HC Deb 02 July 1981 vol 7 cc1053-106

Question again proposed.

6.20 pm
Mr. Robert J. Bradford> (Belfast, South)

I know that the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) will not take it amiss when I say that I listened to his comments with great sorrow rather than with anger. I felt that we were back to the early 1970s.

I shall not take the time of the House to deal with the error that was apparent at the beginning of the right hon. Gentleman's speech when he said that the troops were sent to Northern Ireland to protect the Roman Catholic minority in the Province and that he was asked to do so by the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt). He will agree that the most important reason for sending in the troops was that the RUC was under great pressure because of the influence of the street agitators. That fact must be put clearly on record.

Although the right hon. Gentleman couched his argument in almost clerical if not censorious terms, his tones did not veil his counsel of despair. Any proposal that causes Ulster to cease to be part of the United Kingdom, to cease to be British, is the consequence of a counsel of despair. That is my underlying objection to the right hon. Gentleman's speech.

I remind the right hon. Gentleman that the Government's duty is to defend and govern every part of the United Kingdom. It is not the duty of the Government to expect a helpful reaction from the Province of Ulster. The duty of any Government is to defend and govern Ulster, as it would any other part of the United Kingdom.

The right hon. Gentleman's main thesis was independence, although he referred to it as "broad" independence. Independence is not an option for Northern Ireland, for one basic reason. The people of Northern Ireland do not want independence. It is as simple as that. We shall not be disinherited. We shall not accept independence as a viable option for the future of the Province.

One could expand on that, but I shall make only two simple points. In Ulster we recognise that the two greatest political and economic power blocs in the world are so anti-Ulster and pro-Irish—and I use the word "Irish" in he Republican sense—that it would be only a matter of time before the political and economic pressures exerted by the EEC and the United States made Ulster independence untenable and unworkable. We have ample evidence that, de facto, America and the EEC treat the island of Ireland as one—if not in law, in fact.

Mrs. Elaine Kellet-Bowman (Lancaster)

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that when the EEC recently debated some of Northern Ireland's problems it passed a resolution that was sympathetic to Northern Ireland. It pointed out clearly that its sympathy was with the victims of violence rather than with the perpetrators of it.

Mr. Bradford

I am aware of that, but it is not the point that I am making. Both America and the EEC envisage, desire and are working for a time when the island of Ireland will be one entity. I am afraid that that is a simple fact.

I do not intend to offer a precis to the speech by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East but I wish to make a further comment about it. He made the incredible statement that the people of Northern Ireland could remain British and yet that Ulster as a territory would not remain within the United Kingdom. How can one be a citizen without a country? That is what would happen. 'We in Ulster would be citizens without a country territorially and geographically, as Northern Ireland ceased to be part of the United Kingdom.

The right hon. Gentleman's observations were fascinating, because obviously they were geared to severing the link between Ulster and the rest of the United Kingdom. The observations are fascinating, since they come only months after his Government added to the seats available to the Province. It is understandable that the Northern Ireland peope find it impossible to trust what is said in this House at any time. The right hon. Gentleman must face that problem. He goes in one direction on one occasion and in a different direction on another not much later.

The right hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon) rightly said that there was a battle for the minds of the people of Northern Ireland. There are two battles. There is a battle for the mind of the minority community and another for the mind of the majority community. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to concentrate on the battle for the mind of the majority. The House appears to have conceded the battle for the mind of the minority. That is not helpful.

We should address ourselves to the task of trying to convince the people of Northern Ireland who are part of the minority community. I am speaking of the religious minority. The terms are sometimes confused. The political minority and the religious minority are two entities. That must be recognised. The House has conceded the battle for the mind of the religious minority. We should be trying to convince the preponderance of that religious minority that there is a future for them within the United Kingdom as Ulstermen and British citizens.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

The hon. Gentleman's protestations would impress me more if it were not for the fact that for 50 years the Protestant majority held the right to influence the mind of the religious minority and failed signally to do so. I cannot, therefore, be persuaded now that we should concern ourselves too much with the majority.

Mr. Bradford

I shall not be tempted down that avenue. Only as far back as 1920 one-third of the community, encouraged by the hierarchy of its own religion, sent a little card to Stormont saying that it would not appoint a chaplain, take one-third of the police force, and so on, in spite of the First Lord Chief Justice in Northern Ireland being a Roman Catholic.

One could go on ad infinitum, listing and cataloguing ways in which the minority, at the inception of the State, refused to make it work—a ship with one-third of its crew mutinying, aided and abetted by one of the two chaplains on board. That is what we had in 1920. Let us not go down that avenue. It is unfruitful and unhelpful.

I shall return to my argument about the battle for the minds. The war for the religious minority should be fought and not conceded. However, if it is conceded one assumes that the Protestant majority in Northern Ireland will have their right to remain British removed at some given time in the future. The right to remain British will be bulldozed out of existence and they will never be able to contemplate a time when they will remain unceasingly within the United Kingdom. That is what it means to abdicate the battle for the mind of the majority in asking them to accept that one day, at an unnamed date in the future, they will cease to be British. It is no good saying that that will be some time in the far vistas of the future, because by espousing a preference for Irish unity now the British majority in the Province will be disinherited progressively. It is disinheritance by progressive severance and a wounding inch by inch. That wounding festers with treachery.

Earlier, as the Secretary of State adumbrated his proposals for the council in Ulster, I could not help feeling that those proposals made Pandora's box look like a fragrant powder pack in some attractive female's bag. He will be dealing with Pandora's box if he pursues his proposals. We shall have a hotchpotch of people discussing the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973, with which the House is ill at ease, let alone a group of untutored councillors and nominees. We shall be dealing with scrutinising legislation when the House should be offering more time to scrutinise Northern Ireland legislation here, where the laws are made. We shall be talking about considering the future Government for Northern Ireland when the Secretary of State knows that no reconciliation is possible between two conflicting religious and political philosophies—Unionism and Republicanism. As those two philosophies are irreconcilable, what is the point of considering them again and again?

The proposals pose many questions. The first is what is the "substantial following" to which the Secretary of State referred? What did he mean by that? If he is talking about the substantial following that was suggested by a "recent poll", does he mean a recent local government election, the last Westminster election, or the European Parliament election? What substantial following does he mean? Which election will he use to determine that?

The second query is, what will the talking shop do to help solve the problems of housing, education and social services? What extra control will be placed in the hands of Ulster people over those vital services? What will it do to remove the exploitation that is apparent in area boards? What will it do to solve unemployment? How will the Secretary of State reflect the view of that council when he reports to the House? Will he reflect the majority view? In that case it will be a Unionist view, because the Official Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party received 60 per cent. of the vote in the last election in Ulster. Will he once again try to concoct a consensus?

The most serious problem is that such a council will compound in the minds of people on the mainland—here I agree with the right hon. Member for Cardiff, SouthEast—that there is something special and different about Ulster that separates it from Cornwall, Devon, Newcastle, Glasgow and other places. The only fundamental difference is that we are giving a credibility to a political minority in one part of the United Kingdom that we would not dare give to any other part. That is a difference that should not exist.

I know that I shall not obtain much agreement, perhaps from either side, when I offer three observations on the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act. Now is not the time to reduce the powers or measures in that Act. It is not the time to dilute the effect of the measures. It is a time to increase the powers available to the courts and to safeguard law-abiding society from IRA propaganda that is often imposed on Ulster and the mainland by the official media, often inadvertently, but, alas, always successfully on behalf of the IRA.

There is a need to increase the powers of the court and to safeguard us from needless IRA propaganda. I suggest that there is a case for including the Treason Act 1351 in the relevant schedule of the emergency provisions Act. There is a need for the ultimate deterrent against murderers and bombers, and that is capital punishment. Capital punishment would be possible under the Treason Act if it were included in the relevant schedule.

I accept that we could not apply the 1351 Act straight because of the problems about jury trials. A jury trial would be needed, and there are difficulties about jury trials. Incidentally, the jury trial problem arose not through intimidation to jurors or witnesses but because the Republican lawyers were not happy that they could secure a sufficiently non-biased jury for trying IRA prisoners. That is one of the fundamental reasons why we do not have jury trials. Although we could not include the 1351 Act straight, it could be included in the schedule, thereby obtaining capital punishment as an important deterrent against terrorism.

There is a need to deny terrorists the possibility of ventilating their views in newspapers, magazines, on the radio and on television, either directly or through a non-proscribed sister organisation. The Ulster people have been insulted again and again by spokesmen for Sinn Fein appearing on television and the radio spewing out venom, poison and hatred on behalf of IRA convicts. The coverage appears to be endless.

The media in Ulster and on the mainland made the fundamental error of giving the first hunger strike all the propaganda that it desired. Thankfully, after Christmas they denied the second hunger strike the propaganda and coverage that they had afforded the first. Until Bobby Sands was elected a Member of Parliament the media exercised a prudent control, but they could not ignore his election to Parliament.

We must do something by statute to curb the ventilation of IRA propaganda, either directly or indirectly. We shall not be unique, because the Republic does not permit the publication of direct comments by terrorists and those involved in murder and bombing. We need a strengthening of the law in those two respects.

We need to destroy the morale of the IRA, which, when it eventually evaporates in the face of United Kingdom courage and resolution, will render emergency provisions unnecessary. We must destroy the morale of the IRA. We must put its objective beyond its reach, its touch and its attainment. That will not happen through the statement made by the Secretary of State on 30 June about the Maze prison. It will have the opposite effect to eroding the morale of the IRA. It will encourage the IRA to extract more concessions from the Government.

From January to the present time the Government have avoided the debacle of providing an information and elucidation service, which they provided during the first hunger strike. I earnestly plead with the Secretary of State not to make the mistake that he made prior to January. The signs are that he will make, that mistake again. The IRA will play him along until his enthusiasm to end the hunger strikes is such that the IRA will be offered the substance of political or special status, if not the name.

I wish to put three points to the Secretary of State. First, what new improvements are essential in the Maze prison to procure the humanitarian and progressive conditions—in what is Europe's most advanced prison—that the Secretary of State says already exist? Secondly, precisely what are the defects in the Maze prison that render it inhuman and primitive? Thirdly, how can further improvements be justified in advance of reforms in other British and Northern Ireland prisons without that being seen as a concession to the demands of the hunger strikers? I should be grateful if the Secretary of State would respond to those three points.

Perhaps improvements are required to end the alarming spate of anorexia nervosa that appears to be a Provincial plague. It is not a United Kingdom plague. It may have something to do with the proximity of the Maze prison to the animal and bird house that is close to the prison. They are all catching the slimmers' disease at the Maze prison and in Armagh. It is clear that English, Welsh and Scottish prisoners do not suffer from that disease.

One improvement is essential. There should be a phasing out of those prisoners who still enjoy compound life in the Maze prison. They still enjoy all the trappings of political or special category status. That would be a qualitative, not a quantitative, improvement. There should be further cellular accommodation, so that prisoners now in compounds can be made to serve like the criminals they are, within the full control of the prison administration.

It is wrong to invite hunger strikers to cease their hunger strike—no matter whether they be Protestants, Roman Catholics, so-called Loyalists or Republicans. I care not who they are. If thy are murderers and criminals they are nothing but those. To ask them to cease their hunger strike on the basis that improvement will ensue is purely and simply wheeling and dealing. Let us put no other title than that on it. If we say that further improvements will come if the strikers do this or that, we shall be wheeling and dealing. At the moment the substance of special category is being offered if the strike ends. The time will come when the IRA will not worry about a name. It will say, with Shakespeare, "What's in a name?".

Part III of the 1978 Act deals with the public use of firearms and uniforms in a public place by prescribed organisations. I am bound to say to the Secretary of State that there is nothing more galling to the people whom I represent than to have to watch on television IRA paramilitary funerals that deliberately flout the law. He may argue that he has to choose the lesser of two evils., and that injudiciously to confront the thousands who congregate at the funerals would render the position worse than simply to let it pass.

I warn the right hon. Gentleman that the IRA is a past master at taking an inch, then a foot, and then a mile. If, as he said, he is prepared to fight the IRA within the law, let him apply the law that no uniforms or guns should be produced in public places—whether during a funeral or otherwise. If he allows that law to go unapplied in the Province the IRA will soon find other laws to flout in the face of the Government and the much-beleaguered people of the Province. We need a new policy on security forces' involvement when uniforms, guns and all the trappings of the paramilitary demonstrations emerge in the Province. What new security measures will be taken when such displays occur?

I am disappointed about the future of Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland will always insist on being British. Because of that resolve and determination I am optimistic, even if sometimes sad. There is only one way to secure peace in the Province, and that is to put the objective of the IRA beyond reach. Nothing would deal them a more stinging and more damaging blow than to take Northern Ireland and either give it a Parliament who reflect the method of Government in the United Kingdom, or to bring Northern Ireland fully into the United Kingdom and treat it as full members of this historic and marvellous kingdom.

6.48 pm
Mr. James Kilfedder (Down, North)

The former Labour Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), who, during what he regarded as a crucial period, was kept in power by the Official Unionists and the Liberals, made a bitter and strange response to the Official Unionists in his speech today. I understood from today's press that the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) was boycotting today's debate and organising a demonstration in Northern Ireland. By doing so, he thought that he would steal the thunder of the Secretary of State. The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East has outshone even the hon. Member for Antrim, North. He has certainly stolen the headlines in tomorrow's papers.

The right hon. Gentleman's speech will create greater agony, not less, for the people of Northern Ireland. No matter what his intentions may be, his contribution will lead to further hardship in the Province. I did not like the way that he criticised the Ulster people for intransigence and obduracy. During the past 11 or 12 years of the Provisional IRA terrorist campaign they have shown remarkable restraint, patience and forbearance. There is no other part of the United Kingdom and no other part of the world where people would have put up with such gruesome, horrible terror and tried to continue with their daily lives. Full tribute should be paid to them. Instead of virtually giving them the boot out of the United Kingdom, they should be respected as worthy members of the United Kingdom.

I feel annoyed with the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East for two reasons. First, he mentioned a Bill of Rights. It is five years ago or more since I advocated that a Bill of Rights for the United Kingdom, or even for Northern Ireland alone, should be introduced. A Labour Government were in office. My move was rebuffed by that Government. At that time the right hon. Gentleman was the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. Why did not that Government introduce such a Bill? They showed no sympathy for the proposal.

I still advocate a Bill of Rights. I advocate a Bill of Rights based even on the American model, so that all in Northern Ireland will be protected. Protestants, Roman Catholics and Unionists—everyone in Northern Ireland—should be protected by a Bill of Rights as wide as the United States constitution, which tries to protect people of all races and religions.

Secondly, I have argued for years, in the House and outside, and to the Labour Government of whom the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East was a member and the Government whom he subsequently led, that the religious apartheid in education in Northern Ireland in schools and teacher training colleges should be brought to an end. That would have been a simple decision to make and the Government whom the right hon. Gentleman led could have made it. However, he shied away from it. Now that he is out of office he can make remarks that will only add to the tribulations of the Ulster people.

I am sorry that the Labour Party, which prides itself on being a liberal party, has rejected the two suggestions that I have made in all seriousness. However, I still hope that they will be adopted. I hope that the Conservative Government will adopt them.

I regret that when Ulster people make reasonable suggestions they are dismissed out of hand and that subsequently spokesmen for either the Conservative or Labour Parties attack Ulster politicians for being obdurate. There are many obdurate politicians inside the Labour Party, according to the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East. Indeed, he would have them out of the Labour Party altogether, as he considers that they are not true members of the party. I am more liberal than that. I welcome everyone to stay within a party so that there is a wide expression of opinion. That is why I think that all people in Northern Ireland should stay within the present boundaries and within the United Kingdom.

The right hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon) rightly declared that the border was in the hearts and minds of the Ulster people. I agree entirely with that statement. As I said recently during a meeting in Northern Ireland, the existence of Northern Ireland does not depend only on a line drawn on a map. Nor does it depend on the force of arms. The Ulster people, by tradition, history and aspiration, are totally separate from the Irish Republic, which operates under—I quote from a recent edition of The Economista rigid and theocratic constitution". They have no wish to be part of the Republic. They wish to remain British citizens. The Labour Party policy document seeks to commit the Labour Party to a united Ireland in the long run. That is a damaging policy. It means that the Labour Party is prepared to envisage the removal of citizenship from 1½ million British persons now living in Northern Ireland. That includes 1 million Protestants and many of the Roman Catholics who wish to remain British citizens.

