists? Does it provide more excuses for Irish politicians to lay the blame on Britain? I should like the Secretary of State to declare his intention to replace this Act with better drafted public order legislation.
In the meantime, safeguards should be implemented. First, confession should not 965 be the sole ground for conviction. The creeping internment permitted by the periods of remand allowed in the Act should be stopped. Judges should have more freedom to grant bail. It must also be made clear that the Act is for terrorist offences and that it should not be invoked against other crimes.
One of the first priorities of the Northern Ireland council whose setting up I suggested earlier in my speech should be an examination of the effectiveness and wisdom of all the current public order legislation in the Province.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Epping Forest)
Things are looking up under the present Government. The Leader of the House was here fleetingly at the outset of the debate. I compliment him on holding this important debate at a convenient hour—not late at night and not on a Friday.
The House has been treated to a gem of a maiden speech. We shall truly look forward to hearing my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Dr. Mawhinney) again. Those conventional words are absolutely genuine. We shall look forward in particular to hearing his contribution to debates on Northern Ireland matters, in which too few hon. Members from English, Welsh and Scottish constituencies take part. My hon. Friend is Belfast-born and is a worthy representative of an English constituency. He epitomises the Union for which the Government side of the House stands four square.
There have been other maiden speeches. The hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) spoke agreeably for the first time on Northern Ireland on behalf of the Liberal Party. The opening masterly speech by the Secretary of State was also a type of maiden.
The Secretary of State's first major public utterance after taking office was to the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce. He said that his team would besensitive and responsive to public feeling.My right hon. Friend addedIt is not our intention to be desk-bound Ministers. We will be out and about meeting people on their own ground.966 Those are welcome words. Ulster has valued the accessibility of Northern Ireland civil servants and Ministers. Direct rule changed that in some measure. Moreover, statutory boards, which are creatures of Ministers, had emasculated democratic local government. My right hon. Friend may wish to consider their undemocratic composition.
In the few tours that I have made of the Province I have heard many complaints that administration has become remote. It was even said—though unjustly—that some Ministers stirred little from Stormont Castle.
Northern Ireland needs local self-government as much as any part of the realm. Of course, that cannot be restored in a day. Meanwhile, we are glad of the assurance that the new incumbents will be neither desk-bound nor insensitive. If any adjective can be used to describe my right hon. Friend's speech this afternoon it is "sensitive."
We also heard with pleasure the speech by the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Mr. John), whom we congratulate on his debut as official Opposition spokesman for Northern Ireland. He gave general and generous support to the Government, particularly on security matters. Conservatives have always believed that national emergencies should be met with national unity. Security policy has usually been bipartisan. May it continue. Indeed, how could it be otherwise, since so many of the useful measures adopted by the Labour Government and the necessary changes that they made in their security policy were pressed upon them by the Conservative Opposition, and in particular by my late hon. Friend Airey Neave?
Examples were the closing of the notorious incident centres, which were reviled by every constitutional political party in the whole island of Ireland, and the expansion of the permanent cadre of the Ulster Defence Regiment so that it can operate day and night as it could not previously, as part-time soldiers alone could not do so. Today there are 16 full-time operational platoons of the UDR.
There was a defence debate on 26 June in another place. I was glad to read that my noble friend Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal said that recruitment to the 967 UDR was going well and that this regiment, which now has primary responsibility for aiding the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 11 police divisions, is increasingly effective.
The UDR and the RUC, and hon. Members throughout the House, wish that more Roman Catholics felt able to enlist. Through half a century and more, physical-force republicanism has pursued a constant plan against the forces of law and order, and part of that plan could be summarised in these words "Intimidate the Catholics out and then denounce the force as sectarian."
Let no co-religionist of mine of influence in Church and community complain that there are proportionately too few Catholics in the UDR, the RUC or the RUC reserve—and there are too few—if he does nothing to encourage their recruitment.
That the UDR and the RUC are not sectarian forces was demonstrated at the time of the Ulster workers' strike, and has been proved by the zeal and success with which the RUC has hunted down gangs of murderers who defile the Union flag by daring to call themselves loyalists.
I marked the words of my right hon. Friend, delivered at the Lord Mayor of Belfast's installation dinner on 21 June. He said:I will be frank with you; I do not wish to have assistance from anybody who will act outside the law or without due regard for the general good of the people of Northern Ireland.Today the Secretary of State gave the House a grim account of the state of security. He did not find the statistics encouraging. He told us how the Provisional IRA and the INLA have an advanced armament and improved clandestine organisation. Virtually every guerrilla movement operating against a Western Power nowadays has the benefit of membership of an international terrorist mafia, which can call on Soviet imperial resources. The provos are not orthodox Muscovites like the Officials, but there are Trotskyists among them, and the Red Brigade in Italy has proposed a terrorist Fifth International.
I now add the sentence that followed the one that I have just quoted from my right hon. Friend's speech in Belfast:The Government of the Irish Republic, which has forthrightly condemned, both at 968 home and abroad, the men of violence, will also, I am certain, wish to play its part.I am not sure that that Government are yet playing their full part against terrorists, who are the common enemy of British and Irish democracy and who deny the very legitimacy of the established Irish Republic. In his last annual report, the Chief Constable expressed his gratitude to the Garda Siochdria for the "sound working relationship" established with the RUC, but the Irish Army does not act in aid of the civil power in the same way as does the British Army in Northern Ireland. I wish that it were possible for the two armies to get to know each other better.
The criminal jurisdiction legislation passed in the two Parliaments was always a poor second-best to extradition, and the House should be told what, if anything, that legislation has achieved. The Secretary of State saw Mr. Michael O'Kennedy in Dublin. When he was in opposition, Mr. O'Kennedy spoke about extradition rather differently from Ministers in the present Government in Dublin. I wonder whether the Foreign Minister or the Minister of Justice explained to my right hon. Friend how a Serbian nationalist hijacker could be sent straight back to the United States when the motive of his deed was so clearly political. Mrs. Anne Dickson, who heads the Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, said:There seems to be one law for the Irish terrorist and another for the international terrorist.I staunchly uphold the special relationship, stronger in some ways than the formal Commonwealth relationship, between our two countries and their Governments, both members of the European Community. But if we are to have a common travel area and a form of common citizenship, surely we must have a common security area, too. Surely, the European convention for the suppression of terrorism must be ratified by the Irish Government. If constitutional amendment be required, so be it. It is not so long since the Irish constitution was amended.
It is certainly a reproach to the Irish Republic—indeed, it is a threat to the Irish Republic, to its tourism, its economy and its security—that its territory should be used as a haven and a supply route 969 for terrorists. We are talking not of some precarious Third world State but of a respected partner in the European Community.
If there are those in the North who wrongly murmur of taking the law into their own hands, much of the fault must lie in the South. Blame attaches also to those who mislead distinguished American politicians and to American politicians who do not understand, or take the trouble to understand, what is the democratic will of the people of Northern Ireland, or, if they do understand, fail to respect that democratic will, and would deny to the North-East of the island the right of self-determination ceded to the South.
On 10 May, Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill—"Tip" O'Neill—saidif the democratically elected Prime Minister of Ireland, who has much more to lose than I have on this issue, tells me that there are organisations in the United States which are linked to those who are doing the killing, I will listen to him, and I hope that my political colleagues and opponents and all my fellow Americans will do the same.I understand that about the last official act, if not the last official ambassadorial act, of Mr. Peter Jay in Washington was to wait upon Mr. Speaker O'Neill. But it seems to me, and it has seemed to me for a long time, that the British case, or, rather, the case for British and Irish democracy, has not been sufficiently presented in the United States. I suspect that the marshalling of the arguments may fall between two stools—that of the Northern Ireland Office and that of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
I am glad that the Secretary of State is being cautious about rushing into a new political initiative that might dismay the law-abiding, embolden the terrorist and end in fiasco. The hon. Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux) spoke of the national will. One of the weaknesses of democracy is impatience. Ten years of these troubles, of innocents maimed and brave lives lost—that is hard—and impatience is a weakness of democracy. But inflexible resolve wears away terrorism.
Yes, our course has been hard, and it will continue to be hard, but to abandon fellow subjects, to submit to their expulsion, by how ever many stages and 970 modalities, from the United Kingdom to which they choose and vote to belong—in other words, to surrender—would have incalculable consequencies for the whole of these islands and for the strategy of free Europe. For the maritime defence of the West, Ireland and Ulster are as crucial in the epoch of Admiral Gorshkov as in the time of Admiral von Tirpitz or of Grand Admiral Raeder.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, Central)
First, I join with those hon. Members who welcomed my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Mr. John) to his position as official Opposition spokesman on Northern Ireland affairs. During my hon. Friend's time as a member of the Labour Party, and in the various offices of State that he has held, he has shown a great degree of humanity and understanding. I trust that he will show that same humanity and understanding when I tell him that I am not able to accede to his request to support the orders, nor to his reference to the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978, and that I and some of my hon. Friends will seek to divide the House.
I am sorry that the Secretary of State has chosen this moment to leave the Chamber. Perhaps I can understand why. Nevertheless, I should have liked him to take the opportunity that I wished to give him to take up two comments made by the hon. Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux).
The hon. Gentleman said that he considered that there had been connivance, if not encouragement, by the Republic of Ireland's Government in some of the terrorist activities in the North. Is that the impression of Her Majesty's Government following the talks that took place in Dublin? Do Her Majesty's Government believe that there is concealment or connivance? If not, will the Minister who replies ensure that he makes it clear that that is not the opinion of the Government? If that is their opinion, any talk of co-operation for defeating terrorists will be gone completely.
Secondly, the hon. Member for Antrim, South said that he felt that sentences being imposed by judges in Northern Ireland were relatively light compared with those passed in the United Kingdom. 971 He said that he felt that they were being made light specifically because the judiciary did not wish to be embarrassed further over the present campaign in H block. He believes that concealed pressure has been put upon the judiciary. If that is so, will the Minister who replies confirm or deny the hon. Gentleman's belief? These are important statements. Important allegations are being made by the leader of what was once the strongest Unionist party in Northern Ireland.
We are debating what was once part of an important package, which came with direct rule when Stormont was suspended. There were three elements to the package. The first element was a border poll to convince the Unionists in Northern Ireland that they would not be sold down the river if a constitutional arrangement were found that could accommodate the interests of the minority. The second element was the negotiations and the legislation leading to the establishment of the power-sharing executive and the Assembly. We know that that element failed, due to the Ulster workers' strike.
The third element was the introduction of the emergency powers legislation, which was to sweep away the old special powers legislation. It was aimed at trying to secure a position whereby all parts of the community would see that the old special powers legislation had gone and that a new regime was beginning.
Internment was kept as a power within the Act but it was to be used sparingly. It was hoped that under a Labour Government it would be phased out altogether, although the power would remain upon the statute book. It was hoped that all the evils associated with the special powers legislation would go. However, that has not proved to be so. That has not happened, because of the political sterility that has existed within the Six Counties as a result both of the failure of the power-sharing executive and of the convention to offer any acceptable political solution to the problems of the Six Counties.
I and some of my hon. Friends believe that there has been no acceptable solution because the special powers legislation is left upon the statute book. The provisions that are contained within it lead to alienation of the community, of 972 the loyalists against the non-loyalists and of the Unionists against those who seek a united Ireland. The strange thing is that their complaints are the same in many ways.
There is the power to hold and screen for four hours in areas of high unemployment, especially high youth unemployment. Those who normally do not positively go out of their way to help the forces of law and order—this applies to both sides of the community—have become positively alienated by the screening and searching that has taken place.
There has been the failure to accept with any degree of good spirit some of the strictures laid upon the special branch of the RUC within the Bennett report. That report is an understatement of many of the allegations and much of the situation. Some of my right hon. and hon. Friends do not seem to realise the significance of certain allegations and recommendations within the Bennett report concerning the H-block demonstration.
In Britain and the United States I have been severely critical of the nature of the H-block demonstration. I have made my criticisms on television in both countries. I believe that the nature of the demonstration is demeaning to human beings per se and is out of character with typical demonstrations that have been made by Irishmen in prison in the past. Nevertheless, it has established that confessions have been obtained by violence. Those uncorroborated confessions alone have led to convictions. That being so, there is a scintilla of justification for what the men are doing in H-block. Therefore, with great respect, I put down a question to the Government asking how many men on the blanket in H-block were convicted as a result of uncorroborated confessions. The answer that I received was basically that they could not be bothered to find out. However, there were only 350 of such people. The answer would not have taken much time to find. It is the failure to attend to those details that may be the cause of a great deal of unhappiness, nay, more—discontent, alienation and unacceptability of the ideas that many of us seek to pursue.
§ Mr. Harold McCusker (Armagh)
Will the hon. Gentleman indicate how many of the prisoners involved in that protest indicated to him their involvement as a 973 result of the type of conviction of which he informed us?
§ Mr. McNamara
I did not engage in that kind of conversation with those involved. The point is not how many said that to me but that the upholders of law and justice must show themselves as beyond reproach and able to supply evidence. That is important.
We go through a six-monthly charade. The hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison) paid a compliment to the Speaker of the House of Representatives on what he said about people in the United States who supported the terrorists in Northern Ireland. He was right to do so. It was only fitting that members of the Labour and Conservative Parties should comment when Speaker Tip O'Neill, who was in England before the election, said that the politicians in England were treating Northern Ireland as a political football. But they did not jump up in horror at the right of Speaker Tip O'Neill to make his observations on the situation in England. Speaker O'Neill was wrong. Northern Ireland is not a political football. I would prefer that it were.
What happens is that every six months the two teams come out. They look at the weather, examine the constitution, the terrorist statistics, unemployment ratios and the sky, rub their hands and say "Let us call it a draw. We will go home and take our ball with us."
It is a criticism of us all that we do not hear from either Front Bench any thoughts or ideas on ways by which we may arrive at an agreement or compromise so that we may decide among ourselves how best, as a Parliament, we can help the people of Northern Ireland. As a result we say "Oh dear; that is sad." We put the ball away; we spend more money on security. We used to spend more money on trying to create more jobs. For that my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) deserves a great deal of credit. I have always given him credit for his attempt to increase employment in Northern Ireland.
We have failed to tackle the problem. Therefore, my hon. Friends and I believe that the time has come for us to say that enough is enough. We should turn 974 to the third piece of legislation that remains and is relevant. We should say that we are not prepared to go along with renewing it as it does not accomplish its purpose.
§ Mr. Barry Porter (Bebington and Ellesmere Port)
Does the hon. Gentleman concede that the problem is the waging of a war against a legally constituted part of the United Kingdom? Before we talk of political solutions we must defeat the enemy in that war.
§ Mr. McNamara
I listened with interest to that question. It would have been fascinating if that had been a conclusion come to by Army Intelligence in the recently leaked document that said it could see no improvement in the situation.
For another five years there is to be a catalogue of deaths and millions of pounds spent every day. To do what? To maintain a situation that is unsatisfactory.
Part and parcel of the agreement and consensus that existed was known as the constitutional guarantee. Perhaps it should be withdrawn. Perhaps we should say to the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives that if they are not prepared to come to an agreement with the minority's representatives or to find a way in which they may share government and relationships, they will lose that guarantee. I say that as an English Member of Parliament representing an English constituency.
The people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives look upon the rest of the United Kingdom to supply the troops, the money and infrastructure. Yet when we turn to them and ask them to co-operate, they say "No" and rely upon the constitutional guarantee.
The people of Northern Ireland seek to arrogate to themselves the power of a sovereign Parliament by saying that they will work only if they may have local government and a restored Stormont on the basis of majority rule. However, the situation is different. Stormont and local government in Northern Ireland are not sovereign Parliaments. If the majority in Northern Ireland look to this Parliament, they should pay attention to its needs and decisions. That is the direction in which they should 975 look. We should say to the people of Northern Ireland "So far and no further". It is alleged that the rest of the United Kingdom lacks interest in Northern Ireland. However, I believe that that interest is not lacking. It is there—but not in a way that Members of Parliament would like to see. We like to believe that there is an iron resolve among British people to see this matter through. It is not a matter of boredom. The people of the mainland will say that they will withdraw if the people of Northern Ireland cannot make concessions from within the temporary majority in the Six Counties and come to an agreement with the minority. The powerful wish is there. I am in a position to say so because, as much as anybody, I have defended the role of the British Army in Northern Ireland. However, there have been two important changes from the time when the trinity of legislation—of border poll, emergency powers and devolved government—was created. First, when power sharing and the convention failed, it was tentatively agreed, as part of the enormous consensus and bipartisan policy, that the British Army would remain and that the British Government would hold the ring between both sides while an accommodation was found.
The convention tried and failed but, what was more important, we ceased to hold the ring at a time when, because of the vagaries of needing a majority in this House, my own Government entered into an unholy alliance with the Northern Ireland Members. The Government created a position which resulted in more seats being given to Northern Ireland. This was readily accepted by the Conservative Opposition, who had urged it upon the Government of the day. The hon. Member for Epping Forest was foremost in urging that as a course of justice before he came to be elevated to the Opposition Front Bench.
I believe that we are now back at square one and that we have to start thinking again about where we are to go. How are we to find something that is acceptable not only to the people of Northern Ireland but also to the people of Great Britain? Basically, anything that the people of Northern Ireland would accept would be acceptable to the people of Great Britain.
976 The hon. Member for Peterborough (Dr. Mawhinney) made, I thought, a very impressive speech. I hope that that does not sound patronising. It was emotional but very reasonable. He referred to the alienation of minorities—minorities within the majority and minorities within the minority. One of the most significant things to happen in the elections to the European Parliament was the triumph of the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley). That was an event of considerable importance in the context of Northern Ireland. It cannot be explained away by the charismatic appeal that he may or may not have had to the Unionist majority in the Six Counties, or by the lack-lustre appeal of the Official Unionist candidates. I think that it went deeper, and that this House would be wise to take cognisance of it.
This House has to take cognisance of the number of wasted votes—the 14,000 or so H-block protest votes. That cannot be ignored. We must also take cognisance of the significant number of votes given in that election to Mrs. McAliskey, a former hon. Member for Mid-Ulster. Attention should also be drawn to the fact that my good friend John Hume did so well in the election.
These are all significant factors. I believe that the reason for them is, first, that the old Official Unionist Party has had its place usurped by people who are even more bigoted. That, I believe, happens to be true of the Democratic Unionist Party. Secondly, the result of this has been that the minority has to a certain extent shown its feelings by the H-block protest vote, and that the vote for Mrs. McAliskey has gone straight across to John Hume. The Alliance—that dear creature so beloved of all the liberals in the United Kingdom—has gone completely.
Unless we start from the basis of accepting that we are back now almost to the basic raw reality of 1969, and reexamine the whole of the premises of our policy, we shall not get any further. We shall in six months have a further catalogue of sad and regrettable deaths, a further huge account of moneys wasted and property destroyed by terrorists. We shall not have helped to bring security into the homes of the people of Northern Ireland.
977 I condemn both political terrorism and violence, and I condemn the Unionists in that respect as much as I condemn the extremists on the other side. The quality of life and the quality of political life in the United Kingdom have been severely affected by the terrorism across the Six Counties, and I believe that unless we start from this new basis we shall find that our political existence in this country will be further polluted. I do not believe that the people of this country will go on and on accepting this continual drain.
For these reasons, I believe that we must start again from scratch, and that the best way of doing it on this occasion is to vote against the continuation of the order. We must get back to the drawing board and start again.
§ 6.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson (Newbury)
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) will hardly expect me to support the main theme of his speech, but he may be surprised to find that I agree with at least some of what he said. I shall hope to elaborate on those points in the course of my speech.
