§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris)
It might be helpful to the House if I make it clear that debate on the order may cover all matters for which Northern Ireland Departments, as distinct from the Northern Ireland Office, are responsible, with the exception of police and security matters.
§ The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. Michael Mates)
I beg to move,That the draft Appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) Order 1992, which was laid before this House on 2nd June, be approved.The draft order, which covers the main estimates for Northern Ireland Departments, authorises expenditure of £2,874 million for the current financial year. Taken together with the sums voted on account in March, this brings the total estimates provision for Northern Ireland Departments to £5,014 million, an increase of 9 per cent. on 1991–92 provisional outturn.
The sums sought for individual services are set out in the estimates booklet which is, as usual, available from the Vote Office. The House will be aware that the estimates for the Northern Ireland Office, for law and order services, are not covered by the order before us today.
As is the custom on these occasions, I shall highlight the main items in the estimates, starting with the Department of Agriculture. The net provision sought in the two agricultural votes amounts to some £152 million, an increase of £8 million over 1991–92. Vote 1 covers expenditure of £33 million by the Department on various market support schemes which operate throughout the United Kingdom. This includes £12 million for capital and other grants to improve farm structures, to stimulate investment on farms and for conservation—£19 million is to support farming in the less favoured areas, by means of headage payments on hill cattle and sheep.
Vote 2 seeks provision of £119 million for local measures to support agriculture, fisheries and forestry. Of that, £53 million is for agricultural, scientific and veterinary services. That covers a wide range of professional and technical services to the industry and reflects the importance of maintaining the highest possible quality of Northern Ireland agricultural products. The sum of £27 million is for arterial drainage, fisheries and forestry—including expenditure on watercourse management, angling development and the management of state forests.
The Department of Economic Development's vote 1 seeks provision of £168 million, which will enable the Industrial Development Board for Northern Ireland to carry out its role of strengthening the industrial base there and to meet its existing commitments, primarily in the area of selective assistance to industry. The introduction and development of internationally competitive companies, providing the basis for growth in durable employment, is the main aim around which all IDB's activities are centred. Existing companies are being encouraged and assisted to improve their competitiveness in terms of productivity, design, quality and marketing.
In vote 2, £44 million is sought for the Local Enterprise Development Unit— LEDU—Northern Ireland's small business agency. The agency is placing greater emphasis on 1098 increasing the number, and improving the competitiveness, of small companies. Recent initiatives include the business start programme, which is aimed at assisting people to set up in business. The number of projects assisted under the scheme will be trebled to some 1,200 this year. Existing businesses will be supported through the business advance programme, which aims to assist some 2,000 local companies to stimulate growth.
Also in vote 2, £9 million is sought for the Industrial Research and Technology Unit, which was launched in March with the aim of improving the competitive edge of Northern Ireland products in an increasingly demanding marketplace. Continuous, well-directed research and innovation are crucial to long-term economic health. The unit will give a greater impetus and sharper focus to Government's activities in that important area of activity.
Finally, in vote 2, £11 million is sought to enable the Northern Ireland tourist board to assist the further development of the tourist industry. Last year, for the third successive year, a record number of visitors—1.18 million—came to Northern Ireland. An 18 per cent. increase in the number of holiday visitors confirms that Northern Ireland is again being considered as a serious contender in the world's holiday markets. The additional funds proposed—nearly £4 million more than last year—will enable the board to build on that success and, in co-operation with all involved in the industry, to realise the potential of the tourism sector to generate additional economic benefits and to create jobs throughout Northern Ireland.
The Department of Economic Development's vote 3 seeks £189 million for the Training and Employment Agency. A sum of £46 million is for the youth training programme to support 12,700 training places. Some £51 million is for the action for community employment programme, to provide 9,600 places for long-term unemployed adults in projects of community benefit. More than £18 million is for the job training programme, which offers training and work experience to unemployed adults. That is £2.3 million more than in 1991–92 and will allow the programme to expand from 3,600 places in March 1992 to 5,400 by March 1993. The sum of £13 million is for the company development programme, which will assist some 225 Northern Ireland companies to improve their competitiveness in external markets.
Since April 1991, more than 34,000 people have been placed in employment after completing programmes provided by the agency. About 35,000 people are currently engaged on various programmes. It is particularly encouraging that 90 per cent. of apprentices on training centre courses enter permanent employment on completion of their training.
A token provision of £1,000 has been taken in vote 4 to cover expenses to be incurred in the privatisation of the Northern Ireland electricity supply industry. A supplementary estimate, covering the actual expenses and proceeds from the sale, will be presented later in the year.
With regard to the Department of the Environment, £169 million is sought in vote 1 for roads, transport and ports. Some £142 million is for the roads programme, to finance the operation and maintenance of Northern Ireland's roads and bridges and for new construction and improvement works.
The Department's vote 2 covers the important area of housing, where £187 million is sought to provide assistance to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and to the 1099 voluntary housing movement. When net borrowing by the Housing Executive, rents and capital receipts are taken into account, the total resources available for housing will be about £531 million in 1992–93.
The Department's vote 3 provides for water and sewerage services, with gross expenditure in 1992–93 estimated at £152 million. Of that, £98 million is required, mainly, for normal operation and maintenance and £54 million is for expenditure on capital works, including schemes to improve further the quality of drinking water in line with the standards laid down in European Community directives.
§ Mr. John D. Taylor (Strangford)
The Minister has said that money has been allocated for the privatisation of the Northern Ireland electricity industry. We are now discussing the water industry. Today, a report in the press said that the Government have decided to proceed immediately with the privatisation of the water and sewerage systems in Northern Ireland. Will the Minister tell us exactly what is happening about the future control of water in the Province?
§ Mr. Mates
I am aware of the report to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred. The Northern Ireland citizens charter makes clear the Government's intention to privatise the Department of the Environment's water and sewerage functions as soon as practicable. In line with that commitment, the Government are reviewing the timetable for, and the best approach to, the privatisation. It is hoped that we will be able to make an announcement soon.
Also included in vote 4 is £38 million for urban regeneration measures, which will be targeted at areas of social, economic and environmental need. As in previous years, that will generate much higher overall investment through the successful partnerships that have been established with the private sector.
The estimates for the Department of Education seek a total of £1,213 million, an increase of 6 per cent. over last year. Vote I includes £743 million for recurrent expenditure by education and library boards, an increase of £54 million over 1991–92. It includes £389 million for school teachers' salaries, which should enable the pupil-teacher ratio to be maintained at present levels. Also included is £237 million for expenditure on schools and on further education services. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley), made an announcement about that this morning, when he launched a report on the future structure of further education. The sum of £117 million is for libraries, youth, transport and administration. Vote 1 also seeks £50 million for boards' capital projects, including provision for new laboratories and technology workshops to enable further progress to be made on education reforms. The sum of £6 million is sought for integrated schools and £123 million for voluntary schools.
Vote 2, seeks £266 million including £89 million for universities which will enable them to maintain parity of provision with comparable universities in the rest of the United Kingdom. The sum of £126 million is for student support, including grants and student loans. The vote also covers expenditure on a range of youth, sport, community and cultural activities, including £3 million for community relations.
1100 The next set of votes relate to the Department of Health and Social Services. In votes 1 and 3, total net provision of £1,243 million is sought to maintain and improve the standard of the Province's health and personal social services. This is an increase of £74 million over estimated outturn for 1991–92. Spending on the family health services will be £252 million, while £887 million is for health and social services boards' current expenditure. The sum of £46 million is sought for capital development to maintain a substantial programme of works, including a further £14 million for Antrim hospital.
In vote 3, £385 million is sought for the Department's administration and other costs. That includes £245 million for miscellaneous social security benefits, including housing benefit.
Vote 4 seeks £1,022 million for a range of benefits administered by the Social Security Agency. That is an increase of more than 13 per cent. on last year and includes £187 million for disability benefits, £567 million for income support and £268 million for family and other benefits.
In the Department of Finance and Personnel, vote 3, more than £4 million is sought for the community relations programme. Support for community relations projects, co-ordinated by the central community relations unit and the Department of Education, has increased from about £250,000 in 1986–87 to £7 million in 1992–93. A new feature of the programme in 1992–93 is the provision of suitable venues to encourage greater cross-community contact.
I draw hon. Members' attention to the fact that all the programmes that we are discussing today have one important thing in common. To each of them applies the principles of the citizens charter. The Northern Ireland charter, which was published in February, describes how we plan to raise the standard of public services. That is supported by individual charters for the main customer-oriented services. Those explain in detail what precisely a citizen can expect of the service, what his or her rights are, and what the citizen can do if the service falls below standard.
Our programme in Northern Ireland has been launched with the advantage of a public service whose professionalism and commitment are second to none. I am therefore confident that we shall achieve the charter aim of good service, based on respect for the customer and his or her views.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)
It is all very well for the Minister to make that sort of statement and to be applauded for it, but many people in Northern Ireland feel sore about the fact that money is being diverted to the north-south road while other roads that are needed to get us to the ferry and roads around the airport are being insufficiently funded. People are asking why that money should he diverted to the north-south communication, particularly as across the water in Scotland, our neighbour, there is great need for the railway line to be re-opened and for money to be spent on roads there to link with Northern Ireland roads.
§ Mr. Mates
The hon. Gentleman did not hear that matter being raised in the last debate because he was not in his place. I believe that the issue of roads is likely to 1101 figure at some length in at least one speech to be made in this debate. Roads are the responsibility of the Minister of State who will reply to the debate.
In my opening remarks I have drawn attention to the main provisions of the order. In reply to the debate, the Minister of State will respond to points raised by hon. Members. I commend the order to the House.
§ Mr. Roger Stott (Wigan)
I will limit my remarks, to enable hon. Members from the Province to take part. in the debate. At the outset I wish, on behalf of my party, to say how pleased we are to see my hon. Friend—I call him "my hon. Friend"—the Member for Belfast, West (Dr. Hendron) in his place. I am sure that during his tenure of office all the people of his constituency will be assiduously represented here. I understand that he hopes to speak in the debate.
I read an article in The Observer by the Minister of State about his hopes and aspirations for the rejuvenation of the economy of Northern Ireland. I shall concentrate my remarks on economic development and the economic future of Northern Ireland.
Ministers have a long tradition of spreading optimism about the economy of Northern Ireland, none more so than a former Northern Ireland Under-Secretary, the present Minister for Trade, who will be a hard act for the Minister of State to follow. We do not criticise Ministers for spreading optimism. That is part of their job. We are always delighted when Ministers and officials succeed in preserving or obtaining jobs for Northern Ireland, but we cannot allow Ministers to get away with facile optimism.
The Northern Ireland Economic Council published two useful reports in the last three months, one on the European Community structure and the other on economic assessment in Northern Ireland, documents which I hope the Minister has had time to read. Let us hope that Ministers at the Northern Ireland Office reject the scorched earth policy of their colleagues at the Treasury and ensure that the council continues to provide a focus for economic analysis and value to the Government, employees and trade unions. The National Economic Development Council which operated in the rest of the United Kingdom provided such useful information, and I regret its demise.
The Northern Ireland Economic Council's spring economic assessment makes gloomy reading, I regret to say. Indeed, the council admits that it has not produced such a depressing document since the early 1980s. Contrary to the trend in recent years in Northern Ireland, which was relatively insulated from the United Kingdom recession, the council concludes that the United Kingdom's recession exertsa depressing grip on local economic conditions in Northern Ireland.The recession is in many ways worse than the first Thatcherite wrecking job which devastated manufacturing industry. This second wave of destruction spares no sector of the economy and, what is worse, the council is convinced that, when the long-awaited recovery materialises in the rest of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland will lag behind in benefiting from the end of the recession.
In those circumstances, we have a right to expect action, not propaganda, from the Government. Can we expect to see more of the "agit" and less of the "prop" from the Minister? What measures is he taking now to 1102 ensure that when the recession ends, Northern Ireland will benefit as much and as rapidly as other regions of the United Kingdom? The Government's self-satisfaction contrasts unfavourably with the vigorous efforts of the CBI in Northern Ireland and of the Confederation of Irish Industry to promote and provide cross-border trade and prepare the island of Ireland, including Northern Ireland, for the single market.
Lest the Minister is in doubt about the seriousness of the crisis which it is his task to resolve, the unemployment figures published this afternoon—14.4 per cent. of the work force unemployed, according to the seasonally adjusted total—are a disgrace anywhere in the United Kingdom, but they are particularly disgraceful in Northern Ireland. In addition, it was announced this afternoon that there will be 400 redundancies at Shorts. That should dispel any complacency that exists in the Department.
In recent weeks, the future of the European Community has received much attention, but we are in danger of neglecting the changes to which we are already committed under the Single European Act and the implementation of the single market. The Northern Ireland Economic Council has provided a salutary reminder that we still have a long way to go to prepare Northern Ireland for the single market, let alone the degree of European unity which Maastricht promised. Many people in Northern Ireland, not least its elected representatives, will be keen to find out why the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary forgot that they were responsible for Northern Ireland when they agreed to exclude the Province from the cohesion fund agreed at Maastricht. Perhaps the Minister will comment on that.
The NEC points out that, on current trends, Northern Ireland will remain behind the EC average until well into the 21st century. The report concludes that present policies have been inadequate, particularly in relation to the structural funds. Not only has Northern Ireland not gained as much financially as it should have gained from the funds, but there is growing doubt about the effectiveness of the way in which the money is spent.
Receipts from the European social fund have fallen since 1987–88 and little has been done to create the high-tech growth industries which will be the prime beneficiaries of the single market. There is yet to be an integrated approach to rural development to counter balance the expected decline in support for agriculture. The council points to the lack of proper evaluation of programmes to see if they are working and the lack of co-ordination and integration in the various operational programmes.
In addition, it criticises the inadequate, rushed and anti-democratic way in which bids for structural fund support were prepared. What, if anything, do the Government intend to do about that? Can we expect the usual inaction, or can we at least be assured that any elected Provincewide authority that may emerge from the current talks will be associated with the next tranche of structural fund allocations?
§ Mr. John Hume (Foyle)
To put the facts on the table, will the Minister explain why, when the structural funds were increased, Northern Ireland, as an objective I region, received an increase of only 9 per cent., whereas the Republic of Ireland received 17 per cent., Portugal 114 per cent. and Greece 171 per cent.? Will the Minister explain 1103 why our objective 1 region did so badly and why the Government failed so miserably? Instead of silently staring at me, will the Minister explain why that happened?
§ Mr. Scott
My hon. Friend makes his own point and I have no doubt that the Minister will have heard what he said. I am glad that he made that point because I have referred in detail to my worries about the way in which the structural fund in Northern Ireland has been handled. I have asked why the Northern Ireland economy could not benefit again from the cohesion fund. That is for the Government to answer. Regrettably, we are not on the Government Benches; therefore, it is up to Ministers to answer the questions.
I wish to discuss two other matters. The first can only be described as the rifling of the economic, social and public expenditure programme for the security budget. Such practices are unacceptable and dangerous. The Government should make it clear that the necessary security costs will be met from contingency reserves if necessary, without impinging on other programmes; otherwise, it is tantamount to telling the terrorists that they can win the economic war and make the stakes too high for the British Government. The defence of society against terrorism is beyond price, so any further rifling of other budgets to substantiate and sustain the defence and security budgets is unacceptable.
