§ 2.45 p.m.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR DEFENCE (LORD CARRINGTON) rose to move, That this House takes note of the situation in Northern Ireland. The noble Lord said
My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I should first of all like to apologise to your Lordships. Some months ago I asked the French Minister of Defence, Mr. Debre, to return a visit which I made to him last November. I had no means of knowing at that time that Parliament would be recalled and that these dates would clash. He will be arriving later this afternoon, and I hope your Lordships will understand if I have to leave in order to meet him. I consulted the Leader of the House as to whether or not it would be proper in these circumstances for me to speak in this debate. He felt that since, as Secretary of State for Defence, I had the responsibility for the British Army in Northern Ireland, your Lordships would expect to hear something from me this afternoon; and I hope, therefore, that your Lordships will acquit me of any discourtesy to the House if I have to leave fairly soon after I have made my speech.
My Lords, I think it is right that Parliament should have been recalled and that we should be debating this afternoon the unhappy situation in Northern Ireland. Much has happened since Parliament rose; not least, the decision to go forward with internment. Parliament is entitled to hear a report from the Government, and this I shall seek to make this afternoon. I cannot pretend, in making this report to the House, that the situation 7 in Northern Ireland is other than extremely grave.
Those of us who have read about the Irish problem in the last hundred years, and some in this House who experienced it 40 or 50 years ago, know how intractable it is, and no Government should underestimate the difficulty of finding a solution. Certainly no Government have tried harder than the previous one or this one to find a solution acceptable to those concerned. This Government start, as did our predecessors, from the Downing Street Declaration of 1969. That Declaration maintained that Northern Ireland was an integral part of the United Kingdom; that it was imperative to restore law and order as the essential condition for economic and social stability, and that the two Governments, at Westminster and Stormont, were pledged to shape a firm basis for equal rights for all Northern Ireland citizens at the quickest possible rate of progress. This last undertaking came as a result of the disturbances in 1969 in which it became apparent that the minority were not satisfied that they did have equal rights with the majority.
Your Lordships will remember the civil rights marches and inter-communal disturbances. From those disturbances flowed the Downing Street Declaration and the undertaking by the Government of Stormont to remedy this state of affairs. No impartial observer could or would deny that that is precisely what the Northern Ireland Government have done. The details are set out in the White Paper recently issued by the Government of Northern Ireland. I will not elaborate on them. A great deal has been achieved in a comparatively short time, and I think it regrettable that quite a number of people appear to overlook the fact that the pledge made in that Downing Street Declaration has been fully honoured.
But the trouble has not stopped; indeed, it has got worse. It has got worse for two reasons: First, because the I. R. A. have moved in and, sheltering behind the original demand for reform, have conducted an increasing campaign of terrorism; and secondly, because although reasonable people may accept that the policy of reform has been carried through there still remains a situation in which 8 the minority in Northern Ireland can never in the foreseeable future hope to form a Government. The problem which now confronts us is how the minority in those circumstances can share in the process of government and be made to feel involved and influential. This is a much more difficult problem, and it calls for great ingenuity as well as great understanding if it is to be solved.
The solution to such a problem is not, as some would have it, to turn everything upside down and to allow the minority to rule the majority. Such a proposal can only lead to worse trouble. But the Northern Ireland Government have made it clear that they recognise that some modification of the doctrine of pure democracy may have to be contemplated, and both they and we are very ready to examine any solution. Indeed, Mr. Faulkner, as your Lordships will remember, put forward last June a number of proposals for the introduction of Parliamentary Committees with members drawn from all the Parties in Stormont and some of them chaired by Members of the Opposition. I think that for the Northern Ireland Government this represents a major concession. Whether it was adequate or a complete answer to the feeling of permanent minority is another matter, but his proposals provided a real basis for discussion. It is all the more regrettable that some of the Northern Ireland Opposition, so far from discussing these proposals, have decided to leave Stormont and set up an alternative assembly. Since then, the Home Secretary has suggested talks between the Parties concerned for the purpose of hammering out some kind of new arrangements acceptable to all. But some of them have so far declined that invitation.
I must be frank and say that I do not believe that the best way to ensure a greater measure of participation and involvement in the future is to refuse discussions or to opt out. If we are to see a solution in Northern Ireland which has a chance of acceptance by everyone, it will be necessary for the leaders of all sections of public opinion to sit round a table and work it out. I very much hope that those leaders who have so far declined will reconsider their position and join in the talks which the Home Secretary is to have.
9 For our part, we at Westminster have recognised the interest which the Government of the Irish Republic has in any solution in Northern Ireland. Already the Prime Minister has met Mr. Lynch and he, together with Mr. Faulkner, is to meet him again next Monday and Tuesday. We must not of course expect too much from these talks. Nevertheless, the opportunity is there for an understanding of the really difficult problems which confront us, and there is a consequent good will which can flow from that understanding.
It is the first time that the Prime Ministers of the three countries have got together, and I think that this is itself not without significance. In the meantime, since Parliament rose, a number of suggestions have been made—some of them by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Wilson—as to how we might set about this formidable task. I would assure your Lordships that no suggestion will be ignored, and all will be examined carefully and with an open mind. I hope very much that there is no question of this problem becoming Party political. All of us in this country must surely wish to see a political settlement and the end of violence. I hope that we can, in this House at any rate, present a common front.
There remains the question of terrorism and the role of the security forces, for which I have a particular responsibility. That there can be no purely military solution to our problems in Northern Ireland is a truism. It is equally a truism to say that there is no hope of establishing successful political and social solutions so long as there is violence and fear of violence. As I have already on more than one occasion explained to your Lordships, the nature of the security problem has greatly changed. In 1969 and the beginning of 1970 it was a matter of separating the two communities in riot situations and of containing demonstrations. We are now in a situation where rioting is confined to fairly small numbers of hooligans, while the main danger stems from the activities of the I. R. A., who are armed gangsters.
Responsibility for what is happening in Northern Ireland to-day rests fairly and squarely on the Irish Republican 10 Army. They have chosen to conduct a campaign as vicious and as degrading as it is possible to imagine. They claim with pride the responsibility for shooting British soldiers in the back. They so organise a demonstration that they are able, behind a screen of women and children, to fire on British troops. Their indiscriminate bombing leaves innocent civilians wounded, shocked, with their property in ruins. Their purpose is to incite violence and hate between the two communities. These men are evil and malign. No decent person, either in Northern Ireland or in Southern Ireland, can conceivably support an organisation so totally discreditable and amoral. It is the prime concern of the security forces to attack and destroy it.
I have heard it said in criticism both of the Army and of the Government that we are worrying only about the I. R. A. and not about the Protestant extremists. Of course there are potentially violent Protestants and, for that matter, Protestant criminals, but the Protestants are not up in arms and not conducting a campaign of terrorism against the community. There is no need to justify the fact that the Army is concentrating its activities on the I. R. A.
There were in the early months of this year signs that the level of violence was diminishing. But this did not suit the I. R. A., and by the beginning of July the rate of bombing and shooting had greatly increased. At the end of July and the beginning of August it was certainly at a record and very dangerous level, and the decision had to be taken as to whether or not it was necessary to bring in a policy of internment. There is no doubt—and this is certainly the conclusion to which the Northern Ireland Government came—that civilian morale was at that time at a very low level. Those who have been to Belfast will realise that the disruption of normal life with bombings and shootings night after night is to ordinary law-abiding people a very great strain. Economic life was running down. There was obvious intimidation of witnesses and clear evidence of a systematic pattern of terrorism. In addition, the Armed Forces had for many months been fighting the terrorists with one arm tied behind their hacks. Unless they could catch someone in the 11 act of committing a crime, no evidence could obviously be produced of his guilt. Yet there were known members of the I. R. A., known by the police and by the Army, who were free to walk about the streets of Belfast and to organise their illegal terrorist and murderous activities.
The decision to bring in internment was not an easy one to make. The principle that no man shall be detained without trial is deeply rooted in the history of this country. Any departure from that principle is repugnant, but there are occasions when normal reliance on the courts to uphold the law is not enough. Unless the police have the support of the overwhelming majority of the population they cannot be sure of maintaining law and order. And even when they do, unless witnesses feel free to give their evidence without intimidation, there is every likelihood that guilty men will go free. In other words, the safeguards of our legal system are twisted to the advantage of the criminal. Wherever witnesses are prepared to give evidence terrorists are brought to court and there has been a substantial number of convictions. But the purpose of internment is to deal with those cases where these conditions do not apply. And, as your Lordships know, there are safeguards for the internee by appeal.
Though I think I share with everybody in this House a dislike of internment, I must stand up and be counted and say that I prefer it to the spectacle of thugs murdering, bombing, shooting and bringing life in Northern Ireland almost to a standstill. To me, internment is the lesser evil, and he would be a bold man who would stand up in this House and say that he would free from internment the 200 or so I. R. A. members who are held in custody, with all the consequences to our troops that would inevitably follow. Some people say that the policy of internment has failed. It depends what you expected from it. There is solid evidence that it has caused a major disruption in the organisation of the I. R. A. Without it, we should undoubtedly be having much more shooting and terrorism in Northern Ireland than we have, for in July and early August violence had been mounting rapidly. Though nobody suggested that internment would end terrorism, without it our job would be much longer.
12 The containment of the situation is greatly complicated by the very long Border of 300 miles between Northern and Southern Ireland, as well as the easy access from one to the other by sea. The General Officer Commanding has made a very full study of that Border and of that problem. The Border, which is long, sparsely marked and crossed by some hundreds of roads and tracks, presents great difficulty. The solution does not lie in static guards or in physical barriers which can easily be moved. Mobile patrols, and reconnaissance from the air and good intelligence, are what we are seeking to achieve; and last, but by no means least, the realisation by the Government of the Irish Republic of the importance of taking vigorous action to prevent the I. R. A. from enjoying a secure base South of the Border. I hope very much that Mr. Lynch will realise that it is not only we who have an interest in countering the menace of these terrorists.
I believe that the key to success in the security situation is intelligence. With poor information the Army are at a considerable disadvantage when facing an urban guerrilla problem. They cannot behave, nor would they wish to do so, as the I. R. A. do in disregarding the safety of innocent bystanders. Sometimes they cannot fire back even when they have seen and identified a sniper, because the danger to civilians is too great. The Army's answer lies not only in superior tactics and equipment and courage, but in getting information. There has, I am glad to say, been a steady improvement since the emergency began. The collaboration between the police and the Army is now excellent. and we shall continue to give our intelligence services the highest priority.
I think here I should say something about the Ulster Defence Regiment, which plays an invaluable part in guarding key points. These are part-time soldiers whose discipline has provided ample justification for the policy which led to their formation. There is at this moment a widespread desire among large numbers of people in Northern Ireland to take an active part in helping to preserve order. To take account of this we have recently widened the opportunities for local service in the Ulster Defence Regiment and are forming a number of additional units. The ceiling of 6,000, which was put on the 13 U. D. R. by the previous Government, and which was the highest figure permitted, is now to be disregarded. The age limit is to be increased from 40 to 50 and a number of extra units are to be formed, as well as existing units sub-divided. For example,6 Battalion of the U. D. R., which operates in the very large Tyrone area, will be divided into two.
I have also been giving careful thought to the position of the Territorial Auxiliary and 'Volunteer Reserve. They, too, naturally arc anxious to do their bit, but 1 do not believe that the Territorial Army, except in the gravest emergency, should be called up in Ireland for this purpose.1 am glad, however, to announce that we have agreed to a scheme which will permit individual members of the T. A. V. R. formally to resign in order to join the U. D. R., and which will at the same time enable them to re-enlist in the Territorial Army after their service without a break of continuity. There will be special provisions for the payment of bounties and for counting previous service in the T. A. V. R. for pay increments; and The Queen has approved that continuity of service for the award of T. A. V. R. decorations and medals will not be regarded as having been broken by service in the U. D. R., which will count as reckon-able. I believe that this scheme, about which the Council of T. A. V. R. Associations and the T. A. V. R. Association in Northern Ireland have been informed, will attract a number of T. A. V. R. members to transfer to the U. D. R.
I must apologise for having concentrated to a very large extent on the security situation. Though it is true that there are explosions and shootings every day in Belfast and sometimes elsewhere, the security forces are having considerable successes, not all of which get reported in the newspapers when we have them. But I do not believe—and it would he misleading to say otherwise—that there is a short answer to terrorism. The Army will gradually get on top and will gradually root out the terrorists from the Province. But there is no short cut, however much we should like to see one.
Some of your Lordships may have been in Northern Ireland, but, whether you have or not, you will, I know, share my pride in the way the British soldier and 14 the British Army have responded to a most unpleasant situation. It is really rather tragic that many of the decent, moderate, law-abiding Roman Catholics have come to believe that the British soldier is their enemy and treat him as such. What do they really think their position would be if the British Army were not there in Northern Ireland? Can they honestly say that they would be safer in their homes if no British soldier was in Northern Ireland? There can be only one answer to that question. The restraint with which the Army have refused to retaliate to the brutal murders of the I. R. A., or to the hail of missiles and foulmouthed insults which they have encountered from hooligans, and even from women and children, has earned admiration. The contrast between the killings by the I. R. A. and, for example, the action of Sergeant Willetts, of the Parachute Regiment, who sacrificed his life in protecting two children from a bomb explosion, is there for all of us to see. Many of these soldiers are very young men, and their discipline and behaviour is a tribute not only to them but to the British Army as a whole.
I know at first hand that the morale of the Army is very high, and they are prepared to do their duty for as long as is necessary. How long that will be will depend upon the people of Northern Ireland and how soon they can find their way out of the nightmare of suspicion and fear which blights their lives. Much will depend upon the outcome of the talks between the Prime Minister, Mr. Lynch and Mr. Faulkner next week. Much depends on how many men are prepared to stand up and be counted; for example, the courageous way in which Cardinal Conway recently condemned violence. It is the people of Northern Ireland themselves, and their leaders, who can end this dreadful situation. As for us here, we are determined to encourage any sign of snood will and to consider carefully any proposal and every initiative which is put forward; and we are determined to remain hopeful and optimistic about the prospect of finding a lasting solution. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That this House takes note of the situation in Northern Ireland.—(Lord Carrington.)15
§ 3.12 p.m.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I have never risen to speak in your Lordships' House on any subject with such a feeling of anxiety and doubt as to the usefulness of any contribution I can make or, equally, the harm that I may do. I should like to start by quoting something which some of your Lordships may have seen on the tape and which was said only to-day or yesterday by Mr. David Bleakley, the Northern Ireland Minister of Community Relations, and, incidentally, a member of the Northern Ireland Labour Party in Mr. Faulkner's Cabinet:He said that Ulster awaited tomorrow's Westminster debate 'with anxious feelings'. They were desperately anxious that nothing should be said to add to the suffering. 'To all our British friends who share our concern for peace, we would say tread softly because you tread on our lives'.My Lords, it is for that reason that I shall try to make my remarks in as moderate a way as I can, and although there are certain criticisms I may have to make I can assure noble Lords opposite that I have no desire to break national unity in a matter of this kind; but, equally, it is necessary to face some of the problems and to consider whether the right solutions are being adopted. Let me say straight away that there is no joy for any of us in terms of Party political advantage with regard to this matter, and there is no easy solution or any single right solution that any Government ought to adopt. But, my Lords, because I wish to be as moderate as possible and, in this sense, to ease the task (and this is something that we always have to bear in mind) of the moderates in Northern Ireland, I shall be as little critical as possible.
I should first of all like to echo what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has said about the Army. We have said this before: we have had occasion, concerning other parts of the world, to pay a tribute. But I am quite certain that no tribute can be too high for the conduct and moderation of the troops in Northern Ireland. How often have we heard on the radio or seen in the paper that shots were fired at a patrol, or at a police or Army post, and that no fire was returned! The degree of control and discipline is very striking indeed; and I would say, as I have always said, that I do not believe that in any other situa 16 tion in the world, in any other country, should we now be in a position where individual casualties instead of casualties involving tens and hundreds of people, were still news. None the less, there have been charges of brutality—there always would be, whether justified or not—and I think the Government are right to see that these are investigated. I also echo what the noble Lord had to say in condemning violence, and in particular condemning those members of the I. R. A. (I am never quite sure whom we are talking about, whether it is the Provisionals or the main body of the I. R. A., but whoever the extremists are) who resort to violence, the gun and the bomb, and who slaughter innocent lives. This we clearly condemn. And those innocent lives, we must also recognise, include members of both the police and the Army, who are also victims, and in a sense almost hostages, in this particular situation.
In discussing terrorists to-day, whether they are I. R. A., Tupamaros, Arab terrorists, or whoever they are, it is very difficult to be objective. We as a country know so little about violence of a political nature—we sometimes have the senseless brutality of hooligans, but virtually none in the political field—that we find it almost impossible to visualise that it can happen in other countries without its being the consequence of some innate wickedness. I hope noble Lords will not misunderstand me when I say that, while I agree that terrorists do wicked things, and that they may be wicked men, one has to remember that in history the terrorist, the urban guerrilla, of to-day has sometimes become the hero of nations. This may be due to the misguided judgment of history, but we have to remember that in Ireland, as in Arab countries and as in Cyprus, there are historic reasons that lead people to believe that any sort of action is justified. This is a concept which we, and I believe most civilised people, reject; and I can only say—and I welcome the moderation in the noble Lord's speech—that equally we must, I think, bear in mind the extraordinary moderation and control of the peasant farmer in that remarkable film,"Le Chagrin et la Pitie", which many of your Lordships will have seen, who, when asked whether he wished the man responsible for denouncing him to the Gestapo 17 to be dealt with, replied that if he had wanted this he would have done it already himself. There are moderates in all the political Parties in Northern Ireland and in the Republic; and it is a particular responsibility of Westminster, and in our debates, to strengthen those who have had the courage to take a moderate stand.
My Lords, I should like to say something on the subject of internment. There is no doubt that in extreme circumstances any Government, including a British Government, may have to face the possibility of internment without trial. We did it during the war. Immediately some may say,"That was different"—and in practical and political terms it was vastly different. What I have to say now is not intended to be unhelpful to the Government, but it is necessary to recognise the really appalling political consequences of internment, which are, to me, the most worrying aspect of this matter. There are sonic noble Lords—my noble friend Lord Beswick, myself, and I think my noble friend Lord Caradon—who have had direct experience of the consequences of internment and of the difficulties it causes, of its emotional and political impact and of the damage it can do to the cause of moderation. I accept Lord Carrington's defence; that there was clearly a choice of two very difficult courses. But when in consequence it appears not to be linked with the success which most people rightly or wrongly expected then, if anything, it can exacerbate the situation.
Whatever the intentions—and I give full credit to the noble Lord whom I believe implicitly when he says that the Government would not lightly have taken this course—is a fact that the act of internment has been regarded as being aimed at one section of the community only. Of course it is the I. R. A. who are doing the killing: I fully acknowledge that. We know also that there lurk in the background other men of violence. Some of us have seen them on television. Again against the historical background of Ireland and remembering the internments of the past, again no doubt with strong justification, the worst consequence of internment is that it has provided within the community a much safer harbourage for the extremist. It is possible that had the Government not taken this action (and 18 perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. felt unable to say this in his speech) some of the extremists on the other side would have taken the law into their hands. This is a danger that we have always to bear in mind before we point the finger of criticism at any Government which takes steps, however undesirable, to restore law and order.
But the particular difficulty of internment is this: what does one do when one has people interned? When do you release them? How long do they have to be kept? I have heard suggestions that not everybody in authority and in the Army wanted internment. There is one thing that must now be said. Now that internment has taken place, whatever steps are taken—and I shall say something about the need for perhaps further steps to weed out those who are not dangerous—we cannot let those who are the killers out on to the streets again. This would be grossly unfair to the Army.
There has been a loss of confidence among the more moderate forces since internment began, and I should like to suggest to the Government that they take seriously the suggestions put forward by the Northern Ireland Labour Party. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord in winding up would also give consideration to them. One great anxiety is the absence of any due judicial processes. There has been a suggestion that instead of, or perhaps in addition to, the Review Commission there should be some form of judicial body presided over by a judge, perhaps a Commonwealth judge, who will in a more judicial way review each case and judge whether or not there are really ample of prima facie grounds for keeping people in internment.
Having said this with regard to internment, let me say straight away that the policies embodied in the Declarations of 1969, the policies initiated by the previous Government, have been firmly carried out by the present Government. We know how the noble and learned Lord himself before entering Government took a strong, firm line in support of those policies. I believe that given time, given no intervention by the I. R. A., they would have gone a long way towards bringing a feeling of greater social justice into Northern Ireland. I said this when we debated the Bill of my noble friend Lord Brockway, who we are sorry is not able 19 to be with us to-day. On that occasion I voted with the Government against the Bill; but I am bound to say that I was wrong. I think we were all wrong, including the Government, in not appreciating that further measures and further initiatives were necessary. We shall await with great anxiety what comes out of the further talks. We have heard certain suggestions. I hope that great vigour will be shown. There have been some very severe criticisms in the Press, justified or otherwise, of a failure to show energy in these matters. I am sure that the noble Lord. Lord Carrington, does not lack that energy. I hope that these suggestions will be pressed further forward.
I do not propose in this speech to discuss a number of the ideas that have been put forward. My right honourable friend Mr. Wilson put forward a number of suggestions. I hope that they will be considered. I must confess to having some slight doubts about the idea of a resident Minister, unless we actually have direct rule; it smacks too painfully of the historic post of Chief Secretary for Ireland. Of course, the responsibility must be on the Minister responsible in the Cabinet, namely, the Home Secretary. Nonetheless. I think the suggestions for a Parliamentary Commissioner and possibly even for a small committee, say of Privy Counsellors, to whom information of a security kind can be given, could be of value in this situation.
I welcome the suggestion (which we now understand is being fully considered by the Northern Ireland Government and, I hope, by the Government in the United Kingdom) that that part of the Crowther Commission Report which deals with Northern Ireland should be taken into consideration and perhaps published. Whether or not it recommends the introduction of proportional representation—and I, for one. and my noble friend Lady Bacon, referred to this on the last occasion—I am now satisfied (at one time I was less certain) that this could have an important effect on the Parliamentary institution in Northern Ireland. The noble Lord. Lord Rathcavan, discussed this question very interestingly in our last debate. The value of proportional representation—and I would suggest it should be of the list kind rather than of the single transferable vote kind of propor-
20 tional representation, which will not necessarily mean that the minority Parties will go permanently into Government for there may be, and I hope there could be, a role in a sort of all-Party Ministry for Reconstruction—is that it would be possible to create an effective Opposition in which the smaller Parties and the moderate Parties would be able to get a fair share of the Parliamentary membership. This, whether it leads to a larger House of Commons or a larger Senate. is something that we hope will be pressed on with quickly.
A ghastly factor of the present situation is the polarisation of the two communities, a polarisation not only in terms of culture and social life but now becoming even geographical. This is a geography which lends itself dangerously to civil war. I do not think that we can underestimate the dangers of the situation and of the possible backlash in Northern Ireland. And as buildings are burnt down and areas are cleared, there is the unpleasant feel of almost preparation for military operations.
My Lords, there is one other major controversial issue that I should like to touch on;: t is the question of the Border. This is the burning issue, the burning source of contention between North and South, the symbol of it all. In my personal view I should like to see a united Ireland; I always have wished to see that. In practical terms I believe this to be a complete impossibility in present circumstances. For many years I have thought that every bombing and every murder that takes place puts back the day when North and South can unite. If it is impossible to rule 400,000 unwilling Catholics from Stormont, how much less can three-quarters of a million or a million Protestants be ruled from Dublin, unless there is a real conciliation! While we cannot possibly ask those who believe in a united Ireland to abandon their ideals, and we cannot ask them to cease striving for a united Ireland, we can ask them, in this moment of grave peril, to put the Border question into cold storage.
Some of your Lordships will have seen the article by Conor Cruise O'Brien in the Observer a week or two ago. He ends up. when making the points that I have been making, by suggesting some sort of 21 declaration which would say that we cannot abandon the ideal of a united Ireland or pretend to abandon it.But we recognise that the great majority of the Protestants of Northern Ireland do not now desire political unification with us. So long as that is the case, we do not merely renounce any claim to impose unity upon them, we condemn any such claim as repugnant to the essential teaching of Tone and Davis….My Lords, I think this is an important thing to recognise at the moment.
In all this we shall need the co-operation and the understanding of the Republic. I believe that it is all the more important, therefore, to demonstrate both good will and also determination in the political sphere. There are people, more people in England, who are taking the view that we ought just to get out. They say, "We have got out from other parts of the world; why do we not do so if we appear no longer to be wanted?" Even if this were true, it is not, in my view, practical politics. It would, in fact, be a recipe for civil war. It would mean saying."Let there be a showdown. Let the Protestant majority in the North, with guns in their hands, face those who seek a united Ireland."My Lords, the price in lives and suffering would be of such a kind that I believe it would be the greatest blot in British history with regard to Ireland; and, on the whole, I regard British history with regard to Ireland as the least satisfactory part of our history.