I should like to start by commending the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I thought that what he said was a very wise first pronouncement on the intractable problems of Northern Ireland. If I say that in welcoming him I can only feel a deep regret that our colleague Airey Neave was not sitting where my right hon. Friend was sitting, it is because I think we are all aware in this House of how much time and trouble Airey Neave spent on coming to terms with the problems of Northern Ireland. It seems curiously sad that, having reached the moment when he might have thought that the task of Secretary of State was to be given to him, he should have been taken from us.
Without in any way wanting to take away a word of what the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. McQuade) said, I would ask him to look at the shield over the doorway through which we all pass. He will see there the shield of Airey Neave, who, as a Member of this House, was a victim of terrorism of which the hon. Member for Belfast, North has reminded us.
§ Mr. McQuade
No one, Mr. Deputy Speaker, held Airey Neave in higher esteem than I did. His life was tragically taken from him by cowards. If it were possible to bring Airey Neave back from the dead, I would want to be the man to do it.
§ Mr. McNair-Wilson
I respect those words very much, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
I should like next to say a word about the right hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason). I do not think that any of us who have followed Northern Ireland debates can sit in this Chamber without feeling a great deal of admiration for the strength of purpose with which he governed Northern Ireland, carrying the Province through some of its most difficult moments.
But now we have two new people, a new Secretary of State and a new Shadow Secretary of State. Perhaps the moment has come, to quote the words of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central, to see whether there are any new ideas that can be brought into this debate, a debate which, as the hon. Member said, has been going on regularly every six months.
In the battle against terrorism there is one dimension with which we never seem to come to terms in the way in which I believe it ought to be tackled, and that is the dimension which can be described simply as propaganda. No doubt my right hon. Friend the Minister has read this week's edition of Paris Match and has seen the report of the interview with the killers of Airey Neave. He will no doubt have read their words attempting to justify that murder and claiming that it was a great success for the people of Ireland. No doubt my right hon. Friend thought, as I did, how strange it was that such an authoritative magazine should wish to devote so much space to that kind of interview, which must be construed as political propaganda but which is about the death of a man who, for his services to France, was awarded the Croix de Guerre.
I ask those who write Paris Match—"Is that the way you want to show your gratitude to those who have helped to serve your country?" Perhaps the French journalists will say "We did not think of it like that. We had the opportunity of an interview and we took it." Through 979 that interview and that article they have contributed a great deal to the propaganda in favour of the terrorists, that propaganda which continually gets in the way of a proper understanding of the work of the security forces in Northern Ireland—why they are there and why their blood is shed.
Government after Government have said that we shall go on with the security policy, but until we get the propaganda side of the story across more effectively and forthrightly than has been achieved so far, we may win our security victories but we shall not conquer the hearts and minds of the people in Northern Ireland and, perhaps more important, those in countries such as America who imagine that there is some sort of glory in that conflict, glory enough for them to put their hands in their pockets and provide the funds with which the IRA and other such organisations continue the campaign of violence, murder and bombing.
Propaganda is our Achilles heel, and there is not enough of it coming out to make the other side of the case gain the ground which it deserves. One of the reasons for this shortcoming is an instinctive reaction, when the media tell us something that we do not want to hear, to assume that the media are wrong, that it could not be like that and that the media are distorting the image. It is, unfortunately, an easy position to take up. Dare I say that we took up that position to the allegations that led to the Bennett report? Yet this afternoon we have been told that the recommendations contained in the Bennett report are to be introduced. So the media were 50 per cent. or 70 per cent. right—there was more right than wrong in what they reported. Failure to recognise that seems to me to have lost for us part of the propaganda war yet again.
We must look at this again. We should not have Senator Tip O'Neill coming over here with all his misinformation, learned from propaganda, and going away, one suspects, a sadder but a wiser man as a result of what he saw. I wish to believe—I have no reason to doubt it—that Senator O'Neill said what he said because of what he thought the situation was. There are those who say, of course, that he was directed by his Government to say what he said. I am prepared to 980 absolve him of that, for if I were not I would be dragging the American Government into my argument; and I do not wish to do that.
Senator O'Neill's remarks must have given comfort to the enemies of the people of Northern Ireland. We must see that senior American politicians, diplomats, journalists from all over the world and our own press, are told what they should be told, and I mean the facts, rather than the natural reaction of saying "What business is it of theirs? They will get it wrong, so we shall leave the argument unspoken." That is the first point I wish to make which I hope to come back to in the course of the rest of my remarks.
My second point is to take up my right hon. Friend's remarks about political developments. Any one of us in his job would be doing what he is doing, which is to talk to the political parties and their leaders in Northern Ireland. But my right hon. Friend will know that he is following a path which has been trodden by many other Secretaries of State before him. With few exceptions, that path usually ends in nil progress. That is the moment when Governments say—and have said too frequently—that local politicians cannot agree among themselves, that there is no common ground. and that nothing more can be done.
However, the hon. Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux) reminded us of something in our manifesto. He said that we had made a promise to take other action while devolved government was not possible. I wish my right hon. Friend every success in his discussions and his search for a new political initiative, but I remind him of what Airey Neave once said. He said that he thought that a political settlement for Northern Ireland—no, I think the word settlement is too strong; a political initiative for Northern Ireland—would be won step by step, and anyone who imagined that there would be one grand slam solution was dreaming. I think that Airey Neave said, in one of his last speeches in this Chamber, that in his view Sir Patrick Macrory might well have to be asked to look at local government again. As my right hon. Friend is bound to know, Sir Patrick Macrory's reorganisation of Northern Ireland local government took place when the Stormont Parliament was 981 in existence and thus assumed that there would always be that tier of local government. Now that Stormont is no longer there—few of us, I think, imagine it will come back as it once was—there is a gap, a weakness, in the structure of local government in Northern Ireland.
The idea of asking Sir Patrick Macrory, or someone like him, to look again at the structure of local government in Northern Ireland provides a fresh opportunity for an impartial observer of the political scene to bring forward his recommendations.
If, as I believe, my right hon. Friend reaches the point where he realises that the political parties will not find common ground, I hope that he will recognise, conceivably, that that is the moment for Westminster to take the initiative and to ask for such a new and fresh inquiry. Having said that, I should like to ask—I think the hon. Member for Antrim, South asked this question—why we continue to suspend the 1973 Act rather than remove it from the statute book. I cannot see that the Act, or its suspension, adds anything to the possibility of devolved government for Northern Ireland, and it may possibly provide an obstacle to it.
On 15 August this year British troops will have been in Northern Ireland for 10 years. I doubt very much that any of those who were present when the original order was made for troops to go to Northern Ireland to protect the Catholic community against the onslaught of certain Protestants ever imagined that they would still be there 10 years later. If they imagined that, I doubt that they ever thought that their role would not be so different today from what it was when they were originally sent. I also doubt that many of us who have spoken in these debates ever thought that we would add "Yes, they have been there for 10 years and no one would like to forecast when the moment will come when we will be able to bring them out."
I say that because there are some—there may even be some hon. Members in this debate—who will say that this is the moment to bring the troops out. Some people may argue "Ten years on, get the troops out and a political initiative 982 will emerge from the people in Northern Ireland. The only way to find a peaceful solution for Northern Ireland is to let the people speak, and taking the troops out is a way to achieve that."
I do not know whether such people exist in the Chamber. If they do, I wonder whether they have been following the trial in Glasgow of the UDA-UVF supporters. Have they heard about the arsenal of weapons that was being built up? Does their blood run cold at the thought of what might have happened if those same people had used those weapons, which no doubt they would have done had they reached Northern Ireland and had the situation arisen? Have those same people, who are so anxious to get the troops out and to find a new political initiative, had the chance to see that cove of Republican News of 12 May 1979 which claims to have printed a document belonging to the Ministry of Defence about the security situation? If so, did they notice that sentence, no doubt written by the authors of Republican News, which reads:The Republican People feel the growing political power emanating from the barrels of IRA guns."?There we have it. On the one hand there is a UDA-UVF army, and on the other the Republican News tells us thatThe Republican People feel the growing political power emanating from the barrels of IRA guns.With those two statements, can anyone seriously say that getting the troops out will do anything other than light the touch paper for such an explosion as would make the events of 10 years ago seem but a mild incident? Anyone who may have been tempted to think that that was a way forward should think very hard and seriously, and recognise that as the troops went to a different situation to bring peace between the communities so they remain to maintain that peace and they must be kept until such time as that peace, for which we all so fervently hope, returns to the Province.
Of course, I am aware that it is inconceivable that any one of the parties in this House would think of withdrawing the troops in the current situation. But I find it horrifying that there are some who advocate this solution. If I lived in the Province, I would find it deeply disturbing.
I may be asked whether my solution, if there be a solution, is to continue 983 with the legislative arrangements set out in the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978—using that as the legislative cornerstone, with the RUC and the Army, including the UDR, as the instruments of that policy. My answer has to be unequivocally "Yes, for as long as it may he necessary."
I respect the resolve of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to withstand this current wave of violence, which was so clearly designed to shake his resolution at that moment when he was coming to terms with his high office. All of us know that that wave of violence, like all those that preceded it, must break on the rock of our determination that Northern Ireland shall remain part of the United Kingdom while the majority of its people so wish.
The task remains of reducing terrorism and the level of violence to levels that can be managed by the police. Thus, I return to my point about propaganda. If we are to achieve that task, we must procure a change of heart and attitude in those areas where Republican sympathy shows itself in offering succour to the terrorists and enmity to the police. At a moment such as this, there is perhaps value in asking whether there are any new avenues to explore in order to resolve the conflict. I note what my right hon. Friend said about changes in the emergency provisions and I suppose that my next comments are prompted by the television programme which Brian Walden chaired shortly before the general election. But I wonder whether there may not have been an erosion of the quality of justice as a result of the Diplock recommendations, and whether Lord Gardiner's comment that emergency Powers damage the fabric of the community and can be counter-productive is not worthy of considerable thought by all of us. Of course, I recognise that Lord Gardiner chaired the committee that looked into the Emergency Provisions Act in 1974 and that in his report he concluded thatthe right to a fair trial has been respected and maintained and that the administration of justice has not suffered".That was five years ago. I ask my right hon. Friend whether it is time to look again at all the legislative processes that have been evolved over this emergency to ensure that justice has not been eroded, that human rights are being respected 984 and that we can fairly stand up and say "Northern Ireland and its people are subject to the highest standard of law and justice commensurate with the emergency that any of us can create".
I shall close with a quotation from Major James Chichester-Clarke, now Lord Moyola, who as Prime Minister of the Stormont Government in 1971 said:We do no service to Northern Ireland it we snuff out the present campaign in ways which merely make a resumption at some other time, and with increased popular support. inevitable.Our aim is not just to defeat the present vicious conspiracy but to create conditions in which such men and such activities can never prosper again.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ Miss Joan Maynard (Sheffield, Brightside)
I want to talk first about the renewal of the Emergency Provisions Act, which became law on 25 July 1972 and was intended for one year only. I begin with a quotation from the then Attorney-General who, when summing up during the final stages of the Bill, said:The Bill has been presented because it gives a better chance of tackling the situation, a better chance of dealing with the problems of Ireland, a better chance of leading to conversation, to talk, to settlement and to the solution of this centuries-old problem."—[Official Report, 29 March 1972; Vol. 834, c. 799.]I believe that the Act has failed to do any of those things. It was brought in after the 1972 Diplock report and provides for trial by judge alone instead of by jury. It permits written statements by unnamed witneses, made in the presence of the police, those witneses not to be in court to be cross-examined. I consider that to be a travesty of justice. Confessions are admissible, except where found to have been induced by torture or ill-treatment, but the onus of establishing prima facie evidence of maltreatment lies with the prisoners. I leave this House to judge how difficult it would be for a prisoner to do that.
According to the Bennett report, only 15 confessions have been ruled inadmissible, out of more than 2,000 cases—a minute proportion. As the Secretary of State said today, the Director of Public Prosecutions has decided in nine of those cases not to prosecute, and I believe that the other six cases are still being considered.
According to the Bennett report and a study by the law department of Queen's 985 university, Belfast, there has been a 94 per cent. conviction rate, of which 75 per cent. to 80 per cent. of the convictions have been based wholly or mainly on confessions made to the police—an astonishingly high conviction rate.
Diplock said that it was necessary to have these courts without juries because witnesses could be intimidated. I say that the risk of intimidation has not been reduced, but the risk of wrongful conviction has certainly been increased. But the Diplock report never offered any evidence that this was a serious problem, and repeated requests by the Labour Opposition of the time for evidence to this effect went unanswered. In fact, the Labour Opposition's spokesman resisted proposals to abolish trial by jury and forced 22 Divisions in the Standing Committee which was considering the matter. I regret very much that once the then Opposition became the Government, they refused to make any changes.
The emergency provisions legislation, therefore, lies at the root of the large number of allegations of police torture and maltreatment which have shamed British activity in Northern Ireland in the eyes of the international community. The scale of torture and maltreatment over the years since the Act was introduced represents the strongest case for its non-renewal tonight. Some of my hon. Friends and I will divide the House to try to stop the renewal of this Act.
I should like to give some evidence of the torture and maltreatment. Ten per cent. to 15 per cent. of all suspects interviewed between 1975 and 1977 complained of assault or maltreatment, including beatings, attempted strangulation, burning with cigarettes, threats of death and, against females, threats of rape—shades of Chile, Argentina and South Africa. At first, complaints came entirely from Catholics, but since 1977 Protestant prisoners have also com-complained I should like to list the people who have complained, beginning in September 1976 with the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. In March 1977 the BBC "Tonight" programme raised two cases of maltreatment at Castlereagh interrogation centre. In July 1977 the Social Democratic and Labour Party 986 spoke of overwhelming evidence of ill treatment. In August of that year the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh spoke of torture and brutalities. In October 1977 the Ulster Defence Association spoke of a thick file of cases in which its members had been maltreated in police custody. In October 1977 the Police Surgeons' Association met the RUC Chief Constable to express concern. In October 1977 Thames Television entitled a film "Inhuman and Degrading Treatment" and gave 10 cases, eight Catholics and two Protestants. In November 1977 most of the 30 solicitors handling cases before the Diplock courts set up a committee to collate evidence of alleged brutality and wrote to the then Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason), as follows:Ill-treatment of suspects by police officers with the object of obtaining confessions is now common practice and this most often, but not always, takes place at Castlereagh RUC station and other police stations throughout Northern Ireland.In November and December 1977, an Amnesty mission visited Northern Ireland. It examined 78 cases of alleged maltreatment, and found most of them to be true. It called for a public inquiry. As a result of that, the Government set up the Bennett committee, and we have subsequently had its report.
In January 1978 the European Commission on Human Rights found Britain guilty of inhuman and degrading treatment. In March of this year, Dr. Robert Irwin, a Protestant police surgeon, said that he had seen 150 suspects with injuries inflicted during police custody. The Bennett committee confirmed reports of maltreatment and recommended wide-ranging reforms in interrogation procedure, including closed-circuit television in interview rooms, and access to solicitors within 48 hours of detention. I do not think that those recommendations go far enough.
What have been the arguments of the other side against this long list of allegations by all these people? We heard the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson) saying that often it was a question of propaganda. That has usually been the official response to allegations of maltreatment. It is said that they are part of a propaganda campaign against 987 the RUC, and that injuries were self-inflicted. Then there was the famous smear campaign against Dr. Irwin. When people have to be smeared, it means that one has no answer to their arguments.
All the evidence suggests that torture and ill-treatment are a systematic feature of police activity in Northern Ireland, carried out mainly by plain-clothes police, all sanctified by the emergency provisions legislation which we are now debating. To believe otherwise, one must show that the IRA, the UDA, Catholic and Protestant church leaders, the BBC, Thames Television, London Weekend Television, lawyers and police surgeons—most of them Protestant—and Amnesty International and Mr. Justice Bennett, have all conspired to discredit the RUC.
The Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act is one of the biggest weapons in the armoury of repression with which the status quo in Northern Ireland is preserved, along with the Prevention of Terrorism Act. It provides the RUC with an incentive to extract confessions and it undermines the credibility of the Northern Ireland legal system.
As I have said, the Bennett proposals do not go far enough. We have never been able to maintain a Northern Ireland State, since its very inception, without some kind of repressive law. There must be something wrong with a State that one can maintain only by represive laws of this kind.
I suggest that we ought not to renew the Act tonight; but if there is a desire to renew it, the following specific measures should be adopted. No uncorroborated confessions should be admissible as evidence. This would remove the incentive to beat up suspects. Trial by jury should be restored, instead of trial by one casehardened judge, as at present. I do not think that intimidation of jurors was ever proved by the Diplock report, nor did the Labour Opposition of the time accept that there was any proof of intimidation.
If the jury system is not reinstated there should be at least three judges or one judge and two magistrates sitting in these cases. We should end the long delay before trial. Sometimes as long as 15 months is spent on remand and that constitutes internment by the back door. At present also a defendant can appeal only if he can prove bad faith by a judge. 988 That is almost impossible and should be discontinued.
I welcome the peace movement's request for fundamental reforms. That movement has the backing of the establishment and no one has accused it of being extremist. It says that the legislation in part serves only to inflame the situation and encourages hostility and violence rather than diminishing it. It undermines the credibility of the Northern Ireland legal system. No amount of emergency legislation has solved or ever will solve the Irish problem. It is political and requires a political solution, and the only way that we shall solve it is for Britain to withdraw.
I accept that Northern Ireland is our last colony. We seem determined to hang on to it, but I believe that the people of Ireland have as much right to self-determination as anyone. Without the repressive legislation that there has always been, we would have been unable to maintain the Northern Ireland State. We divided it in a way that gave the Unionists an in-built majority and we have always underwritten that position. We were prepared to allow Stormont and the repression that went with it to exist until, in 1968, it blew up in our faces.
We should set a date for military and political withdrawal from Northern Ireland. The problem cannot be solved by force of arms, and the facts support that. Governments of both parties have tried to solve the problem by force of arms and have totally failed. It requires a political solution. We must get down to what causes the violence. In creating the Northern Ireland State we have created a monster that we cannot control. He who rides the tiger cannot dismount, and we have been unable to dismount from that tiger.
The Catholics are a political majority in Ireland as a whole and we have made them into a political minority in Northern Ireland. Having set the date for military and political withdrawal, we must bring together, in the intervening period, the different groups in Northern Ireland and the Southern Irish Government. Mr. Lynch has gone much further than any Southern Irish Prime Minister for many years in calling for withdrawal and advocating a united Ireland as the only possible solution. In building that united Ireland, the best solution may be a federation in which 989 one of the States would be virtually Protestant, with considerable autonomy within that State.
It is not possible to solve the problem while the troops remain, and we shall not solve it by the repressive legislation that we are discussing today. The whole question of Ireland must be opened up for debate in this country. There is a conspiracy of silence that must be broken, and until recently that has even extended to the media.
For centuries we have denied freedom to the Irish people. We cannot continue to retain freedom for ourselves while denying it to others. We should throw out the Act and work for a political solution that would be more productive than talking of repression and enacting that kind of emergency legislation.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Robinson (Belfast, East)
I have been branded as one of the most bigoted people in Northern Ireland, by association with my party, by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara). It is unfortunate that he is not present for me to reply to him. However, if one is bigoted because one believes that a country should have a right to determine its internal affairs and still maintain a link with the rest of the United Kingdom, I am happy to be a bigot. If one is bigoted because one does not like to see the citizens of our country murdered by the Provisional IRA, I am happy to be a bigot. Sadly, the one thing about which we can be certain in Northern Ireland is that in the days ahead more people will die at the hands of the Provisional IRA. Amidst a sea of changing circumstances, that dreadful and startling fact is constant.