Secondly, there is much concern about the performance of the industrial development agencies in the Province—the 1DB and LEDU—in terms of job creation. The Secretary of State alluded to that earlier. In the public sector, if back office jobs are excluded, only 158 jobs were promoted by the 1DB. It is not that we have anything against back office jobs or the public sector, but one does not have to be a Thatcherite to be worried about the excessive dependence on the public sector for employment in Northern Ireland. How does the Minister intend to secure further inward investment in the light of those difficulties?
As someone who, for the past three years, has been banging on the Dispatch box about the vacillation of the British Government and the Republic's Government about the upgrading of the Belfast-Dublin railway line, may I say how pleased I am to hear from the Secretary of State that work on improving that line will commence later this year? Not only is that line symbolic for the island of Ireland, linking Belfast to Dublin, but it makes economic and transportation sense. It also makes sense because of the single market, which is now exercising everyone's attention. It is right that the island of Ireland's economy should begin, to some extent, to integrate financial services, transport infrastructure and power supply. the island of Ireland, given its peripheral nature in relation to the rest of Europe, is to be at the races in the single market, those things must happen.
I am pleased that gas interconnectors are being provided between Scotland and the island of Ireland. I am pleased also that the Republic is considering an interconnector between Dublin and mainland United Kingdom. Furthermore, I am encouraged to see that the new team at Stormont is keen to resurrect the electricity interconnector between the Republic and Northern 1104 Ireland. One should not allow terrorism to stand in the way of economic progress and the unification of the European grid.
Although I have been critical of some of the Government's actions, there have been substantial improvements in economic activity in the Province, largely brought about by Northern Ireland Members through self-help. They have gone out and looked for inward investment in their constituencies, and I pay them credit for doing so.
§ Dr. Joe Hendron (Belfast, West)
Although two months have passed, I presume that it is still in order to wish you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, well in your new post and a happy four or five years.
The tradition of the House is that new Members pay tribute to their predecessors. My predecessor, the President of Sinn Fein, did not take his seat in this House. Hence west Belfast had no parliamentary representation for nine years. It is fair to say that, because of adverse media coverage, my constituency has been grossly misrepresented to the world at large. A young Belfast student recently gave vivid expression to what I hope will be our shared vision for the future when he wrote:in morning sunlight over Belfast, a fragile ray of hope grows bright".
I have been privileged to serve the people of west Belfast—Catholic and Protestant, nationalist and Unionist—as a family doctor for more than 25 years. They are magnificent people and I salute them for their indomitable spirit, resilience in adversity, kindness, courtesy and great sense of humour. When I was elected on 10 April, it was clear to me that, although the vast majority of my votes came from nationalist west Belfast, I nevertheless received a significant number of votes from Unionist-Protestant parts of the constituency. I therefore consider myself deeply honoured that my mandate crossed the sectarian and political divide.
Catholic families on the Falls road have similar problems to Protestant families on the Shankill road in terms of unemployment, inadequate housing, social deprivation and paramilitary intimidation. There is a different political emphasis between the people of the Falls and the Shankill. but I want them all to know that at Westminster I shall act with integrity at all times and represent all of them to the best of my ability with regard to their social, economic and community interests.
The constituency of Belfast. West has one of the most spectacular urban settings in these islands, situated at the edge of the Antrim plateau and dominated by the Divis and Black mountains, which arc visible from every part of Belfast. Tradition has it that St. Patrick himself established a Christian church in Belfast in 454 AD, at Sean Chill, which means "the old church" and is anglicised today as "Shankill".
Centuries later, on 14 October 1791, in Crown Entry, off High street—which exists to this day in the constituency—the first Society of United Irishmen was founded by, among others, Wolfe Tone, Henry Joy McCraken and Thomas Russell, with the aim of bringing together all the people of Ireland in a spirit of brotherhood, harmony and toleration of diversity. The late 18th century was Belfast's golden age, with a growing prosperity and a social, cultural and intellectual awakening stimulated by the American and French 1105 revolutions. 1 pay tribute to the spirit and idealism of those first united Irishmen, and to their noble and non-violent aims that sought to unite all the people in a brotherhood of affection.
Belfast was among the first cities to be influenced by the industrial revolution. There is a 17th-century reference to a corn mill operating at Millfield, a thoroughfare that links the Falls and Shankill road. In the late 19th century a travel writer described Belfast's location asan ugly picture in a beautiful frame".He was referring to the appalling and crowded, two-up, two-down rows of housing in long terraces, with poor sewage and waste disposal facilities that were erected by the mill owners to house the thousands of families who flocked into west Belfast in the aftermath of the great famine of the 1840s. Unhealthy working conditions and overcrowded housing combined with limited medical facilities produced rampant disease and low life expectancy.
The constituency was, I believe, first created for the 1886 general election at the time of the first Home Rule Bill. The first Member of Parliament for West Belfast was Thomas Sexton, a member of the Irish parliamentary party and a close associate of Charles Stewart Parnell. I am honoured to continue the tradition of those who have represented my constituency in the House.
Every hon. Member has a constituency that is unique, but Belfast is peculiarly unique. I do not believe that there is any territory in these islands where people have suffered as much. More people per thousand of the population have died through violence in west Belfast than anywhere else in western Europe; the figure is just over 500. There have been, and continue to be, more people imprisoned in west Belfast per thousand of the population than anywhere else in the islands.
Using the Government's own indicators of social deprivation—the Jarman indices—west Belfast is at the top of the poverty league. The great majority of people living in my constituency and far beyond in Northern Ireland want peace. In particular, they want the paramilitaries off their hacks. The Provisional IRA has mounted a continual campaign of violence, murder, intimidation and extortion. Its members have murdered hundreds of people, both civilians and members of the security forces.
The Provos are not defenders of the nationalist people; they do not have a mandate for murder. The vast majority of Irish people—north and south—oppose them. The Sinn Fein leadership tells our people to get up off their knees, while its paramilitary wing blows the knees off our people. I am referring to the knee-cappings of young people involved in alleged anti-social behaviour.
The main loyalist paramilitary organisation—the Ulster Defence Association, better known as the UDA/UFF—has also been responsible for hundreds of murders, mostly innocent Catholics. Their most recent victim was the mother of two young children, Mrs. Philomena Hanna, who was gunned down in her workplace on the Springfield road. Yet the Northern Ireland Office has continually refused to proscribe the UDA.
I demand that the Secretary of State and the Minister of State act immediately to proscribe that organisation. It is inexcusable not to take such action. In the aftermath of the Brian Nelson case, it is important that the faceless men in charge of military and covert operations be made 1106 accountable to both the judicial system and public representatives for their actions, as at no time can any life be sacrificed in the interest of security. Other paramilitary organisations that slaughter our people include the Irish People's Liberation Organisation, the Irish National Liberation Army and the Ulster Volunteer Force.
I appreciate that normal policing is impossible because of the IRA campaign of violence. However, the vast majority of the people in west Belfast support impartial policing; they will support the police, provided the police support the people on the ground. Young people who are continually harassed on our streets or who are treated with indignity in interrogation centres might have difficulty in giving such support. Interrogation centres would not be necessary if paramilitary organisations stopped their campaigns of violence. Yet it is morally wrong and counter-productive to ill-treat young people in centres such as Castlereagh. There is ample medical evidence that such ill-treatment has taken place. I have given such evidence. Soldiers who harass young people become recruiting sergeants for the IRA and other paramilitary organisations because they further alienate those same young people.
To the families of all those who have died in Northern Ireland—whether soldiers, policemen or civilians—I extend my sincere sympathy.
Among the greatest trials with which the people of west Belfast have to contend is the scourge of massive unemployment. Notified unemployment in the constituency as a whole is nearly 40 per cent. but in some districts such as Ballymurphy, Turf Lodge and Lower Falls, it has been reported as being more than 70 per cent. It is not unusual to meet families where the males have been unable to obtain gainful employment for two or more generations. Unemployment has always been endemic on the nationalist Falls road, but in recent years the Shankill road has also suffered badly as large companies such as Mackies have gone into decline. In estates such as Glencairn, unemployment is reported to be as high as 60 per cent.
Previous Governments have been guilty of gross neglect. However, in recent years the Make Belfast Work campaign has been having some positive effects. Government agencies such as IDB and LEDU are anxious to help. I accept that there has been an improvement recently, and the position is better than it was three or four years ago. I would like to pay tribute to the former Minister with responsibility for economic development, now the Minister for Trade, who was so genuinely concerned about deprivation in inner city districts particularly in my constituency.
Paramilitary violence has made it difficult to attract inward investment, but a number of companies are anxious to locate in west Belfast. In campaigning to bring employment to my constituency, and so ensuring a decent future for the families and young people of west Belfast, I will spare no effort to speak to any industrialist, lobby any Minister, or make any reasonable representations on behalf of all my constituents.
New and imaginative policies need to be devised—for example, a fiscal initiative that could lead to the adjustment in the rate of corporation tax for inward investment in order to make west Belfast fully competitive with the Irish Republic's 10 per cent. manufacturing tax, and greater attention to training for real jobs. The 1107 development of the Springvale initiative is extremely important, and I am pleased to know that there will be first class training facilities for 300 young people.
I pay tribute to the dedication and commitment of the schools and to the generations of teachers, parents and pupils who despite an almost intolerable background of deprivation and for two decades of violence have turned out thousands of highly motivated, well educated and public-spirited pupils. At the same time, far too many young people, through no fault of their own, do not benefit from the education system. That problem must be dealt with as a matter of urgency.
The study of the Irish language and other cultural pursuits are much to the fore in my constituency. The promotion of the Irish language has always been close to the hearts of the people of west Belfast. Cumann Chluain Ard in Hawthorn street has been at the centre of the Irish language revival for more than 50 years, and, at Shaws road, we can also boast the only significant Irish-speaking community in Ireland. Many voluntary bodies, including Glor-nGael, have fostered a vibrant cultural life for Irish speakers in the city.
Recently there has been growing interest in the Irish language in Unionist areas. As we have a shared cultural heritage that is a welcome development. The first Irish language secondary school in Northern Ireland, Meanscoil Feirste, which opened on the Falls road last September, has so far received no Government aid. The Northern Ireland Office accepts the necessity for nursery and primary education in Irish; it is only logical that it should support this school too.
Given the history of violent conflict and social deprivation in west Belfast in the past 20 years it was inevitable that hundreds of our young people would get involved directly or peripherally with paramilitary organisations. It is important that great sensitivity and, when possible, clemency, be shown to republican and loyalist prisoners, especially if their release would not endanger the public. Just as Private Thain, whose crime was committed in west Belfast, was transferred to an English prison before his early release, so Irish prisoners in England should be allowed to serve their sentences in their own country.
It is grossly unfair that prisoners' families should be made to suffer and that they should have to make long and arduous journeys to prisons in Britain over periods of many years. There are many female prisoners from my constituency in Maghaberry prison. They have had to endure the degrading practice of strip-searching, which both they and their families greatly resent. I ask the Secretary of State to intervene immediately to stop that.
I want to refer to a prisoner who is now dead. His name was Guiseppe Conlon. He was a patient of mine who came from the Lower Falls nationalist area of west Belfast. When Mr. Conlon's son Gerard—later to become known as one of the Guildford four—was arrested after the Guildford massacre, his father came to see me in my surgery in Divis street. I still have some of his medical records. Like any father, he was deeply concerned about his son, so later that evening he crossed on the ferry to England to be near Gerard.
Guiseppe Conlon was a sick man with chronic lung disease—he would have been out of breath if he had 1108 walked even 100 yards. On top of that he had never been to England, yet he was arrested, charged with making bombs, sentenced and eventually allowed to die in Wormwood Scrubs prison on 23 January 1980.
It did not take a forensic expert or even an intelligent judge to know that Guiseppe Conlon was completely innocent, yet to this day his widow, Mrs. Sarah Conlon—she is a great lady—has never received an apology from the Government or from any relevant authority. She too had to make the long weary trek backwards and forwards to various prisons in England, entirely at her own expense.
There are those in this House who will say that violence in Northern Ireland has been fuelled by hope—the hope that violence will achieve political objectives. That is not my view. Quite the contrary. Violence is fuelled not by hope but rather by despair, and any Member of this House who is prepared to walk the streets of my constituency with me would immediately understand and recognise that despair. If belief in society is diminished, it becomes easier to listen to voices which seek not to accommodate diversity but to eliminate it—hence the despair of young people who are daily humiliated, harassed, insulted and abused by British soldiers in their own streets. Some of these young people are involved in joyriding—joyriding which, night after night, has provoked unprecedented anger and anxiety among the residents of west Belfast.
I deviate from my prepared script at this point to say that I have read quite a bit about joyriding in various parts of England; but it all started in west Belfast. Joyriding is a misnomer. These young people kill themselves and others. Two young joyriders in Belfast were not so much shot dead by British soldiers as riddled with bullets by them. No joyrider has ever been a member of a paramilitary organisation. I have been saying that for years, and I cannot understand to this day why those two young people were shot dead. I have heard nothing more about the soldiers involved, but they were certainly not brought to court. There is an urgent need for a co-ordinated strategy to deal with this terrible problem.
It is the climate of despair which encourages violence because those who feel that despair are easy prey for those who exploit the failure of society to deal with these problems who exploit the anger and who exploit their frustration so as to suck more and more people into the descending spiral of poverty, despair, violence, destruction and economic disintegration.
My task as the Member for West Belfast must be to try to break the vicious circle: to bring hope to the streets of my city; to bring jobs for its unemployed; to bring investment for its decaying infrastructure; to bring a fair and just policy of law enforcement; and, by doing these things, to bring peace to my city.
I need the help of the Government in undertaking this work—indeed, I need the help of every Member of this House who is prepared to help. My constituents have a right to the concern of the Government and of this House. They have a right to a better future than the one which stares them in the face every day when they waken. They have a right to peace, to security, to freedom, to justice and to their fair share of prosperity.
In the words of John Hewitt, the great Belfast poet, in his poem "The Bloody Brae":and from that mercy, kindness seized a chance, to weave together the broken halves of this land, to throw his shuttle across the separate threads and make us a glittering web, for God's delight with joy in the placing of colours, side by side.1109 I pledge myself to the wonderful people of west Belfast, to work for them for as long as they continue to elect me to represent them in this House.
§ Sir James Kilfedder (North Down)
I listened with great attention to the speech by the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Dr. Hendron). His reputation preceded his appearance in the House. Therefore, I was not surprised to listen to a speech imbued with compassion and toleration. I hope that, before he leaves the House, he will see peace restored not only in west Belfast but in every other part of the Province.
The people I represent, the people of North Down, are concerned about what happens in west Belfast, as indeed they are concerned about what happens in every other region of Northern Ireland. The great dilemma for ordinary people in Northern Ireland—a dilemma that is carried on the shoulders of the Government with, perhaps, some agony—is what to do about terrorism.
If one defends people against acts of terrorism one can, as the hon. Gentleman rightly pointed out, alienate people in the community in which those terrorists live. All of us in Northern Ireland must not only pray for an end to terrorism, murder and mutilation, but work and contribute towards bringing peace to our Province. I hope that that peace will come. but it requires an effort on the part of every decent person in the Province who believes in law and order and a future for the young people of Northern Ireland.
The Secretary of State, in his sober but hopeful speech this afternoon, referred to the coming single European market and the opportunities that that would provide for Ulster. His remarks were made against a background of 14.3 per cent. unemployment in Northern Ireland. Many of those who are unemployed are in west Belfast, many in the west of the Province, but a considerable number are in my constituency of North Down. Full employment—I echo the words of the Secretary of State—is one of the bases for racial and religious harmony. That is why it is so essential to deal with the terrible scourge of unemployment.
