§ Mr. Ian Bruce
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he proposes to accept the recommendations made by Lord Colville in his review of the operation of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Acts 1978 and 1987.
§ Mr. Tom King
I warmly welcome Lord Colville's report. It contains a number of important recommendations both for the short and medium term. In particular I welcome his recommendations that certain powers in the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 can now be allowed to lapse. These are section 24, under which the security forces have the power to call upon assemblies to disperse, paragraph 4 of schedule 3 under which the Royal Ulster Constabulary may impose directions on the conduct of funerals, and paragraph 5 of schedule 3 under which the Secretary of State has a power to close licensed premises, clubs and so on by order. The draft order and regulations that have been laid before the House today will allow these provisions to lapse, apart from one section of paragraph 4 of schedule 3 which gives the Royal Ulster Constabulary the power to require people taking part in funerals to travel in vehicles.
The fact that these provisions are being allowed to lapse demonstrates the Government's purpose in keeping the emergency law under review, and in making adjustments where these are justified. I will be giving careful consideration over the coming months to some other recommendations in Lord Colville's report which have implications for the longer term.