I would end by saying this. The Government, I am sure, will listen—and they must listen—as much as possible to those people who are still showing the courage of moderation. I would, in particular, draw the attention of your Lordships to the actions of the trade unions and the Northern Ireland Labour Party—I am not seeking to make any Party political point in this matter. They have shown courage and moderation. In many of the factories in Northern Ireland (not all; not, unfortunately, in Harland and Wolff) they have succeeded in keeping the extremes of partisanship and sectarianism out of their lives. They have a crucial part to play. Alas! they are, politically, only a small force, but I think that their judgment is good. The other thing that I should like to say at the end of my speech is that, however strong our feelings may be, however much our distaste, 22 however much our wish not to be involved in this issue, we have all the time to extend our sympathy to the people of Northern Ireland. There are many people, completely innocent, who are facing anxieties and a future about which, when we think about it, we instinctively say, "Thank goodness this does not affect us!" Therefore, one massage which 1 think should go out from our debate is a message of sympathy to those in Northern Ireland.
§ 3.36 p.m.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, like the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, I am acutely aware that whatever we say on this critical subject should be said with deliberation and with a real sense of responsibility. But equally, my Lords, it is surely the duty of all of us, and indeed of all our Parties, at least to formulate a view and, so far as we can, to put forward constructive proposals. After 50 years in which it has been more or less dormant, the Irish question has once more come back to plague us. The sins of the fathers are visited upon us, in this case unto at least the 12th generation, which may he a little hard but is nevertheless the case.
It is no good just saying that it is the special fault of someone or other, from Cromwell to Carson. The real reason for the present situation is, as always, fear—fear on both sides, of course. On the one hand that of people who are apprehensive lest they be exploited by a big and self-confident neighbour; and on the other that of those whose ancestors planted the country in about 1620 and whose atavistic nightmare, so to speak, is that, like the French "colons" in Algeria, they will one day be sent back whence they came. Anyhow, my Lords, whatever is responsible for the continuing tension in Northern Ireland, it is not religion. Catholics and Protestants live together perfectly happily in Southern Ireland as, indeed, they do in England. In other words, if it were not for ancient and subconscious fears, no gunmen would have a chance. They would be gradually hunted down and suppressed as armed gangsters, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, rightly termed them; and no doubt eventually they will be. It is only because at the moment they can, like all guerrillas, swim as fishes in the popular waters of the North—to use the dramatic 23 phrase of Mao Tse Tung—that they are able to have the success that they have had.
Obviously, the best way to cope with such a situation is the way which has been attempted during the last few years; namely, that of removing all the grievances, the very real grievances, of the minority in Ulster, so as to rid them of any sensation that they are being exploited by the majority, the descendants of the settlers of 350 years ago. Considerable progress has undoubtedly been made in this direction, especially, I think, under the wise direction of the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill of the Maine. I do not see the noble Lord in his place, but I should like to pay him that tribute.
Unfortunately, if you attempt to do this beyond a certain point, you raise the corresponding fear of the Ulster majority that they will one day be merged as a minority in a much greater whole when, as they think—no doubt quite wrongly—they may themselves be reduced to the status of a subject race, or even, one day, pushed into the sea. So we have, if we can, to eliminate, or at any rate greatly abate, the one fear and the other fear. As I personally see it, that really can be done only by us; that is to say, by Westminster. An umpire of sorts is essential, and Stormont clearly cannot fill that role. I shall have a few words to say a little later on about what we might still do in this direction, or insist that the Government of Northern Ireland might do.
After all, what are the alternatives? We might, on the one hand, accept the thesis of Mr. Enoch Powell, stark and logical as ever and possessing, as usual, from his point of view the additional advantage of being the exact opposite of the policy of his leader, Mr. Edward Heath. It would involve, as we know, declaring that a part of the United Kingdom was the victim of an armed attack, connived at and indeed actively encouraged (so he says) by a neighbouring Power and that all our available resources should now be devoted to repelling it. To be successful, this policy would therefore clearly require the declaration of martial law in the Province. It would certainly mean fortifying and even, I have no doubt, mining the frontier. It would undoubtedly mean reactivating and indeed greatly enlarging the "B" Specials. And 24 it would probably mean the administration of Ulster by Westminster as well. Naturally, it would in addition involve breaking off all relations with Dublin.
To be quite logical, Mr. Powell, if he really maintains that we are the victim of an "armed attack", ought to be prepared so to notify our partners in the Atlantic Alliance, for as we know an armed attack on any one member of the Alliance is regarded under the Treaty as an armed attack on all. Therefore we ought to invoke their aid under the Treaty; for example, by joining in a blockade of the Republic of Ireland in order, as the Treaty says, to maintain and restore security in the area. The effect on Mr. Nixon during an election year of such a move would be fairly predictable. But that would certainly not disturb Mr. Powell, who prides himself on absolute consistency and has therefore naturally taken all the possible consequences of his proposed policy into full account.
But we have only to spell out the probable implications of such a policy to demonstrate that, however logical Mr. Powell may himself believe it to be, it would never be accepted, still less applied, by any responsible British Government. On the other hand there is an alternative extreme policy which has just been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, a policy which I fear might one day be at least a temptation. It would consist in saying, "Well, we have really done our best, but the Irish are incorrigible. Anyway it is their quarrel, not ours. If they insist, they must fight it out among themselves. The United Nations will have to take on the task of reconciliation, as in Kashmir or the Middle East. Our own soldiers are no longer going just to sit there as targets for snipers, because if that goes on, they will have after a time to stop pretending to be neutral and back up one side in a big way, which would really bring us back to Mr. Powell's policy and we don't want that. Of course, if the North seem to be getting the worst of it, we can always send in arms and supplies" That would he the general argument.
What would be the likely consequences of such a policy? A civil war of some kind could hardly be avoided. True, it might conceivably result in a settlement, leaving a reduced Ulster inhabited solely 25 by Protestants, who might then—who knows?—do some kind of deal with Dublin. In any case, it would be quite unlikely to result in the North's occupying the South or even part of it. Eventually it would stop. Perhaps it would not be so long or so extensive as might be feared. Both sides in any case would be under tremendous pressure to agree to a settlement. But the worst of civil war is that its consequences, apart from being horrible in themselves, would be quite unpredictable, even in an island. For instance foreign intervention on one side or the other might have dangerous international complications. Even here in Westminster the resulting stresses and strains might have very unfortunate results. They have had such results before. If things went badly for the North, it would be very difficult for us to maintain neutrality. If they went badly for the South, the effect in the United States can well be imagined. It can hardly, therefore, be supposed that any Government in Westminster would consciously do anything to provoke such a situation.
Does this mean that, as in 1914, the Ulster tail is now in a position to wag the British dog? Perhaps. But if we do not want this to happen, then we must somehow, and in spite of everything, go further than we have gone already in reassuring minority sentiment in the North. in the hope that once the minority believe that we are really in earnest they will stop harbouring the I. R. A., or rather the Provisional I. R. A.; and possibly, if it became quite clear that by harbouring these characters they would provoke one or other of the extreme policies to which I have referred, or some variant of them, this might in itself help to clear up the situation.
What further steps could we now take to reassure the minority? We must hope that nothing leading in this direction must be excluded from the agenda of the coming tripartite meeting of the three Prime Ministers, on which we all recognise so much depends. The Liberal Party have various proposals to make under this heading which I should now like to resume very briefly.
One thing the Government could and we as Liberals think ought to do is to put an end—gradually, if you like, but anyhow put an end—to internment. I heard what the noble Lord, Lord Car- 26 rington, said. I recognise the dreadful decision that confronted us and the Army in Northern Ireland. But I believe myself, and I think my Party certainly believes that on the whole, very largely for the reasons given by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, it was a mistake. And it is a mistake which should be gradually corrected. It has probably made things worse; it has certainly not made them any better. So it certainly should now, by one means or another, be ended. In addition, as your Lordships will recognise, it is difficult to reconcile with our obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights. Nobody should henceforth be held, unless there is evidence against him which can be produced in a court of law. This may be a hard saying but it is surely one worthy of belief.
A second step we think should be taken is insistence on further measures by the Government of Northern Ireland to bring Catholics and members of other minorities into the governmental machine, not only by offering them places in one or two committees, where they do not exercise very much power, but also by getting them into positions of real authority. Here I am advised that the Swiss system might offer some useful parallels, which might possibly be examined by the Government in this connection and even during the meeting of the three Prime Ministers which will shortly take place.
A third measure would be some announcement that Her Majesty's Government were going to insist on electoral reform in Northern Ireland, embodying the principle of proportional representation. We do not say this because we have for so long proposed that the electoral system in this country should be so revised but because we believe that it is only so that we shall ever arrive at proper representation for the Catholic minority, and indeed for other minorities in Northern Ireland, and thus get away from the extremes of polarisation to which the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, drew attention and which have had such terrible results. It was with this need in mind that a Liberal Prime Minister provided for proportional representation to be written into the Constitution of Northern Ireland, under which it was successfully applied for seven years. On this morning's radio—and in the absence of newspapers I cannot say with certainty for I 27 only heard it with half an ear—I heard something which led me to suppose that the Government of Northern Ireland was at least toying with both of the last two proposals that I have made. If so, it only remains for the meeting of Prime Ministers to arrange for the end of internment also.
More generally, we believe, as has been said this afternoon, that the unification of all Ireland is the eventual goal, but only on one condition; namely, that it is the result of genuine consent. This means that there must be no attempt by Britain to force Northern Ireland, or at any rate the Protestant majority in Northern Ireland, into some union against its will; but clearly we should place no obstacle in the way of reunification if the majority of people in Northern Ireland should desire it. It would surely be perfectly in harmony with these aims to go back to the old All-Ireland Council, embodied in the 1920 Government of Ireland Act, without in any way implying political concessions or constitutional adjustments on either side. I hope that that might also be looked into.
Finally, my Lords, we must all hope that if and when the Republic of Ireland joins the European Economic Community, common membership of one body will in the long run exert a benevolent influence on an ancient quarrel. No doubt in this connection consideration will be given to Mr. Thorpe's recent suggestion that we might now work towards some form of common citizenship, or, anyhow, some variant of this idea. After all, it is not absurd to compare this feud with that of the Flamands and the Walloons, or the Italians and the Tyrolese, both of which have been to some extent moderated since the development of some European consciousness, however embryonic, in the last ten or twenty years. It is true that none of us can be very hopeful of any early settlement of the Irish question; but if it is to be settled at all, it can be only by the exercise of patience and moderation, coupled with a continued insistence by this country on the complete abolition of minority status in the whole of Ulster. This will be a long and stony road; but, as we think, all others lead straight to the cliff.
§ 3.53 p.m.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTER- BURY
My Lords, I share what I believe is the general view, that it was right for your Lordships' House to be recalled for this debate, and there seems already to be considerable hope that the debate will demonstrate one thing; namely, the immense desire that Ireland should not become a matter of conflict between the political Parties in this country. The situation is tragic enough, and I believe that we are all anxious to do the utmost we can to avoid the additional tragedy of acute political conflict over Northern Ireland in this country. But is it really necessary that there should be political conflict or even thought of it? Is there not considerable agreement in a policy that might he described as a triad of three co-equal propositions? First. that Northern Ireland remains a part of the United Kingdom; secondly, that considerable reforms should be made concerning the role of minorities in Northern Ireland—and some of the reforms are sadly overdue; and, thirdly, that terrible violence must be made to cease. I should be very surprised if at the end of your Lordships' debate there were not pretty general assent to the necessity for accepting those three propositions, all forming part of a single policy: and I believe that all citizens can rightly rally behind a policy on those lines.
Concerning internment, of course it utterly offends my own liberal instincts. Yet I believe that internment was unavoidable. 'When there is in a country an organisation, existing partly in that country and partly elsewhere, persisting, and boasting that it persists, in killing soldiers and civilians, it is hard to see what alternative there could be—though I share the general hope that,as soon as many be, internment may cease. It goes without saying that I share in the feeling of being not only moved, but very moved indeed, in admiration for the soldiers in the role which they are bearing.
I want now, my Lords, to say a few words about some factors which make for hope, and those factors have to do with religion. It is sometimes assumed that because the words "Catholic" and "Protestant" are so often used in this context the conflict is about religion. I believe the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, was right in saying that it is not really 29 a conflict about religion. It is about religion when religion gets entangled with a great many other things as well: because we have to distinguish between what I would call real religion, on the one hand, and bigotry, on the other. I would briefly put the distinction thus. Real religion is a condition of faith. however great the adversities to faith may be; a condition of faith which results in compassion, humility and other lovely qualities. Bigotry, on the other hand, is religion, which may be ardent and sincere, entangled with other things, and particularly with fear for the security of one's own group, whether religious, social or political; and, further, the entanglement with fear about those things easily goes with the banging of the drums and historical memories, so that people can actually be living as if Oliver Cromwell, William of Orange and Guy Fawkes were their contemporaries with whom they were in daily conversation.
This tragic entanglement of religion with bigotry is no monopoly of Ireland in human history. It has existed considerably in other parts of the world. It has existed at different times and in different degrees in our own country. But the striking phenomenon of our time is the way in which the wave of recovery of real religion, in the spirit of fellowship and brotherhood, is undermining the old forces of bigotry. Recently, one small symbol of it happened in this country when an Archbishop of Canterbury was welcomed into the pulpit of Westminster Cathedral, and a Cardinal Archbishop was welcomed into the pulpit of St. Paul's. That would not have happened decades or so ago. And there are parts of Ireland where that kind of thing is already beginning to happen.
Now, to-day in Ireland, alongside the horrible things of which we hear daily on the radio and see on television, there are things of a different sort happening. There are places in Northern Ireland where Protestants and Catholics are joining quietly in one another's churches, praying together for reconciliation. There are Catholic priests and Protestant ministers taking part in such proceedings. It might not help them if I were to give names and places at this time; but this activity goes on quietly. Such things do happen. Much publicity was given to the strong condemnation of violence made by Cardinal Conway and his col- 30 leagues of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Less publicity was given to the strong plea by my fellow Anglican Primate, the Archbishop of Armagh, and his colleagues urging Protestants not to condemn Catholics as such for the horrible violence that is taking place.
Let me mention an instance of a hopeful trend which moved me more than anything else. The question of schools in Northern Ireland is bound to have a deep place in any settlement of a constructive kind. My illustration is not exactly about schools, but is about something in a similar context. The North of Ireland Ecumenical Youth Service arranges summer camps where boys from different schools, Protestant and Catholic, spend several weeks together. They play together, discuss together, and plan acts of social service together. Some such camps have been held in Northern Ireland even during these months of horrible tension. How much better, indeed, for boys and girls to grow up learning to enjoy the friendship of boys and girls of the other sort, rather than learning to take part in marches and counter-marches and to live and think in the seventeenth century! If developments of that kind were to grow, is it too much to hope that there might be a generation of boys and girls who know the word "orange" only as the name of a delectable fruit which no part of the British Isles is capable of producing?
I mention these signs that forces of hope in the name of religion are present in Ireland because things which are small in one decade often become very much larger in the next, and if only there can be a diminution of the present terrible crescendo of violence and political impasse these forces of moderation in the sphere of religion and elsewhere may have a chance of growing. So, my Lords, I am sure that Christian people everywhere at this time pray fervently that the coming discussions of the Prime Ministers will have some success, and that there may be a chance at once for the ending of loathsome violence and for a real change in the role of minorities in Northern Ireland.
§ 4.3 p.m.
§ LORD ORR-EWING
My Lords, it is an honour to follow the most reverend 31 Primate, and I think that many of your Lordships appreciate how difficult it must be for him to justify internment. It is encouraging that he, like the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, sees that it would not be possible in present circumstances to release the I. R. A. terrorists back into the life of Ulster. It is also most encouraging to hear the messages of hope and to hear the examples, few of which receive any public acclaim in our newspapers and mass media.
It is my task to try to cover three short points in this debate, and as there are many speakers to come I will be as succinct as possible. I should like to draw attention to the type of revolution, or warfare, which now exists in Ulster and the part which is played by the mass media. Secondly, I should like to suggest what might be done to make the Ulster border a little more secure and a little less open. Thirdly. I should like to point out to Eire what enormous advantages they as a State enjoy from this country and the very close associations which they have with it and how some of these advantages must be put at risk if they do not control the I. R. A., which are equipped, trained and sheltered in the State of Eire.
I have no doubt that this is a training ground for urban guerrillas. All sorts of constitutional reasons have been put forward, and as these are nullified they continue their tolls. They tested the ground in Paris; and any noble Lord who has read the history of that Revolution will know the fantastic results and the disorder which were achieved by a small number of determined young people. They tested the ground in Ulster in 1969 when German and French revolutionary students were present, passing across their Continental experience. In the meantime, they have tested the ground in various United States cities and campuses, which we have read about, and they are now testing it in Ulster. If they succeed in totally disrupting and ruining the political and economic life in Ulster, let us make no mistake: they will start in the big cities of this country. We shall see the same outbreaks in cities such as Glasgow, London and elsewhere.
This is a challenge which has to be met and overcome. I believe that much of the inspiration comes from Moscow, 32 but it is certainly true to say that in both Algeria and Cuba training techniques are evolved and exported to help this sort of urban guerrilla. I see that my right honourable friend who opened the debate is still present. I wonder whether we ought to set up a school to teach our Army, Air Force and Navy anti-urban guerrilla tactics. just as there was a School of Land/Sea Warfare, a Bomber Command School and a Fighter Command School, so that they could be taught the latest techniques. I think this is a challenge to democracy which may go on for decades and our Armed Forces are bound to be involved in this. They should discuss, deliberate and evolve the very best techniques for dealing with these very difficult cases of urban guerrillas.
I think it is sad that our communications media, and particularly the television, pay such close regard to the statements put out by avowed terrorists, the I. R. A. Modern warfare, as we have seen in Vietnam, is fought nightly on television and the television media have a tremendous obligation to weigh carefully the influence they are exerting and to consider whether the statements they put out have any foundation of truth at all. Mr. Cahill has understandably said that this is a war; and in a war you seek to discredit your enemies and to show that the police are not as soundly based as perhaps might be wished. You seek to discredit the Army, the forces of law and order and the moderates. Therefore I hope that, just as a newspaper would examine a report very carefully to see whether it was accurate, we shall have a more careful examination by the television authorities before they broadcast statements which we know, in some cases, to be utterly and absolutely untrue. I would only say—and here I am reiterating what other speakers have already said—that this television publicity has thrown tremendous credit on our young troops and their officers. The tolerance and forbearance that they have shown in the face of filthy tactics, as my right honourable friend said, not just by grown-up men but by women and children, and the abuse that they have taken without flinching has been wholly admirable; and the young officers appearing on the television seem to have done a wonderful job in putting the policy over clearly. I only wish that on television I and 33 other noble Lords were as good as these young officers. The way in which they have conducted themselves is wholly to their credit. This is a new challenge to the moral fibre in Ulster at the moment. A host of organisations are loosely connected with it, some of them are Marxists, some Maoists, some anarchists, some Trotskyists, some hooligans; some are yippies, some are hippies and some are so-called "students". They use all sorts of vehicles for their propaganda and for their results. Sometimes these are political vehicles, sometimes they are drugs, sometimes they aim to undermine the complete morality of a civilised society. The target is democracy, and Ulster is one of the training and trial grounds for the urban guerrillas.
My second point concerns the security of the Border. I know that this is a difficult matter. It has been said that the land border is some 250 miles long. European nations have long learned to control much longer borders than that without tying down an immense proportion of their Regular Army. The Austrian land border is 1,150 miles long. They have reasonably policed this border for centuries. The Belgian land border is 600 miles long. The Swiss land border—not all of it mountainous, particularly the part facing the North, towards Germany—is 740 miles long. Why do our Army think that it is utterly impossible to make the Border between Ulster and Eire rather more secure than it is now when it is only 250 miles long? I know that there are controlled roads, but there are also uncontrolled roads. Surely something can be done to crater these uncontrolled roads? I know that it may be inconvenient for people living on both sides of the Border, but I am sure noble Lords will agree that the matter is too serious to consider the convenience of people. When innocent people and soldiers are being murdered daily some inconvenience would readily be accepted by right-minded citizens on both sides of the Border. As an example, I believe that cars can go across the Border still not thoroughly controlled, but everyone who crosses a border in Europe has to produce the carte verte—the green card—or it is not allowed into the country. Why is it impossible to control in that manner every vehicle crossing into or out of Eire? It seems to me to be a fantastic state of affairs when a policeman can be kid 34 napped in Ulster, taken across the Border, and then sent back again without anyone spotting the fact that that policeman is a prisoner. I therefore ask my noble friend to look at this matter to see whether it is possible to control the Border. I am not pretending that it would be 100 per cent. control, but to make life more difficult for the terrorist would be wholly to the advantage of the wellbeing of Ulster and, incidentally, in the long run, of Eire as well. So my second point is security of the Border. I hope that something can be done with regard to that.
Thirdly, I turn to the advantages which the Irish Republican citizens now enjoy and which must be at risk if they cannot bring these terrorists under some form of control. The population of Eire is 2. 8 million; the population of Ulster is 1. 5 million. It is difficult to get an accurate figure of the number of Irish citizens in this country, but at the last General Election there were 1. 1 million registered Irish voters. I would hazard an estimate that between 50,000 and 100,000 Eire citizens travel to and from our country each year. I am the first to acknowledge something to which every one of your Lordships who has been in hospital will bear witness; namely, the great help that we get from Irish nurses who work in our hospitals and our Health Service. I know that the civil engineering contractors in our building industry get tremendous help from Irish labourers, too. But can we go on for ever allowing them these special facilities to enter and leave this country while all the time they are harbouring within their midst, and not seeking to control, these terrorists?
I have listed some of the advantages which now exist to Eire. That State enjoys all the benefits of a free trade area with the United Kingdom. That State has a market for two-thirds of its produce in the United Kingdom. They receive subsidies from the United Kingdom Exchequer for the beef that they raise. They receive backing for their currency in the United Kingdom. They have enjoyed United Kingdom support in the negotiations for E. E. C. entry, and in very crucial issues such as fishery limits. They reap enormous advantages from United Kingdom investment in their country. With all these advantages, with the number of Irish citizens resident here, with freedom to 35 travel backwards and forwards—one has to confess that many of them are self-employed and do not contribute to our welfare services, and many draw supplementary benefits when they are temporarily out of work—they should see every possible advantage and, surely, have every possible interest in stopping the terrorism which they are feeding across from their country into Ulster. The Irish Republic at the moment is a base of enemy I. R. A. units which operate against part of the United Kingdom. They are a source of gelignite which is used to damage property in the United Kingdom; they provide a retreat for those who commit every kind of crime against United Kingdom citizens, including the murder of our soldiers and of innocent persons. It is a place where those involved in criminal acts in the United Kingdom are sometimes acquitted by their courts.
I am sure your Lordships will agree that so far this debate has been conducted in a very moderate atmosphere. I am sure that this is healthy in order to try to heal the wounds. Perhaps one thing we could try to do is to arouse the moderates to take action. They can no longer sit back; they must do something to stop this form of terrorism. I thought it was appropriate to quote Edmund Burke in this context when he said in 1770:When bad men combine, the good must associate, else they will fall one by one.Surely this is true both in Ulster and in Eire. Very sinister forces are in action. Let people of character and morality combine to defeat the new challenge to democracy and this challenge to our way of life.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just spoken was clearly speaking with deep sincerity, and I am sure that he will give me credit for the same quality. I regarded his speech as utterly detestable. May I repeat that word—detestable. I thought it showed a degree of prejudice against the people of Southern Ireland which is astonishing in a Member of this House. The idea that at this time of the day the Government should actually start imposing sanctions on Southern Ireland in the name of Edmund Burke, who was, after all, a Southern Irish immigrant, seems a 36 fantasy past endurance. I am not accepting his account of the facts that he has given us, but rather than become involved with the noble Lord, whose sincerity is at least as deep as mine, I should like to have those words put on record when his speech is studied, because otherwise people might imagine that the House was inclined to agree with him and treat him as an authority on the subject. I am afraid that I cannot pretend to do that.
I realise that there are many speakers in this debate and I must try to be fairly brief, although I have been involved in what is in this country still called the "Irish question" for so many years. I must say yet once more, and certainly, as the House will see in a moment, in no vainglorious spirit, that this Parliament, our people here, our Governments, carry a grave responsibility for what has happened in Northern Ireland in the past fifty years. It seems almost incredible that it is really only yesterday that we got round to the question of discrimination in Northern Ireland and began to tackle it, both in the time of the last Government and now in the time of our present rulers.