The Provisional IRA is determined to maim, murder and mutilate. As surely as night follows day, the terrorist atrocities in Ulster will continue, at least until the present direct rule system is finished and the forces of Her Majesty deal with the Provisional IRA and its fellow travellers with determination. Merely to amend or tinker with the policy pursued by the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is to court disaster and ask for further death and destruction. That policy has failed, and a completely new and vigorous initiative is required. We have 990 tried the policy of the right hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) and it has not succeeded. We must try something else.
The new initiative must be soundly based on a determination to win. The present security policy—if we can call it that—is based on trying to stop the trouble getting worse. The Secretary of State has given the statistics this afternoon and they show that it has failed even that far. The sad fact is that those statistics will continue in that vein. The hard-line Irish Republican terrorist who is put in gaol for murder and attempted murder is beginning to come out on to the streets again. The godfathers of terrorism were never caught and the young are coming out of school and being recruited into the Irish Republican Army. The manpower of the Provisional IRA is increasing and its weaponry is still being replenished from Soviet and other sources. Its determination to continue lighting is no less than it was 10 years ago.
That is why our determination to win must be the basis for our security policy. The basis of the present policy is one of reaction instead of going out and getting the enemy. The security forces are being made to wait until the enemy hits them. In any way that is a bad policy. The security forces are well aware of the people who are causing death and destruction in many parts of our Province. Before I left my home today I found in the letter box a list of names and photographs of Provisional IRA members right across Belfast. The security forces know the names and addresses of these men. Why not go for them instead of waiting for them to hit innocent people and towns in Northern Ireland?
Hon. Members on the Opposition Benches may not agree with me, but I believe that determination to win must be shown at every level. It must be shown in the courts. One-third of all the people who come before the courts on terorrist offences and who are found guilty walk free from the court room. Is that the way to win a war? Those who do go to gaol find that they get remission almost before they are installed in the comfort of their gaols.
I ask the House to remember that the Northern Ireland situation is controversial. It is an emotional subject. When 991 Northern Ireland Members speak they remember the disasters that have occurred in their constituencies. They remember the death and destruction that the IRA has caused, and therefore they speak with greater feeling than other hon. Members.
When we consider the extension of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act, we should consider the fact that if the hands of the security forces are tied still further it will be almost impossible to get a conviction. We are reaching the stage at which a person who is brought into the interrogation room will be asked by the police officer whether he committed the crime. Of course, the answer will be "No" and the police officer will have to reply "I am sorry that I brought you in." That sounds ludicrous, but this is almost the stage that we have reached. We must ensure that we have not tied the hands of the security forces. The Government should show the people of Northern Ireland that in future they are prepared to disregard what has become the acceptable norm of terrorism. They should state clearly today that there is no acceptable level of violence in Northern Ireland. Certainly it is not acceptable to the people in the Province.
The Secretary of State has a golden opportunity today. He is starting afresh, and the ball is at his toe. Let him not prevaricate or procrastinate but act promptly and positively. If he does this he will have our respect and our support. We recognise immediately that someone in his position cannot be expected to change things overnight. We listened to him today at the Dispatch Box and, frankly, his words did not instil great confidence in us. But then we did not expect them to do so. We have heard the words before, and we have stopped judging people by what they say. We judge them only on their actions and the results of their actions.
That is the criterion on which we shall judge the new Secretary of State. Let him declare openly that the IRA is his enemy and that he will not, as others have done before, be prepared to allow his officials or his hon. Friends to sit down and talk or negotiate the future of Northern Ireland with the killers. Let him say now that that is not the policy of the new Administration.
992 It is not a political initiative that is needed now in Northern Ireland—it is a military initiative. The Provisional IRA will not slide away under the carpet because a political initiative is taken. What better demonstration of that can the Government have than the experiment in power sharing? Did the Provisional IRA go away then? No. Terrorist crimes in that period were probably greater in number than in any other period. A political solution will not defeat the IRA. Only military might and planning can defeat it, and that is what I ask of this Administration. Clearly, the IRA must see that this new Government mean what they said before they were elected. Let them measure up to their words. Let it he seen that the Secretary of State means business and that he will make these murderers pay for their crimes. The Provisional IRA must be hunted and harried. Its members must be cornered and captured, sentenced and tried. They must be convicted, and having been convicted, serve their full sentences.
I suggest that the statute book in Northern Ireland, and, indeed, that of the rest of the United Kingdom, should have on it a recourse to capital punishment for capital crime. What kind of justice is it that a four-year old child should lose his life and the murderer who commits the atrocities should lose only 10, 15 or even 20 years of his? If someone takes a human life, his or her life should be in turn taken.
The whole security policy must be reviewed urgently. Not only that, we are prepared to stand by and watch how the new Secretary of State acts, and how his actions fit the situation. He has had his honeymoon. We are now waiting and watching to see what progress he makes. Having listened to his words today, I believe that the Secretary of State wants to see an improvement in the Northern Ireland security situation. I accept that, and I reserve my judgment. I believe also that it is his wish to see progress on the constitutional front, and there are three ways in which he can move towards such a political solution.
First, a political solution can be enforced, and the people of Northern Ireland will have no say. It can be put forward on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. However, I suggest that that has been tried before and has failed.
993 The former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland did not take one constitutional initiative during his whole tour of office. Therefore, the inheritance of the present Secretary of State on that score was nil, because there was no constitutional progress during the previous Secretary of State's term of office. On the other hand, the present Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is basing his hopes for constitutional progress on talks with the political parties.
I do not believe that that is the best solution. I believe that the best solution lies in a third option, namely, a mandate to prepare a constitution for Northern Ireland. Once that constitution is prepared, I believe that it should be put to the people on the same basis as that on which the Scotland and Wales Acts were put to the people of those countries. We in Northern Ireland, accepting as we do the standards of democracy that apply to the rest of the United Kingdom, will accept the verdict of our people—indeed, in the same percentage terms as the people of Scotland and Wales were prepared to accept the verdicts.
We had a constitutional convention in 1975, which produced a report based on widespread opinion in Northern Ireland; indeed, no other report received more widespread acceptance. However, that report did not find favour in this House.
Is the present Secretary of State for Northern Ireland prepared to put the proposals in that report to the people of Northern Ireland? Will he let them decide, by the same means as did the people of Scotland and Wales, whether they accept them, or is he prepared to turn his back on the ballot box and to say that Northern Ireland is different? If he is not prepared to put the 1975 constitutional convention report to the people of Northern Ireland, let him start afresh. Let him have a new congress or convention and go through the whole process again. But the people of Northern Ireland will not be denied the devolved Government and Parliament for which they themselves have asked through the ballot box. I believe they deserve those ends and should get them. I hope that the Secretary of State will move quickly on these issues.
994 It has already been pointed out in this debate that patience can run out. In Northern Ireland it ran out a long time ago. Northern Ireland Unionists have for many years been patient with Conservative and Labour Governments. However, the Unionists have been continually trampled upon by respective Governments. I ask the Secretary of State to consider the position of the people of Northern Ireland. The electorate has already spoken decisively in the European Assembly poll by giving a massive vote of confidence to my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley). Although they had regard for questions relating to the CAP and social and regional policy, it is clear that they were voting for much more than that. They were voting for a man and a party which spoke for them. That was the voice which they wished to represent Ulster That voice has spoken and heed must be paid to it.
I issue a cautious warning and fire a friendly shot—if any shot can be friendly—across the bows of the new Government. I wish to let them know that we in the Democratic Unionist Party are not prepared to sit passively on this Bench and engage in parliamentary trickery and games. In future we intend to press on the Government the determination and desire of the Ulster people to have proper security and devolved government in their country. Surely the Government can no longer deny us those rights.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
The speech of the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson) contained all the subtle sensitivity of a dinosaur. It was a speech heavy with threats; it was sinister and dark, and illustrated the mentality that has led to the present situation in Northern Ireland. That mentality appears to have changed not one iota.
At one stage the hon. Gentleman—I have to call him that—said that he wanted to see capital punishment brought back to deal with capital crimes. I was sad to hear certain hon. Members behind me indicating their agreement with that view.
Let us examine what the hon. Gentleman asks for. What would it mean? Judging by the hon. Gentleman's remarks, 995 that concept certainly would not mean to him what it would mean to me. What would happen on the other side of the coin? The hon. Gentleman's attitude mirrors the attitude of the other side. If capital punishment were reintroduced, I believe that immediately the other side would take hostages. They would inflict punishment similar to that meted out to offenders in the so-called Diplock courts where defendants are dealt with on the basis of evidence which was never substantiated. We would face a terrible game of tit-for-tat in which innocent people would be taken prisoner.
§ Mr. Flannery
I have only just begun my remarks. I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman a little later. He must not get too excited. We have been holding these debates for a long time and we have made these speeches, which vary slightly, on many occasions. However, we have heard few speeches as lurid as that to which we were treated by the hon. Member for Belfast, East. With his suggestion we should see a situation in which there would be an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Inevitably, innocent people would be taken and executed. If the hon. Gentleman wants capital punishment for capital crimes in the context of what he called a war, that is what it would mean. It would immediately result in a brutal and terrible intensification of the struggle.
The hon. Gentleman said that he wanted the forces in Northern Ireland to go in and take all these people. He is a political infant with no idea what he is talking about. Surely in such an event the situation would deepen, broaden and intensify, and bloodletting would be greater than ever. That was the burden of the hon. Gentleman's speech. I once met the hon. Gentleman and his officers in Belfast. There was a picture on the wall showing the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) sitting in a chair with the Pope kissing his feet. The hon. Gentleman may smile, but that was the picture hanging on the wall. The whole group of us who went there for conversations saw that picture. That is what they would like. That is the mentality which has produced the dilemma we now face.
The hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson) is utterly sincere in his 996 views. I know that his views differ from mine, but I listened to his remarks with great care. The hon. Gentleman said that there was no grand slam method by which to solve these problems. I agree with that. On the other hand, if there is no political movement, that is equally as stupid as saying that there should be a grand slam. If we discuss security, with the melancholy list of gaolings and the suspected torturings—some crude torturings—as referred to my my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Miss Maynard), we are not solving the problem.
There will be silence in the British press tomorrow about this debate. It will be in Hansard but there is practically nothing in the British press about debates on Northern Ireland—only snippets here and there. When there was a bomb scare of an Irish nature in the Labour Party conference of about four years ago I reported it to the press. However, that bomb scare was reported by one paper only. The Labour Party conference did not discuss the situation in Northern Ireland although it discussed what was happening in Portugal and although the bomb scare invaded the conference. Literally nothing was said about it. So it will be tomorrow unless a reporter is listening and salves his conscience by saying something about the problem.
The hon. Member for Newbury agrees with me that doing nothing about security and emergency powers except to talk about those measures is just as futile as talking about grand slam methods of solving the problems. Every six months or so we talk about the emergency provisions but that will not solve the problem. I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Newbury tentatively mention Lord Gardiner. He showed a nuance of worry about the emergency provisions when he said that—possibly—they were counterproductive. Many of my hon. Friends and I have felt that for years. Although we differ on a grand scale with the views of the hon. Member for Belfast, East and his colleagues, we all seek peace. I have never spoken in a Northern Ireland debate without saying that he and his hon. Friends have my deepest sympathy for the personal dangers in which they live. I do not live in the Province but I have received several threats to my life. However, the Northern Ireland Members live 997 there in terrible danger and my heart goes out to them.
Nevertheless, peace to some of us means a different thing. Peace to the hon. Member for Belfast, East means a return to the status quo ante—a return to Stormont and the cause of all the problems. It means returning to holding a minority community in subjection. It is no good the hon. Member for Belfast, East refuting that claim. My hon. Friend the Member for Brightside pointed out that the problem blew up in our faces. Successive British Governments—including Labour Governments—should be ashamed of themselves. They did nothing. They knew what was happening in Ireland and Northern Ireland. They knew that 50 years ago a line was drawn on a piece of a sovereign country under a colonial regime with an inbuilt, bigoted, Protestant majority. That majority was bound to impose its will on the minority Catholic community. I am not a Catholic—even though I have an Irish name. That is what the hon. Member for Belfast, East wants to see a return to.
There can be no return to that state of affairs. The hon. Member for Belfast, East will strengthen the hands of the IRA by making speeches like the one he made today. It was a speech from the Stone Age. As soon as the IRA hears of the intransigence and the determination to return to the cause of the problems a new layer of young men will join its ranks—especially if they hear of a new torture or if they receive details of the Bennett report at their meetings. The hon. Member for Belfast, East and his colleagues strengthen the position of the IRA although it is not their wish to do so.
It is axiomatic in this place to say that the situation is improving. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) was in office in the last Parliament he was always saying that, and he heard me constantly saying that he was wrong. He has now left the problem of Ireland not one whit better that when he went there. Neither did his Labour predecessor, nor the Tory predecessor and neither—after the speech that we heard today—will the hon. Member for Belfast, East. All that is done is to talk about security, more guns, more soldiers and more police. It was a trite 998 statement to make before the recent killings that the situation is improving. In the last Northern Ireland debate I said that the problem would become worse because the results of the inquiries into the interrogation centres were known, and the matter of Long Kesh had penetrated to America.
Anybody who believes that the IRA cannot get the weaponry must be dreaming. In a world that bristles with weapons—even nuclear weapons—these arms are there for the asking. Of course, the IRA can get the weaponry. Therefore, the solution has to be political. The solution is nothing to do with whether weapons are available or whether the IRA can be crushed. Let us suppose that it was crushed and all its members were put in gaol. That would prove nothing except how big are the gaols. The problem would break out again, especially when there are those who have a mentality like the hon. Member for Belfast, East. If the minority were battered down, as it has been for the past 50 years, the problem would occur all over again.
The long-term political solution has piecemeal beginnings but it does exist. However, it has to be thought out. We cannot stand pat. The situation is as bad as it ever was and it is pregnant with the possibility of being even worse unless politics is injected into it. Security is a necessary measure and the lives of those in the Province have to be looked after as best we can. However, to the extent that political solutions are not achieved, the security solutions will be temporary phenomena, saving a life here and there but with deaths all over the place resulting from the emergency provisions.
We should all agree that deaths occur on both sides. The young man who was shot in the cemetery was never mentioned by the hon. Member for Belfast, East. I deplore killings that occur on either side—they are horrible. Let us tell the truth to one another about deaths that occur on both sides. At the root of the problem is the so-called bipartisan policy. There is no bipartisan policy. There is a Tory policy that is carried out by both Labour and Tory Governments. The Tories never carry out Socialist policies but it is the Right-wing Labour Government who carry out Tory policies. 999 The so-called bipartisan policy is Tory and that is why it is failing.
Let us suppose that the Tories are in government for five springs, summers, autumns and winters of discontent. The situation in Northern Ireland will intensify. The Tories know only the big stick policy. They still have the colonial mentality. We should watch what happens with Rhodesia—or Rhodesia-Zimbabwe; they take the word "Rhodesia" back with Zimbabwe. They cannot rid themselves of that idea. When Labour Governments agree with the Tories they adopt that attitude. They have carried out Tory foreign policy. Labour Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland have carried out Tory policies. Let us not try to fool ourselves into believing that they have not done so.
The Tory policies are hopeless. The solution must be a policy based on the compassion of Socialism. That is the only way out. Wait and see if I am right. If the Government stay in power they will outrage the British working class and their policies will carry over into Ireland.
The Labour Government did not fall because of the Scottish National Party. It fell, as many other British Governments have fallen, because of the Irish question. They fell because my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) and the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maguire) abstained in the vote of confidence. If those hon. Members had gone back to Northern Ireland, having voted with the Government, their credibility would have vanished and their people would never have sent them back to Westminster. They were both voted back and that would not have happened if their voters had not agreed with their abstentions. I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West is nodding. He knows that I am telling the truth. I hope to hear his speech later.
Irish Catholics were increasingly alienated by the Tory policies, carried out by the Labour Government, who did not understand the original, native Irish. They are becoming increasingly alienated and every action that further alienates them strengthens the hand of the IRA.
§ Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson
Is the hon. Gentleman condemning the power-sharing 1000 executive, along with the direct rule which is at present going on?
§ Mr. Flannery
No, but that executive was hopeless and was a failure. We need a far more subtle approach. I wanted the executive to succeed, but it never had a chance. I am glad that it was tried, but it did not succeed.
The Ulster Unionists are split wide open. Some sit on the Government side of the House and some sit with the Opposition parties. A short time ago, I saw two who sit with the Government speaking to each other for the first time for about a year. They have got together again. Something has happened. The ultra-Right wing of the Unionist parties has emerged strengthened from the general and the European elections.
The backward policies that alienate the minority community have been strengthened. The Ulster Unionists are more intransigent than ever as a result of their recent victories. The Secretary of State's speech offered no hope, but merely a continuation of the backward policy carried out by the Labour Government.
All that the Unionists want is to try the old, failed, bankrupt policies of the past. There is no hope in that. The Government will not solve the intractable problems of Northern Ireland while they talk about big sticks.
What has the Emergency Provisions Act solved so far? The present situation is as bad as ever and could get worse. There is no royal road to allay the legacy of misrule and bitterness of the past 50, if not 500 years.
There is never an admission from the various brands of Ulster Unionism—God knows there are many—that they ever did anything wrong. They talk as though democracy existed in Northern Ireland, when all the world knows that it did not.
In jobs, the minority community was victimised relentlessly. Ulster Unionist Members know that, but they will not admit it. It would stick in their craw to admit it. Everyone knows that there was victimisation in housing. All sorts of qualifications had to be met by the minority community. It is sad that Ulster Unionist Members laugh when these subjects are raised. They know that what I am saying is true. Religious bigotry and 1001 sectarianism were, and are, rife in Northern Ireland. The original inhabitants in Ireland were held in subjection and it is no use the Unionists trying to deny it. There was endless provocation in sectarian religious marches—and there still is. That goes on, with semi-uniforms being worn. Yet the Unionists still refuse to admit that all that happened.
How can we make even a start towards solving the problems until there is a change of mentality among Unionists so that they will admit what was done to the minority community?
I congratulate the hon. Member for Peterborough (Dr. Mawhinney) on a thoughtful speech. He asked what was the Government's thinking on how the problem was to be solved. The Government have said nothing about that. They have talked only about security.
With the bipartisan policy, no Government, Labour or Tory, have ever talked about a solution. I should like to ask what would happen if the IRA were defeated. What would the Government of the day do? No one has told us what would happen. Would they go back to Stormont? Would the old regime carry on as before? The Unionists always argue that they acted democratically. If that was democracy, God preserve me from it. That is what caused the whole problem to blow up in our faces.
The Catholic community wants a united Ireland. Has it any faith in the Ulster Unionists? My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West will be able to tell us, but it seems to me that that faith has diminished to an even lower level than it reached some time ago. Have they any reason to have faith in the Ulster Unionists? I cannot imagine the minority community having any faith in them. This means that many young people in the minority community will support the IRA.
It is, therefore, a fact that the actions of the present Ulster Unionists strengthen the hands of the IRA. Yet the Ulster Unionists do not understand that. The Unionists want a return to Stormont. The hon. Member for Belfast, East made clear that they want a return to Stormont without any promises to the minority community about what would happen to 1002 it once Stormont had come about. This strengthens the IRA—
§ Mr. Peter Robinson
Has the hon. Gentleman read the Northern Ireland constitutional convention report? If he had read it, he would have seen the considerable number of parts that the Opposition parties in a Northern Ireland parliament could play—roles that did not exist in the Northern Ireland Stormont, as the hon. Gentleman calls it. They are roles that this House has not given to its minority.
§ Mr. Flannery
I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West can comment on that remark. The hon. Member for Belfast, East has to convince the minority community in Northern Ireland. It is useful to convince me, although I am not convinced, but the minority community needs convincing by hon. Gentlemen. They are losing that battle and getting nowhere. The events in the interrogation centres have strengthened the IRA. The hon. Gentleman pretended that they did not exist. He said that there were only 15 cases. But it was Protestant doctors who were opting out and being victimised for telling the truth. It was not minority Catholic doctors. Distinguished lawyers were also speaking out. Yet we hear this incantation that nothing like that occurred.