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

I have read the statement, and I happen to know what it says.

Mr. Kilfedder

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has done so. The editorial of The Times refers to the position that has been adopted by the Labour Party. It states: The Ulster question goes to the heart of allegiance and national identity…It is something for which moderate men have recourse to extremes. The Times is right to give the warning that we cannot dismiss the Ulster people in the way that the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East chooses to do.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said that he would not be influenced by doctrines of despair, but the political move announced by the right hon. Gentleman is clearly dictated by the foolish desire to be seen to be doing something. I regard it as a blunder. I said so when he was making his speech. I was castigated by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East for expressing my opinion at that time. None the less, I was right to do so.

A Northern Ireland Council, as an advisory body, would be powerless. Its responsibility would be merely to give advice. There would be no duty on the Government to take that advice. Members of the council would be paid. No doubt that would induce some to co-operate with the Government by joining the council. It would be a talking shop. That is why I dismissed the suggestion some years ago when it was originally made.

If the council had been in existence a year ago, would it have changed the cold-hearted Government policy that has created unemployment of over 100,000 in the Province? Would it have built the homes that are desperately needed and that are not being built, because of Government cuts? Would it have forced the Government to change their policies on hospitals and schools? Would it have led to the provision of beds for the elderly in our hospitals and to the building of schools for young people? I do not think that the Secretary of State will be able to answer those questions in the affirmative. An advisory body could not have changed Government policy in any respect.

It is no use the Secretary of State's trying to suggest to the Ulster people that this is a great move forward. If there is a political vacuum in Northern Ireland I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should hold an election in the Province. That would not take eight or nine months. An election could be held and the result would be obtained within a relatively short time. That is what we need. We need an election to a legislature at Stormont. We need a proper democratic legislative body to take on some of the responsibility for governing the Province and to make decisions on unemployment, housing, schools and hospitals.

It is not possible to share power with the SDLP, which is an out-and-out nationalist party. It is a party that runs off to Dublin whenever the opportunity presents itself. It is committed to a United Ireland as quickly as possible. If one cannot gel: power sharing in the Labour Party, and if one cannot get power sharing between the Labour and Tory Parties in Westminster, surely it is unreasonable for Westminster to expect power sharing among irreconcilables in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Winnick

As I understand it, although the hon. Gentleman is opposed to power sharing he accepts the supremecy of the decisions reached by Parliament. If Parliament decided that power sharing was right, surely the citizens, including the majority community, must accept that, otherwise loyalty to Britain amounts to little. That loyalty would be only on the basis of approving what one wants to approve and not otherwise.

Mr. Kilfedder

There are many examples of Parliament's making an unwise decision. Normally it does not take long for such decisions to be changed. When it is out of office, Labour tells the Conservatives that it will change an unacceptable decision as soon as it gets into office. Labour goes out into the country to argue against the present Government's policy. That is what I am committed to. I am a Member of Parliament and a British citizen. I support this country and I support most of the decisions of the House. However, I am prepared to argue against the decisions of the House anywhere in the United Kingdom or elsewhere and to make sure that decisions are changed, if they are foolish. Labour does that time after time.

I should like to share in the tribute to the police, the UDR and the Regular Army, whose members are serving in Northern Ireland. They have shown great courage. I do not believe that one can thank them too often for the job that they are doing in the Province.

It should be remembered that in the recent election to the Dail two hunger strikers were returned to that Parliament. Those people were from border constituencies, which seems to confirm that bandit territory is not only in and around Crossmaglen. There are areas in the Irish Republic where the Provisional IRA can operate easily and can launch an attack across the border against people in Northern Ireland. It is high time that the Irish Republic extradited wanted men from the Republic to Northern Ireland. Otherwise it is no use the new Prime Minister of the Irish Republic making conciliatory statements. He has to give proof that he wishes to maintain friendly relations with this country. He can do that easily by extraditing the wanted terrorists who are operating on the other side of the border.

The IRA is no friend of any parliamentarian, whether in this country or in the Irish Republic. If it managed to destroy Northern. Ireland by one means or another it would operate to destroy the Irish Republic to create an all-Ireland Marxist republic.

One matter should be noted. A number of IRA gunmen who murdered policemen in the Irish Republic were sentenced to death. In the most recent case, that sentence was commuted to a term of imprisonment of 40 years without remission. That compares unfavourably—or favourably—with Northern Ireland, because in Northern Ireland a convicted terrorist receives a lighter sentence. He receives remission and, worst of all, he is eligible for remission that is more favourable than that available to other criminals in Northern Ireland. Surely that should be ended. The Government might learn something from the Irish Republic. They should make sure that terrorists who commit murder receive sentences such as 40 years without remission.

7.5 pm

Mr. Stephen Ross (Isle of Wight)

It is fashionable in this kind of debate to state party political policies. Therefore, I have gone back to our manifesto of over two years ago. I have welcomed the debate so far, particularly the contributions of certain distinguished Members who, like me, are frustrated by the continual entrenched attitudes that have been shown—the speech of the hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder) was such a contribution—by certain Northern Ireland political leaders in the House and elsewhere. They have rightly challenged the continuation of that criticism of British Governments, whether they are of a Labour or a Conservative hue.

Our record in Northern Ireland, over the past 10 or 11 years, whatever it may have been over the past centuries, has been one of honest endeavour. We have tried to do the right thing. Things have gone wrong on occasions, but it has not been for lack of trying. It is about time the elected Members who represent Northern Ireland constituencies recognised that. I can understand how frustrated many hon. Members representing other constituencies in Great Britain feel about the present situation.

In our manifesto at the last general election we proposed, as an interim measure, that a 15- to 20-member advisory council should be elected by the people of Northern Ireland using proportional representation—the single transferable vote. I do not know why the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) was not convinced about proportional representation. Obviously we did not win that battle during the Lib-Lab pact, but weshall continue to fight for it. Further, we stated in our manifesto: Such a council would be large enough to let every significant viewpoint have a voice but small enough for all its members to have real discussion with each other as well as with the Secretary of State and other political representatives. The council would:

  1. 1.Represent the views of the people of Northern Ireland to the Secretary of State and advise him accordingly, and
  2. 2.discuss how a constitutional conference should be set up to consider the means by which a generally acceptable form of Government for the Province could be developed.
There must be no capitulation to violence. Direct rule must continue for the time being. The civil Power must be given military assistance for as long as required. Britain will not force Northern Ireland to unite with the Republic of Ireland. All elections …should be by the PR(STV) system. Continuing emphasis must be placed on the achievement of full human rights. As the House heard today, the Secretary of State announced the formation of such a council not by direct election, as we would have preferred; the members are to be elected indirectly, in that they are to be taken from the various councils from Westminster and from the European Parliament. I agree with the hon. Member for Down, North that it would have been better to go for a directly elected council. I also think that a membership of 50 would be too big. I am afraid that that may lead to the sort of squabbles that we have seen in this House when there have been only 11 people involved! It might have been better if the number were about 20.

Apart from those criticisms, I welcome the action that the Secretary of State has taken and I hope that it will work. He is right in saying that it is of vital importance to involve political leaders in Northern Ireland in a more meaningful way than at present. I pray that they will respond.

I share the view held by many people in political life in Northern Ireland and in the South that while the hunger strike continues in the Maze any further significant political initiatives would be better not to be embarked upon. It is how to end that hunger strike without conceding political status that is the immediate problem.

In his statement on the hunger strikers in the Maze on 30 June the Secretary of State said, on page 5: there is scope for yet further development of the regime within the Maze. After three visits to that prison, I do not know what further concessions can be permitted without putting the governor of the prison and the prison officers who are charged with maintaining security in an almost impossible position. I tried to make that point at Question Time the other day.

I did not realise this until I went to the Maze about a month ago, but allowing prisoners to wear civilian clothing, which we provide, means that prison officers have great difficulty in distinguishing between prisoners and civilians working in the prison. There has been the break-out at the Crumlin Road gaol, for which no doubt someone will be held responsible. It was also put to me that if we give hunger strikers and other prisoners their own clothing, a problem arises when it has to be cleaned. Will they insist on wearing a military-style uniform? Such matters are difficult. If there is to be greater freedom in the wings, control of the prison will almost be lost.

That is why I support the amendment of the right hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon) for an inquiry into the working of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act. That is the area that we should be tackling. We should take careful note of the report on the conference held on 13 June, although one or two quotations are not satisfactory. It was chaired by Lord Gardiner, a distinguished former Lord Chancellor. We should consider particularly the paragraphs relating to the Diplock courts. I believe that it would be preferable to have three judges and not one at the initial stages of the hearing. We should also consider the recommendations on scheduled offences. Those are two areas that an inquiry could look into.

It is the system of justice operating in Northern Ireland that normally friendly countries such as the United States and members of the EEC do not understand. They do not understand why we have done away with the jury system. I understand why, but in some areas we may be able to bring it back. That matter is also discussed in the document. We should try to allay legitimate fears expressed by our friends.

When I went around the Maze with my right hon. Friend the leader of the Liberal Party, we saw the hunger striker who is now in his fiftieth-odd day. We asked him whether there was any concession within the regime, apart from political status, that would persuade him to come off his hunger strike. The answer was "No". He made it quite clear that there was none. We asked him why he believed that he should have special status. His reply was that it was because he was sentenced by special courts that were different from those that normally operate. That is an argument that is being used in the United States and elsewhere, and is another reason to support the amendment. I do not see what could be lost by an inquiry, and there is a lot to be gained. I do not believe that within the prison regime we can make further meaningful concessions.

I accept, of course, that we must continue with direct rule. We have no choice. However, efforts to establish an elected, devolved Administration must continue. On 23 May The Economist, which has been very good on Northern Ireland, had a long article entitled, "A Bridge to Ireland", which set out a course of action that appealed to me. The Government or their advisory council, when it is set up, should study it seriously.

When the situation permits, the Government will need to force the pace. From the opinion polls in The Sunday Times last weekend, of which we must take some note, it appears that, properly and carefully presented, a power-sharing Executive may be endorsed at a referendum, despite the likely wrecking tactics of the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), who does not appear even to wish to grace us with his presence.

Mr. Peter Robinson

The hon. Gentleman pays considerable attention to an opinion poll in The Sunday Times of about 1,000 people. An opinion poll was carried out of the whole electorate of Northern Ireland a short time before that, which made it clear that they did not want power sharing.

Mr. Ross

I am not at all sure that that is so. I believe that opinion in Northern Ireland is far more moderate than is sometimes shown by election results. People are, unfortunately, forced into one corner or another. I believe that we should put the matter to the test. I believe that another border poll is due in 1983.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell


Mr. Ross

It could be.

Mr. Powell

That is different.

Mr. Ross

We said that we would have one every 10 years, so we could have one in 1983. Let us bring it forward one year to 1982 and include a question about the acceptability of a Northern Ireland Assembly involving power sharing at Executive level. Let us also state our willingness to appoint Northern Ireland politicians at Westminister to the Northern Ireland Office. I hope that that will meet with the approval of hon. Members.

We are always in trouble, because we are so British trying to run the Irish, or some section of the Irish. It took the right hon. Member for Mansfield a long time, and he now knows a lot about Northern Ireland, but it is a difficult situation for people going in raw. If we are to increase the number of elected Northern Ireland Members to 17, why not at least involve some of them working the Northern Ireland Office from Stormont? I also repeat that I want to see elections on a proportional representation basis.

I very much welcome the election of Dr. Garret Fitzgerald as Taoiseach. I hope that we shall quickly get down to talks with him. His approach to the problems of the North over the past few years have a great deal to commend them. Some sort of loose federalism with dual rights of citizenship is the answer in the long run, but it will have to be a careful step-by-step approach—and I had noted that down before the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East spoke. Any talk now of a united Ireland is profoundly mistaken.

I also reject as unworkable possible changes in the boundaries of the border, the idea of which was recently floated in The Observer by Conor Cruise O'Brien. That we should seriously suggest that 30,000 or more Protestants in Fermanagh and South Tyrone should face upheaval if they will not accept Dublin rule is totally unthinkable in the 1980s.

The preservation of freedom as we know it in Ireland is under serious threat, and that applies just as much to the South as to the North. It is time that our friends in the Western world understood that simple fact. We must all feel great sympathy for Members of the Protestant population in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and elsewhere along the border. They clearly feel threatened as possibly never before, and that is appreciated and understood by responsible Catholics in the Province, of which there are many. Hon. Members know them and know their views on the result of the election in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and their absolute horror at what happened then and since.

I am sure that every hon. Member is angered by the likes of Mayor Koch and others, who talk of England getting out of Ireland. That is sheer nonsense. Many of us are interrelated, and it is about time that they understood that. I have two Irish grandsons. When they return to Southern Ireland I do not want them to go to a country that is on the verge of civil war. It is interesting that the new Foreign Secretary in Eire was actually born in England.

The people of Britain desperately want a solution. It is the duty of politicians of all parties and in all quarters to work together to provide it.

7.18 pm
Mr. Peter Robinson (Belfast, East)

The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) made a significant contribution to the debate. He started by saying that the people of Northern Ireland should be treated as if they could make up their own minds and that their opinions should be listened to and respected. However, it, unfortunately became apparent from what he then said that he had not paid sufficient heed to them himself.

Opinion polls have been mentioned, but the one thing that they have consistently shown over the past few years is that neither the Prostestant nor the Catholic community supports an independent Ulster. To suggest that that might be a way of getting the IRA to put down their guns and for peace and prosperity to come to Northern Ireland is to live in a dream world. I cannot imagine how the former Prime Minister, having some experience of Northern Ireland, could possibly suggest that that was a way out. He said that there was a pattern in Northern Ireland that politicians who made suggestions about what could take place usually found that very soon after they had made them someone would reject their suggestions out of hand. The two hon. Members who spoke after him did exactly that, and I make the hat trick.

The right hon. Gentleman's suggestions were rejected before he ever stood up. The border poll in Northern Ireland has been mentioned. If one believes in taking the view of the people of Northern Ireland, that was a most decisive vote in favour of the proposition that Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom. Almost 600,000 electors in Northern Ireland chose that as the future constitutional position, whereas a mere 6,000 chose to be part of the Republic of Ireland. It must therefore be made clear at the outset that the people of Northern Ireland wish to remain part of the United Kingdom and they will not have that position eroded. As the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Bradford) pointed out, such a suggestion would be seen by the people of Northern Ireland in general as a halfway house to a united Ireland because their position would be so much weaker in an independent Ulster.

The comments of the official Opposition spokesman the right hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon), seemed to indicate that he was slightly embarrassed by some of the remarks of members of his party and by the content of a report from one of their study groups. If he was not embarrassed he certainly should have been, because there is a grave inconsistency in their position. The right hon. Gentleman accepts that the people of Northern Ireland have a right to self-determination, yeti he determines that they should go along one particular road—towards a united Ireland. To help them go there he will try to win their hearts and minds. He neglected to tell us how he intended to win their hearts and minds towards the goal of a united Ireland, but he was certainly saying that he intended to win them away from wanting to be a part of the United Kingdom. That is the logic of his position and he will have to live with it. It is totally inconsistent to say that one believes in self-determination and then to tell the people of Northern Ireland that that is the way that they will have to go. If his answer is a united Ireland by consent I can tell him that there is no consent in Northern Ireland to the idea of a united Ireland and that he will have to think of other policies to deal with the matter.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland made some suggestions about political progress. He proposed what might be described as a talking shop or gabbling house to deal with Northern Ireland's problems. He would give the power of talking to the politicians in Northern Ireland, to invite their views on certain matters and to let them consider legislation. I thought that that was what the 12 Members of Parliament for Northern Ireland were elected to do—although one of them was wont to decline to do so, and there are now only 11. It is the duty of Members of Parliament to give their views on issues. The only suggestion that the Secretary of State made was that his proposal might be used to, look at the future government of Northern Ireland.

I accept that the Secretary of State is trying to make progress, but I am concerned that the progress that he is trying to make is more in line with the answer that he gave to an intervention—that there would be an opportunity for the people at these talks to have an input into the Dublin joint studies. I wonder whether that is the real motive in this new initiative. It is clear from statements made by the new Prime Minister—the House will excuse me for not using the Gaelic word—of the Republic of Ireland that he wants to have a Northern Ireland Unionist input. Does the Secretary of State intend to give him that input by setting up this consultative assembly or advisory council?