The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, if I understood him correctly (and I did not take down his words), placed the whole responsibility for what is happening now in Northern Ireland on the I. R. A.—not the whole, no; a large responsibility. And if it was only "a large responsibility", then I entirely agree with him in talking of a large and immediate responsibility. I can join with him in the utmost condemnation of the horrible deeds of the I. R. A. and in that way echo, as he has done, the words of Cardinal Conway. But the noble Lord rightly laid it down that there could be no purely military solution to this problem. It was perhaps rather inevitable that the noble Lord, a distinguished Minister of Defence, concentrated, as he himself said he was bound to, on the military side. But if we are going to try to find a political solution we must look very close at home and ask ourselves why Northern Ireland finds itself where it is to-day.
Two years ago, in the relatively happy days of the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill of the Maine, to whom I pay here once again my tribute—I am sorry that for some reason he is not with us to-day—I argued in the columns of The Times, following 37 the initiative of the Northern Ireland Labour Party, that the only solution for the problems of Northern Ireland was a coalition Government. Last year, a year later, in July in this House I pressed the same point again. I submitted to the House then that it was not just a question of trying to secure minimum rights for the individual on paper; that you could never have a healthy community in Northern Ireland while, of the two large groups, one was permanently out of power; one was always the dominating force and the other was always the dominated. Those ideas of mine were treated as, to say the least, premature—was told that they were "not on"; that to anyone who knew Northern Ireland a Coalition was absurd, or words to that effect—but to-day the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, without actually embracing the idea of a Coalition, agreed that there was a very great problem because of this minority permanently out of power. I hope I shall not be saying,"I told you so" if I point out that this solution had probably occurred to many people a long time ago, but it has at last been recognised by our leaders in this country, and they are obviously bringing their minds to bear on it fully.
Can anyone doubt to-day that what one can call broadly a Coalition—a Government, in other words, in which a minority were represented as well as the majority—must be established if Stormont is going to survive? But is it now, to-day, still feasible? The situation has become very much more difficult from various points of view, some of them touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, than it was two years ago. Two years ago, before the terrible events of August of that year, when dreadful things were done by all sorts of people to each other but in particular large numbers of Catholic houses were destroyed. the Catholics, as is well known, and as the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill, would testify if he were here, had hardly any guns. The I. R. A. were a negligible force. That is two years ago. I hope I am not unduly offensive to my predecessor. If I have been, I apologise for any personal tone, but I hope he will at least study this aspect of the matter. Two years ago the I. R. A. hardly counted as a force. Now, of course, they have behind them the sympathies—not the active co-operation but the sympathies— 38 of the vast majority of Catholics in the working-class areas. That is the point so far missing from this debate which we must continually bear in mind.
Would Catholics to-day accept positions if they were offered them? I will come to the other aspects in a moment, but if Catholics were offered positions in a Coalition, would they accept them? It would be asking a good deal of them. They would, after all, be expected, rightly and properly expected, to bear their share of maintaining law and order. It would be an extremely difficult task for them to face up to their Catholic constituents who by now have been thoroughly alienated from the British cause. I repeat that, whether they will or they will not—and in my opinion a very big effort must be made to persuade them to join such a Coalition—unless they do join such a Coalition I cannot see how Stormont can survive.
There are those, people of repute and knowledge, and there arc quite a lot of them, who conclude that Stormont is finished. I do not think anyone is going to accuse the Sunday Times of being a Left-wing paper or a journal infected with Irish nationalism. It is more likely that noble Lords will complain that they did not see it last Sunday, when indeed it was difficult to see. But I saw an early edition and this, among many other things, was said in the Sunday Times—and I take it that there is a copy in the Library. This is not some rabid Irishman; this is the Sunday Times. It said:The British Government is acting as the tool of a discredited Stormont Administration "—I do not know whether this early copy reached the noble Lord the Minister, but this is what they said. Then:The present Northern Ireland State has no future. The problem of the Ulster Protestants was badly answered in 1921 and a new answer must be found in 1971.So spoke the Sunday Times three days ago.
My Lords, it may come to direct rule. My own view is that if the Government continue as now, committing no great sins, except internment (which I shall say a word about in a moment), of commission, but not doing anything very active, then it will come to direct rule, and come to it before we are all very much older. Nevertheless, I feel it a 39 duty to make one last effort—I believe it is a duty of all of us—to make Stormont viable before the momentous step is taken of bringing it to an end. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, referred to the emergence of the I. R. A. in the last two years and particularly in the last year. One has to say that they have a large measure of sympathy from the Catholic working classes. I think that if the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, came round the Catholic ghettoes, as people sometimes call them, and asked how many of them had heard of Karl Marx, he would get a disappointing answer. In other words, the idea that they are filled with revolutionary notions is very far from the reality.
§ LORD ORR-EWING
My Lords, would not the noble Earl agree that the I. R. A. would agree themselves to be a Marxist-based organisation—not the Provisionals, but the I. R. A.?
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, one element owes a great deal to Marx—as the noble Lord says, not the Provisionals. But if you take the masses now who present the special problems we all have to face this afternoon, the Catholic masses, they certainly owe nothing to Marx. They are nearly all devout Catholics. The noble Lord may or may not be a Catholic; one cannot tell Catholics by their appearance, curiously enough. But if he is he will know that one cannot be much of a Marxist and go to Mass regularly.
In speaking of the troops, I must be careful. I am sure that no other troops in the world would have behaved better than our troops. I am quite ready to believe that no other troops would have behaved as well. I do not know that I can prove that, but I am quite ready to believe it. On the other hand, one has to face the fact that the troops now are regarded by the Catholic masses as the instrument of their hereditary oppressors, the Protestants. That is how they have come to be regarded. One can say, "Ah well, the I. R. A. have done all that ". The I. R. A. would have to be very cunning to do all that, without any mistakes being made by Stormont, or the British Government or anybody else.
I was in Northern Ireland about a month ago and I spoke with two ex- 40 detainees. I may say that they were not the kind of extreme cases that have been brought up in connection with the inquiry which may or may not get under way, but they were both (and possibly that was why I was introduced to them) British ex-Servicemen: they had both been right through the last war, one in the British Army and the other in the Royal Navy. So it is no good saying that these people are all gunmen or all Marxists. They were perfectly normal working-class people who had been arrested and held and knocked about. They were not extreme cases, but they were knocked about a bit for a few days and were then released without any charge of any kind being brought against them. Those are two cases that I have actually seen for myself. So if one wants to know what causes the feeling in the Catholic working-class areas I would say it is the fact that this experience can be multiplied many times over. May I just add that in the Ballymurphy estate the unemployment figure is 46 per cent.; yet there is a large factory close to the estate which, I am sorry to say, employs very few Catholics. Those are the actual physical realities of the situation, which are much closer to the minds of these people than the antics of Karl Marx or Mao or any such illustrious figures.
I have already condemned the I. R. A., and I cannot condemn them too often. Let there be no possible mistake about that. But in order that there should not be any doubt about my personal opinion I record my view that internment has proved, as it was bound to prove, a tragic blunder. I will not quote the Sunday Times again, but if anybody wants to read what the Sunday Times has to say, no doubt he will be able to find it in the Library. I will quote instead my own Party leader, Mr. Harold Wilson, who referred to anarbitrary internment policy, deliberately, selectively and provocatively aimed at one section of opinion.That was the view expressed on behalf of the Labour Party by Mr. Harold Wilson; and he went on to say that anyone who had a look at some of the Protestant ultras on television would be surprised that they had not been interned along with the others. At any rate, I am giving my own opinion, and we must all throw our minds into the common pool. I believe that here I am following the 41 thinking of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, but at any rate this is my opinion: that until the policy of internment is largely or wholly undone there will be no question of securing Catholic co-operation in Northern Ireland. That is how I assess the actual situation, whatever speeches, eloquent or otherwise, are made here or elsewhere.
Can we expect Catholics to join a Coalition Government? I have expressed my opinion that we can look to them. There are some very brave men among the Catholic community. It will be a hard job, sharing the keeping of law and order there for a long time to come, but I think that it would be a much easier job if the police were actually taken away from Stormont and placed under the direct control of Westminster. However, this is another argument, and I am not pressing it this afternoon. At the risk of repeating myself, I would say that I am sure that unless a new and dramatic step is made to involve the Catholic minority in the Government of Northern Ireland, not in various subordinate positions but on a good level in the Government, then Stormont has well and truly "had it", and direct rule will be the only thing for Ulster. Of that I am absolutely as sure as I am of my own existence. Can one imagine Mr. Faulkner and his colleagues—
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD HAILSHAM OF ST. MARYLEBONE)
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl for one moment? He said that lie thought it would be better for the police to be taken away from Stormont and put under the direct control of Westminster. I am wondering whether he is not aware that the police in Northern Ireland are, or were in March,1970, placed under a police authority which was representative, or intended to be representative, of all sections of the community?
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, curiously enough, I am aware of that rather elementary point. Perhaps I may proceed with my argument.
Can one imagine Mr. Faulkner and his colleagues agreeing at long last to invite Catholics into their Cabinet after warding off this collaboration for so many years? I talked recently in Stormont to an enlightened Minister in Mr. Faulkner's Government. I had better not name him, 42 because it might not help his political career, and I hope that one day he may be in a still more important position than he is to-day. He understood perfectly the sort of argument that I have placed before your Lordships this afternoon, and he did not seem to have any personal objection to the suggested solution. I do not think he would at all mind sitting down with Catholics. I had better not identify him further, but if I were to do so I think your Lordships would understand why. He has had plenty of contact with Catholics at various stages of his life, but what he seemed to doubt was whether Protestant leaders, if they formed such a Government, would not soon be repudiated by their own followers. After all, we have to remember that these same Unionists and Orangemen got rid of the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill of the Maine, and Lord Chichester-Clark. So they are not very easy customers to deal with, and undoubtedly that would be a difficult issue.
If I am right, and if that is the real difficulty, Stormont cannot save itself by its own exertions. It is likely that Mr. Faulkner may have these ideas, but it is doubtful whether he would be able, on his own, to give effect to them, in view of the state of opinion in Protestant Ulster at the present time. May I now go on with this submission? Britain, which carries so heavy a responsibility for so much that has gone wrong in Northern Ireland, must now step in firmly and make it plain to the Unionists and the Orangemen, the rank and file, that there is only one alternative to Catholic involvement in the Government—in other words, direct rule—and that they must choose between accepting a Coalition and seeing the establishment of direct rule.
I feel much sympathy with many other things said by Mr. Wilson in the speech from which I have already quoted, in particular with his desire to strengthen Westminster's influence in the way he suggested, which could be discussed at some other time. There is a great deal to be said for the appointment of a Minister of State for Northern Ireland Affairs, of Cabinet rank, but the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, doubted whether that would work well and I am certainly not going to the stake for that particular method of giving effect to Westminster's influence. I vehemently support Mr. Wilson's 43 demand for banning the private holding of firearms in Northern Ireland. What a great job was done by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt (who I am so pleased is to follow me to-day), in bringing these "B" Specials to an end, though I am afraid they left a large number of guns behind them! In one way or another the same people reappeared with a great many guns, and I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, would have any more practical ideas than I have of the way in which one could control the number of guns held, legally or illegally, in Northern Ireland.
I am drawing to the end of my speech, my Lords, and I have only time now to support, just as vehemently, Mr. Wilson's call for an all-Ireland Council as a consultative body to debate all matters of common concern to Ireland, North and South. I know from what the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has said this afternoon, and from what he has said to me on other occasions, that he is convinced that we in Britain need the full co-operation of the Government and people of the Irish Republic; and now is the time to seek it. I am absolutely behind him there. May I add one brief word of tribute to Mr. Lynch, who has no easy time of it. as all politicians present will be aware? I will only say that Mr. Lynch is typical of the Irish character at its best in real life. He has nothing in common with the stage Irishman except his charm, and so long as we do not expect too much too quickly I think we can pin great hopes on the coming talks between Mr. Lynch and Mr. Heath and Mr. Faulkner.
My Lords, horrible things have happened in Northern Ireland since we last debated these matters, but in the sombre sky there are one or two gleams of light. There is a far greater awareness. If I may say so, and it may sound a little patronising, there were signs in the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, of things being recognised which perhaps would not have been recognised from the Conservative Benches a short time ago. There is a far deeper awareness in this country to-day than there was a few years ago of the ultimate realities of the situation. There is the opportunity now—it could be a fleeting opportunity—of 44 a new start for the Province. The religious leaders (we all followed with the closest interest what the most reverend Primate said) are at last, after past controversies that do not do them very great credit, groping towards a genuine fraternity; and so are many others of different persuasions who never bestirred themselves in that direction before. The crucial attitudes—I say this in all humility, but with deep feeling—and above all the crucial decisions must be formed and carried out from here, from Britain, where this terrible responsibility lies, the basic responsibility for the ghastly situation in the North of Ireland to-day. Let us hope and pray that the British Government will be imbued with a new enlightenment, will act with fresh hope and faith and charity, and will act bravely without a moment's delay.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ LORD HUNT
My Lords, the situation in Northern Ireland is so grave that I found it comforting as I listened to some of the earlier speakers that they should have found some gleams of hope. I felt somewhat buoyed up until I listened to the earlier part of the speech of my noble friend Lord Longford and then I began to feel depressed, and I am grateful to him for ending on a note of faith and hope. In thinking about what I could contribute to your Lordships' debate this afternoon I have found it helpful, not to look back over the long and troubled history of Northern Ireland, but to look back a little way. I recollect the last time I spoke to your Lordships in a debate on Northern Ireland. It was towards the end of 1969 during the passage of the Bill which brought about the Ulster Defence Regiment. Because the Secretary of State for Defence has mentioned this force, I should like to touch on this strictly practical point which gave me a strand of hope to hold on to and to look for more.
I recollect that I sounded a note of pessimism in that debate on grounds of the title of the regiment. I was afraid that this title could give offence to Catholics and deter them from joining this local part-time force whose particular value would be not only that its members had detailed local knowledge, as indeed had their predecessors the "B" Specials; not only that, unlike the "B" Specials, it would become a part of the British Army, 45 under the control of the Ministry of Defence in Westminster, but that it would for those very reasons be attractive to Catholics. I mention this now because I was wrong in my fears and doubts. I think this regiment provides one of the few hopeful and successful, solid signs on the sombre landscape in the Province. Its recruitment, I am told, is still going on and is going up apace, and, despite the pressures to resign, Catholic members still stand at over 13 per cent. of the membership. I believe that in terms simply of the security situation some hope can justifiably be placed in the decision to increase the establishment and in the policy of the wider deployment of these public-spirited citizen soldiers under their able commander Brigadier Ormerod in the areas where they live. It chanced that I met the Chief of the General Staff a few minutes before this debate and I was encouraged that he was able to confirm me in the confidence I had found it possible at long range to place in this regiment.
My noble friend Lord Shackleton is not alone in his recollection that there were other grounds for hope in the lull which followed the disturbances during 1969 which culminated in the street fighting in August in Belfast. The reforms to remove the grievances of the minority were being hastened forward. There was a sense of tremendous urgency and there was a detectable strengthening of moderate opinion in the Province. I cannot stress this too strongly. I believe this is the key to the situation. The strength of the middle ground is, of course, the basis for stability in any community. It has always been weak in the Province, for well known reasons. If there is to be any future viability in the North, this middle ground must be strengthened now. Of the many forebodings I have heard in recent weeks nothing has struck me more forcibly than that of the sane and gallant shop steward in the East Belfast's dockland, Mr. Scott, when he said it was becoming more and more difficult to hold on to the middle ground.
As I think Lord Shackleton said, nothing is more ominous than the evidence we now have of the further polarisation of the two communities. Not only, as in 1969, the Catholics, but now both the Catholics and the Protestants are moving under duress and in fear out of areas where they 46 were living together into separate communal districts.
Looking back, I believe that it was precisely because things were beginning to look a little more hopeful—and I have here the first annual report of the Royal Ulster Constabulary for 1970, which gives definite evidence of this—that the situation began to worsen in the latter part of that year. If this sounds an "Irishism", which I suppose it is, it was not made so by true Irishmen, let alone true Ulstermen. I listened with great interest to what my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing had to say about it. To my knowledge, throughout 1969 there had been, and there were still in 1970 and no doubt there are now, a few extremists, trained and dedicated, whose purpose is simply to create anarchy there, as a few people are trying to do in many parts of the world. It is significant that posters found in the then "no-go" areas in the Falls Road district of Belfast in 1969 were identical with posters displayed in Paris during the uprising against President de Gaulle. Whatever their nationality, these people do not deserve the title of any nation, nor do they merit the protection of any particular State. It was such men as these who struck with acts of terrorism precisely because they foresaw the prospect, however slight. of justice and peace in the North, and this did not suit their plans.
I mention this because whereas I, naturally, believe that in the current situation the restoration and maintenance of law and order are prime essentials, which is obvious, I do not believe that this can be attained without winning back many of those people among the minority in Ulster who could still be persuaded to reoccupy what I have called the middle ground, the middle ground of moderation. The Secretary of State for Defence has mentioned intelligence, and it is good to know that intelligence is improving; but it can be improved further only to the extent that we can win back the moderate opinion among the Catholic population. Without that winning back there can be no stability in the Province. This is the cogent case for the immediate search for a political solution within Ulster's borders, simultaneously with measures to control the security situation. I join with my noble friend Lord Longford in seeing hope in the forthcoming meeting of the three Prime Ministers, because it now 47 looks, as it did not a few days ago, that this question of a political solution will he firmly on the agenda and acceptable to all three Prime Ministers. The one solution cannot be found without the other.
But the problem, as we know, is not simply this. The real danger now is that in any sterner measures to restore order as distinct from measures to eliminate particular people who are terrorists, the many who now appear to be in support of the terrorists may be further antagonised and alienated to the point where bitterness is such that there can be no future except in terms of permanent coercion of the minority. Except for a very few extremists on the Protestant side in Ulster, who can contemplate such a Police State situation within our own Kingdom? It is absolutely essential to distinguish between the Provisionals and everybody else; between the Provisionals and the Catholic minority. It is well worth remembering that even now the Provisionals do not represent the official policy of the I. R. A. So far as I understand it, the I. R. A. is waging war. It is waging war against the British Army; the Provisionals are creating anarchy and killing anybody who is in the way. It is essential to isolate these terrorists and to concentrate all efforts on identifying and striking at them. The situation has moved sadly a long way backwards for the worse since the terrorists started their campaign last autumn. At the beginning of this phase it was clear that the official I. R. A. was against this tactic, and even more clear that all sections of the public disapproved of it.
I join with other people in disliking internment. I disagree with those who think that it was wrong. I am sure it was essential and my criticism is that it was introduced too late. I respect the reasons for hesitating to introduce this measure until all other steps had been taken, but had internment been introduced earlier, with a real element of surprise, I think it would have been generally accepted and would have been more effective. By the time it was introduced the build-up of anticipation was such that its effectiveness was the less. The combination of terrorist acts, counter measures by the military, the inevitable suffering of civilians in the course of those counter 48 measures, combined with the apparent success of the terrorist methods, produced some sympathy and support even for the terrorists which was not there at the beginning.
I do not for a moment believe that it would be right—and I am sure the Government will not do so—to terminate internment now. We must accept that there are a considerable number of men remaining in internment camps who are, or include, some very dangerous terrorists. What is more, it may still be necessary to use this weapon against the Protestant extremists if they take the action that I hope they will not take. Ulster is not yet in a state of rebellion by the minority against the Government, but one of two or three things could quickly make it so. One of these would be, I am sure, harsher measures against those who come out into the streets to oppose and taunt the British troops and police. Restraint and discipline in these circumstances are the hallmark of the British soldier and the British policeman, and that goes for the constable in the Royal Ulster Constabulary as well. There is nothing to fear from these people in that respect, but a change in policy, or tactic, involving greater harm to civilians could be, I believe, a recipe for rebellion.
Another recipe would be a failure to accept that the Catholic minority are no longer going to be satisfied with the proper redress of their grievances already catered for in the current reforms. Those who say that this is pussy-footing and weak are presumably prepared to face a civil war. There must now not only be more effective political representation of the minority but, as the noble Earl, Lord Longford, has said, there must be participation in Government. I do not think that these measures can await the repression of the terrorists.
The third, and the most predictable and obvious of all recipes for rebellion, would be if the Protestant extremists were to carry out their reported threats to enter the fray with their abundant armoury and take the law into their own hands—even if they were purporting to do so on the side of the forces of law and order. I need not enlarge on this point because it is so obvious to all reasonable men—and, unfortunately, it would be a waste of time to explain that point to those who, across the water, are not reasonable men. 49 I would say; let all moderate Protestants—and, having heard the most reverend Primate, I would say "all truly Christian Protestants"—have the courage to speak out now in support of the policies of Mr. Faulkner and Mr. Maudling in the matter of the Third Force; let them stand and be counted on the middle ground.
May I make one final point of a particular nature? I receive an abundant correspondence on the theme that it is being widely said in Northern Ireland to-day that a not inconsiderable reason for the present trouble is certain recommendations in the Report on the police in Northern Ireland, with which I was associated. The particular clauses or recommendations were those dealing with the "B" Specials and the creation of a civil police force instead of a military constabulary. I will not speak about the "B" Specials, but I should like to say a word on this latter point about the arming of the police. I should like to remind the House that nothing in the reforms which followed the acceptance of that Report precluded the carrying of personal weapons by police officers when authorised for a particular purpose at a particular time and place. Should a general policy of carrying personal weapons be deemed desirable or necessary—and I certainly hope that it would be a temporary measure—there is nothing in the reforms to ban this; and there is now, as there was not before, the proper machinery for deciding to do it. Not only is there the Security Committee to consider that angle, there is also the Police Authority, to which the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor drew attention. I agree with him that this is a fundamental point which is accountable to the public for the police. So far as the views of the R. U. C. themselves are concerned, they now have their new advisory committee, and can represent their views directly to the Minister for Home Affairs, who is the chairman. I have no doubt that this question has been constantly under consideration in the past months. In so far as my opinion is of any value, I would fear that such a step, while it would doubtless help the morale of the police officers in Northern Ireland, would not prevent individual police officers being murdered any more than armed soldiers are protected by carrying arms. Indeed, I think it might have the opposite 50 effect. I think it might make the police the special targets of the terrorists.
Finally, in speaking of the police, because I feel very involved in their work and their future as a result of the Report, it is worth remembering that there will be an end to all this terrible situation, and that at the end of the day the police will have fully to resume their function as guardians of the peace, the peace which will eventually be won. I would remind those who wish to see the police in Northern Ireland resume their military role now that the police will be the more effective, because they will be eventually more acceptable to all sections of the community, to the extent that they retain their civilian image. We have only to look back to 1969, at the end of the disturbances in Belfast, to see the image created by the R. U. C.—very largely unfairly to themselves—by the leading part that they had to play as para-military police at that time.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ LORD DIGBY
My Lords, who in his sane senses wants to bomb a million Protestants into a united Ireland? This campaign is bringing shame and disgrace on a noble and just cause. Those were the words of the Roman Catholic Bishops in Ireland last week. I admire the courage of the statement. The people of Ireland, on both sides, have been so indoctrinated by their own eloquence that they are no longer in their sane senses, and they are unable to look at their differences objectively. When I received notice of this debate I was in the Republic of Ireland. The day before I had attended the institution of a Church of Ireland rector, and one of the chief guests was the local Roman Catholic priest. On the following day I was present at the dedication of a new Roman Catholic church in the same parish. The land had been donated by a Protestant farmer, and the Protestant rector and other leading members of the community were present. This would not have been possible five years ago. There is now an ecumenical spirit in Eire that is entirely new, and many lessons from Southern Ireland could well he learned North of the Border.
I do not consider that the problem is fundamentally religious. Religion is being used by the extremists on both sides as a symbol and as a catalyst when 51 the basic problem is economic and political. But I believe that the key to the solution may well be in the hands of the religious leaders. Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and clergy of all denominations, have all denounced violence and have called on all Christians to pray for peace. But this is not enough. This is the moment of truth for the Churches. This is the great opportunity for the Churches, and it is a test of the sincerity and determination of the ecumenical movement. Let the Churches lead a crusade for peace. Let them proclaim unequivocally that he who is not actively for peace is against peace. This crusade should be started by the Churches and carried into the homes by both the clergy and the laity, so that no Christian is in any doubt that violence is sinful and must be resisted at all times.
To the moral arguments we can add the practical ones. Apart from causing misery, violence also undermines any hope of prosperity in Ireland and increases unemployment, which is one of the root causes of Irish unrest. This is why the trade unions have a vested interest in peace and could use their influence to ease tension. If the trade unions, realising the disastrous consequences, were to put pressure on their members to resist violence and intimidation; and if, in turn, those members persuaded their families, the effect could be far-reaching. I heard someone say that that is what they are doing, and I am sure that is right. But what I am saying is that both the Churches and the trade unions must put their whole hearts into it. The Catholic Church, the Protestant Church and the trade unions, all working for peace, would be a formidable force and could produce a real change of opinion. We have heard about the opinion of the minority of Catholics in such places as the Falls Road. They must be convinced that violence is not the answer.