There is the question of the extra seats that were given. In the eyes of the minority community, this meant strengthening the hands of the people who had walked roughshod over them for all those years. They felt deeply about the matter. It precipitated the abstentions of the two hon. Members which resulted in the fall of the last Government.
Strife will cease only when the minority Catholic community believes that real democracy is being extended to it. That will need a lot of proof. I hear such phrases as "the perfect Army" serving in Northern Ireland. Many hon. Members have been soldiers. There are no perfect armies. I hear talk about the "perfect police force". Have hon. Members ever heard any nation admitting that it possessed a naughty Army or that its police force did anything naughty? It is sickening to hear this unanimity from both sides, praising them as perfect when all the evidence about what they have done has come out and has been 1003 documented. How can one respect people who will falisfy reality in that way? People who have been tortured will fight back. It strengthens the hands of the para-militaries on both sides whom all would like to see defeated.
New policies are needed. Political discussion, however piecemeal, is needed. There are no security solutions. We should forget those solutions. Even though security is preserving lives, it is no solution. No one will be defeated. We have to inject politics into the matter and come together. That is the reality.
I have tabled a question asking the Secretary of State when he will call together the various parties—
§ Mr. Flannery
That is right. Hon. Members are fearful of a solution. They want victory. I want peace and democracy. We shall not get it with the type of speech we heard. There is no way but a political way. One hears people supporting the "troops out" call. I am opposed to that call. I have spoken, with my hon. Friends, to every political grouping in Northern Ireland, except the paramilitaries. Every one, the Catholic community included, did not want the troops brought out immediately. I agree with the Irish Government. I spoke to Mr. Lynch and his predecessor. They have changed their platform. They have moved, as have many people. I want, after many discussions, a tentative withdrawal date, of an undogmatic nature, set some years ahead, aimed at bringing the forces of democracy together for discussions. That is my opinion. Others may have another opinion. It is no solution simply to stress security and never to discuss the politics of Northern Ireland. There is no solution except a political solution.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. W. Benyon (Buckingham)
I am sure that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) is sincere in his views. What he proposes is just as unattainable as the proposal of the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson). Both are unattainable in political terms in the Irish context. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Miss Maynard) managed 1004 to make a speech in an Irish debate without once mentioning the IRA, which was an achievement that takes some beating. One begins to wonder where one is getting. Ulster watchers—I claim to be one—all have their own solutions to this problem. The further one is from Ulster the easier those solutions appear to be. We have seen, for example, the interventions by Speaker Tip O'Neill and Mr. Kennedy.
The present British Government have no choice. I am in favour of the Secretary of State taking initiatives and having political discussions. I am even in favour of producing a solution and allowing people to vote on it. But there will be no solution in the present context by agreement. We may be able to impose a solution, but there will be no agreement.
There is only one choice for the British Government. It is to continue with the present form of direct rule, to alter the local government arrangements, as was suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson), and to proceed gradually. We must allow co-operation to be achieved between the communities in the context of local government and see whether we can move on from there. Unless there is agreement there is no real opening for a political initiative.
One does not have to go to Ulster to realise the difficulties that face the Secretary of State. One has only to sit in the Chamber to realise that there is not a hope in hell of achieving a political agreement. Therefore, we must proceed by other means.
The hon. Member for Hillsborough criticised not only my right hon. Friend but the Labour Secretary of State for Northern Ireland because they concentrated on security. But that is all that we can concentrate on at present. Unless there is a feeling of confidence and security in the Province a satisfactory political initiative is impossible.
There is too much terrorism in the world today for anyone to be in doubt about the basis of terrorism. A terrorist succeeds or fails by the amount of haven that he or she can command. There are only two ways to combat that—by fear, and by persuasion. No British Government will use fear. That was 1005 used by the Germans in the war and it is still used in some other countries. It is not open to the British Government.
We are involved in a war of attrition. We have to persuade the people of Northern Ireland that they should back the operations of the security forces. It is an extremely difficult war for a democracy such as ours to fight.
I was glad that my right hon. Friend emphasised that in large parts of the Province normality has returned, or was never absent. I have seen large parts of the country where there is no evidence of a terrorist operation, no destruction of property, where everyone appears to be going about his normal business and where prosperity exists to a large extent.
Only when one enters the bad parts of the Province such as parts of Belfast and Londonderry does one realise the extent of the security operation. It will be a long and hard grind.
The statistics are horrifying. They reveal much suffering. But they show that success has been achieved, certainly in the last three years. The casualty figures covering deaths in the security forces and the civilian population do not, I am sorry to say, compare unfavourably with the level of deaths which occurred in the Province between the wars. They were very extensive then, purely for criminal reasons.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)
I am amazed at the hon. Gentleman's assertion that the rate of deaths due to violence during this period of trouble can in the slightest be compared with the rate of deaths by crime between the wars. That is not a statement of the truth at all. In fact, apart from murders committed by the Irish Republican Army during its campaigns, which were very limited and not on the scale that we have today, there were very few murders in the Province and there was a far better record of prevention and detection than there was in any other part of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Benyon
I am using the figures for 1977 and 1978, and taking out the sectarian element in the civilian deaths, which obviously is a special factor, and adding the number of civilian deaths to the deaths in the Army and the RUC, 1006 I am informed by the Library that the average level of capital murder in the years between the wars was 50 a year—that is, approximately one a week—which is roughly what these figures show. However, I do not want to make a great deal of it—
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
I do not know where the Library got that information, but there was certainly not one murder a week during the period between the wars. I am sure that even the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt), who is always at political loggerheads with me, will agree that that certainly was not the rate of such deaths in the Province.
§ Mr. Benyon
As I say, I do not wish to make a great deal of it, but the figures show a marked reduction from the high levels in previous years. That is the point I was making. I do not wish to minimise them at all, but as a total the figure has come down considerably.
I strongly endorse what my right hon. Friend said in his speech in Belfast, that he would welcome the assistance of anybody in the Province to help him in his task to bring the security situation under control but that he did not welcome any assistance from those who were not prepared to work within the law. I strongly endorse that because—this is one of the points on which I did agree with the hon. Member for Hillsborough—the violence is not only on one side. That has to be recognised.
I appreciate also that in this whole business one does not wish to go back to detention. I entirely accept that, but I think that we must look at certain other aspects of the security operation where a considerable difference could be made. For instance, I feel that we should ban the Sinn Fein organisation itself. It seems to me quite wrong that the political wing of the operation can function quite happily while the military wing is banned. In my view, the Sinn Fein organisation should be added to the proscribed list.
I hope that normal policing can be extended more rapidly. We have been given the figures for the various parts of the police service, but it seems to me that, especially with the resources of manpower and womanpower that we have in the Province, the rate of recruitment could be more rapidly increased and the whole 1007 policy of normalisation of policing could go much faster.
One of the most alarming aspects of the present state of affairs is the statistic which we have just been given that the total funds available to the IRA at present are running at £1 million a year. There has been little reference to this in the debate today, but it is a fact that the funds from the United States, which were falling, are now increasing again, and I do not doubt that the propaganda effort referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury and by the hon. Member for Hillsborough is responsible for that.
I believe that a strong campaign must be waged, especially in the United States, to see that the true position in Ulster is made clear to those who might subscribe to such funds. It is worth emphasising that the largest part of the funds available to that organisation come from intimidation on the one hand and plain theft on the other. As emphasised by many hon. Members today, general policing is as important as other security operations.
The Secretary of State finds himself in a very difficult position. I hope that he will not be pressurised into taking any dramatic or quick initiative. I hope that he will concentrate essentially on efficient administration, a relentless pursuit of the terrorists, wherever they can be found, and a robust attitude to well-meaning suggestions that come from many quarters, including hon. Members who have spoken today.
The Secretary of State may be secure in the knowledge that right is on the side of the Government, as it was on the side of previous Governments, in any efforts taken to bring the situation under control. The battles he is fighting are mirrored elsewhere in the world and, indeed, in Britain. If he fails in Northern Ireland, we shall find that the same situation will arise in Britain with all the attendant suffering that we have seen in Northern Ireland.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Gerard Fitt (Belfast, West)
I congratulate the two maiden speakers, especially the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. McQuade). He made clear his political thinking on Northern Ireland. It was a well written speech. He is to be congratulated on his election to the House at his age and on his ability to speak 1008 forcefully on the needs and wishes of his constituents. I wish that other hon. Members from Northern Ireland would show the same courage.
The hon. Member for Peterborough (Dr. Mawhinney) is a newly elected Conservative Member with a Belfast background. He made an impressive speech. I hope to debate with him on the Floor of the House and to discuss with him in the corridors of the building and elsewhere the problems of Northern Ireland, to see whether there can be a meeting of minds. I am prepared to accept the absolute and total sincerity of his approach to Northern Ireland affairs.
This is the first major debate on Northern Ireland affairs since the election of the Conservative Government. Much has happened in Northern Ireland since I last spoke on the issue. There have been elections to Westminster that replaced the Labour Government, and there have been elections to the European Parliament. I believe that the latter elections have created a completely new scenario for the Northern Ireland problem.
I listened with great attention to the newly elected Secretary of State. I am not prepared to say that he has the wrong approach. Two months is a very short period in which to try to bring together all the elements that will be needed to create a political initiative. He began by saying that we would first debate the order that extends the period of direct rule under the 1974 Act. Secondly, we would debate the extension of emergency provision. Both orders are of equal importance. The extension of the direct rule order gives the Secretary of State all the power that is necessary to control and run Northern Ireland. Without that direct rule order, he would not be able to apply emergency provisions.
Under the direct rule order the Government make provision for housing, jobs, social security and the other necessary legislation that is meant to hold Northern Ireland together. I am disappointed at the economic measures that were announced by the Government. The £35 million cut in public expenditure was completely unwarranted in the present Northern Ireland situation. The Minister said that the overall unemployment figure in Northern Ireland was 11 per 1009 cent. However, in parts of my constituency the figure is 40 per cent. or 50 per cent.
It is hard to imagine the depressing and distressing effects of that unemployment in the Ballymurphy and Shankill Road area. In my constituency 20,000 people are living on social security benefits. An unemployed father must claim for his wife and family. In addition there are the old, the needy and the infirm. That represents much unhappiness in a constituency with an electorate of just over 60,000 people. In recent weeks further closures have been announced. They will mean that 400 or 500 additional people must sign the unemployment register.
I wonder what the Minister will say on the subject of the rumours at present circulating about the closures that will have a disastrous effect on the Belfast, West constituency. May we have an indication whether the Government intend to close the Belfast shipyard of Harland and Wolff? In view of the doctrinaire Tory approach to industry in the United Kingdom, there is not a safe future for the Belfast shipyard of Harland and Wolff.
It is sad that the thousands of unemployed in my constituency have no sympathy for Harland and Wolff. They say that Tory and Labour Governments repeatedly poured money into the Belfast shipyard to keep the Loyalists employed but that there were other closures at Hughes Bakery, Antrim Crystal and Strathearn Audio.
The problem of unemployment is becoming more terrible. There has always been this spectre. Why should Catholics be unemployed whereas Protestants have employment throughout the year? That factor must be taken into consideration by anyone who considers the internal fights, emotions, fears and suspicions in Northern Ireland.
As a result of the order extending direct rule, there is a special aspect. The Government, through the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that they were elected to govern Northern Ireland on the basis of their party-political manifesto. The Conservative manifesto had absolutely nothing to do with one single vote being cast in Northern Ireland. Northern 1010 Ireland had its own election. It fought about the border and sectarian divisions. It fought a battle that it has been fighting since the creation of the Northern Ireland State in 1920. People in the Westminster and European elections did not vote for or against Conservative doctrinaire policy. Any attempt to apply the Conservative approach to the sale of council houses in Northern Ireland will bring about total disaster.
The Minister must be aware by now that the housing problem in Northern Ireland is completely unlike housing problems in any other part of the United Kingdom. In Northern Ireland people live in Catholic ghettos and in Protestant ghettos. The reason why they live in Catholic ghettos in West Belfast at the moment is that they were burnt out, shot out and stoned out of Protestant areas such as Rathcoole and other parts of Belfast. They now live in West Belfast for safety—[Interruption.] This is exactly the reason why we cannot apply Tory doctrinaire standards to the sale of council houses—[Interruption.]. This is the reason why we have to build further houses on the outskirts of Belfast in the Poleglass development, which has been objected to so venomously by the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Bradford). He is making his interjections because he does not want to see people who are not of his political or religious persuasion being housed anywhere adjacent to his constituency. Indeed, the House can see from these interjections the reasons for the divisions in Northern Ireland. That is why it is so important for me to say to the Minister who will be in charge of housing in Northern Ireland that he must have another look at the housing position there.
I listened carefully to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery). His analysis and understanding of the Northern Ireland problem was much clearer than any that I have heard from any Government spokesman. As he showed, we have to face the realities of the position in Northern Ireland.
I said at the outset that many things had changed since the last debate on Northern Ireland in this House. The most significant event has been that the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) won a tremendous personal 1011 and political victory in the recent European elections. He received 171,000 votes, and the Official Unionist Party came very much in the rear. The reason why the hon. Gentleman got those votes was that he is Unionism with the mask off. He represents grass-roots, gut Unionism. He represents the Unionist who was there in 1920—the Unionist who said that he would kick the King's crown into the Boyne if he was forced to go into an Ireland which had Home Rule. The hon. Gentleman represents the Unionists who threatened, with the support of the British Army, then stationed at the Curragh, that they would engage in open rebellion against the British Government if they did not have a partition State created in which they would have an absolute and permanent majority.
§ Mr. Fitt
That is the type of mentality that brought about the existence of the Northern Ireland State. [Interruption.] I suggest that the little chirper at the back, the hon. Member for Belfast, South should hang on a little longer and seek to make his own contribution to the debate. If he wants to object to anything I am saying. I remind him that we have until 11.30 p.m., and I am sure that he will find it possible to avail himself of a few minutes in which to speak.
The hon. Member for Antrim, North won in the European elections because he was more extreme—although this is hard to believe—than the Unionist Members who sit in this House.
The Official Unionist Party had control of Northern Ireland for 50 years. It so abused its authority and so antagonised, repressed and discriminated against the minority community that eventually the bubble burst in 1968, when we had the beginning of the civil rights movement.
In 1972 a Conservative Government abolished Stormont. Since then we have been under direct rule from this House. The first priority of the Official Unionists is a return to Stormont with all the power that it had prior to its abolition in 1972. The Official Unionist Party is realistic enough, particularly under the leadership, be it overt or otherwise, of the right 1012 hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), to know that it can never get that. Therefore, the Official Unionist is prepared to accept a return of local government functions to local authorities. In other words, he wants his powers by the back door—that is what he thinks he can get. I do not think that any Government would be prepared to tolerate a return of powers to those local authorities which so abused their powers that it led to the beginning of the civil rights movement.
The hon. Member for Antrim, North says "We want a devolved Government with majority rule." He will settle for nothing less. He wants a return of a Unionist ascendancy Government.
The hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson) said that, if we have a look at the small print in the convention report, we shall probably see that there are meaningful roles there for members of the minority, and that the minority will probably get a chairmanship here or a chairmanship there on a committee which is overloaded with Unionists and loyalists. A chairman from the minority would mean absolutely nothing. The numbers on the committee are what counts. The Unionists are asking for a return to full Unionist ascendancy government. As I say, I am not sure whether any Government would tolerate that demand, even from a person who is as strong, politically, as the hon. Member for Antrim, North.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Hillsborough. He said that rarely are we treated with such bloodcurdling threats as those we listened to today from the hon. Member for Belfast, East, who said that the Government must find a military solution and that his party is running out of patience. These are the words that the hon. Member for Belfast, East used. He said that the Government must find a military solution and must defeat the terrorists—in his thinking, the IRA—and they must take note of the recent election. He warned the Government that they are running out of patience. What does that mean?
I am prepared to sit down for a few seconds now if the hon. Member for Belfast, East wishes to tell me what he means by that. Is he saying to the Government "You do what we tell you 1013 or we will engage in terrorist activities ourselves"? Is that what he is saying? Is he saying "If your British Army does not do what we want you to do, we shall get guns and go out and do it ourselves"? If the hon. Member for Belfast, East wants me to give way so that he can clear the minds of right hon. and hon. Members, I should be very interested to hear what his attitude is.
§ Mr. Peter Robinson
I thank the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) for giving me an opportunity to speak again. The facts remain as I originally stated them. I made it clear that the position with Ulster Loyalists is that they have taken 10 years of death and destruction. We have a Conservative Government who have plainly given a commitment to defeat terrorism and who say that they will stand up to terrorism. I am simply saying that we will make sure that that commitment is kept in front of the Government, so that they carry out what they said they would do.
§ Mr. Fitt
That does not seem to have taken us any further, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I assure you that I shall not ask the hon. Gentleman to speak again. I still see a threat in his words. He talks of what the Ulster community have had to put up with for 10 years. I can tell him that the Catholic minority community has often had to put up with a lot. It is not so long since every newspaper in England was reporting the bloody effects of the butcher murderers on the Shankill Road. It is not so long ago since Catholics were being murdered daily in Northern Ireland.
It is very interesting—I ask the Minister to take particular notice of this—that the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Benyon), I believe, levelled some criticism at my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield. Brightside (Miss Maynard) to the effect that she made a speech about Ireland but did not mention the IRA.
There are many Unionists in this House. They make all sorts of speeches, but never mention the UDA or the UVF. Yet members of those organisations have been engaged in some of the most brutal murders that have ever taken place.
§ Mr. McQuade
Can I remind the hon. Gentleman that, along with him, I fought against the UDA and UDF in the election in West Belfast?
§ Mr. Fitt
I am prepared to accept that. The one thing I can say about the hon. Member for Belfast, North is that I do not believe that he has ever been associated, even remotely, with any of the paramilitary organisations. However, the same cannot be said of some of his friends. It would be interesting to ask the hon. Member for Belfast, East whether he had any support from the UDA or UVF in the recent Westminster elections.
§ Mr. Peter Robinson
When one gets more than 15,000 votes, I suspect that one gets the votes of many people, including some of the hon. Gentleman's co-religionists.
§ Mr. Fitt
That is what I would call a diplomatic answer which no one believes. I think that the House is well aware who the UDA and UVF supported in the election of hon. Members to this House.
I do not advocate the banning of organisations willy-nilly, because I believe that on some occasions that only drives them underground and gives them a reason to exist. When the Emergency Powers Act was put on the statute book—I voted against it because I did not agree with it—I said that if there was any case for banning the Provisional IRA there was just as good a case for banning the UVF and the UDA. Within the past fortnight in Scotland a number of men have been sentenced to long terms of imprisonment—quite rightly, in my view—because they were engaged in getting and transporting arms to Northern Ireland for use by the Loyalist para-militaries, not against the IRA but against a defenceless Catholic population. Therefore, if any banning is to be done, I suggest that it should be done fairly all round. I do not believe that the Minister of State can give any reply tonight which will justify his banning one organisation but not another.
I am in complete agreement with every hon. Member from Northern Ireland who has condemned the atrocities that have been committed, particularly recently, but also over the years, by the Provisional IRA. That organisation has brought such terror, distress, brutality and despair to 1015 Northern Ireland as one could never have believed. Since 28 March, more than 30 people have been killed, many in the most brutal circumstances. A Catholic warder was shot coming out of mass after his sister's wedding. A Protestant reserve policeman was shot while going to church in Londonderry. Only last week, a 63year-old man in Armagh, one suspects taken from his bed if one is to go by the way he was dressed, was taken into his own farm and shot through the temple by the so-called Irish patriots. I can tell all hon. Members from Northern Ireland that the wave of revulsion that goes through the Catholic community every time it hears of these murders is just as vehement, sincere and justified as that which comes from the Protestant community. Throughout this debate we have been striving to find a way of stopping those killings.