Many of those who are unemployed in North Down are school leavers and young graduates. Unemployment is a dreadful scourge. I hate to see anyone unemployed, but Many unemployed people discuss their problems with me—not only the problem of obtaining a job but that of running a home and raising a family on limited means. Unemployment is like a cancer which eats away at the self-esteem of the individual and undermines his morale. For anyone who wants to work it is an appalling experience, and for young people it is devastating. More could he done to attract new industries to the North Down area where, during the past 12 months, unemployment has increased. I therefore ask the Government to consider whether North Down is getting a fair deal in the context of Northern Ireland.
The problem in attracting inward investment is that the terrorist campaign and paramilitary activity result in a lurid and distressing picture of Northern Ireland being broadcast to the people of the United States, Japan and elsewhere. That is how people abroad view the people of Northern Ireland and the situation there. But that is not the true picture. Of course people do die dreadful deaths at the hands of the terrorists, but the majority of people in 1110 Northern Ireland go about their daily lives doing their jobs and providing for their families. The picture that should go out is one of a beautiful land full of hope.
I have just received the CBI's special supplement on Northern Ireland. It is an extremely good document which should have the widest possible circulation. Let me quote two paragraphs from one article in the pamphlet. It says:If only the outside world would now and again take a closer look at what is going on in Northern Ireland, rather than relying on media reports, it would surely be impressed by both the growing cross-border co-operation and the business achievements.Because terrorist violence is newsworthy and highly visual and plays on the emotions, its place is assured in the television news coverage that is spread globally by satellite. And because these news bulletins have no time to show anything as undramatic in instant news terms as the positive side of Ulster, the imbalance is perpetuated.Those who live in the Province realise the horror of terrorism and sometimes suffer at the hands of the terrorists who not only seek to take away life and limb, but wish to bomb more and more people on to the dole queue. The people of Northern Ireland and of west Belfast must realise that terrorism brings grief and suffering regardless of religion, whether Protestant or Catholic; it brings unemployment and all the consequences that the dole means for any person. We cannot ignore the terrorists in Northern Ireland. They kill ruthlessly and without remorse. But all of us must seek to create political stability and business prosperity which is one sound way to counter the terrorist.
Northern Ireland's principal means for publicising the Province's industrial and commercial advantages and attracting investment is the Industrial Development Board, which has been referred to by the Opposition spokesman. I pay tribute to Mr. John McGuckian, who is the dynamic chairman of that board. In the CBI's special supplement, he says:Since 1982 when the Industrial Development Board was established, for example, more than a billion pounds of public and private sector money has been invested in large-scale manufacturing projects. To date, this partnership has resulted in the creation of around 30,000 new jobs.A growing number of these have been in new industries such as medical technology, software development, electronics and tradeable services. The expansion of these industries is playing an important part in off-setting the decline of employment in traditional sectors such as heavy engineering, shipbuilding and linen-making.I always demand more money for Northern Ireland. As has already been said, Northern Ireland depends to a tremendous extent on public sector employment, on the taxpayer. I recognise that, if money could bring peace to Ulster, that peace would have been bought many times over by the vast amount of taxpayer's money which has been put into the Province. The people of Northern Ireland are grateful for that money, because the Province is a part of the United Kingdom that, for over 20 years, has suffered from one of the cruellest campaigns of terrorism that any people could expect to endure.
I believe that there is an overwhelming case for a devolved Government and assembly at Stormont, where locally elected politicians would assume full responsibility for the allocation and expenditure of taxpayers' money. We must move forward, and to do so we must break the shackles of the past—the shackles of prejudice and hatred—and the mould that unfortunately divides the community into two separate camps.
1111 I feel hopeful about the future—not just because of the talks, which may succeed or fail. I hope that the people now realise that it is in their hands to achieve some progress by helping the process of reconciliation.
Let me finish by mentioning a problem that I have raised more than once in the House, although the Minister may not know about it: the problem of Mr. Ignatius Geddis's farm, which lies next to Crawfordsburn country park in my constituency. The area is one of great natural beauty, but Mr. Geddis's farm is a dump. I could use worse language, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I do not wish to be reprimanded by you. It is a dump; yet tourists and local residents have to put up with it.
I have the utmost sympathy for those local people, and I put their case to the Minister's predecessor a number of times. The last letter that I received from him said that he would look into the matter again. I invited him to come and see the dump for himself. Let me now extend a warm invitation to the present Minister to come and see the beauties of North Down, and, in particular, this blot on the landscape.
Something must be done. Tourists come to the area from all parts of the world. We have heard about the increase in tourism: 1.9 million people visited the Province in 1991. I do not suppose that they come to see Mr. Geddis's dump, but that is what they see when they visit the country park or walk along the main road to observe the beauties of North Down.
The Minister should either vest the property and hand it over to the country park, or designate the area as environmentally sensitive. As I have said, those who live there have to put up with it, but people who have visited Northern Ireland telephone me afterwards to ask, "Do you know that there is an awful dump in your constituency?" I have to tell them that I have been plaguing the Department of the Environment for years about it.
Our new Minister has a tremendous reputation. I look to him to resolve this awful problem.
§ Mr. Clifford Forsythe (Antrim, South)
I, too, congratulate the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Dr. Hendron) on his maiden speech. We look forward to hearing more speeches from him in the future; he is certainly more welcome than his predecessor.
Let me make my usual protest about the disgraceful Order-in-Council method of dealing with Northern Ireland business. The House would be disappointed if I did not do so at the beginning of my speech. Depending on one's mood, the system could be described as a travesty of justice, a pantomime or—quite seriously—a tragedy for all Northern Ireland democrats.
If hon. Members do not mind talking in a vacuum, of course, a host of problems can be aired on such occasions. Usually, we find ourselves listening to a litany of constituency matters. Hon. Members could talk about housing and repairs; on another occasion, the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Walker) talked about chimney flues. They could talk about electricity and the inadvisability of unnecessary privatisation. They could talk about the Department of Health and Social Services and the grants that are supposed to be available but are 1112 not available; about the infamous social fund, which is anything but a social fund; about roads and potholes; about lack of lighting, flooding, lack of drainage and the dramatic changes that have taken place in Northern Ireland's education system. Unfortunately, those education changes have done the system no good: it has almost been destroyed, and it is still on its feet only because of the efforts of the teachers.
The hon. Member for North Down (Sir J. Kilfedder) talked about planning. We could talk for hours about that—about the non-enforcement of conditions that should be enforced and about the fact that there is no standard planning system throughout the whole of Northern Ireland.
In many ways, using a scatter-gun approach to the order presents the Minister with opportunities to avoid answering awkward questions and to give long-winded explanations of relatively minor points. I refer, of course, to the present Minister's predecessor, as this Minister has only just entered his post.
I intend to concentrate on one of the most important subjects, which was mentioned several times during the previous debate—roads and transportation. I wish to illustrate the complete lack of long-term, consistent, sensible strategy—remembering that the sole responsibility for such matters lies with the Department of the Environment, for which the Minister is responsible.
The so-called block grant tends to encourage the incorrect assumption that Northern Ireland is in a favoured or privileged position vis-a-vis other regions in the United Kingdom. The centralised Government structure and the presence of its enabling bodies or quangos—which were referred to earlier and to which I have often drawn the House's attention—tend to support the misinformed view that seemingly enormous sums are being channelled into every conceivable area of public provision. Yet, when we analyse the expenditure per sector or per project, an entirely different and altogether more accurate picture emerges.
In respect of roads, transport and ports, the Government have stated their objectives clearly in their booklet "Northern Ireland Expenditure Plans and Priorities", Cm 1917, published in February 1992. No sensible or reasonable person could object to those objectives. The first is tooperate and maintain the road system efficiently and economically, with due precedence being given to the main traffic route network".That is fine. The second is tomake the most effective use of the existing road system through appropriate traffic management arrangements".That is fine. The third is toimprove and develop the road system".That is fine. Another objective is tomake it safe for all road users.That is to be supported.
I accept that it is not necessary for all works to have been completed yesterday, but, I challenge the system by which priorities and expenditure are determined. I do not wish to take up too much time but I must illustrate my point. The Department of the Environment published a sequence of priorities from 1987 to 1991. In 1987, according to parliamentary answers, it was said that work on the Killead bypass should start in 1989–90. Since then, it has been pushed back continually and it is now due to 1113 start in 1995–96. Stage 2 of the A26 dualling was a priority in 1987 and was due to start in 1989–90. Work on it, too, has been pushed back and is now due to start in 1995–96.
The Newry bypass roads, in another constituency, were mentioned in the Department's programme for the first time in 1988. Stage 2 was due to start in 1991–92, but now stage two, the bridge is due to start in 1992–93 and stage three, the road, is due to start in 1993–94. Therefore, work on two roads that were priorities in 1987—the Killead bypass and the A26—has been pushed back to 1995–96, whereas work on the Newy bypass roads, which were not included until 1988, is due to start two or three years earlier.
If those facts are not a clear example of inconsistency or something more sinister, it could be said that Denmark is an enthusiastic member of the European Community. In the interests of other hon. Members, I shall refrain from presenting further instances of inconsistency, underfunding, the development of exotic—rather than vital—projects or worse.
Northern Ireland's economic arteries remain our sea routes to the United Kingdom. When the channel tunnel opens, Great Britain will no longer have to contend with the difficulties that occur at present on its shortest sea route to the continent. In contrast, Northern Ireland will continue to compete under that disadvantage. Our tourist and commercial lines of communication will continue to be our recognised sea routes to Belfast: Larne and Warrenpoint handle about 80 per cent. of our tonnage between them, and our other ports handle the remaining 20 per cent.
That is a sufficient handicap without being faced with the totally inadequate through routes from Scottish and English ports. Hon. Members representing north-west England or south-west Scotland constituencies are only too aware of the fundamental difficulties experienced on the A74 and A75. It would be hypocritical of us to criticise the Scottish Office or the Department of Transport about those roads while we tolerate the shortcomings of Northern Ireland's internal infrastructure.
We welcome the construction of the cross-harbour link, but one little thing has been forgotten. It will be unfortunate if that link means that the Belfast terminal will be in a less suitable location for foot passengers. In 1990, 2,245,000 tonnes came in through the port of Larne and 1,756,000 tonnes went out. In addition, 178,026 vehicles came in through that port and 170,113 went out. It was reported in 1986—I know that it has changed now—that Lame accounted for 85 per cent. of the passenger traffic by sea into and out of Northern Ireland and one third of all surface passengers into and out of the island of Ireland.
Therefore, it seems odd that there is no mention of Larne's chief approach road, the A8, in the Department of the Environment's priorities. It has not been mentioned since 1987. The A8 must be upgraded to the proper standard before the number of accidents increases out of control. If the Minister feels that that cannot be justified under the Government's investment appraisal criteria, perhaps he will make a case for the A8 in Northern Ireland and the A75 in Scotland to be considered as a single route and accorded similar status to that apparently received by the north Wales A5-A55 corridor. The generous investment allocated to the Welsh corridor might then be applied to the north channel, including the A8.
The Government have disregarded that vital point of economic integration. They will claim that Northern 1114 Ireland's infrastructure and roads are of a high standard. I challenge that on two points. First, one sees that our road system has survived even the confusion of the Department of the Environment's year-on-year priority list. Secondly, relatively short, but key, sections of access roads require major upgrading. I have already mentioned the A8 to Larne, which is an essential road. I remind the House of the A26, which forms a bottleneck between the north-west and the area hospital in Antrim, the north-west and the international airport, and the north-west and the M2. That is followed closely by the Killead bypass, which blocks the access road from the south to the international airport. However, despite both difficulties, that airport handled 2.25 million passengers and 23,719 tonnes of freight in 1990.
Almost everyone, except the Department of the Environment—by that I mean the Ministers up to the present—recognise that the conditions on those sections of road are detrimental to the well being of everyone in Northern Ireland. Earlier in my remarks, I referred to the inconsistency of the Department of the Environment's priorities, which succeeded in giving greater priority to the Newry bypass roads by pushing back the legitimate claims of recognised bottlenecks at Killead, the A26 and the A8 to Larne. The A8 to Larne carries 13,800 vehicles per day, whereas the road to Dublin through Newry carries 6,000 per day.
Why has the policy changed, and who changed it? Why, suddenly, are connecting roads to the Republic a higher priority than Northern Ireland's roads? Where is the logic in completing roads that, after crossing the border, will grind to a halt because the routes with which they link will not be able to cope with the traffic in the foreseeable future? Let us get our own house in order in Northern Ireland before bending over backwards to please another country. If the Government are not prepared to do that, the only conclusion that the people of Northern Ireland will reach is that this is being done for political rather than investment reasons.
I remind the Minister that he is responsible for the roads of Northern Ireland and our connections with the rest of the United Kingdom. We expect him to carry out his responsibilities to the Northern Ireland travelling public—our commercial traffic, our business men and women and, above all, United Kingdom citizens who live in Northern Ireland.
That responsibility extends to our other major concern—expenditure on maintenance. Dr. Snaith's recent report found that 1,000 miles of road in the Province is decaying at an alarming rate. Northern Ireland Members of all parties did not require a report to tell them that. We have all complained about such matters in debates on appropriation orders. Perhaps our new Minister will resolve the situation.
§ Mr. William Ross (Londonderry, East)
Is my hon. Friend aware that, although Dr. Snaith's report was apparently made available to the road service headquarters, we have not seen it? I telephoned the Minister's office two or three weeks ago to ask whether a copy could be made available to me, but I am still waiting. Perhaps we could be made aware of the present situation, especially as one of the report's recommendations was that lightly used roads could be dispensed with and abandoned. One 1115 wonders what effect that would have on some of the difficulties that are experienced in rural areas in trying to get our little-used roads kept up to scratch.
§ Mr. Forsythe
I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention, with which I agree. It reminds me of when I tried to get information about quangos, only to be referred to a book in the Library, which could not give me the information that I required. Perhaps the Minister, who, I am sure, heard what my hon. Friend said, will take that into consideration.
I return to my remarks about the incorrect assumption regarding the block grant. In England and Wales, £12,500 per mile is spent on maintaining trunk roads, yet the figure in Northern Ireland is £3,700 per mile. For all roads, the figure in England and Wales is £3,180 per mile and in Northern Ireland £1,910 per mile. Dr. Snaith's report says:However, in the absence of criteria similar to those used for the appraisal of capital schemes being used when planning expenditure on maintenance, it is difficult to be certain that the most cost-effective decisions have been taken when Roads Service allocates funds to capital schemes rather than to maintenance work.That may account for what has been happening and may suggest trouble for the future. As roads maintenance has remained almost static since 1979, will the Government accept that the Comptroller and Auditor General has made a valid criticism in drawing attention to the importance of the road structure to business in the Province?
§ Rev. William McCrea (Mid-Ulster)
I thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to deal with matters that are vital to the people of Northern Ireland, particularly the people of the constituency that I have been honoured to represent.
I should like to take the opportunity to congratulate the hon. Member for North Down (Sir J. Kilfedder) on the honour that he received in Her Majesty's birthday honours list. I listened carefully to his speech, especially to the part about the new site that will now be a tourist attraction. As I plan to visit his constituency at the weekend, I must obtain the address so that I can share with him some of the beauties to which he drew the House's attention. He has now identified a tourist spot for the future and probably will charge because of the help that he has given in putting the place on the map.
