My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether before making their pronouncement about the possible sponsoring of detainees released from the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland, they consulted the churches whose ministers would be involved in this scheme.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE, NORTHERN IRELAND OFFICE (LORD DONALDSON OF KINGSBRIDGE)
My Lords, the sponsorship of detainees was one of a series of possible measures which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said on April 4 that he was considering to assist the resettlement of released detainees in their local communities. No previous consultations about it had taken place, because no decision had been taken on whether this, or any other of the measures he mentioned, would be incorporated in the scheme, details of which are still being worked out. Present intentions do not, however, include a sponsorship scheme of the kind referred to.
My Lords, I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government one further question. In view of the fact that a sponsorship scheme seems now improbable to be enacted, for which I am extremely grateful, I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are aware that had this become official policy it would have placed the clergy, who, among others, would have been expected to administer this scheme, in a position not only of great embarrassment but of extreme physical danger?
§ LORD DONALDSON OF KINGSBRIDGE
My Lords, Her Majesty's Government are aware of this fact, and this is one of the reasons which has led to our dropping the scheme.