The IRA believes that, irrespective of the people who live in the area that it controls, it has a right to unite Ireland. I have no idea whether I shall live to see a united Ireland in the terms in which the TRA professes to wish to see that. I do not believe that Ireland should ever have been partitioned. The border was a completely unjustifiable imposition on the Irish people. It sets Northern Ireland apart. When we listen to debates in this House, we hear of Scotland, England and Wales; but when it comes to Northern Ireland, we hear two words. We never hear about "Ireland"; we hear about "Northern Ireland". That is why we have had such a decade of murder in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland is part of the island of Ireland. That is why we have 15,000 British troops there. That is why young men, who, perhaps, cannot find a job in Britain, join the British Army and within four or five weeks find themselves on the darkened streets of Ballymurnhy, in Bogside or in the murder zone of South Armagh.
The only hope for Northern Ireland lies in trying to evolve a system of government which will bring with it the loyalty and allegiance and the participation of both the loyalist community and the minority community. I have already said that Official Unionist Members want to have Stormont powers back by the back door, and powers given back to local authorities. The hon. Member for An 1016 trim, North wants devolved government. I am not sure of the weapons that he will use—it will certainly take more than oratory—to force the present Conservative Government to bring about devolved government under majority loyalist control.
The former Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason), got the mistaken idea that there was some section of the minority community in Northern Ireland that would accept a return of Unionist ascendency there and that that section would be prepared to play a secondary role. I refer, of course, to the Republican Clubs, the workers' party. That party accepted the right hon. Gentleman's line—hook, line and sinker. It fought both the Westminster election and the European election on the basis that it would accept devolved government, as envisaged by the hon. Member for Antrim, North, with a majority of Unionists, and that it would be prepared to work within that ambit. One can see the support which that party had from the minority community in Northern Ireland. It received only 4,000 votes at the recent European election.
In no way will the minority community in Northern Ireland ever accept the return of a Unionist ascendancy Government in the Six Counties. If there is any attempt by the present Conservative Government to impose or to resurrect that type of government there, it will lead to absolute disaster.
The scene which I see facing Northern Ireland is totally frightening. I found that particularly so when I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Belfast, East. Is there a parallel anywhere in the world to the position in Northern Ireland? I believe that there is a parallel and it is not a happy one to contemplate. The Lebanon was created by the French when they withdrew from their colonial role. It was peopled by a community divided into Muslims and Christians. For years it was thought by many that those communities lived together well and peacefully and that a State had been created that brought together the two cultures. For purely external reasons, because of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, the trouble began. Even today the Lebanon is in the throes of a civil war and thousands of people have been killed.
1017 We can never return to Unionism as envisaged by the Official Unionists and certainly not as outlined by the hon. Member for Antrim, North. The SDLP believes, and has believed from the day, hour and second that it came into existence, that the only hope for Northern Ireland is to bring together the two communities. We are all Irish. The hon. Member for Antrim, North is as Irish as I am, and we have a lot in common. There will be no total victory for any political party in Northern Ireland. In 1977 the hon. Member for Antrim, North attempted a political coup. It did not succeed. The British Government, aided by the Official Unionists, stood up to him—and that may be a reason why the Labour Party did not do so well in the election.
This Government are embarking on a five-year term and at the end of that time something will have happened in Northern Ireland. We shall certainly not be standing here and saying that there will be another few years of direct rule. Northern Ireland is so divided that something must happen. I appeal to the Secretary of State to use all the powers that he can command to ensure that political action is taken to prevent Northern Ireland descending to a Lebanese-style civil war. That is the alternative. It is the bounden duty of the Government to prevent that happening. That is the political scenario as I see it.
It may not be taken well in certain quarters but I resent the lectures given to the Government by political spokesmen in the Republic. The Republic has a role to play in any future settlement in Northern Ireland. We are on an island and they are Irish, just as I am, but it is too easy for political spokesmen in the Republic to tell the British Government that it is their problem and they must solve it and then give lectures on what to do. Whatever the future may be for Northern Ireland, it is a joint enterprise and everyone must contribute. This week, in the wake of the visit of the Secretary of State to Dublin, The Irish Times said—and I think it was quite right—that the present Government of the Republic did not seem to have any hard and fast ideas on the type of Ireland that would result in the event of a British withdrawal.
1018 Some hard talking must be done to see how we can finance housing in Northern Ireland, create jobs and pay social security to the thousands who are in need of it. These questions ultimately will have to be faced by an Irish Government. It is no good talking about a declaration of intent—that is just passing the buck. Everyone from the island of Ireland is involved, and Britain is much too closely associated with Ireland for anyone to take a chauvinistic attitude about these things.
Take, for example, the developments over the European monetary system, and the chauvinistic nationalism which appeared in the Irish press—the "if it is good for us, it is bad for them" attitude and the idea of allowing the old enemy to suffer. It did not happen that way. The Irish people have lived for too long blaming everything on the old enemy. Any future political developments on Northern Ireland must give the Irish Government and Irish political parties a hand. They need to have a hand in these matters, but must not blame everything on the British Government, be it Conservative or Labour.
I turn to the emergency provisions. My hon. Friend the Member for Hillsborough was correct when he said that the Bennett report was my main motivation for abstaining during the confidence vote on the last Labour Government on 28 March. There were other factors, one of them being the deal done by the then Labour Government to create a number of seats in Northern Ireland that probably would have been taken by the Unionists. These were two very important matters motivating me in that crucial and difficult decision. Let no one in this House believe that the creation of more seats in Northern Ireland, no matter who takes them—the SDLP could take the whole lot and would say the same—would solve the problem of political identity there. It is not a question of sending representatives here, whether they be SDLP or Conservative.
My right hon. Friend, the former Secretary of State, stood at the Dispatch Box and said repeatedly when discussing the Bennett report that no RUC man was guilty of any ill treatment. He claimed that the RUC did not do anything, and the allegations to the contrary were simply a 1019 figment of our imagination; that Dr. Irwin was some sort of lunatic and the smear campaign that began in certain sections of the British press to try to discredit him did not happen. I was glad to hear the Secretary of State say today that he would implement most of the recommendations of the Bennett report. I echo what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Mr. John) that we would like to hear about the one recommendation that he will not implement.
The late Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr. Airey Neave, said to me and others that if he could find any of those policemen who were guilty of ill treatment he would take a very hard line against them because he had been subjected to ill treatment by the Gestapo. He told me that and he also told it to his wife. His widow told me that he had said the same thing to her. I regret that Airey Neave is not alive, because I am certain that he would have lived up to everything he said.
We were told that the Government would do all they could to stop these practices if they were taking place. We were also told that Dr. Irwin only imagined these cases. However, since the debate on 28 March there have been 29 complaints made to the police authority in Northern Ireland to the effect that beatings up are still taking place. Those complaints have not all been made by Dr. Irwin. I repeat that 29 cases of ill treatment have been reported to the police authority since we debated the Bennett report in March. I have the names of the doctors before me and they can be checked. Dr. Irwin had three cases. Dr. Glancy had two, Dr. Stewart had two, Dr. Montgomery had one, Dr. Henry had one, Dr. Shields had five, Dr. Garvin had five, Dr. Ward had one, Dr. W. R. Dick had two, Dr. Munro had one, and Dr. McAvenney had six.
Those were cases examined by doctors and related to people who had been in police custody. The latest one took place in June 1979. However, we were told by the Secretary of State and by the chief constable of Northern Ireland that not even one of those cases would be tolerated. In view of such evidence, is it any wonder that no member of the minority community is prepared to accept the word of even the Secretary of State?
1020 Let me make it clear that I am not making a general attack on the RUC. I have never done so. But there are still people in the RUC who are using illegitimate violence on those who have been taken into custody.
In the document that I have before me the police authority takes it upon itself to differentiate between who is and who is not a terrorist. The police say that only eight out of 29 were terrorists. In other words, it was not quite so bad, because only eight were beaten up. The others were drunks, burglars, layabouts or wife beaters, but they were still beaten up by the police. I do not accept that it is right for any member of the community to be beaten up by the police.
There is still a great deal of disquiet about the legislation dealing with emergency powers. I believe that the hon. Member for Belfast, East has, either consciously or unwittingly, fallen into the trap set for him by the Provisional IRA. I believe that it is no mistake that the Provisional IRA has engaged in a murder campaign in Armagh in the past two months. I believe that that body was deliberately trying to create a Protestant backlash in Belfast.
The Provisionals took this course once before and they are trying desperately to repeat it. By their actions they are trying to create an atmosphere in this House which favours the restoration of capital punishment. They believe that if capital punishment is restored, it will be the easiest thing in the world for a Provisional IRA godfather to give an 18year-old girl a revolver and tell her to shoot a policeman and then tell her to stand there and allow herself to be caught. What would the Government do then? Would they hang an 18-year-old girl? If they did not, would not the law be brought into ridicule? If they did hang the girl, would it not cause uproar in every civilised country in Europe? That is exactly what the Provisional IRA is trying to do.
I must tell the hon. Member for Belfast, East that there is no military solution to the Northern Ireland problem. It was recently said in this place that the security forces in Northern Ireland should go after the terrorists into the ghettoes as they did in Malaysia in 1948. Does anybody remember what happened in Malaysia in 1948, long 1021 before Vietnam? Napalm was dropped on the terrorists and innocent men, women and children all over Malaysia were burned in the attempts to resolve the problem. Some hon. Members believe that such an attitude should prevail in Northern Ireland and that similar tactics should be used to try to beat the Provisional IRA.
Terrorism is a problem not only in Northern Ireland and there are those who resent the word "terrorist". A terrorist is someone who is not on your side—if he is on your side he is a patriot. In the recent elections to the European Parliament, the former Member for Mid-Ulster, Mrs. McAliskey, received a first-preference vote of 33,000. She waged a campaign against what was occurring in H block. The Provisional IRA dissociated itself from that campaign and said that it did not want anybody to speak on its behalf about H block. I shall take its advice—I do not speak on its behalf. She was campaigning for an immediate British withdrawal from Northern Ireland and she received those 33,000 votes. Although there were abstentions, that result indicates the religious and political divide that exists in Northern Ireland.
I have repeatedly opposed the emergency legislation. It has been said rightly that emergency legislation has the awful habit of becoming permanent on the statute book. That is true, both in this place and in Stormont. The British Government cannot continue to govern Northern Ireland by the existence of emergency provisions. The problem of Northern Ireland must be resolved by political action—there is no military victory.
During the course of the debate it has been said that the British are getting fed up with the unending continuation of the trouble. They are losing their sons. Perhaps that does not happen often, but it only takes one family to lose one son for terrible sorrow and despair to be felt. Northern Ireland is a political and financial liability to everybody in the United Kingdom. I believe that the Government should, within the shortest possible time, take a serious look at its involvement in the Six Counties of Northern Ireland.
1022 The hon. Member for Antrim, North received a tremendous political and personal vote in the European elections. People voted for him for many reasons. Some voted for him because they do not like the Pope, others because they have a bias against or a hostility towards Catholicism, others because they do not like the Common Market, others because they do not like Unionism, and the rest because they resented the security policy of the Government. The hon. Gentleman now believes "I am the king of Northern Ireland. I will tell the British Government what to do." The hon. Gentleman may not have said it out loud, but that is what he and his supporters are thinking.
My questions to the Government are "Are you prepared to go by the dictates of such intransigent loyalism in Northern Ireland?" and "Are you prepared to subsidise, for ever and a day, hi money and by the blood of your soldiers, such intransigence in Northern Ireland?". Those questions can be resolved only by the Government. I deeply hope that they take the right decision.
§ 9.25 p.m.
§ Mr. James Kilfedder (Down, North)
I start by congratulating the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. McQuade) on his maiden speech. He put forward reasonable arguments in support of what he had to say, but he will learn in time that there is not much point in speaking with passion and backing it up with facts since the Government—whether Labour or Tory—will not be convinced that they must wage an all-out battle against the Provisional IRA to restore law and order to Northern Ireland.
The hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) spoke for about 50 minutes and his speech was typical of the Irish mythology that has been heard year after year, decade after decade and century after century. But the hon. Gentleman has given it a totally new meaning. If we tear away all the half truths and the mythology that the hon. Gentleman spewed out, we find three facts.
First, the hon. Gentleman is totally committed to getting Northern Ireland into an all-Ireland republic. Any pretence that he makes about wanting a power-sharing Government which would keep Northern Ireland within the United 1023 Kingdom is nonsense. Secondly, the hon. Gentleman is totally opposed to the restoration of law and order. He makes bland pronouncements about backing the RUC, but he condemns the RUC and the soldiers—soldiers of Ulster, England, Scotland, and Wales—and he stands condemned for perpetuating the terrorism against which he mouths his opposition from time to time.
Thirdly, the hon. Gentleman talks about a host of people in Ulster belonging to "his" community who are sickened by the obscene crimes of the Provisional IRA. But if they were sickened, all that they would have to do is co-operate and pass on information to the police and the soldiers and terrorism would end tonight. It would not continue if it did not have the support of the hon. Gentleman's friends in West Belfast and elsewhere.
He and those people should come out and say that they back the police, even though the police may make a mistake from time to time, and that they back the soldiers, knowing that a final victory will preserve lives, and bring to Northern Ireland peace and, with that peace, political progress.
Of course, the hon. Member for Belfast, West says that he is all for democracy. That is another term which he uses with nauseating repetition. Yet he says to the present Government, as he said to their predecessors, that they must force the Ulster majority to accept a political settlement that would provide him with a power-sharing executive which would, of course, be halfway towards the creation of an all-Ireland republic.
Whenever force is applied in politics it is dictatorship, but the hon. Gentleman is all for force if it means that it will result in his being on top of the people of Northern Ireland. No matter what hon. Members may think, the Ulster people are not fools. They have heard the hon. Gentleman often enough to know that he has nothing to offer them.
The hon. Gentleman is worried. He used to be worried about Bernadette Devlin—as she then was—and he attacked her again tonight. She is a threat to the SDLP. Now he has a new threat. Mr. John Hume was elected to the European Parliament with a tremendous vote in Northern Ireland. The hon. Gentleman 1024 realises that he must put on the pressure and attract publicity to show that he is the leader of the Roman Catholic community.
Hon. Members seem to think, and the hon. Member for Belfast, West would lead them to believe, that IRA violence in Northern Ireland has come about only within the last 10 or 15 years. It has been in existence in Ireland for decades and in other guises for centuries. Following the creation of the Irish Republic as the Irish Free State, the IRA attacked its own Republican Government. What did the Government in Dublin do? Subsequently, what did that arch-republican, Mr. Eamon De Valera, do? He took the toughest possible measures against his erstwhile friends in the Irish Republican Army. Hecreated courts-martial. He made sure that some were executed. In that way he brought terrorism in the Irish Republic to an end.
I have mentioned before in the House that one or two IRA members tried the same protest, the "on the blanket" protest, in the Irish Free State. They did not get the reception that the protest gets in the press and in Parliament here. The Dublin Government and Mr. De Valera soon dealt with them. They came off the protest. They tried starvation. As a result, one member of the Irish Republican Army died. The Dublin Government knew how to treat the Irish Republican Army. It was a threat to them as it is a threat to all decent people in Northern Ireland.
The people of Northern Ireland have suffered for too long. I wonder whether there is much point in participating any longer in this charade of a debate. It is all very nice to have exchanges in this debate. But it brings no comfort and no hope to the Ulster people, who are being murdered daily in the Province, particularly along the border. What do we say to them? Do we hand them a copy of Hansard containing the report of this debate and show them the result of this debate? People say that there is no military solution and that there is only a political solution. However, the violence must be ended and the political extremists and the political terrorists of the Provisional Irish Republican Army must be dealt with.
The Irish Republic has a part to play, but it is only one part. It has to act as 1025 a friendly neighbouring State and to deal with the terrorists who operate from the Irish Republic. It has to extradite all the Provisional IRA wanted men who are hiding in the Irish Republic and who should be brought to book in the courts of Northern Ireland for their obscene crimes. But the Irish Republic will not do that. It has among its supporters people who are sympathetic to the Provisional IRA. Internationally, through its embassies, the Irish Republic will show what it has been doing and put out literature containing its condemnation of the Irish Republican Army. But it does not take the simple action of a friendly State and a member of the European Community and extradite wanted men from the Irish Republic.
I intend to vote against the order which continues direct rule. It will do nothing to improve the situation. Indeed, it will further entrench the bureaucracy and push Ulster men and women even further away from the freedom and democracy that they once knew and enjoyed in the days before the so-called civil rights movement and the IRA campaign of terror.
In Northern Ireland we do not even have the type of modified responsible Government that the people of Malta used to have when it was under British rule and which still exists in Gibraltar. In those countries the governor at least has an elected body to advise him and to help in administration.
Northern Ireland has been deprived of the ordinary means of democratic control. The people have only a minimal say in how their towns and villages are run. The people have no say in how much rates they should pay. A total of £900 million is raised each year through the undemocratic rating system. The people have no say about their schools because only 40 per cent. of the education board members are elected. The rest are appointed by the Minister as his acolytes to do his bidding.
When the Labour Government, against the wishes of the Ulster people, wanted to abolish our great, successful and well-tried system of voluntary grammar schools—these schools are not to be confused with the class-ridden English public schools—Lord Melchett simply issued 1026 instructions to the education boards knowing that they would not demur.
No other region in the United Kingdom, no place in the EEC and no other country in the Western world, has less democratic freedom than Ulster. This Mother of Parliaments has instituted a system of control at Stormont and at local government level which gives more power to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland than to a Muscovite commissar.
Direct rule has produced a total shambles. Ulster used to be the best-governed part of the United Kingdom, the most peaceful, with the smallest police force, the cleanest towns and the best hospitals. Now it has the dirtiest streets, badly run hospitals, and small hospitals are going to the wall. In Northern Ireland schools the interests of the pupils take second place. Northern Ireland has more police per head of the population than anywhere else in the United Kingdom, and yet there is a steady increase in ordinary crime.
That is what direct rule has done for Northern Ireland. As a result, Ulster people have no interest in continuing direct rule. What the Ulster people want and intend to get is the restoration of their own devolved Parliament and Government at Stormont.
The hon. Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux) and other members of the "Enoch Powell group" advocated that total integration is best for Northern Ireland. I warn the Secretary of State against listening to such advice. It is not representative of the Ulster people. Certainly it does not come from a reliable source.
Not so long ago the Official Unionist group tried to force the Government to reduce Ulster's representation in the European Assembly from three seats to two.
§ Mr. Kilfedder
I see that they agree. If the Government had listened to that advice the Official Unionists would not have a Member in the European Assembly. There would then have been complaints because the Official Unionists had a seat taken from them. The Secretary of State would be ill advised to listen to their counsel.
1027 Northern Ireland should have a Parliament restored. I believe that it is inevitable. It will come because there are few English, Scottish or Welsh Members of Parliament who care passionately about the future of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. It is seen as a problem which exists. There are exceptions in the House—we have heard from some tonight, and there are others—but they are very few and far between.
What is unpredictable in Northern Ireland is the growing strength of feeling for an independent Ulster. This idea is now being taken more seriously. I have heard academic economists say that it could work, but it could soon cease to be an academic question for more and more ordinary Ulster people are turning to the idea of independence as a panacea for their internal troubles.
The argument has been advanced, as I have said, that the only solution to the Ulster problem is the withdrawal of the Army. The Provisional IRA will, no doubt, be spurred on in its activities, military and propaganda, as a result of some of the speeches in today's debate in order to persuade this House and the Government to abandon Ulster totally to the mercy of the Provisional IRA.