My colleagues and I will not divide the House on the order, because we are delighted to receive funds for the Province. The usual inference that is drawn in these debates, especially by hon. Members from England and Scotland, is that Northern Ireland is given preferential financial treatment. One of the reports to which I shall refer shows that that is in the minds of certain right hon. and hon. Members. I trust that, tonight, appreciation will be expressed where it is due and that certain matters that need a response will be drawn to the Minister's attention.
I represent a large rural constituency. Farming is vital to the district. Indeed, many of our people are employed in the agricultural industry and we hold it very dear. We want to ensure that decisions to be taken by the Government—not only here but in Europe—will be taken with the best 1116 interests of the farming community at heart and that no decisions taken in the Councils of Europe will destroy or harm it.
I congratulate the new Minister of State, the hon. Member for South Ribble (Mr. Atkins) on his appointment and I hope that he will gather much enjoyment from his dealings with the matters that we raise and from seeing some of the most beautiful countryside that any Minister could see—of course, I include North Down as well as the constituencies of my right hon. and hon. Friends and my own.
Some time ago, I had a meeting at Dundonald house with worried farmers and the then Minister responsible for agriculture. The farmers were worried about the meat industry and a problem being introduced into the industry by a few of their number. The deputation was to deal specifically with the problem of what is known as angel dust. Will the new Minister assure me that his Department will make certain that the problem is stamped on with resolve and determination, and that the greedy and miserable people who are putting such a vital industry in jeopardy will be removed from that industry?
If a rogue doctor were to use practices which were not accepted by his profession, he would be removed from the list of practitioners. I believe that resolute action must be taken against farmers who are willing to put the whole industry into the melting pot for financial gain. The matter must be handled with great determination. The principle officer in the Department referred to the issue on radio and television. I pay tribute to the manner in which he dealt with the subject and trust that his resolve will be carried through into action.
I welcome the moneys allocated under the Department of Agriculture's vote 2 for the Omagh flood defence—£1,705,000 this financial year and £1,575,000 to complete the project. Will the Minister assure me that the project will be carried out and that the Department of Agriculture will work hand in hand with the Department of the Environment so that this matter, which has caused great concern and trouble around Campsey right down to Omagh, will be attended to once and for all? I hope that the moneys allocated will be spent wisely and will resolve the problem.
I appreciate the fact that before the previous Minister left office, he announced the finances that the Department would be making available. He assured me that he would endeavour to get the Department of the Environment and his Department to work hand in hand so that the best possible use of the moneys would be made. Therefore, I ask the present Minister to give me the same unequivocal assurance.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
Does my hon. Friend agree that it is sad that there is now no Minister to answer directly to us in the House for the largest industry in Northern Ireland —agriculture—and that the representative is in another place? Does he agree that it does not bode well for agriculture that we have no direct access to the Minister responsible?
§ The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. Robert Atkins)
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will understand that the Under-Secretary of State who participates regularly will speak about these issues in the House and will listen carefully to what hon. Members of all parties have to say. I hope that all hon. Members will 1117 recognise that representation of their worries and interests will not diminish because my hon. Friend will convey messages as necessary to my noble Friend in another place.
§ Rev. William McCrea
I thank the Minister for his information. My hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) was pointing out that he and many people genuinely believe that it would have been better if, as in the past, the Minister responsible for such an important industry were answerable at all times, thus enabling all Members of Parliament from the Province to have immediate contact with him on the Floor of the House. However, I have no doubt that the Minister who will answer will take up those matters and I trust that there will be close consultation throughout his period in office.
Money has been allocated for the Omagh flood defences, yet no moneys have been allocated to the Castlederg flood defences. The people there have endured an intolerable situation, and the Minister who was previously responsible for agriculture received a delegation on their behalf. It is vital that that matter should be dealt with, and I ask that it be passed to the Minister now responsible for agriculture for immediate action. I trust that it will be resolved—that the money will be spent in Castlederg, which has suffered much.
I listened to the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Dr. Hendron) talking about his constituency, but no-one can deny that the Castlederg area has suffered more than any other rural small town on the verge of the United Kingdom. The matter must be resolved. That will take money, but I trust that the money will be allocated urgently.
With regard to the schedule on the Department of Economic Development, it gives me no joy to tell the House that my constituency has the second highest unemployment in the United Kingdom. That is a tragedy; it ought not to happen. It causes me grave concern, bearing in mind the fact that we are in the middle of a recession. It is true that the recession did not hit the Province at the same time as the rest of the United Kingdom, but our people fear that when the recession has been lifted everywhere else and the rest of the kingdom faces brighter days, Northern Ireland will still be affected. I trust that that will not happen, but unfortunately it has always happened in the past.
I urge the Government to act. Our community needs jobs—it is crying out for them. I trust that Cookstown and the rest of Mid-Ulster will enjoy the necessary financial injection.
I asked the Minister whether a study could be made of the amounts of money spent on industrial development in the Mid-Ulster constituency compared with that spent in other constituencies. Few large industrial enterprises have been directed towards or have invested in Mid-Ulster. We have to rely on the local community, with small industries mushrooming. Local enterprise is healthy, and I respect and give great credit to those who have faced the challenge and moved forward—but we need inward investment. We need to look further afield, and there have been disparities between the finances coming into Mid-Ulster and those coming into other constituencies. Other constituencies are closer to the ports, and we are far away, so it is vital that additional finance is made available for industries that might consider coming to constituencies such as mine.
My hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry, East (M r. Ross) spoke about another important problem which 1118 has hit the headlines—the closure of Coats Vyella in the Magherafelt area. The Minister is well aware of the great concern. Some 560 jobs were lost in Magherafelt with just a crack of the finger. Other jobs are in the balance. I ask the Department to ensure that not one stone is left unturned in securing other jobs in the Magherafelt area which are in the balance. If the Department do not take effective measures to help us in creating and keeping jobs in the area, we may find ourselves in an industrial wasteland.
The Magherafelt area and my constituency generally have suffered greatly from the threat of terrorism and from the disaster of terrorism. The terrorism continues to the present. In recent days, the IRA has continued the bombing campaign in my constituency. That is why I hope that every arm of government will move forward together—the security forces with every other arm of government—to ensure that we bring stability and an end to social deprivation for the people of Mid-Ulster.
To allow industry to move forward, we need proper expenditure on energy. There must be a fair deal in the allocation of money for job creation in various areas. We need further help from the Industrial Development Board and from the Local Enterprise Development Unit in job creation.
Recently many jobs were lost at the Tyrone and Fermanagh hospital. Mental patients used to be treated at the hospital, but more patients are now treated outside hospital. There is a beautiful site there which will be left vacant. I ask that the Government take action to ensure that the hospital does not lie vacant and become derelict. I ask that offices should be opened there and Government jobs put in.
It is true that the Government have said recently that they would direct public sector jobs from Belfast to the city of Londonderry. The hospital building in Omagh, the county town of Tyrone, should not be left derelict, but filled with proper public sector jobs and other developments. The site is massive and I do not want to see it left derelict.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
I am sure that my hon. Friend is concerned about the county town of Omagh. There seems to be a conspiracy to attack the town. There is the whole hospital controversy. I know that my hon. Friend has invited the leaders of the three parties to take part in a deputation on the issue. This large building in the middle of Omagh could be used, yet no push or energy seems to be put into getting tenants for it. Will my hon. Friend reveal to us his anxiety about what is really happening in the Omagh area?
§ Rev. William McCrea
I thank my hon. Friend for his helpful intervention. I am deeply concerned about the whole life of the Omagh district and about the rest of the area, including Cookstown, Castlederg and the part of Magherafelt which is in my area. I am dealing with the specific matter of Omagh, which is vital and which is a matter for the Department of Health and Social Services.
The hospital building used to be used for those who were mentally ill. Many employees were then removed from there. We now face a new and serious problem and Omagh certainly needs help. My friend in that area, Councillor Oliver Gibson, prepared an excellent dossier on rural development in and around Omagh. I trust that the Minister will take care to read it. It was certainly 1119 forwarded to his Department. A beautiful document was also prepared on the former Tyrone and Fermanagh hospital. There is an urgent need to find tenants for the building. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North for his assistance in that matter.
I move on to the Department of the Environment. Once again, we face serious problems in the Mid-Ulster constituency. I listened with care to the hon. Member for Belfast, West speaking about the needs of his constituency. I welcome him presenting the case for west Belfast. But I inform the Minister that we shall monitor carefully what happens to Government finances because it is feared that they go in certain directions, to the detriment of other constituencies. I certainly will not stand back and see Government resources pumped into west Belfast in an effort to court the people away from Sinn Fein. I will not allow my constituency, which has been a base for Sinn Fein support in the past, to fall by the wayside. I assure the Minister that there will be strong protest if finances are handled unfairly.
We have all received a document entitled "Department of the Environment: Structural Maintenance of Roads". I have that document before me and I should like to read out part of the review of structural maintenance in Northern Ireland. The report tells us the mileage of roads in each area—Ballymena 2,000 miles; Belfast 1,000 miles; Coleraine 2,000 miles; Craigavon 3,000 miles; Downpatrick almost 2,000 miles; Omagh 4,800 miles.
The report was ordered by the House of Commons to be printed on 6 February 1992. It itemises the major findings of Dr. Snaith's report of December 1986. It says:A high percentage of the roads in Northern Ireland were coming into the last quarter of their lives. Over the next few years rapid deterioration would become increasingly evident and, in the Omagh Division, serious deterioration had already occurred.
People usually say that Northern Ireland has more money spent on it than any other area. Let us examine the document. In 1987–88, £12,526 per mile was spent on maintaining trunk roads, excluding motorways, in England and Wales, compared with £3,669 in Northern Ireland. The expenditure on all roads in England and Wales was £3,181 per mile compared with £1,961 in Northern Ireland. That is not some statistic that I have thought up. We are always told that Northern Ireland receives more than the rest of the kingdom. and that money is pumped in. Yet £12,526 per mile was spent on maintaining trunk roads in England and Wales, compared with £3,669 in Northern Ireland. It is up to the Minister to fight for Northern Ireland. It is up to the Minister and the Northern Ireland Office to fight to change that discrepancy.
The report goes on to tell us some interesting facts. It gives the maintenance backlog from 1985 to 1989 and the cost in millions. In the Ballymena area, there was a £7.74 million backlog in 1985; in 1989 it was £2.85 million. In Belfast, the backlog was £13.13 million in 1985 and £5.18 million in 1989. In Coleraine, in 1985 it was £6.69 million, and in 1989 it was £6.10 million. In Craigavon, the backlog was £13.2 million in 1985, and £9.15 million in 1989. In Downpatrick, the backlog was £14.56 million in 1985 and £9.77 million in 1989. In Omagh, the backlog was £22.45 million in 1985, and £25.33 million in 1989.
1120 In the years between 1985 and 1989, the Omagh division was the only area to have an increased maintenance backlog. We are sick, sore and tired of seeing yellow marks on the roads. The Government Department pays an official to put a yellow mark around potholes. but that does not mean that they will be attended to. I could take hon. Members to places where holes have been marked four time but have never been filled. I am not sure whether the Department of the Environment roads service intends to fill the holes with yellow paint, but I can tell the Minister it does not do the trick.
I am telling the House that—on the basis of that Government report—I am sick, sore and tired of being discriminated against, and of my constituents being discriminated against. It is about time things changed.
During the recent election campaign, a member of the Social Democratic Labour party said that the wonderful roads in the Foyle constituency stopped when one reached Mid-Ulster, and he used that against me for political purposes. I ask the Minister to tell me why there are beautiful roads in Foyle, which has an SDLP Member of Parliament when, between 1985 and 1989—during the time that I represented the constituency—there was an increased backlog in Mid-Ulster? The party of the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume) raised that matter, and the situation must now be changed. I demand that moneys be redirected. If there have to be pull-backs, they certainly should not be in my constituency, because the problems there must be rectified.
I am making a demand and I assure the House that I shall not stop—I shall mention the problem again and again until everyone is sick of it and something is done. I shall not allow the people of Mid-Ulster to be left with nothing but humps, hollows and holes in second-class roads, when other areas have such lovely roads. We shall have justice and it is about time that we saw some action.
§ Mr. Roy Beggs (Antrim, East)
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Minister should give an assurance that the shortfall in the hon. Member's constituency has not resulted in contractors not being paid for work done, and that that is not the reason why the potholes have not been filled?
§ Rev. William McCrea
I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention, and I should be interested to hear the Minister's answer.
I am not looking for some magical answer tonight. I would rather have a clear, definite and in-depth answer. I want the Minister to tell me about the money being spent on roads in the Mid-Ulster constituency and to tell me what has been spent in the other 16 constituencies. We shall have a wee bit of equality. We hear a lot of huff and puff about discrimination, and all the rest of it, but it is time for the whole can of worms to be opened and for us to find out what is happening in the Departments. It is about time officials answered for the way in which they have been handing out money or making recommendations about our roads.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
Is it not a shame that we have been told that it is all right to close the maternity unit in Omagh because it is claimed that the roads are so good that the women can be transported across them to Enniskillen? Is it not a disgrace that, despite the fact that some roads are not in good condition on the Department of the 1121 Environment's own confession, another Department has said that they are so good that one can close the maternity unit in Omagh hospital and take everyone to Enniskillen?
§ Rev. William McCrea
I thank my hon. Friend for his helpful intervention.
The Department's report speaks for itself and 1 simply present its findings, of which every hon. Member has a copy. The document, which contains the conclusions reached by Dr. Snaith, states:A high percentage of roads in Northern Ireland were coming into the last quarter of their lives. Over the next few years, rapid deterioration would become increasingly evident and, in the Omagh Division, serious deterioration had already occurred.The Omagh division has received extra money to deal with its maintenance backlog when every other division has received less. In Omagh. the funds allocated have risen from £22.45 million to £25.33 million. The total backlog is worth £58.38 million, and it is interesting to note that practically half of that sum has been given to the Omagh division. Answers need to be given by the Departments and officials better come up with good ones because we will not stand for any more false claims on the matter. It is about time that we had a fair crack of the whip and a proper allocation of finances. We will not accept anything less.
The Government say that they want to encourage new jobs, and it is disgraceful that Magherafelt bypass, which is urgently needed, has still not been built. We have been waiting for that bypass for years and years. It is necessary, because the roads are chock-a-block as people try to get through. The lack of a bypass is hindering the industrial development of an area that is on the verge of becoming an industrial wasteland.
We are crying out for a bypass in Cookstown, but again the work will he delayed. The second phase, the completion, of the Omagh bypass and the Newtonstewart bypass are also urgently needed. They are all in my constituency. We urgently need money to be spent.
We need to improve the Coagh to Stewartstown road. The environment and the roads in Sion Mills in my constituency are a disgrace after so many years. The Department must give us not only answers and promises, but clear action.
I welcome the provision of the finances for education, but there are two many mobile classrooms in my constituency. Other hon. Members will say that that is true in their constituencies. My constituency has an increasing number of disgruntled and angry students, who wish to continue their further and higher education. Because of the lack of a proper grant system, they are unable to do that. When we consider the amount of money that is spent on students from the Irish Republic and the assistance given to them, we begin to worry about our people from the United Kingdom and their chances of continuing their further and higher education.
I warn the Minister that there is alarm and concern in my constituency about grants. We should he encouraging our young people, especially in Mid-Ulster, where there is so much unemployment, to stay on at school and get the best education that we can possibly give. It is not enough to say that that is what we would like. It costs money to put that into action. Therefore, 1 make a further appeal to the Government tonight.