The Secretary of State referred to the Dublin talks. Here I must at once take issue with him. Members of the Northern Ireland Unionist community were rightly concerned at what took place in Dublin on 8 December. They were concerned from the outset when they saw the high-powered nature of the delegation that the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State had with them in Dublin. They were concerned when they read the communiqué issued after the talks were completed, which said that the totality of relationships within these islands was to be discussed between the two Governments.

The word "totality" can mean only one thing. If it is given its dictionary definition, the "totality of relationships" must include the constitutional relationship. If it does, there is a marked inconsistency between the communiqué which the Prime Minister signed and to which the Secretary of State was a party and their comments today and over the past months.

If the Secretary of State or the Minister of State, when winding up wishes to brush away the confusion that arises as a result of this, he must explain to the people of Northern Ireland from the Dispatch Box what he means by the "totality of relationships". Was that a mistake? Did he not mean the word "totality"? Did he wish to exclude the constitutional relationship? If we were not already alarmed by the nature of the delegation and the words of the communiqu00E9; we should certainly have been alarmed by the words of the Foreign Minister of the Irish Republic, Brian Lenihan, and the then Prime Minister of the Republic, Charles Haughey. They made it clear that the purpose behind the talks was to move towards some kind of federal or confederal Ireland. The Secretary of State will have to face this because he never answered those remarks when they were made. That is why the Unionist population of Northern Ireland was gravely disturbed by what took place in the Dublin talks and has had no faith in the joint studies arising from them.

The hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder), who is now absent, referred to what tomorrow's newspaper headlines might be. He suggested that the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East would probably succeed in getting those headlines. I suspect that he will. On the other hand, the Secretary of State may get them. But then again, given the matter under discussion, it is possible that the newspaper headlines will concern the fact that somebody else has been killed in Northern Ireland. That is as likely as any other eventuality.

Perhaps we should devote some attention to the situation in Northern Ireland from the point of view of the right to live. More than 2,130 people have been done to death in Northern Ireland. It is easy to say that, as it is so quickly said, but behind that cold statistic there is grave hardship, sadness and despair and a great deal of pain for the tens of thousands of people in Northern Ireland who have been maimed and mutilated as a result of terrorism in the Province.

The Liberal spokesman referred to his visit to Her Majesty's prison at Long Kesh and to the fact that there were special arrangements in the courts of Northern Ireland, but one cannot get away from the fact that there are special arrangements in the courts of Northern Ireland because of the very nature of terrorism. It ill becomes the IRA or any other terrorist group to complain about the judicial system which has had to be changed to deal with the terrorism which they themselves have brought forth. As the Secretary of State said, the answer is in their hands. If they stop their terrorism, the normal processes of law and order can apply in Northern Ireland and the normal judicial processes can take place. The Secretary of State can be sure that although the propaganda put forward by the IRA in America and elsewhere may for a time be accepted as the truth—that there is oppression in the Maze prison and there are people who are not being dealt with in a humanitarian manner—at the end of the day the truth will come through.

Once and for all, the Secretary of State should put compromise out of his mind. He said again today that he has already moved on concessions. Far be it from me to warn him at this stage, when it is too late, but the right hon. Gentleman made an error when he did so, because when he moved from his original position towards the objectives of the IRA he gave the IRA a signal that if it asked for more and protested further it would arrive near or at its goal. If the right hon. Gentleman is suggesting, even at this stage, that further concessions could be made to those who have been responsible for the most heinous crimes in Northern Ireland he is once more submitting to terrorism, blackmail and the bully-boy tactics of the IRA.

I hope that when he replies the Minister of State will make it clear that not one of the five demands put forward by the IRA will be met and that no point will be conceded. Any concession will attract the wrath of the law-abiding Northern Ireland community. They, and I suspect the House, will fully support the Government if they take a strong stand against the IRA.

I should like to make one comment about Northern Ireland's political future. I have indicated grave doubts about the Secretary of State's plans, founded on the basis that, first, he envisages a non-elected body and, secondly, that it will be without any power. However, while it has no power it will have responsibility, because when it is in operation we shall not be able to tell the people of Stoneyford Street, Lord Street or anywhere else that it does not have responsibility for the subjects on which it speaks.

Such people will believe that this body will be responsible for health, education and everything else. Its members will also be expected to deal with the constituency problems that will arise. Therefore, they will have to face the brickbats, even though they will have no power to deal with the matters over which they will be asked to deliberate. While the Northern Ireland Office may be happy to be shielded from the effects of its policies, that is not a position into which the Northern Ireland politician would like to get unless he has responsibility to do something about it.

There is another thing that appals me about the Secretary of State's suggestion. The people of Northern Ireland have made it clear that they want a devolved Government. They want to see accountability in the Province. Northern Ireland Ministers do not receive any votes from the Northern Ireland electorate. That must be changed so that the people who vote can get rid of those who are carrying out policies with which they do not agree. There must be accountability in Northern Ireland.

The Secretary of State has also suggested that the new Northern Ireland Council should be representative. In what way will it be representative? Will it be established on the basis of the recent local government elections, or the European elections, or the Westminster elections? The Secretary of State should face the obvious conclusion that the best way of achieving a representative group is to elect it through the ballot box. I cannot accept that it will be 18 months before legislation to that effect can go through the House.

I have no particular reason for believing that the Secretary of State's policy will succeed. I shall wait until I have seen it in more detail before suggesting whether we could participate. I shall at least await the right hon. Gentleman's detailed reaction, but I have very little faith in non-elected bodies with no power.

It would be wrong for me to finish without making a suggestion. However, I shall not go into detail, because if I were to do so it might be ruled out in some quarters. My suggestion is that the Secretary of State should set up a convention, with clear terms of reference about the report that it should make about a future constitution for Northern Ireland. It should be done on the basis of the 1975 convention. However, that convention failed because it did not have clear terms of reference. It was told to achieve the most widespread support, and it did so. However, after the new convention has presented its report the Secretary of State should put it to the people in a referendum sc that they can decide.

The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East believes that the people should have the right to decide. He believes that they are mature and responsible and that they should take the decision. Let that referendum be on the same basis as the referendum on devolution in Scotland and Wales. There should at least be clear terms of reference about the degree of acceptability that is necessary to implement a constitutional proposal. If the right hon. Gentleman establishes such a convention, puts its report to the people in a referendum and achieves the necessary degree of acceptability, le will have the basis to go forward and put such a proposal into operation.

7.37 pm
Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

I hope that the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson) will forgive me if I do not comment immediately on what he said. However, I shall refer to some of his remarks a little later.

The first essential need is to resolve the hunger strike. The hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) said that in his opinion no new initiative could be taken. I do not agree. I have already stated that I am opposed to political status. However, it is important to appreciate—I think that the Government do—that there can be no further political progress until the hunger strike is out of the way. The Secretary of State was right to speak about the violence that has arisen as a result of the hunger strike, as well as the violence done to themselves by those who have engaged in the strike. But it is also necessary to understand the immense harm that will be done to Britain's reputation abroad so long, as the hunger strike continues.

It may well be argued that people in the United States, France and other democratic countries do not understand our case. That may be so. Perhaps there is some misunderstanding and misrepresentation, deliberate or otherwise, about the history of Northern Ireland. However, I believe that there is some understanding among people abroad and that, nevertheless, they have come to the view that the British Government could make some concessions that could resolve the hunger strike.

One factor in all this which should not be overlooked—I do not think that it has been mentioned so far—is the recent by-election in Fermanagh and South Tyrone. I understand that a Minister is considering going to the United States to put its case. It is all very well for the Government to tell foreign opinion that the IRA has no support and that the hunger strikers represent an isolated section within Northern Ireland's minority community. Their response will be "But what about the result in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, when the late Mr. Sands received more than 30,000 votes and won the by-election?" Undoubtedly, that has been a factor in the minds of many people, including a number of those in Britain.

Like my hon. Friends, I believe that steps must he taken to reduce military involvement. I am not in favour of "troops out" and neither, I understand, is the minority community. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) explained why the troops went in 12 years ago. We know why they went in and which section of the community they protected at the time. However, we should try to reduce military involvement and to find a political framework in order to work towards an acceptable course for Northern Ireland.

The hon. Member for Belfast, East was right to say that the Secretary of State's suggestion was unacceptable. In fact, the initiative is already dead. The moment that the right hon. Gentleman announced his intentions about the advisory council there was comment on my left and comment from other Ulster Members. I remember that about 18 months ago the Secretary of State put forward an initiative. There was a series of exchanges and I was one of the last hon. Members to be called to speak. I said that, given the hostility of Ulster Members, it was obvious that that initiative would not succeed. Unfortunately, ray words turned out to be right. With all respect, the right hon. Gentleman's proposal is not likely to meet with any success.

The reunification of Ireland is desirable. I know that such a view immediately meets with hostility from representatives of the majority community. I understand their hostility and total opposition. None of us has any illusions on that score. However, it should be clearly stated from the Labour Benches that the reunification of Ireland is a desirable objective. I go further than that. It was wrong to partition Ireland in 1921. People speak about needing the consent of the people of Northern Ireland. What consent was there in Ireland, as a whole, to partition?

I do not wish constantly to refer to history. However, we all know that partition was carried out not on the basis of the historic nine counties of Ulster but on the basis of the Six Counties. That was done deliberately in order to give an inbuilt majority to those in Northern Ireland who opposed any form of unification. That is understandable from that point of view. However, some people might have said that that was a form of gerrymandering. Partition certainly did not receive the consent of the people of Ireland as a whole. It is important to put that on the record. People continually imply that we should not do anything about Northern Ireland without the agreement of the majority.

Mr. Peter Robinson

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the boundaries of Northern Ireland were agreed not just by Unionist politicians but by the Government of the then Free State, the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Winnick

Partition was not carried out with the consent of the people of Ireland as a whole. In 1918 the last election was held which involved the whole of Ulster with the rest of Ireland. It would seem from the result that a majority were not in favour of partition. If anything, in the nine counties of Ulster there was a slight majority for the nationalist Party.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell

I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman's dedication to Henry VIII's administrative sub-division of the island of Ireland. That is the only basis of the nine counties of Ulster. In 1920 the United Kingdom was partitioned. In 1920 there was no Ireland to be partitioned. The United Kingdom was partitioned with the consent of the United Kingdom's electorate.

Mr. Winnick

That is one interpretation. Anyone who knows what happened in Southern Ireland in 1922 will know that an agreement arose between the Southern Ireland representatives and Britain which led to the Free State. Although the partition was undertaken prior to the formation of the Irish Free State, I return to my previous point that partition was carried out without the consent of the people of Ireland as a whole. They were not asked for their views.

I understand the need to ensure that the unity of Ireland is carried out by consent and not by terrorism. We do not disagree about that. We do not support or sympathise with the IRA. Even if it were possible, we should not want unification to be brought about by the bomb and the bullet. That is not our wish in any way, shape or form.

What sort of united Ireland would emerge if it resulted from terrorism and if the majority community in Northern Ireland was dragged into unification with all the resulting bitterness and hostility? What stability would there be in such a united Ireland? We have no illusions. We understand the problems and know how complex the situation is. That must be said, because there is a tendency to accuse the Labour Party of having simplistic solutions, slogans and so on. We understand the difficulties, but we are trying to find an acceptable solution.

Parliament's decision on power sharing—taken in the 1970s—was right and proper. It is all very well to talk about loyalty to Britain and to describe oneself as a Loyalist, but if Parliament, rightly or wrongly, decided that power sharing should be the form of government in Northern Ireland. the decision should have been accepted. How was power sharing destroyed? It has been said that we argue against the Government. Obviously, when the Conservative Party is in office it argues against us. Sometimes the arguments are fierce and take place both inside and outside the House. There are marches and demonstrations. Power sharing, however, was not destroyed in any constitutional or democratic way. It was destroyed on the streets in 1974 by sections of the majority community.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

It was destroyed by those who often give us lectures about law and order.

Mr. Winnick

My hon. Friend is right.

It might be asked why there should be power sharing in Northern Ireland. After all, we do not have power sharing in Britain. However, a unique situation exists in Northern Ireland. It resulted from partition and from all the years of Stormont, in which the minority community believed—with great justification—that it was discriminated against. In Northern Ireland there is proportional representation in local elections. Rightly, we do not have proportional representation in Britain. It exists in Northern Ireland because there is a unique situation there. The only system that is likely to gain the support of the majority of the minority community in Northern Ireland is a form of power sharing. I may be proved wrong—as we can all be—but I believe that the IRA and terrorism can be most effectively undermined by adopting a form of power sharing in Northern Ireland.

Mr. John Dunlop (Mid-Ulster)

Surely the hon. Gentleman will agree that during the lifetime of the power-sharing Executive—I was in Stormont at that time—violence escalated. There were more bombings, burnings and killings. During the Executive's lifetime the country was nearly destroyed. Power sharing did not seem to gain the Provisional IRA's approval. It wanted the Executive out. In the IRA's language, it regarded the Executive's members as "reactionary Tories", just as it regarded the Government in the South of Ireland as being made up of reactionary Tories. Therefore, the Executive did not solve the problem, and it will not do so now.

Mr. Winnick

Perhaps some of the violence came from the other side. No doubt some of it came from the IRA. Perhaps its members were fearful that power sharing would succeed and that support for the IRA would be eroded and undermined. We cannot guarantee any system that destroys and erodes terrorism. I can give only my view, namely, that the most effective way of undermining terrorism—I accept that it will not destroy it—is to have a system of power sharing in Northern Ireland.

I therefore believe that power sharing should be put forward for Northern Ireland, if not by the Conservative Government, then certainly by the next Labour Government. However, we should do that with a warning that if power sharing, approved in the normal constitutional democratic manner by the British Parliament, were destroyed, as happened in 1974, we should start to withdraw from Northern Ireland.

In 1974, those who decided to destroy power sharing had nothing to fear. If they had been told beforehand that if power sharing was destroyed Britain would find other ways of ending its involvement in Northern Ireland, perhaps without the consent of the majority towards reunification, there might have been a greater reluctance to destroy power sharing. However, in 1974 the elements of the majority community who were determined to undermine what Parliament had agreed to had nothing to fear.

I shall draw an analogy with what happened in 1965 with Rhodesia and UDI. It was said at that time "You must not declare UDI. You would be naughty boys if you did that, but if you do so we shall not do anything about it". Surprise, surprise!—UDI was declared.

It is necessary to make it clear that any attempt to undo the work of Parliament would mean that an entirely different situation would emerge in which Britain's withdrawal would be carried out in a way that is very different from the way we would wish.

I remind the House of the words of the late Richard Crossman in a debate in 1972 which was the first debate here on direct rule. If I may say so without being patronising, Richard Crossman had a good understanding of a political situation. He said: The biggest weapon that we have in Britain to persuade the Irish to come to terms is the threat of our withdrawal. No other threat will impress them. The great danger will be that they do not believe it". He was perfectly right.

There is a growing impatience among British people about what is happening in Northern Ireland. There is a feeling that we are at a dead end, and that we continue in the same situation year after year, with more terrorism, hunger strikes, and international embarrassment for Britain with demonstrations against us in America, France, and various other countries. The British people see no end to it. That is why we must find an acceptable solution.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East was right in one respect. In a fine speech he said that there was a need to open up the debate on Northern Ireland. However, I do not believe that his solution is the correct one, because, as the hon. Member for Belfast, East said, there is no consent or agreement among either the majority or the minority communities for an independent Ulster. So it would start with total hostility from both sides.

Moreover, the inevitable question would be asked: if there is an independent Ulster, who would safegaurd the minority community? Would the IRA say "This is an independent Ulster, with nothing to do with Britain. We shall withdraw and go to the Republic or emigrate, perhaps to America?" Nothing of the kind. Indeed, I would go so far as to say, with all due respect to my right hon. Friend, who of course is a very distinguished politician, that his solution would be 1920 and worse. So 1 am not in favour of what he said.