I do not pretend that such action would settle Northern Ireland's problems, but if sympathy and support for extremism were removed violence would begin to wither, which would enable internment to end and reforms to be carried through. One can only hope that the abyss of chaos into which we are now looking will have convinced ex 52 tremist politicians, on both sides, of the necessity for compromise and genuine reform carried out with good will. The minority who throw their bombs is very small, but the minority who condone violence, and even allow their children to go into the streets throwing stones, is very large. This minority is on both sides, and it is these people who must be convinced by a crusade of the Churches and trade unions that an end to terror is the only way to prosperity and community harmony.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Digby, need have no fear about the attitude of religious leaders in Northern Ireland. Cardinal Conway and the Catholic Bishops, the Archbishop of the Church of Ireland and the Methodists—whom the noble Lord did not mention but who are quite powerful—have been very militant for peace for years, and I am sure my noble friend Lady Bacon will agree with me when I say that when we were in Northern Ireland we had the greatest encouragement from religious leaders of all denominations. They will not countenance violence, and their flocks are in no doubt about their attitude.
We are asked to-day "to take note of" the situation in Northern Ireland. Taking note reminds me of a line in the chorus of a ballad which was sung a hundred years ago. It ran:Sure, it is the most distressful country that ever you have seen",and it went on,For they're hanging men and women there for the wearin' o' the Green.We do not do that to-day, but I think that Northern Ireland is a more distressful country to-day than it has been for a hundred years. Every day, in the most brutal and horrible fashion, British boys in uniform are being murdered. I know that every noble Lord who has spoken has mentioned this, but I feel that the conduct of these raw, scarcely trained lads in the face of the most violent provocation is such that it does eternal credit to them and to our forces. Furthermore, no noble Lord in this House would be able to stand up to what they take and not give vent to his feelings. Their conduct is remarkable. Of course we also have these daily indiscriminate bombings, with 53 women and children slaughtered. It is an absolutely ghastly business.
Unquestionably, if there is a solution it is no easy one; it is no lightning one; no sudden steps are possible, and anyone who has the duty to care for and administer Northern Ireland in this situation has the right to our full understanding and sympathy. It is absolutely imperative that we rid ourselves of prejudices, carefully decide what are the right policies, and then pursue them with courage and determination. The very fact that it will take a long time to get things right means that, whatever policy is followed, even though it be the right one, it will meet with a great deal of hostility and will need to be applied with a great deal of patience.
Mention has been made in the debate in October,1969. Conditions in Northern Ireland are much worse to-day than they were then. A few days after Mr. Callaghan's successful second visit to the Province we had the debate, and I recall indeed, it was mentioned in the debate—that at that time both Unionist and Opposition M. P. s at Stormont were expressing confidence and hope that things could be settled amicably. This was immediately after the Stormont Government's promise of reforms to set right the grievous discrimination, which had existed for 50 or 100 years, against the Catholics; and acceptance of the Hunt Report and the disbandment of the B "Specials, announced at the time, were taken as a guarantee that Stormont meant business, that they were acting in good faith and that we should get the reforms. I recall that then it was possible for Mr. Callaghan to walk freely in the Bogside. It was possible for Sir Arthur Young, then newly appointed chief of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, to be cheered by the Bogside people. It is quite incredible. It is equally unthinkable that either of those things would be possible to-day.
Speaking in that debate I expressed the view that 85 per cent. of the Northern Ireland people, Protestants and Catholics alike, would then, if called upon, vote to stay in the United Kingdom; and other noble Lords agreed. It would be impossible to forecast such a thing to-day. Why this dramatic deterioration? Mr. Maudling says that he is continuing Mr. Callaghan's policies; and so, to an extent, he is. I expect that, like myself, he has to-day received a copy of this pamphlet, 54 Northern Ireland. That sets out, I think accurately, the record of the Stormont Government in fulfilling their pledges. They have done it; at least, they have legislated for the promised reforms, even if they have not been wholly implemented. Naturally, these things take time. The housing executive will not hand over until 1973; but the reforms are there, on the Statute Book.
The important difference between then and now, as I see it, is a difference of attitude between one Government and another, a difference in the climate of opinion; and I am afraid that the Government are now deferring to Right-Wing extremists or, at any rate, are appeasing them. Only this would allow them to endorse what I regard as the utterly disastrous policy of indefinite internment without trial. It is a policy impossible to justify on any legal grounds. It is a policy which has been forced on the Government by the Right-Wing extremists and, predictably, it has profoundly worsened the situation. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, sought to justify it, at least in part, on the grounds that it had worked. If it had worked, my Lords, I should have thought there would have been less violence, less shooting, fewer murders. But this has not happened. Every day there are murders; every day there are incidents more horrible than the last. The Government may be able to produce facts and figures to controvert this view, but, judging by results as we see them, internment has definitely worsened the situation. More people are dying.
Two years ago—even one year ago—the I. R. A. were on their own, isolated. To-day they are not. This internment has enabled the men of violence to identify with the whole Catholic community. Even the strongly worded condemnation of Cardinal Conway and all the Catholic bishops, which was so welcome, seems to have been of little avail. In Ireland you do not go by facts, you do not go by evidence: what matters is what people believe. They are facts when people believe them. To-day, the ordinary people believe that the I. R. A. is fighting for their cause, fighting against tyranny and injustice. Still worse, the situation is being used to justify a counter-campaign of illegal violence by Protestant extremists like the ex-"B" 55 Specials. I do not know if your Lordships saw a programme on "Panorama"—I think it was two weeks ago—when some ex-"B" Specials were interviewed. We saw those benign, elderly men, with shining faces and smooth voices advocating that they should be rearmed, that they should legally be given weapons again. When the interviewer asked,"What for?", their reply was,"The maintenance of law and order". Their law and their order, my Lords! The interviewer, of course, was quite neutral. On one occasion he asked,"What would Mr. David Hume say about that?" The most benign of them smiled and said, "Mr. Flume will not be there ". He looked somewhat different when he was asked what was going to happen to Mr. Hume, but he did not answer. My Lords, if ever the recommendation of the Hunt Committee was justified up to the hilt it was then, because in that programme one really saw that those were the kind of decent, old boys that one would say were kindly. But the iron was there. All they wanted was to have the legal right to shoot it out.
A few days afterwards, Mr. Paisley was recorded on television addressing a crowd of 20,000 Protestants. I should mention to the noble Lord, Lord Digby, that I did not include Mr. Paisley among the religious leaders who were admonishing their followers because I do not regard him as a Christian. He criticised the tripartite talks and said that the three Prime Ministers, Mr. Heath, Mr. Faulkner and Mr. Lynch, had nothing to talk about. Then he referred to the proposed Third Force, declaring that it was use Mr. Heath saying that he would not have this." You, "Mr. Paisley told the cheering thousands," are the Third Force. You are here to stay."He had already formed the Third Force. One could imagine those cheering thousands going away and arming themselves with some of the hundred thousand guns that are held in private hands in Northern Ireland.
Two years ago the Stormont Government proposed a measure to deal with those who used words to incite people to violence, the Incitement to Hatred Act. It received the Royal Assent in July,1970. I should like to know, and doubtless others would also, what has 56 happened to that Act. It is on the Statute Book: why, then, is it not used? Why is it that people like Paisley can with impunity make these frightful speeches which are published all over the world? Why is nothing done about it? I am a Protestant myself; but one can understand that Catholics feel that they are getting something less than justice when they hear the "Bull of Bashan" shouting his insults with impunity and inciting people to take up arms. It is not good enough; just as the policy of internment without trial is not good enough. If people flout the law, the law should be brought into operation. If gunmen and bomb throwers are caught they must be brought to trial and, if convicted, suitably punished; and that means punished to the full extent that the law allows. We cannot in a free country permit indefinite detention without trial for people whose only crime is that they have disagreed with Mr. Faulkner's views.
I am convinced that it is this one wrong decision which has caused the great worsening of the situation. It must be changed, otherwise I believe that we shall have a large Protestant army confronting a smaller Catholic force and that both forces will be firing at our British boys in the middle. That is a situation also in which the Irish Republic would have the right to take an interest and to say that it is very much their business. Once a civil war starts no one can predict where it will end or how many thousands will be slaughtered. Mr. Lynch has declared that the Border is not in issue, but he and most other Irishmen look forward to the day when the Six Counties will be once more included in a united Ireland. Most Irishmen want that. It is not an unworthy objective; it is an object of statesmanship which should be peaceably and by agreement achieved. But if this is not to become an impossible dream, we have to stop the growing polarisation of Catholics on the one side and Protestants on the other and their hardening into Para-military forces which would inevitably clash in an unbelievably horrible civil war.
Mention was made by noble friend Lord Longford of the position of Captain O'Neill and, later, of Major Chichester-Clark (as they then were), who were coerced into taking certain actions and 57 who were afraid to take other actions because of the views of some of their supporters. Mr. Lynch is similarly restricted and restrained. He has to have regard to what his supporters think. It would be utterly impossible for Mr. Lynch sensibly to discuss, for example, action on his part to curtail I. R. A. activities in the Republic if, at the same time, this internment without trial policy is continued. He could not do it. We must have regard to what is possible. In the same way, when talking about the Opposition Parties in Northern Ireland, and their participation, or the desirability of their participation, in action with the Government or with Government agencies, they cannot do it. They are the Opposition. They cannot be seen to be participating with a Government who follow this policy. Most Members of your Lordships' House know some of the members of the Opposition in Northern Ireland. Those I know are reasonable people, people completely opposed to violence. They are decent, responsible leading people; they are most anxious, far more anxious than we are, to give a lead to their people to end the violence and to bring about peaceful conditions. But events are moving with terrifying speed. They say that 10,000 people in Belfast have in the last month uprooted their homes and moved into other communities. That is another prelude to violence on either side. We must take steps to stop this and the first move should be the immediate release of those now detained against whom it is not proper to bring charges. If there is something against them, if they have done something, then charge them; otherwise let them go. That is British justice. Only if that is done can we hope to get Mr. Lynch to take steps within the Republic to halt the activities of the illegal I. R. A. More important. only on those terms can the Stormont Opposition play their part to ensure the isolation of the I. R. A. within the Province. There are only a few hundred of them. If they could be isolated from the community, our own forces would have a chance to destroy them.
My Lords, as I see it, the choice before us—and it is our choice—is either moderation and firmness to ensure justice for all the people of Northern Ireland or, if you must have it, force. And you will be compelled to use still more force to 58 ensure the final bloody chapter of the Irish disaster. It has been going on for a hundred years. It is now coming to an end. I can only pray that we shall do the right thing while there is still time.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ LORD BOURNE
My Lords, we all sympathise with the Government and with the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for Defence, in having to outline a policy at the present time. I shall do my best to show why I do not think that that policy will bring about permanent peace and will suggest a step which might bring permanent peace nearer. Before I start my argument I should like to say something about the conduct of the British Army. This has been mentioned several times. Of course it has been exceptionally good; but no better than I expected. It has been quite marvellous in very trying circumstances; I think that most of us will agree with that.
To revert to the 1920 settlement—because, to my mind, the seeds of this trouble started then—unfortunately we put together in Northern Ireland about two Protestants to one Catholic. I have been unable to find the figures but I think it must have been about 25 per cent., perhaps three to one. At the time of the last census the figure for 1961 was 34.9 per cent. of Catholics. I think they are catching up quite a bit, and now the figure is probably one of 40 per cent. This is a very dangerous mixture, because once a fight is started they are unlikely to finish it. It is much more dangerous than the Protestant minority in Eire which is only 5 per cent. and is very well treated. I believe it has no complaints. When you put this on top of the Irish character, and their proclivity for celebrating battles which took place 289 years ago by marching up and down the street. and the Irish innate love of a fight—including the 10-year olds who have no bed to sleep in—I think we can understand why there has been trouble.
The Catholic minority has been treated as second-class citizens for quite a long time. They have not been put on the housing lists and, except in a few special factories, they have not been given jobs in the factories. In other words, if you are a Catholic in Northern Ireland, you get very badly treated. This situation led to the riots in 1969. To my mind, basically these were religious riots 59 and, so far as I can see, at that time the two religious leaders did remarkably little. They have done quite a lot recently, but it would have been better if they had done it two years ago.
This led to the British Army being introduced, and they applied the standard method of minimum force in aid of the civil power; in other words, kid glove methods. By the way, although it is the British custom to employ this minimum force method it has not been proved necessarily to be the best way. For example, the Portuguese (they still have their colonies; admittedly they are sitting on top of them) would have settled this business two years ago and introduced any necessary reforms afterwards. They would have killed quite a few people and the riots would have stopped. The riots would not have gone on for two years and have led to the grave situation which we face to-day. Concurrently with this course of conduct the reforms we have heard a lot about this afternoon were put in hand by the Stormont Government. I am sorry to say that although they were in themselves very good reforms—there is apparently a pamphlet about them which we can all read—they were brought in too late. Anyway, they did not convince the people.
To return to the kid glove methods which the British Army employed for two whole years,10-year old boys and girls have been in the forefront in mocking the soldiers, stoning them, throwing petrol bombs at them and making them look ridiculous. The answer to that situation was C. S. gas and rubber bullets. A better way of clearing a riot in a few minutes has not vet been devised; but it does not stop the same small boys from coming back the next evening, knowing that they will not be hurt, and, running round the corner to get away from the C. S. gas and the rubber bullets, they really have fun. This method does not quell the trouble permanently. The strain on the British infantry resources is obvious to us all. Those members of the recent Labour Government who reduced the size of the British Army by 14 battalions or the equivalent must now be wondering whether they were right. I am quite sure that they were wrong and I said so at the time; and we are paying for it now. 60 We are pulling troops over from Germany, and we all know that young men have been not only a second but also a third time to Northern Ireland. and a very unpleasant duty it is, too. Recently in Wiltshire there occurred the funeral of a young lance-corporal who was killed the day before he was due to come home from Ireland. It was his second time in Northern Ireland. One could go on about these things.
From the defence point of view, the other effect of the Northern Ireland situation is that, of course, we could not possibly send an emergency brigade to the Far East or the Middle East at the present time without seriously reducing the strength of B. A. O. R. Internment has frequently been mentioned in this debate. It was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. I am afraid that I do not agree with what he said. I put in my notes that "at last can men be held and locked up because they are under suspicion" The real reason why internment was brought in is because, although the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said," Charge them if they have committed an offence ", you cannot get the evidence into court. You simply cannot do it because of the fear situation. We have used this internment method in many other situations—in India, Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus and many other places, including Aden. I am afraid that in Northern Ireland it was introduced too late. But I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, that you cannot withdraw it now.
The result of this prolongation of the troubles is that the object has changed completely. Whereas previously we were separating Protestants from Catholics, now we are trying to deal with the urban guerrillas, the I. R. A., who, of course, are pro-Catholic; and it is their published object to take over the Six Counties and to kill the necessary number of British soldiers on the way. This force, by the way, gets barely concealed support and succour from Eire. The Government intentions, as indicated to us by the noble Lord the Secretary of State, were basically three in number: First, to restore law and order and increase the Ulster Defence Regiment as much as possible. The 13 per cent. figure of Catholics recruited at the present time does not, in my opinion, approach the right proportion at all. To be a reflection of the 61 population, it should be nearer 30 per cent., perhaps even 40 per cent. Second, to support Stormont as the local Government. Third, to see that the minorities get a really fair representation on the Stormont committees and to bring in the reforms we have all heard about. By a steady application of these principles and obvious determination, the British Government hope that in due course—not immediately of course—they will bring peace to Ulster.
Unfortunately, all these objectives depend on the first, which is the restoration of law and order. In my view the British Army have failed to restore law and order over the last two years, and even if the size of the Army were doubled it is unlikely that they will do so in the next two years, in spite of internment. Neither the Army nor the Stormont Government have the hearts and minds of the people behind them; in fact, the people are against them. This is not a new situation. In spite of British Government statements in the past to the effect that the Army would restore law and order before they would negotiate, the Army have not done so. I would quote as examples India, Palestine, Malaya, Cyprus. The Army can, and will, prevent civil war but they will not necessarily restore law and order. In other words, I think there are three possible outcomes of the present Government policy. First, a quietening, and a politically fair solution. We have gone far enough in this debate to realise that that is not likely at the present time. Secondly, a worsening of civil war. In my opinion this is not a very great danger; it will be prevented by the Army and the police. Thirdly, a continuation of the present struggles, with the ill-feeling as bad as ever and Ulster dying slowly. That, I think, is much the most likely eventuality. In other words, as has been underlined by all previous speakers, the outlook is very bad. Most of us cannot see an end. Unfortunately, it is no satisfaction to say this.
To continue with the present policies, however firmly, will, in my opinion, only alleviate the symptoms and will not kill the real disease. At this point I believe that the surgeon's knife will be required. Therefore certain decisions have to be taken. I believe that it is necessary to go 62 back to the roots of the trouble in Northern Ireland. In my view, these are religious hostility (the most reverend Primate called it bigotry "; he changed it from religious hostility, religious antagonism, to bigotry, but in the end it amounts to the same thing) and the Irish belief that a disagreement can be settled by fighting. The poverty and bad treatment of second-rate citizens, to which I have already referred, has led to this situation, which is very bad indeed. These two things ensure not only that fighting will start but that it will go on. Victory for one side is impossible, especially if the Government are there to see fair play.
I believe that the only answer to this is separation of the Protestants from the Catholics. The question is: how is it to be done? It is not easy. It can be done in two general ways: the first is internal and the second, external. Internally, inside the Six Counties—and we have heard that the United Kingdom boundaries are not to be changed—it can be done by two methods. The first is by designating Catholic areas, completely administered by Catholic officials under Stormont. Those Northern Ireland Catholics who want to go to Eire should have things made easy for them. They should go. Secondly, it can be done by protecting the Catholic areas, if necessary by drawing a line which is clear to all and can effectively be patrolled. This separation will not be easy and it will take time, but the policy should be started now. Incidentally, the British Army must remain throughout this period. The second method I suggest is external, which some people call partition. It means agreement with Eire, and possibly redrawing the frontiers to give up the equivalent of two of the Six Counties. The British Army would have to remain indefinitely while this operation was going on. I do not recommend it. I think that the first course, internal separation, should be given a very long trial before it is admitted to be a failure.
Lastly, as to how to carry it out, I recommend that this internal separation should be carried out by a British Government Separation Commission, under a British chairman, which would examine this problem and report in three months. Of course it would cost a great deal, especially in the building of temporary, and later permanent, Catholic suburbs 63 and estates, perhaps even for 100,000 people. Most Catholics in Northern Ireland now would prefer to remain British citizens, and would therefore support this separation. But continuing the present policy of patching up, of sitting on the lid of the security kettle, not only is costlier but will not cure the disease. It will be never ending and will inevitably result in the death of Ulster.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, I thought it right that I should come down from North-West Scotland to speak in this debate owing to the long connection my family has had with Ireland and especially with North Ireland. I should like to pick up for a moment what has been said by the two previous speakers, especially what the noble Lord, Lord Stonharn, said regarding internment. He appeared to be objecting because Mr. Paisley had not been interned. I certainly do not go along with the extreme policies of Mr. Paisley—I abhor them—but I should like to point out that I can hardly imagine that Mr. Paisley would shoot people in the back and throw bombs. I think that we have to draw a line here. As I understand it. internment is to restrict known individuals who are likely to throw bombs and to shoot people. Personally I think that internment is justified if by so doing we save the lives of British soldiers and of innocent Catholic and Protestant civilians who may get in the way of cross fire. I cannot go along with the noble Lord there.
We really have two problems, both of which have been aired to-day: how to end the violence and, when peace is restored, how to ensure that all the people of Northern Ireland take for granted the authority of the Government under which they are ruled. My family was instrumental, to a certain extent, in setting up the present Unionist Party of Northern Ireland when the Government was formed in the early 'twenties. I myself as a small boy remember the troubles. I was burned out of my family's main home in Northern Ireland at that time and I can remember it most vividly. I rather object that the noble Earl, Lord Longford, should refer to people like myself as "hereditary oppressors". I think he is stretching the point a bit far. I should 64 like to point out that my family, during their tenure in Ireland, which began in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, though we were Protestants (we changed from Catholicism with the Crown, with the Tudors) gave land to the Catholics for churches and other purposes, and endowed them. So for the noble Earl to refer to us as "hereditary oppressors" I think is rather insulting. The noble Lord, Lord Bourne, who has just left the Chamber, spoke about the great poverty of the Catholics in Northern Ireland. I would point out that everybody in Northern Ireland has the benefits of the same Welfare State that we have here. I do not know when the noble Lord last went to Northern Ireland, but if lie goes there and then to Southern Ireland he will find worse poverty among the Catholics in the South than among the Catholics in the North. Some rather unfair things have been said to-day.
The first priority, as I have said, is to end the violence, because it is obvious that till violence is ended any talk of civil reform is rather like trying to plant a garden in the path of a stream of molten lava. We must first of all end the violence. Several speakers seem to think that violence is entirely inter-related with civil reforms, but this is not so. Here I agree with my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing that the people who are organising this violence are not interested in civil reforms. They want to embarrass the West; they want to embarrass Britain; and they wish to terrorise into submission the majority in Northern Ireland. I am sure that if they succeeded in that ploy their next target would be the Irish Government in Dublin. As I say, we first of all have to cure this violence, and I was pleased to hear my noble friend Lord Carrington say that eventually the British Army will get on top of this violence.
For my part, I cannot see how the violence can be completely eradicated if the Eire Government do not co-operate 100 per cent. It may be that they are doing so. I have met Mr. Lynch, whom I admire, and I fully realise that he is in a difficult position. He wants a United Ireland under Dublin—it would be unnatural if he did not—but he does not want it by murder and intimidation. The great majority of the Irish, North and South, Catholics and Protestants, 65 abhor this violence and murder. I was surprised to hear the noble Earl, Lord Longford, say, if I heard him aright, that the I. R. A. has the full support of the working-class Catholics in Ireland. I cannot subscribe to that, and later in my speech I will produce statistics which I think will show that the noble Earl is completely wrong in saying that. Some speakers in the debate have over-stressed the religious discrimination and later I will also quote statistics to prove that this supposed hatred between Protestants and Catholics is highly exaggerated.
My noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing mentioned the great advantages that the Southern Irish Government has from the British Government in the way of favourable trade agreements, and the fact that there are over one million Irishmen in this country who are treated exactly the same as Englishmen. I am all for that, and long may it be so! If this violence goes on perhaps some pressure will have to be exerted on the Southern Ireland Government in this respect, but I think it would be a great tragedy, because it would only embitter relations between the two countries, and I should say that 95 per cent.—it may be 99 per cent.—of the Southern Irish Catholics are innocent in this campaign of violence.
I should like to tell your Lordships a short story that my father told me. He was a director of the L. M. S. Railway and Chairman of the Northern Ireland L. M. S. This occurred during the term of Mr. de Valera's Government. The Irish Government of that time wrote to the L. M. S. Railway objecting to the fact that the cross-channel boats operated by the L. M. S. Railway were not all crewed by Southern Irishmen. The L. M. S. Railway wrote back to say that they were quite prepared to have all Southern Irish crew in the cross-channel boats provided that the Irish Government would have back in Dublin all the Irishmen working on the L. M. S. Railway in England. After that exchange no more was heard of the demand that the crews on the L. M. S. cross-channel boats should all be Irishmen.
There has been some talk about the Border in this debate, and, as we know, it is a long Border of nearly 300 miles. Probably the Eire Government has not the means to help us to seal the Border, but I have been wondering 66 whether we could not lend them some armoured cars or suitable patrol vehicles, provided that we have their full co-operation.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I am sorry to have missed so much of the noble Viscount's speech, but does he think that a United Nations force might help?
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, the experience of countries that have had United Nations Forces in them has been rather disastrous. I would point, for instance, to the Israeli-Egyptian fracas, where the United Nations Forces were not very effective. I think the noble Earl is trying to stir things up a bit.
§ THE EARL OF CORK AND ORRERY
My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt my noble friend, but is he aware of the extraordinary efficiency of the United Nations peace-keeping force in Cyprus?
VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FFRRARD
I agree that they are doing quite well in Cyprus. I suppose you could, as a last resort have a United Nations force in Ireland, but it is not a course that I would advise.