I must again raise the case of a former teacher in Cookstown, Mr. Crozier. I have raised this matter with 1122 every Minister since I entered this place, but I regret to say that no action has yet been taken. Mr. Crozier believes that he was done a terrible injustice, and I continue to be concerned about the matter as I read letters and documents about it. It is time that the Government agreed to carry out an inquiry into the whole issue. Let all the hooks be opened at an independent inquiry.
We have had the Birmingham Six, and many other cases have been looked at afresh. Mr. Crozier's case should be examined in that light, with openness. It should be investigated, not by those who in the past have had a vested interest, but by an independent inquiry. Will the Government allow an independent inquiry into the case of Mr. Frederick Crozier? I have been dealing with the case for years. I have gone cap in hand to every Minister. I have written hundreds of letters to, among others, the Prime Minister, the heads of the civil service, people in the DPP's office and raised the issue at meetings with the RUC. Let us bring the matter to a conclusion by examining independently the injustice that Mr. Crozier feels he has suffered, and put the case to rest once and for all.
Hon. Members will not be surprised when I raise a health and social services matter that causes me grave concern. I refer to the maternity services at the Tyrone county hospital. Many representations about the matter have been made and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North said, we hope to continue making representations. Of three leaders, I have yet to speak to one, but the other two have agreed to take part in a delegation to the Earl of Arran.
The consultant medical staff at the hospital wholeheartedly support the Government's citizens charter and hope that it will be applied to the maternity services in Omagh. The charter aims to improve quality and make services more responsive to the needs of citizens. That aim is unlikely to succeed if the decision of the western health and social services board to remove the present maternity services from Tyrone county hospital is ratified.
I fully understand the concern of the people of the county town of Omagh about the removal of those services. About 37,000 people have signed a petition urging the retention of their maternity services at that hospital. As they say, that service has existed for years. I ask the House to support the people of the area, and throughout Fermanagh, in ensuring that the existing services are retained.
Tyrone county hospital at present offers a high quality, comprehensive maternity service with a high standard of personal care and attention resulting from being a small rurally based unit serving its own community. The citizens charter says that citizens have an opportunity to influence decisions made on their behalf. The area health council, the body that represents the local citizens, has recommended the maintenance and upgrading of both the Tyrone county and Erne units. Although 37,000 people have signed that petition, thereby making their voices heard, the Western health and social services board has decided to close the Omagh maternity unit.
That is a despicable disgrace. The decision has been taken by one of the quangos that is answerable to no one. The public representatives have been removed from what used to be the boards. Now, each of the members are totally unanswerable to the general public. I deplore that, because it is not democracy but a complete denial of democracy. I demand that we allow democracy to work again for my constituents.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
Will not my hon. Friend deplore publicly, in this House, how that was done? One hospital against another, one maternity unit against another, and one group of neighbours against another. Then, once the controversy was going between the two hospitals, they decided on the one in Enniskillen. Is not that a disgraceful way to deal with public health, especially with pregnant mothers who are about to bring new life into the world? Is it not a disgrace that hospitals have been set at one another's throats?
§ Rev. William McCrea
I thank my hon. Friend for his interjection. I wholeheartedly support what he says.
It is vital that the citizens charter, which makes commitments about quality, responsiveness to need, patients' choice and value for money, should be applied. No sooner was the citizens charter printed—the ink had not even dried—than the first action was taken to deny patients' choice and not give citizens their rights. For example, there is no evidence that the removal of the Omagh hospital maternity service will improve quality. Instead, accessibility to the vast majority of people will be decreased. Responsiveness to need lessens rather than improves. As for value for money, what evaluation of value for money has been made? What costings have been done concerning the proposed change? If any have been done, will the Minister make them available in Hansard so that everyone can scrutinise them?
I regret that the management unit choose to ignore rather than listen to my constituent's cry from the heart. The doctors in my constituency aim to provide the best service possible and strive to improve the standard of medical care available to all our citizens. They support wholeheartedly the retention of services in the Omagh and Erne maternity units.
Many problems deeply worry my constituents. The matters that I have laid before the House deserve attention. For example, the Cookstown adult centre deserves financial aid. Promises have been made to have that adult centre established in Cookstown to cater for the needs of the ever increasing mentally handicapped adult population in the Cookstown area. Promises, promises, promises—but nothing else. It is about time that promises were put into action. I trust that tonight the trend will be turned.
§ Mr. John D. Taylor (Strangford)
We must draw the argument to its logical conclusion. The hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea) has exposed the inadequacies of the Western area health hoard. It goes to the crux of the problem in Northern Ireland. As the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea) rightly said, the board is a quango. Its members arc appointed by a Conservative Minister from England who is not elected by the people of Northern Ireland or answerable to them. None of the members of that quango are answerable to the people of Northern Ireland. The members of that Western health board, like those of other hoards, are interested only in serving the Minister because he appoints them.
How can the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster be surprised that the board makes decisions that are not in the interests of the people whom he represents? He should not be surprised, as that is the natural consequence of the evil system of government that exists in Northern Ireland 1124 today. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will join me when I say that I have no confidence in the western health board serving the interests of his constituents.
§ Rev. William McCrea
I join the hon. Gentleman in saying, without equivocation, that I have no confidence in that board. Many of those who were appointed to it were unknown to the Minister. They were Government civil servants who were usually chosen on personal preference. It is strange that they seem to come from one political party which cannot get a Member elected to the House. They are usually political rejects who have stood before the general public and been refused by them. Those are the credentials of many of those who have been appointed by Government Departments.
I do not believe, and nor should the House, that such a system is democratic, and the mother of Parliaments should be ashamed of it. It is about time that power was put back in the hands of the ordinary, good people of Ulster. That is why my hon. Friends and their parties are seeking a devolved Government in Northern Ireland to attempt to bring back power. If that were to happen, an electric shock should run through a number of people who have looked to civil servants and Government Departments to be assured of their fancy positions. I must make it abundantly clear that the day when the skids go under the heels of some of the civil servants who are party to the system may not be far off. They may have to answer for some of the sins of the past that they have committed on the hard-pressed people of Northern Ireland.
It seems that it was not enough to insult the people of Northern Ireland by taking away their Parliament and robbing them of democracy in every sense of the word. they replaced officials with 'yes' people who carry out Government wishes and philosophy. It is an absolute disgrace that they would even rob a mother about to hear her child of the right to give birth in her local district under the excellent service that has stood the test of time. I defy any hon. Member to say that Tyron county hospital and its maternity services have not stood the test of time and are willing to face the challenge of the future. I guarantee that they will do so with great determination and skill.
§ Mr. Roy Beggs (Antrim, East)
I congratulate the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Dr. Hendron) on his maiden speech. If he continues to represent his electorate as he did tonight. I have no doubt that west Belfast will have a constitutional politician in the House for many years.
I welcome the opportunity provided by this debate to raise a number of issues affecting my constituency and the rest of Northern Ireland. As has been said, this is a wide-ranging debate.
We are voting money to the Department of Agriculture. I urge the Minister with responsibility for agriculture to consider the problems throughout the Province arising from the cost to farmers of disposing of fallen animals. A real threat to public health is caused by the irresponsible dumping of carcases and by unsatisfactory burial sites on farms. I pay tribute to the vast majority of farmers who accept responsibility for the cost of the disposal of their fallen animals, but I regret that too often carcases end up on roadsides and even on our beaches, so the cost of disposal is transferred from the polluter to the ratepayer.
Is the Department of Agriculture monitoring this problem; and has the Minister any new proposals to 1125 overcome the problem of the unlawful disposal of dead animals? Must we rely solely on local detection and the prosecution of offenders who are caught?
The fishing season is well under way in Northern Ireland, as is silage-making throughout the Province, with its attendant risk of the seepage of effluent into water courses and rivers. Many visitors are attracted by opportunities to fish our many rivers and lakes, where angling skills are rewarded by fine catches. We have clean rivers and lakes, teeming with trout and salmon, and they continue to attract tourists from Great Britain and overseas.
We must closely supervise fishing at all times, however, to ensure that there is no poaching that would prevent salmon from getting upriver to spawn, and to ensure the early detection of pollution which could result in large fish kills.
I also hope that there are adequate controls on and supervision of salmon netting offshore, to protect the salmon that ought to go upriver. That in turn will maintain stocks.
The money allocated to the Department of Economic Development includes provision for the administrative costs of the executive of the Industrial Development Board. Does the Minister agree that it would be unwise to blame the IDB solely for the small number of new inward investment projects attracted to Northern Ireland in 1991–92? Does he accept that each Member of Parliament representing a Northern Ireland constituency is anxious to assist the IDB to become more successful in the years ahead?
With a record low number of new jobs from incoming projects last year—apart from the 350 office jobs provided by the public sector—surely this is the time for the IDB to offer opportunities for greater participation in attracting inward investment to the elected representatives of the constitutional parties in this House. Does the Minister agree that evidence of cross-party encouragement and support for IDB efforts can only contribute to achieving more success in future? I am satisfied that all right hon. and hon. Members would readily and jointly assist IDB officers if invited to promote investment in Northern Ireland.
We all want full employment right across the community—with the proviso that appointments are made on merit. Is the Minister satisfied that the policy of the Government, the Department of Economic Development, the IDB and the Local Enterprise Development Unit, which is designed to increase competitiveness among Northern Ireland companies, is effectively securing jobs and providing sound conditions for expansion while also attracting outside companies that wish to invest in Northern Ireland?
I regret to have to say that some would-be investors, potential IDB and LEDU clients, from Great Britain and overseas have not been impressed in the past with some officials. A potential LEDU client told me that he had got his business off the ground successfully without any assistance from LEDU—in his own words, "no thanks to LEDU". A potential IDB client concluded that the procedures that IDB follows are so time-consuming and frustrating that they create a never-ending process. All he needs is an offer which can compete with other regions in Europe.
LEDU and IDB officials cannot go on suspecting that each new overseas investor who comes forward is yet 1126 another De Lorean. Entrepreneurs are real risk takers. Some have positively chosen to locate in Northern Ireland because of the excellence of its industrial relations, the high quality of its education and skills training provision, the excellent reputation of its universities and the high quality of the work being done in our further education colleges. In addition, they have been impressed by the friendliness of the people of Northern Ireland, their willingness to do a fair day's work for a fair day's pay and, above all—a matter of great regret—the almost unlimited pool of skilled labour that is available.
What recent evaluation has been carried out to determine whether incentives presently on offer compare favourably with those on offer throughout the United Kingdom and the EC? I take this opportunity to record my congratulations on and appreciation of the success enjoyed by F. G. Wilson Engineering Ltd. of Newtownabbey in my constituency. It is the largest manufacturer of diesel engine generating plant in Europe. The company has provided steady and increasing employment for 500 people in the Newtownabbey area. The prospect of the company's expansion on the recently acquired GEC Alsthom site in Larne will be welcomed by the skilled work force there awaiting employment opportunity. It will bring fresh hope to families who have suffered loss of earnings and income since GEC Alsthom closed its factory after having been the main employer locally for approximately 30 years.
I hope that IDB will respond quickly to F. G, Wilson's proposals for expansion in Larne and that the company can continue to achieve export success, with new products and increased sales even exceeding past achievements, which won the Queen's award for export in 1989 and 1991.
I hope that, when the Minister replies, he will tell the House whether, despite today's announcment of job losses, the recession in Northern Ireland has started to bottom out and whether he has any good reason to believe at this early stage in his new post that prospects for job creation will be brighter.
Has any recent consideration been given to rationalisation of the functions presently carried out by IDB and LEDU, and does the Minister foresee those bodies continuing to operate independently in future?
Northern Ireland has a major resource in lignite. If the Government would give the go-ahead for the exploitation and utilisation of that major resource, it would be one of the quickest ways of providing industry with cheaper electricity which, in itself, would be a major attraction to new investors.
In regard to the Department of the Environment's vote 1 for expenditure on roads, I thank the Minister for keeping me informed about safety measures and further investigations relating to the collapsed salt mines near Carrickfergus. However, a number of my constituents and others who have been inconvenienced by the closure of the B58 new line road request that priority be given to the realignment of the B58. Will the Minister tell us the likely start date for the scheme?
Let me also record my appreciation, and that of my constituents, for the support given by my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Forsythe), my right hon. Friend the Member for Strangford (Mr. Taylor), the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and others to my efforts to have the A8 upgraded. I do not wish to miss any opportunity to make it clear to the House, and to a wider audience, that there has been disgraceful political 1127 chicanery—direct political involvement—in matters affecting my constituency, no doubt in connection with the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Greater priority has been given to expenditure on road development between Newry and Dublin, where an average of only 6,000 vehicles travel daily, than to spending on the A8 Belfast-Larne road, which has an average daily traffic flow of 13,850 vehicles but which has not been mentioned in regard to upgrading.
We see that road as the natural Euro-route, and the natural corridor between Northern Ireland and Scotland. We will not be calmed by statements from Secretaries of State for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Transport that nothing is being done to reduce the importance of the Larne-Stranraer corridor. The very fact that millions of pounds are being poured into a route which cannot be justified but which may smooth Anglo-Irish relations could in itself threaten the success and continued employment of my constituents in the port of Larne.
I hope that the Minister will acknowledge the fact that the Belfast-Lame A8 road has more than double the traffic use of the Newry-Dublin route, and that he will demonstrate his support for our desire for the recognition of the Belfast-Larne-Stranraer corridor as a vital Euro-route. I hope that it will be upgraded at the earliest opportunity, and that the Minister will give an undertaking to make representations to the European Community for funding.
§ Mr. John D. Taylor
Does my hon. Friend agree that the decision to give priority to other road schemes leading to Dublin via the border at Newry, and to take away the moneys previously allocated to the Larne road and other major road schemes in the Belfast suburbs, was a political decision by the present Northern Ireland Office Ministers? Regrettably, it is supported by the chairman of the Ulster bank, Mr. George Quigley—formerly a senior civil servant in the Northern Ireland Office—who is using his position in the bank to give political support to the reallocation of road funds. The Government are also being encouraged by the CBI.
Does my hon. Friend realise that those of us in Northern Ireland who have invested money in business and industry and have created jobs—95 per cent. of the real business men, not those in the CBI who have not invested one penny from their own pockets—want to give priority to the roadway to Larne rather than to the border road, which is used by only 5 per cent. of our trade in the Province?
§ Mr. Beggs
That was a helpful intervention, and I agree with every word of it. I am sure that the Minister must recognise that, in time, improvement to the Newry-Dublin road would be acceptable to Unionists. However, it cannot be justified now, especially not at the expense of other feeder routes into the Belfast-Larne road. Those of my constituents who bank with the Ulster bank will be interested in the fact that Mr. Quigley is not promoting what we perceive to be in the best interests of east Antrim and Northern Ireland. Perhaps they will communicate in a positive way what they think of Mr. Quigley's action to date.
The Government recently decided that acute services would be taken from my local hospital in Larne. I am still satisfied that the case for the retention of acute services 1128 there was sustainable and, had we not had a quango making decisions we might have been able to retain those services. It adds insult to injury when no extra money is to be used to improve the tortuous and dangerous Belfast-Larne road that the additional traffic will be forced to use it when patients decide to travel to the new Antrim hospital or to Belfast hospitals for their acute services. More patients and ambulances will be forced on to that road, as will the relatives who go to visit patients outside the Larne area.