The need for a political solution is taken as the excuse for such a bloodbath but, of course, the Provisional IRA has only negligible support in Northern Ireland. It has never, so far as I am aware, won a seat even on a local district council. It has never won a seat even though its political arm did put forward a Provisional Sinn Fein candidate for election.
Terrorism in Northern Ireland must be understood against the international terrorist background. There is terrorism throughout the world. There is no doubt that there are strong direct links between the Provisional IRA and the PLO, between the Provisional IRA and ETA, the Basque terrorist group, between the Provisional IRA and the Bader Meinhof group in Germany, and perhaps between the Provisional IRA and the Red Guard in France.
The international community must fight terrorism. It is no use Paris Match publishing an interview with those who, I gather, are alleged to be responsible for 1028 the murder of Airey Neave, since to do that is only to aid and abet terrorism in France and other countries inside the European Community. The first step must be for all countries in the Western world—and certainly within the European Community—to get together and hammer out a policy that will attack terrorism wherever it rears its obscene and hideous head. The limelight, of course, should be turned on the hypocrisy of the Irish Republic which, on the one hand, says that it is dealing with terrorism and, on the other, refuses to extradite wanted IRA men back to Northern Ireland.
We have had 10 years of political violence in Northern Ireland, 10 years of bombs, explosives, murders and destruction. They have left an indelible scar on the face of Ulster. The Ulster people have never had proper tribute paid to their patience, but in the face of terrible provocation they have shown remarkable restraint. If true tribute were paid, every Member of Parliament would crowd into the Chamber to thank the Ulster people for not engaging in the civil war referred to by the hon. Member for Belfast, West as a possible future for the Ulster people.
For 10 years we have faced a vicious sectarian onslaught by the armed might of the Provisional IRA. For 10 years we have seen towns, villages, farms, shops and factories blasted and devastated by the Provisional IRA. It has murdered those whom it alleges it is trying to protect. Many hundreds of people have fled their homes and farms in the country, Belfast, Londonderry and along the border. Nearly every family knows someone who has been killed or maimed by the Provisional IRA.
I marvel at the grit, the courage and the determination that has enabled the Ulster people to survive for 10 years. I have no doubt that the same courage and determination that has carried Ulster through the Provisional IRA campaign of hate will carry Ulster through the future, whether as a part of the United Kingdom or as an independent State.
§ Mr. Speaker
I remind the House that there are eight hon. Members who have indicated that they hope to speak. Including the Front Bench speeches, the debate will conclude in one and three-quarter hours.
§ 9.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert J. Bradford (Belfast, South)
I shall heed your words, Mr. Speaker. I shall not speak for the same length of time as the hon. Members for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt), who, as usual, treated the House to a trip along the avenue of time. Alas, he has no more facts straight now than he had when he started his journey.
I pay tribute to the speeches of my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, North (Mr. McQuade) and the hon. Member for Peterborough (Dr. Mawhinney). The authenticity and value of their speeches reposed not only in the delightful accents that we know, love and share, but in the truisms and passionate statements born out of deep experience. I know that the House responded to their speeches.
I am tempted to respond to the speeches made by the hon. Members for Sheffield, Brightside (Miss Maynard) and Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) I have rarely heard such distortions of Irish history. I plead with them, in the interests of their own integrity, to read two books that have been written not by Ulster Unionists or Englishmen, but by authors outside the community of Ireland. One book, by a historian named Burke is entitled "The Fractured Emerald", the other is entitled "Governing Without Consensus" by Dr. Richard Rose. Both authors established beyond peradventure that there was no systematic discrimination in Northern Ireland in housing, employment or local government. There have been isolated incidents of discrimination, as there are in every country or community, but no systematic discrimination within the context of Northern Ireland.
On the subject of the bludgeoning of the Irish people into submission by the Act of 1920. Burke clearly states that the great enemy of the island of Ireland was—and now is—the IRA. The whole of Ireland accepted at the ballot box the settlement that this House offered in 1920. The people of Southern Ireland voted on the matter twice. On both occasions they gave their consent to the Act and its ramifications. The hon. Member for Belfast, West went to see the situation many years ago. Apparently he has not yet returned. He must not 1030 treat the House to the distortion of historical facts that we heard this evening.
I could prove that Northern Ireland is a democratic success story. However, we are concerned about the future. Last May I elected not just to reminisce about the past, or to give an analysis on past events, but to offer, in the name of those who elected me, concrete and constructive suggestions for the future. I do so within the context before us tonight of security and politics.
I have learnt that what is left unsaid in the Chamber is almost as important as what is said. There is one important word that I have not heard from the Secretary of State. He must make one fundamental acknowledgement—that the United Kingdom is at war. It is not at war with the Roman Catholic or Protestant communities. The Government and the United Kingdom are at war with the IRA, which has all the aspirations of a foreign State that would seek to impose its will and authority on one part of the realm. It is not just a tribal dispute that sometimes becomes nasty and violent. We are involved in a war. Because of that fact we must behave accordingly.
Unfortunately, successive British Governments have somehow indulged in selective involvement in the Irish problem, just as they have done in Rhodesia. They have selected those areas where their voice is heard, where action is taken or where a course of policy is pursued. Successive British Governments have been selective in their involvement in the war. They have allowed their attitudes, policies and actions to be determined by a reaction, or a possible reaction, of the Southern Government, and by possible reactions from political and religious minorities. Somehow they have threaded out for themselves a path that was inoffensive to as many people as possible. However, all that time in the constituencies of Armagh, Londonderry and Belfast, South—which is supposed to be suburban, unruffled and unchallenged—men and women and boys and girls have died, while British Governments selected their involvement in the war.
I plead with the Secretary of State not to pursue that line. I ask him to acknowledge that we are at war with the IRA. I ask him to obtain the same unequivocal reaction from the Southern Government 1031 as that for which we ask him tonight. The command structure of the local forces must be changed and adapted to meet the cell problem, to which the Minister referred earlier.
One of the tragedies of a debate such as this is that if there is mention of a particular agency of the Crown which the Secretary of State may wish to use as the prime strike force in this war, from tonight onwards it will be known not only by the media—and by any visitors in the Gallery—but by the very people who perpetrate these dreadful murders. They will be listening on their radios and the agency that is mentioned will then be singled out for their debauched attention.
We cannot, therefore, always spell things out in the clear terms that we would like to use, but I ask the Secretary of State to ensure that whatever agency of the Crown is selected to become the spearhead or thrust force in the fight against terrorism, the command structure of that force should be adapted to meet the special needs of Northern Ireland. We are not asking for the return of the Ulster Special Constabulary. We are asking for the same kind of command structure as the Special Constabulary enjoyed, and by which it was able to meet the very subtle tactics of the cell group.
I remind the Secretary of State that at the moment in Northern Ireland one of the the primary functions of the security forces is to keep their own forces intact and to encourage others to join, so that people can be promised some kind of mutual protection. But only by altering the command structure of the security forces, so as to enable a legitimate cell of those forces to respond in an impromptu situation, will they be able to defend themselves and then be in a position to defend the rest of society in Northern Ireland.
I come now to the question of which troops are best deployed in Northern Ireland. My hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux) rightly said in the last Parliament that there was little point in using the four-month term type of regiment or arrangement in the Province. I support him in that contention 100 per cent. He is not saying "Troops out", and never did. The Secretary of State should use long-term troops in Northern Ireland in covert 1032 operations as far as possible. He should certainly not use—particularly in border areas—the four-month type of arrangement. It affords targets to the IRA gunmen and does not give the average soldier an opportunity to become aware of the nuances, let alone the geography, of the place. I therefore ask that long-term troops be used, and certainly in covert operations.
Some months ago the SAS was having a considerable effect upon the IRA, and then suddenly all that activity seemed to cease. It can only mean, I suggest, that the SAS has been told to cool it—somehow to ease off. Can it be that notice has been taken of some of the silly propaganda? The security forces have been attacked when they have made mistakes—and they have made mistakes at times—but surely the only way to ensure that no more mistakes are made in Northern Ireland is to root out the IRA. If that is done, no more mistakes can be made.
Will the Secretary of State acknowledge that the SAS has been told to cool it—I cannot imagine that he will do that tonight, and I hope that he will not do so—or will he have to admit that for a considerable time the SAS has not operated in that part of the Province where it is most needed? I believe that those are the only two possible alternatives. Will the SAS be used again and will it have to be told that it is in a war situation and that no restrictions will be imposed upon it?
Thirdly, I come to a point that my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, South touched upon briefly, which I think is worth ventilating again. There appears to be some sort of political influence, not just on the troops but upon the judiciary. Those who have listened to this debate or who will read it, may hold up their hands in horror, but the fact of life is that when Lynch became Prime Minister in the Southern Republic, the whole question of rebellion in Portlaoise prison suddenly disappeared.
Therefore, political connivance with some interesting people does take place on the island of Ireland. Is it just possible that in order to get some pressure off the back of those in Northern Ireland there was some kind of movement and advice issued along the unusual channels which exist vis-a-vis the judiciary? 1033 I hope that the Secretary of State will be able to reassure us on that point. Still more important, I hope that the kind of sentences meted out by the courts will leave us in no doubt that what the Secretary of State says at the Dispatch Box is correct.
§ Mr. McNamara
Apart from the allegation that the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Bradford) made about concealed influence, is he saying that this influence must go the other way—that there must be direct political instruction from the Secretary of State as to the nature of the punishment to be meted out? Is he saying that the independence of the judiciary must go?
§ Mr. Bradford
No. I used the illustration in respect of Southern Ireland. I am simply saying that because of that, we are all alive to the possibility of communication along unusual channels even in that wonderful part of Ireland known as Ulster. I am asking the Secretary of State to assure us that no such advice has percolated to the judiciary in the past, so far as he is able to give that assurance, having just recently come to office. I am not by any means saying that the information or the advice is on a two-way basis. The law is determined here in respect of sentences for particular crimes and misdemeanours, and that is how it should be. It is then up to the judicary to apply that law. I desire to make no change in the status quo.
I turn to the role of the police in Northern Ireland. I have tried hard to listen to what has been said by the hon. Members for Hillsborough, Brightside and Belfast, West vis-a-vis their support, or lack of it, and the reasons for their position. In Northern Ireland we have a police force faced with the greatest difficulty of any police force in the country. Yet we seek to impose greater restrictions on that force than on any other in the United Kingdom. To my rather logical mind—I shall not say "simple", or the hon. Member for Belfast, West may decide to intervene—that does not make sense.
§ Mr. Bradford
I promised to be brief. I may give way later. The romanticism of the days of Sir Arthur Young and 1034 Lord Hunt is over. We want another statement from the Dispatch Box that the RUC is now officially armed, that it has a right to be, and that it should be uninhibited in the use of those arms against terrorism. The RUC should be free to combat terrorism with as few restrictions upon it as possible. For that reason, I shall pay cursory interest to the Bennett report, in view of the number and kinds of deaths and atrocities that are perpetrated in the Province.
What if the IRA violence continues? The hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder) has stated that independence is a possibility. I want to say to the people who elected me on a Unionist manifesto that that would be the road to total disaster for Northern Ireland, and for a very simple reason. The two greatest power blocs in the world are determined to force Ulster into that precise situation. One of them is the United States of America. I ask the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson) not to believe that Tip O'Neill was naive, uninstructed, uninformed or untutored, because nothing could be further from the truth. There is the United States on the one hand and the EEC on the other, and both those great pressures would coalesce to crush any independent Ulster. They would do so in economic terms as well as in terms of direct aid to terrorism. To those who advocate the course of independence, I say that that is madness in the extreme. I will have no part of it.
What is the alternative? I have no intention of sounding like a bloodcurdling Ulster politician, but I hope that I have been a realist. I have tried to analyse the situation, like the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara). As always, the hon. Gentleman's analysis was impeccable, but because I believe he started from a false premise, I believe that the conclusions that he reached were wrong.
I have tried to analyse the Ulster situation. Therefore, I must give some indication of how I shall proceed if the British Government do not take action to defend and secure us. I have no alternative but to say that the Province will be forced into exactly the same situation as that which our forefathers faced—strangely enough, the wider European and world context is not dissimilar—and, 1035 if we are to survive at all, will have to say that we will become Queen's rebels. It was only the X factor of Europe that obviated that great tragedy of Ulstermen fighting fellow citizens of the United Kingdom.
It may well be that the X factor of Europe will emerge at precisely the right moment to avoid that same conflict. But I will not be party to any kind of rebellion if it means the British Army, the UDR and the police fighting well-meaning Ulstermen who are frustrated, hidebound and disillusioned. However, if the moment came when the RUC, the UDR and the ordinary men and women of Ulster together, shoulder to shoulder, said "No more", that would be a different 1036 matter, and that situation would be one in which I would deeply and fully involve myself.
It is in the hands of the present Secretary of State somehow to save us from that dreadful possibility. I plead with him to rely on the advice and support that we are always willing to offer and that, please God, Ulster will be saved not only from the rigours of the IRA but also from rape within.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Before I call another hon. Member, I should tell the House that it is hoped that the winding-up speeches will begin at 10.40 p.m. That leaves 32 minutes for every hon. Member who wishes to speak.
§ 10.9 p.m.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)
We have had a sobering debate, and it is well that it should be sobering. The Province of Ulster is caught up in a serious situation—a situation that has deteriorated rapidly since the turn of the year. I have warned this Parliament and the previous Parliament in debates on defence that the back door of the Kingdom was being kicked in and that we could expect an escalation of IRA violence. Those warnings were received with cynicism, even by some Unionist Members. But my words have come true. Soon after those warnings there was an upsurge of real violence, and that violence has continued.
Let no hon. Member think that the Irish Republican Army is able to strike only in isolated parts of South Armagh or of mid-Londonderry. The IRA has the capacity for striking right across the Province. The other day, from North Antrim, my constituency, right through the Province, the IRA left a trail of damage, which has seriously affected the Northern Ireland tourist industry. I have visited in hospitals some victims of that bombing—people who were severely burned. One had only to look upon their scarred, distorted visages to understand just what the IRA is up to.
It is all very well for Opposition Members to talk today about putting a political injection into the situation. I say to those hon. Members that they do not understand what the IRA is about. It has no regard for politics of any kind. It has no respect for the ballot box. It has no respect for the Government of the Republic, let alone the British Government or any other Government. The IRA is out to achieve what it calls a united Socialist Irish Republic. All politicians, of whatever sort, are totally rejected by the IRA at present.
Of course the IRA does not put up candidates at elections. It does not believe in elections or in the ballot box. But this House, in its wisdom—although many of us thought that it was folly—thought that if we changed the electoral system in Northern Ireland to conform with that of the South, if we had new boundaries and rigged the elections in order to have a different set of circumstances, 1038 things would be different. We thought that the IRA men would hang up their guns, that the Provisional Sinn Fein, which was once a proscribed organisation, would go into serious politics, and that we would have a solution to the situation.
But what happened? The IRA did not care whether the system was proportional representation, the single transferable vote, or whatever. The IRA's goal is the utter destruction of not only the North of Ireland as it is now but also the Government of the South.
Today some hon. Members have told us how this situation came about. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Miss Maynard) told us that the British Government carved out a little part which had a strong Protestant majority and said "That is your bailiwick", and that no one else in Ireland wanted anything to do with that division. Let the House get the facts clear. The Government of the South of Ireland and Dail Eireann, the elected Parliament of the South, at the time of the Boundary Commission that was set up by this House to look into the area that should be governed as Northern Ireland, settled and sealed that that was what the boundary should be. The Northern Ireland Parliament and this House settled and sealed that that is what the boundary would be. That was taken and lodged officially with the old League of Nations. The three democratically elected Parliaments interested all agreed to that boundary. We must get the facts clear.
The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) told us of the plight of the Roman Catholic population. I remember him accusing his own Labour Government of disgracefully treating the Roman Catholic population of Northern Ireland. How could any Unionist Government in Ulster get away from being lambasted when the hon. Gentleman is prepared to distort the facts of the present situation and accuse his Government of involving themselves in the persecution of the Roman Catholic minority? When that sort of accusation is thrown across the House, how can any elected Government in that land take action that is acceptable to all sections of the community?
1039 No one in Northern Ireland who takes the name of Unionist wants to jeopardise the Union or interfere with it, but let it also be said that the people of Northern Ireland are sick and sore at heart when it is suggested in this House and elsewhere that they are citizens of the kingdom only by a charitable act of this House. It would be far better for the House to grasp the nettle. I put again to the House what I have put on two previous occasions. If the people of Scotland, England and Wales have decided that Northern Ireland should no longer be part of the family, let the nation be tested on that issue. I see in this House a great connivance to run away from the ballot box—to say what is good for the people of Northern Ireland but never to test it. Let the United Kingdom, apart from Ulster, be tested on that issue. Let the people speak. Let us have a verdict from the nation. I say with Kipling that if we are driven forth we must seek our destiny elsewhere.
I can make some claim tonight to speak for the Unionist people of Northern Ireland. At times I have been told by the Official Unionist Members of the House that mine was only a voice of isolation, but let it be never forgotten that the people of Ulster have spoken and spoken under a system rigged by this House. Every other constituency for the European election operated on a first-past-the-post system, but we in Ulster had proportional representation to conform to the system of voting in the Republic. Under proportional representation, the list or any other system, the man with the majority will win. The Official Unionist trailed behind me at that election by 100,000 votes. That was the answer of the people. Let the Government face this fact. Let the Labour Party also face it. Let the people of this nation speak.
The idea that as long as the majority of people of Northern Ireland want to be part of the United Kingdom all is well is a farce. I voted against that in this House, as did others. What would happen if there were a vote on this question, and there was a majority of one for going into the Irish Republic? We all know what would happen. That is only an exercise to put off the real issue. The House, the Government and the Labour Opposition should be prepared to grasp 1040 the nettle. It they do not want the Ulster people as part of the United Kingdom they have no right to say so; they must let the people say it.
Let us get away from the idea that Northern Ireland Members are here only by an act of charity. We have heard again tonight from the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) that it was an act of betrayal that the people of Ulster should have representation equal to their population. Of course we shall not get proper representation, but we shall get a few more seats, and even that is resented. Yet even those who oppose Ulster in this House have said that increased representation was an act of justice, and that justice should be done.
There are those who try to tell the people of Northern Ireland what is happening. The former Secretary of State made a statement in which he said he had studied the situation and was glad to report that the moderate Official Unionists were marching from strength to strength. He said that the Alliance Party was increasing its political power. However, he then said that the SDLP members were extremists and that they were fading away. He also said that the DUP members were even more extreme and they, too, were fading away. Yet, when the votes were cast we discovered a different situation. Why does this House pay lip service to democracy when it is not prepared to abide by the discipline of the ballot box?
I regret the speech that the Secretary of State made today. I hope that he did not mean it in the sense that I interpreted it. He said that the two communities in Northern Ireland would have to surrender part of what they swore allegiance to if there were to be a new mode of government. What does he want the Unionist people to surrender? Will he give up our desire to remain part of the United Kingdom? I stress that this is not an aspiration. I am not aspiring to, be part of the United Kingdom; I am part of it. I resent people saying, that as a British subject, I am aspiring to be what I am. I was born British, under the Union Jack, in part of the United Kingdom. I have a British passport and I travel as a Member of this House. Of course, the SDLP aspires to a United Ireland. Its goal is the same as that of the IRA, although it does not wish to achieve it in the same way. 1041 However, at the end of the day the aim is the same.
The Secretary of State said there would have to be some giving up. Are the Unionist people to give up their belief in the Union? The former Prime Minister told me and my party chairman one day that sooner or later a British Government—Conservative or Labour—would betray Northern Ireland. Therefore, he suggested that the Ulster people would be better off doing their own deal with Dublin. I have a shrewd suspicion that there is not the will of successive British Governments to maintain the Union, and that worries me most. Shall we give up our love of the Union and its defence? Shall we give up our rule through the ballot box? That is the only way finally to settle these matters.