I should now like to quote a few statistics which your Lordships might find interesting. Some of your Lordships may have read a Report which has just come out by a Professor R. Rose, an American, who has just made an exhaustive survey of the situation in Northern Ireland and took an opinion poll of a great many people. The statistics that he quotes are extremely interesting and rather bear out what I have been saying in this House for several years, that the Catholic/Protestant hatred is largely stirred up by the Press and other communication media. In his opinion poll—and, as I have said, it was an exhaustive inquiry—one of the questions asked was:Would it be right to take any measures necessary to end partition and to bring Ulster "—he means of course Northern Ireland—.into the Republic?My Lords,83 per cent. of the Catholics interviewed said "No". That is "one in the eye" for the noble Earl, Lord Longford, who was telling us a short time ago that the working-class Catholics supported the I. R. A.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
One of the other questions that he asked was whether the Catholics endorsed the North of Ireland's constitutional status, and 33 per cent. of the Catholics endorsed it. That shows, as we all know, that while the majority of Catholics are quite content to remain in the United Kingdom they want to see some change in the way in which they are governed. We have to remember, and some speakers in this debate have appeared to forget it, that everyone in the North of Ireland ever since the early 1920s has had an equal vote in elections, but apparently democracy does not appear to have worked in the North of Ireland. If it has not worked perhaps we should try something else, but we must remember that it has been a democratic Government on the basis of "one man one vote". It rather amuses me that Socialists especially are all for "one man one vote" when it suits their purpose—but I do not want to bring Party politics into it.
I was very interested to hear the most reverend Primate talking about the summer camps run jointly for Protestant and Catholic children, because Professor Rose, said in his survey that 62 per cent. of Catholics interviewed would approve of a scheme to mix Protestant and Catholic children in State schools while 64 per cent. of Protestants would approve if the Catholic schools were given as much money as Protestant schools. This is one reform I should like to see in the North of Ireland because I am sure that if Catholic and Protestant children can be educated in the same schools it will be the greatest guarantee possible for the future of the North of Ireland. They need not have the same classes for religious instruction—I see that the noble Earl is rather worried about that—but they can at least be educated together in all other subjects and equal money ought to be given to Catholic and Protestant schools.
I must say that I do not agree with Mr. Enoch Powell. He may be logical but he often goes off the beam. I do not think that direct rule from Westminster would solve the problem, because the North of Ireland people, Catholics and Protestants, do not consider themselves English, but something different, and if 68 you had direct rule from Westminster you would not end the partition bogey. You would still get the "wild men" who would try to stir up trouble. However, I would favour proportional representation if it could be made to work. It might not be a great help but it might be worth trying. I also think that the suggestion for an All Ireland Council might be helpful, because the more people of different views that one can get together the better. Again, I think that Mr. Faulkner's suggestion of Parliamentary committees chaired by members of Opposition Parties is a good idea. Anything that can be done to prove to the Catholic minority that they are getting a fair deal ought to be done.
Before ending, I should just like to say wholeheartedly that the behaviour of the British soldiers has been absolutely magnificent, and I extend every sympathy to them because doing a soldier's job amid civilian riots is an appallingly difficult operation. I think that my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing had a good point when he suggested that we might start a training school for teaching soldiers how to cope with urban guerrilla warfare. One thing I am quite certain of—and I believe that Cardinal Conway said the same thing—is that you cannot bomb over a million Protestants into doing something they do not want to do. The solution to the problems of Northern Ireland can only come through peaceful means and through mutual understanding.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ BARONESS BACON
My Lords, I hope that the noble Viscount will forgive me if I do not follow his line of argument. In your Lordships' House are a number of those who, as Ministers at the Home Office, have at some time or other had some responsibility for Northern Ireland. I shared that with my noble friend Lord Stonham, who took over where I left off.
Before my first visit to Northern Ireland in 1966 I must admit that I had very little idea of the real position there. I found it incredible that within the United Kingdom there was still the sectarian bitterness of some 300 to 400 years ago, with Protestant areas and Catholic areas, with Protestant streets and Catholic streets. At that time one thing was quite apparent: that the Catholic minority was suffering great injustices in local government, in 69 housing allocations and in jobs. Unemployment in Northern Ireland has for some years been greater than in the rest of the United Kingdom; but it was also true at the time that I was there, and for some time before and since, that in some of the predominantly Catholic areas unemployment was much greater than in Northern Ireland as a whole.
The Labour Government made great progress in persuading the Stormont Government to introduce laws dealing with undoubted discrimination. I took part in some of the talks at No.10 when we urged upon the Stormont Government that something must be done to rectify these wrongs. It was obvious at that time that although some members of the Stormont Government were quite willing to introduce certain Acts of Parliament there was a split in the Unionist Party, and some Members of the Government were opposed even to giving these elementary rights and rectifying these injustices. However, on the insistence of the Labour Government, some progress was made. culminating in the Declaration of 1969. It is true that at the present time many of the Acts of Parliament which we pressed on the Stormont Government are now on the Statute Book. But what has happened is that they have not yet been felt by the ordinary people in Northern Ireland; they came too late for that.
We all know the tragic history of the past two years. The greatest tragedy is that the troops which were called in at the request of the Catholics are now regarded by them as their enemies. Since 1969 there has been the senseless killing of 108 people. This year 24 soldiers have been killed. This is going on within the United Kingdom. I should like to pay my tribute—a tribute which has been paid by every speaker so far—to the behaviour of the troops in what has been a most difficult situation. Ulster is a land of fear: fear by the Catholics of the Protestant majority there, and fear by that Protestant majority that they will be engulfed as a minority in a united Ireland; so there is this fear on the part of everybody.
I believe that this tragic situation has been made worse by internment. Leaving aside all the ethical arguments about imprisonment without trial, as a practical exercise internment has been a failure. It gave the I. R. A. exactly the excuse 70 that they wanted for further violence and, more valuable from their point of view. the support of many Catholics who had hitherto been opposed to it. In the 1950s and 1960s the main body of the Catholics was not with the gunmen. I am sorry to say that to-day a great many of them are. One cause of this is. I believe, the way in which the internment net seems to have been so spread widely. It has been alleged that not only I. R. A. gunmen but moderates were taken from their homes, and the sad thing is that it has brought the I. R. A. and the Catholic community closer together.
Different views have been expressed about internment in the debate to-day. Views have also been expressed as to what should be done now. I agree with the point of view put by my noble friend Lord Shackleton. To date,219 orders have been signed. Although it has been said that among these there are 80 known I. R. A. leaders who might be gunmen, I believe, as my noble friend Lord Shackle-ton said he believed, that it is asking too much in the present situation suddenly to set the gunmen free to shoot more British soldiers. But there are disturbing stories of harmless people being interned. I believe that Mr. Faulkner must make some gesture in this situation. It has been said to-day that there is a right of appeal, but I should like the suggestion put by the Northern Ireland Labour Party to Mr. Maudling Ito be adopted; namely, that there should be set up an independent tribunal to hear these cases. That would be useful in the present position.
It has been said this afternoon that we ought to be careful in what we say (and I hope that I am going to be careful) in this situation; but I must utter one word of criticism about the Westminster Government. They have given the impression during the past few months of thinking that so long as the troops were there they could leave everything to the Stormont Government and, somehow or another, everything would work out. But this is not happening. We cannot just wait for the shooting to finish; the Government have given the impression of not appreciating the seriousness of the position. It is clear that the Stormont Government alone cannot cope with this situation.
A good deal has been said this afternoon, and a good deal has been said outside this House, about the political 71 solution. I do not believe that there is any magic formula which will quickly change the situation. There are great arguments for proportional representation in the present position in Northern Ireland. Dual nationality has been put forward by the Liberal Party. By themselves those things are meaningless in the present situation. There has to be a change of heart on all sides, and we have somehow to get rid of fear and to produce some kind of confidence. It is clear, too, that if the shooting is to stop, if more lives are not to be lost, everybody concerned has to depart from their entrenched positions. The trouble in the present situation is that so many people who are in a position to influence events have continually to be looking over their shoulders for repercussions by their followers. That is true of a great many people who could be of great help at the present time. Mr. Faulkner, whom I know quite well, is an able and astute politician, and he has to look over his shoulder at the Orange Order and the extreme Right Wing Paisleyites. Mr. Lynch, who I agree is in a very difficult position, also has to look over his shoulder. Some of the Opposition Parties, too, dare not go too far because of their followers.
I endorse what Mr. Jim Callaghan said—and I do not say this in any partisan way whatsoever, but from a knowledge of the people and parties concerned—that the only voice of sanity is that of the Northern Ireland Labour Party, which is not to be confused with the Social Democratic and Labour Party. I believe that the Northern Ireland Labour Party is the only Party that has been talking sense; the others are either sectarian groups or alliances. I hope that together with the trade unions they can make their voices heard.
It is true that the Northern Ireland Labour Party has only one representative at Stormont, but in 1970 they fought seven out of twelve constituencies and received 100,000 votes. When we are talking of representation of minorities in a Northern Ireland Government, while the main minority are the Catholics, and they are important in this respect, I hope that we shall not forget that there are other minorities, too, of a non-sectarian kind who ought to have their place in any 72 revised Government. As I have said, I believe that everybody concerned has to make some gesture and abandon their entrenched position. Mr. Faulkner now seems prepared to give the minority a share of Government. I hope that the Paisleys and the Craigs will not be allowed to sabotage this effort.
So far as Mr. Lynch is concerned, I do not know his private opinions, but publicly he has to make a stance that Ulster, as a separate country, does not exist. I believe that he would like to take some action against the I. R. A., but I appreciate that he is a difficult position. I agree with what some people have said this afternoon, that perhaps partition was a mistake. Maybe in the future it may go if the people of Northern Ireland wish it, but Ulster is there and I believe for the present it is there to stay. Mr. Lynch could help if he would declare with an even louder voice than before that if the position of the Catholics in Northern Ireland is improved the Border is not an immediate issue. I believe, too, that Mr. John Hume and the Social Democratic and Labour Parties should make some gesture. I know that they have been trying to produce some peaceful acts of non-co-operation in an effort to reduce the tension and the fighting, but I believe that they should now make a gesture. and do two things: first of all, stop the nonsense of another Parliament and immediately call off the rent strike.
I feel rather strongly about the rent strike, for this reason. A few years ago there was a great deal of feeling and bitterness among the Catholic population in Northern Ireland about housing allocations. It was said. with a good deal of justification, that they were not getting their fair share of housing. This was one of the matters we raised with the Stormont Government, and they agreed to set up a housing executive to be responsible for all public authority house building and allocation. This housing executive begins its work on October 1,1971, which is next week, and what position are they going to be in if there is still a rent strike and they cannot collect the rents? I believe that the people responsible for this action should now call it off and recognise that, by carrying it on after October 1, they are sabotaging one of the main reforms which we urged on the Stormont Government.
73 The tripartite talks are to take place next week, and of course we wish them well. But in all this talk of a political settlement there seems to be a great gulf between those who want to see justice in Ulster and those who wish to abolish Ulster altogether. It seems like trying to reconcile the irreconcilable. I have one great fear at the hack of my mind: it is that even if there is some kind of a political settlement, will this stop the gunmen? One of the most important actions which we and the Stormont Government must take is to try to detach the bulk of the Catholic community from the I. R. A. Only there does there lie any hope of getting an end of the shooting.
However, if the initiatives of the next few weeks fail, what then? Some would say, a united Ireland. I do not believe that at the moment this is "on". About two-thirds of the people in the North are Protestants who wish to remain within the United Kingdom. A good deal has been said about the Protestant backlash and the fact that it is only bluff. I do not believe it is bluff, my Lords. And if the Border were to go in present circumstances I believe there would be as much trouble from the Protestants as there is to-day from the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland. I am not sure, too, how many of the Catholics would prefer to exchange some aspects of life in the North for life in the South. I think a good many of them would. I am sorry that my friend Mr. Gerry Fitt has been ill at a time when he would have preferred to be in the centre of everything that was happening, and I hope he is well enough (I do not know whether or not he is) to come to Westminster to-day. But I wonder whether, while he has been ill in hospital in Dublin, he has pondered on the difference in the cost of being in hospital within the United Kingdom and the cost of being in hospital in Dublin.
All Governments have said—the Labour Government said and the present Government have said—that direct rule is a last resort. Mr. Harold Wilson and my friends in another place have advocated a Commission and an All Ireland Council with a Minister for Northern Ireland Affairs. My noble friend Lord Shackletcn to-day said that he was not sure about the Minister. I think the Minister is a very good idea and I hope 74 that the whole of this plan will be considered. My only doubt about it is that we are multiplying the bodies concerned with Northern Ireland when we ought to be simplifying them. I have come to the conclusion, after a good deal of thought, that if the present moves fail there is no alternative to some form of direct rule with administrative devolution. I say that very regretfully, perhaps with hindsight; perhaps it ought to have been done two years ago. But I do not see any other way out if all the present moves fail. It is said that this is a "hot potato" which no Westminster Government want, but it cannot be as bad as the boiling cauldron of the present situation, and I think we shall seriously have to consider it.
A few weeks ago I asked in your Lordships' House about the Report of the Crowther Commission on the Constitution, and the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, indicated that it was up to the Commission themselves to decide whether or not they should issue an interim Report on Northern Ireland. I still hope that this will be clone because it seems to me that it would be an immense help at the present time to know what solutions the Crowther Commission, who are considering the Constitution, including Northern Ireland, would recommend in the present circumstances. I do not know what the position is, but there are hints in newspapers that the Commission are ready to report on Northern Ireland and could do so ahead of the main Report. I hope that if it is possible we shall have the recommendations before the rest of the Commission's Report, especially as it is so urgent.
Meantime the position in Ulster is becoming worse. Thousands of families are moving home from Protestant areas to Catholic areas, thus undoing forty or fifty years of attempts at reconciliation. This is going on at the present time. I watched television last week when a Protestant man said he had to move house because his name was Mick and his neighbours thought that the name of a Mick was a Southern Irish name. This is incredible, but it is tragic, and we must do something about it. To stop this senseless killing there has to be a much different outlook. Everybody in Northern Ireland must stop looking to the past and look to the future. We sometimes speak about the "great silent majority". I do 75 not know how many are silent in Ulster at the present time, but it seems to me that among some of the political Parties, among the trade unions and among the Churches, of all denominations, there could be a core of opinion that could yet help in what is a tragic and almost hopeless situation.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ LORD MONSON
My Lords, there are three immediate political problems we have to face in Northern Ireland, two of which have been mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Bacon. They are, first, the fears felt by the minority; secondly, the political aspirations of the minority, which is a different matter, and, thirdly, the fears felt by the majority. Overshadowing these three matters, and interacting with them, are the separate aspirations of the official I. R. A. and the Provisional I. R. A., which cannot he dealt with by political means other than by total capitulation to their demands. Incidentally, these demands between the two wings of the I. R. A. differ to such an extent that, in the extremely unlikely event of an I. R. A. victory, a bloody civil war between the two wings would almost certainly ensue, not unlike the civil war that took place in the South of Ireland during the years 1922 and 1923.
The first fear of the minority is of some sort of mass attack by the majority in the unhappy event of some kind of quasi-civil war situation. From my observations in various parts of Northern Ireland a month ago, where I found people were leaning over backwards to keep calm, to preserve normality and to behave in a generally civilised way, despite I. R. A. bombings and provocations, nothing would seem to be less likely; yet the Provisional I. R. A. are behaving like the O. A. S. in Algeria in its latter stages, doing their utmost to set the communities at each other's throats, to bring the Protestants out against the Catholics and against the Army, and unhappily one cannot rule out any such eventuality.
The best way of ensuring the physical safety of the minority in any plural society, whether in Cyprus, the Lebanon, the Caribbean or anywhere else, is to ensure that they are well represented in the Army, in the police, in the gendar- 76 merleor in any para-military force that may exist. This condition is being fulfilled in Ulster, where Roman Catholics are joining the police and the Ulster Defence Regiment in large numbers. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bourne, thought the proportions were still inadequate, but I think he may have overlooked the obvious risks that Roman Catholics run in joining the defence forces. After all, let us not forget that in the South of Ireland in 1919 and 1920 it was the Catholic members of the Royal Irish Constabulary who were the particular targets of Sinn Fein assassination attempts. Furthermore, U. D. R. units are now, belatedly, being stationed to a far greater extent in their home district. This has advantages from every point of view, not least that the men are able to protect their own people and their own homes.
The second fear of the minority is that a hypothetical future extreme Unionist Government might legislate to deprive them of certain political rights that they have achieved. I do not want to dwell too long on this point. I believe that these fears are probably best countered by some such move as has already been canvassed. such as enlarging the Northern Ireland Senate from its present 26 members, providing the minority with guaranteed seats in the Senate and giving them power of veto over certain legislation.
It is when we come to what are called the political aspirations of the minority that things become difficult. In this context there are, after all, several minorities. Which one is to have its aspirations fulfilled, and at whose expense? What those who talk about meeting effectively the aspirations of the minority have in mind seems to be an enforced Coalition Government, including presumably not only members of the Alliance Party and the Northern Ireland Labour Party, both of which support the Constitution, but also members of the Social Democratic Labour Party and the Nationalists, who do not.
It is at this point that the third factor, the fears of the majority which hitherto have been rather disregarded, come into play. Take the position of the moderate unionist—and in this context I use "unionist" with a small "u". He need 77 not be a member of the Unionist Party, but he is a man who is loyal to the Crown and fervently supports the maintenance of Northern Ireland's link with the United Kingdom. I do not pretend that these views are totally unbiased or objective, but they are held by probably several hundred thousand people, so I think they should be taken into account. For 45 years, despite external political threats, the non-recognition of the State of Northern Ireland by the Republic, Border raids, certain internal subversion, threats of assassination of public figures, and so on, the Province remained relatively tranquil and relatively prosperous. So much so that in 1968, before the legislative reform package, as the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard said, Professor Rose, of Manchester University, found that only one third of the minority—in other words only 11½per cent. of the total population—were strongly opposed to the Constitution. Later on, in 1968, the civil rights agitation began. Of course some of the participants were completely sincere and had genuine grievances. Others, I think, with the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, were a cold and calculating bunch with very little interest in Ireland or the Irish people. For them, Northern Ireland was a "dummy run" for urban guerrilla warfare elsewhere in Europe, North and South America, and other places. Belfast, one might say, was their Guernica. This agitation led indirectly to the 1969 reform package.
At this point I should like to answer a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, who said that prior to 1969 council houses were scarcely ever allocated to the Catholic minority. If he has been watching television recently he will have seen numerous riots, the stoning of troops, and so on, about 80 per cent. of which take place against the background of what are clearly post-war housing estates. If he happened to have been in Belfast and started at the city centre, and walked North-West up the Shankill road for a mile or two and carefully observed the type of housing he saw, and then returned to the city centre and walked South-West along the Falls road and observed the housing there, I think he would have noticed that there is three or four times as much postwar housing in the Falls road Catholic 78 areas as in the Shankill road Protestant areas. This is not in itself conclusive, but it is quite untrue to say that no council housing, to speak of, was provided for the minority prior to 1969.
When the 1969 reform package was proposed our moderate unionist, despite certain apprehensions, concerning chiefly law and order resulting from the disarming of the police and the disbandment of the auxiliary police, accepted that the minority had certain justified grievances and, being a fair-minded man, agreed that they ought to be rectified, especially when he was told that the consequential legislation would meet all the demands of both the minority and the Westminster Government, so that subsequently the whole country could look forward to an era of peace and growing prosperity.
What has happened? Two years later, much of the Province is in a state of chaos and despair. People are murdered, sometimes by gunmen who retreat across the Border; factories, shops and offices are destroyed, with consequent escalating unemployment and bankruptcy. I do not think the scale of this unemployment is generally appreciated this side of the water. The Press has not the space to print the details. For instance, on August 20 last in Belfast a business machine factory was blown up and burnt down. The next day the factory closed down, all the machinery was shipped back to England and 100 workers were dismissed. The capital upon which their employment depended was destroyed and gone for ever. There was no question of their ever being employed in that factory again, and that is the sort of thing that has been happening.
In Belfast and certain other large cities people dare not atend cinemas or football matches. Many league matches have been cancelled by the security authorities, and people attending other matches take their lives in their hands because they may have to travel back late at night and may be shot at. Nor can housewives shop for anything other than vital necessities; and all too frequently they are not safe even in the privacy of their own homes. No wonder that our moderate unionist, faced with new Opposition demands, feels that the Republican Opposition are behaving—I do not want to exaggerate—like Henlein, the Sudeten 79 German leader, in 1938 when he stated,"We must always demand so much that we can never be satisfied." No wonder he feels that the extremist loyalists, who said all along,"If you give the Opposition an inch they will take a mile", might have been right after all! He may well feel that any allegedly final concession now will lead to a fresh bout of terrorism in a year or two years' time with a view to driving the North finally into the grasp of the Republic.
He—the moderate unionist—may be worried also about the criticism of gun licences. Here I want to strike a discordant note. I feel that in the context of Northern Ireland, with a Border virtually like a sieve, and the I. R. A. able to cross it with impunity, it would be wrong to deprive people of what are essentially defensive weapons. Of the 98,000 licensed guns in Northern Ireland,70 per cent. arc shotguns and 25 per cent. either 22 rifles or air-guns. These can by no conceivable stretch of imagination be classified as offensive weapons. At a pinch they will work defensively, but that is about all. If one could ban weapons both North and South of the Border that would be a different matter, but I think it would be wrong to withdraw gun licences unilaterally in the North.
These loyalists fears do not mean that there is not a good case for further reforms—proportional representation, for instance. I favour this, not because it is likely to give a fairer distribution of seats (I think research has proved that this is not so) nor because it will eliminate extremists (I have always felt that if extremist opinion exists it is better that it should be represented in Parliament rather than on the streets), but because it will make it possible in multi-member seats for the Unionist Party to field Roman Catholic candidates. I cannot think of anything more desirable for the future of Ulster than that Roman Catholics should stand as Unionist candidates and be elected.
As some sort of counterbalance to further reforms, I think the loyalists must be reassured that they will not lead to any further erosion, or any erosion at all, of the Province's existing constitutional position. How is this to be done? The clue lies, surely, in the declarations of all the major Parties in the Republic of Ire 80 land, the governing Party, the Fianna Fail, the main opposition Party and the Labour Party, that they have no wish at all to coerce the Protestant majority into a united Ireland against their will. Note carefully that they do not say the majority, but the majority of Protestants. Suggestions already been referred to, made in the Observer, by Dr. Conor Cruise O'Brien, whose contributions to recent discussions, I believe, have been most constructive and helpful, are fine so far as they go, but I do not think they go quite far enough. What he advocates is a declaration by the Dail, the Southern Irish Parliament, that so long as the majority of the Protestants of Northern Ireland do not desire political unification, the Dail must renounce claims to impose unity upon them. It would be enormously helpful if such a declaration could be made. But it is only a declaration, and if in one or two years' time Mr. Boland, Mr. Blaney or Mr. Haughey were to come to power things might be very different.
I believe that something more tangible is needed. We also have to face the possibility of further I. R. A. violence, whether it can be controlled or not, either side of the Border. As it stands, the 1949 Ireland Act provides no adequate protection. Clause 1(2) of that Act says:It is hereby affirmed that in no event will Northern Ireland or any part thereof cease to be part of Her Majesty's Dominions and the United Kingdom without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland.Theoretically this proviso, such as it is, could still lead to a Government, possibly elected on a minority vote, even if elected by only a slender majority, taking Northern Ireland into the Republic against the passionate opposition of 80 per cent. of the Protestants. The answer, surely, is to accept the sentiments of the main political Parties of the Republic at their face value and legislate accordingly, by amending the 1949 Act so that no change in the Province's constitutional status should be made unless a majority of both communities agreed to it. As I said in the debate in your Lordships' House in 1969, and as I wrote recently, the best way of achieving this is to amend the 1949 Act to provide for a referendum to be held at intervals—I suggest ten years—in which a majority of 66i per cent. would be necessary before any change in the Province's constitutional status could 81 be envisaged. This would adequately take care of most of the Protestants' fears and would also conform with the sentiments of responsible people in the Republic.
I can foresee two objections. The first is that referenda are not in accordance with British tradition. This is true up till now. But nor is it in accordance with British tradition to hand over what is an integral part of the United Kingdom to what is technically speaking a foreign country. Giving independence is one thing, but actually handing over part of one's country to somebody else is different. The second objection is that you are going against the principle of majority rule in insisting that a majority as large as 66⅔ per cent. should be insisted upon. But within the last fortnight the Roman Catholic Bishops in Ireland have said that majority rule is inappropriate in the particular, peculiar conditions of Northern Ireland; and if one accepts this proposition it ought to follow that simple majority rule is inappropriate so far as the question of the Border is concerned. Furthermore, there are several highly respectable precedents to the idea that a majority of greater than 50 per cent. should be required for a major constitutional change whether within a country or an organisation. I need hardly mention the Anglican-Methodist unity proposals, where a 75 per cent. majority was required for ratification; the 1950 referendum in Belgium, when the respected statesman, M. Spaak, insisted on a 66⅔ majority in favour of the return of King Leopold before he would accept it. In the event, the pro-Leopold vote was only 57. 62 per cent., or thereabouts, and in view of the passionate opposition of the 42 per cent. it was not proceeded with. Incidentally, in the state of Illinois 66⅔ per cent. is also the majority that is required for the passing of an issue subject to referendum.