The regeneration of the Glenarm village on the north Antrim coast will come about only when the Government provide the necessary funding to relocate the old Whiting mill and limestone works inland, away from the coast road to a more appropriate quarry site behind the village. I urge the Minister to find time to appreciate the excellent views on the Antrim coast road and to see for himself the blot on the landscape on the very edge of Glenarm village. I urge him to support strongly a bid for the necessary funding to give a kick start to the regeneration of that village. I am sure that, as soon as public money goes in, private money will follow. That will provide employment for a mixed community where there is presently high unemployment with little prospect of improvement because the village has been neglected for far too long.
I could raise many issues about the moneys voted to education, but I bring to the attention of the House the plight of 18 pupils who have been awarded grade 2 and who ask the Minister to ensure that sympathetic consideration is given to having them placed in the school of their first preference—Larne grammar school.
The former Northern Ireland Education Minister raised expectations that parental choice would be recognised. Parents and teachers were given every reason to expect that a grade 2 would ensure a place in a grammar school for those 18 youngsters, but they have been extremely disappointed. Despite their great success, in their post-primary careers, they will be denied places because the enrolment number at Larne grammar school is inadequate to meet the needs of this year's intake. It may not be possible for those well above average youngsters to find a grammar school place.
Larne grammar is a voluntary school with a good record and a cross-community intake. We do not have a state-controlled grammar school within 10 miles. If approval were given, it would be possible, with local co-operation, to accommodate all the pupils. A precedent has been set, because a few years ago a school was required to provide accommodation for an entire class group. I hope that, exceptionally, the Minister will urgently examine the need to increase the enrolment number at Larne grammar school this year. It would be the most sensible response from the Department of Education and would satisfy the reasonable expectations of parents and their children.
North Eastern education and library board has given top priority to replacing an exhausted aluminium structured primary school with new permanent accommodation. I ask the Minister to urge his Department to ensure that a start is made in this financial year in replacing Abbotscross primary school. The total sums in Department of Education votes 1, 2 and 3 will be inadequate to enable the demands made on schools by the Education Reform Act 1988 to be met. The Minister must bid for additional expenditure on schools to ensure that, at 1129 primary and post-primary level, the necessary accommodation and equipment is in place to secure the delivery of the national curriculum.
I hope that the report on further education, which I have not seen but which I understand was released today, will permit an early decision to be made about capital expenditure on Newtownabbey college of further education. Only this week, the North Eastern education and library board considered requests from primary and post-primary schools for additional accommodation. In total, requests were made for 61 mobile and specialist classrooms. Of those 61 requests, about 10 per cent. were met. If that problem is multiplied across the other boards in Northern Ireland and account is taken of the needs of the Catholic maintained schools, there is clearly a tremendous shortfall. Ministers should take note and set out to meet those needs.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)
Tonight we heard the maiden speech of the newly elected Member for Belfast, West (Dr. Hendron), and I am glad that at last west Belfast has a representative who comes to the House, takes the oath of allegiance and speaks for the people of west Belfast. I have a personal interest because I represent west Belfast in another place, my wife represented part of it for eight years in the city council and my daughter continues to represent part of it. Therefore, I have something in common with the new Member. I am sure that he knows that he broke every rule of a maiden speech by being very controversial. As I did the same, I appreciate his attitude. I am sure that we shall look forward to his contributions and the opportunity to "have it out" on the Floor of the House as good democrats should.
I shall deal especially with Northern Ireland's health service but first, in case the Minister of State, the hon. Member for South Ribble (Mr. Atkins), has an idea that I have something against the Minister responsible for agriculture, I wish to make it perfectly clear that I know that the Earl of Arran's title comes not from Scotland but from off the Donegal coast. At least his name has a relationship with Ulster.
I have nothing against the noble Lord, but it is still my conviction that, as agriculture is the largest industry in Northern Ireland, there should be a person in House to answer directly for it. That has always been the view of farmers, and I repeat it to the House tonight. However, I do not want the Minister to set me at odds with the noble Lord, because I shall have to do business with him for the farming community and I want to keep on the right side of him if I can—or also on the left side.
I am sure that the Minister knows that Northern Ireland has a problem with feedstuffs for poultry and with the results of the new heat treatment for the elimination of disease among poultry. He may also know that there is now a great health hazard as a result of the heat treatment and that the increase in the number of flies—like the flies of Egypt—around the places where the poultry is raised has become a menace. There has been a court case, and there are serious troubles among poultry raisers in Northern Ireland. I hope that the Minister will at least be able to hint at how the Department will handle the problem.
I shall not go further into that subject, because I must also mention the closure of small rural schools. There is a 1130 rural school on Torr head, the most beautiful part of the north Antrim coast. It is a maintained school belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. An attempt is being made to close it. I am fighting as hard as I can, along with every member of the parish including the parish priest, to keep it open. The tragedy is that those above the parish priest are taking sides against the parish to close the school. So you see, Madam Speaker, the situation I am in at the moment. I make an appeal for the man of Macedonia—the hon. Member for East Hampshire (Mr. Mates)—to come over and help us. I hope that he will keep that in mind when he is at his desk.
An old people's home in my constituency—Wilson house, in Broughshane—is under threat of closure. There are many other old people's homes in the Province, and the newly elected hon. Member for Belfast, West, the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth) and I joined together in a great rally at the city hall. That, too, was presided over by a lady, Madam Speaker, and we made some progress. I trust that we shall make greater progress under your authority, and that the Minister will take heed of my plea on behalf of old people.
The nation's morality and ethical standing depend on how it treats its old people. If we do not treat the elderly well, we ourselves will not be well treated—some Ministers are becoming elderly themselves, and they should look to the days ahead. The Minister of State, the hon. Member for East Hampshire, points at me, but he too will he old one day; his hair will go grey and his teeth will fall out. He will need support and help in his old age. So I make a plea for the Government to be caring to the elderly in Northern Ireland.
The fight for the provision of comprehensive health care services for the people of Northern Ireland is a battle that all the elected representatives have to fight. We mean to win that battle. Government reports have been published, as have proposals from the repugnant quango systems which have been foisted on the people of Northern Ireland. They have now gone to town against our health care system, and Government health boards in Northern Ireland have developed a new civil service speak, which uses terms such as "streamlining", "rationalisation of services", "new frameworks" and "review of provision". All that talk really means cuts in services. The House must realise that we cannot afford such a catastrophe in Northern Ireland. The present proposals affect not just one parliamentary constituency but every parliamentary constituency.
Here is an issue on which all Northern Ireland Members in the House tonight agree. Please listen to us. The Government say that they will not listen to us when we disagree, so I hope that they will start to listen to us when we agree. Perhaps we should agree more often, which would help the Government.
The Province deserves the best: it deserves equal treatment and equal rights within the United Kingdom. We are not asking for a special case to be made for us. Over the past 30 years, Northern Ireland has made great advances in the provision of health care, and it would be a scandal for the Government now systematically to dismantle those advances and to turn back the hands of the clock by robbing Northern Ireland of its fundamental right to health care services based not on ability to pay but on need. I believe that health services should be based on need, not on the ability to pay.
1131 Last week, Northern Ireland was stunned by the proposals that emerged from the Eastern health and social services board. They highlighted the Government's agenda to deplete the provision for the regions of Ulster and to centralise acute services, leaving rural areas exposed to incomplete services. The purpose of the Government's proposals is to save money. A complete and caring health service cannot be based only on a financial agenda.
I passed through one of the greatest tragedies that has occurred in the past few days. A busload of my Bannside Democratic Unionist branch members had a terrible crash in which five people were killed and more than 40 injured. The diligence, dedication and sacrifice of all the emergency services were brought home to me. There were policemen, Ulster Defence Regiment men, men from other regiments of the British Army, firemen, nurses, doctors and ambulance men.
The tragedy was that, if the crash had happened some time ago, Whiteabbey hospital or the Moyle hospital in Larne could have handled the emergency. The worst injured had to be taken to Belfast City hospital, to the Royal Victoria hospital and as far away as Ulster hospital. When I stood in Whiteabbey and saw some of the serious cases having to be carried into an ambulance again and taken away to other areas, I realised what was happening to our health service. The realisation came home to my heart as never before.
We need to keep acute services in the local areas. I am not with some of the consultants in this matter. They want to live in Belfast and to raise and educate their families there. They want to travel just a few miles to other hospitals and then to go back to Belfast at night. In the old days, a consultant lived in the area that he served. I remember that, when I was a boy, there were well respected and revered consultants in the town of Ballymena. They lived there, their families were educated there and they were part of the community. Many of the new consultants do not want to be part of the community. They want to do it all in Belfast and not have to go out to other places. The general practitioners must be commended for their dedication to their local areas. The GPs are all for the retention of acute services in those areas.
Last week, the Eastern health and social services board announced that it would close six hospitals. Some 750 beds in the area will close and up to 8,000 nursing staff will eventually lose their jobs. The Government propose to close Newtownards, Bangor, Belvoir Park, Down, Forster Green and Musgrave Park. What a list of hospitals to be closed! The six hospitals provide specialist care units for the whole community. Belvoir Park has a specialist cancer unit and an infectious diseases unit which will now be destroyed. That width of experience will come under the axe of health service cuts. There are warnings that two other hospitals that serve the greater Belfast area, Lagan Valley and the Belvoir, may be closed. The hon. Member for Antrim, East (Mr. Beggs) told us what has happened to the Larne hospital. Altogether, eight hospitals in Northern Ireland will be closed. The proposal shows a wholesale disregard for people's needs.
The three hospitals that will now serve the Ards peninsula are the Royal Victoria, Belfast City and Ulster, yet the catchment area of Strangford—the right hon. 1132 Member for Strangford (Mr. Taylor) is present this evening and knows about this as I do, because I represent the area in the European Parliament—is one of the fastest growing areas in Northern Ireland. In 1981, it had a population of 122,000. Today, it has a population of almost 131,000. Yet the board proposes to close the hospital there. What in the name of goodness has come into these quangos and boards that makes them propose to do such a terrible thing to the hospital provision in Northern Ireland?
§ Mr. John D. Taylor
I welcome the hon. Gentleman's comments, but should he be surprised at the decision taken by the Eastern health and social services board? We must remember that it is a quango appointed by a Conservative Minister and that it is simply carrying out the policies of Northern Ireland Office Ministers. Some 15 per cent. of the beds that were provided by the last Ulster Unionist Government have been abolished by the Northern Ireland Office.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, when constituencies such as North Down and Strangford have 70,000 electors each and the population of Belfast constituencies is falling day by day—each of them is down to almost 50,000 electors—it is an outrage that, simply to placate the Minister who appoints its members, a quango is closing down hospitals outside Belfast in areas which have the most rapidly growing population in Northern Ireland?
North Down and Strangford have some of the worst roads. If someone had an accident in upper Ards near Portaferry, it would take almost an hour to transfer that patient to Belfast City hospital or the Royal Victoria hospital. That is an outrage, and I hope that all hon. Members will join us in North Down and Strangford in opposing the quango's dictatorial decisions.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
Of course I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I agree that the health boards are out of touch with the people. The way in which members are appointed is ridiculous. Anyone who stands as an Alliance candidate and is defeated will be appointed to one of the quangos.
As far as I know, not one Democratic Unionist party member has been appointed to any health hoard in Northern Ireland. All those who are on a board were appointed because they were previously councillors. There is perhaps one Democratic Unionist member of the police authority, but there are none on the health boards. I believe that the Ulster Unionists have the same trouble. The leader of the Social Democratic and Labour party has told me that his party has the same trouble. The members of the boards are out of touch with the political parties and how people vote.
I have had a letter from a leading consultant in Ards, Mr. Ferris. He said:There has been a great increase in the number of families of the security forces as Newtownards is a 'relatively safe area'. The Police Federation encourages their members to come to this area partly because of the safety and because there is less intimidation.Yet the hospital services are being cut.
The figures for operations in Ards are excellent. The hospitals are not being closed because they do not do their job. They do their job. In some cases, the hospitals in Ards have better figures for operations than even the Royal Victoria, Belfast City or Ulster hospitals. The hospitals in 1133 Ards do more operations than Down and the neighbouring gynaecological units combined, yet the hospitals in Ards come under the axe.
The waiting lists will not go away. They will increase. The leader of the Ulster Unionist party and I had a meeting with the previous Secretary of State. We put before him the facts about people awaiting heart operations in Northern Ireland. At the present waiting rate, they will die. Some of those people will never have a heart operation. For example, I know of a young business man from Ballymoney. The Minister with responsibility for health and social services, who is not here tonight, did everything to get that young man the necessary heart operation, but he almost died. The Minister showed me a card with the young man's name and a telephone number on it and he told me, "Every morning I ring and cry out for that young man to have art operation, Ian." If that is the way that we have to plead for our people to have heart operations, where will it all end?
I know that a new specialist unit has been set up, but even with that unit working overtime, it is not biting into the waiting list, because more people are joining it. Northern Ireland has the highest rate of heart disease in Europe. In recognition of that fact, the Government appointed a new heart specialist team to complement the work already being carried out in that important area, and the work being carried out at the Royal hospital. However, that team will only maintain the present waiting list and will not be able to reduce it. Two more specialist teams are required and money for them must be made available. It is a matter of life and death. The waiting lists are a scandal and corrective measures a necessity.
I know of people who have had to wait four years for heart surgery and I know how their health has deteriorated in that time. It is a matter of life and death. The most recent figures available in the "Register General Quarterly Returns for Northern Ireland" for 1990 show that the number of heart disease deaths in the Greater Belfast area was: Ards, 165; Belfast, 922; Castlereagh, 188; Down, 215; Lisburn, 218; and North Down, 200—making a total of 1,908. The figures for other heart-related disease deaths were: Ards, 22; Belfast 178; Castlereagh, 25; Down, 21; Lisburn, 28; and North Down, 22—making a total of 296. The grand total is 2,204. The figures show that there were 2,204 fatalities because of heart disease, 1,100 of them in Belfast. The other 1,104 people would have had to travel a great distance to receive acute services. Belfast requires another specialist team to cope with the problem.
My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea) also faces difficulties, because the Tyrone hospital has to cope with heart disease, there.
The north Antrim people in Ballymena in my constituency feel strongly about the removal of their cardiac unit. We all helped with work, bequests and voluntary subscriptions to give the best cardiac unit to the Waveney hospital. What have they done with it? They have taken it away to Antrim, but Antrim did not pay for it, the Ballymena people did. The cardiac ambulance service ought to be maintained at Ballymena. If the cardiac unit is based in Antrim, people from Portglenone, at the periphery of north Antrim, will have to travel 50 miles for treatment. Those from Cushendall will face a round trip of 64 miles, while those from Cushendun will face a round trip of 74 miles. Those figures are scandalous, and the Government must wake up to the problem.
1134 I am well aware of the new hospital programme for north Antrim. The hon. Members for Belfast, South and for Belfast, West and I campaigned together for that new hospital. Eventually, we won our fight and we were told that a brand new hospital would be built in the Coleraine-Ballymoney area. However, the trouble is that the Department is no longer keeping to that building plan. It is running down the old hospitals, but it is not running up the new one. It has now been decided to move the Ballymoney surgical unit, casualty service and the accident and emergency service—traditional to the town—by 30 June, which is not far away.
That unjust and undemocratic decision, which will incur enormous cost, has aroused much bad feeling, especially as that move will have a short-term effect only— seven years—because the new Causeway hospital is set to open in 1999. The whole idea is crazy. The new hospital campaign group, the north-eastern sub-division of the British Medical Association, the combined consultant medical staff committee of the Coleraine and Ballymoney hospitals, the Ballymoney borough council, the Ballymoney new hospital support group, the steering group—which represents the three local councils and the support groups of Ballymoney, Ballycastle and Coleraine—the Confederation of Health Service Employees and the National Union of Public Employees have all expressed opposition to the rationalisation proposals.