The hon. Member for Belfast, West spoke of threats, but he told the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland that if he went the way that the Official Unionists told him to go, or even the way that I wanted him to go, it would be disastrous. What did he mean by that statement? The much-lamented Airey Neave proposed some kind of second tier of local government. I heard the hon. Member for Belfast, West tell the House that his party would boycott such a proposal and make it unworkable. Is that not a threat?
Some of us are not prepared to play nice little parliamentary games in this House. We are not prepared just to take part in these debates and then pretend that all is well while our country is bleeding to death. Will the Secretary of State say whether we are to give up the ballot box? Does he want us to give up our belief in a devolved Parliament and Government? If the hon. Member for Belfast, West can get people to give him a majority, even a majority in a coalition let him have that majority and form the Government in Northern Ireland. If that happens, we shall pledge ourselves to be a constitutional Opposition. If, on the other hand, the Unionists who do not want to see Republicans in the Government of Northern Ireland win the election, will the hon. Gentleman adopt a constitutional Opposition role? He says that he will not co-operate in such a venture.
This House must reach a decision. It will have to do so sooner or later. I believe 1042 that it will reach that decision sooner rather than later, because here will be an intensification of terrorist activity. In the face of all this, people are bound to ask "What can be done to stop terrorism?"
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, North (Mr. McQuade) on his maiden speech. He has worked for the people of that area as a councillor and trudged the roads of the city, and he has shown himself to be a man of the people, speaking for people. Incidentally, I also wish to congratulate the other maiden speaker in this debate—the hon. Member for Peterborough (Dr. Mawhinney—who made a telling speech on the Ulster position.
If the IRA does not believe that capital punishment is a deterrent, why has it issued a warning that every Ulster Member of Parliament who is prepared to push capital punishment will be murdered? That is what the IRA has said, and it has the strength to carry out that threat. It is all very well for Members who can go home in peace and comparative safety, but every hon. Member in this House who represents a Northern Ireland constituency knows that he may be shot down tonight and that the authorities can do nothing about it. It is not a matter of providing a sufficient number of bodyguards. President Kennedy had the whole of the FBI looking after him, but when people went out to kill him he received the bullet that was meant for him. There is not one of us who speaks in these debates who is not under that threat.
Why are the Provisionals threatening politicians? They do so because they know that capital punishment is a deterrent. Let us read Irish history and see what happened in the South. The South of Ireland had the same problem as that which we now face. After the Cosgrave Government came to power De Valera brought into being a Provisional IRA. His irregulars, like the Provisionals, carried out bombings and assassinations.
We do not hear about that. It was a time when Republicans fought Republicans—when the worst of crimes were perpetrated by Irish Republicans against Irish Republicans. One of their leaders was killed on the instructions of Eamon De Valera. Kevin O'Higgins came into power and he said that the only way to 1043 deal with the trouble was to kill those who carried out the killings. We all know the story well. The first man to be killed was one of Kevin O'Higgins's friends—a man to whom he had given a gun. The police authorities asked "What do we do?" and Kevin O'Higgins said Carry out the law". In a few short months the bloodshed was over. Eamon De Valera decided that he would have to go into politics because the war could not be won by blood and by bullet.
There is only one way to put down the trouble—to introduce capital punishment for capital crime. The hon. Member for Hillsborough has never stood over the coffin of a man who was gunned down by the IRA. I wonder how many times he has walked behind a coffin and watched children shed bitter tears? Never. But that is the sad duty of every Northern Ireland Member weekend after weekend. I am amazed at the tolerance and patience of the Protestant people. They have been exceedingly long-suffering, but not a word is said about that. Instead, they are the butt of the people, and are ridiculed.
The hon. Member for Hillsborough referred to a cartoon that hung in my office. It was printed by an enemy newspaper and sent to me as an insult. I paste up all such cartoons on my office wall. I have another one of myself kissing the Pope's toe.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
I shall do that. It was a drawing that depicted me sitting in the papal chair, with the Pope kissing my toe. The other cartoon that I referred to depicts the position in reverse—me kneeling and kissing the Pope's toe. For the hon. Member for Hillsborough to refer to that shows how shallow is the attitude that is taken in order to deal with the Northern Ireland problem. But it is a serious issue—it is about the lives of people.
Will the Minister tell the House what happened to the nine men from Turf Lodge? Will he supply their names? I understand that two of them are prominent members of the IRA battalion in Belfast. Those men were apprehended and taken into custody, but after four 1044 hours they were released. The police were entitled to hold them for some days, but they were not so held. Will the Minister clear up the matter?
Proscribing an organisation is of little use when it is not possible in a court of law to convict a man. The only way to make it effectual is when the law can be so altered that the man can be mute of malice if he does not answer the question about belonging to that organisation. If a ban on an organisation is to be brought into force the law needs to be changed so that when a member is questioned it is a crime for him not to answer the question whether or not he belongs to that organisation. To put the record straight, will the Minister tell us whether or not the UVF is a banned organisation in Northern Ireland?
We have heard hon. Members saying that the UVF should be banned, but it is already banned. The difficulty is to pin on those concerned the fact that they are members of an illegal organisation.
I wish the Secretary of State and the Opposition spokesman well in their work, but I have to tell them that there must be a change of policy, because the security policies of the past have not defeated the IRA. The time has come for a reappraisal and for the House to take a hard look at the Ulster situation.
Let us, as men entrusted with the destiny of that part of the United Kingdom, take our decisions forthrightly and honestly. Let us face up to the issues and not run away from them.
§ Mr. Stan Thorne
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As you have just called the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), there will have been three successive speakers representing the Conservative Unionists in Northern Ireland. Can you please tell me what separates the right hon. Member for Down, South from the hon. Members for Belfast, South (Mr. Bradford) and Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley)?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The occupant of the Chair calls the hon. Member who catches his eye. It is not for the Chair to explain why an hon. Member is called.
§ Mr. Thorne
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Does your reply mean that the practice of calling an hon. Member from one party followed by an hon. Member from another party is at an end?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
When the hon. Gentleman looks at the list of speakers in the debate he will find that there has been a fair assortment across the Chamber.
§ Mr. Flannery
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Only a handful of hon. Members hold the views that my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, South (Mr. Thorne) and I share. We have had three successive speakers giving the other point of view.
It seems to us that there should be a fair division so that our minority viewpoint has a fair hearing. When we read the list of speakers, it will not be clear that that has been the case.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I have not been in the Chair all day, but I have heard a fair assortment of speeches.
§ 10.38 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)
I join the many hon. Members who have referred to the two maiden speeches, which were both by Ulstermen. Despite their contrasting styles, they were both unmistakably Ulster speeches which it was right that the House should have heard because they expressed both the frustration and the bewilderment of the people of Ulster in the tenth year of a period of conflict which has continually changed in its form and in its impact.
In the past few months we have been in a phase distinct and different in many respects from all that have gone before. The Secretary of State correctly designated it as such. It is a phase in which the attack of the IRA has consisted almost exclusively of assaults upon members of the security forces, assaults almost exclusively based on, and conducted from, the territory of the Republic. It is a development which, choosing one's words carefully, could not have taken its particular form unless there had been a change of mood and policy in the Irish Republic which made it possible.
But there is a further and more sinister and dangerous aspect to this phase. It is 1046 what I might call the transatlantic dimension. I believe that the Government should not only recognise that but should do what is in their power to disarm it. There is a peculiar danger in the transatlantic dimension. The IRA is able to combine great tactical and military insight and skill with an almost incredible innocence and ingenuousness in its political judgment, as it has for instance shown in its belief that the people of Great Britain could be coerced into or frightened off a particular line of action by terrorist acts in London and elsewhere in Great Britain. There is a great danger that it could similarly mistake and misappreciate the new transatlantic dimension and interpret it as a new cause for hope and as an encouragement to persevere in this new phase of attack upon Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Against that background it behoves the Government, as far as they can, to make it clear on both sides of the Atlantic that that interference, that influence, even that interest in the internal affairs of the United Kingdom will not be allowed to influence the British Government, to divert their intentions or alter their determination to defeat the terrorist attack upon Ulster and the United Kingdom, however long and testing the struggle may be.
We are discussing two documents, of which the second is constitutional—the extension of the interim period.
§ Mr. Stan Thorne
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It was indicated by the Speaker that Front Bench spokesmen would be called at 10.40 p.m. Has that arrangement been changed?
§ Mr. Powell
I am obliged for the injury time and for the intervention by the hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Thorne), which, possibly, has had the effect of slightly increasing my injury time.
Northern Ireland enjoys the unenviable distinction in the United Kingdom of being a Province with two constitutions on the statute book at the same time, neither of them any good.
One is the 1973 constitution, still on the statute book, which was brought into 1047 effect in 1973, was suspended in 1974 and has since been held in abeyance by the constant renewal of the 1974 Act. The 1973 Act is one as to which there reigns considerable unanimity amongst different and, indeed, opposing strands of opinion: all agree that it is totally unwanted and unworkable and can never be exhumed and put on its feet again.
This is not because of the Ulster workers' strike of 1974. That simply happened to be the way its inherent unworkability, always indicated and predicted by those hon. Members who opposed it in the House, was exposed. Everyone knows that the 1973 Act could not work, cannot work, and will not work; yet it is still on the statute book. Superimposed upon it is what is called direct rule, which has to be renewed at intervals of not more than 12 months. What a helpful and encouraging condition for a Province which lives under the stresses of Northern Ireland—to have an unworkable constitution permanently on the statute book and a workable, though unwelcome, constitution renewed for no more than 12 months at a time! There is stability for you. What a helpful basis for a Province which has to live under the conditions of Northern Ireland.
The last Parliament almost began with the enactment of the 1974 Act; and in that Parliament it was natural that the House should not yet consider it necessary to provide more than that temporary and annual means for the government of Northern Ireland. But now a new Parliament has begun; and I say to the Secretary of State that it will be intolerable if this Parliament grows much older without that part of the United Kingdom having what all the rest of the United Kingdom takes for granted—a stable constitution and basis for living and working.
I said that none of us likes the direct rule constitution of the 1974 Act. The Government say, through the Secretary of State, that they "do not want direct rule to continue" longer than is absolutely necessary. Well, it is within their power to have their wish and to have it in the foreseeable future.
There are two characteristics of direct rule, two differences between the governance of Northern Ireland and the governance 1048 of the rest of the United Kingdom—the governance, for example, of a part of Wales, a part of Scotland or a part of England. One is in legislation, that under direct rule Northern Ireland can be, though it does not necessarily have to be, legislated for by order. The second is that Northern Ireland is virtually destitute of local government in the ordinary sense of the term, the functions of local government being exercised, directly or indirectly, by Her Majesty's Government.
Those are both conditions which are unacceptable not only from the point of view of the Province but from the point of view of the United Kingdom. It is really an impossibility that one part of the United Kingdom should be legislated for on different principles from the rest—it is a denial of the Union itself. It is equally unacceptable that Ministers on the Front Bench—five of them in this House and one in another place, if I have it right should be seeking, directly or through unelected boards, to carry out all the functions of local government in a part of the United Kingdom. It is grotesque. It is inconsistent with what is just and fair.
The Secretary of State quite properly said that whatever was done for Northern Ireland ought to be accepted as just and fair by all. I propose a criterion as to what is just and fair, a criterion with which I defy any hon. Member to disagree. What is just and fair is what we in the United Kingdom think and accept to be just and fair: for if it were not so we in the United Kingdom as a whole would not accept it.
So let me now consider these two elements of direct rule with which the Government must deal, if they are to comply with their own intentions and ambitions.
First, legislation. It is true that in the last Session or two considerable progress in this respect was made by means of a clause which, in effect, renders a Great Britain Bill a United Kingdom Bill and thus brings Northern Ireland Members into the consideration of it at every stage. I hope the Government will in this respect follow the same course of policy as their predecessors followed, so that, wherever Northern Ireland cannot be legislated for directly as a part 1049 of the United Kingdom, the application to Northern Ireland by order will be in a form which makes the Great Britain legislation the substantive legislation for the Province in the manner which I have defined. I hope also it will be recognised that that is only a transitional device until we can arrive at the full enjoyment of proper legislation for the Province.
Second, I come to local government. There are three aspects of this, and there is no reason or necessity why all three need be dealt with simultaneously or necessarily in the same way. Indeed, one of the characteristics of this debate has been the emphasis of almost all who have spoken upon a certain degree of gradualness in moving to the fair and just form of government for Northern Ireland.
The first of the three modes is local government at the grass roots, local government dealing with those matters with which district councils deal in the rest of the United Kingdom. It is absurd and intolerable—the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues probably know this already after only two months—that the residents of Northern Ireland should have no recourse on matters of the smallest concern in their living conditions to any elected person other than their Member of Parliament operating on Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom.
There is local government already functioning in the Province, and functioning in very much the same way as local government functions in the rest of the United Kingdom. There is no reason—there could be no objection in practice or in theory—to substantial powers of local administration being conferred upon those district authorities that are already functioning, already staffed and already operating and co-operating.
Secondly, there are the boards through which education, health and planning are administered. There will have to be a means of rendering those boards directly responsive to the electorate. It can be for discussion whether the areas should be the same for all purposes, whether they could overlap, and whether the boards should be separately elected; but democratisation of the boards in principle is the second requirement.
1050 There remain, thirdly, the upper-tier functions which today Ministers are executing. Those, too, there has to be a way of rendering directly responsive and subservient to the will of the electorate in Northern Ireland.
In none of all this does one ask for Northern Ireland anything but what is regarded in the rest of the United Kingdom as not merely just and fair but something taken for granted. We cannot continue as we have been doing. We cannot go on with an unworkable constitution on the statute book and another constitution, enacted for 12 months at a time, which is inconsistent with our being part of the United Kingdom. At the beginning of a new Parliament the Government have the opportunity, the means and the duty to provide Northern Ireland with a better and more permanent constitutional framework in which to live its life.
§ 10.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Pendry (Stalybridge and Hyde)
Although it is customary for Front Bench speakers to be given more time to reply to a debate, I willingly—I am sure that this applies to the Minister who will reply—refrained from rising earlier, in order to allow more hon. Members to take part in what has been a far-ranging debate.
I wish to make it clear from the start that the Oppositon intend voting for the measures before us. I was pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Mr. John) made it clear that we do not do so lightly. I am sure that the Government do not ask the House so to do. We believe that any Secretary of State—of whatever Government—who asks for the renewal of the powers contained in these measures must do so with a heavy heart. We have no wish to see these powers retained for any longer than is absolutely necessary. That has come through time and time again in the debate.
We do not particularly like the orders. Speaking personally, I would be among the first to vote against them if circumstances were significantly different from those now pertaining. The orders are in many ways distasteful. However, my short experience as a Minister in Northern Ireland compels me to agree to the orders and to recommend them to the House.
1051 Above all, we must be realistic. We must live in the world that exists and not in the one that we wished existed. I am sure that the entire House wishes to see peace and order restored to Northern Ireland. We must be prepared to ensure that the Secretary of State has at his disposal all the powers that are necessary to bring about a situation and to create a climate in which meaningful progress may be made to finding a political solution to the problems of Northern Ireland. It is important to strive for that solution, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) did when he ploughed that furrow ceaselessly. We shall all be watching closely his successor. We shall be judging him and the Administration on his progress or otherwise.
I am sure that the Secretary of State does not need me to tell him that his honeymoon period is almost over. Following his speech to the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, his announcements following the recent Budget on the implication of the public expenditure cuts to the tune of £35 million for the Province, and what he said today from the Dispatch Box, he will not be surprised if his task is made much more difficult. Security cannot be divorced from social and economic developments in the Province. Manpower services will be cut by £11 million, social services by £2.3 million, education by £2.1 million, and commerce by £10.5 million—all in this difficult area of the United Kingdom. My colleagues and I will return to that theme on future occasions. The bipartisan approach to the affairs of Northern Ireland does not extend to issues of that kind. Such policies will be opposed with the utmost vigour by the Opposition.
Tonight I echo the general welcome extended by my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd to the Secretary of State and his team. Its members appear to be very active in the Province in their various roles. The Opposition wish them well in their difficult task. If the smiling faces beaming at us from the pages of the Ulster Commentary are anything to go by, they are enjoying their task.
We who were in government seven or eight weeks ago must concur with the basic tenets of the orders before the 1052 House. We accept—as we did previously—that we are engaged in a struggle, but not against a bone fide enemy or political movement with a clearly-defined philosophy, prepared to win the hearts and minds of the people of Northern Ireland by democratic means. Instead, the Government are dealing with a small, dedicated group of fanatics, from whatever side, whose cruelty knows no bounds. The Opposition will support the Government tonight. They have a duty to do so.
The security situation, despite the recent setbacks, has been steadily getting better. Almost everyone accepts that. The powers that we are discussing tonight have a direct bearing on this situation.
At the risk of alienating some of my hon. Friends I should like to add to the tributes paid to the RUC and the troops and the way in which they have operated throughout the Province. They have served the whole community with great fortitude and courage. The House will for ever be in their debt and that of their families. That should be clearly said whenever we have the opportunity.
Many crimes have been committed, and numerous lives have been needlessly lost. There is no doubt in the minds of the Opposition that the death roll would have been much greater without the efforts of the RUC, the troops, and the powers the continuance of which, we are debating tonight.
I echo the tributes paid in respect of the two maiden speeches. I think that the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. McQuade) accused the Secretary of State of talking in drawing-room language with his counterparts in the Republic. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman will ever be accused of talking in such language. No one will go to sleep when he speaks. It was punchy stuff. He certainly did not lack conviction. However, I have a friendly piece of advice. I hope that the hon. Member will not lecture the House on the subject of capital punishment. The House has an honourable tradition of expecting hon. Members to come to a decision on that issue following their own consciences. I believe that it should be left in that setting.
The hon. Member for Peterborough (Dr. Mawhinney) made a fascinating maiden speech. He said that he was a 1053 rare type of Member to represent an English constituency, as he was born in Belfast. He is, I suggest, rare for another reason—that he managed to increase the Conservative majority in Peterborough from two figures to four. That was quite an achievement for any Member for Peterborough. The hon. Member touched on defence matters, and no doubt these will be referred by the Minister to the Secretary of State for Defence. Happily, my hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Roper), who is a new recruit to the Opposition Front Bench and is a spokesman on defence, heard what the hon. Member for Peterborough said, and I am sure that he will also pursue the matter. The sincerity of the hon. Member for Peterborough came through, and I am sure that the House will want to hear him many times in the future.
With regard to the Bennett report, on which I thought the Secretary of State was very much at his best, we welcome the fact that the Government are to accept almost all the proposals in it. I reiterate that we should like to know the reasons that certain proposals were not accepted by the Government. I am sure that the Minister will deal with that when he replies. We welcome the opportunity to look in depth at the statement that has been left in the Library.
The Secretary of State mentioned the five cases of the prisoners who suffered injuries when in police hands. This matter is still with the Director of Public Prosecutions. One case is still proceeding. It is sub judice, and we do not want to mention it here. In the nine cases of prisoners who suffered injuries and in which the DPP decided not to proceed, are those prisoners to receive compensation for their injuries? We should like to hear from the Minister about that matter.
Mention has been made of the review that my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley instigated concerning the possible relaxing of certain parts of the emergency provisions legislation. Without wishing to press the Minister too far on that tonight, will he assure the House that it is an ongoing review and that the Secretary of State will be giving us a progress report in six months' time?
1054 The Secretary of State said that he saw the Royal Ulster Constabulary as the objective enforcer of the law. Perhaps that would be more readily seen to be the case by the minority communities if more Catholics were recruited into the force. We know the problems, as we have said many times in this House. Has the Secretary of State any fresh ideas on this question? If so, will he be pursuing them with leaders of the minority communities?