The advantages arc the enormous reassurance that this would give to the Protestant majority. It would reconcile them to a far larger amount of Catholic political power than would otherwise be the case. Secondly, I think it would cause the I. R. A. to think again. If they feel that they have only a short way to go before intimidating enough people, whether Catholic or Protestant, into 82 voting, and perhaps causing unemployment and driving people out of the country, it is an incentive for them to press on. If they feel that the objective is a long way away, they may possibly turn to more peaceful methods. The third advantage is that industrialists contemplating investment in the Province—and nothing is more needed than more industrial investment to reconstruct the country and mop up the unemployment—could plan on a 25 to 50 years time scale instead of a 10 to 20 years one. I urge serious consideration of this because I believe that, if you can remove the major fears of both communities simultaneously, you are well on the way to getting peace and harmony.
We have heard talk to-day of such horrible hypotheses as civil war and so on. I should like to say that this is not the reality in Northern Ireland. Five weeks ago to-day I took my family for a short holiday there. For three days and 225 miles we did not hear so much as a voice raised in anger nor, for that matter, did we see anybody in uniform. We stayed in communities which were completely mixed, divided between Catholic and Protestant, where people co-operated and led perfectly normal hard-working lives, and in the evening would drink a few pints of beer with one another, just like anywhere else in the United Kingdom. I think it is entirely wrong to say that it is impossible for Catholics and Protestants to get on in Northern Ireland. Some awfully pessimistic statements have been made. It is true that in some areas things have gone no doubt too far, but in large parts of the country conditions are peaceful and people try to co-operate, whatever subtle undercurrents there may be that I did not notice.
This is not just an academic point. Many otherwise educated, well-read and travelled people do not know the country at all. Surprisingly few people have visited it, and they arc all too inclined to believe that the people are a pack of fanatics or lunatics, and that the country ought to be jettisoned as soon as possible and cast adrift from the United Kingdom. This is very wrong, and we should make it clear that this is not the reality.
If the good, the positive and the constructive side, as shown by the areas that we visited, and also by the magnificent 83 and most impressive Ulster '71 Exhibition (which showed the industrial, agricultural, scientific and cultural potential of the community) were far better than the English news media led one to expect, the dark side was very much worse. Leaving the totally peaceful regions, one passed through what one might call grey areas; village after village, small town after small town where there were signs of recent petrol bomb attacks, bombing and looting, bullet holes in police station windows and so on, and where these evil men of the I. R. A. had stirred up communal tension where very little or none had existed before.
In case anyone doubts the iniquity of the I. R. A. I should like to read something written about them in 1934 which referred to the period in 1922 and 1923 when the Republicans were fighting the Free State Forces in the South:Fear, hate and suspicion took the place of the affection and friendliness which we all felt for each other a few years ago. 'An ounce of fear is better than a ton of love', said a leading Republican summing up the policy of his Party.Belfast was very much worse than anyone who has not been there recently can possibly imagine. I had been there a year previously when the destruction was confined mainly to West Belfast, the Falls and Shankill Road areas, the Ardoyne, Ballymurphy and so on; now it is universal.
It is a terrible thing to see a United Kingdom city of 386,000 inhabitants (almost as large as Bristol, and in fact larger than Newcastle-on-Tyne and Huddersfield combined) reduced as early as 7.30 in the evening to resembling a science fiction film of London after an atomic war. The Financial Timescorrespondent wrote on September 3:Life in Belfast has a distinctly similar air to life in British cities during the days of the German blitz."I do not think that this is an exaggeration. In intensity one cannot possibly compare them, but I would say that it is less like the blitzwhere at least there was the possibility of people taking shelter, and more like the V.2 attacks because of the suddenness of destruction and violent death.
Between 7 and 8 in the evening virtually no cars are to be seen on the 84 street. Such cars as there are drive well into the centre of the road in case a multi-storey office block comes tumbling down on top of them. They shoot through red lights because, statistically speaking, the chances of being bombed or shot at are fewer the less you linger at a light, and there is very little danger in doing so because there is little cross traffic. Such pedestrians as there are scurry about keeping to the middle of the road in case they are cut to ribbons by flying plate glass from a window of a shop in the street being bombed. It is awful to see. I must say that I found it very difficult to sleep properly for a fortnight or so after coming back from Belfast.
It is perhaps opportune and right to end by paying a tribute not only to our troops, whose job could not be more unpleasant anywhere at the moment, but also to the peace-loving ordinary people in the stricken urban areas of Northern Ireland who are trying to carry on through all this trouble: the police, whose wives and children are now the objects of I. R. A. attacks; the policewomen, too—and I do not think it is generally appreciated that there are policewomen in these stations which are subject to attack by gelignite or machinegun fire; the firemen, who are terribly overworked and hard-pressed and often stoned by the very people whose houses they are trying to save; the ambulance crews; the workers in the Community Relations Commission, who are working day and night to rehouse people driven out of their homes by one side or the other; the bank clerks, the petrol pump attendants and the bus drivers, all of whom have jobs which, for obvious reasons, are particularly vulnerable at this moment; and all the people who are trying to carry on normal life and trying to prevent a city from dying—people such as the local government officials, the supermarket cashiers and the girls working in Marks and Spencer's, Woolworth's and the British Home Stores. I should like to say to that majority of peace-loving people in Ulster, that our sympathies are with them and that we do not intend to let them down.
§ 7.1 p.m.
My Lords, as one who is permanently resident in Northern Ireland and who, like all people 85 permanently resident in Northern Ireland, is deeply grieved and exercised about the present situation there, may I, with the greatest respect, start by saying how very encouraging it is to see that so many noble Lords have thought fit to come here and take part in this debate to-day? I am sure that to do so many noble Lords had to break holidays and travel very considerable distances. The fact that they did so, with the restrained, constructive and well-informed tone of the debate, is indeed comforting and gratifying.
I should like to reiterate, and perhaps sum up, what has been said. It is most important to recognise that there arc two distinct issues. The first is short-term and of immediate urgency, and that is the elimination of terrorism. The second is longer term and of far-reaching consequences, and that is to find a political settlement that will be equitable and generally acceptable. It is essential for everyone to understand that to confuse these two issues is not only erroneous but highly dangerous, because to confuse them is to confuse the terrorists who are responsible for all the trouble at the moment with the vast majority of the decent, peace-loving Roman Catholic population of Northern Ireland. The terrorists are not interested in reform. They arc not interested in "One man, one vote", in better housing conditions or in better employment. Their actions prove this. If they were concerned about the welfare of the Catholic population in Northern Ireland, they would not burn factories in Catholic areas. They are not interested in reform in the slightest degree, and since the reforms which are detailed in the White Paper of the Government of Northern Ireland, A Record of Constructive Change, terrorism has been on an escalating scale instead of reducing. On the whole, the Roman Catholic population do not want violence at all, and I do not think that many of the original sideline sympathisers with the civil rights movement wanted it. What we are dealing with to-day is something very different from a movement for social reform. I was very glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, say what he did because I was going to say something similar, although I should not have been able to say it so well.
86 Just under two years ago in your Lordships' House, I passed on evidence that I had received that the trouble which had then been taking place in Derry had been deliberately planned. How best to set about it had been researched for something like a year beforehand, and it had been carefully stage managed. Similarly, there is no doubt that at the moment there is stage management of the troubles that take place. I am glad to say that communal violence is a very much smaller factor than it was two years ago but, even so, there is distinct evidence of stage management. Earlier this year a Polish Communist was shot in one of the incidents. The Army has clear evidence that the experts within the I. R. A. who are responsible for explosive incidents and the setting of bombs have received training from outside the country, and indeed from Cuba. So to make the dangerous mistake of imagining that the I. R. A. are the spokesmen and the activists for a genuine section of the community, who have genuine and reasonable aspirations, would be one of the most terrible things that could come out of any discussion about Northern Ireland. They have nothing to do with—
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, the noble Lord makes a distinction between the gunman and the good population. But is it not the fact that the good population have grievances that tend to make them harbour the gunman? Will the noble Lord agree with that?
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, because I am coming on to that.
The noble Earl, Lord Longford, said that the majority of working-class Roman Catholics support the I. R. A. I do not know how he obtained his evidence for saying that, but if he went into the Ardoyne or Ballymurphy or the Falls Road, and asked working people in the streets or in the pubs whether or not they supported the I. R. A., then he would be not only a brave man but a very foolish man who came out into the open and said,"I deplore the I. R. A. I want nothing to do with them." It is a pity that the noble Earl is not here, as I should be interested to know how he obtained his evidence. But, certainly among those of 87 us who do not make only the occasional visit but live in Northern Ireland all the time. the impression is that there are very many Roman Catholics who do not support the I. R. A. but would not dare to say so.
The visiting V. I. P. observer quite often finds it difficult to get the true picture. I know that many journalists of international repute were "taken for a ride" when they went to Northern Ireland. They went into a pub to get the local feeling, and they were filled up with Guinness and a lot of boloney and went back and wrote a lot of stuff which anyone on the spot could immediately detect as unreal. The special programme to impress the visiting V. I. P. is quite an art form and—who knows?—perhaps the noble Earl, Lord Longford, when visiting some of the other premises which he has been researching in recent months, may have found a special programme laid on for him. I am sorry for that slight diversion.
The point I am trying to make is that to make concessions in the hope of moderating the activities of the gunman will do exactly the opposite of what is wanted. For instance, to release internees in the hope that that will stop the bombing and the shooting will merely encourage them to think,"We are getting somewhere. We will persevere with this." Similarly, if there was any hint of withdrawal—and I was glad to hear several noble Lords say this to-day—if there was any hint of wobbling on the part of this country or of Her Majesty's Government, if there was any hint of, "We have almost had enough of this; let us get out of it", that would be extremely dangerous. I was glad to hear the resolution expressed by your Lordships, and particularly by noble Lords on both Front Benches. That is a great encouragement to us.
My Lords, whereas I think we should be absolutely resolute in our determination to stamp out violence, this in no way means that one need be unreasonable or intransigent as far as a political settlement is concerned—the second issue to which I referred. Indeed, I think there is nothing inconsistent about being something of a "hawk" on the first issue, that of security, and something of a "dove" on the second issue, that of a 88 political settlement. Perhaps, in a very crude way indeed, that would describe my own position.
To deal with the first issue—the security problem—I recognise that to solve this problem is much easier said than done. It does not matter where you go, people always have the solutions: "If I were Mr. Faulkner, I would do this"; "If I were Mr. Heath, I would do that"; "If I were General Tuzo, I would do the other ". It is much easier said than done. For those who actually have to do it, I realise that there are a number of restrictions which do not apply to the uncommitted orator. There is the shadow of the political consequence of whatever action may be taken. There is the possible adverse effect on the economy if restriction of movement is introduced or if the normal freedoms of a country in peace time are removed. Similarly, the possible adverse effect on society and the impression of panic that can be created if over-strong measures seem to be taken, and the fact that if the Government and those in authority seem themselves to be panicking—these things can indeed exacerbate the situation. But what we have to ask is: if stronger action had been taken earlier, would the situation have been any worse than it is now? It is rather difficult to answer that question, but it is difficult, in view of the present situation, to see how it could have been much worse when one considers the terror and the suffering, and the wretched people who have been burnt or intimidated out of their houses. Intimidation, I would say, my Lords, is possibly the most dangerous thing of all. It can so easily be done—the anonymous telephone call, the anonymous letter, the knock at the door in the night, the hint given to the neighbours. It can be a very uncomfortable situation, and perhaps it is intimidation which can erode the morale of the civilian public more than anything else.
Then, as far as the economy is concerned, there is the enormous cost of the destruction of property and claims for compensation. I do not know if any estimate has been made of the entire cost of this so far, but it must be astronomic. Then there is the economy itself so far as the ordinary citizen is concerned. I do not think we have heard 89 the full story of this yet. There are businesses in Belfast (and, I imagine, in Derry, but I know more about Belfast) which are literally heading for bankruptcy this autumn because, as other noble Lords have said, people just do not want to go into Belfast to do their shopping, they do not want to go into Belfast to do their business; and businessmen from across the water, from Europe or from the United States, will think up any old excuse not to come. I have had this in my own experience. There were people who were going to come to stay with us from the United States and do some business when they were here but who found that they had a prior engagement and could not come. I knew jolly well why they were not coming. This is very serious indeed, and I think the full story about it has still to be heard. It is easier said than done, my Lords; and also easy to be wise after the event.
Intornment has been mentioned this afternoon. Was it right, I wonder, or was it, as some noble Lords have suggested, an error of judgment? I think there are some pros and cons here. No doubt there have been many successful arrests. In an exercise of this sort there must be some arrests which are not of great significance, but I think there have been a good few successful arrests; and if active members of the I. R. A. have been taken off the streets and put inside, this is obviously a good thing. But I am afraid that one cannot escape the fact that internment has further split the community. This is extremely sad, and at a most unfortunate time for it to happen.
Another thing that internment has done, I am afraid, is to give an opportunity for all the allegations of brutality against the Army. I know that whereas military policemen are the same all over the world and that when they are arresting someone they do not say,"After you, sir," at the same time I know that the allegations of brutality have been carefully managed and planned. By coincidence, I happen to know the name of the man who is responsible for a lot of this planning. As soon as internees arc released, they are quickly briefed, before they can be interviewed by anyone, as to what they ought to say so as to ensure that their stories tie up with those of other internees with whom they have 90 had no opportunity to compare notes in the meantime, which makes it look on the face of it very convincing. As a public relations exercise, if any of your Lordships have a business and want a public relations officer I will give you the name of this man, because he is really very good at it.
Internment is a hideous measure, as the Home Secretary has said, but is it any more hideous than murder? I think the answer must be "No". There is, I gathered just yesterday, in fact considerable optimism among the military that the results of internment are going to become more and more convincing in the near future. I sincerely hope that that is the case, because public morale would be a great deal higher at the moment if internment had really been seen to work shortly after it had been brought in. In the event, what happened was that the internees were put away, there was an immediate escalation of explosions and bombings, and people tended to say,"Things are worse than they were before". Let us hope that the optimism of the Army is justified and that improved results will become apparent.
If internment has not been as effective as it might have been, would it be unreasonable to suggest that this is because there is absolutely no restriction whatsoever on entry into or egress from Northern Ireland? The noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, referred to the Border, and I think he said,"So far as I know, there is no tight control of vehicles crossing the Border ". I can tell the noble Lord that in my experience—because I have been across the Border twice in the last few weeks—there is no control whatsoever. On one occasion I went down towing a horse trailer with a horse inside it. I had not been across the Border with a trailer before for some time, and so I stopped. Eventually a Customs man came out and more or less said,"What's the matter? Have you broken down?" On another occasion, more recently, I was coming back from the South with a vintage racing car on a trailer. It was a much more pleasurable circumstance that I was in at the time. Again I stopped, and eventually a Customs man came out. There were no police, no Army; nothing like that around. He asked me two questions. The first question was, "Have you brought any cigarettes, tobacco or 91 spirits? "I answered" No ". The second question was," What year would that car be?". That was the full extent of the security check to which I was subjected on either occasion. If I was trying to get a few hundredweight of gelignite through the Border, I would not chance my navigation on trying to take one of the unapproved roads; I should go up the main road to Belfast from Dublin. Most of the traffic does not stop at the Border, nor does it appear to be expected to stop. Control would be inconvenient, there is no doubt about it, but I suggest, my Lords, that it would be worth it. I remember that five or six years ago during one of these "troubles" one had to stop and there would be a random check, they would look into the bonnet or the boot. There was no great inconvenience. I think it is surprising at this stage that it is easier to get through the Border than ever before in my recollection.
I turn to other security matters, to the control of arms and explosives. Earlier this year I was in the United States when the hijacking of aircraft was all the rage. Before boarding an aeroplane one had to hand over all the metal objects in one's pocket and one walked in front of a detector machine. If anything metallic was being carried it showed up. This involved a delay of something like seven to ten minutes and people did not complain; it was no great inconvenience. In order to stop people bringing weapons into the country, would it be beyond the marvels of modern science to do something like this? Similarly, we have heard about "gelignite sniffers". Would it not be possible to check on freight coming in both at seaports and airports using "jelly-sniffers" to make sure there was nothing in the freight. I realise that this would mean that there would have to be a guard on the smaller fishing ports as well. So far as the authorised importation of gelignite is concerned, once it is inside the country I should have thought the obvious thing to do would be to have it held at some central armoury and that any licensed user, contractor or quarry owner, would have to indent for the amount of gelignite required. Blasting and so on could be carried out under the supervision of a Government inspector and the surplus from a particular operation could be handed back under signature.
92 There are certain other matters about which I do not have enough experience to know whether or not they should be pursued: for example, identity cards and travel permits, to make it easier to check on people coming into and going out of the country. There is also the matter of vehicle restrictions in certain areas. Is it right that in those areas where shootings and bombings predominantly take place vehicles should be able to drive in and out without restriction? These are just a few suggestions. The vast majority of people in Northern Ireland who deplore and detest violence would not resent the inconvenience. Far from resenting it, I think that they might welcome it; for by making a small sacrifice of this kind they would be contributing something towards solving the security situation. I think that perhaps the authorities have been too thoughtful and considerate in this way in the past.
Perhaps the "hottest potato" on security is the Third Force which has been advocated by certain vocal elements in Northern Ireland. In the presence of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, I should not like to argue the rights or wrongs of the disbandment of the "B" Specials. But to try to re-form them now would serve no purpose and administratively would be, if not impossible, at least far from easy. I think that the right thing is to support the policy of the Northern Ireland Government over the establishment of a strong U. D. R. In that respect—and I do not know at what level this happens—if the screening for recruits for the U. D. R. could be speeded up it would be excellent. There have been many misgivings among people I knew in the T. A., that men with successful and meritorious careers in the T. A. who have applied for the U. D. R. have been turned down for no apparent reason. This sort of thing passes round quickly in sergeants' mess circles and I am afraid that in that respect in some circles the U. D. R. has not quite got the good name it deserves to have.
There is already a Third Force in existence but one which Her Majesty's Government seem to feel it would not be appropriate to use. That is the Army Volunteer Reserve. I know that opinions are divided about this; I realise that 93 there are legal problems and that something in the nature of a Proclamation would be required to enable the A. V. R. to be called out. I can only say that it seems to me astonishing that a force of this size—I am not sure of its total numbers since the disbandment of A. V. R.3, but there are something like two and a half thousand men who are highly trained to use expensive sophisticated equipment—should still be "playing soldiers" and pretending to prepare themselves for a NATO role, when that comes up.
One thing is for sure. I am sorry to speak like this, but this situation cannot be allowed to go on. I have tried not to overstate the case, but the effect that the situation is having on public morale in Northern Ireland and on its economy is such that it must be got to grips with now. I will not elaborate further except to say one other thing that I am sorry to have to say. More and more responsible people are becoming increasingly worried that Her Majesty's Government are unaware of the gravity of the situation and, in the bargain, as many Catholics as Protestants are apprehensive. The Home Secretary, I thought, was reassuring on the "Panorama "programme on television on Monday, but I hope that arising out of this debate the noble and learned Lord who winds up will be able to give a very firm and unequivocal assurance that will help reverse this apprehensive trend in public thought.
I want to say a word about a second issue which is completely distinct from the issue of security. It is the question of a political solution. I am very interested that the noble Lord, Lord Monson, should have had the same idea as I have. Before attempting anything else, I think that the one issue that has bedevilled relations between Northern and Southern Ireland and Great Britain and Southern Ireland and, indeed, has made relations strained between Northern Ireland and Great Britain for the last 50 years, should be disposed of. That issue is the Northern Ireland constitutional position vis-à-vis the Republic of Ireland. I would agree with the noble Lord that despite the snags—and there are many—a referendum should be held in the North to establish as of this moment without any shadow of doubt how many people want to remain in the 94 United Kingdom and how many want to join the Republic. I know that referenda are dangerous and that in a democracy that works as does ours in this country there is no need for them; but these are exceptional circumstances and there might be something to be said for a referendum. In the event of there being a referendum, the noble Lord suggested I think something like a two-thirds majority. I should be happy to go for a straight majority.
Before such a referendum were held Her Majesty's Government should invite the Government of the Republic of Ireland to join with them in agreeing to honour without reservation the result of the referendum, so that if a majority in the North voted in favour of joining the 26 counties, Ulster would go into the South with no questions asked. If a majority were in favour of the retention of partition and of remaining within the, United Kingdom, Mr. Lynch would have to recognise Stormont and the issue would not be open for discussion in any circumstances by either side for, say, ten years or some such period. Furthermore, there should be a three-Power declaration on the position of Northern Ireland, coupled perhaps with a reform package. I think that the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill of the Maine, would probably agree that if the issue of the Border—which for 50 years has bedevilled everything that anyone has tried to do—had not been in the way when he was trying to do something perfectly normal, to have civilised exchanges with the leader of a neighbouring State, Mr. Lemass (and the fact that people suspected that he was brewing up some ghastly plan that they would hear about later) things would have been very much easier. If we could get this issue out of the way, I think that relations would achieve a much greater degree of normality.
Many people, perhaps quite a number of noble Lords, may consider that this would be a pointless exercise because most people know, or strongly suspect. that the majority in Northern Ireland would favour remaining inside the United Kingdom. But I think that there are a few very important things that this course would achieve. First, it would do more than anything else to allay Protestant fears. One or two noble Lords have referred to this matter. Protestant fears 95 are very real and the danger of a backlash must not be underestimated. The situation is fairly volcanic, I would say. A few weeks ago, but for the extraordinary diplomacy and systematic and statesmanlike action of Mr. Billy Hull, a shop steward in the shipyard of Harland and Wolff, we might have had a very nasty situation. Thank God we have trade union leadership such as that!
If this were to happen and it was underwritten that there would be no change in the Constitution of Northern Ireland for ten years, it would remove the present stated aims of terrorist activities; and if the terrorist activities continued, it would become more clear than ever that this was a campaign of a different sort. Thirdly, it would enable dispassionate and constructive discussions to take place between the three Governments, which I think could well be in the long-term interests of the Republic of Ireland. After all, the I. R. A. are not interested only in Northern Ireland. They would quickly turn their attention—in fact in certain instances they have done so already—to the social structure in the South. With the European Economic Community question coming up, this could well be much more in the long-term interests of the Republic than making any progress towards a political solution which would put the Six Counties in with the 26. It would call, of course, for a fundamental sacrifice of principle on the part of Eire; but I think that what we all have to realise is that sacrifices which hurt are needed on both sides, from the North as well as from the South, and also a sincere admission of past errors.
This may seem an unrealistic proposition. Noble Lords may feel that it goes without saying that Mr. Lynch would never agree to this. But is it all that unrealistic? After all, to his credit Mr. Lynch agreed that he would like to see the Six Counties join with the 26, not by coercion but by consent. If the majority of people in the Six Counties indicated that they would not consent, surely there is the answer. Dr. Conor Cruise O'Brien, who has been quoted this afternoon, has said that to have a 32-county Republic with a quarter of the population dissatisfied would be no great advance on having the Six Counties with a third of 96 the population dissatisfied. Once, and only once, has this been done, and I think it would be possible to take a careful and unemotional view of the Northern Ireland Government in consultation, as the Home Secretary has proposed, with all factions and all shades of opinion.
The sort of thing that might be considered is proportional representation. I am not a demographer; I do not know exactly what the implications would be. But I think that it would be worth looking at. One has to recognise that British democracy works only in a society which is mainly homogeneous, and therefore possibly the entire political structure would have to be reviewed, perhaps with a view to trying to get compromises of the sort that I understand they have in Belgium, Switzerland and Canada. But whatever is done to allay Catholic fears—and I think that the Protestants have to make sacrifices in the North to allay Catholic fears—it is important that any reforms, political or any other, that are made should be underwritten by Westminster so that, no matter what sort of Government came to power in Northern Ireland, and however Right Wing it might be, the Catholics would know that those reforms were entrenched. Gestures of good will from North and from South would help, and I should like to see more of them. With respect to the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill of the Maine, I believe that if the Unionist Party would break its formal links with the Orange Order, or if the Orange Order broke with the Unionist Party, it could be to the long-term advantage of both. Similarly, I think that if the Dublin Government could remove themselves further away from the Roman Catholic hierarchy, that would be a gesture of good will and would help.
My Lords, I have nearly finished. I have spoken depressingly, I am afraid, but all things are not hopeless. It is difficult not to be pessimistic in the short-term, but I am optimistic in the long-term. With good will and perseverance. and the grace of God, all things are possible. Surprisingly enough, there is still quite a lot of all three commodities in Northern Ireland. Fortunately we have had, by our standards, a quite considerable period of relative communal peace, and this is encouraging. For this break that we have had, and for this 97 encouragement, I must pay tribute to the trade union leaders. I mentioned Billy Hull, and there are also Sandy Scott and Billy Blease. If we had not trade union leadership of the calibre that we have in Northern Ireland, the mind boggles at what the situation might be.