The opposition to such so-called rationalisation rests on three arguments. First, people are concerned that those proposals would provide this Government, or any future Government, with the pretext for delaying the building of the new Causeway hospital. Many circumstances will change between now and the stipulated date when the first patients will be admitted. Secondly, existing logistical problems at Coleraine hospital should be overcome—not least the difficulty in admitting surgical patients in the first place. Thirdly, the board and its officers have failed to hold meaningful discussions with those most affected by the board's far-reaching decisions.
I hope that the Minister responsible for hospitals and his colleagues will take my remarks to heart. The board refers continually to a stepping-stone approach, but those stones are too far apart, and we shall fall into a river of destruction.
What does the board think of the good surgeons of Route hospital? Its surgical unit not only has the best day-case figures for the northern area, but it admits more than 40 per cent. of all the surgical cases in Coleraine, Ballymoney and the Moyle district. In 1990–91, more than 40 per cent. of all major and intermediate surgical operations in the district were carried out in the Route hospital theatres, despite a reduced workload due to illnesses. It has now been decided to phase out the work of that hospital.
The hospitals of north Antrim are being penalised for being too efficient. One will be penalised if one works hard and does a good job. There is much at stake. The painful upheaval and expense that will result from the so-called rationalisation does not seem justified, especially as short-term benefits will result, and it should not be permitted.
Whatever else may be said about the decision, the manner in which it has been taken is an indictment of those who hold power without accountability and it will be long remembered by the people. There must be accountability. 1135 In that context, let us remember that we do not even have a Select Committee here to examine Northern Ireland issues. Not one Northern Ireland Member is on the Public Accounts Committee to ask important questions that need to be asked. Why is the Northern Ireland Office not scrutinised? I believe it is because the civil servants are making the running and do not want to have to answer.
I used to be chairman of a public accounts committee in another place. Ministers and civil servants would sweat when they came to be questioned on their stewardship. I urge the Government to give an account of their stewardship. They should be proposing the establishment of a Northern Ireland Select Committee so that they can be cross-examined. It is vital that we have such a body, and a Public Accounts Committee.
When this matter was raised at a certain confidential meeting, we found that the people most against a Select Committee were the civil servants. I hope that it will not be long before a Northern Ireland Select Committee is formed, and it will give me great delight to be a member of it. I will then have the opportunity to cross-examine some of the civil servants. We will see how civil they are when they are put in the vice.
A whole district in Ballymoney is insisting that, instead of indulging in incredible interim expenditure, the Department of Health and the Northern health and social services board should act within the terms of the recommendations of the House. We must take into account the record of prevarication on the part of the Northern board since 1977 and demand that the new Causeway hospital is completed by 1997.
I wish to pay tribute to Mr. Robb, even though he and I are politically as far apart as heaven and hell, and that is a long way.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
I leave that to the hon. Gentleman's imagination. Knowing the twisted way in which he thinks, he will expect me to be going down—[Interruption.]—but he is wrong. Nor will I be in purgatory.
Mr. Robb has done a superb job, as everyone, irrespective of religion, agrees. He happens to be a Protestant; he is a Protestant republican. He owes his conversion to republicanism to the newly elected hon. Member for Belfast, West. I once heard him giving his testimony as a convert at a meeting. Everybody in the community owes Mr. Robb the highest praise for the way in which he has worked for the people and put his life, in sickness, at risk to help the people of the area. I pay that tribute to him with all my heart, soul and mind.
I plead with the Government to look again at provision for the elderly. I shall not dwell on the point because I know that the hon. Member for Belfast, South wishes to speak, and I want him to take part in the debate. I think of homes such as Wilson house, Throne hospital, Mourne hospital in Newcastle, Wilmot house and the Molone View day centre, all of which are facing closure.
The plans to close them are based purely on finance rather than on humanity. The people in those places have a fundamental right to community care. I sat at one home beside an old ex-service man—there were rows of elderly people—and he told me, "This is my home. Where will I go from here when the doors close?" I urge the 1136 Government to heed the appeal of the elderly. Do not ruin the last days of their rest and peace. If such places must be run down, do it with charity and love and not at the behest of a quango.
It is sad to see how the health boards in the Omagh area want to set Members of Parliament against one another. Members of Parliament must fight for hospitals in their areas. They would be worth nothing if they did not. Why is Enniskillen hospital in confrontation with Omagh hospital, dividing and polarising the community? They are fighting for the right of women to have their maternity needs met in their area. What they are trying to do is inhuman.
There is a rape in our health services, based on a promise of cost efficiency; but cost-effective measures and book-balancing are being carried out while ignoring the harsh realities of human life. Closures and cuts to save money are not the answer to our social and economic ills. Let me issue a word of warning: the economy of health should be the economy of well-being. The converse is the economy of disease.
Rationalisation has been argued for on the ground of economy. Wholesale disregard for the people is not the way forward. Incorporating them in plans for the health service and putting them first are the only ways to provide comprehensive health care for all. I want the Minister to listen and act. A cry crosses the religious, political, class and age divides: "Stop what you are doing. Please give heed to the voice of the people and save our hospitals and elderly care centres."
§ Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)
I shall take up a point that the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) made—a plea for a Select Committee on Northern Ireland—but turn it round in another direction. A Select Committee of this House issued a report on maternity provision and included Northern Ireland in it.
We asked the Department to withdraw an out-dated circular that was reissued recently. We also suggested that, before it continues to run down maternity services in rural areas, it should examine what is happening in, for example, Brecon and Radnor and the Bath authority. We received a report of a meeting of the Western health board, and the general manager dismissed the report as of no importance. I believe that he was showing disrespect to the House, because the Government must respond to that report in the House before a mere general manager can discard it as having no authority.
I join others in welcoming the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Dr. Hendron) and congratulating him on his maiden speech. I do so for various reasons. First, it will take some work off me. I remember, shortly after being elected to this House, sitting in the advice centre where Robert Bradford was murdered. A person came in with his disabled boy and said, "Mr. Smyth, I am neither one of your constituents nor one of your flock, but I would not go to the one who is there now, and I am not too sure that I would have gone to the one who let him in." He came to me to argue the case of a lad born with deformity, for whom officialdom was trying to discard responsibility. I am glad that the hon. Member for Belfast, West will take up such issues in future.
Secondly, I welcome the hon. Gentleman because, interestingly, the hon. Member called to speak after his 1137 maiden speech, the hon. Member for North Down (Sir J. Kilfedder) once represented Belfast, West. When he was being selected as the Unionist candidate, my father nominated him. As a boy who was born in west Belfast, I now represent a part of south Belfast that was originally west Belfast, and I welcome the hon. Gentleman to the House.
I join the hon. Member for Antrim, North in saying that the next time that the hon. Member for Belfast, West speaks, there might be more of a reaction in the House. The hon. Member for Belfast, West said that there were no job opportunities in west Belfast. There may not be enough, but it is a calumny to suggest that jobs have not been provided in the past 10 years. Strathearn Audio and those industries and services that are now in south Belfast, were actually provided by the former Unionist Administration of Northern Ireland to create jobs in west Belfast. It is important to maintain a sense of balance when making charges.
I thank the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for his earlier response, but I am looking forward to receiving the Secretary of State's letter. I was at the launch of the next stage of the 'Making Belfast Work' campaign. Admittedly, I was unable to stay to hear the Secretary of State's speech, but I received the brochure. South Belfast was not mentioned in relation to the £26,000 that was allocated.
The fact that south Belfast people take the initiative and do things for themselves has been used to move them to other districts. St. George's community work began in Sandy Row, moved to south Belfast and has now been redirected to east Belfast. The federation youth training was started by professionals. An accountant finally resigned from the chair because of the way that the organisation was being treated. Men were volunteering their time to try to equip young people in that district who are now moving away to east Belfast. Those involved with Ormeau youth enterprises cross the spectrum of society and have been pushed around for more than four years. They are placed in any areas of need.
I do not doubt that some money has been invested in south Belfast, but when reference is made to the youth team working in the district it should be remembered that one section is on loan from west Belfast and another section has no relevance to south Belfast. The Taughmonagh district is heavily deprived and is still depressed. Donegall avenue is a lovely old street, in which virtually every house is derelict.
Work is being carried out to improve the Ormeau road, lower Ravenhill and other districts. It is time that officials stopped judging south Belfast by Queen's university, Stranmillis training college and the Upper Malone. There are regions of tremendous need right on the margins.
I understand what the hon. Member for Antrim, East (Mr. Beggs) meant when he suggested that the IDB officials should not be entirely blamed for lack of development. However, when vote 1 of the Department of Economic Development mentions the cost of the IDB executive, I question whether we are receiving value for money. The hon. Member for Antrim, East and I went to the far east in 1983 and blazed a trail for IDB.
It helped us tremendously: it gave us 100 large brochures to carry. We opened doors. Journalists came to Belfast. When the IDB opened an office in one of these countries, it did not even have the courtesy to advise the journalists of that, even though they had come to Belfast 1138 to discover what was happening in Northern Ireland for themselves. It was only when one of them returned to Northern Ireland that he found out.
So I am talking about a degree of insensitivity. The organisation seems to want to direct matters itself instead of using the networks which exist to be developed for the good of the community.
I recognise the case for co-operation with the Industrial Development Authority in road shows. It is tragic that it appears that the IDA is attracting more inward investment to the Republic. We are competing with the other regions of the United Kingdom for inward investment, and competing with our hands tied behind our backs. Anyone who wants to invest in the Republic can do so. Anyone who wants to invest in the United Kingdom can do so. The problem lies in the question mark over Northern Ireland: will Northern Ireland still be in the United Kingdom in five or 10 years' time, given all the shilly-shallying that has been going on? Our political instability is one of the reasons why we are not attracting the inward investment that we might if we went at it properly.
Why is the Department still pussy-footing over residents' parking? That has been on the cards for years. People in London and elsewhere have the right to park their cars in the streets where they live. The Lisburn, Malone and Stranmillis roads in my constituency are densely populated. There is nowhere to park. The university population abandon their cars in these streets. It was interesting that the Department of the Environment moved quickly enough when it put in parking meters—that was cost-effective. Neither we nor the residents argued that they should not pay for their permits—
§ Mr. Trimble
I am familiar with the problem in my hon. Friend's constituency—especially in the university and Stranmillis area. I assure him that similar—although perhaps not as great—problems exist in numerous other places, including the town of Portadown in my constituency. There is a great need for the sort of residents' parking scheme to which he refers.
§ Rev. Martin Smyth
My hon. Friend underlines my point.
Under vote 4, I want to deal with planning. I discovered many years ago that television companies in the United States showed devasted areas of Belfast as the work of the IRA. Apart from the fact that some of them are the legacy of Adolf Hitler, the rest of them were the gift of developers who ravaged the city, scattering its population to its four corners. They should have got on with building. I discovered lately that one of the greatest culprits was the road services branch of the Department of the Environment.
Developers in the neighbouring constituency of Strangford have been waiting for more than two years for a decision. When the Minister replies, will he tell us whether the Department has reached a decision? I was told that it would do so within the first two weeks of June. That period has now passed. I understand that the Commission made a decision in September 1991 and it is now June 1992. What is the reason for the continual delay?
A developer in the University road area took years to obtain planning permission. Ultimately, he had to go to a tribunal. When I approached the then Minister about the case, he told me that he could not interfere because an appeal was pending. When I asked the civil servant 1139 involved about the delay, which was resulting in soaring expenses, he told me that it would have been better if the building had been rehabilitated. The developer was being asked not only to maintain the building's facade, which he had promised to do, but to restore a wrecked interior, putting in cornices which had not existed for years. It transpired that that civil servant had not even examined the place when he was asked to do so. It is the cry of many that our officials should have a bit more sense of responsibility, especially when people are investing money in the well-being of the community.
I understand that the Under-Secretary is aware that, under the new education guidelines, a place has been allocated to physical education and swimming. The Department has decided that the Finaghy primary school is over-endowed with land, so there must be a disposal of property. The board sought planning permission for housing but it was unsuccessful. It said that it did so simply to test the land's value, but I am convinced that, if planning permission for housing had been obtained, the land would have been sold. It now says that the Department is pressing it to dispose of the property because it is surplus to requirements.
That land is an open space with a pitch and a swimming pool which fell into disuse in 1987. Belfast council's leisure unit is prepared to take the property over and develop it, but instead of passing it over to the Department of the Environment, under which Belfast council would work at a reasonable or nominal price to provide facilities to serve 10 schools and the community at large, the Department is pressing it to put the property on the open market so that it can be bought by some speculator who hopes to carry out the work.
With regard to vote 1 for the Department of Health and Social Services, I reiterate the concern over the closure of the home. I also question the planning in the Eastern health and social services board. I have referred to the Western board. I have had occasion to raise with the chairman of the Eastern board certain events in the Green Park unit. Having received the usual flannel that officials prepare for a chairman to sign, I discovered that, instead of dealing with the problem, a witch hunt is on to discover who is giving me the information. I believe that it is the board's job to ensure that things are done properly.
Let me give an example. In January 1991, after three public advertisements had been placed, a director of nursing services was appointed to start work on 1 April. The terms of employment stated that over five years she would receive a 20 per cent. salary increase if her performance was satisfactory. Four days after starting work, she was told by the unit manager, "We have changed our plans here. A single director of nursing services will cover Belvoir and Musgrave park."
The director of nursing services was shattered. Where was the forward planning? Three months after her appointment, the management did not know that only one director would be needed, and they appointed someone from London. How can management expect loyalty, devotion and service from the work force if they treat people like that? The person concerned was well qualified. I have known her since I walked the corridors in Musgrave 1140 park 40 years ago as an assistant chaplain, when she was a trainee nurse. I believe that the time has come for greater responsibility and accountability.
I asked a parliamentary question about the number of firms that had been taken off tender lists and subsequently restored. The Minister replied:One firm was temporarily removed from the health and personal social services select list of tenderers for the market testing of support services. This firm was reinstated within the past two months and my noble friend does not think it would be proper to disclose details of the firm concerned."— [Official Report, 21 May 1992; Vol. 208, c. 243.]Why was that firm restored, other than to fulfil a contract that it had been given? It was guilty of a ploy to get rid of workers in the health service and in the cleansing department of the hospital concerned. It had been engaged to do that work, and was employing 80 per cent. of the work force in one place who were already in receipt of social security payments. Comments have been made about low sentences in the civil courts. There seems to be no detriment to firms that have been off the list for two months and are then restored.
Finally, let me ask the Minister to tell us why the money was transferred from the Larne line and the other priority road schemes to the Dublin route. A single protest is our only way of calling attention to the importance of accountability.
§ 11.8 pm
§ The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. Robert Atkins)
The tone of much of the debate has been typical of the warmth and friendship that I have encountered in the short time that I have held my present post. I am sure that my colleagues would agree with me about the response that we have received from a wide variety of people in Northern Ireland.
It would be wrong for me to begin my speech without paying public tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Wiltshire, North (Mr. Needham), whose achievements were considerable when he held the responsibilities that I now hold. I see my opposite number, the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott), nodding in agreement. I think that hon. Members on both sides of the House will know of the commitment and interest shown by my hon. Friend. Following his translation to the Board of Trade, that commitment and interest will still be extremely helpful to Northern Ireland in relation to such matters as inward investment.