Mr. Dempsey

My right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) argued that there was a case for an independent Ulster. My hon. Friend says, in reply to the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson), that there is no evidence of that. There is evidence in a referendum that the people who live in the Six Counties by two to one wish to remain within the United Kingdom. Would it not be worth while having another referendum in due course to see whether the people of the Six Counties wished to have an independent State?

Mr. Winnick

That is a possibility. Greater experts on Ulster than I could deal with that question, and I imagine that such people would come to the view that any referendum would show that there was no majority. Nevertheless, I do not in principle oppose a referendum as such.

It is nine years since direct rule started, and it is 12 years since troops went in. Inevitably the question must be asked: how much longer will we try to deal with the crisis in Northern Ireland? In four, five, nine, or 12 years' time, will we still be debating the subject in a continuing crisis in the Province, with more hunger strikers, more British soldiers shot, and all the rest of it? We as a country have resolved many colonial problems since 1945. Of course, Northern Ireland is a different and far more complex problem, but it is no good following a path that means the continuation of a dead-end situation which has cost us so much in money, blood and reputation.

We must recognise the need for a completely different approach—power sharing. If that fails, we must seek to reach agreement with Dublin on reunification. However much one wishes to respect the wishes of the majority in Northern Ireland, it may not be possible to find a solution that is acceptable to that majority. If we were to reach agreement in a different situation with Dublin and that agreement were put to the British people in a referendum, I am sure that they would give majority support to any British Government that could resolve the Northern Ireland crisis, if necessary on the basis of reunification and without the consent of the majority of the people of Ulster.

7.58 pm
Dr. Brian Mawhinney (Peterborough)

These annual debates each July should not be simply re-runs of previous debates. They should take account of changes that take place each year.

A number of significant changes have taken place. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has opened a dialogue with Dublin, on which she is to be congratulated. I believe that that will be seen as one of the more significant events in the lifetime of this Parliament. Men have committed suicide in the Maze, and are continuing to do so. Political initiatives in the Province in the past 12 months have withered because of insufficient political will to advance. We have taken a propaganda pounding throughout the world. Bipartisan policy appears to be crumbling. A commitment to a united Ireland will have just as far-reaching consequences as the hare-brained scheme of the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) to replace British troops with foreign troops.

The economy has worsened with attendant increased social tensions. During the past 12 months we have discovered two things about the Northern Ireland economy. The first is that it was not competitive, and the other is that it has suffered because of the violence and the threat of violence in the Province. Lastly, there has been an increased disenchantment with the Province by the people in the rest of Great Britain.

Some things have not changed. The Province is still part of the United Kingdom and will remain so while that is the wish of the majority. No prisoner has been granted political status, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is to be congratulated on his courage and determination to withstand the pressures that have been placed on him in a singularly unique way during the past 12 months. We still have security problems in the Province. I should like to be associated with those hon. Members who have paid their thanks to the security forces for the way in which they have carried out their activities.

The communities in the Province are still polarised. In part, this is the effect of intermittent irresponsibility by representatives of the political parties in Northern Ireland. I suggest, however, that it is also in part due to the fact that not enough countervailing pressure has been applied by this House. Because of the events of the last 12 months, the Government are under increased pressure to determine firm and positive political guidelines for the future. To do that, we have to start with a political paradox that was first given prominence by the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson).

The right hon. Gentleman, during his premiership, propounded two ideas, both of which sounded attractive but which were, in a sense, mutually contradictory. On the one hand, he kept telling the country that Ulster politicians and the Ulster people must solve their own constitutional problems. On the other hand, he kept telling us that this House must govern and take the ultimate decisions. I would submit that this paradox is still at the centre of the difficulty that we, as a House, face in terms of our relationship with Northern Ireland. It has never been resolved.

The first option—that Ulster politicians must solve their own constitutional problems—is not an idea that we employ in any other part of the United Kingdom. Further, it assumes that there will be a basis of agreement for future action.

The right hon. Gentleman's second proposition does not assume that there will be agreement. It assumes that there will be acquiescence on the part of the Province to any future action. No agreement between the political parties in Northern Ireland is possible, I would submit, almost by definition. Different political parties have got different ends. It is not realistic to sit them around a table and expect them to reach agreement. Each party will hold out in any negotiation in the hope that something more favourable will eventually be offered to it. Acquiescence, however, is a possibility, but acquiescence requires a degree of political will on the part of this House.

I listened with great interest to the speech of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). Like the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) I did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman's solution, largely for the reasons that the hon. Member for Walsall, North enunciated. However, the right hon. Gentleman did say at least two things that needed to be stated in the House. The right hon. Gentleman made it clear that it is the job of this House to set the framework and the responsibility of the people in the Province to work out an accommodation within that framework. I believe that this is a fundamental truth with which the House must come to terms.

The people of Northern Ireland, I believe, will acquiesce if they are told the framework within which they have to work. It is the constitutional responsibility of this House to set that framework. To have the necessary degree of political will involves understanding what the people of Ulster want or are willing to accept. It involves continuing and increased consultation in the Province and resisting sectarian pressure from whatever quarter. It also involves shaking off the apathy that afflicts this House on Northern Ireland matters and consequently legislating and governing in the true sense of those words. The House cannot expect progress while so many here and outside do not understand the issues in Northern Ireland. We despair, but we do not seek to educate with equal fervour.

What is the framework for governing? The second element of the speech of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East that I found helpful was his statement—I believe this needed to be said—that direct rule, it is now clear, offers no permanent solution to the problems of Northern Ireland. I pose to the House two simple questions. Does anyone really believe that 1 million Protestants in Northern Ireland will give long-term allegiance to a Government that is based in Dublin? The second question is similar. Does anyone really believe that 500,000 Catholics in Northern Ireland will give long-term allegiance to a Government that is based in London? I believe that the answer to both questions is "No". If the answer is "No", we are left only with the possibility of seeking devolution of power to an assembly in Northern Ireland that would safeguard the rights of both communities and with which they could ultimately identify. That assembly should eventually determine its own relationship with London and with Dublin.

Reference has been made to the poll that appeared in The Sunday Times. Six options on the future government of the Province were presented. Only one of the six commanded majority support in both communities. This was that Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom but with its own assembly and guarantees for Catholics. Seventy per cent. of the Protestants and 62 per cent. of the Catholics indicated acceptance of that proposition. The question arises of the form that it should take.

I welcome the initiative announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State today as a first step. I welcome it primarily as a recognition that the answer to the two fundamental questions that I posed is "No" and that the only hope for a stable, constructive legislative future for Northern Ireland is in an assembly devolved to the Province. On that ground, I welcome the initiative. I have, however, to say to my right hon. Friend, as I am sure he understands, that, particularly in the Ulster context, a body without responsibility will almost certainly act irresponsibly. At the end of the day, we shall be looking for—I hope that his mind moves along similar channels—a body that ultimately will be elected and to which power can be devolved.

My right hon. Friend knows that I have made proposals to him and to the House previously. I welcome his initiative today as a first step in that direction. A fundamental commitment to a policy of devolution with its political consequences needs to be made by the Government. Only a clear policy decisively followed will stem the disenchantment in the rest of Great Britain. People in Great Britain badly need to be able to believe in a policy that will have some discernible and acceptable end. Otherwise, the political will of the people will continue to erode until they demand action from this House, not because it is virtuous but because it will bring selfish relief.

If the Government are to succeed with their policy of devolution they need to bolster the policy in three ways. The first is in security. When we talk in this House about security, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State tells us about the improved security on the border between the security forces in the North and the South. We welcome that. It is an improvement that has taken place in the past year. But my right hon. Friend must also accept that border security is not the only aspect of security which is a worry to the House. It is equally a worry that the South is a safe haven for people who commit dastardly deeds in the North and then seem to be able to escape with impunity.

I know that my right hon. Friend accepts that this state of affairs is an affront to the Protestant community and is regarded, fairly or unfairly, as a sign of Government weakness. I hope that he will make this a matter of early discussion with the new Taoiseach, because we find ourselves in a difficult position. The Sunningdale initiatives failed because it was obvious what was in it for the Catholics, but there was nothing in it for the Protestants. We are in danger of getting ourselves into the same position with the Dublin talks. There seems to be something in them for the Catholics, but there is no security component for the Protestants.

The people in Dublin tell us repeatedly that to have extradition they would have to change their constitution, and they are not willing to do that. My right hon. Friend knows that there is a second way—to seek a change in the Judges' Rules in the Republic. The Irish Government's statement on establishing the special criminal court on 26 May 1972 reads in part: While the Special Criminal Court is authorised to make rules governing its own practice and procedure, the ordinary rules of evidence apply in proceedings before it. Specifically, the rules of evidence applicable are the same as those applicable in trials in the Central Criminal Court". It is open to the Attorney-General in the South to institute a change in the Judges' Rules to make it possible for those who have committed atrocities, crime and violence in the North to be returned to the North. I believe that the new Taoiseach will understand the concern of Ulster Unionists in this regard perhaps better than his predecessor.

The second way in which my right hon. Friend should bolster his move on devolution is in terms of Northern Ireland politics. I listened with interest to what the right hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon) said about his activities as a Minister. Ministers must involve themselves in the politics of the Province. They involve themselves in activities in other parts of the United Kingdom, so why should be they not do so in the Province too? If the Government's case is to be made, we must develop closer contact with the people—not just ministerial contact, which I know is close, but political contact. Only in that way can we explain, repeatedly, the long-term policy of the Government to the people, and thus increase its chances of acceptance. This House needs to listen more to the authentic voice of Ulster common sense, and less to the equally authentic voice of Ulster rhetoric.

I say to my right hon. Friend "Do not be afraid to challenge politically Ulster Members of Parliament when they act irresponsibly. You will have the support of all your right hon. and hon. Friends when you do so, and, I suspect, the support of many hon. Members on the Opposition Benches". If people are to play politics with the future of Northern Ireland, this House and the Government have a responsibility to combat that in the political arena, not just by issuing statements but with the same fervour as we apply to others with whom we disagree. Ulster Members of Parliament are only Members of Parliament, as I and other Members of this House are, and they need to be treated as much.

The third area to which we need to continue to give concerned interest to bolster the policy of devolution is propaganda. Propaganda is the handmaiden of politics. Despite the favourable editorials in newspapers, we are losing the propaganda battle. One of the reasons is that it is not being conducted by Members of this House. Officials from the Department are useful, clergymen are useful, but ultimately propaganda is politics, and politics is what this House is about.

My right hon. Friend was kind and generous to my hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest (Sir J. Biggs-Davison) and me when we led the first expedition to the United States in December to talk about Government policy. Other hon. Members have followed us. If those visits were as helpful as right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House have said they were, they should be repeated. There should be more of them, for we, and we alone, can talk with the authority and the political decisiveness that are necessary to combat the adverse propaganda to which we are being exposed, particularly in the United States and Europe.

There is no question but that we are losing the battle of propaganda on the hunger strike. I reaffirm my support for the Government's stand—no political status. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is absolutely right. He must not give way in any circumstances. I found his statement on 30 June most helpful. It was a clear statement of Government policy, except for one sentence. I hope that when my hon. Friend the Minister of State sums up he will be able to clarify it for us. My right hon. Friend said, on the last page of the statement: It has been suggested that changes should be made now in the areas of work, clothing and association as a gesture in We hope of ending the hunger strike. The Government does listen to the views of responsible people. The great difficulty about such a move is that it would encourage the hope that political status based on the so-called 'five demands' could still be achieved. What bothered me about that last sentence was that it seemed to imply that the great difficuly about moving was that the move might be misunderstood. The line must be drawn where maximum humanitarianism and the principle of no political status coincide. There we should take our stand, and we should not be moved.

If the present prison conditions represent that relationship, they cannot and must not be changed during or after a hunger strike. But if they do not represent that relationship, they should be changed to make them the irreducible minimum that it is the equivalent of no political status. In either event, the House will support my right hon. Friend when he says "No political status, now or ever."

We shall of course support the Government tonight, but if in 12 months the lists with which I began—the lists of things that have changed and things that have not changed—are unaltered, the consequence for our nation and Northern Ireland in particular will be even more serious.

8.20 pm
Mr. James Molyneaux (Antrim, South)

The background to the debate is different from that which existed last year. Last July the terrorists were continuing their programme of genocide and the murder of law-abiding citizens, particularly along the frontier of the United Kingdom. The murderers' plan to move back that frontier continues. However, it has had little effect on the courage and tenacity of those stalwart citizens who go about their duties—I do not say without fear but with determination to withstand the assaults of the cowards who fear even their own helpless victims.

The master thugs had to acknowledge that their murder and bombing was getting them no nearer their objectives. They had to dream up another phase that would attract the fellow-travellers who have always been poised and ready to come to the rescue when the killers are in a tight corner. That led to hunger strike mark 1 at Christmas. That was badly bungled. It went wrong. Mark 2 reached its climax at about Easter and was more successful. Now we are being treated to hunger strike mark 3.

Responsible people in all parts of the British Isles and in all parts of the world, particularly in areas that have been afflicted by ruthless terror, are looking to Her Majesty's Government and Her Majesty's Opposition. So far they have not looked in vain. They have looked to this Parliament—and again they have not looked in vain—for a firm stand and a refusal to elevate convicted terrorists to a position of superiority over all other criminals. That is what it is all about.

On the political side there has also been a change since last year. On 9 July we combined the renewal of the interim period extension order with a debate on the White Paper proposals for further discussion. Some hon. Members trumpeted about the likelihood of securing the restoration of a devolved Government before the end of 1980. Do they now stop to reflect on what would have been the fate of any such restructuring had it been in existence in April or May this year at the time of the hunger strike crisis?

How could the Republican element in that power-sharing structure play a continuing role when the SDLP, for example, had to chicken-out of a parliamentary by-election? If the power sharers had plodded on, would not they have been hammered by their electorates and suffered the fate suffered by the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt)?

The hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) chided gently those of us who expressed a little merriment when the Secretary of State announced his advisory council. Perhaps in a moment of quiet reflection the hon. Member should ask whether his instinct as a good parliamentarian would lead him to believe that such an advisory council would be a useful device in any circumstances.

The hon. Member for Walsall, North talked about power sharing. I cannot remember any active disobedience by the Loyalist community during the existence of the power-sharing Executive, although it did not exist for long.

The power-sharing Executive failed for two reasons. First, we know from the memoirs of those who participated that it would have been only a matter of time before it was blown apart by its internal dissensions. Dissension and split were avoided by the simple device of avoiding anything remotely constructive or divisive. The Executive could not have gone on year after year without taking decision of some significance about the future of Northern Ireland.

Perhaps the most important reason why it failed was that it was rejected constitutionally by the Northern Ireland electorate, which voted in a British general election to return to the House of Commons 11 out of 12 Members of Parliament pledged in their opposition to the power-sharing Executive and to the proposed council of Ireland.

Some hon Members will say that it is alleged that the Executive was brought down by the strike. I say to those who bore some responsibility at that time that if they had not refused to acknowledge the verdict of that general election result the strike would have been unnecessary and would not have happened.

The right hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon) said that the Labour Party's objective was to win the hearts of the Northern Ireland people. The House will be prepared to take it from me that the Labour Party won that battle long ago. The right hon. Member for Mansfield played a leading part in that, as did the hon. Member for Liverpool, Kirkdale (Mr. Dunn) and the right hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) who was, perhaps, one of the most successful occupants of Stormont castle since 1972. We must not forget the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). I am almost tempted to call him my right hon. Friend, because we have enjoyed a close friendship on personal terms if not in political terms, for many years. As the head and Prime Minister of the Labour Government he did a great deal to convince the people of Northern Ireland, and particularly the self-styled, so-called working-class people. that the British Labour Party had their interests at heart.

I cannot believe that the Labour Party now intends to turn its back on all that it achieved. I do not believe that it has embarked on a reciprocal course. That would mean—if we carry the words of the right hon. Member for Mansfield to their logical conclusion—that the Labour Party would have to reverse its course and set about repelling the self-styled working-class people in Northern Ireland. I hope that the Labour Party will not do that.

Some members of the Labour Party have taken a less subtle line. They have adopted a typical Irish attitude. They are saying "We would like you to leave us. If you do not agree to leave us, we shall make you agree."

The Secretary of State let the cat out of the bag by accident, because at first he said that "other matters" would be considered by this weird committee or council. Until then we did not understand that he had it in mind to add to the responsibilities and tasks of that council the products of the study groups.