I hope that in his reply the Minister will deal with the points made by the hon. Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) concerning what appeared to be serious allegations about the judiciary. There was reference to Republican connivance at terrorism and to concealed pressure on the judiciary in Northern Ireland to give lighter sentences than would be given in the rest of the United Kingdom because of the embarrassment arising in H block. I think that these matters are worthy of comment by the Minister.
The hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt), in a customarily forceful speech, made some points that ought to be answered. He mentioned the future of Harland and Wolff, for example. I think that the Minister ought to touch on that when he replies. As to housing, I know that when we were on the Treasury Bench we were accused of selling a number of council houses. I believe that we pushed it to the absolute limit, and I certainly endorse what the hon. Member said on this subject. I sincerely hope that the Government will not foolishly go down that road. If they do, it will cause many problems. This is not a doctrinal point; it is offered as very friendly advice from someone who sat on the Treasury Bench not too long ago.
The hon. Member for Belfast, West made the serious allegation that 29 people had been beaten up since the Bennett report was made. I think that everyone in the House will want to hear what the Minister has to say about that allegation.
The official Opposition will, as I have said, support the Government in the matter of the emergency powers and the 1055 other matter before the House. We hope that the orders will be supported by the entire House. We must show the terrorists in Northern Ireland that the path that they have chosen is the wrong one and that the kind of violence and aggression that they pursue is both obnoxious and irrelevant to the needs of the people in Northern Ireland. Until that message is heeded by those terrorists, these measures are both prudent and necessary. I commend them to the House.
§ 11.9 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. Michael Alison)
As a matter of courtesy and good will, I follow the long-standing tradition of the House and associate myself and my right hon. Friend with the words of congratulation that have been expressed from all sides of the House to our maiden speakers.
The hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. McQuade) spoke with passionate conviction about the unacceptability of deaths from terrorism in the Province—those unspeakable examples of murder and mutilation by bomb and bullet with which, unfortunately, he is only too familiar, living as he does close to the very areas where the atrocities are carried out.
The hon. Member was right to remind the House that it is easy for us not to appreciate the appalling impact of these events if we do not live cheek by jowl with them, as he does. He is also right to call for an absolute commitment by the Government to root out this evil. We certainly and readily give that commitment.
The hon. Gentleman may think that the Government are too civilised in the way they carry on the business of combating terrorism. He has entered the Chamber just as I am saying polite words about him. I remind him, when he suggests that we are being too civilised in our approach to the terrorists, that it is the essence of civilisation, as we understand it, that the civil power uses its power actively to uphold the authority of the State and the rule of law—using the power of the sword if need be. Coming from a good Protestant background, the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the use of the sword by the civil power is a scriptural principle. We do not scruple to use it. Indeed, although the relentless, 1056 ceaseless pursuit of the terrorist, like the wheels of justice, may seem to grind slowly, it grinds exceedingly fine.
The hon. Gentleman should not overlook the fact that year in, year out, substantial numbers of terrorist convictions have been obtained by this Government, the last Government and Governments before them. For example, in the last three lots of six-month periods, the number of convictions for terrorism has hovered around the 450 to 500 mark. That is a large number, and it shows that the civil power is relentlessly pursuing terrorism. In the processes of the enforcement of the law, terrorists have also been killed by the security forces—more than 150 since 1970. Therefore, we are pursuing the proper role of the State in attacking and attempting to destroy these evil terrorists.
§ Mr. McCusker
This cycle has been going on for so long that terrorists are now coming out of prison in increasing numbers. As to the killing of terrorists, in two and a half years in County Armagh the security forces have managed to kill only two terrorists.
§ Mr. Alison
That does not alter the fact that, as these figures show, we are pursuing a relentless campaign against the terrorist. There is no point in underestimating the difficulty of doing so. Very often terrorists are like needles in a haystack. Five hundred terrorists in a community of nearly 2 million people present a serious problem to the civil power, but we are attacking them and are succeeding in a marked way.
Anyone who heard the maiden speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Dr. Mawhinney) could not have failed to be riveted by it and moved by it. I can pay no higher compliment to a maiden speaker than that. It is clear that our debates on Northern Ireland and our consideration of all the problems of the Province will in future be immensely enriched by my hon. Friend's combination of profound sympathy for the condition of the people in the Province and his insight into it; and yet all the more powerfully does he reflect on it from, in a sense, his detached vantage point of a Great Britain constituency.
There is one small point that I should make in the context of my hon. Friend's 1057 speech. He suggests that it is easy to underestimate in Great Britain the effect in Northern Ireland of the terrible works of the terrorists, and that, occasionally, the death of a prominent public figure, such as Airey Neave—which we all deeply deplore—only shows how stark indeed is this underestimation of the effect of these almost daily killings in the Province, which seem to go unnoticed over here.
However, I think that my hon. Friend must reflect that it is perhaps the publicity attached to a public figure, in the case of Airey Neave, which caused the enormous public presentation of this matter, and my hon. Friend should not forget the literally hundreds, perhaps 400, of British soldiers who have died in Northern Ireland, and the deaths of whom, though unpublicised, likewise cause tragic vigils in English country and city churchyards. This sends a reverberation through the English community no less profound than that of the deaths in the Province.
We are sharing this tragedy together. Many families on both sides of the sea that divides the islands are deeply aware of the terrible effects of terrorism.
I turn to some specific points raised in the debate. Although I may not be able to answer all of them, I shall do my best to deal with some of them.
I start with a number of the questions raised by the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Mr. John). I extend to him my congratulations on his moving over to the important Northern Ireland brief in this new Parliament.
The hon. Gentleman wanted an elaboration of the word "virtually" in my right hon. Friend's description of the Government's response to the Bennett recommendations. We are unable to accept one of the 64-odd Bennett recommendations. The Bennett committee recommended that we should re-examine the present practice of investigating complaints before the trial of the complainant. This matter has been reexamined, but the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland is unable to accept any change in the present procedures.
I think that probably the hon. Gentleman will appreciate why this is so. With interrogation being so crucial and evidential 1058 a factor, it is necessary to lean over backwards to ensure that complaints are unfounded before proceeding with charges and, perhaps, a case based upon the evidence deriving from interrogations. I believe that we are moving in the spirit of the Bennett recommendations, if not precisely in the letter of them here.
§ Mr. McNamara
Does not that mean, however, that under a section 8 complaint, a person making an allegation must reveal his hand to the prosecution before his case comes before the judge? The main objection is to that point, and the Government have failed to meet it.
§ Mr. Alison
It is a fine balance. In the difficult circumstances in Northern Ireland, which the hon. Gentleman appreciates, we simply feel that, on balance, we must remove any doubt about the validity of the evidential basis of a charge arising from interrogation. That is why we have taken this decision. But this is the only recommendation which has not been accepted in the round. It is fair to say that we have accepted the spirit rather than the letter of some other recommendations—which the hon. Gentleman can see from the summary in the Library. For example, the committee recommended that not more than three teams of two officers should interview any one suspect. The Chief Constable accepts the need to keep the number of interviews to a minimum but believes that with the demands of court duties, leave and sickness, six officers would not be enough. Hence he will wherever possible limit the number of interviewers to four teams of two officers.
Recommendation 45 is that prisoners should be given unconditional right of access to solicitors after 48 hours and thereafter in successive time periods of 48 hours. We accept that in principle and have started the practice. Contrary to the Bennett recommendation, however, we have decided not to allow all consultations—invariably with solicitors—to be totally in private. Bennett thought that the police should be able to monitor the interviews with solicitors visually but not audibly. We have gone one step further and think that the interviews should be subject to monitoring by sight and sound.
As Lord Shackleton pointed out in his report, solicitors could, albeit inadvertently, carry back vital information 1059 gleaned by the terrorist in custody to his accomplices outside. That could clearly hamper the investigation of the case by the police, but more importantly could put public safety at risk. Given the situation in Northern Ireland at present, it is equally necessary to prevent consultations there from being used to hinder investigations or hamper the administration of justice.
For that reason, in cases—and I think that there will be few—where it is considered necessary, the consultation will have to be conducted in the presence of a senior uniformed officer. That should safeguard public safety whilst in no way inhibiting the solicitor from making clear to the prisoner his rights and, should the need arise, taking note of complaints that the prisoner may have.
The hon. Member for Pontypridd also asked about the installation of devices such as peepholes. The installation of observation lenses in the doors of interview rooms has been started and will shortly be completed. The contract for television cameras and monitor screens is being put out to tender. When a tender has been accepted, installation should take about three months. So that is well under way. The proposition that a code of conduct for interviewers should be drawn up and included in the RUC discipline code is being dealt with and likewise should be completed in the near future.
The hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry), whom I also congratulate on joining us in this difficult task, asked about the eligibility for compensation of the nine to whom he referred in the context of Bennett. No criminal charges were substantiated in the cases referred to, which means that it becomes a civil matter. It is entirely open to the complainants to pursue a case against the Chief Constable if they so wish, and the due processes of law will determine the validity of the charges that they make.
The hon. Member for Pontypridd, criticised the Government—that criticism was echoed by the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) and other hon. Members—for cutting back public spending. Economic measures of the sort that we have taken are a means to an end 1060 and that end is the improvement of the economic prospects of the Province and the United Kingdom as a whole. I am sure that that was the parallel purpose in his Government's retrenchment. The last Administration also reduced public expenditure in comparison to previous plans. For example in their statement of 22 July 1976 and 15 December 1976 they announced that public spending for 1977–78 would be cut by about £2,000 million in total at 1976 survey prices. Of that amount, about £42 million fell on the Northern Ireland programme. As a consequence, assistance to trade, industry, employment and housing were considerably reduced. That is an even larger figure. If that figure were adjusted to present-day prices, it would be a considerably larger cutback than that proposed by the present Administration. However, the hon. Gentleman's Government did it for the best, and we are doing exactly the same.
§ Mr. Alison
No, I assure the hon. Gentleman that the plans for cutback under his Government were implemented, and I can give him chapter and verse of a number of hospital projects and other schemes which were actually stopped as a result.
Finally, there is the question of the continuing review of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act. In a sense this debate is the result of the ongoing review which was started by our predecessors, and bears fruit in the kind of report that we are making this evening. The operation of the Act will certainly be kept under review prior to the next expiry date, and my right hon. Friend will report the outcome to the House at the appropriate time. I cannot say what new conclusions or recommendations he will reach, but a great deal will depend on how the security situation develops in the next six months.
The hon. Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux) expressed the view that the result of Bennett was hindering and would hinder in future the role of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. I believe that the reverse is true. Overwhelmingly, the 1061 RUC is an outstanding police force—constitutional, impartial, dedicated, brave and subject, like any other human agency, to fallibility. It makes mistages sometimes. It is a prime aim of terrorists to discredit the RUC, and Bennett explicitly refers to this. I believe that its examination by an outside body, such as Bennett, should and does hold no terrors for the RUC and its reputation is enhanced by the kind of scrutiny that has emerged from the Bennett report, and the kind of action that has been taken by this Government and the Chief Constable himself as a result of those investigations. In other words, the RUC can more than stand up to scrutiny of any kind, and this only serves to strengthen its arm.
The hon. Member for Belfast, West referred to the possibility that 29 new allegations of cases of ill-treatment had been furnished by some named doctors. The hon. Member claimed that these cases had arisen since the publication of the Bennett investigation. I tell the House categorically that I and my right hon. Friend are certainly not aware of any such case since Bennett investigated and reported. However, it is true that forensic medical officers have been asked by the police authority to collect any evidence of ill-treatment retrospectively over a number of years, going well back to pre-Bennett days. Any suggestions of ill-treatment made by such doctors do not necessarily mean that maltreatment has occurred. Indeed, Bennett made quite clear that the fact that an injury was not self-inflicted did not necessarily mean that any unlawful act had been committed by the police in that context. Thus, the issues remain wide open, and naturally if the review being carried out retrospectively brings to light more cases in which there is prima facie evidence of unlawful acts by the police, of course the Chief Constable will hold an investigation. If there is evidence for the allegations he will put it to the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the appropriate courses of action will follow.
§ Mr. Fitt
Will the Minister take it from me that at the last meeting of the police authority a document was circulated to members of that authority? That document stated that on 31 May this year—after the debate on Bennett had taken place in this House—forensic doctors 1062 employed by the police authority were asked to tabulate the number of cases in which they believed that maltreatment had taken place and where medical evidence would tend to support the allegations. Those doctors instanced 29 cases, a number of which happened in May and June this year. That was long after Bennett, and it came after an undertakening had been given by the then Labour Secretary of State for Northern Ireland that no further cases of maltreatment would be tolerated.
§ Mr. Alison
I could accept a great deal from the hon. Member for Belfast, West, but it is more than my life is worth to accept anything from him about the police authority before I have received it from that authority.
§ Mr. Alison
I will look into the allegations which the hon. Gentleman has made, but I believe that these are all retrospective cases going back a long time in the past and that no solid evidence exists that police misdemeanours necessarily arise in those cases.
The hon. Member for Antrim, South also mentioned the suspicion which he had heard bruited around that lenient sentences were being given as a matter of policy. But sentencing policy is not a matter for the Secretary of State, and I assure the House that there is no question whatever of any pressure being exerted on the Northern Ireland judiciary by the Northern Ireland Office, whether in connection with the Maze protest or for any other reason.
Another matter raised by the hon. Member for Antrim, South and others related to the suspicion that the Government of the Republic were conniving with the terrorists. I categorically repudiate any idea that the Government of the Republic are conniving at terrorism. My right hon. Friend's recent discussions with Irish Ministers in Dublin serve to confirm our deep conviction that there is no ground for believing that there is any conniving at Government level with the IRA. Both Governments recognise the PIRA as a common enemy and both are agreed on the need to improve co-operative efforts to defeat terrorism.
Time has rushed ahead because we have not had quite as much time as we 1063 hoped. Therefore, I shall refer only briefly to the speech of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), who referred to the so-called interference by leaders of the Irish-American community. We welcome the interest of these leaders in enlightening their community about the enormity of some of their fellow citizens making contributions to violent republicanism. I recognise that their interest in the long-term future of Northern Ireland is not always so well-balanced and that it is not helpful. We have lost no opportunity to put the full facts before those concerned in the United States, but I am certain that the United States Government have a proper understanding of them. Sir Nicholas Henderson is at this very moment in the Province and I hope to see him tomorrow. We shall be pressing again the need to represent truly in America the facts about the Province.
The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) referred to the allegations about the nine terrorists who were arrested and then released. There is no mystery about this. As the RUC has already stated publicly, a number of people, nine in all, were detained in the
§ Turf Lodge area on the day to which the hon. Gentleman referred. They had been arrested by the Army, acting in co-ordination and in consultation with the police. The police were not prepared to press charges against them and they were consequently released.
§ It is for the RUC, as an independent constitutional police force, to decide whether charges of IRA membership or other offences should be made. In the light of what the hon. Gentleman said, I shall carefully examine his remarks in order to reassure myself that the case is as watertight as I have suggested.
§ We are discussing tonight in this free, democratic assembly, the constitutional re-enactment of procedures which our free society as a majority considers to be desirable and necessary to enable the civil power to discharge its proper—
§ It being half-past Eleven o'clock, Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question pursuant to Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted Business).
§ The House divided: Ayes 178, Noes 10.1065
|Division No. 34]||AYES||[11.30 p.m.|
|Alexander, Richard||Dean, Paul (North Somerset)||Lester, Jim (Beeston)|
|Alison, Michael||Dorrell, Stephen||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)|
|Ancram, Michael||Dover, Denshore||Luce, Richard|
|Arnold, Tom||Dunn, Robert (Dartford)||Lyell, Nicholas|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Eggar, Timothy||McCartney, Hugh|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||English, Michael||McCusker, H.|
|Atkins, Robert (Preston North)||Faith, Mrs Sheila||Macfarlane, Neil|
|Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset)||Fenner, Mrs Peggy||MacGregor, John|
|Banks, Robert||Fisher, Sir Nigel||Mackay, John (Argyll)|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh N)||Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)|
|Beith, A. J.||Fookes, Miss Janet||McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury)|
|Bendall, Vivian||Forman, Nigel||Major, John|
|Benyon, Thomas (Abingdon)||Freud, Clement||Marland, Paul|
|Benyon, W. (Buckingham)||Garel-Jones, Tristan||Marlow, Antony|
|Best, Keith||Goodhart, Philip||Marten, Neil (Banbury)|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Gorst, John||Mates, Michael|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gow, Ian||Mather, Carol|
|Blackburn, John||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)||Mawhinney, Dr Brian|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Gummer, John Selwyn||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Mayhew, Patrick|
|Bradford, Rev R.||Hampson, Dr Keith||Mellor, David|
|Bright, Graham||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch)|
|Brinton, Timothy||Hawkins, Paul||Mills, Iain (Meriden)|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Hicks, Robert||Moate, Roger|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Grantham)||Molyneaux, James|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe)||Home Robertson, John||Morris, Michael (Northampton, Sth)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, John||Hunt, David (Wirral)||Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester)|
|Budgen, Nick||Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)||Morton, George|
|Butcher, John||John, Brynmor||Mudd, David|
|Cadbury, Jocelyn||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Murphy, Christopher|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Myles, David|
|Chapman, Sydney||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Neale, Gerrard|
|Clark, William (Croydon South)||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Neubert, Michael|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Knight, Mrs Jill||Newton, Tony|
|Cockeram, Eric||Knox, David||Normanton, Tom|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)||Lang, Ian||Onslow, Cranley|
|Colvin, Michael||Lawrence Ivan||Page, Rt Hon R Graham (Crosby)|
|Cope, John||Lawson, Nigel||Parris, Matthew|
|Costain, A. P.||Lee, John||Patten, Christopher (Bath)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Le Marchant, Spencer||Patten, John (Oxford)|
|Pendry, Tom||Sims, Roger||Waddington, David|
|Percival, Sir Ian||Skeet, T. H. H.||Wakeham, John|
|Pollock, Alexander||Speller, Tony||Wall, Patrick|
|Porter, George||Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)||Waller, Gary|
|Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch (S Down)||Sproat, Ian||Ward, John|
|Price, David (Eastleigh)||Squire, Robin||Watson, John|
|Proctor, K. Harvey||Stainton, Keith||Wells, P. Bowen (Hert'rd & Stev'nage)|
|Pym, Rt Hon Francis||Stanbrook, Ivor||Wheeler, John|
|Renton, Tim||Steel, Rt Hon David||White, Frank R. (Bury & Radcliffe)|
|Rhodes, James, Robert||Stevens, Martin||Whitney, Raymond|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Stradling Thomas, J.||Wickenden, Keith|
|Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)||Tebbit, Norman||Wilkinson, John|
|Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)||Temple-Morris, Peter||Williams, Delwyn (Montgomery)|
|Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Sainsbury, Hon Timothy||Thompson, Donald||Wolfson, Mark|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)||Thornton, George|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)||Townend, John (Bridlington)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge-Br'hills)||Trippier, David||Mr. Anthony Berry and|
|Shersby, Michael||Vaughan, Dr Gerard||Lord James Douglas-Hamilton|
|Silvester, Fred||Viggers, Peter|
|Dobson, Frank||Robinson, Peter (Belfast East)||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)|
|McNamara, Kevin||Skinner, Dennis|
|McQuade, John||Soley, Clive||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mikardo, Ian||Stallard, A. W.||Reverend Ian Paisley and|
|Richardson, Miss Jo||Mr. James Kilfedder.|
|Question accordingly agreed to.|
|That the draft Northern Ireland Act 1974 (Interim Period Extension) Order 1979, which was laid before this House on 14 June, be approved.|