This has been an excellent debate. I think that I can speak for all hon. Members in saying that it has been an enormous pleasure to be able, for the first time since 1983, I believe, to refer across the Floor of the House to the hon. Member who represents west Belfast—the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Dr. Hendron). We have not had the opportunity to do that for a long time. Whatever one's political views may be, the defeat of Adams in the general election was a major and significant achievement for parliamentary democracy.
That defeat produced the new Member who is respected and highly regarded throughout the city for his role as a local general practitioner, which is an added bonus. Whatever might be our views and differences, his maiden speech made clear his knowledge of his constituency and the fact that he has roots in his community. He spoke with force and feeling and made it plain that he will be an excellent representative—a full-blown parliamentary 1141 representative—of west Belfast. We know that west Belfast, like the rest of the Province, needs a parliamentary democrat to represent its views.
The hon. Member for Belfast, West said that he wanted the Government to help. 1 can give him the unequivocal assurance that the Government will help him in west Belfast as they will the other 17 Northern Ireland Members of this place. We shall, of course, have our differences and arguments, and in that I include the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson). That is only right and proper in a democracy. I hope that hon. Members who represent Northern Ireland constituencies will recognise that the team of Ministers in the Northern Ireland Office will do its best to deal with the concerns and problems of Northern Ireland with as much dedication as have previous teams. There may be differences, but we shall do our best.
My responsibilities for the Departments of Economic Development and for the Environment give me a unique opportunity to help conserve and enhance the natural environment within Northern Ireland and to use that environment as an important foundation in seeking to strengthen the economy through the various policies that are now being implemented. These ministerial roles complement one another perfectly and are, in my experience, indivisible.
I am convinced of the many inherent advantages which Northern Ireland has and which we must use to the full. It is seen from outside as a largely rural and lightly industrialised area, not spoiled by the more traditional heavy manufacturing activities. There is an excellent road network and an excellent supply of good, clean water. Some of my hon. Friends who represent constituencies in the south-east of England would be inordinately jealous of Northern Ireland's water supply. Northern Ireland has a landscape of great variety and great natural beauty., some of which I have had the opportunity to see. It is largely unspoiled. In today's world, these are substantial assets. Everyone who is involved in promoting Northern Ireland must maximise the opportunities that such a clean and green environment provides.
There will, of course, be occasions when the protectors of the environment and the demands of industry might appear to be in conflict. Where these circumstances arise, there needs to be a careful balance drawn between the interests. We are determined to protect the exceptional environment, but that protection must not in itself be unduly restrictive, nor erect unnecessary hurdles that will inhibit economic expansion. On the other hand, the business and industrial community must recognise that it has duties and responsibilities towards the entire community, and so must take appropriate action, for example, to control production processes, waste emissions and cleanliness and tidiness in its sites. I shall deal with particular sites in due course.
The greater awareness of the environment gives us a real opportunity in our wider economic development policies. As we already have an image as an area with a clean and fresh environment, we can strengthen the image by making it a common theme in all our promotional work, both at Government and industry levels. It will mean Northern Ireland industry in general focusing on making its products more environmentally friendly.
I am convinced that firms that are more sensitive to consumer preferences in this area will gain a market advantage. Industry should also think seriously about how 1142 to make its processes more environmentally friendly. This will become increasingly important in firms' relationships both with their local communities and with their customers, and it can also have cost advantages.
A green approach would mean seeking to establish Northern Ireland in the eyes of the world as a centre of excellence in industrial and environmental matters. If we concentrate on raising our standards, finding solutions and adopting best practice throughout industry, we shall develop knowledge and expertise which we can market to others and which can draw to Northern Ireland industries that need high standards and expertise on their doorstep. That is not an easy or short-term approach and it will require effort not only from industry in Northern Ireland but from everyone whose actions impact on the environment. That approach can offer Northern Ireland a competitive edge in the world of the 1990s and beyond, and I am determined to take it forward.
A number of issues arose in the debate, as I would have expected. Given the strictures that have been uttered about my predecessor waffling on minor points and not dealing with the substance of debates, I shall endeavour to cover as much ground as I can, given the constraints of time. Otherwise, I shall write to hon. Members about the matters that are causing them concern and endeavour to pursue them in greater detail.
The hon. Member for Wigan, who, as an old colleague across the greensward, I am delighted to have shadowing me—as least for a short time—raised a number of matters that I hope to deal with as generalities. However, he particularly asked about structural funds from the EC. Northern Ireland's allocation from the structural funds was disappointing, but Bruce Millan has confirmed that it was our prosperity relative to other objective 1 regions that accounted for the size of the Northern Ireland share.
Our GDP per head is higher than the normal limit for objective 1 status, but we have been assured by Mr. Millan that Northern Ireland's allocation was no reflection on the quality or presentation of our regional development plan. It is satisfying to note that the areas selected for Community support accorded well with the Government's development priorities. The hon. Gentleman's point is well taken and I undertake to continue to ensure that Northern Ireland receives a fair share of funds from the EC.
It was a great pleasure for every hon. Member to hear my hon. Friend the Member for North Down (Sir J. Kilfedder), particularly as he has now joined the mythical round table. Hon. Members will be pleased to congratulate him on that well-deserved honour. He has been a Member for many years and his work on behalf of his constituents is well known. He talked about a number of issues. One issue that amused the House, although I know that it was serious, was the problem about Geddis farm in Helen's Bay. He spoke so fluently about it—almost mellifluously—that that not only the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea) but others will make a beeline to see exactly what is causing such an eyesore.
The Department of the Environment is fully aware of local concern on the issue and has been involved in enforcement action for 10 years. Some successful prosecutions have been brought and compliance with enforcement notices secured. The Department is carrying out a review of the situation and is examining a number of options to solve the problem.
That does not tell the hon. Gentleman anything that he did not know already. I assure him that I shall have a look 1143 [The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office] at the site for myself and perhaps have a conversation with him to see whether we can do more to ensure that what he describes as a dump does not stay that way for very much longer.
The hon. Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Forsythe) spoke about a number of matters, largely to do with roads and transportation but not exclusively so. As a former Minister for Roads and Traffic, I felt a sense of déjà vu about some of his comments. Hon. Members always want more roads but attack the Government for building more roads and putting concrete all over the place. The problem is almost insoluble. I assure the hon. Gentleman that when I was Minister for Roads and Traffic I tried to switch the balance towards maintenance, particularly maintenance and improvements that save lives and reduce accidents.
I am currently considering road maintenance and I am conscious of the concerns expressed, although I must tell the hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friends that to travel on some of the roads in Northern Ireland as I have done recently, with the sun shining, is an eye-opener. I wished only that I had an open car and a pretty girl by my side—[Interruption.]—my wife, I hasten to add. The roads were delightful and empty. There was no traffic, except perhaps on the odd occasion when I came across a vehicle checkpoint. Generally, the roads were very good and they complement the countryside in many respects. I think that hon. Members of all parties in Northern Ireland would agree with that.
Nevertheless, the serious point about maintenance is well taken. Although I cannot undertake to wave a magic wand immediately, I am considering the problem and I hope that we can switch the balance a little so that we make a more significant impact on road maintenance than has been the case in the past.
The general point made about new roads came as no surprise. Every hon. Member who spoke mentioned roads in one form or another—how this or that road is needed. In the presence of my hon. Friend the Minister of State who is responsible for money in Northern Ireland, I should perhaps say that we shall make a firm claim for as much money as possible for new roads, but he will be sure to have a view—undoubtedly backed by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer or at least by the Chief Secretary—about how much funding can be allocated. Nevertheless, my hon. Friend will have heard what has been said. If he has not, I shall ensure that he hears.
Let me mention one important road in particular, the Newry bypass. It has been a continuing objective to improve and develop the main road links to the Belfast and Larne ports in the interests of Northern Ireland's economy. One of the first meetings that I attended after becoming a Minister was with a number of senior distinguished business men, all of whom said that the Newry bypass was one of the most important things that they wanted. It has been achieved progressively as funds and the demands of competing priorities permit. The improvement of the road system in the Newry area is a long-standing objective.
The A8 Belfast to Larne road is a good quality road, capable of carrying current and foreseeable traffic volumes. However, the upgrading of the single carriageway central section of the route is being considered as a 1144 mid-term objective. As I said, the general point about roads is well taken, and I shall endeavour to reflect hon. Members' concerns when the issues come up for discussion.
In a distinguished contribution that lasted for a considerable time and covered almost every part of his constituency, the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea) mentioned several matters, including agriculture. I can assure him that my noble Friend whose responsibility it is and who—as I said in a brief intervention—is ably represented by the Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley), who will speak learnedly on such matters having had relevant experience when he held a former portfolio, is only too well aware of the worries about angel dust and is doing what he can to effect stringent controls. We all agree that it is a serious matter which must be dealt with.
Incidentally, my noble Friend is duty Minister in Northern Ireland at the moment. Had he not been so, he would undoubtedly have been listening to the debate. I hope that hon. Members will accept that he will get a full report on that and other matters that fall to him, not least those relating to health.
The hon. Member for Mid-Ulster mentioned the specific problem of the maternity unit at the Tyrone County hospital. As he said, it is undoubtedly a major issue for local people, and I assure them and their representatives that my noble Friend will examine the arguments very carefully. He has recently visited both hospitals and heard at first hand the views of the local communities. He has told them that he hopes to announce his decision by the end of June. I shall draw to his attention the general health issues that have been raised, and he will appreciate hon. Members' concerns.
I know that local communities are concerned when a health and social service board proposes the closure or change of use of facilities and services. But I hope that everyone will agree that if boards are to continue to provide the highest quality services, changes are inevitable. I know that boards take seriously their responsibility to consult their local communities when changes are contemplated—and when change is major and controversial, it must, of course, come to the responsible Minister for endorsement or otherwise. I assure the House unequivocally that my noble Friend takes that responsibility very seriously.
Decisions to close or change the use of facilities will never be taken lightly, and the views of local communities—and especially those of hon. Members speaking forcefully—will, of course, always be given the most careful consideration.
§ Rev. Martin Smyth
For the guidance of hon. Members from Northern Ireland and of the people concerned, will the Minister tell us how he defines consultation?
§ Mr. Atkins
The fact that the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have raised the matter means that I shall report seriously to my noble Friend about their concerns—I am sure that he will recognise them. Doubtless he will make his decisions and his anxieties known to hon. Members in due course. I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman was making.
Matters involving the Industrial Development Board have been raised. I am conscious of the fact that the board 1145 has had a difficult year. We all know that we have been through a recession, and 1 assure the House that the IDB and the Local Enterprise Development Unit, whether under the present chairman or the new chairman, are only too well aware of hon. Member's concerns and of those of other people in Northern Ireland, and are taking them to heart.
The hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth) asked about residential parking. I am told that no legal power exists in Northern Ireland to permit the introduction of residents' parking schemes, but we are in the process of considering how one could be introduced. It would require an enabling power in primary legislation. Again, the point is well taken. I was astonished that there was no such power, and we are considering the idea closely.
My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State assures me that he would be more than happy to meet the hon. Member for Belfast, South about Finaghy primary school. No doubt that can be arranged—behind the Chair or elsewhere.
The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) spoke with knowledge and, understandably, with some emotion about the dreadful crash a week or so ago involving members of his community and his church—I believe that they were supporters and constituents. It was a dreadful tragedy, and my fellow Minister of State, who was the duty Minister at the time, went to the hospital and publicly congratulated all those involved—as I did myself. We offer our sympathy for the dreadful accident, and ask the hon. Gentleman to convey that sympathy to his friends, supporters and constituents. An investigation is being carried out into what happened, and what we can learn from it. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will take that in the spirit in which it is rendered.
In conclusion, I emphasise again the challenges which now exist with regard both to the environment and to economic development policies, and to their interrelationship. The priorities for all concerned about the environment will be to conserve and enhance the natural environment; to develop greater interest in and awareness of our historic heritage; and to protect public health. The latter includes the condition of inland and tidal waters —concerning which, incidentally, Northern Ireland's record is extremely good, with all 16 beaches meeting EC standards.
§ Mr. Atkins
I hope the hon. Gentleman will forgive me for not giving way, but time is running out.
Among our other priorities will be the improvement of air quality, especially emissions from domestic and industrial sources.
With that green approach to economic development, our priorities for industry will be to promote the Northern Ireland green image in a sustained and systematic way—which is especially important for the food and tourism industries—to develop greener products, which will meet or anticipate consumer preferences; to develop cleaner processes and use that as a marketing point; to adapt processes to use fewer materials and to create less waste; and to use energy much more efficiently in all production activities.
I assure the House, and everyone in Northern Ireland, as represented by their Members of Parliament, that the 1146 new team in Stormont—especially as it includes my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, who has been there for a while—is committed to use all the parliamentary resources at our disposal to use the unique opportunity which is still open to everyone in Northern Ireland to take advantage of the environmental position and current economic development to ensure that Northern Ireland has a real future—not only as a peripheral part of Europe but as a central part of the United Kingdom. That commitment is there for all to see.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 87, Noes 9.
|Division No. 37]||[11.29 pm|
|Amess, David||Jenkin, Bernard|
|Ancram, Michael||Jessel, Toby|
|Arbuthnot, James||Jones, Robert B. (W H'f'rdshire)|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Kilfedder, Sir James|
|Ashby, David||Kirkhope, Timothy|
|Atkins, Robert||Knight, Greg (Derby N)|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Kynoch, George (Kincardine)|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North)||Lait, Mrs Jacqui|
|Bates, Michael||Legg, Barry|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Lidington, David|
|Booth, Hartley||Lightbown, David|
|Bowis, John||Luff, Peter|
|Brandreth, Gyles||MacKay, Andrew|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Maitland, Lady Olga|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)||Malone, Gerald|
|Browning, Mrs. Angela||Mates, Michael|
|Carrington, Matthew||Merchant, Piers|
|Chaplin, Mrs Judith||Neubert, Sir Michael|
|Clappison, James||Richards, Rod|
|Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey||Ryder, Rt Hon Richard|
|Congdon, David||Shaw, David (Dover)|
|Coombs, Simon (Swindon)||Spencer, Sir Derek|
|Davis, David (Boothferry)||Spink, Dr Robert|
|Deva, Nirj Joseph||Sproat, Iain|
|Dover, Den||Steel, Rt Hon Sir David|
|Duncan, Alan||Stephen, Michael|
|Elletson, Harold||Sweeney, Walter|
|Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)||Sykes, John|
|Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)||Taylor, Ian (Esher)|
|Evans, Roger (Monmouth)||Thomason, Roy|
|Fabricant, Michael||Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|Forth, Eric||Thurnham, Peter|
|Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)||Trend, Michael|
|Gallie, Phil||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Gillan, Ms Cheryl||Watts, John|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)||Whittingdale, John|
|Hague, William||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Hanley, Jeremy||Wilkinson, John|
|Hawksley, Warren||Willetts, David|
|Hayes, Jerry||Wood, Timothy|
|Heald, Oliver||Yeo, Tim|
|Hendry, Charles||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Horam, John||Mr. Sydney Chapman and|
|Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)||Mr. Tim Boswell.|
|Beggs, Roy||Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)|
|Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)||Taylor, Rt Hon D. (Strangford)|
|McCrea, Rev William|
|Maginnis, Ken||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Molyneaux, Rt Hon James||Mr. William Ross and|
|Paisley, Rev Ian||Mr. David Trimble.|
|Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
That the draft Appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) Order 1992, which was laid before this House on 2nd June, be approved.