I have been at a loss to understand what the new Prime Minister of the Republic meant when he came to power and talked about involving what he called the political representatives of Northern Ireland. Now we know. The vehicle is to be labelled the Northern Ireland Council but in reality it is the Council of Ireland mark 2 Sunningdale. We now know the reason for the paving operation of the past two weeks throughout Northern Ireland. It was ludicrous and amusing to see all these little men popping up all over the place complete with their briefs and scripts—which many of them read badly—gleefully announcing that the Northern Ireland Office was at it again. I admit that the Northern Ireland Office manipulation was more skilful this time.

Last Monday evening the Secretary of State and I attended a social function in Belfast city hall. I was given a preview—not, I hasten to add, by the Secretary of State but by a spokesman of a party with which I have considerable sympathy. However, that party managed to secure the return of only two councillors in the whole of Northern Ireland in the May elections for local government. That gentleman informed me that he had been invited to another jamboree—as he put it—at Stormont. He said "This time we are all going".

One could think of many other examples of that sort of thing that have been tripped out over the past two weeks. This time the tactics were different. They brought over the small fry first. The attraction was no doubt that they would be kept in business and new life would be breathed into them, for some were sadly in need of a further injection and transfusion.

This morning The Times told us that our invitations were on the way. The Secretary of State confirmed that, but we can blame the Post Office for their non-arrival. Never mind; better late than never.

Every hon. Member has a right to ask why the Secretary of State has arrived at this extraordinary decision. He may have been reading that brief supplied to a former occupant of his office who told me that my suggestion of starting modestly and giving real powers to local government as a start was sensible. He said "Jim, that is a sensible and practical idea. but the weakness is that you can't find any excuse for paying the blighters".

The Secretary of State advanced another curious argument, that there was a need—I hope that I quoted his words correctly—"to re-engage the people of Northern Ireland in politics." I do not know what that means, because I always have the impression, going from this big island to the northern part of that smaller island, that politicians are thicker on the ground in Northern Ireland and in Ireland as a whole than they are in any other part of the United Kingdom. [Interruption.] "Thicker" in many senses—certainly more numerous, though some have fallen by the wayside and some are not with us any more. The Secretary of State confessed that it was not possible to confer executive or legislative powers on an elected body. It was not possible to confer responsibility, but it was, apparently, possible to confer and encourage irresponsibility. That is the point made by the hon. Member for Peterborough (Dr. Mawhinney) because that is a corollary to denying responsibility. They will be irresponsible if they are denied responsibility. The hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson) also made a valid point. He said that they would be held responsible—that is a different thing and they will know that to their cost—because people would say "Never mind that it is the responsibility of the Secretary of State. Never mind the Prime Minister and her monetary policy. We elected you directly or indirectly and you are there to look after our interests. You are failing in your duty". The hon. Member is correct.

On a higher constitutional level, there is what is termed the right to warn and advise. At our much more lowly level we have a duty to do that. We have a duty to warn but not to threaten, and a duty to advise but not obstruct.

The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, with typical modesty, admitted that he might be slightly out of touch. I shall not comment in detail on his serious suggestions and proposals. Many of them were novel and, as he admitted, untried. Sitting in my position behind him, I gained the impression that some of his hon. Friends probably felt that he was advocating the restoration of Stormont with all the constraints removed. I do not think that that was his intention, hut at the same time in the not-too-distant future he may want to correct that impression, much as I should like to see him holding to that view.

I hope that I shall match the right hon. Gentleman in his modesty when I say that Ulster Unionists do not ask and have never asked for special category status politically. We do not refuse to work with people who hold views different from ours. There is no unwillingness on our part to co-operate with others in areas where cooperation is possible. There is no more friction in our district councils than there is at present in the Greater London Council. In the district councils in Northern Ireland the conflict is two-way but in the Greater London Council the conflict is triangular. I shall not harrow feelings by going into that too deeply.

Ulster Members of Parliament, whatever their views, represent their constituents, whatever their views. They do their duty as impartially as their colleagues representing other parts of the United Kingdom. If we all seek progress, which has been the theme of the debate—it has not depressed me in any way—it can be made in two contexts, namely, at local government level and at parliamentary level, with all that that means to an elected representative.

The Secretary of State said that in his 1979–80 conference it was not possible to find the level of agreement necessary for the instalment of a legislative and executive structure. That may be his conclusion, but we wish that it had been otherwise. I cannot see the reason for people saying "If you and I had attended the conference, somehow or another agreement would have been reached". It is not sensible to suggest that introducing a third or fourth element makes it more probable that a conclusion will be reached.

Northern Ireland's greatest overpowering need is stability, in both the political and the security senses. The second great need is a gradual coming together and working together. That is not impossible. The advice that I shall tender to the Secretary of State, if he asks for it during the coming weeks, is that he should exercise the patience to which he referred earlier. We all accept that he possesses a great deal of patience. He should exercise it and begin to build, brick by brick, on solid foundations that will endure.

8.37 pm
Mr. W. Benyon (Buckingham)

We have heard a great deal today about the step-by-step approach. The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) used those words, as did my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. The long and tortured history of Ireland shows all too clearly that the step-by-step approach does not work. Any such move is always pre-empted by Irish politicians. We have heard some of the reactions. Whatever one thought about what the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East said in his remarkable speech, whatever one thought of his solution, he would not be surprised by the reactions to his speech. They were predictable reactions. The step-by-step approach, which is so beloved on this side of the Irish Channel, is always pre-empted elsewhere and becomes one step forwards and two steps backwards.

I am prepared to reserve my opinion about the suggestions made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for a consultative council. I confess that it has a faint musty whiff of the old colonial days of the Governors Council, which was always a facade behind which nationalism boiled and bubbled happily. I do not believe that that is the way we should go.

There are only two choices facing the Government. One is to continue with direct rule which, whatever its variants, means continued government from Westminster and a progressive harmonisation of law and administration with other parts of the United Kingdom. The second involves a much more radical approach, which has been touched on by my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Dr. Mawhinney). That must involve the protection of the minority in some form or another. Whatever choice is adopted, it is essential that a firm decision is made soon, and adhered to, because the current uncertainty in the Province is all too dangerous.

My hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest (Sir J. Biggs-Davison) said that there should be no change and that there is no need to consider any alternative. I used to favour that view but I have changed my mind strongly during the past 12 months. I have done so just because of the parlous economic state of the Province. That is getting worse and worse. Gone are the days when those resident in Ulster could look with contempt over the border and see a much more backward and impoverished South. The roles are reversed and I think that the gap will become wider.

Secondly, the accession of the United Kingdom and the Republic to the European Economic Community has produced a new dimension and a new opportunity. Increasingly in the European Parliament Irish matters are being discussed. They are being discussed mostly in a negative way but these discussions could be turned to the advantage of all communities in Ireland in future.

Thirdly, I see no evidence that the polarisation of the communities will lessen; rather the reverse. It is obvious that the majority of the minority community cannot identify with the present Government of the Province and as long as that continues the terrorist base remains. Likewise, the Protestant community, fearful and disillusioned as it is, is turning more and more to extreme politicians. The recent local elections and the Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election prove that only too well.

Finally, there is no doubt that the present situation in Ulster is damaging to the United Kingdom's position abroad. Infuriating and unfair though it is, it is no good saying that the information on which America, France and other countries are basing their opinions is wrong. The fact is that we have taken a pounding overseas over the past few months. I am prepared to put up with that if I can see that there will be discernible progress in future, but I do not see that occurring.

It may be shorthand to say that the minority community wishes to be governed from Dublin and the majority community from Westminster, but it is true. Dublin has made it clear that it sees no progress being made through the coercion of the majority. The remarks that have been made from the Opposition Benches and from my hon. Friends have supported that view.

Dublin could not view with equanimity the prospect of 1 million disillusioned and discontented subjects within its boundaries. The most radical solution to come out of Dublin has been some form of federalism. Likewise the Protestant majority says that we have given a commitment that there will be no change in the constitution without the consent of the majority of the people of Ulster.

The results of a recent poll that appeared in The Sunday Times revealed that the majority appears to realise now that change there must be and that such change must involve some form of powersharing or partnership with the minority community. The Sunday Times poll and the other soundings of opinion suggest that while the majority is happy with the status quo, there is a sizeable proportion of the minority that cannot identify with the present Government of the Province.

The key question, which seems to have been missed in the debate, is how we create a Government in the Province with which both sides of the divide can identify. I am told—I do not know whether this is true—that the minority community would accept a devolved Government provided that the safeguards for their interests were sufficient. I do not believe that those safeguards can come from a British Government. I do not see why we should not consider the suggestion that the Republic of Ireland could be brought in as a guarantor of the position of the minority in a new constitution. In other words, the action of that devolved Administration, whether of legislation or administration, would be subject to the veto of one or other of the sovereign Powers in these islands.

I am speaking in general terms and I am unable to develop my argument in the short time that is available to me. Obviously, detailed proposals will be necessary for sensitive areas such as housing. In the past such an idea has always been treated contemptuously. It has been described as a constitutional monstrosity and in a sense it is. However, as the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) said, we are in a unique situation and unique remedies are required.

For 60 years the majority community in Northern Ireland has had it in its gift to offer the partnership that I am describing to the minority, but it has not done so. When some of their leaders, such as Lord O'Neill, have tried to do so, they were rejected. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will seriously consider going not step by step but in a much more radical way to see whether we can break the deadlock that has been with us for far too long.

8.45 pm
Mr. Gerard Fitt (Belfast, West)

Time and necessity restrict me in my remarks. It should be put on record that this is a unique debate. There has been a unique development in the shape of the contribution made by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan).

The reception given to the Secretary of State's proposals by the Unionist speakers for Northern Ireland showed no optimism. They have rejected out of hand any proposition to set up a council in Northern Ireland. The hon. Member for Belfast, South, (Mr. Bradford) said that they did so on the ground that Ulster should be treated like any other part of the United Kingdom. Ulster is unlike any other part of the United Kingdom.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell

So is Wales.

Mr. Fitt

The difference between Wales, Ulster and Northern Ireland is that since 1922—next year will be the sixtieth anniversary—Northern Ireland has been governed to a large extent by the special powers legislation, for 50 years under Unionism and for 10 years under the aegis of this House. Neither Wales nor Scotland has had special powers legislation. In the essential field of law and order without which no Government can claim to be running a country in the interests of all those people, they had to resort to the special powers legislation. A Government which had to do that and a country which had to be governed by such legislation are unique not only within the confines of the United Kingdom but on this side of the Iron Curtain in Western Europe. That is why the debate is unique.

We are debating two pieces of emergency legislation—the emergency legislation in connection with the special powers legislation which is 60 years old and the emergency legislation in regard to the constitution of Northern Ireland, which was made in 1974. I have opposed on all occasions and will oppose tonight the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act, particularly in view of the Government's rejection of the reasonable requests which has been made for a review of the Act.

It is recognised that this Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act are draconian legislation. That is agreed and everyone accepts it. It is of the utmost necessity that we keep reviewing such legislation at every opportunity to make sure that its draconian aspects are not kept in being for one second longer than is necessary. Even at this stage, the Government should not take the rigid attitudes which they have taken and say that they will not set up a review.

This legislation, particularly in relation to the prisons in Northern Ireland and the Government's attitude to the hunger strikers, is not Conservative Government policy. That policy was advocated by Lord Gardiner and the special category status was abolished by the former Home Secretary. Therefore, there is much unanimity in this case.

I do not like the Diplock courts. I do not like no-jury courts. I do not like that type of legislation. One thing which I shall say in favour of the Diplock courts is that, unlike the IRA courts, they have not yet sentenced anyone to death. Did those courts have a jury or a judge? What evidence was given for the defence or the prosecution? Only last week one of my constituents was shot through the head and his body was dumped in a refuse chute in the Divis flats in Belfast. Was there a court, was there a jury, and what was the defence and prosecution? At least the Diplock courts have not done that. What charge was levelled at the innocent girl taking the census in Derry? Who tried her? Why was she sentenced to death? Whatever may be said about the Diplock courts, the IRA courts are far more brutal. That should always be borne in mind.

Within a fortnight, another striker could die. The hunger strike has had a devasting impact on the whole community in Northern Ireland. Never have I seen such polarisation and alienation. The Secretary of State has a duty to comment. The IRA issued a statement yesterday, the Provisional Sinn Fein the day before and one of its supporters the day before that alleging that the hunger strikers were putting tremendous pressure on the Government to accede to their demands for political status.

The Irish Americans appear to support the IRA demands, anti it is interesting to note that Communist Russia does, too. The IRA is unique in being the first such organisation to have the unswerving support of the Kremlin and Irish Americans.

Various countries are allegedly applying pressure on the British Government to accede to the prisoners' demands for political status. France, Italy, Holland, Germany and most other European countries have experienced terrorism. I do not know what the people in those countries feel or what demonstrations there may have been, but has the Secretary of State had representations from the Governments of France, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Holland to concede political status for the prisoners? If he had, the violent organisations in those countries would also be able to demand political status. The sooner that it is stated in clear and unmistakable terms that there is no pressure, from elected Governments, even though there may be from, say, Irish Americans, the sooner will the people in Sinn Fein realise that the pressure that they hope for will not be forthcoming, and in the interests of sanity, humanity and compassion they will call the young men dying in the Maze off the hunger strike.

Those young men and their relatives must be suffering agonies untold, which we cannot understand. The organisations are using those young men as weapons, just as they use machine guns and Armalite rifles. They should not be allowed, asked or forced to die in the interests of people outside the prison. The Government should say in clear and unmistakable language that, if the IRA and its supporters persist, another four or five young men will die and nothing will be achieved apart from untold heartbreak for their relatives.

I fully support the recent statement of the Irish Catholic bishops. It was clear, unqualified and unambiguous. It is the clearest Church statement since His Holiness the Pope visited Ireland and Drogheda. The previous statements by the Catholic Church in Ireland were qualified and ambiguous. They were welcomed with open arms by the Provisional Sinn Fein and its supporters and rejected by me. I and others welcomed the recent statement, but it was rejected out of hand by the Provisional Sinn Fein. Words are potent in Northern Ireland and mean what they say, so the greatest credit must be given to the bishops for their unambiguous statement.

I hope that the right hon. Member for Cardiff. South-East will not take it amiss if I remind him of a speech that I made from the Benches opposite on 28 March 1979, when I could not go into the Lobby with the Government under his leadership because of my objections to their policy in Northern Ireland. I said then—and this can be found in Hansard—that the Labour Party in Opposition seems to be more realistic in its attitude to Ireland than are Labour Governments. It is not so long since the Labour Government, under the leadership of my right hon. Friend, were going out of their way to create more seats and to pander to Unionist Members. There is a great deal of cynicism among the minority in Northern Ireland because they see the Labour Party in Opposition as a different kettle of fish from a Labour Government in power. That will never be forgotten. A great deal of the present atmosphere and attitude among the Catholic population in Northern Ireland—people who are now engaging in marches and some kind of overt support for the IRA—has been conditioned by what they regarded as the Labour Party selling them out in favour of Unionism in 1978–79.

My right hon. Friend called for what he described as a broadly independent Ulster. I do not believe that that is possible. I appreciate that his motivation in suggesting it was brought about by frustration and fear for the future of Northern Ireland. We are all frightened when we look into the future—because we see no future. As one who lives in Belfast and will shortly be returning there, I must tell my right hon. Friend that in no circumstances will the Catholic population accept an independent Ulster, no matter how many Bills of Rights are put on to the statute book, for who would police the Bills of Rights? We would need the Army and the police. We have had the bitter experience of 52 years of Unionism. We know what the Unionists did when they had control of the judiciary and the police. There is absolutely no possibility that the Catholic population would in any way accept an independent Ulster.

The Sunday Times recently carried out a survey and reported quite clearly that a majority of the population would accept power sharing. I am the only Member of the House who was involved in the Sunningdale agreement. I say this for the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath). He did everything that he possibly could to try to bring about a new atmosphere in Northern Ireland, which was the only real hope for political progress that I have seen in my lifetime there. Unfortunately, it lasted only five months. It never had the chance to engage the confidence of the whole community. It was brought to an end by a combination of Unionist opposition and strikes and a continuation of the IRA bombing campaign. I must also say to my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East, although he was not the Prime Minister then, that many people in Northern Ireland believe that if the forces under the command of the British Government—it was a Labour Government, not a Conservative Government—had acted more swiftly at that time, Sunningdale would have been in existence still. That cannot be said with any degree of accuracy, but many people believe it.

