Northern Ireland (Troops)

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th October 1970.

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Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North 12:00 am, 28th October 1970

asked the Minister of State for Defence what is the present strength of British troops and the Ulster Defence Regiment in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Norfolk Central

Excluding the small Royal Navy and R.A.F. permanent garrisons, there are some 7,000 Regular soldiers and Royal Marines, and some 3,800 members of the Ulster Defence Regiment in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply. Is he satisfied that the present political developments in Northern Ireland will enable the reduction in the forces, to which we were hopefully looking forward, but which political events seem to be retarding, to take place? Second, would he comment on the actual recruiting figures for the U.D.R., the proportion of the various elements in the community represented in it, and the undertaking given by the previous Government about the composition of the force?

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Norfolk Central

The number of British troops in Northern Ireland is, of course, no greater now than it was at this time last year, but the force levels are continually kept under review according to the nature of the security situation. If the hon. Gentleman will put down a Question on the latter part of his supplementary, I should be glad to answer it.

Photo of Mr Stratton Mills Mr Stratton Mills , Belfast North

In view of the evidence in the arms conspiracy trial, have any additional precautions been taken by the Ministry of Defence?

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Norfolk Central

No, but naturally all aspects of the situation are kept under continual review.

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman , Manchester Ardwick

When can I expect a satisfactory reply to my letter to the hon. Gentleman about the legality of the operations on the weekend of 3rd July? Can he reconcile his noble Friend's statement on 6th July in this House—that there was no curfew—with General Freeland's circular imposing a curfew on 3rd July?

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Norfolk Central

I am confident that I can reconcile any inconsistency, but certainly not in answer to this Question.