Noble Lords have referred to the Northern Ireland Labour Party. I have the greatest admiration for the calibre of the people in the Northern Ireland Labour Party. I think it is one of the biggest tragedies of the whole Northern Ireland situation that the Labour Party did not years ago succeed in uniting Catholic and Protestant workers to fight the battles they ought to be fighting, for better working conditions and to have a healthy balance of power between labour and capital, such as exists in this country. That is one of the saddest things, and that it has not been achieved is certainly not for the want of sincere effort on the part of genuine and able people. But as a result of that effort there has been a most commendable restraint on both sides on the part of people under severe provocation—as indeed there has on the part of the Army, for whom no praise is too great. As I said before, there has been a carefully stage-managed campaign of slander and blackguarding of the soldiers, and they have been able to take it with good humour. When they stop you on the roads they are cheerful, and polite and courteous, and I always make a point of thanking them very much.
As for me, my Lords, I am still backing Northern Ireland. If I may say so, with respect, the light at the end of the tunnel—and I think there is a little light at the end of the tunnel—will not grow bigger and brighter until this lifeblood-draining terrorism has been put down once and for all.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
My Lords, I listened with interest to the noble Lord, Lord Dunleath, but I want to inform the House and noble Lords that they need have no fear. I think it very difficult for anybody to say much that is new to a well-informed House such as this. Despite the fact that I should like to go into the relationship between the Celts and the Gauls and the Irish, and detain the House for an hour on this entertaining Celtic mythology, I think that if I 98 take ten minutes, even if I make a bad speech, the noble Lord who follows me will be delighted. So I will try at least to please the House by that, even if I fail in respect of the erudite or semi-erudite point of view that I wish to bring forward.
The first axiom which arises from this debate is that Irishmen are not Englishmen and do not want to be Englishmen. That is the first axiom we have to bear in mind in dealing with this problem. Consequently, the Celts do not carry rancour and bitterness and race hatred. This is one thing we can eradicate from our minds. We are seeing here not 400 but 800 years of misrule. In 1172 King Henry II was asked to help, as Ethelred the Unready was asked by old Strongbow to fight against the Saxons. Ever since in Ireland the English have had on their hands a problem they have never solved, and this historic House has reverberated with great and wise speeches over the last 150 years (not in this very building, which replaces that burned down in 1834) in the stuggle to find an answer to this problem. We have approached it in a coherent pattern throughout history. First, we tried to coerce the Irish, from the days of the Plantagenets to the Black and Tans. I hope to God we are not going to try that again! Secondly, we tried reform. James I tried that, and the Labour Government, some Conservative Governments and Gladstone's Government tried it: none of it succeeded. I do not blame the Party opposite or anybody else individually; the blame is distributed among all. Ireland has been exploited and a religious dichotomy has been set up that amazes a Primitive Methodist Welshman.
To-day we are trying to find the answer with 12,000 troops (God bless them!), who are able neither to heal nor to solve the problem of keeping the peace and keeping down the gunmen. We have no Henry Grattan to-day, unfortunately; no Wolfe Tone, who, in spite of the fact that he was executed as a traitor, tried to get Protestant and Catholic to unite. Grattan said:The Irish Protestant can never be free until the Irish Catholic has ceased to be a slave.If we interpret "slave" in terms of not having equality of opportunity, that should be axiomatic in any approach we 99 British bring to the Irish problem. Perhaps to-day, therefore, we shall realise that guns, bombs and stones are no answer the problem.
I was delighted to hear the noble Lord, Lord Dunleath, pay tribute to the trade unionists in Northern Ireland who have acted with wisdom. I myself have been over there for the Labour Party. These men are faced with the reality of earning grubstakes and they understand the need for both sides to get together. This is happening even with the untouchables in India, where the conditions of modern technological society are forcing men to touch them. In considering men earning their bread and butter in the aviation and shipbuilding industries, both Catholic and Protestant trade union leaders are able to co-operate. I do not know what religious views the noble Lord maintains, but I appreciate what he said about these men, who get no headlines but struggle in offices, shops, small factories and small industries to keep the wheels of commerce going. I, too, would like to pay tribute, not politically, to the wisdom of these men who have tried to end this holocaust.
I do not look on the Irish as wild men. I must not allow myself to stray into talking about the beauty of the Irish music and culture, but 100 years before St. Augustine came to Christianise Britain the Irish had a marvellous civilisation of music, art and poetry. We are not dealing with wild people but with a people whose qualities cannot be quantified.
It is important to realise that this problem is an immediate one and is much more relevant to Britain's future status and prosperity in the world than any rush into the Common Market. Religious and emotional enmities are mainly foreign to the average man in the street, but the scars over Ireland's wounds are always burning. Ulster is like the phantom leg of an amputatee. The leg is no longer there but the pain is there. The leg is no longer there but the sensations are there. And the Anglo-Saxon must understand that in the Celt and Gael the sensations are often more important than the reality of the moment.
We therefore have to face up to the problem of violence breeding violence. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in a moderate and constructive speech dealing 100 with his responsibilities for defence, raised a number of important questions. Like all of us, he tried not to create any feeling that would exacerbate the situation; but I was worried about his expression (perhaps I have it wrong) about Territorial volunteers to the U. D. R. I would like this idea clarified, in order that it should be crystal clear that anything like the old Black and Tans, whom I remember too well as a young man, will not be revived and that irresponsible types will not be encouraged to use ultra-violence and join forces for that purpose. In passing, how are my ten minutes going? Two minutes should do!
I should like to pick up what has been said by Enoch Powell, who seems to treat Ireland as a foreign country and in that connotation implies that it means an enemy country. But we have been allies with all kinds of foreign countries, including Portugal, and the blood of Irishmen has been shed fighting for democracy against Hitler and Fascism and in helping in the red old days of Victorian Britain to build the mighty Empire of which we were proud.
When Mr. Powell talks of Mr. Heath's "stupefying innocence", Mr. Powell does not know his own leader, because no man is less innocent than the Prime Minister. Nevertheless, so far as I am concerned,"stupefying innocence" is better than calculated evil, and often malevolent and pseudo-erudition can be mistaken for wisdom. I consider that Mr. Powell's approach was unwise and made no contribution towards solving the problem but rather exacerbated it. Mr. Powell puts it forward as being logical, but Solomon did not ask for logic and for arithmetical powers to quantify the stars in the constellations and their movement. He asked the Lord God above for a simple attribute—wisdom—and that apparently is what Enoch Powell cannot apply to the Irish problem. To avoid the Protestant backlash, I agree that we should not have a Third Force.
Finally (and here I throw my notes away to keep as near as I can within a reasonable time on a vital topic like this, that I should have liked to range 'over a little wider), I want to say that this House this evening deserves congratulations for the number of noble Lords who have taken the trouble to turn up. It is 101 all very well for the scoffers to say: "What will they do? They will only be able to talk." But this is the truth. First there was the Word before there was any creative effort, and it may be that when we have the chance to read through what has been said in this House and in the other place we shall be able to distil from that some points that can lead to a new approach to this mighty, religious and also economic problem with which we are confronted in Ireland.
I would recommend anybody to take the trouble to read the New Societythis week (and this is not a plug for the paper), where there is quite an analysis by David Marquand of the book that has been mentioned so many times in this debate, Governing Without Consensus, by Professor Rose. He takes rather a lugubrious view, and finishes by saying:The Protestant majority in Northern Ireland regard the Stormont regime as theirs, and wish to retain it. The Catholic minority—like the Catholic minority in the rest of Ireland before the Treaty—are sometimes willing to tolerate it and sometimes unwilling. But they do not identify themselves with it or give it their emotional allegiance. For the gulf in attitude between the majority and the minority "—and this roughly agrees with what the noble Lord said—is not the result of poverty, deprivation or economic backwardness. Well-off Catholics are more hostile to the regime than poor ones and more willing to support illegal demonstrations against it. Catholics who live in industrial Belfast are as alienated as those who live in the rural areas. Even anti-Catholic discrimination may not be as important a factor as it is sometimes thought to be. The gulf is not a gulf between poor men and rich men… It is a gulf between Catholics and Protestants …I still believe this to be true, and the final answer to that is one of the puzzles of the age. But this House and this country should try to solve it, because to us as a nation our future and the way we look to the rest of the world depends on our attitude to Ireland in the next year or two.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, I will not attempt to be as analytical as the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek. My intervention is prompted for two reasons: first, my conviction of the unwisdom of the recall of Parliament at all; and, secondly, to add my voice to those of all others who have urged the need by the Government for firmness in every phase of this 102 situation. I think my first reason was wrong, because the recall has given the opportunity for a presentation of brilliance and information by my noble friend Lord Carrington, who opened the debate, followed by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, as Leader of the Opposition, who was skilful enough to make a most effective speech without entering on to any provocative or dangerous ground. It may have been thought that there would be several speeches which might be inflammable in this situation, but in the event we have had most informative speeches, and I have listened to every one that has been made. I do not propose to proffer any suggestions or advice, because it is on the Government's plate to make the decisions as to what should be done. I was particularly interested in the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Bacon (she aptly chose a green costume for an Irish debate), which was constructive and reminiscent of the responsibilities which she had.
We have just had a most interesting speech from the noble Lord, Lord Dunleath. In the last century and the early part of this century his family made a great contribution to Northern Ireland, and I am sure that we are all glad that as a young man he should come here and be so forthright in his advice. I was glad that the noble Lord. Lord Hunt, saw fit to emphasise that internment was unavoidable..
I listened with interest to the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Longford—and we could not have a debate like this without a contribution from the noble Earl. He speaks with the authority of office. Those of us who read his book may feel that it was slanted perhaps, and less frank than that of Alyson Phillips, but I was glad that he condemned outright the terrorism in the North of Ireland. We had already had a denunciation of it from the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. As a diplomatic aside to this debate, in the past terrorists have not been denounced in the way that they should be, but have been given the term of freedom fighters ", be it in Southern Africa, in Israel, and I suppose now in East Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The weakness in the latter part of last year, or the beginning of the term of the new Government, causes me to feel that the Home Secretary was too liberal in view and too irresolute in action. 103 Had there been firmer and more definite action when the new Government took over last year, the situation might have been less difficult that it is. But I admit that they had a bad inheritance from the still greater weakness of the earlier Government.
I spent last weekend in Eire, listening to people well informed about both Eire and Ulster, and I was all the more disturbed by the situation, which has already been emphasised by Lord Orr-Ewing, that alien professional agitators have got into the act so that to-day a very inflammatory position exists. The divided thinking by the I. R. A., the launching last weekend of the Republican United Party and the very violent speech by Mr. Boland—all these things illustrate the difficulty of the situation South of the Border. North of the Border there is clearly a danger in not keeping clear the distinction between Presbyterians and Protestants. It is this, in addition to the failure of so many to remember the emotional inconsistencies of the Irish, that makes difficult any practical reasoning which might be considered normal. I was surprised that the noble Earl, Lord Longford, should say that in his view Catholics as a whole in Northern Ireland were behind the I. R. A. and that now they regard the British Army as their enemy. Surely there must be some mistaken thinking about that.
I have made innumerable sojourns in both Ulster and what is now Eire and, looking back over the years—although it could perhaps be said that there is little point in harking back to past troubles—it so happened that I was brought back from active service in Gallipoli and Palestine for work in the War Office. I found myself in Dublin in the spring of 1916, involved in the attack on the Four Courts. That intensified my interest in Ireland, and the reason I wanted to take part in this debate, and have listened to every speech, is that my mind goes back to my officer friends who were killed in the troubles in Ireland when the British Army tried to keep the peace. I sat with the Irish in the Commons and remember the discussions that led up to the agreement of December,1921. One did at least enjoy the golden oratory of the Irish, as it was then, and now perhaps Parliament has been robbed of this pleasure. 104 I hope the Government will remember that there are millions of voters who put them in office who fear that there may be a weakening of resolution in the maintenance of the Dominions of the Crown, and it is a plea for firmness in every situation that I would make to the Government. I seem to remember that in earlier discussions on the Irish situation it was Birrell of the Liberal Party who, in a Liberal Government, said it was inescapable that minorities should be oppressed. With regard to the North of Ireland, I seem to remember Carson's call, "Ulster would fight and Ulster would be right."
My Lords, it is on those grounds that I reiterate the plea that the Government will be firm in their handling of the situation and, perhaps as in a commercial or military undertaking, when the front gets too extended, narrow the front, concentrate it and then, having got the situation in hand, proceed with the newer arrangements which may bring about a better position and, in this particular situation in Ireland, the peace that we all hope will result from firmness and wisdom.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
My Lords, I shall confine myself to one point only, because I feel that we have had not only a great deal of historical recall but also quite a lot of poetry and quite a lot of recrimination, political and otherwise. But it is important to realise that what we are witnessing in Ireland is certainly not a new situation, and certainly not one that has been conjured up by people in the sugar fields of Cuba, or wherever it is thought these people are coming from. I am surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Dunleath, should expect the Irish to be taught by people who are now supposed to be the professional fosterers of mischief, because of course the Irish are superb at this: they always have been.
Part of the history which we always forget about Ireland is that the story, which has heavy overtones of oppression, religion and everything else, provides one of the most illuminating examples of what we are now calling guerrilla warfare. Indeed, when I was connected during the war with political warfare part of the study one made, or expected people to make, in trying to build up resistance 105 movements, or what we now call guerrilla movements, was to study the Irish. The reason why I want to make one point, and one point only, is to ask Her Majesty's Government, and the Government of Northern Ireland, what they think they are doing with internment. I have heard nothing to-day that can convince me that certain people have been screened out; we do not know that they have been screened out. What you do in internment is sweep up the people, and you are lucky if you can get one or two people whom you can identify as being either of the I. R. A. or whatever it may be. But in the meantime, as has been said in your Lordships' House to-day, you have created, as my noble friend Lord Longford said, sympathy for the I. R. A. among the Catholic population. I know that the Catholics in the North of Ireland and the South of Ireland are not people who are dedicated to violence, and they are certainly not people who are dedicated to the terrorist activities of the tiny minority of the Provisional I. R. A.
I notice that in our discussions we talk about law and order, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, has just done, about something called "firmness ". But while in using firmness we may achieve law and order, we have also created injustice. There is no justice whatever in concentration camps or internment. That is apart from the manifest failure of what we are supposed to be achieving.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I would ask the noble Lord to consider carefully whether there is any justice in shooting soldiers in the back. Also, if witnesses are intimidated and you cannot get evidence in a court of law, what alternative is there to what the most reverend Primate told us this afternoon?
§ Loan RITCHIE-CALDER
My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord for his intervention, because that is one of the points I was going to come to. I, as everyone else here has done, denounce terrorism, murder and everything which the terrorists are doing. But I repeat what I was trying to say: if you have intimidation, remember how you got it. It has been caused by a succession of situations. The sanction of intimidation is the knock on the door, and I 106 think that we have heard knocks on the door in Belfast which were not just the knocks of the I. R. A. There is the counter-violence which comes from acts of various kinds. Finally, you finish up by sweeping people into something you call internment. If I may, I should like to ask the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor how he defines the limitations which you are going to impose on internment. We are doing exactly that which we are supposed to have been resisting and resenting: concentration camps and threats.
The point I should like to make clear to the people who believe that by interment you can somehow or other break the intimidation, persuade people to talk, to turn informer, and so substitute for the intelligence which you do not have, is that internment will do nothing but foster a quite unreal and unnecessary sympathy for the people we are trying to weed out. This is an important aspect. In any resistance movement in any place in the world, including the Sinn Fein or the I. R. A. after the Treaty, if you create a situation in which a tiny minority of terrorists—or "resistance" as we used to call it when we were respectably creating it—can disappear into the landscape, then they are going to get away with it. The moment a population begin to absorb the people that they do not want or like, but are going to cover up, not through sympathy but apathy, or failure to respond and failure to give information, then you will not have the confidence of the people who ought to be providing the information.
§ 8.16 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF HEADFORT
My Lords, I hope that your Lordships will forgive me for speaking in this debate but, as many of you may know, I live in Southern Ireland and my family has lived there for over 300 years. I am very disturbed about the present situation, as I am sure we all are. The military situation is very bad indeed. When the Army first came in they were welcomed by the Catholics. The Catholics were told, and believed, that the Army were coming to protect them from onslaughts by Protestants and to keep the peace. Unfortunately, the present situation is that from the Catholic point of view the Army has lost its credibility as an impartial force. This is due to what happened 107 last year when the arms searches in the Catholic areas of Belfast were intensified and at the same time there appeared to be no arms searches going on in Protestant areas. And now we have internment. We have all heard the arguments in favour of internment, but it does not appear to have worked. Certainly the Catholic population regard it as yet another suppression of themselves and their friends. There is no military solution. We must find a political solution, for political reforms are long overdue. Proportional representation is one reform, and I hope that it will come soon.
With regard to employment, there is no doubt that jobs are still denied to Catholics, and houses are denied to Catholics, on the grounds of religion, although officially this is not supposed to be the policy. I know of two cases. One concerns the Royal Ulster Constabulary, where a medium-ranking officer, a Catholic, was told by the then Commissioner, Sir Arthur Young, that he regretted he was unable to promote the officer because he was Catholic. The officer was suitable in every respect, and in any other force he would have been promoted. That officer resigned and is now earning, as a chief security officer at a major airport elsewhere in the United Kingdom, three times more than he was earning in the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The other case that I know about concerned an advertisement for a matron in a hospital in Northern Ireland. There was a short list of three candidates, and again the Catholic candidate had all the attributes and qualifications required in far greater degree than did the other two. She did not get the job, but one of the other candidates, a Protestant, did. If we are going to have peace in Northern Ireland this sort of thing will have to stop. Catholic participation at all levels of Government is essential.
I have heard it said, and I have read, that economic pressure should be put on the Government of the Republic to take a stronger line with the I. R. A. in the Republic. As your Lordships know, the I. R. A. is a proscribed organisation on both sides of the Border. With regard to economic pressure on Southern Ireland, we should look at the Free Trade Agreement of 1965 and the results of that. 108 When the Free Trade Agreement started in 1965 Ireland was the ninth best customer of the United Kingdom—when I say "Ireland" I mean the 26 counties. By 1970 Ireland had become the third best customer. In fact, the United Kingdom has benefited more from the Free Trade Agreement than has Ireland, so that should be borne in mind if any case of economic sanctions were contemplated. The noble Lord, Lord Barnby, said that it was inescapable that minorities should be oppressed. I would point out that the Protestants in Southern Ireland are not oppressed, and so there should possibly be some chance of that situation occurring elsewhere.
Looking to the future, I feel that we must try to do something about the younger generation which is growing up. One thing I do not like to see is Catholics and Protestants being segregated in their own denominational schools. It would be a great help if we could have nondenominational schools where Catholics and Protestants should learn together and do everything else together, with access by their religious instructors, Catholic priests and Protestant and Presbyterian ministers as required. Unless we can bring up the children in the future, while they are small, not to hate one another the situation will continue into the future and there will be no solution. My Lords, I have intervened, but not for too long I trust, and I only hope that the future will turn out brighter than the present would indicate.
§ 8.23 p.m.
TIIE EARL OF ENNISKILLEN
My Lords, it is getting late and it is extremely difficult at this stage in your Lordships' debate to think of original things to say which noble Lords have not already touched on or discussed in full. I will confine myself to one or two aspects which I think can stand reiteration. First, like the noble Lord, Lord Dunleath, I think that this matter must be divided into two parts. The present terrorist campaign is one part and a separate issue, and the future and what can be done in the future is another issue. In regard to the terrorist aspect of the matter, I think that noble Lords will agree that most of the helpful suggestions which have been made are practicable and useful.
I would emphasise the leadership factor because I believe that this is a common 109 factor which runs through both these themes, both the terrorist side and the future side. One of the bedevilling factors to-day is that the true terms of leadership—which we know of and have experienced in the British Army and of which we have seen probably the most outstanding example of all our time in the behaviour of our British troops under quite fantastically excessive provocation—and the emphasis on leadership is not getting down to the ground. I feel that somewhere a stage is missing. It is obvious that it is getting down to the ground in our Regular Army. No troops could hold their own in the face of what they have had to stand up to, if their leaders were not a hundred per cent. But I feel that the indigenous people—by that I mean the inhabitants of Northern Ireland; I am not going to classify them as Roman Catholics or Protestants or in any other way; I call them inhabitants of Northern Ireland and think of them in that fashion, as I am sure the rest of your Lordships also do—are not getting this message. And I fear that the link which does not exist, or which has not been made to work, is the co-ordination we have had a long experience of putting into practice in all parts of the world: the co-ordination that lies between administration, police and the military. It may be all right at the top—I cannot say—but I am absolutely certain that it is not getting through to the bottom and that the link between the local police force in the local station, the Regular Army and the U. D. R. is not as strong as it should be, and it will have to be improved in order to breed confidence in the grass roots level where we want the confidence to be.
It is easy enough to say this; it is not easy to put into practice. It was much easier under colonial administration where we had the district commissioners or provincial commissioners who could take the administrative posts and co-ordinate the security committees. This is a factor which is missing in the situation operating in Northern Ireland to-day. But I do not think it would be difficult to find that link, to find men of calibre to take this job; and I am absolutely certain that we must build the morale of the troops on the ground—not the Regular Army—the police forces, the reservists, the U. D. R., and knit them into a well-oiled and well-running machine that is not just on the telephone to be rung up when there is a 110 fire, when it is too late. There is not enough formulation of plan on the ground, and I say this as an onlooker. An example which causes one immediately to think of matters of this kind is the Crossmaglen incident when the Army unfortunately, and very understandably, crossed the Borderline, which is totally indistinct in many ways. This surely could have been avoided. This is not making use of local knowledge; it is not making use of the people available, the people whom you ought to have up beside you and whose morale you increase so that the people to whom they are talking in turn gain in stature.
If we take the Royal Ulster Constabulary, re-formed now, as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said again to-day, as a civilian police force, nobody will disagree with this. But it is very difficult to have to put into effect what is a thoroughly and fundamentally correct decision with regard to the police in the middle of this sort of pressure without reducing the morale of the ordinary policeman out in far away stations and in the cities. It seems to me (and I have just put this thought forward) that it is very difficult to get that type of morale from—I say this with respect—an amorphous police authority, which admittedly had this unfortunate demise of one of its members publicised in a Press conference with the I. R. A. This does not breed confidence within the force and I feel that the officer level needs to be emphasised and needs to get down to the man on the beat. I am wondering a little to what extent this point is getting through.
My Lords, it is always true to say that there are no bad men. There is not a bad one in the whole of the R. U. C. But I get the feeling that they are lost. I get the feeling that the people in Northern Ireland who used to respect their police force now wonder where they are. I get the feeling that they see a policeman in a motor car but they do not see him on the beat. Of course it is very dangerous for him to be on the beat. I appreciate that, and I admire the courage of the police and I congratulate them on what they do. But they have got to be there; they have got to be seen. They have got to be the civil authority, and I do not feel that perhaps they are getting the complete confidence 111 and support, not only of the powers-that be but of the people on the ground, for the very same reason. Both of them are at sea and are lost.
Turning to the U. D. R., again I am utterly opposed to having any more forces in the field. I say this straight off. I think it is wrong; it would confuse the issue and I cannot see any good in it at all. You have the facilities and you should make use of them. You have the Ulster Defence Regiment. The ceiling on the Ulster Defence Regiment has been relaxed, and I sincerely hope that the members of the population who wish to contribute (and they do) and who have felt themselves lost at being unable to help recently, will join the Ulster Defence Regiment or the police reserve. Both need enormous reinforcements.
The noble Lord, Lord Barnby, has just said—I apologise for not being able to quote his exact words—that we must narrow the front. It is perfectly correct to narrow the front, but we must broaden the base. We are not broadening the base. We have formed the Ulster Defence Regiment, a highly worthy force, well disciplined. It is not a sectarian force; it was formed to enable anybody who wished to support the country and the Constitution to join. But it is a very brave Roman Catholic today who will join the U. D. R. One has to face this, and to realise that the only way that we shall get them to join is if they see the confidence of the majority restored and the force disciplined, controlled and active at night around their homes, protecting them as well as anybody else. This is the job of the Ulster Defence Regiment.
I live right on the Border. I am in the country and I cannot speak for the town, which is a very specialised place, but I suspect that the principle remains somewhat the same. People living in such places are reluctant to join the force if they have to drive 30 or 40 miles away from what they consider to be the front line of defence. For the sake of argument we will say that they have to leave their families on the Border in order to guard a waterworks 30 miles away. They are not going to join in order to do that. But if we can increase the numbers of the U. D. R. we can avoid that happening within the U. D. R. itself. 112 It is a matter of internal organisation; it is a matter for the battalion commander. Equally, I feel that it is a matter for the battalion commander to be able to allocate his duties between offensive and defensive roles. The defensive role can well be taken care of by older men. Many older men would be only too pleased to be called upon to serve again. We must make use of that willingness to serve or it will reflect in the general instability of the minority which has to be supported as well as the majority and its morale.