I believe that Sunningdale was the most hopeful development and that we must get back to that by some means or other. My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) made a very constructive speech. He said that power sharing is the only answer to the problems of Northern Ireland in any immediate sense. If the Unionist Party persists in rejecting it, the House has the right under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 to take other measures.

The hon. Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux) said that there was overwhelming rejection of Sunningdale by the electorate in February 1974. It was not all that overwhelming. The Unionists won 11 seats for 51 per cent. of the votes while the pro-Sunningdale candidate—myself—had one seat for 49 per cent. of the votes. The Unionist Party in Northern Ireland has never had less than nine out of the 12 seats. They have had 10, 11 and even 12 seats when people decided to show their opinion by abstaining. It may have been an overwhelming victory in the number of seats, but in the previous election the Unionists won 10 seats and there was no Sunningdale agreement to argue about then. In the election before that, the Unionist Party won 10 seats. Therefore, the 1974 election did not represent a great revulsion against Sunningdale.

An opportunity now faces the Government. I fully accept that they should set up the new council. The matter will have to be discussed in greater detail to see what it actually means, but the members of that council should be appointed.

If there were an election to any Northern Ireland Assembly, the major political parties would go to the electorate with different mandates. One would seek a unified Ireland, the other an integrated Ulster with Great Britain and the party led by the hon. member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) would return to majority rule at Stormont. If the council were to be elected on those three conflicting mandates, how in the name of God could we expect it to reach agreement? There would be none. That is why members of the council must be appointed.

Even then, it will take men of courage to accept the appointments, because they will be regarded as traitors to whatever side they belong. If they accept the appointments, and given a period of three months, six months or a year, I believe that they will begin to have confidence in each other and that they will be able to do away with the suspicion that now exists. It may then be possible to hold elections, but not elections to an Assembly at Stormount.

I have known the new Taoiseach, Dr. Garret Fitzgerald, for a number of years. He has a feeling for the people of Northern Ireland. His relations come from Northern Ireland. In fact his immediate relations were not of my religion. That gives him something which other Taoiseachs did not possess—immediate access to the thinking, fears and suspicions that exist within the majority community.

There is now an opportunity for the Government to make progress. However, any talks that take place with the new Taoiseach must be more open than the previous talks. Such an air of mystery and secrecy surrounded the previous talks that many people in Northern Ireland felt that a deal had been done and that they had been sold out. It is of the utmost importance that such talks continue with urgency and good will. I know that the new Taoiseach will enter such talks with the hope that they will succeed in the interests of everyone in Ireland.

Not only should future talks be more open: they should be capable of discussion in this House, because it was the secrecy of the previous talks that led to the victory, both personal and political, of the hon. Member for Antrim, North.

9.3 pm

Mr. Tom Pendry (Stalybridge and Hyde)

This has been a wide-ranging and constructive debate. The depth of concern that has been expressed in every corner of the House shows that Northern Ireland has once more become the focus of intense political attention and concern.

When I consider the number of right hon. and hon. Members who have participated in the debate, as well as those who have sought to catch the eye of the Chair, I cherish the hope that such interest will permeate other Northern Ireland debates. In our view, if direct rule is to exist it is essential that it should be seen to operate in an open manner. In addition, the legislation affecting the Province should be debated as widely as possible.

We tend to debate Northern Ireland late at night or in the wee hours of the morning. However, I cherish the hope that more hon. Members, with their interest in Northern Ireland well established as the result of this debate, will in future debate Northern Ireland's real problems with the rest of us.

I do not intend to cover the same ground as my right hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon). Many of his points have been echoed in other parts of the House. I shall deal with some of the questions raised in the debate. In particular, I shall reinforce my right hon. Friend's main argument for an independent and wide-ranging inquiry into the working of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act.

First, I shall refer to the contribution made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). Of course, we welcome his ideas in the continuing debate on Northern Ireland. Few of us could doubt that he made a major contribution. I hope that he will not be too surprised to learn that my right hon. Friend and I do not go all the way with him. We certainly agree with his interpretation of bipartisanship. Far more status has been given to it than it deserves, because there have always been fundamental differences of approach between the parties on Northern Ireland. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East did less than justice to the achievements of his Administration in creating a climate for a just settlement in Northern Ireland. That point was picked up by the hon. Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux), who paid a glowing tribute to my right hon. Friend and his Ministers. As for the question of independence for Northern Ireland, I am not sure whether my right hon. Friend is aware that the Labour Party study group looked long and hard at that option, along with others, but concluded that it would be the least satisfactory of all the available options. Indeed, that point was taken up by my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick). The Mori poll in last week's edition of The Sunday Times gave some credibility to that view. It showed that almost 80 per cent. of those questioned in Northern Ireland—certainly far and away the majority of both sides of the community—suggested that that was a non-starter.

I strongly endorse what my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East said about my right hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield. He has a record second to none in both Government and Opposition for his work on Northern Ireland. During the past few months both he and his family have been subject to unwarranted criticism and harassment. All I can say of his critics is that their knowledge of Northern Ireland is as scanty as their behaviour is intolerable.

The debate has covered two main issues. It has covered the extension of direct rule for 12 months and the continuance for a further six months of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act. This is the eighth summer that hon. Members have been asked to renew two unique and controversial pieces of legislation. All hon. Members will agree that never before has this joint renewal debate taken place in such a climate of political ferment and public interest.

The Opposition do not agree lightly to extend the direct rule extension order. We see it now—as we have done in the past—as an interim measure and as a necessary prerequisite to any lasting solution to the problems of Northern Ireland. It can never be the answer to the problem of conflicting nationalities that has rent the Province apart since its creation in 1921. The violence and terrorism in the last 12 months in particular have left a legacy of misery and distrust that will take many years to dispel.

When direct rule was frist introduced it was thought by many hon. Members—albeit optimistically—that some settlement could be worked out between the communities, with Westminster acting as some sort of arbiter between the parties. That optimism has proved naive. No one can accuse past Governments of not having tried to achieve a settlement in Northern Ireland. However, those efforts have always been strangled, one way or another, by the intolerance of the Province's politicians who have been unwilling to compromise or to shift away from the shibboleths and dogmas that have regrettably always held such sway in Northern Ireland. Indeed, the results of the recent local government elections in Northern Ireland lead me to the conclusion that political affiliations there are as polarised as ever. We seem to have come full circle since 1972.

The time is ripe to cast aside smart-sounding dogma and categorical solutions, which we hear so much from the impatient or the revolutionary or, as has already been said, from the "Johnnies-come-lately"—those people who have given five minutes' thought to the problems of Northern Ireland and who get so much prominence in the Press.

Dr. Maw hinney

How does the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) reconcile the apparent polarisation in the local elections to which he has just referred with The Sunday Times poll, which talked about majorities in both communities being in favour of an Assembly with guarantees for the Catholics? They seemed to be mutually exclusive.

Mr. Pendry

I used that poll because it has been used so many times in the debate. I always have some reserve about polls. As I have been reminded, when powersharing collapsed, within a few days 75 per cent. of the Province voted for powersharing. I take the hon. Gentleman's point. I was giving that illustration only as a rough indicator. On 8 June the Mori poll showed that the people in Northern Ireland generally wanted the politicians in Westminister to act, whatever that meant. But they certainly felt that the House had to do something, and the Secretary of State has responded in some way.

The recent Mori poll published in the The Sunday Times on 8 June reflects such a desire on the part of the people of Northern Ireland. The House had to do something, and the Secretary of State responded in some way. Imaginative action is needed which will offer a chink of light in the prison of conflict. To that extent the Secretary of State has come up with something. I hope that he will take this point on board. I hope that he will not raise the expectations of people in Northern Ireland and in this country with what he has proposed today.

When the Secretary of State set off on his round of talks in the early part of this Government's administration we said that we thought that he had not done his homework and that, although we wished him well, we did not think that he would succeed. We do not wish to be negative. We understand that he will talk with us and with other interested parties, so we want to study his proposals closely. He is responding to a general will. That is the indication that one gets from polls in the absence of elections.

The Labour Party recognises the new desire of the people of Northern Ireland and of the country in general to end the political vacuum that has existed over recent years. The politics of the extreme always thrive when society is given little or no responsibility for its daily government and administration. A way must be found to return power to the people of Northern Ireland, where responsibility will be shared by both communities and recognition will be given to the different inheritances of the two communities.

Within a few months the Labour Party will have a policy on Northern Ireland that will be the product of between 18 months' and two years' hard work and consultation. As a good Opposition, we have stood back from the experiences of Government and used the benefit of our years in office in an attempt to provide an imaginative and fundamental option for the people of Northern Ireland. Despite differences of opinion on how best to achieve a settlement, it is clear that it is inevitable that direct rule from Westminster will have to continue, and it has to be spelt out that we recognise that direct rule has to continue until there is agreement between political parties in Northern Ireland about the best form of government for the Province.

We recognise that there can be no coercion or forced withdrawal. The hon. Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Bradford), who is not at present in his place, need not fear from a future Labour Government any bulldozing against the majority in Northern Ireland. Politics is the art of persuasion. We shall not be deflected from our search for a peaceful settlement by those who resort to violence and terrorism to undermine democratic processes. It will be the politics of persuasion and a question of consent. That has to be stated time and again for the benefit of those who may attempt to misinterpret what we say.

For the time being, direct rule must remain. While we have such a system of governing Northern Ireland. it must be undertaken in the most responsible and sensitive manner. I must depart at this stage from what has been loosely called a bipartisan approach. The present Government have a pretty sorry record. I suppose that the Secretary of State, although I do not like to have to say so, must hold responsibility for a great deal of it, as custodian of the Northern Ireland interest in the Cabinet.

On the social and economic front, the policies of the Government compare very poorly with Labour's record. I am sure that, in the main, hon. Members from Northern Ireland constituencies will bear testimony to the fact. It is not a party political point.

I accept the view of my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East that one does not wish to magnify the differences. However, one cannot help spelling out the differences in this important area. That is what I intend to do. Unemployment in the Province has almost doubled in the past two years, to the point at which Northern Ireland has the highest number of unemployed people of any region. It has the highest level of infant mortality. It has the highest level of poverty. Almost one-third of the people are on the poverty line. Some of its housing conditions are the worst in Europe. One could continue with the catalogue.

All the achievements of the last Administration in keeping levels of unemployment stable—

Sir John Biggs-Davison

The hon. Gentleman makes a loose statement about housing conditions being the worst in Europe. I do not believe his statement to be true.

Mr. Pendry

I heard the hon. Gentleman say this in Committee. I said that conditions were amongst the worst in Europe. It is possible that conditions in Italy just about beat them. That is not a fact of which one can be proud. The previous Government were making tremendous inroads into these areas. All the achievements of the last Administration in keeping levels of unemployment stable, reducing the level of unfit houses and attracting new industry, have been squandered by the Government for the sake of an unproven economic theory.

Our successes in civil and individual liberties have also been undermined. The Government have not followed in our footsteps. There appears to be no continuing review to ensure that the agencies set up in the early and mid-1970s are still fulfilling their proper function. The Equal Opportunities Commission is being starved of funds. The Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights is effectively ignored by the Government. Much of the groundwork of the previous Government in creating a framework to protect the rights of the minority and, indeed, the majority community have been left to stagnate.

While in Government we were concerned to take initiatives to reform social laws and to protect human rights. I shall briefly remind the House of some of them. In 1976 the Fair Employment Agency was set up. In the same year there was sex discriminaion legislation and th Equal Opportunities Commission was set up. In 1977 the Police Complaints Board was established. In 1978 reforms of rape and divorce law brought the situation into line with that in England and Wales. In the same year there was reform of the Emergency Provisions Act, following the recommendations of the Gardiner Committee set up soon after we came to office.

We also ended detention without trial and undertook a thorough review of security policy with a view to returning to normal policing practices. By the time we left office in the spring of 1979 the number of troops in Northern Ireland had been reduced by almost one-third. The Government have followed that example with a phased withdrawal of troops from the streets of Northern Ireland in a sensible manner.

We ensured that direct rule was of positive benefit to the people of Northern Ireland by introducing legislation that would probably have been discounted by any majority regime in Stormont. In addition, we realised that there was a direct correlation between the level of economic activity and the incidence of violence. It was no stroke of luck that the statistics of violent activity were at their lowest during those years when Labour's special economic strategy for Northern Ireland was approaching success. We have heard about 1980, and I accept what was said, but the fact is that over that period unemployment was certainly at its lowest.

In that regard, I ask the Secretary of State to take careful note of what the Chief Constable of the RUC said in his report in 1980: Adverse economic factors, while outside the control of the police, are none the less from a police standpoint not conducive to good order, and by the end of the year the effects of the recession were becoming evident in an increasing number of crimes committed for gain in areas of growing unemployment. We can see what happens when direct rule is not properly operated and wider considerations take precedence over the special needs of Northern Ireland.

Our message to the Government is clear: "We are in favour of direct rule, but we want you to do far better on the economic front." It is in the tradition that we have established in Northern Ireland of seeking to protect human rights wherever possible, that we have tabled our amendment. I share the amazement of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield at the Government's steadfast refusal to implement a review of the workings of the emergency provisions Act, but I noted in what the Secretary of State said a possible hope that the Minister of State, who has been listening carefully to the debate, will be influenced by our case. We hope so, because our amendment is neither a radical nor a soft proposal. A review would not detract in any way from our fight against terrorism.

In many ways a review could pull the carpet from under the feet of those who try to justify their terrorist and other actions by claiming that they have not been allowed access to the due processes of common law. We are more concerned to have a review to ensure that the basic civil liberties of the large number of law-abiding citizens are not eroded. Wherever emergency powers of such magnitude are applied it is necessary for Parliament to be kept fully informed of the situation that made those powers essential in the first place.

Mr. Kilfedder

In view of what the hon. Gentleman says about civil liberties, will he commit the Labour Party to the introduction of a Bill of Rights?

Mr. Pendry

I cannot possibly commit the Labour Party to anything. It is not that kind of party. We shall discuss in the course of our democratic process what my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East and others have said. The hon. Gentleman will have to await the results of that democratic process in October.

There is a substantial and growing body of opinion in favour of the kind of review that we suggest. Many speakers have referred to the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights, the Peace People and the jointly sponsored conference on the administration of justice, which has just been held in Belfast. All these have called for an immediate, independent review of the emergency powers. The Government would be unwise to ignore that. It would be to fly in the face of what they are trying to do in other areas.

In mid-1974 the Labour Government instituted an inquiry by Lord Gardiner into the workings of the Act. That was only 18 months after the emergency provisions became law. Even after such a short time Lord Gardiner found plenty of scope for change, and we took most of his recommendations on board when we amended the Act in 1978. It is now time for another inquiry to be set up. Lord Gardiner said: The continued existence of emergency powers should be limited both in scope and in duration. We recommend the Government to set up that review as early as possible, so that the areas of disquiet and grievance, which are widely voiced, can be dealt with properly and fairly.

We do not wish to pre-empt either the remit or the work of such an inquiry, but plenty of areas are in need of independent assessment. Hon. Members have referred to many of them, and I shall not describe them at length. There is no doubt that certain offences should be examined closely. We want to know whether the power of arrest and detention in the Act are still necessary. Where such powers are a constant irritant to certain sections of the community in Northern Ireland, the unquestionable duty of the Government is to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the fight against terrorism cannot be carried out without such powers. The Government should exercise their mind on that.

Another cause of controversy is section 2(2) of the Act, which relates to bail. It puts upon the accused the duty of satisfying the court that he should be granted bail. Further, applications for bail by those charged with scheduled offences are dealt with only in the High Court in Northern Ireland. That is a significant departure from the normal processes of law in the rest of the United Kingdom. The House should be able to judge, after an inquiry, whether that departure is still necessary.

I share the disquiet of many hon. Members about the operation of one-judge and no-jury courts. Hon. Members on both sides of the House referred to them. We should examine that practice to see whether it should become a permanent feature in Northern Ireland or anywhere else. A number of suggestions for changing the system have been made. They should be given the deepest thought.

The hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) intervened in the Secretary of State's speech. He had a good point when he questioned whether there were enough judges and whether judges from the rest of the United Kingdom should be brought into Northern Ireland. I hope that the Minister of State will deal with that.

I have a great admiration for judges, especially in Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State spoke of the tremendous problems that they have. It is important to examine the effects of case-hardening in Northern Ireland. We cannot ignore the clear evidence that the number of acquittals has declined rapidly in recent years. That means either that fewer innocent people are being brought before the courts or that more are being unjustly convicted. On that issue alone the House would benefit from a fresh look at the administration of justice.

I do not have time to go over some of the other matters that are worthy of review. The Minister of State has a clear duty to explain in clear terms—since the Secretary of State purposely did not because he was leaving the matter open—why the Government are refusing our legitimate request. A number of Conservative Members will want to be convinced. The hon. Member for Epping Forest (Sir J. Biggs-Davison) asked the Minister to convince him on a certain point. If the Government still refuse our request I shall call upon my right hon. and hon. Friends, and others who feel that our case is made out, to join us in the Division Lobby.

9.29 pm
The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. Michael Alison)

A number of speeches have been made in today's debate that will have wonderfully concentrated the minds of many people on both sides of the Chamber and outside the House. The most notable example was the speech of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), the former Prime Minister, about whose speech I hope to make a few remarks later. I hope that he will not think it disrespectful if I start with an area of the debate that concentrates my mind wonderfully. I refer to the Opposition amendment and the duty that I have to try to persuade the House to avoid a vote, or, at least to vote for the Government's motion.

Our motion seeks approval for the renewal of the two Acts, the Northern Ireland Act 1974 and the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978. The Opposition amendment seeks to eliminate the approval that we seek for that and to substitute for it an agreement that it is time for a wide-ranging inquiry into the workings of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act.

I find myself in a paradoxical position when considering the terms of the amendment because these six-monthly statutory renewal debates represent, and should be regarded as representing, a welcome inquiry into the workings of the Act. As the debate has made clear, speeches by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen have shown our local mini-inquiry to be thoroughly penetrating and comprehensive. We can only welcome the sort of probing discussion, examination and questioning that we have had in today's renewal debate. We had a similar debate six months ago and no doubt there will be another in six months time. This sort of regular parliamentary inquiry into the workings of an Act is not confined to today. It goes on all the time, for example in correspondence between Members and Ministers, in parliamentary questions and in the continuous surveillance which is carried out by the functioning of the Northern Ireland Standing Advisory Committee on Human Rights which publishes its findings. Taken together, those avenues of examination and inquiry lead to considerable areas of factual knowledge and understanding about the workings of the Act, which is what the amendment asks for.

The bail provisions of section 2 of the Act, to which the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) specifically referred, have been subject to considerable criticism by the Standing advisory committee and, more formally, by the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Mr. John) when he led the Opposition on Northern Ireland matters. Whatever we may think of the merits of those provisions there is no difficulty in establishing how they are working. I remind the right hon. Gentleman that in the year ended 31 March 1980, 45 per cent. of bail applications for scheduled offences were successful. We can furnish the figures to show how many suspects accused of serious terrorist offences have absconded from bail. There is no problem in discovering how the Act is working.

To take another example, section 7 of the emergency provisions legislation covers trial without jury, to which the hon. Gentleman referred. That is controversial. I do not dispute that. The merits of that provision never fail to get a proper examination, scrutiny and discussion when we debate renewal. The workings of the non-jury provision are factual rather than controversial. The facts show that in 1979 pleas of guilty were made in 79 per cent. of the cases that came before the non-jury courts. Because the accused pleaded guilty, in those cases there would have been no jury under the normal system.

The number of guilty pleas in ordinary cases, in ordinary jury courts, is even higher than the 79 per cent. of guilty pleas in non-jury courts. There is nothing out of the ordinary about the substantial proportion of guilty pleas. We know the facts about the workings of the Act.

Let us consider the controversial powers of arrest, detention and search provided in section 11. The merits of the powers for which we seek renewal may be debatable—indeed, they have been extensively debated today. The hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde referred to the hazards of the arrest provisions in the normal working of the rule of law. But the workings of those provisions, into which the right hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon) wants an inquiry, are not difficult to establish. They can be specified in reply to questions. For example, I answered a parliamentary question last month which showed that under section 12 of the parallel Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1976—which provides for arrest and detention without charges for 48 hours, and for an authorised extension of that period for up to five days—1,048 people were arrested in Northern Ireland to the end of March 1981, of whom 486 were charged with offences.

We know, and can inform the House at any time, about the workings of the Act into which the right hon. Gentleman seeks an inquiry. There is no problem in establishing the facts. I could give many other examples of how the Act is working—facts about the intervals between arrest and trial, about finds of firearms and explosives under the power of search provisions and about the wearing of hoods in public under section 26. I shall not weary the House with all the facts that I could adduce, save for referring to one overriding fact. The combination of the availability of information and the use to which that information can be put, and is put, in debates such as today's makes it clear, to me at any rate, that the workings of the Act are clearly known and knowable through our regular parliamentary processes.

That is the background against which I approach, and against which I wish the House to apprach, the Opposition amendment, which calls for a wide-ranging inquiry into the workings of the Act. Such an inquiry is unnecessary—it is positively udesirable in present circumstances. My approach is neither pedantic nor disingenuous in referring to the facts. I do not oppose inquiries into some of the specific areas covered by different sections of the Act. There have been such inquiries in the past, and on the whole they have done some good. Lord Gardiner's inquiry in 1975 into aspects of prison practice is a case in point. The right hon. Member for Mansfield and the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde both referred to that. Lord Diplock's committee of inquiry resulted in sections of the emergency provisions Act bearing on the court and mode of trial for scheduled offences. There was the Bennett inquiry into police interrogation methods for terrorist offences.

The point about all the inquiries was that they sprang from evident and open disturbing facts about particular situations. It was not the workings of the legal, social or judicial systems which were shrouded in mystery. On the contrary, the workings were clearly seen. The inquiries sought remedies for specific abuses.

What I dislike about at least one way of interpreting the Opposition's proposal—and I fear that the idea would gain wider credence outside the House—is that the Opposition are so uneasy about the possibility of some hidden, nameless or undiscovered scandal lurking beneath every aspect of the emergency provisions Act that they believe that a broad-brush, generalised, wide-ranging inquiry—an omnibus Bennett-Gardiner-Diplock inquiry—is necessary. I do not believe it to be either necessary or justifiable.

Another way of interpreting the Opposition's amendment is to regard it as less concerned with the Act and its workings and more concerned with the general, social and political environment in which it is operating. That is a rather different matter. Viewed in that way, the proposal for an inquiry would have had more merit. A strong case could be made for a general inquiry into the Act as and when there is a wholly changed and dramatically improved security situation. Public confidence in the dismantling of the Act, when the time to do so arrives, may properly demand nothing less than the wide-ranging general inquiry for which the Opposition have applied. Alas, the current security situation does not justify any such inquiry.

Mr. Pendry

As so many organisations are showing their concern and are voicing it, does not the hon. Gentleman accept that their concern should be taken on board by the Government? If they can justify their actions through an inquiry, that is all to the good. There is a great deal of disquiet inside and outside Northern Ireland. That is what my right hon. and hon. Friends have been saying.

Mr. Alison

It does not behove the Opposition to echo generalised and nameless disquiet when they have access to factual information, which I am suggesting is readily available. In the present climate, a generalised inquiry into whether the environment is now better for examining the workings of the Act could only portend in the minds and emotions of many the possibility of an untimely relaxation.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said that in the past two months, following the first hunger strike death, terrorist incidents and activity have sharply reversed the recent downward trend. In the first four months of 1981 24 people died as a result of terrorist violence. Over the past two months 27 people have lost their lives. In six months the rate of loss of life through terrorist incidents has doubled as a result of the hunger strikes. We are now grappling with more violence, more and more novel forms of terrorist weapons and missiles—for example, acid as well as petrol bombs and blast bombs—more intimidation as a result of massive turn-outs at funerals and more illegal acts than when we considered the Act about six months ago. I earnestly advise the House not to be diverted by the Opposition's signpost towards a wide-ranging general inquiry. I fear that in the present circumstances that will lead only to a blind alley.

The right hon. Member for Mansfield argued that an inquiry might help in the context of the Maze dispute. With respect, I do not believe that it would. The activities that have put the men into the Maze as convicted criminals are murder and intimidation, including the intimidation of jurymen and possibly the judicial system. It is that sort of weapon or approach that Diplock manifestly found to be good cause for setting up what we now commonly call the Diplock courts.

I do not think that an inquiry could overturn the reality that Diplock found to be fundamental to his proposals and recommendations. An inquiry could throw up doubts about the present operation of the Diplock courts. That would not help us remotely in the context of the Maze hunger strike and the men convicted under Diplock proceedings for the very crimes that made the Diplock courts and other courts of that sort inescapable and necessary.

I accept the sincerity of the Opposition in pressing the idea of an inquiry. I accept that they are concerned that the Act should not be allowed to take on the characteristic of permanence.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, other ministerial colleagues and I have often expressed that same concern. We are aware of the dangers of allowing the Act to become so familiar a piece of furniture that those responsible for law and order in Northern Ireland find it too difficult ever to turn it out. It becomes a familiar piece of the furniture in the room. We shall not allow ourselves to slip into that attitude of inertia and immobilism.

I do not want to say that an independent review could not in any circumstances be a useful way of proceeding. That is a response that, I hope, is adequate, to the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde. I can imagine conditions in which the Government might find it helpful to receive such guidance. A review might play a helpful role in dealing with the inertia to which I alluded earlier. As my right hon. Friend has noted, we have already put a great deal of work into considering the progressive phases by which the powers might theoretically be reduced at the right time—and not only theoretically. The continuing internal review of all the emergency provisions legislation a year ago resulted in a dismantling of the detention provisions, for example. I now respond to the request made by my hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest (Sir J. Biggs-Davidson) that I should confirm that we are continuing such an internal study as a necessity. We are doing so and we are looking for the right time to make the change. We are keeping an open mind on that.

I feel strongly that it would be misguided for the Government to ask an idependent body to suggest how a path might be laid out for dismantling the Act when the Government cannot see their way to setting out on that path. In the present circumstances, and particularly in the sensitive conditions prevailing today, a review to consider the workings of the Act could be taken only to suggest that the Government have begun to have doubts on whether major parts of the Act were working properly. That would be undesirable and far from true.

Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)

Has my hon. Friend considered the Great Britain dimension in these matters and is he aware that there is a substantial body of opinion in Great Britain that feels that it might be to the advantage of the criminal justice system if certain cases were heard by one judge, or perhaps three judges, in the absence of juries and that for those reasons, it would be advisable to march hand in hand with practice in this country, or at least take account of it?

Mr. Alison

The controversies with which I am surrounded in the context in which I have responsibility in Northern Ireland are sufficiently great to make it desirable that I should avoid any comment on what might be appropriate in Great Britain.

Mr. Concannon

I am finding this answer disappointing. The Opposition are not asking for the dismantling of the Act. We put forward the amendment to be as helpful as possible, but I am finding the attitude in the reply disappointing. We are asking for a review of the Act simply because, as the Secretary of State and others have said, no one can equate the terrorist situation today with what it was in 1973 or 1975. Things have moved on. Surely we should look at the Act to see whether it is working in the way in which we originally intended.

Mr. Alison

Alas, things have moved on. They have moved into a sharply tumultuous phase in the Province. We hope that that phase will be short-lived, but there is the prospect of eight possible further deaths. The first four deaths led to a sharp upward movement in the level of terrorist violence, particularly murders. At the moment an inquiry could only make some people fear that we would relax the provisions that were protecting them or that we would upset things, when people's anxieties are beginning to increase. It is over the moment that the inquiry is being sought that we are finding the greatest difficulty in acceding to the right hon. Member's approach.

I turn now to the speech of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, who speaks from a wealth of experience—direct experience of Northern Ireland while he was Home Secretary and Prime Minister and, additionally, from having held other relevant high offices as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Foreign Secretary. He offered us a weighty analysis of the policies of successive Governments. He rightly described the key features of those policies as being to repress the IRA and other terrorism with firmness and resolution, to govern Northern Ireland fairly, humanely and effectively through direct rule and to seek the political development in Northern Ireland necessary for the reconciliation of its divided community. My right hon. Friend has today given the House an account of the Government's stewardship in those respects and our proposals for the future.

The right hon. Gentleman asked where, in the long term, the activity was taking us. He asked what winning meant. The House is indebted to him for raising those fundamental matters in the way that he has and for being specific and clear in his proposals for the way ahead. His speech is something to be pondered; it is not for instant reaction. I shall not fall into the trap of giving an instant and detailed reaction. As he recognises, his detailed proposals deal with a number of problems and difficulties that require mature thought.

However, three points are worth making. First, the right hon. gentleman states that his object is to restart a political discussion that gets away from sloganising. We should all endorse his warning against slogans. However, the right hon. Gentleman says that there are no easy solutions, and the slogan "Troops Out" offers no way ahead. Nor is there profit in easy talk about ending the guarantee, as though that statutory formula was an obstacle to progress that could otherwise be easily made and not a formal recognition that the outcome in Northern Ireland cannot be settled above the heads of the majority of its people, as is the reality, and that fact is recognised by all who think responsibly about the problem in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and elsewhere.

Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman is right to conclude that the problems of Northern Ireland cannot be solved by the British Government alone. As the Government have repeatedly said, part of the will to solve them must come from the people of Northern Ireland. The leaders of both parts of the community there must ask themselves—and, more important, must ask one another—what the projections of present positions and attitudes into the future is likely to bring in terms of peace and stability. Is there some better way than that of living together in peace and amity, which is what we all seek?

Finally, my initial reaction to the right hon. Gentleman's idea of fresh discussions at Westminster is that it has an attraction. In an important sense, today's debate is itself such a beginning. My right hon. Friend has promised further debate at a later stage, when our proposals for a Northern Ireland Council have been worked up into a more detailed form. However, I fancy that the right hon. Gentleman means something rather more than that. The Government will certainly think seriously and with an open mind about what he said and what was said following his speech.

Mr. Dunlop

When the Secretary of State said that elected members would be on the so-called advisory council, did he mean that hon. Members would be ex-officio members if and when the council is set up?

Mr. Alison

My right hon. Friend did not say that they would be ex-officio members. Indeed, he was at some pains—as was right—not to be too specific about the methods of nomination or appointment. It is precisely in that area that we wish to have talks with, among others, the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Mr. Dunlop).

As is appropriate, following the lead-in to discussions of this kind given by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, I conclude with a word about the political proposals put forward by my right hon. Friend. We have, of course, listened carefully to what has been said about the proposals in the debate so far. The praise has been pretty faint, but in Northern Ireland that is far from being damned. I do not think that anybody has actually anathematised—that is the appropriate form of denunciation in the Province—my right hon. Friend's proposals. Even the hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder), although he made some fairly swingeing criticisms, was shrewd enough to perceive that he himself might either be consulted about membership or even come to enjoy membership and did not reject the proposals out of hand.

Many hon. Members clearly accept that our proposal for a representative Northern Ireland Council is a sensible and positive response to political conditions in the Province. The inability of the local parties to agree on how power should be exercised places a substantial constraint on the action that any Government can take. To ignore that is to fly in the face of reality. I welcome the growing understanding in the House of the Northern Ireland situation and the political realism shown by many hon. Members in the debate.

We shall not ignore those who have been critical or sceptical of our proposals. We shall consider carefully what they have said. I had the impression, however, that many of our critics today were moved not by a fundamental disagreement with us but more by disappointment. They did not so much feel that the establishment of a representative council was wrong in itself—rather, they were disappointed that we had not instead pursued their own pet schemes or that something more ambitious had not been feasible.

I turn to the immediate future. Against the background of a large number of ideas and proposals put forward for a much longer time perspective, be it independence or unification, my right hon. Friend has put forward practical proposals for the immediate future. I believe that that is the proper duty of Government in this context. My right hon. Friend has outlined his proposal for a representative council to re-establish the political forum that Northern Ireland has lacked for so long. We hope that discussion can take place with the parties during the summer about the details of the scheme and that we may come back to the House in the autumn with fully spelt out proposals. Certainly we accept that the House should have a further opportunity to debate the Government's policy and to give its approval to it.

I touch upon a point raised in an earlier intervention by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). He feared that approval for a motion for the continuance of either Act might itself entail a wholesale, carte blanche approval of my right hon. Friend's proposal for a political advisory committee. That, of course, does not follow. We have given far too few specific details of what is entailed for such broad or generalised approval to be implied by any vote tonight or by the Lobby into which any hon. or right hon. Member goes. We have merely said that we intend to proceed in this direction and that against the background of that intention, declaration and determination we intend to take into account the wisdom and the counsel of those in the House and outside who have wide experience and knowledge of Northern Ireland and are committed to its future. It is against that background that we shall determine the details.

Questions have been raised tonight about whether there could ever be an occasion on which there might be a majority or non-majority based on the sectarian divisions in a vote on the type of matter on which the council would advise. Questions have been raised as to whether we should base the new set-up on the electoral results of the European Parliament or of the last local government elections. For the benefit of the hon. Member for Down, North, I should say that it was the latter that we had in mind. A wide range of other detailed points will be discussed.

We believe that the principle of a nominated parliament, perhaps taking the place of or leading up to an elected parliament, is acceptable and is the right and proper way to proceed for the future.

Question put,That the amendment be made:—

The House divided:Ayes 213, Noes 279.

Division No. 243] [10.00 pm
Adams, Allen Foulkes, George
Anderson, Donald Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Garrett, John (Norwich S)
Atkinson, N. (H'gey) George, Bruce
Bagier, Gordon A.T. Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Ginsburg, David
Beith, A. J. Golding, John
Bidwell, Sydney Grimond, Rt Hon J.
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)
Bottomley, Rt Hon A. (M'b'ro) Hardy, Peter
Bray, Dr Jeremy Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Brown, Hugh D. (Proven) Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Brown, R. C. (N'castle W) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Haynes, Frank
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P) Heffer, Eric S.
Campbell, Ian Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll)
Canavan, Dennis Home Robertson, John
Cant, R. B. Homewood, William
Carmichael, Neil Hooley, Frank
Carter-Jones, Lewis Howells, Geraint
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Huckfield, Les
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Hudson Davies, Gwilym E.
Cohen, Stanley Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Conlan. Bernard Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Cook, Robin F. Janner, Hon Greville
Cowans, Harry Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g) John, Brynmor
Craigen, J. M. Johnson, Walter (Derby S)
Cryer, Bob Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Dalyell, Tam Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Davidson, Arthur Lamond, James
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Leadbitter, Ted
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Leighton, Ronald
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Davis, T. (B ham, Stechf'd) Litherland, Robert
Deakins, Eric Lyon, Alexander (York)
Dempsey. James Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
Dewar, Donald McCartney, Hugh
Dixon, Donald McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Dobson, Frank McElhone, Frank
Dormand, Jack McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Douglas, Dick McKelvey, William
Dubs, Alfred MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Duffy, A. E. P. McTaggart, Robert
Dunn, James A. McWilliam, John
Dunnett, Jack Magee, Bryan
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Marks, Kenneth
Eadie, Alex Marshall, D (G'gow S'ton)
Eastham, Ken Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
English, Michael Martin, M (G'gow S'burn)
Ennals, Rt Hon David Maxton, John
Evans, loan (Aberdare) Maynard, Miss Joan
Ewing, Harry Meacher, Michael
Faulds, Andrew Mellish, Rt Hon Robert
Field, Frank Milian, Rt Hon Bruce
Fitt, Gerard Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Flannery, Martin Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Ford, Ben Moyle, Rt Hon Roland
Forrester, John Newens, Stanley
Adley, Robert Butler, Hon Adam
Aitken, Jonathan Cadbury, Jocelyn
Alexander, Richard Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Alison, Michael Chapman, Sydney
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Churchill, W. S.
Ancram, Michael Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n)
Arnold, Tom Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Aspinwall, Jack Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (S'thorne) Clegg, Sir Walter
Atkins, Robert (Preston N) Colvin, Michael
Atkinson, David (B'm'th,E) Cormack, Patrick
Baker, Kenneth (St.M'bone) Corrie, John
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Costain, Sir Albert
Banks, Robert Cranborne, Viscount
Bendall, Vivian Critchley, Julian
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Crouch, David
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Dean, Paul (North Somerset)
Berry, Hon Anthony Dickens, Geoffrey
Best, Keith Dorrell, Stephen
Bevan, David Gilroy Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Biggs-Davison, John Dover, Denshore
Blackburn, John du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Blaker, Peter Dunlop, John
Body, Richard Dunn, Robert (Dartford)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Durant, Tony
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Dykes, Hugh
Bowden, Andrew Eden, Rt Hon Sir John
Bradford, Rev R. Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Bright, Graham Eggar, Tim
Brinton, Tim Elliott, Sir William
Brittan, Leon Eyre, Reginald
Brooke, Hon Peter Fairbairn, Nicholas
Brotherton, Michael Fairgrieve, Russell
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n) Faith, Mrs Sheila
Browne, John (Winchester) Farr, John
Bruce-Gardyne, John Fell, Anthony
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Buck, Antony Fisher, Sir Nigel
Budgen, Nick Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)
Bulmer, Esmond Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles
Burden, Sir Frederick Fookes, Miss Janet
Ogden, Eric Stallard, A. W.
O'Halloran, Michael Steel, Rt Hon David
O'Neill, Martin Stoddart, David
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Stott, Roger
Palmer, Arthur Strang, Gavin
Park, George Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Parker, John Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Pavitt, Laurie Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Pendry, Tom Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Penhaligon, David Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Tilley, John
Prescott, John Tinn, James
Price, C. (Lewisham W) Torney, Tom
Race, Reg Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Radice, Giles Wainwright, E. (Dearne V)
Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S) Walker, Rt Hon H. (D'caster)
Richardson, Jo Watkins, David
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Weetch, Ken
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N) Welsh, Michael
Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) White, J. (G'gow Pollok)
Robertson, George Whitehead, Phillip
Robinson, G. (Coventry NW) Whitlock, William
Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Wigley, Dafydd
Rowlands, Ted Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Ryman, John Williams, Rt Hon A. (S'sea W)
Sever, John Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Sheerman, Barry Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H. (H'ton)
Sheldon, Rt Hon R. Wilson, William (C'try SE)
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Winnick, David
Short, Mrs Renée Woodall, Alec
Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich) Woolmer, Kenneth
Skinner, Dennis Wright, Sheila
Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark) Young, David (Bolton E)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive Tellers for the Ayes:
Spearing, Nigel Mr. Joseph Dean and
Spriggs, Leslie Mr. George Morton.
Forman, Nigel Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Fox, Marcus Mayhew, Patrick
Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Mellor, David
Fry, Peter Meyer, Sir Anthony
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Garel-Jones, Tristan Mills, Peter (West Devon)
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Miscampbell, Norman
Glyn, Dr Alan Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Goodhart, Philip Moate, Roger
Goodhew, Victor Molyneaux, James
Goodlad, Alastair Monro, Hector
Gorst, John Montgomery, Fergus
Gow, Ian Moore, John
Gower, Sir Raymond Morgan, Geraint
Gray, Hamish Morris, M. (N'hampton S)
Greenway, Harry Mudd, David
Griffiths, E. (B'y St. Edm'ds) Murphy, Christopher
Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N) Neale, Gerrard
Grist, Ian Needham, Richard
Grylls, Michael Nelson, Anthony
Gummer, John Selwyn Neubert, Michael
Hamilton, Hon A. Nott, Rt Hon John
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Onslow, Cranley
Hampson, Dr Keith Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Hannam, John Osborn, John
Haselhurst, Alan Page, Rt Hon Sir G. (Crosby)
Hastings, Stephen Page, Richard (SW Herts)
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Parris, Matthew
Hawksley, Warren Patten, John (Oxford)
Hayhoe, Barney Pattie, Geoffrey
Heddle, John Pawsey, James
Henderson, Barry Percival, Sir Ian
Hicks, Robert Pollock, Alexander
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Powell, Rt Hon J.E. (S Down)
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Holland, Philip (Carlton) Prior, Rt Hon James
Hooson, Tom Proctor, K. Harvey
Hordern, Peter Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd) Raison, Timothy
Hunt, David (Wirral) Rathbone, Tim
Hurd, Hon Douglas Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Rees-Davies, W. R.
Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Renton, Tim
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Rhodes James, Robert
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Kilfedder, James A. Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Kimball, Marcus Rifkind, Malcolm
King, Rt Hon Tom Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)
Knight, Mrs Jill Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Knox, David Robinson, P. (Belfast E)
Lang, Ian Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)
Langford-Holt, Sir John Rossi, Hugh
Latham, Michael Rost, Peter
Lawrence, Ivan Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Le Marchant, Spencer St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Loveridge, John Shepherd, Richard
Luce, Richard Shersby, Michael
Lyell, Nicholas Silvester, Fred
McCrindle, Robert Sims, Roger
Macfarlane, Neil Skeet, T. H. H.
MacGregor, John Speed, Keith
MacKay, John (Argyll) Speller, Tony
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. Spence, John
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Sproat, Iain
McQuarrie, Albert Squire, Robin
Madel, David Stainton, Keith
Major, John Stanbrook, Ivor
Marland, Paul Stanley, John
Marlow, Tony Steen, Anthony
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Stevens, Martin
Mates, Michael Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Mather, Carol Stewart, A. (E Renfrewshire)
Stokes, John Ward, John
Stradling Thomas, J. Warren, Kenneth
Tapsell, Peter Watson, John
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Tebbit, Norman Wells, Bowen
Temple-Morris, Peter Wheeler, John
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Thompson, Donald Whitney, Raymond
Thorne, Neil (Ilford South) Wickenden, Keith
Thornton, Malcolm Wiggin, Jerry
Townend, John (Bridlington) Wilkinson, John
Trippier, David Williams, D. (Montgomery)
Vaughan, Dr Gerard Winterton, Nicholas
Viggers, Peter Wolfson, Mark
Waddington, David Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wakeham, John Younger, Rt Hon George
Waldegrave, Hon William
Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester) Tellers for the Noes:
Walker, B. (Perth) Mr. Robert Boscawen and
Wall, Patrick Mr. John Cope.
Waller, Gary

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 268, Noes 45.

Division No. 244] [10.14 pm
Adley, Robert Cope, John
Aitken, Jonathan Corrie, John
Alexander, Richard Costain, Sir Albert
Alison, Michael Cranborne, Viscount
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Crouch, David
Ancram, Michael Dorrell, Stephen
Arnold, Tom Dover, Denshore
Aspinwall, Jack du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (S'thorne) Dunlop, John
Atkins, Robert (Preston N) Dunn, Robert (Dartford)
Baker, Kenneth (St.M'bone) Durant, Tony
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Dykes, Hugh
Banks, Robert Eden, Rt Hon Sir John
Beith, A. J. Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Bendall, Vivian Eggar, Tim
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Elliott, Sir William
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Eyre, Reginald
Berry, Hon Anthony Fairbairn, Nicholas
Best, Keith Fairgrieve, Russell
Bevan, David Gilroy Faith, Mrs Sheila
Biggs-Davison, John Farr, John
Blackburn, John Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Blaker, Peter Fisher, Sir Nigel
Body, Richard Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fookes, Miss Janet
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Forman, Nigel
Bowden, Andrew Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Bradford, Rev R. Fox, Marcus
Bright, Graham Fraser, Peter (South Angus)
Brinton, Tim Fry, Peter
Brittan, Leon Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Brooke, Hon Peter Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)
Brotherton, Michael Garel-Jones, Tristan
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n) Glyn, Dr Alan
Browne, John (Winchester) Goodhart, Philip
Bruce-Gardyne, John Goodhew, Victor
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Goodlad, Alastair
Buck, Antony Gorst, John
Budgen, Nick Gow, Ian
Bulmer, Esmond Gower, Sir Raymond
Burden, Sir Frederick Gray, Hamish
Butler, Hon Adam Greenway, Harry
Cadbury, Jocelyn Griffiths, E. (B'y St. Edm'ds)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N)
Chapman, Sydney Grimond, Rt Hon J.
Churchill, W. S. Grylls, Michael
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Hamilton, Hon A.
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hampson, Dr Keith
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hannam, John
Clegg, Sir Walter Haselhurst, Alan
Colvin, Michael Hastings, Stephen
Alton, David Marshall, D (G'gow S'ton)
Atkinson, N. (H'gey,) Maxton, John
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Maynard, Miss Joan
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Meacher, Michael
Canavan, Dennis Newens, Stanley
Carmichael, Neil Pavitt, Laurie
Carter-Jones, Lewis Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g) Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Cryer, Bob Race, Reg
Cunliffe, Lawrence Richardson, Jo
Dixon, Donald Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Dobson, Frank Skinner, Dennis
Dubs, Alfred Stallard, A. W.
Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're) Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Fitt, Gerard Thomas, Jeffrey (Aberfillery)
Flannery, Martin Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Welsh, Michael
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Wigley, Dafydd
Heffer, Eric S. Wright, Sheila
Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll) Young, David (Bolton E)
Home Robertson, John
Howells, Geraint Tellers for the Noes:
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours
Lamond, James and Mr. Clive Soley.
Lyon, Alexander (York)
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Morgan, Geraint
Hawksley, Warren Morris, M. (N'hampton S)
Hayhoe, Barney Mudd, David
Heddle, John Murphy, Christopher
Henderson, Barry Neale, Gerrard
Hicks, Robert Needham, Richard
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Nelson, Anthony
Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire) Neubert, Michael
Hooson, Tom Nott, Rt Hon John
Hordern, Peter Onslow, Cranley
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd) Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Hunt, David (Wirral) Osborn, John
Hurd. Hon Douglas Page, Rt Hon Sir G. (Crosby)
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Page, Richard (SW Herts)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Parris, Matthew
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Patten, John (Oxford)
Kilfedder, James A. Pattie, Geoffrey
Kimball, Marcus Pawsey, James
King, Rt Hon Tom Penhaligon, David
Knight, Mrs Jill Percival, Sir Ian
Knox, David Pollock, Alexander
Lang. Ian Powell, Rt Hon J.E. (S Down)
Latham, Michael Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Lawrence, Ivan Proctor, K. Harvey
Le Marchant, Spencer Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Raison, Timothy
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Rathbone, Tim
Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo) Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Loveridge, John Renton, Tim
Luce, Richard Rhodes James, Robert
Lyell, Nicholas Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W) Ridley, Hon Nicholas
MacGregor, John Ridsdale, Sir Julian
MacKay, John (Argyll) Rifkind, Malcolm
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Robinson, P. (Belfast E)
McQuarrie, Albert Roper, John
Madel, David Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Major, John Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)
Marland, Paul Rossi, Hugh
Marlow. Tony Rost, Peter
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Mather, Carol St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Mayhew, Patrick Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Mellor, David Shepherd, Richard
Meyer, Sir Anthony Shersby, Michael
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Silvester, Fred
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Sims, Roger
Mills, Peter (West Devon) Skeet, T. H. H.
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Speed, Keith
Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen) Speller, Tony
Moate, Roger Spence, John
Molyneaux, James Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Monro, Hector Sproat, Iain
Montgomery, Fergus Squire, Robin
Moore, John Stainton, Keith
Stanbrook, Ivor Wall, Patrick
Stanley, John Waller, Gary
Steel, Rt Hon David Ward, John
Steen, Anthony Warren, Kenneth
Stevens, Martin Watson, John
Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Stewart, A. (E Renfrewshire) Wells, Bowen
Stokes, John Wheeler, John
Stradling Thomas, J. Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Tapsell, Peter Whitney, Raymond
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Wickenden, Keith
Tebbit, Norman Wiggin, Jerry
Temple-Morris, Peter Wilkinson, John
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter Williams, D. (Montgomery)
Thompson, Donald Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Thorne, Neil (Ilford South) Winterton, Nicholas
Thornton, Malcolm Wolfson, Mark
Townend, John (Bridlington) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Trippier, David Younger, Rt Hon George
Viggers, Peter
Waddington, David Tellers for the Ayes:
Wakeham, John Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
Waldegrave, Hon William and
Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester) Mr. Selwyn Gummer.
Walker, B. (Perth )

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That this House approves of the Government's proposal to continue the provisions of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 and the Northern Ireland Act 1974 for further periods.