I believe that the age of enlistment to the Ulster Defence Regiment, which has now been raised, is not too significant a factor. I think it is important that the man selected should be capable of doing the job. A man of 65 can do an eight hour stint guarding a waterworks when he has had previous experience of how to do it; and I do not think it is right not to make use of what is approaching a crescendo of disappointed people. who themselves feel unprotected and who cannot operate. So I should like to see age not being regarded as the sole factor but ability to carry out the task for which a person is recruited. I recognise that this means expense. But consider the money that is going up in smoke! The enemy blows up a customs post consisting of a caravan. All right, that is a caravan gone, so we will put another caravan there. They will blow that one up and we will put another one there. I would think it is time we gave up putting caravans there for them to blow up. Why are there not enough men on the ground to make sure that the next time they come to do it they get their just reward?
It seems to me—other noble Lords have touched on this point—that the sense of urgency to defeat the guerrilla is not sufficiently evident throughout the country. As I have said, I appreciate that the towns arc a special job, and I think there is every sense of urgency within those towns. I have the greatest sympathy for the people in those towns. I believe people in the country feel that the situation is not being treated. seriously. We have heard to-night how simple it is to cross the Border. I have done it not just once or twice but hundreds of times, and I have been 113 stopped only once or twice. One cannot feel that the matter is being taken seriously. If I cannot feel it, how is the local farmer going to take it seriously? Of course he is not.
There is one other point with regard to the U. D. R. We are expanding the force and I would request the Government to look very seriously indeed at the administration of the force. They have vehicles, but how many people are there on the strength who are trained as fitters and mechanics to keep those vehicles in action? What are their communications like? I am told that they are not too good. This must be unforgivable because one relies upon communications. In the same way I understand that on many occasions when the police are using their wireless sets they are perfectly easily heard in every house in the street, and therefore most of the time they are giving away knowledge of what they are going to do. This is absurd. I admit that this is a detail, but it is part of the building up of the confidence within the country and the services and forces available.
Like many others I had prepared a number of points, all of which have been better covered by other speakers; but I would ask that the recruitment of the U. D. R. should be pursued with the utmost vigour and that the delay factor in recruitment be rectified. I ask that the number of pieces of paper that the recruit has to sign should be reduced. I may say that I have just gone through this myself so I know what I am talking about. It is quite fantastic. Surely in this day and age, with this sense of urgency, we could have a simpler form of registration, even if we have to review the position later on their officers having said that it is unsatisfactory. It seems to me more important that we should capitalise now before feelings of frustration build up.
The Territorial Army has been mentioned. I personally would not wish to see the Territorial Army involved at this stage if we can avoid it. I believe we can because I think we have sufficient manpower without interfering with the Territorial Army. I think it is perfectly correct that they should have the facility to resign and to join without loss of service or of status, but any further step than that it would be entirely incorrect. There is one point on the Territorial 114 Army. They have vehicles and wireless sets, and often they are in barracks and not being used, at a time when the U. D. R. might be able to make efficient use of them. I would commend that some investigation on the administrative and communications level be made in regard to Territorial equipment.
Information is probably the one single factor which must be encouraged and produced and drawn out. You will not get information from frightened people; and anybody who says that there is not fear and fright in both communities in Northern Ireland to-day—and I have not heard it said—would be very wrong indeed. If we can get the homes satisfactorily patrolled. if we can get the emphasis clearly placed that we mean business, if we can crater roads that are non-essential, if we can tighten up on Border security, and if, when riots are taking place in cities, the cut-off roads are blocked, we shall start to get information, but not before.
On the question of internment, many noble Lords have spoken, and two different opinions exist. Was it right or was it wrong? In the conditions in which internment was introduced, I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that it was the only and entirely correct action to take, because it has relieved a potential source of fear; and that is what we are trying to do, eliminate fear, eliminate the gangster from the generality. When we were fighting the Mau Mau in Kenya we got no information until we could secure the lives of those who were being intimidated. The people intimidated in Northern Ireland to-day are the Roman Catholic minority. This intimidation has got to be removed. There have been many suggestions made in favour of the minority—that we should do this and do that. But again the question appears to me to come back to leadership. I must say, with the greatest respect, that I would to God there were better leaders on their side.
We talked about a Third Force. We have a third Parliament, but I do not hear that being sufficiently condemned. My Member of Parliament has gone, so we are unrepresented. This is not leadership. You must deal with the tools you have in your hand, and I beg that side and that community to think again and to try, with our support, to stand up and 115 lead in the right direction. It is very difficult for them to lead in the context that they want to go in a totally different direction, but do they really want to go in this direction? Do their people really want to go in this direction? I think this is very questionable. Whether it should be put to the test now or later I do not know. I suggest that it would not be satisfactory to put it to the test at the moment when there is too much intimidation to make it really worth while. I think you would get a result inevitably somewhat similar to the position at the present moment, whichever way it went. If you can put down terrorism and eliminate intimidation, you are in the condition and climate when such test can be applied.
Although I dislike harping on the past in Irish history, I feel that you will not get back to a climate in which discussions, political or military, can take place with any ease without total and visible support of the majority of the people in Northern Ireland—and by that I mean the people of goodwill in Northern Ireland. The majority lie hidden in the Roman Catholic community, but they are very much in evidence in the Protestant community, and always will he. I think it is relevant, and I should like to quote to your Lordships a letter that Sir Winston Churchill wrote on the occasion when Mr. Andrews gave up being Prime Minister in 1943. He said:But for the loyalty of Northern Ireland and its devotion to what has now become the cause of thirty Governments or nations we should have been confronted with slavery and death, and the light which now shines so strongly throughout the world would have been quenched.That is not so long ago. Those are the sentiments with which we in Westminster and in England should deal with our brothers in Northern Ireland. We must not keep on saying, "You must give up this and that and you must do the other". You have got to support them, and you can then move in strength. Any other way you move in weakness. I commend them to your support. I think it is leadership we are looking for, and it must come basically from Westminster and from those of us on the ground who can give it. From the other side I hope that some really constructive lead will emerge from its leaders, or so-called leaders, as they stand to-day.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ LORD KILBRACKEN
My Lords, I am very glad to follow the noble Earl, Lord Enniskillen. Enniskillen is only 20 miles from Kilbracken and the Border runs between us, just as the Floor of the House runs between the noble Earl and myself to-day. I think it is worth commenting that I, only eight miles from the Border on the Southern side, find myself living with almost equal numbers of Protestants and Catholics in a situation where there is no intimidation or difficulties of any kind at present. I only hope it will stay that way, and he can have Enniskillen.
With the tinderbox situation that exists in the North to-day I feel that all our efforts here must be directed in one single short-term direction; and that is to discover, however difficult it may be, means of lessening without any delay the terrible tension that exists to-day and defusing the time bomb. I myself believe, and I have said so before in your Lordships' House, that the ending of partition by constitutional means—and I again emphasise by constitutional means—is the only permanent solution, when the time comes, to the problems of the North. I should like to advocate that course to-day, and I have thought deeply whether I should do so. But I am going to take the advice of my noble Leader, Lord Shackleton, who suggested that in present circumstances this proposal should be put in cold storage. I intend, so far as I personally am concerned, to place it there, and feel that it would not be helpful to press it at the present time.
We have a situation, as has been made abundantly clear by noble Lords who have personal experience of it, which I have not, in which a complete polarisation, unfortunately, has taken place. The two sides, the Unionists and the Nationalists—and I prefer to use those more accurate phrases than the misleading religious terms of Catholics and Protestants—confront each other in their entrenched positions. The British Army is for the time being identified with one of them, though I believe that it is far from impossible that it will find itself soon, perhaps to its surprise, back on the other side where it started, protecting the Nationalists. No one can doubt that 117 a full-scale civil war, with unprecedented bloodshed, could break out at any time. Somehow this has to be averted. What can be done to diminish at once this unspeakable tension and to end the bombings and the shootings? Surely the first thing is to end internment now. When this was proposed just now by my noble friend Lord Ritchie-Calder it at once provoked a response from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, who suggested that internment was the only possible course when, if the normal processes of law were used, there was the danger of intimidation which would prevent any jury from convicting. Can this really be the case? Is this really the situation in the Six Counties at the present time?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I do not think that the noble Lord got the point I was making. What I was primarily referring to, and what I referred to expressly, was the danger of witnesses being intimidated so that there was no evidence of any kind upon which judicial proceedings of any kind could take place. I was not primarily referring to intimidation of juries, although that is an important factor.
§ LORD KILBRACKEN
My Lords, I am sorry if I misrepresented the noble and learned Lord in any way. After all, if these men have been interned because, as we have been told by Mr. Faulkner on television, he is absolutely convinced they are dangerous criminals and murderers and he has evidence to that effect, that evidence has been provided by someone who is an enemy of the I. R. A., by someone who is a Unionist, and by someone who will be only too happy to put a suspected I. R. A. man behind bars and get him out of the way. I simply do not believe that a Unionist of that kind, who has given that information, is going to be unwilling to come forward and to present it in a court of law.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, the noble Lord is on a very important point, and he keeps on saying that the evidence must come from a Unionist. I hope he is not falling into the assumption that all the Roman Catholics are automatically on the side of the I. R. A. In fact, the evidence and information may be 118 coming from Catholics as well, living in Catholic communities.
§ LORD KILBRACKEN
My Lords, I am certainly not for a moment suggesting that all Catholics support the I. R. A.: I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, who quite erroneously attributed to my noble friend Lord Longford the opinion that the Catholics were 100 per cent. behind the I. R. A. I feel that if evidence of this kind is given by somebody to the police or to the Government it is not going to come from a Nationalist.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I do not think that the noble Lord is really facing the problem that has to be dealt with. People are prepared to give information in private, whether they be of one faith or political persuasion or another, which if they gave in public they might feel would endanger their families because of threats which had been issued, or because of some other danger which they feared. That means that the process of law, which involves evidence being given in public by witnesses who are identified and therefore vulnerable to attack, does not take place at all. The only question I asked the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, and the question with which the noble Lord is not even attempting to grapple, is what the authorities do when they get such information and cannot make use of the judicial process. I suggest that the most reverend Primate was right when he said that in those circumstances internment may he the lesser of two evils.
My Lords, the noble and learned Lord said that I am not grappling with the situation. I find it very difficult to grapple with the most learned legal authority in the country. I am sorry that the most learned legal authority in the country should be as willing as he is to support a principle which constitutes a complete denial of a basic principle of British justice, one that means so much to all of us and which I should have thought would have meant so much to him.
Where is this going to end? Are we going to continue to accuse people of murder or other crimes, put them in prison and not allow any evidence to be given, and not allow any witnesses to come forward? I want no part of that. I am opposed to it completely, and even 119 if I were not opposed to it as a matter of principle I oppose it simply because it has not worked. The whole justification for internment was that it was going to take the gun off the street. I ask your Lordships to look at what has happened in the Six Counties since detention and internment were introduced. There has never been such an escalation of violence as has taken place since those men were detained. Of course Mr. Faulkner can say how pleased he is that a couple of hundred alleged gunmen are behind bars and that this will make life less violent. I am not in favour of the I. R. A., and I do not want it to be thought for one moment that I support violence in any form; I am completely and absolutely opposed to violence and I am saying what does happen, not what should happen; but is it not quite clear that if you put 100 men behind bars 1,000 men will step forward to take their places and to kill and to seek revenge? That is what has happened, and that is what will continue to happen.
I suggest to your Lordships that it is only by admitting that this was a complete mistake, by taking those men who are said to be known murderers and charging them with that offence—not releasing them; it is not a question of releasing murderers but of charging them with an offence that they are alleged to have committed—and proving that they did it and letting the law, as certain noble Lords on this side of the House have said, take its course, that the shootings will diminish and some form of dialogue will be possible with the Opposition at Stormont, which is at present boycotting any such talks and Stormont itself until such time as the internees are released. In my opinion that is the first thing that should be done.
The other great objection to internment, as has already been pointed out—and practically everything has been pointed out by now—is that it is sectarian: that is to say that, so far as I know, not one Unionist, however extreme, has so far been detained. I want to draw your Lordships' attention to the case of one man, and this perhaps shows us how a court of law works at the present time in the Six Counties. It is the case of a former "B" Special. In this newspaper report his religion and 120 his political convictions are not stated. I am not going to name him, but I think that his background can be inferred from the facts. This gentleman was charged last week with unlawfully having in his possession 1,958 rounds of ammunition, two pistols, one rifle, one carbine, one silencer, a quantity of gun parts, five grenades and six detonators. These articles were found in what is described as a dugout under a concrete slab in his garage. When questioned after caution he said that they must have been there when he came to the house. Subsequently it came out that he had himself built the house and the garage in 1959 and nobody else had lived there.
Evidence was given by a constable, and there was corroborating evidence by a sergeant who reported that the guns had been recently oiled, as the oil was still damp. Also, the dug-out had been fitted with shelves. After being cautioned, the man who had been charged replied, "They must have been there for years". Can we really doubt that if that man had been a Catholic he would have been interned, though there would not have been any need to intern him because someone was found to give evidence in court and there was no intimidation? As a matter of fact, he made it clear in evidence that he was a Protestant, because he said that he used to leave his guns there when he went away for the day, such as on July 12. After an absence of 30 minutes, the jury returned to announce a verdict of not guilty.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I am very familiar with this case, because somebody else sent details to me. But what on earth does the noble Lord think that either I. or anybody else, can do with a jury which acquits? There is no appeal from an acquittal. The noble Lord has already denounced internment as the alternative. He has said that people should be charged. In this case the jury acquitted, and is that not a complete condemnation of the whole case that the noble Lord has been putting forward?
§ LORD KILBRACKEN
With the greatest respect, my Lords, I do not think so, because the difference in this case is that the defendant was an ex-"B" Special and a Protestant, and with such a defendant the jury were not prepared to convict. I should have thought it 121 followed that with a Catholic defendant, such as a supposed I. R. A. gunman, the same jury would be only too glad to convict. Therefore it seems to strengthen my case rather than to weaken it. This case, of the man with his arsenal under the garage, was not an isolated one. It is known that many extremists are armed.
That brings me to my second point, which has already been made by other speakers: that all private arms in the Six Counties must be called in. There are 72,000 gun licences held, and each of those licences allows up to five weapons to be kept. To call in these licences may be a hardship, particularly at this time of year, for those who hold them for legitimate purposes, but in present circumstances such a hardship must be accepted. It does not make sense that there should be 100,000 guns of all kinds knocking around in private hands in Northern Ireland at the present time. I believe that it should be made illegal to hold any kind of firearm in Northern Ireland to-day. The Government should ask themselves why this arsenal exists in the North. Is it really only for protection against the I. R. A.?
My noble friend Lord Longford drew attention to an article in the last edition of the Sunday Timeswhich managed to reach Ireland, although I do not think it reached many subscribers in this country. I should like to draw attention to another article on an inside page in which the writer stated, on this point:Given leadership, the Ulster Volunteer Force would contemplate a pogrom.He went on to say:The best official assessment—that of British Army Intelligence—goes even further.The Sunday Timeswas stating an official assessment made by British Army Intelligence which was as follows:An exceptionally well-placed military source said last week, 'Within 72 hours the Protestants could be organised and within a week they could have an army. After that, put your money on the Protestants for the whole of Ireland '.Are the Army ready to deal with such a threat? There is not only a threat against the lives of the minority in the North; there is also a threat against the integrity of a neighbouring sovereign State. Must not the Government remove that threat, so far as possible, by calling in all the firearms, whoever holds them? 122 If this were done, and if there were no internment, but not otherwise, I believe that a climate might be created in which fruitful talks could take place to bring back some degree of sanity and peace.
§ 9.5 p.m.
LORD de CLIFFORD
My Lords, I was nearly reduced to silence by the speeches that we have heard, because so much of what I wished to say has already been said. However, the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, has started me off again. I cannot understand the outlook which cannot appreciate that Her Majesty's Government had to do one thing above all in Northern Ireland, which was, so far as possible, to restore law and order. In the initial stages there were some genuine grievances over which there was trouble. The Government took action and most of those grievances have now been dealt with, or will be dealt with by steps which have been taken. I remember some comment in the Press that the I. R. A. had been taken by surprise and had not had time to organise, although they very soon would organise—and in due course they did. You cannot impose a solution to the problem in Northern Ireland by the Army, but you can restore control and a sense of law and order and confidence if you are allowed to do so. I could not agree less with the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken. I hate to think what the situation would now be if internment had not been applied.
It is well known in the Army that when an enemy is getting on its last legs there is always an eruption of violence. We have had illustrations of it throughout history: there is always one last explosion of violence. I feel that we may have reached the stage where we are experiencing the last explosion of the I. R. A. I sincerely hope that that is so. There are very evil men who are exploiting these situations, and they have succeeded in doing something which one has seen done before in places where there has been communal trouble; that is, to isolate the two communities. What one has to be frightened of is that the community which at the moment is not involved in the use of force might be provoked into being so; and one can only appeal to the Protestants who are at the moment holding back that they should not in any circumstances allow 123 themselves to be provoked into using violence.
We must realise that the Army is there not to impose any Parliament's will but to root out evil men. Admiration of the Army's conduct has been expressed repeatedly to-day, but I should like to add to it. I have particular admiration for one section of the Army; that is, the bomb disposal squads. I think they are now in the position where they are being set up like targets to be shot at. The courage of these men is beyond belief. I have the greatest admiration for the restraint of the young soldiers in Ireland who are being stoned, are having missiles of all sorts thrown at them and are being sniped at from behind civilian crowds, and yet who, if they were unleashed, could stop it in one easy movement: there would be no more violence. But they are controlled, so that they have to stand these things and merely root out individuals and put them away, rather than damage the population. I think their restraint is magnificent. These young men who are enduring this turmoil in which they are now involved have shown that, in spite of all the rude things which are said about them, the present young generation have all the qualities of which this country can be proud and which it always has had.
I was very cross when the charges of brutality were laid against the soldiers in the arrests of the terrorists for internment, and I was very pleased when the noble Lord, Lord Dunleath, said how well organised these protests were. These men who have been interned and those who arc shooting now are the people who have been endeavouring to shoot the troops, to shoot the policemen and to create general turmoil. If you play rough games, you must not start complaining when the going gets rough on being apprehended. I think the policy of internment was right, and I think it is right at this moment. But I feel that one must make every endeavour to show that internment is for the benefit of all by giving the Army an opportunity to reduce the disorders which are going on, and the shooting and sniping. The dissociation of people from any attempt to get order back into Northern Ireland just because they do not like internment is, I think, unforgivable.
124 We in Westminster have the ultimate responsibility. I think we have to try, before any political solutions are reached, to show that bigotry and distrust are things which are no longer of this time; that internment is not a permanent thing, but can be brought to an end as soon as law and order have been reintroduced; and that the law and order which is reintroduced can be applied equally to everyone throughout Northern Ireland. I hope and pray that the meeting of the three Prime Ministers will produce not only a solution for Northern Ireland but a basis on which the future trust and confidence of the population can be built.
§ 9.14 p.m.
§ Loin MOTTISTONE
My Lords, I will not detain you for long. I beg your indulgence. I have been happily married to a Northern Ireland girl for some 27 years. I have been over to that country many times. I have studied it and, as your Lordships may know, I have a particular interest in an incident of 1914 known as the Curragh. This has given added reason for study. I was there just over ten days ago and I am sorry that I have to report to your Lordships in a way that perhaps nobody else has so far done. I am deeply distressed at the lowering of morale in what the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, called the "middle ground". I think this is very important. It is very important that Her Majesty's Government should be aware of this fact. I also feel that it is not properly appreciated or properly publicised exactly how continuous the I. R. A. have been in their process over the last fifty years. This has been mentioned by one or two other noble Lords, for example, the noble Lord, Lord Monson.
As is known by those who have been in authority from time to time over the last fifty years, particularly when things looked as though they were going right in Northern Ireland the I. R. A. have stepped in, in one way or another. I can think of three examples in the last 25 years in which whole trainloads of ammunition were under threat from the I. R. A. I do not specify the cases. I think it would be very worth while for Her Majesty's Government to consider publicising the threats that have come from these people who, from the moment of Partition, said that this was going to be their method 125 of operation, that violence was to be the way. It would be well worth while to publicise this so that it is seen in the right perspective. This is why things like internment really are chicken feed ". Noble Lords complain about it, but we are not dealing with an orderly operation in an orderly country; we are dealing with a planned continuous process of trying to create disturbances.
Is it not significant that when the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill of the Maine, started to take steps in what one might call the right direction, to move the status quoon which Northern Ireland had sat for forty years, the trouble started. It had been more or less contained until such time as the right things were being done. The British Army go into Northern Ireland, they are accepted as people who are going to be neutral and to keep the peace. Steps are therefore taken to discredit them. We have heard mention—Lord Dunleath mentioned them—of the special measures that were taken when the internees were released in order to make certain that they produced the right stories. There have been rumours spread about the Army. They are untrue, we know that. But these things are not matched by similar action. We require to deal with this sort of process in a firm way and in a similar way. We want in fact, distasteful though it may be, to indulge in psychological warfare of the same standard as that employed by what I can describe as the enemy—the enemy not only of this country, of Northern Ireland, but also of the South. We need to make certain when rumours are spread that they are countered by the truth. We need to make certain that people are unshackled from intimidation and do not provide what one may call the harbouring of these people either out of fear or out of a misplaced sense of loyalty.
A great deal of harm has been done in the distant past and cannot be put right. The Churches on both sides are largely to blame. I am delighted to hear from various noble Lords that the Churches are at last making some statement. But statements by Cardinal Conway of dislike for violence are not going to put right the sort of insidious propaganda of ages spread by parish priests, or by local presbyters, to inspire hatred of the other side. These things go on still to-day. The Bishops may be 126 coming round and some of the younger and modern and more sensible priests are coming round; but a great deal of damage has been done and continues to be done to children who are encouraged to go out and attack the Army in public places and the like. These things have got to be combated, and they can be combated only if we recognise the enemy in the sense that he is an enemy, and deal with him in the right sort of way.
I was delighted to hear my noble friend the Secretary of State for Defence say that the intelligence was at last getting better. This, of course, is a key, and because it is getting better it could well be that the sort of publicity I am calling for, to disclose these tactics and processes, people may be hesitant to do, for fear of disclosing in turn their sources of intelligence. So this is a thing which needs to be handled very carefully. The noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, said that in war time—presumably in the Second World War—he was involved in this process of psychological warfare. Perhaps we need to set up special teams of people of high intellect, as we did during the Second World War, for this very purpose. I can assure your Lordships—and this is why I have taken an indulgence of your time—that the morale of what the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, called the middle ground is at a low ebb and that is something we have to watch.
We must make sure not only that they realise that the Government are behind them, but that the Opposition are treating this as a bipartisan affair. If I may say so, I think that the twelve statements of the Leader of the Opposition were most unhelpful in this area, because they merely serve to discredit the Stormont Government. Not only must people see that they have the support of the Government and the main Opposition, but they must also see that they have the support of the people of England. That is important, and I am delighted that so many noble Lords have seen fit to take part in this debate, late though it may be. I should like to think that in another place they have had similar expressions of a real concern by England, because this is a subject which has been with us for a thousand years or more. You find, if you look at history, that it has usually 127 gone wrong, when the countries, England, Scotland and Wales, have said, "Let us forget about this and leave it to the Irish Secretary "—or whatever it may be. Let us not do that. Let us show the Irish that we care and, what is more, that we will give them the means to combat the evil that is within their midst.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I wonder whether I may ask him a question. I think he said that just as the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill of the Maine, was beginning to do so well, the I. R. A. moved in and got rid of him. But I thought it was his own side which had got rid of the noble Lord.
§ LORD MOTTISTONE
Yes, my Lords, indeed the noble Baroness is quite right. I did not specify—I bracketed it—I did not specify the I. R. A. in that particular connection. What I did specify is that, looking at it generally, as the noble Lord got going so he was removed, admittedly by his own side. But why by his own side? Because of the fear that the I. R. A. had put into the Protestants of Northern Ireland ever since 1920. It is a very real fear. If you lived among it you would know that it is a very real 128 fear. It is partly mixed up with a fear that you will be forced to become a Catholic. That sounds ridiculous in this Chamber, but it is a fear that these violent men, who have declared a process of violence, will force you into the subordinate position which in 1920 you had hoped you were being spared. This threat is what makes reasonable people, reasonable Protestants in the North of Ireland—people like you or me, if I may bracket us; people who in their everyday lives are rational, ordinary people—get terribly "steamed up" about this very thing; because they fear that these people in the South are violently going to make them change their whole way of life.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, HOME OFFICE (LORD WINDLESHAM)
My Lords, I beg to move that this debate be now adjourned till tomorrow at 11.30.
§ Moved, That the debate be adjourned until tomorrow at 11.30.—(Lord Windlesham.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to and debate adjourned accordingly.
§ House adjourned at twenty-five minutes past nine o'clock.